- Several years ago in an Indiana Science Fiction Sojourns column, I made a few suggestions for an October horror-related movie and other mediatmarathon.In case you didn’t see it, here’s what I suggested:
An Evening with Boris and Bela: Beginning in the 1930s, Universal Studios produced a multitude of classic horror movies with sound. The talents of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were what in large part made those movies great.
Check out Boris in the Frankenstein movies, 1932’s “The Mummy,” and “The Body Snatcher.” These films are all tremendously enhanced by the mysterious qualities that black and white film-making provided. For a look at Boris in his later years, watch “The Terror,” a 1962 release that co-starred the-then up and coming Jack Nicholson.
Lugosi is probably best known for his starring role in “Dracula,” a role he had played on the stage. Of almost equal note are his performances in “White Zombie” and “The Body Snatcher.”
Here’s Jack (or is it Johnny?) Night: The great career of Jack Nicholson has included a few turns in horror films such as “The Terror” as mentioned above. His performance in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is truly memorable.Who can forget him saying to Shelly Duvall as he breaks down a bathroom door, “Here’s Johnny.” And, of course, Jack once again delighted us in “The Witches of Eastwick,” a comedy, and “Wolf.” Then there’s his visit to a dentist’s office in the original “Little Shop of Horrors.”
A Hitchcock Double Feature: Alfred Hitchcock’s mysteries are among the greatest films ever made. “The Birds” and “Psycho” make a great combo of Hitchcock films that fit the horror genre. Among other things, after viewing “The Birds” many people became anxious anytime they saw a flock of birds lined up anywhere. “Psycho” scared many people away from taking a shower.
Spielberg and Friends: A Light and Dark Experience: Director/producer Steven Spielberg and his associates have given us some of the most memorable horror experiences in film, beginning in the 1970s.
Spielberg’s TV movie “The Duel” is a tale about a character (Dennis Weaver) making his way home on winding, dangerous roads, trailed by a mysterious truck driver, seemingly with murderous intent, with a vehicle belching smoke that Weaver can’t shake. The film helped ignite Spielberg’s career.
Spielberg’s “Jaws” set box office records and created the summer blockbuster.
After that, Spielberg directed or produced films with horror elements including “Poltergeist” and “Gremlins.”
On a sweeter, more positive note, Spielberg has also given us “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” which even takes place around Halloween.
“Jurassic Park” also works in this festival beginning with a marvelous sense of wonder and evolving into horror.
The It’s What You Don’t See That Gets Ya Scareathon: The scariest moments in films are about what you can’t see, but suspect is around the corner. “Psycho,” “Jaws,” and “Duel” all benefit from that approach.
“Rosemary’s Baby,” possibly my favorite among horror films, builds the terror throughout the movie as a woman, Mia Farrow, fears there is some sort of cult operating in her apartment building (filmed in the Dakota, the hotel that years later is where John Lennon lived when he was shot) and that something very strange is going on regarding her pregnancy. Never in this Roman Polanski film until the end do we clearly see what has been happening.
“Cloverfield,” which was released this year, also benefits from that approach. This J.J. Abrams’ production, directed by Matt Reeves, only gives us partial peeks for most of the film of what is attacking New York City and that has blown off the head of the Statue of Liberty. That approach adds to the terror.
It also better uses a technique used in “The Blair Witch Project.” “Cloverfield” supposedly was found by a U.S. government agency after the attack and was shot on a camcorder by people who had started out recording a going-away party of a friend.
The one unfortunate thing about this film — and this isn’t the filmmakers’ fault — is the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York gave us a good idea what it would look like if skyscrapers were destroyed. The film reflects that knowledge.
A few more quick suggestions:
Misunderstood Monsters Marathon: “King Kong,” the 1930s original and the much-longer Peter Jackson version, and “Frankenstein.”
Book, Radio and Movie Night: H.G. Wells’ great “War of the Worlds” led to the amazingly scary Orson Welles’ radio version that terrified America and the classic 1953 film version. Complete versions of Welles’ broadcast are available on CD.
Horror Comic Relief Night: “Young Frankenstein,” “Ghostbusters,” Beetlejuice,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Ed Wood.”
The Horror Favorites That Ronald Hawkins has Avoided Celebration: The “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” “The Exorcist,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Omen” movies.