Sunday, September 27, 2015

More Scary Movie Rankings

OK, let's do two more. Last night, as per the schedule, the family watched Village of the Damned (1960). I'll also rank John Carpenter's version of The Thing (1982), which I re-watched with my stepfather this past summer.

This British movie is about a village in southeast England where one strange day in the late 1950s, everybody fell asleep. The British army moved in to investigate, and found drawing too near the town caused any intruder to fall asleep as well. A few hours later, everybody woke up, and so far as anybody could tell nothing was any different, except for one thing: all the women in town of child-bearing age were pregnant.

They gave birth five months later (!) to a dozen children. The babies developed rapidly and without any of the normal childhood sicknesses. These children stuck together and when one learned something, the others learned it as well, without needing to speak to one another. As they grew, they developed powers to read others minds, and to control others as well.

I don't want to say too much more, except that when I first saw this in high school, I think, it became one of my favorite horror movies, and upon seeing it again so many years later, my opinion remains.

Story/Plot/Characters--Acting is great, pacing is perfect, story is compelling. (4 points)
Special Effects--Already this movie challenges my system a bit, for there are few special effects. I can't count that against the movie, simply because it chose not to use them, can I? The trick with the children's glowing eyes is effective. On the other hand, there is a scene where a house catches on fire that is clearly a model, and also, cars do not explode simply because they hit a brick wall. (1 point)
Scariness--My daughter, 6 years old, says it wasn't that scary. On the other hand, my son, 10, covered his eyes at a couple points. I found it moderately scary. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness--This movie is chock full of atmosphere and freakiness. (2 points)
Total=8 points

John Carpenter remade the Thing From Another Planet (1951) in 1982. I wonder if this was the first example of the sub-genre of action-horror? Certainly, Aliens (1986), Predator (1987), Pitch Black (2000), and the 1999 remake of The Mummy, fall in this genre. But I can't think of any examples before The Thing. The first Alien (1979) may have been close, but not quite.

Story/Plot/Characters--Acting is great, pacing is fine, but the characters are thin. Also, a key plot point is ridiculous. When the station biologist, Blair (played quite well by Wilford Brimley!), performs an autopsy of the disfigured corpse, he realizes it must be an alien creature. Fine. But then he runs a computer program that calculates the alien, which can take the form of any creature it takes over, will overrun the earth within a matter of weeks? What? Did Blair just happen to have that program on his computer? Or did he program it himself while on break from the alien autopsy? This makes no sense, and is a major hinge in the movie. (2 points)
Special Effects--This has some of the best effects of any horror movie I've ever seen. (2 points)
Scariness--Some scary scenes. I feel the very nature of the movie as a hybrid between action and horror undermines some of the scariness, though. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness--The creature's transformations are pretty freaky, and the isolated nature of Antarctic outpost makes for a nice feeling of isolation. But again, the action aspects undermine the atmosphere. (1 point)
Total=6 points
Here's the master list of horror movies I've rates so far:
Village of the Damned=8 points
Jaws=7 points
The Thing=6 points

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