Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Top Five Classic Horror Films

After watching The Innocents the other night, I was trying to figure out what my top five classic horror films would be. The list I came up with is not terribly surprising, and I feel like I must be leaving something out (no Vincent Price, how can this be?!), but here it is:

5. The Bride of Frankenstein
There’s no denying that The Bride of Frankenstein is a wonderfully campy monster movie in its own right, but what really puts this one on the list for me is the amazing double-casting in the prologue, with Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley.

4. Black Sunday
This one is pure absurdity from Mario Bava, but it features a lot of my favorite gothic tropes–spooky old castles, witches returning from the grave to wreak havoc, and double casting in which the gorgeous love interest in the present day mysteriously looks identical to some long-dead malevolent ancestor.

3. Night of the Demon (Curse of the Demon)
Pretty much everyone (including director Jacques Tourneur) seems to agree that this one is undermined a bit by its ending, but if you just pretend the last, like, five minutes of the film don’t exist, it’s very much a horror story of suggestion, rather than explicit scares. Plus, its shout-out in the Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love” will always endear it to me. (Close second is another Jacques Tourneur/Val Lewton production, I Walked With a Zombie.)

2. The Innocents
As I mentioned the other day, The Innocents is chilling and atmospheric and wonderfully English. The Victorian trappings of this Henry James adaptation are gorgeous, and Deborah Kerr is both sympathetic and creepy–though no one could possibly be as creepy as Peter Quint and Miss Jessel.

1. The Haunting
My absolute favorite, now and forever. Such a fantastic mix of wit and absolute terror. The Haunting is a resolutely slow movie, and it succeeds primarily by suggesting the source of its horror. In fact, Hill House may be one of the most unconventional haunted house I’ve encountered on film; while the movie relies on some familiar ghost tropes (cold spots, for instance), most of the really scary bits come from very unexpected places. I also love all four of the principal actors, but especially Julie Harris and Claire Bloom as Eleanor and Theodora, who have terrific chemistry. And of course, who can forget Mrs. Dudley’s  immortal speech . . . “In the night. In the dark.”

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The Innocents

The Criterion Collection’s 3 reasons for watching The Innocents. I rewatched it the other evening, and it’s just as gorgeous and creepy as I remember. It’s right up there with The Haunting amongst my favorite vintage horror films–not outright terrifying in the way The Haunting can be, but highly unsettling and highly atmospheric in very similar ways.

 

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Halloween 2013 Mix

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Listen on 8tracks

“I Wanna Be Evil” — Eartha Kitt
“My Body’s a Zombie For You” — Dead Man’s Bones
“The Words That Maketh Murder” — PJ Harvey
“Vampire” — Kimya Dawson & Antsy Pants
“I Died So I Could Haunt You” — Stars
“Reaching Through to the Other Side” – My Brightest Diamond
“A Light So Dim” — The Black Heart Procession
“Hole in the Middle” — Emily Jane White
“Vampire Blues” — Neil Young
“Little Ghost” — The White Stripes
“Riboflavin” — Grave 45
“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” — Tracy Morgan
“The World is a Very Scary Place” — The Gothic Archies
“Til the Casket Drops” — ZZ Ward
“Haunted” — Poe
“Ghost Girl” — Telepopmusik
“Nightmare” — Artie Shaw
“This Is Halloween” — The Nightmare Before Christmas
“Dracula” — Gorillaz

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Sunday Six

Six sentences for Sunday, October 26:

The boy wakes in the night with a sharp shout. She throws back the covers, crosses the cold landing, and turns on his lamp, a flare of light.

He says there is someone in his room: a tall figure standing in the doorway. A man, he says. A voice he recognizes, but he won’t say whose. He says it said “Hello.”

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Halloween 2012 Mix

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Listen on 8tracks

“Halloween” — Siouxsie and the Banshees
“Hunting For Witches” — Bloc Party
“Blood” — Editors
“Black Magic Woman” — Fleetwood Mac
“Werewolves of London” — Warren Zevon
“Superstition” — Stevie Wonder
“Fresh Blood” — Eels
“No One Believes Me” — Kid Cudi
“Howlin For You” — The Black Keys
“Werewolf” — The Frantics
“Little Drop of Poison” — Tom Waits
“Blood Moon” — Deer Tick
“Obedear” — Purity Ring
“Witchcraft” — Frank Sinatra
“Witch” — The Bird and The Bee
“Season of the Witch” — Karen Elson
“Strange Brew” — Cream
“The Witch Queen of New Orleans” — Redbone
“Shankhill Butchers” — The Decemberists
“Burn the Witch” — Queens of the Stone Age
“Bad Things” — Jace Everett
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” — Blue Oyster Cult
“Halloween” — Misfits
“Bad Things” — Cults
“I Put A Spell on You” — She & Him
“Haunted House Blues” — Bessie Smith
The Addams Family Theme Song

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Halloween 2011 Mix

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Listen on 8tracks

“Dead Man’s Party” — Oingo Boingo
“Die By The Drop” — The Dead Weather
“Dead Disco” — Metric
“Nail in My Coffin” — The Kills
“Ghost” — Little Boots
“Creeper” — Islands
“Witchy Woman” — The Hollies
“Sympathy for the Devil” — The Rolling Stones
“I Feel Evil Creeping In” — Islands
“Pet Sematary” — The Ramones
“I Put A Spell On You” — Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
“Highway To Hell” — AC/DC
“Devil’s Triangle” — Primitive Radio Gods
“Full Moon” — The Black Ghosts
“Bloodletting” — Concrete Blonde

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Flavorwire’s 50 Scariest Short Stories

Flavorwire has a great list of their 50 scariest short stories, many of which are available to read online. The list includes a lot of obvious, undeniable classics by authors like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and M.R. James, as well as some contemporary favorites, like Joyce Carol Oates, Kelly Link, and Mary Gaitskill.

I strongly endorse all the ones I’ve read from this list and I’m excited to check out those I haven’t read. Yay spooky stories!

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