It is human nature to want to control your surroundings. Horror films contradict that and keep us not only on our toes, but keep us off-balance as well fear the dark and what lies behind the next corner. Still, it is so important to remember that the idea of "shocking an audience" is short-lived and is quickly dissipated. Suspense, however, not only lingers on and on, but also builds character allowing us to grasp a further understanding of what this character is all about. The bottom line is that when ‘suspense’ is properly carried out (even in the horror genre) – “The Exorcist”, “Suspiria” and “The Shining” are probably prime examples of this, the audience reaction is all-together different and the impact that the film makes is 10X that of the effects of the ‘shock’ element.
So, let's put this to the test: I will choose five (5) outstanding suspense/horror films and compare their ratings to five (5) outstanding shock/horror films and see where the total score falls. The winner will become my selection for the best type of sub-genre for horror films of the past, present and near future.
1. "The Exorcist" - Rating: 9.5/10
2. "The Shining" - Rating: 8.5/10
3. "Suspiria" - Rating: 8/10
4. "Silence of the Lambs" - Rating: 8/10
*** TOTAL = 42 points (Please note that films such as "Vertigo" and "Zodiac" and "Paranormal Activity" were also considered in this category.)
|John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN|
1. "Halloween" - Rating: 8.5/10
2. "House of 1,000 Corpses" - Rating: 8/10
3. "Saw Series" - Rating: 7.5/10
4. "Nightmare on
*** TOTAL = 37.5 (Please note that films such as "Black Christmas" and "Candyman" were also considered in this category.)
Well, it looks like the suspense / horror films have the edge by an average rating of nearly a point for every movie. This of course is the opinion of one critic.
What does Jer have to say? Does he feel that the slasher-horror films gain the edge at this time of year? Does he prefer the focus on suspense over the shocker films? We shall wait in suspense...
JER: Wait no more, let me ‘kill’ the suspense right here and now and I’ll ‘slash’ any doubts one might have over which side may prevail.
To begin with, this is a very intriguing topic and a point of view that could be generally ignored by most…even though it is an obvious illustration of two definitive sides to the reflection of what makes an audience enjoy the sweaty palms and the quickening of a heartbeat!
I have had this very same discussion with many fans of the genre and I believe, JC, that we have had this talk as well once or twice before...
|Horror: EVIL DEAD 2|
|Suspense: DRESSED TO KILL|
“Suspense,” by my interpretation, is defined as the building up of events or situations that are either uncontrollable or unaware to our protagonist. At times, the audience might be invited to view that a murderer is waiting in a room while we follow the victim down the hall that will lead into the room a we anticipate the character’s fate. Another view would be the unsuspecting standpoint of not knowing what might await us and the victim around every corner…we are just as oblivious as the character is.
Now, at the risk of not sounding repetitive, I am purposely going to elect 5 different films to rank within each category. This will allow the reading audience a wider range of films to present as potential varieties to select and possibly view. I give you...
JER’S TOP 5 SUSPENSE/ HORROR FILMS:
5. STAY ALIVE – 7/10: Released in 2006, the story involves 4 teens that play an interactive video game about murder within a haunted house… only to find that the characters they play could spell life or death for them in real life. A very creepy and entertaining film!
4. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY – 7.5/10: In the vein of ‘realistic documentation,’ the audience becomes the voyeur into a young couple’s life as they use a video camera to record the possible haunting in their home.
2. JEEPERS CREEPERS – 8/10: A well- crafted ‘edge of your seat’ thriller that follows a brother- sister road trip home from spring break that is interrupted by a menacing driver that may not be human! The ‘creeper’ feeds for a number of days every 23 years!
*** TOTAL= 40 even points (note that my runner- ups would have included John Carpenter’s THE FOG)
JER’S TOP 5 SHOCK/ HORROR FILMS:
5. HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II – 7.5/10: A true gore-fest from writer Clive Barker. A true sequel that picks up where the original HELLRAISER left off… this time, the evil and conniving Cenobites lure the puzzle box player into their world to play by their rules…which are non- existent.
|Jer with Make-Up Artist: RICK BAKER|
3. THE THING (1982) – 9/10: The John Carpenter re-make to the classic 1951 film centering on a group of scientists conducting research in the Antarctic are joined by a shape- shifting creature that can perfectly imitate anything it wants… even humans.
***TOTAL= 42 points (note that my runner- ups included 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and EVIL DEAD 2)
My results seemed to have favored ‘shock’ over ‘suspense,’ beating it by 2 points. As much as I love both genres of ‘horror,’ I think my points reflected my early love for make- up and special effects since the age of 13. I believe that I have been able to really appreciate all aspects of what goes into the making of a horror film. Timing is essential in regards to building up the suspense when creating a scene or simply timing with how much violence is either too much or too little.
JOHNNY CHAZZ: Horror and Suspense are well defined here Jer and I must agree with your take on each. Now, in response to your selections for your top-5 horror / shock films: “Hostel” as a 9/10 is intriguing and it is interesting to see that it makes #1 on your list. 42 points to 40 is also worth noting which basically states that you slightly prefer the horror-shock sub genre to the suspense- based horror films. Still, I know that you are a fan of both especially with such titles as "The Strangers" and "Paranormal Activity" making your list. I also am well aware of your passion for make-up and special effects, but was surprised to see other films such as "The Exorcist" and "Jaws" not make your list.
|Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW|
Perhaps this is why I prefer this type of sub-genre to the likes of the shock-horror segment. It simply seems to have more substance and requires the film-goer to actually become deeply involved with the characters and events on the screen.