Friday Favourites: Holiday Horror Films
By Hodderscape Team
Posted on May 22, 2015 in Film, Friday Favourites with tags
Yesterday we published Day Four, Detroyer of Holiday Plans Sarah Lotz’s follow-up to The Three. Apologies to anyone planning on a cruise. She hopped onto our blog to tell us all about her favourite tales of holiday horror, and today team Hodderscape share their favourite holiday horror films.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
While not strictly a holiday per se, any excursion, such as the picnic here, from an oppressive public school environment should be counted as such. Peter Weir’s moody, soft-lensed and weird film centres around a Valentine’s Day trip to a famous Australian geological feature in Victoria in 1900. You just know things are going to get strange when timepieces mysteriously stop in the shadow of the rock, mentally beg the group of girls NOT to go off exploring and, inevitably, sigh when they literally vanish into thin air. The film and the book on which it’s based famously presented the disappearance and search for the girls as if dramatizing real events. Murder, abduction, alien abduction, a hole in the time-space continuum? Many spin off books followed including the author’s own redacted ending. As fascinating a mystery as can be had.
The Blair Witch Project
In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their footage was found.
I read (and watched) a fascinating collection of responses to the original theatrical run of The Exorcist, back in 1973, just this morning. (Spend half an hour watching the videos; they’re amazing.) I’m not sure there’s been a horror movie since then that’s hit people quite as hard, but The Blair Witch Project certainly had its moment of cultural super-relevance, back in the summer of 1999. It was one of the first movies to ever feature a viral marketing campaign (a successful viral marketing campaign, definitely) in the run-up to its release, and anticipation for the film was huge. What we knew about it was that it was a documentary-style found-footage film starring unknown actors, and that some early audiences (who believe it to be a real documentary) fainted, vomited, stormed out and/or loved their early viewings. That, at least, was the story – again, this was a pretty successful marketing campaign.
In case you don’t know the story: a group of student filmmakers go tromping into the woods in search of a local myth, the so-called Blair Witch, said to be the source of the torture and murder of locals over the course of two centuries. They find increasingly unsettling evidence that there’s something in the woods, and that that something is increasingly interested in them…
I went to see the film at a venerable indi cinema not long after it came out. We had to wait in line for tickets for hours, and it was the only film the theatre was showing, so every auditorium was completely sold out. It was the most immense crowd for a movie I’ve ever experienced. Moreover, the theatre above the one where I was watching the film emptied out at a particularly tense moment in the film, making the entire building rumble and shake – which I thought was part of the film. And what a film! I was delighted and legitimately creeped out by it (I have a thing about teeth, so that scene with the teeth really stuck with me).
Though it became a joke pretty quickly, and its legacy was somewhat (entirely) diluted by a lame sequel, the original retains its power… in my imagination, where it belongs.
In The Descent a group of women decide to go caving (bad idea), and one of the group decides to take them to a previously unmapped cave (really really bad idea). Horrible things happen to them. Horrible things happened to the arm of the person who sat next to me when I watched it.
Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods has all the ingredients of a Joss Whedon masterpiece. Plucky teens, ritual sacrifice, gods and monsters, but most importantly humour in the face of certain death and world class punning. A group of 5 friends go to a remote cabin in the woods for vacation and things very quickly go ‘Whedon’. I watched this with absolutely no clue what it was who it was directed by… at 15 minutes in I had no doubt (partly because of the Buffy/Angel casting gems) and my commentary during the movie ran something like this:
‘Ha. This is so predictable.’
‘Oh I get it!’
‘That. Was. Mental.’