October 30, 2003

The Horror, The Horror

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So it’s that time of year again, when TNT plays marathons of Halloween and Friday the 13th. Well, maybe those movies still do something for you the hundredth time around, but if you’re really looking for a serious horror fix in preparation for October 31st, these suggestions might help in creating a truly terrifying Halloween experience.

Movies

Se7en, although a fine film, pales in comparison to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a low budget masterpiece that sets an impossible standard for all serial killer movies. Loosely based on the confessions of prolific Midwestern mass murderer Henry Lucas, Henry uses no gimmicks, no special effects, and no likeable villains like Hannibal Lecter. Henry is as bleak as filmmaking gets, following a man who kills not for an absurd biblical plan, but merely out of boredom, to stifle his loneliness. The violence in this film is some of the most pervasive and extreme ever filmed, landing the movie an X rating.

If that does not suit you, then some old fashioned Asian torture will surely wet your palate. Audition, a Japanese film, is quite simply the most terrifying experience of the last ten years. The first hour is a slow build up, about a widower who is enamored of a virginal young woman who has a past no one can quite figure out. Too bad, because reality becomes entwined with sadomasochistic fantasy, and the final thirty minutes tailspin into a nightmare of torture, mutilation, and sexual abuse so vicious and terrifying that it is almost unwatchable. I do not know where Audition takes us, but it is surely hell. The film intends to shock, and some of the images will honestly nauseate you, not to mention one particular scene involving a large bag that will cause you hit the ceiling.

Television

You will be hard pressed to find truly creepy viewing experiences on TV. Just remember, it’s not TV, it’s HBO.

From their flagship series Oz to their newest offering Carnivale, HBO has always provided cerebral thrills and visceral, violent chills. Oz used its freedom of speech as a weapon, shredding The Shawshank Redemption sense of prison having friendly, fluffy people. Sodomy, eye gougings, burnings, and even crucifixions were employed to knock off some of the shows most beloved characters. Carnivale is something more along the lines of David Lynch. Using Lynch’s favorite dwarf as the lead, this show is as bizarre as the circus outkasts it follows.

I doubt that HBO will replay it, but if they do, the America Undercover special “Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman” is certainly one of the most chilling programs ever made. We sit with the Iceman himself, as he discusses with a stoic face and an occasional chuckle how he murdered and disposed of the bodies of over fifty people. If ever you needed an affirmation that there is evil on earth, this is it.

Of course, if you really, really want to be terrified, you can always watch any show in which Anne Coulter appears. I am completely convinced that this woman is the antichrist (seriously, who’s more scary, little boy in a bad ’70s flick or her?).

Music

There is no better way to get into the suicidal/haunted mood than to put on some Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor is the man responsible for the mainstream goth trend of the nineties and today, spawning imitators like Marilyn Manson. After all, Reznor did record the alt-rock classic The Downward Spiral in the house where Charles Manson murdered Sharon Tate. His songs are poetically and intensely introspective, pouring out an entire world of pain and scars from the past.

Keeping with Reznor, if you have not heard Johnny Cash’s version of Reznor’s song “Hurt,” listen to it immediately. The song was creepy enough, exploring self hate and suicidal fantasy, but Cash brings a whole new dimension of real life horror to it. His voice sounds so frail, so damaged, that it is impossible to be unaffected by the experience.

Tupac Shakur had a lot of positive songs, but he also had a lot of pretty violent ones. Perhaps his morbid tenor is best illustrated on “God Bless the Dead.” As the song opens, he proclaims “Rest in peace to my motherfucker Biggie Smalls.” We all know what happened after that. Very creepy.

Yet this article would not be complete without mentioning everyone’s favorite necrophiliacs, Cannibal Corpse. They are about as easy to understand as Marlon Brando, which is a shame, because you miss out on some real poetry. Take for example, this sampling of “Buried in the Backyard”: “To kill, is why I live/My God, gives eternal life/Slice you, I watch your blood flow/Rotten brains, I feed ’till I’m full.” Wow, make sure not to invite these guys to the next family funeral.

Archived article by Zach Jones

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