As I’ve mentioned, I saw (and loved) Zombieland, and am really looking forward to Paranormal Activity. And for me, this is the best time on TV as all the cable channels are jammed pack with all sorts of damned-type programming, from paranormal and bizarre investigations aplenty to seemingly dozens of ghosthunter-like shows.
More importantly, this is the season for horror-type films.
Now, we know all about the more recent horror films, from Scream to The Ring to The Haunting in Connecticut (have we mentioned lately that Damned Connecticut is mentioned in the Special Edition DVD documentary?!!), but being “old school” (of which I’m constantly reminded by Kate, Steve, my wife and kids, my sisters, most of my friends, random strangers and that guy living in a van down by the river…), I thought I’d share a few of my favorite “horror” movies that helped shape my love for all sorts of damned stuff.
Some you obviously know, others …. well …
The Evil Dead Trilogy – The innovative Sam Raimi directs, the one true Bruce Campbell gets abused, and the fun never ends.
Mad Monster Party – A true lost gem from Rankin-Bass, the same people who brought you the stop-motion classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” This one features every great monster from Dracula to the Creature from the Black Lagoon to King Kong as well as the voices of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller. Just a fun film for the whole family, done with that characteristic Rankin-Bass panache. Here’s the official site, but this fansite is better, loaded with lost clips and trailers.
Dead Alive (aka Braindead) — Yes, we all know about Peter Jackson after The Lord of the Rings, and some of you may even be familiar with his vastly underrated flicks The Frighteners (Michael J. Fox in a quasi-dramatic turn) or Heavenly Creatures (Kate Winslet’s big-screen debut, disturbing but not scary). But to me, the greatest Peter Jackson film is and always will be Dead Alive. Obviously, he made this while he was still trying to break out in his native New Zealand, but to me, it’s simply the greatest horror zombie splatter comedy of all time. (Not that there’s a lot of competition, but you get the idea.) Just fun and gross and silly and immensely quotable.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist and Friday the 13th — All these came out while I was in high school, and each one scared me more than the next when I saw them in the theater. Nightmare in particular, freaked me out — after I got home from the movie, not only was I afraid to fall asleep, when I did, it was cowering on the floor of my sisters’ bedroom! Poltergeist didn’t help my already deep distrust of clowns and clown dolls. And don’t forget, the Friday the 13th Part 2 was filmed here in Connecticut, in New Preston and Kent.
Dear Dead Delilah — I remember watching this one with my friends on a rainy Saturday night when we were all like 13, and it scared the crap out of us. Lots of decapitations and heads rolling around. Cheesy by today’s standards, but when we were watching it back then, it did the job.
The Exorcist – Saw it recently and it seems a lot slower than I remembered. Still scary as hell though, and I’m an atheist!
The Return of the Living Dead, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama – A trio of fun 80s schlock horror films featuring the Scream Queen of the B-Movies, Linnea Quigley!
From Dusk Till Dawn — How can you go wrong with Robert Rodriguez directing George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin and Juliet Lewis in a vampire/zombie action fest? Plus, throw in Tom Savini as a character named Sex Machine … and oh yeah, there’s some Mexican chick dancing with an albino snake wrapped around her. [Borderline not safe for work, although I’ve watched it in the privacy of my own home a few times.] I wonder whatever became of her?
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark — Okay, you obviously have noticed a trend — I gravitate toward the funny end of the horror spectrum. And no one is more amusing or “gets it” better than Elvira. Good cheap fun, and the tassel scene at the end proves Cassandra Peterson is a woman of many talents.
Young Frankenstein — Okay, not so much of a horror film, but just so damn entertaining. My kids saw this film for the first time last year and they still quote it! And I still miss Marty Feldman and Madeline Kahn.
Anyway, these are the tip of the iceberg. There are tons more, which I will go through in another post. Feel free to share any of your favorites!