Horror

Thou Shalt Not: Horror Movie Sins

Horror is a long running genre, that through the years has seen many highs and lows. It’s a delicate balance to make a movie that manages to hit all the right aspect of terror. A few simple mistakes can really shift the overall feel of a movie. Here are some of the biggest horror movie “sins” that many movies make the mistake of making.

Having a Climax that is Less Intense Than the Rest of the Movie

Notable Sinners: The Veil

A good climax can really solidify a horror movie. The right climax can take what seems to be an average film and push it over. The wrong climax though? If you are going to build to one certain moment (or series of moments) make sure that it’s worth it. Films like The Veil manage to build a lot of tension and suspense, then fail to deliver where it matters the most. The last few moments of The Veil are rather stale and unimaginative in comparison to what we already witnessed. It leaves the viewer with a slightly dissatisfied feeling, and prevents this movie from achieving something more.

Having a Fake Final Girl

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Notable Sinners: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Now let me explain, I don’t think that all slasher movies need to be final girl movies, in fact there is plenty of room for other types of slasher films. That being said if you are going to build up your movie to be a final girl movie, then it better be a final girl movie. I Know What You Did Last Summer really wants Julie James to be the final girl. They force her into the role in many awkward and unbelievable ways. The problem is they don’t want to actually kill off the rest of the cast to achieve this. What’s left is a movie that feels a bit confused.

Having Endless Sequels

Notable Sinners: Hellraiser

In fairness you can actually take your pick with this category, there are a lot of movies that have way too many sequels. I chose Hellraiser because I can’t actually honestly say I believe it has any good ones. Hellraiser 2 could be considered passable, but after that the series desperately needed to stop. In fact at one point the studio made a sequel that they KNEW was bad just to keep the rights over the movies. Sometimes when you love something you have to let it go.

Making Sequels that Miss the Point

Notable Sinners: Friday the 13th

I actually like the Friday the 13th series, they are the kind of dumb but fun horror movies I enjoy on occasion. The problem is they just miss the point completely. Friday the 13th stands out for a slasher flick because of the choice of killer. It’s unexpected, unique, and more than a little sad. Jason is a victim completely, so much so that even though we THINK he’s getting his revenge the truth is of course not, he’s just dead. Friday the 13th 2 (and on) lost that when they made Jason the killer. It’s no longer unexpected, and it loses a lot of what made the first movie shine. Maybe the first didn’t allow for endless sequels, but it did bring something a little more to the genre.

Being to Afraid to Stand on Your Own

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Notable Sinners: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

This movie is frankly underrated. It’s underrated because it shouldn’t have been a Halloween movie to begin with. The movie was set to release around Halloween, and the studio was afraid that after doing two movies, if they didn’t put “Halloween” in the title that it wouldn’t fly. The problem is this movie has nothing to do with the rest of the series, and it set expectations that the movie would never be able to live up to. The movie is doomed not because it’s so bad, but because of a really bad choice.

Remaking a Movie with Gore and No Substance

Notable Sinners: House of Wax, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street

The problem with a lot of remakes is that they seem to start from the stand point that the movie it’s based on has no real value. In truth you could make arguments against the horror genre, but I feel it’s a bit unfair. I digress, my point is, so many remakes just throw buckets of fake blood at the basic plot and completely miss any real substance that the original had. Friday the 13th doesn’t even bother with Jason not being the killer, House of Wax is gore porn with no suspense, Nightmare on Elm Street lost it’s balance between comedy and horror. How much the original movies actually offer is debatable, but they did offer more than shallow, forgettable, blood spattered remakes.

Being a Found Footage Film When Not Needed

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Notable Sinners: The Visit

Found footage films have become the big thing. In fact even though people are largely starting to complain about the subgenre the movies keep getting cranked out. The reality is there are some horror movies with a base line plot doesn’t seem that bad, but they are then shoe horned into a found footage film. The Visit is about kids go to visit their grandparents, who start exhibit strange behavior. The resulting movie is strangely put together because of the need to make it “found footage”. It’s not a bad movie when you look at the basics, but there was no call to make it found footage. So the resulting movie is odd and simply doesn’t work.

Horror, News

John Carpenter Coming Back to Halloween

There have been a lot of shake ups with the Halloween franchise lately, mostly around Dimension Films no longer having the rights to the franchise. Blumhouse, which has recently been known for the Paranormal Activity series, The Veil, and The Darkness, now owns the franchise. They have announced plans to bring back Halloween with John Carpenter as producer and creative consultant. There was a massive division among fans with the Rob Zombie reboot of the series, Zombie wanted to explore Michael as a human. Carpenter has not insulted this idea, but it’s pretty clear he wants the franchise to go away from that and back to when Michael was (in his own words) “not just a human being” and “a force of nature”. While the 1978 classic Halloween was hardly the first slasher film ever made, it is credited by many with really bringing that subgenre to a new level. Carpenter wants to help Blumhouse bring Halloween back to it’s roots. We are very excited to hear this announcement, and will bring more news as we can.

Horror

Best Horror Movie Taglines

Horror movie taglines are a bit of an art form in their own right. Just a quick line in order to intrigue the viewer into watching. It helps to build expectations, and are usually horrific themselves. Now not all movies live up to their tag lines, but here are a few of the best ones.

The Last House on the Left: “To Avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie… It’s only a movie…’”

This tagline sets some pretty high expectations. Whether or not the movie lives up to it is debatable. However as a selling point, the idea that you would have to remind yourself it’s just a movie is very effective.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: “Who will survive and what will be left of them?”

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While the tagline does imply that at least one person will survive the movie, it promises that they won’t really be whole. Whether it’s physically or mentally, whoever comes out on the other side of this movie will never be complete. It’s rather blunt and shocking.

The Thing: “Man is the warmest place to hide”

I actually think this tagline loses a bit of it’s luster once you’ve seen the movie. However as a selling point it’s solid. The implication of man being the warmest place to hide lets you know that man will be reduced to a hiding place in this movie.

Dawn of the Dead: “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”

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This tagline earns it’s place because it’s become synonymous with the zombie genre overall. Whether or not people know the source of this quote, most people have heard it at one point or another. When you hear it you instantly think zombies. It’s fitting that the movie series that invented modern zombies, as we know them, would have a tagline that has become ingrained in us as well.

Alien: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

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One of the single most brilliant things about the original Alien is the isolation. It is a group of people, trapped, being hunted, with nowhere to go and hardly anything to do. The tagline speaks to that isolation. It doesn’t matter how much they “scream” they are alone.

Pet Sematary: “Sometimes dead is better”

The quote from the movie effectively sums up the experience. Without context you are left wondering about what option other than dead there is. Once you’ve seen it, you know indeed that sometimes dead is in fact better.

 

Halloween: “The night HE came home”

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Who is HE? Why should we be worried about him coming home? What does HE plan to do? It grabs you and makes you curious. Once you’ve seen the movie it makes perfect sense with what you’ve just experienced.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: “If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all…”

However you actually feel about the “fear factor” of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, they do tap into a primal thing. The idea that nightmares can kill you is pretty horrific. The tagline speaks to the fact that the movie is about sleep and fear being the thing that will get you.

Ravenous: “You are who you eat”

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Extremely effective way to let people know “hey you are going to see a movie about cannibalism”.

 

Hellraiser: “He’ll tear your soul apart”

There is something extremely effective about the use of “soul” in this tagline. It fits with the movie, and it gets at the fear of it. The idea of the soul being destroyed is an extra level of fear.

 

Horror

Top “Ten” Horror Movies

Horror is a wonderful, often over looked genre. People seem to either really love horror movies, or just sort of deal with them from a distance. Personally some of my favorite movies fall into the horror genre. Horror is more flexible than people give it credit for and manages to tackle many different topics and ideas. Here are 10 of my personal favorite horror movies.

Alien

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If Alien has one thing going for it above all others it’s atmosphere. The movie really works perfectly to create a complete feeling of being trapped, and hunted. A lot of choices work well for this movie. Choosing not to show the alien much helps with suspense and keeps the viewer afraid of the unknown. Also despite the fact that the crew is trapped with this hunter it takes a long time for it to work it’s way through the crew. A lot of horror can misstep with moving too quickly. Alien takes it time and builds effective suspense while we’re waiting. The movie also includes one of the greatest, yet worst scenes of all times. Very few will forget the first time they saw the chest burster.

Psycho

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Psycho is a movie that builds towards a perfect ending. It changed so many of the rules for movies. It was the first movie with a flushing toilet, first movie where such a huge actor died quickly, shocked audiences with it’s gore, and actually changed the way people watched movies in America. Frankly that raises some high expectations and this movie delivers. It is suspense to the highest degree, it builds and builds to a wonderful ending.

Frankenstein

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I am a fan of the Universal horror movies across the board. I can’t help it, I like the classics. Frankenstein is my favorite of those hands down. It’s well acted, uses shadows to the best possible advantage, and has a solid story. Beyond that though it’s far ahead of it’s time in how it plays with the idea of who is really the monster. Is it actually this abomination or the man who created it?

Halloween

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Not the first slasher movie ever made, but still one of the starting points for that sub genre. John Carpenter took bits and pieces from what came before and created a piece that stands out in the horror genre. The “rules” as we started to know them for slasher movies were in large part created with this film. Aside from that it’s also just a good movie.

The Descent

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Modern horror rarely excites me. I find it’s a lot of gore with very little substance, and it takes a lot for a modern horror movie to really grab me. I might enjoy them, but there are few that I love. I love this movie. It takes it’s time, building up an extremely claustrophobic and down right helpless situation. Then when that happens bam, you get your monsters. The movie manages to give the gore, and action that modern horror movies seem to depend on, yet it still brings the suspense and atmosphere that the classics were so good at.

The Thing

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I love the score of this movie, the setting, the plot, the acting, everything about this movie. It’s dark, disturbing, and pretty much says from the get go that things are hopeless. It keeps everyone guessing about who is really infected, and gives both suspense and jump scares. The end is also one of the best I’ve seen in a horror movie.

Scream

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This was the meta horror movie before meta horror movies became their own sub genre. The rules that Halloween established (with help from others) are actually listed in the film. It embraces the desires of the modern audience with highlighting what older films did the best. It features well thought out and planned twists, and just stands in a league all it’s own. The movie might not be the scariest, but it’s certainly entertaining.

Night of the Living Dead

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The modern zombie was made with this movie. Zombies were taken to a whole different realm thanks to Romero, a bit of money, good planning, and one great movie. You can easily give me a list of zombie movies that might seem better for various reasons, but this is where it started and it’s such a good start too.

Shaun of the Dead

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Before you loudly declare that Shaun of the Dead is not a horror movie, you are wrong. Shaun of the Dead is certainly a comedy, but it’s still a legitimate zombie movie as well. It has the staple characters and the big moments we know from zombie movies. We lose an innocent loved one, the heroes are overwhelmed by the extreme numbers, and there is a lot of horrible deaths. Shaun makes you very comfortable that we are mostly dealing with a comedy, it’s a lot of laughs with maybe a few moments until the end of the movie when it all changes. Once we lose Shaun’s mother the movie ceases to be funny with a few scary moments and movies to intense with just a few funny moments. The movie is great. It manages to really combine comedy and horror in a new and wonderful way.

American Werewolf in London

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What kills me about this movie, but also makes me love it is how much I actually like David. You know what has happened to David and what will continue to happen to him, yet it’s entertaining to watch. The transformation was brilliant for the time, and better than some CGI transformations you can see these days. The werewolf scenes are brutal, David’s dreams and visits from Jack are uncomfortable, and you know the whole time where it’s going to end up but you so don’t want it to.

The Shining

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I realize that this makes my “top ten” actually “top eleven”, but I just couldn’t leave this one out. If you want to learn what good suspense is, this is a great movie to look at. The build is slow and creepy, then just explodes into an amazing climax that gives you no time to rest. It’s a great story, and well made movie.