It’s ten days to Halloween and over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer they’re having a blogathon called The Four Horror Movies of the Apocalypse. The details are as follows:
“This October-long event is not only inspired by but also challenges everyone to come up with four movies that define the end of it all, each representing one of the horseman of the apocalypse- Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. Keep in mind, while the title is The Four Horror Movies of the Apocalypse, they do not necessarily need to be horror movies. Just make sure in your piece to focus on the horrific parts of the film and how it relates to each horseman.”
And here is my entry:
The film: Bug (2006)
Directed by: William Friedkin
Starring: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon
Lonely, isolated waitress, Agnes (Ashley Judd) meets Iraqi vet, Peter (Michael Shannon) and allows him to move into her motel room with her. He soon convinces her that the room and both of them are infected with bugs that were implanted by the army and the government. Before long Agnes is completely immersed in Peter’s paranoia and becomes convinced that the outside world out to get them. As Peter’s conspiracy theories wear away at Agnes’ very self, the couple physically hack away at their bodies trying to find the ever more elusive bugs. If any film ever epitomised the term “claustrophobic” this is it. The truly horrific element of this particular “pestilence” is that it’s all in their heads.
“Dr. Sweet: Bugs are a fairly common delusion among paranoids… Bugs, spiders, snakes… spiders. You haven’t had any snakes, have you?
Agnes White: You’re the first.
Dr. Sweet: Have you at least entertained the idea the bugs are a delusion?
Agnes White: How do I know you’re not a delusion?
Dr. Sweet: Touché.
The film: Come and See (1985)
Directed by: Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Lauciavicius
This Belarusian World War II drama is one of the most intense and relentlessly dark and harrowing films I have ever seen. It follows the story of child soldier Florya (Aleksei Kravchenko) as he joins the Byelorussian resistance fighting German invasion. Kravchenko is incredible and his portrayal of Florya’s loss of innocence is note perfect. Probably the best and most disturbing war movie you will ever see. The scene where German soldiers ransack a village and burn the residents alive in a barn will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Not a horror movie but horrifying none the less. And just to add to the relevance (in lieu of a quote), the film’s title is from the Book of Revelations, referring to the summoning of witnesses to the devastation brought by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The film: Dread (2009)
Directed by: Anthony DiBlasi
Starring: Jackson Rathbone, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly
College student, Stephen (Jackson Rathbone) is surprised but pleased when charismatic classmate, Quaid (Shaun Evans) offers to assist him with his dissertation and suggests a study on fear. When Quaid volunteers to be part of the study, Stephen discovers that Quaid is plagued by terrible flashbacks from an incident in his childhood and it soon becomes evident that his obsession with fear goes far beyond the limits of their project. Dread is a pretty below average horror film but it does contain one brilliantly disturbing “famine” element, where Quaid chains his strictly vegetarian classmate to a radiator, leaving her with no food except a piece of raw steak to see at what stage she’ll crack and eat it. I won’t lie to you, there are maggots.
“Cheryl Fromm: I grew up in a small town in upstate New York. My mom worked at the local supermarket and my dad… and my dad worked at the… at a meat packing plant about 20 miles outside of town. They’d slaughter cattle there and supply our markets with corn-fed organic beef. And he’d work late. And by the time he’d get home, my mom would always be asleep. I’d lay there on my pillow and… listen to the sound of his boots walk to my bedroom door. I don’t know if my mother just pretended not to know what the fuck was going on or if she was just too weak.
Stephen Grace: You don’t… you don’t need to do this.
Cheryl Fromm: But what I remember the most about it was the way… the way his flesh smelled when he’d come home from work. This heavy, metallic smell that would follow him home from the plant… like warm blood on the grass… cold fat in the freezers. I can hardly stand to look at a piece of meat now, let alone think about eating it.“
The Film: Beetlejuice (1998)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton
After discovering that they are dead and their house has been sold to a new family, Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) attempt to haunt the new residents in order to get their home back. Unfortunately they’re not very good at haunting or reading the death handbook so they enlist the help of ghost for hire, Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), to help them out but he doesn’t exactly have their best interests at heart. This is a really interesting take on death and what might happen to us after we pass on. I love the concept of death being just as endlessly bureaucratic as life is. Plus Michael Keaton is hilariously creepy as the decomposing Beetlejuice. This is Burton at his best.
“Juno: Okay, have you been studying the manual?
Adam: Well, we tried.
Juno: The intermediate interface chapter on haunting says it all. Get them out yourselves. It’s your house. Haunted houses aren’t easy to come by.
Barbara: Well, we don’t quite get it.
Juno: [knowingly] I heard. Tore your faces right off. It obviously doesn’t do any good to pull your heads off in front of people if they can’t see you.
Adam: We should start more simply then?
Juno: Start simply, do what you know, use your talents, practice. You should’ve been studying those lessons since day one.“