Films which make the strongest impression on us make that impression for a reason. Sometimes that reason might be a slight one: you were in the right mood, you had nothing else to watch, everyone else liked the film and you can see exactly why. However, as you continue to study films, you will soon discover that the movies you remember the most typically have one thing in common: the story structure is solid.
As this thorough video essay by Cristobal Olguin points out, Wes Craven’s films are perfect to study for their structure. His films teach us that within any scene that truly frightens you, there are numerous relationships and correspondences that produce that feeling of fear. If one is missing, the entire effect might be lost.
Many of these elements are bound up in storytelling, in the little tricks Craven uses to move his tale along. This video takes a close look at a couple of the techniques Craven uses in Scream, written by Kevin Williamson.
[Spoiler alert twenty-one years later: this video reveals whodunnit in Scream.]
By the time you find out who the real killer is in Scream, you might not care. The movie has become less about suspense and more about how to tell a story. Using traditional story techniques in new and interesting ways can give your story a unique structure, such as Craven achieved from Williamson’s script for Scream.
Sebastian Twardosz interviews Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham to talk about everything from how the film started out as only a title to the creation of the infamous hockey mask.
00:30 — Introducing Sean S. Cunningham.
00:45 — How Friday the 13th started as just a title.
03:35 — The making of Friday The 13th.
06:00 — Creating the soundscape of Friday The 13th.
09:00 — Expectations after releasing the film.
11:15 — What it’s like working with the same people on multiple projects.
12:50 — Creating the grudge match Freddy vs Jason.
15:00 — How did Jason Voorhees’ mask become part of the character?
16:30 — Cunningham’s change of heart and decision to not be a doctor.
21:15 — Raising funds before Kickstarter existed.
22:05 — Early film projects of Sean S. Cunningham.
24:25 — Bringing The Last House on the Left into being with Wes Craven.
27:00 — Kids sports films; Here Come the Tigers and Manny’s Orphans.
30:50 — Spring Break.
33:50 — House and My Boyfriend’s Back.
37:00 — Watching a screening of Alien with O.J. Simpson.
Not only dose Cunningham share information about how the franchise (originally not intending to be one) was formulated, but he shares some keen wisdom on filmmaking as well. For instance, he shares a story about when he first screened Friday the 13th for Wes Craven and was told that it was boring and slow. However, when he screened the final cut with all the audio, music, and sound effects added, reactions completely changed. Cunningham expresses how large of an impact the right soundtrack can make on how your viewers respond to your film emotionally.
Day of the Woman a.k.a. I Spit On Your Grave was inspired by Meir Zarchi’s experience with a victim of rape. After stumbling upon a teenage girl in a park in the aftermath of a violent assault, Zarchi began to imagine how a woman in this situation might fantasize about revenge. Moreover, he wanted to depict to the audience the real horrors of rape.
I Spit On Your Grave follows Jennifer Hills, (played by Keaton), a magazine writer from New York City, as she retires to a secluded cabin in the woods to write her first novel. While there she is brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead. But Jennifer is alive. Emotionally destroyed, she no longer writes her novel; instead she finds herself choreographing a horrific revenge scheme to inflict punishment on her assailants.
Upon its theatrical release in 1980, the movie was described by the late prominent film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as “Easily the most offensive film” they had ever seen, yet hailed by others as a cinematic masterpiece. The debate continued as the movie was pulled from theaters in the United States, then branded a “video nasty” in the United Kingdom and placed on the Director of Public Prosecutions’ list of prosecutable films. Still, 36 years later the film continues to attract both praise and negative criticism and has even spawned a remake in 2010 and sequel in 2013.
Now in production, the I Spit On Your Grave 1978 Documentary will reveal some insight into the madness and the man behind it all. Created by Terry Zarchi (son of Meir Zarchi, who also played a small role in the film), this project will deliver both a personal and informative view that only someone who grew up with this movie can provide.
36 years after the making of the controversial 1978 cult classic I Spit On Your Grave, actress Camille Keaton will appear on screen with director Meir Zarchi in an upcoming documentary, “Growing up with I Spit On Your Grave has inspired me to tell the story behind the story.” said Zarchi. “This is perhaps the most misunderstood film of all time and Camille Keaton’s involvement will shed some light on the many questions still surrounding the film.”
In the kind of move not generally seen, ‘serious’ director Lee Daniels is taking a turn toward the horror genre. The helmer who last directed Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy and Precious will direct the fact-based film currently titled Demon House. The film is based on Latoya Ammons and her family, whose life rights made this film possible. They claim to have been victims of a demonic possession that has spanned over two years and counting. Ammons and her family have received international media attention for their accounts, which have been witnessed and documented by the Department of Child Services, the Gary (IN) Police Department and hospital staff.
The experience began with unusual occurrences in her home over two years ago, including swarms of flies around her porch in the winter and unexplainable creaking sounds in her basement. The events progressed to possessive incidents including her oldest daughter unconsciously levitating above her bed, medical staff witnessing her middle son gliding backward on the floor, wall and ceiling. According to Relativity, the DCS case manager witnessed her youngest son growling with his teeth showing and eyes rolled back, locking his hands around his older brother’s throat with no recollection of the incident. Initial psychological exams and exorcism attempts failed to provide explanation or solution for the bizarre events.
Horror movies are a perennially popular genre in film… but why? What makes a movie scary, and what makes scary movies appeal to us? Where did we come from, and where are we going? What’s the future of fear? Why do we willingly sit in a dark room for two hours to deliberately get our pants scared off? Why do we take dates to horror movies?
This brand new documentary explores the enigma that is controversial filmmaker Shane Ryan – creator of the infamous Ted Bundy inspired Amateur Porn Star Killer series, the Alyssa Bustamante inspired true crime picture My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous, and star of Albert Pyun’s (Cyborg) latest thriller The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper. Modern Grindhouse at it’s best/worst, the documentary is definitely worth a look.
Includes interviews with filmmakers Sean Cain (Jurassic City, Silent Night Zombie Night), Ryan Nicholson (Gutterballs, Live Feed) and James Cullen Bressack (Blood Lake, Hate Crime), actress Tommie Vegas (The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper), Pollygrind Film Festival director Chad Clinton Freeman, HorrorHound Magazine film critic Thomas Gleba, new footage with actor Kevin Gage (Michael Mann’s Heat, Ridley Scott’s G.I. Jane) and much more. (Note: there are brief images of nudity and violence, recommended for mature audiences).
A re-release of his entire Amateur Porn Star Killer series, in a new box set (which includes this documentary, along with an exclusive 30 minute interview, and two brand new commentaries) is available HERE See more from Ryan and other underground film makers at Mad Sin Cinema HERE
There have been some exceptional ‘fan made’ documentaries for classic horror films made over the last few years, the superlative Beware The Moon: Remembering An American Werewolf in London andUnearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Semetarybeing two of the best examples to the studios as to how it should be done. Along with the fantastic Thommy Hutson documentaries Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, we are getting some real quality in the genre. Now we have a documentary in the works for little known but well regarded cult flick The Keep. Directed by Michael Mann of Manhunter, Heat and Last of The Mohicans fame.
In 2011, UK filmmaker Stewart Buck and french artist Stephane Piter began a journey to document the films production. Confronting the harsh realities of filmmaking, A World War II Fairytale is the definitive documentary on the film and the world and philosophy of The Keep.
Featuring further insight into the people behind the film and the source material that inspired it. Buck brought the project to the market at the Fantasia International Film Festival recently to find completion funds and it seems like the trip was fruitful for the UK filmmaker. Check out the website HERE
In this behemoth of a documentary (3 hours) we get to see everything that went into making Aliens, from the construction of the APC to the Queen her slobbering self. The doc is packed with great information on the scripting, set building, and shooting of the film, so free up a block of your time and check it out.
Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is an independent documentary taking an extensive look at the making of Pet Sematary, the origins of the story, the stories of cast and crew, memories of the Maine locals who helped make the film, and the legacy the film has established among horror fans and scholars of Stephen King’s work. In addition to featuring many cast and crew members never before interviewed about their involvement in the film, this documentary will also take fans on a tour of the filming locations. With never-before-seen photographs and video footage from behind-the-scenes, original props from the film, media coverage of the 1988 production, and new stories about the Hollywood production being on location in Maine, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is an all-encompassing documentary by fans for the fans.
In what seems to becoming ‘Exorcist week’, here’s a fantastic behind the scenes documentary by Owen Roizman, cinematographer on The Exorcist (1973), who personally filmed behind-the-scenes footage while working on the horror production. The footage was made available in 2010 as part of the documentary Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist, which appears on The Exorcist Blu-ray release. The documentary itself is laced with interviews from cast and crew (and is a great watch!) but I always thought it would be great to see all of that amazing rare footage spliced together, without interruption.
With all the current hype surrounding the new Carrie remake, I thought it would be timely to look back at the original version, check out this 3-part, behind-the-scenes making of Brian De Palma’sCarrie with interviews of Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Brian DePalma, Nancy Allen, and more.
Having inspired such writers as Stephen King and Robert Bloch, it could be argued that the forefather of modern horror fiction was H.P. Lovecraft. The influence of his Cthulhu mythos can be seen in films, games, music and pop culture in general. But what led an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods? LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a chronicle of the life, work and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy, including John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan and Peter Straub.