Thursday, October 30, 2014

5 Best Horror Movies of All Time

“It's Halloween; everyone's entitled to one good scare.”
-Sheriff Leigh Brackett, Halloween

We love horror movies! We’ve recommended them because they provide great health benefits and deserve to stand amongst the best films of all time for providing oodles of ooky, spooky good times.

For our celebration of all things that go bump in the night, we introduced audiences to both traditional and modern classics with our new Cinematic Fanatic program. The program has been wildly successful and we’re so excited to see individuals revisiting these phenomenal films. In honor of our new program and the exciting release of Halloween directed by John Carpenter we present to you the 5 Best Horror Movies of All Time.


A great horror movie has to terrify, but also provide thorough entertainment for an audience. No other horror film in the history of cinema possesses those qualities the way Halloween does. John Carpenter’s master work provided tons of slow-building scares and the groundwork for a new generation of horror.

Did you know that the infamous Michael Myers mask is actually a William Shatner mask celebrating the 1970s television show Star Trek? The prop department spray painted the mask white, teased the hair, and reshaped the eye holes to create the infamous face of Michael Myers. Halloween proves that anything can be scary you just need to know how to use it, even if it’s a 1970s icon’s likeness.

      2.The Exorcist

It does not get any more iconic than the special effects driven 1973 film The Exorcist. What filmmaker William Friedkin was doing on the set of this spooky production was groundbreaking on nearly all levels, from the makeup to the practical effects and language.

Friedkin put his faith in a fourteen-year-old girl, buckets of vomit-green pea soup, and a screenplay that would make the most immoral people blush. Who would have guessed that this film would be the smartest investment Warner Bros. would ever make, considering the film is the highest grossing WB film of all time when adjusted for inflation?

      3.The Fly

David Cronenberg is nuts and nowhere is it more obvious than in his 1986 film The Fly. The film features some of the best makeup in the motion picture business. You will absolutely believe that Jeff Goldblum is transforming into a fly before your eyes.

Makeup courtesy of Academy Award winner Chris Walas receives the first credit at the end of the film. It’s a fitting tribute to an accomplished creator. He provides the film a terrifying transition and Cronenberg presents gross-out gags that possess a dark humor only he could provide.

      4.The Shining

This 1980 film is one of the most controversial of all in the genre. Shelley Duvall has said that performing her role was torturous, rumors of over 120 takes per shots were circulated, and author Stephen King was NOT a fan of the final film. Additionally, multiple film scholars and relatively crazy people have dissected, rebuilt, and dissected again this horror classic with unorthodox, yet fascinating, results.

Regardless of all the work, whether necessary or not, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining still holds up today. The film sizzles with pacing that is blood trickling slow and a climax which solidified Jack Nicholson as one of the best actors in his day.

      5.The Evil Dead

We wanted to provide readers with an option that might seem a little unorthodox and earns laughter as well as gasps. Movies that come to mind are Scream, Cabin in the Woods, or Young Frankenstein, but the film that combines both humorous and horrific qualities perfectly, whether purposefully or not is The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi’s breakthrough feature is a brilliant picture that utilizes simple effects and easy thrills, but there is something deeper present in the freshman effort. Raimi moves with his camera operator in flawless, sweeping motions that create a horror environment that today’s modern gore fest lacks.

So there you have it! Now jump in and devour all these delicious manic morsels including Halloween, which returns to Aksarben Cinema this week for a special engagement. Aksarben Cinema will start showings of Halloween Wednesday, October 29, and go through Halloween weekend. Don’t miss an opportunity to see one of these five horrifying films before Halloween night!  You can also catch Saw for one week only!  Get showtimes and tickets here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Directors Who Will Make You Laugh

“Comedy is tragedy plus time!”
-Crimes and Misdemeanors

We proudly present the Top 5 Comedy Directors of All Time.


The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin

You don’t talk about comedy without mentioning the mastermind behind the genre after film was first introduced. Charlie Chaplin created a collection of cinema treasures that will forever be celebrated, but what is even more impressive is that the films are just as laugh-out-loud funny as they were in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

If you have not seen Chaplin’s sharp-witted shish kabobbing of WWII tyrants in The Great Dictator then it’s time to embrace a furiously funny opportunity. Chaplin, best known for his comedy, is simply delightful in this 1940 film, but you’ll see how intelligent The Tramp is when he opens his mouth to speak at the end.

Other Chaplin films: The Kid (1921) - The Gold Rush (1925) - City Lights (1931) - Modern Times (1936)


Annie Hall - Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s Annie Hall was a comedy gamechanger in 1977 with its fourth wall breaking and unorthodox humor. Before Allen’s scandalous moments in the negative spotlight he was churning out hit after hit with his brilliant blend of brainy humor and slapstick satire. Who could ever forget Allen sneezing into a friend’s drug of choice in the genius comedy romance? Watch as Allen skewers uppity collegiate types, falls in and out of love, and pursues a bumpy career in stand-up comedy.

Other Allen films: Bananas (1971) - Sleeper (1973) - Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) - Midnight in Paris (2011)


When Harry Met Sally - Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner does love stories right as a director and nowhere is this truer than in When Harry Met Sally starring the phenomenal Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Reiner obviously takes a page out of Allen’s romantic comedy How To guide, but personally manages to make his film more approachable for a mainstream audience.

Reiner provides energy and sophistication to his film which is just as much about sex as it is about romance, but he is not the only creative talent that should be appreciated. Without writer Nora Ephron there is no When Harry Met Sally or eternally quotable dialogue ingrained in American pop culture.

Other Reiner films: This is Spinal Tap (1984) - Stand by Me (1986) - The Princess Bride (1987) - The Bucket List (2007)


Wayne’s World - Penelope Spheeris

Penelope Spheeris along with Nora Ephron and Penny Marshall cleared the way for female directors and writers both in television and film. Spheeris’ film version of the famous Saturday Night Live skit is easily one of the most clever and funny films ever made. Without Spheeris as director, this film simply would not contain the edge present in each scene.

Looking back at production photos with Spheeris on set you get a sense that she could play hard with the boys and direct material with a rockin’ attitude. Ephron and Nancy Myers are great directors, but we chose Spheeris because she challenged the norm and took on projects that traditionally a man would. 

Other female directed films: Big (1988) - Sleepless in Seattle (1993) - The Proposal (2009) - In a World... (2013)


Shaun of the Dead - Edgar Wright

No one does physical humor like Edgar Wright. The man is purely gifted both artistically and in his writing. Never will you hear Queen’s famous tune “Can’t Stop Me Nowthe same way after sitting down for this comedy masterpiece.

Wright’s Shaun of the Dead was a surprise hit. In Wright’s film, Simon Pegg bursts on screen with geeky confidence as the titular character. From that point on, viewers are presented with an eclectic mix of dry British humor and zombie action. Wright follows his predecessors by mixing genres with genuine understanding of both comedy and horror. Shaun of the Dead is a special film that will continue to be treasured by many along with its magnificent director Edgar Wright.

Other Wright films: Hot Fuzz (2007) - Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010) - The Adventures of Tintin (2011) - The World’s End (2013)

Honorable Mention: Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski), Harold Ramis (The Groundhog Day), Terry Jones (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Are There Benefits to Watching Scary Movies?

“There are two different stories in horror: internal and external. In external horror films, the evil comes from the outside, the other tribe, this thing in the darkness that we don’t understand. Internal is the human heart.”
-John Carpenter

“This Is Halloween”

Streets filled with monsters of mayhem, carefree candy flows out of pillow sacks, and horrendous horrors dominate television and film screens. The creatures of The Nightmare Before Christmas said it best, “This is Halloween!”
That’s right, Halloween is nearly upon us. Now what Halloween night would be complete without frightening flicks and popcorn?
Hollywood Horror Helps

            You may be skeptical right now and can’t imagine any potential benefits in watching horror movies, but before you dismiss us like The Ring tape, hear us out.
One study tested viewers as they watched horror film and found that you can burn around 200 calories. This resulting calorie loss is dependent on the movie, so we’re curious to know what movie you think would help you burn the most calories. The Exorcist certainly comes to mind or the more recent film The Conjuring, maybe? Tell us in the comments.

The More Blood On Screen, The More Blood Cells in Our Bodies

Another study found that scary movie viewing increases our white blood cell count, which ultimately can better equip us to fight disease and repair the body. The end result is a boosted immune system. So each time another slasher victim loses blood, ours gets stronger. That seems like twisted poetic justice.

Fear Factors

Researchers have also found evidence that suggests we can experience two emotions at the same time which explains the emotional value some put into horror films. Our brains are complex organs and they can accomplish incredible feats including the containment of both negative emotions related to the content of a horror film as well as the positive aspect which is overall enjoyment. Simply put, we like to get scared!

Can’t Sleep?

If you don’t like to roll the dice with fear because you’re scared of emotional damage, you’re not entirely off base. There have been extensive studies collected that have found many audiences of horror films experience sleep pattern disruption, increased fear in situations, and traumatic triggered events similar to a horror film. That being said, dealing with our fears is important to our DNA. Dr. Mathias Clasen found that horror movies might become emotional stimulators for fear situations and stimulate the DNA to respond.

Think about these positives when you’re considering watching a horror movie over the Halloween season. Horror movies may not save your life, but it appears that they can be effective in assisting your immune system and fear threshold. Who would have thought that Jason slashing or Leatherface sawing would help us in the long run?