For example, we recently watched the 2010 historical dark fantasy Black Death. Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people who are immune to the sickness in a small village, allegedly made so by "witchcraft." What follows is a dark fable that considers evil and love, loyalty and death, faith and fate. Excellent turns by Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, and a strong supporting cast really bring this to life (pun intended), and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the atmospheric eeriness and thoughtful tragedy of this film. As Alan Jones from Film4's "FrightFest" said about the film, "This intelligent original represents a commendable break from the genre norm and is one of the most powerful films made about God, the godless and what the Devil truly represents."
Here's the trailer:
Last Halloween season we watched the 2009 Gothic film Dorian Gray, which I believe was never widely released in theaters in the U.S. I thought it was quite well done, true to the spirit if not the letter of Oscar Wilde's story, admirably restrained with the special effects, and graced by compelling performances by Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, and Rachel Hurd-Wood. It's perfect for the Halloween season, to my way of thinking. Watch the trailer here.
The year before that for Halloween we watched 2008's The Burrowers, an independent science fiction/horror Western that was short on cheap gore and long on psychological terror (just the way I like it), and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Watch the trailer here.
Some of the other recent "off the beaten path" films that I find chilling enough for the season include the following:
- the brilliant, quirky, lovingly satirical films of Larry Blamire (thanks to marthawells for the recommendation), which are "must see" material, including The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2004) and its sequel The Lost Skeleton Returns Again (2009), as well as the standalone films Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007) and Dark and Stormy Night (2009) - I simply can't praise these enough,
- the Finnish historical fantasy/horror/morality play Sauna (2008 - thanks to mr_earbrass for the recommendation),
- the surreal dark fantasy Franklyn (2008),
- the chilling, true crime-inspired Borderland (2007),
- the Spanish science fiction thriller Timecrimes (2007),
- the moody, Lovecraft-inspired Cthulhu (2007),
- the gorgeous, silent Lovecraft adaptation The Call of Cthulhu (2005),
- the U.S. Civil War-era dark fantasy/horror Dead Birds (2004),
- and the dystopian psychological thriller Final (2001).
Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Your turn! What "off the beaten path" film(s) do you recommend for the Halloween season?
Text of the Day: Today's spooky story is "No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince" by Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942).
To be sure d’Ardeche reviled her as a bad old woman, being himself in that state of enthusiastic exaltation which sometimes accompanies a boyish fancy for occultism; but in spite of his distant and repellent attitude, Mlle. Blaye de Tartas made him her sole heir, to the violent wrath of a questionable old party known to infamy as the Sar Torrevieja, the “King of the Sorcerers.” This malevolent old portent, whose gray and crafty face was often seen in the Rue M. le Prince during the life of Mlle. de Tartas had, it seems, fully expected to enjoy her small wealth after her death; and when it appeared that she had left him only the contents of the gloomy old house in the Quartier Latin, giving the house itself and all else of which she died possessed to her nephew in America, the Sar proceeded to remove everything from the place, and then to curse it elaborately and comprehensively, together with all those who should ever dwell therein.
Whereupon he disappeared.
Read the complete story.