Halloween is upon us once again, and since this is one of the few holidays in which I write something that is somewhat timely, I figure I should continue the tradition (and this year, I'll actually publish the post before
Halloween). A few horror movies I've had the pleasure to view recently:
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974): I'd seen this once before, a long time ago, and was pretty well creeped out by it. About as pure an exercise in horror as is possible in a movie. As such, there are some who feel it lacks real purpose (and thus that it is a waste of talent), but it is so well executed that I can't help but love it and it didn't really lose any impact upon my second viewing this past weekend. It's got that gritty 70s horror feel, and you can almost feel the sweaty, grungy Texas setting. Speaking of which, it's interesting to note that what makes this movie so creepy is not just the freaky chainsaw-wielding maniac, it's that there really isn't anywhere to go. Unlike a lot of horror movies, there really isn't anywhere safe to run. And when our heroine is cornered and you think to yourself "Just jump out of the window, you moron," she actually proceeds to jump out the window. Of course, that only buys her a minute or so, but it's still a refreshing difference. It's obviously a low budget film, but it doesn't detract at all from the experience (and I think it contributes a little to the atmosphere too). It unfolds in a surprisingly realistic way, and that is part of why it is so effective. There's a ton more that could be said about this, but if you've never found yourself on the business end of a chainsaw or a meat hook, and you don't mind that it doesn't really seek to do anything deeper than creeping you out, it's worth watching. ***1/2
- Re-Animator (1985): In the 1980s, we started to see the emergence of horror films that were aware of how ridiculous they were, and even embracing the cheesyness in a humorous way. These films were less scary than they were funny, and Re-Animator is one of the better examples of this. It's a ton of fun, and it has taken on an added dimension of humor recently as one of the characters bears a striking resemblance to John Kerry. Heh. It's silly, it knows it's silly, and it's a lot of fun. **1/2
- Cabin Fever (2002): In a lot of ways, this movie starts off similar to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's an element of realism in the setup, and the setting is a similar sort of desolate, helpless area. Alas, the tendency to wink at the audience and descend into gory meyhem gets the better of writer/director Eli Roth (who also made this year's squirm-inducing Hostel) and the movie becomes unhinged about halfway through. However, the ending (last 10-20 minutes or so) manages to transcend the cheesy gore as Roth somehow orchestrates a series of simultaneously idiotic and yet brilliant sequences. This ending kicks off with a car crashing into a deer, moves on to a harmonica... incident, has a nice shootout, and then goes into hyperdrive when Roth makes a joke involving a racist shopkeep and a rifle. Oh, and I almost forgot about the lemonade. It's completely ludicrous.
It reminded me of the ending of Mario Bava's Bay of Blood, a film notable mostly for it's inventive death sequences (many of which were lifted by Friday the 13th Part 2) and its totally unexpected and absurd ending involving two kids and a shotgun. Roth manages to capture this feeling several times as his film winds down, and that's actually pretty cool. In the end, it's not the greatest horror film out there, but if you don't mind movies that start realistically and then take the premise over the top as the film goes on, it might be worth checking out. **1/2
Interesting stuff. For those interested, here are a few older Kaedrin Halloween themed posts and some other Horror movie related posts:
- Save it with the music: Wherein I discuss the role of music in horror films.
- Horror: Wherein I blather on and on about more obscure horror films and novels.
- Friday the 13th: Wherein Weasello hilariously reviews all of the movies in the Friday the 13th movie series.
- The Biology of B-Movie Monsters: Wherein someone takes B-Movies way too seriously. Still interesting though.
Well, that's all for now. Happy Halloween!