Six Picks For an ALTERNATIVE Halloween Film Night
Just in case you've exhausted your collection of classics such as THE SHINING (1980), THE EVIL DEAD (1981) & HALLOWEEN (1978), curiously made very close to each other I noticed. There's a reason those sorts of films are watched over and over, but I wanted to write about films that've had less of an audience or deserve to be re-discovered. I've compiled a mix of picks for a Halloween film night focussing on lesser known gems, old and new. Read on for a few filmic treats lurking in the list you maybe haven't tasted before...
1. CROOKED HOUSE (2008)
Mark Gatiss stars in & writes a refreshing ghostly drama about an ominous manor house that keeps (very) dark secrets & is the setting for various spooky stories from varying periods of time; that then leads up to a present day atmospheric climax. Originally aired as a three-part TV series showed on consecutive nights in the run up to Christmas Eve, inspired by the GHOST STORIES FOR CHRISTMAS. The DVD however, joins the episodes together to make one long film. Whilst this doesn't hurt CROOKED HOUSE too much, this wasn't how it was broadcast affecting the structure of the narrative as it was for TV - that an episode would end when a story concluded. This is a real gem & it's really cheap to buy too. Towards the end it moves into TWILIGHT ZONE territory & you're drawn increasingly into the lore of the house; DOWNTON ABBEY, this is not!
2. I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)
A film that mixes, bends & challenges genre. I debated having it on this list - is it a horror film? Is it a slasher film? Is it a revenge film? Is it an action film even? Well it's these questions that naturally play in the mind whilst you watch the film, deciphering what'll occur next, that's part of it's addiction to watch closely with intrigue & fear. This is without a doubt one of the most suspenseful films I've ever seen, real unrelenting suspense; an indisputable example, from director Kim Jee-Woon, of a film mixing art with staples of horror such as gore & ultra-violence. Not that an "art" film shouldn't include content of that nature, but to see such a talented director dedicated to the telling of this hardcore story is really quite the experience. It's unrelentingly violent, shocking & creates full bloodied chaos within such precise filmmaking beauty, it deserves to be hailed as a modern classic.
3. THE INNOCENTS (1961)
Adapted from the Henry James novella THE TURN OF THE SCREW, THE INNOCENTS is an immaculately produced & delicately shot film. We follow the story of a new nannie who is to take care of two children at a large house in the countryside. Beginning to see phantoms, she starts to search as to who they are & why they haunt. If you're already wanting to pass on watching the film due to it being dated, the film rarely shows examples of it's age & at least for me, continues to scare deeply much because of a fault sense of security - don't let it put you off! The rich & smooth monochrome cinematography glides throughout the environment, often keeping the haunting events at an observational distance. The way sound is used is impeccable & does a lot of subtle storytelling, expanding the events into much more than a usual "haunted house" affair, adding more substance. It's seriously creepy & there's some pretty taboo stuff that arises in the film, if you allow it to be acknowledged. As a result of this, it may leave you feeling more unsettled than the usual fare of it's kind.
A fine, if not one of the best, examples of brooding ghostly horror that you shouldn't expect to go easy on you simply by it's early sixties release date.
4. TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (2010)
Now for something very different. I'd heard about this film during it's successful festival run & seen the great trailer too; but it was only until my brother bought it for me as a gift, raving about it, that I got to see this excellent film. It's a hilarious, very cleverly written parody on the seemingly age-old characters of the typical redneck killers you get in so many American horror films. TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL shows the perspective of those characters & runs riot with the idea, doing it absolute justice throughout & thus creating a very gory rewarding comedy - it's such an achievement of a film. It's ideal for Halloween, as it's mocking so much of the inconsistencies & stock characters shovelled into so many horror films. Such an amazing job is done making you see Tucker & Dale as so misunderstood, that it makes you want to re-watch all the classic horrors just to make sure you got your opinion right on them all the first time.
5. EVENT HORIZON (1997)
Audiences seem to react greatly to science fiction horrors; films such as ALIEN & INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - the genres mix well. Our fears of the unknown of space or an unknown "people" merges with horror cinema; the monsters, killers & unseen threats. I think a neglected example of this is EVENT HORIZON. While it clearly isn't for everyone, having just had a little look at opinions on the net, some people really hate this film! Well, I found it sh*t scary & that's why it's on the list. In a nustshell, it's a gory "haunted house" film set in space that gets pretty terrifying & uneasy. After a spaceship returns following a sudden mysterious disappearance, a crew is sent aboard to investigate, yielding incredible & disturbing events as a result of where it's been... & it hasn't returned alone.
BE SERIOUSLY CAREFUL, KEEP THE BASEMENT DOOR SHUT & MAKE YOUR CHOICES WISELY...
Award winning and internationally selected director of dance, fiction, experimental and documentary films with screening highlights of London Short Film Festival at the ICA, LACMA, Zealous X exhibition (Oxo Tower Wharf) and San Diego Comic-Con. His work has broadcast on BBC One and ikono TV.