Archive for the fog

Best Movies to Watch on Halloween

Posted in Best Of, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by smuckyproductions

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED! Movie marathons commence, costumes are fussed over, and legions of undead-for-a-day ghouls crawl the earth to celebrate Hallow’s Eve. In the spirit of this joyous and spooky occasion, here are my 10 favorite horror films to watch on Halloween.

It goes without saying that, for me, all of these films capture something about the essence of Halloween – the liminal autumn air, the dying leaves, and the electrifying sense of the impending uncanny.

  1. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

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Trick or treating gone wrong: everyone comes knocking at your door, but instead of candy, they want your guts. George Romero’s visceral, paranoid and ground-breaking classic is a must for October. (That’s why MTV plays it every 31st.) It’s disturbing, suspenseful, and phenomenal for its introduction of the zombie trope.

  1. THE HAUNTING

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From the brilliant novel by Shirley Jackson comes one of the scariest haunted house stories of all time. Fabulously acted, beautifully designed and utterly terrifying without showing any ghosts, this film is a landmark of horror. It reminds us that madness and anxiety are the true monsters. And there’s no better villain than a house that preys on those things.

  1. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

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Controversial, to be sure, but in the right mindset, ‘Blair Witch’ is exhaustingly disturbing. Set in the autumn woods and featuring a great folktale as its backdrop, the true terror comes from the breakdown of the human mind. It’s an exercise in restraint – which is why many will hate it – but for those with whom it connects, the experience is pure horror.

  1. THE FOG

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A perfectly simple ghost story, an eerie seaside atmosphere, and a score by John Carpenter – what more can you want? This film is calm and chilling until suddenly it breaks out in mist-shrouded horror. It’s perfect for a Hallow’s Eve sunset when things just start waking up.

  1. HELLRAISER

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One of the purest horror films of all time, Clive Barker’s cinematic debut is all visuals and world-building – and it does an amazing job at that. Disgusting without being tasteless, and featuring some of the most brutally scary villains of all time, this one is required viewing for the strong-stomached. Behind all the goo, it’s quite beautiful, too.

  1. THE EXORCIST

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Another example of pure horror. A genius work of cinema, this film attacks all the senses and also some of the basest fears. It takes no prisoners as it spins its tale of normality upended by pure evil, and what goodness means in the face of such a thing. Brutal, brilliant and bold – and, of course, monstrously frightening.

  1. SUSPIRIA

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With a terrific score and some of the most beautiful camerawork in all of horror, this Italian giallo is the perfect dose of surrealism for Hallow’s Eve. It shuns the idea of ‘plot’ and ‘logic’ in favor of a dreamy series of scenes, which crescendo into utter terror. This is one sick, bloody fairy tale.

  1. THE EVIL DEAD

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The original cabin-in-the-woods movie. It remains one of the most flawed movies on this list, but it possesses (no pun intended) such intensity and non-stop brutal horror that the viewer can’t pay attention to mistakes – they’re too busy having a ball. Like a haunted-house video game on film, it’s an unprecedented blast.

9. TRICK R’ TREAT

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Obviously. This one isn’t that scary, but it is one of the greatest homages to this holiday. With an onslaught of different monsters – from werewolves to zombies to a principal-turned-serial-killer – and a killer atmosphere, it’s hard to think of a better film to kick off the season. But…

10. HALLOWEEN

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One cannot ignore the master. It’s simple, it’s slow-building, and you hardly see it coming, but this film captures the October spirit – while also scaring the sh!t out of everyone – like no other film out there. Eerie, heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and completely phantasmal, this is the quintessential Halloween film – just look at the title.

That’s all for now, ghouls! Go out and haunt the streets tonight. Get ready to be scared.

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Films That Haunt Me: “The Fog” (1980)

Posted in Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2014 by smuckyproductions

Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis

This may be an unusual choice, especially from the endlessly terrific filmography of John Carpenter. But there’s something about this film that I’ve never forgotten, and will always love.

“The Fog” is Carpenter’s followup to his 1978 indie megabeast, “Halloween,” which everyone and their grandmother has seen. I love that film for not only its incredibly disturbing villain, but also for the thick-as-blood atmosphere that begins oozing into you in during the opening credits. So, I thought, what can it hurt to seek out his next film? 

In many ways, “The Fog” is a more complex film, and a more old-fashioned horror story. It follows the disconnected lives of several townsfolk preparing to celebrate the 100th birthday of their little seaside village… just as strange things begin to happen. In a gleefully spooky opener, we learn the dark history of the town – that it was built on the gold of murdered men – and that this history is doomed to repeat itself. It’s your usual campfire tale fare, a group of dead souls return from their watery grave to get revenge on those who wronged them. Add Carpenter’s genius for soundtrack and creeping atmosphere, and you’ve got this film.

There are plenty of opportunities for this film to become just another ghost-zombie-kill movie. And to a lot of people, I’m sure it is. But this film played ruthlessly on my childhood love for a good spook story, and even worse, on many of my primal fears. I’m a huge sucker for movies that have the aura of Halloween around them, and Carpenter seems to nail that atmosphere perfectly. Pile on to that the wonderful depiction of a quiet small town on the brink of supernatural horror, and you’ve got me hooked.

I can’t ignore the cast, either. Any film that has both Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, plus a few veterans from Halloween, can’t lose. And that is yet another thing that elevates this film above the standard fare for me – its characters are simple but fully realized, and played well by the cast. That’s rare in horror, especially in the 80s. 

“The Fog,” like I said, also plays on so many basic terrors. The titular fog always conceals more than it reveals, rolling in slowly around houses and followed by slow knocking on doors and windows. The ghouls are also great – simply designed and never fully seen, but classic in their rotting-seaweed design. These elements all sizzle together, met with Carpenter’s score (rivaling his first in my opinion), and explode into a suspense-ridden nightmare that is as fun as it is terrifying. This is one of the only films to make me verbally express fear. I hold that in high regard.

All of these things – score, imagery, classic story, setting – add up to the perfect horror experience for me. There is no attempt to be flashy or wild in this film; Carpenter allows his story to speak its own language and express its quiet terror without interference. It’s a pure and simple horror, something nearly impossible to find now, and because of this it works beautifully. This is the perfect film for an October night, when you’re looking for something that touches on the otherworldly. 

So, is it Carpenter’s best? Not by any means. But this is the one that comes to my mind most often, when the air is just calm enough that you could imagine a fog rolling in.

For the previous installment of “Films That Haunt Me,” CLICK HERE.