Archive for a nightmare on elm street

Bonfire Films: Suffer the Little Children (2015): A Short Film Review

Posted in Bonfire Films, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Maine-based production company Bonfire Films are a rising name on the indie genre scene and there’s no one better than them to take on the works of the great Stephen King. Suffer the Little Children is the latest crowd-funded film from Husband and Wife team Corey (Director) and Haley Norman (Writer) and an adaptation of the short story of the same name from King’s 1993 anthology Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Suffer the Little Children provides Bonfire Films with another solid short film that’s both darkly twisted and entertaining.

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Having previously starred in Norman’s feature film The Hanover House, Anne Bobby of Nightbreed fame makes another return to the horror genre taking on the role of the paranoid Ms. Sidley; an ageing primary school teacher who has suspicions that something’s not quite right with her young pupils!

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Bobby steals the show as the flustered, lonely teacher with a morally questionable agenda. Ms Sidley is a complex character in which Bobby portrays spectacularly. The film translates over from the source material incredibly well; whereas with a written story we’re provided with description and a deeper understanding of what a character is thinking, in film its down to the visuals and Suffer the Little Children is reliant on Bobby’s performance. In twenty-two minutes, she does a tremendous job by bringing this emotive character to life who we can empathize with on some level but also leaves us wondering if she’s unhinged or paranoid?

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The second stand-out performance comes from Andrew Lyndaker, who previously starred in Norman’s short Tickle (2014). Lyndaker is a promising young actor and does an effective job at playing the “creepy child” archetype in this. “Tomorrow, something bad will happen” his school-boy character Robert warns Ms. Sidley convincinly, creating unsettling tension.

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Norman is a fan of old-school horror which is evident in the previously mentioned Tickle and his 2013 offering NatalSuffer the Little Children most certainly has a 80s vibe about it and echoes back to King’s 1984 classic Children of the Corn in tone and is slightly reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) with the idea of something shadowy lurking in the school hallway. For a film with a chilling subject matter, Suffer the Little Children is vibrant in its lighting and cinematography, with the brightly lit class room signifying innocence which makes it all the more creepy as the film unfolds. As with Norman’s previous films, Suffer the Little Children is expertly-shot and highly professional.

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Its an ambiguous film that raises moralistic questions. While its a little gory in places, the real horror lies in the psychological aspects. Its no surprise that Suffer the Little Children has already won TWO well-deserved awards at this year’s HorrorHound Weekend all the way in Indianapolis for Best Short Film and Best Actress for Anne Bobby, which was tweeted by her former director, genre legend, Clive Barker.

With another successful film in the bag, I can’t wait to see what Bonfire Films have in store for Horror fans next!

http://bonfirefilmsonline.com/


Reviews:

Tickle: damnationland-2014-tickle-bonfire-films

Natal: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/damnationland-2013-natal/

The Hanover House: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/the-house-thats-always-been-waiting-for-you-a-review-of-the-hanover-house-2013/

Interview with Corey Norman: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/horror-hauntings-the-hanover-house-an-interview-with-director-corey-norman/


Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

He gave us Nightmares and Kept us Screaming! RIP Wes Craven

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , on August 31, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The Horror world awoke to a devastating shock today with the news of the passing of Wes Craven. In a career spanning over 40 years Craven has been an inspiration for genre fans and without him, horror will never be the same again. The legendary director created one of horror’s most iconic monsters in Freddy Krueger and went on to to direct the four films in the slick and post-modern Scream franchise. In the 70’s his début feature The Last House on the Left generated controversy cementing him as a filmmaker that was guaranteed to make his mark.

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Wes Craven’s films were an exercise in pure tension and fear, he pushed his audience to their limits; the gritty rape scene in Last House, Casey Becker’s death in the opening of Scream and Tina’s demise in A Nightmare on Elm Street along with the reveal of Freddy Krueger being just a few examples. His popularity continued in the late 00’s which saw his most iconic films get the remake treatment in mainstream horror, but of course they were no match for the originals! Craven’s legacy will live on through his films and fans. He truly was a Master of Terror.

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RIP Wes Craven, 1939-2015.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Hayley’s Top 5 Disturbing Moments in Horror!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Being a seasoned horror fan you think you’ve seen it all, therefore when you discover a film that unexpectedly gets under the skin, infiltrating the mind and completely disturbing you then you’ve found something truly effective. Being scared by a horror movie is completely subjective and mine may be a little more obscure than most. Here is my top 5 personal list of moments in movies (and one television show) that have utterly freaked me out since childhood and beyond.

WARNING: There will be spoilers.

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5. Trust (2010): Rape Scene plus End Credits.

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Positioned at number 5 due to being the most recent and inspiration for this list, Trust is directed by David Schwimmer, best known as Ross Gellar in hit sitcom Friends. Trust is a cautionary tale about the dangers of online relationships. The premise centres around naive fourteen year old girl, Annie (Liana Liberato) who develops an online relationship with a boy named ‘Charlie’. ‘Charlie’ turns out to be a man in his 30’s and lures Annie back to a seedy motel room where he goes on to rape and molest her. Its harrowing viewing as Annie pleads with him to stop and we hear everything while the camera fixates on the ugly, garish wall paper creating a somewhat nauseating feeling, we see that ‘Charlie’ has placed a camera discreetly in order to capture the ordeal. While not even a horror film and more of a crime drama, Trust is an eye-opening film experience that all should see, parents and children alike. It goes to a dark place with how much it portrays and the devastating effects on both Annie and her family. Without revealing too much the end credits provide some heartbreaking revelations with an unnerving final shot. The film led me to read about a found-footage horror with similar thematics titled Megan is Missing (2011). From what I’ve been told about the film its not very well made and there’s some brutal images associated with it related to fetish torture, however the final 22 minutes are gut punching and highly disturbing taking the online predator concept to all kinds of depraved levels. For at least the time being, Megan is Missing is a film I’ll avoid. Forget the boogeyman, this is realistic horror.

4. Pet Sematary (1989): Zelda.

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Forget Freddy and Jason, this creepy character from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is one of the scariest elements of 80s horror. Within a flashback segment, we are told a traumatic childhood tale from Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby) of how her gravely ill sister Zelda was locked away until her final days. Zelda is skeletal and inhuman in appearance, the scene is both sad and frightening, especially viewing it at a young age as many of us did, my recollection being late night on Channel 5 watching it alone in the dark. We see a young Rachel reluctantly feed Zelda in disgust and choking noises are heard. She is played by a male actor Andrew Hubatsek who does an exceptional job at freaking the audience out with his portrayal. Hearing her call Rachel’s name sends chills down the spine. Rachel speaks of her hopes of Zelda’s death and her fears that she’ll be held responsible, an absolutely disturbing notion for a child to contend with. A later scene shows Zelda menacingly address the camera screaming at Rachel that she’ll “Never get out of bed again”. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s no doubt the idea of Zelda being at the end of your bed was a terrifying thought.

3. Frighteners (1997): If You Meet a Fairy…

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This one was discussed on the Ghostface Girls podcast episode of Childhood Horror and is pretty much an obscure choice. Not many will remember the seemingly forgotten CITV Horror anthology series, Frighteners. Apparently airing between 1996 and 1997 Frighteners showed four episodes in total, the final one being “If You Meet a Fairy…” I recall viewing it one afternoon after school, if memory serves me correct the episode was about a young girl in the Victorian era who discovers fairies at the bottom of the garden. At first the creatures are nice but soon turn sinister as they torment the girl and her family. Its explained on this old 2006 forum, Vault of Evil:

“During the 90’s i remeber seeing a episode from some horror anthology series which creeped the hell out of me as a kid. Ive looked high and low but i cant remeber what it was called and its driving me mad.

The one episode i can remeber goes like this. I think it was set during early 1900’s and was about a little girl finding a little fairy at the bottom of her garden. She takes it in and keeps it in her dolls house but then things take a sinister turn. Her little sister begins acting strangly and the fairy (which looks more and more evil) It begins folowing her to dinner and stabbing her ankle untill she tosses it some meat to eat. More and more of the evil creatures begin showing up and she resorts to locking them away in her celler and asking her cousins for help. When she shows them the captive fairies in the gloom they mistake them for small animals and let them out. Horrific screams echo through the house as we see the mother, youngest daughter and maid in the nursary. The maid hurries down the hall but sees something terrible offscreen and begins screaming at the unseen horde of giggling/screeching monsters. The mother hears the maids cries and looks at her child which suddenly has the distorted giggling face of one of the fairy/trolls. It then faded to black as the sound of her screams were slowly drowned out by the giggling voices of the fairies. This is the only episode i remeber and i have a nagging feeling that it was part of a kids TV show on CITV or CBBC. I doubt it however as the children were actually eaten alive by the troll/fairies but i cant help shake the feeling.”

It was definitely the fairies giggling and distorted face that I recall which bothered my seven year old former self. There’s barely any information about the anthology or this particular episode online, no youtube footage and no google images. Its as if its faded into obscurity like some sort of creepypasta Candle Cove style!

2. Resurrecting the Street Walker (2009): Snuff Murders.

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British horror Resurrecting the Street Walker was part of the Abertoir Festival line up back in 2009, the first full year I attended. It was a film I went into completely blind and one of my first experiences of a hard-hitting indie film through the festival circuit. Resurrecting the Street Walker is about an ambitious, low budget filmmaker that comes across an incomplete black and white underground film from the 1980’s. He gradually becomes fascinated with the idea of finishing the film which leads him into the mysterious and sickening world of snuff. The film is presented in a mockumentary style documenting the filmmaker’s downfall toward the dark side as he grows more and more obsessed with the ambiguous Street Walker, evoking the video nasties panic and fear over the existence of snuff films. The performance from James Powell as James Parker and direction were powerful and convincing enough to create an unnerving reaction as he is driven insane by the enigma of the snuff film that he goes to complete it by murdering innocent people, including a pregnant colleague, taking things to a whole other shocking level. Having the film shot in black and white contributed to Street Walker’s grim and gritty tone as it breaks the fourth wall creating something that cuts closely to the bone. The movie undoubtedly upset me with snuff being a disturbing topic and left me speechless as I left the cinema. Resurrecting the Street Walker is available on DVD with some positive reviews over on amazon however its not a film I’ve discussed much since amongst the horror community and seems to have faded into the background despite being utterly effective and quite a nasty, mean-spirited movie.

1. The Witches (1990): Stuck in the painting.

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Without a doubt The Witches is a strong contender for most frightening children’s film of all time. Its consistent sinister tone throughout is uncomfortable viewing incorporated with its nightmarish visuals. Its even uneasy re-watching as an adult. Years ago I would have said the moment where the Grand High Witch (the superb Anjelica Huston) reveals her true self by peeling off her own face to be the scariest or possibly the scene at the beginning where Luke (Jansen Fisher) is goaded to come down from his tree house by an evil witch with glowing purple eyes. Intense stuff! However the most nightmare-fuelled moment in Nicholas Roeg’s Children’s chiller is where a young girl is captured down an alley way by a witch in a traumatic flashback told by the Grandmother (Mai Zetterling). The next time the girl is seen she is trapped in a painting forever with no escape until eventually she fades away. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, the moment is creative and frightening setting up a dark, twisted and threatening world for children’s imaginations. Its bold and daring in what it does. If you grew up in the 90s this film was responsible for numerous nightmares and was the first film that ever truly scared me. The strangest part was as I got older and began watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser etc. nothing came as close to the fright factor as The Witches, its an exceptionally chilling piece of children’s horror cinema.

Do you agree with the list? Comments & Feedback is appreciated, also tell me what have been your most disturbing on-screen moments in film and television.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: The Burning (1981)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

This week its time to present a campfire chiller all vengeful and bloody ready for Halloween. With the Abertoir Horror Festival on its way next month, complete with a notorious video nasties theme, it seemed appropriate to offer one of the first films that made it onto the UK’s banned list back in the 1980’s. Now while I’m all for recommending a certain iconic hockey-masked wearing, machete-wielding psycho that goes around slaying sexually-charged happy campers, The Burning is an interesting film in its own right. This is mainly because while the film pays homage to the sub-genre and shares its style and themes with the studio-slasher from the previous year, Friday the 13th (1980), it doesn’t wholly stick with expected conventions. However for its time of production The Burning still played it safe in terms of not diverting too far from conventionality. The early 80’s saw a out pour in popularity with the stalk’n slash teen movie and this was one of the earliest. Before Freddy Kruger there was Cropsy.

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A summer camp prank goes horribly wrong when a group of young teen males band together to exact revenge on their mean caretaker Cropsy (Lou David). What begins as a harmless scare turns into terror as the boys accidentally cause a drunk Cropsy to burn alive after knocking over a lit, decomposed skull. After five years of hospital rehabilitation, Cropsy is unleashed back into society, hell bent on murdering groups of youths near the summer camp he endured his fateful accident. The hormone-driven adolescents have no idea what’s in store once Cropsy and his sharp shears returns to bump them all off.

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The Burning materialized following well-known movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s desire to break into the film industry. Spotting the opportunity to capitalize on the success of low-budget horror films such as Halloween (1978) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Weinstein discovered a niche and then began to swap scary stories with his producing partner Michael Cohl. Recalling the legend of The Cropsy Maniac (the intended title) that he heard at a upstate New York summer camp as a child, Weinstein and Cohl had an idea on their hands. Upon the film’s release certain reviews (one found in J.A. Kerswell’s Teenage Wasteland (p.192) suggested that The Burning had attempted to replicate the success of Sean. S Cunnigham’s Friday the 13th which coincidentally was released a year prior. Weinstein has adamantly stated that he wrote his treatment for The Burning in 1979 and registered it in April 1980 a month before Friday the 13th was released. Tom Savini who was noted for his effective make up work on Friday the 13th opted to work on The Burning over the second part in the Friday franchise also released in 1981. His effects that transform Cropsy into a frightful monster are exceptional, providing a sense that he’s not quite human like the storytelling campers talk about within the film.

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The Burning is a classic tale of a murderous maniac exacting revenge on those who wronged him, one that has been heard from a friend of a friend and so on. Cleverly The Burning doesn’t let on as to whether the events of the film are real or not. Are we the audience just part of a campfire tale? Delving into the anxieties modern society faced such as the rebellion of youth and the lack of adult authority, The Burning is one of many 80’s horror films that achieves the notion of paranoia. Much of the killings take place during daylight which frighteningly allows the threat (the killer) to step into our supposed safe every day lives.

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There’s plenty of horror in store but also an interesting mix of teen movie/comedy tropes involving pre-marital sex ( a big no in slashers!) and elements of the coming-of-age film which lulls the viewer into a false sense of security as the The Burning really does slow-burn before getting to its bloodiest moments, allowing us to get acquainted with the young campers and their care-free attitudes that makes us forget horrible things are about to happen. There’s a sense of friendship at play as The Burning does something rare in comparison to the lot of slashers, it shortly does touch on the subject of remorse experienced by the remaining survivors following the discovery of the bodies of their dead friends on the abandoned raft; highlighting the severity of the ghastly events and their impact on the young.

Glazer is persistent for Sally’s affections.

Just like several films of its era, The Burning is a fable to suggest that if teenagers engage in sexual activity there will be dire consequences. However this is made complex throughout the narrative, the young female characters aren’t completely susceptible to the charms and occasionally forcefulness of their male peers, providing uncomfortable viewing. Interestingly, Cropsy’s first three on-screen victims are female (excluding the infamous raft scene). The first is a prostitute that Cropsy visits on his release from hospital, a sequence echoing the famous scene from Peeping Tom (1960), where we see the victim’s fear from Cropsy’s point-of-view. The second is Karen (Carolyn Houlihan) after she behaves like a cock-tease towards Eddy (Ned Eisenberg). She goes as far as skinny dipping with him but refuses to let him go the whole way, apprehensive due to his ladies-man persona, Karen worries that she’ll just be another “statistic” which hints as a metaphor to the fear of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease. Despite her decision to not have sex she still ends up dead, ironically a statistic in a teenage bloodbath. The frustrations of Eddy and Karen mirror those of the killer’s, all based in rejection, rejection from human contact.

Sally’s death scene. Sex = Death trope.

 

Cropsy’s third victim is Sally (Carrick Glenn). Sally plays hard to get against Glazer (Larry Joshua), who’s persistent and makes promises of a wonderful experience. On the outside Glazer is a brute and disrespectful to his peers but demonstrates signs of naivety and vulnerability. Sally eventually gives into him but the sex is far from the greatness she expected and is then the next to meet her demise. Even though the female characters are written a little more than one-dimensional with elements of headstrong personalities, they all fall into the the sex equals death category which wasn’t turned on its head until mid-90’s horror and beyond.

Todd, The Final Boy seeks out to defeat Cropsy.

Now where the film differs from its Halloween’s and Friday the 13th’s is by subverting the traditional dynamic of the inclusion of the final girl. The active character this time round who faces the killer head on is in fact male and one of the pranksters from the beginning of the movie, camp counsellor Todd (Brian Matthews). From a storytelling point of view this made sense with Todd confronting his mistakes in early adult-hood as he was partly responsible for Cropsy’s disfigurement. Interestingly he rescues another male character, Alfred (Brian Backer), the observant one that first sees a glimpse of Cropsy from the window early on while the others dismiss him. Together these characters embody the tropes associated with the final girl. The Burning remains one of the only films of the genre to feature a final boy instead with Todd representing the muscle and Alfred the mind. Together they combine the essential ingredients for a horror movie survivor while eliminating the boy saves girl or vice versa convention.

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The identification with the killer in slasher cinema was fast becoming a sub-genre staple. Point-of-view shots from Cropsy are depicted early on within the film, the effect was created with the use of vaseline rubbed onto the camera lens to indicate distortion. In this case the teenagers describe him as a monster and use him as scary-story material but from an audience perspective there is a slight sense of empathy for our shear-swinging psycho. The Burning doesn’t establish enough as to what sort of brutal acts Cropsy conducted during his time as a caretaker and whether he warranted such an unpleasant fate at the hands of the kids who claimed his cruelty. Therefore there’s a complexity at play as to who’s side the audience should be on, or possibly we’re meant to see it from both angles. Unlike Michael and Jason, Cropsy does not disguise himself with a mask, however he embodies the tropes of the silent killer. His burned face was possibly an early inspiration for Freddy Krueger.

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Strangely, the BBFC over here in the UK had let Friday the 13th off the hook and was released uncut in 1980. James Ferman, the censorship director at the time had deemed it too “far-fetched” to even be considered realistic. However by 1981 things had changed. 26 cuts to the gore effects were made to The Burning when it came out on September 23rd 1981 with a big, fat X certificate. The 26 seconds did reduce the impact of the film’s goriest scenes which depict close-ups of impalements courtesy of  a sharp object. When home video was on the rise, Thorn-EMI allegedly put the the uncut version of the film by accident onto VHS. This was where the controversy began. When the film was seized under the Obscene Publications Act, Thorn-EMI tried their hardest to ensure the government that they had not purposely intended to release the film in its original state. They attempted a compromise where they would bring out a BBFC-approved version, however video-store owners and gore-hungry horror fans alike tried to keep their copies of the version that was meant to be seen making it one of the most infamous video nasties of the decade. Looking back now in 2014, it does go to show that when banning certain films, while letting others into the public domain unscathed that were thematically similar to each other that there was little knowledge about horror films when it came to censors, making them appear contradictory and ignorant but this is something that has been covered exceedingly well in both of Jake West’s Video Nasties documentaries, Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (2010) and Draconian Days (2014).

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The Burning is one to watch this Halloween. While it didn’t hit the same chord as the Friday the 13th franchise or generate mindless sequels (thank God!), its a gem in its own right. While not the greatest horror film ever made, its by far not the worst, it includes some of Tom Savini’s best FX work and an insight into a different slasher perspective. Who could forget the iconic imagery of Cropsy holding up his shears ready to kill?! Its based on a real-life urban legend too! The Burning launched the careers of Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens, all the best actors start out in horror (yes I’m referring to you Johnny Depp!). But best of all you can watch it completely and totally uncut!

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (6-4)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Welcome to part four of my continuation of coverage for Women in Horror Recognition Month. Additionally to this countdown there is plenty more awesome Women in Horror goodness on the way as Caitlyn and I have recorded a podcast focusing on the topic as a whole and it’s importance in terms of raising awareness surrounding the cause. The podcast is part of our new collaboration, Ghostface Girls, which you can read more about here.

Now at number six, I am close to revealing who will be the top feisty female from the genre. The final girl or psychotic woman in question will be a character that I have been able to identify with for a number of reasons and has the repeated watch-ability factor, if she’s a villainous vixen it will be down to the lengths she will go to in order to successfully carry out her motives. But until then here’s some more wonderfully, wicked women that are worthy of the title “Women of Horror”.

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Once again, here is the obligatory **SPOILER WARNING**, I encourage you to check out the films discussed before reading any further.

6. Kate, Inbred (2011)

  • Played By Jo Hartley
  • Directed By Alex Chandon
  • Written By Alex Chandon and Paul Shrimpton

kate inbred From growing cult classic in-the-making Inbred, Kate (Jo Hartley) is one of the toughest women you’ll encounter in British horror cinema. As part of a character-building weekend, care-worker Kate embarks on a trip to the fictional, backwoods Yorkshire village of Mortlake with a group of young offenders and her socially awkward co-worker Jeff (James Doherty). After crossing paths with the deranged locals, events take a brutal and sinister turn as the group must band together in the ultimate fight for survival. One by one they are captured, tormented and tortured through some strange and twisted methods that accumulates in one of the goriest shows you’ll ever see, reminiscent of the grand-guignol with a 70’s nostalgic edge. Kate is strong and feisty, she does what it takes to get out of Mortlake alive while protecting the young teenagers left in her care. She is the maternal figure of the group and despite displaying her down-to-earth personality she doesn’t take any grief off anyone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.  In comparison to Jeff who enforces strict discipline she is able to handle the teenagers through engaging on they’re level, with a fun but firm approach. Eventually she influences Jeff to work with them in a similar manner. With the shock and panic that follows the carnage and as the group are killed off one by one, Kate remains determined and holds her own against the endearingly insane landlord Jim (Seamus O’Neill) and the rest of the inbreds! Kate also displays a more human side in one of the film’s most dramatic scenes; while trapped in an isolated cottage, she has an emotional break down as events begin to get to her, which strongly reflects Jo Hartley’s acting range. A fighter until the bitter end, Kate has qualities of a final girl, she keeps on running for as long as she can and is extremely handy with a shot gun. Well-written, brave and fiery, Kate is the ideal modern horror heroine.

5. Carrie White, Carrie (1976)

  • Played By Sissy Spacek
  • Directed By Brian DePalma
  • Written By Stephen King (novel) and Lawrence D. Cohen (Screenplay)

carrie  Stephen King’s groundbreaking, teen novel Carrie has been adapted for the big and small screen on more than one occasion. However this review will focus on the most iconic adaptation of the telekinetic, terrifying teenager portrayed by Sissy Spacek in Brian DePalma’s 1976 classic film. Abused, humiliated and tormented, Spacek’s Carrie generated an undeniable wave of empathy for the character as she plays a naive, young girl unaware of the depths of the power she possesses. Carrie represents teenage insecurities that are present in all of us, it’s the difficult age where we’re all settling into our own skin. Adding onto these troubling years is the extreme bullying Carrie endures at the hands of her more self-aware, pop-cultured peers. Carrie also suffers mental and physical abuse by her mentally ill and fanatical religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie), a woman so fearful she shields her daughter from the reality of the outside world. Considering all this, it’s a surprise that Carrie didn’t snap before prom night however the development of her powers is in place as a metaphor to reflect her coming-of-age and descendent into puberty. Ostracized for being “different”, Carrie is the subject of public humiliation and cruelty as she experiences her first period unaware of what’s happening to her. Led by the bitchy Chris Hargansen (Nancy Allen), the group of viscous girls maliciously throw tampons at her and make cruel jibes. The only one on her side is her gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) who is compassionate and encourages Carrie’s sense of self-worth. She punishes the girls with good intentions, denying them access to prom unless they attend daily detention but ironically it acts as the beginning of Carrie’s downfall when Chris refuses to comply and has an even nastier trick up her sleeve.

Carrie’s home life is no better. Her mother treats her first period as immoral, “first comes the blood, then comes the boys”. She frequently locks her in the closet, forcing her to pray for her “sins”. Another character that encompasses any kind of empathy for Carrie is her former tormenter Sue Snell (Amy Irving), racked with guilt, Sue comes up with a peace offering. By sacrificing her own dreams of prom, she insists her boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) take Carrie in her place in a bid to bring her out of her shell and experience one night of high school normality. Sabotaging her plans is the bitter Chris who decides to pull the ultimate prank. Armed with a bucket of pigs blood, Chris orchestrates Carrie and Tommy to win the titles of Prom King and Queen, ensuring they’ll be center stage. At the pivotal moment, Chris and boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) pull the chord, unleashing blood all over poor Carrie. One humiliation too far and proving her mother’s fears right, Carrie gives her high school a night of terror to remember. With her powers in full swing, Carrie traps her peers and teachers in the gym, killing them in a series of brutal attacks following a vision of each and every one of them mocking and laughing at her. It doesn’t stop there, when she returns home she wreaks revenge on her mother, literally crucifying her in a symbolic and fitting killing. The house then falls down around them and Carrie meets her bloody demise.

A tragic figure. Carrie’s external influences are the reasons behind her frustration and anger. Had she not been treated like an outsider in all aspects of her life Carrie may have used her powers for positive means. She is a character many can relate to and when I first watched the film aged thirteen it proved a cathartic experience. Despite her destructive end, Carrie proves that bullies need to be stood up to with the homicidal element in place as a metaphor. She is a girl we’ve all been at one point or another trying to find our way in the world amongst the brutality of high school in which she offers a fantastical outlet for.

4. Nancy Thompson, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  • Played By Heather Langenkamp
  • Written and Directed By Wes Craven

heather-1  Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is arguably one of the most memorable final girls of 1980’s horror movies from one of it’s famous franchises. Nancy was the first final girl to take on the frightening Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) and proves that the original is superior. A Nightmare on Elm Street was groundbreaking for its time. It reflected 80’s American culture and fears present within society as many films of that era were said to do so at the time. As a horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street blurred the gap between reality and fantasy or ‘secure’ and ‘paranoid’ horror, a theory developed by Andrew Tudor. This then allowed the character of Nancy to be more of an ‘active’ final girl, instead of waiting for the monster to come and terrorize her, she brings him out herself ready to fight.

Nancy’s character demonstrates a change in how slasher movie heroine’s were written. This was arguably a turning point in the genre and hinting at a more post-modern approach that was on its way, in which Craven experimented with further in the mid-90’s. Resourceful and productive, Nancy is one step ahead of her oblivious parents and ignorant authority figures, as her friends are murdered by the knife-fingered, badly-burned psychopath, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. Nancy must rectify the mistakes of her parents and the adults in the town by restoring the balance of normality. As stated, the film was a reflection of the breakdown of the family unit which was on the increase during this period. Nancy’s role is to literally pick up the pieces and put Kruger to rest once and for all. In comparison to her mother, who is an alcoholic and displays weakness, Nancy is self-reliant and is aware of what she needs to do to survive. That said, she comes up against several hurdles in order to defeat Kruger. The insomnia she develops leads to the assumption that Nancy is physically losing her mind. As she descends further into a state of insanity it becomes questionable as to whether she will come out alive.

We’re all aware that Nancy is in fact successful, drawing Kruger into her environment instead of allowing herself to be killed in his version of reality. In the end she turns her back on him, demonstrating she is no longer afraid, ultimately destroying him. We meet Nancy again in the third installment, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). Now working as a dream researcher at the Westin Hills Asylum, she returns to help the last children of Elm Street battle Kruger once and for all, drawing on her own experiences. Sadly Kruger does kill her second time round, however her legacy lives on in horror history. Nancy is a well-remembered woman of horror, determined, independent and is one of the first of a new breed of the horror heroine.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

First Anniversary Special: My Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies of ALL TIME: Part One

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

I can’t believe its been one whole year since I began this blog as a side project for myself. It began as an outlet to speak my mind about the movies I love and that have influenced me. I appreciate the support I have been given so much and I no longer write for just myself, I write for you guys too. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to me and long may these reviews continue. So what better way to mark the first year than by returning to my favourite genre: HORROR! This list isn’t set in stone and is just my personal opinion, these are mainly films that I grew up with and have influenced me into becoming a fully fledged fan of horror films. So let’s bring on the terror!

10. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997)

  • Directed by Jim Gillespie
  • Screenplay by Kevin Williamson, Written by Lois Duncan (novel)

“I know what you did last summer” (1997) was one of the first post-“Scream” slashers that emerged in the late 90’s. Loosely adapted from Lois Duncan’s novel of the same name, “IKWYDLS” tells the tale of four teenagers Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Barry (Ryan Phillipe) and Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) as they celebrate graduating high school with their lives all heading towards promising futures. That night the teens are involved in a terrible accident, they run over a man of unknown identity. In a state of panic rather than notifying the police they dump the body into the murky waters of the ocean in an attempt to keep their secret dead and buried! One year later someone knows what they did, how? well that’s the mystery, it all begins with a threatening letter and ends in a fight for survival as the teens get bumped off one by one! In terms of following in the footsteps of the success of “Scream”, “IKWYDLS” is one of the better offers. The film uses suspense very well, especially during Helen’s chase scene, it shocks in all the right places and keeps the audience guessing until the very end! The performances are strong as the actors play the distressed teenagers straight. The strongest aspect of the film is while “Scream” critiqued the genre, “IKWYDLS” demonstrated that slasher films could become a more sophisticated medium by eliminating the self-awareness of the conventions the former put in place. In terms of the killer, Ben Willis is pretty average, he’s not as memorable or in the same league as say Freddy or Jason, but admitably he does use some creative stalker tactics on his victims including cutting off Helen’s long blonde hair as she sleeps and placing a body full of maggots in the back of the car! Disbelief has to be suspended in these instances, however they are fun to watch. “I know what you did last summer” is a decent offer in terms of  90’s slashers, Kevin Williamson adapted the screenplay well through fitting the story into the then-modern time period as opposed to the 70’s depicted in the book. It is much simpler to separate both texts and view them as different stories completely as the book doesn’t use the horror edge the film did. “I Know what you did last summer” is placed at #10 for being nostalgic, well-acted and suspenseful!

9. “Halloween” (1978)

  • Directed by John Carpenter
  • Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Genre fans will not be surprised to see this movie featured on the list! “Halloween” begins in 1958 in small-town Haddonfield when a young Michael Myers butchers his older sister and her boyfriend to death on Halloween night! Michael is taken to a metal hospital under the watch of Dr. Sam Loomis. Roll on 20 years and the lunatic has escaped in order to return home to his bloodshed and cause more carnage! Michael begins to stalk Laurie Strode (“Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis) for reasons that are mysterious to the audience (it is however later revealed in the sequel!). Laurie suffers a terrifying ordeal as Michael knocks off her friends one by one in order to get to her! The climax of this film is one of the best in horror history, using maximum suspense as Michael showdowns with Laurie! The strongest aspect of this film is that it doesn’t rely on gore to scare. Its far more disturbing leaving the result of the kills up to the audience’s imagination. The camera work is phenomenal using POV shots from Michael as an effective scare tactic! Michael is one of the most interesting killer’s to date, director John Carpenter even stated that “To make Myers frightening, I had him walk like a man not a monster”, its an enigma as to whether Myers is a supernatural being and is left ambiguous, which makes him all the more chilling especially the concept that he is possibly human and someone who could be identified with. The lack of exposition makes the notion of him far more frightening, this is where Rob Zombie’s re-imagining remake got it so wrong! His motive is never truly understood nor how he’s managed to survive so many times! With Michael being an influential horror villain, Laurie Strode is one of the most influential “Final Girls” that has emerged from genre. She is resourceful and does not succumb to social norms or peer pressure that ultimately destroy her friends, she is most definitely a clean-cut teen role model meaning she can act as a strong opposition to the film’s killer by unknowingly defying the horror conventions of the time. The theme is simplistic yet adds a sense of haunting and has become one of the film’s distinct qualities, giving a sense of pace and suspense. “Halloween” is a film that needs to be seen by all, it is clever in everything it conveys and with little gore exposure it still manages to startle and frighten to this day!

8. “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens” (1922)

  • Directed by F.W. Murnau
  • Screenplay by Henrik Galeen, Written by Bram Stoker (Novel)

“Nosferatu” is not only one of the best silent films but also one of the best vampire films in history, most definitely being responsible for laying the groundwork for the future of the majority of creature-of-the-night movies. “Nosferatu” is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.The appearance of the vampire is startling and the main contribution to the chilling and eerie atmosphere that the film evokes. In a time with no CGI and limited make-up effects the sheer brilliance of Count Orlock is amazing and terrifying, with his bony fingers, stretched and hunched body, skeletal frame and hypnotizing eyes, he comes across as ghoulish.  In comparison to the Dracula character in the films that followed, Count Orlock appears monstrous rather than human-like. The expressionist style is interesting in itself with the use of shadows to create atmosphere also adding to the creativity of the piece.  There’s just so much intrigue surrounding “Nosferatu” due to it being an unconventional film choice and because it is now ninety years old, it contrasts modern day films from the genre but still remains unsettling and creepy in a striking way, without being bloody or reliant on jump scares. It truly has stood the test of time as its very well achieved to have made a horror film that stands the test of time.

7. “Hellraiser” (1987)

  • Directed by Clive Barker
  • Screenplay by Clive Barker

“Hellraiser” will most definitely “tear your soul apart”. It pushes the viewer to the limits in a twisted tale of deceit, sadism and gore. When Frank Cotton uses a cube shaped puzzle in order to delve into extreme heights in his deviant behavior of sadist sexual pleasure, he literally unleashes hell on himself by calling on Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobite followers that tear his soul and drag him into their labyrinthine domain, a place were pain and pleasure are inseparable! Several years later Frank’s brother Larry, his wife Julia and daughter Kristy move into the house where Frank vanished. Julia is harboring a secret, she was Frank’s lover! She is scheming to pull him out of hell placing her step-daughter Kristy in great danger through evoking fury in Pinhead! “Hellraiser” is visually interesting, the detail put into the portrayal of hell is remarkable and give a strong indication of how it could be imagined if it did exist! The cenobites are uniquely designed appearing as the nastiest creatures imaginable. The story is compelling, with interesting characters willing to go to extreme for their own selfish means! Julia could be considered the main villain of the piece and she does a great job in driving the audience against her leading them to empathize with Kristy, who carries the film well as the “final girl”. “Hellraiser” manages to achieve a strong balance of keeping the attention and interest of the audience through plenty of thrills and chills and with the amount of gore and torture present. It has several powerful components in place resulting in a well-crafted piece through its well thought out narrative with blood splatter thrown in for good measure!

6. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

  • Directed by Wes Craven
  • Screenplay by Wes Craven

The movie that brought your worst nightmares into reality! Along with “Halloween” , “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) is one of the most iconic and influential films of the genre. It manages to blur the lines between dreams and reality so well that it achieves a frightening effect, most notably the film’s first death featuring Tina, as she is slashed to death while her helpless boyfriend watches on. Freddy Kruger (played fantastically by Robert Englund) has a disturbing backstory, however its the little exposition that goes with it that makes it all the more unnerving. He is also a menacing villain as he plays it for laughs before slicing and dicing his victims with that iconic glove of knives! In the original, Freddy is not featured as heavily, creating the scary notion of what you can’t see can kill you! “Nightmare…” also makes an intelligent commentary on the state of the American family and the rebellion of youth, allowing the audience to read deeper into it. For a more in depth look at “A Nightmare on Elm Street” check out my earlier review from my special “Halloween Month” : https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/halloween-month-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984/ The concept is enough to cause many sleepless night’s making “A Nightmare on Elm Street” a worthy addition to this list.

Part 2 Coming soon….

Hayley Alice Roberts.