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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Who Likes Horror Films?

Just in time for Halloween, Kathleen Murphy, writing for MSN Movies, has an excellent list of alternative horror fare. I’m not the biggest fan of horror flicks, but Murphy’s list has a couple of films I’ve seen and liked (The Descent, The Orphanage, Frailty) and a slew of horror flicks I’m interested in seeing (including Wendigo, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, Let the Right One In).
I’m not a fan of the slash-and-gore type of horror film, but I do like a good cerebral flick that has horror elements to it. But I’m not one of those who thinks that people who get off on horror are idiots, they just aren’t generally my thing, in the same way that the depressing Eastern Euro dramas I enjoy aren’t everyone’s cup o’ tea. In the interest of expanding the scope of my cinematic viewing taste, however, I am interested in watching more horror generally, so I’m open to recommendations from folks who are big horror buffs on which films I should see.
No recommendations for Last House on the Left, though, please … I’ve seen that one twice already and absolutely hate it.

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6 Responses to “Who Likes Horror Films?”

  1. Not David Bordwell says:

    Let me be the first to recommend the Gothic and Giallo horrors of Mario Bava, who makes everyone who comes after him seem unimaginative and derivative. Brace yourself: there is plenty of graphic violence against women, but mitigated by the fact that nowhere else in horror are the female protoganists such complex and complicated characters – they may look like bosomy bodice-ripping Hammer Studios damsels in distress, but they possess much more psychological depth, believe me.
    And, the films are gorgeous to look at. The quality of filmmaking with such tiny Italian budgets is breathtaking. I haven’t seen them all, but the ones I have seen I can recommend:
    Black Sunday (Mask of the Demon/Mask of Satan)
    Black Sabbath
    Kill, Baby, Kill
    The Whip and the Body
    Blood and Black Lace
    And, for fun:
    Planet of the Vampires
    Technically SciFi, but Ridley Scott stole entire scenes from it shot-for-shot for Alien.

  2. My favorite has always been HALLOWEEN. It was the first of it’s kind and is still by far the best. The slasher flicks that came after it never came close…it always surprises me that you never see blood in the film, it makes most of its scares off of atmosphere and a genuine sense of creeping dread. It earns its scares.
    Also, classic horror films like THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and VAMPYR are more my cup of tea than modern horror. Also, I would recommend THE EXORCIST and ALIEN (which is more horror than sci-fi), NOSFERATU, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and PSYCHO.

  3. Kim Voynar says:

    Matthew, we have similar taste in horror films — I’ve seen and liked all of those films except for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Vampyr. I’ll add those to my need-to-see list.
    N-D-B, thanks for your recommendations as well, I’ve not seen any of those, but they sound worth checking out!

  4. Noah says:

    My favorite recent horror movie is Session 9, which is really quite underrated. I liked last year’s The Mist too and the recent remake of The Hills Have Eyes is actually pretty decent. The Fly is pretty great…any Cronenberg film really (Scanners and Dead Ringers especially), Misery is probably one of the better Stephen King adaptations, Audition is pretty messed up but kind of boring, Suspiria is okay, the recent French film Inside is kind of okay, I’m sure I’m leaving out lots of obvious ones…
    I think films that aren’t classified as horror films can be pretty scary sometimes like Sunset Blvd. or M or Shadow of a Doubt.
    All-time, though, The Shining has always been my favorite. And Jaws might be the most effective horror film of all-time that usually gets overlooked in the “horror” genre because its impact is so huge that people take it for granted. Just think of how many people are afraid to go in the ocean for fear of shark attacks based on the ominous notes in the score!

  5. Cadavra says:

    DIABOLIQUE. Doesn’t get any scarier.
    Ulmer’s THE BLACK CAT is also great, creepy fun.

  6. Not David Bordwell says:

    I can’t believe more people aren’t posting their recommendations so close to Halloween!
    Following Kathleen Murphy’s genre list, here are my picks:
    Psychos and Slashers: Hammer Studios’ Paranoiac (featuring a young Oliver Reed); Bride of Chucky (gory, but glorious — maybe Jennifer Tilly’s best-ever performance, with a young, zaftig Katherine Heigl to boot)
    Things that go bump in the dark: David Fincher’s much-maligned Alien installment. To be watched immediately after Ridley Scott’s original.
    Vampires: Roman Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers; Countess Dracula (Hammer again!); Fright Night (Chris Sarandon is terrifying as the vampire, and Roddy McDowell as a washed-up Peter Cushing type is fabu)
    Ghosts: Robert Wise’s The Haunting; Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now; and the little-known Haunted (starring Aidan Quinn and Kate Beckinsale)
    Zombies: Kathleen’s recommendations for this genre are bizarre. Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and even Diary of the Dead are all lightyears ahead of Land of the Dead. Even Romero has admitted that it wasn’t the film he wanted to make.
    And no love for Werewolves? Check out Oliver Reed in Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf, or Paul Naschy in his Italian werewolf movies.
    I could go on, but as an initiate to the genre(s), you’ll find plenty here.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon