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Blunt Instrument
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:31 pm

Just as an aside, I had reason to look up the Hellraiser franchise the other night ... granted, it's always been a low-budget affair. But at least at the beginning it was able to attract actors of the calibre of Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins and Kenneth Cranham ... by the end the films were being shot in 2 weeks on a budget of $300,000, getting one-night-only screenings at a single cinema (for the crew) and didn't even have Doug Bradley as Pinhead any more.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:09 pm

"A Quiet Place" was far from terrible, but I don't really get the great amount of critical adulation it got.

In the end, it did very little with what could have been a very good concept.

The way they dealt with the threat was also counterintuitive. In a world in which predators hunt by sound, do you not fill the world with noise instead of making everything as quiet as possible? They even realize this in the universe itself, hence the river and waterfalls scene.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:28 am

The Omen (1976)

I first saw this film in either late 1978 or early 1979. Eleven years old at the time, I was spending the night at a friend's house. After his parents hit the sack, we were pretty much free to do as we please, so we turned on HBO, and lo and behold, The Omen was showing. Not only did I not sleep a wink that night, I insisted that the lights remain on, and I was sore afraid to so much as close my eyes. The film didn't so much frighten me as put me in a state of extreme anxiety. No other film before or since has come close to affecting me the way The Omen did nigh on 40 years ago.

Flash forward to last night. Friday the 13th. I watched The Omen again for the first time since that early traumatic viewing. I was slightly nervous.

Well, I fared better this time. Slept like the dead and didn't even so much as have a bad dream. But I will tell you this--The Omen remains a very frightening film, and I can easily understand why it shook me so badly all those years ago. It managed to cast a bit of a pall last night.

The Omen is a tour de force of clarity and pace. It's a film that knows exactly what it wants to say, and moves economically from one logical point to the next. There's little pretense here, and not much time for navel gazing. In this respect The Omen views like a very good thriller, a good Bond film even.

The scares are plentiful and striking. A governess merrily hangs herself in front of the 5-year-old Antichrist Damien and scores of revelers at some sort of outdoor party. A slightly deranged prophet-priest is impaled by a church spire struck off by a bolt of lightning after a pell-mell flight from a fey wind storm. Gregory Peck's Ambassador Thorn and British photographer Keith Jennings examine the priest's garret, which is wallpapered with thousands of pages of the Bible. In a particularly tense sequence, Thorn and Jennings are nearly torn to bits by a pack of rottweilers in an Etruscan cemetery north of Rome. And in what may be the most bizarre and harrowing bit, Damien, after pedaling his tricycle manically in circles, breaks from the circuit, careens furiously down a second-story hallway, pitches his mother (Lee Remick) over the stairway bannister, and then refuses to rescue her as her hands slip from the railing. Attempted matricide from a 5-year-old son is morally foul at a level that is difficult to even comprehend.

The Omen is a very impressive picture, and fully deserves its reputation as one of the scariest films of all time, and one of the best horror pictures ever made. I highly recommend it, but not to 11-year-old boys.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:14 am

Contains sticky ends for 2 'stalwart' Brit actors, The Omen does ... the aforementioned impaling of Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who, way back when) and the sheet-of-glass decapitation of David Warner.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:24 am

Blunt Instrument wrote:
Contains sticky ends for 2 'stalwart' Brit actors, The Omen does ... the aforementioned impaling of Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who, way back when) and the sheet-of-glass decapitation of David Warner.    

The effects guy--I think his name may have been Anderson--responsible for all of the death scenes in The Omen was involved in a terrible car accident in the Netherlands shortly after the film was released. His assistant (Liz Moore) was sliced in two in the smash-up, and Anderson, after awakening from the crash, noted that it occurred just outside the town of Ommen at the 6.66 kilometer marker.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:00 am

The Mummy (1932)

This is a pretty impressive film. Dialogue is clear and the score distinct. Nice--presumably somewhat expressionistic--cinematography, with lots of shadowy contrast and harrowing closeups of the mummy Imhotep's (Boris Karloff) face. Zita Johann, who plays Imhotep's ambivalent love interest, was certainly a striking woman: huge almond-shaped eyes and a small mouth and wearing a low-cut, sleeveless dress--yum!

As expected, the film isn't terrifying, but it certainly has its creepy moments. When Imhotep first returns to life after having been exhumed, he so terrifies a brazened young archaeologist that the latter begins laughing uncontrollably and maniacally, and goes insane. The final quarter of the film is the most frightening, as The Mummy seeks to murder and mummify his erstwhile bride.

This is an interesting picture that will repay, I believe, multiple viewings.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:45 am

Mummies seem to be regarded as more action-adventure fodder nowadays (the Brendan Fraser/Tom Cruise flicks) than out-and-out horror characters.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:48 am

Blunt Instrument wrote:
Mummies seem to be regarded as more action-adventure fodder nowadays (the Brendan Fraser/Tom Cruise flicks) than out-and-out horror characters.    

Not having seen a modern mummy flick, I can't really comment except to say it's a bit odd that something reanimated from the dead, as a mummy must be, wouldn't be a supernatural horror film character. I'm interested to know how they get around that.

As to the 1932 original, it is full of spells, incantations, magical scrolls and a statue of Isis that saves the day, so it definitely qualifies as supernatural horror.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:50 am

The Mummy (1959)

Even with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing lending their considerable talents to the affair, this one isn't a patch on the 1932 original. Compared to the earlier film, the Hammer effort feels flat, static and a bit stilted. It also downplays the supernatural aspects of the mummy, his resurrection, and his sorcery, both in antiquity and in the present. Instead of doing in his victims with spells and incantations as Karloff's mummy did, Lee's mummy wreaks havoc solely with his physical strength. Not as imaginative and compelling, I dare say. And the film ends on in an awful plot hole. Hence, throughout the film the mummy appears to be proof against bullets, yet how does the monster meet his end? In a hail of bullets in the middle of a mirey bog.

I'm a huge Hammer fan, but their version of The Mummy is hardly one of their stronger efforts.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:43 pm

Salomé wrote:
"A Quiet Place" was far from terrible, but I don't really get the great amount of critical adulation it got.

In the end, it did very little with what could have been a very good concept.

The way they dealt with the threat was also counterintuitive. In a world in which predators hunt by sound, do you not fill the world with noise instead of making everything as quiet as possible? They even realize this in the universe itself, hence the river and waterfalls scene.

Agree with this. Shouldn't they have just set up camp near the waterfall?

A clever concept that descended into cliche when the final act rolled around.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:24 am

The Omen novelization is quite good. I'd definitely recommend it.

I feel the 1932 Mummy is a masterpiece and one of the best classic Universal Horrors despite being a disguised Dracula remake. The 1940 Mummy's Hand sequel is also a great adventure romp but a totally different entity. Both Indiana Jones and the 1999 film borrow elements of this film I think.

The 1959 Hammer version is a classic and beautifully incorporates all the Universal lesser 40's sequels with elements of the 1932 original since they got the rights with a Universal deal. It may be more of a slow burning film and have some elements that fit more with their cheaper programmers like Terror of the Tongs etc., but it is one of their great classic horrors and has many standout scenes of suspense and drama. To me it is the third of their big three important horrors with Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula. It is also one of the last of the original classic Hammer period with Jack Asher's staggering color photography, Terrence Fisher's remarkable direction and of course the immortal Cushing and Lee. Cushing drives the film and as a huge fan of both I adore the '59 Mummy for their performances. Lee does so much with just his eyes and physicality that you truly feel the emotion of the Mummy despite being based more around the lumbering robotic 40's Mummy instead of the Karloff original.
The scene where Cushing as Banning calmly awaits for the Kharis to kill him in his study and calmly prepares his shotgun while smoking-and knowing that he is likely doomed is to me one of the best suspense moments in all of horror films.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:33 am

I certainly concur on the Horror of Dracula! I've seen it only once, but was mightily impressed and look forward to a second viewing.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:55 am

The Haunted Palace (1963)

Although this film claims a Poe lineage it is actually based on a novella by H.P. Lovecraft and is quite faithful to the frightening original material. Charles Beaumont did a fine job of transposition. His excellent screenplay combined with Roger Corman's direction and the dramatic flourishes of Vincent Price, the lovely Deborah Paget, the not-quite-so-lovely Lon Cheney, Jr, and Frank Maxwell result in a quite superb and overlooked film.

The premise is that a warlock is burned at the stake in Arkham, Massachusetts in 1765 but curses the town, its inhabitants and their descendants before dying. He also vows to return from the grave. Flash forward to 1875 when Charles Dexter Ward comes to Arkham to take possession of his inheritance, a brooding estate outside of Arkham owned by Ward's great great grandfather Joseph Curwen, i.e. the warlock. Ward takes possession of the property alright, but the spirit of Curwen takes possession of him with dire results for the townsfolk.

Frankly, I was most surprised by how scary--not spooky, but scary this film is. There is little real violence, let along gore, but the diabolical scenario is realized to rather disturbing effect. I may have to revise my long-held thesis that no genuinely frightening films were made before Rosemary's Baby in 1968.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:35 am

hegottheboot wrote:
The Omen novelization is quite good.

Famous in publishing circles because the author (whose name I forget) made a fortune in royalties from it. Thereafter, such deals tended to be flat-fee.

hegottheboot wrote:
The 1959 Hammer version is a classic and beautifully incorporates all the Universal lesser 40's sequels with elements of the 1932 original since they got the rights with a Universal deal. It may be more of a slow burning film and have some elements that fit more with their cheaper programmers like Terror of the Tongs etc., but it is one of their great classic horrors and has many standout scenes of suspense and drama. To me it is the third of their big three important horrors with Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula. It is also one of the last of the original classic Hammer period with Jack Asher's staggering color photography, Terrence Fisher's remarkable direction and of course the immortal Cushing and Lee. Cushing drives the film and as a huge fan of both I adore the '59 Mummy for their performances. Lee does so much with just his eyes and physicality that you truly feel the emotion of the Mummy despite being based more around the lumbering robotic 40's Mummy instead of the Karloff original.
The scene where Cushing as Banning calmly awaits for the Kharis to kill him in his study and calmly prepares his shotgun while smoking-and knowing that he is likely doomed is to me one of the best suspense moments in all of horror films.

I agree with this - nice to see such an informed opinion here. All three films used to be available in one DVD boxset, which was something of a bargain and esential to anyone interested in horror or British movies. Needless to say, they were critically reviled at the time of release.

Hammer was a production line and its output was accordingly hit and miss but the intent was always good. Some films, such as Quatermass and the Pit, I regard as absolute classics today. Actually, Khan, the latter would fit in this thread well; writer Nigel Kneale made a very good attempt at showing how SF, folklore, evil and horror often have common roots, and the director Roy Ward Baker Street made it look good on a shoestring budget.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:15 am

Ambler, QatP is one of my favorite films regardless of genre. First saw it on the boob toob at the age of 17 and it shook me up a little. Stuck in my memory, too. Considerably later, I snagged it on VHS and now own a copy on DVD that I watch periodically. I give the film the highest possible marks for originality. Also, I'm pretty sure it influenced Spielberg's version of War of the Worlds, which I regard as possibly his most underrated effort.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:42 am

Perilagu Khan wrote:
I'm pretty sure it influenced Spielberg's version of War of the Worlds, which I regard as possibly his most underrated effort.

Quatermass and the Pit has a small fanbase. Two films it directly influenced are Colin Wilson's Lifeforce (Wilson of The Outsider and The Occult fame), and Reign of Fire. You might enjoy them, though both are fairly silly.

Another Hammer film that deserves more attention is Frankenstein Created Woman. One of Terence Fisher's less well-known efforts.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:11 pm

I know for a fact that Frankenstein Created Woman is a popular favorite among Women's Studies profs in the Ivy League and Oxbridge...
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:21 pm

Erica Ambler wrote:
Perilagu Khan wrote:
I'm pretty sure it influenced Spielberg's version of War of the Worlds, which I regard as possibly his most underrated effort.

Quatermass and the Pit has a small fanbase. Two films it directly influenced are Colin Wilson's Lifeforce (Wilson of The Outsider and The Occult fame), and Reign of Fire. You might enjoy them, though both are fairly silly.

Another Hammer film that deserves more attention is Frankenstein Created Woman. One of Terence Fisher's less well-known efforts.

I have always had a weak spot for "Reign of Fire". A Bond connection too with Izabella Scorupco.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:57 am

To my great surprise, this remake looks like it might be worth seeing:



I am amused by the conceit of remaking one of the most glorious Technicolour films ever made in a washed-out Berlin grey.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:31 am

I can't see this being any good, or at least not worthy of the effort of remaking it.

There are enough imperfect Argento films that might have benefited from a remake.

I know why they are doing it but I personally don't see the point in remaking a film that will be impossible to improve upon.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:51 pm

I'm still dying to see the other Hammers that are unavailable in the US. Many are seeing nice new releases from Indicator in the UK. Speaking of them they just announced a giant deluxe restored version of NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957) which is one of the greatest horrors of all time and in many ways is director Tourneur's follow up to his great successes with Val Lewton in pioneering psychological horror.
There are a number of films that are truly scary, chilling and harrowing pre '68. NotD is definitely one and is arguably what an out and out Hitchcock horror would have resembled. The Lewton horrors for RKO in the 40's are legendary for good reason. The first was the masterpiece Cat People and all are filled with unforgettable spine tingling, hair raising suspense sequences that have influenced almost as many followers as German Expressionism. They are absolute musts and also helped to give Karloff more credibility again in THE BODY SNATCHER.

Murnau's Nosferatu and the other expressionist silent classics can still chill, I found the 1928 silent House of Usher to be riveting, the finale of Freaks packs a wallop and Browning's later Devil Doll is an odd yet striking blend of scfi-fi and horror, the '25 Phantom is chilling in atmosphere and the lead performance but the film is crummy, White Zombie is a mixture of bad low budget and striking pre-code horror.
There are great suspense/horror scenes in some Universal classics which get overlooked. But like the others I mentioned it requires the right atmosphere and they play perfectly. The opening of The Mummy is absolute perfection.
The Karloff-Lugosi pairings in The Black Cat and The Raven are absolute musts. The former was so dark the studio and censors cut it to ribbons resulting in a choppy film that still has the two legends wickedly going at each other in the midst of entombed and preserved dead wives and devil worshipers. The latter is so dark that it led to the British horror ban which ended the golden age of horror.

I agree on Haunted Palace. It and other moments form the Corman films spooked me as a child when I was getting into Vincent. The crummy eyeless makeup on the people freaked me out, and the film has a nastier vibe than the earlier ones in the Poe cycle. I don't dislike it but it doesn't quite live up to its potential and I think it is possible to see how they were burning out on turning these films out back to back after House of Usher was so successful. Soon they would veer into comedy for a bit before going for all out seriousness with the final two and arguably best films. Masque of the Red Death is an underrated classic, Tomb of Ligeia is very good but I love 'em all admittedly.
Heck, I imported all the UK Arrow releases.


But if you're looking for the most horror pre-60's...watch all the Lewton films. There is literally nothing like them and the one or two lesser ones have sequences in them that will chill your bones. For example THE LEOPARD MAN is a super low budget B program filler Lewton was assigned and the overall film is really short-but there is a sequence in the opening where a little girl has to go across town late at night when danger is about that you will simply not forget.
Then there's the night trek through the voodoo haunted sugar cane fields in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE...or the noir like horror of THE SEVENTH VICTIM...or the horse hooves of Karloff's demonic coachman's echoing through the city streets at night in BODY SNATCHER and of course the legendary scares of CAT PEOPLE.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Aug 30, 2018 7:59 pm

I love Night of the Demon despite the ill-advised rubber creature. Actually I prefer it to Lewton's Cat People, though that has a much higher reputation.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:19 am

I thought Night of the Demon was quite good, but hardly terrifying in the vein of an Exorcist, Exorcist III, Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, Jacob's Ladder, Mothman Prophecies, or even Don't Look Now.

I'm very much looking forward to viewing The Haunting (1963). There are suggestions that it is one of the most frightening films of all time. We shall see...
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:45 am

I thought the creature actually made the film more effective as you thus know for the whole film what is going on and the tension is thus increased. I also like the shorter Wicker Man because you're kept in the dark longer. Then again I like horror of the mind and situation especially with dark humor mixed in. That's why I feel James Whale was and is an unheralded master and that BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is the best horror of all.

Agreed you're not going to ever get a film with the all out dread of Don't Look Now until that era, but for everything before there is little more chilling than the suspense scenes in the Lewton films. I think Cat People is more effective to most since it is more known and it has the doomed romance aspect to it. But NotD has Peggy Cummins...whom I've loved since seeing GUN CRAZY at a very young age.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:10 pm

Any of you seen BBC's Count Dracula (1977) starring Louis Jourdan as the Bloke with the Cloak? This may be my favorite Dracula rendition. The entire production has an ethereal, dreamlike quality that suits the material perfectly, and Frank Finlay is the best Van Helsing I've yet seen. Jourdan provides the title character with a certain genteel menace that is, I think, unique. And Jack Sheperd lends a sympathetic pathos to the mad Renfield. Less successful are the special effects, which look like something out of Sesame Street, and Richard Barnes' naff Texas accent as the character Quincey Holmwood. Count Dracula is, therefore, imperfect, but may quite possibly still be the finest Dracula yet committed to film.
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