Yet another thirteen of my favorite horror films (fourth part)

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

And so it’s Halloween.

I’ve already given you thirty-nine of my favorite horror films and here are thirteen more. I had fun shifting over to horror this month (I plan to do it again next year), but I look forward to getting back to this blog’s usual topic: science fiction. William Gibson’s got a new novel out and so far it’s pretty awesome. And don’t forget Interstellar releases in a little over a week. Hopefully I can scrounge up thirteen more horror films for next year, but for now, this is the last one.


Here’s a wonderfully kooky film with Lon Chaney Jr and a surprisingly young Sid Haig. Even if you’re one of the misguided poor souls who think “Ew, black and white movies are yucky!” you’ll probably enjoy this movie. It’s just plain likable. If I had to guess, I’d say this is one of the films that make Tim Burton hard. The End ?

Chan-wook Park’s Thirst

This is the guy who made Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Old Boy, and Mrs. Vengeance (my favorite of the Vengeance trilogy). Much like Let the Right One In, Thirst came at a time I was so sick of vampire flicks I couldn’t see straight, which means this one had to be extremely likeable to make this list.


I’ve long defended Hostel for not being as pointlessly insulting as the Saw films. Hostel really has an interesting “what-if?” premise with tones of adventure, which were absent from other torture films. Now, I don’t know why the hero thinks snipping an optic nerve is the best thing to do for a woman whose eye has been popped out, but all that matters is what happens next.

I’m an unashamed Eli Roth fan and I’m hopeful we’ll get to see his take on the cannibal genre sooner than later.

The Ninth Gate

I’m trying to only choose one movie per director for these lists, but since I let Clive Barker onto the list more than once, I might as well let Polanski slip in twice. The Ninth Gate has been pretty much disliked by critics and audiences since the beginning, but I always found it to be strangely compelling. For one, it puts a cool but despicable book dealer (Johnny Depp) in the shoes of a traditional detective role. I don’t know why, it’s just cool. Then it gives us a very creepy version of Frank Langella, who turns out to be a devil worshiper. Langella hires Depp to track down an antique book written by The Devil. The camerawork is good, the somewhat-classical soundtrack gets stuck in your head, and the “hero” of the film is refreshingly unheroic.

It’s just one of those movies that doesn’t deserve the hate it gets.

The Tingler

Everyone has their favorite William Castle film. This one’s mine. Castle was known for screening his movies in theaters rigged for real-life theatrics; The Tingler’s tour involved vibrating seats, which were designed to startle audience members and stimulate screams. Unfortunately the gimmicks is something that’s lost when watching Castle films on video, but the cool thing about The Tingler is the more important gimmick is built in, even when you watch at home: if you don’t scream, the tingler is gonna kill ya because the tingler lives inside of us all. Not that the movie is scary enough to make even children scream these days, but it was a great example of the kind of guy Castle was. (If you’re unfamiliar with Castle, John Goodman played a character like him in Joe Dante’s Matinee and John Waters has plenty to say about him in interviews and such.)


Here’s another creepy movie with unusually good acting and direction. Supernatural films typically don’t scare me… although Frailty is not actually a supernatural film (or maybe it is… I don’t want to spoil it), it makes me uncomfortable during the final reveal because it makes you question everything it has shown you beforehand. It also makes you question the sanity of at least one of its characters. It may not fit into the neat little box most people label horror, but any movie that has axe murders deserves the designation.

The Toxic Avenger

The only reason The Toxic Avenger didn’t appear on this list sooner was A) it’s really not horror and B) it’s really, really not horror. I know I was just talking about horror being a neat little box that people use unfairly, but I’m admit it: I’m guilty of doing it, too. So to make up for that, I’ll include this—one of my all-time favorite films in general, genre not withstanding. And let’s face it, if you like horror movies, you’ll probably like this.

Basket Case

I’m kind of slapping myself in the forehead for not remembering this one sooner. I loved this movie as a kid. It’s probably what prepared me for the mind-fucking awesomeness of Raimi’s Evil Dead series. I wish I could say more about it, but I’m beginning to realize I need to watch it again, this time on something other than an aging VHS that’s been rented a million times.

The Blair Witch Project

I was hesitant to include this one on the list, but then I remembered just how enjoyable I found the movie when it came out. I think a lot of horror fans disliked the movie simply because it’s annoying when something like this gets crazy attention from the mainstream while better horror films usually don’t, but that’s no reason to hate it. It wasn’t the first found footage movie, either, but we should be honest with ourselves: it was probably the first one that was worth a shit.

Bride of Frankenstein

I always liked the original Frankenstein, but it wasn’t until my teenager years I realized that the sequel to the original was kind of like the sequel to Evil Dead: the humor was cranked up a few notches and shit just got plain weird. I love the addition of Dr. Pretorius, whose bizarre presence makes the film superior to the original. Speaking of Franken-stuff….


Here’s yet another film I can’t believe I forgot when I wrote the other lists. Like Basket Case, I haven’t seen it since well before DVD became an option, so I’m overdue for another viewing.

Return of the Living Dead

I must confess: I saw Return before I ever saw any of Romero’s zombie pictures, which would be pretty sad if Return of the Living Dead wasn’t such an awesome movie. I was so young the first time I saw this movie, I couldn’t even speak in complex sentences. I just called the movie “Braaaains!” This is the movie equivalent of punk music and the soundtrack is one of the coolest in the history of film. The casting is downright excellent, too.

The Slumber Party Massacre

Of all the nightgown-sleepover-slasher films (and I’ve seen way more than any sane individual should), The Slumber Party Massacre is my favorite. It’s funny, it’s wittingly ridiculous, and unlike meta-horror flicks like Scream, it’s not so damn wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Here’s the thing: the movie’s parody elements are so subtle, people unfamiliar with horror will probably think it’s just another horror film. Instead of a guy with a knife you get The Driller Killer, a psycho-murderer whose power tool of choice must have the world’s longest and most discreet extension cord. The film is also notable for being written and directed by women, including a well-known feminist. And The Driller Killer doesn’t get many lines, but when he does, they’re hilariously memorable for the bizarre deliverance alone. “I… love!… you?” I can’t think of many times I laughed so hard.

Another thirteen of my favorite horror films (this is part three)

See, I knew I was forgetting a bunch of horror films when I wrote the other two lists. After a few days to think about it, here are some more of my favorites. I’m sure there will be a fourth list, too. In fact, I’ve already started it.

Sleepaway Camp

About ten years ago, I bought the entire DVD collection of the Sleepaway Camp films. This proved to be a mistake. While I remember the second one being entertaining in a bad way, the shocking finale of the first film could never be duplicated.

Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombi 2)

Frankly, I don’t remember much about this film other than a gruesome eye-stabbing, a topless scuba diver, and a zombie vs. shark fight, but do I really need to say more than zombie vs. shark? For real. To this day, I still wonder how they did it. I heard Eli Roth say that he and Tarantino showed the scene to Brad Pitt and it blew his mind.

Night of the Hunter

Do you know how nobody believes you when you’re a kid? And, even though you know the reason nobody believes you as a kid is because you’re obviously full of shit, you still have that fear nobody’s going to believe you when it really matters? That’s a fear that’s followed me on into adulthood. Another fear of mine is psychotic religious people and how other people tend to trust them. It’s the wolf in sheep clothing thing. This film exploits both of the aforementioned fears.

Shaun of the Dead

I don’t care what anyone says: with the exception of the Bill Murray scene, this one does absolutely everything better than Zombieland did, not to mention it did it first. Beating a zombie in rhythm with Queen is a stroke of genius. 

Black Sunday

I’ve made it known, time and time again, that Barbara Crampton is my absolute favorite scream queen. Another favorite? Barbara Steel. And frankly I’m ashamed I forgot to put Mario Bava on this list sooner. Speaking of movies with “Black” in the title….

Bob Clark’s Black Christmas

There was a remake, but I doubt anyone gave a shit. Despite the worrisome lack of blood, this is an example of a proto-slasher film done right. It may not satisfy gore-hounds, but it’s a remarkably well made movie with acting that’s unusually good for a horror film. It just goes to show Hollywood once took horror seriously.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

This is not a faithful film adaptation nor is it Stanley Kubrick’s confession that he helped fake the moon landing. But if you can divorce yourself from Stephen King’s classic novel and get comfortable with the fact the film actually means something (even if it’s not what conspiracy theorists think it means), then you’ve got a helluva horror film here.

Let the Right One In

I’ve heard the remake is decent, too, but I haven’t seen it yet. I was so sick of vampires when this came along, it says a lot that I liked it as much as I did.

Jason Goes to Hell

Okay, I’m stretching here.

Bigger Jason Vorhees fans than I will know this movie should not be picked above the other Jason flicks, but hey, I’m a sucker for this one (and Jason Takes Manhattan) while the other sequels have been much more miss than hit for me… hell, to be perfectly honest I’m not the biggest fan of the original, either. The decision to take Jason out of the bulk of the film and make his appearance a payoff is controversial. Either you like the creative decision or don’t. I liked it, but my only complaint was the payoff was a little weak.

Now imagine this: you’re ten years old. You’re sitting in the theater. You see Freddy’s glove come ripping out of the dirt at the end of the movie and grab Jason’s hockey mask. Can you even imagine how much that excited us? Now imagine this: they don’t actually make a Freddy Vs. Jason movie until it’s been far too long for anybody to give a shit anymore.

Dead-Alive (aka Peter Jackson’s Braindead)

I hate to say I dug Peter Jackson before he was cool, but I had seen his original feature, Bad Taste, at least three times before I even made it to middle school. When I finally got my hands on an uncut version of  Dead-Alive (and if you ever find the R-rated cut, promptly flush it), I couldn’t believe it lived up to the hype. This is among the goriest, funniest movies you will ever see. I never thought I could sympathize with guts before.

Phantasm 2

If you’ve been keeping up with the rest of the list, you’ll know I don’t always go for the original. I think you shouldn’t call yourself a horror fan if you haven’t seen the original Phantasm, but let’s face it: it’s kind of dull. This one is, too, but it’s worth watching with your thumb on the fast forward button for a number of reasons: great practical effects, a great bad guy, a four-barrel shotgun, and Reggie Bannister, who’s one of the most refreshing movie faces you can find.

The Stuff

The Stuff was one of those horror movies I loved as a kid, but didn’t get around to watching as an adult for a very long time because I didn’t think it would live up to my nostalgia for it. I was wrong. It’s an interesting horror film with something to say, which is surely due to Larry Cohen’s involvement. The guy was pretty consistent at giving us a different breed of films back then. Black Caesar is one of my favorite blacksploitation films and I’m sure It’s Alive and God Told Me To would be on this list if only I remembered them a little better.


I know some of my inclusions have been questionable, but I assure you this is real horror. To explain why Freaks is undeniably horror would give away the finale. There has never been a movie like this before and there never will be again.

Thirteen more of my favorite horror films

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

Here are thirteen more of my favorite horror movies to complete yesterday’s post. By the time this posts I should be deep into Civilization Beyond Earth. Which makes me wonder why you’re reading this crap instead of playing that crap. (In case you’re wondering, there will eventually be a third list of thirteen, so don’t give me shit for not having Mario Bava or some such director on here yet.)

In no particular order….

From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn was the first movie I ever had on DVD. Because of this, I saw it way too many times. It wasn’t until I saw it again, recently with a drunk crowd, did I realize just how special it is. Now, how ’bout some apple pie pussy?

John Carpenter’s Halloween

Come on. You know I love John Carpenter films. This is the film that created the slasher flick as we know it and it has never been done better.

John Carpenter’s The Thing

See above reasoning. Add in the fact it’s a real monster movie, which is so frustratingly rare. Shake. Chill. Enjoy.

Nightmare on Elm Street 3

I know. You’re supposed to prefer the original. But this one improved on the mythology while pretending the second film in the series never happened. I would also like, as a society, to pretend the reboot never happened as well. Agreed? Good.


As a fan of horror, I should like a different Dario Argento film more than this one, but this is the one that always struck me, from the insane crane shot to the beginning to the use of both opera and heavy metal music. The scene involving a knife and a chin (you’ll know it when you see it) is so simple, but effective you’ll never forget it, even when you see a lesser film rip it off. Suspiria is a close second to me, but I haven’t seen either one in more than a decade, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Silence of the Lambs

If you don’t think Silence of the Lambs is horror, I feel bad for you, son.

What’s scary about Silence of the Lambs is not that Hannibal is running amok, but that he’s able to get into your head from within his cell, even if he’s bound to a handcart. Psychics and mind readers don’t exist in real life (seriously, don’t be a baby—they really don’t), but Hannibal just might. I think I could outrun any zombie, outsmart Jason and Freddy, but the last person I want to meet is Hannibal Lector. My redneck love for beer and titty movies would be so utterly at odds with his sophisticated tastes he’d probably be eating my liver in a matter of minutes.

The Human Centipede

I’ve noticed most of the people who declare they hate this movie haven’t actually seen it. Well, fuck ’em. Ten years from now, people will look back on this one and realize that A) it’s not nearly as disgusting as they thought it was and B) it’s a classic. Okay, maybe classic is going too far, but the film is remarkably well made considering all the negative hype. With the news that Tom Six is making a third film in the franchise, I can only hope it does enough business to get to the point we see The Human Centipede in Space. Because I really want to see a human centipede in space. Imagine filming that on the vomit comet.


When I was a kid, I preferred the sequel. Now that I’m older, I come back to this one more frequently. I’m not saying this one is better (wait… yeah I am), but it’s the difference between a soft fuck and a hard fuck: sometimes you prefer one to the other, but they’re both pretty damn good.

Lord of Illusions

Again, another movie that gets points just for being about adults and, surprise-surprise, it’s also by Clive Barker. In case anyone’s wondering, yes: the CGI looked just as laughably bad back then as it does now (I was twelve when it came out and we were ripping on this movie’s CGI so, so hard). Thankfully, Barker limited his use of it so it’s not a complete wash.

Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Here’s a goofy, but very fun picture. It’s also the only Tales from the Crypt Presents film worth watching. Billy Zane is hilarious in it, as is the Crypt Keeper’s bookends.

Interview with the Vampire

Goddamn, this movie is good. Sure, I’m partial to Neil Jordan movies, but that’s not the only reason I like it. Or maybe it is… I’ve never been able to get into an Anne Rice book.

The Re-Animator

No! I gave him life! What’s not to love about Jeffery Combs and, again, my all-time favorite scream queen, Barbara Crampton? Speaking of these two…

From Beyond

This is almost a non-sequel sequel to The Re-Animator and it’s certainly a lot better than Bride of Re-Animator. No, I’m not just choosing it because Barbara Crampton goes all dominatrix in it.

Thirteen of my favorite horror films

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes. 

Okay, I’m phoning this one in. Civilization Beyond Earth comes out in about ten hours and I know this blog will likely suffer. Here’s a bullshit list that doesn’t mean anything. I know, lists suck.

If there’s a remake by the same title, I’ll use the director’s name to differentiate between titles. Also, none of this is in any particular order other than Dawn of the Dead, which just happens to be first.

George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead

This is my favorite horror film ever. Tom Savini goes nuts and there’s not a lick of CGI in the entirre feature, so anyone who complains it looks dated needs to be grounded because they’re obviously not old enough to deserve such a farthead opinion. It’s the gold standard by which I judge all other horror films, not just zombie films. Whereas I typically enjoy horror-comedy films more frequently, it’s only because good straight-up horror (which I prefer) is so damn hard to come by. Dawn of the Dead is straight-up horror. There are laughs in it, but it’s not jokey or poking fun at the genre as if the filmmakers are above horror. (See: nearly every mainstream horror film after Scream… actually, don’t see that shit. My bad.)

Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have gone mainstream despite being genre fiction because they’re infused with believable characters and drama. That and they not only make you wonder about who dies next, but they make you care. Dawn did all that way before the newer stuff did. It’s not just horror, it’s adult drama. But above all, it’s a fantasy film: everyone wonders what they’d do in a Shit-Hit-The-Fan situation, but Dawn exploits that fantasy better than any other zombie and/or apocalypse feature by shacking its main characters up in a shopping mall. On top of that, Romero makes us wonder why living in a shopping mall should be a fantasy and what that means about our culture. The zombies in the film, of course, are drawn to the shopping mall, but they don’t know why. Yes, it’s a social commentary on American consumerism, yatta-yatta-yatta… but seriously, living in a shopping mall would kick ass.

The movie is all about contrast: on one hand you have this intentionally goofy elevator music scoring the scenes of dead roaming the mall. This is offset by dread-inducing music by Goblin (frequent collaborator of Dario Argento, who also worked on the picture), which reminds us how fucked everything is the second we hear it. I’ve said this before on this blog, but it should be repeated: my favorite thing about the movie is, once they’ve cleared the mall of zombies, the main characters are allowed to relax. This is something so many horror movies fail to do that even the 2004 remake missed the mark. What it all comes down to is the absolute most spectacular climax in horror film history.

Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby

This (or John Carpenter’s The Thing) is probably my second favorite horror film for the fact that it, like Dawn of the Dead, also taps into a disturbing fantasy almost all westerners have: Who are your neighbors? I mean, really? Who is the person you sleep with every night? Do you really know? And, the most obvious question it asks: Who will my children be?

Again, this is why I hate younger “moviegoers” out there. They miss the humor. They call it boring. But me? I personally don’t understand why The Exorcist is considered such a classic and this one isn’t. I don’t mean to spoil it, but what ultimately happens to the main character is probably the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to somebody, but she takes it in stride in an ending as bizarre as it gets.


I don’t even know how to summarize this picture, but I would probably say it is, hands down, the most insane ride a horror film has ever given me. I mean, sure, a lot of movies try to be insane, but Hausu really is. Here’s what I wrote about a while back when it was a little fresher in my mind.

You’re Next

Here it is, the newest movie you’ll see on this list. Look, I liked Cabin in the Woods as much as the next guy (I really did), but You’re Next dropped the meta-horror angle and suckered us into thinking it was going to be a routine horror film before jerking the carpet out from under our feet. It’s violent, it’s funny, but above all it’s fun. It also has Barbara Crampton in it, my childhood crush, not to mention the greatest scream queen who ever lived. People are always going on and on about how an aging movie star has kept her looks, but here Crampton really has.

Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers 

Yes, I do mean the remake, not the original, and I think that opinion is becoming a lot less controversial these days. This one is the definitive snatcher film (there have been many including one with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig), at least until someone makes a proper adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s Puppet Masters. This one had a scene so memorably scary that South Park riffed on it more than twenty years later. (I won’t spoil it, though.) 

David Cronenberg’s The Fly

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Yes, remakes usually suck, but not always. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Cronenberg flick I didn’t like and I’ve seen them all. The one I think doesn’t get enough credit is Videodrome.

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 1 & 2

I reviewed the remake here. As should be expected, I hated it. The original films are two of the funnest horror films ever made. Never mind the fact Evil Dead 2 is, in fact, the first remake of the original. And when Sam Raimi left Spider-Man to give us Drag Me to Hell, I couldn’t have been happier. Long live horror Raimi.

Toby Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Every time I see a camera flash in real life, I somehow hear the sound effect from this film. While I inexplicably enjoyed the first sequel and the latest reboot (I know, I know), nothing had me more shocked than when one of the very realistic hillbillies suggested, “We should let grandpa have this one!” That’s the kind of thing no flesh and blood human should ever forget. The movie’s look is the kind of raw power you just can’t duplicate in the digital age, which is another reason I dislike movies made on anything but pre-80s film.


I’ve said before that the seventies was the absolute best time for movies. Here’s the proof in the pudding. While Deliverance doesn’t throw nonstop gore at the viewers, think about this: how often have gore movies actually been scary? Not very often, right? Well, this one is scary. Isn’t that what horror is supposed to be about?


Look, I love slasher films as much as the next guy, but you don’t watch them expecting anything new. You just want to see young people die on camera while other young people have sex. That’s only to satisfy the “okay, let’s have fun” craving for horror. That kind of horror has its place, but man, it gets old most of the time.

But every great once and a while there’s a film that totally fucks your brain right out of your head before it kicks you in the ass. Clive Barker’s Candyman did it for me. No young characters here: these are adults in a pretty frightening situation. Maybe it’s not as realistic as I remember it being when I was nine years old, but it’s still refreshing. And that Philip Glass theme gets stuck in my head even though I haven’t seen the movie in over a decade. That’s the true definition of “haunting,” a word too many overuse.


This is just one of those films. You can almost sympathize with the bad guy (girl) because she’s obviously not right. You can almost convince yourself the main character deserves it… well, some of it. To say anymore gives too much of it away and, unlike a lot of the other films on this list, I’m not so sure the shocking stuff has been widely spoiled yet. Speaking of spoilers most people have discovered before seeing the actual movie….

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

There has never been a stabbing so subversively brutal. And there has rarely been a character as creepy as Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates. I think it’s a shame that most people who see this for the first time will go into it knowing the mid-movie shock, because that was something so ahead of its time it’s still avoided to this day. Although it may not be my favorite Hitchcock film (I’m partial to his more adventurous outings like North by Northwest), it is undeniably horror and therefor it belongs on my list of favorites.


This movie came so far out of left field for me I never would have expected it would end up on this list before I saw it.

Thirteen more of my favorites will post at midnight (Oklahoma time).

ABCs of Death 2 is now on-demand

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

If you read my post about the original ABCs of Death, you’ll know A) I’m a sucker for anthology films and B) whether or not the movie will be up your alley. Just to be clear: if you’ve ever been morally offended by any movie ever, you will not like these films. In summary, the original ABCs of Death was certainly sick and twisted, not to mention a helluva ride.

The sequel is almost as twisted, but there just isn’t as much momentum. I think most of the films in the sequel look better than the films in the previous collection, but I just didn’t laugh as much. Then again, that’s probably a problem for horror sequels in general: you just can’t be as fresh as you were the first time. There are some bits here that are wonderfully out of control (I will never forget the awesome insanity of the last film no matter how long I live) and the special effects are usually a lot better, but I think the first collection had far more memorable shorts. Dogfight, the masturbation contest, Fart,  the claymation stuff… I really do remember more from the first film even though I just saw the newer film last night.

That’s the thing, though. If you liked the first one, it’s only a little better than this one. It’s probably safe to say this one is worth the $12.

* * *

Fangoria’s Blood & Guts is back… sort of. Now it’s called Scott Ian’s Bloodworks, but it’s just as good as it’s ever been. I love Scott Ian’s gleeful passion for cinematic gore. Here’s the first episode of the return, but be sure to check out the newer episode, too.

Horns is available on-demand before it hits theaters

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

A movie adaptation shouldn’t be judged by the quality of its source material. It’s impossible to avoid, though, especially when the material is so admirable. The adaptation of Joe Hill’s legitimately insane Horns suffers in the typical three-act screenplay form. Whereas the novel opens with a guy who wakes up with devil horns, the film gives us a typical movie opening, putting off the horns for just a little too long. And the reason he gets the horns in the first place—the violent desecration of a memorial, if my memory serves me correctly—hardly appears in the film version at all. My girlfriend asked me, “Why does he have horns?” Then I realized the movie is a better companion to the book than a standalone feature. Maybe judging it by the book is excusable in this case.

That’s the bad. The rest is quite good actually, at least when it’s not trying to play it too safe. Sometimes it feels the filmmakers pussyfoot around the demonic aspects of the story, which kind of misses the point. Otherwise, there is plenty of snake-charming, plenty of startling confessions from seemingly normal people. To call this horror is misleading. Dark urban fantasy is a better label.

The plot: Ig Perrish is a twenty-something whose childhood girlfriend has been murdered. Everyone thinks he’s the killer, including his parents. One day after a hard night of drinking, he wakes up to find devil horns have sprouted from his temples. The horns have an effect on people. Nobody seems to think the horns are out of the ordinary and they feel compelled to tell Ig their darkest secrets. Heather Graham’s character, a waitress, confesses she’s telling the cops lies because she wants to be on TV. A bartender tells Ig he wants to burn his establishment down for the insurance money and Ig tells him to do it. He does, laughing hysterically. The confessions are the funniest parts of the movie.

I’m happy to report Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t suffer from the same fate as most former child actors. Whenever I look at Fred Savage or Elijah Wood, I still see them as children. But when I see Daniel Radcliff, I see an adult, which is good. He makes a good Ig Perrish. The rest of the cast is just as good. I particularly liked Juno Temple (I usually do) as his girlfriend, Heather Graham, David Morse, and the casting of Ig’s parents: James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan, two generally underused actors.

It’s a good picture, just a little rough in spots. Also, I’m not sure it’s quite worth $10.99, but I hope it does well when it hits theaters.

What the hell happened in The Walking Dead Season 5 premiere?

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.   


Even though I’ve had a few days to think it over, I’m still wondering what the hell I just saw on Sunday.

When The Walking Dead’s fourth season concluded, I was psyched. (This stands in sharp contrast to the previous season finale which spent too much time building up to one of the most anti-climatic “battles” I’ve ever seen.) Here were the Season 4 highlights for me:

  • The blonde finally went missing (she’ll be back, of course, but in the meantime we don’t have to hear her stupid singing).
  • Carol didn’t hesitate to shoot a little girl who totally had to go. This is much cooler when you think about all the whining Rick would have done for 3+ episodes before finally arriving at the same decision.
  • The Governor was in danger of becoming sympathetic, which I thought was unnecessary, but then he was all like, “Nah, lol, fuck you” and killed a bunch of people, further rising in the annals of TV villainy.
  • The people at Terminus turned out to be cannibals.
  • And the high point of the entire series: the introduction of Eugene Porter, a redneck scientist with a mullet and an affinity for video games. I don’t know why, but I like the three new characters more than any of the existing ones. I really don’t give a shit who they kill as long as they don’t kill Eugene and friends.

So here’s what we knew up until last Sunday: we had zombies outside Terminus. We had cannibals inside. Nearly all the surviving heroes of the series were more or less fucked. It was shaping up to be a great big mind-fuck of a suspenseful season. But that’s not what we got. What we got, instead, was pure action. Don’t get me wrong. It was very satisfying action (that ridiculous bit with the pathetically aimed bottle rocket notwithstanding), but I can’t help but feel some potential horror was wasted here.

First of all it’s a horror show, not an action movie. While I appreciate the writers’ attempt to give it some urgency (let’s face it, the series drags sometimes), I had blown up what I thought was going to happen in my head. I certainly didn’t want to see them spend an entire season in Terminus, but I thought that, at the very least, we were going to spend a few episodes wondering, “Who are the cannibals going to eat next?” Think about the potential for terror there! I kind of figured what we got Sunday wouldn’t come along until the mid-season finale.

This is all to say that my expectations fucked me. The more I think about it, the more I realize the writers probably made the right decision. If they had done what I was expecting, I probably would have been complaining it was predictable.

Netflix October pick: The ABCs of Death

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

In the opening scene of The ABCs of Death, you’re going to see a man’s hand hacked nearly in half, which is quickly followed by a facial cleansing with boiling grease. Each director has a different short film, each short film chooses a word beginning with that letter for its subject. D, as it turns out, is for “Dogfight,” F is for “Fart,” and I don’t even remember which letter provides us with a forced masturbation contest that awards the loser impalement. Of the twenty-six stories, that one’s among the most memorable, not to mention one of the most twisted.

At this point you should already know if this movie’s for you or not. If it is, keep reading. If it’s not, skip it. Really. Do us both a favor. One of my friends proclaimed it was too extreme for him when he suggested it for me. I didn’t think I’d like it, but you know what? I really did. More so than the first two V/H/S/ films. And if you’re the type who thinks it’s possible for cinema to go too far, avoid it like the plague. Taboo isn’t just a recurring theme here, it’s all-but celebrated.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the horror anthology film ever since Creepshow’s “I can hold my breath for a loooong time!” became a popular movie quote. (“I want my Father’s Day cake!” was just as household in my family.) The good thing about an anthology movie: you don’t have to wait as long for a payoff when far too many horror movies take their sweet little time giving you one. The bad thing about an anthology movie: at least one of the stories will be a drag, which is true even of Two Evil Eyes, the Argento/Romero mash-up which features only two stories.

At more than two hours long, ABCs of Death has a lot more than one shitty story, but overall I found it way more entertaining than Sturgeon’s Law suggests: we get twenty-six stories from twenty-six directors and far less than ninety percent of it is crap. Sometimes the word the filmmakers came up with is a stretch, sometimes the story works better in theory than in execution, sometimes they just plain fucking suck. But where else are you going to see a Japanese Dr. Strangelove and something as gratuitously offensive as a plane painted on one bare tit and the World Trade Centers painted on the other?
More often than not, the stories in ABCs of Death are at the very least well-made and, at the very best, a wild ride. This is the nature of the multi-authored anthology. With the exception of Dangerous Visions, I don’t remember ever liking every single story in an anthology. Usually, it all can’t be good. The ABCs of Death, however, pulls it off much better than V/H/S/ did, that’s for sure.

D’Amour and Pinhead finally meet in The Scarlet Gospels

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

There are few things that make me feel like a kid again. Here are some of them:

  • Sword fights in books and movies. 
  • The fact I’m going to see a proper Star Wars sequel (hopefully). 
  • Crossovers. 

I love that stuff. I’m absolutely tickled by the following news, and I loathe that phrase.

Clive Barker’s paranormal detective, Harry D’Amour, is going head-to-head with Pinhead in The Scarlet Gospels, a 300+ page book coming out May 15th, 2015. That’s… I mean… holy shit. I know they’ve already met in the comics, but I wasn’t really a fan. I wanted to like ’em, but sometimes cups of tea just don’t belong to you no matter how much you want them to. And if you really love a cup of tea, you should let it go… fuck, I’m mixing metaphors here because I’m on about two hours of sleep.

Speaking of D’Amour, Lord of Illusions is such a weird movie. It’s got 90s CGI and some other distracting creative decisions, but I can’t help but love it. Daniel von Bargen makes a strangely effective bad guy and Kevin J. O’Connor was one of the faces that helped feed my lifelong fascination with character actors. The movie may not be the most convincing in the world, but straight-up horror movies about adults, for adults, are such a rare thing, especially when they’re this entertaining.

More about D’Amour and Pinhead’s meeting can be found here on Barker’s website.

* * *

Damn it, I’m a Tom Cruise fan. I wasn’t always a Tom Cruise fan. Something about his real life personality clashes with my own (I think the word I’m looking for is intense), but in the last twelve years he’s starred in four science fiction movies, all of which were watchable and two of which were great.

Edge of Tomorrow is the second one I’m calling great. Hell, I liked Jack Reacher, Mission: Impossible 4, and a handful of his recent outings, too, but Edge of Tomorrow is seriously bad ass. As for big movie stars, he’s the only one who was big when I was growing up who’s still big now. Even Bruce Willis has slipped into the straight-to-video domain recently. I guess nowadays it’s called “straight-to-on-demand,” but that just doesn’t have the same ring.

The movie’s available for rent. You can do worse on a Friday night. For instance, I’m about to fire up Farm Simulator 2013. Don’t laugh. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at agriculture.

Never thought I’d say this, but this Lifetime movie looks great

It’s October. Time to talk horror. I’ll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes. 
On an unrelated note, I thought I’d have something to say about Alien: Isolation by now, but here’s the thing: I haven’t even bought it yet. Work got busy and, besides, Shadow of Mordor is way too awesome to give up right now. The way the game feels is amazing and the ability to interrogate orcs in order to reveal who their commanders are is something I’ve never seen before.