This week we could have had a mammoth post, but I have decided to split H, not into 2, but 3 posts! Yes, H is filled! I could have added more, but these were my favourites. This week’s post will be from Ha to He just to simplify and make sure the other posts are evenly spread out. Without further ado, let’s get into Horror films to watch starting with H: Part 1.
I mean, imagine having a horror series and having the letter H and then not including this classic from John Carpenter. What a lot of people always forget about Halloween, despite it being a “slasher” is how there is very little blood throughout the film. Essential viewing unlike some of the sequels and remake.
Halloween is a landmark film for the genre by allowing stillness to cause the scares. Carpenter and Hill utilised jump scares well enough, but perfected the idea of the audience thinking they are seeing something in the dark or that the boogeyman may come out at any point. The long notes at the suspenseful scenes amping this up tenfold.
(I haven’t had a chance to watch the 2018 Halloween, but when I do it will most likely be added onto the list from the reviews I have seen it have! I will never include the Rob Zombie version as never did I want to know what made Michael Myers become what he did. I will say Taylor Scout-Compton was the highlight of that film, just a shame Zombie directed it (you won’t see any of his films on this list I’m afraid, sorry Rob Zombie fans!)
Halloween: Season of the Witch (1982)
This is probably a controversial pick, but for what it is, this is a good little film. Targeting the obsession with consumerism this story takes us away from Michael Myers which a lot of people resolutely hated. The film is filled with dark material and has never really been given a chance. Time to correct that.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween 2 was a bit much and while Halloween: Season of the Witch was a good horror film, it wasn’t a “Halloween” film (it was meant to be the start of an anthology of films under the Halloween name, which is something that should be reconsidered honestly). No matter what others say, Halloween 4 for me was a great return to form and I very much enjoyed it is far more entertaining than others give it credit for. Danielle Harris creates a rightful successor to Jamie Lee Curtis.
Happy Death Day (2017)
A horror version of Groundhog Day was always going to be a fun experience and we are not disappointed at all by this entry. A simple plot of adding another layer to a story with each loop is revelled in here with a lot of self-aware giddiness that you would expect. Happy Death Day is as much a satire as it is a horror and miraculously that doesn’t take anything away from it as a horror experience. Sadly I have not had a chance to catch the sequel which I have heard is equally as good. AS WITH Halloween I will endeavour to correct this and update accordingly.
Hatchet is the type of film you want to watch for a fun time. It is full of cameos from legendary horror veterans and has all the gore that your dark heart desires. Completely over the top with very much, an old school feel. It isn’t a classic film, but sometimes you don’t need that.
A slow-paced ghost story is always an enjoyable time for me. While there are not a lot of scares throughout the film. They are effective, but you are not here solely for the scares, the atmosphere and story keep the film going in a positive manner. Kate Beckinsale and Aidan Quinn are strong in their respective roles as the plot slowly unfolds. Not quite on par with The Innocents, but not many ghost films are likely to. This is still not one to miss.
The Haunting (1963)
With The Innocents, The Haunting is considered the gold standard of ghost films. A fine example of a ghost story well executed with its cinematography and pacing. It should be noted the importance of appropriate pacing in a horror film. If too rushed the film seems too chaotic. Watching Eleanor (Julie Harris) slowly unravel as the film continues is as a horror fan a joy to watch. This is a dark brooding film that is far superior to its remake.
No continent in the early 20th Century captured horror as well as Europe. A pioneer for horror for decades to come, what strikes me most is the use of camera angles used during the film. Some over the shoulder angles that I simply did not see in other films from that time. The use of stop motion and reverse editing is simply spectacular for its time. The film is utterly gorgeous to look at and again, it has to be mentioned that Haxan is almost 100 years old. Telling the tale of religion versus science it is an utterly fascinating what for a fan of horror.
An utterly silly film that is as B-movie as a film can get. The entire film is predominately on a yacht and somehow writer-director Rob Grant is able to make the film confidently stretch to an entertaining hour and a half. Very much a piece about human behaviour and what can drive 3 friends to drastic decisions. No matter how good the script or direction the film needs the chemistry of the three leads to be strong, and it most certainly is here. Wrongly cast and this film would fall into a million little pieces. An entertaining narration from Brett Gelman helps further elevate the film. A joy to watch.
The Happiness of the Katakuri’s (2001)
In 2001 Takeshi Miike was able to direct 7 features. 7. What on earth… Yet with every Miike film, you can see his fingerprints but also his uniqueness. Where he has sometimes sided with a bit of comedy in his films, not many will be as funny as The Happiness of the Katakuri’s. A family that runs an inn and are joyously murdering people left right and centre is such an oddball idea, that it really should not work at all. But it does and then some. A horror comedy musical is not a sub-genre I thought I would write about, but most films created by Miike are something I would not have expected to write about. A one of a kind filmmaker directing a one of a kind film. I am not sure if anyone else would have been able to pull this off.
Haute Tension (2003)
Alexandre Aja’s second feature is a gory disturbing mess of a film. Starting the film with a severed head giving a driver oral sex is all you need to know about what Aja will eventually bring to the horror genre. Haute Tension possibly is one of those horror films that is excellent until it accidentally trips itself up at the end. A shock twist for the sake of a shock twist. Even if the said twist is still good and does not take away from the overall film, it is one that detracts a tad. Haute Tension is a bold and confident film that like a lot of French horrors at the time will make you very uncomfortable.
H really did bring us a bunch of classic horror films and this week we end Part 1 of H with the one and only Hellraiser. Clive Barker’s disturbing creation is grim and vicious and it loves every second of it. For its time it was quite the taboo of a film in the UK. Its fingerprints have since been felt all over horror in the decades since. A relentless juggernaut that does not let the audience or characters the chance to breathe to understand quite what is happening. A film that’s sequels could never quite match its ingenuity.
That is us for this week. The next two weeks will see us go through the rest of H, which is a real surprise to me as originally I only had 18 on the list, but when it came to the actual compiling, the list grew exponentially. Also when I get to Z I will, of course, update the entire list and increase the films I may have missed out on and that I rate. Until then, have a look below at A-G!