Scare tactics 2008

Let’s face it, the current economic news is far more terrifying  than any feature that can grace the big screen right now.

For horror devotees, there’s the never-ending “Saw” franchise making its fifth trip to the multiplex this weekend. And there is really only one other legitimate fright flick for it to contend with (and no, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and “W.” don’t count). The film is “Quarantine,” which I will get to later. But first, may I suggest a few more economically friendly ways to get your scare on this season of the witch by suggesting some DVD titles that you may have overlooked.


For the discernible horror fan, it’s always a tough trip to the video store, where, through the magic of Photoshop, DVD covers hold promises that the crappy films inside could ever keep.

Fear not, for I have sifted through mounds of gore guano and will provide you with a few under-seen flesh-crawling flicks that are created with style, substance and sufficient scares.


“Them (Ils)” (2006): Forget “The Strangers,” the Liv-Tyler-headlining film released this week on DVD (actually, that’s unfair, for that film does create a palpable atmosphere). The similar plot of “Them” is the standard couple-stranded -in-an-isolated-locale horror theme. But after about 15 minutes of setup, the film rarely stops to catch its breath, as a young couple relies on their wiles to elude a faceless tormentor (or tormentors?). Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, the film zips by at a frenetic pace, and while the French-made film does have subtitles, the numerous bumps, creaks, crashes and screams that pump through your surround sound need no translation.


“Slither” (2006): For those who enjoy a few more chuckles to lighten the mood between scenes of terror, “Slither” is an homage to those fantastic alien invasion films of the ’50s, updated with a millennial sensibility. Director James Gunn lovingly recreates a world of icky aliens, intentional humor and genuine scares. Also, look for a wonderful cameo from Gunn’s real-life wife Jenna (“The Office”) Fischer.


“Rogue” (2007): It’s hard to convince scare skeptics to give a chance to a giant killer crocodile movie, but why are they so willing to embrace a 30-foot shark as one of the best films of all time? I’m not placing this on the same level as “Jaws,” of course, but I am saying that there are a number of effective flourishes in this film that merit it a spot on your rental list. A group of tourists in Australia get cornered by a rather rabid reptile with a taste for human flesh. “Rogue” earns its scales for treating its characters as more than just croc chum and leaving us to wonder just who will bite it next.


“The Mist” in black and white (2007): Director Frank Darabont has been one of the most beloved screen collaborators of author Stephen King’s work. “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” consistently rate at the top of King’s page-to-screen transfers. And while you may have witnessed this film in its brief theatrical run, or even caught it on DVD, you have not really “experienced” it until you watch it in its monochromatic glory, which is available on the two-disc collector’s edition. Creating the overall mood of a classic B-movie monster movie from the ’50s, the film’s CGI-created creatures appear seamless, the shadows are more ominous and the overall tone just a little moodier.


And finally, if you still enjoy your jolts surrounded by a roomful of strangers, there is a rather effective alternative to “Saw” still playing in local theaters.

Based on a much-more-effective Spanish film called “[Rec]” (as in the “Record” button) that is not yet available on DVD, “Quarantine” is still the next best thing for a fun-filled fright night.

The plot focuses on a young reporter spending the night in a firehouse for a story, and she certainly gets one when the station is called to a disturbance in a nearby apartment complex.

While there, she and her cameraman capture its residents succumbing to a strange virus that causes them to be cordoned off from the general public. Even though the film is structured similarly to the single-camera style of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield,” it does not fall victim to the “shaky-cam” shots that induced nausea for so many viewers.

While the film feels more polished than its Spanish predecessor, it is still provides a number of worthwhile creeps and jolts.

Purists may want to steer clear, though and wait for the DVD release, as this version is almost a shot-for-shot remake. But if you are wary of having to face Jigsaw for yet another go-round at the theater this Halloween, than “Quarantine” has more than enough bite.


~ by usesoapfilm on October 20, 2008.

7 Responses to “Scare tactics 2008”

  1. I agree with you on THE MIST. It was a pretty good modern horror film.

    As for the rest of them…. enjoyed SLITHER, never seen ROGUE or THEM.

    I feel modern horror films lack something that other decades had.

    It started it’s downward spiral in the 90’s, and never stopped plummeting.

    Are you ready for SAW VI?

  2. Joe,

    Have you seen it in b&w? Almost like a different movie. Appreciated it all the more!

  3. Wow, all of those movies were good (except for Rogue which I now really want to see). I also loved The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Pretty underrated.

  4. The ending of EER left me cold. But a fairly good performance from Carpenter in that. And she continues to earn cred with me for being in ‘Dexter.’

  5. Yeah. Actually, I’ve only seen it in B&W.

    Nobody agrees but I think all movies should be in B&W unless they really use color to their advantage. Like in SUSPIRIA or RAN or THE RED SHOES…..

  6. or CABIN BOY!

  7. I’ll tell you Rob, that part with David Letterman in that movie had me rolling around on the ground!

    “Would you like to buy a monkey?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: