Saturday, October 31, 2015

Octoberfest Five: Christine's 5 Comfort Horror Favorites

Here we are folks, the end of the Octoberfest Five and the most wonderful day of the year!  Happy Halloween, first and foremost!

When it comes down to choosing a movie to watch on Halloween, I admittedly make too much of the situation.  Do I want to go with an old classic; something I'm quite familiar with?  Or chance something entirely new which may end up tarnishing my holiday and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth?  It's a conundrum, and one I am still not sure of the answer to as I write this. 

It's Halloween every day at a horror fanatic's house.  The amount of horror I watch in one year is astounding. It has seen me through good days and bad - and it's mostly the latter when I mention the words "Comfort Horror".  When I've had a rough day at work or have to deal with issues I seemingly can't face that come up in daily life, quite often I reach for a horror film that I am utterly comfortable with - a movie that I've seen countless times and can depend on to take me away from all my troubles for a few hours.  One that epitomizes my love of the genre.  Comfort horror doesn't necessarily have to be your favorite films, though for many I can only assume they would be.  And I'm not going to lie - any time I notice Jaws or Psycho on TV I simply have to turn it on, that's a given.  That said, I'm not going to use those two in my list because they are too obvious.

These comfort films can change over the years, and I'll be the first to admit it's entirely redundant to watch a film so many times you can repeat all the lines - but I'll bet if you ask any horror fan (or any movie fan, for that matter!), there are films that just seem to speak to you....and make everything ok...if only for a little while. 

Here are five of mine:

Friday the 13th  (1980) is at the top of my comfort horror list because I have a very special relationship with it.  It is probably the very first horror film I saw by myself.  Home, alone.  And I've loved it ever since.  Though the Friday series is no real friend of mine (I don't have much time for anything past Part 3, truth be told), the first film is one I will throw on at any given time to just take me back to when things were simpler. It's brainless, has silly jump scares and most of the acting leaves a lot to be desired.  But it's a nostalgic throwback that makes me feel better every single time I watch it!

So I bet a lot of people may be surprised by the inclusion of this ratty, lurid piece of celluloid.  As its subject matter surely wouldn't give anyone the warm fuzzies inside.  Rob Zombie's oversized music video-slash-movie is a real kickback to the grindhouse flicks of the 70's, with a string of obnoxious characters, loud music and loads of reprehensible violence.  Why do I like it so much? I've no idea.  But when I see it coming on late at night on a Friday after a crappy workweek, I'm so there.  Long live Dr. Satan!!

If I'd have made a list of comfort horror flicks ten years ago, I doubt Alien would have even made the cut.  I've always liked the film, but for some reason in the last five years I've grown utterly attached to the terrifying sci-fi opus.  I'm also one of those fans that love the first film so much more than Aliens.  SO much more.  Because I like my horror silent, stalking, and subtle.  The atmosphere in Alien is thick with palpable dread.  You can't get that from "action" horror.  Alien takes the concept of fear and just sticks it to you - full guns.  It is a contrast of lights and darks, from the bright lights of the dining area when Kane has his bloody fine gastric episode to the creepy darkness of the ventilation shafts where the creature hides.  It is purely and simply....perfect.  (In fact, I think I need to watch this right now....)

It seems funny for me to be listing another sci-fi horror film, as I am honestly and truly not the biggest sci-fi fan.  I enjoy it, but straight-out horror is a little more "me".  That said, I freaking love Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Partly because of my Donald Sutherland love, and the other part due to the freaky nature of the storyline.  The acting really is top-notch here, and they manage to make "alien plants" so much more believable. And let's face it, those pod people are just downright grotesque when they are mutating.  It seems to be on television a great deal lately on the premium movie stations, so it's comforting to know I can just turn it on and chillax without having to pay a great deal of attention.  Or I could always throw in the DVD!

Being from western Pennsylvania leads to a natural love of Romero's groundbreaking zombie film.  I live about 40 minutes from where is was filmed and have always gravitated towards it as comfort horror.  It's my favorite of the "dead" films and I adore the black and white grittiness of it.  I've watched it so many times I think even my hubby has it memorized.  Like Psycho and Jaws, I will always turn it on if I see it while surfing. I can sigh a sigh of relief when I see it on, as if an old friend has come over to make me feel better.  To me, it embodies the meaning of comfort horror.  It is probably the film I've watched the most on this list, and will no doubt keep that title for years to come.

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