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October 24, 2013

Horror films for Halloween

By Joshua Hoover

The weather is getting colder, the trees are starting to lose their leaves, and darkness is starting to creep over the city earlier and earlier each night. Yes, Halloween is nearly here, and with it comes a crop of horror movies being played in the different movie theaters around Cleveland.

Horror movies have been a large part of cinema history for well over 120 years. Beginning in the late 1890s, directors have long experimented with ways to horrify people, and crowds have flocked to see these movies. These films have often been used as a vessel to bring knowledge of terrible world events to an audience in a way that threatens them without actually harming them. The visceral reactions to these films are a large part of their draw, with audience members leaving with an adrenaline high, sure that they were as near to death as the characters in the film.

Cinematheque, a theater found on the Case Western Reserve University campus, is showing two horror films from 1963 this weekend, both of which are considered benchmark films of the genre.

The first, “The Haunting”, is widely considered to be one of most terrifying films ever made. It features a group of people staying in a mansion in an attempt to determine if it is haunted, after it’s original owners died under mysterious circumstances. The investigators snoop around the house, finding several unsettling examples of the paranormal, including one of the group disappearing. This film is a classic example of making the audience feel claustrophobic and helpless, as they are as trapped in the house as the investigators are.

The second, Alfred Hitchcok’s “The Birds”, is one of the director’s most iconic films. In this film, Hitchcock explores the idea of nature gone mad, as thousands of birds descend upon the seaside town of Bodega Bay, California. The birds begin attacking residents horribly, with no provocation, and with no reasoning behind the attacks ever given. Rather than claustrophobia, this movie focuses on the inevitable, as no matter where the people in the film turn, there are only more birds waiting for them. There is no escape from the horrors that have filled the town, and nobody knows how to stop it. The dual themes of a natural apocalypse and the horrible outnumbering of the evil creatures is a theme that is common to horror films, and is often a driving force in zombie films especially.

For a more modern take on horror movies, the remake of Stephen King’s Carrie was released on October 18. This movie, a story about Carrie White, a senior in high school who is constantly bullied by the more popular girls. Carrie discovers that she has telekinesis, or the ability to move objects with her mind. After a prank at her senior prom, Carrie begins to kill her classmates in revenge for how terribly they treated her. Carrie, rather than dealing with typical horror movie styles, is a film that really focuses on bullying, and the modern film deals with social media as well. Though not really needed, this remake actually manages to live up to the original, as the cast and director managed to nail the awkwardness of Carrie, the insanity of her mother, and the cruelness of the other girls are her school.

No matter what type of scare, whether it is a typical slasher film like Friday the 13th, a more supernatural film like Carrie or The Haunting, you should have no trouble finding something to scare you this Halloween.