In SVB Halloween Theater, we asked various musicians and fellow bloggers to talk about some of their favorite horror films.
Mike McClatchey – Lament Cityscape
I wanted to stay away from the classics that we all love, since I wouldn’t be shining any new light on them. I, also, didn’t want to start my usual arguments on why Alien 3 is the best Alien, or why Exorcist 3 is the best Exorcist, or why Poltergeist 3 is the best Poltergeist (but, come hang at a show and let’s settle this). We all know Cronenberg is perfection. We all watch the same Carpenter flicks a couple times a year.
There has has been a recent explosion of really fucking amazing horror movies that have a stronger connection with people than what is being pushed in theaters through large studios. That has always really been the case, I guess.
Anyhow, here are a couple newer movies, within the last several years, that really connected with me.
I love my movies with a dash (or, really, a full overdose) of dark surrealism. I enjoy coming to my own conclusions and then digging for other folks’ thoughts and finding entire new ways to watch it again. Baskin was perfect for this. On the surface-level, Baskin is about a group of cops who get called to an abandoned building, then they find hell, but it’s so much more than that. They borrow a lot of imagery from Hellraiser and Event Horizon and Jacob’s Ladder but they make it their own. It’s all very wet and very sexual. I’m very excited to see what Can Evrenol does next.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
This might be the oldest movie on this list as it is five years old. Beyond the Black Rainbow was made pretty early on in the “let’s make everything dripping with 80’s nostalgia” game, but this was far more beautiful and interesting than any of the others. Even if the third act falls a bit apart (Dark City is still perfect, despite a terrible ending), the long-winded journey is still one full of wonderful and hallucinatory imagery and music. The pace is slower than whatever doom band you’re listening to now, and you get a feeling like nothing was edited out, yet it keeps me in a world that I want to stay in. Another exciting filmmaker whom I hope gets a chance to make more. The director’s dad directed a handful is killer movies, as well (Of Unknown Origin, Cobra [Stallone’s best], and Tombstone).
Let Us Prey
Let Us Prey has so much rewatching-power. I’ve been going to bed while watching this movie about once a week for the last year, or so. The visuals are really haunting and inspiring. This is another one worth digging deep for. Many great allegories can be extracted in this one, since a lot of the actual story is perfectly vague. I feel very fulfilled, while still wanting more, every time I finish it.
[Here are some other recent flicks that I wasn’t allowed space to write about…]
Perhaps the most fucked up big studio film, ever. I didn’t include it above because I just didn’t want to write about it. It’s insanely divisive. It, genuinely, hates the viewer and intentionally makes you suffer. It might end up being on my Top-5-Favorite-Movies list.
A Cure for Wellness
I know… this, too, is another big budget/big studio flick, but goddamn it was good.
Worships at the alter of Carpenter’s The Thing And Hellraiser, but it’s really fun.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Minimalist filmmaking with maximum reward.
The Eyes of My Mother
Visually gorgeous. Emotionally rough.
Complete chaos with a real gorgeous view.
Way better than it seems on paper.
Erik Stenglein – Northless
I am a horror movie fan going back about 25 years at this point. I’ve been an avid collector of horror films in various formats for about 15 years as well. I broke my list down into my favorite genres/types of horror movies.
Favorite zombie/undead horror- Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
Honestly, not sure what I can say about this one that hasn’t been said countless times, but this is probably my favorite horror film of all time, and definitely my favorite zombie film. Incredible casting (Linnea Quigley, Clu Galager, James Karen, so many more…), brilliant gore effects, self awareness and comedic elements without being silly or losing the fear factor…it’s all here. It even includes an unofficial tie-in to the film that pretty much advanced the entire horror film genre singlehandedly, which is Night Of The Living Dead. Really well paced, and adds probably the most frightening twist to the zombie monster by making them basically unstoppable, unlike the Romero zombies which can be killed if the brain is destroyed. Add to all that some unforgettable and classic one-liners (“send more paramedics!”), and just the right amount of cheese and B movie appeal, and you have a horror flick that has an insanely high replay value. I still watch it at least once a year.
Favorite SOV (Shot On Video)/low budget/independent- Satan Place: A Soap Opera From Hell (1990)
Probably my favorite genre/sub genre of horror is the SOV genre, featuring movies quite often shot on camcorders back in the 80’s on shoestring budgets, by independent filmmakers. Some more well known examples include Video Violence, 555, Woodchipper Massacre, and Cannibal Campout. If you are over 35 and had a cool video store in your town, you may have seen these flicks on your rental shelves back in the day. Many of these flicks are actually incredible, and would be considered pinnacles of the horror genre were they not restricted by their budgets and distribution.
My favorite of these lower budget flicks is an obscure gem called Satan Place. It actually doubles as one of my favorite anthology horror flicks, as it features 4 over-the-top stories that are gory, hilarious, offensive, crude, and honestly ingenious. The stuff they pulled off with the budget they have is unreal. Every time I watch this, I laugh so hard I am sore the next day. At the same time, I find myself unable to process what my eyes are seeing. It’s that good. I think the first segment is my favorite, but the third one is also fucking bananas. Watch this immediately.
I only own a bootleg of this, and it was never released on DVD as far as I can tell. If you happen to be reading this and have an original VHS copy of this you wanna sell me, please get in touch!
Favorite supernatural horror- The Slayer (1982)
This finally had an uncut Blu Ray release recently, and it’s one of the best transfers of any film I’ve ever seen, so if you can, track a copy down and watch this. You can probably also watch it on YouTube.
Anyway, it’s a supernatural horror movie with a monster. It also happens to be a slasher. It’s about a woman who is plagued by terrible nightmares through her entire life about a monster who terrorizes her and her family, and has a mysterious presence in her life that has caused her to slowly go mad and be blamed for all sorts of macabre occurrences. This all comes to a head when the woman and three friends decide to go on a vacation to a secluded island. The woman has a premonition and is utterly terrified of the island, with good reason as it turns out. Incredibly creepy, disturbing, and without relying on a ton of gore or cliches. Worth your time!
Favorite slasher- Nail Gun Massacre (1985)
This will probably change week to week, as this is one of my favorite genres, but one that has stuck with me a lot is this flick. What can I say? The killer has a fucking nail gun. They kill people (lots of people). Lots of comedic elements with amazing one liners, but still brutal as fuck with entertaining kill sequences. It’s also very well written, and oozes with that charming 80’s atmosphere that is irreproducible in our time. Honorable mentions: Night School (1981), Moon Stalker (1989), House On Sorority Row (1983)…so many more.
Favorite creature horror- Spasms (1983)
It’s about a giant snake summoned from hell that kills people. Need I say more? Incredible. I wrote a song about this fucking thing on my solo death metal album; I love it that much.
Favorite “classic” horror movie- Night Of The Living Dead
Zombies. George Romero. Redefined the horror genre. Absolute must see if you are a genre enthusiast. Enough said.
Shout out to the worst horror movie ever made: Wishmaster 3. I don’t even think I own a copy. It’s horrible. The entire Witchcraft series (all 17 of them) are also abysmal.