It's that time of year, my favourite time, Halloween. As a child a few of the influences that hooked me to write this genre were 'horror nasty' video sleeves and the elaborate cover-art of horror novels. I've put together a selection of thoughts of some great horror movies (and there are countless others), perfect for that cold autumn night, including Halloween and The Shining which in my are in my opinion horror must sees.
Case 39 (2009)
Going against typecast Renée Zellweger plays a social worker who takes in an allegedly abused child, Lilith after her parents try to kill her. However, the little girl may not be all she seems, reminiscent of the Orphan (2009) and borrowing heavily from the Omen and it's remake, Case 39 is an enjoyable horror yarn.
Aside from a realistic Hornet scene and CGI face changes, thankfully Case 39's director Christian Alvart avoids using noticeable dodgy visual effects. For the first 40 minutes or so it's a strong creepy drama which then turns into a psychological horror in the latter half.
There's nothing new in Ray Wright story, however, what keeps you watching is child actor Jodelle Ferland and Zellweger, who both give great performances. Both Ian McShane and Adrian Lester turn up with American accents and are great at grounding the bizarre occurrences. Also Bradley Cooper of A-Team fame plays a small notable role as a child psychologist and love interest.
While it's not the most original horror drama it is effective with some genuine well executed creepy moments. Great late night viewing.
A Spanish female TV reporter, Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Manu (Ferran Terraza) cover the night-shift at the local fire-station but thing goes awry when they go on a call to a building that becomes quarantined.
Taking style of The Blair Witch Project (1999) to a more fitting effective and aesthetics level and inspiring big budgeter Cloverfield (2008), Rec is creatively directed/written by Jaume Balagueró and Luis Berdejo.
The film is seen purely from the point of view of the cameras and at times the shock factor is high. The film is packed with excellent practical effects, great sound and first rate makeup. This with the on location setting and lighting create and eerie atmosphere.
The acting is superb (and the unnecessary remake Quarantine (2008) is pale in comparison) as Manuela leads a cast of authentic looking firemen into a building as the infection spreads making it's victims zombie-like. The supporting cast of occupants are equally as good, the acting is superb especially in the smaller quieter segments as they are interviewed by Ángela's character and when they find out they are trapped in the building.
The action, suspense and fear builds up to a crescendo as the truth of the outbreak is revealed. With some jump scares and a surprise ending it's a perfect horror ride.
Rec 2 (2009
Continuing right where Rec (2007) left off, a SWAT team outfitted with video cameras are sent into a virus infected quarantined apartment to assist in retrieving some blood samples.
The same writer/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza are back on board with an extra writer Manu Díez in the sequel to the excellent Spanish horror flick. It's more of the same, dark corridors, frantic Point of View camera work, blood gore and mayhem.
Rec 2 wastes no time of getting back into the building where the out-break started. It is an entertaining horror piece as the SWAT team are picked off one by one, but it lacks the character development of the first and feels more of a ride than gripping. That said, the acting is first rate, Jonathan Mellor's Dr. Owen is notable and Manuela Velasco returns.
There's some clever story telling that inter-loops the goings on and also links it to the first Rec. However, there is less focus on the virus/zombie and the screen-play centres on a more biblical and parasite theme which takes the story in new directions. Still, it's just as fresh and a chilling as Rec and Rec 2 comes full circle in the closing shots.
Overall a great entry that has inevitably spawned a third and a Quarantine2.
28 Days Later... (2002)
Danny Boyle's 28 Day Later is the best mindless human being film since Romero's zombie movies. It's an exceptional horror film that follows a handful of survivors after an incurable virus spreads throughout the UK.
From the opening frantic scene that is quickly followed by the quiet empty deserted streets of London, you know your watching something different and fresh. Without detriment to the story there's lots of gore and bloodshed. However, there's also a lot of psychological terror happening and subtle character touches that make you feel for these people.
Outstanding writing by Alex Garland and a pulsating chilling score John Murphy adds to 28's perfect tension, atmosphere and tone. The casting by Gail Stevens is faultless, it includes Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Eccleston in their best roles to-date. This is director Danny Boyle's unnerving masterpiece.
A perfect gritty horror, with a realistic scary premise. A must see.
John Carpenters 1978 textbook horror slasher film.
What make this different to many other babysitter stalker films is the production value, Carpenters direction and score that reeks of dread. Perfect leads include, heavy weight Donald Pleasence and ever reliable Jamie Lee Curtis as they try to out wit an escaped psychotic murderer.
Halloween is a well produced basic, yet essential horror that contains very little nudity or blood for this type of genre. What maybe a little tame for gore hungry audiences of today, it still remains defining archetype horror film, as without the masked Michael Myers there wouldn't be many of the horror's there are on your shelf right now.
A must see for any horror fan.
The Shining (1980)
A caretaker is isolated with his family in a hotel for the winter season, however they are not alone and the past guests and staff spirits still live on putting the caretaker, his wife and son in grave danger.
What can I say about Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' that hasn't already been said? I watched the uncut 146 minute version which only reinforced the fact that it is one of the best, if not the greatest tension driven, psychological horror films that has been made.
Thankfully Kubrick doesn't follow Kings 'The Shining' novel to the letter, or we have the hedged animals coming to life and an explosive ending, while grand it would have lost the reality and realism that Kubrick creates.
Jack Nicholson's antics, Shelley Duvall's fear, Danny Lloyd's performance (one of the few child leads that isn't annoying) is first-rate as Danny. Veteran and voice of Hong Kong Phooey, Scatman Crothers is superb and the array of actors small but memorable parts including, Bladerunners Joe Turkel as Lloyd the Bartender and Barry Nelson as Manger, Stuart Ullman.
It's not the novel, Kubrick's the Shining one of the most impressive horror films ever made and on so many levels.