Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thirty-Wonderful Reviews of Halloween

Since I have been so lax (once again) in my attempts at a “31 Days of Shocktober,” I’ve instead made a list of 31 of my horror reviews for you to enjoy.
If I was a big liarpants, I’d say I’d watched all these movies this month, but that’s not how LERNER INTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISES rolls—even despite our abbreviation.

The majority of the reviews are in praise of the films in question, with the two negative reviews being recommendations towards fixing the flick in question (with one of those also being an overview of Tobe Hooper’s career).

Read on—links ahead!

[Why no “31 Days of Shocktober”? (Lord only knows how Dr. Morbius over at Krell Labs does it…)
If I forced myself, I’d probably find more “diamonds in the rough” like Killer Mountain [see below], and it’s not that I don’t usually watch at least one movie per day, but personal taste and my many moods gets in the way: some days I don’t want to watch a horror movie…]

31 Very Recommended Horror Films—pick a few for Halloween (and you’re certainly staying in that night if you live on the East Coast; Hurricane Sandy will see to that!)
Alphabetical, natch—

The Abominable Snowman [of the Himalayas] (1957; Val Guest, written by Nigel Kneale) Kneale’s name shows up twice on this list, and for a good reason: he writes fascinating and thought-provoking supernatural tales, and this “Hunt for a Yeti” is no exception.

Altered (2006; Eduardo Sánchez)This way FUBAR alien-abduction story is one of the best “Outer Limits Episodes Never Made” and evidence that The Blair Witch Project wasn’t a fluke.

Apollo 18 (2011; Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego) Moon Spiders, FTW!!!

Beware! The Blob! (1972; Larry Hagman) The first time Del Close’s improvisational style of comedy, called “Harold,” comes to the screen—in a horror comedy.

The Blob (1958; Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.) is the first movie that ever gave me nightmares!

The Cabin in the Woods (2012; Drew Goddard) Mock Ye Not The Dark Elder Gods!!!

The Car (1977; Elliot Silverstein) is far from perfect, but has a nasty streak that’s quite nifty, providing shocks and surprises unfamiliar to the genre.

The Comedy of Terrors (1963; Jacques Tourner, written by Richard Matheson) is an offshoot of the Corman-AIP-Poe series* (a subgenre I truly enjoy), and it is
an underseen underrated quite marvelous old-school horror-comedy featuring that trio of terror titans: Vincent Price (wonderfully snide and nasty), Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. They’re grave-diggers who decide to increase their business through unconventional methods…

* = including The Haunted Palace, Die Monster Die! (both inspired by H.P. Lovecraft stories) and Michael Reeves’ incredible Witchfinder General (I actually prefer the title AIP imposed on the film’s US release, The Conqueror Worm: taken from one of Poe’s works, I think that title is more subtle and mysterious, even poetic).

Contagion (2011; Steven Soderbergh) Not only an awesome and terrifying plague movie—as if Stanley Kubrick and Roger Corman joined forces—
but The Goopster gets scalped! YOW!

The Day of the Beast (El día de la Bestia; 1995; Alex de la Iglesia) More of a very well-structured blasphemous comedy-thriller than a horror flick, but the first of infamous Spanish director de la Iglesia’s many cinematic weirdnesses.

The Funhouse (1981; Tobe Hooper) Like, what the fuck happened to Tobe Hooper?

I Saw the Devil (2010; Jee-woon Kim) The Koreans are beating us at our own game—and it’s awesome!

The Incredible Melting Man (1977; William Sachs) Deliciously stupid, this flick is a gorehound’s delight.

Insidious (2011; James Wan) scared the crap out of me!

Killer Mountain (2011; Sheldon Wilson) is a surprisingly good quasi-Lovecraftian monster movie, a diamond in the rough.

Maniac (1980; William Lustig) is superstar Joe Spinell’s magnum opus, delving into the actor’s subconscious with unnerving results. And gory as all get out!

Martyrs (2008; Pascal Laugier) is a film I recognize as good, but don’t really like. Some friends are brought on-board to help analyze this most intense and blood-drenched of films.

Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981; Graham Baker) is an awful movie, but worth a look for one reason alone: young Sam Neill’s brilliantly blasphemous monologs and sermons—why these haven’t been sampled by a techno band is beyond me.

Onibaba (1964; written and directed by Kaneto Shindo) is not just one of the best horror movies made (even an influence on The Exorcist!), but just a great film: humanity at its most raw and superstitious.

Orphan (2009; Jaume Collet-Serra) There’s no way anyone renting Orphan or seeing it for the first time is not going to know that cute little Esther is a devil-child up to no good, and the film’s fun is in watching how the murderous moppet absolutely destroys her adoptive family.

A Perversion Story (a.k.a. One on Top of the Other) (1969; Lucio Fulci) is really only for fans of Fulci—but you know who you are, don’t you?

Shivers (a.k.a. They Came From Within) (1975; David Cronenberg) is Dr. Dave’s first feature-length film and shows that he’s been thinking crazy stuff since the beginning.

The Stone Tape (1972; Peter Sasdy; written by Nigel Kneale) is a very modern and very English ghost story that may look cheap by today’s standards, but is so rich in ideas that will challenge you and stimulate the brain. Another slice of genius from author Kneale.

The Thing (2011; Matthijs Van Heijningen) What could have helped this film—beyond not making it in the first place—some suggestions…

Thirst (“Bakjwi”) (2009; Park Chan-wook) is the Oldboy director’s brilliant remake of A Place in the Sun—with vampires!

The Todd Killings (1971; Barry Shear) is not only the name of a great Angry Samoans song; it’s a “lost” feel-bad masterpiece, a suburban Clockwork Orange where you can’t cheer for the protagonist, you hate him.

Trollhunter (2010; André Øvredal) is a blast, a giddy/thrilling monster movie: Trolls are real, and like feral pigs, are hunted down if they leave the game preserve.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010; Eli Craig) is a gut-bustingly hilarious subversion of the undying Hollywood myth of Southern Redneck Villainy, as well as an incredibly gory horror movie.

Wake In Fright (1971; Ted Kotcheff) is the finest kind of “feel-bad” Savage Cinema.

The Wicker Man (1973; Robin Hardy, written by Anthony Shaffer) is as unnerving as watching a noose tighten for about 90 minutes.
The Wicker Man is probably one of the smartest horror flicks ever made, more about cross-cultural collision, than any sort of monster, and is great food for thought.

Willard (2003; Glen Morgan) is exactly what I expected when I rented a Crispin Glover movie about a boy and his rats: a gothic and campy character-study that often enters into the macabre and grotesque, sometimes becoming an absolute stone-cold freak show.

And thank you!

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