Tag Archives: halloween 2020

30 Days of Night (2007) – Hearts of Darkness

30 Days of Night (dir. David Slade, 2007) – A tribe of bloodthirsty creatures attacks an Alaskan town during its month of darkness.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Barrow seats at the northern tip of Alaska, earning renown for being quite literally the top of the world. Because of its very location, the town experiences a polar night every year, plunging into 2 whole months of cold darkness. 30 Days of Night halves that number for a title with a nice ring to it. The shortened duration doesn’t lessen the terror of homicidal vampires having the upper hand over a mere 4000-strong population.

Gruesome fates soon befall the unsuspecting good folk of Barrow. Blood spills from torn throats and cracked skulls, but it isn’t just visceral violence that evokes fear. The absence of daylight in the middle of the wintry storm makes the air all the more suffocating. A new-to-town Stranger (Ben Foster) helps things along by cutting off all communications to the outside world, leaving no clear path to escape.

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Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (1920) – A Masterclass on Horror Visual Storytelling

Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (dir. Robert Wiene, 1920) – A hypnotist and a somnambulist come under suspicion for murder, following their bizarre town fair act.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Shrill screams and the crimson of blood have become so intrinsically tied to horror cinema, it is hard to imagine a film of the genre without either. But so it is with Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, a 1920 German silent film that relied almost entirely on what is seen in black and white.

The strange tale is related by Francis (Friedrich Fehér) in his extensive flashback. To a stranger, he tells of his visit to the town fair with his friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski). There, they witness the sideshow of hypnotist Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss), who wakes his somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt) from a deep sleep.

Cesare opens his haunting eyes. Staring ahead, he tells the futures of curious onlookers, including Alan’s death that very night. It happens, just as foretold. A grieving Francis sets his heart on investigating his friend’s murder – and the curious two-men act who predicted it.

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The Maid (2005) – A Chinese Ghost Story Through Foreign Eyes

The Maid (dir. Kelvin Tong, 2005) – A Filipino domestic worker arrives in Singapore during the seventh lunar month and soon begins to experience inexplicable sightings.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Those living outside of East Asia may not have heard of The Maid, not to be confused with the 2020 Thai haunted tale of the same name. This work of horror belongs to Singapore, one of the first mainstream releases of the genre in my country. It features familiar traditions and habits that are quintessentially local. But as films like Shutter and Ringu have proven, scares can transcend borders.

Set in the seventh lunar month, the film takes place during the Hungry Ghost Festival. The month signifies when the spirits of deceased ancestors return to the mortal realm. Contrary to likely first impressions, the festival has little to do with the terror of the supernatural. Rather, it is about remembrance and honouring the deceased. Even so, the alleged presence of the spirits still stokes fear to any child who spent their early years in the city state.

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The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Found Footage Era It Inspired

The Blair Witch Project (dir. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez , 1999) – Three students vanish on a trip to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

In 1998, the disappearance of three student filmmakers began making waves online. A website had surfaced, detailing the story of their vanishing alongside the myth of the “blair witch” they might have found. Online forums began to flood with theories by cynics and believers alike. The sheer detail was enough to pique the interest in web sleuths, eager to dive into their next true crime and unsolved mystery.

One year later, the footage of the missing students was purportedly found and released as a film known as The Blair Witch Project. All of it seemed real. Missing person flyers were distributed during its premiere. The cast was even listed as deceased on IMDb. And what could be scarier than genuine proof of the supernatural?

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Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) – The Rise of a Passion-Fuelled Cult Film

Repo! The Genetic Opera (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman, 2008) – During an epidemic of organ failures, a biotech company emerges with the antidote of transplants – for a price.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

During a worldwide epidemic, biotech corporation Geneco forces millions to purchase costly organs in order to survive. On paper, it is hard to imagine any measure of success for a film that puts music to this near-future dystopia. While gorehounds may very well scoff at the idea of enjoying the Broadway experience, musical fans are just as likely to balk at the hungry scalpels’ excessive bloodshed, which make the Demon Barber of Fleet Street seem tame next to it.

But everybody’s got somebody. Repo! The Genetic Opera managed to find a large cult following in every sense of the phrase, gathering to savour macabre murders and soaring voices in opera alike. Some fans are practically worshippers of the unholy union. Echoes of “Testify!” rise as they arrive in theatres, decked out in character costumes, performing shadow casts of their favourite scenes before the big screen as recent as last year.

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Event Horizon (1997) and Paul Anderson’s Enduring Vision of Hell

Event Horizon (dir. Paul W.S. Anderson, 1997) – A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that once disappeared into a black hole and has now returned with something else on board.

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This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

For years, many believe that Clive Barker’s Hell Priest may have had a hand in unleashing the hellscape of Philip Eisner’s Event Horizon. Of grotesque mutilations and scarified skin, we see that Barker’s consulting on the film’s pre-production was not for naught. Eisner’s story sees his Lemarchand’s Box take on a different form – the titular spaceship. Reappearing after vanishing for seven years, the craft’s mystery is as tantalising as the puzzle box that unlocks the door to the other world.

Led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), a rescue crew boards to investigate what had happened. They walk through it and begin to see the universe that exists on a plane beyond our understanding. They are shown their past regrets, second chances out of reach. Pleasure was pain there, as Barker once wrote, in seeing their loved ones and losing them all over again.

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