Saturday, October 31, 2009

Best of Halloween (According to Me)

So, today is Halloween. Like most holidays, the build-up to it is usually bigger than the holiday itself. The most horrifying thing I'm dealing with today is grading mid-term exams, but I'm still watching some seasonally-appropriate video. Here is a list of some of my favorites in the "supernatural"/scary category:

Ghost Hunters: Season 2, Part 2, and Season 3, Part 1: The show has its ups and downs, but these episodes are seriously the best ever. They include the St. Augustine Lighthouse episode, the Stanley Hotel episode (first one), the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, the Stone Lion Inn, the Crescent Hotel, Leap Castle, and the Lisheen Ruins. Every one of these episodes has stuff happen that could make your hair stand on end. My father always complains that he doesn't like Ghost Hunters because most of the time, "nothing happens". A lot of things definitely happened in these episodes--full body apparitions on tape at St. Augustine and the Crescent Hotel, Dustin getting knocked flat by an unseen thing at Leap Castle, and the weird figures on the thermal imaging at Lisheen. Good to watch over and over again.

Paranormal State: Season 1:
A lot of people have voted Paranormal State's "I am Six" episode as the scariest, but I think that the first season has some of the creepiest episodes. "The Dark Man, " "The Name", and "The Devil in Syracuse" are some of my favorites. (Did Elfie really do an LBRP in the "Dark Man" episode without invoking the names of God? Or did they just edit her piece?) I always get excited when psychic-medium Chip Coffey is on. While the other psychics are fine, Chip tends to amaze me consistently. Michelle Belanger is also very good, though I have to admit I find the whole "psychic vampire" thing a little weird.

The Haunting: This is the original movie made in the Sixties with Julie Harris and Clare Bloom. I had a chance to see this movie on the side of a mausoleum in Los Angeles, at the Forgotten Hollywood cemetery. Great fundraising idea--charge ten bucks to see a scary movie in a cemetery at night. They use the money to maintain and restore monuments in the cemetery. But back to the movie--it has all of the great elements of a scary movie: there are a lot of unexpected happenings after its dead quiet, and the thing that's haunting is very much unseen. It particularly affects Eleanor, Julie Harris's character. Given her history, you get the sense that it's a psychological as well as a physical phenomenon. Psychological horror is the best, in my opinion.

The Amityville Horror:
I don't really know whether this was truly a hoax or not. The movie is a bit over the top (and the sequels were a waste of film), but I did see some of the time lapse footage from the real investigation of the place, and that made my skin crawl. If it wasn't faked, I don't know what the heck was going on--all I know is that this mysterious child with the creepiest eyes suddenly appears in an empty house at around 3:00 in the morning. I hear that the house had no more activity after that time, so it's hard to say just what, if anything, was going on. Still, real-life events, or ones that seem like they really could be real-life, are often the scariest. The music in the movie is really disturbing. For an interesting blurb on how music can affect the atmosphere of a movie, click here.

The Others: This was the movie with Nicole Kidman, living in a house on the Isle of Jersey that appears to be haunted. The twist ending on this was great.

Sleepy Hollow: The Johnny Depp film that features Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman. I'm a huge fan of the real Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown area, and while this interpretation takes quite a bit of license with Irving's original story, it's still a cool movie nonetheless. I've seen versions of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow that are very true to the book, and honestly--they're annoying. Ichabod Crane is a truly irritating character. You want him to get his head knocked off.

Bram Stoker's Dracula:
This Coppola film is my favorite Dracula interpretation. Yes, it's partly love-story, but it's just so very well done. I still cringe when they cut from the scene where the vampire Lucy's head is cut off to the roasted pig at the dinner table.

Blair Witch Project:
Yes, I know. You either love or hate this movie. I know that when I saw it, I didn't sleep well for several nights. The wayward cameras are annoying, but it is sufficiently suspenseful--and once again, you don't see the "monster", so it's great.

Paranormal Activity: This one is still in theaters, so if you haven't seen it and like scary movies, do so. I slept with the lights on for a week after seeing this. Check out my blog posting from last week to see my take on Paranormal Activity. Great psychological horror.

Ah well, back to the horror of grading, some Sam Adams Octoberfest, and poetry writing. Happy Halloween! Oiche Samhain!

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