Anime For Horror Fans- Part 1

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love anime. I love anime almost as much as I love horror, so it can be difficult to decide if I’m going to binge watch shows on Crunchyroll or watch a couple slashers. Still, there are times when I get really lucky and I manage to find a creepy anime that allows me to have my cake and eat it too.

The horror sub-genre of anime seems minuscule when compared to categories like mecha and high school romance. However, there are some spine-tingling shows out there that are bound to appeal to fans of horror. Ok, let’s list some!

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Shiki

Shiki is like Salem’s Lot, if Salem’s Lot was anime and set in rural Japan. I like Shiki, because it takes its time, developing characters and letting the dread build. It’s slow moving, but it never feels stagnant.

The particularly interesting thing about Shiki is that morality is not black and white. The humans have solid reasons for what they do, but the reasons of the vampires are just as valid. Both groups are desperate to assure their own survival. In this tragic vampire story, no one is good, no one is bad, and no one is safe.

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Hell Girl

Like Shiki, Hell Girl, or Jigoku Shoujo has an overall somber mood. The protagonist is Ai Enma, a young servant of the underworld who helps people get revenge, in exchange for their souls. Of course this plot is nothing new, but Hell Girl is unique because of the details.

Each person’s reason for forming a contract with Ai is different, and the viewer is able to observe a variety of characters and the situations that lead them to selling their souls. Then of course there’s the character of Ai herself. She struggles with understanding human emotion, and often spends time pondering the ways people think and act. She may be scary as hell, but she’s more sad than evil. If you want to see a new take on the underworld, give Hell Girl a watch.

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Another

If you want pure J-horror, Another is the way to go. Another follows a boy who starts at a new school, only to meet a girl that no one else seems able to see. He quickly comes to learn that his class is cursed, and the other students believe that his presence has set the curse in motion.

Another comes complete with ghosts, creepy dolls, and gory deaths. Some of the deaths are pretty spectacular, too. One girl manages to trip on the stairs, and impale herself on her own umbrella!

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry

If someone asked me which horror anime is the best, I’d have to go with Higurashi. Higurashi is so special in terms of structure and plot that nothing compares. Like Another, Higurashi revolves around a teen boy who moves to a small village that may be cursed. The more he learns about the town and the curse, the more he begins to suspect that his friends are out to get him.

Higurashi is intriguing, because the story is told in arcs that span 4 episodes. Then, things reset and we’re presented with a new situation. Though, every arc is different, the story keeps some things consistent, so the plot is able to keep moving forward. Something that seems insignificant in one arc, may be a huge aspect of a different arc. In that respect, Higurashi forces you to pay attention, and try and put the pieces together. If you’re looking for a complete mind screw, here you go.

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Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent is one of the creepiest, most psychologically intense animes I can think of. I’ve often heard creator Satoshi Kon’s works compared to those of David Lynch or Darren Aronofsky. While it’s a fair comparison, Kon has a style that is all his own.

I don’t want to give too much away about Paranoia Agent, but I will give you a brief overview. The 13 episode series follows a young animator who created a popular “Hello Kitty” type character. She begins to suffer severe anxiety over her efforts to spawn another hit mascot. Then, late one night she is attacked by a mysterious rollerblading boy who carries a bat. Her assailant is dubbed Lil Slugger, and reports start pouring in of people being attacked by him. If you’ve ever secretly wished for something bad to happen in order to get out of a tough situation, then you need to see this anime.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to horror anime. Even if you hate anime, I hope that you’ll give these shows some attention. I promise they’re well worth it. I’ll be doing a whole series of anime articles like this one, so be sure to follow us right here (AHH Blog) and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more.

4 Prank Endings in Horror

Beware! Here be spoilers!

There are plenty of twists in horror films, some are good, some are awful. Then, there are some that feel like the filmmakers pulled back the curtain and yelled “Gotcha!”. Unlike most twists in horror, which are used to increase the terror, these prank endings reveal that there was never any horror to begin with. It’s the movie equivalent of the end of every Scooby Doo episode ever. If there was ever a time to take a look at these wacky film conclusions, it’s April Fool’s Day. Let’s get started!

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April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day is the most obvious choice on this list. This 1986 slasher is part of a whole batch of holiday themed horror films of the 80s. This weird movie follows a group of bonehead college students that take a trip to their friend Muffy’s home over the weekend of April Fool’s. The group soon realizes that Muffy’s name isn’t the only odd thing about her. She seems obsessed with pranks. It starts innocently enough, but gradually her pranks become more and more sinister. Then people begin turning up dead. The last couple survivors soon discover that Muffy isn’t the killer, her evil, psycho twin Buffy is. The final girl is pursued by a knife crazy Buffy. She runs into a room, fleeing for her life.

There she discovers the whole group alive and well. What the hell happened? It turns out that there never was a Buffy and no one was ever killed. Muffy set the whole thing up as one gigantic, elaborate joke. This ending pissed many viewers off, but no one can deny that it’s clever. If you haven’t seen this underrated slasher, be sure to check it out.

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The Village

It wouldn’t be an M. Night Shyamalan film without a twist, right? Well The Village has one hell of a twist. The Village begins by introducing the audience to a village of what seems to be 19th century settlers, who live in fear of the monsters in the forest. The villagers are taught that they’ll remain safe, as long as they follow a certain set of rules and never venture into the woods.

When blind protagonist, Ivy wishes to journey through the forest to retrieve medicine for her dying love, it is revealed to the viewers that the monsters are actually the village elders in costumes. They perpetuate the legends, in order to exert control and dissuade people from leaving.  Ivy is permitted to enter the forest, where she encounters the violent, mentally disabled Noah who is dressed as a monster. In her attempt to get away, she ends up causing his death. Believing she has successfully defeated one of the monsters, she is able to reach town.

Here’s where the real twist kicks in. It is revealed that it is present day, rather than the past. The elders were just a group of individuals who experienced so much trauma in their lives that they retreated to the woods in order to live a life separate from the dangerous outside world. Due to the fact that Ivy can’t see, her interpretation of events, allows the elders to continue their lies. If you want to see a beautiful romance, a strong protagonist, and a crazy twist then you should give this movie a chance.

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Baghead

This charming mumblegore favorite revolves around a group of struggling filmmakers that retreat to a remote cabin to come up with a film script. Unfortunately, coming up with a solid film idea is more difficult than they thought. Then bubbly blonde Michelle spots a creepy figure wearing a paper bag over his head. She believes that it was all a dream, and pitches her idea to the group. They love it and quickly get to work. Then Michelle has another encounter with the bagheaded figure.

Accusations fly as Matt, Michelle, Chad, and Catherine debate over the identity and the existence of the Baghead. A couple pranks/betrayals later, Matt and Chad spot the Baghead and go to check out the situation. They realize that the situation has become dire.  The next day they attempt to flee on foot. The Baghead kills Matt, and the other three manage to run to the highway. All the chaos results in Chad being plowed down by a car.

As he recovers in the hospital, it is revealed that Matt is actually fine. He and his friend had arranged the whole thing, in order to create a movie. Chad is rightfully pissed, but after some thought, he agrees that it’ll make a great film. Baghead says a lot about the nature of the film business, and the relationships dynamics that exist within friend groups.

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Mark of the Vampire

Have you ever wished that Tod Browning’s Dracula was a bit more of a mess? Well then, Mark of the Vampire is the film for you. Browning’s 1935 follow-up to Dracula was intended to be a sort of remake of London After Midnight. The plot follows the investigation into the death of a rich nobleman. His death has been attributed to a pair of vampires. The vampires are an undead father and daughter, with the father vampire being played by Bela Lugosi.

Unfortunately for Browning, the film was too ahead of its time. Throughout the film, Lugosi sometimes sports a bullet wound in the head. This was because he had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that resulted in a murder/suicide. Due to the uproar surrounding Freaks, MGM felt the audience would find this idea too shocking, and cut 30 minutes from the movie. The result was a major plot hole.

However, that little slip up turned out to be irrelevant, because at the end of the film it is revealed that the vampires were actors hired in order to help solve the mystery. Why? Well it’s a bit illogical, but that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyability of the film. It is moody, quirky, and satirical all at the same time. Just don’t go in expecting a typical vampire movie.

There you have it folks, four films with joke endings. If you’re thinking of playing some April Fool’s pranks, maybe these slices of cinema will give you some inspiration. If not there’s always rubber spiders, fake fingers, and ketchup blood.

 

Classic Film Review of the Week- The Hunger

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Contributed by Lola Tarantula

With both David Bowie and Tony Scott gone, now seems like the perfect time to reexamine The Hunger. Although the film is without a doubt a cult classic, it isn’t anywhere near as renowned as other vampire films, such as Interview with a Vampire or The Lost Boys. Despite its low standing on the cinema totem pole, The Hunger is a film with bite. Featuring meticulous attention to detail, stellar performances, and music to die for the movie offers a unique perspective that sets it apart from the standard genre fare.

The Hunger is based off of the novel of the same name by Whitley Strieber. The story follows the vampire Miriam and all those caught in her tangled web. Miriam possesses the ability to live forever, and she’s able to pull her chosen paramours along for the ride. Unfortunately for them, the deal isn’t quite as sweet. Her lovers do age after a prolonged period of time, however they do not die. When her lover, John begins to age at a rapid rate, he turns to Dr. Sarah Roberts, who specializes in anti-aging science. Sarah is soon pulled into the madness. She finds herself under Miriam’s spell. Miriam makes Sarah into her new vampire companion, but Sarah isn’t willing to accept her fate, and neither are Miriam’s old chosen ones.

In many ways, The Hunger is another take on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Like Carmilla, The Hunger is the story of a vampire that seems to love her chosen victims, but can’t help stealing their life force. Miriam loves Sarah, John, and all of the others. However, it’s a flawed selfish kind of love. She is more concerned with her loneliness than their well being. When they grow old, she stashes them away like unwanted items of clothing. In one heartbreaking scene, John requests that Miriam kiss him. By this point he’s become more or less a walking corpse. She indulges him for a moment, but then she turns away. He then begs for her to kill him, but she tells him she can’t.

Although The Hunger may have been spawned from a classic vampire story, it offers up original ideas in spades. One of the most interesting things about the film is the way Miriam kills her victims. Miriam’s backstory is that she was some sort of Egyptian queen. Therefore she wears an ankh shaped dagger around her neck. She has another ankh dagger that she gives to her partner. Together they use the daggers to slit the throats of their prey. Then they drink the blood. This is one of the most creative methods of vampirism in the entire horror genre.

In addition to the clever story, The Hunger contains some beautiful performances from Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Deneuve as Miriam manages to be seductive, tragic, and violent all at the same time. No matter how cruel her acts are, she always manages to make the audience feel for her. Bowie as John is perhaps the most fascinating character of the film. He starts out as a man blinded by love, but as he ages he becomes bitter and resentful towards Miriam. Bowie is able to express the double edged sword of loving and hating someone at the same time with precision. Susan Sarandon offers a comfortable performance as the level headed protagonist Sarah. Her role doesn’t have as much scope as Bowie’s or Deneuve’s, but she gives dimension to the part she was given.

Finally, The Hunger wouldn’t be The Hunger without the gorgeous visuals. Noir-ish shadows accompanied by billowy curtains is the theme of the film. A filter of deep blue gives rise to the melancholy mood of the film. Miriam’s house is full of classical art and smooth marble floors, that complement the gritty city streets of the outside world. The constant presence of curtains, pigeons, and veils conveys a romantic, timeless feel. When combined with 80s Duran Duran haircuts and outfits, The Hunger gives off a vibe that is all its own.

The only place the movie falls down is a somewhat ambiguous and confusing ending. Apparently, the ending was not Tony Scott’s idea, but rather a decision made by MGM. The studio wanted to leave room for a sequel, so they put in a little epilogue scene that just doesn’t fit. One could argue that this is why filmmaking by committee is a bad idea.

Today, The Hunger is regarded as a favorite by many in the horror scene. It is remembered as the film that introduced the band Bauhaus to the world, and also for its famous sex scene between Sarandon and Deneuve. The film produced a spin off series of episodic erotic horror stories. The movie would launch Tony Scott’s career. However, he never again made anything as profound or artistic as The Hunger.