Friday, September 22, 2017

Notable Horror Movies To Watch

I’m very picky when it comes to horror films. They need to be just “right”, which is difficult when they get so incredibly dumb. If a movie is great and has a worthless ending, I don’t enjoy it. Simple. If a movie is sorely lacking in any department, it gets forgotten.

Horror is a subjective genre, so what works for one person doesn’t work for another. This is a list of horror films that work for me, and the reasons they do. They range from straight horror to comedy. In no particular order, I present you this list.

Idle Hands: Stoner-comedy at its finest! It’s kind of horrifying, and then turns into a cartoon. I have probably seen this movie more times than I can count. One of my 'take on a desert island' movies.

The Thing: A horror classic that still holds up today. You never knew who would be The Thing, so the paranoia perfectly mounts as the film goes on. Kurt Russell has the perfect amount of cool and leading man, but not vulnerability to make you think even he isn’t safe. And the film is mean, but bittersweet.

Friday the 13th Remake: A lot of people hate it, and for justifiable reasons, but Marcus Nispel knows how to make a movie look good! Derek Mears was a phenomenal Jason Voorhees. And let’s be honest, the first few Friday the 13th films are not very good. It took until the 4th film to get a decent film out of this series, which had a good Tommy Jarvis run.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation: Does this one hold up? Not really. Doesn’t stop it from being completely weird! Other films, like the original and even the remake are superior, but there was something about seeing this at 2 in the morning and just being bewildered that can’t be replicated.

Return of the Living Dead: The superior zombie movie. The zombies are unrelenting. Characters who we like are killed off, and when they come back, it genuinely feels like a worse situation. Yeah, it’s funny, but it’s also horrifying, all the way until the end.

Cigarette Burns: I love John Carpenter, as this list shows, but Cigarette Burns is the last enjoyable movie he directed. Good mythology, good performances, good payoffs. It did the “this thing is so evil and will drive you crazy, but we can’t show you it” well.

Event Horizon: Speaking of “this thing is so evil and will drive you crazy, but will show you” is Event Horizon. Part Alien, part Warhammer 40K, Event Horizon is a sci-fi classic, and you can take that to the bank! I’ve seen this movie about four or five times, and remembering it, I could go for another time.

In The Mouth of Madness: Amazing! A great Lovecraftian film if you take it that way, and also a phenomenal movie, in movie, in book plotline. Real dread, great monsters, despair, despair, despair! My meta plot interpretation (which I have to share in a video one of these days) makes this film a classic.

The Hills Have Eyes Remake: This is how you do a remake. Tense, a tilted power dynamic in the villain’s favor, and continuing breaking point of the characters, until it suddenly changes. You will throw your fist in the air as the main characters grab their own agency. It’s fucking glorious!

Fright Night (Original and Remake): These are classics, through and through. Like I mentioned with The Hills Have Eyes, this is how you do a remake. Both films are unique to one another, while still following the same story. I really wish we had gotten at least a sequel to this. This film had no business releasing in August when October would have been a much better release. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Re-Animator: The film that set the tone for Dr. Herbert West. An iconic performance by Jeffrey Coombs, with a solid straight-man dynamic of Bruce Abbot. Speaking of Stuart Gordon . . .

Dreams in the Witch House: From Stuart Gordon’s episode in Masters of Horror. Let’s be honest, any of Gordon’s works are worth watching. This man knows how to get great performances with little budget. Literally, a great and underrated director.

Dagon: Stuart Gordon. Read the two above.

The Blair Witch Project 1 and 2: What makes these films great is they are horror that sticks in your head after the film stops. Like the characters, your imagination plays with you that there is always a malevolent force, without having an actual malevolent force show up. A creeping fear, so to speak. Blair Witch lost me when it went surreal and gave us monsters. This series’ strength is that it’s always plausible there is no supernatural force, but maybe there is, but maybe there isn’t.

Cube: People are trapped in booby-trapped rooms, and they must use their wits to maneuver. Smart storytelling that surprises the viewer with each new room, and makes them think about they would solve it while the characters do as well.

Pandorum: Kinda Event Horizon-y, Pandorum is a surprising hidden gem. I saw this in theaters, and I’m glad I did. This movie kicked ass in the looks, the scares, and the thrills.

The Collector: A nightmare playground. The Collector’s main hook is a thief is hiding in a house with a killer who has set lethal traps all over the place for the family living there. The suspense is built by just how quick Arkin is able to think on his feet and avoid detection, and avoid the traps for so long. This movie is so good!

Saw: The original, and the best, thanks to James Wan’s direction. The heart of this series was lost when the franchise became an annual release. What makes Saw so frightening isn’t the blood and gore, but the lack thereof. Most of our main POV character survive the traps, so like Cube, it’s more terrifying to think of the aftermath. Once Saw 2 hit and afterwards, we saw every possible way the human body could be cut, impaled, and maimed.

The Fair-Haired Child: Another Master’s of Horror film, this time directed by William Malone. This may be my favorite Master’s of Horror episode out of the entire series. Moody, Gothic, and tight bottle storyline. It’s a wonderfully romantic movie. Love it!

Venom: A decent slasher with a fun monster. It’s pretty standard by all counts, but it looks good, has good actors, and it has enough twists to make it worthwhile. Fun fact, this is based on a video game! A video game that never got made. It would have been a survival horror where the player must escape the lead killer. You can spot the name of the town, Backwater, at the train station in the movie. That is the one connection. Also I heart Agnes Bruckner and always thought she was a good actress.

Cry_Wolf: Kind of a “baby’s first mystery thriller” but it’s made with enough good actors and good enough direction to still make it memorable. Also, can I say, this is a good example of PG-13 horror? I never felt this should be R-rated.

Dead Silence: This one almost didn’t make the list, because the ending is pretty dumb. It just kind of rushes to the conclusion. I did add it because dolls are scary, and this one does a great job with it. So, it’s like 95% good.

30 Days of Night: Pure survival. You are with these characters as they hide like rats, hoping the vampires assume they’ve eaten everyone and move on. Good actors, good plot points and conflict, an underrated vampire film.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil: Another great horror-comedy. The two rednecks are actually the nicest guys in the world, and the teens are so stupid they think they’re serial killers. The whole hook to the film is that when the teens attempt to surprise attack our protagonists, they accidentally kill themselves, which just leaves the surviving teens to think our two rednecks killed their friends. So good, so clever!

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer: The hook, Jack Brooks has anger problems. Monsters show up. The film builds to Jack getting angry enough to engage in a rage-filled monster bash. Does this succeed? Yes! Could this have been better? Absolutely.

Videodrome: Long live the new flesh!

Citadel: I learned of this movie while going through newspapers for a class project. The title and the premise sounded intriguing, “A young man must protect his baby from hooded hooligans who killed his wife. He suffers agoraphobia. Do these thugs have ulterior motives for wanting to take his baby, or is he crazy?” Super solid movie. I felt it was a tiny bit underwhelming the first time I watched it, but that feeling went away after subsequent viewings.

Puppet Master: Listen, we’re only talking about the good ones, but I’ve seen the shitty ones too. The puppets work best as anti-heroes instead of villains, but the suckiness extends to all facets of them. A big reason is because the first film was such a direct-to-video success, that sequels started receiving less and less budget. This meant they couldn’t afford the puppeteers and animators, so slowly less puppets were shown, less screen time, worse looking effects, and more boring. Full Moon has never given them the same kind of budget, or hired the same kind of talent.

They did a psuedo-reboot, and Mark from The Room is the lead.

The Resurrected: An adaptation of H.P. Lovecarft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It was one of his longest stories, and it also leaned on the boring side. I liked it, but I can understand people who don’t, because this film captures the slowness. It’s a pretty good movie, and underrated, given the fact no one mentions it. Worth watching, especially given how terrible Lovecraft adaptations can be. This is one of the better ones.

The Devil’s Rejects: The film where Rob Zombie earned my respect as a director. The Devil’s Rejects is almost literary given how the story plays out, how it plays on emotions, and how it conglomerates in a sick, twisted, slimy, and grotesque mess. House of 1000 Corpses is terrible, but this is top shelf storytelling.

Slither: This movie is fun as fuck! I’m glad it’s a one-and-done, because this is lightning in a bottle. A gross alien invasion film that balances the horror and the comedy. Other movies on this list are more comedy than horror, but this is both. You’ll squirm, you’ll laugh, you’ll be entertained.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (Original and Remake): This one might be controversial, because the remake is not well regarded. Yes, it’s an X-Files derivative, but it’s a good derivative. The mythology behind the show was fascinating, and I like Stuart Townsend as an actor. The original is one of the best shows that is well worth an entire viewing. It’s so much fun to see an ordinary reporter deal with the strange happenings in the city. It’s a plucky, scrappy show.

And that’s it. I have more horror movies in my collection, but these are the must-watch. All of these have something to them that make them unique. I could include movie like Botched, but while it is good, I also forgot it was in m collection. There are movies like that, and this list is already too long as it is. Films like Evil Dead and things like that were left out because everyone else already knows to watch them.