The witching hour is at hand with the always bewitching Cyd Charisse!
Since it’s one of my favorite days, this month’s wrap up post will focus on the Halloween themed films I watched. I’m not a big horror fan (Classic Hollywood is the exception), but I do love scary movies that are low on gore. And I also love ghosts! This is a pretty weird Halloween because my nephew didn’t even want to go trick-or-treating (too cold). But I’m looking forward to watching more spooky films and eating candy. I still don’t think I watched enough (less than 15), but these films span different eras and it’s a nice eclectic mix, which I’m always fond of.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
dir: Rupert Julian
I wasn’t disappointed by this classic, even though I was more impressed with it from a technical standpoint. The color sequence and the rich tints were just stunning, as was the camera work. I didn’t find the characters (with the exception of the phantom, Erik) particularly engaging. It’s definitely frightening with a gloomy air. Lon Chaney was a master of disguise, and I found him utterly unrecognizable. Hard to believe all of that was makeup and not an actual mask! I’ve seen the Big Reveal plenty of times, but its impact wasn’t lessened any.
dir: Nobuhiko Obayashi
This is more of a fantasy film than it is a horror film, and an unhinged one at that. It may just be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. A group of Japanese schoolgirls (with names like Gorgeous and Kung Fu) travel to the countryside to stay at the house of Gorgeous’ aunt. The house isn’t just haunted; it’s alive. Freakishly so. It eats people! There are disturbing images that can be classified as cartoonishly gory. There’s nothing really too bad, it’s actually pretty funny, and inexplicably innocent. My favorite of the girls was Kung Fu, who tried fighting this demonic house with her fists. I could write sonnets about her.
The Innocents (1961)
dir: Jack Clayton
Here it is. A film that speaks directly to my love of ghosts, being scared, Victorian/gothic mansions, long haired heroines…the latter beautifully portrayed with unnerving intensity by Deborah Kerr. I say that I love to be scared, so much so that I will watch scary movies all alone in the dark, but venturing past my room at midnight is something I avoid. And if I can’t avoid it, I race upstairs and dive underneath the covers…you’re all getting a deep look into my soul here. But The Innocents is nearly flawless, building up tension and foreboding in the most subtle and terrifying ways, making you wonder if the ghosts are real or imagined, if Miss Giddens (Kerr) is crazy or not. Perfect for a thunderstorm. Just perfect.
The Babadook (2014)
dir: Jennifer Kent
I was so terrified, mostly because this is a psychological horror film. There’s nothing scarier than the mind, and the mind can conjure up plenty of nightmares without outside influence. THAT BEING SAID, The Babadook is also a physical manifestation of terror. It’s a poignant tale of grief and acceptance too.
The Phantom Carriage (1921)
dir: Victor Sjöström
Impressive for its special effects and with a unique premise even 95 years later. This film isn’t scary in the traditional sense. I was expecting silent terror and thrills. It didn’t really deliver in that regard, but it offered up something a lot more urgent, if you’re religious or at all concerned about the afterlife. It’s a haunting film with gorgeous visuals.
Happy Halloween, girls and ghouls!