What better month than October to celebrate scary movies?
As Halloween crawls nearer, so too does scary movie season. For almost as long as there have been movies there have been movies about vampires, monsters, ghosts and other frightening characters.
Back in the silent era, Nosferatu’s creepy vampire tale gave audiences the chills while Lon Chaney’s Hunchback and Phantom showed how makeup and trick photography could drive audiences crazy with fright.
In the 1930’s, Universal Studios created an industry that still is going strong with its lineup of classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman and The Mummy. The formula was pretty easy. Evil monsters attacking innocent victims, tragic monsters tortured by their own monstrosity, monsters created by science or nature run amuck and well-meaning monsters who inadvertently unleash horrible things. Throw in a few beautiful women screaming and a protagonist who puts an end to the monster and you’ve got the makings of a typical monster movie.
Famous Scary Movie Characters
Great characters also help. Frankenstein’s monster as played by Boris Karloff was a match made in movie heaven. Who even remembers that the monster was played by Lon Chaney Jr. in The Ghost of Frankenstein? Bela Lugosi might be remembered by some as “Ygor” in the Frankenstein movies, but it is “Dracula" with whom he is forever identified. Scores of others actors have played monsters and vampires, but none so memorably.
Horror Films of Today
Today, great characters are not so much the actors who portray the characters, but the characters themselves. Most people have no idea who played “Mike Myers,” “Jason,” “Jigsaw,” “Leatherface” or any of the other iconic modern day monsters, but they sure remember the hockey mask, chainsaw and other signature traits of these characters.
Modern horror movies still rely to a certain extent on the old formula but have become much more graphic and intense. Where once violence was subdued and often out of the frame, it is now front and center for most horror films. What used to be implied, like zombies actually eating flesh or blood gushing from severed limbs, is now gloriously fetishized.
That’s not a criticism, just an observation. Horror films today are filled with frightening kinetic energy that gives moviegoers an adrenaline rush towards breathlessness. And a large part of the moviegoing audience loves it.
What's on tap for Halloween 2012
So, as Halloween approaches let’s take a look at a few of the movies designed to scare the willies out of audiences. The season began early this year with family horror themed films, including Paranorman, Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie. Grown-ups could check out The Awakening, The Apparition, The Possession, Resident Evil: Retribution and House at the End of the Street.
But that was just the beginning.
Sinister opens on October 12, and is the latest example of the “found footage” horror movie. The trend started with The Blair Witch Project and continues with Paranormal Activity 4, which opens a week later. Grainy home movies, video tape or surveillance footage provide the backbone for these horror movies, which in many cases, try to blur the line between fiction and reality. Did this really happen?
The alien abduction movie The Fourth Kind used the same conceit and even created a fake website to give its fake “evidence” credibility. Like Blair Witch, Paranormal 1 was an amazing success and made tons of money by telling its story with footage shot with equipment better than your home camcorder. Paranormal 4, however, is more of the same.
Finally, while it may not really be horror film, its subject matter alone puts The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 in that category. After all, vampires are a Hollywood tried and true. In a season when monsters rule, this monster will certainly rule the box office its opening weekend. Get your tickets now!
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