Posts Tagged ‘The Strangers’

  1. Halloween (1978) – I know I’ve spoken of Halloween quite a few times, but it is impossible to think of horror movie masks/costumes without thinking of Michael Myers.  Myers’ mask is one of the most iconic of all horror movie masks.  It is a distorted version of everyone’s beloved Star Trek captain, Kirk.  Due to budgetary constraints when making this movie, the mask that was picked out for Myers’ visage had to be cheap, and I’m glad it was so, because in this case, a simple, blank, expressionless mask works the best of all.  Something overly complicated would have lessened the impact that Michael has on our psyche.  His blank, expressionless stare, with his heartless eyes, is terrifically frightening.  We see that he has no emotion in his stare, no love or hate, which makes him that much more fear-provoking.  He is a killer just because that’s what he is.  In the original Halloween it’s not established that he is Laurie’s brother, he is a killer just because, with no known motivation other than the evil that is inside him.  No motive is scarier than having a motive, because someone with no motive can just as easily kill YOU.

2. The Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage) (1960) – Blank, expressionless, porcelain masks are utterly terrifying.  Maybe it’s the expressionless-ness, like Michael Myers’ mask.  We are only able to read what the person in thinking from the expression in their eyes.  As humans we tend to look at facial features and expressions for cues on how to react to a person.  Without the facial cues, we’re often at a loss.  When we don’t know how to react to something, we generally react in fear, even when the person wearing the mask is not the villain.  In The Eyes Without A Face, our villain is not the person who is wearing the mask, Christiane, but her father, Dr. Génessier, who is just trying to do what he thinks is best for his daughter.  Due to a tragic automobile accident, her face has been destroyed, and he is just trying to find her a new one.  No biggie, right? Prior to the medical community being able to perform a face transplant, he decides that it is up to him.  He will kidnap women, cut off their faces, and then transplant them on his daughter’s.  Sounds simple enough.  Unfortunately though, the transplants are ultimately unsuccessful, and so his daughter is relegated to wearing that creepy porcelain mask.  The surgery scenes in this movie are quite impressive, and extremely disturbing!  Watch here for the facial surgery scene!

3. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) – The masks worn in this movie are the type of mask you can buy in a Halloween costume store for pennies.  Just clear plastic, with painted on features.   But somehow, they are some of the most terrifying masks of all.  In this movie, the design of the villain is reminiscent of Don’t Look Now, as I stated in a previous post.  The mask is simple, and it is utterly terrifying, and the only other aspect to the costume is a childish yellow raincoat.  This is not a mask that I’d want to encounter in a dark alley, or even out in the open.  Our title character if fascinated by these masks, and uses them to scare her little sister.  She doesn’t just use one mask either, she wears masks on top of masks, so you never know what’s going to pop up when she removes the outer layer.  It could just be her face, or another hideous mask, and this keeps us on our toes.

4. The Hills Run Red (2009) – Wow!  This movie begins with a bang, a bloody bang.  Seeing a kid take scissors, and cut off his own skin….it’s sickening just thinking about it.  It hurts enough to get a cut, but actually slicing off chunks of skin, your own skin… man, you’d have to be doped up in order to even be able to do that, otherwise you’d probably pass out from the pain.  The actual mask that is worn over the disfigured face is disturbing in its own right, a porcelain baby face?  This is so unimaginable creepy you just have to see it for yourself.

5. The Strangers (2008) – Where did these masks come from?  How is a simple, cheap, plastic mask that is supposed to be cute and innocent end up so creepy?  These masks give me nightmares!  Two of the three masks are made to look like dolls faces, and the other is just a simple burlap-like sack.  Maybe the doll-faced masks are supposed to play on a fear that many have of dolls coming to life and killing and torturing us , such as Chucky from Child’s Play, or the Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll”, with ultra-creepy Talky Tina.  In The Strangers, our protagonists are harassed by three menacing figures- “Dollface, Man in the Mask, and Pin-Up Girl”, for no reason.  The villains only picked this particular couple because they were home.  Again, like Michael Myers, there was no motive.  They could just have easily chosen the house next door.  Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman just happened to be who they chose to torture this particular night.  If you liked The Strangers, I would also recommend seeing Them (Ils), a French flick with a similar premise.

Sweet dreams!!!!


Halloween is fast approaching, and I thought, what better way to celebrate than to put together a list of my top 10 favorite horror movies?  A great idea in theory, but the task turned out to be much harder than I originally anticipated for a few reasons:

1. I’ve watched A LOT of horror movies

2. There are a lot of great horror movies that span the years, so narrowing it down to 10 was very difficult

3. Determining the order for the top 10 was even harder…it may be completely objective, but it’s still like comparing apples to oranges

4. My memory wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, and I may not have considered a few I should have

Difficulties aside, here’s the list I came up with.  Maybe some of your favorites are in here too!

  1. The Shining (1980): It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen this movie, it is just as scary and impactful every time I see it.  Those little twin girls telling Danny to “Come play with us forever and ever and ever” will remain branded in my brain forever, I fear, as will the creepy scene where Shelley Duvall finds Jack Nicholson’s manuscript and all it says for hundreds of pages is: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”?  And how about little Danny’s finger saying, “Mrs. Torrance” in that croaky voice?  Oh yeah, it’s spine-tingling.
  2. Scream (1996): Not exactly scary, but absolutely awesome for the way it pokes fun at all of its predecessors’ stereotypical plots.  Scream breaks down “the rules” for its audience.  You can’t drink, you can’t say you’ll be right back (because you won’t be), and you definitely can’t have sex.  Witty banter, a slew of gruesome killings(including The Fonze being scissored to death), and lots of horror movie references (“We all go a little mad sometimes”, “Corn syrup, same stuff they used for pig’s blood in Carrie“) make this movie an entertaining slicefest.
  3. The Devil’s Rejects (2005): Rob Zombie, please do not ever stop making horror movies.  Thank you.  But seriously, Zombie has a knack for films.  His plots are particularly twisted, his murders about as gorey and graphic as they come, his cinematography is excellent, he makes the coolest soundtracks, and never before have I watched a movie where I actually felt bad for the bad guys and sympathized when they met their demise.  This movie is not for the faint of heart.
  4. The Descent (2005): This is one of the freakist concepts for a horror movie I’ve ever come across.  Several ladies decide to explore the depths of a cavernous cave together…and are greeted by a posse of opaque, blind, flesh-eating mutants.  I don’t even know what these things are…are they human or otherwise?  Who knows.  One thing is for sure, their blindness doesn’t seem to slow them down much.  These suckers move fast and they’ll tear you to pieces.  I never had the desire to go cave-exploring…flesh-eating mutants pretty much seal the deal.
  5. Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007): I chose only part 1 of the Grindhouse double feature because while I love Death Proof, I don’t consider it part of the horror genre.  Planet Terror was so awesome, I had to see it twice in theatre.  Rose McGowan plays a kickass babe with a machine gun for a leg who kills infected zombie-like people like its her job.  This movie explores new territory…it’s not very often a movie decides to show a kid shooting himself in the face.  Such things are fair game in Planet Terror.  Then there’s the Fergie cameo…she doesn’t look so pretty with half her head missing.  My vote for most awesome slaying scene, though, is when about 20 infected mutants are taken down by the blades of a helicopter.  If you’re easily offended, pass on this movie.  If you’ve got the stomach for it, I think you’ll find it just as awesome as I do!
  6. Night of the Living Dead (1968): Zombies are my personal favorite type of horror movie…I love the particular type of suspense in a zombie movie where these slow-moving, groaning creatures persistently stalk their victims for flesh.  This old classic is scary and will make the heart pound…”They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
  7. The Others (2001): A spooky ghost movie with a twist at the end.  There are no grisly deaths, but somehow this movie scares me more than most others.  Nicole Kidman stars as a British mother of two whose husband never returns from the war.  She slowly starts to unravel, as unexplained things keep happening around her house.  Did I mention her kids are allergic to the sun?  One morning, she wakes up to find every curtain in the house has been inexplicably removed.  This film builds a quiet kind of terror as it develops.
  8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): The inception of the “family of killers” concept…a real house of horrors.  The way the movie begins, you think you’re watching crime scene footage from an actual real-life event.  Viewers are then taken back in time to a day when several teenagers break down in a remote Texas town, and are brutally tortured and killed off one by one by the chainsaw-wielding “Leatherface”.
  9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): The concept of aliens from outerspace replicating a person while he or she sleeps, killing the host, and slowly taking over the whole world is another seriously creepy one.  There are a few versions of the body snatcher movie, and while I really enjoyed the original film from 1956, the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum is my favorite (Leonard Nemoy even makes a cameo!).  I was especially impressed with the effects–the growing pod, the person being replicated.  It all seemed well ahead of its time.  Another thing I like about this one…there is no happy ending.  Even the main characters are killed off.  That’s perhaps the scariest part of the movie.  They win.  We lose.
  10. The Strangers (2008): This one, starring Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, is one of my newest favorites and one of the most disturbing I’ve seen…plus, the acting is really good.  A young couple retreat to a secluded cabin for a romantic weekend, and are terrorized by masked people (the masks are so creepy!!) for no particular reason.   The masked maniacs toy with the couple throughout the movie, but I think the scariest thing of all is that they keep entering the house somehow, and the couple can’t seem to figure out why or how to prevent it…cell phones end up in the fire, items are moved, and so on.

And a few honorable mentions:

  • Dead Alive (aka Braindead) (1992): gory, gross, and utterly hilarious movie about zombies
  • High Tension (2003): an utterly horrific foreign film…I don’t even want to say anything about this one for fear of giving it away.  Just go see it.
  • The Hills Have Eyes (2006): a remake of the 1977 version…like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a family of deranged killers stalks a marooned family.  Only this time it’s out in the desert, and the killers are a mutant-looking, incestuous clan that suffers from radiation poisoning.
  • The Ring (2002): Watch a movie, and die in seven days.
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004): Another zombie movie–a remake of George Romero’s 1978 rendition.  Zombies take over, and a few living stragglers take over a mall.  Lots of suspense.  These zombies don’t walk, they run…fast.  My favorite scene is when the main characters play target practice on the zombies in the mall parking lot.  A Burt Reynolds look-alike zombie gets popped.