Topic: Classic Horror Tales

As the title suggests I'd like to discuss the influence and adaptations of classic tales of terror. There is some obvious choices which have been remade dozens of times, Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, The raven, The Black Cat etc. what makes these stories translate so well onto film? Which is your favourite and why, and which is the best adaptation? Is there any classic tales you would like to see made into a movie, or made again as a new movie?

I know it's a cheap one, but I have to go with Dracula as the best horror story to be translated into a movie. It's been done so many times, and much of the time with great success. Starting with it's first (I think), and my personal favourite adaptation, Nosferatu. A very creepy and dark shadow filled movie. Followed by Browning's Dracula, which romanticised the Dracula character, removing him from the creature like presence in Nosferatu and portrayed moreso in the book. The Hammer Horror flicks with Christopher Lee, and the Jess Franco with Lee are all excellent. The story is simple yet creepy, and can be conveyed in so many different ways. I've seen ballets of the book, which were also very well done (though at some parts silly), and a play which was OK, but not much more. It was a little too goofy, but even then had some great visual displays of Dracula drinking the blood of his victims or they of his blood. Oddly enough the book itself, at least in my estimation, is not that good. Stoker's characters are all pretty much the same, all pleasantries and galantry. It does have some creepy and gory parts in the book, but it often feels more like a soap opera than a horror novel. I do like the idea of the journals from multiple characters pooint of view, but it would have worked much better if the characters felt more realistic. Nonetheless it translates tremendously onto film and other visual arts.

Lovecraft's works have not had the best of receptions as far as film. Re-Animator, though excellent, works more on slapstick gore and outrageous characters than any true frights. Lovecraft's writing is all about the unseen, quite the opposite of film. And often does not translate well. I think a silent expressionist adaptation of one of his stories, maybe the Shadow over Innsmouth (I believe that's the name), would have made a truly creepy movie. It's too bad it never came to fruition. With todays special effects it might be more doable to create some of the mind breaking imagery conveyed (or implied) in his works, but it would still have to be done tastefully. Carpenter's The Thing is I think the closest we will get to a great Lovecraft adaptation, though it's not even based one of his stories, it's clearly influenced by them and conveys the dark unknowable terror that only Lovecraft can achieve.

I think part of the reason older tales work so well with the horror film genre is the lack of technology. The further we advance the harder it is to suspend belief. It's also harder to escape a killer or call a police when you have no cell phone, or car. It's hard to track down and convict a killer when there is no forensic science. Another reason might simply be that many of the great ideas are already done, so what else is there to do but tell them again.

Last edited by Theli (2012-10-12 16:54:01)

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Bump, no one, eh?

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Theli wrote:

Lovecraft's works have not had the best of receptions as far as film. Re-Animator, though excellent, works more on slapstick gore and outrageous characters than any true frights. Lovecraft's writing is all about the unseen, quite the opposite of film. And often does not translate well. I think a silent expressionist adaptation of one of his stories, maybe the Shadow over Innsmouth (I believe that's the name), would have made a truly creepy movie. It's too bad it never came to fruition. With todays special effects it might be more doable to create some of the mind breaking imagery conveyed (or implied) in his works, but it would still have to be done tastefully. Carpenter's The Thing is I think the closest we will get to a great Lovecraft adaptation, though it's not even based one of his stories, it's clearly influenced by them and conveys the dark unknowable terror that only Lovecraft can achieve.

 

The Dracula movies are my favourite films based on a gothic novel but I also quite enjoy lovecraft adaptations also.  In fact i made a nice top ten of them...

http://www.horror-movies.ca/2012/05/top … or-movies/

I believe dagon was based on Shadow over Innsmouth rather than Dagon and is a very good movie.  Castle Freak was loosely based on The Outsider and of course Haunted Palace with Vincent Price.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Hmm, haven't seen The Outsider or Haunted Palace, sounds like mandatory watching. I did see Dagon years ago. I remember liking it, but thinking it could have been even better, and yeah it is based on Shadow Over Innsmouth, probably my favourite Lovecraft story.

Did you see the The Call of Cthulhu? It's made in black and white, but it's a newer movie. I've been meaning to check that out too.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Haven't seen that one yet.  I have seen some of the Lovecraft Historical Movies but they aren't very scary and they don't quite fit in with my list so I didn't include them.  There was also an episode of Masters of Horror based on Lovecraft called Dreams in the Witchhouse.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Yeah that was one of my favourite episodes, along with Carpenter`s Cigarette Burns.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

How about Nathaniel Hawthorne's TWICE-TOLD TALES?

Adapted for the big screen in 1963.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Yeah I love that movie too, Price is at his best. I've never read any Hawthorne though, how is it?

Re: Classic Horror Tales

Theli wrote:

Yeah I love that movie too, Price is at his best. I've never read any Hawthorne though, how is it?

Of course, like anything else it's a matter of personal taste. However, I keep good memories of certain stories, but that was several years ago.

Re: Classic Horror Tales

@Theli- I've seen Call of Cthulhu.  Great film.  Silent and black and white.  It pulls off the feel of Lovecraft better than most of his other adaptions.  I keep on writing about Lovecraft adaptions (my favorite writer), and it keeps getting longer and longer... 
Not that I mind- gives me a reason to re-read his stuff!  big_smile

Last edited by azathoth (2012-11-12 18:14:53)