I Heart Horror… with a speckle of comedy.
Hello Fiends! It is time to switch gears. I will be doing this frequently. I hope you don’t mind. You don’t, do you? GOOOOOOOOOOD. Sometimes I will be giving a “Pick of the Week” in this column, but most times I will want to talk about a subject.
I was debating on writing about this subject last week, but decided against it. As you know, ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is the current theatrical horror release, well mainstream anyway. It came in 4th place on it’s first weekend, fell 3 spots last week to #7 and then fell another 3 spots to #10 for it’s 3rd week. I think it is safe to say that it will only be in theatres until tomorrow or the following Thursday.
This is Raimi’s forth film under Universal Studios. Two of those films, Darkman & Army of Darkness (his fourth – ‘For the Love of the Game’), almost buried his career with Universal & Hollywood for that matter. ‘Army of Darkness’ was considered a bomb and his kinetic interpretation of a vigilante scientist was even worse under the financial eye. What is kind of funny is that both of those films are cult classics now. The Horror-Comedy genre has always underperformed at the box office and Raimi seems to be the victim of loving this odd little sub-genre and executing it to the finest degree. When talking about the general movie going public in regards to films like ‘Drag Me To Hell’, they either want to be scared or laugh out loud because the film is so bad. Any in-between and the audience is lost. Sure, us horror geeks will get it, embrace it and tell more people how much fun we had.
So, if you haven’t seen ‘Drag Me to Hell’, GO SEE IT NOW!!! If you have, enjoy the following top 5 films that I love out of this little corner of horror flicks.
5: Idle Hands
This was a film made for stoners, Jessica Alba ooglers & horror geeks. ‘Idle Hands’ was released back in 1999 and did very, very poorly in the box office. Rodman Flender directed this little gem. Granted, the dude directed ‘Leprechaun 2’, but don’t let that hold you back. Christopher Baffa – who’s first official DP credit was Nacho Cerda’s ‘Aftermath’ – photographed this film and littered it with Argento-like flavor to compliment the morbid side of the tale. Anton (Devon Sawa) wakes up one day to find that his parents are missing. Later in the film, he finds out that they were murdered as he discovers their corpses inside his house. However, he starts to wonder if he is completely innocent as his hand starts to “act up” and evidence points towards himself as being the murderer. He seeks advice from his stoner pals Mick (Seth Green) & Pnub (Elden Henson) while trying to hook up with Molly (Jessica Alba). The film is hilarious with a great little score by Graeme Revell and basically takes the ‘possessed hand’ gag from Evil Dead 2 and makes it into a full length film. It’s a film that I don’t mind popping in time to time for it’s light-heartedness and the physical comedy that is performed by Sawa who gladly steps into the boots of ‘Ash’ from the Evil Dead series.
4.Behind the Mask
Slasher films were definitely the product of the ’80’s. Sure, there have been more recent slasher flicks like ‘Hatchet’, but how do you re-invent the slasher? Meet ‘Behind the Mask’. ‘Behind the Mask’ is a mockumentary that takes all the attributes of the slasher film and turns it around with a new perspective. Why is it that the killer just walks and catches up with those fast kids? The answer lies here. The star of the show is played by Nathan Baesel, but he is complimented by Robert Englund in essentially a Sam Loomis (Halloween) type role. The film is set in a world where Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger (ironic, I know) & Michael Myers are real killers, or psycho-slashers. Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) is in training to become the next great psycho-slasher. While preparing for his slaughterfest and picking out the stereotypical characters, a documentary crew films him. Think ‘Man Bites Dog’ but with a lighter touch. This is one to see folks. Scott Glosserman crafts not only an iconic look for our killer, but also a very entertaining film.
This one is a film I have vowed to watch every Halloween. I’m a sucker for films set on my favorite holiday, Halloween, and if it’s a good flick as well, even better.
We are introduced to a lonely meter maid on his way home from what we can imagine was a crappy day. While walking, he discovers an invite to a “Murder Party”. Like a good guest, he whips up some pumpkin bread and makes a shoddy but creative costume out of duct tape and cardboard. Once he arrives to the party – which only contains a small group – he realizes that it isn’t a party at all but more of an experiment.
The film can be predictable at times, but the troupe within the film makes it all work in very unpredictable devices. It’s funny, dark and gruesome when one by one the organizers of said Murder Party start dying off.
This is a MUST SEE.
Speaking of MUST SEE’s, ‘Dead-Alive’ (a.k.a. Braindead) was Peter Jackson’s earlier entry into his career. After Meet The Feebles & Bad Taste, Jackson wanted to up the grue factor and bring something fun like the Evil Dead films. Zombies run amok! Babies are not safe & lawnmowers do more than cut grass.
The film is set back in the 50’s, this 1992 film tells the story of a man and his mum (yes…I had to say ‘mum’) and how far he would go to protect her after she has been “savaged” by a Sumatran rat-monkey and turned into a zombie.
Great characters like Uncle Les and kooky one-off characters really make the film. The cover touts it as being “The Goriest Movie Ever Made”. According to the amount of fake blood used, it still is. It’s a good time, with quotable dialogue and great physical and camera effects. Jackson perfected one of his camera tricks with this film, something I call the “wipe mask”. This is where he would have an object wipe from right to left or left to right across the screen to hide a cut. This is usually used to have an effect blend perfectly into the scene.
Peppered with comedy, blood and technical wizardry…this was the first footprint of a great director and is a neccessity for all horror fans.
1. Evil Dead 2
Now, you didn’t think I was going to let this one slip. Let’s face it, as much as you want to get those obscure movies in any horror film list, there is a reason this one is a classic.
Raimi basically remade ‘Evil Dead’ by cutting out a few characters and rewriting the basic story on what happened on the initial trip to the cabin. Fanboys didn’t cry. It improved the story and set the manic tone for what is now known as one of the best modern American horror film of our time.
Back in 1987, Freddy was already in his 3rd entry while Jason was taking a breather between Jason Lives and The New Blood. What was being released that year were films that were introduced to a unappreciative audience, but would later become cult hits. A list of other highlights in 1987 were:
- Angel Heart
- Bad Taste
- Blood Diner (mainly a personal favorite of mine)
- Creepshow 2 (The Raft is the only reason why I’m mentioning it)
- The Gate
- The Hidden
- The Lost Boys
- Near Dark
- The Monster Squad
- Night of the Demons
- Argento’s Opera
- Prince of Darkness
- The Stepfather
All these films are pretty influential or at least we hold something in our hearts about these films.
Evil Dead 2 was one of the best films to come out of that year. Often imitated but never replicated, the film was a perfect blend of horror and comedy and showed that laughing along with inanimated objects, that suddenly became animated for no reason, was perfectly normal.
If you own DVD’s and like horror…this should be in your collection.
Honorable Mention: The Convent
Maybe it is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this film is so damn stupid but fun at the same time. It’s quotable and fun to look at. Mike Mendez, who went on to direct The Gravedancers, spent years trying to get this film off the ground and spent even more trying to get it distributed.
Adrienne Barbeau, Bill Moseley and even Coolio show up in this one. A group of college students try to complete a dare of spraypainting their letters on the walls of a haunted Convent. However, they get more than they bargained for when some of them are possessed by satan’s spawn. Yeah, it is a rip off of Night of the Demons, but I remember waiting for a long time after reading about it in Fangoria to see this film. I laughed a lot. Maybe more than anyone should, I thought. However, in the 20 years, or more, that I have been watching horror films – I have shown this to some friends and they all quote the same lines I do and love it. It’s stupid, it’s funny and the blacklight photography that makes up for the demon’s looks are awesome.
Once the first possession happens, the energy of this film just doesn’t let up. Plus, Adrienne is a badass biker chick that sports a shotgun with a mission to send these demons back to hell!
Rent this one with a case of beer and I guarantee you that you will have a fun time.
Well, a new plot was dug recently, so it’s time for me to go 6 feet under and feed off more cinematic wonders.