5 Things To Know About Making Horror Movies, According To The Fright Meisters

Advice to die for from the best in the business

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By Jay Hunter I watch a lot of movies. Like, a lot. More specifically, I watch a lot of horror movies. The majority of my 26 years on this planet has been spent observing teenagers being decapitated, children being possessed and an ungodly amount of innocent dogs getting slaughtered. 

Because of my strange obsession, I get to write about movies, hang out with directors, and tell you what piece of subjective art is better than another piece of subjective art.

In my writing career, I’ve had the chance to do a lot of great things and a lot of not so great things. From visiting Hollywood and production sets, to watching a movie premiere at 2 in the afternoon in the basement of a club — I’m not joking, that was literally the first premiere I went to. But in the words of the Herculean Steven Spielberg:

“Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about.”

However, the world of cinema isn’t always brimming with the dazzling lights of club basements. It can be a cruel, nasty business. With that in mind, instead of boring you with three-act structures, inciting incidents or character archetypes, here’s five things to know before creating your own horror movie, courtesy of the auteurs themselves.

5. Sam Raimi: Prepare To Die

In 1928, an on set disaster whilst making Warner Bro’s Noah’s Ark tragically ended the lives of three crew, since then Hollywood introduced vigorous health and safety laws. However there’s no such thing as health and safety when you’re trying to make a feature-length movie for $350,000, you’re going to need to take risks while creating said movie. Hollywood heavyweight Sam Raimi cut his teeth with numerous Super 8 films, but you’ll probably best know him for #EvilDead, the half horror, half comedy gore-fest about five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods, only to unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

As you would expect, the paltry budget on The Evil Dead didn’t allow for any cast affluence. What you might not know is that The Evil Dead damn near maimed, killed or blinded their cast and crew throughout the hellacious shoot.

In the film’s commentary Raimi repeatedly states, “Oh God, we were so irresponsible,” and he wasn’t joking. Among the many barbarisms the cast and crew dealt with were Raimi getting chased by a bull and being submerged in glacial marshlands. On top of that, the crew slept in near subzero conditions during the 70-day shoot while enduring countless DIY horror scenarios.

The contact lenses used for the possessed could only be worn for 15 minutes at a time, for a maximum of five times a day. Of course, being the young, invincible go-getters they were, this recommendation was ignored, resulting in the near blinding of cast member Ellen Sandweiss.

The white contact lenses worn by the cast were so thick they caused great pain and discomfort.
The white contact lenses worn by the cast were so thick they caused great pain and discomfort.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad, as Bruce Campbell blissfully recalled at a Spooky Empire event:

“The illegal substance known as marijuana was somehow forced upon us in Tennessee … I was forced to ingest this marijuana by a local reprobate and I therefore became, let’s just say, affected by THC … I therefore lost any sense of time and where I was, and that’s the time that Sam Raimi decided that he needed to shoot Ash having a breakdown.”

Whilst all of this sounds horrific, it takes us nicely on to our next lesson.

4. Jason Lei Howden: Be Resourceful

There’s nothing easy about crafting a well-made found-footage horror; it’s an incredibly difficult task. But if throwing a plate across a room or making stick figures — as in the respective Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project — doesn’t wax lyrical about incredibly resourceful achievements, the real problems come when you want to create a more visual style of horror. Speaking to Jump ScareDeathgasmdirector Jason Lei Howden stated:

“Trying to achieve the ambitious script with such limited resources (is the biggest challenge). I can see why the horror market is bloated with found-footage movies and single location ghost horror. We have heaps of characters, many different locations and some extreme gore. But I’m glad I stuck to my vision. Movies like this don’t get made very often and I’m very proud of what we achieved. It was definitely time for a heavy metal and horror fusion.”

This from a man who has spent years in the industry, working on visual effects for the likes of The HobbitThe Avengers and Prometheus. So you can imagine how arduous it was for a young Tobe Hooper in 1974 to create The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

While working seven days a week, 16 hours a day in one of Texas’s infamously inhumane summer heatwaves, the Texas cast and crew were extremely limited by their micro-budget. Due to copyright issues, the soundtrack contained no music (with the exception of music they already had the rights to), forcing Hooper to get creative. The score was comprised of the sounds of a slaughterhouse. Additionally, according to actor John Larroquette, his payment for reciting the opening narration was nothing more than a marijuana joint.

Of course, CGI is often maligned by horror fans, such is the genre’s love affair with practical effects. But these days, gore can be created to a relatively high standard with easily obtainable computer software. Which brings us to today’s technological advances, meaning any kid with a Mac can be the next John Carpenter. While this might be the case…

3. David Robert Mitchell: You’ll Probably Fail. A Lot

Nearly 10,000 movies were released in 2015. That’s an average of 192 films per week. While your movie about a flesh-eating demon virus was never going to appeal to mainstream audiences, back in 1999, when we had just 470 movies throughout the whole year, you may have lucked out. The independent film industry is growing at an exponential rate, so while you might now be able to create a feature-length movie on your iPhone, remember that there’s 9,999 other people thinking the same way.

When it comes to relatively recent “luck of the draw” stories, look no further than David Robert Mitchell. The 42-year-old director struck gold on the festival circuit with his arthouse STI horror It Follows in 2014. But make no mistake, it was still a long, hard road to get there.

Moonlighting in a plethora of industry jobs — from editor for the 82nd Academy Awards, to production manager, editor and writer for short movies — Mitchell undoubtedly sussed out the inner workings of Hollywood and made great contacts before diving into his first full-length feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover. Never heard of it, right? That’s because it wasn’t until four years after that movie grossed a paltry $41,000 that It Follows was released, and Mitchell finally achieved success with his sophomore attempt.

Met with rapturous critical acclaim upon its release, It Follows is a hyper-stylistic movie that appealed to old-school horror fans, without sacrificing it’s vision of saying something about teenage culture. Your ultraviolent movie may be entertaining, but getting press attention and acclaim from mainstream critics is another topic altogether. Because above all…

2. Wes Craven: Hollywood Is A Business

If you aspire to do it the old way and get your oeuvre championed by a studio, you’re best sticking to the trends. You know the way every horror movie since 2013’s The Conjuring has been about an idilic suburban family being terrorized by Lucifer and all his buddies? That’s because it’s a safe bet in an industry increasingly terrified of taking risks.

So if you hate “Director X” for releasing “Remake 3000,” remember that it’s nothing more than a business transaction, allowing the director to get his foot in the door. In the ’90s there was glossy slashers, the early 2000s saw wave upon wave of Japanese horror. But all it takes is for another James Wan to win the Hollywood lottery, and we’ll be right back to watching people cut each other’s limbs off in order to escape a warehouse.

Remember, making a movie and getting it noticed is a big step up. So do your homework before you go jumping in. As touched upon with David Robert Mitchell, networking is key. The dichotomy of artists and businesspeople always risks an artist’s vision being compromised. How many times have you heard of studios forcing a great idea to become a hatchet job of a movie? Unfortunately, the money men have the stranglehold. As late horror legend Wes Craven put it:

“Everybody’s making horror films and, to me, not especially well. I don’t know if it’s [due to] the corporations taking over studios or what it is. But it really calls for some young filmmakers to come in and just do something from their hearts.”

Which brings us to my final point. You might be the greatest director to never be discovered if you can’t get the right people to see your movie. Unless you…

1. John Carpenter: Build A Fanbase

Horror is a curious beast. I’ve always thought of it as a cathartic genre, a classification built upon the public paying their hard-earned money to be scared or grossed out. But when the closing credits roll, they’re safe and craving more. Sure, there’s always a passive audience, but the majority of horror buffs are junkies, scrounging around cinemas and streaming sites, totally disregarding their most basic of human instincts in order to get their next hit of cruor and gore.
 As They Live director John Carpenter once said:

“What scares me is what scares you. We’re all afraid of the same things. That’s why horror is such a powerful genre. All you have to do is ask yourself what frightens you and you’ll know what frightens me.

I’m assuming if you’ve read this far, you’re a horror fan, you know horror fans, and you probably breathe horror movies. So if you already know your fanbase and what it wants, of course you have to pay attention to the finest intricacies of filmmaking, and of course you need to know how to use a camera, how to compose your shots and have an interesting hook. But if you build a fanbase, and give them what they want, chances are you’ll be off to a good start.

Famously, Friday the 13th began its life as nothing more than a name. Initially A Long Night at Camp Blood was the working title during the film’s scripting, but director Sean S. Cunningham believed in his Friday the 13th moniker and quickly rushed out to place an advertisement for it in Variety. Worried that someone else owned the rights to the title and wanting to avoid potential lawsuits, Cunningham thought it would be best to find out immediately.

He commissioned a New York advertising agency to develop his concept of the Friday the 13th logo, which consisted of big block letters bursting through a pane of glass, and studios rushed to him in order to gain rights to the movie, before he’d even finished the script. In a stroke of marketing genius, Cunningham knew the industry and made the studios a fanbase before he’d even fleshed out his film pitch. The hype for the movie was through the roof, and the rest is history.

This is perhaps the most important of the point’s I’ve made, that passion and art go hand in hand. In many ways it’s much more difficult to get a movie made today than it was in the ’70s. Be buccaneering and remember to play ball. Be inventive and take note of the trends. But above all, pick up a camera and start filming. I’ll be here to nitpick it for you afterward.

What are your thoughts on the state of modern horror movies? Sound off in the comments section below.

Source – Movie Pilot

The Woman in Black: Does the story Represent Motherhood?

What does Woman in Black tell us about women in film?

By Beth McConnell The novel and film The Woman in Black, offers a plethora of themes and ideas. Focusing on the notions of motherhood, trauma and the past the story generates discussion surrounding these ideas. Many predict that motherhood would have been the main area of discussion for the classic tale. This would then lead onto an interesting debate on the representation of the women, or lack there of in the novel/film adaptation.

It was suggested that the spectre of the woman in black was created by Arthur as a coping mechanism concerning the loss of his wife and child. The spectre offers an alternative, supernatural explanation to them being taken from him and also masks his own feelings of guilt. That he may have been able to have stopped the carriage accident in which they died. With consideration of the author, Susan Hill having experienced losing a child, it was notified during the seminar discussion that the modes of coping with trauma similar between Hill and Arthur. The woman in black was written by Hill to vent her feelings of grief and guilt, as does Arthur.

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The issue surrounding motherhood is prominent theme in both the novel and the film. The mothers are unable to fulfil their duty as ‘women’ of that time period and thus generates a critique on the nuclear family unit. The gothic genre often deals with real-life controversial issues in addition to the supernatural. The woman in black embodies both of these traits.

Despite addressing the representation of women being in a negative light; possibly a reflection of Hill’s own trauma and feelings of having failed as a mother. Feminist theory does not feature as the main area of debate. It’s regretful, as Gilbert and Gubar’s Madwoman in the Attic, could have been applied here. The woman is trapped in a deserted realm, rejected when alive from bearing a child out of wedlock and having her maternal role taken from her. The woman in black only exists as a mother-of-death figure, unable to give life, but instead take it away.

Both the film and book spark some very interesting discussions on the topics of motherhood, trauma and the past. Through discussion it becomes apparent that the idea of the past, trauma and motherhood overlapped greatly and were essential to the analysis of The Woman in Black. Through research on the author it’s possible to provide explanation of how these significant themes of the text may relate to her own experiences and could have inspired her to write the novel as a form of coping with her own past and trauma. One of the most important concepts is the fact that the themes we addressed all seemed to coincide throughout both the novel and the film, in order to capture the essence of the gothic fiction.

Men in the Movies: Masculinity and Violence in Modern Cinema

The portrayal of violence introduces the notion of masculinity being in crisis.

By Beth McConnell The act of violence is a reoccurring theme in masculinity studies. The instance leads to a plethora of ideas surrounding this relation between the two. The two main texts that will be used in the investigation are Casino Royale by Ian Fleming and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. The 1999 movie adaptation of Fight Club directed by David Fincher will also be referred to. The movie Fight Club was originally criticised for the use and depiction of violence and the explicit visuals of it. The book, New Hollywood Violence (2004) describes the main criticism were that the violence was featured without a cause. It was just featured for shock value. Fight Club, both the movie and the novel, have gathered a cult following over the years. The portrayal of violence introduces the notion of masculinity being in crisis leading readers and viewers with a lot to bear in mind. The ultimate revelation, that being Tyler Durden being an alter-ego for the narrator shows exemplary of the idea of the mask of masculinity.

“Violence stands in for action but is also an act of concealment, a threatening mask that hides lack of purpose” – Susan Faludi

The aim of the study is to discuss why violence is often seen as a male tendency and its function in the set texts. Both Casino Royale and Fight Club take different approaches of confronting the issue of violence and being male.

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Violence is often linked with the male gender with regards to media, culture and entertainment. This is a reflection on real life; according to the statistical trends of criminal violence in the United States, the radio of violence between men and women is converging. ‘Violent victimiaihon of males is decreasing, while violence victimisation of women remains relatively unchanged.’ This instance holds the implications of a possible gender war. With the emergence of homosexuality being more widely socially accepted and post-feminist waves, traditional hegemonic masculinity is under threat. A primal action such as fighting, has always been associated as a male characteristic, but has now become socially unacceptable in civilised society. Masculinity theorist R.W Connell and James W. Messerschmidt concur with this argument, ‘Violence is not just an expression, it is a part of the process that divides different masculinities from each other…violence with masculinity is constitutive’. Fight Club recognises this shift in noticing that the world is no longer of a patriarchal ruling. Both the film and the novel portray a dystopia for the male world. Author of the book Fictions of Globalization, James Annesley talks about the sensation of the fighting in Fight Club, ‘Fighting, the raw punching of the fist on skin, thus becomes both a release from the mundane currents of the consumer society and a visor critique of that society’. The passage is complying with the argument that fighting is a mode of escapism of the male protagonists. Both the narrator and the character of Bob, attempt to find themselves through support groups. Groups that are deemed civilised and acceptable, however they fail in fulfilling the gap the characters need. They are not yet aware that masculinity has diminished. Traditional modes of dementia such as, expressing the self through art, literature, music or fashion are legal and reject the ideas of violence and chaos.

Violence is portrayed as a release for the male protagonists. Members of the exclusive club, are free to lose all inhibitions and are able to act in a more primal mode of their masculinity. A relief is granted to them after a night of fighting, with the narrator describing the sensation after a night of violence, ‘…everything in the real world gets the volume turned down. Nothing can piss you off’ They gathered in their unity and took out their aggression on the ‘real world’. They are able to be men for a few hours of the night and then are able to resume their mundane existences through living in a society, masculinity being no longer a part of it. ‘We propose that if masculinity  varies in form and content, then masculinities – even those specifically aggressive, competitive, controlling and dominating – express themselves differently in relation to violence

It can be argued that the narrator created the identity of Tyler Durden to remind him of his intended hegemonic existence. Society has oppressed his masculinity to the point where he loses his own ideas about the ‘self’ and especially his sex. The monotone voiceover narrating the movie shows relevance to this. The character played by Edward Norton is emotionally numb and bemused with the society he has become a part of, the tired narration expresses this (also adding a comical undertone). Nicola Rehiling addresses the issue in Extraordinary Men: White Hetrosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Popular Cinema, saying that the voice is exemplary of ‘blame placed on an allegedly feminized society for the loss of a mythical, original, unified masculinity’. Tyler Durden acts as an extreme contrast to the demised self of the narrator. Country to this theory, the narrator attempts to connect to his femininity; by attending various group meetings, he seeks emotion and affection. Attributes often associated with women. It is at this point in the narrative, where he meets Bob. However, the attempts fail astray are still feeling the emptiness and have not yet realised that it is their masculinity that is missing in their lives.

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Bob can be described as an a-sexual character, demised by his appearance; having the condition gynecomastia he has formed breasts, referred to as ‘bitch tits’. Because Bob was once a weight-lifter who abused steroids, he consequently developed testicular cancer; he (like the narrator) is reaching out to his inner feminine self. He is seeking to do so because of his adherence to the role of the hegemonic male in the past, the ultimate man, he is now suffering because of this. Bob is playing the victim of masculinity; ‘Rendered monstrous through a process of fumigation and materialization’. Bob is one of the first members of the fight club and, with this, he finds solace in secretly expressing his masculinity through the violence. It is only when Bob is the first to die during ‘Project Mayhem’ that he is finally given his full title, ‘His name is Robert Paulson, and Robert Paulson will be forty-eight years old, forever’. This argues how masculinity is possibly doomed and the relationship with violence to the inevitable fatality. Only in death he is given a formal identity, he does not exist as an individual when he is male and mortal. Violence, for Bob, complies with theorist Susan Faludi’s statement, that it is there as an ‘act of concealment, a treating mask that hides lack of purpose.’ He has lost al purpose, identity and in the world his own sex has built. His only way of expressing his masculinity is through violence.

Fighting is an activity often used to release tension and frustration. The feminised world now rejects this idea. Men are traditionally stronger in a physical sense; therefore it is this reason for why fighting whether it is professionally or generically speaking, is a male doing. Fight Club romanticises the idea of violence, with the narrator attempting to justify it, for the instance when Tyler describes the feeling he gets after a night at the club, ‘You aren’t alive anywhere like you’re alive at fight club.’ Thinking of the real world and it’s restrictions on violence, the narrator speaks of the exclusivity of fight club and the opportunity it gives members, ‘A man on the street will do anything to not fight’. This passage complies with the narrator of the short story, Rock Springs, as he states, ‘I believe in crossing the street to stay out of trouble’s way’. The character of this text does not wish to consider himself to be a masculine personality. This is an example of everything Fight Club stands for and why it was introduced. The narrator has become the type of man to attend a fight club. James Annesley describes the offers of fight club ‘…provides an escape from ‘ornamental’ masculinity’. This not only backs up the idea of a demised world, but brings forth the notion of masculinity now being an organised commodity, a product of consumerism.

The character of James Bond in Casino Royale was designed by Fleming to be that of the idealised figure of  male hegemony. The acts of violence in the novel however are all with a cause. Characters in Fight Club (subsequent to ‘project mayhem’) are fighting without such a cause. However both the novels suggest a sexual affiliation with violence. The scene where Bond is getting tortured, having the pain inflicted on him, for the first instance he is unable to control his emotions. The hypothetical ‘mask’ and image he has created for himself is lost because of the pain he is in. It is here we learn of sexual gratification he’s wanting to feel from the experience, ‘…a sort of sexual twilight where pain turned into pleasure and where hatred and fear of the tortures turned to a masochistic infatuation’.

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It would seem that men are seeking pleasure not only through the violence but through the privacy of the closed space. The protagonists are aware that fighting is an action that is frowned upon and thus the social club must be kept a secret. A clear example of this is the popular slogan of the novel and movie, ‘The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club’.

The notion of sexual gratification being gained from violence questions the traditional view of men being the dominant sex. It is the moment of ultimate weakness when one takes a beating; for the male protagonist in the novels, the emotional and physical effects are touched upon. Fight Club subtly compares sex to the gatherings, ‘After you’ve been to fight club, watching football on television is watching pornography when you could be having great sex’.

In both texts, violence can not only be read as a rejection of felinity or social restraints, but also as a stand against homosexuality. James Bond’s character is overtly masculine, yet his consumerist nature and sophistication appeals to both sexes. The raw emotions and homosexual awakenings conjured through the torture scene, are inflicted by the effeminate villain, Le Chiffre. His role acts as an evil counterpart for Bond; with with with them both interested in gambling, expensive tastes and sophistication. They are very similar, however, in regards to appearance. Le Chifffre is given descriptions such as, ‘Hands small, well-tended, hirsute. Feet small’, is is clear that he is effeminate. The notion complies with the idea raised by theorist Michael Kimmel, he says, ‘Bond is often criticized as a romanticized, idealization depiction of masculinity…both deeply conservative and homophobic: only bad guys are gay’. When the router commences, it is conducted in the private space with the two characters being alone. Le Chiffre is also attacking Bond’s genitals; representing an attack on male hegemony and heterosexuality.

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The metaphorical use of violence here is used in a different method in Fight Club, Palahniuk takes the satirical route in portraying the ‘real world’ as ‘ornamental’ and ‘feminised’. In reverse to Fleming’s approach, it is the outside world that is homosexual. During the fight scenes, men are all shirtless with exception for Bob; his body now lesser resembles the male form, which eliminates him from wearing their somewhat primal-uniform. Theorist, Lynn. M. Ta describes the intentions of fighting shirtless, ‘men can reclaim their lost manhood by stripping down’. In agreement with Ta’s notion, Bob has lost his male physicality thus cannot take part.

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When looking into the cinematography of the movie Fight Club; the rain is filmed and used as iconography in the opening scenes. It is a technique used in Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie Blade Runner; the rain being shot from the top of a high building to the ground. This was used to represent how society/the world has fallen, adding to the dystopian image. For Fight Club it is read in the sam way, but for masculinity; it started ruling at the top, then descends to the gutter. Like Blade Runner, Fight Club also takes the style of film noir; with tilted camera angles, predominantly shot in the dark and garish tones. The reason for the similarities stem from Blade Runner being an iconic film, famous for it’s symbolism and one of the first films to depict dystopia through the cinematography. The target audience for the both movies are also of the same type most favoured by men, therefore the stylistic techniques used would appeal to fans of this type. Without veering away from the subject of violence; the representations of dystopia are pertinent, as the protagonists are finding cause and reason behind the violence. The similarities are addressed in the book, The Cinema of David Lynch: American Dreams, Nightmare visions, saying, ‘Films such as Blade Runner, Fight Club or Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys raise interesting epistemological questions within a narrative framework that is heavily invested in the very classical epistemologies they subvert.’ The passage correlates with the notion of philosophical social trauma the characters are faced with. It is postmodern films such as these that acknowledge and project these social critiques.

The segregation of the two worlds in Fight Club and the psychological awakening of James Bond’s homoeroticism can be applied to German philosopher Theodor Adorno’s theory of the aesthetic. The theory of ‘double vision’ can be applied here; raw masculinity is being offered as a new identity for the protagonists. They are now able to view the world for what it is and function in different ways, from primal and animalistic in the private space, to feminized and ornate in the real world. Aesthetic theory also leads to the idea of a ‘false consciousness’. Author Vincent Pecora discusses the idea of double vision being ‘crucial’ to the sociological aesthetic, he says, ‘…in modern rationalised societies, ideology has lost any dependable significance as “false consciousness” and has become only the self-advertising of the world that reduces all substantive criticism to a uniform silence’. The passage agrees with the argument of the new duality of the characters, regarding their social masculinity and raw masculinity. The fact that Tyler Durden is a false character who doesn’t exist, is an example of the double vision.

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The relationship between masculinity and violence correlates with many different theories. From closely analysing both Fight Club and Casino Royale, it is clear that violence is not only used as a form of entertainment for a male target-audience/readership, but it also used to represent a variety of metaphorical meanings. In conclusion, all theories and instances raised comply with Judith Butler’s theory of gender being a performance. Characters in both texts are adhering to gender roles society has made for them; James Bond overly conforms to the hegemonic role where, protagonists in Fight Club expose their suppressed masculinity in the private space (what they perceive to be the ultimate masculine activity). Violence is a performance and bears a close relation to masculinity, as it shows a binary opposition to a typical female interaction. Both novels depict violence as an act of unity with the characters; more so in the case of Fight Club as it is there craving for their most masculinity that drives them there.

The torture scene in James Bond offers an alternative to his sophisticated image; showing him at his weakest yet enjoying not having to conform to a gender performance. His natural masculine instincts are being summoned through the pain being inflicted upon him. The attack on his genitalia is symbolic of the yearning he gets for conforming to what the world expects a man to stand for. Violence and masculinity is both a sociological and physiological area of study. Men are finding a reason for the fighting/torture to take place, i.e. Fight Club, as Ta explains the intentions of the group members, ‘rebel(s) against a seemingly impersonal and feminized dominant culture by blowing up that very world’. The violence in Casino Royale sparks a physiological  reaction from Bond, leading to the Freudian theory of the subconscious and Ardono’s theory of the aesthetic.

To conclude, the relationship between violence and masculinity in the texts is ultimately analysed through a sociological study. However, it is society that he has triggered the psychological effects of the male characters in the texts. The unified feeling generated through the violence shapes the way masculinity is perceived by men themselves. In both texts, there is a pleasure gained from the pain and primal actions of fighting by the men. The exclusivity of the ‘fight club’ adds excitement for the characters; a chance for them to not only take part, but for it to be a celebration of their sex.

25 MUST SEE Horror Movies From The Last Ten Years

The last decade has probably been the strongest ten years for horror since those ‘glory days’, to prove it we’ve put together 25 MUST see movies from 2006 until 2016!

By Jay Hunter – Those of us who work here at Jump Scare are often asked many questions about cinema and in particular our thoughts on horror cinema. But by one of the most popular questions is “why isn’t horror good anymore?” to which we reply “…it is”.

It’s true that the 1970’s and 1980’s spawned many, many brilliant horror movies. A lot of which are still remembered to this day. But that’s just the thing, time acts as a filter. So when looking at the 1970’s, instead of remembering The Bat People or The Savage Bees we remember Jaws and The Exorcist.

In fact, the last decade has probably been the strongest ten years for horror since those ‘glory days’, to prove it we’ve put together 25 MUST see movies from 2006 until 2016!

Honourable mentions; Girlhouse, We Are What We Are, Kill List

25. Sinister

True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) is in a slump; he hasn’t had a best seller in more than 10 years and is becoming increasingly desperate for a hit. So, when he discovers the existence of a snuff film showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims’ home and gets to work. However, when old film footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, Ellison learns that living in the house may be fatal.

Sinister is not without it’s flaws, but from it’s very opening shot it has a really intimidating mean streak throughout. An unnerving horror movie

24. The Mist

After a powerful storm damages their Maine home, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head into town to gather food and supplies. Soon afterward, a thick fog rolls in and engulfs the town, trapping the Draytons and others in the grocery store. Terror mounts as deadly creatures reveal themselves outside, but that may be nothing compared to the threat within, where a zealot (Marcia Gay Harden) calls for a sacrifice.

Like many of the entries in this list, The Mist divides a lot of people. Whether you love or hate the bleak ending, you can’t deny that it stays with you.

23. The Loved Ones

After a classmate (Xavier Samuel) declines her invitation to the school dance, a teenager (Robin McLeavy) kidnaps him and makes him the guest of honor at her own twisted prom.

A twisted, violent and uncompromising horror movie, The Loved Ones is hard to watch at times, but there’s no denying you’ll root for the main character until the very end. Gripping.

22. Drag Me To Hell

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank. But her heavenly life becomes hellish when, in an effort to impress her boss, she denies an old woman’s request for an extension on her home loan. In retaliation, the crone places a curse on Christine, threatening her soul with eternal damnation. Christine seeks a psychic’s help to break the curse, but the price to save her soul may be more than she can pay.

Sam Raimi at his dark comedy best, Drag Me To Hell is a meta-fun horror movie with some memorable gross out moments. Popcorn horror at it’s finest.

23. Insidious

Parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) take drastic measures when it seems their new home is haunted and their comatose son (Ty Simpkins) is possessed by a malevolent entity.

Perhaps the second most popular horror franchise of today, Insidious’ first two acts as a blueprint of what to expect from it’s successor, The Conjuring. It’s third act however allows the audience to have more fun than what they would come to experience with James Wan’s later horror efforts.

22. The Woman In Black

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a lawyer, is recently widowed and grieving the loss of his wife when he is sent to a remote village to put a deceased eccentric’s affairs in order. Soon after his arrival, it becomes clear that the villagers are hiding a terrible secret. Kipps discovers that his late client’s house is haunted by the spirit of a woman who is trying to find someone and something she lost, and that no one — not even the children — is safe from her terrible wrath.

The highest grossing horror movie to ever come out of the United Kingdom, The Woman In Black is a great throwback to the days England reigned supreme with the infamous Hammer Horror studio.

21. The Descent

A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves with her friends; after descending underground, the women find strange cave paintings and evidence of an earlier expedition, then learn they are not alone: Underground predators inhabit the crevasses, and they have a taste for human flesh.

Now infamous for it’s double ending, The Descent is a nail-biting claustrophobic terror train.

20. Halloween

Nearly two decades after being committed to a mental institution for killing his stepfather and older sister, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) breaks out, intent on returning to the town of Haddonfield, Ill. He arrives in his hometown on Halloween with the indomitable purpose of hunting down his younger sister, Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton). The only thing standing between Michael and a Halloween night of bloody carnage is psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell).

Dividing critics and fans alike, Rob Zombie’s Halloween was never going to have an easy time, being a reboot of one of the most loved horror movies of all time. Whether you like it or not, you can’t deny Zombie put his unique stamp all over the movie and dialled the violence up to eleven.

19. The Evil Dead


Mia (Jane Levy), a drug addict, is determined to kick the habit. To that end, she asks her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) to accompany her to their family’s remote forest cabin to help her through withdrawal. Eric finds a mysterious Book of the Dead at the cabin and reads aloud from it, awakening an ancient demon. All hell breaks loose when the malevolent entity possesses Mia.

Building upon the brilliant original movie, the Evil Dead remake amps up the violence in a none stop horror rollercoaster. Even though it likes some of the comedy and charm of the original, it’s impossible not to have fun watching this movie, we recommend getting a few friends around to – watch!

18. Lights Out

When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left home, she thought that her childhood fears were behind her. As a young girl growing up, she was never really sure of what was real when the lights went out at night. Now, her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that jeopardized her safety and sanity. Holding a mysterious attachment to their mother (Maria Bello), a supernatural entity has returned with a vengeance to torment the entire family.

The most recent entry on this list, Lights Out is a brilliant opening entry from director David F. Sandberg, doing exactly what it says on the tin! – Review

17. Let The Right One In

A beautifully crafted love story with a horror twist, Let The Right One In follows Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden. When he meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.

16. REC

REC is a Spanish zombie horror film series. The original 2007 film was shot in Barcelona, Spain and the title is an abbreviation of the word “record”, as it appears on a video camera.

Although found footage had been popular for quite some time thanks to The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, no movie had done it with such relentless intensity.

15. Maniac

A serial killer (Elijah Wood) removes his victims’ scalps and attaches them to the vintage mannequins he restores in his late mother’s shop.

Shot entirely from the point of view of Elijah Wood, Maniac puts you in the shoes of it’s killer and outdoes the original movie in every way. An uneasy and tense watch.

14. We Are Still Here

Every 30 years, a lonely old house in the fields of New England wakes up and demands a sacrifice.

A beat by beat classic horror movie, but executed flawlessly. There’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s done at such a high level you can’t help but love We Are Still Here

13. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.

An artistic achievement in horror. The first ever Iranian vampire movie is shot entirely in black and white and boasts beautiful cinematography, must be seen to be believed.

12. The Conjuring 2

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson, an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next targets of the malicious spirit.

Building upon the first movie, The Conjuring 2 may not be as bone-chilling as it’s predecessor but builds upon it’s own universe very effectively and feels like a more complete movie as a whole. You can check out our review – here.

11. Deathgasm

Two teenage boys accidentally summon an evil entity by delving into black magic.

The Evil Dead of this generation. Jason Lei Howden delivers a fun, hilarious and blood soaked 90 minutes that will become a cult classic in years to come. You can check out our review with Jason – here.

10. You’re Next

The Davisons, an upper-class family, are extremely wealthy — but also estranged. In an attempt to mend their broken family ties, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) Davison decide to celebrate their wedding anniversary by inviting their four children and their children’s significant others to their weekend estate. The celebration gets off to a rocky start, but when crossbow-wielding assailants in animal masks suddenly attack, the Davisons must pull together or die.

A fantastically crafted slasher movie, it’s black comedy, gore and 1980’s atmosphere could see it slot right in side by side with other movies from the golden era of horror.

9. The House Of The Devil

Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes a mysterious babysitting job. When she arrives at the house, Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) mentions a full lunar eclipse and explains there is no child, but that Samantha will be watching his mother instead. After exploring the sinister-seeming house, Samantha soon comes to realize that her employers are hiding a horrifying secret and have plans to use her, dead or alive.

An atmospheric slow burn of a movie, The House Of The Devil uses every tool at it’s disposal to make you feel uncomfortable, until it’s explosive final act.

7. Cabin In The Woods

When five college friends (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams) arrive at a remote forest cabin for a little vacation, little do they expect the horrors that await them. One by one, the youths fall victim to backwoods zombies, but there is another factor at play. Two scientists (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford) are manipulating the ghoulish goings-on, but even as the body count rises, there is yet more at work than meets the eye.

Taking The Evil Dead and giving it a tab of LSD, Cabin In The Woods might be the most fun you could ever have watching a movie with a group of friends. A brilliant satire at teen horrors with an insane final act.

6. The Orphanage

Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place and help her convert it into a home for sick children. One day, her own adopted son, Simón (Roger Príncep), disappears. Simon is critically ill, and when he is still missing several months later, he is presumed dead. Grief-stricken Laura believes she hears spirits, who may or may not be trying to help her find the boy.

Del Toro delivers yet again with a twisted fairytale that all horror fans will appreciate.

5. Trick R Treat

Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of a small town face real ghosts and goblins on Halloween. Tales of terror reveal the consequences of extinguishing a Jack-o-Lantern before midnight and a grumpy hermit’s encounter with a sinister trick-or-treater.

Not since Halloween has a movie captured the spirit of the holidays quite so well. Trick R Treat is a must for all horror fans, especially when it comes to October.

4. The Babadook

A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children’s book.

A dark psychological look, The Babadook definitely takes more inspiration from arthouse movies than pure horror, critically acclaimed, you’ll either love it or hate it.

3. The Witch

In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty and love to one another.

Critically acclaimed on the festival circuit, The Witch is a masterfully made film. The tough final act could’ve let the whole movie down, but was handled so well it added to the atmosphere. A cinematic triumph.

2. The Conjuring

In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren are summoned to the home of Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron. The Perrons and their five daughters have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, where a supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively benign at first, events soon escalate in horrifying fashion, especially after the Warrens discover the house’s macabre history.

If you asked me what movie on this list people will still be watching in 100 years, I would say The Conjuring. A horror movie in it’s purest form, not since The Exorcist in 1973 have audiences been so terrified. The Conjuring series cemented James Wan as the premier horror director of his time.

1. It Follows


After carefree teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) sleeps with her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary), for the first time, she learns that she is the latest recipient of a fatal curse that is passed from victim to victim via sexual intercourse. Death, Jay learns, will creep inexorably toward her as either a friend or a stranger. Jay’s friends don’t believe her seemingly paranoid ravings, until they too begin to see the phantom assassins and band together to help her flee or defend herself.

Often accused of style over substance, It Follows is the most divisive horror movie of the last ten years, many horror purest’s despise the movie and it’s understandable. For me however, it’s the coolest horror movie since 1996’s Scream. It oozes love for horror and love for cinema at every turn. It’s beautifully shot and it’s soundtrack screams nostalgia. Topped with a great original premise and great jump scares, It Follows is the best horror movie of the last ten years.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below!

89th Academy Awards: Staff Predictions

Who will win the Jump Scare Oscar sweepstake?

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will honor the best films of 2016 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 26, 2017. During the ceremony, AMPAS will present Academy Awards in 24 categories. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the ceremony for the first time.

For our live reaction podcast during the ceremony, podcast regulars; Jay, Beth and Coxy will be predicting 17 categories, with the winner no doubt winning a bottle of an alcoholic beverage of their choosing and title of Jump Scare, Oscar King/Queen.

Jay

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Naturally I have La La Land being the big winner on the night, picking up eight awards. But I feel the Academy will pull out a surprise in the Best Film category, with Barry Jenkins Moonlight picking up a win (either that or Denzel picking up Best Actor after his SAG award). I’ve gone for the standard, measured picks without really being too risky. I want to win the sweepstake!

Best Film – Moonlight
Best Actor – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea 
Best Actress – Emma Stone, La La Land
Best Director – Damien Chazelle, La La Land 
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis, Fences 
Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Best Foreign FilmToni Erdmann
Best Animated FilmKubo and the Two Strings
Best Original Screenplay – Damiel Chazelle, La La Land
Best Original Song – Audition (The Fools Who Dream), La La Land
Best Score – Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Best Adapted Screenplay – Moonlight
Best CinematographyLa La Land 
Best Film EditingHacksaw Ridge 
Best Visual EffectsJungle Book 
Best Production DesignLa La Land 
Best Sound MixingLa La Land
Best Documentary – 13th 

Beth

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I see this year’s Academy awards as being a one-horse-race and La La Land is the top breed this season. Although I think Manchester by the Sea is far more deserving for best film, I also want to win the sweep stake. La La Land is that bit of escapism the world wants right now.

Best Film – La La Land
Best Actor – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea 
Best Actress – Emma Stone, La La Land
Best Director – Damien Chazelle, La La Land 
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis, Fences 
Best Supporting Actor – Dev Patel, Lion
Best Foreign Film – The Salesman
Best Animated Film – Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Original Screenplay – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Best Original Song – City of Stars, La La Land
Best Score – Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Best Adapted Screenplay – Moonlight
Best Cinematography – La La Land 
Best Film Editing – Hacksaw Ridge 
Best Visual Effects – Jungle Book 
Best Production Design – La La Land 
Best Sound Mixing – La La Land
Best Documentary – 13th 

Coxy

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La La Land leads the way in my Oscar predictions, picking up six awards. I have Natalie Portman narrowly beating Emma Stone to Best Actress denying La La Land a seventh award. Throughout the years we have had plenty of surprises (Sean Penn for Milk beating Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler in 2009) and my heart hopes Manchester By The Sea delivers a surprise to beat La La Land to Best Picture. However with this being about winning the sweepstake, my head rules over my heart, so I predict La La Land to win the big one.

Best FilmLa La Land
Best Actor – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress – Natalie Portman, Jackie
Best Director – Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis, Fences
Best Supporting Actor – Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Best Foreign FilmToni Erdmann
Best Animated FilmMoana
Best Original Screenplay – Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea
Best Original Song – City Of Stars, La La Land
Best Score – Justin Jurwitz, La La Land
Best Adapted ScreenplayHidden Figures
Best CinematographyLa La Land
Best Film EditingHacksaw Ridge
Best Visual EffectsJungle Book
Best Production DesignLa La Land
Best Sound MixingLa La Land
Best Documentary13th

What are your predictions for this years Oscars? Let us know in the comments below!

Everything the ‘Alien: Covenant’ Prologue Told us

And a few questions it left us asking

By Jay Hunter The Alien: Covenant prologue dropped out of nowhere today. The clip – just shy of five minutes – is rumoured to not feature in the final cut of the movie, however it still taught us one or two things about the ships crew, as well as leaving us with a few questions.

Michael Fassbender is aboard the Covenant, helping the crew before cryosleep
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Although Fassbender is first seen aiding the ships crew, he clearly has ulterior motives
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James Franco’s character is named Jake and is the captain of the Covenant
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Jake is also coming down with a mystery illness, is it normal flu or something more sinister?
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Katherine Waterson and James Franco hint at a relationship with a cheeky wink
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Danny McBride is still Danny McBride
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Although the ships crew is divided, there is clearly disconnect
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There’s rumours of alien creatures, but are they the Xenomorphs?
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There’s a clear nod to the late John Hurt
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The Covenant crew are chartering the furthest reaches of space making the largest colonisation attempt ever.
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Anything we missed? Check out the full prologue below and let us know in the comments!

Rebel Yell: The 12 Coolest Movies of All Time

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels. The troublemakers.


By Jay Hunter – Recently Jump Scare started lending a hand to Purple Revolver. Who in an effort to help Liverpool local’s see more classic movies created Grindhouse at The Merchant. An event that aims to show the coolest films, at one of the cities coolest bars – for free. As John Appleseed once said:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels. The troublemakers.
The problem child. The round pegs in the square holes.
 The ones who see things differently.

 They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo.
 You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
 About the only thing you cannot do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal.
 They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.

 Maybe they have to be crazy. 

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
 Or sit in silence and hear a song that has never been written? 
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

 We make tools for these kinds of people. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. 
Because people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

With that being said, here’s the 13 coolest movies of all time.

Trainspotting

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Trainspotting is the quintessential Britpop movie. Based on Irvine Welsh’s acclaimed algid book. The movie starred the raw, changing; Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Johnny Lee Miller. Bottling the insanity of 90s British culture and releasing it as a 135 minute-irreverent zeitgeist flick (with a killer soundtrack). No British film has come close before or since.

The Wild One

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In the pantheon of cool, there’s only one Marlon Brando. The man that arguably changed Hollywood, Brando oozed je ne sais quoi in The Wild One. The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club traversed America draped in leather on their choppers, causing chaos and trouble wherever they went. “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” “What’a’ya got?

Fight Club

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We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” Barked Brad Pitt in Fight Club. A war call to the disenchanted Generation X, encapsulated by a gorgeous visual style from Se7en director, David Fincher. Fight Club may be one of the 90s most iconoclastic pieces, but who didn’t try and achieve those Brad Pitt abs?

Mean Streets

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Martin Scorsese’s third picture – Mean Streets – is often credited with being his breakout picture. Billing Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. Scorsese announces his intent to claim the ‘Great American Director’ throne with a fable of omertà, remorse and redemption (an ongoing theme for the director, even to this day).

A Clockwork Orange

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Kubrick’s dystopian fairytale melds drama, horror and science-fiction into one as he adapts Anthony Burgess’s novel for the big screen. Despite it’s notorious controversy, Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal of violent gang-leader, Alex would go on to become one of the most iconic performances in cinematic history. You’ll never think of milk – or Singin’ in the Rain – the same way again.

Goodfellas

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As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” so begins Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus. Showcasing the greatest tracking shot in cinema, a legendary soundtrack and brilliant outlaw performances from De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci. The trifecta would go on to embody what is meant to be a goodfella with quick wits and sharp suits to boot.

Easy Rider

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Featuring two bikers embracing the counterculture of 1960’s America. Easy Rider was a road trip of psychedelic proportions. Starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in an all star cast, it’s message of leaving society in your motorbikes wake still speaks to the youth of today.

Bullitt

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Featuring the King of Cool himself, Steve McQueen. Bullitt is an all guts, no glory movie following a San Francisco cop who becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed a witness in his protection. McQueen will always be remembered for The Great Escape, but it’s his ice cool performance as Frank Bullitt (and an incredible car chase scene) that earned him his moniker.

Reservoir Dogs

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In fairness, we could’ve included Tarantino’s entire filmography on this list. It could be argued that QT has never topped his debut effort. The connoisseur of cinema and violence introduced us to a cast cooler than a freezer in 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and melded them with sizzling dialogue, raising the bar for independent cinema forever in the process.

Drive

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Ryan Gosling’s performance in Drive will be incubated by time. Fitting in comfortably alongside James Dean, Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood, Gosling also manages to bring an updated sense of relevance – with very little words – to the role of ‘The Driver’. Beautifully shot in neon hues, Drive boasts elements from noir and grindhouse, led by an anti-hero shrouded in mystique.

Pulp Fiction

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Tarantino’s sophomore directorial effort proved to doubters that his talent wasn’t a flash in the pan as the director rose the ranks in Hollywood as a genuine force with a sense of swagger. Pulp Fiction is a criterion of cool featuring an all star cast; Uma Thurman, Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel. The confidence of Pulp Fiction even managed to resurrect John Travolta.

Rebel Without a Cause

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When asked to describe cool movie stars, most people will frequent the mythical James Dean. Tragically there’s nothing quite like an early death to ensure your immortality in Hollywood. Dean’s iconic performance as the disaffected Jim Stark awoke society into paying more attention to the rebellious youth of the day. Dean passed away just a month before the movie’s release, conserving the twenty-four year old in cool forever.

What movies do you think are the coolest of all time? Be sure to tweet us – here with what movies you’d like to see Purple Revolver put on at The Merchant next!