Mother of the Void Presents: Gaslight (1944)

The definition of gaslight is “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perceptions of reality or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

Gaslight (1944 film) - Wikipedia

The name for the term Gaslighting came from the 1938 play “Gas Light” written by Patrick Hamilton. It was made into a film in 1940, and it is the second adaption, 1944, that is my film for the week. Having been a victim of this abuse in two major relationships in my life, I think the Void is trying to give me some inexpensive therapy, and I appreciate it. So here we go with Gaslight, directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. If you want to read my last one, check it out here.

The beginning

The film open in London, as a young Paula Alquist is being led away from the scene of her aunt’s murder. A paper reveals that the murderer is still at large. There are many onlookers as a clearly distraught Paula watches the gaslights in her aunt’s house are extinguished. Her caretaker informs her that she is going to Italy to study singing with her aunt’s best friend. Paula is told this man will make her into a great singer, like her aunt. 

We now see an older Paula, studying her singing, and she is chastised for not taking her singing seriously and also for not singing like her aunt. As Paula assures her teacher she will try harder, the accompanist asks to be excused, and is granted permission. 

Paula discusses with her teacher that she knows she is not meant to be a singer. He tells her that she has been coming to her lessons happier than he has ever seen her, but as her happiness improves, it is having the opposite effect on her singing. He asks her if she is in love, and she affirms that she is. She tells him that she is happier than she has ever been, which is something she never thought would happen. Her instructor tells her that she should embrace this chance at happiness, she should free herself from the past. He asks to meet this man she loves, and instead of agreeing, she tells him goodbye. 

Paula hears her name called as she leaves her lesson. Gregory, the accompanist, is waiting for her. He pulls her into a secluded area and kisses her. He then asks if she told her teacher, and she says she didn’t have to, he knew already. Gregory questions why Paula hesitates moving forward with him. She admits she knows nothing about him, and he still asks her to marry him. . He questions if she is afraid of him, and she says no of happiness. Paula asks Gregory to give her time, and he says, “You will have all the time you need”. Paula confirms that they have only known each other for two weeks. She tells Gregory that she wants to go away for two weeks, so she can think about this on her own. He is supportive of her going. They have a very sweet parting. 

Paula’s Trip

Paula is now on the train with Miss Thwaites, who if she was alive today, she would be the biggest true crime podcast fan ever! She is reading a mystery novel, and she is very animated about what she is reading. She and Paula strike up a conversation. Paula tells Miss Thwaites that she is going to Lake Cuomo, and the old woman is shocked that she is traveling by herself. 

Miss Thwaites reveals that she is going to London and she lives in Thornton Square. This is the same area we saw Paula leaving at the beginning of the film. She tells the old woman that she knew people who lived there, and the amature sleuth begins to share the story of the unsolved murder that took place there years before. Paula becomes visibly upset, but the woman keeps talking. Much to Paula’s relief they reach her stop. As she exits the train, and Miss Thwaites continues to talk, a hand appears on her arm. It is Gregory, who has followed her. He says he hopes she is not angry, and she is genuinely relieved to see him. 

Now my younger self would have seen this and thought, “How romantic.” My older self, who has been in dysfunctional relationships sees this and thinks, “She asks for space, and this is his way of making sure she doesn’t get a chance to analyze what is happening in a healthy way, and change her mind.” To all you kids out there, respect your partner’s wishes. Time apart will not kill you! And if someone does not respect your wishes for space, RUN!

Newlyweds

We now see the beautiful balcony of the hotel where Gregory and Paula are spending their honeymoon, or at least I think it is their honeymoon. If not, this is really naughty for 1944. They are romantically talking about their future together. Gregory asks Paula where she would like to settle down. She suggests Paris, and he suggests London, which takes some of the joy from her face. All of a sudden, he has an idea.

He visited London when he was younger, and had always dreamed of having a home, “in one of the quiet little squares” asking her again if they could settle down in London. He then notices the expression on her face and asks what is wrong. She tells him she already owns a house in a square in London. Her Aunt left her the house. Paula confides that she knows nothing of her parents and lived with her Aunt until her death. She tells Gregory that she hasn’t been afraid since she has known him. Paula tells him that she can face the house with him by her side. She will give him his dream of a house in the square. 

We now see Miss Thwaites saying hello to flowers and it is revealed that new tenants are moving into Number 9, where the murder happened. She recognizes Paula and reintroduces herself. The solicitor opens the door to the house and they slowly enter together. Gregory begins to make his way through the house, but he has an intuition about the layout of the house. They go upstairs to the drawing room. Paula says the room smells of death, as Gregory opens a window, saying it won’t for long. Paula shows him a cabinet that displayed her aunt’s treasures. The glass was broken the night of the murder, but nothing was missing.

She shows her husband a single glove her Aunt loved, and as a child she inquired as to the whereabouts of the other glove, but was told that her aunt gave it away to a great admirer and that was all she knew. Gregory tells Paula that he wished he could have seen her, and she reveals her painting. A strange expression comes across Gregory’s face when he looks at the painting. Paula reveals the place where she found her aunt’s body, and that she had been strangled. Gregory suggests that they remove all the items that remind Paula of the tragedy.

A Home of their own

Paula heartily agrees and excitedly talks of the parties they could have. Gregory looks displeased and tells her that parties would come later because he wants them to have time to themselves. Paula tells him there is an attic where all her things are, and Gregory suggests they could put all the old furniture up there. Once they were done, they could board it up, so she would never have to look at them again. Personally I was thinking ‘YARD SALE”, but that is just my American coming out I guess. 

While Paula is showing Gregory her Aunt’s piano, she finds a letter and begins to read it outloud. When she says the letter was written by someone named Sergus Bower, Gregory becomes visibly upset and rips the letter out of her hands. He tells her that they need to get rid of all of these things because they are upsetting her.  Hello pot, I’m kettle. He tells her that while she holds on to her Aunt, there can be no happiness for them. 

Gaslight | CINEACTION

Some time has now passed, and Miss Thwaites runs into Elizabeth, Paula and Gregory’s housekeeper. It is established that workers have just finished boarding up the attic and Gregory doesn’t allow visitors because he feels that Paula is too unwell to be around people. 

When Elizabeth enters the house, Gregory is hiring another housekeeper (a very young and beautiful Angela Lansbury). He tells her she is never to bother Paula, and to always come to him. There is an obvious flirtation between the two. Paula comes downstairs and is introduced to Nancy, the new maid. Gregory gives Paula a cameo that he tells her that it belonged to his mother. He makes a point of pointing out to her that she has a tendency to lose things, and tells her he is putting it in her bag for safe keeping due to the clasp being broken. She tells him she won’t forget it is there, and they head out for a tour of the Tower of London. She is so excited that she actually gets to leave the house for the day. How nice of him to unlock her cage. 

The Gas Is turned on

While on a tour of the Tower of London, Paula realizes that her cameo is no longer in her bag. This sends her into a panic, and she leaves the tour group to search for it. Gregory quickly follows her and they go for a walk in the sunshine. While on their walk a man with his niece and nephew tips his hat at them. Brian’s niece tells him he looks like he has seen a ghost and he says that the woman reminds him of someone who is dead. Gregory get instantly jealous and contronts Paula about who the man is. She tells him she has no idea and was just being polite. 

Once again, to distract from his actions, Gregory tells Paula he is worried about her and the fact that she is so forgetful lately. Paula is confused about what he is talking about, and he tells her not to worry. Anytime she questions Gregory, he accuses her of being suspicious and makes her doubt her own mind. Paula wants to go home and Brian watches them leave. 

When they return home, Paula  inquires about seeing the room that Gregory rented to work out of. He tells her that is unnecessary, and sends her upstairs to rest. When she is half way up the first flight of stairs, Gregory asks for her cameo so he can have it repaired. She confesses to him that she can’t find it. He empties her purse and the cameo is missing. Gregory tells her he warned her he would lose it. When she apologizes he tells her it is not important, and when she asks him to confirm he put it in her purse, he questions her memory again. 

While getting ready for bed, Paula notices the gas lights in her room dimmed, and questions Nancy about who would have turned on a light in another part of the house causing this one to dim. She then hears footsteps above her. 

The Gas Lights

Miss Thwaites greets Brian outside Paula’s house. She tells him that Paula never leaves the house, and he looks over and corrects her when he sees Paula outside the door. She had forgotten her keys and had to have Nancy open the door so she could retrieve her umbrella. Nancy questions what she should tell Gregory is he asks where she has gone, and despite Paula’s answers, she continues to grill her, to the point where Paula gives up and goes back in the house. Miss Thwaites confides in Brian that the new maid, Nancy, has been fooling around with a policeman who walks around the house.

What is gaslighting? The 1944 film Gaslight is the best explainer. - Vox

We now see Brian entering Scotland yard. He is asking them to reopen the case. He explains that he met Paula’s aunt when he was 12 years old, and he thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. The detective tells him that there is no reason to reopen the case, but then he mentions that some jewels were missing. This sparks Brian’s interest, as he states there is no mention of jewels in the case file. The detective tells him someone “highly placed” gave them to the woman. That is the theory behind why she was murdered, but the jewels were too famous to ever be sold. Instead of Brian dropping it, this has sparked his interest even more. 

Brian meets up with an officer, asks him if he is married and offers him a new location in a more stylish neighborhood. Nancy does like a man in uniform, and this one will do. 

We now find Gregory and Paula in the drawing room. Paula wants to put coal on the fire, but Gregory insists she call Nancy. When she enters Gregory openly flirts with her, even asking Nancy to give Paula makeup tips. Paula chastices Gregory for the way he treats her, and Gregory accuses her of imagining things. 

Nancy enters the room and says Miss Thwaites has come for a visit with her nephew. Paula welcomes the visit, but Gregory tells Nancy to send them away. When Paula protests, Gregory begins to yell at her, telling her he doesn’t want people in the house. He tells Nancy to say Paula is not well enough for visitors. Paula tells Gregory she really wanted to see her, and his reply is well then you should have just said so. They dismiss Miss Thwaites and her “nephew” Brian. 

More Schemes

In the sitting room, Gregory is happily playing the piano, with Paula worrying in the background. He tells her that they are going out for the evening, and Paula begins to question if she has forgotten him telling her. He assures her it is just a surprise for her–taking her to the theater. Paula is happily singing, when Gregory stops playing and questions her about the whereabouts of a little picture. He asks her to go and get it and she insists she didn’t take it. Paula begs him not to ring for the servants. He asks Elizabeth if she knows where the painting is, and she says that she has never touched the painting. Gregory asks her to kiss the bible to show she is telling the truth.

Gregory tells her to bring in Nancy, whom Paula is fearful of. He questions Nancy, and she denies taking the picture. They dismiss Nancy and Paula swears on and kisses the bible, saying that she did not take the picture. Sternly Gregory tells her to go look for the picture. On the way up the stairs, she finds the picture and he accuses her of knowing where it was all along. He sends her to her room and tells her that she is too ill for her to go to the theater. 

Paula begs Gregory to be gentle with her if she is truly ill. He takes her to her room, and tells her that he is leaving to work. She begs him not to leave and tells him she is hearing noises and she begs him to hold her and make her feel safe. He leaves and tells her he hopes she is better in the morning. Gregory and Nancy flirt yet again as Gregory leaves to go work. Nancy is a wee bit of a ho bag.

Gregory exits the house into the foggy London night. He quickly steps into the shadows. What are you up to?

Approaching Paula’s Breaking Point

Paula is laying on her bed, crying when once again the gas lights dim and there are noises overhead. 

There is a concert, and Brian as well as Paula and Gregory are invited. Brian asks the host if she will seat him next to Paula. Just then the hostess gets word that Gregory has RSVP’d that Paula is ill and they won’t be attending.

Paula descends the stairs in a lovely white gown, ready to go to the concert. Gregory is in the sitting room in his smoking jacket. Paula proclaims that despite Gregory’s response to the invitation, she is going, alone if she has to. Gregory plays it off that he didn’t realize that the party was so important, and goes to change so he can go with her. Paula gains some confidence after an icey exchange with Nancy. 

They arrive at the concert, which has already started, and draw Brian’s attention as they take their seats. Once seated, another musician starts to play. Brian watches the couple, drawing Gregory’s attention. During the performance, Gregory reaches for his watch, which is missing. He questions Paula about the whereabouts of it, and she becomes very upset. He begins to examine her purse and pulls his watch from it. When she protests that she didn’t take his watch, she begins to sob uncontrollably and Gregory tells the hostess that she is too sick after all. Brian leaves his seat during the commotion and follows the couple back to their house. 

In Paula’s bedroom, Gregory is pacing, ranting that he has tried to keep her “illness” quiet, but her insistence on going to the concert has brought everything out in the open. Paula tries to recall when things started to slip from her. She traces it back to the letter she found, and Gregory insists that there never was a letter at all, and he was just playing along with her. Poor Paula.

Gregory tells her that Paula’s mother was insane and died in an asylum. He tells her that Paula’s symptoms are the same as hers. He then accuses her of knowing that Brian would be at the concert. Paula tells him that she has no idea who he is. Gregory becomes angry and accuses her of lying to him. He tells her what she is doing is worse than lying. She is forgetting. He then threatens her that he will bring in two doctors to have her legally committed. 

Gregory leaves the house again, and as he walks away, he hears footsteps behind him. Ahead of him is the officer that Brian  had assigned to the street. Once again, Gregory disappears into the shadows, as Brian and the officer meet and try to figure out where he went. 

The Dimming of the Gas light

Once again, the dimming of the gas light and footsteps above her head plagues Paula. She screams for Elizabeth, who is coming upstairs. She asks Elizabeth if she turned on the gas downstairs. Elizabeth tells her no, and that she is the only one in the house. Noises appear overhead again. Elizabeth is mostly deaf, so when Paula asks her if she hears the noises, she says she doesn’t and tells her it is just her imagination. 

Brian has spent his breakfast making a diagram to figure out how Gregory disappeared. The officer comes to his house and tells him he saw Gregory coming out of the shadows, dirty and disheveled. He then tells Brian that he has had breakfast with Nancy. She told him that Gregory informed her that Paula might be going away for a very long time, and he asked her to stay on and look after him. (I bet she did….slut!). Brian sees this news as a reason to speed up their investigation. Brian tells the officer to get Nancy out of the house in the evening and he will stop by and see Paula after Gregory leaves for the night. 

Paula is trying to read, but Gregory’s words are causing her brain to spin. Brian sees Gregory leave, and then goes to ring to bell on the house. Elizabeth tells Brian she won’t see anyone.  He pushes his way past Elizabeth. Paula comes down the stairs, and begs him to leave. Brian shows her a glove that Paula’s Aunt had given him; the match to the glove she had in the cabinet. Brian asks if she is planning on going away. She says no, unless Gregory sends her away. Brian tells her that she is not crazy and he is there to prove it. He asks if there is anyone else there, and she says no. He tells her that the gas went down, which relieves Paula that he saw it as well. She tells him that every night, the light goes down and she hears things. 

Brian begins to put the pieces together as they hear noises. Brian helps to convince her that she is not crazy and it is actually her husband who is upstairs, making the noises. We then see Gregory, going through everything, looking for the jewels that he could not find when he murdered Paula’s aunt. 

Brian Assists Paula

Brian asks if there are any weapons, and Brian breaks into Gregory’s desk to see if his revolver is there. While Brian is looking, she finds the letter that Gregory said didn’t exist. Brian shows her handwriting samples to show Paula that Gregory and the man who wrote the letter to her Aunt are the same person. He tells Paula that Gregory is trying to drive her crazy so he could get control of her property and search for the jewels with no obstacles. Brian tells her that Gregory married a woman in Prague. As they are talking, the gas goes back up. Gregory leaves through the sky light when light catches the jewels, sewn into one of the costumes in an open trunk. 

Brian leaves and asks Elizabeth to take care of Paula. Brian waits for Gregory to come home, but he enters through the boarded up door to the attic. He quickly rushes to his room to examine the jewels, and he finds someone broke into his desk. Enraged, he goes to Paula’s room. Paula is one very angry woman. Hell hath no fury, asshole.

Frightened, but she knows what is going on now. He is so cruel to her. She tells him it wasn’t her, he continues to question her. She lets it slip that “he” opened it. He asks Elizabeth who the man was, but she says no one was here. Paula is reeling, but Elizabeth is protecting her. As Paula spirals, Gregory continues to spin her. Just then Brian shows up at the door. He confronts Gregory. He asks Paula to leave to keep her safe. Gregory escorts her from the room. Brian confronts him about finding the jewels. They struggle over the gun and they go upstairs. Elizabeth calls for the officer, and he joins the fray. 

Our resident true crime sleuth, Miss Thwaites, enters the house to see what is going on. Brian and the officer have tied Gregory to a chair. Paula asks to see him alone. She begins to play his own game with him. She wants to torture him the way he tortured her. But the best torture is to let the police take him away. 

The film ends with a suggested future romance between Paula and Brian, and a possibility of happily ever after. 

Conclusion

This is one heck of a psychological thriller, and if you have ever had a relationship that involved gaslighting, this could be a trigger. Having lived through two such relationships, to see it played out in such an early film makes me know that there were many who came before me. We recognize this abuse more and more now, but still the abuse happens. 

This is a very important film, which is helpful, especially by younger people who could use it as examples of red flags in their own relationships. That is the social side of it. As a film, the acting is wonderful and the use of light, shadow and fog are superb. Now that spooky season is over, time to get yourself mentally prepared for all those holiday gatherings with the family.

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Halloween: What Makes it a Masterpiece

It’s that time of year again. The last weekend of Halloween, where the falls are ten different shades of orange, it’s finally sweater weather, and it’s time to pull out the big guns for horror movies. Every Halloween, I always run a back to back screening of Trick ‘r’ Treat followed by the one and only Halloween. Sure, it would seem like sacrilege to not watch Halloween just on its namesake alone. However, every time I view this film, I still get the goosebumps I always do. Just in one watch, you can trace all the horror movies that came after like it’s a family lineage. Let’s look into Halloween: what makes it a masterpiece?

This film kickstarted the slasher genre, started the sequel mania of the 80s and still holds relevance today with two more sequels out and one on the way, all three with the ambitious task of washing away whatever happened to the Halloween timelines of years’ past. Let’s talk about Michael Myers and the epic crater John Carpenter left on the face of moviemaking forever this Halloweekend.

The Beginning

Oh boy, look at that hair. The man clad in the brilliant bellbottoms is John Carpenter himself. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past fifty years, you should know his name and his unapologetic nature when it comes to filmmaking. He actually has an Oscar that he received for a short film he did when he was a student at USC. He had a couple full-length features under his belt before tackling Halloween, including the cult film Assault on Precinct 13, in which garnered him a lot of praise for making such a surreal movie on such a low budget. It was at the Milan Film Festival screening of that film that Carpenter was approached by Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad to take on a film concept of a psycho killer stalking and killing babysitters. Carpenter took on the originally titled The Babysitter Murders and got to work.

Akkad made the suggestion to set the night of horrors around Halloween night, which is seemingly the most obvious night for horrors. However, there was no horror film before this that had taken on that setting, so it was both a genius idea and a risky one. Carpenter wasn’t a stranger to holiday themed films, however. He was actually in contact with Bob Clark for a potential sequel for Black Christmas, and when the Halloween gig came up, he asked him permission to use an anonymous-killer tactic like the former film. Clark said yes and the outline for Michael Myers was set.

The Writing

John Carpenter and Debrah Hill | John carpenter, John carpenter halloween,  Michael myers halloween

John Carpenter wrote Halloween’s screenplay in ten days. Ten. Days. He wrote it with the collaboration of his girlfriend at the time Debra Hill. She used her experience as a babysitter and her perspective to write the female dialogue, specifically Laurie Strode’s. Haddonfield, New Jersey turned into Haddonfield, Illinois and Carpenter adopted the small town field by naming the streets after streets in his own home town.

Those aren’t the only homages however, as two characters–Tommy Doyle and Dr. Loomis–are in reference to characters in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Psycho. There is another huge connection to Hitchcock, but we’ll get to that later.

The story surrounding Michael Myers as a child is an addition Carpenter made to the story he laid out previously for this hopeful sequel to Black Christmas, making Michael his own character rather than a copycat slasher. While the original financiers wanted a more playful Halloween setting, Carpenter went full-Samhain. Michael soared above a criminally insane human to an evil entity.

Debra Hill: A Horror Legend

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times

I’m going to pause the momentum of the story to talk about Debra Hill. She is the reason that Halloween, Laurie Strode and Michael Myers are the way that they are. She took her female perspective and avid feminism and injected it into Laurie Strode, which is one of the reasons she is the ultimate final girl. Laurie does everything she can to stay alive, and she is a tough badass, but she is also showing her trauma and emotions at the same time. The shot displayed above is one of my favorite moments in the film, and while it is an impressive shot in general, Laurie has had to walk in on her dead friends, is responsible for two kids and is fighting tooth and nail to stay alive. Of course, she’s going to cry, who wouldn’t?

Hill’s writing, however, allows Laurie to cry without losing any of her power that she has continued to have in previous scenes. Another piece Hill added was Michael killing the innocent, sweet German Shepard in order to provoke emotions that most horror fans don’t feel when they’re watching other humans dying. She inserted that scene in just to get across how evil and merciless Michael is, further enhancing his image as the Boogeyman himself. It’s sad that her mastery wasn’t used in later films, but it is what makes the first film stand out in regards to character development. Remember her name and know that she should have as much credit as Carpenter does.

The Casting

This film had a lower budget, therefore the salary was limited to the prospective cast. The first role to come into fruition was Dr. Sam Loomis due to a lot of rejects. First offered to Peter Cushing, and then Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence adorned the iconic role, and we can’t imagine anyone else. The other actors fell into place by relation of the crew or working on previous Carpenter projects, but the role of Laurie Strode was the last to click in. Jamie Lee Curtis was not Carpenter’s first choice, nor was his discovery.

Halloween 1978: How A Subtle Easter Egg Hints At Laurie Strode's Dark Side

Once again, credit goes to Debra Hill, who noticed her on her multiple guest star performances on various TV shows of the 70’s, including titles such as Quincy, M.E. and Buck Rogers. What really interested Hill was Curtis’ mother. Her mother was Janet Leigh, who just happened to be Marion Crane in a little film known as Psycho. Hill knew that the tie to Janet Leigh would be great advertisement for the film, so they asked her if she wanted part. She was hesitant as she related more to Laurie’s socialite friends, but she took on the role anyways. We’re so glad she did, as Laurie Strode is iconic, and Sidney Prescott is the only one that could even give her a run for her money as the best final girl, and Laurie would still reign the supreme.

The Production

Halloween was shot in twenty days. A few facts about this filming process:

Mark Roberts Resurrects Michael Myers' Iconic 1978 Personal Effects | Dead  Entertainment
  • It was one of the first films to feature the Steadicam, which gives it those sweeping and following shots in the movie.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis’ reactions were not necessarily a reaction to what was happening. She and Carpenter developed a ‘scare scale’ from 1 to 10, and Carpenter would let her know what level she should be at in each shot. She had different facial expressions, emotions and screams for each level.
  • “The Shape” or Michael Myers’ actor Nick Castle received no direction from Carpenter other than the head tilt post-Bob pinning. Carpenter told him to “‘Examine him like a butterfly display.'”
  • There is a lack of pumpkins present compared to a usual Halloween, and that was because they filmed it in the spring. They had one shot available for the scene with Tommy Doyle as they had a little over three pumpkins on set and most were needed for later scenes.
  • The most iconic fact that most know: the Michael Myers mask is a modified William Shatner mask. They bought the mask for $1.98, stretched out its eyes a bit and painted it a blueish white to make it the mask.

Overall, it was a successful shoot, given the pressure on Carpenter to deliver in such a short time frame. The only thing left that will sell the scares is the music. That meant hiring a composer, right? Well, what if your director and writer is also a musician? Yes, Carpenter is a multitalented badass.

THe Music: One of the most iconic parts of the film

John Carpenter

John Carpenter is the one behind the iconic main and chase theme of the film. All produced by him and his synthesizer, he was paid $10,000 dollars total for the direction, writing, producing and composing of Halloween. It only took him three days and had assistance from Dan Wyman–a music professor–to write the score into sheet music, given that Carpenter only played by ear and memorization and could not read or write sheet music. The main theme is an iconic pop culture reference the first few notes distinguishes it instantly. Not to mention, it’s a bop.

Other songs used were “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes and “Don’t Fear (The Reaper)” by Blue Oyster Cult, which fit the feel of the movie perfectly. They make references to it in the awfully cheesy sequel Halloween: H20, when “Mr. Sandman” comes on the radio and Laurie promptly shuts it off. A very meta moment and a nod to the original that makes me giggle ever time.

The Reception: revolutionary for indie and horror alike

Amazon.com: Halloween 1978 Movie Poster 27in x 40in (Movie Theatre Size)  Horror Film: Posters & Prints

The film got a wide release and raked in $70 million dollars worldwide. This was and still remains one of the highest grossing independent films of all time, given that box office and movie theaters were still in the evolution process post-Jaws. If people didn’t know Carpenter, they sure did now. Not only was it met with financial success, it had massive critical acclaim, including a overly positive review from Roger Ebert. This kicked the door down for more independent horror to get wider releases, and the craze of home video was on the horizon which propelled horror into a more popular genre of the 1980s.

Laurie Strode became the face for the final girl, with multiple horror female protagonists made in the image of her. However, as I mentioned in my previous article on final girls, they focused a bit too much on one aspect: her virginity. Knowing more on Debra Hill, I assume she frowns upon this perception and would much rather the praise centers on Laurie’s actions, not her purity. Nonetheless, the deeply inspired Friday the 13th came out two years later and solidified the “you have sex, you die” rule.

The Sequels, reboots and Remakes: Twisty Timelines

This also opened a can of worms that would eventually harm the horror genre. This is the birth of the bloated sequel, in which constant iterations of the same thing taints the original project. This happened to Halloween, with wild backstories including Laurie Strode is actually Michael’s sister, which doesn’t add up in the logical timeline. Then there is the third one, which is actually a return to John Carpenter’s idea of making the Halloween series an anthology. No Michael Myers however meant a cut budget and negative reviews due to the villain’s absence.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) - IMDb

Then came 4,5 and 6 starring which contains a half baked story, the worst mask known to man, and a young Paul Rudd. These forgettable sequels brought us up to the mid-90s. 1998, however, the studio wanted to scrap the three most recent sequels so they rebooted and made a direct sequel to Halloween II known as Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. Jamie Lee Curtis returns and we get a cheese-fest with good kills and LL Cool J. It stepped off strong and followed up with the worst of the sequels, Halloween: Resurrection.

It is all scrapped next time with Rob Zombie’s remake, which spawned a sequel. Instead of Michael Myers being simply evil, Zombie pack a bunch of backstory on Michael’s childhood and adds semantics to his nature. While some people really like these movies, I don’t care for them, as I just don’t care for Rob Zombie’s filmmaking that much. However, these movies received lukewarm reviews from critics and lean more on the brutal side versus the original.

The True Sequels: They do have carpenter’s blessing

This brings us to 2018. Who had it on their life bingo card that the true sequels to Halloween would be co-written by Danny McBride? Well, it’s here and we’re now two films into a finishing sequel for the series. In conjunction with David Gordon Green This is all with Carpenter’s blessing. Boy, is it a hard reboot too, and we’re thankful for it.

Jamie Lee Curtis on Saying Goodbye to Laurie Strode & Halloween Kills -  Variety

They’ve scrapped the entire sequel lineage, which included cutting off Halloween II. Therefore, the whole “she’s-his-sister” bit is out of the picture and cleans the timeline up. We also get a semantic-less Michael again, bringing him back to his evil throne once again with no motives. The special effects are up, the budget is up and Jamie Lee Curtis is back. I personally like where these sequels are going, and am excited for the next installment. It feels like the right fit and the fitting end. You can check out the most recent installment Halloween Kills on Peacock or in theaters today.

Conclusion

It was fun deep diving into this little wormhole and have this be the wrapping up of spooky season. Thanks for joining me in this abbreviated timeline of the making of this brilliant film and staple in the horror genre. Next week, the Mother of the Void takes on Gaslight and I will be deep diving into some psychological thriller picks for the transitional time between spooky season and the holiday season. The scares aren’t stopping, however. So stay tuned and follow The Void of Celluloid here on WordPress, or Facebook/Instagram/Twitter to stay up to date with the spookies. Happy Halloween, lovelies.

31 Days of Horror: The Final Ten Days

So we’ve made it everybody. 31 Days of Horror: The final Ten Days of October are upon us and we are getting spookier by the minute. Let’s finish this spooky season with a bang! If you want to spend a night in the theater, Halloween Kills is out and I personally thought it was quite good. Or later this week, Edgar Wright is taking a slash at the thriller/horror genre with his new flick Last Night in Soho which has already gotten rave reviews, so be sure to check that one out as well. As before, the calendar is down below:

This is the final installment of this series, which has been a fun and exciting journey. I cannot wait for next year’s lineup, but right now, let’s live in the moment. Did you miss the last installments and see a film you’d rather have these final ten days? You can find Week One, Week Two and Week Three by clicking on their respective titles.

October 22nd: An American WereWolf in London

An American Werewolf in London' Movie Facts | Mental Floss

Coming it at number 10 is a classic, An American Werewolf in London. A dark, dark comedy about American tourists, the Moors and beware-ing them (yes, both of them). The film has everything from porno theaters to brilliant special effects, so much so that I’ve been alarmed by the amount of people showing their younger teenagers this movie. I started young in horror films, but my mom didn’t let me watch this one until I was sixteen. I’m grateful for that, however, because I feel like I was prepared for what a weird romp this one is. There isn’t really a short, concise synopsis that won’t give away some major plot points, so if you haven’t seen this masterpiece already, make sure to check it out!

For this film, I have chosen another werewolf flick Werewolves Within. It’s a fun horror comedy with as many twists and turns as this one, therefore I think it keeps the tone-ball rolling. In conjunction with this furball of a night, I suggest pairing the night with the Werewolves of London cocktail (or a sparkling apple cider in a pint glass to give the impression of chilling at the Slaughtered Lamb). Obviously this has to be paired with some traditional English pub food, so these Miniature Shepherd’s Pies are the right choice for some yummy finger food. No Moors nearby (unless you’re in the UK), so you should be able to relax. Just don’t wander foggy fields alone.

October 23rd: You’re Next

You're Next (2011) - IMDb

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this typical home invasion movie is not what it seems. You’re Next is in the same ballpark as The Strangers that were showcased earlier this month, but I truly believe it delivers a more impactful punch. Not to mention those animal masks are absolutely terrifying. Who knew a family dinner could go so wrong? The director, Adam Wingard, went on to film shorts for the V/H/S franchise as well as direct the lofty film Godzilla vs. Kong, so why not check out the film that put him on the map?

I’m actually going to start out with a mocktail, since drinking too much around the in-laws is always not the greatest idea. Let’s start off with a blushed Watermelon Mint Cooler that is as red as those poor tablecloths might be (here’s a alcoholic version). As for the food, estranged family dinners scream “easy elegance,” so pull up to the party with these Easy Pesto Tortellini Skewers. As for double features, TVOC’s pick has to be V/H/S, as it matches the tone and features the same director as well as plenty others. Both films are going to be considered classics in the next few years, so might as well get ahead of the pack.

OCtober 24th: The Exorcist

The Exorcist Reboot Will Kick Off Trilogy With Ellen Burstyn Returning -  Den of Geek

It has finally made its appearance. Many claim this film is the scariest film out there, and I could easily agree with them, though I think scary factor changes from movie to movie. Poor little Reagan messes around with a Ouija board one night and gets targeted by a demon. What proceeds is one of the gnarliest possessions ever on screen. This film also has a reputation for being one of the most cursed/haunted sets, with a lot of misfortune occuring left and right during filming. These stories added on to its notoriety and got the film banned in the UK for eleven years. Yikes.

Of course, I had to pair this with an appropriately named Satan’s Whiskers cocktail balanced out with a Holy Mocktail: Negroni, which you can find more classic cocktails-turned-mocktails in this series Roberts and June did when they gave up alcohol for Lent. Keep it on the holy side with these Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce, which is nice and traditional in contrast with the brutality on screen. Then make a devilish sandwich with two choices of a double feature. A modern take would be Hereditary, but you can keep it classic with The Omen.

October 25th: Tales from the Hood

Why Tales From The Hood Is Still The Best Horror Anthology Movie

I featured this film in my anthology list and I have been recommending it every second I get. It’s a fun Creepshow-style film with a lot of social commentary and plenty of camp. Produced by Spike Lee himself, it is definitely a staple in 90s horror that gets forgotten and also drips with modern day relevance. It’s a fun ride perfect for this Monday night and I promise you won’t regret making this one of your choices for your Halloween lineup.

To match the crazy mad-scientist vibe the storyteller has, I decided to go with some wacky concoctions. There is the beautiful, glowing Halloween Hpnotist and the zero proof Blue Shoe. As for snacks, I wanted something short and sweet like an anthology so here is extremely simple 2-Ingredient Nutella Brownies. Now, for double features, I did go the stereotypical route with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. However, I don’t think you can get enough commentary and diversity in your film digest, and I know there is still a bunch of people that haven’t seen Get Out and I know there is a ton of people that have missed Tales From the Hood, so it’s never too late to add these to your film watching portfolio.

October 26th: Poltergeist

The Gadgets From Poltergeist That Fueled Our Nightmares | WIRED

This film has so much heart, it’s almost silly to call it a horror film. This was the first horror film that I watched and I definitely think that this is probably the greatest starter horror for younger folks. A suburbia nightmare–little Carol Anne makes contact with the beyond only to get sucked into another dimension. Her parents take dire measures in order to get her back, not absent of random bumps along the way. What could cause such a powerful poltergeist in the first place?

I actually found a cocktail called The Poltergeist and thought that was fitting, of course. However, I think there isa sort of softness that comes from this film due to its adorable protagonist. Therefore I’ve chosen this pastel green shake that matches the softness: a Green Grasshopper Shake. The food pairing is a disturbing one given its context in the film, but at least it will be tasty up until that point and make great leftovers: Honey Garlic Chicken Legs. I’m a big fan of cold left over chicken legs, given my face doesn’t fall off afterwards. A good double feature for this one is the classic film When a Stranger Calls, which is another starter horror that leans more on the edgier side.

October 27th: Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II (1987) - IMDb

Ah, one of my favorite movies of all time. And before you protest and say that you have to watch the first one before this, you’re incorrect. This film is pure horror-comedy genius from Sam Rami and features Bruce Campbell as the iconic Ash, fighting the Deadites one groovy step at a time. It’s corny, it’s gory and it’s hilarious. It’s also a remake of the first one and a sequel at the same time, making the Evil Dead trilogy one of the most unique ones to date. Hail to the king, baby.

Which brings me to the OBVIOUS follow-up Army of Darkness. The way the film ends, it’s impossible to not throw on the next one to see how Ash holds up in medieval times. As far as pairings go, this Maple Mocktail will make you feel all cozied up in a non-cursed cabin. However, if you want to jump head first and start reciting the Necronomicon for fun times, pair it with the shooter and the cocktail The Cabin and the Deadite and snack on some Necronominoms.

October 28th: [Rec]

Why the Terrifying REC Ending Works So Well

I’m a fan of Spanish horror, if you can’t tell. This goes down for me as the best found footage horror out there, and if you don’t agree, you can at least agree it’s one of the scariest. A television reporter and cameraman follow medical personnel into a dark apartment building and are locked in with something sinister. The US remade this film under the name Quarantine, so if it sounds familiar, that’s why. But sit through subtitles one last time to get a good scare from across the pond.

I went Spanish again with the drinks and snacks, so we have a delicious, refreshing Rebujito for the cocktail of choice. As for the zero proof crowd, a Virgin White Peach Sangria will give that refreshing feeling much like the Rebujito. Since we are creating a creepy atmosphere, pair it with some comfort with this Spanish potato salad: Ensaladilla Rusa. Sticking with the twisted zombie vibe, I am pairing Pontypool, a fun Canadian horror film, with this film.

October 29th: The Final Girls

The Final Girls': LAFF Review – The Hollywood Reporter

This film is such a fun meta-horror film that it usually soars to the top of my list when I need a quick recommendation. It works for both die-hard horror fans and newbies, as it describes the tropes much like Scream lays out the rules. With a bunch of familiar faces as well as all of them well versed in comedy acting, it’s an easy, feel-good movie meets a gory slasher flick. Oh, it also tiptoes on fantasy with the whole being-in-the-actual-movie plot. What are you waiting for? Call your friends and let’s get the ball rolling for a Friday night romp.

Since Billy’s choice of weapon is the large, heavy blade, I found a cocktail called the Liquid Machete. It seemed fitting for this hilarious bloodbath. But if you are more of the Kumbaya type, dig into this delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate. For food, I leaned into the camping vibe and found this delicious Hawaiian BBQ Pork Walking Taco that allow for easy cleanup post movie night. As far as double features go, I remembered this little flick that is a great romp and a fun, quick follow up is the indie film You Might Be the Killer. A unique film format meets an even more unique film form–a perfect start to the Halloweekend.

October 30th: Trick ‘r’ Treat

In Praise of Trick 'r Treat, the Ultimate "Halloween Night" Movie - Paste

This. This film is the ideal Halloween movie and I stand by that. An anthology horror tale meets a comic book tone laced with camp and comedy. All the tales intertwine with each other and blossoms into this fun twist on Halloween traditions. Not to mention, it introduces one of the most adorable horror villains, Sam. All you gotta do is follow the rules to avoid his bloody wrath. Simple enough, but a colorful cast of characters seem to make things a little difficult for Sam to catch up. I could watch this film over and over during October, so therefore it is an annual tradition of mine.

As far as snacks and drinks go, we have to let the Halloween flag fly. I found a spooky cocktails complete with theatrics known as The Witch’s Heart. Purple, spooky and bubbling with delight. If we are craving the more sweet style of life, I also found this lovely Pumpkin Milkshake. Since this film is a grab-bag of spooky delight, snack on this Sweet and Salty Halloween Snack Mix. As far as fun films suited for spooky season go, my double feature for this film is a guilty pleasure for many, and that is the 2001 film Thirteen Ghosts. The ending of this film is very bleh, but Matthew Lillard is a yes in my book.

October 31st: Halloween

Halloween' 1978: The Times Finally Reviews a Horror Classic - The New York  Times

You had to see this coming, whether or not you paid attention to the calendar. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a tried and true masterpiece that has served influence for hundreds of horror films, so it is always a good call to re-watch it come Halloween time. What’s not a better time than actual Halloween night? It’s the tale of Michael Myers that feels even fresher than before with its new sequel that came out only a week ago, so the time is better than ever to revisit the original!

The obvious double feature is a triple feature with the 2018 Halloween and Halloween Kills following up the classic. This is a night to go all out, but sometimes you want a quieter night in, so let’s pair this up with some Michael Myers Jell-O Shots to add to some booze to your snacks. A mocktail for the night is the Cereal Killer (minus the Cognac) or plus the Cognac if we want another cocktail for the night. To up the comfort and the tasty treats, snack on some adorable Ghost Pizza Bagels. Be sure to toast to Michael all dressed up in his ghost costume.


Conclusion

So there it is! All 31 days laid out and prepped. This list is formatted for October but feel free to use it year round when in a good mood for a scary movie night. Thank you all for tuning in each week and jumping down these delectable voids full of blood, booze and bread. Coming up next week The Mother of the Void makes her noble return after a tiff with a rogue charging cable and I am going to take a look at Halloween and what makes it such a masterpiece. Until next time, you lovely spelunkers…

31 Days of Horror: Week Three

Welcome back everybody to The Void of Celluloid’s 31 Days of Horror. The whole concept of this series is to go through each week of October and pair snacks, drinks and double features to The Void’s picks. This is the first year of this series, so the standard calendar is a lot of staples and not a lot of sleeper hits. However, it is not a bad thing to revisit some of the classics. We are hitting the halfway point of October, so we have to celebrate spooky season every second we got! Here is the calendar:

I’m really excited to revisit the picks of this week, as we have some killer classics here. You can find the kick off of this series here and the bloody sequel here. Alright, let’s set up this trilogy of good spooky fun, shall we?

A Micro-rant from The Void

For those that are going to stay away from some of these films because of tiny little words you have to read, please try and push yourself to do so. There will be another subtitled movie this week as well as next week, and if you aren’t open to subtitles, you’re going to miss out on a lot of good horror. As Bong Joon Ho says “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Alright, micro rant over, let’s get to the goodies.

OCtober 15th: THe Orphanage

If you somehow missed this movie during its long Netflix reign during the early 2010s, you missed out. That’s why it’s here. El Orfanato or The Orphanage is a compelling ghost tale that will have you rethinking every time someone knocks on a wall. Laura moves her family back into her childhood home, which was once an orphanage specifically for handicapped children. Not long after, her young son combats transition by having an imaginary friend. However, it turns out this friend might not be so imaginary. You might wanna have some tissues with you if you’re a hair-trigger weeper like I am when anything is remotely sad.

The double feature for this one has to be Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. He actually produced The Orphanage and both this film and Pan’s Labyrinth became the top grossing Spanish films of all time. Since both films take place in Spain, we have to indulge ourselves with some Spanish food and drinks. One of the most popular cocktails in Spain is the Agua de Valencia, a delicious drink reminiscent of a mimosa. For our zero-proof crowd, there is a delicious dessert drink known as Leche Merengada which is a creamy, spiced milkshake style drink (for those lactose intolerant and savvy in Google Translate/fluent in Spanish, you can find a dairy free version here). As far as snacks go, almost everyone loves potatoes, so pair all of this with a simple, spicy Patatas Bravas.

OCtober 16th: Psycho

Psycho's Shower Scene: How Hitchcock Upped the Terror—and Fooled the  Censors - HISTORY

As we know, Halloween Kills is out and while it is general trivia knowledge for most horror fans, a lot of people do not know that Jamie Lee Curtis is Janet Leigh’s daughter. Psycho is a must see and showcases stellar performances from all of its cast, especially Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Despite Peeping Tom being the first slasher film by technicality, it never reached as great of heights and praise as Psycho did. Marion Crane decides to make a run for it with her employer’s precious deposit, but due to a storm has to take refuge in the Bates Motel. I think we all know where it goes next… Nevertheless, Psycho still packs a punch despite its second biggest twist being spoiled for most film lovers and therefore, it makes it onto the calendar.

Psycho just screams classic to me, so therefore I pair this one with a nice Negroni. Believe it or not, I actually found a non-alcoholic Negroni which I thought was impossible, but it has great ratings, so check it out. What pairs nice with the sophisticated Negroni? A bunch of snooty (but tasty) things, but for some reason, these rich Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites from Entertaining with Beth will do too. Double feature wise, you could go with the previously mentioned pioneer Peeping Tom or you could go with another Hitchcock horror The Birds. It’s the simple decision of not trusting men or not trusting birds, you decide.

OCtober 17th: THe Conjuring

The Conjuring (2013) - IMDb

Ah, there’s nothing like family and building a home together, right? Gathering together and playing Hide-and-Clap sounds like a very wholesome thing to do? Well, when there is a possible witch/demon terrorizing your family each night, it’s not as picture-perfect as you would imagine. This is the first installment of the now expansive Conjuring Universe, but nothing quite beats the first one, which delivers the suspense upon every single viewing. Too bad that it spawned another wave of copycats and cheap spinoffs, but I don’t think any of its expansions can take away from this gem.

The film takes place in the 70s, complete with Patrick Wilson sporting some epic sideburns. Therefore, I’m going vintage with these pairings. If you’ve never had a cheeseball before, you have to try this classic cheeseball recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch. In the mood for something sweet and more with the season? Check out this this pumpkin cheesecake ball. If we’re keeping it classic 70’s, we should go for a nice bright Harvey Wallbanger (here’s a virgin one) to lighten up the mood for this dark, grim film. The double feature for this one is surprisingly not from the Conjuring-Verse, but rather a Mike Flanagan film Ouija: Origin of Evil. It matches The Conjuring‘s tone and because of its predecessor, some horror fans missed out on this one.

October 18th: The Shining

The Shining -REVIEW – The Martini Shot

In October, you try to shuffle in some new finds, but sometimes nothing beats the tried and true classics. That is why The Shining is on here. I watch it at least once a year, mainly to play detective to see if I get anything new from it. I feel like I don’t really need to explain the plot of this one other than it deters heavily from the book. Why I bring this up is mostly due to my double feature, but also a push for people to read the book, as it has a lot of sentiment that the Kubrick film is obviously lacking in.

There is now an obvious double feature for The Shining which is its sequel Doctor Sleep. Yes, Mike Flanagan again. Here he does the impossible task of marrying the two versions of The Shining, and he pulls it off beautifully. You can read more about it on The Void of Celluloid here: We Love You, Mike Flanagan. For this film, I went more with a themed cocktail meets generic yummy carbs, since alcohol is such an important plot point in the story. Yes, suggesting a cocktail is opposite of the point which is why I will lead with this mocktail recipe that sounds utterly amazing: Cranberry Apple Cider Mocktail. Which is red. I think you can see where this is going, just don’t spell this REDRUM cocktail backwards. The delicious side I chose to pair with this deep red punch is the viral Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread.

October 19th: Scream

13 Seriously Effed Up Facts About 'Scream' - MTV

This film is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year so it’s time to rewatch it if you haven’t caught it in theaters yet. This film is Wes Craven’s comeback as well as the father of meta-horror that a lot of modern horror comedies use today. Also, I think it is impossible to not fall in love with Sidney Prescott’s badassery. Oh, and Matthew Lilliard’s acting. There’s a lot I love about this film.

Its double feature has to go to its sequel Scream 2, as I think there is a lot that they did better in regards to it being a horror movie. There is scarier moments in the second one at least, so if you want to go more pedal-to-the-metal with your scares, don’t skip this one. These two films drip with teenage/college student energy, so I decided to go for a dive bar meets high school party aesthetic with the pairings. We got a lovely light beer cocktail known as a Chelada, which is like a Corona with lime on steroids. Since we already did Shirley Temples last week, we’re going to go with another non-boozy classic: the Roy Rodgers. Pair this off with some adorable, salty Bacon Cheeseburger Bites and you got yourself a spooky rager.

OCtober 20th: Housebound

Housebound review: Perfect horror for the Covid-19 quarantined - Vox

If you couldn’t tell, I am quite a fan of Kiwi humor. Housebound is another title that lurked around Netflix for a while, and I remember watching it without any prior knowledge. I was confused, but once you realize it is a comedy through and through, it gets absolutely hilarious. Therefore, I want to use this platform to clarify and shine some more light on this lost gem. Kylie is forced to return to her childhood home under house arrest, trapping her inside with the supposed evil entity that lives among her and her family.

This is a fun movie and should be paired with equally fun things. Therefore I’m pairing it with one of my favorite movies The Lost Boys. Because who could say no to some glam punk 80s vampires? This is a mixed bag of a night, so why not mix it up some more with this Halloween Sangria or a prom-style punch? In my mad search for recipes, I came across these jalapeno popper pigs in a blanket that I could not help but share. Say hello to a wild Wednesday night!

OCtober 21st: Ringu

Ring (1998) | Trailer - YouTube

I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of the American The Ring. I feel like it’s a cheap knockoff of the rich story that is Ringu. If you have only seen the American version, I urge you to watch Ringu this week. It is genuinely one of the creepiest films out there. It still centers around the cursed tape that is well known but its use of practical effects as well as the absence of that blue filter that was so popular in early 00s horror (and promptly killed by Twilight) make this film soar above the American remake.

The obvious double feature is another story done so dirty by American film studios: Ju-On: The Grudge. A “slower” burn than the first film, but a truly rich and amazing ghost story through and through. Since we are enjoying two classic Japanese horror films, I decided to pair it with onigiri, which is impossible to hate given its endless combinations and simpler assembly. Of course, I involved sake, so please enjoy the highly rated Sake Southside from Tasting Table (a Japanese Cream Soda for the non alcohol drinkers).

Conclusion and what’s Next

I’m so happy to see people enjoying this series and I enjoy making it (even though it makes me hungry). There is a lot coming up with The Void of Celluloid in the next few months from a podcast to a Patreon startup to oh so much more and I am excited to share this journey with all of you. Please be sure to follow and share this with your friends and loved ones and I will see you next week as we celebrate the final ten days of TVOC’s 31 Days of Horror.

Cat People: A Mother of the Void Review

This week the Void has assigned me 1942’s “Cat People.” I am going to try not to read too much into the fact this film, at its core, is about sexual repression. If you need an introduction, check out my last review on The Black Cat.

Cat People: Irena and Oliver’s Introduction

CAT PEOPLE (1942) | One Perfect Shot Database

The film opens in New York City’s Central Park Zoo where an attractive young woman is unsuccessfully trying to sketch the panthers. With disgust at her efforts, she rips a page from her notebook and attempts a 3 pointer at the trash can across the way. An equally attractive young man is standing beside the trash receptacle at a food cart. He picks up the discarded attempt and point to a sign that reads, “Let know one say, and say it to your shame, that all was beauty here until you came.” He succeeds in gently throwing the paper into the can, garnering an approving nod from the artist.

Oliver, a young ship’s engineer, designing not running, sees this as his in to approach Irena. She disagrees with him that she is an artist, she works in the fashion industry and a sketch drawer. Irena rips and throws her latest attempt to the ground, prompting Oliver to quote the littering condemnation again. Irena ignores his flirtation and begins to put away her supplies, readying herself to leave. They engage in unheard small talk, as they leave the area. Irena’s discarded sketch blows in the wind and turns to reveal a crude drawing of a leopard impaled by a sword. Now to all you young men out there, let this be a lesson, just because a woman has pretty face, that doesn’t mean she is not a littering, wanna be animal abuser. Just saying…

Oliver and Irena walk towards her apartment, where she reveals she is from Serbia. He asks her to spell her name for him and coyishly replies, “Are you going to write me a letter?” Oliver says he would and in the letter, he would invite her to tea. Irena side eyes him and playfully shakes her head no. They arrive at Irena’s house, where she brazenly invites him up to her apartment for tea. Don’t forget that this is 1942, and this litterbug has invited a man she just met up to her apartment alone. She is dangerous I tell you! How dare she?! Upon Irena asking him for tea, Oliver replies, “You make life so simple.” I can only imagine what the audience at this time must have been thinking.

My first thought was, what is another word for simple? EASY! Did he just call her easy? Well I can only assume that a woman who did such a thing in this time period would have been thought of as that. Oliver begins to follow Irena up the stairs where he stops for a moment to say, “You know, I never cease to marvel at what lies behind a brownstone front.” Good thing to remember….that whole book and cover thing. Irena admits that she has never had anyone in her apartment, and then immediately put poor Oliver in the “Friend Zone.” After letting Oliver into her apartment, he make a satisfied sound as he breaths in deep. Irena identified the pleasing smell at Lilage, her perfume. Oliver describes the scent at “alive”…can you say pheromones?! It appears that Oliver will not be in the FZ for very long. 

Publicity stills of the original Cat People!

Irena and the Cats and Alice’s Introduction

To show the passage of time, the apartment is now dark, and Oliver has made himself at home, laying on Irena’s couch as she leans up against the wall softly humming. The loud sound of roaring interrupts her song. Irena explains that this is the lions for the zoo. She says that she finds this sound comforting, like the ocean. Some nights, she state a different sound creeps in. That of the panther, which sounds like a woman screaming, which she does not like. Oliver lights a cigarette, in which its glow shows how dark it has become. She turns on the light and shares how she loves the dark.  As Irena clears the tea service, Oliver notices a statue on a table. Irena identifies it as King John, and of course, in Oliver’s eyes, there is only one King John, the English King.

She corrects his with a laugh and tells the story of the Serbian King John, and how he save the people from the “Evil Ways” to which they had fallen. Irena explains how the Mamelukes came to Serbia and made the people slaves. The slave were first “good and worshipped God in a true Christian way.” Slowly the people changes, and in her village, when the Serbian’s were liberated by King John, he found that the people were bowing down to Satan. They had become evil. King John killed all but the “wisest and most wicked” were killed. The worst of the worst escaped into the mountains. Unsure of how this pertains to Irena, Oliver presses further. Irena, head tilted downward in shame, explains that the legends of these wicked one haunt where is was born.

The clock strikes six and Oliver realizes he has stayed too long. He askes to see Irena the next day for dinner. Here we see Oliver, descending the stairs, and out of the friend zone, as he continues to stop and look up at Irena who is playfully smiling at him as she leans over the balcony. 

Now we are at Oliver’s work, where we see men looking over blue print. The sound of a small meow, can be heard, and Alice, one of two women seen in the scene (the other is a receptionist, way in the background), goes to Oliver’s desk where he has a kitten in a box. Alice fawns over the sweet little Siamese cat, and he says he bought her for a friend. Alice enquires about this friend and if she knows her. Oliver says she doesn’t but she will like her. Alice says, cheerfully, but with a slightly tight jaw, “Well if you like her, then she will be alright with me.” I see you Alice, and have been there plenty of times in my life. Talk about being friend zoned. 

Oliver is shown outside Irena’s door, box under his arm and his coat showing signs of a downpour. He rings the door bell and happily shows Irena her present. Irena is obviously not pleased, and the kitten is hissing and terrified. She states that cats don’t like her, while Oliver doesn’t listen, and only goes on to share how great Alice and the kitten got along. Irena repeats her declaration about cats, and asks if they could take it back to the pet store and exchange it for another animal.

The two of them go to the pet store in the rain, and upon entering the store, all the animals start to freak out and create so much noise that the two of them and the store owner have to go outside to hear each other. Irena states she would rather stay outside, while Oliver goes in and picks out a canary. The store owner goes on to explain how the animals can tell when someone is not a good person, especially cats. Oliver, plays with the kittens and ignores the woman’s observations. Irena approves of the canary from the window. 

The wedding and its lack of copulation

We now see Oliver asleep on the couch at Irena’s apartment, while she sits on the floor beside him, the fire reflecting off of their faces. Oliver wakes up and asks Irena if she loves him, and she affirms, not with a yes, but an mhm. Oliver confesses his love for her, but he wonders at the fact that he has never kissed her.  Irena confesses that she has dreaded this upcoming conversation. She tried to stay away from love and never meant to love him. Oliver, in his very American way states that she has nothing to be afraid of, that she is in America now, and she is normal because she loves a normal American like him. He gives her a very half assed proposal, and they embrace, with Oliver softly resting his lips on the back of her head. 

Cat People (1942 film) - Wikipedia

Well despite never kissing, and I wonder how they got around that during the whole, “You may now kiss the bride” business in the ceremony, we are at Oliver and Irena’s reception. Of course nothing says wedding reception like three cooked cow heads in the window of the only Serbian restaurant in the area. How romantic.  Watch out Void, when the day comes for your wedding, I have a theme in mind. Irena and Oliver are surrounded by Oliver’s coworkers. The Commodore, Oliver’s boss, leans in towards Alice, who is sitting next to Irena, remarking to her about the bride’s beauty but he hears she is a bit “odd”. Alice, the ever loyal friend of Oliver, defends his choice in bride and is optimistic about their future.

The Commodore then stand and raises his glass to toast the bride, (thanks to Hamilton, every time I hears someone say , “To the Bride”, I start singing to myself…). The commotion of the toast draws the attention of a beautiful woman who is seated across the restaurant. The pervy Commodore, as I wrote in my notes, sees her and comments on how she is “something.”, and Doc, their coworker, remarks she looks like a cat. As Irena is thanking Alice for putting together the party, the mysterious woman walks up to the party’s table and greats Irena in Serbian as “Sister”, causing Irena much distress. Oliver just laughs it off. 

As Oliver and Irena are dropped off outside their apartment, Irena tells Oliver that she is going to beg him to be “kind and patient”, when it comes to being intimate. I mean it was 1942, and they didn’t come right out and say that, but we get the idea. Oliver assures her that he will give her all the time she needs. I found myself rolling my eyes at this and scoffing. Sure, he will. Between this and last week’s movie, I am beginning to think not a lot of action happened during the honeymoons of the 30’s and 40’s. 

The newly married couple go into their apartment, with Irena in her bedroom behind a closed door and Oliver on the other side. He tells her goodnight, as she slowing falls to her knees. Her resolved falters as she tentatively reaches for the doorknob, but the menacing sound of a cat yowling,  causes her to pull her hand back. They sadly tell each other goodnight and it fades to black. 

Madness Behind the Beauty

We next see Irena a month later, at the panther’s cage, visiting the zookeeper. He makes the observation that no one who is happy comes to see the panther. Irena remarks on his beauty and the keeper, rebukes her, stating he isn’t beautiful, he is evil. He then quotes Revelations, where it is states the worst beast is like unto a leopard. “Like a leopard, but not a leopard. I guess that fits this feller,” and Irena sadly agrees. 

Irena is working in her office, and the imagery sets up a beautiful scene and metaphor. She has a painted screen of a panther behind her easel where she is working. The reflection of the bird cage Oliver gave her surrounds the panther’s head. It is a wonderful representation of Irena being caged up. Who she truly is, locked away. Irena wants to hold the canary. However, when she tries to catch him in its cage, she frightens it to death. The deep sadness on her face is heartbreaking, but it is also apparent that it is nothing new to her.

CAT PEOPLE (1942, Dir. Jacques Tourneur) – Booker's Guides

She gently places it in a box and goes for a walk to the panther’s cage. Then she THROWS THE DEAD BIRD INTO ITS CAGE! I know there were no signs stating don’t feed the animals, but just because a sign is not there, doesn’t mean it is right. But what do you expect for a person who won’t even follow eloquent signs about not littering?

Later that evening, Oliver teases Irena about mourning the bird. She explains to him that it is more than that. That she is jealous of other women. Women who can live full and happy lives with their husbands. Oliver remains dismissive of her feelings. He admits that he has been trying to “kid her out of it”, these ideas she has about her past and herself. He convinces her that she needs to see a psychiatrist, and she readily agrees. 

We see Irena under hypnosis, talking about the evil that is in her. Upon waking, she states she knows nothing, but Dr. Judd, assures her he has everything written down. He lays all her fears out, and basically says, this will be a piece of cake, and she just has daddy issues that steam from her childhood. He tells her not to worry, and she is to tell her husband nothing. Irena returns home and finds Oliver and Alice on the couch. It is revealed that Alice is the one that recommended Dr. Judd to Oliver and that he had told Alice everything. Irena shows visible betrayal and dismisses Alice despite her apology. Oliver defends confiding in Alice and calls her a “good egg”, who understands anything. Irena replies, “There are somethings that a woman doesn’t want other women to understand.”

Irena retreats to bed, and wakes to what could almost be a siren’s call from the panther. She goes to his cage and their pacing matches each other. When she returns home, Oliver is waiting for her in the lobby. He again apologizes for betraying her trust. She gives him a warning to keep her happy, because that is what keeps what is inside her locked away and harmless. He tells her he would do basically anything to make her happy. Anyway……

Alice and Oliver v. Irena

More time passes and Oliver is a few more months into his sexless marriage. He and Alice are working on plans for a ship. Alice points out that Oliver keeps giving her wrong figures and that they should take a break. She asks him if anything is wrong, and he keeps his word to his wife and says no. Then Alice astutely remarks, “It must be marriage.” Well, this opens up the flood gates.

Oliver confides his worry about Irena and that he ran into Dr. Judd who confirmed she hadn’t been back to see him since the first time she came to his office. This ladies and gentlemen is why we now have HIPPA laws!  Alice shares her confusion, since Irena wanted to be cured so badly. Alice acknowledges that this must make Oliver very unhappy. He then goes on a small monologue of how he had never been unhappy before in his life, and then he got married. This causes Alice to start crying, catching Oliver by surprise.

He pulls her behinds some filing cabinets, where Alice admits she can’t bare to see him unhappy because she loves him. She apologizes for her confession and acknowledges that Oliver loves Irena. He replies, “I don’t know.” He admits that he doesn’t know what love is and he has no idea if he is really in love with Irena or not. Well Alice see this opportunity to give ole Ollie a lesson on love. She explains that what the two of them have is love. Alice sees her shot and she takes it.  She plants a seed in his head that there is something better for him, waiting, standing right in front of him. Opportunistic bitch!  Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud.

We find Irena back at the panther cage, where the zoo keeper has left the key in the lock of the cage. She returns it to him, where it is established that he forgets it often. She is then greeted by Dr. Judd, who has sought her out to enquire why she missed her appointment. Irena states that she doesn’t believe he an help her because she feel the Doctor thinks it is her mind , not her soul that is troubled, and the two are not the same thing. She dismisses him and leaves. We next find the unhappy couple in their apartment, where Oliver verbalizes his worry about their relationship.

BAM | Cat People (1942)

Irena says she loves him, but he doesn’t return the sentiment, he just states he feels they are drifting apart. He confronts Irena about not going back to Dr Judd, and lets it slip that he confided in Alice. This sends Irena into a quiet rage, and the ‘Fuuuuucccckk’ look on Oliver’s face is almost comical. He tells her he did promise they would not fight and they need to calm down. As we all know that is exactly what you say to your wife after you admit that you are confiding in another woman she specifically asked you not to. We all know that “calm down” is part of every woman’s love language.

They then quickly retreats to the office, with no reply from her. When he arrives at the office her tells the cleaning lady he is going to a restaurant around the corner. It is here the waitress, who is a woman of color, has on a very unfortunate uniform. Lets all just sigh, shake our heads and remember what idiots society was in the past. We cut to Alice, working alone in the office. The phone rings, and she picks it up, but there is no answer. When she hangs up, it shows that Irena was on the other side of the line. Now even the most level headed person would be seeing red. Not to mention someone who believe they turn into a panther when provoked to jealousy, lust or rage. Nice kitty!

Alice bids adieu and other horror history In Cat People

Alice turns off her light table. As she leaves the building, the cleaning lady tells her that Oliver is at the diner around the corner. She joins Oliver at his table. Irena, who is walking in the neighborhood, sees the two of them through the window of the diner. What she doesn’t see is Alice telling Oliver he needs to solve his own problems and encourages him to go home and make up with his wife. Oliver calls her “swell” and Alice delivers my favorite line in the film, “That’s what makes me dangerous. I am the new type of other woman.”  Irena retreats as the two exit the diner and Oliver asks Alice if she is cold, to which she replies, “ A cat just walked over my grave.”  Oliver offers to walk her home, but she declines, stating she is a “big girl now” and goes on alone.

Val Lewton's, CAT PEOPLE – Once upon a screen…

What follows in the most famous scene from the film as well as in horror movie history. Alice is walking along the sidewalk, crossing under streetlamps as she goes. We hear the sound of her heels clicking on the concrete and the sound of Irena’s echoing behind. The sound of the companion footfalls is not what startles Alice, it the sudden lack of them that causes her alarm. She starts to look over her shoulder, hurrying down the street faster. She stops under a streetlight as a growl is heard. It is quickly followed by the sound of a bus pulling up in front of Alice. This is said to be the first jump scare in horror movie history. We expect one thing to happen and something else happens, seemingly out of nowhere. 

Tragedy Has Struck

Two whole pages went MIA. Sorry guys. However, I really enjoyed this movie and cannot recommend it more. It truly is classic horror.

Conclusion on cat People by the Void

Well, it seems as if the Mother of the Void enjoyed Cat People quite a bit, it was fun to find an older horror that I had seen and she hadn’t. I promise nothing rude/call-out-y from the subtext, just thought you would find it interesting, especially having Irena as a tragic character. The next one Mother of the Void will be doing is the classic 1960 film Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage), a very interesting, very French horror drama. I’m very excited to read her review/summary of that one. Anyways, come back this Friday for the second installment of the 31 Days of Horror, paired with food, drinks and double features. We look forward to seeing you later on The Void of Celluloid.

Anthology Horror: Short Stories Unfolded

Anthology horror has risen to one of the more popular subgenres of horror, and it is easy to see why. With television shows such as American Horror Story and Black Mirror in high demand during the 21st century, the idea of shortened, contained scares are appealing to both the binge watcher and the casual TV viewer. The subgenre has such beautiful roots too, since anthology horror found its home in the imagination of Rod Serling in 1959 with his groundbreaking series, The Twilight Zone. With the new release of the Fear Street anthology, I decided to take a dive into the void and well, I was feeling quite opinionated. It is truly a range of films, with attempts of sprinkling in some cult classics amongst household names.



Anthology Horror: Not Great to best

All of the films and television I am putting up here are definitely watchable, and are based on my personal feelings, as well as what I perceive as quality entertainment. They are not everyone’s cup of tea, however. I will also describe an age range for these films if you are looking for something more intense for yourself, or something tame to show some curious kiddos. Let’s get on with the ranks, starting of with films that I think you should avoid.

Utter Garbage: Holidays, THe ABCs Of death Series

Photo example of anthology horror Holidays
Seth Green in Holidays (2016), XYZ Films

I do understand that I stated these are watchable, and while these pain me deeply, they’re not unwatchable. Some may debate with me, and while there are good individual stories in these films, they’re not really worth your time. It was especially disappointing, because Kevin Smith did the Halloween short for Holidays. Now, one of my favorite directors meets my favorite holiday should have been an easy knockout for me, and I was ready to grant it a little grace, but oh boy, it was bad. As for The ABCs of Death, I admire the concept of a collection of international short horror films, but some of the films were either A) too disturbing, or B) way too ridiculous (for example, F is for Fart). Don’t waste your time, and kindly avoid these films.

AMerican Horror Story seasons 3-9

Photo example of anthology horror series American Horror Story
American Horror Story: Coven (2013), FX Television

Now, these are enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but oh boy, is it Ryan Murphy television to a tee. Ryan Murphy has a certain style, and while I can appreciate the humor and the excessive musical numbers in Season 4 (not necessarily dissing these, I enjoy them, but a major turn off for a lot of fans), these seasons are not as strong as the first two, and even die hard fans can agree with this. They are fun and full of bitchy dialogue, darker humor, and heart wrenching tragedy, but overall, they are way more soapy and not everybody’s cup of tea. Also, he needs to stop killing of my favorite characters, and maybe I can forgive these seasons more.

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Photo example of Twilight Zone: The Movie
Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Warner Bros.Studios

Yeah, this film. This film suffered in production hell and was shadowed by the tragic, notorious helicopter accident that occurred on its set, but that doesn’t stop it from being a decent film. With a story from Steven Spielberg as well as memorable moments from Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, it is sad to have this movie go under the radar so often, but also completely understandable given the nature of the accident. The stories are good retellings of classic Twilight Zone tales, and John Landis has a good prologue as well as a predictable first segment, but it is an uncomfortable viewing, especially after having looked at the details of the accident. If you want to continue not having a knot in your stomach when you hear John Landis’ name, I suggest not deep diving into the details of what happened.

Creepshow 2

Photo example of Creepshow 2
Creepshow 2 (1987), Laurel Entertainment

Creepshow is admired for its cheesiness, but this sequel doesn’t hold a candle to the first one. While its budget quadrupled from the first and the special effects seemingly improved, it is extremely campy and leans more on the comical side. It is not bad, but rather quite enjoyable, given that Stephen King and George A. Romero were still behind the wheel (quite literally in King’s case). Approach this one with a not-so-serious mindset, and enjoy another journey with The Creep.

Cat’s Eye

Anthology Horror
Drew Barrymore in Cat’s Eye (1985), MGM

Awe, isn’t lil’ Drew Barrymore adorable? Cat’s Eye is a more accessible anthology film by Stephen King, in which the viewer follows a cat around through three chilling tales, which seems to be the magic number for King. I remember watching this when I was younger, around age 10, and remember it being rather tame. It’s quality short stories from King, and was the groundbreaker for a flowing anthology film rather than broken up, separate stories–a format featured in a few films on this list. However, it was not as memorable as other starter-horror, at least from my childhood, so it goes here.

Fear Street Series

Anthology Horror
Fear Street Trilogy (2021), Netflix

It was exciting to see R.L. Stine’s name attached to a modern production, especially one that was promising some gory, grown-up scares. These movies are fun and have a few creative tricks of its sleeve (yes, THAT misfortune in the bakery) but overall, it is an homage to the ones that came before. It’s campy and predictable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun romp for sure. It’s a surprisingly brutal installment to the seasoned anthology horror genre. I am curious to see what else the creators plan on dishing out in the rumored future installments. Also, it is the only film on this list to have LGBTQ representation–something the horror genre struggles with–so major props to them.

The Mortuary COllection

Anthology Horror
Jacob Elordi in The Mortuary Collection (2019), Trapdoor Pictures

The newest addition to this list as well as the only one tied to an exclusive subscription, this is a fun and creative–though predictable–horror film through the subscription Shudder. Shudder just recently did a revamp on Creepshow, and while it is not on this list, it is a worthy revival that I cannot recommend more. Anyways, I just watched this recently and really enjoyed it! It has a lot of good twists and turns, and is one of the more gorier ones on the list, so if you’re into more intense horror, especially body horror, this one should be on your watchlist.

American Horror Story Seasons 1 & 2

Anthology Horror
American Horror Story: Murder House (2011), FX Television

Finally, here is the beginning of the series. I absolutely adore these first two seasons and their rewatchability factor is extremely high. I’ve seen the first season multiple times, so much so that it has become a comfort show of mine, and as far as critical acclaim goes, the second season is the best of the whole series, even with its wacky tangents. There is also a complexity in characters between the first two seasons, brilliantly acted by Zachary Quinto, Jessica Lange, Lily Rabe and Evan Peters. It has its touch of cheesiness, but that can be expected from a horror series made the same creator that made Glee. Nevertheless, this was and still remains to be highly influential horror television.

V/H/S

Anthology Horror
V/H/S (2012), Bloody Disgusting

This film started the reign of Brad Miska in regards to horror anthology of the 2010s. Miska served as producer of this iconic found-footage anthology film and with the involvement of Bloody Disgusting, this film was met with wide acclaim from horror audiences. With the most notable segment “Amateur’s Night” being the launchpad of director David Bruckner, it is one of the more disturbing films on this list and definitely doesn’t fall into a “starter-horror” situation. Instead, this is catered to the commonly-desensitized horror fan that is looking for a good scare.

Southbound

Anthology Horror
Southbound (2015), Willowbrook Regent Films

As I mentioned in the previous segment, the films from this team are not for the faint of heart. Southbound is more of a flowing cinematic anthology rather than the found-footage format that Miska started out with. It brings back most of the directors from V/H/S as they tell ghastly stories centered around a wild batch of characters. In describing the impact of this film, I have only watched once, which was about five years ago. The visuals and stories were so impactful, that it skyrocketed to the top of my mental list when brainstorming for the topic. This was definitely a sleeper hit in 2015, and I encourage the strong stomached to check it out.

Goosebumps/Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Anthology Horror
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990-1996), Nickelodeon Productions

This is as “starter-horror” as it gets. Both Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? established whether or not millennials liked to be scared or not. Both mild yet creepy, it is no coincidence that both have experienced reboots in one form or another to enlighten today’s younger audience. They offer nostalgia to many audiences and most people under the age of 35 can say that one of these series got them into horror.

Tales from the Crypt

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996), Home Box Office

A classic serving us an icon that was The Cryptkeeper. Horror fans and 90s kids alike remember Tales from the Crypt fondly. It was an anthology series based of the same comics that inspired other works such as Creepshow. It also brought in a multitude of talent to tell different stories each week, hosted by the iconic puppet host The Cryptkeeper. With tales laced with cheesiness, every episode I watched held up brilliantly. Therefore I consider it still a delight to watch as a horror fan.

V/H/S 2

Anthology Horror
V/H/S 2 (2013), Bloody Disgusting

This is one of those sequels that improves upon the original. In this film’s case, it gets scarier and to put it in to crude terms: it goes batshit crazy. Even more creative short films with all the knobs that made the previous film function turned up to 11. V/H/S 2 will stand as a staple for the cross between found footage and anthology, and while there are some that have come after that have tried to out do it (i.e. The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which is just tasteless gore and disgusting just to be disgusting), none will make your heart thump like this one.

The Haunting Series

Anthology Horror
The Haunting of Hill House (2016), Netflix

The only horror series that I will ever advise to have tissues with you at all times is the Haunting stories. Mike Flanagan–our modern horror saint–takes the chilling classic tales of The Haunting of Hill House and The Turn of the Screw and with his careful personal touches, crafts terrifying, melancholic masterpieces. The Haunting series have loveable characters, terrifying ghosts and is also one of the most diverse casts in the horror scene as of late, including a beautiful Sapphic love story in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Again, bring tissues with you, especially for Bly Manor.

Tales from the Hood

Anthology Horror
Tales from the Hood (1995), 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks

This film has been and is currently seeping with social relevance, that it deserves a high spot on this list. The first story is particularly disturbing following the recent events that occurred in 2020 and sadly has become a classic that has been swept under the rug. The director and writer Rusty Cundieff would go on to direct Chapelle’s Show ten years later, which was a brilliant choice given his stylistic directing showcased in this film. Much like the other films that came out in the 90s focusing on the Black community, it is a direct reflection on today’s times and how things have not changed that much. Please go watch this film if you haven’t.

Creepshow

Anthology Horror
Creepshow (1982), Laurel Show Inc.

A-ha, the blueprint of anthology horror as a singular film makes its appearance in the top three, of course. This lovely brainchild of Stephen King and George A. Romero is a cheesy delight, and remains the posterchild of anthology horror. The use of original storytelling in the height of Stephen King adaptations paid off well for the movie’s success and budget. While you’ll giggle at times, it remains one of those cult classics that will stand the test of time, which its sequel and its very recent reboot through Shudder proved. You can’t wear your horror badge too proudly if you haven’t sat through this one.

Trick ‘r’ Treat

Anthology Horror
Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007), Legendary Pictures

This film has a very special place in my heart and the fact I’ve seen a rapid increase of merchandise come Halloween time proves it has found its footing in more mainstream horror. This is one of those films that survives the phenomenon of straight-to-DVD due to its creative storytelling, format and aesthetic. Michael Dougherty is responsible for this film, with it being a precursor to his more well known holiday horror Krampus. Upon my discovery of this movie in 2009, there is not a Halloween that goes by that I do not watch this movie at least once. Please watch it if you haven’t, and for those that have made it tradition like me, rock on. Now let’s hope that sequel comes out soon.

The twilight Zone

Anthology Horror
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), CBS Productions

It was mentioned in the introduction, therefore it needs to top this list. This is the only suitable place for this revolutionary TV show to go, as we would not have the formatting for anthology horror without it. Rod Serling was a master storyteller, providing nearly every story for the show in its 150-plus episode run. His craft proved brilliant by the generations that The Twilight Zone crosses, whether it be copious amounts of reboots trying to revive that originaal charm or a kid recognizing the theme song from Disneyland, The Twilight Zone will forever remain a classic as well as the golden standard on how to put short story to screen.


Thus the epic (but limited to my personal knowledge) list comes to a close, with the reminder that there is so much more to come from this genre and what we can hope for in regards to innovation in the subgenre of anthology horror. That’s it for this journey, but definitely not the last you’ve heard of these films from me. As we depart the void, let me know in the comments what films I missed and I’ll make sure to check them out and update the list as time goes on. Until next time…