UPDATE: You can read Part 1 here.
Originally this was going to be a simple post, but it went from being ten films to almost forty. I am not sure I am going to get to all of them, but it is fun to spend a little time on each. I’ll keep this list going as long as people dig it.
I’ll start off here since we have been talking about it a lot lately. I remember as a kid the poster scaring me. Then they showed the infamous ‘blood’ trailer in front of some kids movie and I think I dug my fingers several inches into the seat in front of me. The Shining is in my top five films of all time and I’ve probably seen it about twenty times or so. The above trailer still gives me the willies.
Werewolf films have a tough time. I can only think of a handful of good ones. The Wolfman (original), American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Dog Soldiers and Le Pacte des Loups if you stretch the definition a bit. Then we have all three Ginger Snaps films. All three are of excellent quality, but the first is the most fresh. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle play close but Odd Couple sisters dealing with coming of age and lycanthropy at the same time. Forgive the terrible trailer, but I like to include the originals when I can.
The Descent surprised me. It opens with trauma, basically breaking one of the unsaid rules of cinema, a closely related rule deals with the survival rates of small adorable animals. I almost stopped watching it, I love horror, but I am not a masochist. Glad I kept going.A group of friends head off on good times and spelunking to help a friend overcome her depression. It ends up being an authentic unforgiving monster movie and one of the few contemporary gems in my list. Basically it is a whole film where you are figuratively shouting ‘Don’t go in the basement!’ where the basement is the dark bowels of the earth.
Night of the Living Dead
One of the films that everyone knows about but not enough people have seen, Night stands as my favorite Zombie film. It is an understated experience effectively creating a world that feels real and complex. It doesn’t offer explanations and focuses on character development. Romero also dared to have a black lead actor in the film at a time when it was a rarity. Unfortunately if you look past the initial Dead films, his success seems to be a bit of a happy accident. One of those fleeting times when the lack of budget, talent of the cast, setting and story all came together in a perfect way. A feat that Romero hasn’t really been able to repeat.
Prince of Darkness
Like werewolves, Lovecraft films never can quite keep the promises of the original stories. Many attempts have been made with little success. Until an auteur comes around or someone gives Guillermo Del Toro a giant bag of money we will have to settle for films that were inspired by the cosmic horror Lovecraft wrote about.I think John Carpenter understands this or at least he did early in his career. Like the earlier The Thing, Prince of Darkness is a deeply misunderstood, gonzo film about human good fighting cosmic forces it can’t possibly understand. Some of the practical effects in this are wearing thin with time, but if you can look past that there is a bizarre treat for you. Ancient evils, the mundane slowly changing into the unfamiliar, friends turning against you and science and religion at war with something that neither can explain.