Just as I’m trying to do an “October” themed post every day here on the blog, my boyfriend has dedicated himself to watching a scary movie every day this month. I don’t usually have time for that, but I’ll happily join him when I do. We were discussing what to watch, and I said I was in the mood for something “haunted house-y”, which is possibly my favorite genre of horror. I’ve been thinking a lot about Rosewood Manor lately, my own haunted house/hotel project, as I usually do in this month, so I can even chalk it up as research. We decided on The Amityville Horror, which I actually, if you can believe it, have never seen!
With the exception of being slightly distracted by how much Margot Kidder seemed to want to be Monica Geller in my mind, I really, really enjoyed it. I love this era of horror movie, though, because all these stylistic choices were repeated to death in later films, the simple effect of visuals (like the flies on the window), the jarring use of music and frames and zooming in. Sometimes, it can seem a little hokey, but I think Amityville was subdued enough that it worked nicely. I loved how you, as a viewer, began to feel uneasy, because you could see the character becoming uneasy, not because they were telling you or you were being hit over the head with it. I liked how the things that were going wrong were things that got right to the gut of dread: an important amount of money going missing, someone being harsher than usual, a window that won’t budge, or the dog going crazy over something we can’t see. The ending was a little anti-climatic to me, but the set-up for the sense of evil around the house left me quite pleased with my first experience.
Now I’ll have to pick up the book!
I don’t know what it is about these kinds of movies that get me in the right spot, but it’s the same with books, too, and other media. Murder House is easily my favorite season of American Horror Story, The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson is one of my new favorite books, and one of my favorite games growing up with Sierra’s Phantasmagoria. As they were looking around the Amityville house, all I could think of was how I would totally seize the chance for that house, and therein lies a certain tragedy. These beautiful houses, these places that are supposed to harbor family and love and growth, but no one can accomplish that, because there’s something else there, something sinister, and it all goes to a terrible waste. There’s something achingly beautiful about that to me, and I’m also quite in love with the many different stories that a single location can hold. Some of those stories are just more terrifying than others.
And now AMC is playing The Shining, another favorite of mine, so the theme will continue for the evening as I settle in for some quiet time while the boyfriend’s out. What’s your favorite “haunted house” movie? Or how about a book? What would you recommend?