Three classic horror films that aren’t that scary
Army of Darkness (1992)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz
As the third and final film of the original Evil Dead series, this final instalment does not disappoint. While Evil Dead 2 (1987) was known for being more humorous than its predecessor, Army of Darkness exceeds that, almost becoming more of a comedy than a horror. While there still are plenty of spooky demons, skeletons and the Necronomicon the film is carried by slapstick humour and comedic performances. Much like the prior two films, we spend a lot of time with Ash. Bruce Campbell playing the role of Ash may have been the greatest stroke of genius in casting history as he nails the part. His hilarious portrayal of the dumb, rude, action anti-hero is unique and extremely fun to watch. It is a role Bruce was born to play.
Even with that praise, it may become stale if Bruce returned to that infamous cabin for the series’ third instalment. Instead, he time-travels to the medieval era, where seeing him react with his surroundings never becomes old. Who could forget his legendary ‘boomstick speech’? Army of Darkness carries many horror elements but is far too goofy to give watchers nightmares. It’s classic Halloween fun.
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring: Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder
A much more direct comedy, Beetlejuice creates its own post-mortem universe that it explores to great effect. There aren’t a lot of other movies, let alone horror flicks, that have a similar look or aesthetic to Beetlejuice. An aesthetic that has gone on to influence contemporary style with its loud colours and costumes. Early impressions of the goth style came from Winona Ryder’s character in this film. Her character fits with the theme of ghosts and the supernatural being misunderstood. A silly idea to be sure, but one that’s right up the alley of Tim Burton. It’s difficult to watch this film without instinctively thinking about his other work that includes gothic aspects.
Aside from the set design and costumes, the film has some memorable performances. Michael Keaton as the titular Beetlejuice is both gross and hilarious. The two leads, Geena David and Alec Baldwin, play the roles of lovable ghosts who want a bit of peace and quiet in their home. The more horror movies you’ve seen, the more you should be able to appreciate this film. It takes those tried and tested horror tropes and parodies in a tasteful way, with some occasional distasteful humour. It is a joy to watch.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins
Unlike the prior two films, no comedy was intended with this film. Horror was the main dish with a side of soap-opera-style drama. However, while both of these genres are certainly present, there are a lot of unintentional genres present in this film. That’s not to say Dracula is a bad film, far from it. When the film has bad moments, they are usually quite funny. Keanu Reeves’ character is a great example of this. Keanu’s portrayal of Johnathan Harker is one of the worst I’ve ever seen – his accent is clearly fake. In addition, they also chose to sprinkle powder in his hair which makes him look out of place. This may seem like harsh criticism(which it is), but watching Keanu flop on screen is as entertaining as any comedy film I’ve seen.
Aside from some bad moments, the film has an interesting look and is well made. How could you expect any less from Francis Ford Coppola, after all? There are several cool sets and costumes. Similar to Beetlejuice, the supernatural being is made into a sympathetic character. In this case, Dracula is played sympathetically by Gary Oldman. This film doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as it should and it’s the perfect film for getting into the Halloween spirit!