Tom Jolliffe offers up a selection of non-horror films to watch this Halloween season, which might just be prescient enough to be horrific…
Halloween’s just for horror right? Well what if we’re not watching horror? What if we’re watching action or sci-fi or comedy? It may just be that some of these films have a pinch of prescience that creates a different sense of horror. So lets take a look at a few alternative Halloween movie picks.
Okay…if we’re talking prescience, we can’t really avoid a contagion film. 12 Monkeys however isn’t entirely atypical of the contagion genre. It takes place both before the outbreak of a deadly virus, and in the future post virus leftovers of humanity. Bruce Willis is sent back through time to stop the virus from being released. Essential Sci-fi and it features a great turn from Willis. Additionally, Brad Pitt could essentially represents every internet conspiracy theorist. If you’ve seen persistent posters on your timelines about anything to do with Bill Gates, or Russia, or vaccinations, then you must picture them with the wild, bug eyed, fidgeting intensity that Brad Pitt injects into his role here, one which takes a surprising about turn later in the picture.
Terry Gilliam’s brilliant satirical spin on 1984 and a cutting look at 80’s corporate greed and bureaucracy could also do a good job of representing the current state of British politics and business management methods. A simple clerical error along the perpetual chain of never-ending paper-work triggers a chain of events for an office worker whose dull life sees him retreat into fantasy. Beyond all the fantasy, comedy and wild visuals, there’s something very (almost disturbingly) real about Gilliam’s Dystopian vision.
If Brazil has a cutting vision of contemporary Britain, then Idiocracy might be a sign of things to come across the pond. Funny visions of the future with imbecilic world leaders can often bring about laughs, but we’re currently in an age where satirists no longer need to write, they merely need to wait and that’s never truer than when Donny Trump is under the microscope. Additionally, Idiocracy takes a wider reaching swipe, not just at America, but across the Western world, at an increasing dumbing down in almost everything. We’re already a world loathe to fact check, research, or engage in discourse. The notion of a man of somewhat limited intelligence (but distinctly average) waking in 500 years to find he’s the smartest person on the planet brings no shortage of amusement.
Back to the Future Part II/Timecop
When a politician seems genuinely batshit bonkers, or criminally inept (or both), and there’s plenty around, do you ever wonder how they actually got in the position? Was a Sports Almanac and time travel involved? Perhaps. It’s possibly the only logical explanation for two blond buffoons. So naturally we could look at the antics of Biff Tannen in Back to the Future Part II, in abusing time travel to set himself up for life in an alternate reality. Likewise you might also look at Timecop, with a senator who makes use of the time travelling equipment to boost his presidential run. Plus there’s a great moment in Timecop, with the villainous Ron Silver, when his future self meets his past self and someone tries to talk to the more domineering future version. He responds by belting the interrupter and replying, ‘Never interrupt me when I’m talking with myself!’
Withnail and I
You’ve been in lockdown. You fancy a holiday, but travelling abroad is made exceptionally difficult. The answer? Holiday at home. Withnail and I, apart from being a film about the end of an era and movements passing, also perfectly encapsulates the joys of the British holiday. Two out of work actors arrive at a rainswept, run down cottage, quite unlike what they were probably expecting. There’s nothing much to do except idly pass the time. “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!”
If you find yourself stuck at home again, and burn through your Netflix watch list, perhaps retreating into a complex fantasy world within the dark recesses of your mind might be an idea, just like Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth. On the surface it’s a light hearted jaunt with puppets, David Bowie and David Bowie’s music. Beneath, it’s a dark twisted tale of paranoid schizophrenia with a young girl who aspires to be her mother and has deep seeded feelings about her mothers theatrical partner. Every musical, fantasy story and toy she childishly worships becomes a fragment of this fantasy world, and even after coming to terms with it, she still retreats back to fantasy. Still…when you can only scroll and there’s nothing worth playing, why not make your own world?
It’s only October. 2020, a year that should henceforth be known as shit-sandwich, still has time to bring about another twist. People have speculated what comes next. Something biblical maybe? A plague of locusts perhaps…Or is it finally time the aliens made their presence felt. Maybe this will be the year. Batten down the hatches, and get Randy Quaid on standby. In the meantime your training video for alien invasion comes in the form of Roland Emmerich’s cheese fest masterpiece, Independence Day. If only Bill Pullman was president.
The Running Man
In the new age of entertainment, things have taken increasingly dark turns, getting ever closer to the TV theatrics displayed Stephen King adaptation, The Running Man. The classic Arnold starrer features televised gladiatorial games to the death with the contestants made up of convicted criminals. Ben Richards (Arnold) has been framed for murder and must win the day and clear his name. It’s not merely the sadistic nature of the programme that has shades of where some TV stands now (Bushtucker trials anyone?), but some of the faux TV game show ads we see in the film also mirror the cynicism that permeates so much TV now, particularly in competition format. What was wrong with just a good old game of Catchphrase or Family Fortunes?
Freedom of speech vs the ever increasing fight to escape being offensive. Demolition Man, Stallone’s sci-fi opus which has grown adoration (along with prescience) over time creates a future world where anything deemed potentially offensive has been outlawed, even down to swearing. Violence has been taken away from all conflict, to negate the potential for irreversible actions, but it’s also left a police force unprepared in dealing with a psychotic like Simon Phoenix (brilliantly played by Wesley Snipes). Eventually freedom of expression wins, whilst an unscrupulously shat on society of underclass rise up against the oppressive ruling classes.
Can you think of any more non-horror (but potentially rich in prescience) films to watch this month? Let us know on our social channels @flickeringmyth…
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020/21, including The Witches Of Amityville (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch), War of The Worlds: The Attack and the star studded action films, Renegades (Lee Majors, Billy Murray) and Crackdown. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.