Horror Cinema: X

Ti West’s horror movies are among my favorites—The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and The House of the Devil—that I have seen multiple times. His newest feature, X, lives up to his reputation.

Like his previous movies, X takes a horror genre cliché and puts a refreshing new spin on it. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Wrong Turn series, X takes place in a remote country setting with the locals as villains. Watching it, I admit that I was skeptical at first because I had seen the storyline before. But, I was intrigued early on because of the reason why the main cast of characters was going to the remote country location, which was something I had never seen before, so that kept my attention. Then, as the narrative unfolded and the villain was introduced and developed, I was hooked!

With good pacing, satisfying gore, and a strong cast of characters, I highly recommend X.

West, Ti. X, A24, 2022.

Seance

This 1920 “spirit photo” by William Hope claims to show a spirit hand moving the table. (Via the National Media Museum’s Flickr page)
In the 1910s, magician William S. Marriott demonstrates how he could make a table appear to levitate with his foot. (From the Mary Evans Picture Library/Harry Price)
An engraving from the April 2, 1887, edition of “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” shows a séance with a floating guitar and a spirit hand writing messages. (Courtesy of MysteriousPlanchette.com)
The sheet music for 1920’s “Weegee Weegee Tell Me Do” shows lovers playing with a talking board. (From the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University)
This 1865 broadsheet reads, “These Pictures are intended to show that Modern Spiritualism of A.D. 1865 … was described and practised thousands of years since under the names of Witchcraft.” (Via WikiCommons)

Images and captions from an interesting and detailed article on spiritualism from Collectors Weekly, Ghosts in the Machines: The Devices and Daring Mediums That Spoke for the Dead.

Horror Cinema: Lin Shaye Appreciation Post

I am fan of the Insidious franchise mostly because of Lin Shaye’s character Elise Rainier. I was especially happy when the movies became largely about her character, offering more of Lin Shaye’s sincere and haunting performances.

Image from screengeek.net

Did you know that Lin Shaye has been acting in the horror genre for a while? She was a high school teacher in 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street.

Image from flipscreened.com

A more recent horror movie starring Lin Shaye is 2019’s Room for Rent.

With the same sincerity she uses to play Elise Rainier, Lin Shaye makes the protagonist of Room for Rent endearing. However, in this movie, instead of being a champion for good like Elise, her character is obsessive and dark. She certainly carries the movie, but she does it well.

Craven, Wes. Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema, 1984.
Stovall, Tommy. Room for Rent, Uncork’d Entertainment, 2019.
Wan, James and Leigh Whannell (created by). Insidious (film series), 2011-ongoing.

Horror Cinema: The Turning

I came across The Turning on Netflix. I enjoyed most of it: the contrast of the modern main character with the older estate and secondary characters; the jump scares with the mannequin; a creepy kid, who is a ghost?

My interest fell off about two thirds through when I lost touch with where the story was going. The main character was going mad and seeing things, and, instead of focusing in on the ghost story as a conclusion, I found that it spiraled out into chaos.

I have never been that impressed by Henry James’s “Turning of the Screw.” I have tried a few times over my lifetime because I love some of his other works, and I love nothing more than a ghost story. When I started this movie, I was hopeful that it would be a fresh take on the story and could change my mind on the source material.

Not successful.

Sigismondi, Floria. The Turning, Universal Pictures, 2020.

Spooky 19th-century Book Illustrations by French Artist Édouard de Beaumont

Happy Mother’s Day!

According to Piper Laurie, she honestly thought her character in Carrie (1976) was too over the top fanatical to be taken seriously. Director Brian De Palma had to take her to the side and personally tell her it was a horror film and not a “black comedy” as she thought it was. Even so, she would constantly burst out into laughter between takes because not only was her characterization and wardrobe laughable in her eyes, but the dialogue itself was humorous for her. To this day, she still refers to and maintains the movie as a black comedy.

More behind-the-scenes facts at IMDb Trivia: Carrie (1976).