Tag Archives: Psycho

The Best (Or Worst) Cinematic Villains

With the major disappointment of a bad guy that was the boring CGI-fest, Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League flick. I got to thinking about some of my favourite on-screen villains over the years. From total, outright murderous killers to more subtle antagonists that have you rooting for the bad guy or feeling sorry for them despite their nefarious ways. There is one thing all the villains on my list have that Justice League‘s Steppenwolf does not… personality, character, depth, charm and screen presence – okay so that’s more than one thing – but you get the point, Steppenwolf was shit.

A film’s bad guy (or gal) can be both despised and revered at the same time if they are written/acted well enough and a good villain is required for the film to work. So here we go and in no particular order – with my top (whatever number as I’m not counting) list of cinematic antagonists. Pre-warning SPOILERS ahead for some films…

Terminator (The Terminator)

Terminator

The movie role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood fame. A killer cyborg sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance that will stop the machine’s rule over the humans – before he has even been born. The Terminator is a low budget sci-fi/horror flick with a lot of heart and ambition. Still one of the all time great pictures that sticks in the mind thanks to its then unknown star, Schwarzenegger playing the titular Terminator… or The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, Series T-800 – if you prefer.

A chilling villain that is seemingly unstoppable and for me, still Schwarzenegger’s finest on screen role that packs in a hell of a lot of screen presence even though he only has only 14 lines of dialogue in the entire flick.

Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole.”

The Kurgan/Victor Kruger (Highlander)

The Kurgan

Cruel, ruthless, megalomaniacal and brutal – The Kurgan (real name unknown) is the antagonist from Highlander, played to perfection by Clancy Brown. He sees no issue with running people through with his sword or terrorising nuns in a church. Not much is known about the character other than he used to be a member of an ancient tribe of the Russian Steppes known only as ‘The Kurgan’… which is where he took the name from. When he became an immortal is also unknown and its the unknown that makes the character so damn enjoyable. All we do know about him is that he likes to kill people – especially other immortals.

Brown’s performance as The Kurgan is both terrifying and humorous at the same time. A dark charm that should be wrong, but feels so very right with just the perfect amount of fun thrown in.

Kurgan: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”

Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen (Back to the Future)

Biff-Griff-Buford

I think Marty McFly pretty much summed it up when he said “He’s an asshole!” when describing Buford Tannen. Pick any of the iterations of the character from any of the Back to the Future flicks and they are complete assholes… yes even the mild and meek post 1955 time travel version of Biff is somewhat ‘off’ despite him being transformed into a ‘good guy’. Through the Tannen family history, they have killed lawmen, bullied and beaten up countless school kids, attempted to rape Lorraine Baines… oh and murdered George McFly. Yet each and every time they meet a rather repugnant end involving manure.

With Tom Wilson playing each of the Tannen kin through the years. There has been around 130 years of sheer ‘assholery’ through the Back to the Future trilogy and every second of it has been a joy to watch.

Biff Tannen: “Since you’re new here, I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here!”

Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty

Whenever Rutger Hauer plays a bad guy – he proves why he’s one of the best. In fact, when it came to putting this list together – I had a tough time between choosing Roy Batty or ‘John Ryder’ from The Hitcher. I settled on Batty because I have something else planed for Ryder later…

Hauer plays the role as cold as he could giving Batty a chilling persona as the replicant (android made identical to humans but with a shorter life) just trying to find his creator to ask for more life. And when he does finally find his ‘father’, he ends up killing him in a brutal manner. One of the few cinematic villains you genuinely end up feeling sorry for, thanks to the amazing performance from Hauer – especially after his short but eloquent farewell speech.

Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

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Tommy DeVito is a cruel, psychopathic sadist with ‘short man syndrome’ who’ll share a drink with you one second and then stab you in the neck with a pen the next or shoot you in the foot for not walking fast enough. With the mighty Joe Pesci playing the role, we are given a bad guy that is as fun as he is twisted.

Pesci made the character much more memorable than anyone could have guessed. Going from laughter to sheer rage on a sixpence and often without warning. DeVito really is one of cinemas all time great bad guys… or Goodfellas. Plus he also gave us one of the greatest and most tense scenes caught on film…

Tommy DeVito: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe. But I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

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So this one is a little ‘different’ as its a portrayal of a real person and not just anyone – but one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses ever, Joan Crawford – played by Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest is a biographical dramatisation flick telling the true-ish story of Joan Crawford adopting a little girl whom she named Christina and finally became a mother after a number of miscarriages.

The film is wonderfully terrifying and that is thanks to Dunaway’s stunning performance as Hollywood royalty – Joan Crawford. The relationship between mother and daughter is disturbing as Crawford pushes and punishes Christina for pretty much nothing. The film was panned by critics when originally released, but has since found its audience today and rightfully so too.

Joan Crawford: “No wire-hangers, ever!”

Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Nurse Ratched

From one crazy-ass bitch to another. Enter Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, the main antagonist from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She’s cold-hearted, vindictive and strict as the head nurse of a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. Its when a new patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters the hospital that she is pushed to her limit and beyond.

Okay, so I have a confession to make here. I really didn’t want to include Nurse Ratched as a ‘villain’ because I quite honestly do not see her as one. Yeah she’s tough and manipulative – but I’ve always seen her as ‘just doing her job’. For me, I personally find R.P. McMurphy to be more antagonistic in the film than Nurse Ratched. But she is generally seen as the main antagonist so I’ll include her (cos she’s an awesome character) even if I don’t necessarily agree.

Nurse Ratched: “If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.”

Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

Richard Vernon

Much like the previous Nurse Ratched, here was have a villain who is only considered bad because they are doing their job… except this character is a real asshole and played brilliantly by Paul Gleason. Vernon is the vice principal of Shermer High School, and one Saturday – he holds a detention for five students and tells them to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are.

The Breakfast Club is easily my favourite film from the legendary director John Hughes and I feel a big part of that enjoyment comes from the extremely controlling, devious and egotistic nature of ‘Dick’ Vernon who controls the students with an iron fist and shows no mercy or remorse either.

Richard Vernon: “But someday when you’re outta here and you’ve forgotten all about this place and they’ve forgotten all about you, and you’re wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I’m gonna be there. That’s right. And I’m gonna kick the living shit out of you. I’m gonna knock your dick in the dirt.”

Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans Landa

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino bad guys – we are spoilt for choice; Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)… but I’ve gone for the Nazi officer of the SS, Col. Hans Lander and his impressive smoking-pipe. Lander, nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ – a name his is extremely proud of, is ruthless in his investigations and capture (and often killing) of Jews.

Christoph Waltz (rightfully) won an Oscar for his performance as the relentless SS officer and the opening, very tense scene shows just why he fully deserved the award too. Waltz’s multilingual performance is a pure joy to watch and this is one bad guy I love to hate.

Hans Lander: “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that, Monsieur, is what a Jew shares with a rat.”

John Doe (Seven)

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Real name unknown – John Doe is a clever and manipulative character who keeps diaries and notes on his crimes and victims. The film does a great job of keeping him in the shadows and we only learn who he really is in the latter part of the flick – he first ‘real’ entrance in the movie when he walks into the police station covered in blood and calmly saying “detective” over and over as he hands himself in (until he snaps and has to scream) is both twisted and revealing once you know just who’s blood he is covered in and why.

Recent allegations aside – Kevin Spacey is fucking awesome in this flick. He performance is so memorable that you’ll be talking about it for years later… as I am right now. The acting is subtle and calming. This all just adds to the performance and creates one of the best killers ever caught on film.

John Doe: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

‘Angel Eyes’ (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Angel Eyes

Some more pipe-smoking action now from Lee Van Cleef playing ‘Angel Eyes’ (real name unknown, though he is named in the original Italian version of the film) in one of the best Westerns ever made. Also known as the titular ‘Bad’ from the film. ‘Angel Eyes’ is a ruthless and cunning killer who is not afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who gets in his way. Still, if shooting people is not enough – he’ll also have the living shit beaten out of you until you are barely alive… as Tuco discovers in the film, while just gleefully watching on.

Van Cleef’s performance of ‘Angel Eyes’ is undeniably cool but also cruel and unforgiving. He barely thinks twice about murder as he shoots his way through people just to find a man called Bill Carson.

‘Angel Eyes’: “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”

Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

Hans Gruber

Of course I had to include quite possibly THE greatest bad guy in an action film ever. Hans Gruber is cool, calm and collected – he dresses well and is a very reasonable person. But don’t let any of that fool as as he’s also ruthless and thinks nothing of shooting someone in the head at point blank range. He was once part of the Volksfrei West German terrorist group – but was expelled from the group… probably for being too damn bad-ass.

God damn it, I miss Alan Rickman and this is his best role ever. He dulcet, super smooth voice added to the character’s laid back attitude and persona. Check out any ‘top (whatever) bad guys list’ on the interwebs and you’ll find Hans Gruber pretty much always near the top if not at the top. The only reason he’s not at the top here is because I just don’t do ‘top lists’. Rickman’s performance is just memorising and makes Gruber one of those rare villains you can’t help but love and just wish he got away with it at the end.

Hans Gruber: “I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

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A foul-mouthed drill sergeant who bullies his recruits – especially the struggling Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) played to his shoutiest best by R. Lee Ermey. So strong and memorable was this performance that he has been held up as the template for any drill sergeant in TV and films ever since. He’s racist, obnoxious, uncaring and ruthless – his dialogue has gone down in movie history as being some of the very best from any single film character.

Ermey’s performance is shocking but he also makes it impossible to not ‘enjoy’ the character despite his sheer awfulness. The way he verbally,  physically and mentally abuses his recruits is tremendous but uncomfortable to watch and all comes to a boiling point when he pushes Private Pyle too far.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?”

Don Logan (Sexy Beast)

Don Logan

You remember the movie Gandhi right? The one where (Sir) Ben Kingsley plays the eponymous peace-seeking pacifist and won the best actor Oscar for it too? Well this role is the polar opposite of that and in my opinion just as worthy of an Oscar too. This is Kingsley at his foul-mouthed, frenzied, frightening finest. Logan is a recruiter for the London criminal underworld who turns up in Spain to convince retired expert safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) to take part in a major London bank heist. But it is when Dove turns the offer down that Logan shows his true colours.

I avoided this film at first because I thought it sounded like a crap porn flick. So when I did finally sit down to watch it – going in completely unaware of what it was about, I was blown away by Kingsley’s stunning performance. Not only is Sexy Beast a great ‘London gangster’ flick – it features a brilliant bad guy with Logan and one that’ll stick in my head forever.

Don Logan: “You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”

Norman Bates (Psycho)

Norman Bates

Norman Bates – the man with severe ‘mommy issues’. Probably one of the greatest villains to ever grace the cinema screen. A young, shy and retiring man who’s nervousness hides a deep, dark secret. With Anthony Perkins playing the role in a charming and enduring manner which helps to hide just exactly what is going on in his head. Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made with such iconic imagery, music and of course that ending…

If you’ve ever read the novel Psycho – then you’d know just how different the character of Norman is in the film. In the book, he’s a fat, balding alcoholic. A million miles away from Perkins. But it was director Alfred Hitchcock who wanted to make the change so the audience would sympathise with Norman, and its a change that really works well and helped by the charismatic performance of Perkins himself which makes the ending all the more shocking.

Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

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Not to be confused with the burglar Harry Lime from Home Alone. This Lime is a criminal who was killed in a car accident… or was he? When one of his close friends claim to have seen Lime alive and well, his grave is opened up only to find that Lime is not the man buried. Which all leads to a cat and mouse chase to track down the criminal.

Lime is effortlessly played by Orson Welles. He is amoral, careless but also wickedly charming and charismatic too. The Third Man is a wonderful flick that is most definitely lifted several levels by Welles’ performance – his infamous wry smirk hides a thousand lies.

Harry Lime: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Vincenzo Coccotti (True Romance)

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Vincenzo Coccotti is a Sicilian consigliere for local Detroit mobster ‘Blue’ Lou Boyle. Only a minor character in the film – but one you won’t forget in a hurry. Coccotti is cold and calculating played beautifully by Christopher Walken. He is hardly in the film and only appears in one scene… but what a great scene it is.

My second Tarantino bad guy on here, but he does create such awesome villains that I could probably do a list just full of them. The aforementioned scene in which Coccotti appears alongside Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) is a tense and wonderfully written scene that has Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it. Walken’s performance is both terrifying and engrossing at the same time.

Vincent Coccotti: “I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

Amon Goeth

This guy is one psychopathic, sadistic, brutal, abusive and emotionless Nazi. He’ll sit on his balcony and shoot Jews for no reason other than they are Jews and he is bored. He also beat the shit of his maid because she turned down his advances. And these instances are some of his more tame crimes. At the end of the film, Goeth is executed by hanging, but not before calmly patting his hair into place and uttering “Heil Hitler” – showing his total lack of remorse perfectly clear.

Played by Ralph Fiennes to chilling effect, this performance is one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in film. Some bad guys have a redeeming quality, if not more than one. Goeth has nothing redeeming about him, he’s just pure fucking evil personified. One of the most disgustingly, despicable movie villains ever.

Amon Goeth: “Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came with nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.”


Well there you have it, a selection of some of my favourite on screen villains… and all of them far more impressive and memorable than Steppenwolf. To be honest, there were a tonne I left off this list with plenty more antagonists I enjoy just as much if not more. But I had to pick and choose to keep this list at a reasonable length – still, I could always do another list in the future or even feature some of my other favourites in much more detailed articles…

An Incomplete History of Horror Films Part III.

My Incomplete History of Horror arrives in the swinging 60s.

The movie going trends have changed again. The post-war fears of the late 40s and 50s gave way to a new horror. Aliens, nuclear power and giant insects were fading fast. Some of the classic movie monsters were still around thanks to Hammer films and their continual reinventions and sequels. But things were changing and while movie monsters still had a place, audiences began to fear something more grounded and realistic, the human. The 1960 saw the rise of the boy/girl next door just going a little mad, as after all… “we all go a little mad sometimes.

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Peeping Tom (1960): Many horror fans will debate and discus which film was the first ever ‘slasher movie’. This is the film that is often cited as being at least the first film that put in place many of the tropes we now consider to be part of the ‘slasher’ sub-genre. Directed by Michael Powell, the film tells the story of Mark Lewis, an amateur film maker who murders women with the aid of a hidden blade on his camera stand as he films their last moments alive at the same time.

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Upon its initial release, Peeping Tom met with huge controversy and was slammed by critics. But today, its often considered a classic and even a masterpiece of British film making. The film has become a cult classic and much loved among horror fanatics and even respected film critics today. In 2004, Total Film magazine named Peeping Tom as the 24th greatest British movie of all time. Then in 2005, they listed it as the 18th greatest horror film ever. Peeping Tom may have been a disaster in 1960, so much so that it even ended the career of its director; Michael Powell. But it has since become one of the most respected and praised films in its genre.

psycho

Psycho (1960): Of course Psycho was going to make this list, it is one of my all time favourite films. I love Robert Bloch’s novel, I love this film and I even love the trailer for the film. Directed by the legend that is Alfred Hitchcock, this film is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A tale about a young secretary, Marion Crane, who steals $40,000 from her boss so she can run away with her boyfriend. After making off with the money, she pulls into a motel to rest for the night but regrets the theft and decides to return the money the next morning…

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There really is very little I can say about this film that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over already. This is Hitchcock’s finest work, his opus. Everything about this film just works from its directing, the tight screenplay, the amazing acting and of course… the music. This film is so iconic and famed that even if you have never seen it, you know of the infamous shower scene. Psycho became such a popular and influential movie that is was imitated for years to come…

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Homicidal (1961): Directed by the gimmick master himself, William Castle. This film follows the young and beautiful but mysterious Emily who is an outright murderess and whose presence in town could unearth deeply guarded secrets of a well to do family.

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Homicidal was one of the first Psycho rip-offs that tried to ride on the coat-tails of Hitchcock’s masterpiece. The film lacks the quality of Hitchcock’s far superior film… but it still is a very well put together horror/thriller none the less. Its has some pretty scary scenes and decent acting throughout. And of course, this is a William Castle picture so it featured a gimmick. Just before the film’s climax, a 45 second countdown called a ‘Fright Break’ appeared on screen and would warn the audience of the horror that was about to be shown. The voice-over tells the audience that they can claim a full refund if they were too frightened to stay until the end. But that was not all William Castle had up his sleeve. If you were stupid enough to walk out before the end and claim your refund, then you would have to wait in what was called ‘Coward’s Corner’, which was a yellow cardboard booth. Then a ‘nurse’ would offer a blood-pressure test while a recording would repeat, “Watch the chicken! Watch them shiver in Coward’s Corner!”. Then finally while you waited in ‘Coward’s Corner’ you would have been forced to sign a yellow card stating, ‘I am a bona fide coward.’ So you could claim a full refund if you wanted, but William Castle would make you pay for it.

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The Last Man on Earth (1964): Directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow, starring Vincent Price. This film follows Dr. Robert Morgan who finds himself to be the last man alive after everyone else has been infected by a plague that has turned them into undead, vampire-like creatures. If any of this sounds familiar, then that is because this is the first film adaption of Richard Matheson’s novel; I Am Legend.

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Vincent Price is amazing as the lonely and desperate last man alive. The film is a low budget picture and this does show as some of the post production work is a little ropey. But at its heart, its a great and well told horror/thriller and some consider this the best film version of the novel. It can be quite dark and depressing at times which all adds to the mood of the overall film.

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Kwaidan (1964): An anthology horror film from Japan, directed by Masaki Kobayashi. Based on the book “Kwaidan: Stories and studies of strange things” by Lafcadio Hearn. A collection of four stories including; The Black Hair which tells the story of a poor man who divorces his wife to marry a wealthier woman for money, but soon regrets his decision. The Woman of the Snow is a tale about a woodcutter who becomes stranded in a snowstorm where he comes across a ghostly spirit. Hoichi the Earless where a blind singer who is tricked into singing for ghosts who want more than just his voice. In a Cup of Tea is the final story and features a writer who writes a story about a samurai who keeps seeing a haunting face in a cup of tea.

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This is not an all out ‘scary’ film, but it is more of a slow paced and tension building collection of creepy ghost stories. The film is beautifully shot and shows of some amazing set design and scenery. Each of the four stories are intended to represent the four seasons of a year. Kwaidan went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was even nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. A tremendous and atmospheric picture that will stay with you long after you have finished watching it.

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Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965): Another anthology film, this time from British production company, Amicus. Directed by Freddie Francis and starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. A collection of five stories including; Werewolf, Creeping Vine, Voodoo, Disembodied Hand and Vampire. There is also the connecting and wrap around story.

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I’m just very quickly glossing over this one, not because I don’t like it (I love this film), but because I covered every Amicus anthology film earlier in more detail which you can read here. This was the first of the Amicus anthology films series that became very popular in the 60s and 70s.

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Carry On Screaming! (1966): The Carry On films were a British comedic tradition and they covered a myriad of topics. For this one, they poke fun at the Hammer Horror style films. Directed by Gerald Thomas, the film stars; Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Harry H. Corbett and Fenella Fielding. The evil Dr. Watt is kidnapping beautiful young women and turning them into mannequins.

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I’m a big fan of the Carry On films and this one is a riot. Very tongue in cheek and full of laughs that lampoon the great Hammer Horror films perfectly. Not a scary film, more comedy heavy as a Carry On film should be, but the film still has some great light horror moments and the film really looks the part too. This was filmed using the actual Hammer Horror film sets, which is why it looks so authentic. Well worth checking out if you want a few chuckles.

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Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966): Hammer Horror are back with the third entry in their Dracula series. Directed by Terence Fisher and of course starring Christopher Lee. Two couples go on a holiday in the Carpathian Mountains and soon find themselves at Dracula’s castle. Dracula’s loyal servant, Klove greets the quartet and tells them that his master has been dead for 10 years and offers them shelter for the night where they will be perfectly safe…

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While the third film in the series, the second; The Brides of Dracula (1960) didn’t even feature Dracula at all. So this film is often considered the first true sequel to Hammer’s original Dracula (1958). Christopher Lee is just as amazing playing Dracula as he was in the first film. One interesting fact is that Dracula does not have a single word of dialogue in the entire film. There are conflicting stories as to why this is. According to Christopher Lee, he refused to speak the dialogue written for him as it was terrible. But writer Jimmy Sangster claims he never wrote any dialogue for Christopher Lee’s Dracula to begin with. This picture is what Hammer Films does best, its dark, gothic and scary in all the right places. It was very well received by critics with some even claiming this film is better than the original.

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Picture Mommy Dead (1966): Directed by Bert I. Gordon. This was another of those Psycho rip offs that popped up through the 60s. Recently released from an asylum, Susan Shelley returns home to her father who she suspects killed her mother in a fire. Susan begins to believe her father and new wife are conspiring against her.

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While nowhere near as well made or respected as Hitchcock’s Psycho, this is not a bad effort. The acting is a little overdone for the most part and the whole thing feels a little ‘campy’ today, but its still an effective horror/thriller. Made on a very low budget (and it shows) but worth at least one viewing.

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Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (1967): AKA; This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse is the second film in the ‘Coffin Joe’ trilogy. The first being; À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma/At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) followed by; Encarnação do Demônio/Embodiment of Evil (2005). A Brazilian film from director, writer and actor José Mojica Marins. Coffin Joe terrorises the residents of a small town with his sadistic practices while he searches for the perfect woman to bare his son.

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The ‘Coffin Joe’ trilogy are a little known collection of gory and brutal horror movies, from a country not really famous for its horror films, that posses a very bizarre atmosphere. This one is often cited as the best of the three pictures and I have to agree. Its not an easy watch though as the film is not shy in showing gruesome rituals and sadistic tortures. While most of the film is shot in stunning black & white, there is one sequence that takes place in Hell which is shot in full colour… and what a great sequence it is too. If you think your stomach can handle this one, give it a go. In fact, give all three ‘ Coffin Joe’ films a view.

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Night of the Living Dead (1968): There were several good horror films released in 1968, but this one is the only one worth mentioning. Directed by the grandfather of the zombie film, George A. Romero. While visiting her father’s grave, Barbra is attacked by a strange man. She escapes to a farmhouse where things just keep getting worse and worse.

notldscreen

While not the first ever zombie film (not even close), this film is regarded as THE definitive zombie picture. Before this, zombies were often depicted as people under some kind of voodoo curse. Yet it was George A’ Romero who created the zombie persona we all know know, that of a reanimated dead corpse that feasts on flesh. This film was a revelation when it was released and changed horror cinema forever. A low budget production, but a well shot and scary film none the less. The film had undergone several revisions over the years including a colourised version in 1986 as well as other coloured versions through the years. And in 2009 a colorized 3D version of the film wa salso released. Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition was released in 1999 which added an all new soundtrack and even had newly filmed scenes added too, this version is often considered pretty terrible as it tampers with a classic. There was even an animated version called; Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated in 2009 which used a wide variety of animation styles by artists from around the world all laid over the original audio. There was also a remake released in 1990 directed by horror make up genius, Tom Savini. There are plenty of other versions of this film too that I have not mentioned, I could do a separate article just on alternate Night of the Living Dead versions/remakes/reboots and spin offs. Night of the Living Dead is an all time classic and deservedly so…due to a lack of copyright, its also in the public domain so can be viewed completely legal and free. “They’re coming to get you Barbra!

I think its time to say goodbye to the 60s. There were some notable horror films released in 1969, but after Night of the Living Dead, everything else just seems to pale in comparison. So I may as well end on one of the very best of the 60s. Next up in part IV its the 1970s and this is where things get really, really amazing…

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Great movie trailers

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There is a massive online backlash over the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters remake… and it is a remake. It has become known as the most disliked movie trailer… ever.

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I think the whole backlash is getting out of hand. I watched the trailer and thought it looked “okay” at best. There have most definitely been far worse movie trailers before. I admit that I have no desire to go and see the film though, but the trailer was not that bad.
But this got me thinking about trailers and how you can’t really judge a 2 hour film on a 2 minute clip. Let me look at another example: that last trailer for Batman v Superman made the film look amazing, when in fact the film was horrible. Trailers can be very misleading.

Then I got to thinking about movie trailers in general and some trailers I lovingly remembered sprang to mind.
So here, I’m going to take a look at some of my favourite movie trailers. Whether the film itself was any good or not isn’t important. I’m just going on the quality of the trailer and what is showed, how/why it was good. From simple teasers, full trailers to sheer master class examples on how to do an effective movie trailer.

Back To The Future: A great example on how to do an amazing teaser. Bearing in mind that when this was released, nobody knew anything about the film at all. It starts of with the household name of; Steven Spielberg and that alone is enough to get you hooked. Then its is this abstract collection of futuristic looking lights, wires, etc along with a few quick shots of the DeLorean itself. Before revealing the star of the film, Michael J Fox who seemingly disappears in flames while the rousing “Back in Time” from; Huey Lewis and the News plays in the background as the title of the film appears.

A great little trailer for a film that would go down in history as an all time classic.

Godzilla (1998): This one was released in 1997 when Jurassic Park fever was still quite high as it was the same year that The Lost World: Jurassic Park was released. In fact, many people believed this was a trailer for Jurassic Park 2 at the time. Its a clever, misleading teaser as The T-Rex was the big bad monster of movies then and hugely popular. The way the museum curator builds up and talks about the impressive stats of the T-Rex, only for it to be literally crushed by the foot of something even bigger. This teaser was a great way to have a little pop at Jurassic Park while promoting the up and coming new Godzilla flick. It showed us that the T-Rex may not be the king of movie monsters for much longer.

Brilliant little trailer, shame the film itself was not very good though.

Schindler’s List: What an stunning trailer. Pretty much silent, except for a few instances and some haunting music in the background. This one really hits home the horrors of the Holocaust without revealing too much of anything. A powerful and moving trailer for a film that was just as equally powerful and moving… nuff said.

This is how you do a trailer well.

The Shining: This one is very unnerving. You have big names like Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson and Stephen King appear on screen all while some strange but wondrous music builds in the background. Yet we are just looking at a hallway with a pair of elevator doors at the end… and nothing else. Nothing appears to be happening, there is no action, we do not see any of the stars of the film as the music just keeps building and building. Its memorising and pulls you in as you can’t take your eyes off the screen as you wait for something to happen… an finally it does.

Kubrick, Nicholson, King. Who wouldn’t want to watch this film? This trailer is hugely effective, suspenseful and yet it shows nothing.

Spider-Man: The first teaser of the big budget Spider-Man film from Sam Raimi. This one is fairly controversial as it was quickly removed following the events of 9/11. A nice little action scene that got to showcase the new Spider-Man and didn’t contain any main footage from the film itself. Its quite heart pumping and offers an adrenaline rush. This one got me really looking forward to a Spider-Man film from one of my favourite directors.

An effective trailer that leaves a lasting impression and really got people talking… before 9/11 that is.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: A great sense of humour with this one. The narrator’s build up as he describes cutting edge technology, millions of dollars budget, best animators in the world, etc. Just for it to cut to the crappy animation South Park is famed for while Cartman does his infamous “German dance”. Its a funny little trailer that really got people looking forward to the film.

Quite surprising the film came about while the TV show was still in its infancy. But this trailer got us South Park fans hyped.

The Exorcist: Wow, what a trailer. This one just shows some disturbing images of the film that flash up and really shows nothing of the film itself. Some interesting titbits about this one. It features the original score for the film before it was ultimately rejected from the final cut and the trailer was even pulled from cinemas as it was deemed too scary at the time. Just try to imagine watching this in a darkened cinema on the big screen…

One of my favourite films and a really unsettling trailer. Though, if I’m honest. I feel it goes on a little too long. I think this trailer would have been better if it was slightly shorter.

The Birds: Hitchcock was a master of his craft and this trailer proves just as much. Its more like a mini movie in itself coming in at just over 5 minutes long. Hitchcock takes us though interesting lecture about how we humans mistreat birds. Killing them, eating them, caging them, using them for trophies, etc. This is a wonderful little talk as Hitchcock beautifully uses the English language to paint a picture of why birds are the subject of his latest film and the whole thing is very calm. Then as Hitchcock goes to pet a caged bird, things take a disturbing twist…

I love me some Hitchcock and this is one of my all time favourite trailers and all without showing a single frame of the film. Hitch’s trademark dry humour is rampant in this one and really makes for a great watch. But he made an even better trailer just a few years before this one…

Psycho: Yes, Hitchcock again. Best film trailer EVER! Just like his; The Birds trailer, this one is like its own mini movie. We join Hitch as he takes us on a tour of the infamous Bates Motel and house. Hitch describes very specific events from the film, but still manages to hold back on any major spoilers. His marvellous wording as he covers the murder on the stairs, “the twisting of the… well I won’t dwell on it.”, is sublime. The way Hitch talks to the audience and give subtle nods and references, cheeky little winks as if he is tormenting you. “This picture has great significance because… lets go to cabin number 1”, arrrghhhhhhhh the teasing is almost unbearable. All leading up to a surprise in the shower…

My favourite trailer for one of my favourite films and based on one of my favourite books. Nobody does movie trailers better than Hitchcock. This trailer works brilliantly as a prologue as it just hints at pretty much every major scene in the film without telling us all the details. Then watch it after the film as an epilogue and you can see just how well crafted the trailer is and all the clues Hitch was hinting at.
Utterly sublime.

Well there you go, a few of my favourite trailers. But I have many more trailers I really enjoy, though nothing tops Psycho. I may cover more at a later date…

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