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jenkins

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Reply #855 on: November 03, 2019, 03:53:17 PM
The Black Cat

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The Black Cat is considered by many to be the one that created and popularized the psychological horror subgenre, emphasizing on atmosphere, eerie sounds, the darker side of the human psyche, and emotions like fear and guilt to deliver its scares, something that was not used in the horror genre.

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First Horror film to mention Satanism as a cult. This would be one of the longest running tropes in Horror films, but here Boris Karloff is the leader of his own Satanic worship cult.

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This is the first movie to explore the concept of PTSD. Although of course the term wasn't invented yet. It illustrates how the stress of war (in this case WWI) changes a man for the worse.

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The Black Cat was the biggest box-office hit of the year for Universal and was the first of eight movies (six of which were produced by Universal) to pair actors Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

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Among the unconventional elements of this film was the soundtrack. At a time (early 1930s) when movie music was usually limited to the titles and credits, Edgar G. Ulmer had an almost continuous background score throughout the entire film.

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The satanic prayer Poelzig chants during the black mass scene consists of random phrases in Latin, the most recognizable being "cum grano salis" (with a grain of salt). The complete chant, is as follows:

Latin Phrases: Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Humanum est errare. Lupis pilum mutat, non mentem. Magna est veritas et praevalebit. Acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta. Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem. Amissum quod nescitur non amittitur. Brutum fulmen. Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Fructu, non foliis arborem aestima. Insanus omnes furere credit ceteros. Quem paenitet peccasse paene est innocens.

English translation: With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. To err is human. The wolf may change his skin, but not his nature. Truth is mighty, and will prevail. External actions show internal secrets. Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even. The loss that is not known is no loss at all. Heavy thunder. With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. By fruit, not by leaves, judge a tree. Every madman thinks everybody mad. Who repents from sinning is almost innocent.

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It was also ranked #68 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its "skinning" scene. ("Karloff gets skinned alive at the end," noted Cramps guitarist and horror aficionado Poison Ivy, "but they show the shadow of it and somehow that's more gruesome.")


polkablues

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Reply #856 on: December 23, 2019, 10:26:10 PM


Carey Mulligan is the absolute best.
That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.


Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #857 on: February 18, 2020, 01:04:41 AM
So, I watched The Descent. Oh boy. I have not been this shaken by a horror movie in a very long time. This would definitely rank in the top 3 of feeling-shaken-ness.

I should also see more horror movies. Any recommendations using the guideline that The Descent worked very well for me?
"Hunger is the purest sin"


polkablues

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Reply #858 on: February 18, 2020, 01:56:35 AM
Very hard question to answer, because, quite simply, there aren't any films all that similar to The Descent that work as well as The Descent. It stands alone in a lot of ways.

But beyond external similarities, if you really break down the bits and pieces that make it so effective, you can cobble some things together: strong internal conflict that's mirrored by the external conflict; overwhelming sense of dread and hopelessness; technically proficient filmmaking (tension, suspense, aesthetics). I can at least point you in the direction of some other films that fit those criteria.

1. TRIANGLE
Anyone who's ever paid attention to me talking about horror films could guess this would be my first suggestion. Now, I'm not blind to its flaws; it's not a perfect film, certainly not to the extent that The Descent is. But what works about it works so well. This movie clings to me for weeks after I watch it, and repeat viewings have only deepened its effect.

2. HONEYMOON
This is almost more a psychological drama with sci-fi/horror elements than a pure horror film, but if you want to leave a film shaken, this is the one that'll do it. Power through the dodgy American accents, it's all worth it in the long run.

3. GRAVE ENCOUNTERS
The thing about this movie is that the tone will throw you off. At first it comes off a little silly, a little campy. But that's just to lull you into a false sense of comfort. One of my favorite sub-sub-genres of horror is "the very nature of reality stops playing by the rules," and this is the prime example of that approach. If you watch this and like it, I'd also recommend the sequel, if only for a handful of scenes (one in particular that might be my favorite single moment of any horror movie ever).

4. F (aka THE EXPELLED)
This one's a little hard to find, but it might be the closest overall film to The Descent on this list, tonally and aesthetically. The way that the external and internal conflicts interweave is the film's strongest element, and leads to a true gut punch of an ending. (And apparently it's no so hard to find anymore. I just looked it up and it's available to rent on Amazon Prime for $0.99!)

5. THE TUNNEL
Basically a faux-documentary found-footage version on The Descent, set in an abandoned tunnel system rather than caves. It's effective and well-made, but it's comparative lack of depth makes it more forgettable than some of the other films listed.

6. THE STRANGERS and THE MONSTER
The Bryan Bertino two-pack (you can safely ignore his middle film, Mockingbird. Entirely nonessential). The Strangers is perfection. The Monster is an incredibly powerful dark family drama with a slightly above-average creature feature wrapped around it. Both films deserve a place on your watchlist.
That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.


Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #859 on: February 18, 2020, 11:46:54 AM
Awesome! Thank you for that. I will get started on this list.

Side note: I saw The Ritual a few days ago. It's not perfect but I enjoyed the heck out of (most of) it. Really starting to notice a formula with a lot of horror movies I've seen recently. Spoilers for The Descent, The Ritual, Midsommar, and probably many others:

Spoiler: ShowHide
Traumatic event happens, friends go on an adventure together as pseudo-therapy, crazy horror occurs resulting in even worse trauma and death, and the primary experiencer of the original trauma will probably be the "final girl," arguably made stronger by the new experience.
"Hunger is the purest sin"


WorldForgot

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Reply #860 on: February 18, 2020, 01:34:25 PM

4. F (aka THE EXPELLED)
This one's a little hard to find, but it might be the closest overall film to The Descent on this list, tonally and aesthetically. The way that the external and internal conflicts interweave is the film's strongest element, and leads to a true gut punch of an ending. (And apparently it's no so hard to find anymore. I just looked it up and it's available to rent on Amazon Prime for $0.99!)

6. THE STRANGERS and THE MONSTER
The Bryan Bertino two-pack (you can safely ignore his middle film, Mockingbird. Entirely nonessential). The Strangers is perfection. The Monster is an incredibly powerful dark family drama with a slightly above-average creature feature wrapped around it. Both films deserve a place on your watchlist.

These form a stylistic trilogy of tension! Roberts would go on to make The Strangers: Prey at Night lol
Great list ~


polkablues

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Reply #861 on: February 18, 2020, 02:26:13 PM
Johannes Roberts has been a solid journeyman horror director, but The Expelled is the only movie of his that feels like it's the work of an auteur. It's also the only one that doesn't feel compromised in some way (or outright bad, like Storage 24).
That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.