It’s that time again. Time to take the lantern from its rusty hook, unlock the heavy basement door, and descend the dank steps that lead to Castle Blogferatu’s movie vault. There we can peer into the oft neglected non-horror section and see if we can’t dig up some more non-horror horror fare.
Ah, here’s an interesting one.
Sword Of Doom
“Evil mind, evil sword.” That’s what Shimada Toranosuke (Toshiro Mifune) says of Ryunosuke Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai). Throughout the film, Ryunosuke maintains a haunted, thousand-yard stare of quiet insanity. At the very end Ryunosuke is plagued by the shades of his many victims (much like what happens to Richard III before his finale). This culminates in a seven-minute sword fight that clearly had to inspire the hammer fight in Oldboy (the real one, not that god-awful remake) as well as a similar scene from Daredevil. But it’s Ryunosuke’s face combined and increasingly jerky movements in the final scene that make him appear like a puppet in someone else’s control. Eerie. Also note the headwear that will return in Big Trouble In Little China.
But come. It won’t do to tarry.
I know. You might be thinking that the Frankenstein overtones alone are enough to count Blade Runner as a horror movie. I remain ever on the fence about this. I still regard it primarily as a noir-style thriller with a science fiction setting. You might also be thinking that I’m going to talk about the eye-gouging scene, but I’m not. For me, the creepiest scene in the film is the death of Pris (Daryl Hannah). The whole thing starts out in a room full of J.F. Sebastian’s (William Sanderson) dolls, and my 5th Rule Of Horror clearly states that “Dolls are evil. Always.” Pris’s attack of Deckard is violent enough, but once he manages to shoot her, the kicking, screaming, flopping around on the floor results are tough to watch.
Oh but there’s still more.
Really, any number of things from this movie could count as horror moments. The real-life horror is obvious, as is the hulking, sadistic Hamidou (Paul L. Smith). Psychologically, one might point to Billy Hayes’s (Brad Davis) line, “I know because I’m from the factory. I make the machines.” But for straight up, flat out, wince-worthy bloodletting, I have to go with Billy’s vengeance on the informant, Rifki (Paolo Bonacelli). Billy chases him through the prison and finally corners him, pinning him down for what at first looks like an extended kiss. That is, until Billy raises his head in triumph and spits out Rifki’s tongue.
If you can, please indulge me just a bit longer.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
In a previous post, I explained why I consider this a horror movie, but there are enough people who disagree with me that I felt it only right to list this scene here. Like Midnight Express, there are many scenes from which to choose: Billy’s suicide, Mac’s lobotomy, and Nurse Ratched’s ice cold need for ironfisted order all spring to mind. But what it all goes truly sideways for me during a group session when Cheswick (Sydney Lassick) has a complete meltdown about his cigarettes. Mac breaks the glass at the nurse’s station and retrieves them. The orderlies swarm in to restrain Cheswick and fight with Mac who turns on them. Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) then gets involved to defend Mac. Result, all three are sent for electroconvulsive therapy. Cheswick is first. His reaction, screaming to Mac for help (who is now powerless to do anything) is tragic and disturbing.
And finally, a delightful little moral tale.
The Lost Weekend
Well before such addiction nightmares as Requiem For A Dream or Trainspotting and well before he showed up in such science fiction/horror classics X: The Man With The X-ray Eyes and uh, Frogs (I couldn’t help myself), Ray Milland gave us a snapshot from the life of hardcore alcoholic, Don Birnam. During a bender of several days, he escapes from an alcoholic ward, steals a bottle of whiskey from a liquor store, and continues to drink in his apartment. Then the hallucinations start. Don sees what is at first a small hole in the wall. The hole becomes larger, and soon a mouse sticks its head out. Suddenly a bat flies in and attacks and devours the mouse as blood runs down the wall. This sends Don into screaming hysterics and is pretty unsettling for viewers as well.
There now. Plenty for one outing, don’t you think? And now, this way to The Great Egress. After all, wouldn’t want to be left behind.