Given that it's almost Halloween, I think it's time I talk about scary movies. I didn't watch many classic horror movies as a kid for a couple of reasons: 1) My parents took movie ratings to heart, meaning that I was rarely allowed to watch an R-rated movie while I was under seventeen, and 2) I'm a crybaby. Really, I get SO SCARED so easily. Now that I'm a grown-up though, I realize being scared is part of the fun — especially if you have the chance to watch a scary movie in the movie theater with other people who are SO SCARED and then you can all yell together.
As I've started exploring more of the classic movies I missed out on, I'm learning that I like creepy-horror more than slasher-horror. A like a movie filled with creepy unseen things and people going crazy for no reason, but not so much buckets of blood and impaled people. (Although my heart does have a special place for Kevin Bacon's death scene in Friday the 13th. Oh, oops, spoiler if you're 35 years behind in life.)
One of my faves in the creepy-horror category is the Czech classic Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. I guess it's not even technically a "horror" movie, seeing that IMDB categorizes it under Adventure/Drama/Fantasy, but just try to look at this guy for a long time and not have nightmares:
Horrifying, right? There's also this rape-y priest:
And this vampire lady:
So, this might not be classified as a "horror" movie, but I'm not going to say it WON'T give you nightmares.
I first saw this movie when I was studying abroad in Prague in (gasp) 2003. I would have to dig through my extensive journals from the time to figure out where and why exactly I saw it, but I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that I was hanging out at FAMU a lot, using their resources and professors to help me with my film-focused independent study project. Good times.
It came out in 1970, right at the tail end of the Czech New Wave when filmmakers were all about creating really cool visual experiences without regard for traditional plots or famous actors. Within that, they often focused on traditional folk tales and Bohemian country living. The result with Valerie is this nightmarish but beautiful film that feels like a weird drug trip. Also, this is 1970 so everyone has killer hair.
I had nearly forgotten about this movie's existence until Halloween 2007, when I heard about a screening hosted by The Valerie Project at MoMA. I went with Andrea and we wore costumes and drank mini wines and it was SO GREAT. We also got real drunk on free cocktails after, which led to us crying in the lobby (but like the good kind of crying?), and then led to me leaving my limited-edition Valerie drawing behind in a midtown Mexican restaurant. But that's a whole other story.
OK, I'll leave you with one more fact and then I'll stop rambling: Did you know that Broadcast's album Haha Sound was inspired by this movie?? I had no idea! I mean, duh, there's even a song called "Valerie." Now I love this album even more.