Chris Hornbostel and Grandy Peace

The golden age of horror: The Pact (2012)

Chris: Here’s a movie with some terrific ideas on how to create some wonderfully effective scares. It also has a decent (if derivative) broad outline of what should be a very solid horror movie plot. Early on, this feels like it will be a very good film. People go missing, lights flicker ominously, a suburban bungalow filled with religious iconography is filmed with a creepy, stalking eye.

Then things go off the rails, and not in a scary way.

After the jump, the monster in the closet is the director Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Splinter (2008)

Grandy: Monster Movies have a rich history, being one of the major sub-genres of horror movies. It was monster movies that best captured my attention as a kid, and I’m glad we made sure to include at least one in the list that didn’t involve vampires or zombies (both subjects worth covering and covered, with excellent examples). Monster movies very frequently veer off into the weird, and they pluck at our imaginations in their own interesting ways (the evolution of this sort of thing would be Pacific Rim: a movie about giant monsters, giant robots, pro wrestling, and dragon slaying all rolled into one). From Godzilla to the xenomorph in Alien to the living nightmare that was John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, monster movies have embraced all shapes and sizes in their quest to scare and terrify us over the years, shapes and sizes great and small.

After the Jump, two guys, a girl, and a gas station in the middle of nowhere Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: [REC] (2007)

Chris: Have you ever heard–rather than seen–a car accident happen? You’re outside and maybe a block away or more and you still pick up the sudden sound of a quick squeal of brakes and then there’s a sickening crunch. It’s hard to describe the sound of that impact. There’s a heaviness to it, a weight. You don’t just hear it, you feel it, even if it’s not close enough to be particularly loud. [REC] has a nerve-jangling scene early where sound plays a key role and it feels a lot like this. It puts us on notice that this movie is not going to be a slow burn.

After the jump, not your older brother’s found footage movie Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

Chris: Conceived, written, and created by a group of H. P. Lovecraft enthusiasts, this film aims to bring the pulp horror author’s best known short story to the screen for the first time in a faithful adaptation. It’s a tremendously creative and ambitious idea, given the additional twist of creating the movie in the style of a 1920s silent film, which (except for the digital video used for shooting) will use only technologies available to filmmakers of that era.

After the jump, great gimmick or worthwhile movie? Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Ring (2002)

Chris: I need to give you all something, so we’ll talk about this movie in just a moment. Let me find it…here we go. This dog-eared thing with the peeling lamination? Yeah, it’s my horror movie credibility card. I’m afraid I have to hand that in. You see, the rational part of my brain recognizes fully that this Americanized version of the 1997 Japanese film Ringu is far too long. I’m quite aware that the movie depends on events that require buying into the painful stupidity of otherwise smart characters. There are scenes that someone with real cred would describe as completely out of place. Despite all that, I’m drawn to this thing like a moth to flame. Or fly to CRT screen. You get the point.

After the jump, student films, urban legends, and a whole lot of blue. Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Session 9 (2001)

Chris: Many effective horror films reside on fears that are as old as western civilization. Our stories of ghosts, vampires, and other supernatural beasties are rooted at the very beginnings of our collective history and folklore. Session 9, however, creates horror from fears both more primal and yet also more rooted in modern culture. It is a movie fueled by being afraid of not being a good provider for family at home. In many ways I was reminded of the same neuroses that fuel the plot of Glengarry Glen Ross when watching this. Both are films in which the main characters do bad things because the pressure of work and home have caught up to them.

After the jump, Jack Lemmon never had a sharp putty knife Continue reading →