Posts Tagged ‘nightmare’

What makes a horror movie? Is it a charismatic protagonist that everyone is rooting for? Is it an iconic villain like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers? Is it the suspenseful music that floods the speakers as the villain approaches? (I know you’re humming the theme for Jaws as you read this.) Are the reality based horror films that are the most frightening? Or are the supernatural monster movies the most horrifying? Is it the film’s ability to produce genuine fear in the audience? (Do you guys agree with this list? Top 50 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time.)

In my opinion, horror movies are typically a hit or miss. I usually don’t feel neutral toward horror films; I either really enjoy them or really hate them. I have a hard time identifying what it is that makes a horror movie worth watching. Obviously an interesting, well-executed plot is important. Horror movies have a reputation for being predictable and repetitive. There are only so many times we can watch a group of obnoxious teenagers get hacked up one by one, while on an overnight camping trip. However, when you get a horror movie with a never-before-seen storyline and an exciting ending, it really works. Acting is important in all films, but I think it’s somewhat difficult to give a convincing performance in a horror movie. Conveying genuine fear in a staged situation often comes off as fake and off-putting. Playing a deranged, psychotic killer can either come off as unconvincing or too exaggerated.

As horror films developed throughout the 20th century, viewers were given a bounty of horror films that have achieved status as cult classics. Films like Tod Browning‘s Dracula (1931), Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (1960), Tobe Hooper‘s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead (1964) are all milestones in the evolution of the the horror film.

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Most often, it takes time before movies are considered classics. Looking back, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, at the time of its release, was probably not iconic. However, after countless remakes and global recognition of the film’s antagonist, Leatherface (a name given to the character by fans of the franchise), I think it’s safe to say that this film is a classic. While we’re only in 2014, it seems like 21st century horror does not provide us with as many films that have the potential to be, one day, considered classics. It sincerely saddens me that Sharknado (2013) is as widely recognized as it is, however I find solace in the fact that its claim to fame is just how truly terrible the film is.

There have been a few films released this century that are either well on their way to reaching the status of cult classic, or have the potential to do so. The Paranormal Activity film series has been wildly popular since its release, prompting 4 sequels (most recently Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones). From filmmaker Oren Peli, the first film in the series was made on a budget of next to nothing. Filmed with handheld cameras giving the appearance of home footage, the film was released into select theaters after generating some buzz at film festivals. Having five films with a continuing storyline in the horror genre is fairly uncommon. These films are also pretty exceptional with the fact that none of these sequels have been largely disappointing for fans.

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Another horror film that I am particularly fond of is Insidious. Starring Patrick Wilson (I am mildly obsessed with him) and Rose Byrne, Insidious was released in 2010, and the second installment of the series, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released in 2013. The expected release of the 3rd film is April 2015. This film definitely had an original storyline (you can watch the trailer here) . There were just enough moments of comic relief, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the actors. The convincing performances of the actors in Insidious were precisely why I was very excited to see that Patrick Wilson had signed on to play Ed Warren, alongside Vera Farmiga (another one of my favorite actresses) in The Conjuring. This film is also one of the best that I’ve seen in a while. Here’s the trailer for it. Anyone else who also enjoyed The Conjuring will be happy to know that Wilson and Farmiga have signed on for a second installment of the film.

So I have, in this post and a few others, told you guys a few of the horror films that I really enjoy. My point for this post is that I really want to know what you all think makes a horror movie? What is it about the film that makes people want to watch it? What makes a horror cult classic? Please leave some of your insight in a comment below!

I added a poll with just a couple answers, but feel free to add your own. I want to know what you think!

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So, I recently had a pretty bizarre experience with what I believed to be lucid dreaming. I’ve done some research on lucid dreaming, and I think it’s pretty sweet. I’ve tried it on quite a few occasions (to no avail). I have weird dreams very frequently, usually 3-5 times a week. I’m totally okay with having weird, freaky, even frightening dreams. Dreams can provide some of the best creative sparks. However, I’ve never experienced anything like this – that’s not to say that I am deeming this a negative experience.

My roommate was asleep, so all the lights in my room were off. I wasn’t really tired, so I listened to some music for a while and finally I decided I would try to sleep. I laid there for a while, and I’m not sure how much time elapsed. At this point I was sort of between sleep and wakefulness. I remember thinking that I wanted to reach for my phone or grab something off my desk (I really don’t remember what, this was over a month ago), but I was just too tired and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make my body move.

The next phase was something similar to what one experiences when they look at a bright light in a dark room. Once you look at the light and then close your eyes, you continue to see the flashes of light with your eyes closed. This was a very similar sensation, only it had no known origin. It looked like a kaleidoscope. It just kept moving. My eyes were closed but I remember seeing, in the midst of this black kaleidoscope, one area of light. It was almost as if my eyelids had a hole in them, and I could see my room, just through that small area. I tried to reach for that area (not literally, at this point I am “dreaming”) and when I did, the area of light relocated. This happened a couple of times, the light moving out of my grasp each time. Then the kaleidoscope faded out and I was thrust into a new scene all together.

I was running from some kind of creature in what appeared to be an area, sort of between a dockside town and a forest. The creature was gaining on me and I was trying as hard as I could to get away. The distance between the creature and myself was closing more and more, no matter how fast I ran. Finally, it got so close, I could feel it breathing on me. At that moment, the creature collapsed on top of me, seemingly lifeless. I tried to move out from under it, its weight was crushing me. I saw an arrow sticking out of its chest. I was confused as to where it had come from. How did it miss me? I continued to struggle, working to push the creature off of me. All of the sudden, the weight was lifted off, but by another set of hands than my own. I looked up to see another version of myself, carrying a cross bow, presumably the one that had directed the arrow to the creature. I looked up in shock as the crossbow wielding version of myself reached out a hand. “Get up,” she said. I sat unmoving, dumbfounded. “Come on,” she repeated and I took her hand and pulled myself off the ground.

I was aware that I was somewhat awake when the kaleidoscope was still happening, but once this sequence began, I was not. It, however, did feel somewhat different than dreaming normally does.

The scene above faded away and I fell back into the partially awake kaleidoscope phase and felt very relaxed, not asleep, and yet not awake either. You can’t really experience the relaxation you feel while you are asleep (because you’re asleep, duh), but this felt like the most extreme form of relaxation I had ever felt. And then I was ripped from my state of relaxation. I swear I heard someone say, in a harsh, strained whisper: “FIRE!” I could almost feel their breath as the word flooded my ears. My eyes immediately opened, and obviously there was nothing there. It felt so beyond real.

I am a huge fan of horror movies, and have seen plenty of them in my day. I am not easily scared. I had read about the parts of lucid dreaming where people are attacked by demons and everything else while they’re dreaming. I wouldn’t say I necessarily welcome a demonic attack, but I am not really scared of the possibility of this sensation. While I am not easily scared, I do believe in some supernatural forces. I do not think what I experienced was anything like that. It was just remarkable how real it all felt.

I’m just curious if any of you guys have had any experiences with lucid dreaming that you’d be wiling to share. I love hearing other people’s stories with dreaming, so comment if you feel so inclined. I’d love to read it!