You’ve seen THE EXORCIST, INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING, SCREAM, PSYCHO, THE OMEN, HALLOWEEN and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And, they’re all played out – it’s the same story over and over. If you’re ready for something off the bludgeoned path, try one of these.
THE ONES YOU NEED TO SEE:
NEAR DARK (1989): Kathryn Bigelow (POINT BREAK) directs a band of nomadic vampires led by Lance Henriksen. Bill Paxton stars as a slightly off-kilter and sadistic bloodsucker, trying to befriend Adrian Pasdar into joining the murderous clan. Bigelow’s unique style of filmmaking is at its best in this cult classic.
RE-ANIMATOR (1982): Reinventing the genre appears easy in Stuart Gordon’s violent tale of a doctor (Jeffrey Combs) who discovers how to regenerate dead nerves. At the time, RE-ANIMATOR was a low-budget special effects marvel. Even Ebert gave it a thumb’s up!
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985): Ghouls invade a mortuary on a quest for living brains – the only food that will ease the pain of being dead. Dan O’Bannon wrote and directed this comical bloodfest that is in no way affiliated with Romero’s DEAD flicks. James Karen and John Philbin star.
EVIL DEAD (1982): Written and directed by Sam Raimi, this student film had a $300,000 budget. Bruce Campbell stars as the unfortunate hero on a camping trip with college buddies. One by one, they are stalked and slaughtered by demons from beyond. There are some truly creepy scenes in this movie and a few moments of filmmaking brilliance. While it’s sequel gets the attention and love from fans, Evil Dead is a much creepier movie.
BAD BOY BUBBY (1993): Twisted. Demented. Downright weird. Call it what you will but Christopher Hope gives a great performance as Bubby, a simple man who has been imprisoned by his mother for 30 years. When he escapes, he discovers the real world and how his demented mind fits in with it. Directed by Rolf de Heer
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE II (1986): You’ve heard of the first one, but box office receipts guarantee that not too many people saw the sequel – Most unfortunate. Dennis Hopper stars as a vengeful father seeking retribution for the murder of his son. Leatherface and a clan of eerie cannibals are present to ensure plenty of gore. Directed by Tobe Hooper.
THE ONES YOU SHOULD SEE:
FREEWAY (1996): Keefer Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon and Dan Hedaya star in this heavily demented update of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. In this telling, however, Little Red Riding Hood (Witherspoon) proves to be a sick and twisted soul; and the wolf (Sutherland) is a serial killing child molester. Written and directed by Matthew Bright.
THE HITCHER (1986): C. Thomas Howell makes the mistake of picking up hitchhiker Rutger Hauer. The murderous hitchhiker toys with Howell, leaving a trail of victims in his wake. Jennifer Jason Leigh also stars and is a key player in the suspenseful climax. Directed by Robert Harmon
EVIL DEAD II (1985): Raimi returns to direct more of a remake rather than a sequel. Campbell is once again the hero, showing the true elasticity of his face as he is possessed and beaten senseless by demons promising to “swallow his soul.” EVIL DEAD II is a fast-paced horror movie, with plenty of laughs, and the trademark roller coaster-like cinematography of Raimi.
BODY PARTS (1991): Starring Jeff Fahey and Brad Dourif. This movie’s release coincided with the arrest of Jeffery Dahmer. However, though the title implies otherwise, the stories are drastically different. In BODY PARTS, Fahey is the recipient of a donor arm – a body part that wants its original owner back. Horror veteran Eric Red directed this. Red was responsible for writing NEAR DARK and THE HITCHER.
LAND OF THE DEAD (2005): of all the Romero “Dead” movies, this one has become the single one that is most re-watchable to me. Upon a first viewing, I thought it was just okay, but it has grown on me and continues to do so. Dennis Hopper, Simon Baker and John Leguizamo all put in fine performances on this unsung hero of the dead. Directed by George Romero.
FRIGHT NIGHT (1985): Roddy McDowall plays a washed up television veteran famous for his roles as a vampire hunter. His services are unexpectedly sought after when vampire Chris Sarandon moves into a suburban neighborhood. Written and directed by Tom Holland.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1979): BLAIR WITCH step aside. Documentary filmmakers were first sacrificed in the name of entertainment for this 1979 horror classic. In search of real-life cannibals, only one thing survives – the film rolls that reveal every bloody detail. At the time of its release, HOLOCAUST was considered so grotesque that it was banned in multiple countries. Upon a recent re-watch, the movie doesn’t hold up as well, but is still very interesting in its approach to a genre that essentially did not exist at the time. Directed by Italian filmmaker Ruggero Deodato.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981): Okay, you’ve probably seen this, but it was made a while ago and well worth another look. David Naughton (the Dr. Pepper guy) is the would-be werewolf and Griffin Dunne is his dead and decaying friend. Written and directed by John Landis.
BEGOTTEN (1990): First you have to be able to track this one down, which is a difficult task in and of itself. It is a movie whose existence is now a mystery with limited or bootleg copies available. It is an entirely visual and ethereal tale of the death adn the rebirth of gods. The director, Mehrige, is best known for SHADOW OF A VAMPIRE. Directed by E. Elias Mehrige.
SO BAD, YOU HAVE TO SEE:
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978): Violent, offensive and hard to watch. After being raped by a group of men, a woman (Camille Keaton) seeks revenge. Keaton grinds one man in the motor of a powerboat and another meets his end slowly bleeding to death after having his genitals sliced off. Also called DAY OF THE WOMAN. Directed and written by Meir Zarchi.
BAD TASTE (1984): Peter Jackson directed this horrible horror masterpiece. It’s so bad that it’s so good. With its over the top violence and laughable one-liners, this is a must see for all movie buffs. Lord Crumb and his crew of aliens have plans to breed humans for an intergalactic fast food chain. But the barely competent, secret agents known as “The Boys” set out to stop them with an arsenal of brains, blood and vomit.
WEREWOLF (1996)– Another one that is so bad, it’s great. This stars the lost Estevez (Martin’s nearly unknown brother) – Joe. WEREWOLF sinks to new lows, making it difficult to believe that this was made in the ‘90s – it more closely resembles an early ‘70s hack ‘em up. Unrecognizable accents, horrendous acting, awful effects, crummy sets and fourth-rate writing make for one of the most lovable horror flicks ever. This movie also provides fantastic fodder for the original MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Directed by Tony Zarindast.
BUCKETS OF BLOOD (1959) – A horror classic, a masterpiece of the genre, making way for all those that came after. It was one of Roger Coorman’s first and finest films. This documents the story of an artist who discovers murder can provide inspiration.
IT’S ALIVE (1978) – Taken at face value, this movie just plain sucks. But when you take into account writer/director Larry Cohen’s well-known anti-social, anti-religious and socio-critical themes, ALIVE reaches a level of absurd perfection. I read somewhere that Cohen’s movies all look as though they were made over a weekend. This, being no exception, is about a murderous newborn baby. Also worth a look is Q, the story of a Mayan bird-god terrorizing human kind. And, don’t forget THE STUFF, a funky movie about government made, killer yogurt.
BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE DEVILS (1973) – What would any list of bad horror movies be without these three words – blood, orgy and devil? Low-budget horror movie legend Ted V. Mikels, who has been making bad movies since 1963, was responsible for BLOOD ORGY. The title of this devilish witchcraft tale was considered so offensive that most newspapers and theaters would only list it as BLOOD ORGY or THE SHE DEVILS.
by Brian Barsuglia
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