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Friday, October 19, 2012

203

I Never Meta-Horror I Didn't Like

Why do I love horror movies so much? Partly, of course, it is because I am emotionally unwell: I really enjoy being afraid. I have spent most of my life searching for the Perfect Scare, the Holy Grail of nightmares, that ineffable something that will truly, deeply, life-ruiningly terrify me. (And no, you guys, it is not The Exorcist. People need to stop suggesting The Exorcist. It's a perfectly good movie, but it didn't scare me when I was thirteen and it doesn't scare me now.)

But beyond the adrenaline-on-crack thrill of a really good scare, one of the things I love about horror is that it's so darn predictable. There are so many rules governing who will die, and in what order, and what the Shocking Twist will turn out to be. To some people that won't sound appealing at all, I know. But to someone who compulsively identifies patterns, who finds guidelines deeply satisfying, who always wants to know how the magician does the trick — to me, in other words — a horror movie is like a big gory puzzle just waiting to be put together. (Wait, normal people don't find puzzle analogies exciting, do they?)

At some point, filmmakers figured out how much fun it can be to dissect horror, and they started doing it themselves, giving rise to a generation of hybrid meta-horror comedies, scary movies that play with and undermine horror movie tropes. Sometimes they're not all that scary, but they're often very funny and occasionally smart too. Start with these:

Scream. This is the classic, the point in history at which horror movies first became self-aware. I should admit to some bias, given that my relationship with this movie is deeper and longer-lasting than almost any friendship I've ever had, but for real, Scream is spectacular — consistently funny while still delivering scares, or at least jumps. If you don't know the drill, a killer who's really into horror movies puts on a ghost mask and starts hacking people to bits. Everyone involved is pop-culture savvy enough to understand what's going on, so they're making an effort to play by the rules — don't have sex, don't ever say “I'll be right back,” and for God's sake don't run up the stairs when you should be going out the front door. (Oops.) In the sequels, the events of the first movie inspire a series of flicks called Stab, which serve as inspiration for each new generation of Ghostfaces. Art imitates life imitating art; the layers of meta quickly become impenetrable.

For all Scream's playfulness, though, there are a few horror tropes it doesn't joke around with. For one thing, it's not coy about inhabiting the everything-happens-for-a-reason moral universe beloved by earlier slasher movies. Nothing is random, even the most violent dismemberment or death by garage door. Ghostface doesn't just go out and start stabbing — like Michael and Jason before him, he believes his actions are justified. Also, as in almost all horror, the Final Girl is utterly sacrosanct. No matter how many sequels you make, you cannot kill Sidney Prescott. After the nuclear apocalypse, it will just be Sidney and the cockroaches chowing down on some Twinkies. 

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. In some ways this movie is the anti-Scream. Instead of everyone knowing that they're in a horror movie, the joke is that the ostensible villains are the last to figure it out. Tucker and Dale are just a couple of hillbillies hanging out, with occasional flashes of homoeroticism, at their falling-down vacation home in the woods. Unfortunately, a group of teenagers camping nearby have started dying in mysterious ways, and believe that Tucker and Dale are murderers picking them off. While the two buddies are trying to figure out where all these bodies keep coming from, the college kids are preparing for a fight to the death.

Tucker & Dale is not as clever as Scream, having pretty much just the one joke. It's barely a horror movie at all — there are no real scares and not much tension, just a series of gory, improbable, thoroughly accidental deaths. Really, it's more like a romantic comedy full of wacky misunderstandings and hijinks, along with chain saws and gore. But we do still get the requisite third-act plot twist where we find out that someone has a dark past, and all of this is happening for a Deeper Reason, which is standard (though subverted) horror fare. The climactic showdown is goofy but satisfying. And for once, in the end, the hillbilly gets the girl.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only slasher movie villain mockumentary in existence. If I'm wrong, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me about it. While the eponymous murderer prepares to go on a rampage, an aspiring journalist and her film crew follow him around, interviewing him and his friends to get the inside story. Leslie selects a virginal Final Girl (whom he calls the Survivor Girl, but come on, that's not the preferred nomenclature) and does “so much cardio,” because he has to be able to do that thing where it looks like he's walking slowly but he can still catch up to someone fleeing in terror. He also demonstrates his ability to feign death, which will definitely not become relevant later on in the movie.

This is, from a “take it apart and see how it works” perspective, one of the most satisfying scary movies I've ever seen. Everything that happens Leslie has carefully coordinated, and its significance is explained. As he sets up the house where his bloodbath will occur, for instance, he points out the tunnel of trees through which his Survivor Girl must emerge before their final confrontation, which will symbolize her rebirth via suffering. And when the film finally turns from a documentary into a straightforward horror movie, the fact that the heroes know exactly what's coming only makes it scarier, because Leslie has thought of everything. (Including what will happen if the Final Girl, who has to be a virgin, is caught in flagrante hella delicto with some dude.) Whatever they try to outsmart him, he's already expecting it and has planned for it. Even an “Ahab,” or nemesis, played by Robert goddamn Englund can't derail his diabolical machinations.

The Cabin in the Woods. If you don't know, act like you know. It is both the funniest and legitimately scary, plus it involves Joss Whedon, whom you may have heard is the most important thing to happen to movies since the invention of the close-up shot of someone's face that pulls back to reveal that something creepy is behind them. Five college kids (no horror movie synopsis has ever started with “A group of retired airline pilots...”) drive out to the titular cabin, which belongs to somebody's cousin. After the requisite truth-or-dare, they go exploring in the basement and inevitably raise a bunch of creepy zombies who want to torture them to death. Always fun!

The twist — well, sort of a twist (spoiler alert?); the audience knows all along, though it takes the protagonists a while to figure it out — is that all their actions are being monitored and controlled by a massive, sinister organization. The puppeteers intend to offer up the kids as a ritualistic sacrifice to appease ancient, evil gods, as they've done annually for countless generations. All the horror tropes (the gnarled old dude who warns them away from the cabin, the gratuitous sex scene, the strategically unsound decision to split up) are carefully manipulated, because the hell-gods are old and cranky and like things to be a certain way. The virgin has to die last because the gods command it to be so, which is slightly more of an explanation than “that's just how we do.” In Cabin, unlike the other movies listed, the Final Girl does actually die — but she takes out every single son of a bitch who helped kill her, along with the entire rest of the human race, so I feel like we can count that as a win.

Enjoy your movie night! Just remember: stay with a buddy, don't have sex, don't do drugs, stay out of the woods, don't go into the cellar, don't pick up the phone, don't run with chain saws, and whatever you do, do not read the fuckin' Latin.

Lindsay Miller refuses to go into the basement, because that's where the murderers are.



203 Comments / Post A Comment

EpWs

I'm drawing a line in the fuckin' sand here--do not read the Latin!

garli

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Good work zombie arm.

jhonsons

HAHAHA! Good job everyone!!!@j

Decca

I'll just be over here watching Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion again.

Decca

@Decca But Lindsay, if you're looking for the Holy Grail of nightmares, have you seen INLAND EMPIRE? Terrifying.

laserbeams

@Decca Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion is a valid choice, though. That dance sequence at the end... amazing.

tea tray in the sky.

"Would you excuse me? I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood."

SarahP

Despite being an avid lover of horror movies, I still have not seen Scream! What do you think, still worth seeing? Or is it now dated and/or imitated so many times that it wouldn't be worth it?

Emby

@SarahP Ehhh still worth seeing, but don't have TOO many expectations. That would be my advice. Go in seeing it like the first time you saw Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street: classics that influenced the genre, and to be appreciated on that level.

Hellcat

@SarahP Worth it, IMO. I loved it when it was new and still there are a few good jumpy-scary moments for me. Plus, it's fun to identify with the little tropes and homage stuff that horror-movie fans know all about. And Rose McGowan is her normal-looking self of yore!

laserbeams

@SarahP Totally worth it! And it means you get to watch and appreciate Scream 4, which is awesome.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@SarahP : The last time I watched it, I was like "how did I miss how old these actors are, considering they're supposed to be high-schoolers?" And then I realized, duh, that's exactly what horror movies do.

iknowright

@SarahP Absolutely worth it! That movie made me far more dedicated to the careers of Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich than anyone should ever be, really.

laserbeams

@iknowright Oh, wow, I thought it was just me. Matthew Lillard is so awesome, though. It took me years to find a copy of Dead Man's Curve and I was so obsessed with it.

iknowright

@laserbeams Hah I still have that movie on VHS!!

frigwiggin

@iknowright @laserbeams

He is entirely the greatest thing in Thirteen Ghosts.

laserbeams

@frigwiggin That's not hard, though. That movie is... not good.

Emby

The original B&W Night of the Living Dead scared the bejeesus out of me when I was younger, and it still inspires in me a kind of unease that I don't get with most modern horror movies. It's unsettling more than it is outright scary, but I think that makes it even more effective.

olivebee

@Emby That is one of my all-time favorite horror movies. It holds a particularly special place in my heart because I am from Pittsburgh (where Romero filmed all his movies), but in general, it's just a good movie. Plus, the protagonist is awesome.

laserbeams

@Emby A lot of black and white movies feel creepier than colour ones for some reason. Especially if they know how to use shadows. (Which Night of the Living Dead totally does.)

Sella Turcica

@laserbeams For creepy, unsettling black and white I really appreciated Carnival of Souls. It's a little slow in places, predictable but the soundtrack makes up for it and just eerie. I also really loved, loved, loved Black Christmas. It's gory and creepy and has a totally non-horror movie cast.

Amphora

@Emby They're coming to get you, Barbara!

Poor Barbara, I always thought that's how I'd react to a horror movie situation - just go catatonic.

twinkiesandwine

@Emby Try watching it in as part of a interactive show-like-thing where actors dressed as zombies roam the theater, groping at you.

Trudy Kockenlocker

Oo! There was an indie a few years ago called "How To Be a Serial Killer" that would be right up your abandoned, dank alley. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1038971/

feartie

@Trudy Kockenlocker Man Bites Dog, anyone? (urgh)

Emby

I would like to see a lot more horror movies on the big screen, but I cannot for the life of me get my friends to go see them in the theater with me. So I almost exclusively watch horror movies at home, which I think ruins some of the fun. I like the crowd experience.

Exception: Cabin in the Woods. I basically dragged my gf to that, and she wound up loving it, but somehow that has not earned me enough credit for her to go see other non-Whedon horror movies. Hmph.

Snicker-snack!

@Emby My bf doesn't like horror movies and I'm too lazy to coordinate with friends, so I go by myself. It's okay, but I do sometimes wish I had a friendly arm to grab during the scares.

squishycat

@Emby I honestly am not a horror fan, but I *am* a meta fan, so I enjoyed Cabin in the Woods as a piece of meta-horror and as a comedy. I didn't actually enjoy any of the parts that were scary (which, given the context, weren't frequent). It's not something that would encourage me to seek out other horror films because it doesn't resonate emotionally as a horror film.

meetapossum

Can we pretend Scream 3 never happened?

The Haunting is still my favorite horror movie.

Has anyone seen Sinister yet? I've heard good things...

Hellcat

@meetapossum I might go tonight and I have a legendary hatred of movie theaters! And then next week, I'm going to a showing of the original Halloween, which I never saw in a theater. And possibly Paranormal Activity 4. So, I better dig out my comfiest sitting-in-a-theater coat (because why are movie theaters so cold?!) and my stash of antibacterial.

Blondsak

@meetapossum I pretend that every time I marathon them (all except for the last 20 minutes, which are respectable enough to be canon).

Ditto on The Haunting. The scene with the two leading women in the room and the knocks on the walls and the breathing door.... *shudders*

Sinister was okay, not the best, but all right. I would put it above "Insidious" but below "The Omen" in terms of creepy children.

olivebee

@meetapossum I REALLY liked Sinister. I thought it was very well-thought out and developed for a horror movie, and the plot was creative. It's probably not nearly as scary in theaters as it is in your own home, but there are still boatloads of creepiness.

Hellcat

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Oooh, I would put just about everything I've ever seen above Insidious. My friends really like it but I thought it was horrible. But a bad scary movie is better than no scary movie, I suppose.

Blondsak

@Hellcat Oh, I totally agree! I just meant in terms of creepy children, not overall film. I thought the kid in that movie was the best part.

Hellcat

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Have you seen this trailer for Mama? I think it looks pretty good... though, when it comes to horror movies, my hopes are often dashed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Am7i7uM9r0

meetapossum

@Hellcat Oh gooood I have been constantly freaked out by the Mama trailer. I'll probably see it. Feral children? Demon(?) mother? Ok.

Blondsak

@Hellcat Mama, yes! I can't wait to see it! The story is based on a French short film of the same name from 2008. Here's a link to it on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F0Djyqh74o

(skip to 4 mn 15 sec in for the beginning of the short itself - and don't watch alone... seriously)

Snicker-snack!

@meetapossum I did! I thought it was creepy and smart. I didn't even figure out the twist until it was revealed and I'm someone who pretty much always figures that out early.

Hellcat

@Gussie Fink-Nottle OOOOOOOOOH! I will do that as soon as I am not at work! Haha, I tend to scream really loud when something startles me, even when I am ready for it. There's this little YouTube video of a car driving serenely along some highway with a nice landscape and trees and all that, and then... YIKES! I have watched it 900 times and, still, the screaming.

Blondsak

@Hellcat In that case, prepare for non-stop screaming for the entire last minute (it's only 3 minutes long). Then come back and tell me what you think!!!

Hellcat

@Gussie Fink-Nottle This is making me want to feign illness just so I can go home and watch it (and it's a chilly, dark, rainy day too). Oooooh!

Blondsak

@Hellcat I rewatched it when I posted it for you, and even with my cat next to me in my super-sunny apartment, I still had to go turn on all the lights afterward in the darker corners. *shivers* **again**

iknowright

@meetapossum I thought Sinister was terrible. Laughably so. And so long and boring. I saw it with my mother, who also enjoys a smarter type of horror, and about halfway through I just started apologizing to her, because it had gotten good reviews! But oh man. If we had not been in a theater we would have turned it off.

However, I think Insidious did a great job subverting the genre. A lot of unexpected things happen! But I think seeing it in the theater helped.

laserbeams

@iknowright I feel like Insidious doesn't stand up to more than one viewing, but it's really scary in the fun way while it lasts. Sinister has its scary moments, but it's really calculated, and it has absolutely no heart.

iknowright

@laserbeams Yeah, it definitely wasn't scary the second time around, but I just love how they (SPOILER) actually leave the scary house that they think is the problem, as opposed to every other scary movie where they stay till they all die.

Of course, I call that creative but then (SPOILERS AHOY) they do the exact same thing in Sinister, but I guess it didn't seem like it had the same impact for me because Insidious was (suspected) haunted-house the first half of the film, whereas Sinister was more of a wtf-ness. I really hated the whole Mr Boogie thing and saw the "twist" (with the missing kids) coming way too early. Also, when your creative budget is so low -- excessive white face makeup and very obvious photoshop -- you need to do a better job of building suspense. That scene with him walking through the dark house with the bat? It was literally rain sounds, scary music, total silence, three beats, SCARY JUMP EFFECT. I seriously counted it out and it came right when I thought it would.

I actually really love bad horror, but I'd prefer to know it's gonna suck so I can go in with the sole intent of making fun of it, as opposed to expecting to be scared/impressed and being disappointed.

laserbeams

@iknowright That scene with the bat was awful. I think that's what I mean about it being manipulative, it's all very formulaic: they set up a shot that makes you look in a certain place, they build up the scary music, and then BANG MADE YOU JUMP. And it did make me jump, and I had that kind of adrenaline reaction to what I was seeing/hearing, but I resented it because it didn't feel earned.

Insidious at least had a lot of fun with its scariness. And it felt spookier because it was kind of unexplained, which gave me the creeps for a little while afterwards. With Sinister, the series of things that needed to happen in order for me to fall victim to "Mr Boogie" (he likes to boogie?) were so incredibly specific I didn't feel spooked at all.

laserbeams

@laserbeams (Obviously I know I'm not really gonna get attacked by a horror movie monster but it's fun to feel a bit spooked sometimes. Like seven days after watching Ring.)

yo,isthisfeminist?

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Thanks for that link to the short "Mama". I have no idea how I managed to sleep last night! I love the trailer for Guillermo del Toro's film, looks like his Spanish gothic has been suitably infused with Japanese horror. Squeeeee!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I have trouble with scary movies, but I LOVED The Cabin in the Woods. I thought it was so funny.

Uumellmahaye

Best lesbian horror? HIGH TENSION! Of course....

Trudy Kockenlocker

@Uumellmahaye The Hunger, though! Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

Bambi

@Uumellmahaye Lesbian Vampire Killers. It's not so much horror as a campy Evil Dead, but with English guys and lesbian vampires, but it is Hilarious!

Hellcat

@Bambi And there's always Vampyros Lesbos. which I've never actually seen but I like the soundtrack.

sutton

I hope no one is fooled by this essay into thinking that Cabin in the Woods is remotely enjoyable to watch. Well, maybe remotely. Just be warned that it's finale qualifies as "over the top digital special effects spectacular," which, for many of us, simply means "no thanks."

Blondsak

@sutton Oh, I thought that was a great touch! The clearly-over-the-top-for-a-reason-CGI just added to The Camp.

Anninyn

@sutton I really liked it. I thought the CGI at the end really added to the ridiculous.

Mind you, I WAS very drunk.

citizenjess

@sutton *nerd alert* actually, they did as much of the movie as they could practically, but had to rely on some digital effects because of the line "there's chaos on every screen!* and spectacular, it was!

Gina@twitter

@sutton I didn't mind it until the very very end with the giant hand. All the monsters looked cool but I think they would've been better off leaving a little bit to the imagination?

laserbeams

@sutton Do you have no joy in your heart?

Snicker-snack!

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Yeah, I read the bad CGI as being consistent with the movie's theme of people being the real monsters.

EpWs

@sutton I thought it was SUPER enjoyable to watch, so there. Phbbbbbbbt. :P

yeah-elle

Nope. I am the hugest weenie ever. I just tried to watch the latest American Horror Story with some friends last night and even while I could acknowledge how silly it was, it took me foreverrrr to fall asleep.

Blondsak

@yeah-elle You're not alone. I had to turn down the volume for the present-day sections.

dtowngirl

@yeah-elle Yeah, I can't watch horror movies. I still have nightmares about 28 Weeks Later and the Japanese version of the Ring. I swear, my heart is racing right now just thinking about them. For whatever reason, though, I can watch marathons of crime shows that feature killings that are just as horrible. Go figure.

yeah-elle

@dtowngirl Me too! Why is that?? When I saw The Ring (American version, though) at 14 or 15, it totally traumatized me. Just thinking about it now makes me feel queasy. But crime or detective serials on TV? No problem. I've seen every last episode of the first few seasons of Criminal Minds, even. I don't know why it's different, but it is.

dtowngirl

@yeah-elle Maybe it's the suspense? With crime shows, you already know the people are dead. In horror movies, you're waiting for something to happen, and the suspense builds and builds. As a person who doesn't like surprises, this is my theory.

Blondsak

@yeah-elle I'm the same way (except I always do the stupid thing and watch horror films and then can't sleep). For me, it's the comfort of the tangible known (serial killers, psychopaths, scary things that I can touch, smell, etc) versus the complete discomfort of the intangible unknown (ghosts, zombies, killer clowns, etc.). Even though nobody has ever tried to murder me before, I still think I "know" that world, since I have seen its evil in RL from the sidelines. But the unknown world - the things that really do come from the imagination, or were born there - that stuff freaks me out, because I Can't Touch It. It can be as evil and unpredictable as it wants, because it's not there for me to sense anywhere outside of my crazed mind.

yeah-elle

@dtowngirl @Gussie Fink-Nottle You're both right. I think it's the known/unknown and the suspense/surprise factor. I hate surprises in real life—they usually shock me into crying, which is embarrassing but hooray for being high strung and anxious, I guess.

It's weird, because I fear home intruders, serial killers, rapists, the real types of monsters wayyyy more in real life. When I lock my doors at night and get into bed, I'm not freaked out about ghosts. But most of the time, it's the ghosty things that end up keeping me awake. Not logical, oh well.

TheLetterL

@Gussie Fink-Nottle I've tried to recognize a pattern like this in myself, but I've failed. At first, I thought it was a reality vs supernatural thing, but it's not. For example, American Horror Story creeps me out but I love it, and The Exorcist didn't bother me. On the other hand, I won't even dare try to watch The Ring or Paranormal Activity. What is my deal?!

stonefruit

@yeah-elle I got three episodes into the first season of American Horror Story and had to bounce. It was so terrifying to me, even during the middle of the day, that I had to go read re-caps of each episode before I could watch it. Connie Britton, I am so sorry but I just cannot. I just can't with this stuff.

Alas, I am a wuss.

yeah-elle

@stonefruit I also always read recaps! I have to know when the jump-outy stuff is going to be or I'll have a straight up panic attack. But then sometimes just reading the recaps will creep me out. :(

persnicketier

Good work, zombie arm!

Anninyn

I had never watched Scream until recently. Until one night, I was alone in the house, having a mild anxiety attack and I thought to myself 'This is the perfect time to watch Scream!'

And it was.

olivebee

If you love horror movies that are built more on suspense and tension than actual slash and gore stuff, you must watch House of the Devil. I was gripping the edge of my seat the entire movie....just waiting. So good.

Blondsak

I think "Drag Me to Hell" could fit in this category, too. It's not as meta as any of these films, but I think it has those moments of "we are clearly making fun of other horror films" in it that would bring it to the second-tier level, anyway.

katiemcgillicuddy

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Maybe the best time I ever had at the movies was seeing that with some buddies. It wasn't scary really, it was just super fun. The whole theater was basically laughing or yelling the entire time.

jacqueline
jacqueline

Wes Craven cut his meta-horror teeth on New Nightmare a few years before Scream. AND OH MAN IS IT EVER A GIANT TURD

Hellcat

@jacqueline Awww, I love New Nightmare. I know it's kind of crappy but I love Wes Craven (the person) and I thought it was a pretty cool premise. Now, Freddy's Dead, oy... (except for Alice Cooper!).

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Hellcat Controversial opinion alert: I think I like Freddy's Dead more. I mean, Roseanne and Tom Arnold! The 3D sequence!

Hellcat

@jacqueline Oh, don't get me wrong--if I'm sitting there doing nothing and any one of them is on the TV, I'll watch (even though I don't bust out the DVDs too often, except maybe the original)! And I had totally forgotten the 3D part until I saw it late one night last week!

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Hellcat Were you lucky enough to ever see the 3D sequence in theatres? I was too young to see it when it came out, but I think there's something funnier about watching a 3D scene in plain old 2D.

Hellcat

@jacqueline I think so--though that was a long time ago back when I saw a lot more movies in theaters because I hadn't yet become so mean and intolerant.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Hellcat The all-time best Freddy movie (except for the original, of course) is still Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Freddy bursting out of the pool, the bird exploding for no apparent reason, and so, so many gay undertones.

Hellcat

@jacqueline There's a (really long!) documentary about all the Nightmare movies and it covers all the gay-undertone stuff.

I also recently watched I Am Nancy, a documentary wherein, among other things, Heather Langenkamp strives to find out why the Nancy character isn't prevalent in horror-movie merchandising. I like her, but it was just OK.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Hellcat Yes! I watched that doc last year, isn't it the greatest? I love how the writer was like "yeah of course it was supposed to be gay." And the director was like "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Hellcat

@jacqueline Yeah, I love Nightmare on Elm Street and I love documentaries, so this was one of my favorite things (I have a lot of favorite things in this thread!). But I remember feeling sad when the actor from NoES 2 was talking about his life.

If you like horror docs (and you probably know about these already), there's Terror in the Aisles and American Nightmare. They're both good but probably really similar to each other, no that I think about it. I also love watching those countdown shows that come on at this time of year about the scariest movie moments and stuff.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Hellcat I haven't heard of either, thanks for the recommendation!

laurel

Isn't Shaun of the Dead kind of meta? Or at least knowing? That whole thing about not saying "the zed word" because that would be ridiculous?

TheLetterL

@laurel Oh, that's a good addition! (And a good movie, obviously)

The Attic Wife

@laurel Guh, SUCH a good movie, it's got a little of everything: buddy comedy, coming of age, action/adventure horror AND romantic comedy!

evil melis

Baghead fits the bill, I think.

MaggieL

@evil melis I love Baghead! The relationships are so interesting. And then it truly freaked me out.

AJ Sparkles

Funny Games? **SPOILERS** That whole shtick of leading the audience on to thinking that it will be okay (AND IT WILL NOT BE OKAY) is so self aware, it makes me squirmy. Ah, and that brutal monologue at the end where they admit to breaking all the classic rules stuck with me more than any other movie in recent history. It SHATTERED me.

Blondsak

@AJ Sparkles OMG, yes. Funny Games is amazing. The German original was especially superb.

AJ Sparkles

@Gussie Fink-Nottle I made the mistake or watching the English version first so then when I tried the original, it wasn't the same. It's like watching a new Doctor.

KatnotCat

Idle Hands! I dont even like scary movies much! Idle Hands!

laserbeams

I super-love Tucker and Dale vs Evil. I mean, yes, it only has one joke, but that one joke makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. Plus it's so sweet.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@laserbeams YES. More people in this thread need to be talking about Tucker and Dale. Jimmy from Breaker High! Cerie from 30 Rock!

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@laserbeams : HEY, COLLEGE KIDS! WE GOT YOUR FRIEND!

laserbeams

@Gef the Talking Mongoose The 'note' they leave is so brilliant. I don't think I could ever get tired of that movie.

Kulojam

@laserbeams I watched it this weekend and loved it! I fell in love a little bit with Dale and laughed through the whole thing. Such a great recommendation!

gormless

The most horrifying film I've ever seen is a French horror film called Martyrs that came out a couple years ago. If you watch a lot of horror movies, you know that the French have been pushing boundaries lately. Martyrs, though, is something else altogether. It left me breathless. It was probably the best horror film I've ever seen, but I don't think I could watch it again, and I can't necessarily recommend it to anyone else.

It's like Funny Games x 1000.

Is It a Hat?

@gormless OH GOD Martyrs D: I was queasy and disturbed for hours after watching that. NEVER AGAIN.

AJ Sparkles

@gormless AND QUEUED. (Thank you!(?))

Blondsak

@gormless I got 3/4 of the way through and then had to stop. I went online to read what happens at the end, and am SO GLAD I didn't keep watching. 3 years later, I would still be having nightmares I think.

gormless

@Gussie Fink-Nottle Dude. YOU NEED TO FINISH IT. THE ENDING. Seriously. THE ENDING. I think I may actually have said "Oh my God" out loud. I have not been kicked in the guts like that by the ending of a movie ... since .. like .. maybe ever.

D.@twitter

@gormless That movie. I don't usually tell people about it, b/c I would feel bad if anyone watched it b/c of me. I have a little notebook in which I jot down thoughts sometimes. The day after I saw "Martyrs" I wrote something like, "The human race is irredeemable. NOTHING we do will EVER compensate for the pain and horror we inflict on other creatures and ourselves. We cannot inject enough beauty into the world to outweigh the evil we do."

trappedinabay

@AJ Sparkles - No no no no no no no no. Take it out right this minute. I'm not even kidding. It will suck the joy out of your life. I watched it two years ago and I'm STILL scarred. I wish I'd listened to Joey Comeau: http://intosurvival.blogspot.com/2011/08/clarity-of-vision-martyrs-2008.html

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Is It a Hat?

Man Bites Dog is a French mockumentary about a serial killer!

feartie

@Is It a Hat? Ah! You beat me to it! It's so, so horrible. I prefer my gore with a bit more cheese.

laserbeams

The most recent horror movie I had an actual visceral reaction to was Excision. I'm not sure it was scary, exactly, but it was ... sad and upsetting and gory and horrifying. Which is pretty close.

dinos

Has anyone seen Pontypool? That was one of the best put-together suspense/horror movies I've seen in a long time. Really good use of radio-play style (plus radio station setting). It's streaming on Netflix.

Blondsak

@dinos Yes! It was great. IMO it's one of those movies you have to watch twice, to catch everything (the best kind of suspense/horror).

Emby

@dinos Yup. Caught it on Netflix and liked it. Very original.

laserbeams

@dinos Yup, really liked it!

hahahaha, ja.

I don't watch scary movies because I am terrible at distinguishing between fantasy and reality. The scariest movie I ever saw (based on the number of nightmares it gave me) was "Dante's Peak." VOLCANOES ARE NOTHING TO BE TRIFLED WITH

twinkiesandwine

@hahahaha, ja. My parents rented Dante's Peak for movie night sometime when I was young and that movie freaked my shit out.

Miss Maszkerádi

I have straight up never seen a horror movie. Just never got around to it in my 23 years on God's green earth. I mean at first it was my parents being overprotective and convincing me I was more of a scaredy cat than I really am, then it was a boredly self-satisfied assuredness that nothing in a movie could Really Scare Me, then I guess I just got further distracted from normal people things. I would kind of love to get scared to death by movie. However, I do quite badly with onscreen very gory violence or very graphic depictions of the aftermath thereof. That isn't scary to me, but it is nauseating and various forms of upsetting. Anyone have suggestions for a beginners guide to properly scary movies, but with a minimum of explicit blood and guts?

Blondsak

@CountessMaritza

This list will have plenty of "disturbing images" in it, but not much gore or straight-up violence that I can recall.

1. The Ring

2. The Others

3. The Exorcist (besides puke)

4. The Sixth Sense (a little bit, but only the aftermath of gore)

5. What Lies Beneath

6. There are definitely more but these are what came to mind right now

ETA

7. The Haunting (the original one)

8. Stir of Echoes

gormless

@CountessMaritza The Blair Witch Project (seriously)

Insidious

Poltergeist

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@CountessMaritza : For me, the movie that stands atop the list of "properly terrifying movies" is Pulse (there was an American remake, which I've never seen -- you want the original Japanese one, from 2001). No explicit violence, or gore. No cheap "jump out of the shadows" scares that I can recall. It doesn't need those things, because it has truly frightening ghosts and ratcheting sustained creepiness. And holy God is it a scary damn movie. You'll love it.

NB AND POSSIBLE SPOILER : There are, if I recall correctly, two on-screen suicides by gun. I remember them being essentially bloodless, but I may be super jaded. Anyway, this is not a splatter flick.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@gormless : I gotta second The Blair Witch Project. Maybe it's lost some of its luster after being parodied / imitated / referenced so many times, but I remember seeing it in the theater before all that and it was pretty damn effective.

Miss Maszkerádi

@all thanks guys! I'm fine with disturbing/creepy images, just hoping to avoid splatter, close ups on guts hanging out and torture porn......"ratcheting sustained creepiness" sounds ideal :-D

Hellcat

@Gef the Talking Mongoose It's one of my very favorites. And that whole "is it or isn't it real?" marketing campaign was so brilliant. There was even a faux documentary about it, made to look like a show you'd see on TLC or something, where loved ones and bosses and professors of the three were talking about what happened to them and what they were like before they headed into the woods.

Stir of Echoes is also a favorite. I love that movie.

I've only seen the American Pulse and it actually scared me a lot, even though I can't remember what about it had such an effect.

laserbeams

@CountessMaritza Carnival of Souls. The 1962 one. It's super unnerving and wonderful.

gormless

@Gef the Talking Mongoose the Japanese original of 'Pulse' is called 'Kairu', yes? I also recommend it. Also 'Uzumaki' in the same vein.

David Lynch movies are also right up this alley, especially Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@laserbeams : Oh yeah, big thumbs-up to Carnival Of Souls. I'm not sure it's exactly a good representative of the "horror movie" genre -- it's so sui generis -- but, man, it's worthwhile. "Unnerving" is definitely the word.

The Attic Wife

@CountessMaritza These are kind of old, but they're AMAZING. Creepy and scary, but absolutely no gore and minimal violence: recommendations:

1. The Haunting (can't be said enough)
2. The Wicker Man (original with Christopher Lee stay AWAY from the remake)
3. Psycho
4. Night of the Hunter
5. Freaks
6. The Island of Lost Souls

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@gormless : That's the one. And yes! I was about to mention Lost Highway ... Lynch's movies aren't conventional horror movies, but I can't say that they're not horror movies of some stripe. Maybe "existential horror".

Also, he totally uses his sound design in the way the best horror movies do. The bit behind the diner in Mulholland Drive is just exquisitely nerve-jangling.

laserbeams

@Gef the Talking Mongoose This may be why my quest to find more movies like Carnival of Souls is not working out so well. Although it did lead me to City of the Dead, which I love more than is entirely rational. Dig that crazy beat!

gormless

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Sound design (and use of color) is actually what scares me the most.

Argento's Suspiria is probably the best example in this vein. Like, Goblin's soundtrack to Suspiria is horrifying enough at it is, but in the context of the film, with the fucked up colors and camera angles that permeate nearly every shot, the soundtrack becomes overwhelming and alienating and horrifying. Bonus points if you get really stoned first.

In the same vein is Beyond the Black Rainbow, which I was skeptical of at first, but which COMPLETELY, TOTALLY won me over. Best horror film I've seen in a long time. Need to re-watch it.

Hellcat

@gormless I was driving home last week on a perfectly nice sunny day and a song from Suspiria came on the iPod. I will not lie--I felt absolutely horrified in broad daylight on a crowded NJ highway! That's a soundtrack that means business!

perfect_cursive

@Hellcat YES Stir of Echoes. It was (IMO, wrongfully) overshadowed by The Sixth Sense. Great sense of place - really felt like Chicago with actually believable characters in a ghost movie. Also, Paris from Gilmore Girls!

I also second Argento. Tenebrae is my personal favorite but I kind of love the completely messed up The Stendhal Syndrome, because it is genuinely disturbing.

pank

@gormless Beyond the Black Rainbow...want to see it, but afraid it will change me in some terrible, permanent way - like a bad acid trip or something. And that's just from the trailer.

pank

@The Attic Wife How about "Dead of Night"? There is so much to unpack in those five stories, and the 1945 British angle plays up the "normalcy" of the stories. That's not necessarily horror in a modern sense, but in a more subtle way. Unnerving.

Hellcat

@perfect_cursive I think it's one of the few movies I can think of that is actually better than the book it was based on.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@CountessMaritza : OK, total nerd moment -- those insane colors in Suspiria are due to the film / processing Argento used : imbibation Technicolor, the same process used for Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. And now that you know, it's totally obvious, right?

I have a real love/hate relationship with Suspiria (and Italian horror in general) but damn that movie looks good. And I'll watch anything with a Goblin soundtrack.

What'sUpMakeup

It's usually really hard for me to get unsettled by a horror movie, but the scene at the end of [REC] still haunts me. I guess jerky, long-limbed creatures freak me out. And Bob from Twin Peaks will never not scare me.

Also, not scary, but Ginger Snaps anyone? Canadian horror at its finest. Even better than Rock 'n Roll Nightmare.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@What'sUpMakeup : I was not expecting that Ginger Snaps would be as good as it was. But gosh, was it.

laserbeams

@What'sUpMakeup Ginger Snaps is brilliant. I just rewatched it last week and it's so good.

Anninyn

@laserbeams One of the films that I ALWAYS watch if it comes on TV. ALWAYS.

Best horror film that uses lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty and the relationships between women yes/yes?

laserbeams

@Anninyn Yes!

Also can someone please tell me that they also loved Jennifer's Body?

Chuck Bass

@laserbeams I absolutely loved that movie! Amanda Seyfried totally won me over. Definitely worth rewatching.

trappedinabay

@What'sUpMakeup I ADORE Ginger Snaps and Jennifer's Body. So, so good!

Gef the Talking Mongoose

OK, so I have to second Behind The Mask here, because it really is very good. There's even an additional level of nerd-enjoyable meta, in that there are a number of hat-tips to other horror movies extant in the movie world that go unremarked-on by the characters. I suppose you could look those up online, if you're motivated.

C.SanDiego

Sometimes I get Cabin in the Woods and Cabin Fever mixed up. Those are...not that same.

Though, I would posit that Cabin Fever is far and away the funniest horror movie, by virtue of being the weirdest.

laserbeams

@C.SanDiego Yes, Cabin Fever! I think I'm gonna say Cabin in the Woods is the better movie, but I do love me some Cabin Fever. And it totally knows the rules of horror movies, too, and subverts the hell out of them.

The Attic Wife

@C.SanDiego Confession: I will not watch Cabin Fever. Though I am a horror FIEND, body horror squicks me too much. I also have never watched Eraserhead.

Gilgongo

I LOVE horror movies, and I've seen most... if not all of them. I thought Paranormal Activity (the first one) was one of the scariest I have ever seen. I freaked out in the theater. And I freaked out for at least a year afterwards... occasionally waking up in the middle of the night convinced my husband was standing over me in a creepy manner. Best. Horror movie. Ever.
(I also loved the other ones you mentioned. "House Of The Devil" is another really good one that's fairly recent. Totally based on 80s horror movies.

Hellcat

@Gilgongo I love those PA movies so much, particularly the second. I hope 4 is as good as I hope it is (that's a lot of hoping I'm doing in that sentence).

pank

Scary and memorable in not a great way was "ils" aka "Them" (2006). Really scary to me, because BASED ON A TRUE STORY. Definitely need a cute chaser after that one - like Tucker and Dale or Shaun of the Dead.

gormless

@pank cosign. great film. unsettling.

pank

There are some GREAT STORIES in "V/H/S". Kind of a grab bag, but the last one has really REALLY stuck with me. Especially because it takes place at what is SUPPOSED to be a halloween party. oh, *shivers*!

pank

Also, also, "Creepshow"! and IMDB "Hausau" (1977) if you can find it. IMDB it and LOOK AT THEM PICTURES!!!!!

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@pank : House ("Hausu") is just jaw-dropping, in every possible way that a movie might make one's jaw drop. It's also pretty easy to find, now that Criterion has done a DVD / Blu-Ray restoration of it. Buy it and astonish / gobsmack your friends!

Amphora

@Gef the Talking Mongoose I still wanna know what was up with that car full of bananas.

Courtney Jenkins@facebook

@pank The car full of bananas is cause the watermelon guy changed Mr. Togo into bananas. That's why he couldn't make it to the HAUSU to save the girls.

RealCambridge

Session 9 was a random one I got from Netflix streaming and it was the perfect mix of things that make you jump and creepy images. (I normally can't stomach the movies like Hostel or some of the Saw movies)

jenergy

I finally just watched Cabin in the Woods last night. It made me (and my 15-yr old son) laugh SO HARD. So awesome. The "Good job, zombie hand," comments here are making me giggle all over again. And the two dudes in the control room! Hilarious.

jenergy

Does Fido count as meta? I have to admit, I'm a little unclear on the whole meta thing, but I seem to remember it taking zombie tropes and kind of tossing them out the window in very amusing ways.

The Attic Wife

I think Trick 'r Treat counts as meta, right? It literally lays out the rules of Halloween and also subverts one's expectations of what happens in horror stories/movies in many cases (I'm mostly referring to the awesome Anna Paquin storyline). Anyway, that's a terrific, fairly recent anthology horror film. I really love anthology horror, like Poe, I tend to think the genre is at its best in short-story (or short film) form. It's why I'm a little hesitant about Mama because the short is SO good.

EpWs

@The Attic Wife TRICK R TREAT TRICK R TREAT, my favorite! Well, almost my favorite? It's up there.

_antislice

I'm slightly miffed that no one's talked about homage to Evil Dead in Cabin In The Woods. Evil Dead's not particularly meta or anything, but it's a great on for the actually-trying-to-scare-but-hilarious genre.

Not gonna lie, the parallels between Evil Dead and Cabin In The Woods are like half the reason I like CITW so much.

The Attic Wife

@_antislice Evil Dead is awesome and needs to be mentioned as often as possible in ANY horror movie thread, so I concur. One of my all-time favorites.

Super Nintendo Chalmers

Hatchet anyone? I thought the first was so so good -- a mix of knowing horror tropes + old school horror villains. Tony Todd's cameo was the best, I think, but then I am a giant fan of Tony Todd in general.

The second was utter dreck though. Not advised.

trappedinabay

I thought Perfect Host was brilliant. Scary and just violent enough, lots of suspense, and a few wonderful twists that I totally wasn't expecting.

trappedinabay

And Teeth! Not exactly a horror movie (unless you have a penis?), but dark and brilliant and funny.

ccard

Anything by Ti West! Especially The Roost and House of the Devil. I second Martyrs, and add Inside.

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