For the first week of Creepy Cinema 2012, Markus and I tried to watch mildly scary movies only to build up to the scariest ones later in the month. It was a mixture of horror classics, cult classics and modern horror. Surprisingly, I enjoyed most of the movies and wasn't as scared as I thought I would be. I guess Markus is just holding back to really scare me later.
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
This was the first film we watched and I think it was best to get it out of the way early. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is an extremely old movie and my first real silent movie.
Dr. Caligari was interesting but the pacing was very slow. I had to throw out my current cinema standards and try to appreciate the movie for it's time period. The story kept the movie going, but I guessed the surprise twist within 20 minutes of watching. Despite this, the movie is quite eerie and visually stunning. I've never seen anything like it. It's as if the entire movie was filmed in the mind of a psychotic person. The hallways and doors are at weird angles and have weird shapes. Since the movie is from the 1920s it already has a creepy effect. Everything seems a bit disjointed, like parts of the film were taped together and resulted in weird skipping. This effect added to the overall creepiness and held my attention entire the time.
2. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
I usually love movies from this time period. Growing up, I watched a lot of Turner Classic Movies with my mom, so I can appreciate old movies.
I really liked this movie. It actually wasn't scary at all. I expected a bit more, but I still enjoyed watching this classic monster movie. The setting was oddly familiar, it looked like the swamps of the Everglades in Florida. The lead actress had amazing clothes and I found myself lusting after all her outfits. Her trademark white bathing suit was beautiful. The relationship between the leads did feel a bit forced and out of place and sometimes felt more like a romance movie than a monster movie. Also, why must all women in these movies make stupid decisions? Yes, I'll go swimming in a lagoon with a Creature, while all the men are inside the boat.
The Creature's costume was incredible. I can't believe the actor wore the costume and swam underwater for long periods of time. His odd swimming style added to the creature's creepiness. Personally, I tend to freak out when I'm in any body of water. I always think that there is something swimming beneath me. This movie only further proved that I'm right. I have a reason to fear the water.
3. Dracula (1931)
I've always been a fan of vampires, ever since I read Dracula in middle school. Recently, I've strayed a bit from vampires because they've become a bit too cheesy in the past ten years. Buffy the Vampire Slayer used to be my favorite TV show in high school and that was the kind of cheesy I could handle, not this new breed of vampire. These days vampires are trying to be dark and mysterious and just coming off like tools. I'm looking at you, Edward Cullen.
It was nice to finally see this classic vampire film. I've never seen any film starring Bela Lugosi, I only saw a fictionalized version of him in Ed Wood. It was great seeing his portrayal of Count Dracula. The stares that he gave throughout the movie were so intense and menacing. He definitely looked like an ancient vampire, not a boy who looks constipated...again I'm looking at you Edward. Although Dwight Frye, the actor that plays Renfield, delivered a comparable performance to Lugosi's Dracula. He was the true creep, and his transformation from a gentleman to a psychopath was incredible. Again this movie wasn't that scary, but there was so much to love and I really enjoyed it.
4. The Changeling (1980)
This was our first ghost movie and these are the kinds of movies that scare me the most. I can deal with monsters, but freaky, transparent, angry ghosts? Oh heck no. That's the stuff of nightmares. I know a few people that have had real experiences with ghosts and the fact that some weird creepy demonic stuff exists in this world freaks me out, and I was prepared to spend most of the movie under the covers.
So was The Changeling good? No. Was it scary? Not really. Did I get scared at times? Yes. Yes, I did. Could it have been better? Yes, a thousand times yes.
There were genuine moments when I covered my eyes with my hands and couldn't look, but after an hour or so, I realized that it wasn't scary, just a bit eerie. There were moments when the ghost terrorized the lead, but it was just a lot of smoke and mirrors. He didn't really terrorize him like I expected him to, just a lot of childish pranks. The most annoying part was the ghost child's constant whining. I didn't feel like I was watching a scary movie. I felt like I was teaching a class of whiny students at the library. Which is surprisingly more scary than this movie.
5. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Rosemary's Baby was the movie that I was expecting to be really scary. This movie is on so many top ten lists and has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. My expectations were high. About an hour into the film, I knew that I was going to be sorely disappointed. Not once did I cover my eyes or shrink in fear. Again, I guessed the plot quickly into the movie and we agreed to fast forward through the boring bits, which were frequent.
I think the director was trying to go for an artistic and creative way of telling a horror story. There weren't that many scary moments, not even creepy. Mia Farrow was amazing in the movie, she was the only saving grace, but the rest of the film was disappointing. I felt at 2 hours, the running time was too long and could've been cut down to at least an hour and half. The only bit that was a bit frightening happened in the last 20 minutes and by then, I was over Rosemary and her baby.
6. The Witches (1990)
I remember watching this movie when I was a kid and being absolutely terrified. This movie is based off of a novel by one of my favorite authors of all time, Roald Dahl. As I've gotten older, I've realized that movies that I watched as a child haven't really stood the test of time. There have been a few movies that I remember loving and then re-watch them as an adult and have a completely different experience. Only a few movies have withstood the test of time and are constant favorites, The Princess Bride and Edward Scissorhands, the latter we'll be watching later this month!
The Witches, I'm happy to say, was still a gem. It didn't drag and the Grand High Witch was still terrifying. I remember screaming so loudly as a child when they revealed what she really looked like. I was always on the look out for witches after seeing her transformation. The Jim Henson Company did an amazing job with the puppetry and make-up. I actually can't believe that the creators of this film got away with some of the costumes because they utterly terrifying. It was great reliving those feelings of when I was a child and knowing as an adult I had every reason to be scared.
7. The Frighteners (1996)
I've actually never heard of this movie before. Markus always talks about it and how its highly underrated. He loves Michael J. Fox and even more than him, he loves Peter Jackson. It seems like this movie is made for him. Of all the movies this week, I was most excited about this one. A movie with Michael J. Fox? It's Marty McFly. I can watch anything with him in it, even Doc Hollywood.
After watching The Frighteners, I could see why Markus loves it. It's a great movie. The story is very refreshing and there aren't many movies like it. The visuals are very good for when it was released. There were even a few moments that I squealed a bit, even though it's more of a horror comedy. I loved the look of this movie too. It had a bit of a vintage vibe to it. There were old houses and creepy old women. The acting was great. Michael J. Fox was, of course, amazing but so were the other actors. The antagonist was a major creep and totally believable as the villain. I'm so happy we ended the first week with this movie, because it was my favorite of all the films this week.
Skull graphic: The Graphics Fairy
Introduction, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Hotties of Creepy Cinema