Thursday, October 28, 2010
My Top 10 Favorite Horror Films – October 2010
I’m always hesitant to do top 5 or top 10 or top 31.14 lists because for one thing, it’s going to be slightly different a month (or less) from now anyway because I’m a fickle beyatch. And for another thing, as I start putting a list together, I immediately start concocting subgenre lists. It’s a pretty nerve-racking process to stay within the confines of the “favorite”, the “top #”, and whatever genre or subgenre I’m talking about. I also feel that if you guys see my pathetic list, you’ll laugh, guffaw, or snicker and then never come back. Please baby please, don’t burn my blog down to the ground!
All of the following films improve (at least in my eyes) with multiple viewings. I can pretty much put any of these on at any time and be completely content. Even if their logic fails under a scrutinizing eye, their entertainment value rarely wavers. I can watch these movies in a room full of haters and come away blissfully unscathed. This is a top 10 list of movies that are very important to me. This list is subject to change and whimsy. In some cases, I have already written about these films in other places on the site or on the blog so links have been provided. Anyway, I hope you dig it.
# 10 – Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
Is this list set on reverse? How come this isn’t number freakin’ one, dawg? I first heard about Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama on the “This is Horror” series back in the late 80s. Unable to remember the ridiculously long title and having never stumbled across the VHS back in the day, it was many years before SOBASLIBABO finally entered my life on a budget DVD. All I really could remember from the clips was that some hot babes with bad attitudes where kicking each other’s asses. Granted, there is some hot babeness and some ass kickery but this flick is so much more than that.
I knew of Linnea Quigley from Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead but it’s in this film that she really captured my heart. Her character, Spider, is the woman of my dreams. No, not those dreams. The other ones, dang it. She could make a zero into a hero and that’s just what she does. I’m not talking about the movie either. I’m talking about myself. I’ve shown this film to many people and they all have groaned and asked me foolish questions like “Why?” and “Do you actually think this is a good movie?” My answer to both questions is always the same: “Because.” I guess that doesn’t really answer both questions but seriously SOBABLIBABO is quite the broken 80s masterpiece.
Read more about my impish obsession here.
And an unnecessary review!
# 9 – Zeder
Zeder is and forever shall be. When I was a kid, I first saw this film under its Revenge of the Dead title and very misleading cover art. The VHS artwork for Zeder is more appropriate for one of the Return of the Living Dead films. It promised me rotting zombies bursting out of the sewers. Yeah, that don’t happen, duder. Zeder is so fucking weird that I can’t help but admire the distributors for their blatant lie. It made me rent the movie. And in the end, I was more perplexed and intrigued than disappointed.
I am pretty fascinated by Italian horror movies (no way, are you for reals?) and oddities like Zeder just knock me out. This film is tense, strange, brutally violent, and subtly terrifying. Its darkness will remain with you for days, months, and years. My heart is racing just thinking about it. Okay, maybe I need to see a doctor about that. Pushing these keys is awfully strenuous. Much like director Pupi Avati’s giallo masterpiece, The House with the Laughing Windows, I will defend Zeder against any negative criticism from any disappointed viewer. Hopefully, I won’t come off as a condescending douchebag. Oops, too late. Renting this film in my youth was very important. It is one of the reasons that I am as insane about horror movies as I am today.
Check out my review here.
# 8 – Lisa and the Devil
Out of all of the films in Mario Bava’s spectacular body of work, Lisa and the Devil just gets to me. It’s super-dreamy and perfectly morbid. I’ve still never seen the abominable thing it became, The House of Exorcism, in its entirety. I guess one day I’ll have to suck it up and actually watch the Exorcist rip-off in all of its glory. Satan knows, I loves me an Exorcist clone. If you don’t know the story, the film premiered as Lisa and the Devil for limited audiences. The studio panicked because let’s face it, Bava made a crazy friggin’ movie. So the film got shelved and a few years later, the studio asked for some exorcism scenes which Bava reluctantly agreed to film. And thus, House of Exorcism was born and its very existence just ticks me off.
Beautiful ladies in tha house. Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina compete for the most beautiful woman in this film and I don’t know who wins. I just don’t know. Of course, I’m avoiding the big issue here: Telly frickin’ Savalas! The guy is in this film all pre-Kojak and shit and just steals every single scene that he’s in. There’s so much delirium and artful wackiness going on that Lisa and the Devil gets better with every viewing. Now it is dreamlike and a bit sleepy so don’t get all pissy with me if you think it’s “boring” or whatever. All I’m saying is if you love Italian horror (or you’re just curious) and you haven’t already seen this film then you need to ASAP.
Lisa and the Devil was the final film I watched during BAVADOOM.
# 7 – Horror Rises from the Tomb
When Paul Naschy died last year, I didn’t want to say anything for fear of sounding trite and silly. This is going to sound stupid but I felt pretty fucked up about it. For some reason, it felt like a real heroic duder was gone too soon. And it seemed like he was finally getting the recognition he deserved too, at least here in the States. When I was a kid going through VHS in the stores, his name never came up. In fact, it wasn’t until I happened upon Anchor Bay’s DVD of Werewolf Shadow that I’d even heard of the guy. The more I pursued his films, the more friggin’ amazing shit I found. Okay, so Crimson was fucking wretched but damn y’all, Naschy made so many great movies.
It didn’t take me long to find out which of Naschy’s films was my favorite. Werewolf Shadow almost makes the grade but I had to choose which one knocked it out of the park. Horror Rises from the Tomb is that movie. It’s gore and a séance and boobs and some more boobs and- But seriously, the suped up chintzy organ soundtrack, the shameless cheesiness, and the cold, desolated atmosphere alone are enough to make this a favorite. Also, this flick is a perfect starting point for folks thinking of checking out bad ass 70s Spanish horror flicks or somebody who doesn’t know jack about the man, the myth, the legend: Paul Naschy.
There’s more about my undying and unholy love for this film right here.
# 6 – Re-Animator
While Hellraiser and its first sequel were instrumental in turning me into a gorehound, I have to say that Re-Animator charms its way onto my top 10 list for a number of reasons. As far as films that push the boundaries of bad taste, well you don’t have to look much farther than this flick right here. I also admire this film for creeping me out more each time I watch it. Those that are re-animated by Dr. Herbert West’s serum are more disturbing to me than the undead of your average zombie movie. They are unpredictable, angry, and really fucking strong. I know I complain about fast-moving zombies in other horror films but these creatures are powered by Lovecraftian molecules so it makes more sense!
Oh yeah. This movie is friggin’ gross. If you want to get desensitized to gore real quick, pop this little number into your DVD player, duder. You’ll have the intestinal fortitude of an ER nurse in no time. I appreciate the rotten and irreverent mood of Re-Animator. The images playing about before me reek of formaldehyde and drying blood. This film introduced me to both its star Jeffrey Combs and its director Stuart Gordon and I’ve never been the same since. As I mentioned a moment ago, any film that gets scarier with repeat viewings is pretty bad ass. Somehow watching this movie as a kid was less frightening than it is to watch as an adult. For instance, the original Nightmare on Elm Street was a walk in the park when I was 9 but was somehow it became more terrifying at age 14. Go figure. Re-Animator is sitting on my DVD shelf right now, taunting me: "Scaredy cat! Scaredy cat! You are a scaredy cat! FLYING INTESTINES GOOOOOOOOOO!"
# 5 – Slumber Party Massacre
I love slasher movies. I really, really love slasher movies. And Slumber Party Massacre slays me so completely that no other slasher films make my top 10 list. I have totally adored this movie upon my first viewing when I bought it unseen from Suncoast Video for $5.99 or something back in 2003. I’m not sure how it happened but this silly and fun film became essential viewing for my wife and me every Halloween. This film has nothing to do with the holiday whatsoever but damn it all, that is what we do every Halloween no matter what.
Slumber Party Massacre is a very weak attempt (like a joke really) to subvert the charge that slasher movies are sexist. So the producers get an all female writing and directing team together and they try to make a feminist slasher movie. Do they succeed? Well, it’s either a massive success or a miserable failure. Sure, all of the male characters are total putzes but the gratuitous nude scenes (female only) make me think that the dudes win in the end. This is one of those rare body count movies where I like all of the characters. Everyone in this movie is essential. The bratty sister, the wise black chick, the chick whose dead body gets stuffed in the refrigerator, the mopey main chick, and of course, the power-drill wielding killer are all integral to one’s enjoyment of Slumber Party Massacre. Watch this with lots of friends and drinks. You will not be disappointed.
# 4 – Masque of the Red Death
If it weren’t for Masque of the Red Death, it would have been years before I ever gave old horror movies a chance. In case you haven’t noticed from my choice of movies that I ramble about on this blog, I’m kind of an ass when it comes to movies older than 1960. Don’t ask me why but I actually need to be constantly reminded that there have been great horror movies around since movies have existed. This started when I was kid. Somehow this stigma that anything older than brand new was bad. But then again, I had no concept of how old things were. I mean I thought that color like as in all colors that human beings can see were invented in the 1960s. How did I get on this topic? Now granted, Masque came out in 1964, but it was one of the first horror movies I saw that just happened to be released before I was born that had an impact on me. I would seek out films like the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and Creature from the Black Lagoon a little bit later because it dawned on me that old films are cool too. Do you see how dumb I was (am)?
What struck me immediately is the pure unadulterated horror packed into this film. Suddenly, I was scared of catching the plague but I was more afraid of my fellow human beings. There are some real pieces of work in this flick. They’re greedy, perverse, self-centered, and cruel. But the real master of evil is Prince Prospero, played by Vincent Price. His cold black heart is a bottomless pit of nastiness and when death comes to collect, he is a sniveling swine. This is the film that introduced me to Vincent Price and I continue to worship at the horrifying altar of this man.
# 3 – Phenomena
Oh shit. How did this slip away from the top spot? For years and years, whenever anyone would ask me what my favorite horror movie of all time was, the answer was easy: Dario Argento’s Phenomena. I always say “Dario Argento’s Phenomena” because if I just say “Phenomena” non-horror movie people go “You mean that movie with John Travolta? That’s not a horror movie, is it?” No, it’s not but I’m sure it is horrifying in its own way. Its number one title slipped away this year when I watched this and my new number one fave back to back. And sadly, it dropped not one but two spots from the top. Sorrio Dario!
But when it comes to pleasing a bunch of restless friends who want to be wowed by a horror movie, Phenomena does not fail. I played this for a group of people after their dismal reaction to Twitch of the Death Nerve (don’t worry, I don’t talk to any of those motherfuckers anymore) and everyone was totally blown away by Dario Argento’s freaky mix of maggots, monkeys, and heavy metal. This was one of the very first Italian horror films I ever watched (back before I even knew that Italians made movies) and it will always be hovering near the number one spot in my heart. Anyone who says they don’t love Phenomena is lying.
Here is where my deformed heart is.
# 2 – The Evil Dead
If not for Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, I probably would still not have seen this fantastic and utterly essential horror film. I think I was 12 years old when I saw clips of Evil Dead 2 on that “This is Horror” show (I really need to get a copy of this) and I was determined to watch it. When I found the film in the video store, I decided to watch the first movie because I assumed (wrongly) that I needed to watch the first Evil Dead to understand what was going on in the second one. So that weekend, I rented both films. I pulled the shades in my room and watched The Evil Dead for the first time. Man, I couldn’t wait for it to be over! It wasn’t funny at all and it was just kind of boring. Thankfully, when I put Evil Dead 2 in I was rewarded with a spastic film loaded with slapstick humor that even has a Holy Grail type ending. Bonus!
Yeah, I’m a little ashamed of my initial reaction to The Evil Dead. After renting and renting part 2 over and over again, I eventually got tired of it. Years later, I bought the Elite DVD (I’m not even sure which edition I have) of The Evil Dead and watched it again. Like, really watched it and now I think it’s the best independent American horror film ever made. The film has this unpredictable and completely bent vibe to it. And it’s charming! It has this held-together-with-spit feeling to it and everything works. The Evil Dead has a big heart. It wants to be loved because the people who made it really, really cared about what they’re doing. I’ve read about how miserable the production of this film was and how difficult of a time the filmmakers had acquiring funds to complete the project and it makes me feel like I’m a weak loser who has never done anything with his life. Shut up. Not you, I was talking to me. I will say more about this another time.
# 1 – The House by the Cemetery
There had to be a number one. It’s a top 10 list, people are gonna expect it. I bought both The Beyond (as Seven Doors of Death) and The House by the Cemetery on those el cheapo Diamond DVDs back in 2003. They were both like $7 apiece or something like that and I watched both of them that same weekend. Needless to say, I was changed forever. I had seen Fulci’s Zombie the year before on VHS and it left me in a little depressed (in a good way) puddle on the floor. But nothing could prepare me for the surreal assault of these two films. The Beyond seems like it’s the weirder movie because it’s bigger, louder, and has more characters doing totally inexplicable shit. However, the more I dig into The House by the Cemetery, the more I realize that it is just as bizarre as its zombie infested cousin.
How can a film produce in a person’s heart a feeling of retroactive nostalgia? I can’t look back on the good old days of watching this movie when I was 10 years old because I didn’t see it until I was 27. And yet, with every viewing, I get the sense that I’m returning to a beloved film from my youth. How the shit does that work? I don’t want anyone to watch The House by the Cemetery thinking either a) “Here’s another overrated Fulci movie” or b) “Some blowtard on a blog said that this is the greatest horror movie ever made like ever”. You have to be patient with this one. You have to be patient with all Fulci films. Did I love The Beyond or House by the Cemetery when I first watched them? No! I thought they were dumb but I liked the gory bits. But then it was too late for me. I couldn’t get them out of my head. I’m like that redhead kid in the “Forever Young” video but Rod Stewart ripped off my arm and is using it to hold his victims still so that he can use their cells to restore his own deteriorating undead carcass.
I sit on the couch of Dr. Freudstein here.