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Horror films ...what makes a good one for you?

Old 11-03-08, 04:05 PM
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Horror films ...what makes a good one for you?

Now that we've all had our fill of horror films this past month, I was wondering what you look for in a horror film and then what it succeeds in for you to truly enjoy it.

For me: I know it has to be originality (at least original from what I have seen before). All these insipid horror remakes or the "more gore the better" philosophy hasn't done it for me of late. I've been so so disappointed in all the remakes, the Hostels, Saw's, other... that i've become almost dissuaded from seeing the next big one in the Hollywood fodder.

the ones that have done it and one i can think of of late is "The Descent". for me it was original, psychological, atmospheric, and the spooks were actually creepy. the movie played on so many levels. it went way beyond your typical monster movie as they were really the secondary baddies to the girls (Juno especially). this one just hit on so many levels for me that i repeat viewing with glee.

i also think Asian horror can be very psychological and thus consider Chan-wook Park's "Sympathy" trilogy as excellent horror films (especially "Oldboy" and "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance"). they may have hit similar revenge plots, but they were done in such an original way (at least to me) that i was floored by both. i think psychological terror is very much a part of the horror genre.

And while not the most original in scope, the 80's camp classic horror films, ones that are heralded and the ones that were not so much ("The Burning", "Silent Night, Deadly Night") have resonated with me especially of late. maybe it is the nostalgic side of me, but they were so much fun and demand multiple viewings while today's horror film are one (if that) and done.

So what elements do you need to see in a horror film to make it enjoyable to you and one that will be long remembered after the last reel plays?

Last edited by OldBoy; 11-03-08 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 11-03-08, 04:21 PM
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The 2 most important things to me are :

1. Story
2. Atmosphere
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Old 11-03-08, 04:21 PM
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Horror films these days aren't creepy enough. Any movie can get you with a jump scare, but jump scares aren't going to keep you at home with all the doors and windows locked and all the lights on after you leave the theater. The leadups to the scares should be as jittery as the actual scares.

Personally, I like the element in Asian horror films about ghosts which is essentially like cursing. I find the idea that someone could commit an act so horrible, it basically stains the world forever a particularly creepy and exciting notion, like that we as humans could do something so evil and reprehensible it could leave a mark on some other plane of existence in an area.

I also think that the complete range of visual direction is somehow forgotten in horror movies. The dark may be scary, but there's no reason a good horror movie can't creep you out just as much in bright daylight. My favorite movie of 2008, The Signal, generally doesn't look like a horror movie: there's nothing cinematographically to define it as being different than The Lucky Ones.
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Old 11-03-08, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by scott1598 View Post
So what elements do you need to see in a horror film to make it enjoyable to you and one that will be long remembered after the last reel plays?
Beautiful naked co-eds that make me think, "god, what a waste to kill such a hot chick."
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Old 11-03-08, 05:55 PM
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It depends. For a "serious" horror film, I want a good story, good atmosphere, and a good resolution.

For a "fun" horror movie, I want set-pieces that push the boundaries of what has been done before: not necessarily in gore content, but inventiveness.

Eye candy helps, but is never necessary.

The best movies (recently: 28 Days Later, The Ring, Let the Right One In) combine all this.
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Old 11-03-08, 08:47 PM
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I thought The Descent was incredibly derivative but incredibly well made and is one of my favorite recent horror flicks.

From most important to least:

#1 Atmosphere
#2 Creativity
#3 Story/Plot - doesn't have to have a lot of it but it has to be interesting to an extent
#4 Characters
#5 Direction/Suspense
#6 This goes with Atmosphere, but its on its own too - Music
#7 Dialogue
#8 Creativity in dismemberment
#9 Sense of progression
#10 Gore
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Old 11-03-08, 09:44 PM
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For a serious horror film, I look for a great story, atmosphere and dialogue.

I agree with droidguy in that horror movies nowadays aren't creepy enough. Though it wasn't necessarily original and it relied on "pop-scares", I really enjoyed the atmosphere of The Strangers. When I caught that movie in the theater I left not only thinking that it was one of my most mentally exhausting horror films I've seen as late but it made me weary of going back home.

Dialogue is huge for me in a serious horror movie as well. Obviously it applies to all genres of film, but bad dialogue in a horror movie that does everything right can really ruin it for me. I really want to believe the actors are truly living out their roles. Though [REC] (Original) was shot on the fly on terms of dialogue/action, I really felt the honesty of the dialogue and believed the situation the actors were in.

In a fun horror flick, it boils down to copious amounts of gore, memorable death scenes and nudity
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Old 11-04-08, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by inri222 View Post
The 2 most important things to me are :

1. Story
2. Atmosphere

Yep. I don't need gore or visual shocks with these 2 elements are in place. See the original "The Haunting" as an example of this done fantastically.
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Old 11-04-08, 05:39 PM
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I'm not a real fan of horror films but I do watch them on occassion. For me they have to avoid the obvious. Hey everyone, people are getting killed, so you stay here and I'll go in to the woods in the dark alone. While I do that you two please sneak off on your own to fool around. You others just wait here and talk really loud, calling out my name.

One I always liked was The Changeling with George C Scott. Really had some spine tingly moments when I saw it in the theater.
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Old 11-04-08, 06:22 PM
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The Haunting - the original Robert Wise movie.
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Old 11-05-08, 10:03 AM
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Yeah, The Haunting 1963, but also The Innocents 1961. Now to me those really are scary, psychological movies.
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Old 11-05-08, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Rad14 View Post
Yeah, The Haunting 1963, but also The Innocents 1961. Now to me those really are scary, psychological movies.
Yes I neglected to mention The Innocents at the same time. The ending of that one is ....stunning.
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Old 11-05-08, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by inri222 View Post
The 2 most important things to me are :

1. Story
2. Atmosphere
Ditto. Last good horror films in my opinion would be Silence of the Lambs, The Fly (Cronenberg, of course), and that's about it I think. I don't know if Oldboy is a horror film or not. I consider it a Suspense/Drama.
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Old 11-05-08, 12:09 PM
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I felt The Descent was average, at *best*. There was nothing there that you wouldn't find in any dozen other horror movies, and nothing in the execution was any more or less competent than in the rest of its ilk. It's OK. Nothing great.

To me, a good horror movie fucks with your head and stays there for a long, long, LONG time. Movies like Angel Heart, which infuses the grand film noir tradition with elements of gothic horror to incredible effects, or even David Lynch's Mulholland Drive which, while not strictly a horror movie, incorporates elements of of fear, terror, and suspsense so mesmerizingly effective that it puts any horror movie released in the past decade to shame.

I love John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness, not because it terrorizes you with ghoulish imagery, gore, or violence, but precisely because it terrorizes you with the thought of extinction being a process of the mind, that your reality can be rewritten, that memory and existence are tied inextricably together, so that the threat of oblivion suddenly seems tactile and palpable and, yes, terrifying.

Some dude with a knife just ain't gonna cut it. I can't listen to someone telling me Scream is a classic of the genre because of its smirking self-awareness. I can't think of anything LESS scary than satire aimed at low-hanging fruit.

Also: check out Cronenberg's Videodrome, which to date reminds one of the most haunting and terrifying movies I've ever seen. It deals with the nature of reality, the burgeoning commanlity between man/machine, re-writing the organic and neural pathways as a process of evolutionary symbiosis, and tons of horrific imagery that settles uncomfortably in your mind and just ROOTS there.

Torture porn doesn't interest me. Jump scares only work on the simple-minded. There's more sheer horror in watching the "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy" sequence of Kubrick's The Shining than in every "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" movie, combined.
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Old 11-05-08, 12:33 PM
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i like horror movies that are mysterious and leaves unanswered questions.

for example:

The Strangers
Black Christmas (original)

here are some of my fav horror films:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Halloween 1, 2
Black Christmas (original)
The Strangers
Evil Dead 1 and 2
House of 1000 Corpses
Devil's Rejects
Zombie (Fulci)
Dawn of the Dead (original)
The Changeling
Friday the 13th (most of them)
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Pet Semetary
The Descent

Last edited by wlj; 11-05-08 at 12:42 PM.
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