Friday Fun

Friday Fun: Five Films That Frighten

As we get closer to Hallowe’en, I find myself thinking, at this time of year, I enjoy an extra special glow around scary movies. To me, a good film is a good film, regardless of genre, and I watch movies all the time, so why do I turn into a 10 year old approaching Hallowe’en and feel the need to have myself a good old fright fest? I don’t know, but it’s fun… and on Hallowe’en you also get to eat all the candy leftover from the trick-or-treaters.
Yeah… “leftover”…

Can’t claim to be giving you the ‘Top Five’ or the ‘Best Five of All Time’ or any such grand claims. These are simply five films that frighten, as the title suggests.

THE EXORCIST: In that some movies affect you because they’re primal in some way and speak to your lizard brain, I believe this film is the cultural equivalent of that in a Judeo-Christian based society. In other words, it’s just unnerving to watch a kid get ‘sicker’ and have medical science fail her until her mother gives up and calls a priest. The Legion of voices. Innocence corrupted IS horrifying.

THE EXORCIST III: No this is not a joke. A movie with roman numerals after the title is good and it is a true sequel to The Exorcist. Apart from the fact that it’s anchored by the great performances of Ed Flanders as a lovely priest and best friend to George C Scott (in the other great performance) as a broken cop whose core cynicism doesn’t allow him to have religious faith — it has a scene so genuinely scary, I get the willies sitting here referring to it in type. It’s in a hospital, very late at night, after a prolonged quiet build of tension. The scary ‘punchline’ when it happens is not what we see onscreen in that moment; it’s the sudden, genuine fright we get in the split second we see an action and realize what is about to happen. (I nearly wet my pants and shudder thinking of it even now.)

ALIEN: Sure it’s Sci-Fi, but it’s also your classic gothic haunted house ghost story, with its key players getting picked off one by one. It’s just that in this case the house is set in space and the ghost is a scaly alien. For God’s sake, get out of there Dallas!

SUSPIRIA: It’s a great example of Italian *giallo cinema set in a dance academy where an American Ballet student realizes things are horribly wrong, perhaps because the school is run by coven of witches. It has images and a feeling tone that are the stuff of nightmares.

PSYCHO: I know you don’t need me to tell you about Psycho if you’re reading this post. But Psycho. Mother. The shower scene. Anthony Perkins’ performance and that swinging bare lightbulb in the cellar at the climax. That moment unnerves me every time. I mean, Jesus.

So. Only five that frighten for Friday Fun. Plenty of time in future posts for HALLOWE’EN, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE BIRDS….

*Giallo cinema is ‘yellow’ cinema and was more commonly used to refer to erotic crime films, probably from the lurid yellow covers of pulp novels. Gialli refers to any kind of thriller to Italian speakers. To English speakers it means Italian psychological thrillers or “thrilling all’italiana” that has evolved into horror.

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