So last night I went to a screening of House on Haunted Hill and Asylum at the Komedia in Brighton which had been organised by Scare Sarah and Cyberschizoid as part of their Classic Horror Campaign. I'd seen both films before but as always with these things I'd forgotten how good they are.
As with most William Castle films House on Haunted Hill is the perfect film for an audience as this is clearly how he intended them to be seen. Elisha Cook daring us to stay in the house for a night at the beginning of the film does a good job of drawing you in when you're watching with a bunch of other people. It's never particularly scary but some of the jumps are still effective, and ultimately I don't think Castle would mind that some of the more extreme moments provoke laughs rather than screams these days. The film is a lot of fun and I imagine that's exactly what he wanted it to be.
Asylum is a film that gets more awesome every time I see it. The opening story about the wrapped up body parts coming back to life is still really disturbing, and reminded me of some of the best aspects of Japanese horror films. But the final story about the little robot Herbert Lom is still by far the creepiest. As with all portmanteau films the weaker sections slow it down a bit, but generally this remains one of the best Amicus films and represents British horror at its best.
But by far the best thing about the evening was the audience. I've been to the cinema a lot over the past few weeks and at risk of sounding older than my years I'm really struggling to cope with cinema audiences these days. It seems pretty standard now that people won't really settle down to actually start watching the film until the first line of dialogue is spoken, and then if you're lucky the film will hold their attention for long enough to stop chatting until at least the halfway point. I just get the impression that the majority people don't really go to the cinema to watch films anymore, and that's what made last night brilliant. There was a respect for the films that I was really starting to doubt even existed anymore. Everyone there wanted to see the films and everyone, as far as I could tell, was having a good time.
Horror films were made to be screened to an audience, so if you like horror films and would like to see some really awesome horror films as they were meant to be seen I seriously recommend you check out and support the Classic Horror Campaign by checking out their website and going along to their screenings if possible. The next one is on Sunday 4th September at the Roxy in London where they're showing Horror Hospital and Black Sunday. And personally I think Black Sunday is one of the most beautiful black and white horror films ever produced so is definitely worth seeing on a big screen.