Sunday, October 30, 2011
A number of you made a good point -- there are movies that scared us as kids and movies that caused permanent psychic damage as adults. The motherlode is when the same movie can do both.
Reader Zirbert also suggested that it’s not so much the blood and gore but “creepiness” that really causes our skin to crawl. Bottom line seems to be films that can elicit the most visceral reactions. Just tap into deep-rooted primal fears and let the fun begin!
A lot of you cited POLTERGEIST. The illusion of that movie was spoiled for me because I was there when they filmed it. It was on the MGM lot when I had an office there. For days I would see pieces of a giant twisted tree outside a soundstage. When told they were for a horror picture called POLTERGEIST I wandered onto the stage. Somehow seeing crew people sitting around eating their lunch on the scary sets took a bit of the menace out of them. I imagine if you saw all the disfigured zombies from WALKING DEAD hanging around the craft services table eating donuts you’d be less unnerved.
Another movie that worked for you but not for me was THE SHINING. Nicholson’s character was so over-the-top I just found him amusing. I always thought Kubrick screened the first few days dailies, took Jack aside and said, “This thing just ain’t clickin’, babe. Go to town.”
If you check your local listings, I bet a number of the movies you all nominated will be shown this weekend for Halloween. I’ve never seen THE THING and a lot of you really recommend it (recommend being another term for scarred forever). If that’s on and I can borrow some Xanex I’ll check it out.
I’m kind of surprised that BLUE VELVET only made one person's list. Just when you thought no one could be as strange as Dennis Hopper, along came Dean Stockwell.
For TV creep-o-rama, check out the CSI written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. You’ll want to avoid being buried alive after watching that.
Among my favorite facetious entries: JESUS CAMP, SHOWGIRLS, YENTL, MEET DAVE, and IT’S COMPLICATED.
My heart goes out to the reader who was traumatized as a child by THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN.
And I applaud you all. Not one person selected BOXING HELENA.
Some movies transcend time while others were only effective in context. Some of those old Frankenstein-type movies that terrified audiences in the ‘30s and ‘40s are almost comical today. But I don’t know a single woman who would take a shower in a Best Western or Super 8 motel today without checking to see that Norman Bates isn’t peaking through a peephole. And I guess you gotta be at a drive-in theater stoned, drunk, and alone to fully appreciate THE BLOB.
I would love to write a horror movie someday. I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but just as a writer, I would like to see if I could create situations strong enough to cause an audience to scream, or gasp, or the ultimate compliment for an artist – wet themselves. I thought I had achieved that with MANNEQUIN 2 but apparently not. Maybe next year. Or lifetime. Or afterlifetime.
By Ken Levine at 5:52 AM