Top Horror Films from our Young Film Programmers!
Top Horror Films for Halloween!
Before Horror-ford kicks off we wanted to catch up with our Young Film Programmers and find out what films they were most looking forward to, and what are their favourite horror films!
Emily’s Horror Pick!
Recently, I revisited one of the first horror films I ever watched – a film which gave me many sleepless nights and which has stayed with me for many years.
I first saw the film in a slightly unusual context: a year 9 English lesson. We were reaching the end of term and had spent several weeks studying Susan Hill’s iconic gothic horror novel, The Woman in Black. As a treat, our teacher decided to let us watch the film adaptation of the book; however, this was a few years before the 2012 adaptation staring Daniel Radcliffe was released. Instead, she introduced us to the 1989 Herbert Wise-directed television movie produced by Central Independent Television for ITV.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Woman in Black, the story centres on Arthur Kidd, a solicitor who is sent to the misty costal village of Crythin Gifford in order to administer the estate of one of his firm’s clients, Alice Drablow. When Kidd arrives, while attempting to organise his client’s papers, he keeps encountering a mysterious woman dressed all in black who, according to local legend, has placed a curse on the village.
I remember the quaint, television period-drama feel of the film lulling the class into thinking this would be a sleepy afternoon of slightly spooky entertainment. Little did we know that by the end, the room would be erupting into screams, with several students hiding under tables. We were all surprised (and a little horrified) that our otherwise sweet and gentle English teacher would show us something so terrifying.
Earlier this year, when scrolling through Twitter, I saw someone mention the film, and was reminded of how much that first viewing experience had affected me. As it turns out, the film had disappeared for decades, but is considered by some (including master of horror, Guillermo Del Toro) as an underrated British classic.
When I did finally find a way to watch the film, the experience of watching from my sofa at home was nothing in comparison to my first viewing. I am always on the look out for a film that will make me feel the same level of fear and horror as I felt in my year 9 English lesson watching The Woman in Black. It seems that to achieve that level of excitement the collective experience is key.
As part of my efforts to seek out films that will scare me to my core, I’m really looking forward to watching The Exorcist as part of this year’s Horror-ford. I’ve never seen the film on the big screen before, and I’m sure the experience of watching this classic with a packed out audience will be truly terrifying!
The film regularly features at the top of lists of the scariest horror films ever made. Indeed, when it was first released, the film caused mass hysteria, with reports of people fainting in cinemas across the world. While I hope that the upcoming screening won’t be quite as dramatic as that, I can’t wait to experience this iconic film at the Courtyard on the 30th of October.
Georgia’s Horror Pick!
I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of horror as I jump easily enough as it is. I think I watched too many as a child and put myself off! My film preference these days is to escape to fantasy worlds that invoke comfort and adventure, rather than serial killers and possessive demons, but each to their own.
That said, I’m by no means a hater on the genre either. I can appreciate a good bit of camp gore, the macabre, and embracing our shadow selves. I always like a bit of a spookfest at this time of year to get me into the spirit of Halloween.
The horror title that really stands out for me has to be the original 1976 film based on Stephen King’s best-selling book Carrie, which I watched as a teen. Directed by Brian De Palma, I was bowled over by this coming-of-age classic with its glistening red-lit scenes, classic prom aesthetic, and the mesmerising religious iconography.
Sissy Spacek is perfectly cast as the shy and vulnerable title character and John Travolta appears in a supporting role before he hit the big time the following year as the star turn in Saturday Night Fever.
The plot revolves around Carrie White, the daughter of a domineering religious fanatic of a mother, whose upbringing marks her out as a prime candidate for bullying at high school. In the disturbing opening scene we see her humiliated and mocked by her class mates, but by the end of the film she wreaks revenge in the most spectacular and horrifying fashion. As gruesome as it is, the artful storytelling makes Carrie’s rage feel almost sacred.
Carrie has a parallel magical-realist theme, albeit in the darker vein, to another film dear to me, Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Both protagonists are outcasts in their own abusive families and society at large, and both have the supernatural ability to manifest their emotions into telekinetic powers. Carrie and Matilda resonate with me personally as being autistic I know what it’s like to experience life on the fringe and fantasise about having magical powers.
Continuing the supernatural and coming-of-age misfit vibe, I’m looking forward to watching ‘90s movie The Craft on the big screen. In a nutshell, Sarah is a new girl at school and soon becomes entangled with three other miscreants to form a latter-day coven of teenage witches.
It features as the first film in our Halloween double-bill on Tuesday 31st October and I’d recommend it to folks like myself who don’t usually venture into horror but still fancy something fun and spooky.
Lewis’ Horror Pick
While not considered by many to be a full-out Horror film, Edgar Wright’s haunting Last Night in Soho (2021) remains a firm favourite of mine. Combining my love of Giallo Italian horror, especially the work of horror maestro Dario Argento, with the unsettling cityscapes of London both in the 1960’s and present day. Wright’s clear love of the genre and the city in which the film takes place is obvious right from the very first frame. You can see the fingerprints of horror auteurs of days gone by, and clear inspiration for horror hits such as Suspiria from the assured visual style and flavour of the film including the use of the vivid neon, and flashes of red strobe. Wright isn’t just a comedy nut! He’s a fan of all forms of cinema, and nowhere is that more prevalent than by watching his work here.
Experiencing Last Night in Soho at the London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall will be an experience I will remember forever, as will seeing it at my favourite cinema (And frequent Edgar Wright haunt!) The Prince Charles Cinema on 35MM. A stunning beauty of a film, with masterful performances and breath-taking cinematography that makes Last Night in Soho the ultimate Halloween treat.
Getting to experience Talk to Me earlier this summer without a clue what I was in for, made the movie one of my standouts from this year. No trailer, no poster; I dived into the unknown. And came out having enjoyed every single second. And I am so very pleased to be able to see the film make a grand return to Herefordshire screens as part of The Courtyard’s Horror-ford line-up. A perfect gem of a movie for cold autumnal nights. Combining fear with fun, Talk to Me is one movie that must be experienced with a crowd, on the big screen, with the lights dimmed. And a perfect way to close not just the festival, but Halloween night itself.