Dani Filth's Top Ten Horror Movies
Who better to discuss horror movies from a heavy metal mindset than the man who assembled the "Gospel of Filth?" He's perfectly capable of speaking for himself, so Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth, take it away!
Dani Filth's Top Ten Horror Movies
The following is a list of my top ten favorite horror films at the very present moment, if I were to actually list all the films I consider to be the greatest horror films ever, this list would possibly run into the dozens, if not hundreds. I know many people would disagree with some of these, but they are a cross section of all the varying 'styles' of horror and I thought i'd quickly jot them down before I changed my mind for the thirteenth bloody time.
Before I launch off into one, I would just like to list some of the close seconds if I may be so bold... There was a wealth of Hammer Horror, Dagon, Haxan, The Descent, Dog Soldiers, 28 Days later, Audition, Saw, Seven, The Exorcist, Sleepy Hollow, Candyman, Nightbreed, The Wicker Man, Storm Warning, The Thing, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, Cannibal Holocaust, Antichrist, Suspiria, Silence Of The Lambs, Martyrs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Event Horizon, The Ninth Gate, Bloodsucking Freaks, Blade, Frontieres, Underworld, Ichi The Killer, Frankenstein, Theatre Of Blood, Dawn Of The Dead, House Of A 1000 Corpses, From Hell and Pan's Labyrinth to name but a smattering.
Totally unnecessary I know.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Personally I love this film, despite its veering from the original chilly nature of the book. Something about the cinematography, the costuming and the stunning musical score by Wojciech Kilar totally wooed me the first time I watched it, (as Dracula woos Mina so eloquently within the film), the atmosphere being wonderfully rich and darkly erotic.
Essentially this is a love story, albeit a fearful one and an impressive array of actors bring it to verdant life (that is if you overlook Keanu Reeves and his hopelessly wooden Jonathan Harker). Nevertheless, this is a magnificent and magical re-working of a classic, steeped in Victorian sumptuousness and vampiric decadence.
The awesome creature transformations and the creepy supernatural happenings at His Lordships castle involving unconnected shadows, sexually rapacious vampire brides and a distinct lack of gravity.
This film headed a gothic triumvirate that included Interview with the Vampire and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Gorgeously gothic horror.
Night Of The Demon (1957)
If you wanted to know just where Sam Raimi got most of his ideas for 'Drag Me To Hell' (2009) from, then you should look no further than this back and white classic from the heyday of iconic British cinema (it was actually trimmed and released under the title 'Curse Of The Demon', a year later in the US).
Based on a short story by M R James, this film is a masterly foray unto the world of the supernatural with some genuinely frightening moments. Unfortunately production was often marred by the arguments that erupted between the film's producer and director, resulting in the Demon being 'revealed' at the beginning and the end, much to the latter's dismay, who was aiming for it's presence onscreen being merely alluded to. Fortunately the film isn't too marred by this mistake, as the Demon isn't that bad, being quite cute really for a ten-story fire demon summoned forth from the gaping jaws of the abyss!
Again, some fine acting in Dana Andrews who plays the doubting American professor who comes to England to expose a Satanic Cult leader called Dr Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), accompanied by the daughter (Peggy Cummings) of the man who has already fallen foul of the demon.
Being stalked by the demon through a creepy midnight wood, the only signs being flaming footsteps, mephitic death-breath and an odd bat-like squeaking noise... plus the children's outdoor party ruined by the calling of an 'air elemental', which was apparently shot utilizing two jet engine thrusters!
Cradle of Fear (2000)
Well, I just had to drop this one in here, seeing as this film served as a visceral platform for the band back in the year of our 'Midian' release, including all the band members taking walk-on parts and myself in the role as the killer known only as 'The Man', wreaking bloody vengeance on everyone that helped in the incarceration of my occult-obsessed, child-killing father (David McEwen R.I.P).
Based on the Portmanteau films made by Amicus in the seventies, it features three half hour segments linked by a fourth story, the latter being robbed by studios with bigger budgets (our whole film was undertaken for less than $200.000!) as soon as the film came out. The plot is fairly intricate and thus I won't bore you with the facts here, let's just say there's a lots and lots of blood, sex and violence on show, and despite it's miniscule budget and lo-fi values, it actually grew to become of the most successful underground films ever to be made in the UK.
Emily Booth's violent pregnancy, the third story's self-amputation, the sick room, the final bloodbath in the insane asylum and all the other little nods to cult deaths littered throughout.
Ridley Scott's seminal masterpiece is still a classic nearly thirty years on. Coupled with H R Giger's amazing creature design -part reptile, part slathering biomechanoid with concentrated acid for blood and a penchant for grisly self-preservation, this film lived up to the film-poster's boast that 'In space, no-one can hear you scream.'
Interesting enough, and aside from the obvious fears of alien invasion, parasitic disease and downright scary monsters, 'Alien' definitely has overtly sexual overtones, not just with rape, infection and birth, but even the creature itself possesses a sexual, androgynous form, full of phallus shapes and feminine grace.
Well, without doubt it's got to be the chest-bursting scene when the implanted alien bursts forth from it's host's chest at dinner, the Android decapitation, the cloying claustrophobia of the Nostromo spaceship and air-ducts where the creature is hiding, and finally, Ripley getting into her escape suit.
The Evil Dead (1981)
A cult classic if ever there was one, The Evil Dead proved that any one could make a movie, the only difference being that this particular one completely scares the shit out of you! Brilliantly deadpan, a legend was born in Bruce Campbell whose masterly B-movie performance coupled with director Sam Raimi's breathtaking camera work, was the glue that bound this undead, H P Lovecraft-inspired splatterfest together.
I remember seeing it for the first time at a party, having rented a banned copy from behind-the-counter at the local smoke-fogged video store, and having to hide behind my hands at key moments throughout it like a big girl's blouse. It was the hideous, hellish sounds, the strange camera angles and the over-the-topness of the gore and slime (obviously coupled with the fact that 'banned' definitely meant 'dangerous' in 80s Britain), that just made it an instant horror classic.
Don't take your girlfriend down to the woods today! I had to walk home through a particularly dark one after watching it.
The Omen Trilogy
(Box-sets count, don't they?)
The chilling stories of the Antichrist Damien Thorne, the son of Satan whose emergence was prophesied in the Book of Revelations.
I absolutely love these movies, obviously because of their subject matter, the intense melodrama and monumental soundtracks, but also because of the major scale of the films and the wealth of talented actors on board. There is a sense of grandeur and dark foreboding throughout, making it entirely plausible that the Son of the Devil would be born to the breast of global politics.
The second has definitely got to be my favorite though, with Damien slowly coming to grips with his power, unleashing some truly terrifying moments in the raven attack (where the woman has her eyes torn out and then is minced by a truck, just to be sure...) and the trapped-under-ice segment on the hockey lake.
Also, these legendary movies helped to explain the strange mark I have had under my hair since birth, the three sixes bound together for a single monstrous purpose....
Strongly avoid the fourth one, which bears more relation to a dog-turd than to the other films.
The Pit And The Pendulum (1961)
This Edgar Allen Poe adaption by Roger Corman may come across as being a tad of a strange choice, but in all honesty, my favorite horror film list would probably run into the hundreds, if I wasn't so frugal with the truth. I really love this movie for its glamorous stars, (both Vincent Price and Barbara Steele are excellently gothic here) and for the fact that much of it plays out like an exquisite dream or more often than not, lurid nightmare.
The score, cinematography and sets are excellent (following the success of Corman's 'House of Usher' only the year before), and the story is both bloodthirsty and genuinely haunting. Stripped down to its bare bones, this is another classic Poe-based tale involving the disintegration of sanity, as Vincent Price's character becomes more and more convinced that his dead wife has been prematurely buried (a repeated theme with dear problematic Poe), and now stalks the castle as a restless and vengeful spirit. The truth is his wife has concocted an elaborate plan to unhinge his mind, helped in the grim matter by her lover (his traitorous doctor), knowing full well the horrors he'd seen under the Inquisition in his Father's rule, having already witnessed his Mother being walled up alive by his hand.
Sound confusing? Then watch the movie, but for chrissakes don't watch it on LSD like I once did, believing the plot of the film to be about a huge, distasteful fish that made Vincent Price pull silly faces throughout!
Vincent Price, gone totally mad, believing himself to be a reincarnation of his murderous father, addressing the traitorous lovers in his (fully operational) torture dungeon.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
You can blame this particular entry on Michael Jackson, as it was his documentary for the making of 'Thriller' that aired a clip from director John Landis's previous outing, 'An American Werewolf in London'. And I was hooked! I begged my Dad to rent a Betamax (remember those?) copy of the film the next day and then, after much to and fro-ing over its content, my family left me alone in the house that night to watch it whilst they went out. It was the first time I really shat myself watching a movie.
What I love more than anything with this film is the fine balance between the comical and the downright nasty, and how easily it can change. When his best friend is murdered whilst the pair of them are out hiking on the moors, an American college student David Kessler is haunted by his friend's ever-decaying corpse, who claims that unless he kills himself before the next full moon in three days time, he will become a werewolf and start killing people. Which he does, right up to the climactic end sequence where he causes chaos and death in Picadilly Circus.
Best moments. Ooh, where to begin? 'The Slaughtered Lamb' pub where the darts seemingly freeze in the air, the dream-sequences where Nazi-Werewolves run rampant and of course, the rotting conversation between all his victims in some seedy cinema in London's West-End. All utter magic.
This film also won awards for its brilliant creature transformation work. Just watching it is painful, as David stretches, sprouts and elongates into a huge and monstrous wolf, all without the use of digital effects.
The Shining (1980)
There isn't much that hasn't been said about this iconic film or the performances (especially that of Jack Nicholson's). The theme of isolation here is prevalent throughout the subtext and the lethargic onset of Jack Torrence's creeping, disturbing dementia at the beautifully empty Overlook Hotel, in the dead of winter, is intoxicating. Full of surreal imagery, the onset of madness is everywhere, ever increasing throughout the film, until it's darksome conclusion.
You've got to love the butchered twins, the weird sex couple in the bedroom, the river of blood, the old decayed nude woman he embraces, the conversation in the Gentlemen's and the final axe-wielding chase through the hotel and into the frozen maze.
Stanley Kubrick's work is pure genius.
An all time classic from the pen of Clive Barker, featuring long time 'Filth collaborator Doug Bradley as lead Cenobite, the appropriately-named Pinhead. The Cenobites are a clan of psycho-sexual underworld demons who appear at the behest of a mysterious puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration to wreak terrible, and often bloody punishment, utilizing the 'pain is pleasure' maxim for all it's worth.
This film was singularly a revival of British horror, bringing it kicking and screaming into the late twentieth century, replete with an ornate scary-tale soundtrack courtesy of Christopher Young, which is one part demented horror, one part twisted fairy-tale. Much like the rest of the film.
And the best moment: The arrival of 'The Cenobites' to the jangle of meat-hook chains! The skinless bits! Uncle Frank pulled apart by chains! Pinhead getting lairy! Jesus wept!
'Oh, no tears please...'