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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:54 am

Haunters (2013)

Independent Canadian filmmakers are turning out some pretty good supernatural horror flicks these days and Haunters is a case in point. This picture revolves around a family of four ghosts who are trapped in a time loop, reliving each day over and over, but only the teenage daughter, Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin), realizes that something is very wrong. Eventually, through dint of brains and guts and desperation, she uncovers the horror of the situation. The house that they haunt was occupied from circa 1953 to 1983 by a serial killer who kidnapped young girls, subdued them with ether and then threw them in the furnace located in the basement of the house. He was never caught and died presumably of natural causes in 1983. But the killer wasn't done yet. His ghost remained in the house, possessed Lisa's father, and killed the entire family as well as himself. The killer was attempting to reprise the ghastly/ghostly deed with the house's current occupants, and it befell to Lisa to try to save that family and destroy the killer's ghost. I won't say whether she was successful here.

All in all, this is one scary flick that is brought to life by an obscure cast that nevertheless turns in an excellent collective performance. Time loops are inherently frightening and it's slightly surprising that they don't figure into more horror plots. Probably a good thing though, because they would quickly become hackneyed.

At any rate, I highly recommend this film. The plot is slightly convoluted, but I think it ultimately makes sense. And if you're a bit unsure, you'll enjoy watching it again to try to suss it all out.
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Blunt Instrument
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:31 pm

Sounds a bit like the scary movie version of Groundhog Day.
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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:20 am

I haven't actually seen Groundhog Day, but one film critic did mention that film in connexion with Haunter.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:22 pm

Erica Ambler wrote:
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.

Goblin, or what's left of them (Claudio Simonetti), have been touring the original Suspiria and playing the soundtrack live. Gutted to have missed this UK date last month:

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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:22 pm

Perilagu Khan wrote:
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.

It's been too long-I need to try it again but I remember it felt a bit stagey for me and too much like a TV adaptation. In terms of getting more of the book across perhaps, but nothing compares to Horror of Dracula and the classic status of Universal's 1931 original. The name Van Helsing immediately conjures Cushing and Van Sloan to mind, for me there are no others. In terms of the Count being genteel I'd agree outside of what of what Lee is able to show in flashes in the opening of Horror of Dracula and what Lugosi could have done given the chance.
But Renfield is forever linked to Dwight Frye who so owns that role it typecast him forever.

That said the BBC versions beats the pants off the awfully drawn out boring 1979 film.
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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:40 pm

hegottheboot wrote:
Perilagu Khan wrote:
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.

It's been too long-I need to try it again but I remember it felt a bit stagey for me and too much like a TV adaptation. In terms of getting more of the book across perhaps, but nothing compares to Horror of Dracula and the classic status of Universal's 1931 original. The name Van Helsing immediately conjures Cushing and Van Sloan to mind, for me there are no others. In terms of the Count being genteel I'd agree outside of what of what Lee is able to show in flashes in the opening of Horror of Dracula and what Lugosi could have done given the chance.
But Renfield is forever linked to Dwight Frye who so owns that role it typecast him forever.

That said the BBC versions beats the pants off the awfully drawn out boring 1979 film.

Fortunately for Dracula fans, there is a relative wealth of quality renditions out there to enjoy and discuss. Hence, I rather fancy Coppola's Drac of 1992. If BBC's version had had special effects as good as Coppola's, well...
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:48 pm

Nosferatu the Vampire

Werner Herzog's remake of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, which itself is a German version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, is simply tremendous. Klaus Kinski's portrayal of Dracula, however, is dramatically--so to speak--different from other renditions. Whereas the traditional rendering of the count highlights his dashing looks and seductive qualities, Kinski's Dracula is barely even human. He is entirely bald, has ears like battered saucers, claw-like hands with veritable talons, and incisors to make the head beaver blush in shame. He is an eternal figure who has been battered and bludgeoned into deformity by the centuries, and his damaged physiognomy would ordinarily inspire a certain amount a sympathy. Alas, Kinski's Dracula is so physically repugnant and ghastly that the viewer is much more likely to feel revulsion than pathos.

Nosferatu scores top marks for aesthetics. The rustic scenery as Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) wends his way to Castle Dracula is wild and dramatic. The sojourn feels like a cross between ancient Germanic exploration and a pilgrimage to Bayreuth. And indeed, Herzog's use of Wagner's prelude to Das Rheingold, intensifies the effect.

The score, incidentally, is marvelous. Popol Vuh's threnodies and dirges strike dread in the viewer, and the Wagner creates a sense of febrile ecstasy. Indeed, as the ghost ship carrying Dracula and a teeming host of rats, arrives in Wismar (the German analogue to Stoker's London), the film becomes a fever dream. Herzog chooses to recreate the ambience of the Black Death, as the citizens of Wismar succumb in Dracula's wake, and the centerpiece of this approach is sequences of people dancing, dining and making merry in the town square as death closes in. The atmosphere is positively medieval, with touches of Edgar Allen Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" interposed for good measure.

Nosferatu is a bone-chiller supreme through virtually every frame. The aforementioned medieval ecstasy sequence occur in the final quarter of the film, but its opening, which shows Lucy Harker's night terrors in the form of a display of mummies, and slow-motion imagery of a bat in flight, all accompanied by Popul Vuh's oppressive sonorities, is as horrifying as anything in the entire picture.

Herzog's achievement here is large. He took the well-worn material of Stoker and Murnau and created something unique and significant. This is cinematic horror that succeeds on artistic, psychological and historical planes. Nosferatu is a work of genius.


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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:32 am

The Haunting (1963)

A professor (Richard Johnson) and three assistants researching supernatural phenomena venture to Hill House, a cathedral-sized mansion with an evil reputation built in the 1870s in remote wastes of New England. One of the assistants, Eleanor Lance, played by Julie Harris, is a high-strung young woman with family problems and whose mother recently died. She sees the expedition to Hill House as an escape from her dreary and unsatisfying life. On the contrary, however, it proves, quite literally, to be a dead end.

Naturally, sundry odd goings on commence soon after the quartet's arrival. Chief among them is a loud banging on walls and doors that sounds almost like tympani. Doorknobs turn ominously and walls bulge inward, but the source of the noises never actually shows itself. Eleanor, however, seems to be the focus of its ministrations. At one point the inmates discover the words "help Eleanor come home" scrawled in very large script on a wall. It is also clear that Eleanor has a strange attraction to the house itself and the malign forces within. The professor recognizes this unhealthy situation and repeatedly attempts to force Eleanor to leave. Ultimately, she does leave, but only in a physical sense.

The Haunting is a classic black-and-white haunted house film. The house itself is a character, and statuary within--a recurrent trope of supernatural horror films--lends a spooky presence. But the film has the feel of a soap opera as well, complete with sexual tension between the professor and Eleanor, catty behavior between Eleanor and fellow assistant Theodora (Claire Bloom), and the appearance of the professor's disapproving wife (Lois Maxwell). Indeed, the interpersonal dynamics sometimes threaten to overwhelm the supernatural raison d'etre, and this bifurcation weakens narrative drive and reduces the scares.

Ultimately, however, The Haunting is an eerie film tinged by tragedy. And it merits viewing by all devotees of the genre.


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Blunt Instrument
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:01 pm

I hear good things about the Netflix series version.
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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:50 am

The Netflix series starts very strong. But the last two episodes are a big letdown.

Still, it's worth seeing just for episodes 1 through 7.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:14 am

Blunt Instrument wrote:
I hear good things about the Netflix series version.

I have too, although I don't have Netflix.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:26 pm

Nor me. The reaction of others upon being told this is often amusing, like I'm confessing to just having discovered indoor plumbing or something.
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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:03 am

When I tell people I watch DVDs, they look at me in baffled incomprehension.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:10 pm

laugh
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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)   Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:05 am

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

John Carpenter's mashup of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King is a nebulous and indeterminate film. It has one foot in the camp of serious supernatural horror, but the other in the realm of the send-up, with King books/pictures as the object of the gentle lampoonery. It is not a case of a horror film that has instances of comic relief; it is an instant of a movie that is unsure of its own identity, and that is a bad thing.

The other dichotomy is the very plot itself. The general idea seems to be that a certain pulp horror novelist, Sutter Cane (an excellent name), has the ability to actually create reality with his writing. The characters he writes come into being, and the people who read his work become extremely violent psychotics who then work to create the apocalypse the evil Cane desires. The problem is that the film never remotely resolves whether its entire being is simply the filmic version of Cane's work, or whether some or all of the characters in the film have a separate existence and the ability to resist and combat the reality Cane is creating. Is it all just a fantasy? Or is the intent to show an actual clash between opposed forces and beings?

Some films--Jacob's Ladder being a prime example--can get away with creating ambiguity about what's real and what isn't because they are so strong in other areas. Alas, despite good efforts from Sam Neil (a poor woman's Pierce Brosnan), Charlton Heston, and the visual bliss provided by Julie Carmen's beauty, ItMoM cannot pull it off.

As always with horror films, much depends upon the fear they generate in viewers. And the more the better. ItMoM makes bows to The Exorcist, The Omen, Quatermass and the Pit, and Children of the Corn, but, despite a couple of unsettling moments, cannot touch the first three members of that quartet, and barely surpasses the last. It's not a bad film by any means, but it's barely beyond mediocre.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:26 am

Paranormal Activity (2007)

This austere frightener plays upon the primordial unease with the state of sleep. Doubtless stemming from the inherent vulnerability of being unconscious, especially in prehistoric, insecure societies, the eldritch quality of dreams, and the fact that people sleep in darkness, humans have an ambivalent relationship with sleep. We need it and even crave it, but at times many of us can dread it. Paranormal Activity imagines what may be happening while we sleep, and displays it visually and aurally.

The film is, in respect to the fact that it occurs entirely in a house, something of a haunted house movie. However, in this case it is not the house that is haunted, but one of its occupants, Katie, played convincingly by Katie Featherston. She claims to have been vexed by an otherworldly presence since childhood, and her live-in boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), endeavors to validate or disprove her claim by setting surveillance cameras and sound recorders up in the house to detect anything untoward. The film then chronicles increasingly bizarre and terrifying paranormal activity that the electronic equipment records.

Despite the overtly sinister and hostile behavior from the entity haunting Katie, the couple takes only minimal steps to combat it. They call in a psychic (Mark Fredrichs) who interviews Katie and concludes that, rather than a ghost haunting their house, she is being haunted by a demon. He says this is out of his field, gives them the phone number of a renowned demonologist, and beats a hasty retreat. The psychic's fear effectively ratchets up the sense of doom.

Micah, however, scoffs at these paranormal investigators and resents the fact his girlfriend is relying on them rather than him for protection. He refuses to call the demonologist and instead borrows a ouija board from a friend over Katie's protestations. Micah also verbally taunts the demon, which angers and apparently strengthens it.

As the situation spirals rapidly downward, Katie and Micah become increasingly hopeless and vulnerable to the demon's machinations. The film's climax proves awful for them both.

Every great horror film must have at least a couple of scenes that induce shivers and sweaty palms, and Paranormal Delivers on this score. The first of them takes place when the couple leaves the house, soon after Micah procured the ouija board. The camera focuses on the board from perhaps 10 feet away. Slowly the planchette begins moving across the board and after it stops, the board bursts into flame.

The second occurs near the conclusion of the picture. The security camera, focusing on the couple asleep in their bed, shows a screaming Katie being dragged from the bed and out of the room by an invisible presence. It is one of the more shocking and horrifying scenes I've ever seen.

Paranormal Activity famously achieves its powerful effects with a bare minimum of tools, and a scanty budget. Only three human characters have significant roles, and the actors portray and develop those characters powerfully. The film takes place entirely within an unremarkable, modern, two-story house in sunny San Diego. This is hardly your classic, Gothic haunted house, but much like the house in The Babadook, serves its purpose all the same. The fact that terrifying events occur in commonplace rather than outre settings doubtless adds to the impact.

Paranormal Activity also portrays both the masculine insecurity associated with losing his traditional role in an increasingly feminized and atomized society, while depicting Micah as a stubborn fool. His insistence upon protecting his castle and his damsel against forces far beyond his ken suggests a dismal future for men in a western world that increasingly does not value them. Micah swims against currents that ultimately deluge and destroy him. This film, therefore, is not simply horrifying but also demoralizing, compounding its emotional and intellectual charge in the process.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:52 am

Possessed (2000)

Possessed is a made-for-TV film based upon the same source material as The Exorcist (1973), but enjoys not a fraction of the latter film's fame. A shame, because this picture, starring Timothy Dalton as Father Bowdern, is noteworthy in its own right.

Possessed begins with a harrowing World War II sequence. Bowdern, a military chaplain, cowers in the aftermath of a battle. Nazi soldiers methodically bayonet wounded American GIs, one of whom beseeches Bowdern to administer last rites. Bowdern fearing discovery and certain death, hesitates. He finally resolves to perform the rites, but is seen by a Nazi and bayonetted. Although gravely wounded, Bowdern miraculously survives. Flashbacks and psychological reverberations from this event are an idee fixe for the remainder of the film.

Roughly 10 years later, Robbie Mannheim, a young boy played impressively by Jonathan Malen, is experiencing trauma of a very different sort. Encouraged by his aunt Hanna (Piper Laurie), Malen pursues an interest in the supernatural that includes playing with an Ouija Board. Naturally, the device proves a conduit for evil forces and strange events begin to occur. Large objects inexplicably move in Robbie's presence, not the least of which are school desks that injure a classmate and his teacher. Robbie is blamed and suspended from school.

As matters worsen, a Lutheran minister, Reverend Eckhardt, is called in to investigate. He witnesses phenomena that horrify him and convince him that diabolism is at work within the child. Eckhardt suggests the Mannheim family seek out Catholic clergy to deal with the matter.

Here Bowdern reenters the picture. Initially skeptical, Bowdern ultimately becomes convinced that Robbie is subject to attempted possession by a demon, and sets about helping him. Bowdern must first, however, get authorization from Archbishop Hume (Christopher Plummer). Hume, very solicitous of the Catholic Church's public image, and himself embroiled in high politics, initially refuses permission for the "medieval" act, but finally relents. The inexperienced Bowdern is given the task of performing the exorcism.

Bowdern swots up on the subject as best he can and goes through with the ritual.

If you didn't know Possessed was made for television, you wouldn't guess it. Production is lavish and well judged, and the cast us formidably talented. Dalton and Plummer give fine performances. The film convincingly recreates the physical world of 1950s America, albeit with the de rigeur and heavy-handed swipes at that place and time.

Possessed is sufficiently creepy, too. Bowdern's meeting in an insane asylum with Eckhardt, who was driven mad and tormented by the demon vexing Robbie, is chilling. Likewise the image of Robbie levitating above his bed in a standing position, rotating slowly and angelically singing Schubert's Ave Maria. It is all a classical case of good battling evil--America vs. Hitler, liberal crusaders vs. America, and a great man vs. a demon. At bare minimum, Possessed is must-see viewing for admirers of The Exorcist. And more accurately, it is top-shelf fare for anybody looking for a good cinematic scare.
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PostSubject: Re: Supernatural Horror Films   Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:44 pm

The Last Exorcism (2010)

This dread-inducing picture weaves together several nightmarish situations, not the least of which is what happens to a man who presents himself as an expert on a subject he really knows very little about and respects not at all, and then finds the call on his nonexistent expertise to be genuine and and monumentally important. Being out of one's depth when lives and souls are in the balance is just about as awful as it gets.

This is precisely what happens to bayou evangelist Cotton Marcus, fantastically portrayed by Patrick Fabian. Marcus is a protestant clergyman and soi-dissant exorcist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who has lost his faith in God and has come to view the practice of exorcism as a medieval sham that does much harm and no good. He is convinced that demonic possession is in actuality nothing more than psychosis, and that performing "exorcisms" as placebos can quell the psychosis, where actual exorcism accomplishes nothing whatsoever. To prove this point, he links up with two documentary filmmakers whose job it is to record Marcus' beliefs and see them put into action.

The trio departs for a town in the Louisiana hinterlands where a farmer, Louis Sweetzen (Louis Herthum) claims his demonically possessed daughter (Ashley Bell) is slaughtering livestock. After a surly reception from Louis' teenage son Caleb (Caleb Landry-Jones), in which the adolescent hurls rocks at Marcus' truck in an attempt to ward them off, Marcus sets about the business of his fake exorcism. The minister has every trick in the not so Good Book, including recordings of demonic growls, hidden wires that cause pictures to jump from walls, and a crucifix that emits smoke on demand. The effects are as convincing as they are sophisticated, and the Sweetzens believe Marcus has successfully exorcised the demon plaguing the girl.

Alas, circumstances are far worse than simple psychosis. After Marcus and his documentarians leave the Sweetzen homestead and settle down at a nearby hotel for the night, a dazed and debilitated Nell Sweetzen knocks at their door in the dead of night, inexplicably having determined where they are. Believing the girl is suffering some form of illness, they take her to a hospital for a complete examination, which determines that her physical health is perfect. The quartet returns to the Sweetzen house and matters quickly deteriorate. Nell becomes increasingly incoherent and violent. The prototypical manifestations of supernatural evil begin to appear. Marcus and his two companions are increasingly baffled and frightened. And matters come to a head.

The climax of this film may be its strongest moment. It took this viewer unawares and it made a powerful impression. Suffice it to say that Cotton Marcus was compelled to confront his disbelief and his fakery in truly horrific circumstances. He does so with honor and in the spirit of the early Christian missionaries, and in the same mortal peril.  

TLP is a powerhouse of supernatural horror. The cast gives a performance of tremendous conviction, the plot is intelligent and original, and the scares are potent. You'll want to see it a second time, but you may be reluctant to do so.
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