Old Times

Ten movies of the old times, from more than two decades, still not including the classics.
*Qualification: 1990 and before.

ചില പഴയ കാല ചലച്ചിത്രങ്ങള്‍ വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞാലും നമ്മുടെ കൂടെ ഉണ്ടാകും – ഇവയൊന്നും അത്ര എളുപ്പത്തില്‍ മറക്കാന്‍ പറ്റില്ലല്ലോ…

I. The Shining (1980)
Genre: Psychological Horror
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Lia Beldam
Jack Nicholson scores as one of the greatest horror characters of all time, as there is no shortage of brilliant moments of horror, as the girls in the hallway sets the horror in motion, the blood spilling out of the elevator doors, the gorgeous naked woman in the bathtub disintegrating into a rotten walking corpse when the protagonist hugs her and our completely-turned-evil protagonist putting his head through the hole in the bathroom door and having that expression. The Shining does complete justice to the Stephen King novel of the same name, and may be even adds to it. Its combination of the supernatural and the psychological is like never before, and with incredibly superior acting and the perfect use of horror sequences, the score gets higher and higher. The successful use of the element of shock and surprise in what is a perfect world just before it, makes the environment extremely effective.

II. Carrie (1976)
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving
Carrie is one of those movies with raw power, not of just random shocks and gore. It is effective not only as a horror movie, but also as the story of an outsider, one who is different – a theme which repeats itself in Interview with the Vampire. Carrie White, the shy, friendless, frequently tormented girl who is publicly humiliated in the shower by her mean collegemates, is a product of the bullying to which she is attributed to, and when that ignites her psychic powers, there is heavy collateral damage that purifies and destroys with fire. It is not the terror that drives the movie, for it is the source and the result of that terror which makes a varied impact. Along with a lesser known 2002 movie of the same name and a 2013 adaptation coming up, I would rather reserve the comments on this young lady named Carrie to be explored later this month with Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore as a more faithful adaptation of the original text.

III. Alien (1979)
Genre: Sci-fi Horror
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright
No other movie might have had that much impact on the future alien horror like Alien. Unlike some of the people might have thought, the sequel of this movie doesn’t manage to excel beyond the ability of this movie. Alien is the movie which changed a lot of things about science fiction and horror, and most of them can only be explored by watching this movie. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley has to be considered as one of the best female leading characters of all time, and this mythology concerning the strangest of space monsters creates the impact which would unsettle many. The aliens hugging the face and coming out of chest were more than just those little green monsters from outerspace. They are more of the demons rather than another species, and this mythology which started in the 1970s now stands at Prometheus, these creatures, and what were created out of these monsters from outerspace would live a long life, and might continue for a very long time.

IV. Predator (1987)
Genre: Sci-fi Horror
Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O’Connor
Predator is the story of a rescue mission which turns into a hunting game as an alien organism decides to play the hunting game on the soldiers sent to save some hostages from a guerrilla territory in Central America. Instead, they end up taking a female hostage and be hunted by a creature from outer space. The are being stalked and hunted by that technologically advanced form of extraterrestrial warrior, who collects human skulls as trophies after murdering them one by one. Supported by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s powerful presence and the incredible existence of a hunter who uses the forests of an alien world to its advantage, this movie is a materpiece of its own style. Along with spawning two sequels and also having its own crossover with the most powerful and influential Alien franchise, this movie has inspired a huge number of movies and series by parts, if not always by the whole.

V. The Entity (1982)
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Cast: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver and Margaret Blye
There are not many movies which score with an absence rather than a presence, and The Entity is one of them, by providing a highly unsettling environment and an extremely powerful and sensual imagery. The supernatural entity remains to be the existence and never takes a regular form, even to scare the viewers, and that is quite genuine. It remains what can’t be seen, and along with the physical harm it causes, the force sexually assaults the protagonist repeatedly, in some of the spookiest environments. Despite the ravishing and the obvious nudity that replaces the visual horror of normal creepiness, the effect is still of terror rather than sensuousness – the use of body double should help in that case. Barbara Hershey’s performance and the use of the plot as well as the atmosphere makes sure that this works as one of the scariest movies of the time even without trying anything special. It is actually supposed to be based on a true story, and that adds to the horror with pleasure.

VI. The Running Man (1987)
Genre: Sci-fi Action
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso and Richard Dawson
In a future dystopia where there is no freedom of opinion nor action, and the world is controlled by a totalitarian government, the whole cultural and entertainment activities are limited to a gladiator-style game show, The Running Man which involved criminals being thrown into a big arena to be chased and most probably brutally killed instead of being given the pardon which they are promised to have in case of survival in the game world. Arnold Schwarzenegger owns the movie as the wrongly imprisoned military pilot who fights for his life in the show and may be even become the instrument of a later revolution. María Conchita Alonso has a beautiful presence, and turns out to be another rebel against the system, put in the game show with our protagonist. Richard Dawson’s performance as the major antagonist also brings this movie up. Even as he wrote under the name Richard Bachman, this is the first Stephen King novel I read, and that adds to my interest in this adaptation of the same.

VII. The Terminator (1984)
Genre: Sc-fi Action
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton
There is not much needed to be said about this movie, as not much has been left unsaid. That one emotionless killing machine of raw strength lined with a powerful metal endoskeleton inside, and an external human tissues and skin outside makes a perfect robotic android, and as it is proven through the centuries, this killer is a crowd favourite. When two people travel back in time, one human and one machine, the latter to murder a future hero of mankind even before he is born by terminating the mother while the former to save the same lady with whom he has the child who will grow up to become the leader of human resistance against the machines trying to take over the world. The age of cyborg assassins might have just begun, as the movie franchise itself now stands with a total number of titles being four, only the last one not living upto the box-office expectations, and not having Arnold Schwarzenegger as our one and only Terminator.

VIII. The Evil Dead (1981)
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker
This is what changes one’s idea of a typical low-budget horror film, as this original movie is not to be confused by the remake of 2013 without the prefix “The”. From its incredible use of whatever was available at that time to create sound effects, to one of the most talked about scenes – the brutal ravishing of the leading actress by a demonically possessed tree made the movie set a new path for the later horror flicks. Its sequels Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness could successfully carry on that legacy. It is a perfect cult movie, and can be considered as one of the greatest horror movies of all-time; with all the funny elements being a result of the technological advancement of the new age, and not created by a laughable side of the movie. That one cabin in the woods, isolated from civilization has created a world of horror in itself, coming again and again to haunt the viewers in many other movies.

IX. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and Johnny Depp
Along with Friday the 13th, this should be one of those movies which raised the bar of slasher movies, creating that age of horror supported by blood and gore. If that movie had Jason to do all the brutal murders, this one has Freddy Krueger, who stalks and kills a number of teenagers in their dreams. If you get murdered in dreams, you also get killed in real life, which might have been one of the scariest things making a child afraid to dream throughout his or her life. Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy and Rooney Mara’s Nancy are both pretty much wonderful, but the remake which featured the latter didn’t have that spark, unlike the Friday the 13th remake which at least had something which could work on the viewers. The vengeance of Freddy might be one of the most mentally affecting ones even without all the blood and gore involved. It is something which grows on you, especially at night if watched as a kid. The razor-armed gloves of Freddy make one thing sure, that is “If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all.” The dream world is his kingdom, and he rules with corpses there.

X. Total Recall (1990)
Genre: Sci-fi Action
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin and Sharon Stone
The fourth Arnold movie to be listed in here, Total Recall is more of a revolutionary idea, and might have been too complex for the time when it was released, even as The Matrix and Inception would complicate such Sci-fi stuff even further later. Its remake couldn’t live upto what this movie had gained, and only Kate Beckinsale came up with a fiery performance in that one. That was still, a fine movie and its lack of critical appreciation is just more credit to this original movie which set a target of brilliance at a time when the going would have been tough for a movie like this. The use of memory implants and the realization that the life he had been living was a lie, the protagonist is a man with only one mission, to find who he is, but at the same time surviving a never-ending assault on him by the forces of a dystopian government. He reaches the Earth’s colony in Mars and turns out to be the saviour of the poor humans who turned into mutants due to poor shielding from radiation on the planet and lives a life of poverty resorting to prostitution and robbery. The protagonist would be their saviour even without knowing if this life is real or not.

Honorable Mentions: Friday the 13th (1980), Red Sonja (1985), Piranha (1978), Commando (1985), Conan the Barbarian (1982) and The Exorcist (1973)

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