The best (in my opinionated view) 100 films of all time - in no particular order.

Friday, 31 July 2015


It’s official. The world has been going mad for ages.
It all really started in the 1980s when it was determined that Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, those innocent stories from our childhood should be removed from library shelves, because they apparently promoted anarchy, racism, homophobia, sexism and any number of other deviant activities that could be possibly construed as offensive to some minority group somewhere or other. Round about that time I was working as a Trade Instructor in Hereford, and it was there that myself and my colleagues were told that we were no longer allowed to use the word Blackboard when describing the black board that was at the front of each of our classrooms. The word that we were to use in its place was Chalkboard, because (apparently) Blackboard was considered to be a racist word. These ridiculous decisions were not made (or even asked for) by the minority groups they were supposed to be representing. 
No, those decisions were made by interfering white middle-class busy-bodies with too much money and time on their hands
Those were the halcyon days of political correctness, the days when you could, if you looked very hard, almost see where these reformers were coming from but as time moved on political correctness started to become decidedly surreal.
In her book My Invented Country, the Californian based Chilean novelist Isabel Allende described an incident when she asked for a rejected dog from the American version of our Guide Dogs for the Blind. She received an aggressive reply, bluntly informing her that the dogs were no longer to be referred to as rejected – the dogs in question had changed careers.
Brainstorming became unacceptable and instead you had to Mind Map or have a Thought Shower because the original term might upset people who suffer from epilepsy. But hang on, what about people who can’t make up their minds or people with no imagination – surely they would be equally offended by the terms Mind Mapping and Thought Shower!
Political correctness, it seemed, was destroying the world – survival of the fittest became survival of the unfittest, majority rule became minority rule.
The thing is – and this is what all the purveyors of PC never quite grasped – the majority of people didn’t care. The majority of people were not that thin skinned. Political Correctness may have been a good thing to begin with in order to protect people’s rights and dignity, but it went too far – it exceeded its usefulness. It became a joke. At first when a new PC word or phrase entered the lexicon you would have more than likely witnessed disbelief passing across people’s faces, but as it moved inexorably on those same people shook their heads in resignation at the sheer inevitability of it all.
The problem with telling people what words or phrases they can or can’t use creates another more serious problem. New words or phrases get invented or introduced to replace the ones that were denied and these would be more underhand, targeted and offensive, of which a good example is the name servicemen called the Falkland Islanders – Bennies. This was a term of endearment that referred to Paul Abbott’s character in the TV soap Crossroads who went around, like many Falkland Islanders, wearing a woolly hat at all times and was pleasant but not very bright. To the servicemen detached out there it seemed a perfect epithet. But someone higher up decided that the term Bennies was offensive and an order was published prohibiting its use. The very next day the servicemen had a new name for the Falkland Islanders – Stills. This was an altogether more subtle derogation than Bennies. The word Still was used as an adjective, with a silent word attached to it. The silent word was Bennies, so therefore the Falkland Islanders were still Bennies.
And talking of Bennies, whatever happened to Benny Hill. His TV shows have not appeared on our terrestrial TV screens for years. Why? Because it was decided that his brand of saucy seaside humour was deemed to be politically incorrect and that it was sexist and offensive to women. Instead of treasuring his work and looking at it in the context of the time it was made and the way it was intended he was banned. That didn’t stop our colonial cousins from across the pond accepting him with open arms. Benny Hill is loved by Americans, which might tell you something about their sense of humour, but it also tells us something about our own misplaced sensibilities. I, for once, am with the Americans on this one and Benny Hill should be remembered for the comic genius that he so obviously was. He did, after all, play Professor Peach in The Italian Job and give us the immortal lines: “Do you want it pasteurised, ‘cause pasteurised is best? She said, Ernie, I’d be ‘appy if it comes up to me chest,” in the most popular novelty record off all time Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the West.
Bennie Hill may have been sacrificed at the altar of political correctness, but there is one series of films that, by their sheer popularity, have escaped virtually unscathed. They are, of course, the splendidly saucy Carry On films, my favourite of which is the wonderfully silly Carry On Camping (1969). It is a veritable feast of double-entendres and smutty innuendos that presents itself like a Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard that has come gloriously to life.
Carry On Camping Poster

It starts with Sid Boggle and Bernie Luggs (the wonderful Sidney James and Bernard Bresslaw) taking their repressed girlfriends, Joan Fussey and Anthea Meeks (Joan Sims and Dilys Lane) to the Playhouse Cinema to see a naturist film called Nudist Paradise, in the hope that they will agree to go with them on holiday to nudist camp. Joan is outraged by the film while Anthea is just plain embarrassed by it all. As the nudists in the film begin to play tennis and unfettered body parts start to jiggle around Anthea covers her eyes. “What’s the matter, An,” asks the rather dim Bernie, “don’t you like tennis?”
Sid, being Sid, tricks the girls into going with them to Paradise Camping Site, which he believes to be the camp in the film. When they get there they are greeted, to Sid’s delight, by a sign that reads ALL ASSES MUST BE SHOWN. “Where’s the manager?” Sid asks a boy standing by the sign. “He’s gone for a pee,” replies the boy. When the manager, Mr Fiddler (played by the marvellous Peter Butterworth) turns up, he puts a letter P in front of the word ASSES and to Joan’s delight they realise they’ve arrived at a normal camp site. It’s a great visual gag, one of many of which this film is bursting at the seams.
There’s a good story about Peter Butterworth. He was one of many actors who auditioned for one of the parts in the British WWII POW Escape film The Wooden Horse (1950), a true story about three RAF POWs who escaped via a tunnel they dug underneath a vaulting horse in Stalag Luft III. He was turned down because he didn’t look suitably heroic or athletic enough, which was ironic given that he was in actuality one of the POWs who, in 1943, vaulted over the Wooden Horse for hours on end to cover up the sound of digging.
Terry Scott and Betty Marsden are Peter and Harriet Potter, hen-pecked husband and wife with annoying laugh. There’s a scene when Charles Hawtry as Mr Muggins observes Harriet and Peter in their tent. Harriet is attempting to remove some buckshot from Peter’s backside. The tent is lit from inside and all Mr Muggins can see is the silhouette of them performing what appears some unusual sex routine. When Harriet offers Mr Muggins a space in their tent she is asked by him if they wouldn’t rather be alone. “Oh, we gave up that sort of thing years ago, didn’t we dear?” she says to Peter. “Yes, dear,” Peter replies, “you did, didn’t you.”
The actor/writer Mike Myers must have seen and remembered this when he was writing his knowingly hilarious Austin Powers films. Mike Myers grew up in Canada and his father was a great lover of British humour, and the Carry On films must have been on the list of things he watched. In fact, he must have liked it so much that he repeated the scene with increasing hilarity in the two sequels.
And then there’s the sex-mad pupils of Chayste Manor Boarding School for Girls, led by Barbara Windsor in all her fluffy, chortling glory. Accompanying them to the camp site are Dr Soaper (a manic Kenneth Williams) and the sexually repressed matron played by Hattie Jaques (who else?). The scene where Barbara’s bra pings off during an exercise session is a sight to behold and it wasn’t until Sharon Stone’s infamous pantie-less leg-crossing scene in Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 Basic Instinct did so many teenagers once again wear out the pause button on their VCRs.
In this day and age Carry On Camping would be regarding by the middle-class busybodies as Politically Incorrect and I, for one, am glad that there is at least some possibility of upsetting their delicate natures.
I mean, where on earth is all this Political Correctness going to stop?
Are we going to start calling Zebra Crossings Black and White Crossings because the term Zebra could be construed as being offensive to Striped Equines. Or maybe it needs to be changed because stupid people may think it’s actually a zebra lying in the middle of the road that’s been flattened by several thousand tons of heavy traffic. The problem is we can’t call them Black and White Crossings because the very term Black and White is offensive to two groups of people and possibly polar bears. And what about Pelican Crossings? Surely Semi-Aquatic birds should have a say in all this as well.
So what can we do about it?
I have a suggestion – it’s the only thing I can think of. Tonight at eight o’ clock I want everyone to hang out of their windows and shout at the top of their lungs the refrain used by Peter Finch’s desperately unhappy newsreader in Sidney Lumet’s brilliant 1976 film Network, “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!”
Go on – try it. 
Now, doesn’t that make you feel better?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


OK, so there’s these future events, right, that will affect you in the future, because that’s where we are all going to spend the rest of our lives, or something or other. And there’s these super intelligent aliens who are intent on stopping us humans from creating Solaranite, a kind of sun-driven doomsday device that would have the capacity to destroy life, the universe and everything. In order to achieve this the aliens have implemented Plan 9, which will bring the recently dead back to life to create havoc. The aliens hope by doing this the leaders of our planet will abandon their plans to create Solaranite. But if they don’t, they (the aliens) will unleash armies of the undead to destroy mankind.

Plan 9 is a pretty rubbish plan by anyone’s standard. If that was all the aliens could come up with in Plan 9, what idiotic and unfeasible schemes did Plans 1-8 contain? If you ask me, Plan 9 was never really thought out properly. I could have come up with a better plan than that, and I have absolutely no designs on world domination. But, you may be asking yourself at this very moment, what about Plans 1-8? Whatever happened to them? From what I can gather, Plans 1-8 were apparently abandoned by the aliens, possibly because they were idiotic and unfeasible. The details of Plans 1-8 were never fully explained – which just goes to show that the aliens were possibly not that intelligent after all. Personally, I’d have given up after Plan 2.

But, I didn’t write this story. This story is from the fevered mind of the cross-dressing master of terrible dialogue and nonsensical plotting; the anti-genius with a penchant for angora sweaters; the man who is regarded by some critics as the worst film director of all time – Edward D. Wood Jr – and his greatest work, Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), is regarded by these same critics as the worst film ever made.

I disagree on both counts. Ed may have laboured under the misguided notion that he was somehow on a par with the great Orson Welles and that Plan 9 From Outer Space was his Citizen Kane, but he was ambitious; an eternal optimist who managed to single-handedly raise the money to make his films and retain artistic control over all of his projects. He was one of a handful of truly independent American film makers, something of a rarity in the 1950s, who worked really fast. The only other director that comes to mind who worked like him was the marvellous Roger Corman, who worked so fast that it’s said that, with two days of studio time left after completing A Bucket of Blood (1959), he was able to film The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) in its entirety. Granted, Roger Corman was a much better director than Ed Wood and films were given a touch of class after he had secured the services of an actor who was able to draw in the crowds and who would become a staple in horror films on both sides of the Atlantic – Vincent Price.

Ed was no slouch here, either. Roger Corman may have had Vincent Price on his books but Ed had Count Dracula himself – Bela Lugosi. When Ed met Bela, the old bloodsucker was a methadone addict living in obscurity and near-poverty in Los Angeles. As a lifelong fan of Lugosi’s films Ed offered him star billing in his future projects. He was the anonymous narrator in the uniquely bad transvestite drama Glen or Glenda (1953) and the mad scientist, Dr Vornoff, in the much better Bride of the Monster (1955). After these Ed shot some preliminary footage of Lugosi in his Dracula cape for a series of intended star vehicles where he would reprise his role of the famous undead Count, but he (Lugosi) unfortunately died of a heart attack at the age of 73 while he was lying on a couch in his home.

Ever the opportunist, Ed used this footage as the starting point for his next feature, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lugosi got top-billing even though he was on screen for barely five minutes and it may have been Ed’s way of commemorating his old friend, but it was more likely done to sell the picture. He used Tom Mason, his wife’s chiropractor, to double for Lugosi for the rest of the film, although he did encounter some problems with his casting – he was noticeably thinner than Lugosi, was at least a foot taller and he also looked nothing like him. But no problem was insurmountable for the resourceful Edward D. Wood Jr. He just got Mason to cover half his face with his cape and his problem was solved. I mean, who would notice?

Add to this scenes where the cockpit of an aircraft that looks more like a shower cubicle, a car that drives from night to day to night again, cardboard gravestones that wobble when the actors brush past them, flying saucers that are obviously hubcaps suspended on wires and a cop that scratches his head with the barrel of a loaded revolver and what you have is a camp classic that’s a hoot from start to finish. But it’s the unintentionally hilarious dialogue that’s the most fun. 

The introduction at the start of the film was by the flamboyant American psychic Criswell, who was well known for his wildly inaccurate predictions. What follows is the full text of that introduction. See if you can spot the mistake. 

Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimonies of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places, my friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space? 

Notice how he begins by talking about the events in the film being in the future and then within less than thirty seconds he’s talking about them being in the past. Grave Robbers From Outer Space, incidentally, was the original title of the film. But the story goes that the two financiers were Baptist ministers and they objected to use of the words Grave Robbers, regarding it as sacrilegious. 

After Inspector Clay (played by the Swedish professional wrestler Super Swedish Angel aka Tor Johnson) is killed, Lt Harper announces: “One thing’s sure: Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.” 

This is what Colonel Edwards (Tom Keene) has to say about the aliens: “For a time we tried to contact them by radio, but no response. Then they attacked a town, a small town I’ll admit, but nevertheless a town of people, people who died.” 

To say that Plan 9 From Outer Space is the worst film of all time is doing it a terrible disservice. There are plenty of other films out there that are worse than this one. Roland Emmerich’s dismal 2012 is surely much much worse. Considering that Emmerich’s budget must have been about a billion times more that Ed Wood’s he succeeded in producing a movie that was simultaneously dumb, pointless and totally devoid of any humour (intentional or otherwise). Also its prediction (which, let’s not forget, was what the film was all about) was even less accurate than one of Criswell’s. 

The list of films that are worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space is endless. Here are a just five of them:

Michael Bay’s flag-wavingly bad Pearl Harbor (2001), where Josh Hartnett, plays an American pilot who has just returned from Britain after helping us poor useless Brits win the Battle of Britain. On the Extras disc of the DVD of the Battle of Britain (1969), Michael Caine interviews some American tourists in London and asks them if they knew what the Battle of Britain was. One woman says, “I don’t know, but I’m sure America was involved.” She was probably from Texas.

David Twohy’s flabby and nonsensical sequel to his exciting and tightly plotted Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) which was a clear example of giving a director far too much money and in which Vin Diesel’s character managed to bear no resemblance to the character he played in previous film.

Jonathan Mostow’s execrable U-571 (2000), described by one IMDB reviewer as ‘Mel Brooks does Das Boot”, this film managed to offend everyone who had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War (or indeed every British serviceman who ever served anywhere at any time) by suggesting that it was the Americans who first captured an Enigma machine. This was an amazing feat by any stretch of the imagination as the British captured the first Enigma machine before the Americans had even entered the war.

Neil LaBute’s unbelievably arrogant, time-wasting, pointless and utterly dreadful 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, one of the best British films of all time, with Nicolas Cage giving an all-time low performance, not helped by a stupid script.

The spectacularly bad Battlefield Earth (2000), a film that should by all accounts have destroyed John Travolta’s career. This was a great example of GIGA (Garbage-In, Garbage-Out). The Garbage-In was the book by L. Ron Hubbard (science-fiction’s equivalent of Dan Brown or E.L. James), the Garbage-Out was just about everything the film had to offer, from the just-a-wrinkle away from plagiarising Klingons to the gibberish that was adapted from the original badly written book.

 And I’ve not even got around to Days of Thunder (1990), Titanic (1997), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), the utterly pointless remake of The Ladykillers (2004), the Coen Brothers’ only misfire, Catwoman (2004), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), Disaster Movie (2008), Taken 2 (2012), Freddy Got Fingered (2001), the woefully disappointing Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 & 3 (1999, 2002 & 2005), and, of course, the moronic Batman & Robin (1997) and the unintentionally homo-eroticism of Top Gun (1986).

And in no way is Ed Wood the worst director of all time. M Night Shyamalan deserves that particular honour. His breakthrough film The Sixth Sense (1999) and its follow-up Unbreakable (2000) now make him look like his talent was just a flash-in-the-pan. Since then he has demonstrated to the paying public who flock to see his over-hyped films just how bad a writer/director he is. Described by some IMDB users as the most inept film-maker working today, he has given us Signs (2002), a thriller with no thrills; The Village (2004), a shock ending film with the least shocking shock ending ever; the cloying, pompous and condescending Lady in the Water (2006); The Happening (2008), in which absolutely nothing happens; the dull, boring, poorly acted, badly written and unappealing $150 million fantasy disaster The Last Airbender (2010); and the stupefying and lifeless After Earth (2013). And, if I’m being honest, I guessed the ending of The Sixth Sense five minutes into the film. Everybody had been telling me what a brilliant twist it had and so I just thought to myself, “What’s the only way this film can twist? Oh, yeah – Bruce Willis is a ghost.” It was simple really. Sorry if I’ve spoilt that for anyone who has not seen the film and was planning to watch it in the near future. 

You can say what you want about Ed Wood’s films, but they are, at the very least entertaining, which is what going to the cinema is all about, and Plan 9 From Outer Space gets better and better with subsequent viewings. It’s especially good if you watch it as part of a double bill alongside Tim Burton’s brilliant and lovingly crafted Ed Wood (1994). If Plan 9 From Outer Space was Ed Wood’s masterpiece then Ed Wood, featuring an astonishing Oscar-winning performance from Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, is surely Burton’s. In his book Incredibly Strange Films, Jim Morton writes, “Eccentric and individualistic, Edward D. Wood Jr was a man born to film. Lesser men, if forced to make movies under the conditions Wood faced, would have thrown up their hands in defeat.” 

Ed Wood made movies to make movies, not to make money, and in my book that’s not a bad thing at all.

Monday, 6 July 2015


Back in the early eighties I watched this film with my wife and my friend Mark David and his wife and it terrified the four of us. We decided to get drunk after the film finished, but eventually ran out of booze. Mark told me that he had a bottle of whisky at his house and he would go and get it and I decided to accompany him just in case he got scared on the way there. Mark and his wife had taken on two rescue dogs that were particularly destructive and on the way to his house I asked him how they were getting on. “Bloody things,” he said in his lilting Welsh accent, “They’ve chewed up just about everything in the house. The only thing they haven’t had a go at is the three-piece-suite.” When we got to his house he discovered that the two dogs had somehow managed to open the kitchen door and were halfway through dismantling the three-piece-suite in the lounge. Mark looked at the two dogs with a mixture disbelief and hatred before he walked into the kitchen, picked up the bottle of whisky and unscrewed the cap. “Bollocks,” he said, before downing a huge gulp of the amber liquid. The prospect of telling his wife what the dogs had done was seemingly more frightening than the film he had just watched.

So, just what is it that constitutes a good horror film? Is it buckets of blood and gore? Is it jump scares? Is it special effects? Or is it something else?

I’m a fan of zombie films myself. When World War Z came out in 2013 I was living and working in Saudi Arabia. My wife had gone back to the UK for a month and I was out there with my fourteen year old son, William. We decided to have a zombie frenzy, a whole month of zombie films, starting with Charlie Brooker’s brilliant five part series Dead Set (2008) and culminating with a visit to the cinema in Bahrain to see World War Z. In between we watched George Romero’s classic zombie trilogy – Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985); we watched Simon Pegg’s marvellous Shaun of the Dead (2004), and the hilarious Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) and Zombieland (2009). We watched Zack Snyder’s excellent remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Danny Boyle’s quasi zombie film 28 Days Later (2002) as well as its sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007). We watched the gruesomely amusing The Revenant (2009) and the utterly terrifying Spanish horror REC (2007); and to top it all we ploughed our way through just about all of AMCs awesome series The Walking Dead (2011 - ). When it came round to seeing World War Z we both had high expectations and on the whole we weren’t disappointed. As an action movie it was second-to-none, delivering one breath-taking set piece after another but as we walked out of the cinema William said to me, “That was a really good film, Dad, but it wasn’t a proper zombie film because it wasn’t gory enough.” I agreed with him, but was it because we were both desensitised to the sight of zombies hungrily feasting on the internal organs of their human victims or was it because that’s what everyone expects to see in a zombie film?

The thing is, zombie films are not really about the zombies – they’re about the survivors and how they cope in a world gone horribly wrong. If you substitute the zombies for a plague or a virus as in Breck Eisner’s exhilarating remake of George Romero’s The Crazies (2010) or Steven Soderbergh’s terrifyingly plausible Contagion (2011) you have basically the same thing. What scares us is not the blood and gore but the idea of a world without hope.

The Haunting, one of my favourite horror films, has no zombies in it whatsoever. Furthermore, it is about something that I don’t believe in at all – ghosts. And even more than that, it is now over fifty years old. In 1963 in between making West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965) the renowned director Robert Wise gave the world one of the most effective horror stories ever committed to celluloid.

Robert Wise started his career as an editor on low budget films in the late thirties, but he came to prominence after his superb editing on Orson Welles’s seminal film Citizen Kane (1941). He was also the editor for Welles’s second feature, the brilliant The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), where at the studios insistence he reluctantly directed a new (happy) ending for the film while Welles was out of the country filming Journey Into Fear (1943). He directed ten largely forgotten films and two classic Val Lewton produced horrors, The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and The Body Snatcher (1945) until his big break came with the release of The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951. The Day the Earth Stood Still is an important film in that it was a science-fiction film that didn’t treat its audience like idiots – it was a serious film about our place in the universe and was also responsible for turning millions of people onto science-fiction.

He was the director who gave budding author Michael Crichton worldwide exposure with his adaptation of his first book, the microbiological threat novel, The Andromeda Strain in 1971 and he directed the first Star Trek movie in 1979. But it’s his 1963 film The Haunting that is his true masterpiece.

Made deliberately in black-and-white with no monsters or ghosts in plain sight, hardly any special effects and no blood or gore, The Haunting is a cunningly deceptive horror film. Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the film starts with a short prologue that details the history of Hill House before moving forward ninety years to a scientist (Richard Johnson) and three others (Claire Bloom, Julie Harris and Russ Tamblyn) who are carrying out paranormal research on the house. It’s at this point that things start to get scary. What it does is lull the audience into a false sense of security. It creates a sense of unease which slowly builds into a series of terrifying encounters – and it does this without revealing a single apparition. Along with the superb, deep, shadowy black-and-white photography, most of the terror is created by the sound department. Loud, relentless pounding, old men babbling and children crying all add to the mounting terror that encompasses you as you watch this unnerving film and I defy anyone to watch it on their own with the lights out and not be frozen in fear. The hand holding sequence is particularly frightening.

What makes The Haunting so scary is the fact that you never see anything. Its less-is-more technique is highly effective. Jack Clayton had done much the same thing in his 1961 adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, the creepy psychological horror The Innocents, and Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar used the same process in The Others (2001). James Wan used it for the most part in Insidious (2010), regarded by many as the scariest film of the last ten years. Directors of modern horror films are now tuning in to the fact that they don’t need buckets of blood and gore and expensive special effects to make something truly frightening. All that’s required is a little suggestion and the imagination of the audience. 

And to prove that point all you have to do is look at the remake of The Haunting that was directed by Jan De Bont in 1999 – an overdone and overblown mess of a movie with stilted, unrealistic dialogue and heaps of special effects that show you what you’re supposed to be frightened of. Any subtlety that the original had was replaced with CGI creatures that make it less scary. De Bont seemed to have no subtlety of any kind and no concept of the unknown. It’s a perfect example of a director not understanding the mechanics of what makes something scary.

Way back in 1963 Robert Wise knew how to frighten his audience out of its wits – he understood perfectly well that it’s not what you see that frightens you. It’s what you don’t see.