Posted 31 December 2010 - 12:33 PM
Now along the lines of defending unseconded nominations to the Top A&F Horror Films -
I'm just going to focus on two of the most important ones.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) - William Dieterle
- While a lot of high praise has been given to Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney for their various and famous monster performances, there will always be one performance that tops them all in my opinion, and that's Charles Laughton's Quasimodo. I don't know if any other famous monster story explores the morality of man faced with monster more than Victor Hugo's hunchback story. Quasimodo may actually be more human than Frankenstein, Dracula, or almost any other famous monster, but because of his deformity, ugliness, and disabilities, it virtually impossible for him to communicate this to any other human. So he acts the part of the beast, at least until he comes smack up against good and evil, personified by the girl Esmerelda (a young Maureen O'Hara) and his adoptive father Frollo (Cedric Hardwicke out of his usual character). It's by choosing sides between good and evil, and willingness to self-sacrifice that Quasimodo eventually succeeds in proving to a few others that he is a man after all. Unfortunately, the question remains at the end whether he's succeeding at proving this to himself. There are scenes from this film that scared me when I was little and that I will never ever forget (the hunchback chasing Esmerelda through the dark slums of Paris, the beggars appearing out of thin air like a lethal swarm of dirty flies, the hunchback roaring with joy as he conducts a battle singlehanded against a mob attacking the church, and the final showdown between him and Frollo including a demonstration of which of the two can stand taller over the other). An amazing film, and, in my book, one of the best horror themed films ever made.
Fallen (1998) - Gregory Hoblit (possible spoilers if you haven't been paying any attention for the last 12 years)
- Let's just say that their are very few films that actually have scared me. Fallen scared me, and still scares me whenever I watch it. It has by far the creepiest "chase scene" ever portrayed on film. There are probably a hundred different films about demons and demon possession, but in Fallen Azazel always struck me as seemingly the most real - perhaps because Hoblit somehow succeeds in giving him a personality without ever giving him an actor or CGI'd body. Forget all those Frank Pereti stories, if you want a sense of what it feels like to have spiritual warfare around you, just watch Fallen. And yet, Fallen is also the story of dangerous, malevolent evil coming up against righteousness. Denzel Washington's John Hobbes character is righteous. He may not even believe in God at the beginning of the story, but he certainly does by the end. And confronted with the magnitude of the spiritual world around him, he can only make one choice and that is to join in the fight on one of these sides. A lot of my friends hate the ending, but the point is that Hobbes succeeds in fighting. In Hobbes, Azazel comes up against someone he can't overcome. If Hobbes has any weakness, it is relying too much on himself. It makes one wonder at the possibilities if a man like Hobbes was convinced to rely on God instead of so much on himself. All in all, it begins like your average intelligent murder mystery, but suddenly turns into one of the scariest and most haunting films I've ever seen.