Movies with Michael: Focus on Horror
Throughout January Michael Gendron is taking a look a different genres and the best way to get into them- as sort of a News Year’s resolution to discover new movies.
This feature is all about horror- for people who don’t think they like horror.
Universal Horror Classics
For many, horror movies just seem too violent or too scary, and they just don’t think there is an in for them. Well, if that’s your mindset, I suggest you start with the series of movies that made me a fan of the genre when I was a kid, the Universal Horror Classics.
These are the building blocks— Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolfman, The Invisible Man, The Creature of the Black Lagoon. I’ve watched them all countless times throughout my life and the moody black and white cinematography, gothic sets, and iconic performances will never get old.
To a modern audience they are still spooky and enjoyable without being horrific. I highly recommend them all, but if you’re only going to check on one….you have to see Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster in the 1931 classic. One of the all time great screen performances. You can rent most of the movies in the classic monster cycle on most digital services, but if you want to truly take in how gorgeous these movies are…I suggest looking into the UHD box sets.
If you think 80s horror is all masked killers stalking teens who can’t act very well- you need to see Peter Medak’s The Changeling. The Changeling continues the 70s trend of movies like the Exorcist and the Omen in that it’s a horror movie with some real prestige power behind it. It stars Academy Award Winner George C. Scott who becomes absorbed in the mystery of a haunted mansion he moves into after the death of his wife and daughter. The terror here ais born almost entirely from atmosphere… with a living room séance being a real standout moment of the film. You get your scares, but you also just get some great acting and filmmaking… the Changeling is currently streaming on Peacock and its also available on Blu-ray and UHD. The Witch Up next is a movie that is one of my absolute favorites of the 2010s, horror or otherwise, Robert Egger’s .
The debut of Anya Taylor-Joy sees a family banished from the New England town, set up a new home on the outskirts of the woods…but they are not alone. This movie is genuinely scary its not because of gore or jump scares… it’s because of its setting, characters, and concepts are so well realized. The first time I watched this, I was nervous to look my animals in the eye after. Watch in the dark, settle into its mood, and you’ll have one of the best viewing experiences you could hope to have. The Witch is currently streaming on Max and is also available on Blu-ray and UHD.
Finally, I’d like to talk about John Carpenter’s The Fog. A coastal town is beset by an ominous fog that carries ghosts from the past. It’s really a campfire story come to life featuring a plethora of horror icons, like Tom Atiks and mother and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. John Carpenter is the master of horror and this is easily his coziest and most inviting horror flick. Living in Duluth, you might never look at our fog off lake superior the same again. This one is currently available to rent on digital platforms… and once again, you can also pick it up on Bluray or UHD.