Consequently, one of my favorite types of films were the ones that dealt with darker themes. These were often monster and horror films, but they also grew into the realms of movies that dealt with the darker side of humanity and the impending doom of the unknown forces of nature and man's irresponsible stewardship of the Earth. Potentially fear producing and nightmare inducing films became a genre of intense fascination for me.
Today I offer up thirteen dark stories on film:
Thirteen Scary Favorites:
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) --While sailing in the ocean, a man exposed to a toxic substance later begins shrinking in size. He becomes smaller and smaller as his wife tries to get him help. The special effects are not bad for its day. The ending is among my all time favorites in filmdom.
Vertigo (1958)-- An Alfred Hitchcock film is certainly worthy of a place on my favorites list. Since one has not yet appeared, it is imperative that one show up on my dark films list. Vertigo starring James Stewart and Kim Novak is an excellent one to fit the bill. A film with a twist in the tradition of the best of Hitchcock also has a great psychedelic dream sequence. The Birds is another excellent choice for Hitchcock that fits into the horror genre.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)--Here's a film that tackled the issue of global warming before Al Gore ever thought of it. Except this is global warming to the extreme. After nuclear testing gone awry the orbit of the Earth is disrupted causing the planet to begin to head toward the sun. Filmed in black and white then tinted orange to create a look of heat, this low budget film is well acted with a good story line. I found the ending to be almost spiritual, but maybe that was my interpretation.
The Tenant (1976) -- This film from Roman Polanski is a mind-bending experience that may have you shaking your head. It's creepy fun trying to figure out who's who and what's what.
Falling Down (1993) --This is my favorite Michael Douglas role and a film that anyone living in Los Angeles can empathize with. Douglas plays a man frustrated by his failures in career, marriage, and fatherhood who, after being stuck in traffic on an intensely hot day, abandons his car on the freeway. He then sets out on foot on a cross city trek to get to his child's birthday party. On the way, he wreaks havoc with anyone who stands in his way. It's a story of prejudice, urban frustration, and culture conflict.
Ed Wood (1994)--This is actually somewhat of a comedy and one of the most optimistic films I've seen. Yet it deals with some dark topics about an individual whose life was actually somewhat dark. This is a loving and playful look Ed Wood, a low budget film director who is credited with making some of the worst films ever. Johnny Depp is amazing as always. Martin Landau won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. This could have gone on my Dirty Dozen Favorites list because it is a favorite film of mine.
Lost Highway (1997) --This is one of the darkest, most mind-bending films ever--certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Lost Highway is surrealistic madness from David Lynch. The film deals with the nature of evil and immorality and graphically depicts it. With a hard, hard R rating this is a film that justifiably presents sexual images, extreme violence, and crude language in order to get its point across. It is a film that I like very much for its surrealism and weirdness. Another Lynch film that deals with similar issues is Blue Velvet. A Lynch film that is also dark, but not with so much R content is The Elephant Man.
Abre Los Ojos (1997) -- This Spanish film translated as Open Your Eyes was later remade in an English version called Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. Vanilla Sky was pretty good, but the original version was better. The film is a science fiction about cryogenics and virtual reality dreams.
Dark City (1998) --This is another science fiction film about mind control and artificially devised realities. The main character begins to sense something is peculiar about his life and the world he lives in. He sets out to find the answers to the questions that begin to plague him. It's a clever premise that is along the lines of movies like The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor.
Limbo (1999) -- This is a John Sayles film about people in Alaska whose lives are falling apart. They have become alienated within their despair and just get by in their lives. A lonely single mother, her self-mutilating teenage daughter, and a lonely former fisherman are brought together in a situation of survival in the wilderness. This film has some superb acting. The ending may leave you laughing, slapping yourself in frustration, cursing the screen in anger, or just staring at the screen wondering what it was all about. When I saw this film the first time I thought about it for a couple days and then realized the genius of the ending--it was the most appropriate way to end the movie and explained much of the story. At least that's the way I saw it.
The Prestige (2006)--This is a fascinating film about two rival magicians obsessed in finding the greatest magic trick. Although it essentially starts as a show biz type movie, the story takes a turn to science fiction. The premise is pretty clever.
The Dark Knight (2008) -- The most recent of the Batman films was made especially notorious with the incredible performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker. Fabulous sets, effects, concepts, and good acting from all. The dark superhero Batman is pitted against the madness of the Joker and his army of crazies. One of the best batman films so far.
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