Top Five Sunday Afternoon Horror Movies

Everybody loves a Sunday right? Nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to see. They’re my favourite of all of the days of the week for the simple fact that no one is going to knock on my door on a Sunday. They are peaceful pyjama slumming sunny afternoons reserved for mothers and lovers. It’s a wonder God ever stood a chance.

A staple of my family home, much like many of you out there who sit down to a roast dinner or play board games with your sleepy eyed kin, was my six year old daughters Sunday afternoon nap. She would fall asleep around one o’clock in the afternoon shortly after her lunch and would wake up close to half three or four, looking for her dinner.

In this time I was permitted a brief window to crack a spine on a new book, finish sanding down whatever it is I was renovating at the time or, my guiltiest and most beloved of all uses for my Sunday afternoon free pass – I could watch a scary movie whilst my daughter was safely tucked away from it on the sofa.

But scary movies weren’t made for the daylight, and most of them lose their gloss when viewed in such mundane settings and maybe it’s just because I have gotten so used to the movies mentioned on the coming list that I feel at ease with their depravity and therefore comfortable going about the business of ironing clothes or mopping floors whilst their blood curdling screams echoed in the halls of my home.

Whatever it is, to me, some movies, well, they just feel like home. And there is nowhere else that I would rather be on a sun soaked Sunday afternoon that at home with my kid and these flicks, that to me, always went better with sleepy Sunday afternoons than shadowy Saturday nights.


Number One 

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

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The sequel to the trip-tastic House of a 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects follows an original trio of family (or clan) members from the first movies, consisting of Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her father, the sensationally psychopathic clown, Cutter, better known as Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). Both movies were written and directed by Rob Zombie.

The movie, though a direct follow on from House of 1000 Corpses is shot in a much grittier and far more serious manner, though the original black humour and shock laughs are still there. The movie follows the Firefly clan as they attempt to outrun Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), whose brother they killed in the previous movie. With the mother of the group taken into custody and under interrogation by the Sheriff, Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding spend most of the movie stealing cars, sexually assaulting middle aged women, giving children a life long fear of clowns, killing people and getting wrecked in an attempt to save themselves.

As to be expected with a Rob Zombie movie, the soundtrack is awesome, which is one of the main reasons why I think this movie, once seen a few times before, is the perfect afternoon companion as it plays like an album as well as a movie. The one liners are absolute gold, many of which come from my beloved Captain Spaulding and include – “If you’re gonna start the killing, you best start it right here. Make sure I’m all the way dead, because I’ll come back and make you my bitch!” as well as his magnificent rebuttal to a child whom when asked, says he doesn’t like clowns – “Why? Don’t we make ya laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny? You best come up with an answer, cos I’m gonna come back here and check on you and your momma and if you ain’t got a reason why you hate clowns, I’m gonna kill your whole fucking family.”

This is the kind of movie that genuinely gave me rocket fists when I first watched it, and since then had carved out a little cave of wonder somewhere near my heart. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should (derp), and last time I checked both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were available on Netflix. If you’re of a more organic breed, y’all can find a copy here for your pleasure and delight.


Number Two

The Hannibal Movies

The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal (2001)

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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) directed by Jonathan Demme is the first Hannibal movie, but as Red Dragon, the second story in the trilogy is written as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, this movie and book, when they are read or watched in the correct chronological order, is the second time we come across the charming cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, and his exploits. The book was written by Thomas Harris and published ten years prior to the movies release in 1981. It introduces us to rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who must seek the help of Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) an imprisoned psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer in order to apprehend Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) who is murdering women in order to skin them and fashion a lady suit. Clarice quickly succumbs to Hannibal’s immense charm and allows him to get inside her head, where he pries into her subconscious and offers her assistance with the Buffalo Bill case on the condition that she answers his personal questions.

Red Dragon (2002) directed by Brett Ratner is the second Hannibal movie, but the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. It was written by Thomas Harris introducing the character of Hannibal Lecter and was published in 1988, seven years after the release of the first book. In this movie we meet the man responsible for putting Hannibal Lecter (still played by Anthony Hopkins) behind bars. FBI agent Will Graham (Ed Norton) who is not unlike Dr Lecter in his brilliance or understanding of the human psyche, takes an early retirement to Florida with his wife and son after being stabbed and nearly killed by Dr Lecter when Graham cracked the case. A few years later, Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) comes to Graham looking for help in apprehending a serial killer that has been dubbed “The Tooth Fairy” for the unique and terrifying teeth marks he leaves on victims. Graham knows that there is only one man who can help and must confront and confide in Dr Lecter in order to locate and stop The Tooth Fairy, real name, Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes), a man obsessed with William Blake and the physical transformation he feels he is undergoing from a disfigured human man into that of a great red dragon.

Hannibal (2001) directed this time by Ridley Scott was released before Red Dragon (2002) though it is the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Confused yet? Well, let me elaborate. At the end of The Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lecter escapes prison, in such a magnificently gruesome way, and goes on the run. The final movie, though technically the second movie, chronicles what Hannibal gets up to whilst he is on the run from his old friend Clarice Starling (this time played by Julianne Moore). The bad guy this time around is one of Hannibal’s surviving victims, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), a seriously sick dude that Hannibal drugged and convinced the cut off most of his own face during a therapy session in the good ole days. Now incapacitated and in a wheelchair because of Hannibal’s horrific, but somehow admirable actions, Verger seeks to exact revenge on Dr Lecter and eventually tracks him down and captures him. Needless to say, Hannibal evades death at the hands of his old friend and from there, well, this movie turns into kind of a love story between Clarice and Hannibal.

Yeah. It really does.

For those of you out there whom confused by complete inability to explain time or dates in any cohesive form, whom, after reading this blog, or maybe right now whilst reading it, decided to go and Google all this shit, you may be wondering where the fourth and last (but actually fourth and first) story/movie Hannibal Rising (book 2006) (movie 2007) is on this list. Well, as you may have noticed it’s not here. And I’ll tell you why.

I said at the beginning of this blog that some things feel like home to me, and as a prisoner of nostalgia, as well as a child of the 90’s, nothing feels more at home to me than Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. These were some of the first horror movies I ever watched as a kid (terrible parents, blame them once more) and indeed the Thomas Harris books were in my heart before I even knew who Stephen King was, though I can honestly say that as a child/teenager I didn’t understand the immensity of the written works as I later did as an adult.

As a result of this manacle of childhood infatuation, I found the last instalment of the Hannibal movies rather obnoxious. The book was less so, but still, for anyone who has seen or read Hannibal Rising it paints a rather fantastic back story for my dear Dr Lecter that left me confused and a little bewildered. Though his back story is his own prerogative, I prefer the cool and calm Hannibal Lecter, with the Cheshire Cat grin and the liquid eyes. The whole prequel to the power of two thing muddied the waters, even for me.

So, a rather long little entry here, but I couldn’t choose the exact movie that I like to watch of an afternoon as all play well in the quieter moments of the day. My personal favourite book and movie is Red Dragon as Will Graham and Francis Dolarhyde always interested me more as the cops and robbers duo than Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill. To each their own I guess, but I wouldn’t turn off any of these movies were I find to them on my television at half past two on a Sunday afternoon.

Because Hannibal movies are the epitome of awesome, I don’t think I have come across them on Netflix before but if y’all would like to make a purchase of the books or the films, just click the colourful words and thou shall receive.


Number Three 

Silent Hill (2006)

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Based on the video game of the same name, Silent Hill was directed by French director, writer and lover of video game adaptations Christophe Gans. I learned a lot about this dude whilst watching (you guessed it, on a Sunday afternoon) a feature length “making of” the movie in which the directors enthusiasm and love of the material practically drips off of his words. As well as the dedication of many of the actors, not least that of Roberto Campanella who not only had to rock the Pyramid Head get up, but also had to act the part of Colin the janitor in all his twisted glory, this film always just made sense to me. It was released when I was sixteen, two years before I would give birth to my own daughter, and as a strange and infinite warning, after watching this movie I always find myself sitting a little closer to my kid when its done.

The movie follows the story of Rose (Radha Mitchell) and her adopted daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) as they head to the mysterious abandoned town of Silent Hill in order to find out more about Sharon’s past and maybe the root of the nightmares she has been having that force her to sleepwalk, draw some really creepy pictures and recite the towns name. On route to Silent Hill, Rose and Sharon are spotted at a petrol station by police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) who immediately becomes suspicious of the pair and follows them into Silent Hill. On arrival static flickers from the car radio and an unknown child appears in the middle of the road forcing Rose to crash the car and lose consciousness. When she wakes up in day light she finds Sharon gone, her cell phone out of range and a town that rains ash. Cool, huh?

The town turns out to be sat on top of a fire that has been burning that has been burning for thirty years, and is hence abandoned. Accompanied by Cybil Bennett, who followed Rose because she believed Sharon to be in danger, the two women find the town to be far from abandoned, instead inhabited by creatures that mirror the most terrifying of nightmares, including a seven foot tall hoofed creature with a giant metal pyramid helmet covering his head and knife as big as he is, as well as a whole host of burned, screaming, disfigured and demented humanoid and not so humanoid creatures.

 So out of the movies that have made it on to the list so far, this is the first movie that exploits the elements of horror beyond that of the human realm. Riddled with its own lore and tales from beyond the grave, Silent Hill is the kind of movie that gets under your skin, whether you’re a mother on a feminist kick arse power binge or not. In this movie, with the exception of some of the demonic creatures, the good guy and the bad guy are both women. The entire plot revolves around two women, one a mother, the other an officer of the law, trying to save a little girl from a crazy pseudo-psychotic religious nut bar named Christabella (Alice Krige). As a result this movie is a 101 in the power of the female form and the strength of a mothers love, with Gans’ actually stating in numerous interviews that he intentionally altered the original video game story line in order to give a sense of female solidarity amongst the characters and the inherent power of women. This is certainly admirable in a genre of film where women are the ones forced to be saved more often than not.

This film has a real place in my heart and I watch it often, crying more times at the end than I probably should. Similar films involving small children, especially girls, such as The Ring (2002) and Mama (2013), the last of which actually gave me a panic attack in the cinema because of its realistic portrayal of feral children, both girls in this case, have had a much more profound affect on me since I became a mother and had my own daughter to protect from bad guys.

I wouldn’t be as bold as to say that you cannot understand the gravity of these films if you are not the mother to a daughter, but I would go as far to say that people who are not in that boat see the shore differently, the same as heterosexual male Bob Dylan fans cannot possibly love the man in the same way I do, because, you know, I want to put my tongue in his mouth. Same love, different angles. Same understanding, different reactions.

If you haven’t seen Silent Hill and I kind of feel like you should, click the enchanted link here and it will transport you to a man with a cart on a hill who will sell it to you for roughly the price of a chicken and two almonds.


 Number Four 

Misery (1990)

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I feel like one of the main reasons people have a blog or a vlog or hell, even social media in general, is so that they can indulge in the things that bring them joy and share those magical feelings and thoughts with everyone else in hopes of finding and connecting with like minded freaks and geeks the world over. So, it seems natural that in almost every facet of my life, I have a favourite Stephen King “something”. Misery which was released in 1990 three years after its publication in 1987 was directed by Rob Reiner and stars James Caan as Paul Sheldon and Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes. Bates won an Academy Award for her portrayal of the depraved number one fan in this movie and it remains, at least to date, the only Stephen King film ever to win an Oscar.

Which, lets face it, isn’t that surprising. Did y’all see Children of the Corn (1984)? *shudder*

The story line in the films stays pretty true to the plot of author Paul Sheldon crashing his car in the Colorado mountains during a snow storm where he is left for dead, only to be saved by local nut job Annie Wilkes who claims to be his number one fan. Annie then keeps Paul immobilised and in pain until he rewrites the last of his famous books that ends with the heroine of Annie’s heart, Misery Chastain, being killed off. The film was (I have on good authority from my mother as I was three months old when it was released) received well and instantly became a cult classic for those that could stomach it.

I remember watching this movie as a child of around eight or nine (really, Ma? REALLY?!) and being absolutely absorbed in what was happening on the screen. Devoid of any sexual activity, strangely swear word free and almost entirely free of blood and guts, Misery manages to make you feel just as uncomfortable and disgusted with what it doesn’t show you as many torture porn movies try tactlessly to achieve with hours of gratuitous violence and death. Without spoiling the movie for the three people left in the Western world who haven’t seen it, there are some pretty big differences between the book and the film, which usually makes my blood boil, but in the case of Misery, works just fine, another testament to its inherent brilliance as a stand alone piece and not just another crappy Stephen King adaptation.

If you would like to see a man bullied to the brink of death by a woman who regularly dribbles when she shouts, go ahead and click the magical phrase “He didn’t get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!” – your salvation awaits.


Number Five 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

(…and it’s many offspring.)

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Another cherished movie of mine, the origins of which can be traced back to my parents apparent lack of interest in what their children were watching at any given time, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and the character of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is as much a part of my childhood as Pogs or Pez and therefore, like many other treasured movies, finds its way into my DVD player when I have nothing to do but kill time. This movie and its many reincarnations is an old faithful and as such, is a regular Sunday player in my home.

Written and directed by Wes Craven, we’re going to talk about the first movie as, aside from the third instalment Dream Warriors (1987), it is without a doubt my favourite. It follows a group of teenagers living in small town America who are hunted and killed in their dreams (or nightmares?) only to die in reality. All of the teenagers including Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp) and Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp in his first cinematic appearance) are visited by the brutally burned blade fingered Freddy Krueger, and though they don’t know what this delightful character may want with them, it turns out that their parents may now exactly why one-two-Freddy’s-coming-for-well, them.

In terms of the kind of movie you’re going to get here, let me sum it up with some immortal words from the work in question – *ahem* – “We don’t need a stretcher in there. We need a mop!”. Yeah, that’s about the size of it. Grotesquely gory, sexually charged and in the cold light of day as cheesy as an old trainer sock, this movie reeks of camp comedy and perversion. You’re not likely to lose any sleep over the storyline and Krueger always came off to me more funny than frightening, but I have heard that Krueger (like E.T. was for me) was the stuff of nightmares for many. And probably still is.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of being acquainted with the likes of Freddy Krueger before and have subsequently misunderstood a plethora of social parody spanning thirty years, please direct yourself to the Kruegeresque winky face at the end of this sentence. 😉  


And that’s me just about done. 

Sometimes watching a scary movie during the day can be seen to take away all its weight and power, and personally speaking, I don’t see that as any bad thing. I have noticed people getting so bogged down sometimes in the apparent shock value of a lot of movies that they never pause to consider the other elements of the craft at work like superb soundtracks, stunning cinematography, heartbreaking story lines and charismatic characters.

These movies, plus a whole heap more, bring me genuine comfort when I’m stressed, a shot of adrenaline when I’m listless and if nothing else, they make my heart beat a little harder when it feels like its not beating at all. And for that, they’re here.

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