This past Monday night as I prepared myself to watch a replay of the new HBO series True Blood, I was watching the preceding program, Shadow of the Vampire from the year 2000. It was my first time viewing this film about a fictionalization surrounding the filming of 1922’s Nosferatu. Overall is made for great viewing but it got me thinking, “In my mind, what qualifies a movie as ‘scary’ or even ‘terrifying’?” After some thought I concluded that this definition for me is very broad. That is why I use scary and terrifying interchangeably as you will find throughout the passage.
To me, the goal in creating a good it is not merely about the shock-value – although that can go a long way when executed properly. What is truly scary or terrifying to me are films which upon their first (and hopefully subsequent) viewings to a “mind mess” with me. In other words, to truly feel terrified or scared, I want to leave the cinematic experience playing with various scenarios of what I have just experienced in my head, almost to a troubling degree. My television equivalent of what is most terrifying is what the very best of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone had to offer.
In previous entries I have stated my love of (all) things Alfred Hitchcock. For the purposes of this blog entry I will exclude these titles – although I must admit when I think of scary and terrifying I do not immediately think of Hitchcock for some reason. I do find them suspenseful and full of dramatic tension but around this time of year I do no feel a special need to place his titles in a heavier DVD rotation.
So as we near All Hallow’s Eve this Friday here is a list of what MAY be playing in my queue. This is not an all-inclusive list I am sure. A couple that are not on the list but in my collection is The Orphanage ( il Orfanato) and Hard Candy – we’ll see if they have what it takes to make my list!
Meshes on the Afternoon (1943) – a Maya Deren short which has produced a couple of nightmares in my lifetime
Dead of Night (1945) – I really hope that this film gets a proper digital transfer to DVD – this is one for the collection, a real keeper.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
The Shining (1980) – sterility and coldness literally sends shivers up my spine; Kubrick was very effective at capturing that.
The Others (2001) – Who cares if you were able to figure out the plot twist before the big reveal? My unsettledness had a lot to do with the other-worldly atmosphere.
Heavenly Creatures (1994) – a terrific pre-LOTR adaptation by Peter Jackson.
The Third Man (1949) – part of what makes the visualization and imagery disturbing in this film has to do with its connection to the aforementioned “Heavenly Creatures.”