Scary stuff

Halloween approaches. I have the cutest ladybug in town, and perhaps the cutest zombie, although he might not like that description. I have thought I should masquerade as someone who has it all together, but I’m not sure I can pull that off. Instead, I shall note my favorite scary and Halloween-type stuff. Here they are, in no particular order.

Night of the Hunter. A movie from 1951, directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, with Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. This is a movie that despite it being in black and white and 60 years old, I find hard to watch alone. Mitchum is menacing, and few things are as menacing and scary as evil wrapped up in good clothing. If you ever wondered where the “love” and “hate” on the knuckles came from, this is the place. This is a suspense film, with very little blood and violence, but all the more scarier for it. Laughton incorporates those nightmare images we all know, such as when the children are making their way down the river, and Mitchum is chasing them. He rides his horse at a leisurely pace but never falls behind. This movie was panned on its release but is now regarded as a classic; Laughton never directed again. Here’s Roger Ebert’s Great Movie essay.

Hush,” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is my favorite episode from one of my favorite series. For half an hour no one talks. Can you imagine, on television, no dialogue?!!? Kudos to Joss Whedon for pulling it off, with his usual mix of humor and suspense. The Gentlemen in this will no doubt remind you of The Strangers in Dark City (see below) and possibly Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Dark City. A movie I can rewatch any time. A wonderful mix of film noir and sci-fi, from Alex Proyas, who also directed The Crow. The movie isn’t so much scary, but it’s dark and has a great Twilight Zone feel. Perhaps an odd cast, but William Hurt is great, Jennifer Connolly has a great singing voice, and it’s probably the most unusual role for Keifer Sutherland since The Lost Boys. Ebert again.

The Nightmare before Christmas. A fantastic movie, produced by Tim Burton. It has the advantage of being both a great Halloween and a great Christmas movie! Jack Skellington is bored with Halloween and discovers Christmas. Imagine what the residents of Halloweentown, gruesome and good-natured as they are, will do as they attempt to manage Christmas. Santa’s not thrilled, either.

Clive Barker.  Barker is a more fantastical writer than Stephen King, but his earlier works like The Books of Blood (from which Hellraiser came) are terrific. One of my favorite stories is The Body Politic. Hands off, indeed.

Stephen King. I won’t bore you with what you already know, about the most prolific (probably) horror writer of our time. So let me note a few of my more favorites. First, The Stand, unabridged. Despite the length, I found it hard to put down. The TV mini-series (remember those?) was great, considering how much they likely had to cut and condense. Oddly, I find I often prefer the books he wrote under the name Richard Bachman, and of those, I would recommend The Regulators, the companion book to Desperation.

Neil Gaiman. All of his books, for kids and adults, are worth reading. For a Halloween feel, I’d suggest his Sandman comic book series.

There you go – Happy Halloween!

Ack — nearly forgot! The Serpent and the Rainbow! This is a movie by Wes Craven, based on a non-fiction book by Wade Davis. It was probably one of the first horror movies I ever saw, and it’s great. Not great like Oscar-great, but has all the right elements of cast, plot and pacing. It also has Bill Pullman, one of my favorite actors. You’d mostly likely recognize him as the President in Independence Day, but I highly recommend you check out his role as Oswald Danes in the recent series, “Torchwood: Miracle Day.” Pullman is surprisingly good at playing a bad guy.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by LL on October 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    “I have thought I should masquerade as someone who has it all together”

    Like a Stepford Wife?

    Reply

  2. Posted by blue on October 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    sadly, halloween isn’t my favorite holiday LOL although fall is my favorite season…i really don’t like scary stuff though i do love reading sci-fi and paranormal stories (go figure)…i’ve never read a stephen king book or any author if this genre and the only movie adaptation i saw of king’s was the sleepwalkers…i liked the song but the movie creeped me out…

    “Pullman is surprisingly good at playing a bad guy.” – I’ve found that actors who look like nice guys usually are good at being psychos or generally bad guys…such a contrast of having a kind face and having a beastly personality just makes it more horrifying (to me at least LOL)

    Reply

    • I forget who said, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Which may go some towards explaining why actors like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey can be very funny, but also good in movies like “Insomnia” and “The Truman Show,” respectively.

      I don’t think I’d seen Pullman play any kind of bad guy prior to “Torchwood,” but I don’t know all of his films. However, in TW, he plays a man convicted of raping and murdering a 12yo girl, and sentenced to execution. He survives — the first person to do so on “Miracle Day” — and he is just creepy after that.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Lady Falcon on October 31, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I enjoy Halloween for the fun I used to have dressing up and gong trick-or-treating. Going door to door and wondering if this house was going to have the crazy adults who got into Halloween and scared all the trick-or-treaters.

    I enjoy Halloween for the trips to the movie theater when I was a young adult in costume and loaded with the appropriate projectiles to go see Rocky Horror Picture Show!

    I enjoy it now because I have a 9 yr old and I belong to a fantastic church that celebrates Halloween by doing Trunk-or-treat. We park in a circle in our trucks, cars, suv’s, mini-vans, and golf carts. We decorate them for Halloween and some get in costume as well. We have a hot dog supper and singing then when its dark the adults have fun handing out candy and the kids go around the “trunks” getting their treats. This year we had over 20 vehicles and most didn’t have trick-or-treat aged children anymore. The kids went around more than once and had an exhausting, fun-filled night. My daughter was a Were-Cheetah. lol 🙂 Gee, I wonder where she gets her taste in stories from? She nearly fell asleep in the tub when we were washing off all the face paint and the colored hairspray we put in her hair. She said she was “Cheetah tired”.

    I also love to carve pumpkins!

    I don’t enjoy being scared…never have. I like a movie that makes me jump in surprise or a tiny bit of something similar to fear but not, actually being scared. I definitely want to live within green lantern’s light. I have watched the “Nightmare on Elm Street movies”. I prefer “Little Shop of Horrors”. (Feed me Seymour, feed me!) I watched the “Final Destination” movies 1 & 2. Was scared to go to the gas station for awhile after that….I did it but I wasn’t happy while standing at the pump and this was back when prices were reasonable. I saw Stephen King’s “It” mini-series on TV when I was in college. I did not get to sleep very well any of the nights it was on.

    Happy Halloween everyone! I’m gonna snag my daughter’s cheetah ears and wear them to work tomorrow. So, I’m gonna be a were-cheetah who has a job as a bank teller. lol

    Reply

    • I’m not much on slasher films. I find them more gross than scary. I’d rather have a good suspense film than lots of blood. I’m not sure I enjoy being “scared” exactly, although I guess I do a little.

      But I enjoy the rest of Halloween as well, and in fact we’re having a tough time deciding who takes the kids trick-or-treating and who stays home, or if we both go and leave a bowl of candy on the porch. 🙂

      Reply

  4. Posted by Lady Falcon on November 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

    lol…both go and leave the candy! Have you seen that commercial with the bowl of candy and a sign, “please take one”? The boy is trying to decide if he is going to follow directions and only take one when a little girl comes up and grabs two handfuls of candy. He says your supposed to only take one and she says “I can’t read”. lmao….I love that commercial…I have no idea what its for, but that one and the Darth Vader one crack me up.

    Reply

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