Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Hall-Who-een...

For me, Halloween is about the spooky and the creepy - rather than the monstrous and alien. The fear quotient has certainly risen since the series returned in 2005, thanks not only to the calibre of writing, but also the quality of cinematography and lighting. Here are ten spookily atmospheric moments which particularly stand out.

1. The Unquiet Dead.

Lots of ghostly goings-on in only the third story since the programme's return. A particular highlight is the pre-credit sequence when we see the newly reanimated Mrs. Peace stumble towards the camera, bathed in a ghostly aura. Charles Dickens and ghosts go hand in hand. Dickens with flying sharks, not quite.

2. The Empty Child.

Kids have always been extremely creepy when utilised in ghost stories (just watch The Devil's Backbone or the BBC's 1970's adaptation of M.R. James' Lost Hearts). Moffat's first contribution to the new show gives us the gas-masked "Empty Child". We first see him at a distance on a roof at night-time. The visual is spooky, but the added vocal adds so much more to the effect.

3. Tooth and Claw.

It's not the Werewolf that's scariest in this - it's the Host in cellar of the earlier scenes, before the Moon comes out, that I find spookiest and disconcerting. Black eyes and whispery voices do it every time.

4. The Shakespeare Code.

You can't have Halloween without witches, and this story gives us three - including one on a broomstick. The story is more of a romp, so they could have been handled in a more scary way.

5. Blink.

One of the scariest Doctor Who stories ever. The Angels are at their best in the environs of an old abandoned house. Lots of very creepy moments in their debut tale. We associate angel statues primarily with graveyards, so they're scary before they even start doing anything.

6. Midnight.

Scripting, a claustrophobic set, and exceptional cinematography all combine to make another extremely scary story. Plus the amazing performance by Lesley Sharp as the possessed Sky Sylvestry. A very disquieting tale with loads of spooky atmosphere.

7. Day of the Moon.

Because of their skeletal appearance, the Silents are a very creepy creation. Put them in an abandoned building and they are in their element. They're nowhere near as effective in other contexts.

8. Night Terrors.

A whole story based on childhood fears and nightmares. The Peg Dolls are at their most effective when just glimpsed or heard - their voices a corruption of children's laughter. One of them sidled up to me at the Convention earlier this year. Despite being surrounded by people and knowing it was an extra inside, the heart still raced a bit...

9. Asylum of the Daleks.

I'm thinking specifically about the reanimated corpses of the spaceship crew. I'm really surprised they didn't get into trouble over this being shown at a relatively early hour. Scared the hell out of me.

10. The Angels Take Manhattan.

Not the Angels themselves, though they always look best in creepy old buildings. The Cherubs are the things which stand out in this for me - especially that sequence with Rory trapped in the basement. Again, it is the subversion of a child - or childlike being - which disconcerts.

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