What do you mean, it’s not October anymore? How did that happen? Ah well, good horror is still good horror even if it’s a month late, and after sitting down with more than twenty horror films in October/November I didn’t want to let them all go past without comment. And yet I STILL didn’t get to Carrie or Army of Darkness or The Wicker Man, or any of the J-horror on my list. I figured I’d tend toward older films this year (as I often do anyway, but I’ve been in a particularly old-movie mood lately), and that’s pretty much how it turned out, helped along by Cinefamily‘s William Castle series.
I’ve got them in here in the order I liked them, most to least, though I should note that I saw all the Castle films and all the Argento films in a theatre with very good audiences (and all the gimmicks intact on the Castle films), so I’m sure that made an incalculable difference in some cases in terms of how I responded to them.
28 Weeks Later –
2007 USA. Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner.
More epic tragedy than horror film, 28 Weeks Later far outstripped its predecessor for me. I had put off watching it for a long time because while I appreciated some of the things 28 Days Later did, I really disliked the ending, which kind of put me off seeing the sequel, but enough people told me I should that I finally sighed and bit the bullet. And it had me totally rapt from that incredible opening sequence all the way through. The quiet moments are as full of dread and horror as the frenetically-edited (but rarely incoherent) chases, and the lengths that those who are still human go to in order to survive are just as horrifying as the infected – and that’s what really set this film apart. The most terrible moments in the film aren’t jump scares, attacks by infected hoardes, or even when our now-infected hero attacks his loved ones, but when the human Carlyle abandons his family, and when soldier Jeremy Renner realizes he’s been ordered to shoot everyone, whether infected or not, and the line between monster and protector becomes indistinguishable. The horror here is human. But there are no good choices, no satisfactory options in this world, and that’s what Fresnadillo captures so well.
Deep Red –
1975 Italy. Director: Dario Argento. Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia.
Okay, I have to talk for a second about how I saw this. Cinefamily flew in a print from Italy, something which is apparently NEVER DONE, and theatres here just about NEVER show Deep Red in 35mm. This print had seen a LOT of use in Italian grindhouse theatres, was in terrible shape (it took two projectionists like 20 hours of work just to make it feed through the projector without breaking), and didn’t have subtitles – they manually ran an .srt file on a secondary projector. There were skips here and there cutting out whole lines of dialogue. The theatre got some negative feedback for the choppiness of the print, but I thought the experience of seeing it that way was incredible. Sure, I might’ve missed a few lines of dialogue here or there, or the plot might’ve jumped a bit, or the subtitles might’ve been a tad off…but I’ll probably never have the opportunity to see a film print of Deep Red again. Plus I loved the movie, print defects and all. When I saw Suspiria last year, I enjoyed it for the set-pieces but thought the plot was a a bit thin – Deep Red was perfect. It was great visually, if perhaps not quite as flamboyant, and had a really well-developed, if admittedly far-fetched, twisty-turny plot. Plus a couple of scenes that will likely be filed under “things that freak me the hell out” forever.