It’s been another year and we return to that familiar season where it’s acceptable to be fascinated by the darker side of life. Stores around Berkeley are stocking their shelves with cheap paint, wigs, skulls and teeth that will be the building blocks to the perfect Halloween costume and the UA Berkeley 7 on Shattuck is screening the obligatory Paranormal Activity 4. Like last year, we at the Clog want to spread the Halloween festivities by compiling a list of horror movies that will be promising last-minute additions to the mandatory horror film marathon. Here are our recommendations below:
Suspiria is a horror film directed by master Italian director, Dario Argento. Suzy Banyon, a dance student, travels from the United States to Europe to attend a prestigious dance academy. However, the academy is controlled by a darker force that wrecks havoc upon the students: witches. The main of appeal of Suspiria is its beautiful aesthetics. Gone are the grime and ugly hues of grey, brown and black that permeate the horror genre today. Suspiria embraces color and gruesome scenes of death are accompanied by surreal and attractive scenery that creates a strange and dissonant atmosphere. Rotten Tomato’s description of Suspiria as a “candy-coated nightmare” is perfect. A strange, but compelling film.
Horror films often explore the idea of lost footage that contains dark secrets and unseemly content to the peril of its unfortunate watchers. Hideo Nakata’s Ring features a cursed videotape that beckons the death of its curious audience. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s The Blair Witch Project offers the premise that the movie viewers are watching “real” footage recorded by victims who disappeared in a haunted forest. On a personal level, I’m sure everyone is familiar with that odd sensation of flipping through television channels at 2 or 3 a.m. in the morning and catching a program that would never air in the daytime. David Cronenberg’s Videodrome explores that idea of horror that is caught on tape and our curiosity that often overtakes our caution. Max Renn is in charge of CIVIC-TV, a small television station in Canada that mainly shows pornographic and violent material. During his search of new content to air on his channel (Japanese pornography was an option before Max deems it “too soft”), Max encounters footage of a woman is tortured and killed in a red room that is apparently sourced from Malaysia. Believing that the violence is simply scripted, Max starts to research this footage he later finds out is called “Videodrome,” believing that it will be a hit with his audience. Of course, however, Videodrome holds a terrifying secret that changes Max’s life. Featuring Cronenberg’s characteristic body horror, Videodrome is a classic and even artful horror film that deserves a watch.
Event Horizon is a science-fiction film directed by Paul W.S Anderson that perhaps more so than its execution, is remembered for its ideas. It is the year 2047 and the crew of the spacecraft Lewis and Clark receive a signal from the Event Horizon, a ship that disappeared in space seven years ago. In addition to its mysterious disappearance, the Event Horizon is special in that it was an experimental spacecraft that was equipped with the technology to jump dimensions to travel faster than the speed of light. The crew of the Lewis and Clark attempts to rescue the Event Horizon only to find that the ship contains something that is beyond human comprehension – a monster that is not physical but exists in the mind and emotions of people and plays on their deepest fears. Despite the abysmal 23 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Event Horizon is worth watching for its utterly ambitious idea that still manages to unnerve the audience. Although it was released in 1997 with small reception, the film has gained traction since then and is often referenced in horror circles.
Session 9 is a recent horror film directed by Brad Anderson. The movie revolves around Gordon Flemming and his team of asbestos removers who are struggling financially due to competitors who are overtaking the small, local market. Gordon offers to clean a behemoth-sized building called the Danver’s State Hospital, a mental institution that has been abandoned since 1985, in the tight space of two weeks to decisively beat the competition. The team shortly commences clean-up amidst tension between Gordon and the other team members who feel that they took a job that is too large to handle. Mike, one of the team members, discovers a room in the hospital that contains interview tapes between a psychiatrist and a patient who used to reside in the asylum. As Mike listens to the tapes over the course of the two weeks, the other members start to act strangely and become suspicious of each other. Session 9 is a solid horror film that makes the watchers want to know the secret behind the session tapes. Particularly, the film excels in atmosphere, with the beautiful shots of the dilapidated state of Danver’s State Hospital and the creepy, aged sound bites of the interviewee, Mary Hobbes. There is no over the top violence in this movie, in its place is a refreshing, unnerving subtlety (and a strangely humorous scene that is as jarring in context and out of context).
Image source: James MacDonald under Creative Commons
Tags:brad anderson, Dario Argento, david cronenberg, film, Halloween, movies, Paul W.S. Anderson
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