Saturday, October 28, 2006


As you guys know, I'm a horror buff. Halloween is a fun time for me because the cable channels play scary movies non-stop.

Even though there's a glut of horrors to choose from, most of them fall into the derivative category of prurient gore. You know the story by heart. Six sexed up teenagers get stranded in a (blank), where a (blank) kills all of them but the female virgin, who escapes, mind-effed for life. These kind are so boring they make me want to hurt myself. Although if you get stuck watching one of these with a group, you can make it a little more fun by all writing down what order the characters will perish in. Bonus points for how.

The horror movies we remember usually fit Wes Craven's definition of thriller-horror (Horror is fear of damage to the body, thriller is fear of damage to the soul). That's Se7en, Rosemary's Baby, The Sixth Sense, The Wicker Man, The Shining, Halloween (he's not just an anonymous slasher, he's her retarded brother whose eyes were literally forced to see through), The Excorcist, etc. You know, the ones people talk about and remember.

So it's hard to find a GOOD horror movie by that definition. One that's more than gore with no psychological scares.

If you're looking to be scared I've found some obscure, well-made films I can recommend that you may not have seen. They're all available on Netflix.

Ginger Snaps (the whole trilogy)
Love Object
Hellraiser VII: Deader
Hard Candy
Tremors IV: The Legend Begins
Nip/Tuck Season 2
White Noise
The Mothman Prophecies
Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula

And the oldies you may not have seen:
Ms. 45
Black Christmas
The Wicker Man
Stir of Echoes
The Watcher in the Woods
The Lost Boys

Personally I'll be watching Slither and The Woods this weekend.

And from this month's Creative Screenwriting:
All facts considered, horror is essentially defined by what scares a given society at a specific time, a fact made all the more relevant by the influx of international nightmares on American cinema screens. Writer Stephen Susco puts the cultural difference into perspective as he considers the eponymous force from his script for The Grudge. "This is so much bigger than the characters. It is such human hubris to think they can stop it." The key theme of inevitability pervades Japanese supernatural horror. As Susco succinctly puts it: "In Asian horror, you're just fucked."

In constructing a modern horror tale, "The most important idea is character empathy," explains Susco. "A lot of scary movies go wrong by not making the horror personal." Tracy Letts, who adapted his stage play Bug into a feature film for Exorcist director William Friedkin, agrees. "Characters that, on some level, the audience can identify with have a lot to do with a successful story." Susco notes that any number of slasher films present characters the audience couldn't care less about, while "the horror films people point to as the best are the ones where you can really empathize with, and relate to, the character."

Like what you just read? Read Jason Davis' full piece on Writing the Horror Film in the latest issue of Creative Screenwriting Magazine, on sale now!


Lynda said...

I love the Lost Boys. Flatliners is pretty good too, though! The Sixth Sense is one of my favorites.

iza said...

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inkdestroyedmybrush said...

I've been working the "horror movies reflect our collective cultural fears" idea for years, only to laughed at.

Take a look: the invasion horror movies of the 1950s, including and especially "bodysnatchers" refelcting the cold war ("they look just like us but THEY'RE NOT."), the eco horror and mind loss horror during the '60's (reflecting the change in national identity and drug sub-culture) and on up. Interesting is how the Alien movies were/are a perfect analogy to the AIDS epidemic, but made 3 years before AIDS and HIV were discovered: the alien/virus mutates and changes shape using different hosts. Chilling stuff.

LeMorse said...

If you get a chance head on over to my BLOG and see the list of films I showed at this years Horror Movie Marathon, and my list of selected veiwing for Halloween night itself. I think you may agree with them.