Let’s face it, if you’re a film fan every year you cry “Let’s have a horror movie marathon on Halloween!” with the best of intentions. And then it never happens, because better things come your way. Such as an invite to a fancy dress party wherein everyone else has somehow managed to look effortlessly cool AND scary, while you just look like a lonely, used tampon in an outfit you thought would definitely land you a snog.
Whatever circumstance foils your horrorthon, don’t give up hope! There’s still time to assemble a cracking roster of movies for the few folks who have decided to skip out on a party and venture over to your gaff for the night. Read on for my selection of Netflix instant streaming titles that I reckon ought to definitely milm (soil) your keks (trousers/pants.)
Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil
Tucker And Dale is one of those rare gems that manages to stir up gore, comedy and a healthy dose of reinvention. If you’re sick to the back teeth of having filmmakers force you to empathise with vapid teenagers and their smug, young faces then this is the one for you. Opting to take the perspective of the supposed ‘villains’, Tucker and Dale shows you what the horror movie experience is like for the stereotypical rednecks who are constantly pigeonholed. It’s a clever, gory pic wrapped around a very sweet love story.
If you and I are friends, or even if we’ve met briefly at some hootenanny or other, the chances are I’ve spoken out about the sheer brilliance of Wes Craven’s Scream. See, this is the movie that sparked my interest in film, and it continues to dominate a significant portion of my movie-lovin’ heart.
Coming up to its twenty year anniversary, I’ve found that a lot of younger film fans have sadly allowed the movie to become entangled with a load of inferior slasher impostors, and do not take the time to consider its majesty. Because it truly is a wondrous experience; from its re-invention of horror cliches, brazen intertextuality (that means it refers to other horror movies), and a genuinely scary clutch of sequences. After all, it’s fine being a clever clogs, but who gives a toot if you’re not utterly terrifying?
Trust me on this; while Scream 2, Scream 3 and definitely Scream 4 lessened the effectual blow of Craven’s inimitable scares, the first Scream still packs the most gut-wrenching punch in its first twelve minutes alone. By the end of that sequence, my eyes are always brimming with tears as every single time I shout “Throw the phone!” to a beaten, bloodied Drew Barrymore who every single time fails to hear me.
I might re-watch it this weekend.
The story of a ship that receives a distress call from a supposedly missing vessel – the Event Horizon – might sound familiar. It’s a well-used narrative device that sci-fi recycles, mainly because, if you’re in the middle of outer space, how the hell are you just gonna happen upon something new to kickstart a second act? Needless to say, the rediscovered vessel has been somewhere pretty ghastly and the crew of the Lewis and Clark have to fight to survive. I remember when I worked at a video store for some years during university, the VHS copy we had was completely trounced during one particular sequence (much like our copy of Basic Instinct.) I won’t spoil that particular scene, so get it watched, and let me know which one you think it is.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Quentin Tarantino’s script borrows heavily from Stephen King’s method of writing. Introduce your audience to characters in a “normal” situation, then throw them into a whirlwind of otherworldly chaos. Part of the genius in how it functions so well as a hybrid genre flick stems from that very sentiment. Robert Rodriguez’s action eye ups the pace, and handles Tarantino’s dialogue without that filmmaker’s usual slow-burning reveals. In essence, shit gets real. Fast. I harbour a deep love of this movie as I remember seeing it at the cinema upon release, and enjoyed many subsequent viewings at home.
Perhaps my fondest memory is of my mother – walking through the living room during George Clooney’s fantastic one-liner – reciting this choice piece of dialogue repeatedly for days afterwards. “Do they look like psychos? Do psychos explode when sunlight hits them? They were fucking vampires!”
The Blair Witch Project
What’s not been said about The Blair Witch Project? I won’t re-hash what’s gone before. Quite simply, the film has suffered the same fate as Scream. It’s been watched post-release in a climate where found footage is the norm, by an audience on whom the viral marketing build-up has had no effect. I recall watching it at a preview in Nottingham, weeks before release with a bunch of friends. The entire cinema was hyperventilating. The audience I endured the experience with, truly allowed themselves to suspend their disbelief. They engaged, they permitted the fright to enter. Watching it again some years later with a first-timer, their less-than-positive response stemmed ultimately from lack of attention. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it now: listen very, very carefully to what’s being said at the beginning. It’s only then that the final scene will have its intended shock value.
My first Stephen King book, and the first Stephen King adaptation I watched. The first time was late at night on BBC1 back when I was barely 14 and its stuck with me ever since. The academic side of me appreciates the parable King proffers; women become ‘monstrous’ when they begin menstruating. Women in genre films have been analysed in terms of their change into womanhood, and how this affects how men view them. While it’s inevitably a much more detailed theoretical framework, the genesis of the idea rings true.
The attraction for me is in Carrie’s inescapable fate. She’s simply nowhere to turn when her newly-found abilities present themselves, becoming one of cinema’s first female superheroes who sadly grapples with peer pressure, familial insanity and self esteem and loses out to the temptation of power.
Plus, Piper Laurie is the best onscreen mother, ever. Who knew chopping carrots could be so damn frightening?