Archive for freddy kruger

**Third Anniversary Review** Embracing the Dark Side: Why We Watch Horror? A Personal Piece.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

945322_10151957390638572_803461142_n

To many of us Horror films are an integral part of who we are. They’re something that has shaped our interests and is a genre that continues to both fascinate and terrify us. There are several types of viewers when it comes to Horror; there’s the casual viewer who will take an interest and perhaps watch out of endurance with the possibility of generating a sense of fear. There’s those who completely dismiss horror due to squeamishness or not realizing  the underlying metaphors beyond the imagery presented before them; and finally there’s the the Horror fan, a category myself and many awesome people I’ve come to know over the passed few years fall into. The Horror fan is passionate about what’s going on in the genre, we adore the classic films that have shaped our knowledge from the Universal Monsters to the Hammer’s Horrors. We have an appreciation for the trends, conventions and tropes and make time to consume the latest in independent film through attending genre festivals. We also may be avid viewers of Sky’s Horror Channel and purchase niche magazines e.g. Scream Horror Magazine and Fangoria. But why is it we have a particular attraction to the dark side? to the macabre? to all things gory? Why is it we watch Horror?

word Horror

Don’t fear the Horror Fan!

Many psychologists have concluded that fear itself taps into our primitive subconscious. This insightful article explains Sigmund Freud’s theory regarding our fascination with horror, his interpretation suggested that strange, unexplained images found in the id are suppressed by the ‘civilized’ ego whereas another famous psychologist Carl Jung expressed the idea that there are a form of archetypes deep within our subconscious that are linked with images continually present within the horror genre. Interestingly this sort of indicates the possibility that this is an integral part of everyone however the horror fan seems to embrace their primitive subconscious more than those who object to violent imagery. Over the years I have endured criticism for my taste for the bloodier side of film. “How can you watch something like that? It’s Sick!” is a common assumption and in fairness, how anyone interprets any of imagery is subjective. To suggest that each and every one of us have violent tendencies somewhere in our make up is pretty scary to comprehend however as horror fans, the fact that we subject ourselves to these images on a frequent basis can act as a form of catharsis and as an outlet for our deep-rooted aggression. I am a firm believer that the link between watching horror films and violence in society is incredibly weak and is more than often caused by untreated psychological issues. That said, if that’s all we watched horror films for it would be a pretty tedious exercise and without a doubt Horror holds a great deal of entertainment value.

horror-meme

One of the most relateable pieces of literature I have come across is Mark Kermode’s ‘I was a Teenage Horror Fan’ which is featured in Martin Barker and Julian Petley’s book Ill Effects: The Media Violence Debate. Kermode discusses how the horror fan deciphers a deeper meaning of the images we see on screen.  Despite coming from a different generation, similarly to Kermode I became fascinated with horror at a young age, as a pre-teen to be exact. My favorite television shows at Primary School age were Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)Are You Afraid Of The Dark? (1991-2000) and Goosebumps (1995-1998). I had already been terrified by Nicholas Roeg’s dark children’s film The Witches (1990) and would always re-watch Return to Oz (1985) when it was broadcast on TV. Even when I watched Disney films, the villains seemed more interesting than the heroes/heroines. While originally frightened by the obscure and uncanny, the older I got the more obsessed I became. I would always gravitate toward Horror VHS’s at the local rental shop, curious of the sinister looking monsters that appeared on the artistic covers, Pinhead and Freddy Kruger being stand outs.

Without prior knowledge of Freddy Kruger, this video case in particular appeared unnerving to my younger self.

As Kermode discusses his curiosity with The Exorcist (1973) on its initial UK release in 1974 due to hysteria and word of mouth from those who had seen it, the media hype surrounding these films only encourage that curiosity to grow bringing determination to see the horror on screen unfold for ourselves. For me the films that have caused controversy during my own generation include The Bunny Game (2010), A Serbian Film (2010) and The Human Centipede Films (2009, 2011), I have only seen the latter films mentioned but genuinely feel there has been unfair misconceptions surrounding them, its definitely clear that since the moral panics of the 80’s, not a great deal has changed in certain cases however horror has generally become a slightly more accepted form of entertainment. During my childhood, horror films were always  playground discussions in terms of who had seen what and how terrifying the film was but to my knowledge I was one of the only ones who let that sense of fear and enigma become a life-long interest.

m9PfbDTlLXYeQbEpUBCPR-Q

Kermode mentions that there’s a certain solitude that originally comes with being a genre fan. He recollects his late night visits to grindhouse London cinemas to enjoy X-rated double bills in which he’d be surrounded by like-minded people who in his words would be ‘getting more out of the movies than passing scares, watching them again and again, learning them, studying them’. Whereas I was never fortunate to experience horror in the cinema until at least the age of 15, prior to that I would record endless VHS tapes of the Elm Streets, the Friday 13ths, Scream’s etc. and of course watch them alone with pure enthrallment. I was determined to watch anything that was listed in the TV guide with the tag ‘Horror’ even if I was unfamiliar with its content and would end up watching a terribly bad film. Despite this, being a horror fan meant it was difficult to find other people to relate to back then. It also wasn’t until I studied a Horror module at university I was able to develop different ways of thinking about the films I’d grown up with and always loved.

302791_379707512117426_1826343096_n

Community is a vital part of being a horror fan. It was 2009 when I attended my first full horror festival at Abertoir, which has been an annual tradition ever since. In 2011 I also began to visit Sheffield for Celluloid Screams. Attending these goreific events has allowed me to meet and socialize with others who share my interest. Not only do we watch a selection of brilliant movies but there’s the opportunities to discuss them afterwards and even meet the filmmakers behind them. One of the most appealing aspects of horror fandom is this close-knit community. Filmmakers in general are approachable and happy to give time to their fans and the fans themselves are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across.

Horror_Movie_Killers_by_UncleHarry113

Therefore, there are several reasons why horror films are so appealing and why being a fan of them is incredibly important. There’s the enjoyment of the suspense and tense atmosphere, the familiarity of the tropes and conventions displayed, the opportunity to study the genre and discover interesting metaphors that say something profound about our society. There’s the sense of catharsis violent imagery can provide us with as well as the ability to identify with the characters we see on screen in some way or another. We also can’t forget the adrenaline rush a thrill ride of terror can give us, there’s the iconic imagery we come to recognize as well as the wide spectrum of sub-genres on offer from slashers in masks to the spooky supernatural. We keep watching because there’s so much more to discover as horror continues to transform and adapt. While there are times when Horror films may seem tired and repeated there’s always still plenty of underground gems that really blow our minds, Horror still has the ability to shock and scare us and we indulge.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to the amazing horror community that have supported me over these passed three years, it really means a lot and has provided me with some fangtastic writing opportunities that I hope will continue.

Thanks for Reading.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

**For last year’s Second Anniversary Review on Urban Legends in Film Visit:**

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/second-anniversary-review-part-one-urban-legends-in-films-television/

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/second-anniversary-review-part-two-movie-mayhem-the-shocks-behind-the-scenes/

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.