Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dan's Top Horror Movies 20-11

Halloween rules

We’re in the homestretch people; the cream of the crop, the all important top 20.  If you missed the previous parts you can check out 50-41 here 40-31 here, and 30-21 here.  Let’s bang a gong and get it on like T-Rex.

20. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later is one of the most intense movies I’ve ever seen.  The movie starts out with people running from a blood-mad zombie horde, slows down for like fifteen minutes to set up the plot, and then the kicks it into overdrive for the rest of the 100 minute runtime.  The pacing and intensity alone puts 28 Weeks Later over its predecessor.  It’s also much gorier; people get burned alive, eaten alive, eye gouged, and shot.  The only criticism I have for the movie was the choice to have a main zombie hunting the protagonists.  Zombie movies work better with a faceless horde of rage-infected maniacs chasing their victims.  One more thing; how did Robert Carlyle and that chick that was living in a pile of filth have such a hot daughter?  Robert Carlyle isn’t just classically unattractive; he’s weird looking, right?  The girl that plays his daughter looks like she walked out of Proactiv commercial even in the bowels of a corpse laden subway.  Took me right out of the movie.
Hot damn

19.  Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

At its core Creature From the Black Lagoon is about a fish-man that wants to have sex with a beautiful woman, but it’s also about environmentalism, desire, science gone wrong, and lagoons (aside from the Brooke Shields movie lagoons are one of the most underrepresented bodies of water in film.)  The filmmakers went to great lengths to make the creature look like a real monster; the suit is form fitting and doesn’t wrinkle or have a zipper.  The actor in the underwater scenes even had to be able to hold his breath for 4 minutes at a time so it would look like a real fish and not a SCUBA diver incognito.  The term “rubber suit” is usually thrown around as a pejorative, but in this movie it’s one helluva suit and I think it works better than CGI ever could.  For a movie made in the 50’s that takes place in a South American jungle there’s surprisingly little racism.  What gives?  I guess their guides were kind of swarthy, but I want ethnic guides to talk like Frankenstein and be afraid of white-man technology.  Good movie nonetheless.
That's more like it.

18. Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Diner is a horror parody and tribute to H.G. Lewis’ Bloodfeast.  I think it’s one of the most underrated horror movies of all time.  The movie isn’t even available on DVD.  It shows up “On Demand” from time to time, and whenever it does I watch it twice.  Blood Diner is about two guys that own a 50’s style diner that serves the best vegetarian food in the city, only the secret ingredient is human flesh.  The death scenes are as hilarious as they are gory.  The movie only has a 4.3 on IMDB, but anyone that gave this movie a low rating is a fucking asshole.  I don’t want to be a dick or anything, but seriously.  The kind of person that takes the time to go online and downgrade a sweet movie like this on IMDB is the same kind of person that complains about people boozing it up at the office Christmas party.  You don’t own the copy machine Bitch, and if I wanna Xerox my scrotum it’s my goddamned business.  I’m not cut off, you’re cut off.

17. Scream (1996)

The most important scene in an important film
Throughout the 90’s horror movies, particularly slasher movies, seemed kind of passé; a relic from the previous decade.  Then Scream happened.  It was a monster hit, grossing over $161,000,000 worldwide.  Horror was back, and I was at just the right age to see every horror movie released to theaters.  Most of the movies were copycat pieces of shit like “I Know What you Did Last Summer” and I quickly stopped seeing every horror movie.  They were all so goddamned derivative; they assembled an ensemble cast of attractive young people and had a maniac kill them (just like Scream!)  Worse still, those movies usually had barely any blood and no nudity, as if that would somehow make the film “hip” and “edgy” like Scream.  I’ve talked a lot about Scream’s legacy, and it should go without saying that I really like this movie.  I liked it a lot in Junior High, and unlike Sudden Death it has held up surprisingly well. 
Here's Jean-Claud fighting a godamned giant penguin

16. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Fuck yeah!
Night of the Living Dead was written by two Pittsburgians in 1968. George A. Romero followed it up with Dawn of the Dead, and co-writer John A. Russo wrote Return of the Living Dead.  The script for Return of the Living Dead sold in Hollywood, but the studio thought it was too serious and jettisoned everything but the name.  The studio then turned to Dan O’Bannon (the guy that wrote Alien) to turn Return of the Living Dead into a comedy (a comedy that still managed to scare my wife.)  Also brains; or should I say brrrrrrrraaaaaaiiiinnnzzz!!! I’ve seen countless zombie movies, and off the top of my head this is the only one where the zombies actually moan their famous catchphrase.  This film also boasts one of the best “girl taking her clothes off in a cemetery” scenes I’ve ever seen. BONUS FACT: my DVD case for this movie glows in the dark.  It wasn’t advertised or anything, just a little bonus feature I discovered about a year after I bought the movie. Cool.

15. Dawn of the Dead (2003)
This is pretty much what my nightmares look like

When I heard they were remaking Dawn of the Dead I was incredulous to say the least.  They were remaking the zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead” with running zombies?  Count me out.  Then they released a preview of the first five minutes of the film and it looked fucking awesome.  It was great: in a matter of minutes the whole world comes apart at the seams: a little roller-blading enthusiasts with no lips bite dudes in the neck, and people get eaten alive. The rest of the movie was awesome too, but it had a few parts that were kind of dumb, like the zombie baby (that was fucking stupid.) Zach Snyder has never been the darling of the critics, but in my book the intro to Dawn of the Dead earns him the right to make whatever movie he wants till the end of time.  Anyone else notice that Max Hedroom was in the movie?
Moments before he turned into a z-z-z-zombie

14.  Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

I kind of wish the tile was “Freddy v. Jason” so it would sound like a legal drama, and then total squares would rent the movie expecting some boring courtroom movie with lots of stupid speeches and get their nuts rocked off.  The plot may be ludicrous and the characters may be stupid, but it doesn’t matter at all.  This movie is about Freddy and Jason fighting each other, and by God it delivers.  As perfect as it is, the movie took a surprisingly long time to come out.  New Line and Paramount were in talks to make a crossover film as early as 1987.  In 1989 New Line acquired the rights to the Jason Vorhees character and didn’t do anything towards making a crossover film until they teased us with Freddy’s arm in Jason Goes to Hell (1993).  Ten years later the movie finally came out.  It was kind of like Duke Nukem Forever or Chinese Democracy, except it wasn’t disappointing on every level.  The movie went on to make $113 million at the box office.  Immediately there were rumors of a sequel in the works.  Since then there’s been a whole lotta nothing on that front, but hey it only took 16 years to make the first Freddy vs. Jason.  I’m sure I can look forward to another one in 2019.  Fuck.  Why won’t these people let me give them my money?
This was going to be the sequel to Freddy vs. Jason.  It would have been the greatest movie of all time.

13. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Black people are cool
Night of the Living Dead is the first modern zombie movie.  Before Night of the Living Dead zombie movies were about hoodoo and black magic, witch doctors and such.  Night of the Living Dead made zombies into the flesh eating ghouls we know and love today.  It’s also one of the first horror movies to have a black guy that wasn’t just monster-fodder.  The black dude is the only person in the entire movie that the audience can identify with, and he kicks the shit out of zombies.    Generally I try not to get too nuts prattling on about how influential a film is.  I mean, Birth of a Nation is about as important and influential a film there is that doesn’t make it good.  Night of the Living Dead on the other hand is very good, and it’s public domain.  You can usually find copies of the film for less than $5 and they usually show it on PBS completely uncut around this time of year, or you can wait till March.  I don't know if they still do this, but on PBS Chicago they used to show Night of the Living Dead  with a green tint around St. Patrick’s Day.  I guess there weren’t enough public domain Irish movies.
Zombie raid!

12. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The Devil’s Rejects is a direct sequel to Rob Zombie’s directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses, and it’s better in every way.  In fact, the only thing I really liked in House of 1000 Corpses was the part where you see Sheri Moon Zombie’s ass.  But it's a moot point because in The Devil’s Rejects she wears jeans with a bunch of rips in the back so you kind of see her butt anytime she has her back to the camera.  House of a 1000 Corpses was also just kind of a run of the mill “attractive 20-somnethings find psychotic hillbillies” movie, although it was an exceptionally sick version of that movie.  The Devil’s Rejects is different.  It’s still a sick movie: there are no good guys and the bad guys are truly evil, but this time they have “character development” and “motivation.”  It would be easy for a film like this to descend into nihilistic savagery, but The Devil’s Rejects balances the bleak violence with just enough humor to let you catch your breath.  The movie also has the best use of Freebird anywhere.  In fact, whenever I hear Freebird I always think about The Devil's Rejects for at least a few of the song's nine and a half minutes.
This was the only part of House of 1000 Corpses I watched more than once.  I still didn't remember that Dwight from the Office was in the movie

11.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Remember when I talked about how The Devil’s Rejects used humor to balance out the stark violence?  Well there’s none of that here.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is about a serial killer.  He murders people because he’s crazy.  He doesn’t even seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy a tasty beer.  It’s just kind of what he does.  Filmed in Chicago in the 1980’s you get some great shots of the city in that era.  Remember when Lower Wacker had those weird green lights?  That was fucking creepy looking.  As much as I hate to spoil anything I must warn you of one particularly disturbing scene.  Near the end of the film Henry goes into a convenience store and the clerk says “How ‘bout those Bears?”  Henry replies, “Fuck the Bears.”  What kind of monster talks like that?  Raping and murdering an entire family is one thing, but let’s not say things we can’t take back.  Talk about harsh.
Two guys that don't "Bear Down" on Sunday.  This isn't even the 5th creepiest scene of the movie.

Almost done.  40 movies down and only 10 to go before Halloween.
Until Next time remember, Danzig still wants your Skull

1 comment: