Spooky Season: A Scary Selection of Seasonal Links

Halloween is upon us. It is time for Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, and half a dozen sequels that just keep getting worse.

Frightening Scenes From Horror Movies

FS1: Let us start properly, with the nurse scene from Exorcist III. It is an achievement by any measure – it offers nerves fraying tension long enough that the sudden payoff is made all the better – much less something appearing in a generational horror movie’s second (although surprisingly successful) sequel.

FS2: This is the arrival of Samara from The Ring. The Ring was remake of the Japanese original, and this scene was not executed perfectly – imagine if it had never cut away – but still, Samara’s arrival is good, honest horror.

FS3: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not subtle on its surface. It is brutal, opportunistic violence, committed by maniacs, visited upon teenagers who make a series of colossally bad decisions. Kirk’s death might be the worst of the bunch(It is worth noting that, in modern years, the movie has come to be seen, by some at least, as a critique of the human consumption of meat; some claim that we are meant to understand the treatment of these teenagers as a metaphor for the treatment of farmed animals.)

FS4: Scholars still do not have an accurate count of precisely how many Friday the 13th movies have actually been made owing to lacking the computing power necessary to calculate a number that large. An informed critic could easily hold everything imaginable against the series owing to its slapdash existence. But perhaps the benefit of creating a near-infinite number of movies based around the same story is that the odds are good that something is going end up being good.

FS5Alien is an all-timer for a whole bunch of reasons, including the extremely famous chestburster scene, but this is not that. This is the revelation of Order 937. It recontextualizes the entire movie with its directive: “Crew expendable.” The xenomorph, in other words, is not the result of something having gone wrong; it is the result of something having gone right.

Great Writing About Horror Movies

GW1: This entire section could be strictly writing about the Alien franchise. It will not be, because such a thing would be unreasonable, but it could be. To that end, we have Faith Erin Hicks’ explanation of why it is exactly that the first Alien movie is so heartbreakingly terrifying. She gets straight to the heart of the matter, which is that the Nostromo’s crew is innocent.

GW2: And we also have Gretchen Felker-Martin’s incredible write-up of the Alien franchise’s extremely sexual politics. It would be impossible to ignore them anyway but Martin contextualizes everything from the first two movies, making it perfectly clear that what we are witnessing is a very specific inversion of our expectations.

GW3: Of course, everybody taking horror movies absurdly seriously has its limits. Here is Shea Serrano, one of the internet’s truly great dudes, exploring Michael Myers’ greatest feats of strength. In it, he includes the most important observation about surviving Myers:

The mistake she makes—the mistake everyone makes—is she runs so fast that she loses sight of him. That’s the opposite of how you have to handle that situation. Because, as discussed, the only time he kills anyone is if he can get close enough to put his hands on them. So what you should do is stay within, say, 12 feet of him, so you’re far enough away that he can’t grab you, but also close enough to him that he can’t disappear on you.

That’s science.

GW4: Is this actually an article? In a word: no.

GW5: Although there are numerous ubiquitous horror franchises – slashers, hauntings, monsters, etc – one of the most currently saturated types is the zombie film. There is a fascinating explanation as to why they are so widespread though, and it has to do with a mistake that George Romero made in the aftermath of his Night Of The Living Dead. He forgot to copyright the damned thing. That oversight meant it could be easily shown and easily cloned.

Fun Horror Can Be Fun

FH1: Here is James Earl Jones reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

FH2: Dan O’Bannon, who wrote one of the original drafts of the aforementioned Alien, also wrote The Return Of The Living Dead. ROTLD is a great reboot of the zombie genre after it had gone very stale in the aftermath of George Romero’s Night/Dawn/Day trilogy. O’Bannon welcomed zombies who could run and talk.* ROTLD features incredible special effects and, “Send more cops.” Although it seems difficult to imagine, O’Bannon’s refusal to take the genre as seriously as some of his peers led him to make contributions to the genre that reinvigorated them.

FH3: Shaun Of The Dead is a masterpiece by absolutely any measure, managing to thread the needle between comedy and horror in a way that few other attempts have come anywhere close to.

FH4: Pumpkins are always good clean fun! Their rotted out post-Halloween guts, on the other hand, are not.

Absolutely Not

AN1: Nope.

AN2: No way.

AN3: *shaking head*

AN4: Scary and sad? No thank you.

AN5: No.

*Day Of The Dead‘s Bub also spoke. Both movies were released the same year. However, Bub simply remembered things he used to say; O’Bannon’s zombies generated new thoughts.


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13 thoughts on “Spooky Season: A Scary Selection of Seasonal Links

  1. Great links!
    FS1 That movie is a hidden gem of a scary movie, plus it has George C. Scott and Brad Dourif!
    FS4 End up? (spoiler–scene is from first movie) but a good choice
    FS5 I agree–that’s one of my favorite scenes–also Ripley and Co. talking with Ash about the order. Alienis a haunted house story in space; it’s a movie I can always watch.

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  2. So, The Thing (the greatest of all horror films, bar none) was based on a short story, Who Goes There, by John W. Campbell. This is well known. But, unknown was that was a cut-down version of a novel that never saw print. And that novel was discovered in the writer’s letters that have been stored at Harvard. And it is going to be released! Frozen Hell.

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