RJ Baker

My favorites are the late movies… the late, late movies and the late, late, late movies on TV during October fright month.   The one that I am watching at the time is always my favorite… especially if it has thunder, lightning or fog.   I also like Cannibals on subways, a helicopter crash on a ‘deserted’ island and the eerie scenes of a foggy london…

The Shining - which I expect is on everybody’s top 5 - for good reason - it's good

Trilogy of Terror - Karen Black, Karen Black, Karen Black!

The Babadook -  “recent” movies are good too

Halloween -  I like watching horror film marathons, so bring on the franchises.   By Halloween, I include every Michael Myers movie, 1, 2, Resurrection, Revenge... John Carpenter or not.  I'll watch one right after another (only the Chuckie movies - Child's Play, Revenge, Bride... - as a franchise comes close).

The Abominable Dr. Phibes -  Really, all my top 5 should be Vincent Price movies.   So this should be called the Vincent Price franchise which would include Dr. Phibes Rises Again, the whole Edgar Allen Poe series, House of Usher etc... and then, House of Wax, and House on Haunted Hill and… 

Turns out, 5 years ago, I saw the REAL cape that Dr. Phibe’s wore in the movie!   

Here’s the true story -  Our friend Tony Mann told us about his friend who has a haunted house in Connecticut, so 5 of us rented a car and made the road trip …. This wasn’t the scariest or most frightening haunted house - I don’t think it really even qualifies as a ‘haunted house’ ….  it is actually something - well,  cooler....

Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum   "This is the life work of local artist Cortlandt Hull, grand nephew of the Werewolf of London, Henry Hull.   As an ill child, he fell in love with old horror movies.   With the help of his dad,  he built a shed and would bring in neighbors and friends at Halloween to see his art based on these films.   The Dungeon is not a 'haunted house' attraction, but is filled with museum quality work, and also contains original props and costumes from classic horror and sci-fi movies.   Some evenings the wait to enter the museum can be over two hours! "     http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/5981

How good is it?    Well, sure enough -  on our way back to NYC, late, tired, the rain pelting the car,  we started smelling smoke, the car was slowing down - and we had to find a place to pull over and open the hood.   We didn’t have any idea what we would be looking for and we didn’t see anything.  But when we got back in the car…it wouldn’t start! 

Turns out the car rental company remotely shut the car down after we called in to report the problem.  A tow truck would come within the hour but with no replacement vehicle and the tow would only be able to take 2 of us…

At least we all did eventually get back alive


James Karpowicz:  

OK, so for those of you who might know me...it's  no secret that I have a deep love of cheese and gore: not to mention the laughs that go along with it.  I could rant off 100's of titles of fulfilling indulge punctuated by garden hose like spraying of fake blood, missing limbs and intruders from beyond.  Throw in some campy raunchiness, forced puns, awkward dialogue and a nice bowl of popcorn and the evening is young my friends!

Now to be fair; I  humbly consider myself a deep thinker as well and could never allow my love of the farce to overcome my true feelings of the meaning of horror.  Like all true Art; a horror film that really "nails it" beckons to and illuminates the "horror within" and balances its subject matter in relation to humanity and our collective experience.

The origins of fear lie deep within the subconscious and a guttural trigger can be released at a moment's notice or can just as easily pulsate slowly and painfully like Poe's proverbial heart.  True "horror" is the shocking and sudden realization that something evil lurks beyond... and our very existence is at stake!  

Here are 5 films that I feel captured the essence of horror through the Art of Filmmaking and my brief notes on the techniques that helped achieve their impact:  

Nosferatu – F.W. Murnau 1922- This iconic German Expressionist vampire film used careful lighting and dark shadows to gingerly creep Count Orlak up a winding stair and into our darkest nightmares.

Shakes the Clown – Bob Goldthwait 1991 – Rarely are imagined things more horrific than reality.  This choppily acted dark comedy allows the bitter realism of depression and alcoholism to transcend the superficial clown makeup and those who seek to hide their own personal truth.

The Blob – Irvin Yeaworth 1958 – For what it’s worth; this film scared the shit out of me as a kid. No place to run, no place to hide…it’s coming to get you!  Campy as it were, a palpable tension was achieved through the spiraling hopelessness of the storyline and the escalating agitation of the acting.

Clockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick 1971 – A perfect example of humanity’s brutal potential and the dichotomy of unexpected tenderness in depraved individuals.  This film exposes the ever present aspect of society’s ultraviolence that we witness to this day while forcing us to see the beauty around us…even if our eyes need to be clamped open to see it!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – What is more terrifying than the lack of ability to control our own actions, especially if we have brought this situation upon ourselves?!  Jekyll s literal and figurative transformation is accentuated by costume, makeup, lighting and exaggerated acting.

Happy Halloween!