Dark Visions - Conversations With The Masters of the Horror Film

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  1. Dark Visions: Conversations With the Masters of the Horror Film - Stan Wiater - Google книги
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Using a horror theme analogy, the shadow is "the Mr. Hyde to our Dr. Thus, human nature is really comprised of two selves: an outward, everyday persona and a dark shadow that people try to keep in check and hide from others as much as possible. She explains that while people might be committed to promoting life and making the world a better place in which to reside, each and every person has a death wish that can ultimately hurt them and the much larger society. Pearson further adds, "Even the healthiest individual will do or say things that hurt other people. Ultimately, the Destroyer turns us into villains when we refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for the harm we do—and we all do harm of some kind" Pearson , p.

Given this description of the archetypal Destroyer, it seems only natural that humankind is drawn to horror films. Every aspect of death that the psyche tries to keep hidden from the conscious self is depicted on the screen. And even though most of the cinematic acts of destruction are rather extreme and exaggerated forms of everyday reality, people are still compelled to examine them if for no other reason than to remind themselves that they carry around this death-dealing nature.

This entry examines the various faces of death in this particular film genre, starting with the silent era and moving to the contemporary period. The dramatic changes in how death is portrayed on the screen across eight decades will be noted as well as how these images are related to the given sociocultural milieu of the times. The silent era of horror films focused almost exclusively on the hideous, deathlike appearances of the monsters rather than the ghastly crimes they committed against society.

The chief reason was that the grisly makeup had to compensate for the lack of sound in these features. And so any number of strange and bizarre bogeymen that populated the screen greeted the viewer. Take for instance John Barrymore's Mr. Hyde , which depicts the counterpart of Dr. Jekyll as a creature with a Neanderthal, almost satanic visage.

Or consider the very first vampire film, the German silent Nosferatu , that turned Count Orlock into a "walking skeleton" of horror with "his pale skull-like face, his blazing eyes, pointed ears, and long tapering fingernails" Preiss , p. The Universal Studios period of horror films spanning the s and s continued to invest most of their special effects budget in the title creatures' features at the expense of adequate plot development, noteworthy musical scores, and prominent death scenes. Thus, the great works of literature like Bram Stoker's Dracula or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein were converted to one-dimensional productions with the ghoulish monster once again occupying the central position on the screen.

His broken English, exaggerated hand gestures, pasty face makeup, piercing eyes, aquiline nose, and high cheekbones gave Lugosi a kind of cinematic immortality for recreating the image of the Old World nobleman into a mysterious, somewhat disturbing creature of the night. Interestingly, very few humans would die at the hands of this cinematic Count, unlike his literary predecessor.

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The very next year Universal tried its hand at Shelley's Frankenstein , giving the actor Boris Karloff his chance at fame for playing the Monster with a good deal of pathos. The film reviewer Byron Preiss describes Karloff in the following way: "tall, ill-clad, lumbering, with a square head and pegs sticking out from his neck, his face gaunt, his eyes baffled. And while the Monster executes some humans in the worst way imaginable from drowning a child in the lake to hanging the hunchbacked servant with his own whip , these sequences take a backseat to the very realistic, corpselike appearance of Karloff that the viewer never tires from seeing.

However, few would ever reach the stature of Count Dracula or Frankenstein's Monster in looks or atrocities, overt as well as covert. It was not until the s that the creature features would return to the screen in a never-before-seen blood-thirsty glory by the Hammer Film Studios in London, England. More than anything else, the Hammer Studios wanted to attract a significant portion of the adult market to the horror film genre. Instead of banal scripts and terrible acting, the Universal story lines would be updated for that targeted audience with experienced actors like Christopher Lee Count Dracula and Peter Cushing Dr.

Victor Frankenstein at the helm, delivering lines with vigor and enthusiasm. Perhaps the most salient addition was the effective use of bloodshed and gore at key moments to illustrate just how despicable these characters were to their unsuspecting victims.

Dark Visions: Conversations With the Masters of the Horror Film - Stan Wiater - Google книги

The movies were shot in a Technicolor brilliance unlike their monochromatic predecessors , which only exaggerated the death scenes. Now the viewer would gaze at streams of blood gushing out from chests, necks, and faces in a potpourri of deep reds and bright purples amidst softer blue and green backdrops. Some examples of Hammer Studios' seventeen-year tenure in the horror cinema from to are included to show just how much the Destroyer archetype had been modified to satiate the public demand for more atypical and bizarre ways of killing on the screen.

The Dracula series of films began their run with some very striking scenes. In Horror of Dracula Van Helsing drives the stake into a recently converted vampire with a sickening relish. By the ending he traps Dracula in his own castle and, holding candlesticks in the sign of the cross, the good doctor forces the Count directly into the rays of the sun, thereby blasting the crumbling body to dusty remains.

The follow-up movie, Dracula—Prince of Darkness , involves the resurrection of the infamous monster by having his manservant brutally slit the throat of one of the guests at the castle in a Black Mass ritual. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave depicts one of the most graphic sequences of any vampire film to date.

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  • Here the Count survives a staking by pulling out the pointed object and throwing it at his attackers, but not before a significant amount of blackishred blood comes streaming out of the rather large hole made in the vampire's chest. As the titles progressed, Dracula would be stabbed, burnt, poked and prodded atop a bed of stakes, and even shoveled to death Dracula A. Like Dracula, the Frankenstein set had its share of memorable death moments. Beginning with The Curse of Frankenstein , the Monster strangles a number of the local villagers with its bare hands before being shot directly in the face.

    The film critic John McCarty notes that Frankenstein is no better than his creation, "fondling brains, eyeballs, severed hands and other assorted organs" throughout the film with an unusual coldness that would bring new meaning to the term "mad scientist" McCarty , p.

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    The series continues this bloody path by having new creations eat the flesh of their victims Revenge of Frankenstein, as well as decapitate assorted bullies and store their heads in picnic baskets and atop bedposts Frankenstein Created Woman, Perhaps the most tragic of all fates occurs for the Monster when it is literally torn apart by the inmates of an asylum who spurn it for being so different from themselves Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, The Curse of the Werewolf ends on a sad note when the cursed creature's father shoots it in the heart with a silver bullet.

    The metamorphosis back to the human state never transpires, and so the camera lingers on the were-wolf's face that has bloodstained tears dripping from the permanently open, yet forlorn, eyes. Other British companies tried to emulate the Hammer horror treatments with some measure of success. The Amicus Company specialized in reanimated body parts that would seek out with a vengeance those parties responsible for their owners' deaths see Dr. Elstree Studios, in conjunction with American International, gave a more human face to the Destroyer by casting horror film veteran Vincent Price in the title role of The Abominable Dr.

    Phibes , who metes out justice to those physicians who could not save his beloved wife, Victoria. In Price disclosed in an interview with Stanley Wiater that he thoroughly enjoyed making Dr. Phibes, as it enabled him to throw a good deal of humor into the role so that the extent of his violent acts could be significantly diminished on the screen. And so one of Phibes's victims is drained entirely of his blood, another has the flesh on her face consumed by locusts, and still another is eaten alive in the cockpit of his plane by ravenous rats while the doctor attentively listens to his assistant Vulnavia playing beautiful music upon her violin.

    The send-up formula would be employed at least three more times by Price in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, ; Theater of Blood, ; and Madhouse, until the actor became tired of the same old story line and eventually retired from the horror genre. But the violencehumor combination would remain a staple of the horror film from this point on. The American horror cinema was heavily influenced by the British faces of death, yet was able to impart originality to its less Gothic, more modernized tales of destruction.

    The mad slasher film became one of the most popular American products, starting with Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Psycho. Playing the dual role of a disturbed young man Norman Bates and his dead mother, Anthony Perkins gave a much needed pathos to the brutal slasher figure that killed unsuspecting women taking showers in their motel rooms.

    The three Psycho sequels that followed Psycho II, ; Psycho III, ; and Psycho IV: The Beginning, continued to expand on the character of Norman Bates and were successful in large part due to Perkins portraying the aging madman as a misunderstood victim of his tragic upbringing.

    The statement Bates utters throughout the series, "We all go a little mad sometimes," would allow viewers to identify with his insanity and perhaps their own latent fears of losing control in an abusive environment as well. Other horror series throughout the s, s, and s attempted to recreate the Psycho slasher, but their madmen ultimately lacked the charm, wit, and other human qualities of Perkins's Bates.

    From Halloween 's Michael Myers, Friday the 13th 's Jason Voorhees, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 's Freddy Krueger all these slashers share a number of qualities: a distinctive attire from hockey masks to green-and-red sweaters , heavy breathing, a lingering point-of-view toward their intended prey, and the ability to generate a high body count i. One noteworthy trademark of the slasher film, namely the Final Girl who survives and eventually kills the madman with anything readily available e.

    As the film study scholars Pat Kirkham and Janet Thumim note, male fans of the genre would be the strongest endorsers, especially when these Final Girls took the offensive and used The horror movie Poltergeist, starring Craig T. Are you an author? Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography.


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