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October 1996, Week 4


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Paul Ryersbach <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 14:51:40 -0400
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I don't know if I've been thoroughly scared by a film since I was a kid.
I remember having to be comforted by an adult after having seen the
severed hand and rampaging carnivorous plants stories in Hammer's "Dr.
Terror's House of Horrors". The plant story capitalized on an image or
situation that has a kind of primal resonance for me, namely, the idea of
being trapped in a house by some form of danger outside which cuts you
off from the rest of the world. Zombie movies have the same potential,
but it seems as though too many entries in this genre dilute what should
be a devastating experience with lame humor or tired plot conventions.
I think Cronenberg's remake of The Fly is the only film in recent memory
that has disturbed me enough to give me the shakes after the movie was over.
Cronenberg was able to establish a palpable sense of genuine foreboding
and disaster early on in the film, the inexorable unfolding of which
leads to the deterioration, physically and mentally, of the protagonist,
Seth Brundle. While the physical details of Brundle's transformation are
disturbing, especially the poignant biophysical transformation of
Brundle's digestive system, it is the volitional use of those transformed
properties against humans that completes the horror of the film.
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