We here at GMAM love spooky movies just as much as anyone, and given it’s October, we couldn’t resist doing a seasonally appropriate episode. But, as Cinepunx already has an authoritative podcast on all things horror-related (hey, Horror Business!), we decided to go a somewhat uncharted route and do a double feature on a couple of our favorite old-fashioned creepy thrillers. These two picks are atmospheric and ripe with psychological tension, but by some people’s standards may not exactly be called horror movies. Effectively, I’m calling them Horror Lite™ (same great taste, less filling).
First, we explore director Charles Laughton’s 1955 epic Night of the Hunter. Many critics and fans alike have claimed this is their favorite horror movie, or that it’s the scariest movie they’ve ever seen. The film’s visuals are stark and dramatic, and along with heart(and gut)-wrenching performances from stars Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish, it’s not a film that’s easily forgettable. Night of the Hunter is timeless and resonant, seemingly existing in a world that’s just outside of our own. It’s a beautiful southern gothic tale that gets under your skin and haunts you, even if it’s not particularly “scary” by today’s standards. In this episode, we talk about why the film clicks for us, and how my most recent viewing of it in particular gave me a tremendous amount of anxiety. We may also pay tribute to Robert Mitchum’s 1957 calypso album somewhere along the way – who knows!
Next is Otto Preminger’s mod 1965 thriller, Bunny Lake Is Missing. It’s human nature to be fascinated by madness, and in this story of a young woman going mad over her missing child, we are left questioning our perceptions of mental stability. The film is set in London, while our protagonists are Americans, playing on a sense of “fish out of water” isolation as well. Carol Lynley is perfect as the frantic mother, and Keir Dullea as her brother commands an urgency that is ultimately hair-raising. Insert the cool and collected investigator Laurence Olivier and a strange promotional appearance from ‘60s rockers The Zombies, and you’ve got yourself quite a memorable film. Don’t worry, we don’t spoil the ending – you’ve really got to watch this for yourself! What you will hear, though, is how much we appreciate this film and its impact – and its music. By the way, have you heard the story of how The Zombies weren’t The Zombies in America? Tune in!
As always, thanks for listening! Have a great spooky season everyone!