Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Few Good Films

I don’t particularly seek horror movies, nor do I reject them unconditionally as I’ve heard other people doing. What I like is a good movie, well directed and well acted, with “something” to interest me. What is that little something? A twist, an intriguing idea, an unusual story or character, an element of atmosphere, etc., etc. It could be any genre. Give me a good horror movie and I’ll go for it anytime.

Probably the ultimate test for a movie is that of Time. How well does it age? Does it still ring true after its context has dissolved in the corresponding ‘ties? That is the fifties, the seventies, etc… There are some that do and some that don’t. Those that do can be seen and seen again for they will not loose their freshness; they will maintain their capacity to make us feel, be it joy, fear, sadness…

Moreover, what matters most is not what various reviewers have said about a movie, but how it appeals to you, what chord of your soul it strikes.

The images I’ve shown over the last four posts come from three movies and a TV-series made just for my heart…

Gliding along the wall in the dark, this is Cesare, the somnambulist, obeying again his master’s orders in “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1919) a masterpiece of German expressionism, by Robert Wiene. Here’s a closer look at Cesare…








And this is Mina Harker (or Ellen Hutter as she was called in this movie) awaiting her husband’s return (or does she sense another’s call?…) in “Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horror” from 1922, another masterpiece of German expressionism, by F. W. Murnau. Count Orlock (played by Max Schreck – what a perfect name! – Schreck means fear in German) remains, in my opinion, one of the best vampire figures in the history of cinema.

In “The Host,” episode 2x02 (the second episode of the second season of The X-Files) which aired on September 25th, 1994, Mulder and Scully are chasing the Flukeman through the sewers of New Jersey. A classic! And this is who they’re up against:

Finally, “Sleepy Hollow,” the 1999 film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, is another one very much to my liking. A bit gory at times, with all those heads chopped off and all the blood that keeps spurting into Ichabod Crane’s face, but with plenty of the right “ingredients”. I simply like it! And I was watching it again, late on Halloween’s night… Delightful!

19 comments:

bunnygirl said...

I love The Cabinet of Dr Caligari! The sets in particular fascinate me. They're like what Dr Seuss would've created, if Dr Seuss did horror.

Nosferatu is an interesting flick in its own right, but espeically because of the way the vampire has changed over time. Ol' Nosferatu is a far cry from Lestat! If I were a student majoring in communications, I could easily get a term paper over the evolution of the vampire in film!

Emperor Ropi said...

I hate horror movies because I hate blood.

jason evans said...

You mean I got that guess right?! Yes!

Sleepy Hollow was very creepy, but I tend to resent when movies create a whole novel-length story out of what is essentially a short story. Christopher Walken is the best, though.

Ello said...

Well perhaps because I am a huge Johnny Depp fan, but I love Sleepy Hollow. I think it is an awesome scary and funny horror film. Very well done. The other more contemporary one that I would put up there as a classic is Sixth Sense. I see dead people is one of the most repeated lines now of movie history.

Jeff said...

"The Exorcist" still heads my list as the all-time scariest movie.

I really liked your Little Halloween Triptych. Good writing!

Thanks for visiting by my blog and the kind words about my Halloween story.

SzélsőFa said...

I agree: it is not the taste of famous reviewers, but the ring the film echoes in your own head that counts.
(I hope I got this sentence right)...

Re:the proof of time. I think a movie can be extremely interesting and useful at one point of someone's life and be completely meaningless some years later on.
But still, there's the memory to recall...'this was the film I watched over and over again when this and that happened'...

I've taken a habit of watching old movies at YouTube - while they are not removed...
Some old movies are still excellent.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Mine is far too vivid an imagination to be able to cope with horror movies, good or bad. If ever I watch a horror movie, you can rest assured I will have nightmares and those just aren't worth it.

You said, "what matters most is not what various reviewers have said about a movie, but how it appeals to you, what chord of your soul it strikes." So, so true - and this applies to all art and is something we were talking about this morning - I think I must blog about it since it so often makes for a controversial topic! :-)
xx

Jon M said...

Nosferatu that is a creepy film despite its age it just looks chilling.

Vesper said...

Bunnygirl, yes, quite an interesting decor in "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". Anne Rice's vampires are elegant, erotic - you could probably fall in love with them while they're drinking your blood. Nosferatu is different - you can smell the unholy earth on his clothes, and the rats; no romanticised image here - only death and decay...

Emperor Ropi, I don't like blood either, but horror doesn't necessarily equate the sight of blood. There could be much subtler kinds of horror.

Jason, yes, you were right!!!
Even worse, for me, is a novel that could've stayed a short-story.

Ello, you're talking (or writing!) to a huge fan of Johhny Depp! :-) Scary and funny - you're right.

Jeff, "The Exorcist", oh, yes!
Thank you for visiting and for your words of appreciation. Do come back! :-)

Szelsofa, you're right, we can sometimes associate a certain movie with a certain moment in our lives.
You can watch many old movies on Google too. But unfortunately it's hard to recapture the atmosphere in front of your PC.

Don't watch them, Vanilla! :-) You're right, it's not worth it if it doesn't give you pleasure. For me, I guess, this fear is part of the pleasure. I remember being scared when I first read "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, and that went on for several days. It doesn't help that one has a vivid imagination... :-) xx

Jon, indeed it is creepy. I'm amazed at the impact this movie can still have after so many years.

Dave F. said...

Hitchcock's PSYCHO is one of the very best horror flicks. It changed the way we see movies because of the "early death" and the linearity of the story.

I like it better than THE EXORCIST because there's no real violence in PSYCHO (not one drop or one puncture. It's all in your mind). The Exorcist is a real assault on the senses.

A good, scary story is "WAIT UNTIL DARK." It's not halloween creepy bloody, but so deliciously scary.
A blind woman accidently comes into possession of illegal drugs and the dealer comes after her to get them back. It builds slowly to a real screaming climax. If you're scare of the dark or being alone, don't even think about watching it.

Bernita said...

The closest I'll come to watching horror is CSI.

Wilf said...

Good choices. I prefer spooky rather than horror, although that x-files episode is top.
Addy

Shameless said...

I've never really been big on horror films ... but I like one that has a good story that goes deeper than the plain horror. :-)

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Nosferatu was a funny flick-- actually, it gave me nightmares and I saw it in broad daylight! There was a cute story with it. My dad was watching it in the basement where my bedroom was and I happen to have been a sleep walker. I was not much to look at without make-up as a teenager-- pasty white face, wild hair, then I was in a black flannel nightgown. It was pitch black except for the TV and the door to the rec room was closed and I apparently walked in at the perfect moment and my dad said that he screamed, spilling popcorn all over himself. I did not wake up however and mumbled something and he told me to go back to bed. Do you know when I might have walked in? It's been so long since I saw it!

Jon M said...

I like Sleepy Hollow too, just for the name Ichabod Crane.

colleen said...

I don't like horror anymore. Used to. But I love a thriller which seems different to me. And it HAS to be a good well written story.

Did they ever figure out how to end XFiles? Seems like the wrote themselves into a tangled corner.

Vesper said...

Dave, "Psycho" - yes, I'd forgotten about it. Brilliant! There is blood though in it; I read that Hichcock chose chocolate to represent the blood in the bathroom, as it's a B&W film.
I'll try to find "Wait Until Dark".

Hmmm, Bernita, but you're writing supernatural stories, aren't you? Or is it all about the definition of "horror" as you were discussing in one of your posts?

Addy, yeah, you said it: spooky's better!

Seamus, the good story is a must!

Tea N. Crumpet, thank you for visiting!
Wow, that was scary! The scene? Probably when Hutter (Harker) is waiting terror-struck in his room, in Count Orlock's castle, and Nosferatu is coming to him... He's behind the door... The door has no lock... The door is opening...

Jon, Ichabod - you gotta love it!

Colleen, it's very strange about the X-Files. I know many episodes by heart, but I couldn't tell you how it ended. I recorded the ending and I watched it later. I just couldn't watch it at the time. A very tangled corner, as you said, disappointing, but, in fact, how could they have ended it?
I've recently bought the complete series on DVD and plan to watch it again.

James said...

strange i found this whilst wandering about the web reading various writerly links. i heard herzog introduce "nosferatu" six months ago and there was a question/answer session afterwards. what a scary movie, truly disturbing! his stories of making it were astounding. love your blog....

Vesper said...

James, thank you for visiting. You're thinking of Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (or Nosferatu the Vampyre as it was called in the USA) the film by Werner Herzog. You're right, very scary and disturbing! Thanks for your kind words.