#284- Häxan

Quick recap: A documentary-ish about Witchcraft through the ages

Don't feed after midnight

Don’t feed after midnight

Fun (?) fact: Director Benjamin Christensen originally planned on writing the script with the help of experts but dropped that idea when he learned they were against his movie.

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My thoughts: Another year of HorrorFest is in the books and another year where I still think the 1920s were a pretty creepy time. Häxan alone didn’t do much for me because ‘meh’ on witches, but people dressed UP as witches, no thank you. I’m not talking about the sexy kind we have walking around these days, but the ones with dead eyes featured in this film.

Häxan is half dry documentary about the history of witchcraft and half stories that the director heard. The dry documentary part was more interesting to me than the vignettes because people a long time ago imagined some pretty scary stuff. I’m all for science and learning how the world works, but sometimes it would just be nice to blame things on witches, you know? Like, it’s not my fault I didn’t get grades on time- my witch is a neighbor! I was going 30 mph over the speed limit because a witch cursed my foot. It works in every situation. We make jokes how stupid people back then used to be but they sure were the masters of shirking responsibility.

The vignettes are your typical witch fare of curses and making weird brews in a big pot. One ‘fact’ the director wanted us to remember is that witches like to kiss the butt of the devil. He mentions it 3 different times, complete with recreations of a bunch of witches lined up, ready to literally kiss ass. It seems like such a weird thing to focus on, as if that is the most offensive thing witches do. I didn’t know that was a thing before the movie, however, so I can’t completely hate on it. The more you know, I suppose.

Final review: 1/5. I’m still ‘meh’ on witches, but please don’t make me look at people dressed up during Halloween in the 1920s.

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Up next: The Wizard of Oz

 

#283- Eyes Without a Face

Quick recap: After a horrific accident, a father goes out of his way to try and repair his daughter’s face. It sounds like the sweetest story ever, until it is revealed he is murdering young women and stealing their faces.

there's a face that'll keep you up at night

there’s a face that’ll keep you up at night

Fun (?) fact: In order to get financial backing for the movie, director Georges Franju was advised to leave out the animal torture scenes (to not offend the English), too much blood (to not offend the French) and a mad-scientist character (to not offend the Germans).

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My thoughts: Many of the horror films I’ve watched from other countries do a nice job of building up suspense long after the movie is over. Except for Funny Games, which traumatized me from the very beginning. Eyes Without a Face is no exception. I thought it slow moving while I watched, but there were enough creepy scenes to keep me somewhat occupied. After the movie was over, however, I couldn’t get the image of the girl out of my head and it has stuck with me since then.

Unsettling is the best word I could use to describe the movie. There was never anything downright scary, but instead several scenes that unsettled me. The surgery scene, for example, as the doctor removed the girl’s face to transplant it on to his daughter’s. It was gruesome, but not terrifying. And then end scene when the doctor gets what’s coming to him was also gross but not scary. All the scenes in between, though, especially anything to do with the main character and her Mask of Gloom bothered me. She was very sweet and didn’t ask for any of this, but why did she have to look so creepy with the long, flowing night gowns? And whoever decided that the mask was an improvement over her disfigured face was out of their mind.

As has been the unofficial theme of HorrorFest this year, I had trouble trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to fear. The doctor was evil, murdering pretty girls just for their faces, but that didn’t particularly scare me. Or maybe it was the girl herself, who, as I just described, creeped me out, but only because of the mask,not because of who she was. I can appreciate that my knowledge of the horror genre has increased, but it also makes me a little sad that it’s harder to find good movies that just scare me, without any rhyme or reason. Maybe one will pop up here next year, because this year has been a bit of a dud.

Final review: 3/5. The girl wasn’t enough for a higher rating, although the movie itself wasn’t bad overall

Up next: the last film of HorrorFest!

#282- Eraserhead

Quick recap: Poor Henry can’t catch a break on vacation- his girlfriend leaves him to care for their new mutant baby and he has a terrible time of it. Luckily, he has his weird neighbor to keep him company as well as a girl in the radiator.

Mondays, am I right??

Mondays, am I right??

Fun (?) fact: Director David Lynch has been cryptic about the origin of the mutant baby- everything from it being a calf fetus to something having been born nearby.

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My thoughts: Here’s a fun tip for all you cinephiles out there- do NOT watch anything of David Lynch’s body of work when you are alone in a hotel room. Trust me on this. What makes it worse is that I know what a Lynch film is capable of doing to me and I STILL went through with it. This is why I can’t have nice things.

No, I have no clue what this movie is about or what the symbolism means. David Lynch has said that it is a very personal film for him and if so, I’m really worried. It’s hard to pick the most wtf moment- when the mutant baby got sick, the whole chicken carving scene, when Henry’s girlfriend kept birthing (?) little alien worms which he then proceeded to throw against the wall? All of them traumatized me in their own special way. At the same time, I couldn’t look away. There were times I had to remind myself to blink because no matter what, I had to see what horrible thing would pop up next. It’s rubbernecking in the most extreme sense.

There is a part of me that thinks even David Lynch doesn’t know why he did what he did. At times, it just seems like he cobbled together all of the weird dreams he probably has and put them on film so we could suffer too. Maybe he is hoping someone, somewhere can find meaning and interpret what is a very active subconscious. That person isn’t me, though. After the movie ended, I could clearly hear girls in the next room laughing just like the mutant baby at the end of the film. I jumped off of the bed, threw on clothes, ran downstairs and sat in the sunlight for a few minutes, thankful that here, David Lynch’s imagination can’t hurt me.

dude has a thing for checkered floors. Someone should explore that.

dude has a thing for checkered floors. Someone should explore that.

Final review: I feel like I should give this a made up number like eleventeen but in the end, I’ll stick with 4/5

Up next: HORRORFEST is sadly drawing to a close

 

#281- Deliverance

Quick recap: 4 men go on a canoe trip and end up being hunted by hillbillies.

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Fun (?) fact: According to IMDb, more than 30 people drowned in the Chattooga River after the movie came out because they were trying to recreate different scenes.

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My thoughts: Bonus fun fact- I still have the ‘Dueling Banjos’ melody in my head. It’s better than my usual mashup of the Ducktales theme song/Mentos commercial, but I’d still like to move on from it, all the same. So. Deliverance. This movie is in the category of Movies People Unnecessarily Warn Me About, like The Exorcist. Yes, there were disturbing scenes, but it was no more or less disturbing than other movie I have watched on this list

Before I spew my actual thoughts about the film, I have a confession to make. Saturday Night Live’s Celebrity Jeopardy is one of my favorite things ( like most people, I assume), but I never really understood the Burt Reynolds impersonation until this movie. I haven’t seen many films that he is in but after watching Deliverance, I realize that I don’t need to in order to understand who he is. And, tangentially, what was up with that vest Reynolds wore? What was it made of? It seems like the kind of clothing that would chafe you until you were driven insane, but this is Burt Reynolds we are talking about, so maybe he was in his element.

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You could stand to show a little more chest hair, Mr. Reynolds

So. Deliverance. It didn’t do much for me, although I can appreciate turning so common, like a river, into something so sinister. I guess I’m meh about the whole thing because I was expecting more disturbing scenes than I got. Literally the only thing I knew about this movie was the rape scene, and although it was rough, it didn’t bother me like the one in Man Bites Dog did. Maybe because it’s a man, more people are shocked? On the other hand, this movie did not make me want to go jump into a canoe anytime soon. I’m not really a fan of being in the water anyway, but watching Deliverance made me all the more weary to go camping or some other similar adventure.

Final review: 2/5. I think my ambivalence comes from my dislike of most of the characters. Burt Reynolds was never supposed to be likeable, but I didn’t really care what happened to any of them.

Up next: Horrorfest marches on