FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: TEEN HORRORS

 

 

Summer Teen Horrors

by Kristin Battestella

 

Prom, dolls, murder, and monsters – will teens never learn?

 

The Blackcoat’s Daughter Haunting melodies, terrible news, and subtitles like “silence” and “eerie ambiance” open this chiller from director Oz Perkins (I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House) along with suggestive lion and lamb lyrics, crosses on the wall, priestly substitutes, and father figure innuendo. Rather than emo angst, the bad girl pregnancy scares and awkward acting out are handled maturely, with a Picnic at Hanging Rock weirdness. Dark filming against bleak windows or open doors makes us unsure what side we are on, capturing the dreary mundane as two girls are stuck at school during winter break. The intertwining build of events may be slow to some, but each act follows one girl in distorted, compelling vignettes. Common bathroom echoes and creaking doors add to the spooky orange boiler room and what we think we saw contortions while change for the pay phone, maps, bus stops, and red tail lights create helplessness and traveling dangers. And you know, parents saying a teen can’t have one has to be the best excuse yet for a lack of cell phones. Who stole the laptop? Do you trust the stranger offering a ride? Is being happy an ulterior motive or will the god-believing good Samaritan find it is the devil that answers instead? These young ladies are filmed not for titillation as in slasher T-n-A horror but with a sense of innocence and fragility. Rather than in your face mayhem, suspect conversations, sinister changes, and non-linear storytelling give the audience intriguing pieces of creepy doubt. Is a crazy student after the headmaster’s attention or is that really a reflection of horns and a shadowy devil in the frame? The surreal atmosphere makes viewers peer deeper at the screen, wondering if the devil, possessions, or unreliable impressions are playing tricks on us. Editing splices match the bloody stabbings, with nonchalant mentions of forensics having to find which head matches which body. Static, distorted voices, and vibrating sound invoke more unease amid an isolating, hoodwinked power of suggestion. The audience sees the reaction on a police officer’s face rather than the terrible shocks he witnesses – doing the worst horrors imagined with a subtle reveal instead of pulling the rug out from under the viewer and calling it a twist. Although spoon fed audiences may want answers immediately instead of open to interpretation confusion and arty pretentiousness – Perkins may need an outside eye on his writing and directing to clarify this pizzazz for the masses – once you wrap your head around it, this is a straightforward story taking its time with a unique mood and special characters for full gruesome effect.

The Boy – Eccentric British parents hire a babysitter for their son – who just happens to be a doll – in this 2016 bizzarity. There’s padding opening credits driving the young American woman in a foreign country to the kid horrors, because of course, and there’s a no wif-fi, no neighbors phone call to her sister about a nasty ex, too. Fake boo moments, dream shocks, and phantom phone calls are unnecessary, as is the psychic grocery delivery man who reads gum and guesses wrong. I kid you not. The introduction to the little doll – err son is laughable as well, but our nanny must play along with the well paying delusion and make sure he sits up straight during their poetry lessons. Creepy portraits, strange noises, prayers, thunderstorms, and taxidermy create an eerie atmosphere for this warped hook while a great Canadian castle stands in for the cluttered English estate. Old toys, phonographs, candles, windows painted shut, and traps to keep rats out of the walls add to the freaky doll moments, but our babysitter waits until the doll uncovers itself and the stereo-typically locked attic doors open by themselves before following the house rules. She also never bothers to explore or investigate, but there’s an obligatory local who knows the dead little girl past and eight year old died in a fire back story – tossing in cliché details along with lost pregnancies, love triangles, and taking a shower trite. If you’re going to go into the ominous attic in nothing but a towel or have a doll listening to the sex in the next room, then don’t be a soft PG-13 but embrace that winking R. The eponymous frights should be stronger, and although we smartly don’t see any silly doll moving effects, the traditional filming style doesn’t do justice to the oddity. Rather than embracing the bizarre bonding afoot, the standard horror formulaic wastes too much time – this unusual premise could really shine if the flip flopping world rules didn’t detract from the aloof charm. A WTF siege veers the finale into something more preposterous, calling it a twist while holding back as late night horror lite for people who haven’t already seen any similar scary movies.

Lights Out This 2016 feature adaptation of the popular 2013 short is still a little short itself at eighty minutes and keeps restarting with a working dad on skype, mom talking to herself, a little brother not sleeping, and a bad attitude big sister with a sensitive rocker boyfriend. Fortunately, employees locking up for the night lead to crackling electricity and shadows that blink closer with each flick of the light switch. What would you do if you turned out the lights and saw a silhouette that isn’t there when the lights are on? We know something is in the dark, but not what, and the old school light means safety rule works amid the almost GIF-like now you see it now you don’t. Ominous tracking shots, red spotlights, neon signs flashing, and black lights create enough mood without unnecessary transition pans, bones cracking, and scratching sounds. A young boy with spooky afoot and a mother who may or may not be crazy are more interesting than time wasting millennial emo, and Maria Bello (A History of Violence) as the unstable wife dealing with shadows real or imagined a la The Babadook should have been the lead here. Naming the shadow, having her talk, and the constantly changing backstory gets laughable at times – as do slides across the floor and zooms on the ceiling. The research montage is a convenient home office snoop for a cassette tape from the doctor and a few photographs with retro jumpy footage snips patchworking the light sensitivity, skin disorder, institution experiment gone wrong, and psychic ghost happenings. There’s inconsistent UV light and physicality excuses, too, but if you aren’t going to give the audience a concrete explanation – i.e. saving it for the inevitable sequel – then there shouldn’t be any attempted information at all. Is this multiple personalities, a basement relative, or a childhood lez be friends BFF that won’t let go even in death? Why not call in the institution doctor or present your evidence to the sniffing child services instead of just yelling at your mother? There’s a kid so afraid he’s sleeping in the bathtub with the flashlight shining on his face, something’s tugging on mom’s sweater from behind the door, and quality under the bed threats rekindle timeless fears. There’s no need to add convoluted characters or ever leave the unique Tudor house standoff, yet one can tell where the trite dialogue and thin story were stretched to appeal to the mainstream teen horror public – complete with an L.A. setting, rich white blonde people, and a made stupid black cop and his Hispanic female partner. The short film didn’t have to explain its narrative the way a feature does, and this isn’t the worst recent horror film, but the good ending is a little too quick, playing it safe, serviceable, and ticking the standard contemporary horror boxes rather than really zinging. One should either stick with the original short or take this as a separate late night chiller for full bump in the night enjoyment.

 

Prom Night – Talk about kids being cruel! Morbid child’s play leads to deadly chases in this 1980 slasher – complete with one brat making the others swear to never tell, pathetic still seventies dudes, ugly vans a rockin’, station wagons, transistor radios, drive-ins, and obscene phone calls. Remember those? Although a few silly voiceovers could just be said out loud and some of the intercut flashes dump information in a quick reset, we know who is who for this eponymous anniversary vengeance. Six years later the killer has the names on his list and he’s checking them twice amid whispers of neighborhood sex offenders, creepy janitors, and mirrored innuendo. There’s terrible matching stripes, flared bell bottoms, knee socks, feathered hair, and side ponytails, too – not to mention escaped mental patients and a fatherly cop not telling the locals what’s afoot. This all must seem like Halloween deja vu for twenty-two year old high schooler Jamie Lee Curtis! Disco ball glows and red lights add flair, and there’s a sardonic humor with principal dad Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun) so awkward on the lit up floor before the big dance off, oh yeah. If there was going to be a Saturday Night Fever nod, they could have at least sprung for Bee Gees music instead of generic disco that’s honestly a little late. The prom king and queen ruses are i.e. Carrie as well, however these snob teens deserve what’s coming to them. How can a guy say he loves a girl when he helped kill her sister? We may laugh at some of the sagging datedness or bemusingly preposterous – violence in the gym showers and nobody in the school gives a hoot? However, a lot of horror movies and teen flicks are still using these borrowed staples. There’s a sense of small town swept under the rug paralleling the prom and sex calm as the ominous school hallways escalate to bloodied virgins in white dresses, lengthy slice and dice chases, rolling heads, light show disasters, and fiery vehicle attacks. This isn’t super gory and there’s no groundbreaking horror effects, but the well filmed checklist vignettes and shrewd cut corners editing build suspense alongside the red herrings and obvious killer guessing game. This isn’t super intellectual on the mentality of the killer or the full psychology of the crimes, either, but the misunderstood whys and psychosis seeds suggested continue the conversation long after everything plays out right on the dance floor with a power ballad topper.

 

Advertisements

Deadlier Than The Male…Female Horror Icons Of Our Time

DEADLIER THAN THE MALE…FEMALE HORROR ICONS OF OUR TIME.

BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PITT-obit-popupThe time? July, 2014. The place? Dublin, Ireland. The brief? Write a short- well, shortish– piece on female horror icons. Mission? Impossible. I can’t do it, I thought in a panic. In the whole history of cinema, there are too many to choose from. There would have been female horror icons as far back as the silent movie era, wouldn’t there? How can I narrow it down to just a few actresses whose contribution to horror cinema sets them apart from their peers and guarantees them a place for life in the horror hall of fame? It’s just not do-able. I tore my hair out and blubbered like a baby.

Pull yourself together, woman, I told myself then. I gave myself a mental shake and a severe talking-to, put on a pot of coffee and asked myself a few pertinent questions. Who are your favourite horror film directors? Well, that’s an easy one. Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Right. Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. What are your favourite films of theirs? Piece of cake. THE BIRDS, PSYCHO andHALLOWEEN. Are you getting cocky with me? Don’t get cocky with me. It’s not a good idea. Now, who are the actresses who starred in these films? Why, Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh and Janet’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, of course. Everyone knows that.

Don’t get smart with me, missy. I won’t tell you again. Do you have a favourite horror film studio? God, yes. The studio that made the Hammer Horror films. Good choice. Favourite Hammer actress? Ingrid Pitt, without a doubt. Excellent. Now we have ourselves a party. Now we’re cooking with gas. Now we’re… Oh, never mind. Just write the damn piece, will you? And would it kill you to put on some more coffee? I’m dying of thirst over here. And is there any damn food in this place? The service around here has gone seriously downhill lately… The conversation with myself went on for some time. You don’t need to know all the details.

We’ll start with Tippi, shall we? Born Nathalie Kay Hedren in 1930, this American actress was shoppinggiven the nickname ‘Tippi’ by her father. She came to the attention of director Alfred Hitchcock in 1961 while working as a model. Hitch was immediately taken with her- too taken, as some would have it- and by 1963 Tippi was making her film debut in one of the most iconic horror films of all time, THE BIRDS.Based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier, it’s the story of a small American community that’s being terrorized by birds. Yes, birds. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of birds. Birds are scary. If the bird population of the world ever did decide to gang up on us humans, we’d be screwed. That’s what’s so terrifying about this film, the notion that this actually could happen. It probably won’t, but it could.

Tippi, the epitome of the ‘ice-cool blonde’ so beloved of Hitch, is superb as Melanie Daniels, the self-possessed socialite who drives up to Bodega Bay to pursue a man she’s attracted to, Mitch Brenner, and walks slap-bang into a fluttery, flappy winged nightmare. The scene where she climbs the stairs and finds herself alone in a room with the beaky critters is one of the most claustrophobic and frightening in cinematic history. Tippi went on to star in over eighty films and television shows, but she’ll always be best-remembered for THE BIRDS.

psychoJanet Leigh (1927-2004) was another of Hitchcock’s blonde leading ladies. She’s best-known for her starring role in what is commonly agreed to be one of the greatest films of all time, PSYCHO. The film was based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch, who in turn had loosely based his book on the gruesome crimes of Wisconsin killer-slash-grave-robber, Ed Gein. Leigh plays a secretary on the run from the law who finds herself staying at a creepy motel run by deranged sexual deviant, Norman Bates.

The cinema-going public was shocked by Hitch’s decision to kill off his leading lady halfway downloadthrough the film. Everyone knows the shower scene in which Leigh is stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. Everyone knows the music that’s playing when she dies. Everyone knows her ‘scream’ face, and the way she grabs onto the shower curtain as she collapses. Filming this scene apparently traumatised her so much that she was turned off showers for life. I can’t say I blame her. I first saw the film when I was eighteen and it scared the living daylights out of me. Even today, I find it hard to talk about. To me, it’s the greatest horror film of all time. It set new levels of acceptability for violence and sexually deviant behaviour in American films. Oh, and, by the way, Janet Leigh, scream queen par excellence, did one more thing that safeguarded her place in the horror hall of fame. In 1958, she gave birth to a little lady by the name of Jamie Lee Curtis…

imagesJamie Lee has a film biography as long as your arm, but she’ll be best-remembered for her role as Laurie Strode in the HALLOWEEN films. 1978 saw the release of the highest-grossing independent film of its time, HALLOWEEN, which was directed and famously scored by John Carpenter and written by both Carpenter and his co-producer, Debra Hill. It tells the story of Michael Myers, a man who was locked away in 1953 for the murder of his sister. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to the fictional mid-Western town of Haddonfield. Pursued by his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, he stalks Jamie Lee and her two teenage friends all around the houses on Halloween Night, murdering hapless Haddonfield residents willy-nilly as he goes. Jamie Lee plays her part to perfection and afterwards went on to star in four further films in the HALLOWEEN franchise.

I can’t end this piece without briefly mentioning Ingrid Pitt (1937-2010), the beautiful Polish actress who survived incarceration in one of Hitler’s concentration camps in World War Two to become one of the sparkling jewels in the Hammer Horror crown. Her performances in films like THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and COUNTESS DRACULA elevated her to cult status and right up to her death in 2010, this much-loved actress was constantly in demand for personal appearances at horror conventions and film festivals. I adore Ingrid. And if I wasn’t whole-heartedly committed to being a straight female who likes guys, not gals, I’d be a little bit gay for her, too.

Well, there you have it. If there was time, I’d talk about actresses like Barbara Steele, best-known for her starring roles in the Italian gothic horror films of the 1960s, and Hammer Horror stars like Barbara Shelley, Caroline Munro and Madeline Smith. You should have made time. If you hadn’t faffed about so much talking about your favourite films, there would have been plenty of time. But the brief was to write no more than 1,500 words. If I’d written any more, I would have been exceeding the word count. You understand that, surely? Excuses, excuses. And you call this coffee? It tastes like something died in it. Oh, shut up. The mission is over. The brief is briefed. Goodnight.

 

 

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

sandra 1fixedSandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival. Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issue magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. She is addicted to buying books and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia, and would be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:

 

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com/

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com/

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com/

HorrorAddicts.net 101, Ann Wilkes

Horror Addicts Episode# 101

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini

————————

138 days till Halloween!

ann wilkes, murder weapons, lee, cushing, price

vincent price, baycon, horroraddicts.net panel, laurel anne hill, j. malcolm stewart, ha facebook page, buffy the vampire slayer, christopher lee, peter cushing, vincent price, horror addicts guide to life, look back in horror, j. malcolm stewart, a treasury of recipes by mary and vincent price, fashion avatars, world goth day, hr giger, band poll, end of the world radio, murder weapons, perish, even hell has standards, chantal noordeloos, tim lichtenberg, zombie nights, 60 black women in horror fiction, sumiko saulson, camp 417, web of deceit, smothered, deep like a river, tim waggoner, ghosts of punktown, jeffery thomas, events, halloween, jamie lee curtis, michael meyers, lost boys, goonies, joel schumacher, buffy the vampire slayer, joss whedon, kate beckinsale, wesley snipes, dead mail, not for norms, writer’s block, flash fiction friday, anne wilkes.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/horroraddicts/HorrorAddicts101.mp3

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

Murder Weapons, “Perish”

———————–

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

horroraddicts@gmail.com

————————

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

s t a f f

Sapphire Neal, David Watson, Dan Shaurette, Marc Vale, KBatz, Mimielle, Dawn Wood

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

b l o g  / c o n t a c t / s h o w . n o t e s

http://www.horroraddicts.net

 

Upcoming Events

September 7th-9th / Horrorhound Weekend / Indianapolis, Indiana / This festival includes a Terminator reunion, an Aliens reunion  and 150 vendors. There will also be a costume contest, an HMA.net mask fest which will showcase hundreds of realistic looking horror masks, a film festival and appearances by Elvira and Jamie Lee Curtis. For more information go to: http://www.horrorhoundweekend.com/

September 7th-8th / Drive-In Super Monster Rama / Vandergrift, Pennsylvania / Two nights of classic horror and sci fi films in an authentic drive in on route 66. Some of the movies being shown include: Countess Dracula, Son of the Blob, Psychomania, Horror House, Theatre Of Blood and Twins of Evil. For more information go to: http://www.dvddrive-in.com/driveinsupermonsterrama12.htm

September 13-16th / Scare-A-Cuse / Syracuse, New York / This is a horror, fantasy and Science Fiction convention that includes a zombie costume party and appearances by P.J. Soles from Halloween, Kane Hodder from Friday The 13th, Judith O’Dey from Night Of The Living Dead and Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes. Also included is a film festival and a vendor room. For more information go to: http://scare-a-cuse.net/

September 14-16th / Con X / Kansas City, Missouri / A Horror and pop culture convention that includes screanings of D4, The Afflicted, InAlienable and The Hazing. There will also be appearances by Tiffany Shelps, Walter Koening and Jay Avovone and a live performance from Kyle Elliot and Voodoo Soul. For more information go to: http://www.conxkc.com/

September 20th-23rd / Killercon / Las Vegas, Nevada / This is a writers convention with writing workshops, author readings and a gross out contest. Some of the guests include: Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, William F. Nolan, F. Paul Wilson For more information go to: http://www.killercon.com/

The Fog 1980

The Fog is a John Carpenter Horror Classic that came out in 1980.  The film stars three classic women of Horror.  Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the woman best known for her shower scene in Pyscho, Janet Leigh. The cast also includes Hal Holbrock as Father Malone and even the director, John Carpenter, makes an appearance playing Bennet.

The film takes place in the sleepy town of Antonio Bay which is looking forward to their centennial.  The town is in full swing preparing for the event when events start to shake the festive mood in town.  Unexplained things began to happen such as televisions turning itself on and pay phones ringing simultaneously is enough to set a few nerves on edge.

As these odd events are happening Father Malone is in his study when a rock falls opening showing a hole in the wall. Upon investigation of this opening the Father finds a journal that was written about 100 years ago.  Inside the diary secrets about six of the towns founding fathers are revealed and only if they knew what would happen to the town because of their actions things may have been differently.

After we learn about the terrible deeds that the six men had committed on the clipper ship Elizabeth Dane, stranger things begin to happen around town.  A mysterious fog appears out to sea and begins moving toward land.  Three local men are out on their boat when the fog over takes them and something appears within the fog.  Two of the men cannot help but to investigate this strange fog and as they do what is hidden inside the fog ensures this will be their last night on earth.

The film continues on from this point as we are introduced to more townspeople. The local radio DJ Stevie Wayne (Barbeau) has her own early foreshadowing of what is to come when a piece of drift wood her son gives her causes a small fire at the radio station.

What makes The Fog a great Horror film is not just a great cast of actors but the use of foreshadowing that Carpenter is able to pull off in the film.  Also the menace of watching the fog slowly roll into town engulfing everything in its way adds to the excitement.  The ghosts within the fog coming out to kill those it can find adds to the excitement as we watch people try and run from the every growing fog.

The film does require viewers to watch the action and listen to the plot and things that go happen to help build some of the suspense.  The warnings that come from Stevie over the towns radio station are another element that help to add to the suspense of film.  Her cries and warnings to the townspeople almost begging them to get indoors and away from the fog as there is something there.  When you add in the fear of those trying to out run the fog and find a save place continues to bring you more and more into the desperation of those running.

The Fog is one of those films that combines many elements of a good story and plot devices into it at the same movie.  There is the suspense, the element of revenge, and a long hidden secret.  All of these entwined together make John Carpenter’s The Fog a classic horror movie.