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Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday Five- Films that changed my life

Many films settle for the obvious: get some good-looking people, put them in a funny/perilous situation, include some witty banter, a cracking soundtrack and – voila! A box-office hit that will entertain the masses.
 Some films go that extra mile. They blend these successful elements and add a pinch of something special. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I do know that everyone has them- those films that they return to time and time again because of the effect they have. Here are mine.

 1. The Fog

The first horror film I ever watched, and still my favourite. I caught a sneaky glimpse one night when I was very young, just managing to see a weatherman be gutted with a fish hook before I was whisked out of the room and back into bed. I made it my mission to watch the whole film and, at a still (ridiculously) young age, managed it. I was not disappointed. WOW! The opening scene on the cliff, where the old sea-dog tells his tale, is a masterpiece that I've never seen bettered. The sheer genius of the story-telling! The delicious chill of imagining monsters in the mist! The sense of dread and fear as the fog rolls in and the terror begins… I was hooked (excuse the pun), and horror has remained my favourite genre ever since.

2. Gone With the Wind

Oh, to be a southern belle! Watching Vivien Leigh grow emotionally from a spoiled, selfish bitch who deserves a good slap to a resilient and resourceful woman never fails to be a joy for me. And anyone who can look good in curtains and a cock-feather is a winner in my eyes. I love her feistiness, her complete disregard for anyone but herself, her downfall and heart-breaking epiphany. Scarlett taught me to act dumb, think smart, flutter my eyelashes and that, after all, tomorrow is another day.

3. Withnail and I

I actually find it hard to be friends with people who have seen this film and not liked it. I can quote it ad nauseum (and often do) and, though Withnail is certainly no role-model, I will admit to sharing some of his characteristics- namely a tendency towards theatrical, drunken rants and a liberal smattering of profanity when vexed. No film has ever made me howl so hard with laughter, or induced such horrific hangovers (yes, I'm referring to the infamous drinking game). As I've matured, I find myself more drawn to I however, and I think if this film has a lasting message that has changed my life, it’s that, when those around you drag you down and stop you becoming the person you want to be, pack your bags and get the hell out.

4. American Beauty

This is the only film on this list that I've actually seen on the big screen. I remember it well: my (then) boyfriend and I, watching the credits roll and unable to move, completely blown-away by the combination of beauty and tragedy we had watched unfold in the story. This film made me notice the little details, the things around me that inspire awe and wonder on a daily basis. It’s why I include them in my stories, because the small moments are the ones that create the whole picture, that make it real. This film is the reason I find something to love each day, because each day is magical in its own way, and none of us know if it will be our last. Remember those posters that that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life?” Well, that’s true of every day but one- the day you die.

 5. The Haunting

No, not the crappy re-make that promised so much and delivered so little. I’m talking about the original and best, faithful to the book (which I actually read after I’d seen the film, which is unusual for me) atmospheric 1963 version. The premise is simple and familiar: a group of people gather in a reputedly-haunted house (which deserves a credit as a character, its so full of energy) to investigate the cause of the disturbances, all in the name of science. So far, so ordinary. What makes this film special is the head-twisting mix of real and imagined peril, Eleanor’s paranoia (but is it?) and change of perspective, and Theo’s mind games. It’s beautiful to look at, and so cleverly shot that I spend the entire film watching the shadows nervously. The stand-out scenes for me include the nursery (“Good God! Whose hand was I holding?”) and the bedroom door scene. I dare you to watch it and not scream along with the girls. This film showed me that real terror is in your mind, and no less powerful for being imagined. I don’t need to see rotting corpses to be frightened, and that’s why I don’t show them to my readers.

What films have had a great effect on you? Would you go so far as to say they changed your life? Let me know I’m not the only one!


  1. This might sound strange, but I can't think of any films that have influenced me... If you asked about books, I could probably think of a few :-)

  2. Oh, I've got more than a few! Maybe that will be the subject of my next blog... Good idea x


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