Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Top 13 Halloween Horror Flicks (For now)

I have to admit my tastes in horror films has evolved. Over the past decade I had definitely strayed away from what's considered popular horror. The Saw franchise bored me and I stopped watching after 3, although I am told the last one somewhat redeems the series so I may give it a try someday. I have no real interest in the Final Destination series. I stopped after 2. I've also come to realize I like FUN horror more then depressing downer horror. If that makes any sense.

I have been more vested in making my own movies so I'm not the obssessive horror cinephile I used to be, but I have come across enough great horror flicks and been able to revisit some forgotten classics to modify my top list for now.

This particular list will be a bit more skewed towards Halloween, meaning, they may not necessarily be scary, but at the very least they are fun to watch for the Halloween season. well, to me, at least. This list is not the end all be all of my fav horror movies. There are many titles I'm leaving off. These are simply the movies I love watching this season. I don't think I could ever really have a static top list of anything. I just love so many of them.

Here now for this Halloween season is my mixed list of old classics and new classics, in no particular order.

1) THE THING (1982) Haven't seen the "PRE-MAKE", and although I was excited at the idea of seeing a prequel story about what has happened at the Norwegian camp, the bad reviews I've been reading are making me want to wait til it's on Netflix streaming. The subtle fear, the anticipation, the paranoia, and the truly great monster FX by Rob Bottin still make John Carpenter's The Thing a true horror classic.

An instant classic. Don't let me get your hopes up. Level off your expectations, and just watch it. Warning, it's what you would call a slow burn. Very easily someone could watch this and be bored to death. Not me. I thought the pacing was perfect. The tension was being built perfectly, and although the scares and jumps are very few, when they come, they pay off well. This movie is about quality more than quantity when it comes to the horror, and it works. It helps that it's set in the 80's, and I love the 80's. Brings me back to my childhood, and it does a truly great job of making this movie feel like it was made in the 80's. Director Ti West is a genius.

Some would say this has the exact same plot as House Of The Devil. And you may very well be right, but this is certainly a much different film, with a different feel. This movie lends itself more towards being a fun B-Movie romp. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting much, but I thought this movie was fun. Like House Of The Devil we follow one night with a young girl baby sitting in a creepy house. Yup, same plot and even same  twists as House Of The Devil, but the foreboding tension is replaced with a bit of campy horror, which I found to be alot of fun.

4) TRICK r' TREAT (2007)
Almost the ultimate Halloween movie, but certainly a love letter to Halloween based horror flicks. Creepy, eerie, a bit predictable, but I didn't care, I was having too much fun watching this anthology of creepy Halloween inspired tales. Also Halloween has a new hero, and his name is Sam.

5) FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
Duh. still one of my favorites. Roddy Mcdowell as Peter vincent steals the show and Chris Sarandon as the Vampire next door, Jerry Dandridge, is creepy and inspired. Also, one of the coolest Wolf de-transformation scenes ever. Saw the remake, I enjoyed it tremendously, but it doesn't top the original by any means.

Alien leeches invade peoples brains turning them into zombies. A rough and rugged homicide detective and a college couple must fight this horde of alien made zombies. How would you NOT want to watch this? From Fred Dekker Director of Monster Squad, I obsessed over this movie. Zombies, an axe murderer, shot guns, flame throwers, and some decent zombie fightin action. Certainly one of the best in B-movie horror. No so much scary, but definitely fun as hell.

7) TROLL HUNTER (2010)
Along the lines of Blair Witch and Cloverfield. A camera crew follows along a supposed "bear hunter" only to find it's not bears he's hunting. Great fun. Surely one of the best found footage flicks. Way better than Blair Witch and just as fun as Cloverfield. A bit of goofiness and humor, but some fun fx and scares. Check out, even if you're not big on subtitles. Notice I didn't include the trailer. Don't watch the trailer. Just go watch the movie and experience it for yourself.

I got to re-watch this again this year, this time with my wife, who'd never scene it before. John Landis really hit it right both with the script and with the direction. Some genuinely funny and endearing moments peppered throughout some horrofying scenes. Honestly, this was a huge inspiration for the tone I try to set with Monster Cops. This movie is still a classic. I still call this the best Werewolf movie of all time, with the greatest Werewolf transformation ever shot (only one movie comes close. Look up THE HOWLING).

9) LET ME IN (2010)
I know, I know, I'm a heathan for loving a remake. Those bastards how dare they remake Let The Right One In, the most perfect vampire movie ever made. Well, I'm sorry, but as much as I loved Let The Right One In, I kept thinking about how I would have directed it. Then along comes Matt Reeves and makes exactly what I would have made. I was actually excited when I heard about this. I'm a fan of Matt Reeves, he directed Cloverfield afterall. What he's come up with was what I like to call "if Spielberg Directed a Vampire Movie". Plenty of lens flare, very endearing, the cinematography was brilliant, and they didn't hold back on the horror. There were moments that felt very Hitchcock. I'm sorry, but I fell in love with every bit of this movie.

10) DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)
Sam Raimi is a mad man. Everyone of his movies the star is always the camera. I don't care what celebrity or actor is in front of it, it's the camera that steals the show. His insane shots, tracks, dolly ins. He has this great Funhouse sense with his direction and his photography. And boy does it ever work in this movie. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. For a while I was getting disappointed there were no more recent FUN horror movies, but this one is definitely beyond FUN. There are a few moments of irrationality with the characters, but when you realize that it doesn't matter because Sam Raimi is trying to take you on a ride, everything is all down hill, and what a ride. Such a great ending.

11) POLTERGEIST (1982)
We can argue all the live long day about who actually directed this movie. Tobe Hooper is credited, but many say that Steven Spielberg did much more than produce. Everytime I watch the behind the scenes it certainly seems like Spielberg was directing.  Many think the studio just wanted Tobe Hooper's name on it simply because he directed the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To me the movie oozes Spielberg nuance. The lens flares, even the eerie horror bits seem magical and mystifying. But to Tobe Hooper's credit he has been known to pull out a bit of magic in his movies himself (See #14) Regardless, this movie still stands as a great ghost story / haunted house flick. A must for October.

12) HALLOWEEN (1978)
A classic. Still one of John Carpenter's best. A slower pace compared to what the kids are use to nowadays, but to me that's how you build tension. I love the atmosphere of the neighborhood. The rolling leaves, the kids trick or treating, carving jack o' lanterns. A perfect backdrop for a killer in the dark stalking babysitters. Also, I'm a sucker for the classic Teen Slasher setup.

13) HELL NIGHT (1981)
I have a thing for 70's / 80's horror flicks. Especially involving teens. They're just a ton of fun for me. From the very first shot you'll be saying "Yup this is definitely from 1981". It's datedness adds to it's charm. Besides, once we get rolling with the terror, none of that really matters. The rising sheet scene still creeps me out, it's frickin brilliant. And I love that this isn't necessarily a slasher flick, but somewhat leans on being a monster movie.

Honorable Mention

Funhouse (1981)
No argument here that Tobe Hooper actually did direct this one. I love the first 5 minutes and the last 10 minutes. I love the carnival setting. Here he actually does a good job of capturing the carnival mystique, a somewhat magical and often eerie place. We follow two teen couples as they attend the festivities only to find themselves face to face with a creepy killer. The only gripe one may have is that the movie certainly does take it's time getting to the action. I have to admit alot of my love for this movie is nostalgia. Re-watching the end scene where we finally see the "villain" really brings back memories.

Darkness Falls (2003)
This movie came and went with not alot of fanfare. And very many of you really hate this film. But I thought it was fun and I honestly don't see what what there was to hate about it. Performances were fine, fx were good, not one boring scene to me, honestly, I really had fun with this flick. When I need a stand by horror flick to watch this does just fine. Maybe it's not great, but I enjoyed this eerie spin on the "Tooth Fairy" quite a bit.  Also, I think Emma Caulfield is hot.

Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
Dan Obanon had set out to make a horror film in the style of a comedy. What has resulted in a very eerie, very funny, very outrageous Zombie movie. It's the first time (that I remember) anyone seeing zombies that ran. And not only did they run, but you actually couldn't kill them. This one doesn't hold back on nudity (Linnea Quigley's stripper dance in the graveyard) and some pretty nifty, although somewhat cheesy, zombie fx (the zombie interrogation). The sense of doom and despair still creeps me out, but it had a good sense of goofy horror fun. I LOVE TAR MAN!

Director Rick Rosenthal picks up right where the first one left off, and I love that. A continuation of this night of terror leads to much more horror at the local hospital. I love it when Michael Myer's walks right through that glass door. So cool and creepy.

HALLOWEEN III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
Wow, what an uproar by fans at the time. This was actually not a sequel. Carpenter really wanted to make the Halloween franchise more along the lines of an anthology, where each movie would have the same feel but be about different stories about Halloween. NOPE, it didn't take, and Halloween 3 was a huge flop. Why? Because it had absolutely nothing to do with Michael Myers. Instead this is about a series of deaths that may be linked to Halloween masks created by the Silver Shamrock company. No it has nothing to do with Michael Myers, but guess what, I don't care. Once you get to the idea that this is a standalone movie it turns out it's actually pretty good. Had the same eerie feel as the first two, and still holds on to that spirit of Halloween Horror. Also Tom Atkins is the good guy, and who doesn't love Tom Atkins.

Are you kiddin me? Do I really need to explain this one. Wolfman's got nards. That's all you need to know. Go watch this if you haven't yet.

Probably the movie that helped inspire my love for Halloween and Halloween movies. An ABC TV Movie, cheesy, more family oriented, but still alot of fun. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, and dated as hell, it screams 80's and that only makes me love it more. I still have my original VHS copy of this that I bought from the Grand Prairie Rent-A-Movie before they shut down. I watch it often. Directed by Jack Bender who would go on to direct several of my favorite episodes of LOST and HOUSE. You know what. I'm gonna watch this right now.