Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Horrorfest 2007 (STL 58)

Every year around Hallowe'en, wifey and I curl up on the couch and watch a few horror movies. I kind of like horror movies--they can be exquisitely crafted, beautifully composed, and, thanks to creative scoring and sound design, incomparably moody. Nevertheless, we don't see that many during the course of a year. Aside from our seasonal viewing, we might only see one or two other horror movies a year, or none. Unless you count Snakes on a mf plane or Pan's labyrinth, I doubt if we saw any last year, aside from our Hallwe'en goodies, The Wicker Man (original British version, please) and the Dario Argento movie Deep Red. This year's batch was a Hammer film starring Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasance called The Satanic Rites of Dracula. It was rather dull, and the plot was somewhat like a middling episode of Angel in the way it mixes vampirism, corporate intrigue, and science fiction. The hired heavies in this movie are hilarious. They are typical mustachioed 70's dudes in sheepskin vests, that look like they were made out of their Trans-Am seat covers. Much better was Suspira and Halloween. Suspira is not as good as the Dario Argento film we saw last year (Deep Red), which relied more on suspense than the supernatural elements and gore of Suspira. (There's an evil witch, and a close up of a heart getting stabbed, if you want the specifics.) Wife puts her finger on Argento when she calls him the Italian DePalma (which only now sounds funny and redundant). They're both Hitchcockian (with a dash of Fellini), with deliberate and vivid imagery and a tightly controlled camera. By far the best of the three was John Carpenter's Halloween. All three of the qualities I mentioned earlier--craft, composition, and mood--are abundant in this movie. The horror comes from the background--of course it does, always--which remains still and empty most of the time, but is several times subtly violated by the affectless mask of Michael Myers, an inexplicable and incomprehensible evil. My favorite scenes are of the house across the way, observable by Jamie Lee Curtis. It's dark out but the porch is well lit. Several times Michael Myers comes around the corner, slowly and malevolently, but often it's just a still and horrible suburban night.

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