Daily Double

Horror Daily Double: The Innocents, Diabolique

We're doing 31 days of scary movie pairs! Today: Throwback reality-twisting classics!

by | October 25, 2018 | Comments

Rotten Tomatoes is celebrating Halloween with 31 days of horror double feature recommendations. Each day of the week will have its own theme, with today’s being Throwback Thursday! And if you want see what’s in store or what you missed, see the Daily Double schedule.

For Throwback Thursdays, we pair up movies released before the 1970s, before The Exorcist or Jaws made horror blockbuster business. Today’s Daily Double: two haunting pictures of women losing touch with reality!

The Innocents (1961) 95%

Truman Capote was in the middle of drafting his book In Cold Blood when director Jack Clayton called him up and convinced him to take a three-week hiatus to rewrite the script for his new film The Innocents, a psychological horror film about a governess who joins a household and comes to believe that the children she’s caring for are possessed by the spirits of two dead former servants. Starring Deborah Kerr as the anxious governess, the film also features another familiar face, that of the young Martin Stephens, playing the tempestuous Miles, who’d first shown up in viewers’ nightmares when he featured in the original Village of the Damned. At the time Clayton was making this movie, Hammer horror films were dominating the gothic landscape. He’d already been hailed one of the bright visionaries of the British New Wave and brought his experimental sensibilities with him to Capote’s script. That meant selective, creative lighting (often sourced from candles) and cinematography to elicit the feeling of fear more from ambiance than from actual scares. Rife with subtext about sexual repression and a whole lot of Freudian concepts, this film uses a close point of view with the protagonist to keep audiences guessing whether or not the possessions are real.

Diabolique (1955) 95%

Many have tried their hand at this close-POV trick to withhold any twists, turns, or truths from audiences for as long as possible, but one of the few films that can hold a candle to The Innocents’ success has to be the 1955 French pulp classic Diabolique, which actually perfected the process in the horror-thriller genre. The film tells the story of the tyrannical Michel Delasalle, a school master who keeps both his wife, Christina, and his lover, Nicole, very close. Nicole is a teacher, and Christina owns the school at which both Nicole and Michel work. Both women have had it with Michel’s abusiveness and conspire to lure him to an apartment where they will drown him and dump his body in the pool. All seems well and good. Only, when they dump the body, it goes missing. There’s truly no telling exactly how many films Diabolique has inspired, but — for one — Hitchcock was so disappointed when he didn’t get the rights to the novel on which this story is based that he was riled up enough to make Psycho. Most of this Henri-Georges Clouzot film is comprised of big questions and a trail of bread crumbs leading to the answers, so it’s not surprising that the end of this film contained one of the first messages encouraging audiences not to give away the surprising secrets. Yet another element borrowed by Hitchcock.

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