CONCEIVING horror is very simple: just think of something that transports outside the natural “comfort zone” and places it in a situation of danger or disgust, and that’s it. The truth is that the meaning of this type of film lies exclusively in this simple concept. The theory is easy to learn but, when it comes to staging a functioning horror plant, things change a lot.
In the cinema everything becomes more complex due to the multitude of elements to be taken into consideration, therefore, building a sequence full of pathos and organicity that acts as a catalyst for terror is not easy. In fact, however, many directors rely only on the means of which cinema is made up to create horror films, instead of studying what they want to stage or, more importantly, making a detailed analysis of the human mind, given that it remains, from the beginning until today, the only real spectator to astonish and render helpless.
This is, in general, the big problem with today’s horror, consisting of good style exercises that, however, vanish from the memory section about three minutes after viewing. The cause of everything is that the focus is more on the structuring of films that focus only on fright, rather than focusing on the staging of penetrating atmospheres that insinuate themselves into the innermost layers of the spectator’s mind, upsetting him on a sensorial level.
Fortunately, however, in the history of cinema there have been masters who structured horror in a stratified way, through a directorial style capable of unleashing the evocative power of the genre, using only the primordial power of the frame.
Below, here are ten films not to be missed if you want to delight yourself with a pure vision of horror, the one in which you can come into direct contact with the author himself, given that the sensations he wanted to give off within the film , seem to take its shape.
It starts with a debut feature, one of the best in the history of cinema. We are talking about de The mask of the devil (1960) by Mario Bava. The witch Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) is about to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. Shortly before the horrible act, the latter swears revenge on his persecutors. Two centuries later he comes back to life to keep his ferocious promise.
The film is a real milestone of the genre, precisely because of its director’s ability to blend an impeccable technique, made up of almost expressionist light cuts and perfect shots capable of making the most of the gothic scenographies, with a narrative capable of letting from such a simple story the metaphor of the man who tries to resolve his traumas by forcibly overriding his present, without understanding its original cause, which always resides within ourselves. Available on Amazon Prime Video.
Rosemary’s Baby – Red ribbon in New York (1968) by Roman Polanski. The Polish master here signs his absolute masterpiece. After moving to Paris, young Rosemary (Mia Farrow) becomes pregnant, but the unborn child has been targeted by a diabolical presence. The peculiarity of the film lies in its ascending tension system through which it will not be understood, until the end, how the story will end. Polanski’s subtle direction creates a narrative ambiguity that gradually becomes the central theme of the work in which we will discover that the real and fantastic dimensions are separated by a thin and easily passable line. A real visual and sensory nightmare. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) by George A. Romero. Due to radiation from a probe, corpses resurrect creating flesh-eating zombies. A group of people will be forced to clash with these strange beings to save their lives.
Real revolutionary work and absolute cult of the genre. The film retains a unique staging, consisting of an absolutely functional hand-held camera to emphasize the anxiety and frenzy that the characters live and to metaphorize the dimension of non-control into which they have been catapulted. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
The hour of the wolf (1968) by Ingmar Bergman. A famous painter lives with his wife isolated from the world: this is because his creative dimension is becoming more and more tangible, so much so that he no longer understands where reality ends and imagination begins. This masterful film is able to demonstrate that the horrors we see on the outside are caused by internal trauma. Fear, therefore, is treated in a much deeper way and is not limited to showing what actually causes fear, but the origin of the latter, carrying out an internal analysis of the character and entering the most hidden spaces of his mind. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
The exorcist (1973) by William Friedkin. Young Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by the terrible demon Pazuzu, awakened after an archaeological excavation. The possession becomes more and more dangerous, so much so that it is necessary to have recourse to an elderly and expert exorcist. Real revolutionary film, made such by an excellent and majestic direction, able to enhance every detail in order to make what happens as real as possible. The viewer cannot help but identify with the story and, for this reason, remain even more terrified of it, precisely because it seems closer than one imagines. Available on Infinity, Sky and NOW.
The Wicker Man (1973) by Robin Hardy. Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is hired to investigate the case of a missing girl on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland. Arriving on the spot he will discover the disturbing truth about the mysterious disappearance and its link with primitive religious cults based on human sacrifice. Inspiration of countless subsequent films, the film presents itself as the perfect example of an iron script in which each event is functional to the next one but, at the same time, does not release too many clues to the final truth. A real gem of horror. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
Carrie – Satan’s gaze (1977) by Brian de Palma. Carrie (Sissi Spacek) lives a troubled adolescence, above all due to the oppression she feels from the mother figure. He is also bullied by his classmates, but things change when he discovers he possesses supernatural powers. Another absolute cult thanks to a de Palma able to treat the birth of adolescent traumas by emphasizing them and making them real demons to be defeated with forces of which man does not seem to be foreseen. Therefore, only “divine” or, better said, “infernal” powers will be able to solve the problem, metaphorizing the impossibility of man’s action towards an entity to which he confers a superior strength. Available for rent or purchase on various platforms.
Shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family travel to the spooky Overlook Hotel as caretakers throughout the winter season. Little by little, the madness will loom over the already unstable mind of the father leading him to want to kill the whole family, also driven by an unknown evil. One of the best films in the history of cinema, able to speak through the language of the camera and music, which turns out to be the extension of the unconscious dimension of the characters. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
Possession (1981) by Andrei Zulawsky. Mark (Sam Neill) and Anna (Isabelle Adjani) live a terrifying life as a couple. One day Mark investigates his wife, because of her strange behaviors and discovers that she is living a mysterious second life. A treatise on psychology from a horror point of view. The film stages human attachment to the object of love and, at the same time, shows the latter as a real demon, revealing its intrinsic essence, making us understand that what we have in front of us we perceive on the basis of needs. that satisfies us, without understanding what it really is. Not included in any subscription, available for rental or purchase on various platforms.
Videodrome (1983) by David Cronenberg. The director of a private TV channel catches the “Videodrome” program, in which images of torture and murder are shown. A search for the show’s producers begins, ending up in weird hallucinations, murders, and government intrigues. The father of Body Horror signs his most complete work, painting a shocking world in which reality collapses into virtuality and a TV screen becomes the only true eye of the human being. Available for rent or purchase on various platforms.
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