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Unforgettable Scenes #11: Possession

Possession (1981)

The Halloween Movie Marathon Lineup!

Here in New Zealand tonight it is October 31, and just as sure as there will be annoying kids trekking up the streets looking for food to make them even more overweight, people around the world will also be indulging themselves with an (un?)healthy dose of horror films.

I’ll admit: last year, I did not watch any horror movies just because it was Halloween; I continued doing what I would normally do, as if it wasn’t October 31.

But this year, I’ve just found it impossible to resist the charm of those bloody, gory horror movies. And so, I’ve decided to make up for missing last Wednesday’s movie marathon night by moving it to this Monday, and focusing on my favourite horror films. I’m gonna have to start early if I hope to fit all these in, but, here’s what I’ve got planned:

Funny Games (1997)

A film that still scares the shit out of me every viewing and convinced my girlfriend not to lend any eggs to anyone, Funny Games is a terrifying classic.

Suspiria (1977)

Visually stunning and bizarrely photographed, Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a frightening, gripping horror classic. While the plot isn’t original and the ending is disappointing, Argento more than makes up for it with the unique and terrifying way he crafted the film’s look and design. And of course there’s the music.

Antichrist (2009)

Lars Von Trier’s “failed attempt” at crafting a horror film turned into a dark experiment, which examines the way women have been treated throughout history by channelling their mistreatment into the grief of a couple who have lost their child. Bizarre, explicit, shocking and brilliant.

Audition (1999)

“Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri!” These chilling words alone should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who has seen Audition, the horrifying Takashi Miike masterpiece, with a final half hour so shocking and gruesome it even caused one viewer to have a heart attack. See it now!

The Hour of the Wolf (1968)

The closest thing to a horror film Ingmar Bergman ever made, The Hour of the Wolf is an incredibly disturbing, frightening nightmare which examines a clan of people on an island and their attempts to drive a visiting couple insane. Creepy stuff and a perfect way to close my night.

That’s what I’m watching. Now tell me, what horror movies have you been watching recently, and what do you think of the ones I’ve listed?

Lars von Trier’s ANTICHRIST: Why I Think It’s Not Pretentious Garbage

10 Movies I’ll Never Be Able To Watch Again

There are a lot of really disturbing movies out there, but I’ve been able to formulate a list of ten I’ll never be able to watch again. Some of them are just because they’re bad. Others are brilliant films that are just difficult to watch. Either way, these aren’t on my queue any time soon.

In no particular order:

A Serbian Film (2010)

Though I didn’t hate this movie, it’s certainly not good. Borderline pornography with explicit sex and violence, a lot of it seems wasted and pointless. The continuous references to paedophilia is more than unnerving… it’s disgusting. I’m not the kind of person who gets angry over those sort of things being in movies, but this is really sickening. 5/10. And that’s being very kind.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Again, not the kind of person who gets angry with violence, explicit sex or anything nastily gratuitous, but this is awful. I’m not an animal rights person, and I realize that the animals that died in this film will probably have died anyway at the hands of those natives, but I didn’t want to see it on camera. It was a complete waste of my time. And I usually love handheld camera movies. 3/10.

Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

“All’s good if it’s excessive.” The line is scary enough, and what follows is horrifying. Pasolini’s “poem” about his hateful vision of Fascism got him killed, but despite its graphic and excessive content, it is a “beautiful” movie (don’t take that the wrong way, I mean the cinematography was beautiful) that leaves a pondering thought in my head every time it is discussed. I wish I could watch this again, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. 6/10.

Irreversible (2002)

This is a tricky one because I actually LOVE this movie. Gaspar Noé is a fantastic director. His swooping and sweeping camera will probably make you sick, and then there’s the infamous rape scene, which is the main reason it’s on this list. I might actually watch this movie again, but I think I’ll skip past the rape. 9/10. (The reason this film has such a high rating is for its final scene, so perfect it almost made me cry. Almost.)

The Idiots (1998)

I love Lars von Trier. Which makes my dislike of this movie all the more confusing to me. It’s filmed as one of his famed Dogme 95 (read my article on this fascinating genre here) but, surprisingly,  that only makes the strange effect of the film seem even more shitty. I mean, did we really need unsimulated group sex? Seriously? Von Trier has a point he wants to make, but he makes it better with movies like Dogville and Antichrist. 4/10.

Funny Games (1997)

One of Michael Haneke’s most affecting movies, this is an essay on the pointlessness and insanity of violence, and how often, a lot of it is completely unmotivated. While we’re searching for the Why?, Haneke doesn’t care and relentlessly continues to push the What in our faces. It’s a tactic that works, though it’s difficult to watch. Once is enough. 8/10.

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)

The premise is disgusting enough without the movie, which is surprisingly not as graphic as you might expect. But it is shitty. Really shitty. Which makes Daniel Tosh’s spoiler even funnier. An awful movie by all respects, even if this was halfway decent, the plot itself is enough to help you to decide which crowd you are in. Torture-porn lovers, eat your heart out. No, on second thought, don’t even try. This is too awful even for you. 2/10.

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Ah, John Waters. He has to make the list somewhere. And considering this is the only film of his I’ve seen (and I think it’s the only film I need to see), I can easily say that I have no desire to see Divine eating a dog turd again. Seeing it once is one time too many. It’s a fun movie, in its own disgusting cult way, and many an absurd, awkward laugh is likely to strike a few times throughout. 5/10.

The Last House on the Left (1972)

The most disturbing of all horror master Wes Craven’s films is not only a blatant insult (don’t call it a tribute, or a remake) to Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, it’s also gratuitous, annoyingly excessive and a waste of time. I didn’t feel sorry for the victims in this movie, but The Virgin Spring… now that was a movie that affected me, in a good way. 4/10.

Audition (1999)

This is the only film on this list I have actually seen twice, and once was when I was a kid. It scared the shit out of me, and when I rewatched it four years ago, I discovered it still retained that power. A film that wouldn’t normally horrify me, this is a smart, intelligent work of horrific cinema that continues to impress, please, and disgust. 8/10.

What do you think? What are some movies you could never watch again? Have you seen any of my choices? Whaddaya think? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading.

Five Movies That Scared the Shit Out of Me When I Was A Kid

When I was a kid, I certainly didn’t watch movies anywhere near as much as I do now, but of the ones I did watch, many of the memorable ones were horror movies. And a lot of them scared me. These days when I watch horror movies they’re not as scary as they are strangely farcical, but my nightmare recollections of first seeing these movies ring true in my head and they were far from funny…

1: Audition (1999)

I know what you’re thinking: how the Hell did you get to watch Audition as a kid? Well, it was right after me and my Dad watched Ring (1998) (see below). I was thirteen and we’d just started to really get into foreign movies. My Dad didn’t regret showing me this movie; he knew I was mature enough to handle it, but it still scared the bajeebuz out of me, nonetheless.

2: Ring (1998)

The second scariest of the horror movies I viewed before I became an adult was watched right before Audition. They’re similar movies in some ways, except Audition‘s scarier because its plot could actually happen to you. We enjoyed watching Sadako (whose long dark hair was intensely scary for me for some reason), and even had a good time with the remake when it was released in 2002.

3: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Since most people define this as horror (whereas I see it as a thriller) I suppose it makes the list. I remember watching it fondly at age twelve, intensely scared, riveted and moved by Hopkins as Lecter, and then never seeing it again until I bought it recently. A fantastic film, but still an insomnia trigger at the ripe young age of 12.

4: The Shining (1980)

Jack Nicholson swinging an axe at his desperate, screaming wife was enough to give me nightmares at age ten. I remember feeling like little Danny throughout the whole movie, and, according to my brother, I started talking to my finger for a while, answering questions with it and having conversations. This quickly passed and I moved on but there’s no doubt The Shining has had an effect on me and my perception of horror films.

5: The Evil Dead (1981)

I remember it well. 1996, at the age of nine. My brother sneaks into my dad’s video cabinet and slithers away with a copy of this Sam Raimi classic. He invites me into his huddled bedroom to watch it with him. I’m curious. We watch it, and my brother makes me swear not to tell Dad we saw it. I agree. But the film has such an effect on me that I start to look disturbed and have trouble sleeping. When my mum asks me what’s wrong, I break down and tell her. An unpleasant memory, but hey, I got to hear my brother get a verbal thrashing from Dad so that’s cool.

What horror movies scared you as a child? What are your favourite horror movies? Do you have any recollections of experiences with horror movies when you were young? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

I’m Your Number One Fan: The Five Best Adaptations of Stephen King Novels

Sadism has a new name... Percy Wetmore.

I have always been a fan of Stephen King. Always. I’ve loved his books and everything he’s ever written. And thus, once a new film adaptation of one of his books is announced, I have nothing but excitement and caution for what I will see. Usually I like them, they’re often okay, sometimes mediocre and occasionally crap. So… I’ve decided to count down the my Top Five favourite King book big-screen adaptations.

Take a big guess at number one!

FIVE: Misery

When I think Kathy Bates, I think Annie Wilkes, don’t you? Well, I’m glad you didn’t say that when you think of her, you think of The Blind Side. That would’ve been sad. Nevertheless, her performance in Misery alongside James Caan is excellent and helps to make it a chilling thriller.

FOUR: Carrie

Brian De Palma succeeds triumphantly in bringing King’s first ever novel to the screen. Sissy Spacek stars strikingly as the lead, in a terrifyingly silent performance that nonetheless chills (particularly her frightening glare). Excellent.

THREE: The Shining

Visually stunning and almost completely flawless in skilful storytelling, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s third novel is amazing and beautiful, like oh so many of both Kubrick and King’s (who have the same initials) work. I’m a sucker for films about gradual descents into madness due to alcoholism (wink-wink, The Lost Weekend) and this is certainly no exception.

TWO: The Green Mile

Frank Darabont’s hugely successful follow-up to 1994′s video-rental phenomenon The Shawshank Redemption almost matches it in greatness. This time, he uses the second greatest actor-narrator after Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks. Though there’s not a whole lot of narration in this, we can really feel that it’s Hanks’s character’s movie. A triumph in filmmaking and a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking classic.

ONE: The Shawshank Redemption

Yes, we all knew this was coming. But let’s face it, it is the best. Freeman’s timeless narration (much more notable in March of the Penguins) never ceases to amaze, just as the great friendship chemistry between the two friends does. From the amazing helicopter shot of the prison to the unforgettable shot as the Warden rips the poster off the wall, the film is filled with spectacular moments. Easily the best prison film ever made, and a testament to the power of hope.