Monday, September 29, 2014

Eric LaRocca's Top 10 Horror Films - Part 1

[Editor's Note: Eric LaRocca is a playwright and writer, whose short play Parasite was one of the 2014 Best of Fresh Blood festival. His fiction has been published in The Horror Zine, Dark Moon Digest, Sanitarium, and several anthologies. This is his first post for La Petite Blog.]

At a very young age I respected and admired the art form of the horror genre. Perhaps I responded so intimately to horror considering the fact that the genre is widely criticized and rebuked by most mainstream audiences and at a very young age I too felt very disenfranchised and unequal to my peers. Perhaps I responded to the genre because horror is an art form that has struggled desperately to be taken seriously and I too felt very ineffectual and disrespected in my youth. Regardless, since childhood I have done all I can to study the genre and educate myself by watching and reading the masterworks and miscarriages of this widely lesser appreciated genre.

This list is certainly not conventional. Perhaps you’re entirely unfamiliar with some of these films. Some of you might even be saying, “Where’s Rosemary’s Baby? Where’s The Exorcist? What about Psycho?” I am by no means suggesting that the following list of cinematic works are the most flawless representations of the genre and deserve to trump all other lists of horror films. These films merely resonated with me on a personal level and are still greatly influential on my path as a young writer and enthusiast of the art form. These are films to which I look for inspiration. My hope is that you will read the list, check out some of the films, and develop and share your own opinions.

10. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Directed by Adrian Lyne - Written by Bruce Joel Rubin - Starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello

Coming in at number 10 on my list is what I consider to be the greatest psychological horror film of all time – Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder. Lyne’s surreal and frightening exploration into the depths of a troubled human mind concentrates on a veteran of the Vietnam War, Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins), who is mourning the loss of his child while relentlessly being tormented by unusual flashbacks and nightmarishly grotesque hallucinations. Struggling to preserve his sanity, he struggles to decipher the truth and reality of his past and present while contending with his dreams and concept of death.

While the film excels with regard to cinematography and stellar performances by the cast, the film is particularly exceptional at disorientating the viewer so that we, the audience, experience and respond to the very same confusion Jacob experiences with every nightmarish vision. Many who have viewed the film already might agree that the film is the cinematic equivalent of a “bad trip.”

Opinions are certain to be divided when it comes to reflecting upon and analyzing this film. Some consider it a work of genius and true testament to the sub-genre of psychological horror while others dismiss it as disappointing and absurd. Regardless, I consider the film a visceral and somber excursion into the realm of psychological horror with profoundly engaging characters. The film’s intelligence is principally exemplified in its aptitude to effectively shift between moments of astounding eeriness and overwhelming despair.