Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: Halloween (1978)

I always save the best for last…

In honor of Halloween week (not to mention the last week of Spooky Season), I watched John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) for the millionth time. As with all the other times I’ve watched, it didn’t disappoint.

If you’ve never seen Halloween, the story goes like this… Laurie Strode is a babysitter in the small town of Haddonfield, IL. When escaped mental patient Michael Myers travels to the town, Laurie finds herself and her friends being stalked by the silent menace.

This is a straight-forward suspense flick. It’s categorized as horror, and although it has horror elements, I don’t feel that it’s a horror movie. It’s not your typical slasher, in my opinion; There’s so much more going on here.

The haunting score immediately puts you on edge. As the film progresses, the use of silence during pivotal scenes intensifies the suspense. Then the score kicks in again, the moment gaining momentum until it crescendos. This is one of the things that makes the film terrifying.

Let’s talk about the use of suspense. The fiend Michael Myers stays in the shadows. He watches and waits. With his featureless white mask, silence, and patience, he is the most terrifying villain put to screen. The film plays with light and shadow in a way that cannot be rivaled; Myers can be seen hidden in the background of most shots in the second half of the movie if you look closely. This puts the viewer on the edge of their seat, or cowering inside their hoodie.

I don’t really have to say much more, do I? Halloween is a simple film that does a couple of things extremely well. Those things are what makes this movie a classic of the horror genre. I have watched it a million times. It never gets stale, and it never fails to scare me.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: A Nightmare on Elm Street

“1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you…”

Every horror fan knows this rhyme. A Nightmare on Elm Street didn’t begin the slasher craze of the 1970s and 1980s, but the titular character Freddy Krueger is one of the best slashers to ever be depicted on screen. 

Released in 1980, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street tells the story of Nancy and her friends. These teenagers being having nightmares about some guy with a burnt face and “Knives for fingers.” As her friends die one by one in their sleep, Nancy learns that the scary guy who is hunting them is one Fred Krueger, a child murder who terrorized Nancy’s small town. As it turns out, Krueger was hunted down and murdered by the town’s parents, including hers. Nancy now must come up with a plan to defeat this monster before he gets her too. 

This movie, actually the entire franchise, is one of my favorites. I remember when I was three, my older stepbrothers were watching the series’s third installment. This is how I was introduced to Freddy Krueger and to the world of horror. I remember not sleeping for weeks. Now, I have nothing but love for Freddy Krueger.

The first movie in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise was groundbreaking. No one had ever thought to create a boogeyman that could only hurt you in the dreamscape. Craven had a problem getting the projected picked up by a studio. No one believed it was scary because the horror happened in dreams, but if you think about it, what’s scarier than not being safe when you’re at your most vulnerable? 

After Craven left the franchise, subsequent films became vehicles for comedic one-liners. The films themselves became dull, retelling the same story over and over. The magic was gone, but the character of Freddy Krueger skyrocketed to icon status. Krueger may have been loved, but he was no longer a terrifying monster. The franchise had become a laughingstock. 

But that first film is still scary. If you can forget the asinine films that followed it (aside from the third film, which had the best dream scenes in the franchise), the original Nightmare on Elm Street still has that special magic. This film is worth a watch any time of the year, but especially on Halloween.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: The Disappearance and Murder of Dorothy Jane Scott

“I’ve got her.” 

Imagine you receive this phone call a week after your child has disappeared. The caller does not identify himself, and hangs up after he says these words. 

This is the first of several anonymous phone calls Dorothy Jane Scott’s parents received beginning a week after she went missing.

Dorothy Jane Scott attended an employee meeting at work in the spring of 1980. At around 9 pm, Dorothy noticed a co-worker had a pretty nasty spider bite and offered to take him to the hospital. Another co-worker offered to join them. 

After the spider bite had been treated, Dorothy went into the hospital’s parking lot to get the car. Her co-workers waiting at the exit for her to pull up. When they saw Dorothy’s car barreling toward them, they waved their arms to get her attention. The vehicle sped past them and made a sharp right turn out of the parking lot. They reported Dorothy missing the next day.

A week later, Dorothy’s parents receive strange phone calls. The first call is the one transcribed above. All of the mysterious calls after continued to claim that either he was holding Dorothy captive or he had killed her. The Orange County Register also got an odd phone call from an unidentified man. This man claimed, “I killed her. I killed Dorothy Scott.” The police believe that this caller was indeed Dorothy’s abductor. 

Dorothy herself had also received strange phone calls before her disappearance. These calls began with a man telling her how much he loved her and that he would eventually kill her. Dorothy’s mother recounted a time when the caller instructed Dorothy to go outside because he had a surprise for her. Dorothy did go outside, only to find a single dead rose on the windshield of her car.

Dorothy’s remains were found in 1984 30 feet from Santa Ana Canyon Road in California. Investigators believed that her body had been at the spot for two years.

What happened the night Dorothy disappeared? Where was she taken, and who was she with? Did she survive until 1982 with her captor or was she murdered that spring in 1980? No one may ever know.