Daily Archives: September 9, 2020

Horror Films A–Z, Sept. 2020: F, G & H

From Hell

Year: 2001
Runtime: 2h 2m
Rated: R

Director: The Hughes Brothers

Writer: Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias

Stars: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm

“What’s wrong? You think I was born a whore? Oh that’s right, England doesn’t have whores, just a great mass of very unlucky women.”

Initial: Did this really come out in 2001? I miss vaguely Victorian Johnny Depp. Also, this is a horrible trailer…

Production Notes: Based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, which I haven’t read, but has been on my TBR list for ages.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
After reading a few negative comments, I was a little worried that From Hell wouldn’t hold up. Now, it has its problems. The plot and editing are a little choppy. While there is chemistry between Abberline and Mary Kelly, the romance *is* half-baked. And maybe there was a better casting choice than Heather Graham. But this in an ambitious movie. I think if it went into production today, the plan would be for a six episode limited series. Unfortunately, 50% more of this movie might end up making the utterly beautiful visuals commonplace. Beautiful cinematography/look from Peter Deming and the Hughes Brothers. Also, Robbie Coltrane as the Shakespeare fan-boy sergeant is a delight.

Ghost Story

Year: 1981
Runtime: 1h 50m
Rated: R

Director: John Irvin

Writers: Peter Straub, Lawrence D. Cohen

Stars: Craig Wasson, Alice Krige, Fred Astaire

I will take you places you’ve never been. I will show you things that you have never seen and I will see the life run out of you.

Initial: Rewatch. One of those good old twisty 80s ghost movies where the sins of the past catch up with the sinners.

Production Notes: Last film to feature Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., though Fairbanks did some TV afterward.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The plot of this story is its strength, credit to Peter Straub for the novel. And while there are a lot of great shots and a perfect performance from Alice Krige, the pacing of this movie really is terrible. While I feel like From Hell might have been a six episode series, Ghost Story deserves a ten episode series directed by Mike Flanagan. Seriously, Netflix, get on that.

The Haunting

Year: 1963
Runtime: 1h 52m
Rated: G

Director: Robert Wise

Writers: Nelson Gidding, Shirley Jackson

Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn

Hill House has stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Within, walls continue upright, bricks meet, floors are firm, and doors are sensibly shut. Silence lies steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House. And we who walk here… walk alone.

Initial: Rewatch of one of my favorites. I wonder if it still would get a G rating?

Production Notes: Robert Wise pursued rights to the novel to direct it for the screen. Wise also directed West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Speaking of Mike Flanagan, if you’ve only watched his version of The Haunting of Hill House, you owe it to yourself put aside an hour and fifty-two minutes to watch Wise’s version. Yes, it’s black and white, but honestly as I watched it today, I thought about how I’d love to see this film on a big screen. The images are crisp; the angles, editing, and pacing are thoroughly modern. The only place it could be better is in the sound design, but it loudness and silences work for it. I find the scenes of the haunting to still be very effective even though nothing is ever shown.