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**Fifth Anniversary Review** Hayley’s Top 10 Favourite Horror Death Scenes Of All Time

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Five years ago I was a film and television student in my first year at University. I decided to start a blog as a side project separate from my studies. It began as a way to express my views on recent films both independent and mainstream that I’d seen from all genres. Naturally, the first review I ever wrote was of Scream 4 (2011) then eventually I made the site completely horror specific and Hayley’s Horror Reviews is what it is today. Several great opportunities have come my way since beginning the blog, including the chance to get to know and review the work of a number of talented filmmakers. I am now very lucky to be writing for the Horror Movie review site LoveHorror.co.uk and working alongside Caitlyn Downs (from Scared Sheepless) on our collaborative project Ghostface Girls where we provide festival video coverage and record podcasts. Our next event will be the UK’s Horror Con in July 2016!

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In previous years my anniversary reviews have covered My Top 10 Horror Films of all time (since 2011 it has more than likely altered!), Urban Legends on screen and behind the scenes, why we watch Horror Films and last year my favorite underrated slashers. This year I’m taking on a countdown of a subject I’m surprised I haven’t covered by now. It’s all about the visual effects as I reveal my personal favorite horror movie death scenes. Death scenes are at the core of horror movies, even if a film might be particularly badly executed sometimes the saving grace can be some good old splatter. On the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes it’s what you don’t see and what’s implied that can really get under the skin. There’s also nothing more heart-breaking for a horror fan than when one of your favorite characters is hacked to pieces leading to emotional trauma!

Here are my top Horror Movie death scenes of all time! Remember folks, as always its subjective.

There will be spoilers, so get that TV on if you haven’t seen any or some of these films and come back to this article.

**WARNING** This Article will include blood, guts, gore and strong language. Not for the faint-hearted! 

Comment below if you agree or disagree with my choices or tweet me on @Hayleyr1989.

10. Final Destination (2000): Terry Chaney is splattered by a bus!

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To kick things off is a death scene so quick and unexpected it’s pure brilliance! This moment marked the beginning of the darkly twisted sense of humour in the Final Destination franchise. Up until this point Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his friends have survived a harrowing plane crash and are grieving over the apparent “suicide” of best friend Tod (Chad Donella) whose brother died on Flight 180. Both scenes deliver a suspenseful build up with gruesome results. This moment however takes place in the middle of the day, Alex and love interest Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) are trying to figure out death’s design. Enter rival Carter (Kerr Smith) and girlfriend Terry (Amanda Detmer). Carter is convinced that Alex is to blame for the deaths of the plane victims as well as Tod but he soon gets more than he bargained for! While antagonizing Alex, his long-suffering girlfriend finally snaps. In an ironic speech, Terry speaks about never wasting another second of her life and states Carter should have better things to do than fight with Alex. She then utters the immortal lines of “you can just drop fucking dead!”. Backing into the road Terry is hit by an incoming bus and the remaining survivors recoil in horror as her blood splatters on their faces. It’s the twisted irony of this scene that makes it surprising and thrilling letting the audience know that anyone can go at any time by any means.

9. Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA. Zombi 2) (1979): Eye Splinter Scene

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Even without context the eye splinter scene from Lucio Fulci’s notorious ‘video nasty’ Zombie Flesh Eaters is an iconic cinematic moment in horror. The scene is so sqiurmworthy as you (literally!) see it coming a mile off but it doesn’t let up on the suspense. Paola, the wife of Richard Johnson’s character Dr. David Menard is alone in the house when a zombie breaks in. Actress Olga Karlatos displays a genuine look of horror as her vulnerable character attempts to bombard the Zombie from entering the house. Unluckily for her she is dragged through the door and impaled right through the eye with a piece of splintered wood. Her eye is pierced right through in a masterful visual effect, we see the eye squelched and the object penetrate right through her skull!  The moment sets the tone for the carnage to come making it one of Italian Horror’s nastiest kills.

8. I Spit on Your Grave (1978): Blood Bath

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The second video nasty on this list. I Spit on Your Grave is unapologetically exploitative cinema centering on the brutal, unrelenting rape of a young woman. Aspiring writer Jennifer (Camille Keating) retreats to the backwoods as she works on her novel, but she is horrifically brutalized and gang-raped by a group of local men. However, it wouldn’t be a rape-revenge film without a nasty dose of payback! After some time has passed Jennifer is back tougher and stronger than ever as she sets about to seek vengeance on her attackers. In one of the film’s most gruesome scenes Jennifer lures ring leader Johnny (Eron Tabor) into her car, inviting him around for some wet, and bubbly fun…or so he thinks! Jennifer hides a knife under the bath mat and as she begins to seduce Johnny when he least expects it she takes a knife to his most sensitive area!! It takes him a few moments to comprehend what’s happening while Jennifer leaves him there to bleed to death. She proceeds to lock him in the bath room and makes her way downstairs while Johnny yells that he can’t stop the bleeding. She drowns his screams out with a nice bit of classical music. The scene is particularly disturbing as Jennifer allows herself to be in a sexual situation with her rapist. Johnny completely goes along with it showing what a horrendous character he really is. It’s so well executed and unsettling, making ‘blood bath’ from I Spit on Your Grave one of cinemas best revenge death scenes of all time.

7. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987): Welcome to Prime Time Bitch!

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There are many inventive death scenes in the most highly regarded Elm Street Sequel Dream Warriors but this one had to be selected as it captures Freddy Krueger’s (Robert Englund) darkly menacing, twisted sense of humor. While the Puppet Master moment and Needle fingers sequence are exceptionally creative and unique death scenes it’s difficult to overlook fame-seeking Jennifer’s (Penelope Sudrow) TV demise. This moment is fourth wall breaking and surreal as Freddy possesses the television, manifesting himself onto a late night talk show. The television turns static encouraging Jennifer to approach it. In a crazy visual effect mechanical arms emerge from the sides of the television, clutching Jennifer. Freddy materializes from the top of the television set sprouting antennas. He then smashes her skull through the television set uttering the iconic line “Welcome to prime time, bitch!”. The Elm Street franchise is known for its elaborate and creative death scenes that are more entertaining than a man in a mask just slashing with a knife. This scene is a solid example of how the franchise utilizes its special effects accompanied with quirky dialogue enhancing that when it comes down to Freddy Krueger anything is literally possible!

6. The Burning (1981): We’ve found our canoe!

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The Burning appeared on my list last year as one of my favorite underrated slasher films. It centers on a scorned caretaker who seeks revenge on the inhabitants of a summer camp where he suffered a horrific accident several years previous. It’s under the radar due to the success of Friday the 13th (1980) but then became infamous in the UK once it appeared on the Video Nasties list, and this death scene is the reason why! Tom Savini’s sensational gory FX during this scene cemented The Burning as being one of the first to receive it’s ‘video nasty’ reputation. A few of the camper’s head down the lake on a makeshift raft in order to fetch their canoe back. The typical teenagers argue while rowing but become excitable as they get nearer to the abandoned canoe. The scene is set up well using a sense of dread as they become closer and closer. No matter how many times you watch it and are aware what lies ahead it’s still shocking as the killer Cropsy (Lou David) appears from the canoe with his shears and the bloody massacre commences! This moment of the film features the image that appeared on the iconic cover art of Cropsy’s silhouette holding up the shears. It’s pretty harrowing as unlike the majority of slasher films the teenagers cast in the film genuinely look their age rather than having 25-year-old’s playing a 16-year-old’s. The fact that it takes place in broad daylight in an idyllic location makes this deadly moment even more horrific.

5. Hellraiser (1987): Jesus Wept

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This scene is one of my earliest, goriest cinematic memories and has made the list for being downright gruesome. At a young age this was one of the coolest death scenes in horror that I’d ever seen. It’s time for Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman) to get his just desserts at the hands of the Cenobites. Wearing the meat suit of his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) he attempts to kill niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) in the attic but thankfully (as thankful as it gets in a horror movie situation!) Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his demons appear ready to drag Frank’s damaged soul directly back to hell. Pinhead promised he had “such sights to show” us and this unrelentingly proved what the Cenobites were capable of. There’s an otherworldly presence to the scene with the bell chime ringing and the mist surrounding the attic. Hellraiser was famed for its dynamic make up effects, with Pinhead’s appearance making him an intriguing horror villain; but it’s Frank’s demise that is as grizzly and gory as it gets. As he raises a blade to Kirsty he is stopped in his tracks with a hook through the hand, chaining him to the Cenobites world forever. Hooks pierce his skin, tearing his face. As Kirsty recoils in sheer disgust Frank says “Jesus Wept” before being ripped apart, with blood and guts galore!

4. Inbred (2011): Dwight’s Dirrrrty Death!

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Over the past five years Inbred has become one of my favorite horror films. One of the several reasons is due to its creatively nasty death scenes. It stands out in what it does, with strong character development allowing the audience to empathize with its protagonists, as well as a twisted sense of tongue in cheek humor that equally puts us on the side of the villains. It’s somewhat of a black comedy but goes right for the jugular with a set of cruel and mean spirited methods of bumping off its victims. The warped villagers of Mortlake attend a show put on by local landlord Jim (Seamus O’Neill). Having already killed off one of the young lads involving vegetables and a horse, this time the Inbred’s capture Dwight (Chris Waller), the remaining protector of the group. Sacrificing himself for the safety of his care worker and fellow youth offenders, Dwight is subjected to a rather dirrrrrrty demise! Tied to a chair and forced to wear a wig, he is cruelly tormented by a man resembling a droog from A Clockwork Orange (1971) who proceeds to empty a hosepipe of shit down Dwight’s throat until he explodes all over the unusual members of the audience! It needs to be seen to be believed but commended for its use of old school FX over CGI giving us an old school backwoods bloodbath!

3. Der Fan (AKA. Trance) (1982): Killer Obsession

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Der Fan is a film I’ve mentioned a bunch of times on the site. An undiscovered gem that screened at Celluloid Screams in 2013, Der Fan enters unexpected territory with an unforgettable and bizarrely crafted death scene. A German Exploitation film, it pushed the boundaries with its female lead being played by a 16-year-old. Household name Desiree Nobuch of Radio Luxenburg fame played psycho fan Simone and did full frontal nudity in the film as well as acted out a scene of murder and cannibalism which certainly would not be done in cinema today! Simone sleeps with R (Bodo Steiger), a Gary Numan inspired pop star who she’s absolutely obsessed with. When reality bites and Simone becomes another used fan girl to R what happens next is completely out of the left field. In my original review I described it as one of the most “chilling and extreme” deaths in cinema. It’s lengthy, horrific, controversial and unsettling leaving the viewer feeling grubby once the credits roll, making it feel like a completely different film from the one that started. This is one I won’t spoil for you however if you’ve already had the experience of watching this underrated exploitation check out my original review.

2.Scream 2 (1997): Randy Meeks Death Scene

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Master team Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson taught us no one was safe in their iconic slasher-revival Scream. When Drew Barrymoore is killed off in the opening moments of a film it’s guaranteed that anything can happen! Scream 2 is the strongest sequel in the franchise as it raised the stakes. There are so many excellent set pieces in the entire film from the cinema slashing’s at the beginning to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s brutal demise being stabbed in the back and thrown out of a window; however, the death that really cuts close to the bone is that of Jamie Kennedy’s popular character Randy Meeks. Self-confessed “movie buff” Randy survived Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) reign of terror in the first installment closely following the horror movie survival rules. But even he knows that he could be disposable as a new Ghostface stalks the campus of Windsor College. Randy’s death scene is well executed and unexpected. The most shocking aspect is that unlike the previous deaths this one takes place in broad daylight. He is pulled into Gale’s (Courtney Cox) news van and stabbed repeatedly. It’s horrific as it goes unnoticed by crowds of people on the campus. The camera focuses on the van’s wing mirror as Randy is brutally killed, a group of students unknowingly walk by with a boom box drowning out his screams of pain! His bloodied face is then revealed. It’s tragic and heart-breaking as he never does get the girl and is a missing presence from the dynamics of the core characters. It’s certain that it’s Mrs Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) who murders Randy as she viciously attacks him for speaking “poorly” of her delightful son Billy in an act of revenge. The most ironic element of Randy’s death is because he knows the rules of a horror movie inside and out the killer cleverly catches him at the most unexpected moment and doesn’t wait until dark. Craven and Williamson kept the franchise fresh with surprises like this!

  1. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): Death of the Beauty Queen 

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What sets I Know What You Did Last Summer apart from its slasher counterparts is the well written and well-acted main characters. Sarah Michelle Gellar gives a tragic performance as Helen Shivers, the former Beauty Queen who loses her future after being involved in a hit and run and an ill thought out cover-up. After she witnesses the murder of her boyfriend Barry (Ryan Phillippe) at the hands of the psychotic fisherman; the police do next to nothing to help her. Helen’s death scene is harrowing as she almost makes it to safety. There’s a slow-paced build-up of tension from escaping a crashed police car to running for her life and hiding out in her sister’s store; Helen fights for survival. Her death isn’t shown explicitly but is incredibly effective and atmospheric set to a chilling score composed by John Debney. Helen falls from the stores window but then finds an alleyway leading to the 4th July Summer parade. Fireworks blast into the air and there’s a sense of relief; albeit momentarily, Helen then approaches the parade but becomes distracted and looks behind her. She is then face to face with the evil fisherman and slashed with his sharp hook amongst a stack of tires. There’s quick cuts, flashing lights and the sound of screams but one thing is certain, the true heroine of the film has met her demise. Helen’s body is later discovered by traumatized best friend Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) on the fisherman’s boat officially confirming there is no return for her within future films in the series. It’s Gellar’s helpless performance as the doomed young woman that hits hard with emotional impact. As sad as the scene is it’s essential to the progression of the film as many fans agree if Julie had been the one to meet her maker it wouldn’t have achieved the same upsetting impact. Helen’s death goes to show that you don’t need to go gory to execute an effective and gut-wrenching death scene.

As always thank you for reading and supporting Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

….

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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What happened in 97′ should stay in 97′! Thoughts on the Re-boot.

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**Contains Some Spoilers**

I Know What You Did Last Summer has always been somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Released in 1997 hot on the heels of the teen slasher revival thanks to Scream (1996), IKWYDLS showcased a young, talented cast of the time including Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillipee; arguably the film is filled with nonsensical plot-holes and unbelievable scenarios but still manages to engage the viewer. Maybe nostalgic tainted glasses are at play here but there is something about the tone of the film that comes across at unnerving and is what it is a cheesy slasher that takes itself too seriously at times.

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Originally a teen thriller 1970’s novel by Lois Duncan, the film version was far removed from what the book intended. In Duncan’s novel four teens Barry, Helen, Julie and Ray are involved in an accidental hit and run resulting in the death of a young child, without giving too much away the teens are targeted by a mysterious stalker in which the novel culminates in a heart-pounding satisfying finale that unfortunately would be difficult to translate over to film. In Kevin Williamson’s script, the teens led by popular actress Jennifer Love Hewitt as protagonist Julie James are also involved in a hit and run but with that of a Fisherman with a dark secret who manages to return from his shallow grave to warn the teens he knows and wants revenge! Ben Willis is more or less an unmemorable villain and terribly hammy, failing to match the heights of Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and even Ghostface he is mostly forgotten.

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Lois Duncan was less than impressed at the ‘hot new slasher movie’ in town. Sitting in the cinema back in 97′ she was disturbed to discover her mystery thriller had been transformed into a typical horror movie featuring young women in danger, some even ending up killed. This was in bad taste considering Duncan’s daughter had been brutally murdered back in 1989.  This in-depth article covers the tragic story of a mother’s anguish in bringing her daughter’s killers to justice. Williamson himself wasn’t completely at blame here. In his original script that was potentially in the works before he hit the big time with Scream, he had treated the film as a suspenseful thriller where no slashing took place until much later on. As expected this didn’t test well with audiences therefore director Jim Gillespie had to go back and shoot a death scene for minor character Max (Johnny Galeki) to satisfy audiences blood-thirsty taste buds and up the ante to determine Ben Willis really meant business.

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While popular in its time, the film grossed $125,586,134 at the Box Office and won a few awards e.g. MTV. An awesome soundtrack featuring tracks from Korn, The Offspring, Type O Negative and Hooverphonic was released.  Despite Sarah Michelle Gellar’s powerhouse performance as Helen Shivers and believable chemistry with Ryan Phillipee’s Barry Cox, I Know What You Did Last Summer isn’t a film that’s heavily discussed among the horror community as its simply a product of its time much like a slew of forgettable 80’s Slashers that emerged following Friday the Thirteenth etc.

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News just in Oculus director Mike Flanagan is penning a new script in plans to re-boot the movie which in itself seems quite random. Flanagan has stated he will not be directing or producing however original producer Neil H. Mortiz is said to be on board. Oculus may have done commercially well however among the convoluted plot it didn’t come across as anything that hadn’t been done before therefore I suspect a remake of IKWYDLS won’t be a vast improvement on the original. Flanagan is supposedly going to create a screenplay closer to the original book which is completely problematic.

As a franchise it failed, the sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer was rushed out in 1998 and left viewers on a cliffhanger and a 2006 straight-to-DVD monstrosity I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer followed and that was that. Various rumours emerged over the years that Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr would return in a follow-up particularly after Scream 4 but nothing was made concrete regarding the title until now.

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 No casting information has been revealed as of yet but the film is allegedly planned for a 2016 release, it will be interesting to see how this project develops despite how unnecessary it seems. Remakes are just tiresome and Hollywood has killed the horror genre. What is ultimately a product of the 90’s should stay in the 90’s…what next are we going to see a remake of Urban Legend?

 

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

 

 

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (9-7)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Once again I bring you three more women of horror. From the spine-chilling and the sadistic to the tragic heroine.The Horror genre is versatile in terms  of the different types of characters it portrays, I hope that the choices about to be discussed will illustrate the eclectic mix that’s on offer.  Here is part three of my Women in Horror Recognition Month coverage. I am really enjoying working on this mini-project and would like to thank everyone for their support and feedback especially the shares and re-tweets on Twitter. You’re all awesome. **Gory Hugs**

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Oh and here’s the obligatory SPOILER WARNING. Therefore if you haven’t seen the films I’m about to discuss go check them out then return…!

9. Angela Baker, The Sleepaway Camp Series (1983-2008)

  • Played By Felissa Rose and Pamela Springstein
  • Written and Directed By Robert Hiltzik
  • Sequels Directed By Michael A. Simpson & Written By Fritz Gordon

angela  Now this addition to the countdown may be a little complicated for two key reasons. The first is that Angela (Felissa Rose) technically isn’t female. For those of you who are fans of the bizarrely warped 80’s slasher Sleepaway Camp, you’ll be aware that the most iconic aspect of the entire film was it’s shock-tastic ending that not only reveals the sweet, misunderstood Angela as the killer but she is also genetically a boy! The welcome yet fascinating surprise deviates Sleepaway Camp from *just* being the run-of-the-mill slasher like many that emerged that decade even receiving it’s own spoof in the stop-motion animation comedy series Robot Chicken (2005-) where it’s exclaimed “somebody remembered this movie and wrote a comedy sketch about it”. Well myself and Seth Green certainly did! The second problematic element faced when discussing Angela is the subsequent sequels.

Now some fans like to disassociate Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) from the original but for me they are too entertaining and enjoyable to disregard. Felissa Rose was concentrating on her university studies at the time of filming therefore had to decline reprising the role (she does however make a comeback in Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)). Pamela Springstein stepped in as a more confident, post-sex change Angela, the only similarity being she still has a lust for the blade and now as a camp counselor she rids “Camp Rolling Hills” of the morally corrupt teenagers it inhabits! Now it’s fair that Angela qualifies for this list as she has lived as a female her entire life and eventually underwent reassignment surgery to do so; so it counts!

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The opening of the original Sleepaway Camp introduces young children Angela and Peter on a boating lake with their father. Following a tragic accident that sees their boat flip over, the family attempt to swim to shore but are subsequently wiped out by an incoming motorboat. Due to some clever editing techniques it is presumed that Peter and his Father are now dead! Fast forward a few years later and cousins Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela are heading to Camp Arawak for the summer where her murderous rampage begins! Towards the climax the film reveals that Angela’s Aunt was behind transforming young Peter into his deceased sister Angela, creating the “daughter” she always wanted. It’s then heavily implied that Angela’s deviant and anti-social behavior is a product of discovering her father’s homosexual tendencies. Freud would certainly have a field day! However its not difficult to feel empathy for Angela due to her confusing upbringing, leading to a gender/identity crisis as well as the constant bullying she receives from the more well-developed girls at camp that illustrate her insecurities. There’s plenty of symbolism in place that hints at Angela’s true identity in her kills, alpha bitch Judy (Karen Fields) is raped with a hot straightening iron for example. With a cold, icy stare, Felissa Rose plays the vulnerable Angela fantastically bringing in her own youth and innocence to the role. Springstein’s interpretation however is far more campy and menacing but still an incredibly fun performance to watch and she does use some creative methods to murder those who don’t live up to her “moral ideals” namely sexual activity and cursing. The character of Angela is definitely an interesting study of the psychotic female. Sleepaway Camp sets itself apart from other slashers of its time through its use of plenty of underlying subtext relating to gender, creative and well thought through kills and the fact it’s a seemingly innocent thirteen year old girl committing the gruesome murders. Compared to most, Sleepaway Camp demonstrated more authenticity by featuring teenagers portraying their actual ages. On the surface there is a lot of sleaziness but Sleepaway Camp is far more sophisticated than it’s given credit for. Felissa Rose’s performance marks the original film as ahead of it’s time by exploring avenues that the majority of slashers of the time never dared to.

8. The Grand High Witch, The Witches (1990)

  • Played By Anjelica Huston
  • Directed By Nicholas Roeg
  • Written By Roald Dahl (Novel), Allan Scott (Screenplay)

witches-thewitches2-590x350  Now for some kiddie-horror. Like many children growing up in the 90’s, this woman haunted my nightmares! Since watching more Nicholas Roeg films over the years, most recently The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976); I finally have an understanding of the warped, nightmarish vision that’s prominent in his work and he certainly doesn’t tone it down for a film aimed at a family audience. Roeg takes an unsettling approach to the material and uses intense close ups especially in the more frightening moments.

There is nothing redeeming about The Grand High Witch who originally emerged from literature, in Roald Dahl’s twisted, fantasy novel. However it’s sensational actress Anjelica Huston that brings this wicked witch to life in a spine-chilling and unforgettable performance. Her character enters the film later on following a careful set-up that establishes what the witches of this universe are capable of. Once she’s made her entrance her presence is really felt as Anjelica Huston delivers one of children’s cinema’s most scariest performances. I’m pretty sure when this film has been broadcast on television it comes with a content warning. Merging between beautiful and grotesque, The Grand High Witch sets out to achieve one objective, to rid the world of children by introducing a special formula she has personally brewed. She organizes a convention at a picturesque English hotel bringing together a large number of witches to do her bidding of transforming the children into mice then squishing them! The face she displays to the world is actually a disguise, underneath the mask is a monstrous creature that’s incredibly unnerving created with special effects courtesy of Jim Henson’s creative make up department. When willing to reveal her true identity, the Grand High Witch literally peels her face off! Nasty Stuff. She wears a wig in order to hide her bald, bloody scalp, gloves to shield her long, sharp fingernails and flat shoes to disguise her toe-less feet. Fear not though as this evil woman does not succeed in her plans and is thwarted by a young boy named Luke (Jansen Fisher) and his knowledgeable Grandmother (Mai Zetterling). The meddling duo literally give her a taste of her own medicine through slipping the formula into the hotel soup. Before her demise, the Grand High Witch once more transforms into a freakishly over-sized rat that is almost as nightmare-fuel worthy as what’s under her mask! The Grand High Witch is one woman of horror I’ve never, ever forgotten and the film as a whole may be partially responsible for my curiosity of the genre from a young age. Whether in awe of or feared, The Grand High Witch is one sinister creature.

7. Helen Shivers, I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

  • Played By Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Directed By Jim Gillespie
  • Written By Lois Duncan (Novel), Kevin Williamson (Screenplay)

helenshivers  Neither a psychotic woman or a final girl, this character is a rarity in the genre, the best friend archetype being preferred over the heroine herself. In this case it’s down to the strong writing and acting that brings the character to life. Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a young woman with her whole future ahead of her. Wavering on the superficial side, Helen dreams of escaping the small town life and venture to New York to become a famous actress. Helen is aware of her looks and uses them to get where she wants to be and is particularly proud of her long, blonde locks. When we are introduced to her she is the winner of the local beauty pageant, the girlfriend of the high school football star Barry Cox (Ryan Phillipe) and best friend of the protagonist Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt). However Helen’s life changes forever on that fateful 4th of July night where the four friends including Julie’s boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) accidentally run over a mysterious bystander lurking in the middle of the road. Fearing him dead, the foursome decide to dispose of his body in the ocean. On doing so, the fisherman momentarily comes back to life stealing Helen’s pageant crown which Barry then retrieves for her down the murky depths of the sea.

A year later and Helen is a shadow of her former self. The pretty, blonde, hopeful actress is now gone and in place is a tormented, lonely girl who’s constantly watching her back. Seemingly just going through every day life, the realization of her part in the hit and run crime is restored when Julie brings the gang back together after receiving a threatening note claiming “I know what you did last summer”. On the surface Helen comes across as the typical, blonde female that is more than often butchered by a hooded killer in films of this nature and in theory she is. However due to some smart writing on the part of Kevin Williamson and a fiery performance from Sarah Michelle Gellar, Helen is more than meets the eye creating a sense of empathy with her. She has always been a far more interesting character to watch over Julie as the audience realize she is more than just a weak victim offered up to the killer. The killer fisherman raises the stakes with Helen over Julie as he cuts off her most prized possession while asleep, her long, golden hair, signifying the depth and change in her character. Gellar’s on-screen chemistry with Phillipe is electrifying, making Helen and Barry a believable couple that genuinely care about each other.

After witnessing Barry’s murder in a room full of people from the stage of the Croaker Queen pageant, Helen is an emotional wreck, stripping away any facade she may have previously had. She struggles to be believed by the police and even up until her final moments, she isn’t afraid to fight back and prove her resourcefulness just like any true final girl would. She runs and takes refuge in her snarky, older sister Elsa’s (Bridgette Wilson) store, hiding from the killer then jumping out of a window and running to safety. Sadly, she is too late, as she gets closer to the 4th of July parade and the comfort of crowds of people, the fisherman catches up with her, slicing her up with a hook. Helen is a tragic victim and her presence is even felt in the not-so-memorable sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) where Julie reminisces about her deceased friend by picking up a photograph of her taken from the pageant as Hooverphonic’s Eden plays non-diegetically. What’s interesting about the character is that she is a product of the post-Scream slasher where it was self-awareness over stereotype. Williamson offered a female, horror movie character who the audience could care about despite killing her off in order to raise the stakes and create suspense. Helen’s death is still considered to be one of the most remembered of this era, despite the film not gaining the popularity that was intended for it.  Well rounded and dynamic, despite not surviving, Helen still deserves a place as a woman of horror.

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.

“You have the wrong girl!”-An Analysis of “Ringer” (2011)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED

As a major fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” of course I was interested in checking out “Ringer” the new CW pilot starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Welsh Actor Ioan Gruffudd. From the get-go the premise is intriguing; focused on a young woman on the run from the mob who  poses as her rich twin sister in order to evade them only to later discover her sister also has a price to pay. “Ringer” appears to hold the possibilities of interesting character development as Sarah Michelle Gellar takes on the challenge of playing two roles; she is however more than capable of this after delivering a fantastic performance in the “Buffy” episode “Who Are You” (#4.16) as a very convincing Faith (normally played by Eliza Dushku). The concept of the “secret identity” holds out much prospect for a titillating thriller. So much is at stake and rides on the pilot episode of any television show so let’s look at what “Ringer” has to offer as well as how the episode is constructed.

The episode opens on a tracking shot of some hideous gargoyle-type figures overlooking a lit-up city; establishing a modern day busy setting. As an audience we are then pulled into the eyes of a young woman who appears both terrified and vulnerable; already we are aware who’s point of view the show is going to be from. Her character is embroiled in a cat and mouse game as she is being chased by a man draped in black; instantly the show throws the audience into the middle of the action resulting in intrigue as to who this woman is? and why is she in this predicament? At this point there is more to discover and I was already engrossed. The use of the song “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline slotted in nicely throughout the opening sequence emphasising the protagonist’s fear and vulnerability in the situation; with my inner “Buffy” fangirl coming out here I’d also like to add that the same song was used in the episode “Prophecy Girl” (#1.12)! Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character in an attempt to fend off her attacker insists he’s got the wrong person and at this moment we are taken into the story of how this young woman ended up there.

Within the first few minutes of the episode we learn a lot about Bridget Cafferty who we meet in a support group setting; she has many layers which makes her an engaging character; this is later vital as she takes on the role of someone else. As an audience we discover that she is battling addiction but has remained sober for six months, has had short-lived relationships, and has a sister. The impression is given that she is damaged but recovering. She also seems to posses a flirtatious quality demonstrated by the attraction between her and her sponsor (Played by Mike Colter). The next piece of character information provided is that Bridget is a witness to a crime and will have to appear in court in order to testify against an unsavoury character from her past. Along with her minder and FBI Agent Victor Machado (Played by Nestor Carbonell) she goes into a protection zone at a seedy looking motel, the atmosphere feels unsafe then adding to this notion is finding out the man she must testify against is involved in the adult industry. As previously stated Bridget’s character has many layers; she proves more than capable of looking after herself by turning the tables on the man following her.

Bridget’s identical twin sister Siobhan is introduced. Immediately there is a contrast between the two with Siobhan coming across as wealthy and sophisticated. The sisters have been estranged but still maintain a sense of closeness as they hug; but that is as far as it goes. Siobhan is evidently reserved towards her twin admitting her husband (played by Ioan Gruffudd) has no knowledge of her existence. There was a clever shot of the characters framed next to the mirror with a direct line between them, demonstrating their contrasting lifestyles and discussion of forgiveness. The drama really kicks in once Siobhan does a disappearing act; assumed she has taken her own life Bridget makes the rash decision to take over it! This is where the enigma really begins.

Bridget now embarks on a thrill ride of a journey as she unearths secrets and lies revolving around her sister. Following Bridget’s journey is fascinating leaving the audience wondering if she’ll adjust to her new life or whether she’ll unravel after she makes the transition from her harsh reality to a superficial world of wealth. The deeper and more enthralled she becomes in her sister’s life the more disturbing things become. She faces an over-critical, distant husband, and an affair with her best friend’s husband; making her realise she is so far away from her sister’s life. It is indicated that the possibility for Siobhan’s suicide was due to loneliness taking all these factors into consideration and the mystery surrounding a little boy called Sean. With the authorities and the mob believing Bridget to be on the run an intense moment occurs when she is faced with Victor; this scene was the most suspenseful emphasised by a close up focused on Bridget/”Siobhan”‘s face, dramatic music and a fade out; in placr to heighten the tension leaving the audience question will Victor be fooled by her pretence? I loved how Bridget got into character so coolly in that scene. Another clever “red-herring” used was a newspaper article regarding a body washed up on the shore. By the conclusion of the episode there are so many unanswered questions in order to lure the audience to keep watching; in which I won’t reveal!

 “Ringer” definitely holds out a lot of potential. Granted its not the most original idea however it is carried by a very interesting protagonist and displays a sense of edginess. A lot of information is provided in the pilot but there is still so much more to unravel. I’m unsure if “Ringer” will work successfully as a long running series and with its cinematic quality it possibly could be suited more to a two hour film or mini-series. I definitely enjoyed it more than another recent series with a similar premise ABC’s “The Lying Game” (2011) as its aimed at an adult audience and is maturer in comparison. So far; with plenty of twists, turns, secrets and lies my interest is held and I’m looking forward to seeing what else the show has in store.

“Ringer” is shown on the CW network on Tuesday Nights 9/8c.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.