Friday, April 29, 2011

Escape With Horror

Escape With Horror

Feeling bored? Don't know what to do this evening? Well, how about escaping the usual routine by watching classic horror movies that changed the genre forever.  I recall when I was a kid and sitting in a movie theater, mesmerized by the sound of a chainsaw.  If I didn't know enough to respect that tool till that point, I guarantee respect went out the window and outright fear set the stage for my future.  How could I grow up to be a lumberjack if the mere sound of such an important tool, made me want to crawl and hide inside the pantry?

Anyway, as luck would have it, Katina Solomon sent me a link from one of my favorite sources, College Degree Dot Com.  I've included an excerpt of the article here, but please follow the link below to finish reading the article at College Degree Dot Com and perhaps you'll find something else to your liking or maybe, decide to finish that degree you've putting off.  

Without further ado, more about horror movies. 

10 Horror Movies That Changed the Genre

As long as movies have existed, filmmakers have been telling horror stories. George Melies' Le Manoir du diable, a silent, three-minute French film from 1896, is generally recognized as the first horror film ever made, coming just a few years after the medium was invented. Since then, horror films have undergone constant changes, growing in tandem with mainstream entertainment and doing their own part to advance filmmaking technology, push the envelope for what's appropriate in film, and get people talking about movies. It's probably fair to say that there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of horror films that have changed the genre in one way or another, but of all these, a few stand out as especially powerful, or gripping, or revolutionary.

These are the films that didn't just make a cultural impact or earn decent revenue; they redefined what horror films looked like, period.

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: "Even if one of them survives, what will be left?" Tobe Hooper's 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (it wasn't spelled Chainsaw until the sequels) was a pioneer in the slasher genre and instantly influenced the entire horror field. It's credited with popularizing a number of now-standard tropes for slasher flicks, including the plight of the "final girl," who is left to fight the killer or flee for her life after her friends have been picked off one by one. More than that, though, the film championed a new aesthetic that's still in use today: industrial grunge. The iconic Leatherface wasn't hunting his prey in a sleek city environment, a well-groomed suburb, or even a nicely tended piece of country land. He's chasing his victims through a grimy, run-down house and barn, one that's cluttered with old junk and the rotting remnants of previous kills. The Saw franchise and the whole vibe of Nine Inch Nails wouldn't exist without Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It's down and dirty, and it also took horror in new directions by having a killer motivated not by revenge or psychological trauma but by sheer creepy insanity. Leatherface's family is just plain weird, which is often scarier than anything.

2. Night of the Living Dead: The first entry in George Romero's Living Dead series is still, in many ways, the best. Appearing in 1968 and made for a ridiculously cheap $114,000, the film revolutionized horror and specifically zombie movies for decades to come. Shot in stark black and white, the film is a departure from the often cheesy thrillers that had filled movie theaters in earlier years. Psychological terror wasn't new, but the idea of taking zombies and other monsters so seriously certainly was. There's no way to laugh off the undead killers in Night of the Living Dead; this isn't a low-stakes, wacky frightfest. This is a full-on horror film, designed to be shocking, and it definitely achieves its goals. The movie made it safe to believe in monsters, and it pulled supernatural horror that much closer to the mainstream. If you've never seen it, you're missing a classic.

3. Halloween: Slasher films were a growing trend for horror filmmakers by the late 1970s -- in addition to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, there was 1974's Black Christmas -- but it was 1978's Halloween that really took the sub-genre to new heights. John Carpenter's terrifying film about a psychotic killer stalking bored teens on Halloween was made on a shoestring budget but went on to achieve major box-office success, launching the career of Jamie Lee Curtis in the process. It's a brilliantly structured scary story that makes the most of its atmopshere, too. After a shocking opening sequence in which the childhood Michael Myers slaughters his sister, the film dials back the blood and focuses on the paranoia and terror of being followed by a threat you can never quite see. The success of the film popularized slasher flicks, which flooded the market in the 1980s, but it also demonstrated that the best way to make a horror movie is to minimize the actual blood and gore and emphasize the mental effects of the story.

4. Dracula: There have been dozens of film and TV adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, but the 1931 movie starring Bela Lugosi has stood the test of time and proven to be one of the most influential ever made. Produced and directed by Tod Browning (who directed Freaks a year later), the film came out just a few years after talkies were introduced, but its place in movie history owes as much to its story and style as it does its use of new technologies. The success of the film obviously paved the way for the legions of adaptations to come, but more importantly, it injected a vital strain of bleak realism into the horror field's dependence on the supernatural. (F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu can make a similar claim.) There's nothing remotely jokey about Dracula, and perfectly innocent people are killed or, worse, turned into vampires by his actions. The film made it clear that, though horror films often took place in fantastical versions of our own world, their consequences could be every bit as dire as those we'd see in a typical drama.

5. Saw: Saw did a lot of things right, but it also caused a lot of problems. Yet that's often the nature of those films that change their genres the most: that change can be profound, but not always positive. In 2004, Saw blew the doors off with its grimy, gory approach to morality plays. It can be tough to remember now just how much the film stood out from the pack at the time: it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and earned positive reviews, especially for its script, which reworked classic locked-room puzzles with a decidedly more gruesome bent. It amped up the industrial vibe of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to 11 while introducing its characters to a series of deadly games that would come to dominate horror for several years with the rise of the "torture porn" sub-genre. The first film is, comparatively, light on the torture, focusing instead on the terror of captivity and helplessness, and it remains a visceral and chilling film. Unfortunately, its power was retroactively watered down by a series of increasingly convoluted sequels (there are now seven films in the franchise) and a host of odious films inspired by the notion of captors torturing their victims. (The worst of these was Captivity, which was so hard to stomach that even the billboards were censored.) Influence is double-edged like that. Flash Animation

You can find the rest of the article here

I hope you enjoyed this little snippet. 

Catch you on the dark side of the movies.  

Nomar Knight

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