Ginger Nuts of Horror
There have been many great movies that have inspired me over the years in the genre of horror. I have to start with honorable mention of some titles that come to mind such as many of the Hammer Films, Argento's Demons, the original Night of the Demons, Kubrick's the Shining, Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions, and 3 John Carpenter films: the Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness. Rob Zombie's movies are pretty rad too. Although I'm not a fan of his cartoon. I could mention many more films of this genre being a fan of horror movies since I was a kid. I've been enjoying them since before I should have been watching them. To me horror movies are pure escapism. I prefer the supernatural to the slasher flicks. I've chose one film in particular that had an enormous impact on me growing up.
Films That Matter 28 Days Later To Zombie or not to Zombie, to run or not to run, that is the question! Or at least it is when considering Danny Boyle's seminal horror flick 28 Days Later. Chatting to author Rich Hawkins, we've come to the conclusion that though technically not a zombie flick (the infected are enraged but alive) 28 Days Later is often regarded as such. So now it begs a question. If we accept that at its basic level, this is a zombie film, should zombies run, or not?
Granted, zombies did run before this film was released, but Boyle's fantastic movie brought the running 'zombie' closer to the attention of horror audiences. So, do you like your Romero shamblers or your sprinters?
In Zac Schnyder's Dawn of the Dead remake with Vingh Rhames, the zombies are full on sprinters, and though it lacks the humour and pathos of Romero's original Dawn, the remake is a whole lot of fun and there is a different kind of fear and tension at play. Take, for instance, the opening scenes where Sarah Polley finds herself attacked by her recently reanimated fiancé. Her desperate scramble through the tight window of the bathroom certainly sets the pulse a racing!
So, back to 28 Days - according to Francesca Quigley, this film is particularly awesome, it "brings the terror to life, shows very early in there's no second chances. You get bit, you get shot."
For John Gorman, it truly is a scary film, and the speed of the zombies/not zombies adds to the fear factor. "As a fat guy ... This film scares the shit outa me."
Wise words John, or as Rich says, "Get training John."
So, why does this film work so well? Firstly, it has some of the most edge of your seat scenes. The tyre changing scene and the stair chase in the tower block for starters are fantastic. But for me, it's not the speed of the not zom - oh hell, I'm just gonna call them zombies for Christ Sake - it's the characters.
Let's start with a scene just after the opening - Cillian Murphy, who is a sterling actor by the way, awakens after a bike crash, emaciated, pulling a dry drip out of his arm (a nod to the Walking Dead Kieran Rose suggests or a homage to 'Day of the Triffids' according to Rich) to a desolate, empty hospital, wandering the abandoned streets of London, desperate for any sight of humanity. This memorable scene was filmed in the wee early hours of the morning to capture the vibe of an empty city.
Murphy's fear is palpable. What is going on? What the hell has happened to his home, to everyone he loves? The silence of a deserted city is deafening. And when he first encounters a zombie, then eventually gets to his home and finds his parents the emotional resonance and impact is incredibly impressive. We really feel for him. He is a real person, not a cypher for the zombies to attack and kill. And as for the infection, 'rage' it is instantaneous. Scary.
With no one answering his plea for help, Jim enters an abandoned church in hope of salvation. All he finds is chaos. An infected priest who, well, just needs a snack! It is to be fair quite similar to a scene from Resident Evil Two with Alice. But it isn't long before Jim is saved by a couple of humans. The scenes of destruction are quite effective having being filmed in Black and White tones with sparks of red fire.
Throughout his attempt to survive, Jim hooks up with a small group including Selena (Naomie Harris) and Frank (Brendan Gleeson).
Their perilous journey gets the group into all sorts of scrapes, but when they encounter a band of soldiers led by Christopher Eccleston, things get distinctively worse. Selena and young girl Hannah (Megan Burns) Are held captive and are about to be raped, which is By the way handled sensitively and respectively, before Selena can take control and before Jim can save them. You would think I would object to the females being saved by the male character, but not so. The scene highlights Jim's temporary degeneration into a creature bent on revenge almost as brutal as the zombies themselves.
Released in 2002, this film invigorated the decaying zombie genre with its introduction of the 'fast' zombie. This is pretty simply, a game changer, and a film that every respectable horror fan needs to watch. The performances, script and tight direction add pace and tension to the film, making this an absolute classic. So, back to our question. To run or not to run?
What's your vote? Do tell.
GINGER NUTS OF HORROR, THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR REVIEWS
The concept is novel, the introductory teaser—a man waking, disoriented, in a tiny room with backlit walls and closed hatches, one of which leads to another room where he’s unexpectedly cubed by a giant cheese grater—is captivating, and the story itself is a beautiful blend of psychological horror, creepy visuals, and nearly flawless character development.
The first time I saw Cube, a 1997 Canadian film directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali, I approached it with some doubt that a story taking place in such a limited setting could sustain itself for 90 minutes. Creating a full-length movie using a set composed basically of one 143-foot room (the walls’ backlit colors being the only indication that one room is any different from the next), and with a budget of approximately $350,000, seemed an impossible undertaking. Even with a seven-person cast of unique characters, the story development would take a stroke of genius to pull off.
My Undying Love for the Evil Dead
Someone once said that the literary world is divided into two— those who have read The Lord of the Rings, and those who have not. I would say the same about the world of cinema— there are those who have watched Evil Dead II, and those who really should. Like, right now. Immediately.
I fondly recall my own abrupt introduction to the 1983 schlock horror classic. It started as many of the boring summer days of my adolescence did— digging for porn in my buddies parent’s VHS collection (this was still a couple of years before the internet would revolutionise the lives of bored perverts everywhere.) Anyway, we found a pirate copy of Evil Dead II (all the best movies were pirate copies back then) and set it to play, hoping at least for some errant side boob.
And then, just like that, my life changed.
When I decided to write this one, the first thing I did was sit down and try to remember the first horror film I ever saw. That wasn't as easy as you might expect. My aim was to think of the first horror film that I sat and watched all the way through, from start to finish, and that was tricky because I'd seen patchwork approximations of horror films before then. I was raised during the era when parents still gave a damn about what their children consumed, so as a child horror films had to be viewed in secret whenever parents were out and a friend had 'borrowed' their Dad's copy of Nightmare on Elm Street or something similar. This was in the days before the internet and streaming TV, so unless you had a film on VHS, you weren't watching it (no-one was likely to be broadcasting horror films during the day on one of the 4 terrestrial channels.) I remember sneaking in as much of Alien, the original Fright Night, and the aforementioned Nightmare as was possible, but none of these were watched from start to finish before the age of about 12. I'd been allowed to watch the old Universal and Hammer horror films, because they were so camp and stupid (Note: as an adult I now love them even more) that not even my Middle-England mother thought they were genuinely damaging. I don't recall which of these was my first either, but given that nothing in them ever came close to scaring me, I never really thought of them as true horror.
The Films That Matter : The Monster Squad
The horror genre is special to me. My house décor revolves around the history of the genre, both in print and on film. My fiancée has been particularly open-minded about the miniature gravestones, the bleeding skull candle, and the various photos of ravens perched upon skulls. After every Halloween, I scour the department stores for clearance Halloween items worthy of being showcased in my home 365 days a year.
On my fireplace mantle, tucked in between family photographs, I have three framed drawings from a local comic book convention. The prints depict Bella Lugosi’s Dracula, Lon Cheney’s Wolfman, and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster. While these particular “family members” are classics of the genre, I first met them through a movie that is more of a cult classic than a piece of cinematic history.
I know what you’re thinking.
That old 70s movie they used to show on TV all the time with the painfully fake mechanical shark and starring those three actors that nobody’s ever heard of?
Yeah. That’s the film I’m talking about.
This summer, Jaws will be forty years old.
And kids, let me tell you, forty years ago the world was a different place.
You lot, you’ve grown up with a smorgasbord of TV channels to choose from, and you’ve got Youtube, Netflix, big screen HDTVs, surround sound, 40k definition, 3D, CGI, Playstations, Xboxs, iPads and some stuff I have probably forgotten right now, but which no doubt has 300 gazillion pixels of colour, is ultrafast, ultra ultra high def, and interactive too
In my teens in the mid-to-late 1980s, my friends and I rented a lot of horror movies. These were the days of the corner video store, big clunky cassettes, Be Kind, Rewind, the western doors leading to the forbidden racks of skin flicks. The store I frequented had a two-page, double-sided list of the movies they carried. We’d sit in Steve Kendrick’s basement room, Steve on the recliner, me and Marc Berg on the couch, and gear up to get the shit scared out of us by vampires, werewolves, zombies, and mad killers. Most of what we watched was shlock, and that was absolutely fine by us, but here and there a movie would surprise us, would stifle our sub- (and pre-) MST3K snarkiness and jokes. Return of the Living Dead had a lot of wit in its screenplay (not to mention a jump scare that made Steve scuttle backwards three feet using only his rear end). Halloween was a nightmarish suburban scare-fest with the coolest visage ever- a white-painted Shatner death-mask. And Creepshow’s Horror Comic shtick had some genuine terror up its seaweed-snarled sleeve.
The Wicker Man saves virtually everything for the finale, a finale which left a teenage kid wrung out and totally gobsmacked.
The X-rated film certificates of old always sounded far more thrilling than our modern 18 ratings. Adopting a gruff voice and standing on tiptoe, I managed to bluff my way into a local cinema at fourteen to see Don’t Look Now in 1973. The suspicious cashiers asked your age and I found the trick was to claim nineteen; they were always expecting an answer of eighteen. I looked older than my years, but it wasn’t as if they were selling me alcohol or cigarettes - they were simply warping my mind with supposedly adult films. It was a different age and, back then, Twilight would have been rated X.
I first saw this gem when I was a kid and have held a copy of it close to my heart ever since. Whether it was in VHS format, or Blueray the only thing that’s changed over the years is the quality of the pictures.
It was written by Nigel Kneale, released by Hammer in 1967 and was the third film in the dotty professor versus the unbending ignorance of the establishment trilogy, that was originally a BBC screenplay, dating from 1958. It’s also the genre directorial debut of the acclaimed Ray Ward Baker. The film was released in America under the much less evocative title: Five Million Years to Earth.