Wednesday, June 15, 2011
As it's June gloom here in SoCal, I'm tapping into my inner Rainman today. You know, June gloom ... rain ... yeah, well fine—I just turned 36, what do you want from me? Anyway, I don't know if this is a sign of aging, but I'm having the most random, Rainman-esque thoughts lately. Here's one:
My five favorite films that feature hangings
(These aren't in any order)
The Omen (1976)
As this film came out a year after I was born, it's pretty safe to assume that my generation saw the last of any Damiens. The boys I went to school with who were unfortunate to bear that name were either gentle, relentlessly tortured things, or standard bearers for all that was evil in the world (the latter lived up to the promise; I'm almost sure that when the nurses were checking the rest of us for lice each year, they were checking the Damiens for any etchings of 666 on their scalps). But amid all of The Omen's horror hijinks, it was the one act not committed by the title character that continues to be the film's talking point to this day—the nanny's "suicide" by hanging. Four words at little Damien's party took the proverbial birthday cake: "It's all fuh you!"
When Holly Palance resurfaced in the early Eighties on Ripley's Believe it Or Not, alongside her father Jack, she still scared the hell out of me. Believe it.
Now, this scene also features one of the funniest lines I've ever heard in a horror film—"It's a murderer!" (granted, the water sprite-resembling young woman was about to be murdered, but her friend on the other side of the door didn't really have any logistical or tactile proof that the faceless assailant was, in fact, a murderer.
Semantics ... the end of the scene is truly shattering.
Witchfinder General (1968)
You can put this film up against any recent horror film out today—or released in the last 30 years, even—and it would still rate as scarier and more disturbing. The beginning of this film is truly frightening (and sad), and that level of horror stays consistent throughout. Yes, Vincent Price was one of the true legendary villains of the genre, and his roles varied from scary to campy, but I challenge anyone to find another film in which he is creepier and more terrifying.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Okay, now this one is up for debate—to everyone else. If you think zombies can run, then I can think that this scene qualifies as one that features hanging. I mean, those puppet strings didn't pull themselves. And maybe I just love the hell out of this film and wanted to fit it in the list somehow. I also wanted to fit into my Levi's Superlow-cut jeans the other day, and I was gonna damn well make that happen, too.
This film is like one long Midnight Oil video. You love it, but then afterward, you feel guilty as hell about going on with the rest of your lovely, meaningless little day with your bitchin' pizza and your stupid-awesome Netflix queue. But before you think I've set you up for some Lifetime Television viewing, I assure you that this is a very disturbing and, at times, very scary film. A father setting a picnic with his children before chasing them around the desert with a shotgun? Check. Natives scavenging among a deteriorating body twisted around the wreckage of a burning car? Check. But the coming-of-age of a young Aboriginal boy, culminating in one of the most horrific, heartbreaking scenes I have ever viewed, shows that the real terror in Walkabout lies not in nature, but in civilization.
If you're still not sold, a young Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) is naked in it.