The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1826 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:10 am

Maybe my original write-up will shed some light on why I like it, swo (your half kidding guess is part of it, though not the main reason)
domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:46 am
the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation (Kim Henkel 1997) As far as I know I'm the only human being alive who prefers this film to the two Tobe Hooper films which preceded it, though I caught this on cable years ago and wasn't sure if my memories would live up to reality. So, after revisiting, I can say with confidence that this is a more interesting and better film. Like Hooper's films, the movie delights in abrasiveness, but here that quality of shrill noise and clamor takes on a disturbing and inescapable patois of glorious trash. That a scuzzy film like this stars Oscar winning future A-Listers Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey makes it all the more surreal. This is an unrelentingly negative movie-- at one point Zellweger is trying to be defiantly brave in the face of overwhelming odds against her and McConaughey just starts spitting on her before grabbing a can of lighter fluid and setting her unconscious friend on fire in front of her. It's a perfect summation of this film, which is the living embodiment of that famous Godard summation: a film found in a garbage dump. There are no outward positive traits, and yet its consistency of tone, its ability to hold the vile nature of its execution sustainably for the non-stop last two-thirds of this film left me impressed once again. I can respect a film that doesn't half-ass its shocks and distasteful aspects but instead goes whole-hog head-first into total abandon. So, I guess what I'm saying is, I agree with the rest of the world that this film is trash. I just don't mean it derisively.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1827 Post by swo17 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:20 am

Interesting, and well said as always

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knives
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1828 Post by knives » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:53 am

swo17 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:02 am
therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:58 pm
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation: Alright well throw the tomatoes at me because I thought this was awesome.
Having recently been reminded of Blatty's Exorcist film, I'm kind of fascinated by this idea of a writer for the first film in an iconic series returning to direct one of its sequels. Are there any other good examples of this phenomenon?
I think you just summed up Leigh Whannell's career.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1829 Post by swo17 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:45 am

Looks like only technically Insidious 3 would qualify. I haven't seen any of those movies, but I did of course love Upgrade

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domino harvey
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1830 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:32 pm

I've only seen the first Insidious movie but I thought it had a great tense and spooky atmosphere til things had to start happening

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domino harvey
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1831 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:39 pm

Also, if we're doing a recommendation thing as we "wind down" (there's still two more months!), I hope no one here sleeps on Isabel if they didn't see it last round. Surely some boutique label will get around to releasing this one (KL said they passed on it, which tells you all you need to know about that label), but for now we gotta make due with a VHS rip. My writeup from a million years ago
domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:19 pm
Isabel (Paul Almond 1968) Gorgeous tone exercise that creates an unsettling rhythm in exploring the process of a young woman, Geneviève Bujold, returning back to her small town home after her mother dies. What happens to her once she's acclimated back into the ways she sought to escape in the big city is debatable, though. Isabel, written/produced/directed by Bujold's then-husband, is a stylistically bold film, wherein an alternating, often disorienting editing style is coupled with a hypnotic sound design reliant on clever bridging and carefully composed silences to produce a steady disquiet and unease as the film progresses. Isabel unfolds in the dying days of winter, when intermittent freezing rain does little to wash away the soiled snow still covering the ground. It's an environment as dreary and miserable as the scenario Bujold finds herself in.

The film is unabashedly indebted to Repulsion, with a sexually-troubled young heroine suffering a disastrous mental break, but the sexual repression here is more subtly painted-- and more troubling. Take the film's single greatest sequence, in which Bujold, holed up in her attic-adjacent bedroom, slowly begins the process of masturbation, focusing entirely on her needs as reflected through a make-up mirror. As she moves through the disrobing and light touching, she continues to be drawn between her image and the open attic door, wherein the violent relics of WWI that defined her grandfather are stored. There is talk of the house being haunted. Who is she performing this ritual for, exactly? And more disturbing in its implications, why? What does it say about how others interact with her that her own image instigates her uncontrollable arousal?

This paragraph concerns the ending of the film, however obliquely. I'm not sure this is the kind of film that can be spoiled by addressing the rather fluid issues the film raises, but fair warning

Isabel is deeply concerned with the horrors male sexuality presents to a comely young woman like Bujold in such an isolated town. Almond does such a good job selling the audience on the possibility of a spectral threat using the bare minimum of screentime necessary to distract from the more corporeal sexual threat which emerges. But the film isn't so simple as to devolve into rote reductive sexual politics ("Every Man Will Rape You," &c), because the resolution of the sexual danger implies an ingrained and willing desire for heterosexual incestuousness on the part of a character who had previously distanced herself from heterosexual relationships entirely as a coping mechanism for the behaviors of men in her life. The destruction of Bujold's illusory relationship in the big city coupled with the heightened backslide the small town life affords her leads to a regression into mental unbalance and a willing belief in the supernatural. I say this as though the shadowy figures were her imagination, yet as the light seems to imply in her final encounter in the film, are they though? What exactly is Bujold submitting to in the final scene? Isabel is a film that finds beauty in the possibility of mental unbalances and psychosexual disasters that can only be glimpsed and acknowledged peripherally-- and as such, it is a film that is one with its protagonist.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1832 Post by knives » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:54 pm

Can't sleep on something you can't reach though. If we are doing quick drive by recs then I have to put in a good word for I Am a Ghost by HP Mendoza which is good enough it finally forced me hand at an avatar change! It has a little something for all the board members too.

This is a structuralist's dream. Essentially the main figure of a Hollis Frampton type experiment becomes untethered as a result of some much needed therapy. The movie perhaps could have sustained itself across it's initial experiment as it opens itself to many readings for feminism, memory, immigration, miscegenation, and class dynamics. In a bout like Zorn's Lemma we see a woman dressed as a maid going through a series of events on repeat. Sometimes events are played longer and sometimes shorter. Sometimes events are added and sometimes taken away. The same becomes different revealing different facets of this figure through the repetition. I was actually reminded of Michael Snow's Wavelength before I realized it had more in common with Frampton's conception of cinema.

The film keeps this up for almost half its runtime making it a risk and shock when it says no to the structure and introduces a real break. I was genuinely nervous the film was going to go a less interesting route, but after some much needed exposition the film tries to have the main figure examine and interpret the structure she's lost in. The film really survives off of Anna Ishida's one woman show as any less capable or more traditional performer would not allow this lecture in film theory to be so thrilling and bizarre. This implores a humanistic reading into the central experiment as the movie argues that formalism can be an expression of real life as well. Is that sort of life healthy though? That's what the therapy tries to figure out and I'll wait for others to talk about my own judgement.

This is available on seemingly every streaming site so do yourself a favour and watch the best movie you will see this year now.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1833 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:53 pm

I really liked Isabel when I watched it last spring, but I'll have to revisit it if there's time before the project deadline. The subtleties in the atmosphere definitely transitioned the mood from spooky to the kind of extreme discomfort many get from silence or sitting with their own thoughts, and then add trying to evaluate a character's relationship to her social context and identity through object relations theory whilst subjectively attached and you have a weird vibe that it's no surprise needs another viewing from me to actually put pen to paper in analysis.

knives, that sounds great, though I'm curious what you mean by linking humanism to formalism if the latter is imposed by the filmmakers- are you saying that it allows us to create rules through a rigid framework that empowers one to make sense of the world? I plan to watch and find out for myself but just looking for a bit more context there as it seems like an interesting reading just not very clear.

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knives
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1834 Post by knives » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:22 pm

To answer that would require getting into spoiler territory, but in the later portion of the film the audience is asked to treat the main figure of the initial formal experiment as a person in more traditional terms than already set forth by the variations naturally occurring in the structure (which is quite extensive) which means turning concrete Emily so that the experiment is not about a body, but a person.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1835 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:06 pm

Interesting, that helps, looking forward to it

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1836 Post by brundlefly » Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:20 pm

‘Cam' (Daniel Goldhaber, 2018)

I cannot watch movies on my computer screen.

It's not resolution snobbery and I'm no size queen; I grew up squinting at a 13" tube fed by rabbit ears, have watched prints of films that have seemed only held together by collective goodwill. It's the result of a deteriorated attention span and technological steamlining, of proximity and a poorly maintained sense of discipline. Over time the world has made my work machine and my play machine the same machine and this was a terrible idea.

For the last year I've been largely away from a safely compartmentalized screen, have done too much living through my laptop, and the movies that have made most sense there are the ones that already take place on the internet. The more interesting formal experiments are of course things like Searching where the desktop is the new tableau, where point/click expositional devices succinctly observe how we absorb information now, and where the most human elements can be cursors typing and then pausing and then deleting and then re-typing. These are movies where it almost makes sense to shrink their windows and answer an e-mail/beat a high score/refresh a current outrage. It's unsettling to be watching Unfriended and see all your own tabs at the top. And then you realize you never clicked full-screen, and then do, and then it's just Unfriended again.

Cam doesn't completely take place on the internet, but it is about someone who has put their whole life there and has it taken away from them. Its literal plot is identity theft, and that's an okay-enough universal hook, but like a lot of potential paths the film has it's an intriguing and frustratingly handled (Thrill! at the fruitless calls to customer service!) element in a personal story.

The titillating hook is that Cam is about an online sex worker and is written by former online sex worker, Isa Mazzei – whose name comes before the director's in the "A Film By" credit. And the good news is that it's not interested in titillation. There is an emphasis on the main character as an ambitious entertainer, an amused and possibly exaggerated sense of the absurd (though in a world that's a willing parody of itself, women making s'mores in lingerie does not seem like a far-fetched fetish), and, because it's pitched as a horror film, some light gore.

All that gore is self-inflicted(*) – though all the violence is not – which speaks to what makes an often plain film interesting. It is invested, it comes from an honest place of self-respect and self-admonishment. While it trudges through material that serves to explain a lifestyle and teases deeper explorations of reality/fantasy and identity breakdowns than it can deliver, it's tangling with an ongoing blurring of lines and some violated priorities.

One of the things that makes this not-great – and I don't know that it's Top 50 Anything, but doesn't deserve to be buried in Netflix' content barrel – is that a movie concerned with identity has a void as its central character. ("You make such a good anonymous visitor," she tells one of her customers, but too many characters here do.) Some of this is where she is where we start – just look at her calendar, she is her job; some of this could be the result of sidelining the character's own sexuality, perhaps considering actual intimacy out-of-bounds; and some of it is surely the lead actress, who may have had a tough go what with the nudity and having a chat room as a scene partner, but she always seems awkward and uncomfortable while doing the thing at which she's supposedly great.

(*)
SpoilerShow
The three self-harm scenes give the thing an arc and convinced me it was better constructed than a movie desperate for horror beats. The opening scene may be obviously fake, but it's great, and a great introduction of the performer-audience dynamic. (Cam, Searching, and Nerve all adeptly and amusingly recreate the internet comments and chat roomspeak you should never read.) When it's basically revisited in the middle of the film and Alice is now an audience member, the mock-suicide results in a moment of palpable, horrified self-awareness. (It's also interesting to watch how she acts as a chat room member. Other than her brother, every male in the movie is reliably gross, and it's hard to see Mazzei as seeing her former customer base with anything other than contempt, or thinking that they saw her with something approaching the same. But in a film that favors the practical over the perverse, having Alice tip her doppelganger to spank herself is a pretty rich meeting of powerlessness and selflessness.

The climax is the only one of the three that has real injury and real blood and it's hard for me to see that as anything but a symbolic success. This isn't the classic corny human-computer confrontation ("Computer, what is love?") but I have trouble not thinking of it in that way. Though it's a traditional character transformation, it does turn that whole thing where a blood sacrifice revives a demon on its head.

And on that: I like that Cam doesn't explain the imposter Lola_Lola, and almost wish it didn't cycle through red herrings like the pathetic IT guy or the magical vibrator ride. I'm happy it never confronts a far-reaching conspiracy; a casual, indifferent malevolence is always scarier. Though it ultimately feels a little Twilight Zone, it's easy enough to see Lola_Lola_2 as a mirror the universe thought necessary, or a "Shatterday"-style double, one that manifests when you've violated the rules you've set for yourself and have gone so off-balance it takes a whole 'nother you to set things right. Be yourself, or someone else will.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1837 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:11 am

knives wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:54 pm
If we are doing quick drive by recs then I have to put in a good word for I Am a Ghost by HP Mendoza which is good enough it finally forced me hand at an avatar change! It has a little something for all the board members too.

This is a structuralist's dream. Essentially the main figure of a Hollis Frampton type experiment becomes untethered as a result of some much needed therapy. The movie perhaps could have sustained itself across it's initial experiment as it opens itself to many readings for feminism, memory, immigration, miscegenation, and class dynamics. In a bout like Zorn's Lemma we see a woman dressed as a maid going through a series of events on repeat. Sometimes events are played longer and sometimes shorter. Sometimes events are added and sometimes taken away. The same becomes different revealing different facets of this figure through the repetition. I was actually reminded of Michael Snow's Wavelength before I realized it had more in common with Frampton's conception of cinema.

The film keeps this up for almost half its runtime making it a risk and shock when it says no to the structure and introduces a real break. I was genuinely nervous the film was going to go a less interesting route, but after some much needed exposition the film tries to have the main figure examine and interpret the structure she's lost in. The film really survives off of Anna Ishida's one woman show as any less capable or more traditional performer would not allow this lecture in film theory to be so thrilling and bizarre. This implores a humanistic reading into the central experiment as the movie argues that formalism can be an expression of real life as well. Is that sort of life healthy though? That's what the therapy tries to figure out and I'll wait for others to talk about my own judgement.

This is available on seemingly every streaming site so do yourself a favour and watch the best movie you will see this year now.
First, a hearty thank you to knives for coming in to recommend this wiiiild film that not only understand mental health and therapy, but as he says takes a very humanist lens at validating experience and philosophically posing questions that have no easy, or right, answers- though I do think the filmmaker’s position ends up leaning in my preferred direction even if wisely ambiguous. What an interesting experiment this is, unfolding in passive wonder for the audience who believes themselves to be enjoying mysterious art as entertainment only to be continuously manipulated from voyeuristic awe toward empathy and self-conscientious. Beyond that, it’s best not knowing anything going in, so I’ll spin my yarn in shadows:
SpoilerShow
The voice of Sylvia’s intrusion over Emily seems to suggest the forces that both assault our sense of freedom and cradle us when we face that lack of power or identity. God? A therapist? A part of one’s conscience? I love how she uses the language and interventions of a therapist, seeking to build rapport while Emily wants to jump right in the deep end and solve the problem. Fear run riot on the work, the confrontation with the self.. and transition, the will to change: the hardest thing for most people.

After we spend about ten minutes fleshing out Emily’s humanity in all the ways we know only too well, the repetition scenes change from objective to subjective, as we become intimate with her in physical distance and with an empathetic camera to mimic the knowledge we have gathered and the identification we have initiated in our own process of therapeutic engagement. The details then take on new meaning, the creaks and sounds, smiles and kind eyes as she rubs the wood and cleans, pain and distress as she nurses her wound. We are no longer playing God either with mastery, or trapped in the structure of our limited scope from a distance either though; instead we are allotted closeness, freedom from those constraints yet a new kind of prison without safety in distance. So are we less free because we’re stuck with her in the thick of it, or more free because we are relieved of sober awareness and given a new solipsistic kind of reign in that space of hyperawareness of personal experience?

Are the routines we engage in stabilizing, suppressing the intangible as an adaptive form of safety, or do they make a prison as maladaptive coping mechanisms that disrupt our freedom? For that matter what is freedom, total awareness and validation or the ability to exist with some degree of ignorance to keep our sanity? This film posits the extremes and questions this idea without necessarily siding with any one idea, and I’d argue that if one supposes reality as subjective within a larger objective one, attitude can affect which side of the coin flips up even if they’re all valid. The problem with Emily’s subjective following of routine is that this reality is susceptible to unpredictable variables shaking us from a secure worldview, but the issue with awareness and perspective through therapy is that we struggle to maintain that stability and must become vulnerable to work through our traumas and compromise our sensitivity perspective.

I’ll side with therapy, because well duh, but this is a very empathetic film that accepts a bargaining attitude for the powerless to issue control where they can. It’s normal, and what the film shows is that with marginal progress and compassionate support, it is possible.

And then Emily takes the leap without the skills (as is necessary to build them!) and the shocking disablement begins as this becomes a Jarman film for a few minutes. We now see with absolute subjectivity in POV and have a spiritual experience that is liberating and disorienting at once. The ensuing therapy is built upon a combination of that trusting rapport and Emily’s comfort in taking that first step of willingness, a piece of evidence that opens a doorway to possibility.

But the process of uncovering trauma is horror. The process of uncovering hidden parts in us, to cite IFS again, is horror. As Emily sees a version of herself that is unfamiliar, she encounters a ‘younger’ part to her ‘older’ part, one underdeveloped while the other is stronger - or is it actually the opposite? Is the one in the routine the strong older core driver while the part who is awake is the newbie struggling to function inside of her soul and psyche without any stability? I’d say so, but that doesn’t discount that younger part’s equality, that’s been locked away and neglected and is the key to salvation. This film does indeed make rhetorical statements about what is reality, the difficulty in figuring that out, and how trust - if only truly possible with oneself - determines plausibility or if something is even worthwhile to take a leap of faith on external (or internal) support from strangers, even if that stranger is your own internal, yet unfamiliar, part.

The reveal of a psychotic disorder (specifically that it’s dissociative identity) frustrated me because it specified in diagnostics of externalized parts of a person what the film was already doing perfectly with the internal systems, as if the audience wasn’t intelligent enough to figure that out, and shadowed over the horrors of mystery through explanation. On top of that; since we know that reasoning a different reality with someone living with delusions and psychotic symptoms is more futile, the metaphors run the risk of failure to hold the same weight, and I’ll admit that the film nearly lost me here. But in an exposition that’s so full of metaphor, providing that information only raised the stakes for reality confrontation. We are left with a clearer allegory for more universal therapeutic work- especially for how the visualizations become flooded thereafter and double down. As the other parts and ultimately the monster become externalized as a part itself it hardly matters, because the expected challenge occurs in pure horror and successfully completes the film’s own schizophrenic polar self-fulfilling prophecies spliced in a jarring feedback loop of inebriated repression and raw confrontation.

The fear of therapeutic confrontation becomes retraumatizing, everything becomes worse, abrasive and violent. But here is where things get interesting: as the monster attacks Emily we cut between defense mechanisms and vulnerable terror, fantastical protective parts and reliving trauma. Is this the necessary horror on the pathway to growth as supposed by Emily’s trusting part’s ability to separate from the assaulted afraid one, or is it futile and destined to end worse? I think that Emily’s motivated part (the “Emily” we see)’s ability to grow throughout the film and her calm demeanor as she continues to listen to the trusting therapist even at the end is fierce optimism.
Anyways there’s my long ramble but it felt necessary to pick the film apart as a summary of its gradual pathway to consciousness through risk, as there’s so much going on here, mostly questions and dual propositions. I really loved this movie. knives, I’m curious as to your take at least regarding the end, or if you had a different perception of events altogether. It's certainly a film that demands discussion.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1838 Post by bottled spider » Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:11 pm

The Exorcist. First viewing. This seems like the product of a highly intelligent and talented director squandering his abilities on what is ultimately rather silly material. I love the slow build up; the opening scenes of the archaeological dig, and the first alerts that something is going wrong in Georgetown, are utterly gripping. But drama turns to spectacle once the possession is complete; the exorcism is of mere sensational interest. While the special effects are never laughable, they are easy to shrug off as not real -- and if they weren't, that would be so much the worse, because I don't like watching a twelve-year old suffering through pain, fear, and indignity.

The film only touches on the ouija board being the initial conduit for the demon's attack. That could have been developed further. I would have liked to hear more of this Captain Howdy, and see more of the process of the demon "grooming" Regan for possession. I would have preferred the possession to be less total, so we see more of the real Regan glimmering through the possessed Regan, and have the film focus on a psychological battle among the demon, Regan, and the exorcists/psychologists, and not bother as much with spinning heads and projectile vomit.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1839 Post by knives » Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:27 pm

I actually really appreciated the exposition as it give me a foundation by which to hang my thoughts off of as they were slightly scattered up until that point. It was sort of like being provided with the language to express ideas. A reversal of Pontypool. Beyond that I largely agree with what you're saying. There was a lot to unpack in the film and I was overwhelmed by too much to say which you've fortunately worked with.

To expand a little, I think one idea of therapy you touched on, which is my guiding principle as a teacher, goes to the great argument between Freud and Otto Gross on the role of the therapist. Freud, in his typical fashion, saw the therapist as the authoritarian. A new priest. Gross, alternatively, practiced a form of mutual therapeutics where the therapist was an equal partner with whomever they were doing to analysis with. Sylvia is open and frank. She talks about her relatable flaws and though she is sometimes terse you can see her goal is to develop trust and respect first and foremost. As a larger metaphor for helping others I think it's a necessary lesson.

As to the ending
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my interpretation is largely a positive one. The therapy has been a success in that Emily is finally able to confront her nature with some independence using the skills she has learned from therapy. It's a scary as hell experience. I know I jumped multiple times throughout that whole sequence so I can only imagine for her. We see this clearly from how the gray man wilts away with his eyes revealed and Emily, not just us, is able to see her life as a whole. To play up the metaphor we see Emily is not necessarily cured, but she is not healthy and skillful enough to move on.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1840 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:14 am

The Nanny (Holt 1965). (1st viewing) On the blurry line that exists between thrillers with a deranged antagonist and horror films, this nevertheless ends up pretty solidly in the former camp. Sangster wrote the screenplay but the quality of the material evidently points to a stronger pre-existing source. The suspense co-exists with a humanness to the story, and to the nanny’s character, while the very well done scene with the little girl is heartbreaking. Extremely solid in the direction and acting, and pleasurable to watch.


Vampire Circus (Young 1972). (1st viewing) Vampires hiding among the members of a circus troupe seek revenge on the children of a plague-ridden Serbian village for the killing of their Count. This is seemingly a generally well-liked late Hammer so I’m definitely in the minority here but it didn’t do much for me. It’s definitely gritty and the long prologue is quite strong but afterwards I found the setting among the vampire caravans a bit stage-bound, the plethora of characters somewhat chaotic instead of the presence of a few characters that we might have further invested in and cared about, and the assemblage of feline beasts/circus performers/bats/vampires slightly à la Fellini a little baroque and fantastic in not an entirely good way, at least for my tastes. Outside of the caravan sequences, the film strives for a realistic look, though, which works well, especially in the forest scenes.


The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (Carreras 1964). (rewatch) I liked this quite a bit more the second time around, making a point to leave aside the comparisons to the much superior Fisher original. The mummy itself, who only comes in at 53 minutes (in an 80-minute film), is the weak point, whether in terms of backstory, physical presence/performance, or the attacks, which are pretty much weak replicas of Lee’s bits in the first film. But I found myself enjoying the rest of the movie, the quasi romantic triangle, the intrigue, Fred Clark as the American showbiz impresario blowhard, Terence Morgan as the coming-on-hard seducing villain, and the generally intelligent and witty direction and eye-pleasing photography (in Carreras’ preferred Scope – this is really his baby, as he produced, wrote and directed it) as per the Hammer usual.


It Came from Outer Space (Arnold 1953). (rewatch) I didn’t remember this very well, and like The Day the Earth Stood Still the initial promise of horror turns into something else. Mixed results here. The initial crash and quasi-realistic set-up are interesting especially when thought of in the context of the real-life, well-publicized saucer viewings of the period, with 1952 being one of the peak years in that respect, especially with the Washington D.C. flap (which strangely enough occurred a year after the Wise film). But the narrative that follows is not all that complex or satisfying, and the visuals vary from appealing to cheesy, especially the one-eyed jellyfish aliens and those more silly than frightening alien-point-of-view shots.


Damien: Omen II (Taylor 1978). (rewatch) In comparison to the original, the film is already handicapped to start off with because there’s no longer any mystery to discover and reveal, nor possible equivocation on the viewer’s part regarding the nature of the murderous events occurring. So the occult mystery thriller that was the first movie here devolves into mostly a simple slasher by proxy. In execution, it’s also definitely poorer than its predecessor, with the London atmosphere and the more Gothic visuals missing, less memorable kills even though the body count is higher, less catchy musical additions by Goldsmith, and. especially damagingly. the way the film constantly undercuts its own potential suspense by offing each character the minute he or she expresses doubts about, or poses the slightest threat to, Damien. But even with all that, and taken for what it is, it’s still not a bad movie as such. The dimension of a coming-of-age character arc for the devil’s son is interesting, and even almost moving when it comes to the relationship with his cousin/”brother”. The winter scenery also gives it a special flavor. And the filmmakers chose the teen actor well – he not only resembles the child in the first film, but looks eerily like a young Sam Neill!


Quatermass and the Pit (Baker 1967). (1st viewing) Ancient aliens and alien hybridization of early humans is something you find in alien abduction accounts/research and alleged ET channelers (e.g. Bashar), so it’s surprising to find this topic unearthed (no pun intended) by Nigel Kneale many years before these narratives reached popular consciousness. This is an extremely well-made and acted Hammer film, with Andrew Keir easily outclassing Brian Donlevy in the Quatermass role. There’s a tinge of horror but the balance weighs slightly more towards sci-fi in comparison to many other alien invasion sci-fi horror pictures, and the feeling is more of mystery than suspense and fear, apart from the apocalyptic ending. For those reasons, as beloved as this film seems to be, I find the earlier Quatermass films more entertaining, especially the second one.


Image
Long Weekend (Eggleston 1978). (1st viewing) An Australian film about a dysfunctional couple who head off to an isolated beach for a short holiday, and whose lack of regard for the environment around them seems to trigger revenge on Mother Nature’s part. A special film because it’s not actually spelled out why everything happens, if it’s all coordinated, and what is exactly happening (unlike The Birds, an obvious influence, where it’s at least more clear the birds are out to get the people), and throughout there’s also this increasingly tense conflict between the couple that’s also somehow part of the equation and adds another dimension to the film. Really good photography conveying a sense of weird menace, and beauty, in the surroundings. Very likely to make my list.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1841 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:05 am

knives wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:27 pm
I actually really appreciated the exposition as it give me a foundation by which to hang my thoughts off of as they were slightly scattered up until that point. It was sort of like being provided with the language to express ideas. A reversal of Pontypool. Beyond that I largely agree with what you're saying. There was a lot to unpack in the film and I was overwhelmed by too much to say which you've fortunately worked with.

To expand a little, I think one idea of therapy you touched on, which is my guiding principle as a teacher, goes to the great argument between Freud and Otto Gross on the role of the therapist. Freud, in his typical fashion, saw the therapist as the authoritarian. A new priest. Gross, alternatively, practiced a form of mutual therapeutics where the therapist was an equal partner with whomever they were doing to analysis with. Sylvia is open and frank. She talks about her relatable flaws and though she is sometimes terse you can see her goal is to develop trust and respect first and foremost. As a larger metaphor for helping others I think it's a necessary lesson.

As to the ending
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my interpretation is largely a positive one. The therapy has been a success in that Emily is finally able to confront her nature with some independence using the skills she has learned from therapy. It's a scary as hell experience. I know I jumped multiple times throughout that whole sequence so I can only imagine for her. We see this clearly from how the gray man wilts away with his eyes revealed and Emily, not just us, is able to see her life as a whole. To play up the metaphor we see Emily is not necessarily cured, but she is not healthy and skillful enough to move on.
Yeah it definitely has the client-centered subjective therapy mentality that (thankfully) has been rising in popularly over the last decade or two, with Emily being validated as the expert on herself and the only agent who can change while the therapist can simply assist in guidance and support. I appreciate that even as an empowered person she like most people still opt for the easy way out, or a quick fix, even if that means the therapist doing it for her (passing through, etc). I think we agree on the ending- though I believe that she is on the exact path she needs to be to develop and practice those skills, especially with what we’ve been told as soon as Sylvia comes in regarding how Emily seems to repeat this process over and over but makes progress (even if that step is just remembering more, and staying in the conversation longer). And yeah, I don’t know the last time I felt so genuinely scared watching a movie

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1842 Post by knives » Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:06 am

I phrased the ending the way I did because that is a fairly definitive next step. Another thing I like is how we start in media res with the therapy having gone on long enough to establish a real rapport.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1843 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:49 am

Same, and I don’t know if there’s anything definitive beyond that she is on a path to growth but as we know social-emotional growth is almost never linear or forward-moving in the ways we expect. She’ll probably falter and maybe not succeed in the ways that we think, but that rapport and self-evidence of her successes, perhaps small to some viewers but huge for her, will change her and already have

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1844 Post by knives » Sun Feb 23, 2020 11:27 am

I agree in terms of real life, but in terms of the film it's kind of impossible to know what occurred at the end and thus what will happen next.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1845 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:20 pm

SpoilerShow
Of course and the intentional ambiguity is necessary to both refrain from the misdirected idea that people with trauma can be cured or that this therapeutic process/growth isn’t lifelong to some degree, and also to pose the ambiguity as a rhetorical question for the audience. This challenge acts as a mirror to reflect on and evokes a humanist validation in asking us to become aware of our own internal parts, the fearful protectors that want to hide as well as the motivated courageous ones, all of which are activated.

I think one piece that’s missing from this analysis that may better explain my point is Prochaska’s Stages of Change model, which supposed that our path from suppression of awareness, to awareness, preparation, action, and maintenance often results in relapse but which doesn't always mean the person goes back to zero (and shouldn't be read as relapse in the conventional sense, for we can block out awareness and return back to it quickly, as Emily has shown through continued therapy). Though even if Emily reverts back to the pre-contemplation state of change, this doesn’t mean there haven’t been seeds planted or that she still hasn’t grown. I think it would be a terrible movie if Mendoza was even posturing at arguing against therapy, as this would be rather nihilistic in presenting the formalist routine as a form of prison, though I suppose one could say that this subjective reality of ignorance can mimic an existential Sisyphus reading, though nothing else in the film really supports that. But that doesn’t mean he is saying that the outcomes will be expected, or that even trying is worthwhile (for that’s up to subjective experience based on the stage of change one is in), but he is saying that if one does choose to engage that growth will occur.

So the point of the ending for me is to leave it up to the audience to weigh their own barriers and reasons for readiness, to recognize their own psychological fearful parts and comfort in complacency, and contrast these with their philosophies and conscience regarding personal meaning on self-development. But Emily is proof that this process will be both horrifying and that engagement will move in the direction of awareness and change, and while we may not have any indication on what the future will hold (more harm, relapse - and to what end, continued growth toward catharsis, etc.) the risk is posed with those few objective truths in place.

I guess I still see that as change and growth even in the film but it’s up to the audience outside of the world of the film to judge whether that’s worthwhile based on their own historical experiences, individual psychological and philosophical prioritization. The humanistic reading has already been done for Emily but now it’s displaced onto the audience to engage on a deeper lever themselves and with Emily, perhaps an unwanted responsibility but a seed planted for our own therapy I see as an offering not a forced process. In a way, Mendoza is now offering his rapport to us and we can take it or leave it, depending on our readiness.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1846 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:57 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:14 am
Damien: Omen II (Taylor 1978). (rewatch) In comparison to the original, the film is already handicapped to start off with because there’s no longer any mystery to discover and reveal, nor possible equivocation on the viewer’s part regarding the nature of the murderous events occurring. So the occult mystery thriller that was the first movie here devolves into mostly a simple slasher by proxy. In execution, it’s also definitely poorer than its predecessor, with the London atmosphere and the more Gothic visuals missing, less memorable kills even though the body count is higher, less catchy musical additions by Goldsmith, and. especially damagingly. the way the film constantly undercuts its own potential suspense by offing each character the minute he or she expresses doubts about, or poses the slightest threat to, Damien. But even with all that, and taken for what it is, it’s still not a bad movie as such. The dimension of a coming-of-age character arc for the devil’s son is interesting, and even almost moving when it comes to the relationship with his cousin/”brother”. The winter scenery also gives it a special flavor. And the filmmakers chose the teen actor well – he not only resembles the child in the first film, but looks eerily like a young Sam Neill!
Damien - Omen II has grown on me over the years mostly because of that shift in emphasis from the "is he or isn't he?" dilemma of the first film (which is basically a "should I feel guilty about murdering this child or not?" issue! Especially complicated by the way that mostly in the first film it is all of the acolytes doing the murders on his behalf rather than the child himself! At least until the plausibly deniable tricycle incident!), to actually moving that burden across from the audience onto Damien himself! So Damien is the one slowly realising his legacy and it really seems to be about him 'growing into' his role, or rather going from feeling (at least a little) upset about the death of his cousin to actually not that guilty any more about the aunt and doctor! I like that the most emotional death is Damien's first fully intentional murder and then its like both the character and the film itself callous over and we get to enjoy the ever wackier death sequences. The main parental couple here fall into the same mould as Gregory Peck and Lee Remick from the first film, although William Holden (intentionally I think) completely fails to elicit any sympathy at all as the family patriarch barely interested in his family and Lee Grant remains the more sympathetic to a child character but unfortunately sides with the wrong asshole in the final scene (In the only other touching, rather than funny, death scene as, along with the cousin, Ann Thorn's firery demise bookends the complete destruction of that family, as Damien has moved past needing guardian figures now).

Plus we'd never have had that Jonathan Glazer ice skating priests advert without the trapped under the ice scene here!
Rayon Vert wrote:Image
Long Weekend (Eggleston 1978). (1st viewing) An Australian film about a dysfunctional couple who head off to an isolated beach for a short holiday, and whose lack of regard for the environment around them seems to trigger revenge on Mother Nature’s part. A special film because it’s not actually spelled out why everything happens, if it’s all coordinated, and what is exactly happening (unlike The Birds, an obvious influence, where it’s at least more clear the birds are out to get the people), and throughout there’s also this increasingly tense conflict between the couple that’s also somehow part of the equation and adds another dimension to the film. Really good photography conveying a sense of weird menace, and beauty, in the surroundings. Very likely to make my list.
I love this film, mostly because whilst there is that (rather unnecessary) scene of the husband stumbling across a previously ravaged campsite and its now ownerless pet dog, this really feels like a couple of awful people bickering whilst on holiday and getting their much deserved comeuppance! They feel more responsible than any character in The Birds for antagonising the wildlife (including shooting the large beached whale-like mass a couple of times for fun), and I guess the failing marriage is another example of the 'natural order' getting overturned as well. I really like that it does not feel underlined too much that this last holiday is a last attempt to rekindle things despite both members of the couple already having affairs with other people in the opening sequence! So this relationship has already almost completely collapsed as the film starts, only emphasised by its beautifully mournful dirge-like score with the sombre drum beat.

And really we don't particularly want the relationship to be rekindled either, as both members of the couple are pretty awful! This reminds me a bit of some of those couples you see in Stephen King stories (Children of the Corn in particular), who have antagonistic relationships with each other and since we are in a horror film world there is no reconciliation to be had! Though in Stephen King it is often worse as these kinds of couples often are dragging their children into their conflict (because they've put too much faith in having a child being able to repair their relationship), and damaging them in the process, whilst the couple in the Long Weekend only have a dog to fight over!
SpoilerShow
In fact really the natural world does not seem that bad until provoked! It just wants to get close to the couple wanting to 'get close to nature' only to find itself being violently rebuffed! In a way I think of this film a little like Godard's Weekend, in that we have a couple that seems to detest each other going on a final road trip. The male partner brings along a gun as well as a harpoon gun(?) which inevitably has to get used at some point, and I wonder if there was already a conscious plan there for one or other of the couple (or both?) to murder the other one during the trip! In a way the film underlines throughout, but particularly in the final section when the couple splits and have their own encounters with the natural world on their lonesome, that whatever the 'threat' they had to face was, they would probably have been able to deal with it better if they had been a functioning couple rather than a dysfunctional one. Instead they abandon each other, and pay the price.

I particularly like that whilst nature appears more and more threatening as the film goes on (though it has been provoked quite severely! Even just with the littering and constantly playing radio!), the film is at pains to make the final fate of the couple entirely brought about by themselves, as Marcia takes and then almost immediately crashes their jeep whilst Peter has a fitful night firing his gun wildly around the camp. Even at the birds! Even when one of them carries back Marcia's shoe and drops it at Peter's feet, he just chucks it in the fire whilst feeling sorry for himself, without even thanking the bird! And then when he runs out of bullets he inevitably only has his harpoon gun to fall back on and ends up shooting Marcia when she comes screaming back into the camp, sounding like a wild animal.

And I really like that Peter's death, being run down by a truck on reaching the road back to civilisation, is reminiscent of the same years death by truck on the highway sequence in Damien - Omen II (though the birds are a bit more responsible for the the death in the Omen film! Though I think I remember that a bird distracts the driver at the key moment in Long Weekend too!). Though I think it also bears comparison with the end of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as well, especially given that the truck that hits him is carrying livestock, presumably to the slaughterhouse!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1847 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:04 pm

Great thoughts there, Colin. Yeah they're really unlikable characters from the start, especially the woman initially, and you wonder why they're together and going on this trip in the first place. It's kind of a rape-and-revenge film, with nature getting raped and then seeking its revenge. And knowing what the film was about and seeing these characters' self-centeredness and their effects I was definitely rooting for their deaths pretty soon! Although again the film is good because it's not as black-and-white and clear and linear as that description makes it out to be. And the characters do become slightly more complicated as it goes on.
SpoilerShow
Good catch there regarding the similar deaths by highway truck. Although Long Weekend doesn't resolve what happens to the dog that was left inside the vehicle!
Definitely a film that resonates today even more with its environmental consciousness.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1848 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:08 am

Long Weekend also feels like a particularly Australian film in the way that it highlights that tension between the urbanised, modern, Western-feeling cities and the outback surrounding them just begging to be tamed which people feel that they can go to lose themselves in or do whatever they wish only to find it biting back. Its as key a 1970s Australian 'lost in landscape' film as Walkabout, Picnic At Hanging Rock or The Last Wave in that sense. Or in exploitation terms it anticipates the 1980s films Road Games and Razorback, both of which were written by Everett De Roche after Long Weekend (I'd really love an Everett De Roche boxset at some point with these and some of his more obscure outside Australia non-horror films such as Fortress (with Rachel Ward), Windrider (with an early Nicole Kidman role. Only $79.95 for the VHS!) and Race For The Yankee Zephyr)
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1849 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:58 am

You could add to that list Wolf Creek in the 2000s.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1850 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:05 pm

Yes, I actually had that listed with Road Games and Razorback at first before I realised there was the opportunity of an Everett De Roche shout out to be had! (I actually have not seen Wolf Creek as yet, though the DVD has been in my to watch pile for going on fifteen years at this point, and I keep ignoring it when it is on television because I need to feel as if I got the investment back from buying the disc! :wink: ). We could probably throw in Wake In Fright as well.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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