(When you want to talk horror movies then its best to pick up your ice pick and the severed head of your boss and head over to Fangoria Magazine. That's where "if it bleeds it leads" has a whole new meaning. Tony Timpone is the editor (don't believe the serial killer rumors). He's produced horror documentaries and horror movies starring Bruce Campbell, Rob Zombie, Karen Black, and Elke Sommer. Lucky bastard! He's done radio, print, web, TV, DVD, podcasts, and written books. The guy is extremely busy helping America scare the living crap out of itself. You can read more about his lengthy accomplishments here (he's the geek with the headphones). As you probably know, DaRK PaRTY digs horror flicks -- and sometimes really bad ones. So we decided we had to touch base with Tony so he could give us the lowdown on the good ones. He was kind enough (or maybe mental unstable enough) to answer a few of our horror movie questions.)
An Interview with Fangoria Magazine Editor
DaRK PaRTY: What makes a great horror movie?
Tony: It has to be have three things: an original, exciting story; good characters, who we care about and can relate to; and it must be scary, disturbing or at least unsettling.
DP: What do you consider the best decade for horror movies and why?
Tony: The 1970s were most memorable for me. That was when I was growing up and seeing such great films as “The Omen,” “Jaws,” “Phantasm,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Alien,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Halloween,” and many others in theaters.
DP: What single horror movie do think has had the greatest influence on the genre and why?
Tony: Probably Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho,” which took horror into the modern age and brought terror into a human, psychological and "horror-next-door" arena and away from the Gothic.
DP: Name one popular horror movie that you think is overrated and why?
Tony: The original “Last House on the Left.” I never found the film particularly scary. Shocking, yes, scary no. Also, the comic relief stuff never works and dates the movie. And overall, the film is just ugly (though that was Wes Craven and company's stated intention).
DP: What three horror movies should every fan see and why?
Tony: “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935): the finest of the Universal monster movies. Much loved for the great Boris Karloff, the black humor, James Whale's direction and the fairy tale atmosphere.
“Psycho” (1960): the best horror film ever made, perfect in every way: directing, acting, music, art direction, etc.
“The Exorcist” (1973): the scariest horror film ever made, and also a triumph on all technical and artistic levels.
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Labels: 5 Questions, Fangoria Magazine, Horror, interview, Movies, Tony Timpone
I agree that Psycho is an important and influential film but my vote would lean more toward Night of the Living Dead as having more impact on American horror cinema. Romero took monsters out of the Carpathian mountains and placed them next door. While you can argue that Psycho does the same thing, I'd counter with the type of monster portrayed as being the significant criterion here. For the most part, up until gut-munching zombies started feasting on our innards, we, given the Universal/1950's gallery of monsters, were happy bystanders to the mayhem. NOTLD changed that focus. It brought monster-horror closer to us; instead of gothic enivironments filled with monsters running amok, we now had monsters running amok on Main Street, USA, in my town, on my street, in my home. Whereas Psycho brought us horror on a personal scale, NOTLD brought us horror on a social scale, where no one and no place are safe havens. Here the horror comes to us, but in Psycho, Janet Leigh went to the horror. The scope is very different. This scope marks an important change that has influenced horror movies since then, especially in this decade.
Last, I will give my vote for a popular movie highly overrated: Rob Zombie's Halloween. His updated tale that eliminates the supernatural element and replaces it with yet another "nurtured psychotic" gone wacky destroys any connection the story has to the title. The film lacks the chills of the original, and the skilled performances, too.
Very thought provoking QA, thanks!
However, I'd agree that "Night of the Living Dead" and the sequel "Dawn of the Dead" were bigger influences on modern horror. For the reasons you state, but also for elements such as gore and pushing the envelope of social norms. Both films were grotesque, shocking, and gory for their time. But I'm not sure they were "scary."
I do agree, wholeheartedly, with Tony about "The Exorcist." That is one scary flick. But I'd put "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Halloween" up there for pure chills, suspense, and scares.
Thanks for adding so much to the post!