It’s October - a month already pretty terrifying thanks to Halloween, but this year with an added Friday the 13th. What better way to embrace this double dose of nightmare fuel than by dipping into some of the quality horror content available at SBS On Demand? There’s three horror seasons currently on offer, each providing a different taste of horror thrills - plenty of material to give your spine a grade-A shiver workout.
We’re currently living through a golden age of horror movies. Forget the one-dimensional slasher films that once dominated the genre: these days if a movie wants to scare you there’s nothing they’re not going to try. And even when an old favourite is dusted off, there’s always a new spin to it: Let The Right One In gives a chilly vampire tale a coming-of-age twist, while Thirst pushes blood-sucking down a darkly sensual path. Other monsters are more contemporary: Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, features a stylishly alienating take on a creature harvesting humans only to feel herself becoming like them, while a European holiday hook-up turns out to have actual hooks in Spring.
Let The Right One In
Sometimes the horror comes from being trapped, like in Afterparty and Cold Prey 2. Other times it comes from being hunted by a creature that can’t be stopped or reasoned with, like in It Follows. And then there are the times when the horror is inside you, waiting for the right moment to burst forth, like the notoriously shocking, yet strangely moving, French coming-of-age film Raw (some audiences actually passed out during screenings). Well, initially it’s only vegetables that are inside Raw’s lead (she’s a vegetarian); it’s when her diet moves more towards those with heartbeats that things get disturbing.
Sometimes the creepiest thing a horror movie can do is give you the sense that everything is somehow not quite right. One of the best ways to soak up that feeling is by checking out a horror movie that’s stood the test of time: not only are they scary on their own terms, but their age often gives everything a slightly off-kilter feel that only makes things more unsettling. Poltergeist is already a frightening tale of a haunted house; the fact the house is now close to 40 years old only makes the whole film seem even more out-of-balance. The psychic powers and mind-bending antics of Altered States and Patrick are firmly of their time, but that makes them scary in a way they wouldn’t be if made today: back then people really believed in psychic abilities – and as with any good monster, believing in them only makes them stronger.
Of course, when you’re dealing with bona fide classics you’re going to be scared no matter what. Halloween is so terrifying it single-handedly created the slasher genre (it’s never been bettered), while Night of the Living Dead gave birth to the zombie genre and a world of nihilistic fear. And The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is without doubt the scariest film ever made; it’s as close to a work of pure genius as the horror genre has seen, even if Drive-In Movie Critic Joe Bob Briggs once described it as “a film that can scare the bejabbers out of you to the point where you think it was made by a cannibal”. Rest in peace, director Tobe Hooper.
Night of The Living Dead
It’s no secret that comedy and horror can often be two sides of the same coin. Things that make us laugh can also scare us, and vice versa – just look at Pennywise the Clown from current box office hit It (well, in theory clowns are meant to be funny). No wonder then that there’s plenty of comedies that dabble in horror, and loads of horror movies that don’t mind throwing a few jokes into the mix.
Sometimes the chortles come from putting regular people in the kinds of extreme situations that horror movies expect us to take seriously, such as the zombie uprisings in Cockneys vs Zombies and the often authentically scary Juan of the Dead.
Cockneys vs Zombies
Other times the horror setting is an excuse to get a bit silly; no-one’s going to be taking Wolfcop all that seriously, while Piranha 3DD is largely an excuse to see David Hasselhoff in his speedos versus a lake full of bikini-devouring killer fish. And occasionally there’s a film that strikes just the right balance between horror and comedy, resulting in something that’ll make you laugh even as it digs up some unsettling truths about how close humans and monsters really are. New Zealand vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows is a front-runner for funniest horror movie of the decade: whether you like to laugh or scream, it’s a winner.
What We Do In the Shadows
Turn off the lights, ready the popcorn, and whatever you do...if the door knocks...don't answer it. Your horror movie needs are being met right now at SBS On Demand.