November 27, 2008

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Recently, Brian Solomon, over at The Vault of Horror, asked fellow horror bloggers and critics, 32 in all, to list their choices of “Greatest Horror Films”. The compiled results are posted as The 50 Best Horror Films of All Times. Click through to discover the list for yourself.

The most entertaining thing about Best Of lists is watching people get upset over them. Fans (and, indeed, some of the participants in the survey) disagree with the results. Where’s MY favorite? Thriller — Are you kidding me??? How could you not include a Hammer film? But Alien is NOT horror! What — No Ringu?!?

I think the new list is interesting and it serves its purpose to foster debate. The best thing about these lists is that, perhaps, someone, somewhere, might be surprised or intrigued by a title that got listed and be moved to seek out the film.

Through the focus of this blog, I note that three Frankenstein films made the list: James Whale’s 1931 version is a deserved Top Ten title, coming in at number 6. Whale’s follow-up, The Bride of Frankenstein, is number 12. I was surprised to see J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 version, the so-called “Edison” Frankenstein, at number 36. No doubt this one made the list on the basis of historical significance.

Speaking of lists, I have been tagged by friend and Frankensteinia contributor Thom Ryan of Film of the Year to participate in the Alphabet Meme. The game consists of coming up with a film title for every letter of the alphabet. I thought I’d have some fun with this and I made two lists, a regular one where I listed the first film that came to mind, and another consisting only of Frankenstein titles. Here we go…

The Frankenstein List
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein
Curse of Frankenstein
Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks
Evil of Frankenstein
Ghost of Frankenstein
House of Frankenstein
I Was a Teenage Frankenstein
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter
Killing Frankenstayn’a kasri (Killing vs Frankenstein)
Lust for Frankenstein
Il Mostro di Frankenstein
Orlak, el infierno di Frankenstein
Quella Villa Acanto al Cimitero (The House by the Cemetery)
Revenge of Frankenstein
Sevimli Frankenstayn (aka Turkish Young Frankenstein)
Torticola contre Frankenberg
El Ultimo Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein
War of the Gargantuas
X-Files: Post-Modern Prometheus
Young Frankenstein
El Zorro Escarlata

The ‘Regular’ List
Atarnujuat, the Fast Runner
La Belle et la bete
Dr. No
8 1/2
Frau Im Mond
Gods and Monsters
Island of the Lost Souls
Je t’aime, je t’aime
Kiss Me Deadly
Lulu (aka Pandora’s Box)
La Mome vert de gris (Poison Ivy, an Eddie Constantine film)
Night of the Living Dead
Out of the Past
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
Quai des Brumes
Shanghai Express
The Thing From Another World (1951)
The Usual Suspects
Werewolf of London
X, The Man With X-Ray Eyes
Les Yeux sans visage
Z (Costa-Gavras)

Note: The rules of the Alphabet Meme are posted on Film of the Year. The whole thing was originally launched by Blog Cabins.

I am now supposed to tag other bloggers. If I may, I’ll limit the damage to three names: Kate at Love Train For The Tenebrous Empire, Illoc Zoc at Zombos Closet of Horror and Karswell at The Horrors of it All.

The illustration for this post is from Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein, previously reviewed here.


Karswell said...

Cool Pierre, thanks for tagging me... I'll work on my list this week.

ILoz Zoc said...

I'm in like Flint! I'll work on mine this weekend.
And you are so right about how lists are great for sparking debate...and blood feuds...and severe bodily harm...and...

lots of fun discussing pros and cons of films.

JD said...

I was surprised to see J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 version, the so-called “Edison” Frankenstein, at number 36. No doubt this one made the list on the basis of historical significance.

I can only speak for myself, but I unreservedly love the Edison Frankenstein. The mirror sequence in it, where the monster recognizes his own monstrousness, has a humanity and directness to it that's much more true-to-life in feel than anything I find in the other Frankenstein movies.

rob! said...

nice job on "Q"--that couldn't have been easy!

Anonymous said...

Whoa, two lists Pierre? I especially like the list of Frankenstein titles because it ties into the theme of your blog, dips into that famous font of Frankenstein wisdom in your noggin', and proves you actually know (at least) one Frank picture for every letter! I'm keen to see a few of these and am most intrigued by Fulci's Dr. Freudstein flick, House by the Cemetary. I'll have to catch up with that one first.

On the other list, Gods and Monsters and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast come as no surprise, but I had no idea that you're a fan of Polanski. Me too. Thanks joining in the meme, pal.

JD -- I'm a fan of the Dawley picture too. I agree that the Melies-style effect in the mirror sequence works so well because it's tied to the narrative and isn't just a trick shot. I also admire the inventive variation of having the monster being created by fire in Dr. Frankenstein's strange machine. Fire is regularly seen as a destructive force in variations of the story, and electricity becomes the creative force after Whale's film version. In the novel, of course, the creative element(s) is neither electricity or fire, but chemical in nature, so I think it's unexpected approach to use fire for the creation sequence.

Pierre Fournier said...

Rob: I had to look up K, Q and Z for Frankenstein. On the “regular” list, no such problem, I had several titles in mind for most letters. It gets easy if you allow yourself to list original foreign language titles!

Thom: You made me realize I had 2 Polanskis on my list. I wish I had included a Gilliam. Brazil or Time Bandits.

JD and Thom: Count me in as a Charles Ogle fan. Thom, I always thought the vat and magician’s cabinet creation scene owed a lot to Melies.

It’s an important film, but I’m not sure it belongs on a “best horror film” list. It’s a moral play with a monster, but it’s never really scary, is it? Look, no one will ever agree with me, but I’d say the same of The Bride of Frankenstein! Bride is a brilliant film, but it’s not scary. In fact, I don’t think it was MEANT to be scary. It’s fantasy, not horror, a sort of fairy tale with fantastic creatures, like La Belle et la bete (which is scarier than Bride).
I think a list of horror films should be a list of films that disturb, that scare and, well, horrify. See what I mean?

Gray Witch said...

I enjoyed the horror film list you linked to. I'd probably lose the Thriller video and replace it with The Howling, but that's just me.