Archive for the ‘Horror Nostalgia’ Category

Films I LOVE: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

August 24, 2011

Frankenstein gets a ‘70s style makeover complete with suspenders and glittery platforms in this over-the-top cult phenomenon that – and this may surprise you – was written by Richard O’Brien who plays creepy butler Riff Raff and is led by the “sweet transvestite” (is there any other kind!?) Frank-N-Furter. The beauty of this wacky film is the chaotic mishmash of themes, visuals, music and characters that are performed to hilarious perfection. Admittedly, you will either love it or loathe it, but either way, you have to see it.

Yep, this weird little guy is the one responsible for the madness.

Transylvania: the new Fire Island!

Not technically a horror film – a young Meatloaf may get bludgeoned but if that scene manages to frighten you then you’ve got issues – however if you can think of a scarier scenario for the all-American white underwear wearing squeaky clean couple that is Brad and Janet than being thrust into an alien mansion bursting with sexual decadence and governed by a horny transvestite dictator then be my guest. And besides, it’s awesome.

Ya feelin' gay yet?

Why I Heart It

Yep, definitely feelin' a bit gay now.

Two words: Tim Curry. Although Susan Sarandon comes a close second for her comic performance of the doe-eyed ditz Janet, Curry gives the performance of his life as the cross-dressing scientist and all round mentally unstable sex-crazed alien Doctor Frank-N-Furter (although he’s also pretty awesome as Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island too, fo’ reals. And let’s not forget his role in a little film called IT). The voice, the hilarious facial expressions and THAT wiggle in THOSE high heels: this film belongs to Tim Curry.

Captain Jack who?!

Favourite Scene

...not this one.

There are so many to bloody choose from: Janet and Brad’s opening number as they frolic through a graveyard with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him sighting of Tim Curry in the background, a wig-wearing Frank-N-Furter seducing both Brad and Janet in one night, Janet’s seduction (she’s quite the huss ain’t she) by the gold hotpants wearing muscled moron Rocky, and of course the random arrival of Doctor Scott. Altogether now: “Doctor Scott!” “BRAD!” “Janet!” “Doctor Scott!” “BRAD!” etc. But we all know that the BESTEST SCENE OF ALL is Frank-N-Furter’s entrance and everyone’s favourite tranny tune, “Sweet Transvestite”.  Come on gang, you know the words!

As if you needed any more reasons to watch it.

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The Scariest Faces in Horror

July 17, 2011

It’s happened to all of us.

Picture the scene: the lights are off, you’re all wrapped up in your nice little bed, clutching your teddy/spouse/empty bottle of vodka, but just as you start to drift off… you see it. THAT FACE!

Fancy a bedtime story? 

While creepy characters and gruesome scenes from horror movies may have us grimacing and seeking shelter behind our sofas, the things that stay with us long after the DVD player is turned off are THE FACES. There are some that shock unexpectedly, briefly visible in a flash of light, and others that just keep popping back for more fun. Whatever the case, it’s these faces that remain embedded in our tired minds as soon as the lights turn off.

Awesome horror blog The Horror Digest has created The Scary Face Club, where such faces are placed in one handy little spot where masochistic readers can experience one horrific viewing right after another. I have chosen my top three scariest faces in horror, plus a few extras just for funsies. Sweet dreams, readers…

1. Pazazu – The Exorcist

BET YOU'RE GLAD I BROUGHT THIS INTO YOUR LIFE!!

Yeah, so Regan is pretty rank to look at once she morphs into the pea-soup stained devil child. And her demonic voice paired with frequent crotch stabbing and weird spider-walking only adds to her status as a truly horrific character. But even I must admit that she’s no match for Pazazu (yep, this thing even has a name). Pazazu’s leap into the limelight may only be for a few seconds, but it’s a moment that we’ve all paused onscreen resulting in serious regret and sleepless nights. The Godfather of all shit-your-pants scary faces. Yeesh.

2. Double Offender – The Shining

Jack Nicholson

Demented Daddy

I stuck this one in here to pay homage to one of the greatest horror movie performances that depicts an entirely realistic possibility: Daddy goes cuckoo and attempts to bludgeon his brood. That face of his is pretty spine-chilling too. But The Shining’s ultimate nightmare FACE moment comes in the form of: OLD CHICK IN BATHTUB.

Who wouldn't want a hug from Grandma!?

First we see a hot naked chick just chillin’ in the bath, it’s all good. Jack Nicholson cops a feel. Bit creepy, but yeah, it’s still all good. Kinda. Then suddenly, without any warning, hot naked chick morphs into geriatric naked chick but not just any geriatric naked chick… a decaying, somewhat green, particularly saggy geriatric chick with a hideously eerie cackle.

3. Zelda – Pet Semetary

Don't you think I'm purdy?!

This dude decked out in drag and encased in plastic (Yup, it’s a dude. Does this make he/she/it scarier or just laughable? I know my answer) had a particular effect on my nerves when I first saw the tongue-in-cheek gem that is Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. Many of the scenes were filmed in my friend’s house, including this one. A house we used to play in when we were kids. Let that sink in for a minute.

I HAVE BEEN IN THAT FUCKING ROOM.

Some more beauts for you to gaze upon…

Nosferatu – Count Orlok

Surprisingly, not the best thing to watch when you're stoned.

The Others – Creepy child/old guy in veil

Is it a kid? Is it a midget? Is it an old shriveled little leprechaun? OH GOD WHO KNOWS!!!

The Ring – Closet chick

Late night, love?

The Strangers – The, uh, strangers? Particularly this guy

la la la, on the phone, la la la... HOLD ON WHAT THA!?

Psycho – Norman Bates

Srsly, though, if your mother called you Norman you'd do the same, right?

Who do you think has the scariest face in horror?

Rob Zombie Movie Marathon: Hold the Fried Chicken

May 29, 2011

Rob Zombie is the new-age Alice Cooper, blending shock-rock and campy over-the-top B movie style theatrics with plenty of tits and ass (usually that of his wife).

Yes, yes we get it. She's fit.

Zombie’s long-awaited musical return to the UK this Spring/Summer has resulted in a flurry of sold-out shows and has upped his credentials after his latest films resulted in more of a slump than a surge. But the dreadlocked devil hasn’t hung up the camera just yet; he also has a new film project in the bag, The Lords of Salem, which he describes as being his darkest work yet.

A teaser from Zombie's latest project

The Lords of Salem is inspired by the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, but is set predominantly in the present day, and is to be released in 2012.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I bloody love Rob Zombie. He is without a doubt the best live act that I have ever seen (and I am eagerly awaiting the experience of seeing him again at Download festival) and his tongue-in-cheek macabre melodies never fail to dazzle.

But upon hearing the news of his new film project, I realised that while I blare Mars Needs Women at every given opportunity I have never transferred my attention over to his – often poorly received – onscreen works. Awesome Art takes a look back over the best (and worst) of Zombie’s horror exploits.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

A colourful dose of camp southern gothic, Zombie’s first full-length feature tells the story of the demented Firefly family who live in the arse-end of nowhere in 1970s Texas. The film resembles a Rob Zombie music video, loaded with snippets of serial killers, pin-up strippers and black and white silent movies.

Two idiotic teenage couples attempting to write a book about desolate road-stop attractions in the southern states come across creepy clown Captain Spaulding’s combination gas station and dodgy fried-chicken hut complete with horror attraction: ‘The Museum of Monsters and Madness’. There they learn the legend of Doctor Satan and, after picking up a hot hitch-hiker, become entangled with the demented serial-killing skin-wearing Firefly family.

Would you really eat this guy's fried chicken?

The mediocre plot and often irritating script – did Zombie purposely set out to squash a swear word into every line? – are luckily overtaken by the visual impact of the film. Fetuses in jars, Sheri Moon writhing around with a skeleton, and the Firefly family herding their victims (victims dressed in over-sized bunny costumes) through the mist are just a few of the memorable moments that make this film the ultimate cartoonish nightmare. Just try not to judge too much on the poor ending, or on Doctor Satan, a hilariously awful excuse for a villain.

THAT'S Doctor Satan???

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

I was first introduced to The Devil’s Rejects as a teenager by a horror-loving ex-boyfriend who emphasised to me just how “fucking cool” this film was. I was horrified and thought it was the most disturbing thing I had seen since The Exorcist.

She's no Sheri Moon…

A few years on and I have been sufficiently desensitized by my consistent horror-viewing to assume that I would no longer have this opinion. But upon being re-introduced to the sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, I can safely say that this is not only Zombie’s best horror movie, but definitely his most disturbing.

It’s six months after the killings of those dumb teenagers, and police are madly trying to get their mitts on the Firefly family. We learn that Captain Spaulding is actually Baby’s father, and he, Baby and Otis manage to escape the house after it is discovered by the cops.

Boasting a hell of a lot more plot than its prequel, The Devil’s Rejects gets to grips with these members of the Firefly family, turning them into actual characters (and an actual family complete with brother/sister spats) as opposed to the cartoonish hicks that they were introduced as.

A fun-filled family day out!

Zombie ups the gore and suspense; the motel scene is particularly uncomfortable to watch – although Baby is still the most unconvincing villain – and the scene where that chick hysterically runs through the street wearing a mask of her husband’s butchered face: pure horror genius.

rank

The perfect blend of horror and comedy, it’s no wonder that this film has earned itself such a cult following. It also has what its predecessor lacks: an awesome final scene, suitably set to Lynyrd Skynyrd no less. Altogether now kids: “If I leave here tomorrow…”

One last road trip?

Watch the final scene of The Devil’s Rejects here.

Halloween (2007)

Halloween 2 (2009)

Zombie’s first attempt at fiddling with a classic was neither a remake nor a prequel, but rather a mishmash of the two, with his second attempt carrying on from where the first left off. While Michael Myers was never known for his long list of motives for butchering everything that crossed his path, Zombie attempts to give a back story to Myers and with it, reasons for why he became the infamous boogeyman. Both films focus on the family factors behind Michael Myers’ killing rampages.

So baby Myers had a tough childhood: a slaggy mother (guess who plays her?) a slaggy sister and an asshole stepdad who wants to bang said slaggy sister. So, obvs little Mikey has no other choice but to butcher them all. Will this half-assed explanation really satisfy an audience of Halloween experts who want to know what makes Myers tick?

THIS kid is supposed to be Michael Myers!?

This is the Halloween franchise injected with classic Zombie: an abundance of swearwords from the start, trashy women, misogynst men and not forgetting Sheri Moon’s ass. Both films create a dark, desolate world filled with dirty, dishevelled and wholly unlikeable characters. But overall, the films are a whole lot more mainstream than those of the Firefly family sagas, and a hell of a lot less entertaining.

Stick with what you do best, Rob: showing off your wife’s ass. Oops, I mean… original storylines. Yep, that’s what I meant.

One for the lads.

One Final Scream: The Scream franchise

May 23, 2011

Before torture porn stole the horror movie crown from slashers, there was the ultimate horror franchise complete with guide-book: Wes Craven’s suspense soaked Scream. Forget supernatural serial killers and creepy Japanese chicks, however camp it may be Scream made audiences jump with strategically timed creepy music and the theory that seemingly normal high school kids are actually horror movie-obsessed deranged serial killers.

Hey there!

After reaching cult-like status can the ultimate slasher collection successfully return with one last memorable punch? Take a deep breath and remember: don’t have sex, don’t answer the bloody phone, for God’s sake don’t ever say “I’ll be back,” and remember, Ghostface’s knife can stab through any door.

Scream

Based loosely on the killings of the Gainesville Ripper, the original half piss-take half blood-fest paved the way for a flurry of spoofs and earned itself a permanent cult-status. Sydney Prescott may be the most annoying character known to man (seriously, dude, how many lives can one chick have?), but hey, you can’t get a much better principal than the Fonz. My favourite bit? Rose McGowan’s garage-door death. Although Drew Barrymore’s 90s bob and sweater combo is also pretty sweet.

Regretting that last donut?

Scream 2

Sydney’s all grown up, attempting to be a college student while making the most of caller ID. Character development in a horror film sets Scream apart from the masses, and the whole playing-on-the-idea-of-horror-movies-now-playing-on-the-idea-of-the-sequel (still with me?) is just a further example of Scream’s deliciously original concept. Not as good as the original, but still a damn good effort.
Best bit: Will Smith’s wifey getting the stab while watching Stab. Oh, the irony!

GIMME BACK MY POPCORN BITCH!

Scream 3

Now this is where it flags a bit. The film-within-a-film and the ‘revelation’ at the end can’t save this from being a mediocre ‘final’ chapter.
But who cares about the plot, I just get too distracted by Courtney Cox’s hair.

Shit, she's spotted a mirror...

Scream 4

Now how the feck is this one gonna work.

How can a generation who will happily watch human centipedes eating each other’s shit flinch at the sight of Ghostface flopping around clumsily in his comical robes!?

LOLZ.

The reality is that they probably won’t. But Scream 4 ups the camp and creates a ridiculously over-the-top ending that makes it a full-blown parody of itself. Pretentious film students will be all over this shiz.

Scream 4 introduces a new set of Woodsboro faces, a ton of iPhones complete with Ghostface apps together with an annoying kid with a webcam permanently attached to his head to make a seemingly new breed of Scream that in reality relies on pretty much the same techniques as the first three films.

Old-school Screamers

New kids on tha block... complete with irritating live blogger

Scream fans will pick up on the mirrored moments from the previous films and in typical Scream fashion (and quite possibly the only reason that most people will want to watch this movie) you’re left guessing right until the end. Will Gale Weathers ever shut her trap? Will Dewey stop being the most useless bumbling cop since Chief Wiggum? Will Sydney bite the dust? One thing’s for sure, you’ll be yelling at the idiots onscreen for the duration of the movie, as always. Enjoy.

‘They don’t make them like this anymore’: Iconic Illustrations in The Art of Hammer

December 31, 2010

They sure don't.. — Creatures the World Forgot, 1971

Hello there. Do you love classic horror movies that are more tongue-in-cheek than torture porn? Heaving breasts and damsels in distress? Books that don’t let pesky words get in the way of pictures!? If you’re nodding along in enthusiasm (and hell, who wouldn’t be), then The Art of Hammer will be right up your dark alley.

The Art of Hammer cover

The Art of Hammer was published in October 2010, and is bursting with colourful pictures of Hammer horror film posters spanning from the ’50s to the ’70s, including classics such as Dracula and One Million Years B.C. to more obscure features like The Snorkel and The Shadow of the Cat.

The book begins with an introduction to the history of Hammer horror, from the initial critical response that scorned them to their now cult status as classics. Almost 300 poster images from Hammer’s archive are featured in this substantial book, and many are extremely rare. It’s got beautiful illustrations, brilliant taglines (‘Sledge-Hammer suspense to shock you from your seat!’ and ‘What strange power made her half woman — half snake?!’ being two such gems) and lets not forget plenty of boobs. This is the ultimate coffee table book for horror and hammer fans alike.

Here are some of my favourite posters from the book:

Awesome. Just Awesome. — The Curse of Frankenstein, 1957.

Death by deep-sea diving!! — The Snorkel, 1958.

The classic — Dracula, 1958.

Scream of Fear! 1961

Feck the film, I want my free Rasputin beard!! — Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Reptile 1966.

Freaky feline — The Shadow of the Cat, 1961.

'It's all in good fun, of corpse!' — The Old Dark House, 1966.

Hammer hot chicks — One Million Years B.C., SHE, 1966.

He sure has.. — Dracula has Risen from the Grave, 1968.

Those were the days.. — When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970.

The horror world lost a legend this year, RIP Ingrid Pitt — Countess Dracula, 1971.

From Dracula to Drugs: Horror in Irish Cinema.

December 3, 2010

In my quest to delve into the world of Irish horror (and doing everything in my power to avoid leprechauns) I found myself at a bit of a loss. Irish literature and theatre are full of myth, creepy ghost stories and legends: think Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Weir by Conor MacPherson. But somehow, Irish horror cinema has never risen to fame. I examined horror films set in Ireland, made in Ireland and written/directed by Irish filmmakers to bring you some of the best, and indeed the worst, Irish horror films.

The Butcher Boy (1997)
The Butcher Boy is based on the novel by Patrick McCabe, and delves into the twisted mind of 12-year-old Francie Brady as he descends into madness. Director Neil Jordan, who specialises in Irish drama films but dipped into horror with Interview With The Vampire (1994), creates a bizarre black comedy that is more psychological than horrific. But throw in an alcoholic, violent father, a paedophile priest who makes Francie dress up in a bonnet and a climax that involves the butchering of an irritating neighbor and you’ve got yourself a truly Irish horror gem. Oh yeah, and Sinead O’Connor makes an appearance as the Virgin Mary. Blasphemy? Or just brilliance?

Forgive me Father?
The Butcher Boy/ Sinead O'Connor

Rawhead Rex (1986)
A Pagan god who unleashes his fury on a small Irish Catholic village could have been a recipe for a genuinely creepy horror flick. Instead, Rawhead Rex (don’t you just love those rustic Pagan names?) resembles the bulbous aliens from The Fifth Element, only with more shiny plastic and a fuzzy afro. Well, it was the eighties. When an American writer brings his family to the village in search of material for a new book, he ends up in the middle of the ‘Pagan’ god’s rampage. This film is bloody hilarious. There are stereotypical Oirish wisecracks, priests gone mad, cranky auld biddies and then there’s Rawhead Rex himself: the most ridiculous use of plastic that I have ever seen. A must-see. Seriously.

Rawhead Rex and friend
Rawhead Rex/ The Fifth Element

Shrooms (2007)
A bunch of half-wit American students arrive in Ireland for one purpose: to trip on magic mushrooms in a creepy forest. This is literally the only reason for their visit. So much for kissing the Blarney Stone. Oh, and did I mention that the creepy forest surrounds an equally creepy deserted children’s home? Obviously.
Apart from a few offhand mentions of Irish druids and banshees it’s easy to forget that the film is set in Ireland as the idiot Yanks roll around off their faces in the woods. They are introduced to mushrooms by Jake, a character whom I assume is supposed to be Irish but looks more like a sleazy Italian and speaks like he went to a British boarding school. The only Irish characters in the film are two intellectually challenged brothers who live in a shack in the middle of the woods and say amusing things such as: “Ma used ta have ta lock us up with the pigs!” Charming.
Shrooms is far from being frightening, but it does have its amusing moments. The ‘twist’ at the end isn’t exactly mind-blowing stuff either.

Silly tourists
Shrooms

The Ten Steps(2004)
By now you’re probably assuming that I went down the they’re-so-bad-they’re-good route with my investigation into Irish horror. But fear not fright fans; I’ve left the best ‘til last (apart from Rawhead Rex that is).
This ten minute film by Brendan Muldowney is a shining example of the fact that the best horror sequences rely on slow-paced suspense. This short film about a young Irish girl’s babysitting experience stayed with me much longer than any gore-fest I experienced during my blog-researching. The best news? It’s all on YouTube.

Here are a few more Irish horror flicks for further viewing:

Dead Meat – Zombies take over Leitrim.

Boy Eats Girl – Anyone remember Samantha Mumba? I assume her career ended here.

Red Mist – Another one from Shrooms director Paddy Breathnach. A coma victim causes havoc from his hospital bed.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People – Yes I’m aware this is a Disney. But a Disney with a particularly creepy banshee scene. Hell, this film is just creepy all over.

Any other Irish horror films that you think are worth mentioning?

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You: The Inevitable Cannibal Holocaust Review

November 23, 2010

Yes, I watched Cannibal Holocaust by choice.

nomnomnom
Cannibal Holocaust cover

This is a film that was consistently banned and shows real animals being slaughtered on-screen. The graphic obscenity led to director Ruggero Dedato being brought to court to prove that it wasn’t a snuff film in which people are actually killed. He even had to bring the actors to court to show that they were still alive. But it sure is a snuff film if you’re a woodland creature.

After asking friends about it and scouring the internet for reviews, I was EXTREMELY freaked out after reading numerous reports that stated: “I love gore, guts, slashing, people eating each other, chopping up my grandma etc etc… but I still had to fast-forward the rape/animal massacre scenes in Cannibal Holocaust”.

Yes, I love horror, but for me suspense will always overide slashing and I still can’t watch the Achilles heel scene in Hostel without heaving. How the feck was I to survive the most ‘controversial film ever made’?!

One of the tamer scenes
Cannibal Holocaust

The film is split into two segments. After four documentary filmakers go missing in the Amazon rainforest in 1979, an anthropologist, Professor Harold Moore, ventures back there to try and discover what happened. The first half shows Moore’s brief adventures with the tribes (including a bizarre scene where he frolics naked in a river with some tribe girls: be warned this film is far too full of genitalia). The second shows the footage of the missing filmakers that he finds and brings back to New York.

The first half of the film is pretty ridiculous, almost akin to some kind of bizarre spoof (until the particularly shocking rape scene). There are stumbling tribespeople looking for a snack, constant derogatory talk about them being ‘uncivilised’, absolutely no character development whatsoever and a soundtrack that resembles a cross between Ross Geller’s keyboard techniques and a creepy romantic comedy.

Responsible for the soundtrack?
Ross Geller Keyboards

The second half ups the gore but not the substance. The plot never develops. There is a distinct lack of suspense. The characters are one-dimensional racist misogynists who treat the natives with such incomprehensible disrespect that you almost feel relieved when the cannibals get their hands on them. Almost. The male filmakers rape a native girl (while the female filmaker quips about them wasting film!?) and they burn down the natives’ hut – while the natives are still in it.

Abba-lookalike filmaker fancies a snack
Abba fancies a snack - Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust doesn’t actually have all that much cannibalism. It should be renamed Turtle-Snuff-Rape Holocaust. Despite the realistic and disturbing nature of the rape and torture scenes, at least we know that they’re not actually happening. The graphic turtle slaughter and pig shooting, however, are real. Watching the filmakers kill and rip apart a turtle’s intestines (YES a REAL turtle!) is highly disturbing and I can’t even imagine how messed up those actors must be to have that forever captured on film. They also kill a snake and a monkey amongst other poor creatures.

The real victims of Cannibal Holocaust – slaughtered animals
The real victims of Cannibal Holocaust

Overall the unnecessary violence is beyond ridiculous, particularly in the final scenes. The Abba-lookalike filmaker gets castrated, while the female filmaker is graphically raped by the tribesmen before being beaten to death and beheaded. I could keep going but you get the point. Oh yeah, and unlike most horror films, you see EVERYTHING. You’ll be grateful for the shaky camera work.

The film ends with the lines “I wonder who the real cannibals are,” spoken by Professor Moore after watching the found footage. Deep man, real deep. This final attempt to make the film seem more like a profound comment on society fails to distract from what it actually is: barely as deep as a puddle and about nothing more than pure, disgusting and above all unnecessary shock value.

Watch at your own peril. Let this final picture be a warning.

Cannibal Holocaust scene

A First Taste of Fright: What Scenes Scared You as a Youngster?

November 16, 2010

"I'm every nightmare you've ever had"

Everyone remembers the films that scarred their little kiddie souls for life. From disturbing Disneys like Snow White (1937) and Pinocchio (1940), to David Bowie’s bulge in Labyrinth (1986) to an accidental viewing of Stephen King’s IT (1990) (How did that happen to so many of us!?). Whether we stumbled upon a late-night televised fright-fest or just watched what we assumed would be kid-friendly that turned out to be traumatizing, these films will always remain permanently imprinted in our minds.

Taking inspiration from Kindertrauma, the awesomely amazing site that takes a look at everything and anything that freaked us out as young ‘uns, I decided to comprise a list of what films, aimed at children or otherwise, scarred mini-me for life.

Return to Oz (1985)
The unofficial sequel to the Judy Garland classic was more gritty than glittery. For a start, it begins with Dorothy (played by Fairuza Balk) undergoing electric shock treatment because she won’t stop harping on about some weird place called Oz. Talking chickens, frantic freaks on wheels and a crazy headless witch with a collection of screaming heads make this a bleak and often terrifying continuation of the much-loved classic.
This won’t be shown on Christmas Day anytime soon.

your face says it all, Dor

John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned (1995)
A bunch of funny-haired alien children with psychic powers taking over a small American town would barely make modern horror audiences flinch. But it sure made terrifying television to my unfortunate young soul who stumbled upon it late one ‘90s night. Creepy children have always been a popular choice for shock value, from The Omen (1976) to Let Me In (2010), and I can’t remember anything that terrified me more than when one of those platinum-haired brats forced their mother to shove her arm into a vat of boiling water. Although admittedly I would probably guffaw at it now.

The 1960 original Village of the Damned.. complete with haircuts even worse than the remake.

Garfield’s Nine Lives (1988)
I can feel your eyebrows raising. But even Kindertrauma agree with me on this one. This adaptation of the book of the same name is split into segments detailing the lifespan of the lasagne-loving furball, from cave-cat to space-cat. Sounds cute and cuddly, right? Wrong. I watched in horror as a poor girl’s beautiful cat died (the Diana episode), and if that wasn’t enough they just had to stick in some animal testing. Yep, some poor kitty escapes from an animal testing lab, endures a whole lotta traumatizing crap along the way and eventually turns into a creepy dog with glowing eyes. Oh yeah, and Garfield meets God at the end. Who turns out to be a cat. Guess they just had to throw in some blasphemy as well.
Unfortunately it’s been taken off YouTube. You’ll just have to scope it out to see the horror for yourselves!

Trust me. This can be scary.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Another late-night television special I wish I had avoided. Crazy clay-loving fantasist lesbians are always going to be scary, but when they decide to butcher one of their mothers with a brick stuffed into a stocking they become part of another league altogether. Did I mention it’s based on a true story? Jeeeez.

Now that's teenage angst right there.

After questioning my Facebook friends on what films made their skin crawl as nippers, Return to Oz and Roald Dahl’s The Witches were rated the scariest alongside other traumatic terrors such as Beetlejuice (1988), The Last Unicorn (1982), Mary Poppins (1964) and The Shining (1980).

"Is there something bad here?"

So what films had your young self squirming with fear?

Rediscovering a Lost Art: The Silent Horror Film

November 2, 2010

Many modern-day horror movies would appear to be in competition with each other to gross out their audiences with unnecessary overloads of blood, guts and gore (ahem HOSTEL ahem). While there’s nothing wrong with a bit of blood, or a few bucketloads of it, sometimes nothing curls your toes and spooks your soul more than some good old fashioned suspense in the form of the silent horror film.

Most horror buffs will have seen Nosferatu, the 1922 German Expressionist silent film that took unauthorized influence from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Max Schreck’s portrayal of the insanely creepy vampire makes Blade look like Edward Cullen. One piece of advice: don’t watch it when you’re stoned.

Nosferatu Creepin’
Happy Halloween

This Halloween I was lucky enough to be able to attend a screening of a lesser known but equally influential silent film, Der Golem, in the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The 1920 film was shown combined with live music from Reflekor, a duo that includes Jan Kopinski on saxophone and Steve Iliffe on keyboards who have previously produced music to accompany other silent films including Nosferatu.

Der Golem tells the story of a rabbi who creates a giant creature from clay to defend the Jews of Prague from persecution, but in true man-makes-monster-to-become-slave style the Golem eventually turns against his master. Directed by Carl Boese and Paul Wegener, it is a visual treat that contrasts the clunky clay figure of the monsterous Golem with the sloping streets and pointed turrets of Prague, creating an eerie Jewish fairytale that could not have foreseen what real-life horror would soon be unleashed upon the European Jewish community.

The Golem in all his Glory
Scenes from Golem

Silent horror movies have become a lesser appreciated form of art for an over-stimulated internet-obsessed audience of today. But getting the chance to watch the flickering images onscreen with accompanying live music is nothing short of spectacular for any horror obsessive. Forget your slasher dvds, this is where it all began.

Here are a few more silent but deadly treats to keep horror fans simultaneously satisfied and spooked.

The Monster (1925)

• The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Chapter Arts Centre is showing a variety of horror films this November, including a showing of the silent film The Cat and the Canary on 21 and 23 November with live music accompaniment by Paul Shallcross. Details can be viewed here.