Tag Archive: horror


Scare Tactics

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What was one of the first movies of the modern era that scared you to death.

For me it was Night of the Living Dead directed by George Romano who died in his sleep sometime early last Sunday morning surrounded by his second wife and daughter.

I remember watching it on TV as the brother tells his sister that ‘they’ are coming to get her while they are in a cemetery to visit the grave of their father. Soon we learn that the strange people are not living and they like to eat human flesh. Barbara makes it to a farm house where other living people, including a black man named Ben, have taken shelter.

night of the_Living Dead_Each tries to come up with a plan to escape and find a safe place although that may not be possible according to news reports.

As the film goes on, we discover what is happening although not why it is happening. And no one in that house is going to make it out alive.

This was George Romero’s first feature-length film and it remade all of the rules known at that time for the horror genre.

There would be no survivors, the monsters were zombies who ate human flesh. There was no reasoning as to how the dead became re-animated. The lead actor was a black man at a time in our country when there was tremendous upheaval for blacks to have equal civil rights. There was no battle for good and evil, these creature just were.

It was terrifying because a scratch or a bite could mean that you were about to become a zombie. The only way to kill them was a shot in the head and cremation. And our friends in the house did not always act in a valiant manner.

Romero shot this movie on a tight budget in a house that was about to be demolished near the city of Pittsburgh. Back then the cemetery was quite deserted but since has become a popular tourist stop for fans of the movie.

Secondly, in casting Duane Jones for the leading role, Romero changed how the movie might be perceived in context to the discrimination of the time. It didn’t matter because audiences loved this and his other movies in the dead series.

George Romero-Romero didn’t make money off of this movie because of his poor business acumen but he kept making movies, kept getting better, and inspired future film-makers. He eventually did make money off of his movies. The producers of the Walking Dead set their rules of Zombies after his movies.

Romero created that without digging deep into the sociological explanations of the movies. Some claim that the first movie released in 1968 was about the civil unrest facing America in those days. Some could claim it was about the toxins we poisoned our soil and water as they were carelessly dumped.

But George Romero made no such claims. What he did was put out good horror films that scared and scarred some of us for life. He created a body of work that dared people to think differently. That is an accomplishment.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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But wait, there’s more…

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The funny thing about movies is they are not always what you think they are about. The best movies have more than just the simple storyline we are told about in the beginning. There needs to be a thread that is outside of the love/action/horror/adventure tale we are watching.

Carrie 2013My son watched Carrie (2013) this past weekend. It is a remake of the old Brian DePalma horror film he has wanted to see. But here was his interesting take on it.

He thought it was more of a chick flick.

The story is based on a Steven King novel in which a shy girl is bullied relentlessly by her classmates. Her mother is a religious zealot who teaches her daughter to think about anything that makes most people happy as a sin. She also avoids telling her daughter about the birds and the bees. This makes for a very painful experience when her body changes and Carrie has no idea what is going on.

What her classmates or mother are not aware of is that Carrie is developing powers of telekinesis, the ability to move objects around. They become aware on the night of Prom when a cruel joke is played on Carrie and she breaks. Anger over years of unfair treatment is released, causing death and mayhem throughout the town.

Director Kimberly Pierce worked modern elements into the movie such as youtube and smart phone bullying. But she also brings a distinct female voice that leaves the male characters as single-note caricatures. The gore and action is there but so is the feminine perspective. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the movie is not for the younger members of the house, keep it for the teens.

The next night, my daughter and I watched The Lost Boys (1987)starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric. This movie had everything 80s about it: the music, the hair, the clothes. There were reflections on hippie parents and references to the Brady Bunch. It was a very hip, pop culture centric movie of its day. My daughter asked if the title was a reference to Peter Pan.

Lost BoysThe story is about a mother and her two sons, Michael and Sam, moving back to Santa Clara after her divorce. The former resort town is now host to a boardwalk amusement park on the beach. But the town has loads of missing people with posters on every post and bulletin board.

The reason why is simple. And before you know it, Michael has been seduced by the group of bad boys. Who doesn’t want to hang with them and do what they do. They ride bikes, they have the prettiest girl around hanging with them. But his little brother Sam learns that the town is a haven for vampires. If he wants to help his brother, he is going to need help.

While this movie does break some of its own rules about vampires, it is a fun effective teen movie about fitting in and finding your way in strange territory. Its about regrets and moving on. And the Peter Pan figure is not the one you expect it to be. As for the violent scenes, they are not as bad as some horror movies but it is not something I am letting my ten year-old or any younger children watch either.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Quiet On the Set

Getting REady to be the Ghost Girl

This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching my daughter take part in a movie. It is a thriller and she is the ghost girl.

Granted, this is no Hollywood production with big names and potential for superstardom. It is as about as indie as you can get. Once it is done the movie will only be about 10-15 minutes long.

This is how people get started if you cannot leave your hometown and go to Hollywood. Want to know something even cooler? The producer/director has a listing on IMDb.com.

Let me start at the beginning.

We have known Shannon Feaster for several years as our boys have been in school together since kindergarten. They share this interest of movies. When Johnny Depp came to our town to shoot a scene for Public Enemies, Dakota and David were first and second in line for hand shakes.

Dakota has been making small videos and made his first horror short last winter. It was really good, scary, unsettling.

So Shannon and Michelle (wife/producer/makeup artist/actress/whatever is needed) belong to a collective of people making horror movie shorts. They are given a prompt and put together their own scripts. The one my daughter is making an appearance in is called The Keepsake. It is spooky and scary with a bit a realism.

A director with his actor

Shannon is filming it in a friend’s house and on a local street. If you have never been on a film set, it is a fascinating process. I have been on the set of Prison Break which was really interesting with multiple cameras.

One scene that lasts a minute can take several hours as cameras get various angles. Perhaps the actors figure out a different way to do a scene that works better. Someone does a look in one scene they don’t do in another. Or after several scenes of doing the scene the actors get a case of the giggles.

I was fascinated. While the genre is not one of my favorites, I loved seeing the creative process play out. The need to get several takes of the same shot. The need for the rest of us not to move or make a sound as the mike catches everything. I felt the same way with the TV show I watched.

It was a great experience. I only hope my daughter appreciates it later.