Posts Tagged ‘Surprise’

Chainsaw remakeIf you’re going to make a period piece, take the time to do it right. The opening of Marcus Nispel‘s 2003 remake of  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre says it is set in 1973, but one look at the outfits they are wearing and you know that it is not. The characters’ language and conversational topics also set this movie clearly in the present day. (Well, ten years ago now, but you get my meaning.)

By contrast, Ti West‘s 2009 release The House of the Devil is set in the 1980’s, and it shows. West did such a good job of removing anything modern from the film that I actually felt I was watching a movie produced in the 80’s. If you haven’t seen it, and you like 80’s horror, I suggest you do. It gave me my first startling “whoa” moment I have had all semester. I won’t tell you when because I would hate to deprive you of the pleasure.HD Snoop

There are a lot of places in the story where West builds artificial suspense.  I kept expecting something to happen and then it didn’t. HD doorLike Jocelin Donahue’s  character, the audience scares itself with anticipation, especially when West shows us what’s behind the doors that Donahue doesn’t open. West also creates a feeling of anticipation by leaving the camera on even after the character has left the frame.

There  are a few slow spots, but in the end there is plenty of blood and a double surprise ending. One I saw coming, the other I didn’t.

 

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Before I talk about the movie I wanted to show you this great example of Hitchcock’s amazing humor.

As I said in my previous posting, Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds is one of my favorite horror movies. As a kid I watched it along with George A. Romero‘s original Night of the Living Dead whenever they came on television. I must admit that because of Hitchcock’s classic I have always been slightly afraid of birds, and I still get a creeped-out feeling when ever I see more that a few birds amassing on a telephone line or field. I’ve seen the movie many times, but I hadn’t watched it in many years until this assignment. The Birds 3As I watched the film today, I remembered yelling at the screen as a child, telling Tippi Hedren to turn around as the birds amassed behind her (a great example of what Zinoman explains about surprise vs. suspense), birds1pleading for the kids not to run when they left the school, crying when Suzanne Pleshette lay dead on the steps, and really hating the “know-it-all” bird lady, played by Ethel Griffies. (By the way, that scene works much better than the end scene of Psycho to explain what’s going on.)

the birds second body   The Birds 4

Kyle Bishop wrote “The Threat of the Gothic Patriarchy in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds” in which he centers much of his argument around Lydia Brenner and the Brenner house. As I watched the movie I looked for some of Bishop’s examples of “Gothic Patriarchy.” Frankly, my own reading of the film is quite different. I may, in fact, make this the subject of my final paper for this class, but here I will point out a few obvious flaws with Bishop’s arguments. the_birds_1963_birds_attack_the_houseBishop states, “The Brenner home similarly represents a patriarchical legacy, a legacy once controlled by Frank Brenner, but now managed by his widow Lydia (Jessica Tandy)” (139). He represents the dead father as controlling and stern and yet Lydia talks about how much he understood the children and were such a part of their lives. Bishop also argues the-birds first bodythat “Lydia wants her family to remain with her in their home…For Lydia, her house represents the old power dynamic that had existed when her husband was alive” (140), and yet she is the only one to suggest leaving that home instead of staying when the final attack is imminent. Like the people in the diner, Bishop also suggests that the bird attacks are centered around Melanie Daniels, but the first attack, the one on the fishing boat, occurred at least a week before she arrived, and the first person killed by the  birds was a farmer that she had never met and had nothing to do with.

the birds mother  birds chimeny

At one point Annie Hayworth explains to Melanie that Lydia is “afraid of any woman who would give Mitch the one thing she can’t – love.” When Lydia talks about how well her husband related to the children she says how much she wishes she could be like that. During the course of the movie, Melanie teaches Lydia how to be caring and nurturing and in the end Lydia uses those skills to comfort Melanie during their escape.

bird car 2