Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Movies List #3 - Alternative Halloween Flicks

Another list for this Halloween (the first two you can see Here and Here). This one offers a slightly different scary film for this time of year. Films that may not be full blown horror or ones that have a slightly more dramatic layer to them. Or ones that will make you feel like you're above the usual horror fair when talking to other people around the water cooler at the office. If you are one of those people then just know I appreciate you reading this blog and hope you come back but I don't like you.

Let's kick things off!


ANGEL HEART -Mickey Rourke gives another great performance in Alan Parker's dark journey into the world of Voo Doo and the darker side of human nature in 'Angel Heart'.

Rourke plays Harry Angel a detective who is hired by a mysterious stranger, played by Robert DeNiro, to track down Johnny Favorite who has gone missing. This takes him to New Orleans but then people start turning up dead as he comes across more and more people that knew Johnny. It's a haunting tale with a surprise ending. It's basically a dark film noir mixed with horror and one worth checking out.

MAY - Not sure how many people have seen Lucky McKee's 'May' which is why I decided to list it here.

Angela Bettis perfectly plays May a girl with an extreme lazy eye which she corrects by wearing a special contact lens. But growing up she was teased and made fun of so she took solice in her doll kept in a glass case. May is a loner and an outsider. Something I think many of us can relate to on some level. She works at a vet and befriends a fellow co-worker played by Anna Faris who is both curious and attracted to May. May also has a crush on a mechanic played by Jeremy Sisto and she desperately tries to get him to notice her. Unfortuantely for her the oddness proves to be a little much for people. All she wants is to fit in and have a friend. She finds a way to but that will have to wait until you see the film for yourself.

This film works on many levels and is held together by the great performances all around especially by Bettis' May. While not a full blown horror film it definitely delivers on the horror of being an outsider that we all feel from time to time. You really should track this one down.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - As much as I love the original film with Kevin McCarthy I have to admit I prefer the Philip Kaufman 1978 version of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'.

Aliens have arrived on earth in this slimy substance that attaches itself to our plants and then grows into a flower like pod which when near a sleeping human being slowing absorbs them and then replaces them with a new one only without emotion.

This version features some amazing performances by Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams. Not to mention Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, and Leonard Nimoy. The way that you feel the paranoia and the feeling of who is who in the film is really quite amazing and very creepy. When I used to work at a big company downtown and I would arrive at the office at 8:30 I would look down the street to the people that just got off the train and there was this huge crowd of people walking down the sidewalk with just blank expressions on their faces. Always made me think of this movie. Luckily I got out in time. Or ... did I?

STEPHEN KING'S IT - I know what you're thinking. Did I just list a TV movie? Yes I did. One of the better horror TV movies and the first major one (probably since 'Salem's Lot') made from a Stephen King novel 'Stephen King's IT' really stands out from the standard TV fare.

While it is a made for TV movie and therefore has some of the drawbacks a TV movie can have it no doubt works on the dramatic level. A two night miniseries the film featured an all star cast and the concept of trying to adapt a novel that seemed almost impossible to do. A group of people reunite after decades to confront the evil monster they faced as kids. The first half is mainly introducing the characters and then flashbacks to them as kids when they first fought Pennywise The Clown played by the great Tim Curry.

The young cast is very impressive featuring the late Jonathan Brandis and featuring a young Seth Green plus the performance of a pre-'Ginger Snaps' Emily Perkins whom I had the pleasure of meeting last weekend. The younger actors do a great job of setting up the relationships and laying the groundwork for the reunion of their adult counterparts so many years later. In some ways I prefer the first half but there is no denying the film as a whole works.

When they all reunite years later having practically forgotten the horror they left behind things start right away. Warnings to leave and bizarre hallucinations before they all take on the evil of Pennywise. The adult cast is no less impressive featuring Annette O'Toole, Tim Reid, Harry Anderson, Richard Thomas, and the late John Ritter.

'IT' was a benchmark in TV miniseries in many ways. It's ratings success led to other Stephen King novels being made into miniseries. However the story, characters, and creepiness that this one has was never really duplicated. Definitely worth your time and a great title for this Halloween.

PSYCHO - Once again I know what you're thinking. I know this film Why are you listing it? My answer is do you really? I know a lot of people who know of Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant 'Psycho' but haven't actually seen it. Or if they have then not in a very long time.

We all know the shower scene. Even if you've never seen the film you know of the shower scene. We all know the character of Norman Bates played to the tee by Anthony Perkins. However, when was the last time you watched the film? Have you ever actually seen it? The film is more than the shocking shower scene. It is a film that really took scary films to another level. One that disturbed audience because you felt like you weren't safe anymore.

Hitchcock's other films while very suspenseful still had a sense of safety to them. It was a fun suspense and in the end you always knew the hero would win out. Not in a cheesy way but that our main character, whether it was James Stewart or Cary Grant, would turn out ok. Not so with 'Psycho'. You didn't know where the film would go next. Once the now infamous shower scene happens you also realize that anyone is expendable. It is Hitchcock's darkest film and his most terrifying.

Made with a fraction of his usual budget and utilizing the crew from his TV show 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' he made sure that Hitchcock the artist had to do things in a creative way without the benefit of a large budget. Therefore this film had many iconic shots in it. All of his other films have one shot we all remember. This film has like twenty. Bernard Hermann's score is one that is completely unforgettable. In its simplistic string-based use of music it works hand in hand with the film.

Do yourself a favor and jump back into this one. I think you'll be surprised to find out that this film is far more than just a shower scene. It is a classic made by a master at his most rawest.

One more list to go for Halloween. My favorite picks to watch during this time of year. I am sure they are all ones we all know but are worth posting about and more importantly watching again.


ninnuh said...

This made me laugh, "If you are one of those people then just know I appreciate you reading this blog and hope you come back but I don't like you."

Gory said...

haha I used to work with people like that. Still do on occasion. If it's a movie they can't lift their nose up at with others then it's beneath them. Always annoyed me. But when I'd start going on and on about how much I love this movie and that movie no matter what kind it was the people there would always turn towards me and start joining in on the ones they liked. Always great to see because you see people shed off that shroud of trying to impress others and just talk about the movies they like and their smile is real. We should never be ashamed of the things we enjoy.

Christian Toto said...

Good choices ... "they all float down he-ah, Georgie" ... Tim Curry's performance in "IT" is terrifying.

And I've never seen "May" but have heard plenty of good things about it. Need to catch up with it asap.