As part of my ongoing series, Horror at Film Festivals, let’s take a trip down under to Australia for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The world isn’t just about Cannes and Sundance, now is it?
The Melbourne International Film Festival is chock full of horror spanning a wide range of tastes from the gory to the eerie to the downright weird. From August 3rd to August 20th, the film industry will gather in Melbourne to toast the latest crop of inventive and important films, and horror films part of the schedule.
As a festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival aims to show the global audience all manner of “curated and unforgettable screen experiences.” The major Australian film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival is also one of the oldest film festivals in the world, showcasing films since 1952. It has a decidedly different flavor to its film lineup, focusing on daring, a little risky, slightly off-kilter independent films.
To that end, the Melbourne International Film Festival has showcased works by horror icons Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch, among many. More recently, the Melbourne International Film Festival screened such horror films as Housebound, Train to Busan, and What We Do in the Shadows.
The lineup for 2017 is exciting! Melbourne International Film Festival has one of the most extensive slates of indie horror I’ve seen at a major festival. I can’t wait until I can see these in America!
The Academy Awards are this weekend, and I’m excited! I’m a huge film buff and enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are completely overlooked by the Academy. Especially horror films.
I shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy has a lot of issues. The Academy is a notoriously conservative body, reluctant to reward risks or give credit to inventive and brave filmmaking. Lately it seems like the more popular a film is, the worst its chances are for receiving any kind of recognition from the Academy, though there are notable exceptions. Why does the Academy pick certain films over others? I have no idea.
And while horror is criminally underrated and underappreciated genre, turning out well-made and culturally resonate films, there have been several films that the Academy has lauded for achievements in directing, acting, cinematography, and other facets of filmmaking.
I always have a hard time watching many serial killer movies if for no other reason than serial killers exist, and the crimes depicted onscreen could and sometimes do happen to real people. In serial killer movies in particular, much of the violence is directed towards women, which makes my viewing experience more difficult.
But I find such films can be worthwhile despite their grotesque, depressing subject matter. In our culture, we have a fascination with serial killers. They do not kill for reasons society considers “justifiable.” They seem to do the unthinkable, killing for pure personal gain, for profit, or to fulfill some twisted sense of morality. It seems to go against all human decency to kill so needlessly and frequently.
Our fascination expresses itself with many questions—how does the killer select his victims? Why those victims? How does he kill them? How long has he been doing this? How has he never been caught? Yet those questions come secondary to the ten-million-dollar question:
Why does he kill?
One of my favorite parts of the Halloween season are the TV specials.
As I’ve written about before, Halloween allows us to pretend to be someone you’re not for a little while. And Halloween allows our culture to engage in some some macabre activity that we don’t usually acknowledge. Death and violence are part of life, but Halloween helps us confront those unpleasant topics in a safe and fun way.
The Halloween TV special is part of that. Every show from The Simpsons to Mad Men has had Halloween episodes. For a short time, we get to watch our favorite characters explore secret sides of themselves, become monsters, run from zombies, and attend some of the craziest parties you’ve seen. It’s fun, it’s a little scary, and it’s an integral part of Halloween.
I’ve listed my favorite Halloween TV specials here. They range from silly to heartwarming to straight gross (looking at you, Community), but they’re all tons of fun, infusing Halloween scares into your favorite weekly shows.
One of my favorite things about horror movies is how long they’ve been around.
People started making scary films as soon as they could. Audiences have always loved going to horror movies. Films like Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were widely popular. A lot of these movies became genre classics. You’ll find them on many best-of-horror lists, where they are widely praised for employ innovative techniques and practical effects to terrify audiences.
There’s just one problem—the majority of those films are no longer scary by today’s standards.
What makes a horror movie truly incredible? The same thing that makes any movie incredible—excellent writing, nuanced acting, gorgeous artistic design, daring cinematography, visionary directing, and a killer score.
I love watching horror movies with visual style, particularly when it comes to the costuming. There’s something magical about a horrible, scary film where the characters are immaculately dressed in Yves St. Laurent or impeccable Victorian fashions. Of course, smart costuming isn’t just for show, as it’s another way for the film to communicate the themes of the film and give depth to the narrative.
Fashion and horror influence each other–as fashion draws inspiration from stories and film and as horror uses fashion and style to deliver its message. Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Jason Wu, and the Blondes have all been inspired by the macabre and the horrific. Tom Ford and Lanvin designs recently showed up in wonderful horror-inspired fashion film Tokyo Lost & Found starring model Jun. The Mulleavy sisters, working under their label Rodarte, contributed to the costume design in the film Black Swan.
I’ve never studied costuming and would count myself as a fashion novice, but I love to pay attention to particularly stylish movies and try to unpack the costume choices. Below I’ve picked some of my favorite “fashionable horror” movies and explained what I have taken away from each. Enjoy!
The last installment of my Ho-Ho-Horror series! I’ve talked about Christmas-themed horror novels and movies, so here’s a list of Christmas specials from some of my favorite spooky shows. These are all available on Netflix or Amazon streaming.
Without further adieu…
1. The X-Files: How The Ghosts Stole Christmas, Season 6, Ep. 6
On christmas eve, Mulder and Scully find themselves in a haunted house with two ghosts who are determined to prove just how lonely yuletide can be. Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin star.
My personal favorite!