Phobia Friday: Symbolophobia - Fear of symbolism
Making a horror movie can be a surreal experience. You spend long hours performing terrifying atrocities in front of the camera. Then the director yells "Cut!" and suddenly you're headed over to the snack table to have a cup of coffee with the person you just disemboweled.
But sometimes, the line between making a realistic horror film and finding yourself knee-deep inside one gets a little too blurry and bloody for comfort. Here are ten of our favorite examples:
PEEPING TOM (1960). Here's the good news: you get to star in your own movie. Here's the bad news: the director likes to film his stars as he kills them, so he can capture their true expressions of fear. Talk about method acting. But hey, a gig's a gig.
DEMONS (1985). This Lamberto Bava/Dario Argento production is an example of how even watching a horror movie can get you in trouble. A late night crowd enters a cavernous Berlin movie theater to enjoy a special midnight screening of a new horror film. However, thanks to the presence of a cursed mask from the set of the movie, the monsters of the film come alive inside the theater itself, where they bypass the popcorn and start gnawing their way through the audience.
WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994). "One, two, Freddy's really coming for you!" While filming the next installment of the lucrative "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, the actual actors and crew members (Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, director Wes Craven, etc. all playing themselves) discover they're being stalked and killed by what appears to be a real life Freddy Krueger in Craven's mind-bending twist on the creative process.
MUTE WITNESS (1994). A special-effects artist working on a low-budget horror movie stays late one night to prep equipment, only to discover someone else is using the set after hours…and it ain't for Disney Channel. Instead she ends up witnessing a brutal sex murder, then finds herself locked inside the studio while the villainous crew from the secret snuff film tries to hunt her down. Did I mention she's physically mute, so she can't call out for help?
SCREAM 2 (1997) Two gruesome murders occur at the Hollywood premiere of "Stab", a horror movie based on real-life atrocities committed by two obsessed horror movie fans who slaughtered folks who didn't follow the rules of horror movies. Whew! Now a suspiciously familiar masked killer is once again on the prowl, this time slicing and dicing those who don't follow the rules of sequels.
SCREAM 3 (2000) From the rules of sequels to the rules of trilogies, won't those poor slobs ever learn to follow Randy's guidelines to surviving a horror film? Apparently not, so a planned sequel to "Stab" starts a chain reaction of ghoulish murders across the soundstages of Hollywood.
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000). How awesome would it be to work on the set of legendary director F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu", his classic and influential version of "Dracula". Not as awesome as you'd think, since it turns out that Murnau was a stickler for realism, and his vampire is very real…and thirsty.
BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006). Leslie Vernon is a seemingly mild-mannered serial killer who wants his next big gig to propel him to the notorious status of Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees. So he hires a documentary crew to suppress their guilt and create a kind of "Behind The Music"-styled special about his life, his goals, and how he's setting up the "gags" for his upcoming murder spree. He also would like them to film the bloody carnage itself. But they better bring a pair of running shoes - he has plans for them in front of the camera as well.
VACANCY (2007). A married couple on the rocks are forced to spend the night in an isolated rundown motel, not realizing until it's too late that the room they're put in is actually a film set for a very efficient little snuff film production unit. Not only do merciless masked killers come out of secret passages to torture them to death, but the room service is terrible.
THE HILLS RUN RED (2009). A film student is obsessed with finding and viewing the rarest and supposedly most intense horror film in history: "The Hills Run Red". Unfortunately, the director and entire cast disappeared with the only print of the film right after it's release. Fortunately the film student meets the director's daughter who agrees to help guide him to the promised land. Unfortunately for him and his pals, they not only find the film, and the director, but discover the movie is still in production... and they're about to "star'" in the next big scene.