March 11, 2014
Meet and greet the horror at the museum
An interesting assortment of films will be screened at Malba throughout January
Nightmares, hidden fears, evil forces, the forbidden, the dark side, the macabre, the supernatural, fear of sexuality, fear of death and terror of the unknown are just some of the disturbing themes tackled by horror cinema ever since its very beginning. Horror films play on our primal fears and are made to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Whatever dark, primitive, and revolting traits that simultaneously attract and repel us are featured in the horror genre. Watching a horror film gives an opening into a very scary world, into an outlet for the essence of fear itself, without actually being in danger. Without the shadow of a doubt, a win-win situation.
So should you be a fan, a devoted movie buff or just a keen viewer, you now have the opportunity to enjoy a more than interesting assortment of some outstanding works featured in the film cycle El horror mismo on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at midnight throughout January at the Malba Museum (Figueroa Alcorta 3415). Some of them have reached the status of cult films, that is to say films that go beyond ordinary conceptions regarding good and bad taste (expect gore, camp, graphic language, and nudity) and that have broken new ground both in aesthetic and narrative terms.
Just to give you an idea of this much-appealing scenario, there’s John Carpenter’s masterpiece, Halloween (1979), the emblematic horror film which started a long line of slasher films, that is to say thrillers involving a mysterious, generally psychopathic killer stalking and killing a sequence of victims usually in a graphically violent manner, often with a cutting tool such as a knife, an axe, or a chainsaw. Accordingly, Halloween concerns Michael Myers, a 21-year-old monstrous slayer who returns to the fictional home town of Haddonfield, Illinois, to finish his bloody doings which he had started long ago when he butchered his own teenage sister at the age of six.
Produced, directed and scored by John Carpenter, Halloween was made on a small budget of U$320.000 and it went on to gross U$47 million at the US box-office, thus becoming the highest-grossing independent movie made at that time. An unexpected, almost instantaneous success embraced with enthusiasm by both critics and general audiences.
Or you can go for something totally different, meaning Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981) and Army of Darkness (1992), two legendary pieces that became cult films not much longer after they were first released.
The Evil Dead focuses on five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a wooded area. After they find an audiotape that releases a legion of demons and spirits, they start to suffer from demonic possession, leading to increasingly gory mayhem. Original critical reception was positive, and in the years since its release, it has been cited among the greatest horror films of all time. This is the type of film where shock effect accompanied by powerful and inventive camerawork are key to creating a sense of dread. As for Army of Darkness, it’s the final instalment of the Evil Dead trilogy (Evil Dead 2 is not featured in the cycle), the least controversial and perhaps most outright entertaining of the three. This time the film’s hero is trapped in the Middle Ages and battles the undead in his quest to return to the present.
There’s also room for another master of horror cinema, Dario Argento, who’s widely recognized for his expertise on the subgenre known as giallo (Italian psychological and sometimes supernatural thrillers which include elements of horror and eroticism) as well as for his influence on modern horror movies, particularly slashers.
Considered to be Argento’s best film by far, Suspiria (1977) follows an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany, only to discover that it is controlled by a coven of witches. A not to be missed work that received critical acclaim for its visual and stylistic flourishes and its imaginative soundtrack. Let alone its particular, most personal conception of expressionism and the production design and cinematography that emphasize vivid primary colours, particularly red, creating a deliberately unrealistic, nightmarish setting.
Tenebre (1982), a horror thriller film that represented Argento’s return to the giallo, after he had two exercises in supernatural horror, Suspiria and Inferno. Tenebre tells the story of an American writer promoting his latest murder-mystery novel in Rome, only to get embroiled in the search for a serial killer who has apparently been inspired to kill by the novel. Sadistically beautiful and viciously exciting, it’s one of the Italian’s master most shockingly relentless pieces. Then there’s Deep Red (1975), which spins the tale of a musician who witnesses the murder of a famous psychic, and then teams up with a feisty reporter to catch a mysterious figure that commits his killings wielding a hatchet. A bizarre nightmare with jaw-dropping finale that can be seen as a precursor to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.
But this is not nearly all El horror mismo has to offer since it also includes remarkable outings such as The Ring (Hideo Nakata, 1998), The Eye (Pang brothers, 2002), From Beyond (Stuart Gordon, 1986), Reanimator (Stuart Gordon, 1985), Desnuda para el deseo (Andrea Bianchi, 1975), El espectro (Ricardo Freda, 1963), Raptus (Ricardo Freda, 1962), Amantes de ultratumba (Allan Grünewald, 1965), and Jennifer (Brice Mack, 1978).