Getting To Be My Favorite Time Of Year…

September 5, 2013 at 12:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

It’s nearly autumn, a season that has been my favorite of all seasons since childhood. Autumn means baseball AND football. It means piling up leaves. It means soccer practice. It means Halloween.

That last one–Halloween–might be my favorite part of it.

Back in October of 2011, my internet friend Tom Chick undertook to watch and write about a different horror movie every day. I loved that. Tom’s tastes run a bit grislier than mine, but I still discovered a ton of under-the-radar scare flicks that way. Last year I thought it would be cool to try to watch a horror movie daily my own self to get into the ghoulish spirit of the season…but then I got caught up in watching election coverage nightly and that was that.

I still wanted to try it, though. This year then, I sort of put out a call to friends on facebook and elsewhere to suggest great horror films. I was deluged, and realized that trying to pare down the list of worthy movies, I’d need to set some parameters.

So I did.curseoffrankenstein4

I know me pretty well, and I know that when it comes to movies with a fantastical element–fantasy, sci-fi, horror, whatever–I’m what gamers call a graphics whore. Basically, I love me some special effects, and in this modern age of CGI and computer animation, I’m like a fat kid in a candy store.  However, I’m also well aware that such visual effects wizardry is a new development. Directors and effects departments used to have to work without that kind of stuff, and I sure remember being scared by a lot of movies in my formative years. That set me to wondering: do those movies I remember from my childhood and teenaged years still hold up?

And with that question, I had my thesis statement and way to narrow things down. I decided that I’d watch films from the “modern” era of horror, but no films that came out after 1987.

Why 1957?

For me that feels like when the modern era of horror films were born. The genre was kind of asleep at that point in time. I get the feeling that most folks had had their fill of horror in real life after World War II. The emerging Cold War seemed to bring more science fiction into the mix.

Two things woke the sleeping horror monster. Neither caught much interest at the time.

The first thing was a little English production company attached to Bray Studios just across the Thames from London in Berkshire decided to abandon it’s film noir roots and try to stretch out some into even darker territory. Thus, Hammer Films was born, along with their first international smash hit The Curse Of Frankenstein. That same year, French director Jacques Tourneur adapted a wonderfully gothic M. R. James ghost story into a film called Curse Of The Demon (US title, it was “Night of the Demon in the UK”). The latter film is a surprisingly modern take on devils and demons and such, and features one of the more famous special effects of the 1950’s.

And why 1987? Kind of an arbitrary pick, but it was over Christmas break in 1987 that I happened to watch The Shining for the first time, and it scared the absolute crap outta me.  It also feels like in the late 1980’s, we started seeing the start of CGI for scare purposes become commonplace in horror films, and so it felt like a good year to stop.

I also am trying to build up some better writing habits, as in scribbling something down at least once per day.

What I’m envisioning here then is maybe writing 300-400 words each day on the movie I watched the night before.  I’ll mention why I picked it, in some cases pointing out why I picked a certain film versus another movie of the same genre/time period. I’ll maybe describe a couple of standout scenes that make the film either great or not so much. Finally, I’ll answer the thesis question: is the movie still scary? I’ll also try to list the easiest way to find some of the more obscure stuff I’m watching, in case something I write piques interest.

This should be fun!

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