Couch Potato Pickings | What makes a great horror movie?

I love horror films, but it really annoys me when I tell people this and they assume I’m into extreme slasher movies.

This is clearly the fault of the contemporary ‘horror’ movie. You know the thing – sick, twisted, limb-cracking, bloodbathing pornography held together with a weak semblance of plot.

Anything that involves lingering shots of the inside of someone’s brain or offers a full audio video experience of legs and arms being sawn off is not my idea of entertainment. In fact, it makes me feel physically sick rather than horrified.

And why would I choose to make myself feel sick. It’s not enjoyable and puts me off my popcorn/TV dinner.

Fear, on the other hand, is exciting. For me, a good horror movie is one that slowly unnerves me, that builds the fear slowly and subtly and has me so gripped to the screen that the popcorn/TV dinner will inevitably go flying when the unexpected occurs.

And that’s why I’m looking forward to the new three-part show starting on BBC4 tonight  – A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss.

In the run-up to Halloween, the League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who actor/writer will be celebrating the best horror films ever made… in his opinion.

I’m sure I won’t agree with all of his choices, but I do believe that Mark Gatiss shares my disappointment with the modern horror movie. So I’m hopeful that this new series will see him re-defining the horror film as the great entertainment  it used to be (and sometimes still is very occasionally).

As long as he gives a nod to at least five of the following, I’ll be happy:

Psycho, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, The Wicker Man, The Orphanage, The Shining, Halloween, The Ring, The Silence of the Lambs, The Fog

Tonight he’s looking at vintage horror, and the show is followed by that 1930s classic Bride of Frankenstein.
Cat People is showing on Wednesday 13th Ocober on BBC4 at 10.45pm, and the voodoo chiller I Walked with a Zombie (1943) is showing on BBC4 on Thursday at midnight.

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