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.
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.
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.
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’s Carrie 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.