Monday, July 7, 2008


Most friends know me and my obsession with horror movies and TV series. I love them. I even wish Malaysians celebrate Halloween so that during that weekend in October, we'd have a flurry of horror movie marathons in the cinemas and on TV.
I also used to host Halloween parties at home during the early 90s with friends who would dress themselves up as monsters and ghosts.
I was truly thrilled to be involved in the National Museum's exhibition on ghosts and monsters in the late 90s. I even staged a play entitled Hantu-Hantu Yang Saya Kenali which I am happy to report scared quite a few people off their seats. For two weeks, the play performed to standing room only audiences.
Maybe it was because of some of the horror movies that I saw when I was a kid that instilled this fascination for everything fantastic.
In my earlier blogs, I mentioned my first encounter with Christopher Lee's Dracula in the movie The Blood of Dracula which I vividly remember watching. The Hammer movies of the 70s were my staple - how not to like gorgeous and bosomy female vampires with white fangs.
And til today, no one, not even Bela Lugosi, can hold a candle to Christopher Lee's portrayal of the Count.
But there were few other horror movies that really affected me - scared me and made me want to scare others the same way (as a filmmaker).
Amongst these films include two classic Japanese horror movies - Kaneto Shindo's Onibaba and Kobayashi's Kwaidan. For those who have not had the pleasure of watching Kwaidan (which very much influenced my Bilik No 13 series) I link below the movie in all its colorful grandeur. Kwaidan is a beautiful yet horrifying cinematic masterpiece.

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Its pace maybe be slow to some but it was on purpose - building a fearful sense of dread. It was exquisite cinema.
I am now looking for copies of Onibaba on the net. Hopefully someone has digitised and posted it somewhere. But below is the trailer for the 1964 horror classic from Japan.

Surprisingly, the pontianak movies of old never scared me or influenced me in any way. I guess I found them too funny or fantastic, or their narrative too ridiculous to have any impact on my psyche.
As for American horror I have a few favourites - Tobe Hooper's Chainsaw Massacre, George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead and its first two sequels, John Carpenter's Halloween and The Thing and Universal studio's classic horror films - Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and Werewolf (the good ones directed by James Whale and Todd Browning).
I am also a real fan of Dario Argento whose Suspiria both shocked and intrigued me. I have since then seen his Tenebrae, Bird with a Crystal Plumage, Phenomena (sometimes called Creepers) (see the movie below) and Inferno.

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I also nearly freaked out watching Don Coscarelli's low budget horror pic Phantasm. That movie was a real blast. Watch the trailer below.

These are all classics, true masters of horror who influenced a slew of copycats and other filmmakers who today depend more on gore than on fear.
Not many films of today can instill a feeling of dread and fear on its audience - sure they have cheap shocks and scares, but that's about it. Not many contemporary horror movies can match the true classic horrors of yesteryear.

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