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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-31 life & times
Time for your favorite spooky movie
Cletus Turner

"The Exorcist" (click for larger version)
Scary, spooky, frightful. Those are words we hear a lot of at this time of year.

Halloween is the night everyone gets to indulge themselves by watching some form of horror or frightening movie. Though there are exceptions to every rule, most of us love to be scared. Why else would the genre still be going strong after all these years? I thought I might give some suggestions to those who want to know about some "frightful" movies.

One of the best scary movies of the 1980's was Parasite. Starring a very young and pre-Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, this film is about flesh eating parasites that invade humans and eat them from the inside out. This is horror at its best and goriest. Martin County Bureau chief Lilly Adkins said this film gave her nightmares for some time. If it scares Lilly, you know it must be frightening. A parasite actually explodes from the face of one of the characters as she is looking into a mirror. Totally shocking and gory, this film is perfect for those who want to see lots of blood.

Freddy Kruger of "Nightmare on Elm Street" (click for larger version)
Another film you might want to watch is The Amityville Horror. Like many films, this one claims to be based on a true story. A family must deal with haunted happenings at their new house. It seems that a murder had taken place in the past and the house was manifesting an evil spirit that made the family's lives miserable. Margot Kidder, James Brolin and Rod Steiger star in the film.

Dun, dun. Dun, dun. Don't go in the water. Jaws made a generation scared to go into the ocean. I should know because I was one of them. To this day, I can't visit the beach without 'knowing' there's a shark just waiting for me. The film is about a great white shark and its menacing of an area along the Atlantic Ocean called Amity. That is no relation to Amityville, by the way. Steven Speilberg made a name for himself when he directed this film which starred Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. The music from the film is certainly memorable. The low, pulsing music that is a precursor to the shark's appearance was used in later movies, but the original is always the scariest.

A genre of films that is always entertaining to look into is the Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street group of films. Why do I put the three slasher films together? Because they are essentially the same. Each has a psychotic murderer who kills teens in varying ways. Michael Meyers, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger are different only in the ways they became slashers. The films are almost carbon copies of one another. However, they are still entertaining and can be fun. Except for Jason X, that one is just too bad. One of my favorites is Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers. It is one of the best because it is the last in the series with Donald Pleasance who played Dr. Loomis. Dr. Loomis was constantly trying to stop Michael and in the end, Michael killed him. The film was dedicated to Pleasance because the actor died after the film was completed.

Another horror film is the quintessential alien flick Alien. While some think the sequel Aliens is better, I like the original because it pitted a woman against some terrifying creatures. Who will ever forget the alien popping out of the man's chest. WOW. I had nightmares over that scene for years.

"Jaws" (click for larger version)
What list would be complete without the original zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead. Radiation causes corpses to raise from their graves in search of food. The food they seem to want is the flesh of the living. It was certainly frightening in its day. A remake would probably make the gore more believable, but you just can't recreate the feel that movie gave you. You have a nervousness in the pit of your stomach and the hair on the back of your neck just stood out on end.

If you are religious, The Omen certainly made you sit up and take notice. Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and the child actor Harvey Stephens breathed life into phenomenal and complex characters. Peck and Remick play Robert and Katherine Thorn. The Thorn's young son, Damien, is actually the son of satan himself. As people realize who or what Damien is, they die in horrible ways. The little cherub that is Stephens is perfect. Who would imagine that satan would hide behind that innocent face.

On the same vein, The Exorcist is about a little girl, played by Linda Blair, who is possessed by a demon. This film is eerie and completely scary.

Of course, there is also the classic Psycho. I know there aren't many people on the face of the earth who hasn't seen the film, but it's still a good way to spend an All Hallow's Eve. Norman Bates and the Bates Motel is perhaps one of the greatest psychological films of all times. The film was released in 1960 and Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, directed the film. Creepy, indeed.

An honorable mention has to go out to The Ring. I was completely taken by this film. You watch the video and seven days later, you die. An interesting way to start off the movie and a great film. Sometimes, it was hard to follow, but that doesn't destroy the film and what it sets out to do. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.

A movie poster from "Psycho." (click for larger version)
Another honorable mention has to go to The Others. Nicole Kidman plays a woman who appears to be a haunted house, but things aren't always as they seem. I had several friends who didn't like this film because they said it wasn't exciting enough. The point is this film is in the tradition of old horror films. Instead of showing us guts and gore, we are lead down the path of imagination and that is better, to me anyway, than spoon feeding us all the information. I love a good film which lets us THINK and that can be just as fun as a film that just slashes at the audience from the outset.

Happy Halloween.

Appalachian Regaional
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