26 September 2012

Horror Clichés - Character Behavior

A list of five horror clichés concerning character behavior. This is not a top list, just a list of five things I came to think of. These examples are mainly taken from modern horror movies.

1.  Damn, I fell!

The Situation: You’re in a really bad situation, a monster, ghost or whatever is chasing you (slowly of course).

Question 1: What will a horror character do?
She will stumble and fall, crawl a few meters and struggle to get up, just like in a dream when you’re really helpless. Also, she’ll stop within a radius of 100-200 meters from her previous location.

Question 2: What would I do?
I would run and not stop till I reach a safe place. IF I fell, I wouldn't crawl for the next few meters, I would get back up and run.

When you’re running or hurrying in a room, in the woods, on the streets or anywhere, how often will you fall?

2.  I think he’s dead.

The Situation: Just when you thought your life was over, you somehow manage to get a lucky strike with a plank and the killer passes out.

Question 1: What will a horror character do?
He will slowly slip passed the killer without removing or confiscating any potential weapons and then carefully proceed upstairs to see if his friend is still alive, whereupon the killer will wake to life and continue the hunt.

Question 2: What would I do?
I would brutally kill him with his own weapon, no hesitation. He would not kill me with his last strength.

3.  Could you check out the cellar please?

The Situation: Weird things are going on in your house and there are noises and strange activity everywhere. Suddenly, you hear a louder noise coming from the cellar or the attic.

Question 1: What will a horror character do?
She’ll ask her partner to go check it out, while for some reason, she’ll wait for him. In many cases, either one of them will get in trouble. It could have helped to stick together!

Question 2: What would I do?
I would simply not split up, where you go I go.

4.  Disbelievers

The Situation:  A Family consisting of the parents and 1-3 children, at least one teenager have just moved into a suburban house. “Why so cheap?” they ask themselves, just before strange things starts happening in the house, especially to the teenager for some reason. The father, of course, won’t believe him or her, even though it’s pretty obvious something not right.

Question 1: What will a horror character do?
He, the father, will get mad and grumpy and call the rest of the family ungrateful. In the end, he will be the one to die, or at least almost die. He got it coming.

Question 2: What would I do?
It’s hard to say exactly how I would react, because haunted houses as depicted in movies does not exist. I guess I would listen to the family, why would they blame ghosts for not liking the house, if they haven’t showed any similar tendencies earlier in life.

5.  Hello!

The Situation: Nobody’s home but yourself,  you have no pets, and the door has been locked since you got in. Suddenly you hear a sound coming from the second floor.

Question 1: What will a horror character do?
Walk towards the staircase and carefully call out “Hello!?”

Question 2: What would I do?
Probably get over there, assuming there’s a perfectly logical explanation. I’m not saying I would live longer than the horror character, I just wouldn’t say “hello!?” every sound I hear.

What would you do?

16 September 2012

Top 5 Most Important Elements in Movies

A list of the 5 most important elements in movies for me. If a movie successfully combines all these elements, it will probably be a personal favorite.

5. Soundtrack/Music

While music or sound is not completely necessary it certainly adds something to the movie watching experience. Music can add a certain mood, tension and suspense to scenes that could otherwise be quite insipid. There are no rules on how a soundtrack should sound and I really enjoy movies with a different kind of score. 


Requiem For a Dream (2001)
There only a few soundtracks in the world of film that can compete with this one created by Clint Mansell. The movie itself is very unique (the camera work for example). It needed a unique score and got one.

Dead Man (1995)
One of the coolest soundtracks ever is this electric guitar soundtrack by Neil Young, which he created by improvising as he watched the film. This soundtrack really sets the mood for the entire movie.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The use of classical music has always been common in movies. It has always been used perfectly by Stanley Kubrick and in the intro segment in 2001: A Space Odyessey, "The Dawn of Man" we find one of the most well-known classical music scenes, when a man-ape suddenly realizes that he can use a bone as a weapon and tool.

4. Acting

Eddie Marsan in Happy-Go-Lucky

Great acting is refreshing, but not required for a movie to be good. Bad acting can be fun too and even used deliberately in movies like "braindead". 
Good acting is not only up to the actor. It is quite clear that some directors almost always bring forth great performances even from actors that are often considered bad actors. Of course the acting performances also depends on the story and the character they are given to work with.

Examples of great acting:

a) Nicholas Cage in Adaptation:

Nicholas Cage must be one of the worst actors at choosing movies. The movies most of us have seen him in are mainstream action movies with little place for character developement. Most of the time he's just Nicholas Cage put into different scenarios, rather than the character he's playing. Apparently, he wants to be seen as a kick-ass treasure-hunter known for his skills behind the wheel.  

But, to the point: There's a few exceptions, Adaptation being the best one. In this movie he shows us that he can be funny, wierd, and entertaining, without being cheesy.

b) Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath

Henry Fonda cannot be accused of being a bad actor. In The Grapes of Wrath he gives one of the greatest performances ever seen in movies.

c) Eddie Marsan in Happy-Go-Lucky

A good example of a not so well-known actor in an amazing role. As the driving-intructor Scott he gives a performance full of emotion and eventually you forget that Scott's only a character.

3. Cinematography

Pan's Labyrinth

The nicer a movie looks, the better. If all the other elements are okay (not great), cinematography can decide if I like watching a movie or not. Sometimes it doesn't depend on the moviemakers, but how you watch the movie (In cinema, dvd or blu-ray and on a big screen or a small laptop)  

Melancholia (2011)
Visually one of the greatest movies ever. Be sure to watch it on blu-ray.

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
One of the biggest productions of all time, and it pays of. It's obvious how much they invested in the project. 

2. Dialogue

In Bruges

Good dialogue is essential for a movie to be perfect, but a good dialogue can also make a poor story entertaining. The dialogue is of course a part of the story, but I'm referring to how dialogue is used to tell a story.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
Typical Tarantino Dialogue.

Persona (1966)
The dialogue is a huge part in this movie and it kept my attention.

12 Angry Men (1957)
In a movie where the entire movie takes place in one room, a good dialogue is necessary. In this case the dialogue is the story.

1. Story

The most important element in a movie is the story. It is the story the movie wants to tell us, the rest is just aids to make it reach the viewers and be entertaining and memorable. Most of the time, no matter how great the other elements are, I will not enjoy watching a movie with an uninteresting story. I don't need a large-scale story, just an interesting one. It's a huge plus if a story has no plot holes, but it's not necessary to be entertaining.


Frequency (2004)
A movie that may contain some plot holes and cheesy scenes, but with a story that interest me. This makes it easy to enjoy watching.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
One of the most well-written stories ever and also my favorite movie of all time.

Comment: What's the most important elements according to you?

09 September 2012

Top 5 Movies Seen in August

#5. The Color Purple (1985)

Genre: Drama
Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey

Injustice is an easy way to capture the attention of the audience. The Color Purple is a good example of that and I think it works. The film follows a black woman for thirty years in the early 20th century America. Her father gets her pregnant, gives away her child and offers her to an older man for marriage.

#4. Intouchables (2011)

Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy

One of the best feel-good movies I have seen, Intouchables is a movie about the friendship between a handicapped man, Philippe, and his new assistant, Driss, who has no experience of working with people. He does not take the handicap too serious, which is just what Philippe needs.

#3. The Graduate (1967)

Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Katherine Ross, Anne Bancroft

The 60's won last month with three movies in the top 3. The Graduate is a movie about a student who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson. He falls in love with her daughter, which is of course a problem.

#2. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Genre: Drama, Comedy
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight

A sad, funny and artistic film about the friendship between a Cowboy-dressed male prostitute (one hell of a stud), and a social outcast thief. Together they try to survive in New York without work living in a dilapidated apartment. 

#1. The Great Escape (1963)

Genre: Adventure
Sub-genre: Prison
Stars: Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronon (To name a few)

Prisoners of war plan a major escape in this movie from 1963. This is an entertaining movie that should fit almost anybody. There's Action, Adventure and Comedy. There's definitely no Romance though and the cast can't be more male-dominated.

This is how my ratings were distributed in August:

This month was more about Quality than Quantity.