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horror

Posted on September 20, 2017

Where to Start with Silent Horror Films

Guest Post

Everyone knows the image: a bald, pale figure with impossibly long fingers rises out of his coffin. That’s of course Nosferatu, one of cinema’s great horror icons. Silent films are such a part of our culture that we can recognize so many moments from them, even if we haven’t seen a single movie. If you’ve ever wanted to check out silent horror films but were unsure of where to start, this is a list of the ten most representative films of the era. Made across two continents and two decades, these touch on everything from slashers, to the supernatural, to body horror.

As of this writing, most of these films are easily available on YouTube, but the best place to watch them is through one of their many DVD reissues. Silent films often get a bad rap simply because people don’t have access to prints that aren’t fuzzy, jumpy, and incomplete. That said, you really should watch these movies any way you can. They’re not just an educational look at how horror cinema started. They’re also scary as hell.

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Posted on September 8, 2017

Not so Funny: The Peculiar History of the Creepy Clown

Guest Post

Clown hysteria may seem relatively new, but it is hardly a modern phenomenon. For many audiences over the centuries, the clown’s seemingly joyous face has detracted from something more sinister—some darker, hidden quality in the character. As a type, the creepy clown comes to us from centuries past. Like Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT, the clown is the monster that escapes a prior age, returning once again to stalk our nightmares.

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Posted on August 28, 2017

Cuarón’s Desierto and the Rise of the White Man as Monster

Dawn

A 2015 Mexican-French production co-written and directed by Jonás Cuarón, Desierto is an intensely interesting film. Its stark plot tackles head-on one of the issues that has convulsed the US (and defined its relationship with its southern neighbor) since the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. Desierto is a horror film about immigration—specifically an illegal crossing from Mexico into the US, and it thus joins the equally provocative Undocumented (Chris Peckover, 2010) in what I’m sure is poised to be a newly emergent preoccupation of the horror genre.[i]

Desierto’s plot is simple—perhaps too simple (one of its flaw). A group of Mexicans are covertly crossing the border when their truck breaks down and they are left to head in the direction of the US on foot. Enter Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his dog, Tracker, who picks off the members of the group one by one until only Moises (Gael García Bernal) and Adela (Alondra Hidalgo) are left.

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Posted on August 18, 2017

Kong: Skull Island is not good, but it says something about horror

Dawn

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island is the kind of film that makes you wonder what everyone involved was thinking, including some generally good actors (Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, John C. Reilly). It’s a hot mess of a film—incoherent, pointless, lots of execrable writing and wooden acting. And it gratuitously and shamelessly pulls from other (better) films—notably Jaws (1975) and Jurassic Park (1993).

Kong does say much about how horror films (and maybe life) work, however. Cast as a kind of reboot of the first King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933), Kong shows how utterly bound to the need for borders and for “others” the horror film tradition is.

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Posted on August 8, 2017

Films to Watch Out For: Hendrik Faller’s Mountain Fever

Dawn

Hendrik Faller’s first feature film, Mountain Fever, is an official selection of Horror Channel’s Frightfest in London and will have its world premiere at the festival at the end of August, 2017.

The film is described as an “ice-cold survivalist thriller,” and the trailer suggests that it taps into home invasion and contagion sub-genres as well as the survivalist narrative.

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