Monday, October 22, 2018

plato's cave seventy two (being a film journal) horror

For the most part I am going to watch horror films the rest of the month. I come to horror not as an enthusiast but more as a film lover just wanting to see another great film regardless of genre. Because of this, there is less patience for certain horror films which are arguably just important within the genre. Interested very much in viewers coming to horror for non-traditional reasons. Any hint of kitsch or horror-humor and this viewer tends to tune out. B grade is cool as long as the film has heaviness (Bucket of Blood for example is endlessly watchable). Gore if excessive is another turn-it-off for this viewer, although if done in a subtle and poetic method gore can be exceedingly lovely. Some of my favorite films are horror films, like The Exorcist, and most of John Carpenter's films especially The Thing. Other classics like Cat People, The Shining, The Innocents,  Don't Look Now, and Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre.

George A. Romero - Night of the Living Dead - 1968
I have seen this wonderful documentary a few times, vérité to the extreme. Of course as I learned in film school; vérité is never really vérité because the camera, editing, music and direction transform the truth into fiction. This film is a lovely example of fiction becoming truth via the director's methods. One of my favorite horror films. It is always interesting to see Romero show up as an actor. Here he plays a Washington Reporter. In Martin he is Father Howard, biker in Santa Claus Suit in Dawn of the Dead, Zombie with Scarf in Day of the Dead, FBI agent in Memphis in The Silence of the Lambs, and some others I haven't seen.

Wes Craven - The Last House on the Left - 1972
Second time seeing this, although the first time was over 20 years ago. It surely has a good look, but a little too B-grade for this viewer. The sadism mixed with humor really makes it a bit of a joke, which I guess is why people like it?  The B really works well with a director like Ed Woods, not as much here for this viewer but I am sure I am in the minority.

Steve Buscemi - Trees Lounge - 1996
Non horror film. Fourth or fifth time seeing this film. Perfect, and one hell of a cast! Buscemi is one of the great 90s/2000s American directors: Trees Lounge, The Sopranos episodes, Lonesome Jim and Animal Factory.

Robert Aldrich - The Longest Yard - 1974
Non horror film. Feel ashamed I never saw this great film which came out the same year I entered the world. Killer Burt Reynolds film.

Jennifer Kent - The Babadook - 2014
Second time seeing this classic of contemporary horror. Same as the first time, I couldn't tell if I liked the film. The kid and mom are just a tad annoying, but it is well done and pretty intense and scary. Definitely a film that leaves an impression.

Armand Weston - The Nesting - 1981 & Joe Dante - The Howling - 1981
Attempting to watch some horror films I have never seen. I started both of these because I recognized the names but turned them both off after a bit. Couldn't get into them.

Yi'nan Diao - Black Coal, Thin Ice - 2014
Not totally a horror film, fits a bit into the serial killer genre. There are some moments of horrific intensity, but beyond that it is almost like a Beckett meets Tsai Ming-liang film. Drunken and depressed, our hero navigates a Beckett-like existence, with his general atmosphere of absurdity being more what I followed than the plot. I really loved this film and look forward to a second viewing. My pretty wife recommended it to me and she always steers me right.

Dario Argento - Suspiria - 1977
I saw this film freshman year college and then maybe a few years later. Never loved it, nor the Italian horror films in general. Picked up the soundtrack a bit later and listened the hell out of it, so good. My wife had not seen this, and we have both been wanting to see the remake so we gave it a go in preparation.  There are definitely some moments that make it a film worth watching but the kitsch excessiveness of it just puts this viewer off. Like a big fancy cake that is made of non organic products and you just feel kind of sick after. It is funny but a video Demdike Stare made puts all the aesthetics of these films into a 6 minute version of somewhat off-putting trend induced hysteria..... with women endlessly walking down hallways in a way that is reminiscent of something like a low fidelity Chanel commercial.

Alfred Hitchcock - The Man Who Knew Too Much - 1956
Lesser classic from Hitchcock revolving around the idea of the man who waits through an entire symphony to climactically crash the symbols. Second time.

Herk Harvey - Carnival of Souls - 1962
Classic horror film. Beautiful stuff with some strange business afoot. Second time, great film.

John McNaughton - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - 1986
Second time seeing Henry. Love this film, so raw and disturbing, has a great quality in terms of the acting, visuals and sound. Grainy as hell. Some kind of intense atmosphere that really fits with the fucked up business happening in the film. Michael Rooker is about as creepy as possible here, but also at times moral and almost kind here and there, great actor to be able to pull this off with simple gestures and non traditional actorshippe. Fitting in with another obsession on this blog - there is an abundance of urban photography; Chicago at night which just looks great, sinister yet beautiful. This is one of the best 80s films, rare quality for the year. First image above "Entertainment Nightly" is from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The pre-Lebowski quote above is good stuff.

Werner Herzog - Nosferatu the Vampyre - 1979
A few times seeing this classic. Just one hell of a horror film with an amazing soundtrack by Popol Vuh.

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