Author Topic: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror  (Read 688 times)

Terrazine

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Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« on: January 22, 2017, 02:10:35 PM »
So recently, I came across two movie countdown documentaries that got me in the mood for horror movies again, specifically Chiller 13: The Decade's Scariest Movie Moments, and Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. I noticed that a lot of these were either classics or cult films that I haven't seen before, making this a good opportunity for me to have a marathon of sorts.

Here are the films I'll be visiting:

Chiller 13
13. Drag Me to Hell
12. The Strangers
11. Final Destination (2000)
10. Orphan
9. The Descent
8. Hostel
7. 30 Days of Night
6. Cloverfield
5. 28 Days Later
4. The Mist
3. Saw (2004)
2. Paranormal Activity

1. The Ring (replaced with Ringu)

Bravo's 100 (To be updated)
100. 28 Days Later
99. Creepshow
98. Zombi
97. Cat People
96. The Birds
95. Jurassic Park
94. Child's Play

93. Pacific Heights
92. Village of the Damned (1960)
91. Shallow Grave
90. The Night of the Hunter
89. Alice Sweet Alice
88. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
87. Black Christmas
86. The Wizard of Oz
85. Blood and Black Lace
84. Blue Velvet
83. The Others
82. The Terminator
81. The Howling

80. Poltergeist (1982)
79. Dracula
78. The Brood
77. Signs
76. The Evil Dead (1981)

The crossed out entries are titles that I've either seen or just doesn't have particular interest in them for this horror marathon (I mean, Cloverfield and Wizard of Oz? C'mon). I'll update the thread with another 25 films as I go through the list.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 09:50:50 PM by Terrazine »

1SO

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 02:30:43 PM »
Let's go!


Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 05:37:57 PM »
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
It's rather uncomfortable to watch the film again after you've seen it once due to certain spoilerific content in the third act. When I knew what's coming, the experience felt like, "Do we really need to go through this again?"

Of course, looking back at this again, one could marvel at the brilliant direction of Raimi. It's a very atmospheric kind of horror, and not technically the generic "bump in the dark" fare you would get in haunted house movies either. The spirit constantly haunts Christine through the movie and Raimi made its presence very palpable and real so you'd be at the edge of your seat.

Such scare tactics make it difficult sometimes to remember that this was intended to be a horror comedy (the swearing goat should clue you in) especially when it also bears certain familiar routines from other horror films, including the pure-as-gold heroine's struggle through dirt and mud as she comes crawling out through the terrors of hell. But of course, there are enough nuanced differences that separate itself. The girl isn't technically really 'pure' in her core (though nevertheless very human and relatable), and then there's the infamous ending which I shall not spoil here.

What really works about this film is that Christine's position was a very relatable one, a very human kind of situation that anyone could connect to. It's really a catch-22 type of deal - keep your job or kick out the old lady - and mostly just dumb luck for Christy to have the privilege of that particular customer instead of Stu.

One possible flaw to note about the movie is the part about San Dena's redemption. What I didn't get was why would she accept $10,000 in cash if she wanted the redemption? Sounds kinda hypocritical to me if you ask me, and I doubt it's bad writing on Raimi's part. Perhaps an intentional touch of irony? It is a comedy, after all.

4/5
One of Raimi's most solid works, though a few notches down from The Evil Dead.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 06:10:55 PM by Terrazine »

oldkid

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 08:44:20 PM »
I need to watch DMtH, still.  A great one for Shocktober.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 11:36:11 AM »
The Strangers (2008)
Japan is well-known for keeping their doors unlocked at all times due to the low crime rate. For America, however, home invasion is indeed a very real and serious issue worth exploring. Unfortunately, The Strangers took an interesting issue and dumbed it down to Hollywood slasher schlock.

The first thing I noticed about the film is the terribly forced and unnatural acting. It's hard to describe what bad acting looks like, but it's those little body movements that, once I noticed it, I couldn't unsee it, those artificial reactions and expression that real people wouldn't normally behave with in their positions as an awkward couple. Liv Tyler was always a mediocre actress in Armageddon and Incredible Hulk, but here, her unspectacular acting is at its dullest. Even though the dry drama was dragged out through the first act, it's really the bad acting that kept distracting me, not the writing.

But that doesn't leave much to say for the writing either. The Strangers did everything wrong where Drag Me to Hell did right in the atmospheric horror department. Bump in the dark, jump scares, dumb reactions and decisions to the killers, etc. Name any cliche in the slasher movie textbook and you'll probably find it here (maybe not the naked chicks though). You know how the golden rule of horror movie goes: "When you have dumb characters doing stupid things that get them into trouble, in comes the eight deadly words: "I don't care what happens to these people." It's a dullfest to the ending in spite of the semi-creative Michael Myers-copy antagonists that would appear in the background all of the sudden.

2.5/5
Could have been so much better, but alas, a squandered potential.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 06:11:03 PM by Terrazine »

1SO

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2017, 02:49:55 PM »
My problem with The Strangers is you expect it to build to Liv Tyler eventually turning the tables for some long overdue revenge, but it turns out to be more of an exercise in pointless sadism. The scary premise turns into quiet grief. There are good movies that go down the nihilistic path, like Funny Games and Angst, but those films take place closer to the real world while The Strangers is more of a fantasy scare premise with nothing to say about what happens. Only misery.


I've been meaning to direct your attention to my absolute favorite list of the best of Horror. It's called They Shoot Zombies, Don't They?. Based on the famous They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? list, it combines hundreds of ranked horror lists to create an ultimate cannon of recommendations. Obviously, with 1000 titles the list becomes more questionable as it goes - I'm a fan of horror and I don't think there are more than maybe 600 good ones - but the Top 100 is pretty hard to argue with, and make for a fine checklist of horror essentials.

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2017, 03:08:39 PM »
My problem with The Strangers is you expect it to build to Liv Tyler eventually turning the tables for some long overdue revenge, but it turns out to be more of an exercise in pointless sadism. The scary premise turns into quiet grief. There are good movies that go down the nihilistic path, like Funny Games and Angst, but those films take place closer to the real world while The Strangers is more of a fantasy scare premise with nothing to say about what happens. Only misery.
I could understand why they went with where they did. It was "inspired" by a true story (meaning they made up 70% of the stuff), and the real victims didn't survive either. The problem, as you said, is indeed the execution. I've seen Funny Games and Angst, and they did have a better message than this mess. I say "mess" because I think The Strangers did have a potentially good message - that strangers could just invade your home at any time, therefore my mention of Japan's low crime rate and unlocked doors - but that doesn't help the sloppy execution of the meandering film circling around to nowhereville.

I've been meaning to direct your attention to my absolute favorite list of the best of Horror. It's called They Shoot Zombies, Don't They?. Based on the famous They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? list, it combines hundreds of ranked horror lists to create an ultimate cannon of recommendations. Obviously, with 1000 titles the list becomes more questionable as it goes - I'm a fan of horror and I don't think there are more than maybe 600 good ones - but the Top 100 is pretty hard to argue with, and make for a fine checklist of horror essentials.
Thanks for the list. I've seen it before, and they contain some great stuff. I might add them to this thread after I'm done with my current lists.

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 06:44:04 PM »
Final Destination (2000)
Alex Browning had a vision that his plane would crash, and it did. He and five other students survived. The twist in all this is that Death is pissed about their survival, and would proceed to throw its tantrum like a whiny little kid.

I remember when I first saw this film and its chilling premonition sequence. The first time (and even a few times after) I saw it, it was one of the most horrifying scenes I ever saw. The built-up of that opening scene was perfect, the way the various omens and signs created the atmosphere that something is terribly wrong. In spite of any pacing issues it might have later, the opening alone was very well-crafted. It's ironic that one of our biggest fears would also be our biggest dream - flight. I've always been afraid of flying even before I watched this film, and seeing it certainly didn't help. I still haven't flew.

Alongside Scream, Final Destination was a horror film of my generation, so that might attribute to why I felt like it was underrated. In spite of the terrible sequels, I felt like the first one was often overlooked or forgotten in due to the whole franchise becoming a joke. It was a more serious fare compared to the rest, which became parodies of themselves like many horror sequels. I also prefer its theme music over the rock/metal version from the fourth one, which was just plain obnoxious IMO.

Due to the fact that the killer is a supernatural entity that's practically godlike, it leaves for a lot of creativity in the manners of execution. Lewton's death was agreed by consensus to be a rather comedic scene because of how it happens: escalation. Just when you think one object would deal the fatal blow to put her to rest, it just keeps building up into ridiculous levels that puts Kevin McCallister to shame. And it's thrilling the first time you watch it to figure out how they're going to beat Death again like a puzzle. I do feel that the full potential of this wasn't fully utilized though (till the second film which some found to be better than the first), as it could have escalated into much more complex designs of killing.

Another thing worth noting is that male heroes are not common in horror films. Usually, it's the female that beats the killer after going through hell. Even with the '90s slasher flicks, it's still a female portrayed as the tough survivor beating all odds, so it's kinda refreshing to see a male protagonist for a change, one that shows a healthy balance of fear, panic, and at times, bravery.

It's a shame that the franchise ended up the way it did, and even with this first film's ending, I wasn't too happy about how Death couldn't be beaten at all. But I suppose that's the whole point of it, the message. You can't escape Death no matter what. It's a morbid message, but perhaps also a pragmatic one worth telling just this one time, not worth its rehash throughout the franchise.

4/5

Terrazine

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2017, 09:23:46 AM »
Small sidenote: Just watched the alternate ending for the first FD. Way better than the original ending, as it affirms life, not death. Go take a look if you didn't like the original ending either.

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Re: Chiller Countdown: A Lookback at Horror
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2017, 10:04:59 AM »
I've seen the first 2 Final Destinations. The big disaster scene was the best part both times. I remember seeing the original ending on the DVD, but didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other.

 

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