Manual Cinema of the Psychic Realm: A Critical Survey

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Hate crime If every generation gets the zombies its deserves, what would ours be like? The disease quickly spreads through the British population, turning people into berserk zombies. One month later, in a London hospital, bicycle courier Jim Cillian Murphy wakes up from a coma, to find London cloaked in an unearthly silence.

There are scenes here that will send a shiver down your spine, such as the swarm of rats running in terror from an approaching undead horde. Buy, rent or watch '28 Days Later But producer Hal E Chester insisted the flaming beast make two personal appearances to bookend this tale of an American psychologist, Dr Holden Andrews , a world-renowned paranormal sceptic.

But the French-born director knew his business and elsewhere gives an object lesson in frightening the audience out their seats with the mere placing of a hand on a banister. Scriptwriter Charles Bennett was likewise enraged by the demon: "If [Chester, the producer] walked up my driveway right now, I'd shoot him dead. Vive le difference! The imaginatively gruesome killings and chase scenes come thick and fast and the nerve-jangling sound design exacerbates the tension, making it virtually unbearable. Then, with one staggeringly ill-judged and gob-smackingly offensive plot twist, the entire film falls apart.

Buy, rent or watch 'Switchblade Romance'. But this is merely a loose framework within which Fulci goes all out to upset and horrify his audience: faces melt inexplicably, tarantulas rip out human tongues, zombies rise from the grave, eyes are repeatedly torn out. The result is more accurately nightmarish than almost any other film on this list, a true descent into the depths of meaningless, unpredictable, terrifyingly beautiful horror, with a scorpion-sharp sting in the tail.

A surprise entry on our list, this appallingly titled micro-budget Australian offering made waves at the SXSW film festival in , then promptly vanished off the radar. Told in mock-doc style, the film recounts the eerie, possibly supernatural events that occurred in the remote Aussie town of Ararat following a tragic drowning at the local reservoir. Buy, rent or watch 'Lake Mungo'.

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There are strong ties to the genre: Robert Mitchum plays Harry Powell, a murderous preacher whose pursuit of hidden booty leads him to hunt down a pair of hapless orphaned children through a mystical Southern dreamscape. Buy, rent or watch 'The Night of the Hunter'. First, there are the grotesque characters, each horrific enough in their own way, from the boo-hiss headmaster Paul Meurisse to his nervy wife Vera Clouzot and bullish mistress Signoret.

Buy, rent or watch 'Les Diaboliques'.

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Whatever you witness The jolts on offer are up there with the best of them, and lesser filmmakers are still trying to mimic the chilling last shot. Dreyer spun his cinematic nightmare from two stories from a Sheridan Le Fanu collection.

It stars Nicolas de Gunzburg a Russian aristocrat who bankrolled the film, appearing under the alias Julian West as an occult-obsessed young man who visits a French village haunted by a vampire. The lord of the manor dies and his young daughter is gravely ill, bite wounds to her neck. Buy, rent or watch 'Vampyr'. Where did our love go? The rest of the film is powerful stuff — Bervoets plays a young man whose girlfriend is snatched at French truck stop by serial murderer Donnadieu, an otherwise ordinary family man.

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Unwilling to let the love of his life slip away, the young man finally tracks down his nemesis… and is offered a terrifying choice. Buy, rent or watch 'The Vanishing'. Child star Haley Joel Osment what happened to him? Buy, rent or watch 'The Sixth Sense'. In this case he was on his uppers — flat broke in London — and was offered the chance to make a horror film. Has there been a more dread-filled study of mental collapse?

Catherine Deneuve plays a repressed young Belgian woman, Carole, who lives in London with her sister and works as a manicurist. All around Carole, London is upbeat, going places. The youth are about to quake. In her flat cracks appear in the walls and Carole drifts off into fugues and finally psychosis. The noise of everyday life is deafening, Polanski piercing the subconscious to poke at what lies beneath.

Buy, rent or watch 'Repulsion'.

Inspired by the birth of his own child Jennifer, Lynch creates a mood of near-unbearable, panicky fear, depicting the sprog in question as more a fleshy hot water bottle than an actual human baby. Buy, rent or watch 'Deep Red'. As well as the cold, the dark and the claustrophobia, they find ancient, blind and ferocious predators with a highly evolved sense of smell. As the women fight to survive, they must also cope with their own half-buried secrets: betrayals surface, tensions explode and loyalties disintegrate. Still grieving for her husband and daughter, Sarah Macdonald is driven to the edge of madness by this blend of terror and suspicion.

Buy, rent or watch 'The Descent'. This is a great horror film about the horror of cinema itself. Buy, rent or watch 'Peeping Tom'. It is possibly the scariest scene in cinema history: spoiler alert! Everyone who has watched the video, so the story goes, dies seven days later. The tales themselves vary in quality, but the talent involved — the cream of Ealing — remains impressive.


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For this story, a husband Michael is possessed, dragged into the mirror and inspired to try and kill his wife Withers. Horror disappeared from cinemas during the war, so this marked a return to screens for the genre. The scares here are incremental and subtle, driven not by outright terror but by doors that close themselves or pianos that play on their own. This is mature psychological horror, built on intelligence and an alluring, solid foundation of old-fashioned craft.

Buy, rent or watch 'The Others'. You don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head. Buy, rent or watch 'The Silence of the Lambs'. Buy, rent or watch 'The Tenant'.

Cold, creepy and compelling, this is a small film from a massive talent. Buy, rent or watch 'The Devil's Backbone'. Buy, rent or watch 'Possession. In a decisive and unexpected break from his then-popular goofy-dweeb persona, Robbins plays Jacob, a worn-out war veteran whose mind begins to fragment once the conflict is over. Is he going crazy, or are there darker forces at work?

Buy, rent or watch 'Jacob's Ladder'. After witnessing the barbaric practices of an Amazonian tribe, sensation-seeking American documentary filmmakers develop a taste for rape and murder.

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For all its graphic depictions of cruelty and torture, the most appalling thing about this cannibalistic carnage is the laughable way that it purports to condemn the exploitative violence that it so obviously delights in depicting. Buy, rent or watch 'Cannibal Holocaust'.

Everything You Need to Know About ‘Insidious’ Before Watching ‘Insidious: The Last Key’

Effectively imprisoned by her father, who feels responsible for the car accident in which she was disfigured, the infantilised Christiane is like a caged baby bird waiting to find its wings. There were reports of audience members fainting during the facial surgery scenes, but for Franju this was a tale of anguish rather than a horror movie per se.

Buy, rent or watch 'Frankenstein'. He is not impressed by the pagan bacchanalia, though is rather smitten with lusty landlord's daughter Willow Ekland. The magnificent Lee who was paid nothing to act in the film is laird of the manor and master of ceremonies. Buy, rent or watch 'The Wicker Man'. She survives the accident, but comes to with no memory of what transpired. Casting himself as the face of inexplicable evil and slowly dismantling any semblance of logic, Harvey creates a purgatorial dead-end where every turn just leads deeper into the darkness.

Buy, rent or watch 'Carnival of Souls'. Dr Frankenstein has given up playing God and tinkering with cadavers, but his dastardly mentor Praetorious blackmails him into creating a mate Lanchester for the monster. Buy, rent or watch 'Bride of Frankenstein'. These artists are unlikely to be looking for Oscar nominations, or even limited runs at art-house cinemas. However, unlike McQueen and Taylor-Johnson, the relationship between their art practices and their cinema is synchronous. But it might also refer to the relationship between two distinct modes of watching moving images: in the cinema and in the gallery.

Rivers adopted a similar strategy of artistic parasitism for his mammoth project. For the single-screen feature, Rivers focuses in on the Laxe footage. Courtesy: the director and Les Films du Bal, Paris. By including rushes and using the abandoned bbc drama centre to meditate on themes of construction, reconstruction and deconstruction, Rivers has created an artwork that simultaneously begs to be seen as a continuous work the total running time of all the film elements is about 90 minutes — albeit one that is continuously making and unmaking itself — and a walk-through installation.

The Catalan director Serra made his name on the festival circuit for works that eschew characterization and plot. The only things that really remain of the book are the names of the two main protagonists. All that was left to do was for him to dress the men and shoot them.

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It is a complex work that draws parallels between religious asceticism and art, and the problems of translating the structure of television into film and film into the spaces of art. Courtesy: the director and Andergraun Films, Barcelona. Like The Names of Christ , Singularity brings a resolutely cinematic practice to the spaces of contemporary art; it is this kind of approach that will continue to revive interest in an adventurous, forward-thinking cinema.

Another group of filmmakers has drawn close to contemporary art in terms of themes and aesthetic approaches but, for the most part, has steered away from the gallery. This fourth category could include such established names as as Lisandro Alonso, Lav Diaz and Miguel Gomes, as well as a new generation of filmmakers who have emerged as a coherent group, a number of whom studied together at Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains in France.