Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's spooky time!!!!

I was just idly scanning this week's GU film blog and in honour of Halloween, there's an amusing thread on the scariest film of all time. Not surprisingly Uncle Jack got the most votes, but I was reminded of a TV series which terrified me as a child. If any of you were born in the late sixties, then you might just empathise with my involuntary shiver if I utter the four fatal words: Quiet. As. A. Nun.....
AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggggggggg!!
It was a cheesy seventies series called Armchair Thriller and was made in the same mould as Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. But there was something about that blank, black face that was (and actually still is) the stuff of nightmares. Did this freak any of you good people out too?


And the question to go: It's Halloween. Share your childhood TV and film terrors with us. What sent you skittering behind the sofa in fear and trembling? Happy Halloween my friends. Here's enough fodder fpr a sleepless night here.

Oh and.....
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

(cackle)

51 comments:

FP said...

Still three dots but it's FP here.
You hope....

gremlinfc said...

Much scarier was the epsode of "Beasts" called "Baby" which aired in 1976 when I was 9 and it seriously freaked me out - how irresonsible of me folks to let me watch it! Check it out...this is the resumee:
A young couple move to the countryside and discover a strange mummified animal in the wall of their cottage. The wife increasingly feels that she and her unborn child are in danger...
Got goosebumps just thinking of it...

Mnemonic said...

Thanks for the link to the column, FP. I've added my scariest there.

sourpus said...

I remember watching that Hammer late classic The Devil Rides Out

Here's the whole thing, courtesy of You Tube.

The scene where you actually see the Devil (i.e. a bloke dressed as a goat), scared me shitless..at the time.

More bizarre things that scared me as a kid, include:

- the Autons first appearance on Dr Who, as shopwindow dummies

- almost any of those Czech cartoons using stop frame animated toys or puppets

- the opening segment of Captain Scarlett

sourpus said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjiesKYB758

Sorry, its here.

nilpferd said...

The first time I can remember being really scared was peeking around the corner of the door at the Hammer Dracula with Christopher Lee, that gave me nightmares. It was the helplessness of the victims and the inexorable progress of the count with the onset of night which seemed really terrifying. Luckily I didn't see the Murnau version as a kid, otherwise I'd probably never have watched another film again...

saneshane said...

TV terror about devil dogs..

my big brother let me stay up while my folks were out.. then I had to get up in the night and our German Shepherds eyes reflected some light and glowed red.. petrified doesn't describe it.

(I also just walked down stairs in the dark, forgetting paper monsters are hung all around the house... mini jumps!)

my brother sneaked me into nightmare on elm street when I was 14/15 too.. wish he hadn't.. wasn't so much the film.. it was the people jumping around me that made me more nervous.

The Ms. says 'the childcatcher' in chitty chitty bang bang... my little one freaked at him too.

Shoegazer said...

Remember a very strange horror film called "Scream & Scream Again". Vincent Price, Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing were in it. A jogger wakes up in hosptial after colapsing in the street & his leg is missing. When he wakes up again all his limbs are gone. Also had something to do with vampire murders & secret scientific experiments.

ToffeeBoy said...

An American Werewolf In London is about the scariest film I can make myself watch. I don't do horror ...

FP said...

You luvvlies are taking me down a trip on memory lane. How much of that seventies horror/ sci fi stuff would be broadcast prime time or indeed at all nowadays I wonder?
----
Gremlin: a case in point - that sounds very twisted and nasty indeed.
----
Mnemonic - yes Quatermasss sent a collective shiver of horror through my school. I wasn't allowed to watch it and I distinctly remember classmates talking about it in hushed tones.Frightened the pants off them. It even scared my parents.
---
Sourpus : I loved Captain Scarlett but the voice of the mysterons was creepy indeed.
---
Nilpferd: Hope that didn't put you off vampire movies per se. We've just watched a good one with Asia Argento as opposed to Let the Right one In which I had planned to watch. She's a cool dude. She was on the Cannes jury this year and spent a lot of time partying and DJing (she's supposed to be very good). Isabelle Huppert told her off about it and she retorted "Who are you, my mother"?
----
Sane: Do not therefore in your household use the phrase "Lollipops, anyone?" Scary indeed in a Grimm sort of way.
----
Shoey - talk about an allstar cast! That's the vampire hall of fame indeed. Dracula meets Boxing Helena, so to speak.
---
I've just reminded myself that The Phantom of the Paradise freaked me out at the time. Extra spill points for the tenuous link there.

FP said...

I'm with you Toffee but I do love Vampire movies of all genres.

saneshane said...

what i found strange with The Phantom of the Paradise was finding out Sissy Spacek was the set dresser..

don't know a link tho

FP said...

Fascinating. You mean she was in the crew? Is that how she got started? On the same topic - I never dared watch Carrie as a kid. The pictures I saw on the cover of the novel scared me too much.

ejaydee said...

ANyone seen this film called Baxter?
Very scary for a boy already afraid of dogs.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8bkcq_trailer-baxter-1988-annonce-film-ch_shortfilms

Japanther said...

anyone remember that one-off Halloween special that the BBC did in about 1993/1994?? It had Craig Charles and Mike Smith and they were having live link ups to Britain's most haunted places. It was all a spoof of course, but it was done really realistically. Me and my mates were round the local flophouse/drug dealer/stoner house with these older stoner kids and everyone was absolutely petrified......it all went ridiculous at the end and the game was up, but we truly thought it was real at the the time......we were off our heads, mind you...

steenbeck said...

Oh, I loved Baxter. And around the same time we saw tatie Dan whiniel, wch was wierdlyvsimilar despite being about an aunt instead of a dog.

My firstbreallu scary movie was invasion of the body snarchers with Donald Sutherland. Holy smoke, anyone could be an alien-- even your mom or dad !!!!!

steenbeck said...

Aw, shot, there's something amiss with my iPhone. That's tatie Daniel.

gremlinfc said...

@Japanther - "Ghost Watch" and it featured Sarah Greene and old Mikey-Boy Parkinson ...brilliant TV which prompted scores of complaints from terrified viewers!
Bit of a "War of the Worlds" moment...

AliMunday said...

Quatermass and the Pit or The Stone Tapes.

AliMunday said...

Ooooh, I've just looked at your link, FP, and they were both written by the same person.

"Whistle and I'll Come To You" was scary too.

CaroleBristol said...

The scariest film I have ever seen is a black and white film, made in 1963 or 4, I think and called The Haunting.

It is based on a novel called The Haunting of Hill House and was remade in the 1990s but the original is the real blood curdler.

It achieves its power by lighting, atmosphere and music.

It's a genuinely scary film.

Apart from that, I really adore all things Vampire.

FP said...

Ouf! We made it through to All Saints. I got so spooked out last night that I had to tappety tap Frogprince on the shoulder - "Umm, you commin' to bed, then?" Didn't want to go alone....
----
Ejay = there was a real seventies fad for The Book of The Film. Suppose the equivalent nowadays is the video game. I very much remember seeing the Baxter novel at the newsagentss. Without looking - white faced pit bull - right? That was enough for me. Never made it to the film. Frogprince remembers a TV series set in the Bermuda triange with a character called Teddy Jack who terrorised families by sending them parcels with dismembered hands. Scared him witless. Ring any bells pour toi? Christ, where were the censors? What were they on? All round at Japanther's place no doubt...
-----
Japanther = if you get in a few jars those "live from haunted places" linkups can be spooky. French TV did one last year. I think it was Valerie Lemercier who was given all the local bloody baron guff, a radio mike and camera helmet. She was made to spend the evening on the castle tower and got seriously freaked out. It was funny in a sadistic way but some bits were a bit too Blair Witch for comfort, Incidentally I've never seen that either.
----
Lady S. I love Tatie Danielle. Marvellous actress. Revenge for wanting to shunt her off. And Body SSnatchers is a true horror classic - with, I think, lots of cold war subtexts, hidden commies and all that?
-----
Ali - you're with Mnemonic then. And 'Whistle and I'll come to you' rings a bell too. Just the title alone is terrifying....
---
I know that SAW and the like are truly horrible - the so called torture porn movies. But I'm fast coming to the conclusion that for serious psychological weirdness and genuine nastiness, it's hard to beat the seventies. After effects of all the stuff that was taken in the sixties? Who knows. Interesting thesis to be done on predominant horror themes in the cinema in co-relation to the geopolitical and economic situation at the time. It's kind of tactitly agreed that the cold war gave rise to all those alien and zombie inviasion movies as an outlet for all the anti-commie paranoia. But what was going on in the sixtiess, seventies, eighties and nineties? Hell, what's going on in the noughties? Any good books on the subject?

FP said...

Morning Carole - was the Hill House thing a true story? That's what makes Amityville so scary (well would be if I had seen it). Some of these are reputedly true stories. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
Vampire movies mix up love, sex, death, beauty, cruelty, the quest for eternal life, religion, faith... there's so much going on there. It's a really potent, irresistable cocktail. Ohmahgod. Have you sseen Park Chan Wook's Thirst yet? Please do. Utterly brilliant re-vamp (ehm) of the traditional ingedients. Tell me if you do.

FP said...

Question to all vampire fans. We were wondering if the film last night - les morsures de l'aube - had got it wrong. Can you photograph a vampire? I know they leave no reflection in the mirror. What's the wisdom on photos? Just wondering....

CaroleBristol said...

FP, I don't think that the book that the film of The Haunting was based on anything real.

Not sure about photographing vampires, I don't think that I have ever seen it mentioned.

SLR cameras rely on a mirror to transmit the image via a pentaprism into the viewfinder, so the photographer shouldn't be able so see a vampire in a shot, but I see no reason why the image wouldn't get captured on film or via the CCD in a DSLR.

FP said...

Yes - makes sense. Total logic there. Wonder how many films got that wrong then... I have a feeling the film last night actually did. I get a bit nerdy about things like that. One of the characters was killed by a metal spike through the chest. Everyone knows it had to be a wooden stake.Choh!

Japanther said...

@gremlinfc - yes! that was it "Ghost Watch", thanks...it's been bugging me all day! Definitely a "War Of The Worlds" moment...I was sucked in hook, line and sinker.

ejaydee said...

FP, yes a white pitbull, that's the one. I have the DVD here, but I haven't dared to give it a fresh viewing yet.

treefrogdemon said...

You must be remembering a later Quatermass...I remember being sent to bed as it was starting - the dust rolls off down the wall to reveal the title 'Quatermass and the Pit.' Never did get to see it.

Carole, The Haunting was written by Shirley Jackson, who also wrote Life Among The Savages, a completely opposite kind of book long loved in our family - it's a thinly-disguised autobiographical account of her life in the early 50s bringing up her children. SO funny.

Mnemonic said...

I am definitely remembering Quatermass and the Pit and there were several terrifying bits. The one that still makes me jump is at the end of episode 3 when they open the hub of the "bomb" and find the dessicated Martians and one of them slips slightly forward, giving the illusion of still being alive. The other bit is when the electrician is trying to reach the sanctuary of the church from Hob Lane and he falls on the gravel path and the ground starts undulating round him. I think it was in 1959, the last year we were living in Cumberland but it might have been the following year.

nilpferd said...

I'm a bit too squeamish for graphic bloodsucking I'm afraid FP, not really cut out for vampire pics as a result. Don't mind reading about them though, short stories such as Angela Carter's various werewolves or Theophile Gautier's The beautiful Vampire (La morte amoureuse) are highly recommended.

gremlinfc said...

@Nilpferd - are you scared by my costume? Did you do Halloween in Deutschland?

FP said...

Hi guys. I've exorcised the spookiness by watching Gone with the wind from start to finish for the first time. Well fiddle dee dee. What a marathon, eh?
---
Nilpferd's post reminds me of how incongruous I must have looked with a dear colleague in May. He's a rather tall muscular German. Very sportlich if you please. I'm not very tall - 5 foot 2. Which I think is about average lady hight in France so I'm OK but feel small in Germany. We got tickets to see the evening screening of 'Thirst' in Cannes. I'm sitting there cackling my head off at the gorefest on the screen, look round at my six foot colleague who is cringing so much has pratically has his knees under his chin. Can't stand the sight of blood. I consider myself an utter chicken in terms of horror movies but strangely can stand gore. And Thirst is VERY gory. I'll check out La morte amoureuse. Sounds like a good read for a winter night.
---
Go Ejay - face that dawg. I faced up to my nun. With the sound down. Next to Frogprince on the sofa.
----
Gremlin - France and I think Germany have latched on to Halloween, but as I say every year, I get a bit sick of the French snootily beefing about 'cette putain de fete americaine'. It's celtic and very old, OK? And if you don't like it then don't fill your shops with pumpkins, witches and the like. Sounds reasonable.

treefrogdemon said...

I'm the person who passed out during the first-aid course when the instructor showed a video of a haemorrhage...

FP said...

Sweet. Mind you - show me a needle in any part of the body and I'm out cold. Once had a blood test and passed out rather spectacularly. Can't even watch on film. Anyone know the scene in The Tall Guy where Jeff Goldblum goes to get his holiday shots for 'Morocco'?

nilpferd said...

Gremlin- nope. You're not sucking blood though, are you. Halloween hasn't really caught on here yet, though there's a US run kids english library here which did some quite fun parties in the past. But autumn is still more about Erntedank (Thanksgiving) and St. Martins day (Lantern festival on 11 November).

TracyK said...

I saw and read The Amityville Horror at 10 and was utterly traumatised for aaaaaages. I watched Whistle and I'll Come To You on Youtube on Friday night and that's stayed with me rather too much. I use the black and white The Haunting at school: I have a projector screen and we close the curtains and I teach them how to watch a film properly (in bloody silence, with total concentration: I look on it as a life-lesson!). I just love their reactions at the infamour long scene, the one with the spiral staircase and the uh, thing which I won't give away. I turn to watch their faces at that point: I've had actual screams and a lad fell off his chair last year. Quality.

FP said...

I stand corrected Nilpferd. I think Halloween has seeped over the Rhein to Kehl but the phenomenon probably stops at, let's say, Offenburg :-))
---
Good on you for teaching kids how to watch fillums properly, TK. Think I'll catch up on The Haunting and Whistle... next year. I'm all spooked out now and bathing in the rosy glow of Scarlett and Cap-tayn Butler. Noticed that he actually phrases it: " Frankly my dear, I don't GIVE a damn"

AliMunday said...

The 'Quatermass' I saw was probably 1967. I don't know when I saw it - I did watch other things that scared me though they weren't really scary, e.g. "Gaslight"; "The Cat and the Canary" (Bob Hope??) and would you believe "Dr. Finlay's Casebook". One episode where an elderly couple died of "gas poisoning" in their own home put me right off gas, left me terrified of bunsen burners, and meant that I didn't actually use gas in my home until I was 27!!!

saneshane said...

FP
I'm told set dressing is like staging in theatre.. designing the sets or adapting them...

wikki says (so it must be true!):

"Sissy Spacek was the film's set dresser, assisting her then-boyfriend-now-husband Jack Fisk, the film's production designer"

with you on the show me a needle in any part of the body and I'm out cold thing... (but I did have a tetanus jab needle brake in my arm when I was 7 years old - I was bitten by a rat.. so don't like them either)

Mnemonic said...

Sourpus, agree that The Devil Rides Out was definitely superior to the usual Hammer horror. I remember the bit where Charles Gray's eyes appear in the mirror of the car and start hypnotising the driver.

I'm with FP and Saneshane on the needles; mine is as a result of a diphtheria inoculation going badly wrong when I was eight. Stupid bastards put it through the main nerve of my arm. I still go cold at the memory of the pain. I didn't even get my ears pierced until I was 62 because of it. (Then I went the whole hog and had them done by a Polish tattoo artist in an Old Compton Street basement.)

Speaking of which, I've just watched the latest episode of True Blood on 4AD and there's a scene with a doctor brandishing a needle that will have strong men crossing their legs the world over. Be afraid, be very afraid....

FP said...

Oh Lord. Frogprince went out and I unwisely read through the whole the Channel 4 list, alone, while watching Silence of the Lambs III (the one with beautiful Gaspard Uliel which explains how Hannible bacame a monster) Fiddle dee fekkin 'ell. Ali, your Dr Finlay nom is not at all out of place. There are episodes of Coronation Street and Eastenders in the C4 list. Whatever scares you...I am grinding my teeth in anguish at Sane and Mnemonic's posts. A needle breaking in the arm is beyond all horror and hitting the nerve has happened to me too. The one from the wrist to the thumb. Still recall the pain today. Quick! Need a dose of genyooine Hollywood saccharine to drive out the bogey men. Although interestingly enough The Wizard of Oz featured quite high in the list too. Just for being over colourful and totally psychadelic. What was Dorothy ON? that was some trip...

AliMunday said...

The version of Quatermass I saw had Marius Goring in it, which probably dates it. I hasten to say I wasn't born until 1959 so it may have been a repeat!

I forgot "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" as well. My aunt let me and my cousin watch it when we were staying in a hotel prior to my brother's wedding, so I would have been 9. Scary.

tincanman said...

Cape Fear
The remake Scorsese did in the 90s. I saw it in a theatre and had to leave.

FP said...

I'll youtube the day the earth caught fire.
----
That's one of my scariest movies too. Did you see that both Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum get wee cameos? The scene with Juliette Lewis in the drama department decor house is one of the most disturbing I've ever seen. Talk about red riding hood and the wolf....
---
I'm currently enjoying another creepy autumnal evening having watched Arsenic and old lace - the perfect Halloween film - and am now enjoying Peeping Tom. God it's accomplished. Terrifying stuff.

Abahachi said...

Coming much too late to this thread, which is a shame, and there's so much to comment on... Vampires and photographs; no consistency in the mythology, as far as I can see, but I liked the consistency of the very under-rated series Ultraviolet - which I think I've mentioned before under the category of "why the hell weren't there more episodes? I want to know what happened next" - where vampires didn't register on any modern technology, so had to use Stephen Hawking-style digital voice software to make phone calls. They made great use of this in one episode involving surveillance tapes, where the point was that if you saw someone in the flesh who didn't appear on the monitor then they were a vampire - and the same applied to tape.

A few years ago I was researching an article on cannibalism in classical antiquity, including literary depictions, and read some interesting academic work on early 1970s horror movies in the hope that it might offer some sort of insight into what's going on in the unrelenting bloodshed of Seneca's Thyestes (think Titus Andronicus and double it). As I recall, they were busy pushing a crude Marxist line (obviously I speak as a more sophisticated sort of Marxist), cross with a bit of Freud, so it was all about the fear of the bourgeoisie that the marginalised underclass would rise up against them with their chainsaws.

I don't actually watch many horror films; give me novels and short stories any day for getting scared out of my wits, e.g. M.R. James, Susan Hill, that sort of thing. Certainly don't go a bundle on the bloodshed; much prefer something like The Others.

Abahachi said...

Not especially keen on needles, partly due to a week in hospital with a series of teenaged junior doctors failing to find a vein to give me a blood test several times a day and partly due to being married to an acupuncturist. However, my real bugbear is teeth; not the Marathon Man thing, but a short story I read when I was about twelve, possibly by David Langford but I'm not sure.

In brief, as far as I can remember: man keeps having nightmares about sores opening in his arms, teeth splintering when he clenches his jaw, foreign-looking woman smiling in the background, always wakes up just before 2 am to see the red light of his alarmclock blinking at him. Eventually concludes that the alarmclock has been cursed by the Filipino who'd made it (I didn't say this was a well-written story); does the usual sort of thing to try to break the curse (probably smashing the clock; I don't remember), and so of course next time it all happens in reality. It's just imagining the feeling of your teeth splintering and crumbling - my mouth starts feeling uncomfortable thinking about it.

FP said...

Herr Hach! Nice to see you! Will check out Ultraviolet as I admit to having started a collection of vampire movies - so I'll Ebay it. OOOhh diggin' the Marxist take on the Freudian fears of the underclass by the bourgeoisie. Turn it around - on it's head. And you get the noughties trend for offering the spectacle to the underclass (the great unwashed filmgoing public)of the bourgeoisie being punished for being rich and superior. Don't the kids in SAW and Hostel come from rich, WASP backgrounds? The kind who can afford to send their kiddies back packing in YooRope? I'm on shaky ground here as I haven't seen these films, but I'd like to bet that we're torturing rich kids here. I must read up on some film theory - something I haven't done in alooooong time. Just realising that it still excits the hell out of me. Where's Nilpferd and his tropes????

Abahachi said...

Quick check of my bibliography indicates that the book I was thinking of is called 'American Nightmare: essays on the horror film', by Andrew Britton and others, published in Toronto in 1979.

FP said...

Cheers Hach - it's ordered.

Anonymous said...

cum tranny 69