Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 Horror Films in 31 Days

I've been in the process of going through 31 horror films in 31 days. I started late, but now I'm caught up. This is a list of the ones I've watched:

1. Puppet Master (1989) - A straight-to-video B-movie that starts out kind of slow, but then it kind of picks up the pace. I don't know if it's even all that good, but it's a different take on whole "killer toy" thing that's sort of interesting. The acting isn't really there, but then it doesn't need to be. The whole point of this movie is to watch a bunch of puppets kill folks in some pretty peculiar ways (leeches are involved in a few scenes). That's pretty much it. Not "scary" at any point, but it did make me cringe a bit at certain times. Which isn't bad for a B-movie, I guess. 
2. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) - Fun movie and creepy at times. My favorite segment was the fourth and last one where John Lithgow sees something strange on the wing of an airplane. 
3. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - Stayed up late to watch this one on TCM. Christopher Lee plays the monster (I believe this was his only foray into the Frankenstein world) and Peter Cushing is of course the mad Victor Frankenstein. Can't go wrong with those two, really. 
4. Prince of Darkness (1987) - This John Carpenter movie always sends chills up my spine. Donald Pleasence plays a priest trying to prevent pure evil from escaping a bizarre jar and Alice Cooper makes a cameo as a killer hobo. Pretty cool. 
5. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) - I remember getting psyched about this movie when I first got it on tape. The first time I watched it I didn't know what to think, though. There were things I liked and there were things I didn't. The more I watch it the more I like it and the things I don't like don't stand out so much. I think this movie is a blast now. Otis and Captain Spaulding are probably my favorite characters from the movie. This movie practically made me a William Moseley fan. And of course no B-horror movie is complete without Karen Black. I love the underground lair of Dr. Satan; it reminds me of Beetlejuice. 
6. The Devil's Rejects [Unrated Director's Cut] (2005) - From camp and pulp to grit and grime, Zombie improves upon his original story with this sequel. I think the onscreen chemistry between Sid Haig, Bill Moseley and Sherri Moon Zombie was great. It was nice to see a cameo by P.J. Soles, too. Which was kind an omen as to what Zombie would do next. The whole Dr. Satan story line isn't even mentioned here and it works in this movie's favor. 
7. Halloween [Unrated Director's Cut] (2007) - Where do I start? When I first heard Zombie was going to do a Halloween remake I was very hesitant, but I figured it was my duty as a Halloween fan and a Zombie fan to watch it. And I was pleasantly surprised. I guess I'm the only one that really likes this remake. I like the fact that Rob Zombie made this into a Rob Zombie movie. That's sounds silly, but for the life of me I can't tell who directed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake or the Friday the 13th remake. But I know who directed this one because it has Zombie's fingerprints all over it. He keeps references to the original, but he also goes his own way. Which is the whole point of a remake. The fact that he retains a cast that he's familiar with makes this a stronger movie. If you don't like Rob Zombie's movies you will hate this. And I mean HATE this. If you want the original watch the original. You've been warned. 
8. Halloween II [Unrated Director's Cut] (2009) - A Rob Zombie movie without Sid Haig? Oh, say it ain't so! But you know what? I think I really like this one. It certainly is a very interesting inclusion to the Halloween canon. Perhaps the biggest thing that stands out is just how much of a douche Dr. Loomis is in this movie. Dr. Loomis is not the beacon of hope he was in the original series, but a money-grabbing writer trampling on the horrors endured in Zombie's previous movie. The visions seen by Michael and Laurie do take away from the realism that Zombie is known for, but it does add a certain mystique that I found compelling. I suppose that part will remind people of Halloween 5, but I didn't get that impression. In this one I believe the connection is more genetic than psychic. I think I'd give it an B for effort and maybe a low C or a high D for execution. I understand a lot of people would call this movie a mess, but I think it's better than most folks give it credit for.
9. The Last House on the Left [Unrated] (1972) - This was Wes Craven's first movie and it's quite shaky to say the least. Quite graphic for its time and probably for now. I went into this movie expecting a horror landmark, but I didn't quite get one. Oh, it has its moments where it's horrifying and gruesome, but it's definitely the work of a first-time director.
10. Trick 'r Treat (2007) - After the intensity of the last few movies I watched I needed a break. Glad I chose this one because this movie is a hoot! It's a horror anthology made up of four (five if you count the prologue) different tales interwoven throughout the movie: a teacher moonlights as a serial killer; a young woman is looking for the perfect man for her first time; a group of teenagers pull one mean, but creative prank; and a recluse has a dangerous confrontation. I loved it. 
11. The Funhouse (1981) - Not Tobe Hooper's best movie but considering the rest of the drivel he's put out this movie easily makes the category of top five Tobe Hooper movies. The biggest problem with this movie is that it takes half an hour just to get anything done. "Two couples decide to spend the night in a Funhouse," sums up the first half hour well enough. The rest of the movie is kind of good once it gets off the ground, though. I do like Kevin Conway's primary part in the movie although I'm not sure why they had him play three different roles (all of them "barkers") where it was obvious it was the same guy. I know Dean Koontz wrote a novelization of this movie and I can only hope it's better than this. 
12. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) - One of my faves. A young couple discovers that clown-like aliens have landed on earth and they are turning people into cotton candy. Pretty much a nameless cast except for the excellent supporting role by John Vernon.
13. Carnival of Souls (1962) - I got this movie as a part of a cheap 15 movie horror collection that had such heavy hits as The Pyx, The Undertaker and His Pals, and Bloodtide. So my expectations were pretty low. Wow. I was really surprised. This is a really good movie. The interactions with the neighbor did seem a bit unnecessary to the plot, but the rest of the film is so creepy that I really wanted to know what was going on and why.
14. House on Haunted Hill (1959) - October just is not October without a few Vincent Price movies. He has the coolest voice I think I've ever heard. Even cooler than Sean Connery's voice and that's just about the highest compliment I can give. I've seen the remake and I think it was a decent effort, but the original is still better if only because it has Vincent Price.
15. Carrie (1976) - I actually hadn't seen this movie since just after I read the book about four years ago. I kind of forgot just how much of a crazy lady Carrie White's mother was. Piper Laurie did a great job.
16. Horror of Dracula (1958) - I actually like a lot of the Dracula movies more than I like Stoker's actual book. And this one is one of my faves even though I'm not really a big vampire fan. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are such a great duo that it's a shame their screen-time together in this movie is so limited. Good thing there are so many other movies that they did together.
17. The Tingler (1959) - Another Vincent Price film. I'd never seen this one before, but I really enjoyed it. I really liked the "scream for your lives" part. Can't say the Tingler looks really scary, but it's not what it looks like that makes it scary... It's what it can do to you if you don't scream!
18. 1408 (2007) - Certainly one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. John Cusack's performance really helps to hold the movie together because the entire movie follows him around and a lesser actor might have let his guard down and just started to be himself rather than be the character. Samuel L. Jackson is great too in what is pretty much an extended cameo role. I know the movie is a bit different than the story, but that doesn't really matter. As long as a movie adaptation, especially from Stephen King's works, keeps me entertained and retains some semblance to the source material than it's okay with me.
19. Hellraiser (1987) - Clive Barker's directorial debut of a feature length film is a horror masterpiece. Pinhead is ranked up there with the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger even though he isn't a slasher himself. Pinhead is just one menacing dude and an iconic face in the landscape of theatrical horror. However, not even Pinhead is as messed up as the crazy lady sucking on the skinless dead guy's finger.
20. The Shining (1980) - This is the only time that I can recall that a movie actually made me want to read. I loved this movie from the minute I saw it even though I had no clue what it was about. Of course I've seen this movie plenty of times and it's one of my favorites. I read The Shining for the first time after realizing the movie had been made from a book. The differences between the two actually made it easier for me to like both of them without uttering the phrase, "the book was better." I know plenty of folks want the movies to be exactly like the books, but I guess I'm just weird. All I want from the movie is as I stated in my description of 1408.
21. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Wes Craven's fifth theatrical movie and easily his best next to Scream. It's really hard to believe that the guy who directed this masterpiece is also responsible for this disasterpiece. Well, I guess not every movie can a classic like this one. And Robert Englund is a genius for accepting this role because if it wasn't this movie and the following sequels than nobody would have any clue who he was.
22. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) - Probably the crummiest of the Nightmare sequels and the crummiest of the immediate big slasher sequels (Halloween 2, Friday the 13th Part II, and Hellraiser II). 
23. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) - This movie is tied with New Nightmare as the best Nightmare sequel. The cast is pretty solid and it's a good thing they brought back Heather Langenkamp for this one, too. Frank Darabont co-wrote the screenplay so that is certainly a plus. I'm even okay with this movie featuring music by Dokken. Oh, and the "tendon-puppet" is one of the most genius things I've seen on film.
24. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) - Borders between decent and mediocre. This film really brings on the cheese and Freddy gets some killer one-liners. It's not a bad film by any means, but it ain't great either.
25. Jeepers Creepers (2001) - Fun movie. Johnathan Breck makes for one cool and evil villain.
26. Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) - The same thing that I said about the first movie applies to this one. Although all the bare-chested males in this movie only serves to remind me that the director of this movie (the same guy who directed the first one) is a pedophile. It's kind of like when I watch the Naked Gun movies and I see O.J. Simpson. The movies are good enough to where they distance themselves a bit from the crummy decisions and despicable acts of the man that directed the films, but it's still a bit awkward to watch at times.
27. American Psycho (2000) - I kind of view this movie as the Monty Python of modern horror movies. There are just so many segments that are funny to me that they will forever be etched into my memory. The "card" scene, the scene where Paul gets an ax to the face while listening to Huey Lewis, and of course the "I need to return some video tapes" line. Of course this movie isn't just funny which is why I kind of lumped it in with the horror movies. Technically it's more of a black humor psycho thriller, but whatever. I haven't read the book so I can't make a comparison as to which is better, but I've heard the book is much more extreme. I'll have to check it out.
28. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) - Put this one into the "eh" category. I mostly find it worth owning and watching because John Skipp and Craig Spector co-wrote the story, but other than that there isn't much else going for it. Some of the scenes in the movie are kind of cool, but the movie as a whole just isn't great. Typical crummy slasher sequel.
29. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) - Another for the "eh" category.
30. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) - Probably the second best Nightmare sequel and sort of a prequel to Scream.
31. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) - A really slow build-up, but then Christopher Lee shows up and does his thing and everything seems okay.
32. Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968) - Again this movie is worth watching for Christopher Lee, but not much else.
33. The Mummy (1959) - Another classic Christopher Lee-Peter Cushing movie.
34. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) - Put this one in the "eh" category, too. I really hate to say this, but Hammer films relied on star power to help make their movies watchable. Without Cushing or Lee to help do some heavy lifting in the acting department this movie just doesn't seem to grab me.

1 comment:

  1. As far as The Twilight Zone, I've always liked movies with 3 or 4 short stories like Creepshow, Tales Of Terror (Vincent Price), Cat's Eye and so on. No one seems to make those anymore and I wish they would.

    The airplane story and the story about the kid everyone had to keep happy were my favorites. And in the "go figure" department, Steven Spielberg's short was the least likeable.