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Pulse (#110 of 5)

100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

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100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time
100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

From Chuck Bowen’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Horror Film of All Time: “A startling commonality emerges if you look over the following films in short succession that’s revelatory of the entire horror genre: These works aren’t about the fear of dying, but the fear of dying alone, a subtlety that cuts to the bone of our fear of death anyway—of a life unlived. There’s an explicit current of self-loathing running through this amazing collection of films. What are Norman Bates and Jack Torrance besides eerily all-too-human monsters? Failures. Success also ultimately eludes Leatherface, as well as the socially stunted lost souls of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse. What is the imposing creature of Nosferatu? He makes for quite the presence, but his hungers ultimately lead him to oblivion.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorites made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed the cut.

15 Famous Movie Apparitions

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15 Famous Movie Apparitions
15 Famous Movie Apparitions

This weekend, your antidote to R-Pattz/K-Stew gossip is the sure-to-be throwaway ghost flick The Apparition, starring the crumbling couple’s Twilight co-star, Ashley Greene. Serving as Greene’s first star vehicle, the new thriller tells of a haunting presence derived from a shady parapsychology experiment, and sees a young woman (Greene) and her hunk husband (Sebastian Stan) scream their guts out before, naturally, calling in an expert (played by Lucius Malfoy himself, Tom Felton). There are plenty of memorable movie specters who’ve preceded Greene’s floorboard-creaking houseguest, and they’ll still be planted in viewers’ minds long after The Apparition dissolves into oblivion. Who to expect on this week’s list? Let’s just say that Carmen Maura, Jennifer Jones, and Bill Cosby have more in common than you might have thought.

Pulse: “Would You Like to Meet Ghosts?”

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<em>Pulse</em>: “Would You Like to Meet Ghosts?”
<em>Pulse</em>: “Would You Like to Meet Ghosts?”

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse, about dead souls spilling through the Internet, isn’t just scary, it’s primally disturbing. Its deadpan chills surpass the usual don’t-open-that-door genre clichés and tap into dream logic. Like Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, The Shining, The Innocents, The Tenant and similarly subdued, circumspect, psychologically oriented shockers, it’s the kind of movie that is only intermittently scary while you’re watching it (it’s easy to make fun of), but gets scarier as you think about it later. Kurosawa dispenses with most of the clichéd elements we’ve come to expect from commercial horror (including the mandatory scene where a character explains the nature of the threat, a stock moment that’s amusingly parodied here) and instead dips into horror’s roiling emotional undercurrent: the dread that comes from contemplating death.

J-Horror Mash-Up: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution

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J-Horror Mash-Up: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution
J-Horror Mash-Up: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution

I just watched a couple of Japanese horror films back to back. One was the J-Horror standby Ju-On (The Grudge); the other was Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (Pulse). It would be very easy to cover the two together under one tent, but that would be to court madness. Whatever its genre trappings, Pulse is the work of a metaphysical artist working through issues of alienation and the social contract; The Grudge, meanwhile, is an extremely literal-minded scare film about some very angry blue people, and while some symptomatic resonances might be at work, its makers are blissfully unaware of anything other than mechanics and (weak) theatrics. Though they share a sort of Typhoid Mary approach to their horrors—Pulse uses the internet to collect souls, The Grudge creates a daisy-chain of victims connected to that funky house—they couldn’t be more separate in intent, sense of style, or level of consciousness. But this being the world we live in, it was inevitable that the two approaches would wind up merging. The mash-up is Retribution, an uneasy alliance between Kurosawa and super-producer Takashige Ichise, who’s had his fingers in a sizeable number of J-Horror pots (including The Grudge). Lest you think such a relationship would be strictly hands-off, Ichise didn’t merely produce, but also helped write the screenplay, despite the fact that in the past, Kurosawa has mostly done the writing himself. In Retribution, the literal-minded world of standard J-Horror and the metaphorical brilliance of Kurosawa prove to be largely incompatible; it’s a fight to the finish, and the winner is the square literality of the genre itself.