Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween from Homefront Film School! Thought I'd celebrate with a top ten list a handful of YouTube clips, and a few more goodies.

The Top 10 Most Underrated Horror Films of All Time

10. Ginger Snaps (2000, John Fawcett)
This little Canadian production seemed to come and go without a huge amount of fanfare in 2000, which is a shame. It was easily the best werewolf movie since An American Werewolf in London, and arguably the best horror film to use the supernatural as a metaphor for puberty since Carrie.

9. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)
A brilliant, blood-soaked mixture of the western, the cannibal movie, and the black comedy. Guy Pearce and Jeffrey Jones lead a group of soldiers holding down a small fort in the snowy Sierra Nevadas during the Mexican-American war, and the amazing Robert Carlyle stars as Col. Colhoun, the batshit insane, cannibalistic wagon leader who ate the rest of his party. The film also boasts a terrific, evil/spazzy bluegrass score by Mychael Danna.

8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 Rouben Mamoulian)
1931 was the year of both of Universal's gargantuan horror blockbusters Frankenstein and Dracula, and this little film got sadly overshadowed by them both. It's a shame, as it's a much better film in many respects, and probably the best adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. Frederic March, who portrayed both Jekyll and Hyde, walked off with an Oscar for his performance.

7. Exorcist III (1990, William Peter Blatty)
After Exorcist II: The Heretic left such a bad taste in viewers' mouthes, nobody seemed that interested in a third entry in the series made almost fifteen years later. Originally planned by The Exorcist author Blatty as an adaptation of his book Legion, it was recut by Warner Brothers, who shot additional exorcism footage and inserted it into the film. As a result, it's a bit messy, but still a great psychological horror film which some even consider superior to the original, with an amazing performance by George C. Scott.

6. Dementia 13 (1963, Francis Ford Coppolla)
Before The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, Coppolla helmed what is probably my all-time favorite Roger Corman production; a low-budget masterpiece set in Ireland. A gold-digging widow goes to see her in-laws, a groteque, disfunctional bunch, plagued by the death of the youngest daughter years before, as well as a series of murders which are taking place around their home. It's like a sleazy version of Rebecca, with more shocks - great fun to watch with the lights off.

5. Braindead a.k.a. Dead Alive (1993, Peter Jackson)
The more times I see this zombie comedy, the more I wonder how on earth the chubby, hairy madman that directed it was ever offered the invitation to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's novels to the big screen. This elegant piece of "splatstick" holds the record for most fake blood ever used in a single film. Featuring zombie intercourse, a kung fu priest, and a climax featuring a zombie massacre with a lawnmower, this is the ideal movie for gorehounds to watch with their buddies while guzzling beer and pizza.

4. Eyes Without a Face (1960, Georges Franju)
Typically we don't think of horror very often when discussing the best of French cinema, but one of the finest un-sung classics of the genre comes from the land that gave us Godard and Truffaut. Pierre Brasseau plays a doctor who keeps his disfigured daughter locked up in his house, wearing a ceramic mask, while he abducts and murders young women, attempting to graft their skin back onto her face. A haunting, beautiful piece of art, with surgery scenes that are still disturbing by today's standard's, this film can best be described as "what if Ingmar Bergman directed a film along the lines of The Brain That Wouldn't Die?" The terrific Criterion DVD also features Franju's short slaughterhouse documentary The Blood of the Beasts.

3. Repulsion (1965, Roman Polanski)
Roman Polanski's first English language film is probably the scariest film I've ever seen in my life. Catherine Deneuve is Carole, a virgin repulsed by men, holes up in her sister's apartment where she is tormented by visions of rape, walls cracking, hands reaching out of the cieling, and other mean, nasty things. Much like Rosemary's Baby, the viewer feels like he/she is going insane right along with the main character. Something I'd reccomend only to those with nerves of steel.

2. Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindo)
A samurai horror film that ranks alongside some of the best of Kurosawa's work (not to mention one of the most erotic films I've ever seen,) this is the the story of an old woman and her daughter-in-law in feudal Japan who make their living by murdering lost samurai and selling their belongings. Their world is shaken up when the son's horny companion returns home, and shaken even more when the old woman discovers a mysterious, demonic mask. Anyone who loves classic Asian films is bound to love this.

1. The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
Forget the Nicholas Cage remake, this British classic is one of the most unconventional and thought-provoking horror films ever made, while simultaneously scary and lots of fun. Edward Woodward's devout Christian Seargent Howie gets serious culture shock when he goes to investigate a missing 13-year-old girl on an island of kooky, free-spirited, sex-loving pagans. This is a movie that has literally everything - scares, laughs, songs, beautiful scenery, thought-provoking religious commentary, and Christopher Lee in a dress.

Anyway, here's some videos from YouTube, the world's greatest copyright infrigement instrument, for you to sink your fangs into.

Minnie the Moocher - Betty Boop runs away from home, where she encounters ghosts, skeletons, and a dancing walrus with the voice of Cab Calloway!

Dementia 13 Trailer - dig the psychiatrist's warning at the beginning that this film ought not to be viewed by the homicidally unstable.

Fangoria Infomercial - from 1989, featuring Angus Scrimm, better known to the world as The Tall Man. Boyyyyyyy!


Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

Doc, have you ever seen the extended cut of The Wicker Man? It is very good, a cut and a half above the American theatrical version, which is not only cut, but has also had the chronology of certain events altered. I did the DVD subtitles on it and the American version and as a result got an up-close look at the differences-- there are many, and the alterations made to the U.S. version really watered it down. I know the original version is available on DVD somewhere -- oh, look, here it is! The footage from the British cut inserted into this "extended cut" is from very low-grade source material-- this is not a proper restoration, by any means, but it's very much worth having as a point of comparison. I bet you won't watch the U.S. version again, even with the cruddy-looking extra material. And it's Region 1!

Nice list, by the way! And thanks for continuing to stop by SLIFR. I'm glad you had so much fun reading my horror movies list. And stick around, because I've got another quiz coming this month that is a guaranteed good time!

4:37 PM  
Blogger Dr. Criddle said...

Yep, the extended cut of The Wicker Man is the one I was talking about. I bought the pine box set from a fellow cinephile in high school. It flows much better and seems like a more well-rounded film with the cut scenes inserted back in. I really love the introduction of Christopher Lee's character intercut with the snails suggestively sliding over each other.

5:58 PM  

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