The Halloween season is here and in the run up to the big day I decided to examine what is considered “scary” in the world of horror movies.

Going with Rotten Tomatoes list of the 31 scariest movies, I decided to compare each film with another horror film from the same year to determine which one I found scarier.

For day 5, we leave the shores of the US for some foreign horrors from across the pond with Repulsion taking on Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.

Repulsion

In Roman Polanski’s first English-language film, beautiful young manicurist Carole (Catherine Deneuve) suffers from androphobia (the pathological fear of interaction with men). When her sister and roommate, Helen (Yvonne Furneaux), leaves their London flat to go on an Italian holiday with her married boyfriend (Ian Hendry), Carole withdraws into her apartment. She begins to experience frightful hallucinations, her fear gradually mutating into madness.

Repulsion is definitely a psychological thriller and the main characters slow descent into madness is what drives the plot. There is a lot of atmosphere throughout and filming it in black and white is an interesting cinematic choice.

Pros

Brilliant cinematography

Catherine Deneuve is pitch perfect in her performance. She is lovely and exudes an innocence that is engaging.

Carole’s physical reactions to being around men are portrayed well and you feel for her as she deals with something she cannot understand.

Daneuve’s descent is captured beautifully with a series of disturbing images including cracks in the walls and strange visions.

The sound design is awesome. Polanski makes the sounds of the outside world terrifying and those terrors drive Carole inside where the sounds of ticking clocks and footsteps become even more terrifying.

When Carole lashes out at Colin, it’s handled in a way that is both scary and satisfying.

Cons

The film is very slow in its pace and there are moments when Polanski is trying too hard to be artsy.

There are several moments when some simple exposition could have prevented many of the key plot points.

We never get a sense of what causes Carole’s condition. Only inferences that never get explored.

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors

A traveler’s (Peter Cushing) tarot cards tell how an architect, musician, doctor (Donald Sutherland), gardener and critic (Christopher Lee) will die.

Five strangers board a train in London and find themselves in the company of a mysterious stranger. A stranger who knows a lot about them and reveals their horrible fates in the form of separate short anthology vignettes that feature everything from creeping vines to vampires until the film comes to its final twist.

Pro

A fun premise that doesn’t take itself too seriously and plays it straight.

The anthology element of the plot keeps things fresh and unpredictable for the audience.

Peter Cushing is fantastic as Dr. Terror.

Christopher Lee…nuff said.

The twist ending is awesome, unexpected and pays off wonderfully.

Cons

Like most films of its time, the blood effects are laughable. The terror is muted by having blood the look and consistency of gazpacho soup.

The writer literally thought it was necessary to include a horticulture lesson in a horror film.

The entire creeping vine storyline is comically ridiculous. From moving slowly towards its victims to cutting the phone lines, I could not stop laughing.

Each vignette gets more ridiculous and silly as they go on. The voodoo storyline is borderline offensive on several levels.

Both films are definite products of their time and neither one could be considered scary today, but in terms of potential scares and disturbing images, the winner of this showdown is definitely….

Repulsion

Have you seen either Repulsion or Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below.

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