Most people, when asked what Stanley Kubricks scariest movie is, will probably respond with the Shining. With good reason: Its freaking terrifying. Still others may respond with Clockwork Orange or the middle chapters of 2001. Again, all valid answers. Kubrick was, after all, a borderline crazy person with an unparalleled ability to create images that are suffused in mood. No one could conjure dread from a still shot and ambient noise quite like Kubrick. Strangelove isn't the first film that would come to mind as scariest but maybe it should. Kubrick created a film that posited the apocalypse as little more than a bureaucratic snafu, little more than a series of accidents and petty idiocies that result in mutual destruction. Dr. Strangelove gets its horror from the same place it mines so much humor from: Kubricks playing the whole thing completely straight. The film is wacky one moment, documentary real the next, which only amplifies the feeling that all this ridiculousness is only slightly exaggerated. It is a short, short leap from General Turgidson to the more wild-eyed reactionaries that pop up on the news every night. Indeed, the reason Strangelove holds up so well while other films of the period, or of recent years, have become little more than camp is that Kubrick has such a detached, clinical eye. Most satirists lose momentum in their rush to either rant sanctimoniously, or because they cant help but feel sympathy for the characters. Not Kubrick. He neither loathes nor pities the denizens of the War Room. He seems to view these morons as pretty much par for the course for humanity. And what could be more terrifying than that? MOST HORROR MOMENT: Peter Sellers, as Lionel Mandrake, is halted from averting Armageddon because he doesn't have enough change for the telephone. When doomsday does go down, you just KNOW its going to be something like this that sets it off.
Brendan Foley is a pop-culture omnivore which is a nice way of saying he has no taste. He has a passion for genre movies, TV shows, books and any and all media built around short people with hairy feet and magic rings. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Writing, which is a very nice way of saying that he's broke. You can follow/talk to/yell at him on Twitter at @TheTrueBrendanF.