Top 10 Halloween (Horror) Movies

October is ending, and that brings with it the most entertaining and thrilling night of the year… Halloween!!

I am a sucker for scary movies. I love to not being able to look under my bed at night or walk down the hall to my kitchen to grab something at 3 in the AM. I get great pleasure in getting jumpy at the slightest of sounds after I’ve seen a few good horror scenes of a horror movie.

This got me thinking about curating a list of my top 10 Halloween flicks that I have enjoyed over the years. So skip the cinema and have yourself your very own thrill fest with these gems…

                                                                Hocus Pocus (1993):
I remember I saw this one when I was 6 or 7 and it left a huge impact on me in my formative years.  I know it is a bit Nickelodeon/Disney but if you haven’t seen this, you’re not doing Halloween right.

   Donnie Darko (2001):

It’s not your average “Horror” movie; it’s on a different tangent all together.  With the right script and cast, this movie is a cult classic in psychological thriller category. Watch it and try to contemplate what happened…I dare ya!

      Nosferatu (1922):

Kids these days don’t know what the real vampires were suppose to look and do to a mere human (thank you Twilight). Thankfully, we have classic cinema to teach them a thing or two about the actual vampires, you know, how Bram Strokes originally imagined it to be.

   The Amityville Horror (1979):

Oh boy! The best horror movies are those that are inspired by real life events. This is the best example of it. The infamous Amityville Horror is a Halloween treat and a spine chilling movie to enjoy with (or without) family. See what I just did there 😉 You’ll understand when you watch this.

    The Changeling (1980):

A haunted house, a vindictive ghost and Martin Scorsese’s stamp of approval, need I pitch this more?

     Orphan (2009):

What you see is not what you’ll get in this thriller. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you about what goes down in this 2009 thriller/drama. See it to figure out what I’m talking about.

     The Craft (1996):

What happens when four beautiful Catholic school girls decide to run the world on their terms? It’s a more creepier version of Mean Girls to say the least.

     The Addams Family (1991):

My list won’t be complete without mentioning this “all together ookie” family. They scare you, disgust you, confuse you and even make you giggle. Their home is full of dark magic and they find it difficult to adjust to the normal outside world, so they just stay the way they are. We love them!

           Carrie (1976): 

American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King’s 1974 epistolary novel of the same name. The King of horror, Stephen wrote this story so well that to this day, directors try to remake this movie, in the attempt to out shine the next.

  The Wicker Man (1973):

A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed.This British mystery horror film is like no other. It has it’s weird moments (look out for songs and dances) but thats a given being a British film, which is great as it brings a whole other cinema into light.

Well, I hope you’ll enjoy these movie recommendations and I hope that you have an uneasy sleepless Halloween night. (Insert evil laugh here)

Trick or Treat?!?!

Advertisements

The Seventh Seal (1957)

The Seventh Seal 1957

“And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour”.   

“Silence in heaven” — or rather the silence of God in the world — is Bergman’s grand theme. This movie contains nothing but knowledge of the unknown. Knowledge, that someone with existential crises (like me) can especially understand. Love, faith, religion, philosophy, God, death; all comes in together to make this beautiful masterpiece.

Considered a great classic of all times (and I vouch for its authenticity), The Seventh Seal can be difficult to comprehend and even more hard to stomach. It is after all a 1957, Swedish noir movie, I don’t expect the modern audience to bear it, much less like it.

It’s the ‘medieval times’, Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow), a Swedish knight returning home from the Crusades with his squire Jöns (Gunnar Bjönstrand) meets Death (Benkt Ekerot) on an abandoned beach and challenges him to a game of chess. If he wins, he lives. (Notice that only Antonius can see Death and no one else) As the story continues, Block and Jöns meet with several others who are evidence to the suffering that the Black Death (plague) has brought upon their land. They find a young girl who is considered a witch for having seen the Devil to be burned alive at the stake. They discover insanity in the eyes of everyone they meet, as each one is certain that God is angry with them and is punishing the world with the black plague. They also find a small group of traveling actors, Jof (Nils Poppe), his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson), and their infant son Mikael, who appear to be the only souls to have remained sane during these troubled times, and are trying to bring joy to others through their plays/acts.  These people may be a little dim, but they are good at heart and you can see the happiness in Antonius’ eyes when he is together with them for the first time. This goes to show that not knowing about God or Death or believing in any socially acceptable customs and religion can make you a very happy human being. It is only when you gain the knowledge of this vacuous beliefs that you start to die or, to put it more nicely; you forget how to truly live.

The game of chess continues at each interval and Antonius inquires Death about philosophically deep questions that are bothering him. Death is ambiguous in answering them. In the end, however, Death is a much better player than any of us, and though he may humor some of his opponents by letting them think that they have the advantage, the end result is inevitable: Death always wins. No matter how skilfully we plan our moves or how determined we are to win, we can never beat Death.

If I start quoting from this movie, I might end up writing the whole movie script. Personally, the dialogues were definitely the real star of the show, as these were extremely stimulating and carefully constructed throughout the film. Almost every line spoken is, in one way or another, daunting and unforgettable. From the first sentence to the last, you won’t be able to listen to your own thoughts. It is that good. I see now where Woody Allen get’s his inspiration from. He considered Bergman as the cinematic genius. And I agree.

With great performances by every actor, the scenes are truly made memorable by the cast. Beautiful cinematography work done by Gunnar Fischer. The Seventh Seal teaches you that even when you are not getting any answers, you don’t stop asking questions.

Existentially poetic, slow paced and gloomy, this Ingmar Bergman’s classic has made a special place with film royalties, inspired numerous spoofs, and exceeded the expectations of both believers and non-believers for nearly half a century. Although it is dark and grim, it still somehow manages to spark hope in you that things might turn out better. Long considered one of the greatest films of all time, Bergman’s medieval production of fighting with inner demons can be difficult to watch but is truly impossible to forget.

A must watch before you die. (There’s an existential joke for you) 😉

the-seventh-seal

Interiors (1978)

Interiors_Woody_Allen_1978

After a much acclaimed success of Annie Hall in 1977, Woody Allen began a new project; a new film that will make his critics, audience and everyone else see him in a different light. The “Early funny ones” bracket of movies is not what Allen wanted this time. Even with Annie Hall, Woody said that he ‘compromised’.  With Annie Hall he had wanted to make a deeper and more meaningful artwork but found himself retreating to his safe spot, i.e., comedy. Everyone would now agree that comedy did Annie Hall a lot good than bad. United Artists earned a great deal of income and the film went on to winning an Oscar for Best Picture.

I guess Woody now wanted to tread in uncharted territory; and thus made a movie that was far away from funny. Released in 1978, Interiors is Allen’s most dramatic/serious movies till date. The movie is a perfect inside look at a crisis in a modern age family living in New York. The three sisters (all women in their early-to-mid 30s) , the talented one, a writer Renata  (Diane Keaton) who based everything on art and believed in it firmly had now come at a point in her life where she is questioning herself and worrying about posterity and whether or not she has done enough in her life. She is married to Frederick (Richard Jordan), an alcoholic, arty-crafty, abusive novelist who hates both himself and his work. They are constantly in need of approval and validation, but they are unable to accept compliments.

“I can’t seem to shake the real implication of dying. It’s terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.”

“I can’t seem to shake the real implication of dying. It’s terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.”

The actress, the prettier one, Flyn (Kristin Griffith) who seems happier than anyone else in the movie but is made fun of both in the family as well as in her career. She represents empty sensuality. The third sister, the protagonist (according to me), a searcher for meaningful occupation Joey (Mary Beth Hurt). She is shown as a character who has deep intuitive feelings about everything artistic and creative but she has no talent (I personally relate to her a lot). She finds it hard to focus on one thing when her mind is off focusing on something more meaningful. She lives with a filmmaker (Sam Waterston) who seems like the only nice guy in the entire family as he puts up with her and supports her in every way imaginable without losing his wits.

"I feel the real need to express something, but i don't know what it is I want to express or how to express it."

“I feel the real need to express something, but i don’t know what it is I want to express or how to express it.”

These daughters were victimize by the family’s mother, Eve (Geraldine Page) an interior decorator and a restricted individual who felt the need for everything (including the interiors) to be perfect and in exact order at the expense of the whole family. She once had total self confidence and poised elegance, a reason why the girls’ father, a wealthy lawyer Arthur (E.G. Marshall) married her long ago. She maintains a very pale color scheme in her designs; a lot of blues,ice grays, pastel greens, whites, etc. Which somehow shows the vibe she now tends to give off (cold). Thus, the title Interiors seems apt for this feature. Eve is suffering from severe case of depression and gets overly dramatic about anything that tics her. She even tries to commit dramatic suicide. 19-Interiors Her husband one day breaks the hard news to the family saying that he has done more than enough for them and that he now feels the need to take some time off from his responsibilities and take a break from his marriage. The family is completely taken aback and tries to make sense of this sudden befallen tragic episode in their lives. They however seem to understand his view point and decide to take care of mother while father takes his ‘break’.

The 'cold' mother

The ‘cold’ mother

The 'warm' vulgarian

The ‘warm’ vulgarian

Time passes by… Into this mess now comes, Arthur’s new girlfriend Pearl (Maureen Stapleton) he met her during his break time, who is referred to as a “Vulgarian” by Joey. A lively, simple and happy person who loves to tell stories and wear bright colors (the only one who does that in this entire movie). Arthur, seeing what he was missing all these years of his life, then decides to divorce Eve and marry Pearl. The girls find her a complete antitheses of their mother and what they’ve been brought up to love and respect.The family breaks down even further. Eve decides to commit suicide once again by drowning and is successful at that. And now, somehow Pearl seem to give their family a new meaning and direction at the end. A more fit mother to be to these girls. One hopes at the end that this new women brings in warmth into their lives. Whether that is achieved, is not quite told.

Interiors is a great psychoanalytical case study of one particular family who seem perfect on paper but are so deeply messed up that one might like to think that too much of perfection can turn against you and do more evil than good.

Woody is not seen in the entire movie, which came as a shock to the audience back then as it was the first time that he didn’t star in his creations. The amazing direction was such in this movie that we are not shown anyone else in it except the members of this family, as if they lived in their own spooky world. They seem socially disconnected from the world outside and emotionally disconnected with each other. Gordon Willis photographed the movie with immense color control that it needed. There are no major soundtracks. It almost feels like a foreign movie that Woody made inspired by Ingmar Bergman films. Interiors went on to winning major awards like, BAFTA in 1979 for Best Supporting Actress to Geraldine Page, New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 1978 for Best Supporting Actress to Maureen Stapleton and was also nominated under various categories at the Oscars in 1979.

There is a lot more to this movie than I can write down. It’s a shocker and a good one at that. At least for me. Now, instead of watching it as a serious movie, you might learn a thing or two by watching it as a movie with no funny business. I did. 🙂

Blue Jasmine

This will make you uneasy

This will make you uneasy

Blue Jasmine

Never have I felt so depressed watching an Allen movie than I did while I watched Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) or Blue Jasmine to be correct; and I mean that as a good thing. Being a tribute to Tennessee William’s famous play,” A streetcar named desire” and brushed off with a real life incident of the Madoff scandal, Blue Jasmine is a tragic movie about a middle-aged New York socialite who is forced to move in with her estranged sister when she finds out that her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was a part of a Ponzi scheme and they are now purely broke.
Being clad in pearls, Channel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, living in a beautiful Park Avenue home, vacationing at the Hamptons and hosting lavish parties for friends, Janette (or Jasmine), never imagined that she would have to share a mere pea sized apartment in San Fran with her adopted sister who has no class nor taste (in men or otherwise) but has two noisy sons from her boyfriend.
Ginger, (Sally Hawkins) the sister, welcomes her with open arms and makes her feel comfortable but Jasmine has developed a mental and physical condition which makes it hard for her to be at peace. Jasmine needs Xanax to calm her anxiety attacks and drinks very frequently in a day, her eyes are swollen from all the crying and stress that she is under now that she doesn’t know what to do with her life. She is an exhausting character to observe as an audience and even more exhausting to play as an actress.
Jasmine has a tendency to look the other way when she knows that something is not right and needs looking after. Why? Well, because Jasmine says that she is “Very trusting” as a person. Being very well aware of the fact that her perfect world will soon come crashing down if she tries to fix the fallen pieces of her life with her husband’s promiscuous behavior and the financial shams that pays for her lifestyle; she pretends to look the other way, hoping that it will soon be alright. But will it…?
Running back and forth (past and present) as a contradiction of the life then and the life now of Jasmine (formally known as Janette), Woody aims at comparing how life turns for the better, or even for worse. The true depth of the movie is realized at the end when we see Jasmine homeless, friendless and family less, sitting on a street bench talking to her own self and forgetting the lines to the song (Blue Moon) that played when she and her husband met. Jasmine is left stranded and that was the last that we saw of her.
Powerful actor from Down Under, Cate Blanchett proves her mettle with this role and casts an ever so powerful spell on the critics and the audience. Sally Hawkins though in supporting role, is not to be taken for granted. She played her role with much verve than we could have never expected from anyone but her. The male roles were vivid and had immense range and might be interpreted emasculating in the light of star female leads.
Blue Jasmine was honored on many occasions at many auspicious award ceremonies. The movie was nominated for Oscars under Best Original Screenplay category and Cate won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress.
The movie did not scream Woody at all which is why I have my doubts about it. I would probably not have watched it if this wasn’t one of his creations. But the fact of the matter is that Blue Jasmine seems great as a well crafted independent movie, with an Allen stamp on its front, well it has become what it has become.

Rebecca (1940)

 Image

A psychological drama, a thriller. Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock’s first American project, produced by David O. Selznick, based on the 1938 novel titled Rebecca written by Daphne du Maurier.  Starring Sir Lawrence Olivier as the gloomy upper-class widower Maxim de Winder, Joan Fontaine as the naive young women who ends up becoming his second wife, and Judith Anderson as the severe housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.

It is a no colour film; but you don’t need colours when you have a gothic fiction to put in the picture. The audience never meets Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. She is kept a complete mystery up until the second half of the story.  Joan’s character is nameless; she is referred to as Dear, Darling, Mrs. De Winter and Madame. By not mentioning Joan’s character’s name, Alfred tried to sub-consciously build Rebecca’s unrevealed story over the second Mrs. De Winter in audience’s head.

You will find yourself in the protagonist’s shoes as she goes along trying to make out how to be an aristocrat’s wife in the beautiful mansion that is Manderley; what it was that actually happened to Rebecca; why Maxim gets agitated every time something or someone reminds him of his first wife and also why Mrs. Danvers has hostility towards her.

Piece by piece the jigsaw comes into focus as the truth about Rebecca is revealed. Only to everyone’s surprise, the puzzle still has lost pieces and they must figure out what these are to get the whole picture.

This movie had everything, drama, thrill, romance and suspense right up to the very end. You never know what’s going to happen next. For a movie that old, I was not expecting much but I was delighted to see the brilliance that is Alfred Hitchcock.

My favourite characters in the movie were Mrs. Danvers the antagonistic housekeeper played by Judith Anderson and Mr. Jack Favell, Rebecca’s “Favourite cousin” played by George Sanders. Mrs. Danvers brought the horror in the story for me and Mr. Favell brought the spark that I thought the movie lacked initially.

Image           Image

If I go into the details of elucidating their characters, I might as well write up the whole movie here. But, I won’t do that. If for not anything else, watch this movie just for these two performers. You won’t be sorry, I solemnly swear.

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (black and white). Sir Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson were all nominated for their roles along with Alfred Hitchcock for Best Director.

Rebecca was adapted as a radio play on many occasions. It has been remade by Bollywood twice. The first remake was Kohra (1964), starring Waheeda Rehman and Biswajit Chatterjee; the second was Anamika (2008), starring Dino Morea, Manisha Lamba and Koena Mitra, but to no real success.

There is also a BBC adaptation, first screened in 1979 and shown on PBS in the US, starring Jeremy Brett as Maxim, Joanna David as the second Mrs. de Winter, and Brett’s former wife Anna Massey as Mrs. Danvers.

This movie was the first of my Alfred Hitchcock’s must watch list and it helped me in my perspective of him as a director. I was excited to step into the shadow years and now that I have, I have no regrets.

Source: IMDB and Wiki