HOLLYWOOD—The month of October is upon us, and you know what that means, Halloween and all things spooky. I did have a conversation recently about the fascination with horror flicks, especially during the Fall season. I will admit, I can watch them year-round, but with exceptions, but there is peak in the months of September and October. My fascination with the genre started as a kid because it was the thing my parents noted I could NOT watch. There is indeed a reason certain flicks are rated R. It is not just about the language, sexual content/nudity, but violence.
A vast majority of horror flicks, especially those released in the 1980s had a massive element of violence that was just a bit over the top. Slightly gruesome to a point that it churned your stomach in the worst way possible. At the same time, I want to ensure to make this crystal clear, horror is not about violence, it is about suspense. A good horror film delivers a setting that is realistic, yet haunting. You can immerse yourself into the story and the suspense continues to build throughout the film, it is not your run-of the mill flick where you know precisely what is going to unfold before it unfolds.
With that said, two of my favorite horror flicks of all time are John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween” and Ridley’s Scott’s “Alien.” “Halloween” is iconic because as someone recently pointed out, there is barely any blood in that flick and Carpenter utilized that camera in a way that really heightened the suspense in that movie that continued to get better with each minute. The climax epic, the ending, leaves you speechless, that mask, iconic, and the music, the scariest thing ever crafted in the genre. If you’re planning to go into horror filmmaking, this movie is a must-see when it comes to studying technique and simplicity.
Another classic for me emerges in the 70s, and Scott’s 1979 classic “Alien.” When we talk about suspense, “Alien” does it top tier in my opinion that I have yet to see captured with any film in the franchise or genre since. A creature unlike any other boards a space craft and it unleashes pure terror for the crew, as secrets and surprises culminate.
That chest-bursting scene is relenting. The air ducts scene involving Dallas, it is so wonderfully crafted by Scott you become immersed no matter how many times you watch it. Our heroine is Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who became a badass and icon in the genre especially after the sequel “Aliens.” Do I think “Aliens” is a superior sequel? Yes, but it depends on what you like. It totally lacks the suspense of the first flick, but the action and mayhem that the sequel delivers the notion of being bigger and bolder than its predecessor, it totally excels.
I’m using those two flicks to prove a point, people like being scared, which is odd because why would you. I know I’m not the only person who has watched a classic horror flick in a dark room, home alone. More people do it than we’d like to admit and it has to deal with that adrenaline rush. We like the notion of seeing the adrenaline burst and thinking how we might react if we were placed in those situations. How would we maneuver a battle with the killer? Would we scream, fight back, go out the front door, go upstairs, hide in an obvious spot, grab a weapon, save a friend or family member or save ourselves, the list goes on and on.
Kids are drawn to the genre because we were told at such a young age you can’t watch and because of that, it makes you want to watch it that much more. Your curiosity is peaked and once it’s peaked it is hard to stop it. Me personally, would I allow my child to watch horror flicks? NO, there is a reason the brain is not ready to process some of that. When I think the child’s age, I will consider it, but before a certain age, not happening, not at all. True horror is meant to invoke fear, not disgust and stomach churning, perhaps that is something these filmmakers of today need a lesson in.