The Torment, 2010 U.K. psychological horror film

Country: U.K.
Also known as: The Possession of David O’Reilly
Directed by: Andrew Cull (writer), Steve Isles
Horror themes: Paranoia, nightmares, hallucination, murder, intruders, supernatural creatures, possession

Based on "actual events," The Possession of David O-Reilly is a terrifying supernatural shockumentary about a demonic presence in a young couple’s London home.

Movie trailer: The Possession of David O’Reilly – YouTube

More info coming soon…

Resources: The Torment, a.k.a. The Possession of David O’Reilly

Reviews of The Possession of David O’Reilly, a.k.a. The Torment (2010)

Originally written Monday, June 13, 2011

Magic, 1978 psychological horror film

poster from Magic, a psychological horror film from 1978 starring Anthony HopkinsCountry:
Directed by: Richard Attenborough
Writer: William Goldman
Horror themes: Insanity/madness, failure, fear, ventriloquism dummy, murder
Verdict: 7/10… As a TV ad way back when, the trailer scared me and my young friends to death. Ventriloquism dummies have creeped me out ever since Magic and a certain Twilight Zone episode.
Tagline: Keep telling yourself it’s only a movie.
Reception: Magic 1978 received positive reviews from critics: It received a certified fresh 83% on Rotten Tomatoes; the New York Times wrote, “Magic is neither eerie nor effective. It is, however, very heavy of hand.” Gene Siskel (of Siskel & Ebert) gave the film a very positive review, ranking it #9 on his list of the 10 best films of 1978.

Trailer #2: Magic, 1978 – A terrifying love story (YouTube)

Plot summary: Magic, 1978 psychological horror film

Charles “Corky” Withers (Anthony Hopkins) is a spectacular failure in his first attempt at professional magic, gradually finding himself increasingly at the mercy of Fats (voice of Anthony Hopkins), the ventriloquism dummy. Corky’s agent, Ben Greene (Burgess Meredith), is on the verge of signing Corky for his own television show, but he seeks refuge from his new found fame, dodging the possibility he’ll have to take any kind of psychological test. Corky heads for the isolated mountain retreat in the Catskills run by his high school love, Peggy Ann Snow (Ann Margret), in hopes of starting a new life; but finds that Fats, who has developed a mind of his own and wants to control his master, has no intentions of letting him off so easy.

Resources: Magic, 1978 psychological horror film

Straight into Darkness, 2003 war horror

Directed by Jeff Burr

horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr

Monday, March 16, 2009
The first thing that must be said, what with this being a supernatural horror movie blog, is that Straight into Darkness is first and foremost a war movie that also includes horror and supernatural overtones. Honestly, I vacillated for months on this movie, bouncing between wanting and not wanting to see it. I finally acquired Straight into Darkness when I saw in a sale bin at the Brentwood, TN Blockbuster Video – one of my greatest sources for $3.50 horror DVDs – which made the decision an easy one. I bought it for $3.50, the effective equivalent of buying it from Amazon.com for fifty cents. (As I write, it sells for about $2 – big savings achieved!)

Reviews of Straight into Darkness are mixed. The movie does not seem to be very well-understood – a common complaint of those proffering bad reviews. It appears the more thoughtful reviewers liked it more consistently than those who did not sound as intelligent, so it could, in a sense, be considered a brainy affair.

Won’t you join me in despising the fellow with the bright, bleached-white teeth? I feel certain you will, especially during the first third of the movie.

DVD Cover – Straight into Darkness

A Film by Jeff Burr
When two young American GIs desert their platoon in the final days of World War II, they will find themselves struggling against all odds to stay alive. Their strange and violent journey will bring them together with a band of orphans who are expertly trained killing machines in an attempt to defeat a Nazi battalion. With the perfect combination of horror and action, Straight Into Darkness is a haunting and powerful war film that is unforgettable.

Review quotes on the DVD cover:

  • Strikingly original and eerily compelling (LA Times)
  • A sleeper hit. . .a gritty, hard-hitting war tale with disturbing supernatural overtones. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • A horrifying descent into violence and madness. . .with hair-raising action scenes. (E-filmcritic.com)

My Thoughts on Straight into Darkness

horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr

Were one to blend a high-quality war movie and Children of the Corn with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Straight into Darkness might be the result.

This tale of two AWOL Yank soldiers running for their lives in Nazi-occupied France is by turns exciting and creepy. Two Allied prisoners — Privates Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) — are under arrest after being caught in AWOL status, but manage to escape the MPs escorting them when their jeep is blown up by a mine. Thus begins a sick and twisted journey into hell.
horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr
Deming is quickly revealed as a bloodthirsty creep/jackass and Losey as a thoughtful man of conscience: on the run, Deming has the only gun, forcing Losey to do his will. Losey has memory bursts of home life, as well as what appear to be psychic viewings of past events – all of which erupt on the screen in high-saturation color, in contrast to the desaturated look of much of the film.

As Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) battle each other’s problems, they come across various disturbances in the balance of humanity, such as the cannibal priest and an eerie section of the forest where dozens of men apparently hung themselves, dangling like meatbag (thanks, Bender) ornaments.

The climax of Straight into Darkness begins when they come across a seemingly abandoned building — a bizarre fortress of amputees and freaks, orphans led by Deacon (veteran David Warner) who have been trained to protect themselves from the war-torn outside world.
horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr
This surreal and twisted film could be thought of as half art-house and half exploitation (because of the children, a la those of the Corn) with a healthy dose of the supernatural, which puts the war film on some horror movie lists. Some have compared it to Tod Browning’s Freaks. After two decades of toiling in the slasher film sequel factory, Jeff Burr has finally been able to express his dark, ingenious vision – a definite and significant step up for Burr from the mediocre hacker seconds and thirds like Puppetmaster 4 and 5, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Pumpkinhead 2, and so the list goes. Are we sure this is the same Jeff Burr? Great job.

Movie Reviews – Straight into Darkness

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Straight into Darkness (50 critic/50 user)
Dread Central Reviews Straight into Darkness (2.5 of 5)
Variety Reviews Straight into Darkness
Movie Shark Deblore Reviews Straight into Darkness (excellent)
Leonid Mamchenkov Reviews Straight into Darkness

References and Resources

Amazon.comStraight into Darkness
IMDBStraight into Darkness (52)

Info, Credits

Running time: 95 min.
Language: English, German dialogue

There are no subtitles on my DVD, which stinks. I turn on the subtitles even for movies in English — it’s a habit that helps me catch more of what’s going on.

Camera (FotoKem color), Viorel Sergovici; editor, Lawrence Maddox; music, Michael Convertino; production designer, Calin Papura; art director, Adrian Cancer; costume designers, Tora Dragomir, Gabriela Ricsan; sound, Viorel Ghiocel; stunt coordinator, Bogdan Uritescu; assistant director, Lewis Cojocar; second unit director, Will Huston; second unit camera, Radu Aldea; casting, Perry Bullington, Robert MacDonald. Reviewed at the Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles, May 20, 2004.

The Innocents, 1961 psychological horror

Country: Britain
Director: Jack Clayton
Verdict: 85/100… Excellent, chilling horror classic
Until now, I’d found it rather unlikely that I could be creeped out by a so-called horror movie as old as 1961… Not that I think that pre-70s horror always fails to be frightful; I was scared half to death on more than one occasion by Twilight Zone episodes and the like. But now, at age 42, I am a bona-fide horror movie junkie – I have a real addiction to movies featuring those things that go bump in the night – and as such, sometimes I feel a bit jaded. Well, suffice to say that 1961’s The Innocents retains its creepiness, even today.

The Innocents, 1961 horror: Scariest scene (2:46, YouTube)

Plot summary of The Innocents

In late 19th century England, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) becomes governess of Flora, a young, orphaned girl living in a lonely stately gothic mansion inhabited only by the child, the housekeeper, Ms. Grose (Megs Jenkins), along with a small contingent of servants. Her initial misgivings allayed by the child’s angelic nature, her anxieties are once more aroused when the girl’s brother, Miles – equally captivating, but oddly clever and flirtatious for such a young boy – is sent home from boarding school for serious misbehavior of an unknown sort.

Eerie apparitions and inexplicable behavior on the children’s part cause her to wonder about the house’s history, especially about the fate of the previous governess, Miss Jessel and the former valet, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde). She fears for the children’s souls and for her own sanity. Miss Giddens comes to believe that the spirits of Jessel and Quint are possessing the children. Convinced that there is an unnatural force at work, perverting the innocence of her charges, she sets out to secure the children’s salvation by wresting them from its power. Though her struggle reaches a resolution of sorts, the real nature and outcome the the clash ultimately remains ambiguous, as intended by the film’s director.

The Innocents, 1961 horror: Scary scenes (9:36, YouTube)

Miles’ poem from The Innocents

This was the poem recited by Miles, the young boy in the psychological horror film The Innocents. It’s beautiful and even more than that, it’s creepy as hell. . . you simply must watch The Innocents to receive the full effect of the poem. (Thanks to YouTube and embedded HTML code, you can watch it here, now – just scroll down a bit…)

At first, the governess is smiling, impressed at the cute little boy reciting this poem; however, by poem’s end, she’s no longer smiling. . .

What shall I sing to my lord from my window?
What shall I sing, for my lord will not stay?
What shall I sing, for my lord will not listen?
Where shall I go, for my lord is away?

Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen?
Gone is my lord, and the grave is his prison.
What shall I say when my lord comes a-calling?
What shall I say when he knocks on my door?

What shall I say when his feet enter softly,
Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor?
Enter my lord, come from your prison.
Come from your grave, for the moon is arisen.

[Whispers]: Welcome, my lord…

The Innocents, 1961: Miles recites creepy poem (1:13, YouTube)

Psychological horror, supernatural horror – or both?

It’s my take that The Innocents is both psychological horror and supernatural horror – that is, I believe the 1961 film does include a legitimate haunting, that the ghosts were there – not just in the mind of the governess. However, I think it is important to note that the film was designed to require the viewer to make his or her own interpretation on this.

Resources: The Innocents, 1961 gothic supernatural horror film

Originally written Monday, March 16, 2009