You Think You Know Something, Don’t You?: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

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“You think you know something, don’t you? You think you’re the clever little girl who knows something. There’s so much you don’t know, so much. What do you know, really? You’re just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there’s nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares.”

So for my first Alfred Hitchcock film, I am going to review Shadow of a Doubt. This really surprised me as I never thought this would have been the first, (I was sure it would be Psycho). But I had such an urge to talk about it, that I had to follow it. Now this has never been considered one of Hitchcock’s greats, in fact it bombed at the office, but it was both Alfred Hitchcock’s and Teresa Wright’s favorite film.

I actually have a personal connection to this film myself. I used to go to college near Santa Rosa and one day for film class we were going to watch a psychological film. The one we chose wouldn’t work and I suggested that we had to watch an Alfred Hitchcock film, specifically Shadow of a Doubt. I had this urge and was pushing the film so hard, even though it is not one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It was only when we watched it, that I remembered that it was set and filmed in Santa Rosa. In fact, I have been to all the areas the film was set in.

So the film is supposed to be about a happy town, full of normal American people, but underneath this lies something horrible. This kind of thing was what David Lynch ended up doing and becoming famous for in his film Blue Velvet and TV series Twin Peaks.

TwinPeaks dark henious evil

So the film starts off with the extremely handsome Joseph Cotten, lying on a bed. His name is Charlie Oakley.

Cotten, Joseph (Shadow of a Doubt)_01 phone call

His landlady knocks on the door and tells him that there are two men looking for him. Charlie quickly packs some things up, gathers his money, and takes off. He makes plans to get out of the East coast, going heading to California to visit his sister Emma in Santa Rosa.

In Santa Rosa, we meet Charlie 2 (Teresa Wright), named after her Uncle Charlie. (From now on I’m going to say Charlie for Teresa Wright and Uncle Charlie for Joseph Cotten as otherwise it will be too confusing.) Anyways, Charlie has been complaining that life is boring. Nothing interesting ever happens in life.

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She finds out that her Uncle Charlie is coming and is ecstatic. The two of them have always shared a special bond. Out of everyone in their family, she feels that Charlie is the only one who really gets her.

he gets me

Uncle Charlie greets the family and not only bring life into the house but gifts. Charlie gets the most special gift of all, an emerald ring. Charlie notices an engraving of initials on the inside and asks Uncle Charlie what they stand for. He doesn’t know and blames the jeweler for selling him an old ring instead of a new one.

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

He keeps trying to push Charlie to let him get it re-engraved, but she refuses. At dinner, Emma is humming this song. It has been stuck in her head all day and she can’t remember what it is called. She asks around to everyone else, and her husband Joseph says that it is The Merry Widow Waltz. When Uncle Charlie hears this, he is startled and spills his wine.

shadowofadoubt unhappy

After dinner, Joseph’s friend comes over. Now this is an interesting subplot. The two of them are huge mystery fans and are constantly trying to create the perfect murder. This subplot always makes me laugh and it reminds me of a friend and I. We are always talking about the best way to kill someone and get away with it. I always go with the Secret Window way.

“Joseph Newton: We’re not talking about killing people. Herb’s talking about killing me and I’m talking about killing him.”

In fact, they remind me of Randy from Scream except with actual murders, than horror films.

Randy

They determine one of the best ways to kill someone is to disguise the murder as a suicide.

The next day, Uncle Charlie is reading the paper, when he sees a story that upsets him. He rips the page with the story on it, and turns it into a house for the kids, hiding the ripped story in his pocket. Ann and Roger think it’s are cool, but they have to dismantle it as their father hasn’t had a chance to look at the paper.

Charlie saw him hiding the torn pages and starts teasing her Uncle. She grabs them out of his pocket and tries to put them together. But before she can, Uncle Charlie gets angry and pushes her away. She becomes frightened, but Uncle Charlie consoles her,  telling her that it was a bad story about a friend.

tugs arm Shadow-Teresa-Wright-Schock-004-295px

Soon after, two men approach the family and let them know they have been chosen to be the feature family for a census agency on “typical American family-ness”. They will be coming to interview them and photograph their average lives.

BMW Average

Emma is really excited as Uncle Charlie will now be a part of the featured story. She tells Charlie about how she only has one photo of him. It was when he was a little boy, before he got in a horrible accident. After he recovered from the accident he never was the same again. Often getting into trouble.

Uncle Charlie says he will be staying in town for a while, and then begins acting strangely. At the bank he deposits forty thousand dollars in cash and makes all these jokes about the bank and Joseph (Charlie’s dad) embezzling funds. He also extremely avoids the census takers. He thinks they are up to something. Whenever they come to the house, he always leaves and won’t answer any questions.

paranoidAfterYou

When his picture gets taken, he becomes extremely angry and demands for the negative roll.

The younger of the two census workers, (Macdonald Carey), asks Charlie to be his guide of the town, and she agrees only to please her mother. When he gets her alone he tells her that he isn’t a census taker, but that instead he is Detective Jack Graham and that he is with the FBI. They are investigating “The Merry Widow Murderer”, a man who romances widows and murders them taking their money. He tells her that that they have two suspects. One of which is her Uncle Charlie.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

The next day Charlie is still reeling from the news and sleeps all day. She doesn’t want to believe her Uncle Charlie is capable of murder. However, she can’t help thinking about his suspicious behavior.

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

Charlie gets even more freaked out when Uncle Charlie gives a rant on widows.

800__shadow_of_a_doubt_blu-ray_04_intense stare angry upset mad creep

“Uncle Charlie: The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands, dead, husbands who’ve spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. And then they die and leave their money to their wives, their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money, proud of their jewelry but of nothing else, horrible, faded, fat, greedy women… Are they human or are they fat, wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?”

Charlie suffers a breakdown as she can’t handle the thought that her Uncle is a murderer. That coupled with her father and Herb’s constant murder talk, ugh she just needs to get away. Uncle Charlie follows her and takes her to a bar to talk.

At the bar, he confronts her suspicions and tells her that he is considered for The Merry Widow Murderer”, but it isn’t him. It is just a coincidence.

Yes I am

Yes I am

Charlie listens, but something doesn’t sit right with her. She still feels suspicious. She sneaks into Uncle Charlie’s room to try and figure out what article he had ripped up.

shadow-of-a-doubt-room door break into

She can’t put the pieces back together, and instead heads to the library. She convinces the librarian to let her search the papers and discovers that “The Merry Widow Murderer” killed a famous entertainer. She notices that the initials of the woman match the ring Uncle Charlie gave her.

OMG

She goes to her uncle to confront him, and he asks her not to say anything. She agrees to wait as she knows it will hurt her mother.

Meanwhile, Jack is pushing Charlie to give him info on her Uncle, but she won’t say a thing. They sent the photo of Uncle Charlie back East but haven’t heard whether or not he is the guy the are actually after. The other suspect they were considering was killed fleeing from the police and many believe he is the murderer.

After this news, Jack goes to Charlie and tells her that he likes her. And that he would like to date her, maybe even marry her one day.

Say What

I know. He has been nice, but he never even seemed to show that he was that interested in her. He totally pulls a Mr. Darcy, completely dropping that bomb out of the blue.

mr darcy

Uncle Charlie is all smiles and it seems like everything is fine, but Charlie can’t shake an uneasy feeling.

This doesn't feel right.

This doesn’t feel right.

Soon Charlie suffers from an accident. As she is coming down the stairs one of the steps falls through causing her to fall. She checks later but can’t tell of any tampering.

Oh what a horrible accident.

Oh what a horrible accident.

Now these are some of the best scenes in the film. In the beginning you aren’t sure if Uncle Charlie is doing anything, whether they are accidents or not. I mean could he really be so cold-blooded as to kill his own niece?

Gilmore girls creep

Uncle Charlie is asked to give a public lecture and the whole family is going to go hear him speak. There isn’t enough room for them to go in one car, so they decide to send most in a taxi, with the Charlies going in the car. Charlie gets trapped in her garage with the car going. She calls for help, but the music Uncle Charlie is playing overpowers her screams.

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Luckily, Herb is coming by as he does everyday and hears her, freeing her.

The next day, Uncle Charlie decides that he is leaving. Everyone but Charlie is sad to see him go. As he gets on the train we see that he won’t be traveling alone, but a rich widow from the town. Every one comes on board to check out the train, with Uncle Charlie gets Charlie to stay longer to talk. The train starts going while she is on it. She tries to run off, but Uncle Charlie tries to push her off the train onto the track of an oncoming one.

shadow of a doubt attack

The two struggle and Charlie manages to overpower him, knocking him off the train.

There is a funeral for Uncle Charlie and Jack comes back. Charlie tells him the truth and why she kept it hidden from him. Together they resolve to keep Uncle Charlie’s crimes a secret.

You have to see this film. The story is great, the acting amazing, and the cinematography is just beautiful.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to It’s Happening Again, Isn’t It?

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For more on Alfred Hitchcock, go to Horrorfest III: The Revenge

For more classic cinema, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness

For more serial killers, go to What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?

For more psychological thrillers, go to A Deliciously Creepy Tale

For more of my favorite quotes, go to Happily Ever Aftermath

For more on Twin Peaks, go to Food, Food, Food!

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What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?: Scream (1996)

So this Horrorfest, I am going to be doing something a little different. We are going to have “Screamtastic Saturdays”. Every Saturday in October going to be on a different Scream movie. So let’s kick it off with:

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What’s your favorite scary movie?

*Spolier Alert*

So I really loved this movie. I have to say that Wes Craven as one of the horror kings totally tanked on Nightmare on Elm Street. This was by far, much better. One of the coolest things about this film is that it is a parody of horror films, while still being its own horror film.

So the beginning starts off with Drew Barrymore cooking popcorn and preparing for a fun night in watching scary movies with her boyfriend. Just like When A Stranger Calls, she receives a strange phone call and is at first into it, thinking it is just a joke.

scary movie mansfield park Scream

 

However, it slowly turns as the caller threatens Casey that he is going to kill her and her boyfriend.

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But she has a chance at being saved, all she has to do is answer who was the killer in Friday the 13th.

“Phone Voice: Name the killer in Friday the 13th.

Casey: Jason! Jason! Jason!

Phone Voice: I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer!

Casey: No, it’s not. No it’s not. It was Jason.

Phone Voice: Afraid not. No way.

Casey: Listen, it was Jason! I saw that movie 20 g******* times!

Phone Voice: Then you should know that Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees was the original killer. Jason didn’t show up until the sequel. I’m afraid that was a wrong answer.

Casey: [Weeping] You tricked me.

Phone Voice: Lucky for you there’s a bonus round, but poor Steve… I’m afraid he’s OUT!”

So Steve is murdered and Casey runs throughout the house trying to get away from the killer. Of which she doesn’t make it out and finds herself victim #1.

victim

And thus the body count begins…

So the killing of Drew Barrymore holds two significant things. One, she was one the most famous actress in the film, and was killed first. This was supposed to be a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), in which the most famous actress of the film, Janet Leigh, was only in the movie for a short while before she was killed. This was also supposed to be a parody of Craven’s film Nightmare on Elm Street, when the first character we meet, Tina (played by Amanda Wyss),is killed. Craven also had his character Casey wear white just like Tina in Nightmare on Elm Street.

The next day, the town Woodsboro is just ravanged by reporters who are eager to find out more about this murder, especially since it occurred almost exactly a year after their little town experienced a murder just as gruesome. The murder of Maureen Prescott by Cotton Weary.

Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is trying to cope with everything that is going on.

Scream

She is having a really hard time with the anniversary of her mother’s death. When she hears about the murders and sees the reporters it brings the mess of the past year back to her. The memories just come flooding back.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

One of her other big issues is her boyfriend Billy Loomis.

Billy-From-Scream-scream-1804906-547-342

 

Okay, I just have to go off on a tangent here: Billy is sooooooooooooo creepy looking. When I first saw this I was like he is toooootally the killer. I mean LOOK AT HIM! He has killer written alllll over him. Those eyes, they are super frigtening. And the way he talks? He tells Sidney that he was watching Silence of the Lambs and that made him think of her and want to come over and get funky. What a freak!

Certified Creepo Ribbon

IDon'tTrustHimGreatGatsby

(BTW it is another Psycho reference. Billy Loomis is a homage to Sam Loomis, Marion Crane’s boyfriend in Psycho; and Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween.)

Anyways, so the two have been having issues since Sidney’s mom died. She was so traumatized by the event that she has isolated herself and found it hard to let anyone in again. Her best friend Tatum is cool with it as she understands she needs time to grieve, but Billy has been having a hard time backtracking from third base to the benches. Ladies, let me just say that if any guy ever tries to pressure into having sex when you aren’t ready, junk punch him and run away. You don’t need that loser in your life.

That day her father has to go out of town, leaving Sidney all alone in a big house.

Yep, gonna make references all night.

Yep, gonna make When a Stranger Calls  references all night.

She makes plans to meet up with Tatum and stay at her place, but falls asleep. Tatum is late picking her up as her cheerleading practice went way over. While Sidney is waiting she gets a phone call from the killer who starts harassing her. And she stupidly calls throughout the house trying to find him.

Killer Scary Movie

“Sidney Prescott: Can you see me right now?  Ah, okay. [puts a finger in her nose] What am I doing? Huh? Huh? What am I doing? Hello? [takes finger out] Nice try, Randy. Tell Tatum to hurry up, okay? Bye now.

Ghostface: IF YOU HANG UP ON ME, YOU’LL DIE JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER! Do you want to die, Sidney? Your mother sure didn’t.

Sidney Prescott: F*** you, you cretin!”

Soon the killer comes in her house and she has to run away from him and try to get the police there. Billy shows up, climbing through her window. Sidney sees that he has a cellphone and freaks out, having the police cart him away.

Gilmore girls creep

So there are a couple places that were filmed in Santa Rosa, CA. One was the bathroom scene in which Sidney is attacked, the other is Tatum’s house which is right across the street from the house used in Pollyanna (1960). It is also across the street from the house used in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The house in the opening scene was next door to the house used in Cujo (1983).

Sidney spends the night at Tatum’s house and the next day is completely crazy. Billy was released as they had nothing to hold him. And they still are unable to find her father as he never checked into his hotel. Plus Gale Weathers, a reporter who has been harassing her for a year,  and all the other reporters are driving her crazy!

“Gale: There she is! Sidney, hi, what happened? Are you alright?

Tatum: She’s not answering any questions alright. Just leave us alone.

Sidney Prescott: No, no Tatum it’s OK. She’s just doing her job, right Gale?

Gale: That’s right.

Sidney Prescott: So how’s the book?

Gale: Oh it’ll be out later this year.

Sidney Prescott: Oh, I’ll look for it.

Gale: I’ll send you a copy.

[Sidney turns around a punches Gale in the face]”

Scream-Punch

Also at the school we have a little Wes Craven easter egg, as he dresses up as a janitor in a Freddy Krueger sweater.

So the principal decides to suspend school until further notice as it is just too risky for the students. After they all have left, he finds himself joining the body count as well, victim #2.

victim

The death of the principal was actually added to the film late into production. Bob Weinstein noticed there were 30 pgs in the script were nobody died and they decided that they needed another victim.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Billy’s friend Stu decides to throw a party and have all the kids in school come. I don’t understand why anyone’s parents would allow their kids to go out like that with A FREAKIN’ KILLER ON THE LOOSE. Come on people, Parent!!

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At the party, the kids are chillin’, drinking beer, watching horror films, etc. Billy and Sidney go upstairs and talk, resulting in the two having sex.

Meanwhile downstairs everyone is chillin’ while Tatum goes off to the garage to get more beer. The scene in the garage is the only weak link in the film. First of all when Tatum walks over to the garage door and it almost closes on her, that would never happen. My dad is a contractor and I remeber when I was a kid I thought the garage would close on me too. However, they design garage doors specfically to not do that. In fact they have a certain radius that if someone was to walk within that radius the door would stop. And come on she IS IN A FREAKIN’ GARAGE!!! Do you know how many weapons there are in that thing? She passes over a hoe, rake, and a shovel! You see all kinds of tools throughout their fight too. She could easly find something to attack him and win. Although I do have to give props to Wes for allowing Tatum to to put up such a great fight.

Victim #3

Victim #3

Back in the living room,  Randy is giving a rundown on how to survive a horror film,  (* are the rules that are given by the killer).

  1. You will not survive if you have sex
  2. You will not survive if you do drugs or drinks
  3. You will not survive if you say “I’ll be right back.”
  4. Everyone is a suspect
  5. *You will not survive if you ask “Who’s there.”*
  6. *You will not survive if you go out to investigate a strange noise*

While all this is going on, Gale and Tatum’s brother Officer Dewey, have been spying on the party. Gale has snuck a camera into the party, so that she can view everything from her van. She and Dewey both take a break though, “walking off” together where they come upon Sidney’s father’s abandoned car.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

Everyone back at the party gets the news that the principal is dead and had been strung up on the football field. Almost everyone leaves; with just Randy, Sidney, Billy, Stu, and Gale’s cameraman Kenny (in the van) staying behind .The killer comes out and starts attacking.

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One of the best scenes is the scene where a drunk Randy is telling Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween to turn around while the killer is behind him. He constantly repeats, “Jamie, turn around. Turn around, Jamie!” as the killer is slowly creeping up behind him. The actor who plays Randy is also named Jamie (Jamie Kennedy) and the killer was currently behind him. This is also the only scene in which the  killer is actually one of the actors. Skeet Ulrich had asked specifically if he could wear the costume for one scene.

So Kenny and Dewey fall victim to his knife.

Victim #8

Victim #4&5

After Sidney and Billy are done having sex and have placed their clothes back on the killer charges in and stabs Billy. Sidney manages to run away and finds Tatum’s body.

As she continues running away she ends up getting in the way of Gale who was fleeing the killer from her van. Gale swerves to miss Sidney and crashes, getting knocked out. Sidney goes back to the house, taking the gun from the dying Dewey. She runs into Randy and Stu and is unsure who is the killer. She then runs into a wounded Billy and gives him the gun. Billy immediately shoots Randy and stands up.

Say What

Yep, Billy isn’t injured at all. In fact, it was all a ploy he is the real killer.

dun-dun-duuuun

Corn Syrup

Billy: Corn Syrup, just like in the real movies.

Yep, the whole time Billy and Stu have been the killers. From Sidney’s mom to everyone else.

“Sidney Prescott: Why? Why did you kill my mother?

Billy: Why? WHY! You hear that Stu? I think she wants a motive. Well I don’t really believe in motives Sid, I mean did Norman Bates have a motive?

Stu: No.

Billy: Did we ever find out why Hannibal Lecter like to eat people? DON’T THINK SO! See it’s a lot more scarier when there’s no motive, Sid. We did your Mom a favor, Sid. That woman was a slut-bag whore who flashed her s*** all over town like she was Sharon Stone or somethin’.

Stu: Yeah, we put her out of her misery, ’cause let’s face Sidney, your mother was no Sharon Stone,hmm?

Billy: Is that motive enough for you? How about this? Your slut mother was f****** my father and she’s the reason my mom moved out and abandoned me. [Sid looks astonished] How’s that for a motive? Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behaviour. It certainly f***** you up. It made you have sex with a psychopath.”

Yep, and not only that the planned the whole thing out so that her father would take the blame, make it look like he had a mental breakdown on the anniversary of his wife’s death and started killing people. They had kidnapped him and bring him out for their final act. Billy and Stu planned that attack on Sidney to make any second arrest look false and questionable.

you're evil

Of course their plan will not be complete until they make themselves look like victims. Stu stabs Billy, and Billy stabs Stu. While the two are monologing and arguing they have seemed to forget one important thing.

 Sidney and her father have disappeared.

“Stu: S***…

Billy: What?

Stu: Oh, s***.

Billy: [They go into the kitchen to find Sidney and Mr. Prescott gone] Where are they? Where are they?

Stu: I don’t know, Billy, but I’m hurtin’, man!

Yep, just like they say in Dial M for Murder (1954), you can never plan the perfect murder. What sounds good on paper can never transfer to real life, because in real life there are just too many things that can go wrong.

“Margot Mary Wendice: Do you really believe in the perfect murder?

Mark Halliday: Mmm, yes, absolutely. On paper, that is. And I think I could, uh, plan one better than most people; but I doubt if I could carry it out.

Tony Wendice: Oh? Why not?

Mark Halliday: Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always.”

So here Stu and Billy find themselves completely off script, and unsure…

[the phone rings]

Stu: Should I let the machine get it?

Billy: [answers it] Hello?

Sidney Prescott: Are you alone in the house?

Billy: B****! You b****, where the f*** are you?

Sidney Prescott: Not so fast, we’re going to play a little game. It’s called: Guess who just called the police and reported your sorry motherf******* a**!

[Stu is slowly collapsing to the floor]

Billy: Find her, you dips***! Get up!

Stu: I can’t, Billy. You already cut me too deep. I think I’m dying here, man!

Billy: [Billy gives Stu the phone] Talk to her. Talk to her.

Stu: Hello?

Sidney Prescott: Ah, Stu, Stu, Stu… What’s your motive? Billy’s got one. The police are on their way. What are you going to tell them?

Stu: Peer pressure. I’m far too sensitive.

Billy:[Billy takes the phone back] I’m going to rip you up, b****, just like your f****** mother!

Sidney Prescott: You’ve gotta find me first, you pansy-a** momma’s boy!”

Now the game of cat and mouse has changed with the hunted becoming the hunters.

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In the end Gale, Sidney, Dewey, Mr. Prescott, and Randy survive.

So that was Scream one of the best horror-parodies ever made. For more fun check out Scream in 30 sec with bunnies. And How It Should Have Ended

This film really brought back the slasher genre, as after this slasher remakes and slasher film numbers escalated. It also brought up the debate on whether or not violence in movies affected people and caused them to become more violent? The most important thing is that this film increased the use of caller ID and made such phone harassment much harder. Although not for me.

The other thing I realized in this film is that I am soooooo Randy.

Randy

I also realized that just like The Cable Guy, I’m only a few steps away from the crazy.

screamBilly

Well, that’s Scream. Tune in next Saturday for Scream 2.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

To go to the previous post, go to In Their Proper Place

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For more on Scream, go to When Horror Doesn’t Stay on the Screen

For more on Wes Craven, go to Krueger Town

For more on phone harrasment, go to It’s Coming From Inside the House

For more films influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, go to Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare

For more on serial killers, go to Hello? Is There a Killer in My Kitchen?

For more on slasher films, go to Camp Blood

For more films that spanned numerous sequels, go to He Who Walks Behind the Rows