Five Horror Films

LISTS! Expect me to be posting a few of these on Space Cat Rocket Ship throughout November - aka NaNoWriMo month. These lists are likely to be personal and possibly obscure and even boring. I find it interesting to compile them and try and figure out my opinions. You may not find it interesting to read them. Anyhoo, here goes: in time for Halloween, five horror films. I don't recommend that you actually watch any of these films unless you have a good idea what you're letting yourself in for, by the way.

5. Perfect Blue

Not a film that I can readily recommend you watch, as it is genuinely disturbing throughout, but I am a fan of director Satoshi Kon, so it made my list in fifth place. I can't say that I'm in a hurry to watch it for a second time: Perfect Blue excels at maintaining an intense and palpable sense of threat throughout - not just a threat to your physical and emotional well-being, but also to your identity and your sense of existence within a coherent reality.

4. The Thing

I only saw this for the first time quite recently. I'd been interested in it for a while, because it seems to be the kind of thi- uh, movie that I'd either really like, or really freak out at. And, happily, it fell into the first category. The Thing is a movie about an isolated group of men, some of whom are not what they seem. So far, so unoriginal, but what sets The Thing apart is the nature of the shape-changing menace and the grotesque forms it takes. The incredible imagination shown by the guy in charge of effects (who was admitted to hospital with nervous exhaustion late during filming) resulted in a warped visual aesthetic that no contemporary movie could equal, stranded as we are between real and computer generated effects.

3. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

The first Evil Dead film was much too nasty, the third way too silly, but in Evil Dead 2 Sam Raimi managed to create the perfect blend of sheer terror and hysterical comedy. The laughs and scares feed perfectly off one another as, for example, beleaguered hero Ash fights his own demonically possessed hand in a slapstick homage to the Three Stooges, before severing it with a chainsaw.

2. Shaun of the Dead

Two of the coolest things in the world, as least as far as I'm concerned, are George A. Romero's Living Dead films and Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's sitcom Spaced. Imagine my quasi-religious ecstasy, then, when Pegg and Wright went and made this fantastic half-horror half-comedy tribute to Romero; defying all previous measures of coolness and setting a new standard for contemporary British movies (it was actually possible for them to be good).

1. Dawn of the Dead

How many times has the word 'dead' appeared in this post? In George A. Romero's anti-capitalist horror, four survivors in a post apocalyptic America find that they have the whole mall to themselves. Cue decadence and callousness as they steadily lose sight of their humanity. On top of that, the dead are returning to life and they only have two things on their mind: eating the flesh of the living… and browsing aimlessly at the shops.


zhoen said...

Loved Shawn of the Dead. Otherwise, horror films have always been baffling to me.

Fellow nanowrimo-er, here we go!

tinker said...

Ah, you know I'm a sucker for lists! Even lists of Horror and the dead, Dead, DEAD!!

Good luck, Pacian! I have perfect confidence in you during this race - I have 9 more minutes till I can begin on this side of the world - you're probably hundreds of words into the thing already!

Pacian said...

you're probably hundreds of words into the thing already!

I slept first. I'm just about to start...

susanna_gordon@hotmail.com said...

Shaun of the Dead is my favourite (spoof) horror movie! Budabudabudabuda...(zombie groan)...

Michelle said...

I don't watch horror, but I am intrigued by Perfect Blue.

Pacian said...


See, I'd call it a horror comedy rather than a horror spoof. In any case, be sure to check out the trailers for Hot Fuzz that I linked to here.


Obviously it's up to you, but please bear in mind that was the only one of my five that got its own caveat. Kon has directed a couple of lovely non-horror films, that I can happily recommend: Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers.

Michelle said...

Hmmm. I read about Perfect Blue on Wikipedia, and was intrigued by the comment,"it portrays a negative viewpoint of popular culture"...sounds right up my alley, except for the darkness, perhaps. Thanks for recommending the others.

Michelle said...

By the way, you've probably seen Grave of the Fireflies? That one moved me to tears. War is the true horror.

Pacian said...

Ah yes, with Fireflies I made the mistake of thinking that 'Studio Ghibli' = 'just like Miyazaki'. Miyazaki has done death and destruction plenty of times, but he always manages to do it in a way that's sad but not upsetting. If I'd known how bleak Fireflies was going to be, I probably wouldn't have watched it.

Isao Takahata is a lot like Satoshi Kon, though, in that they both seem to be trying to defy received wisdom of what an animated film should be like.

While we're running the gamut of upsetting cartoons, there's also Raymond Briggs' When the Wind Blows, a British, Thatcher-era animation about a cute elderly couple dying from radiation poisoning while trying to follow government instructions that they were told would save their lives during a nuclear war. I saw a thirty second clip of this and it was enough to freak me out.

Maybe I'm just too sensitive...

Michelle said...

That last one brings to mind the "duct tape" advice that our government gave us in case of terrorist attack. Apparently sealing off windows with duct tape will prevent all sorts of horrors.

I don't know why I have to feed my war horrors. I'm sensitive too.

I'm also a wuss. I can't watch those others that you put down. I'm too squeamish!