Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Do you like scary movies?

In my case, the answer is decidedly "NO". I don't enjoy being frightened, and I don't enjoy gore and guts and torture and nastiness. But I recently read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It's a fascinating, enthralling read, but I just couldn't envision the house in my mind (like the characters, I kept getting lost in corridors). So I've placed the 1963 movie version The Haunting in my Netflix queue, and I'm both anticipating and dreading it.

I once read Misery by Stephen King, and though I wasn't terrified, I was horrified -- as in feeling a sense of horror at what was happening to the character. The Haunting of Hill House didn't horrify me, and it didn't necessarily terrify me either, but the author had a sure way of creating a sudden sense of dread when a moment before events had seemed perfectly normal. I'm curious to see whether the movie keeps the tone of the book, though from all the reviews I've read it seems to be a marvelous adaptation.

If this foray into scary movies proves survivable, I may branch out and see both The Changeling and The Innocents. If anyone's seen these and wants to comment on just how frightening they are, feel free. Meanwhile, I'm off to the library to see if I'm ready for more scary fare.


Rick Lugari said...

I used to like "scary movies" when I was young, but now I find them to pretty much be a waste of time. I don't find them frightening in the least - not even the Exorcist, but especially the hacker type movies. The only thing in my adult life that had an effect on me was reading Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. Not so much frightening for me but more of a thoughtful creeped out feeling. A real eye opener and IMHO a must read.

Rick Lugari said...

Oh, and Hell plus How to Avoid It was another that affected me. Another must read. Sometimes the carrot of a beautiful and loving place called Heaven isn't enough to set you straight and you need the stick of Hell to move you along.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Darwin,

You chose the right movie for atmosphere, although I don't think it could conceivably really give a proper idea of the house because it seemed to me in watching that it was a very British Landscape and, of course, Jackson a very American writer. The good of Haunting of Hill House is that it may not be about a haunting at all. (Unfortunately the movie takes away some of that doubt.) But it is a superb movie and certainly gives rise to a certain frisson among those not used to frightening stories.

The Changeling didn't strike me so much as frightening as it was terribly, terribly sad. The Innocents is startling at times, but it is very dense, atmospheric and psychological. Another, splendid movie.

My favorite "scary film," that I think has real substance and value is The Uninvited. But that one really is much more frightening than any that you've chosen so far. But, given that it is old, it is not gory or simply disgusting.

If you like these others, you might try the uninvited. And then, of course, there is the wonderful romance, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Splendid still--a little sad, but superb.



Jeff Miller said...

I am a horror film buff pretty much my whole life.

The Haunting though ranks as one of my all time favorites and I wish anybody who plans to make a horror movie would watch it first. No blood or gore, no special effects, but a movie whose tone is truly frightening.

John Farrell said...

Mrs D,
You chose well. The Haunting is one of Robert Wise's best films--and one of Julie Harris's greatest performances.

You won't be disappointed, IMHO.


Kiwi Nomad said...

I can't even stand scary music bits in quite ordinary movies and have to hide my eyes!

Anonymous said...

I grew up not wanting to see scary movies because I was terrified of being terrified.

When I was in my early to mid 20's I saw my first two scary movies: The Exorcist and The Shining (Back in the days before home video when older movies would play in local theaters and there where double features). I liked the Shining (It was directed by Stanley Kubrick after all). The Exorcist was ok, but not nearly worth all the huff and puff that surrounded it I thought (But I do want to see the directors cut someday).

Since then I have been fortunate to see a handfull of good horror films and while I am not a great fan of this genre, I have come to look at Horror films as a misunderstood genre (not unlike the way Science Fiction was during my earlier years. Before Star Wars made it acceptable to the mainstream).

I also learned that the reason to go to scary movies is to get scared. During my younger days I noticed (myself included) that a lot of guys went to scary movies as a way of proving that they couldn't be scared (As if it was some kind of test simulation). This is a silly thing to do of course (But we guys can be very silly even when we are not trying). After all would you go to a comedy and say "I am going to prove that I won't laugh". It's like going to a sad movie and doing your best not to cry (When crying is the whole point). Gettting scared can be cathartic just like laughing or crying. After all it's only a movie, and not real. That makes it ok to have fun being scared (which is way so many people laugh at horror films right after they scream).

Of course there are lots of bad horror films (Just like any genre) the trick is finding the good ones (The horror films that are for people who aren't into horror films).

The Haunting is a very effective film (It's directed by Robert Wise after all) It manages to be very creepy with almost no special effects. I was a bit dissapointed with the ending but only a bit. I still admire the film though. I have not read the book, but I think you will like it.

I haven't seen the first Halloween movie (directed by John Carpenter) since the 80's but I remember it being very good. Even if it does fall into the slasher category, but a good film is a good film no matter what category it falls into (But watch it with a loved one that you can hold hands with).

I thought the "The Ring" was good. Later that day I hesitated before I put a tape in the VCR though (See the movie and you'll know what I mean heh heh heh).

Scream 1 & 2 are both very clever and very well done.

I do want to see the original Night of the Living Dead. I saw part of it once and thought that what little I saw of it was amazing (amazingly creepy that is LOL)
Perhaps this Halloween I will.

There is one Horror film that is very polarizing. Some thought it was the scariest movie they have ever seen, and some thought it was just dumb and not scary at all.

This movie creeped me out for a week after I saw it.

The Blair Witch Project

I am still amazed by this film. Done with almost no budget and cam corders and no special effects. The film-makers understood that the scariest things are not what we can see, but what we can't see. They understood that what is scariest
is what is in our imaginations. This was brilliant film making. The fear doesn't come from stuff jumping out at you, or from blood and guts. It comes from a sense of dread that you are on a dark path from which there is no return.

I saw this film first at home on VHS. A friend got me a copy of the film festival version of it before it was released in theaters. Even though it creeped me out for a week I went to see again in the theaters. The film was a lot scarier sitting at home and watching it on TV than it was in theater sitting with an audience (I seemed more removed from it in the theater).

I don't understand the people who didn't get this film. I remember one friend who didn't get it told me that his main complaint was that he didn't get to see anything. "I waited through the whole film to see the Blair Witch and there was nothing" He said.

Which is why I theorize that the less imagination you have the worse this film is for you (I think the same holds true for The Haunting).

The films sequel, while a completely different film, was also a very intelligently done (and a creepy/scary) film.

Lastly (and while these are not horror films), I want to say that the films of David Lynch (Lost Highway, Wild At Heart, Mullholland Drive, Twin Peaks) have given me some of the scariest movie moments I have ever known in my life (and I mean this in a good way). David Lynch is a genius...but not for the faint of heart.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

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Anonymous said...

I don't watch scary films. Life itself is scary enough that I've never felt the need to simulate terrifying situations.

Anonymous said...

I would second The Ring. The brilliance of movies like The RIng is that it is not just a horror movie, but a very good mystery movie as well. That keeps you riveted even when you want to cover your eyes. The RIng II I have only seen in bits and pieces, but, alas, it seems to be less than the first (not many sequels can live up to the first). I also agree with TJR that the less you visually see of the actual source of the fear (the ghost, the witch, etc.) the scarier the movie.

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