So it is officially Halloween and in the run up I decided to watch some of the original horrors from the 70s and 80s (can’t beat an original!) Here I assess whether or not their spook factor still remains almost four decades later.
This 1976 original remains a classic horror today because of its chilling plot and demonic themes. Damien, who initially appears all sweet and innocent, causes a stir and is believed to be the child of Satan. I don’t know about you but there is something truly sinister about children in horror movies, especially when they are the focus of the storyline. As the plot starts to unfold you begin to question; Where did this child come from? Can he be stopped? What is that creepy dog all about? And who would call their son Damien anyway?!
Suspense kicks in as Richard Donner uses what I call the ‘drip method’ where you can guarantee that around every 15/20 minutes another character is about to fall at Death’s door. Although you are likely to predict who this is, the narrative keeps you questioning as to how the story is going to play out. For me, the movies only flaw is the verging-on-theatrical music which slightly hinders its spook factor, but then I guess that is standard directing from an old classic!
Granted, like any other traditional horror *SPOILER ALERT*, the bady always wins and for that final scene just before the credits roll in, you are presented with a full head shot of Damien and his disturbing smile, leaving you in great discomfort and a little outraged.
Hail Damien: Omen 2! For this reason I rate it 4/5.
Surely I have not picked up the Poltergeist spoof?! This can’t be the film… oh wait it is.
Cheerful, period-drama music and an underlying humorous tone allows room for this confusion. To me this movie resembles that of a fun ghost ride rather than a thrilling horror movie. As the ‘spooky’ antics begin, I can’t help but think I am watching an episode of Goosebumps. Skeletons popping up from the ground and a Ghostbusters-type figure appearing out from the television just doesn’t quite cut it for me.
Yet on a fairer note this film did entertain me, just not for the right reasons. I’m afraid low spook factor means low rating – 2/5.
I am not a massive Stephen King fan, however Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of this psychological thriller fills me with suspense as I delve deep into the deranged mind of the main character Jack.
Jack Nicholson (who plays Jack), performs a disturbingly excellent part in this – although criticised by Stephen King as being too over the top – adding to the viewers experience. For me, it is the feelings and thoughts that you process when watching this thriller; the ‘experience’ you endure, as opposed to the actual content that you are subject to. If you were to provide the content to someone who hadn’t ‘experienced’ the film yet, then you would probably find not much actually happens. In fact some of the scariest scenes do not further the storyline in any way and in the end *SPOILER ALERT* the bady dies and the good guys run free. An anti-climax it may seem, yet you are left motionless and disturbed by what you have just witnessed.
Excellent spook factor! And for this reason I rate it 5/5.
Yet another Stephen King adaptation, this time by Brian De Palma; Carrie is a movie filled with dark undertones depicting the cruelness of life in high school. It has a fairly slow plot – with scenes dragging out longer than necessary – where Carrie is subject to high school bullying (with no thanks to her crazy, extremist mother) and inflicts revenge on her classmates through her telekinetic powers.
Perhaps the slow pace of the movie is to add to the suspense, but for me the suspense level is relatively low in this one as you can often predict what is going to happen next. Even the main scene (as pictured above) plays out fairly drab. You would think from this picture that Carrie has been on some blood-thirsty rampage, but really she has just had a bucket of pig blood thrown over her as a high school prank. This movie is not much more than a slightly chilling version of a teenage drama.
De Palma’s directing perhaps didn’t help depict the King version, as he somewhat gets lost toward the end. As Carrie *SPOILER ALERT* makes her way home (after having a nightmare of a time at her Prom) she conflicts with her mother, involving her being stabbed, dramatically falling down the stairs then somehow managing to kill her mother with her powers. But where would one go from here? Well De Palma decides to make the house crumble and fall to the ground, destroying them both, done! It’s tragic in more ways than one. The only disturbing part about it is that unlike typical horrors, you end up sympathising with the central character. But then how can the story be truly terrifying if you feel for the person causing this infliction? The answer is it can’t and so for this reason I rate it a 2/5.
So as my nights of enduring horror movies end, I have come to the conclusion that The Shining is in fact one of the scariest horrors of its time. And still today it manages to leave me feeling unnerved. Even after the credits roll in, and almost four decades later.