Sunday, 25 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 11: Wonderful use of lighting.

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.



Day 11: Wonderful use of lighting

Could the answer ever be anything but Suspiria? Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece is not only arguably his best film, but also arguably one of the most visually interesting films ever. The story is based around the strange going ons in a boarding dancing academy in Germany, which the students think might be the doings of a witch, and you can guess the film lends itself to nightmare imagery. I could go on for days about the stunning set pieces and design and general content of the film, but since this is to primarily loo at lighting, let's leave it at that. The lighting is not what you would call traditional. The entire film is played through a child's eyes, and the lighting is used to add to this. Heavy contrast is seen throughout, with stark, well lit passages of light showing us just how close to the safety of the outside world we are, and in consequence forcing us to be more aware of the darker and more hidden places in the school that we head. There is also the films use of colour in scenes that is completely contradictory to what the lighting situation should be. Case in point; when the girls are forced to sleep in the hall after a maggot infestation, the room turns a deep red, instead of black (or the more familiar cinematic blue that Hollywood uses so we can see what happens at night), or the sickly blue that tinges the frame heavily as a girl tries to outrun a nightmare killer. This heavy colour coding is abstract and very symbolic (google and you will find plenty of interpretations of the colours), going hand in hand with the lush cinematography of the film making Suspiria one heck of a beautiful film, even after 35 years.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 10: A Great Sequel

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.


Day 09: A great sequel.

I'll take some flack for this, but here it goes; Alien 3. That's right, widely considered the worst of the original trilogy (until Resurrection came along), disowned by future amaze-balls director David Fincher, and regarded as destroying so many elements of the films that the previous instalments had built up. And I love it. I hate seeing that Fincher disowned the film, because it has all the hallmarks of his future best works; dark and starkly beautiful photography (returning to the cinematic scope of the first film), a gritty narrative, and an abstract score. What really makes this film for me is just how much balls it has. Hicks and Newt were well loved characters from the preceding Aliens, and this film just completely does away with them. Ellen Ripley is, once again, alone and must fight to survive in a hostile environment (here, it is an all-male prison planet that has no weapons). The original theatrical release is actually missing a lot of material that has since been reworked and released as the 'workprint' version, which you can find in the Quadrilogy and Anthology boxsets, and would be my preferred version, as it covers several plot holes and just gives me more of this dank and cold film (I will make a side note, a friend of mine maintains he prefers the theatrical cut, as the workprint feels long and wandering, a complaint I can understand). I really think a lot of people didn't like this film on its release because it was such a 180 compared to the previous, more action orientated Aliens, but this is much more in keeping with the industrial feel of Ridley Scott's masterpiece, and is, to boot, tense. You never know which to fear more; the streamlined, panther-like alien, or the prisoners, who are always on the border of being loyal allies or murderous rapists. Not a popcorn film by any stretch of the imagination, this film is a dark masterpiece.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 09: A movie that you like to show people

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.


Day 09: A movie that you like to show people.

No hesitation; The Ruins. This film is about the survival of some 20 something year olds trapped on top of some ancient ruins in South America (or central, I'm not 100%), with locals refusing to let them leave, the reason quickly becoming apparent; killer plants. Yes, this sounds eerily like The Happening, but this film could not be further from it. It is a survival horror in all senses, with the viewer put in the position of the kids trapped right out in the open, with the choice being between the killer locals or starvation and killer plants. Shot beautifully, acted convincingly, effects shown viscerally, the film is the whole package and belongs on best-of lists. The biggest shame is that it isn't, and a lot of people aren't even aware of its existence, a wrong I try to set right by showing it to people.

So go watch it!!! 

Monday, 19 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 08: A terrifying inanimate object

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.

Of course, in typical me fashion, not only have I fallen behind, but I have consistently fallen behind and lied about getting through this 30 Day Horror Challenge. BUT, being one to argue, if we look at time in all its definitions, the simplest one being that it is all relative, to some poor souls out there who have stumbled across this blog, I have yet to miss a day, but have in fact presented all the days in one go so far... Ok, ok, long story short; lots of work, laptop go boom, I'm a horrible person. Let's just get on with the show;


Day 08: A terrifying inanimate object.

This one actually stumped me for quite awhile (7 years, I think. Time is relative yadda yadda), but in the end, it could never be anything but the Lament Configuration from the Hellraiser series. Very simply, a puzzle box that, when solved, opens a portal to another universe/dimension, which is inhabited by the ghastly Cenobites (led by the ever popular Pinhead). These creatures then inflict the most torturous pain on the puzzle solver, providing what they say is explicit pleasure (that whole blurry line and the likes). The terror comes from the fact that the puzzle box itself is just so innocuous. It is actually downright attractive. But some unsuspecting person, even a child, could bring about an eternity of suffering for themselves by accident. And the box really isn't that hard to solve, so you know there are plenty of people who only solved it because they had a spare 5 minutes and they left their Sudoko at home.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

30 Day Horror Challenge-Day 07: An incredibly twisted movie.

For the next 30 days, I will be giving my fingers short bursts of exercise by completing the 30 Day Horror Challenge, found here. Hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what horror is for me. Don't forget to check back every day for a new instalment.


Day 06: An incredibly twisted movie.

Random mermaid. Casual discovery. Putting in a bathtub. Boils. Painting. Boils popping and the puss being used as paint. Borderline bestiality. Mermaid in a Manhole probably tops the list of twisted films. The basic premise is so interesting (a man finds a mermaid in the sewers, brings it back to his apartment to try nurse it back to health, but it gets more and more sick. He is fascinated and in love with it, and paints its portrait), but it is as a cheaply shot film as the fourth entry in the notorious Guinea Pig film series that twists a sadly poetic tale into one of complete macabre and disgust. Ever see Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, where we view the murders' home movies? This feels an awful lot like that. I shiver as I even remember the ooze of the mermaid's boils and sores... A truly twisted film in that it is so beautiful, but so repulsive at the same time. Not for the weak stomached, but one for the adventurous.