Photo credit: imdb.com
It’s that time of the year. The tricks, the treats, the shivers and the pumpkins. It’s Halloween.
They are a lot of events all over Nottingham, but if you are not keen on fairs, parties or other glittery events and if you prefer pop-corn to candies, onesies to fancy costumes, you’ll probably enjoy a movie or five during the week… and you are definitely a good person.
Here are five movies perfect for Halloween. If you are already a horror fan, no surprises there, only classics and obvious ones. This list is more for those who wait this period to shiver on their couch with their loved ones before tearing them apart and making a nice lamp with their skulls.
The Babadook, 2014
Directed By Jennifer Kent
After the death of her husband in a car accident on the way to the hospital during her labour, Amelia is rising her son, Samuel, alone. That alone could be a horror story, couldn’t it? I mean a child is like a human but smaller, messier and with a tendency to put their Legos parts all over the house with the only purpose to laugh when you walk on them.
On top of that, Samuel appears to be quite perturbated (for the boring normal people around him): he believes in an imaginary monster to the point he builds weapons to protect himself and his mother from it. The least we can say is that the young woman doesn’t cope really well with her job, her motherhood and, most of all, the way people see her and judge her.
One night, Samuel asks her mother to read him a pop-up storybook: Mr Babadook. Well, that’s the movie’s title, so guess what?
The Babadook is one of the most terrifying movies of these last years. Not only because it’s a Monster movie, but because Jennifer Kent plays with basics fears in a subtle way, suggesting more than showing things. The movie is not only a good monster movie, it also speaks wisely about grief and what it is like to be a single parent.
And what it is like to be the child of that parent.
Jennifer Kent is an Australian actress, writer and director, and The Babadook is her first movie. She has talked a lot about the lack of female directors in horror cinema and proves, if needed, that you don’t really care about whether it is a man or a woman who scares you to death and makes you feel like there’s, maybe, after all, something behind this damn ajar door. This shadow is moving, isn’t it?
The Witch, 2015
During the 17th century, a whole family is banished from a Puritan Plantation due to a difference in interpretation of the Bible (well, who can blame them?). And when I say “a whole family”, I mean it: William, the patriarch, his pregnant wife Katherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb and twins Mercy and Jonas (creeeeepy twins, believe me). Katherine soon gives birth to Samuel, their fifth child. One day, while Thomasin is playing with little Sam, the baby disappears. It is soon believed by the family that a witch did it. Probably for eating him, of making a nice bedside rug or other witchy things. Who knows?
Whilst the tension keeps growing, Thomasin is accused by the twins – they believe she is the actual witch.
The witch has been said to be annoying by people who think that torture porn is the only good way to make a horror movie. But hey! They are some violent deaths, a now worldly famous goat (try to google Black Phillip) and all that in Old 17th century English. But most importantly, the movies establish a paranoid mood, a really insidious (no, not the movie) horror growing very slowly until the final which I’m obviously not going to tell you, you filthy lazy readers.
Again, this is the very first movie of Robert Eggers, who also wrote the story, and it is said that his next one should be a remake of the 1922 Murnau’s classic Nosferatu. After seeing The Witch, I’m totally in and eager to see what the young director is up to.
Directed By Bernard Rose
Well, let’s face it, Halloween is all about the Boogeyman and candies. So I can’t see a more accurate movie for this occasion than Candyman.
Candyman is the adaptation of the short story of Clive Barker (who also produced the film) “the forbidden” (read it!) by director Bernard Rose who also directed Immortal Beloved, a historical romance with Beethoven in it (well actually it’s Gary Oldman playing Beethoven, because, you know… movie). I didn’t see this, but I know someone who knows someone who said that it was a very good film. And these days, it’s enough to make some conclusion about a movie, ain’t it?
Helen Lyle, an academic student in Chicago is researching urban legends. She hears about a local one, The Candyman, which is said to be summoned by saying his name 5 times while facing a mirror. The Candyman will then slaughter the summoner with a rusted hook. You’re going to say: nobody sane enough will try that! But, hey! We are in a horror movie, let’s get some blood!
Actually that’s more subtle than that: Helen investigates the story and her research leads her in Cabrini-Green, a housing project known for its numerous incidents and sudden deaths. Helen then decides to write a thesis on how the residents of this ghetto use Candyman legend to cope with their hard lives there…
Candyman is kind of bewitching: its ambience, the Philip Glass’ soundtrack, the Tony Todd’s quiet charisma, everything makes this movie feels like a dream or a fairytale. Rosedoesn’tt use a lot of violent scenes, we don’t see the deaths but their aftermath. The movie is a slowburn, but it’s the kind of movie that worms its way into your mind and stays with you long after you’ve seen it. And of course, afterward, I bet you’ll play “let’s see who dares summoning the Candyman” in front of your bathroom mirror.
Drag Me to Hell, 2009
Directed by Sam Raimi
If you’re not into Horror movies, you probably know Sam Raimi after his Spiderman’s trilogy (the good ones, not the reboot, the reboot 2 or the re-reboot) but if you’re on the dark side of the movies, you know the guy for the Evil Dead trilogy. And if you are old enough, you’ll have seen it in the 90s (alongside Peter Jackson’s Braindead) and it blew your mind and nothing have been the same ever since. And you’ve been praying the dark lord for years wishing a new horror movie from Sam Raimi.
When Drag Me to Hell arrived you knew you had lost your soul by doing so, but it was well worth it.
Los Angeles, Christine Brown hopes to be promoted in her bank and to do so, she needs to prove that she can make tough decisions. That’s why when an old gypsy woman comes and asks her an extension to her mortgage payment she refuses it. Not without remorse, but hey! That’s how it works.
The problem is that’s the old lady turns out to be a witch and puts a curse on the young woman: after three days of torment, she’s going to be… got it… Dragged to Hell. See, titles are sometimes not so dumb.
Of course, Christine is going to try and find some help to stop the curse.
There’s no real bad guy (or girl) in Drag Me to Hell, only people crushed by the system whether it is the old gypsy woman or the young banker who just tries to do what she has been asked by her boss to keep her job.
So, the next time your boss asks you something you morally disagree with, maybe you’ll think twice after seeing this movie.
Directed by Clive Barker
Remember Clive Barker? He was the guy who wrote the short story behind Candyman. Here he comes again. Oh and he’s British, from Liverpool.
Hellraiser is a self-adaptation of his novella, the Hellbound Heart (Read it!). The movie is slightly different from the book, but nobody can say anything about it because it’s Barker’s work. That closes the debate about adaptation and it’s a good thing.
Frank Cotton a, let’s say, kind of adventurer, buys a mysterious puzzle box which is said to open the door to new delights once solved. And Franck is keen on delights. That’s why, once back in the family house, he solves the puzzle and then summons the Cenobites, some extra-dimensional beings with a tendency to blur the boundaries between pleasure and pain. Cotton’s new friends tear him apart and everything disappears in the Cenobite’s dimension as nothing had happened.
Not long after, Larry, Franck’s brother, move in the house with his second wife, Julia. The woman had an affair with Franck just before the wedding and is still obsessed by her dark handsome brother in law. When Larry cuts his hand carrying a bed up the stairs, the blood resurrects Franck. Well, a part of Franck: for being complete again like Dave Grohl in the Pick of Destiny, Franck needs more blood. When Julia finds out Franck is in the house, she agrees to find him what he needs so that they can be reunited. For doing so she’s going to attract men in the house.
Hellraiser was produced for less than one million dollar in 1986 and has generated a whole franchise of ten films (needless to say that they aren’t all good) and Pinhead, its main monster, has become an horror icon alongside Freddy Kruegger and Jason Voorhees… Even if he’s quite different of the 80s’ depiction of horror movie villains: he’s not alone and he’s neither totally mute like Jason or overly talkative like Freddy. He’s not really even a killer. And…he’s British. That says a lot.
Of course, I could have picked many other movies for this list. But let’s save some pleasure for another time of the year when it’s nice to watch horror movies: Christmas
By Fabrice Gagos