Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Master of the Thriller: Alfred Hitchcock

Download Alfred Hitchcock Wallpaper WallpaperOn Friday I went to see the film Martha Marcy May Marlene.  While sitting in the theatre my stomach started feeling as though it were in knots from tension.  I was scared.  The movie does a great job creating a suspenseful build up.  I love suspense, there is nothing like a film thats uses and underlying amount of tension to make the audience squirm.With Halloween tomorrow being tomorrow and seeing everyone out in costumes last night, I started to think about what scares me.  The first thing on my list would be clowns, they are frightening.  Stephen King's It which aired on ABC IN 1990 has alway been one of the scariest things I have ever seen, mainly because of clowns.

After thinking about It, or well trying not think It, I thought about what scares me most, and what I enjoy most within the horror/thriller genre.  I always spend more time throughout the month of October watching scary movies.  There are two types of films that I always go to watch during this month, more suspenseful thrillers, and films that display the irony of the genre.  I have never been someone who liked the obvious scary films like Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th.  Jason and Freddy Krueger are great marketing tools, and the numerous sequels have ruined the scare factor. Within the last decade horror films have moved towards the gross out scare tactics and torture horror.  With the Saw series and films like Hostel I have never been scared.  The only I ever averted my eyes during Hostel was because something was gross not scary.  Within the recent years suspense has been lacking in this genre.

The master of suspense has and always will be Alfred Hitchcock.  Hitchcock's films have alway held me on the edge of my seat.  My favorite Hitchcock thriller is Rear Window (1954).  The film centers around a wheelchair bound L.B. 'Jeff' Jeffries played by Jimmy Stewart who while confined to his New York City apartment thinks he sees his neighbor across the street kill his wife.  I love how Hitchcock uses the limited perspective of L.B. to allow the audience to enhance their vantage point.

Rear Window is a wonderful film, and follows some of the standards within the thriller genre.  This eternal question of "Will they get caught?" and the thinking "Don't go in there."  With a thriller it's all about the pacing.  Hitchcock played by the rules but broke them all the time an inspired a whole generation of directors to further their own intrigue and initiative within this genre.  Hitchcock was so brilliant he helped further an entire branch of the horror genre.

The most famous of Hitchcock's films was the thriller Psycho (1960).  This film is seen as the birth of "slasher film."  The infamous shower seen where Janet Leigh is stabbed to death is one of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema.  Looking at the slasher genre today films have certainly evolved and made the premise much more silly or unrealistic.  In Psycho, Norman Bates stated "We all go a little mad sometimes."  There is something so ingenious about this character.  Bates quiet and charming demeanor is almost to reassuring.  Hitchock was smart enough within this film to leave the romance behind.  Their is more focus on sex and violence within this film.  The shower scene is seen as one of themost frightening scenes, and his use of a sex symbol and the shower put men and women into and interesting point of view. The main fear was that anything could happen to you any time, even while you were doing something as simple as taking a shower.

I could talk about Hitchcock for an entire book, and his films like Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, Rope, etc. are all examples of how this man made some of the most brilliant thrillers ever.  Hitchcock has inspired generations of film makers throughout the genre.  Hitchcock and his thrillers are some of my favorite films of all time.  Scream killing Drew Barrymore was an homage to Psycho.  Hitchcock killed off the big star in the first 45 minutes.  Janet Leigh was a major player and this was the beginning of the shape of this genre.   It's all about the thrill and how his inspiration pushed the boundaries for the audience to become more involved in the story. This man was a genius storyteller, and  deserves to be celebrated more.

No comments: