Monday, October 23, 2006

Overlooked Horror Recommendations

Halloween is almost here and that means it's the perfect time to start watching lots of horror films. Since I assume everyone out there has seen the great ones like say the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Night of the Living Dead I thought I'd put together a list of what I consider to be the great overlooked horror films.


1. The American Nightmare (2000): Okay, okay this is not actually a horror film but is a one of the best documentaries I've seen. The American Nightmare is a look at horror movies from the 60's and 70's and their roots in everyday life and society. It features fascinating interviews with giants of the field such as George Romero, Tom Savini, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven... This movie is a must see for any fan of the genre.


2. The Changeling (1980): This is a truly forgotten horror masterpiece. After John Russell's (George C. Scott) family are killed in a road accident he retires and decides to change house. He picks a beautiful old mansion but as happens with most old houses in the horror movies he begins to experience supernatural occurrences linked to the house's mysterious past and its previous owners. This movie is from the same school of horror as The original Haunting and will chill you to the bone.


3. Phantasm (1979): It seemed as though when I was a kid you could not escape this movie but too many sequels later it seems to have lost it's appeal. Never the less this is one of the creepiest, dreamiest, scariest horror films I've ever seen. It's the kind of movie that makes you want to sleep with the lights on. Mike (Michael Baldwin) is a teenage boy who has just lost his parents and is afraid of losing the only family left to him; his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury). This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses a very scary Tall Man (Angus Scrim) lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the dead to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie Bannister (Reggie Bannister) the ice cream man to stop the Tall man. There is a really great song break about half way through the movie where Jody and Reggie play guitar and banjo if I recall correctly that is really great.


4. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976): Also known as Communion, Alice, Sweet Alice is the story of two young sisters Alice (Paula Sheppard) and Karen (Brooke Sheilds) living with their single mom. When Karen is murdered during her first communion and Alice takes her place in line, suspicion immediately falls on her. Then a diminutive killer in a yellow slicker and opaque mask continues the reign of terror, and Alice's estranged father takes up the investigation to prove her innocence. Tense like a Hitchcock thriller you won't forget this movie.


5. Sisters (1973): Director Brian DePalma brings us the sometimes brutal and horrific story of Danielle (Margot Kidder), a young woman who apparently murders her date, and Grace (Jennifer Salt), a nosy reporter and Danielle's neighbor who sees the whole thing. Things get strange when it is revealed that Danielle was a siamese twin, and her nasty twin sister may have something to do with the murder. The great performance by Margot Kidder and DePalma's tense direction make this movie a must see for all fans of horror.


6. Blithe Spirit (1945): Okay lets take a break from the tense thriller and throw in a Noel Coward comedy with a supernatural twist. Charles (Rex Harrison) lives in a beautiful house in the country with his wife Elvira (Kay Hammond) unfortunately there is a bit of an accident and Elvira kicks the bucket. Some time later enter wife #2 Constance (Ruth Condomine) Elvira notices her presence from beyond and decides to start haunting the newlyweds. Like all Noel Coward plays this movie has snappy dialogue, throw in some great performances and you end up having a really great time watching it.


7. The Devil Doll (1936): I'm sure everyone out there has seen Freaks or Dracula (if you haven't get off your butt and see them) but this is one of Todd Brownings lesser known works. Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) was a respected banker in Paris when he was framed for robbery and murder by crooked associates and sent to Devil's Island. Years later, he escapes with a friend, a scientist who was working on a method to reduce humans to a height of mere inches (all for the good of humanity, of course). Lavond however is consumed with hatred for the men who betrayed him, and takes the scientist's methods back to Paris to exact painful revenge.


8. Razor Blade Smile (1998): This is maybe more of an action movie and less of a horror movie but I thought I'd throw it on my list because it has vampires and is one of my favorites. A 19th century woman (Eileen Daley), who has become one of the undead, acts as a hired killer in modern times. When she starts knocking off part of the elite businessmen, "The Illuminati", who secretly are taking over business and the government, she becomes the target of a hired Scotland Yard detective (Jonathan Coote). Of course, the head of "The Illuminati" is the vampire (Christopher Adamson) who first gave her immortality. This movie came before all that Underworls nonsense, please don't let that awful movie color you decision to check this one out.


9. Warlock (1989): In Boston of 1691, a warlock (Julian Sands) is sentenced to death, but escapes magically into the future (our present), followed doggedly by the witch hunter (Richard E. Grant). There he is searching for the three parts of "the Devil's Bible" a book that will reveal the true name of God and thus destroy mankind. The witch hunter manages to follow the warlock into the present and enlisting the help of a modern girl (Lori Singer) must stop him before it's too late. This is a surprisingly clever film forgotten by most but well worth a viewing if only for Grant's eccentric performance.


10. The Church (1989): Directed by Michele Soavi, a student of Dario Argento this is the story of a church built during medieval times on top of a pile of dead bodies considered possessed. Hundreds of years later a young librarian accidentally unleashes the evil within, by removing a rock in the catacombs and unwittingly setting off a hundreds of years old mechanism to lock all entrances/ exits to church from outside keeping the spirits of the possessed within it's walls. That's bad news for all the people within the cathedral who of course start acting crazy and seeing things. Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie) is the only one not possessed, and must find a way to save the city from becoming a pandemonium as would happen if the spirits of the possessed ever broke out of the cathedral. This movie also stars a very young Asia Argento. There are some really butchered versions of this out there that make no sense at all, try to see the 102 minute version or don't bother.

If you have any reccomendations of your own please feel free to comment.

7 comments:

Steve said...

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Anonymous said...

Thanks babe- now I have a great must watch on Halloween with the lights out and be scared shitless list! awesome.....

Anonymous said...

I've wanted to see "The Changeling" for a long time but haven't gotten around to it. That IFC documentary looks pretty awesome. I didn't care for Phantasm at all.

An obscure flick I thought was ultra scary is "Messiah of Evil".

Becca said...

Joshua I haven't seen Messiah of Evil but looked it up on the IMDB after reading your comments. I didn't realize that Willard Huyck had directed anything other than Howard the Duck. I'll check this out if I ever come across it.

Thanks for the reccomendation.

JournalsEditor said...

This is a great post, and a great blog, too. I'm getting ready to check out 'White Zombie' tonight, an overlooked classic ...

I've linked to this from my blog, too. Check me out if you're so inclined.

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