For those of you who may not have seen my TOP 13 HALLOWEEN MOVIES OF ALL TIME blog posts for the Stan Winston School of the Character Arts, here’s a link to both PART’S 1 & 2. It was realllllllly hard to narrow down my worship of horror to a top
10 13 list, but I somehow managed to do it. Agree. Disagree. Doesn’t matter. I’m sure there’s a lot of discussion to be had. Hell, I’ve even had it with myself. I’ve already thought of about 100 other movies after the fact that I would have put on the list as well. Oh well. I did what I could do. Anyway, take a gander and enjoy.
TOP 13 HALLOWEEN MOVIES OF ALL TIME – PART 1:
TOP 13 HALLOWEEN MOVIES OF ALL TIME – PART 2:
One… two… Freddy’s coming for you…
Three… four… better lock your door…
Five… six… grab your crucifix…
Seven… eight… better stay up late…
Nine… ten… never sleep again…
Seriously, how incredible was that song??? Every year on Halloween, I save a real special movie. Even if sometimes it may be a rather obvious choice, it doesn’t matter. Halloween deserves a pick worthy of this special spooky day. Two years ago it was Martyrs; last year it was Halloween; and now this year it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Like I said, I know this may be an obvious choice, but sometimes people need a little reminder about the classics. A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my all time favorites. In fact, I’ve wanted to include it on my picks in years past, but I knew I had to save a few special movies for upcoming Halloweens. Finally, here, A Nightmare on Elm Street gets its due. There are many reasons why A Nightmare on Elm Street works, and they’re pretty easy to list. First and foremost, there’s Freddy Krueger, a truly one of a kind creation. The “bastard son of 100 maniacs” was a child molester who was burned alive, only to come back and haunt the people who wronged him in their kids’ dreams. Can you get any better than that as far as a maniacal backstory? His striped sweater, burned face, and razor gloved hand will live in the horror annals forever. But, in addition, you’ve got horror icon Wes Craven directing. Win. You’ve got a great cast of horror greats like Robert Englund, John Saxon, Lin Shaye, Heather Langenkamp, and even a young Johnny Depp. Win again. You’ve got some inventive scenes and gore that fit the 80’s perfectly (blood volcano!) Another win. But really at the end of the day, in my opinion, what made this film stick like no other is it’s utterly simple and ingenious premise. A killer stalks you when you sleep. He kills you in your dreams. Ultimate win. How do you escape sleep? You can’t. No matter how much coffee or pills you take, sleep will eventually take over. There’s nowhere to run from it. There’s nowhere to hide from it. It will get you. That. Is. Perfect. I dream of coming up with a premise that perfect. I know some people may watch this and think some scenes are silly (Freddy’s long arms in one scene, for instance), but that’s absolutely ridiculous. Always watch movies with the eyes of the same time period, and in that time period that was incredible. Like I said, Halloween deserves a special movie. And this is a special movie. Rewatch A Nightmare on Elm Street, relive the nightmare, and I promise that you’ll have that song running in your head for weeks to come.
Happy Halloween everybody.
Here is a movie that does everything right. I honestly can’t say a single bad thing about it. The Woman in Black is, in my opinion, not only one of the best movies to come out this year, but I think it will be recognized as one of the best for years to come. It is essentially a perfect film remake. When Hammer decided to resurrect itself in the modern day, they’ve made nothing but fantastic choices. What’s great is, this movie feels like a Hammer film. They didn’t cop out. They know their audience. Even though it’s modernly made, it has the essence of a moody, gothic horror film of years past. Gothic is key. This movie is dark, fully saturated with dreary themes, tones, characters, and visuals. Even the bluish filters that are used visually add to the package. It all just… works. Essentially about a lawyer that must go out to a recently deceased woman’s isolated mansion to settle her affairs, the premise is pretty simple, but definitely effective. This film became instantly famous because it was Daniel Radcliffe’s first movie out of the gate, post Harry Potter. And I’ll tell you, it was a perfect choice on both sides. He’s in pretty much every scene of the film. And any initial misgivings that we’d simply watch Harry go through the same motions are immediately dispelled within a few minutes. Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps character here is much different that his notable Potter role, and we welcome it. His desperation at getting this one last chance at a job to work for his family, as well as his constant sense of loss for his wife, are felt throughout. This sympathetic character makes everything else around him in this movie fall perfectly into place. The mysteries presented are old school and haunting. In addition, while it is PG-13, it doesn’t pull any punches in the dread and fear category. Point blank, if you don’t like to watch children dying, do not watch this film. It will break your heart. But that’s why it all just works. It’s gothic, dark, dreary, and revels in it. It’s got jump scares galore, incredible suspense, and truly stomach-twisting, dreadful moments. I can’t say enough good things about this movie. Like I said, it just does everything right. Bless your souls, Hammer Films. I’ve enjoyed your movies for years in the past, and now look forward to each new release with the same flourish. The Woman in Black deserves a view by everyone this Halloween. I sincerely hope you heed this recommendation.
If you’ve read me at all, you know I’m a HUGE Dario Argento fan. Well, to clarify, I’m actually more of a pre-1990’s Dario Argento fan. His later movies never quite worked as well for me, but his early giallo stuff through all of the 70’s and 80’s is downright amazing. Hell, all his movies during this time could be on this list (and may very well be in the future.) But it’s for this reason that I think I’ve always had a connection to Opera. To me, this is one of his last great movies from those peak years. Opera has everything that Dario Argento fans love. It’s suspenseful, brutal, gory, has vivid colors, style in spades, metaphor’s a plenty, and of course some extremely disturbing sexual undertones. In fact, the sexual aspects of this film actually created a major censorship battle with Argento himself, resulting in the extreme editing of the ending. Regardless, this film is a doozy. The basic premise is this: when the lead of the opera is “accidentally” killed, the understudy takes her place. Everything seems great, until a mysterious (well, not that mysterious) killer ties up the understudy, puts needles under her eyes, and forces her to watch as he kills her friends and loved ones. It’s a masochist’s wet dream. But it’s more about the style (and the twisted motivations) than it is anything. Now, to be fair, you really can’t talk about Argento without acknowledging that the man makes mistakes in his films. Sorry, purists, but he does. Whether it be sub-par acting, bad dubbing, or occasionally even plotholes or logic issues. But dammit, this is Argento, it’s his style that holds sway. And this film has more of it than you can handle. Now, again, beware, it’s not an easy film to watch. Some truly hate it for some of its disturbing content, but I like disturbing, so I like this film. It’s famous for the infamous “peephole scene.” But personally, the knife/chin/mouth scene is my favorite. I’ll try not to ruin it, but it’s glorious. And 100% Argento.
Another in the, “saw as a child and scared the SHIT out of me” category. Children of the Corn has everything a good horror movie needs. First, it’s Stephen King. So, duh. The master of disturbing things gives us one of his best short stories. Second, it’s set in a remote Nebraska town. *shivers* Nebraska… Third, it’s got corn. Rows and rows of corn! Have you ever been in a corn field when it’s at full height? Honestly, it’s one of the scariest places on Earth. I’ll tell you a quick personal story at the end of this post about that. Fourth, it’s got a supernatural/demon/religious creature/thing called, “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” Come on, that’s just awesome. And lastly, but most importantly, it’s got KILLER KIDS! One of my favorite horror tropes. But not only does Children of the Corn have killer kids, they have two of the BEST killer kids ever to grace the horror screen. Malachai is downright terrifying, giving all redheads a bad name. And Isaac is a kid that you just KNOW is terrifying in real life. That kid is a force. The story is basically about a remote town where all the kids have essentially joined a cult, killed their parents, and worship some entity that gives them guidance. In their beliefs, all people over the age of 18 must be killed. What’s interested about this is that this is very similar to the novel Logan’s Run, also where people at that age must die (the age was upped in the film version.) But here it’s definitely done for horror and suspense. It’s got a great buildup and a crazy ending. All in all, Children of the Corn is a great ride. Now, my personal corn story. I grew up in Utah where we had impressive corn fields. One time we ran a generator and a TV out into the middle of a massive corn field at night, and watched Children of the Corn in the middle of it. I will tell you right here and now, still to this day it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. If you ever get a chance, try it out. Immersive movie watching is one of my favorite things, and you can’t get much more immersive than that. Either way, even on your couch, Children of the Corn is a goodie. Enjoy.
Yesterday I wrote about people that lived under the ground; today I’m going to build on that same idea. Only the creatures of the title here are much more primal in their needs. They just want to eat. The Burrowers is pretty basic at its core. It’s simply about something that lives under the ground killing people. Sure, it’s a little bit Tremors, but where this little underappreciated gem works for me is in the world and tone. See, The Burrowers is a western. Yes, it’s a horror movie too, but first and foremost, it’s a real western. The horror western is a tricky thing to pull off, mainly because the horror usually dominates and the western mainly seems like an afterthought. But The Burrowers actually feels like a western, through and through. That’s where this direct-to-DVD movie is WAY better than you think it’s going to be. The scenery and cinematography in this film are absolutely stellar. Not to paint all my fellow horror peeps with the same brush, but that’s not normally a point of focus for us. The vast prairies and desolate wilderness seem so vivid that you’re definitely transported to this time period. In addition, storywise, there is very much a cowboy vs Indian thing going on, as well as many other common western tropes. It feels authentic, and that’s why the horror aspects seem to work so well. It is violent, twisted, and VERY dark. But to me, that’s what I imagine the old west was pretty much like. Throw in some creative little creatures that pull you down under the ground, bury you, and then eat you, and well… you’ve got a nice horror world here. Plus in the acting category, you’ve got Clancy Brown (one of my all time favorite actors) playing an awesome tracker, as well as a creepy and downright horrible Army Captain played by Doug Hutchison (more famously known as that older creepy guy married to the 30+ years younger, media-whore, Courtney Stodden), so that all adds to the fun. Overall, if a horror western holds any interest to you, check out this criminally overlooked little creature feature. It’s really a lot of fun.