Daniel Radcliffe talked to MSN about his favorite quintet of scary movies and also
about the chilling The Woman in Black.
Axe to grindsource: movies.msn.com
The film: "The Shining" (1980)
The plot: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) brings along his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and telepathic young son Danny to take care of a massive Colorado hotel that is sealed up for the winter. The resident spooks terrorize Danny and take hold of Jack's mind, encouraging him to pull a Lizzy Borden on his family.
Radcliffe's notes: "'The Shining' is one of my favorite movies. It's the best example of absolutely being forced inside the head of somebody going crazy. There's really nothing scarier than feeling like you're inside the mind of a dangerous person. There's something really terrifying and claustrophobic about that."
Stay away from the light
The film: "The Others" (2001)
The plot: Nicole Kidman and her light-sensitive children shutter up with their servants in a big old house as they await her husband's return from war. Then they are besieged by unseen specters.
Radcliffe's notes: "'The Others' was a big film for us when we made this movie. It was something that we all kind of felt tonally and in the atmosphere that we aspired to. It's a beautiful, sad, very scary, atmospheric film. I watched it a couple of years ago before we did 'Woman in Black,' and I loved Nicole Kidman in it.
The film: "The Orphanage" (2007)
The plot: After returning to her childhood orphanage home to reopen it as a facility for disabled children, a mother finds that her young adopted son Simon is communicating with the spirit of a dead child named Tomás. Then Simon mysteriously disappears.
Radcliffe's notes: "Like 'The Others,' 'The Orphanage' has a Spanish director. There does seem to be a connection between the Gothic style of horror and Spanish filmmaking. In terms of what we're talking about with 'Woman in Black,' this is linked into themes of loss and family and dealing with a really effective scary story with a huge amount of heart. I think that's why 'The Others' and 'The Orphanage' were both picked out [for viewing] because that's what set them apart. They're what me and James started referring to as character-driven horror films."
The film: "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963)
The plot: The legendary tale of the Greek hero and his quest for the Golden Fleece is told with the aid of the striking stop-motion effects of cinematic great Ray Harryhausen.
Radcliffe's notes: "One of the scenes that I remember scaring me more than any other scenes growing up as a kid was the scene in 'Jason and the Argonauts' where the skeletons come to life. I know it doesn't really qualify as a horror movie, but I remember that scene absolutely terrified me as a boy. I think skeletons in general [scared me], but particularly the Ray Harryhausen skeletons coming out of the ground were particularly terrifying."
From slithering to Slytherin
The film: "Anaconda" (1997)
The plot: A National Geographic film crew are kidnapped by a crazed hunter, who is obsessed with capturing the world's largest Anaconda in the Amazon Rainforest. Mayhem and death ensue.
Radcliffe's notes: "It's probably not up there with 'The Shining' in terms of the level of horror movie that we're talking about, but for sentimental reasons [I'll pick] 'Anaconda' with Ice Cube, J.Lo and all those guys. That was the first out-and-out creature horror movie I ever saw. It was at my friend's birthday party when we were all 10 or 11 -- way too young to be watching that film -- and I remember we all picked a character that would be our avatar in the film. Then whenever our character died, we would have to leave the room and not see the rest of the film. That was this weird party game that we started playing. I was Ice Cube, so I made it to the end."
Daniel Radcliffe revisits 'The Woman in Black'
Although the tale of "The Woman in Black" is new to American audiences, the book by Susan Hill was first published in England in 1983. A British TV film adaptation emerged in 1989, the same year that a scary theatrical production started haunting London's West End (and has been spooking audiences there ever since). This year's cinematic reimagining is the latest incarnation of this classic tale.
"I actually have not seen the play and still haven't had a chance to since we finished filming, but as far as I'm told, it is a brilliantly devised piece of theater and has been running longer than I've been alive," commented Radcliffe. "It's a pretty amazing thing. What's amazing about it particularly is that everybody at home [in London] has seen it and has a connection to it in some way, either having read the book at school or having seen the play with a school trip. It seems to be a big book for 16- and 17-year-olds. It's a modern classic, really."
And each time this classic has been retold, it has been done with new twists to the myth. "What's interesting about the story in general is that whenever it's gone into another medium, be it the original TV film or the play or our film, stuff has always been changed," noted Radcliffe. "The main idea of the curse and the Woman in Black has always been retained, but the framing of the story has always been changed in some way to suit the purposes of whatever medium they're in."
Beyond being his first foray into fear, "The Woman in Black" represents the first true adult role for Radcliffe, who made the transition to this movie by performing the drama "Equus" and the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on Broadway. He agreed with this assessment, adding that being a film, "The Woman in Black" reached a far wider audience than his theatrical work.
"I loved doing both of those shows so much, and theater is amazing for me and something that I want to come back to for my whole career," the actor declared, "but it is nice to do something that found a wider exposure in something where I'm playing a different part. I had a guy come up to me last night who was just talking about 'The Woman in Black,' saying how much he loved it and how much it freaked him out. It's just lovely that I've had a few occasions now where people come up to me and congratulate me on this film. It's a lovely difference to have a few months down the line."
Radcliffe is certainly not done with the horror genre either. "There are obviously great old horror movies, but I don't know that any of them need to be remade," he pondered with a chuckle. "I certainly would not hesitate before coming back to this genre. I had a great time, and as long as I felt that it was something different and not just a repeat of what we've done with 'The Woman in Black,' then absolutely I would have no hesitation coming back to it."
Historically, many Gothic ghost stories have come out of England. Radcliffe confirmed that these tales and their aesthetic have been something ingrained in the British public consciousness. "I think it came in with the Victorian era and everyone becoming re-interested in spiritualism, séances and Ouija boards," he stated. "I think it is very much in our psyche from that time. England is one of those places where you feel history constantly around you. Chances are any house or any old building you've been into has a hell of a past, and you feel that when you walk in. I think that's probably been a source of much inspiration for writers in England for hundreds of years. We like gray, bleak stories with a bit of terror involved."