Halloween Favorite: The Ring

Poster for The RingWhen it comes to paranormal horror, The Ring is in my book as one of the scariest movies ever made. The premise doesn’t sound too scary at first — everyone who watches a particular video tape dies within a week of viewing the tape. Naomi Watts plays Rachel, a reporter who is investigating a string of deaths that seem to be connected to the tape, and she is definitely skeptical at first. But what is on the tape is inexplicably creepy. And then things start happening, and people start dying, and all of a sudden, Rachel is racing against time to save not only herself, but also her son.

This movie is one that actually made me a little scared to go to sleep at night after I saw it — both the first and second times. I haven’t watched it in awhile, but I am guessing that I would still find it scary. Here’s what makes it scary for me:

  • That freaky girl with her long dark hair all in her face. I watch a lot of Asian horror — this movie is actually a remake of the Japanese Ringu — and the Japanese seem to have something going on with hair. There’s even some mythological history about hair demons. I’m not sure why hair, or hair covering her face, is scary but it works.
  • The stop-motion filming that makes the creepy girl almost jump toward you as she’s coming out of the well, or crawling out of the TV set. Also, her arms and neck work at odd angles. It’s just not natural and I don’t want it coming at me quickly and with purpose. Ack.

Still shot of creepy girl from The Ring

  • I think, though, what bothered me most about the movie was the faces of the people who died of fright. All purplish and distorted, and you only get a quick glimpse of them – not long enough to really figure out everything that’s wrong, but quite long enough to make a lasting impression of “oh crap”.

Naomi Watts in The Ring

  • Just the idea of the way the curse works. Being targeted simply due to viewing the recording, regardless of who you are or how you came across the video. The potential for accidental cursing wakes up that fear of punishment for unintentional transgression, something that is rooted deeply in us from childhood. Also, the lack of recourse — there’s no way to turn back or change your fate. This is an unforgiving evil, one that doesn’t care about excuses and which is simply angry and ready to strike out and punish anyone within its range. The predatory nature of the force unleashed by the tape, combined with the sure, slow stalking of the victim to a known date death, creates a torturous situation full of dread and completely lacking in the possibility of mercy.

If you haven’t watched this movie yet, just know that once you do the following week is going to be pretty rough for you.

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Halloween Favorite: John Carpenter’s The Thing

Poster for The ThingA classic that I never tire of, John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best creature features ever made. The movie is part alien sci-fi and part closed room mystery, and it delivers in both suspense and horror. Kurt Russell stars as R.J. MacReady, a kind of renegade scientist assigned to a base in the Antarctic. The scientists discover an alien spacecraft, but the alien has already moved on. It soon becomes clear that the alien can shapeshift into anything or anyone, and suddenly the humanity of everyone on the team becomes suspect. The group is slowly whittled away and R.J. has to use all his skills to fight off an enemy that is constantly morphing.

Here are just a few of the things to love about this movie:

  • Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady. He just brings his own special style to anything that he does, and this movie is no exception. Somehow he manages to be comical while still saving the day — what’s not to love?

Kurt Russell in The Thing

  • Antarctica as the setting. For someone who does not love to be cold, I seem to have some kind of weird fascination with things that happen in cold places. It’s a great setting, though, since the freezing temperatures outside the base and the blinding blizzard make for daunting foes on their own. Add an alien, face-switching monster to the mix, and there suddenly are a lot of problems to handle.
  • The “who is it” setup of the film makes for constant guessing and sets the stage for the typical human craziness that always ensues when trust becomes even more of an issue than normal. It’s hard to know who is human, and we’re kept guessing. Additionally, the plot becomes even more complicated in many instances due to the “precautions” that the humans take in order to protect themselves.
  • When the alien monster’s morphing goes bad. I would be hard pressed to name a more grossly morphed creature, simply because of the many different ways in which this alien’s change can go wrong. The iterations of alien grossness always involve some partially human/canine aspects, blobs of melted looking skin, limbs that stretch and morph into things that are unrecognizable, and lots of blood and gore. Once the “unmorphed” aspect of the alien is exposed, things get even scarier.

Creature from The Thing

  •  The ending. This movie has a great ending that will keep you guessing and talking for years after your first viewing.

If you haven’t yet watched Carpenter’s The Thing you should treat yourself!

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