The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
The best scary movie to come out of 2012, The Cabin in the Woods is a film directed and co-written by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and co-written by Joss Whedon (The Avengers). Not since Scream has a movie so successfully and originally deconstructed the slasher film genre. The film tells the story of five college students who spend a weekend at a cabin in the woods only to be stalked by deranged killers. The twist to the story is that a secret, covert group is watching their every move via hidden cameras. The movie is clever and funny and yet, at the same time, extremely scary and exciting to watch. It is on one level a parody and commentary on the stupidity and violence in scary movies today. On another level, it is a thrilling story that takes many twists and turns before reaching its exciting climax. There is even a surprise appearance from a movie legend. Goddard and Whedon (who had worked together previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) wrote the script in just three days. The movie was released to highly positive reviews and went on to gross over 65 million worldwide.
Peeping Tom (1960)
Coming out the same year as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Peeping Tom is a British made film directed by Michael Powell (Black Narcissus). Powell was a renowned British filmmaker who in partnership with Emeric Pressburger worked under the name “The Archers” to create a number of classic films in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Peeping Tom is the story of a serial killer who films his murders using a movie camera, which also doubles as his murder weapon. The film is a well-crafted, psychological thriller—a chilling look at society’s voyeuristic interest in murder through the medium and safety of film. Upon its initial release, the film was so shocking and controversial in its subject matter and depiction of murder that the movie received a large amount of negative criticism and press. As a result, Powell had difficulty finding substantive film work after the project. Years later, the movie went on to attract a cult following and is considered today to be a masterpiece by many modern film critics.
Evil Dead II is considered by many critics to be the best in the Evil Dead series of horror movies. Directed by Sam Raimi (Drag Me to Hell) and starring his high school buddy Bruce Campbell, the movie was promoted as being a sequel to the original 1981 The Evil Dead movie—though it really is a separate story with a similar theme and characters. Ash (Campbell) and his girlfriend visit a cabin in the woods only to be possessed by demons after playing a recorded reading from an ancient text. Later, four others join Ash at the cabin only to be caught up in the demonic antics. The movie is, at times, extremely funny and clever, as well as being scary and horrific. Evil Dead II received mostly positive reviews from the critics and was a moderate success at the box office. Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie #19 on their list of “The Top 50 Cult Films.” Equally good is the original The Evil Dead movie which was also directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman) and also featured Bruce Campbell as Ash. A group of five college students travel to a cabin in the woods only to be possessed and killed by demons. The original is scarier and not as comedic as Evil Dead II. The Evil Dead also received mostly positive reviews, but was only a modest success at the box office. Both films have gone on to become cult classics. The third film in the series is Army of Darkness.
The Uninvited (1944)
The Uninvited is one of the first Hollywood films to take a serious look at haunted houses—most earlier Hollywood films depicted ghosts solely for comedic purposes. This supernatural tale directed by Lewis Allen (in his directorial debut) features Ray Milland (Dial M For Murder) and Ruth Hussey (The Philadelphia Story) as a brother and sister who purchase a seaside estate in England only to discover the house is haunted. Together, they must unravel the dark mystery of the house before it can claim another victim. The film is both charmingly delightful and frightening with an intriguing murder mystery story and complex characters hiding dark secrets. The score and the cinematography (nominated for an Academy Award) are both hauntingly beautiful. The Uninvited was well received upon its initial release and is today considered to be a classic.
The Changeling (1980)
The Changeling is a Canadian haunted house movie directed by Peter Medak (The Krays) and featuring George C. Scott (The Exorcist III) and his real life wife Trish Van Devere (The Hearse). Following the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter in a car accident, a composer (Scott) moves across country and into a spooky old mansion. Here, Scott’s character needs to uncover the mystery behind the hauntings and bring peace to the restless spirits. A well-crafted and skillfully directed film, The Changeling’s many strengths include its compelling murder mystery storyline, strong performances and hauntingly effective art direction, cinematography and score. The Changeling was the winner of 8 Genie awards in 1980, including best Canadian film. The film is #54 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
Scary, witty, funny and poignant, Buffy the Vampire Slayer tells the story of Buffy, a girl who wants to be normal but struggles with a powerful destiny. It is truly a groundbreaking television program — well written and directed — it uses the supernatural occurrences as metaphors for its coming of age story lines. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has also spawned a whole generation of similar programs with supernatural coming of age stories.
In order, here are my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
#1: Hush, Season 4, Episode 10 (1999):
The Gentlemen, evil creatures from a fairy tale, first steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale and then seek to kill them by removing their hearts.
A truly creepy and frightening episode, as the victims are unable to cry out for help.
Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.
#2 Innocence, Season 2, Episode 14 (1998):
After Buffy loses her virginity to Angel, Angel loses his soul from experiencing a moment of true happiness and lashes out with cruelty.
The story becomes a metaphor for the experience of growing up and the feelings around discovering your sexuality.
Angelus: You got a lot to learn about men, kiddo. Although I guess you proved that last night.
#3 The Body, Season 5, Episode 16 (2001):
Buffy must deal with the unexpected death of their mother.
A truly heartbreaking depiction as the audience also experiences Buffy’s numbness and shock at losing someone close.
Buffy: She’s cold. 911 Operator: The body is cold? Buffy: No, my mom!
#4 Restless, Season 4, Episode 22 (2000):
Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles have nightmares in which they are pursued by the same mysterious figure.
One of the most fascinating and realistic depictions of how surreal, comical and horrifying our dream worlds are like.
I have no speech, no name. I live in the action of death. The blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction, absolute, alone.
#5 Once More, with Feeling, Season 6, Episode 7 (2001):
Everyone in Sunnydale is under a spell that causes them to burst into full musical numbers through which they reveal their innermost secrets.
I wonderful mash-up of two seemingly disparate genres — musical horror — that works with unexpectedly fun and poignant results.
Sweet: What a lot of fun
You guys have been real swell.
And there’s not a one
Who can say this ended well.
All those secrets you’ve been concealing.
Say you’re happy now
Once more with feeling.
Now I gotta run.
See you all
#6 Passion, Season 2, Episode 17 (1998):
As Jenny Calendar searches for a way to restore Angel’s soul, Angel steps up his torment of Buffy and her friends with tragic results.
This is one of the most tragically unsettling episodes in the series — revealing a world where no one is safe.
Angelus: Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping…waiting…and though unwanted…unbidden…it will stir…open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us…guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. the joy of love…the clarity of hatred…and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d truly be dead.
# 7 Normal Again, Season 6, Episode 17 (2002):
Buffy realizes that she is in a mental asylum and that her whole life has all been really playing out in her delusional mind … or has is it?
The episode focuses on Buffy’s desire to lead a normal life away from all the supernatural drama and violence. Here, she has to make the difficult choice of which reality she wants to stay in.
Buffy: I was in an institution. There were doctors, and nurses and other patients, they told me that I was sick… I guess crazy. And that Sunnydale and all of this, none of it was real. Xander: Oh, come on, that’s ridiculous! What, you think this isn’t real just because of all the vampires, and demons, and ex-vengeance demons, and the sister that used to be a big ball of universe-destroying energy?
#8 The Wish, Season 3, Episode 9 (1998):
Cordelia thinks that Buffy is the cause of all her problems and wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, plunging Cordelia into an alternate Universe where vampires control the town.
This episode is a fun and twisted take on It’s A Wonderful Life.
Giles: Cordelia Chase. What did she wish for? Anyanka: I had no idea her wish would be so exciting! ‘Brave new world.’ I hope she likes it.
#9 Killed by Death, Season 2, Episode 18 (1998):
While hospitalized with a severe flu, Buffy battles a demon that sucks the life out of sick children.
Next to Hush, this is the most creepy and terrifying episode in the series.
Ryan: He comes at night. The grown-ups don’t see him. He was with Tina. He’ll come back for us. Buffy: Who? Ryan: Death.
#10 Tabula Rasa, Season 6, Episode 8 (2001):
Willow casts a spell that accidentally causes everyone to forget who they are.
This is a very funny episode, as each person has to re-invent and re-discover themselves with comic consequences.
Giles: [now under the impression he and Spike are father and son] What did I name you, anyway? Spike: [reads a label in his coat] “Made with care for Randy”. [horrified] Randy Giles!? Why didn’t you just call me “Horny Giles”, or “Desperate-for-a-Shag Giles”!? I knew there was a reason I hated you!
Farrah Fawcett, who passed away in 2009, will always be remembered as a cultural icon. Her public persona took on a life of its own and her popular brand came to represent the trends of the 1970s. Luminous and effervescent, she was the golden girl whose smile charmed the world. Her breakout role as Jill Monroe in the 1970s television hit Charlie’s Angels brought her into the homes and hearts of millions. In the decade of the feminist movement, Charlie’s Angels was the first detective series to feature three female leads. Around the same time, Farrah’s poster in a red bathing suit was also a huge hit and became the #1 selling poster of all time. Her trademark hairstyle was copied by thousands of woman and girls, as her image graced the cover of a multitude of magazines. She epitomized the strong yet feminine career woman of the 1970s—sexy, fun and athletic. The picture of health and beauty, Farrah Fawcett is in my top ten list of iconic television actresses whose brand represented the ‘Me Generation’ gestalt of the 1970s.
In the 1980s, she re-invented herself on the stage, screen and television as a serious actress and won acclaim for daring roles. In 2006, she was diagnosed with cancer. As her health deteriorated, she took her struggle public in the hopes of inspiring others who were also battling the disease. Her friend Alana Stewart documented Farrah’s courageous battle in 2009’s Farrah’s Story. With grace and dignity, Farrah left this world, but her body of work and her image as one of Charlie’s original Angels will continue to endure for future generations.
In order, here are her best performances:
- The Burning Bed (TV movie) 1984
- Small Sacrifices (TV movie) 1989
- Margaret Bourke-White (TV movie) 1989
- Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story (TV movie) 1986
- Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (TV movie) 1987
- Extremities 1986
- The Apostle 1997
- Between Two Women (TV movie) 1986
- Murder in Texas (TV movie) 1981
- Charlie’s Angels (TV series) 1976-1980 (29 Episodes)
- Logan’s Run 1976
- Myra Breckinridge 1970
- Somebody Killed Her Husband 1978
- Saturn 3 1980
- Sunburn 1979
- The Cannonball Run 1981
- Murder on Flight 502 (TV movie) 1975
- Throughout the journey of my life, I have maintained a strong faith in the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.
- I became famous almost before I had a craft, I didn’t study drama at school. I was an art major. Suddenly, when I was doing Charlie’s Angels, I was getting all this fan mail, and I didn’t really know why.
- I feel like Alice in Wonderland, really… Everything is surreal.
- Cancer is my own private war. The strain, the nausea, the fever take turns challenging my strength, my mind and my spirit…
- But I must never forget how blessed I have been. God has given me gifts and happiness, beyond any of my simple desires. My deepest desire now is to simply live … So with hope and determination, I hold on and go on.