The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:04 pm

LISTS ARE DUE BY JANUARY 01 2013
Please submit your list of fifty (50) films-- no more, no less-- ranked in order of preference, to me, domino harvey, via PM.

Eligibility
Short films are eligible. Music videos, should the spirit move you, are eligible. TV Miniseries (using the American definition) and Made For TV Movies are eligible. TV series are not.

Anthology Backdoor
Single episodes of anthology horror series (Tales From the Crypt, Masters of Horror, &c) are eligible. Single episodes of dramatic series with continuing storylines (The X-Files, Fringe, &c) are not eligible. Be aware that save some fantastic campaigning on your part, these will have little to no effect on the overall tally of the board's list, and therefore users are advised to exercise this exception sparingly. However, no member will be limited in their final list selections.
--Please note that individual segments from anthology films are ineligible by themselves. Vote for the whole film and every segment within, or not at all.

The Vote For It Approach
Curious as to whether a given title counts as a horror film? Debates on what constitutes a "horror" film can be made within this thread, but… if you feel strongly for a contentious title, just put it on your list. If enough people agree with you and it makes the list, then yep, it's a horror film!



Member Spotlight Titles
Lots of time for this wide-spanning genre, so seek out a fellow contributor's little-seen gem(s), you damned lazy gadabout!

A Chinese Ghost Story (Ching Siu-Tung 1987) YnEoS
The Boxer's Omen (Kuei Chih-Hung 1983) YnEoS
Blood and Roses (Roger Vadim 1960) Dylan
City of the Dead aka Horror Hotel (John Llewellyn Moxey 1960) Mr Sausage
City of Pirates (Raoul Ruiz 1983) zedz
Der Student von Prag (Arthur Robison 1935) swo17
Falling Pink (Robert Spring 1959) swo17
Ils (David Moreau and Xavier Palud, 2006) mfunk97876
Incubus (Leslie Stevens 1966) knives
Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland 2009) swo17
L'Annulaire (Diane Betrand 2005) domino harvey
La Donna Del Lago (Luigi Bazzoni and Franco Rossellini, 1965) tarpilot
Le Orme (Luigi Bazzoni 1975) Dylan
the Man From Planet X (Edgar G Ulmer 1951) tarpilot
the Man with Wax Faces (Maurice Tourneur 1914) swo17
May (Lucky McKee, 2002) mfunk9786
Nightmare (Freddie Francis 1964) Mr Sausage
Night of the Eagle (Sidney Hayers, 1962) Mr Sausage
Pontypool (Bruce McDonald 2008) YnEoS
Psychomania (Don Sharp 1973) Dr. Amicus
[•REC] (Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, 2007) mfunk9786
the Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002) mfunk9786
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Bryan Forbes 1964) LQ
Shanks (William Castle 1974) knives
Single White Female (Barbet Schroeder 1992) domino harvey
the Sorcerers (Michael Reeves 1967) Dr. Amicus
"Sredni Vashtar" by Saki (David Bradley 1940) swo17
Straight On Till Morning (Peter Collinson 1972) zedz
the Vampire (1957, Fernando Méndez) the preacher


In-Thread Guides
The Amicus Anthologies (Mr Sausage)
Corman's Poe series (knives)
Giallos, part 1 (Mr Sausage)
Giallos, part 2 (Mr Sausage)
Giallos, part 3 (Mr Sausage)
Hammer's Dracula and Frankenstein series (Mr Sausage)
Hammer's Karnstein Trilogy, Mummy films, and Sci-Fi (Mr Sausage)
Hammer's Mini-Hitchcocks (Mr Sausage)
Hammer's non-series films (Mr Sausage)
In Defense of "Torture Porn" (mfunk9786)
Mario Bava (Mr Sausage)
R2 UK Horror Exclusives (We the Criterion Forum)
Silent Horror (swo17)
Silent Horror supplement (YnEoS)
Universal's Frankenstein series (knives)



Past Forum Discussion, re: Horror

Directors
Dario Argento
Mario Bava: thread 1, thread 2
Tod Browning
John Carpenter
Claude Chabrol
Henri-Georges Clouzot
Larry Cohen
Georges Franju
Lucio Fulci
Alfred Hitchcock
Stanley Kubrick
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Roman Polanski
George A Romero
Don Siegel
Jacques Tourneur
James Whale

Films / General Discussion
À l'intérieur
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Anchor Bay
Anchor Bay: Mario Bava Sets
Antichrist (Criterion)
Best B-Movies on DVD
Bram Stoker's Dracula: Special Edition
Carpenter's The Thing versus Scott's Alien
CasaNegra
Cinematic Violence: Can Anything Be Justified?
Classic Horror Double Features
Corpse Bride
Cult Camp Classics
the Dead Zone
the Descent
the Devils (Warner)
the Exorcist
the Fly (Cronenberg)
Fox Horror Classics
Grindhouse
Hag Horror
Halloween, which version to buy?
Halloween (Zombie)
Halloween II (Zombie)
Haute tension
Häxan (Criterion)
Hollywood's Legends of Horror Collection
House of Re-Animator
the House of the Devil
the Innocents and again
Island of Lost Souls (Criterion)
Kuroneko
Kwaidan (Criterion)
Land of the Dead
Masters of Horror
May
MGM Midnight Movies
the Mist
Monsters and Madmen (Criterion)
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Nosferatu (MoC)
Premium Cable Staples Worth Revisiting
Psychiatric Hospital Films
Psycho
Sakebi/Retribution
Serious Horror Films
Suspiria
Trick r Treat
Twisted Terror Collection
Underrated
Universal Cinema Classics
Universal Horror
Universal Horror Archive / Sci-Fi Classics vol. I & II
the Val Lewton Horror Collection
Vampyr (MoC)
the Vanishing (Criterion)
War of the Worlds (Spielberg)
Who are your fave psychopaths of filmdom?
Witchcraft films
The Woman
Zombie flicks recommendations


Recommended Reading

A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series David Kalat
the American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film Andrew Britton
Beyond Terror: the Films of Lucio Fulci Stephen Thrower
Britton on Film ("Symbolism of Evil") ed. Barry Keith Grant
Danse Macabre Stephen King
Hollywood: From Vietnam to Reagan... and Beyond Robin Wood
Immoral Tales: Sex and Horror Cinema In Europe 1956-1984 Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs
Mario Bava: All The Colours Of The Dark Tim Lucas
Mondo Macabro: Weird and Wonderful Cinema Around The World Pete Tombs
Nightmare Movies Kim Newman
the Official Splatter Movie Guide (Vols I and II) John McCarty
See No Evil: Banned Films and Video Controversy David Kerekes and David Slater


…work in progress, gang! (PM me linx 2 ur fav hrr thrds)

Thanx to Satan's Little Helpers for some of the material in this post: Gregory, LQ, Mr Sausage, swo17, tarpilot
Last edited by domino harvey on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:48 pm, edited 43 times in total.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:17 pm

I don't pretend to be any better versed in this genre than the average bear, so I've been getting a head start on this list since mid-October… sorry for the thumbnail dump, but it feels good to finally purge these little thumbnail reactions. Please, for the love of God, engage me or someone else in discussion about some of these films, I've been talking to myself for a month and a half. Titles in red are in contention for my final list, though I'm still getting my feet wet so who knows by the end of this project!


A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven 1984) I watched all seven of the "original" films in one looong all-day marathon, so I feel I got the whole immersive Freddy experience in one gulp. Seeing so many variations on the same idea in close-quarters does give an appreciation for just how clever the initial scenario for the first film is, though-- it is an ingenious plot device. In a way the series never tops that first on-screen death, protracted and horrible as the poor bloody girl is dragged literally all over the room. It's a serious and unnerving moment that contrasts harshly with the later light tone the series temporarily adopts.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Samuel Bayer 2010) Thoroughly unpleasant remake that confuses a negative tone and borderline-black blood (thanx lens filters!!!) with making the original concept "scarier." Try "exploitative," instead, as now Freddy's victims are… already his victims, as he molested the kids he's now eliminating years later. Beyond the repellent premise, the movie falls flat when cribbing the two best sequences from the original, both of which look faker now than they did then! The stuff that's added isn't much better-- I'm not sure why Freddy Krueger now looks like cat rescued from a housefire, or why no one has two parents, or how being killed in your dreams wasn't enough of an idea that the filmmakers had to invent the absurd concept of "micronaps" to workaround their own laziness in the script. It's not like the original series couldn't be bettered, but I didn't think it could be worsened either!

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (Jack Sholder 1985) Repressed gay teen moves into Lagencamp's old house and turns into a Freddy Krueger werewolf in this awful awful sequel. I know it has its defenders, but just because it does have a pretty obvious homosexual subtext doesn't change the fact that this is a lousy film devoid of any sort of internal logic (Freddy-faced dogs, anyone?)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Chuck Russell 1987) Easily the most effective of the films at marrying the promise inherent in the premise with a sense of imagination and novelty without devolving into extremes on any side. When people praise the series as a whole, I assume they just mean this one.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: the Dream Master (Renny Harlin 1988) And in contrast, what an utter crock of vile shit this film is. Disgusting, mean-spirited retreads of old ideas mix with repellant "kooky" death scenes and the end result is mutilation as wacky sitcom. And of course this was the most financially successful of the original films. Figures!

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: the Dream Child (Stephen Hopkins 1989) I can hardly criticize the producers for going in the opposite direction with this one, which despite its low reputation is far from the least of the series (which seems to be on a sequel taste-qualifier: even numbered sequels suck, odd numbered ones are tolerable at worst), and the grimmer approach makes inventive sequences like the comic book slaying work without becoming a big joke (though the rather grotesque elimination of the aspiring model really does seem like a tonal redux of the previous film's faults)

Alone in the Dark (Jack Sholder 1982) Jack Palance and Martin Landau are just two of the crazies who escape a mental institution and proceed to terrorize the Bruce Dern-aping protagonist and his family. I'm torn about this one as with two exceptions the characters are rendered sympathetically (I particularly liked Lee Taylor-Allan as the cute side ponytail sporting older sister who drags her older brother and his wife to a Sic Fucks show!) and their plight is slickly expressed-- but it's those exceptions that make me a little uneasy. Obviously the film is a deeply 80s Republican sick joke against the idea of criminal rehabilitation, and so the protagonist and Donald Pleasance's goofy mental hospital head are made foolish and frankly act like every stupid liberal cliche you can imagine (so does the wife and sister with their nuclear energy protesting, pot-smoking, etc, but the film treats them with kid gloves) so that you're half cheering for Palance to shoot the dumbass doctor with the crossbow at the end. However, that said, the very amusing ending makes its conservative political point in a much more palatable and amusing way than the main thrust of the story and is maybe just enough to push this into the Yes column.

--And Now the Screaming Starts! (Roy Ward Baker 1973) This period supernatural revenge tale gets a lot of mileage out of Stephanie Beacham's corseted cleavage and a seemingly never-ending march of victims as the mystery remains a mystery for some time, only to be paid off with a rather distasteful rape sequence. Once it takes that unpleasant turn, it's hard to stomach what comes next, however inevitable.

And Soon the Darkness (Robert Fuest 1970) Generic xenophobic thriller about bicycling Brits in France who have the misfortune to be murdered and/or almost murdered by a mysterious killer, the identity of which may or may not be obvious. Among other ailments, the film suffers from a blindingly obvious twist ending that makes the last half rather painfully dull to sit through. Quite surprised to learn this pic has any cachet at all.

April Fool's Day (Fred Walton 1986)
SpoilerShow
"Thanks" to whoever it was here that compared this to the Game, because that means I figured out the twist, however improbably it plays out, from the outset, which made sitting through this illogical film especially tedious. The premise is so gobsmackingly dumb that I can see why people would be tempted to praise it on principle alone, but it just doesn't work and the entirety of the film leading up to the finish is so dreadful and filled with abrasive college kids I'd cross the street to avoid overhearing. Sorry folks.
Asylum (Roy Ward Baker 1972) One of the better framing devices from a portmanteau film-- a new psychiatric specialist is asked to interview the denizens of a hospital's "hopelessly insane" ward, with the caveat being that one of the patients is actually the previous head doctor who went mad. No points awarded for figuring out who the real Dr Star is, as anyone with half a cheeky bone in his body will figure it out, but it's a fun idea. Less enjoyable, sadly, are the bulk of the stories within the frame: only the amusing, if predictable, drug culture short with Charlotte Rampling and Britt Ekland works, and the less said about Cushing's technicolor dreamcoat and the wrapped body parts, the better. Too bad.

Bad Dreams (Andrew Fleming 1988) Superb and novel effort that places Jennifer Rubin's impossibly attractive cult suicide survivor inside a mental ward and slowly kills everyone around her. Striking visual images abound (one in particular, involving an air vent, is especially memorable) and just when the film seems like it'll turn out to be one of those ridiculous films you have to apologize for liking, it all comes together quite brilliantly. This is one of the few horror films I can think of where the twist actually causes the film to make more sense! The end result is especially commendable after viewing the original ending in the DVDs bonus features, which shows how close this film came to going off the rails at the last moment.

the Beast Must Die (Paul Annett 1974) Silly but fun detective story from Amicus where the audience is asked to solve the question, "Which of these houseguests is the werewolf?" I must admit I guessed correctly, but the key word here is guess: this isn't so much a detective story as a post-production William Castle-esque touch, complete with a thirty second "Werewolf Break" to make your prediction. There's not really "clues" one follows to arrive at the solution-- Encyclopedia Brown Fur it ain't.

Black Sabbath (Mario Bava 1963) A mediocre opening segment gives way to that dazzling phantasmagorical folk tale middle sequence, so rich in Technicolor splendor and atmosphere that it overshadows all that comes before or after it. I note that others praise the final tale with as much or more fervor, but the EC Comics-lite tale pales in comparison to "The Wurdalak"-- but then again, so would almost anything.

Blood Feast (Hershell Gordon Lewis 1963) I held out pretty long, but by the time the mad Egyptian killer placed an urn beneath his victim's tattered dress to collect the red paint pouring off her body, I gave in to the mad fits of superior laughter, and it was hard to stop laughing after that. Unfortunately, I don't derive much pleasure from contemptuously sitting through tortured material like this. Just an incredibly amateurish film, if you can even call it a film.

the Boogeyman (Ulli Lommel 1980) If only everyone could marry a heiress qt and get her to star in (and probably fund) their poorly-paced horror flick that somehow makes a killer mirror uninteresting. Minor points awarded for trolling everyone who rented this in the eighties, though.

BrainWaves (Ulli Lommel 1982) Lommel is given access to actual stars Vera Miles, Keir Dullea, and Tony Curtis and still manages to produce the worst of his films yet-- a clunky, awkwardly constructed tale of Suzanna Love (of course) getting a brainwave transplant (what?) from a murder victim, which of course inspires her and her husband to track down the killer. Why? That's actually a good question for any and every aspect of this film.

the Brotherhood of Satan (Bernard McEveety 1971) Now where did this gem come from? Descriptions don't do this weird little wonder justice, as its pacing and budgetary workarounds are quite clever: a coven of witches invades a small town and induces the townspeople's young children to kill their parents, freeing themselves up for Satan to fill their vessels with the spirits of his followers. Absurd? No doubt. But the stylish manner in which this plays out, towing the camp line without ever crossing over, puts this into the top tier of films I've seen for this project-- it's all so self-assured, so well-executed, that the more audacious moments (such as the early repetitious car ride through an abandoned winding road, or any of the carefully framed murders) inspire marvel, not mockery.

Chopping Mall (Jim Wynorski 1986) Preppies versus robots in a mall. This one's just a little better than it needed to be, which in turn makes it seem a lot better than it actually is. Very entertaining and well-made for such ridiculousness. My favorite moment was probably the long tracking shot that takes care of almost all of the film's required nudity in one go, though certainly an unexpected head explosion can't soon be forgotten. Also, it takes a kind of genius to set this film in the mall and make absolutely no attempts at social commentary. Aside from the actual mayhem of the picture, the film really peaks with Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov reprising their Eating Raoul characters in the film's prologue. I'm not sure why the pair are in the film lobbing snide snipes at the mall's killbot presentation (well, I guess they would be in the area…), but I'm thankful just the same.

Deep Rising (Stephen Sommers 1998) Man, they just don't make 'em like this anymore. Ridiculous actioner about mercenaries versus mutant squid thing on a dilapidated cruise ship. Oh to think how once Treat Williams could command top billing on a big budget theatrically released monster movie! This is complete trash from start to finish, with jump scenes and gross-out reveals spaced with mathematical accuracy. It's also a lot of fun, with graphic violence being used more for comedic effect (Djimon Hounsou's exit comes to mind) and for a film with such a high body count and gory effects, it never feels prurient or gratuitous. Look, you all can bump and grind all night with the repetitive Aliens (Here's my Aliens impression: "We're running out of bullets! BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM" X ten minutes). Me? I'd rather fill my dance card up with Famke Janssen fleeing tentacles while piloting a Ski-Do through various levels of a sinking luxury liner.

the Devils (Ken Russel 1971) Ken Russel, never in danger of needing to be told to "go big," lays it on nice and thick here with his takedown of religious hysteria / sexual repression / whatever. I won't pretend I wasn't ridiculously entertained by the whole affair, which Russel infuses with a manic energy long before the nuns shave their heads and furiously masturbate each other with religious relics. It's all a bit much though-- and yes, I realize that's the point. So be it.

Dolls (Stuart Gordon 1987) Going in to revisiting this film, I could only vaguely remember one scene involving dolls crawling under bed covers (an idea that haunted me for much of my childhood-- thanks mom for thinking this R-rated flick was appropriate for a kiddo!), but I had a joyous smile on my face as the weird teddy bear opening sequence played out and that little light switch inside my mind flipped on. This is all grand fun, as a cartoonishly brittle couple straight out of the Little Foxes drag their little girl through the rain into a dollmaker's estate, where they meet up with a good-hearted fat fella and some no good punx, all of whom come up against the elderly dollmaking couple's volatile collection with predictable results.

Dr Giggles (Manny Coto 1992) I take it that this late to the party slasher isn't held in much esteem by either the average filmgoer or the horror aficionados, but I enjoyed it far more than most films that are. The direction is intelligent and swift and the novelty of the killer and his never-ending "treatments" is far more clever than I think its detractors will admit: this is a film that ensures against its own sequel by systematically using up every commonplace item from a doctor's office as an instrument of murder. Good turns by the actor playing the titular lunatic and the only cute girl from Charmed. Recommended for the endless puns alone!

Eight Legged Freaks (Ellory Elkayem 2002) Piss-poor Joe Dante imitation with none of the visual wit or heart. Toxic waste meets exotic spiders in a desolate Arizona town. The resultant mayhem is proof that non-practical effects are about as involving as watching someone else play Nintendo64. Did we ever really live in a time when Kari Wuhrer and David Arquette could anchor a big budget monster movie?

the Evil Dead (Sam Raimi 1981) The small-scale unending terrors popping out of cellars and behind doors are refreshingly captured by Raimi's kinetic, frenetic pacing and oddball mise-en-scene. There is such a delightful and intelligent energy to the film's snowballing calamities that it never looks its budget (and indeed looks far superior to its overrated and much more expensive sequel).

Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi 1987) Call me a heretic if you must, but I thought this was a rather tedious free-associative "comedy" horror with a blustery false novelty replacing the real thing from the first film. I just don't think Bruce Campbell mugging and screaming over and over and over is funny or entertaining, and the special effects sequences grow quickly tiresome and freewheeling.

the Exorcist (William Friedkin 1973) Not a bad film by any means, but one doomed to disappointment due to unreasonably high expectations. I reckon the biggest reason this one failed to reach me on the base level it reached most others is that I don't share its religious views, so it's not "scary" in that sense. The film seems highly exploitative of Christian fears to the point that being left out, I can only sit back and observe the craft of the film itself, which is uneven, slow-moving, but occasionally effective. I can appreciate what's done here, but it doesn't go much further than that.

Exorcist II: the Heretic (John Boorman 1977) I was relieved to learn I wasn't alone in preferring this sequel to the original, as both Kael and Scorsese agree-- there's worse company to be in! Indeed, the lighter touch and lack of self-seriousness (I mean, much of the plot hinges on a fantastical device consisting of electrodes hooked up to magic light bulbs for Christ's sake) combined with the ambitious if foolhardy spiritual viewpoint made for a far more enjoyable experience. Great special effects in the final sequence, as the roof literally gets blown off the joint-- along with the walls, the floor, &c.

the Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty 1990) How this isn't the film everyone considers the black sheep of the flock is beyond me. Silly and pompous, this small-scale trip through the dregs of a serial killer who's embodying the body of the dead mother's boy priest from the first film is ludicrous in the worst way: it has no idea. If hearing horrible descriptions of gory deaths gets your rocks off, this is your horror film. Yet another inexplicable favorite of the forum that left me cold.

the Faculty (Robert Rodriguez 1998) I know my tastes are often a little to the left or right of general consensus, but I'm struggling to understand the overwhelmingly negative response to a film as fun as this. That it cribs healthily from Carpenter's the Thing and God knows how many other Body Snatcher-style stories is beside the point-- I'm finding this to be more and more a genre of heritage over innovation anyway. Plainly put, I had more sheer fun watching this than any of its antecedents. The alienation of high school (from classmates, faculty, parents) is utilized to great effect within the familiar invasion trajectory, and Rodriguez does a grand job of keeping one-time wunderkind Kevin Williamson's script moving at a steady clip. The only embarrassment here is of riches when it comes to the great cast.

Fade to Black (Vernon Zimmerman 1980) Lonely movie lover loses his mind after a Marilyn Monroe lookalike stands him up for a date, proceeds to kill everyone who's ever wronged him via films he's seen-- He Widmarks his elderly aunt down a flight of stairs, Lugosis a prostitute, Cagneys a pompous Peter Fonda-type, &c. The elements are there for this to be a great self-reflexive treat, but then again, the same could be said for Last Action Hero. And this one's more of that school-- poorly thought-out and not nearly as clever as its premise, this just isn't a very good film. Minor points awarded for the sick joke of the protagonist slipping his Marilyn Monroe lookalike a constant stream of pills in the finale, though.

Fear (Rockne S O'Bannon 1990) I'm super-dubious of psychics and films which exploit their so-called prowess, so I'm pleasantly surprised at how effective and clever this film actually is. Ally Sheedy's young psychic uses her powers to solve crimes which she can then write into best sellers. Unfortunately, she's caught the mind's eye of a psychic serial killer, who forces her to share his visions, taunts her relentlessly, and becomes more turned on by controlling her than his actual crimes. It's a clever and well-done rape parallel, one that somehow never feels as tawdry as it could thanks to the whole endeavor having a good internal logic about it. It's a premise that also leads to several ingenious set pieces, including one chase sequence where Sheedy gradually realizes the killer's coming up behind her when she sees herself approaching! But aside from the showy moments, I liked the little touches too, like how Sheedy handles day to day events: "You have the wrong number-- no, I know you have the wrong number!"

Freddy's Dead: the Final Nightmare (Rachel Talalay 1991) Another return to the wacky side of things, this rather unnecessary "final" sequel walks a fine line with the introduction of the strongest female character's past molestation and rape as material for Freddy's shenanigans, but she is (i think necessarily) left standing at the end, to the film's credit. To its detriment are dumb gags like death by video game and the silly premise of the film itself. The 3-D sequence also fulfills any latent desires on the part of the audience to see Freddy Kreuger's spiritual sperm (or something)

Friday the 13th (Sean S Cunningham 1980) There's just no accounting for taste, as I haven't a clue what it was about this particular copycat film that inspired countless xeroxes of xeroxes for the remainder of the decade and beyond. Even for a low-aiming slasher film this is a poor picture, with grating characters (if you can call them that) being summarily eliminated for no particular reason or entertainment. And man, it only gets worse once the killer starts "acting" really hard. I have many of these sequels in my unwatched pile, but I can't say I'm exactly itching to explore… maybe some rainy day when I feel like self-abuse.

Gargoyles (Bill L Martin 1972) Cornell Wilde and Jennifer Salt, armed only with a few guns and Salt's neverending supply of bikini tops, battle desert gargoyles set on taking of the world in this very silly TV movie. Maybe if I was the target age of eight and saw this when it aired eleven years before I was born, I might have some fondness for this now. As it is, all the Jennifer Salt torso-baring in the world can't salvage a picture that comes off exactly as what it is: a disposable low-budget TV flick.

Ghost Story (John Irvin 1981) The novelty of seeing old fogey Hollywood legacy actors like Fred Astaire and Melvyn Douglas is tempered by the lame material they're saddled into. I have no idea what drew some of these men out of retirement for this unfortunate swan song, and while I haven't read Peter Straub's source novel, I somehow doubt it's as hopelessly mis-paced and mis-constructed as this mess, which at one point turns into a soft core porno via a twenty-plus minute erotic flashback! And a plot thread concerning an escaped lunatic with feral child in tow that somehow gets pushed into the c-story doesn't help any.

the Girl Who Knew Too Much (Mario Bava 1963) An amusing opening sequence gives way to a far too complicated/ridiculous "mystery" about a touristesse who may or may not have witnessed a murder that took place several years prior. A stylish film in spots, but borderline incoherent and a poor introduction to Bava (whoops!)

Halloween (John Carpenter 1978) An immensely visual slasher film, one hard to watch without making connections to all of its imitators, but removed from its impact it remains a well-crafted film. It's even good enough to excuse what it did to the cinematic landscape for the next ten years-- and that is the definition of high praise!

Halloween II (Rick Rosenthal 1981) There are several problems with this film, but none more glaring than the utter unnecessity of its existence. Why does this movie exist? I never once thought or cared what happened after the final moments of the first film, but boy this film'll tell ya. Not every horror movie manages to wipe out an entire hospital ward, but oh that Michael Myers! The cruel violence exhibited in several of his murders is also quite off-putting-- who's idea of a good time is seeing some poor girl boiled alive? Don't answer.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (Tommy Lee Wallace 1982) Infinitely more entertaining than its immediate predecessor, this sequel in name only is exactly as good as a movie about killer Halloween masks can be. Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin's Annie Clark doppelgänger investigate a mysterious murder and all signs point to a crazed CEO who plans to sacrifice the nation's children to the Celtic Gods hidden within the rock of Stonehenge. Or something. The movie plays the scenario straight, which helps, and while there's no shortage of logical leaps required, the film has enough confidence to give it enough rope to sit back and enjoy.

Happy Birthday to Me (J Lee Thompson 1981) Having an old Hollywood stalwart at the helm helps this slasher out immensely, as antiquated notions such as differentiable characters and plot structure bring a gloss to this genre exercise. If nothing else the film certainly preemptively silences some of my usual complaints regarding twist endings, as this one is so off the wall nonsensical and impossible to predict that I will begrudgingly admit my admiration at how it manages to preserve in a sense the "normal" ending while adding a layer of Only In the Movies absurdity.

Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher 1958) Early Hammer Horror entry handsomely adapts Bram Stoker's novel. Not a lot of surprises or novelty here, but the resultant film is, as DVDBeaver might say, "competent." The most shocking aspect for me was how despite Lee's Dracula being such an iconic role, his screen-time amounts to probably less than five minutes. I know the source material has something to do with that, but even so, it's an extreme case of less is more for the general public consciousness (unless that rep was helped by the endless sequels?)

the House of the Devil (Ti West 2009) More fun and better made than most of the films it aspires to be.

I Walked With a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur 1943) Yes, the voodoo sequences are reference quality and quite creepy (and also proof of the importance of diagetic sound to the horror film), but they are unfortunately surrounded by a dull gothic mystery that effectively sucks the power of these moments out of the film.

the Initiation (Larry Stewart 1984) Pretty clever to conjure up a sorority of girls and then isolate only a handful inside an abandoned eighties shopping complex instead of, you know, a sorority house. But this is a film that surprises with underwhelming complications, up to and including the ridiculous twist ending, which makes both the most and the least sense possible based on what preceded it. Features an inexplicable sequence wherein a future victim tearfully admits she's a virgin because was abused as a child, which only serves as foreplay for her willing deflowering in a display bed twenty minutes later. Cool sexual politics!!!

the Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur 1943) Sports a good opening fifteen minutes or so, full of shadows and scary sounds and a tense unseen attack… but then the film doesn't really seem to know where it's going (never clearer than in the head-scratcher of a reveal at the end), and all my good will was pretty dashed long before the pic finished.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (John Hancock 1971) The post studio system cinematography nightmare is alive and well in this protracted bit of weirdness. Is it a vampire film? A ghost story? The imagined hallucinations of an insane woman? Probably all of the above. It's unsurprisingly an uneven lot, but the film has a few good set pieces and does contribute to the small town values versus "hippie" mentality that informed a lot of films of the immediate era (here quite cleverly, as the disapproving good ol' boys turn out to be in league with something far worse than free love-- theirs costs blood!)

Link (Richard Franklin 1986) Boy do I hate monkeys and movies about monkeys. So it's something of a minor miracle that I enjoyed this as much as I did. Elisabeth Shue's plucky young zoology major volunteers to help Anthropology Prof Terence Stamp babysit his learned chimps. Unfortunately, one of the chimps "goes ape" and kills the stern prof, leaving poor Shue to fend with the murdering monkey. The MPAA seems to have kept it from what would be its target audience, as the film shies away from the gorier moments by flinching before the act and had the film dumped Shue's nude scene it probably could have gotten out of its R rating. But on the other hand, I don't need to finish this sentence. Other eye-opening images from the film include a man's entire body getting pulled through a mail-slot and the sight of a monkey picking up a Rottweiler and slamming it repeatedly against a fence post. An embarrassingly entertaining film.

Man in the Attic (Hugo Fregonese 1952) Nth adaptation of the Lodger, here with wooden cigar store indian Jack Palance in the lead. Competently made, but negligible.

New Nightmare (Wes Craven 1994) Much like the original, this one arrives on an interesting premise and then… doesn't do much with it. The self-reflexive moments are mostly lazy, the scares lazier, and Craven's attempts are Being Taken Seriously just fall flat. Definitely one for the Better In Theory file.

Night of the Creeps (Fred Dekker 1986) The original poster for this one for once gives you a 100% accurate summation of this horror film's contents and greatest attributes:

Image

Zombies of varying stages of decay, exploding heads, a flamethrower-sporting sorority sister, a crippled comic relief figure, a catchphrase-spouting grizzled detective, and an amusing 1959-set prologue all help make this an amusing (if a bit too "funny" dialogue-wise) and entertaining variation of the same kind of alien invasion story we've all seen a dozen times before. Proof that novelty goes a long way, folks.

Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur 1957) The more Tourneur films I see, the more convinced I become that Out of the Past was a fluke. Dana Andrews and Peggy Cummins slum around this talky and dry demon conjuring flick-- I can think of few things more interesting than demon conjuring, so well done sucking any of the fun or interest out of this project! The less said about the stuffed animal demon, the better.

Night of the Demons (Kevin Tenney 1988) I can think of no better word to describe this inexplicable cult favorite than "ugly." This is an ugly film, filled with grating characters reciting groan-inducingly "clever" dialog left over from a bad Nickelodeon sitcom. From a preteen boy complimenting his sister's "big cha chas" to a disgusting obese character uttering "Eat a bowl of fuck" (when he's not busy calling his girlfriend "Bitch" to the point that I briefly considered it might be her actual name), this movie is never more painful to sit through than when anyone is talking. The plot, wherein a gaggle of twenty-something high schoolers (who all share the same bad plastic surgeon) decide to party at an old funeral home and accidentally conjure up some demons, is just an excuse for an endless series of slow chases down the same corridors over and over and over. There are two sequels, which means there are two fewer films in the world.

Olivia (Ulli Lommel 1983) Lommel is not much of a director, and Suzanna Love is not much of an actress, but their deficiencies don't work against them here in this strange, scuzzy psychosexual bit of weirdness. One of the film's strengths is its unclassifiable nature-- the pic seems to change its mind every ten minutes about what kind of movie it is, but this leaves more of a desirable "mix tape" effect than anything. Love isn't called upon to do much more than show up and look pretty over the course of the film as she gets reverse-Vertigo'd and worse, but her distant (let's be generous) approach is ideal for the material. Certainly this is her finest hour, though I would love to have sat in on the dinner conversation where Lommel put this script in front of his wife! Bonus good will awarded for an ingenious if impractical death-by-toothbrush.

Parents (Bob Balaban 1989) Childhood feelings of parental alienation get ratcheted up to peculiar levels here, as a weird little boy starts suspecting that his outwardly normal parents might be cannibals. Balaban employs a few novel camera tricks, but the film's tone is stilted and protracted and the picture continuously falls victim to fifties period fetishization (oh how the camera loves to linger on every single product in the kitchen) for reasons which remain unconvincing.

Phantasm (Don Coscarelli 1979) Weird things happening to ugly people.

Phantasm II (Don Coscarelli 1988) It's impressive how much good will a bigger budget, more active imagination, and friendlier faces can bring a film like this. Infinitely better than the first film, it copies the only saving grace of the original (the score) and brings along a whole new bag of tricks. This movie doesn't make any more sense than the first, but at least it exhibits an imagination and executes its assorted bad taste segments with vigor and intelligence. And explosions. There are many, many explosions.

Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter 1987) The stupidest film I have ever seen. Liquid Antichrist. Bugs. Axes. Bodily mutation. Bodily mutilation. "Science." "Religion." "Logic."

Private Parts (Paul Bartel 1972) The ultra-arch sense of humor Paul Bartel would display in the eighties with his pair of Beverly Hills-set satires is absent in this early exploration of California's weirdos. In its place is a rudderless sense of strangeness, one that comes off as more sloppy than anything else. A clumsy exploration (or is that exploitation) on gender politics somehow ensues as a teenage girl runs away from home and shacks up in her crazy's aunt's boarding hotel, only to catch and coquettishly keep the eye of a creepy photographer-- sad to say, but this one sounds a lot more interesting and tawdry than it is.

Race With the Devil (Jack Starrett 1975) Peter Fonda and Warren Oates try to go on vacation in a camper, only to run afoul of murderous Satanists in this occasionally exciting car chase-horror film hybrid. The less you try to think about the actual plot mechanics the better works, and its influence can be seen in the underrated and equally silly Drive Angry.

Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon 1985) This film's charms were lost on me, especially since I'd already seen Dead Alive, which upped the ante to the nth power on this film's bad taste and inventiveness concerning the gory semi-comic exploits of the undead. I know, it's unfair to judge a film based on another film which didn't exist upon its first release but, well, here we are.

Rituals (Peter Carter 1977) Hal Holbrook leads a charge of flawed doctors who pay for crimes large and small in the backwoods. Very effective film that dares viewers to not compare it to Deliverance, but in spite of a few too many plot conveniences, this one easily tops its more well-known film brother.

the Sender (Richard Christian 1982) Zeljko Ivanek, in his debut, has a nasty habit of sending his dreams (and his emotions/thoughts?) to people in his periphery, including his doctor Kathryn Harrold. The film never becomes as silly as it rightfully should, and the ordeal is played out in subdued tones. The shock scenes are quite effective and well-done, and the idea of living dreams predates Wes Craven's more populist approach two years later.

Silent Hill (Christophe Gans 2006) There are few horror tropes I enjoy less than Crazee Stuff Happenin' For No Reason, and for all its visual sparkle and style, this video game adaptation is essentially good-looking nonsense-- there's some attempt at attacking religious fanaticism or something, I think, and the ending makes no sense, so u kno it's totally deep y'all. Radha Mitchell, armed against a slew of vaguely defined dangers by Vogue with her thigh-high boots and pleated skirt, progresses prettily through a series of challenges I assume are lifted right from the source-- a debt hilariously invoked when Mitchell must recite a code of "right, left" to reach a desired destination.

the Silent Scream (Denny Harris 1980) Surprisingly well-made small-scale slasher, at least for a spell. And then that last act creeps around and I started to feel like the poor girl tied to the clothes rack in the closet, forced to witness this parade of ridiculous plot devices performing small-scale absurdist theatre for my benefit.

the Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Holden Jones 1982) It has a lot of feminist credentials and defenders, but it also runs approximately ten seconds before one of the film's starlets takes her top off. The hilariously obvious phallic symbol employed by the killer helps, I guess. Allegedly written as a satire but then filmed "straight," the resultant film offers up just about every scare tactic trick in the book more or less at face value. Thus while not much of a commentary on slasher films, it does give the genre a very successful archetypal treatment.

Slumber Party Massacre II (Deborah Brock 1987) One of the survivors from the first film, now played by Crystal Bernard of Wings, has gone on to join an all-female garage band and unfortunately somehow manifests her fear of sex into a physical conjuration of a supernatural 1950s rockabilly greaser (obviously modeled on Andrew Dice Clay), who then proceeds to kill everyone. Or something. Very few slasher films give their villain a full-on musical number punctuated with the high note of a drill going into a poor screaming girl. Yes, in case it wasn't clear, this film is weird as shit. Unfortunately, the last word's still the key one.

Slumber Party Massacre III (Sally Mattison 1990) Even the director pretty much apologizes for this film in the DVD extras. Certainly not a sequel in spirit to either of its predecessors, this is a gristly and cruel variation on the same story, this time with a double red herring aided "twist" halfway through that anyone paying attention will figure out first. Interesting to learn that the most vile scene, a particularly uncomfortable rape sequence built on pathetic pleading, was added after filming ended at the request of the producers-- because gosh darnit, there was a danger that someone might come out of this film feeling good!

Stagefight (Michele Saovi 1987) Gristly live stage-set slasher that employs some novel affectations (gotta love that owl mask) while employing some not-so novel scenes of stalk-then-slaughter. These tactics and methods get increasingly repetitive the more splatter films I get under my belt, and while I wasn't displeased with the film, it did not particularly elevate itself above the great unwashed surrounding it either.

the Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper 1974) High hopes were quickly dashed, as I found this to be a mean-spirited, often illogical geek show that left me far more annoyed than scared/enthralled/entertained/whatever.

They Live (John Carpenter 1988) Apparently the hardest thing in the world to do is to get someone else to wear sunglasses.

the Thing (John Carpenter 1982) Well, it's an improvement on Hawks' original (his second weakest feature), and while it's a well-made film with fine effects, I was left indifferent to this one. The utter lack at any attempt at characterization leaves this a collection of ciphers moving from one room to another to battle a creature that has as much personality or human traits as the race we want to "win" (maybe a little more, actually).

Thriller: A Cruel Picture (Alex Fridolinski 1973) Somehow not nearly as tawdry or seamy as it sounds, this superior Swedish example of the "rape and revenge" subgenre (yeah, I know, faint praise) has an interesting art house approach, with an inordinate attention to details that becomes Bressonian (!) at times. Using sexual slavery as an impetus for revenge is more effective than I'd have guessed, and for an exploitation film, it rarely plays like one. My DVD had the version with the pornographic inserts, but the resultant scenes are still so far removed from erotica that the neutered version probably is a stronger film without them. Worth watching for the harbor fight's ballet of blood alone.

Torture Garden (Freddie Francis 1967) Any anthology where the segment about an evil, telepathic, decapitation-capable cat is the weakest link is doing something right. Burgess Meredith's carny hack shows a quartet of spectators possible fates borne from personal selfishness, all of which are wonderfully outlandish. It's hard to pick a favorite, but the one where Beverly Adams learns the secret of how Hollywood stars stay looking eternally youthful is particularly clever.

the Unknown (Tod Browning 1927) A delightfully perverse proto-EC Comics tale of Lon Chaney's escaped con who pretends to be armless and hides out in a traveling circus. He makes the mistake of falling in love with Joan Crawford's damaged girl, who he thinks will only love men who can never touch her. A little unnecessary surgery later and, well, you see where this is going. And it's that creeping sense of the inevitable, of the ironic payoff to the premise, that gave me the same joy I felt thumbing through those great fifties reprints as a kid.

Village of the Damned (Wolf Rilla 1960) Plays out much like an extended and not particularly interesting episode of the Outer Limits, as a good premise is presented and then not really explored. The remake, however, proves that even expanding the ideas present here is not enough to make it worthwhile, though.

Village of the Damned (John Carpenter 1995) There's something to be said for expanding the impact the children have on their host "parents" and attempting to humanize one of the consort, but this film like the original still never seems to be as interesting as the mystery it begins with, and not all of the complications seem worth the effort (Kirstie Alley's entire subplot-- quick, let's do some clumsy anti-government stuff!)

Visitors (Richard Franklin 2003) Radha Mitchell, looking glamourous as ever despite trekking solo around the world in a small sailing vessel, battles hallucinations brought about by extended isolation deprivation in Franklin's last film. It's appropriate that her mother is played by Susannah York, as this entire film is a more genial variation of Altman's Images, wherein reality and speculative dangers become indistinguishable. Mitchell's quite good in a series of absurdities, from telepathically communicating with her cat to killing the same charred Indonesian pirate over and over and over.

the Ward (John Carpenter 2011) I am at the very least beginning to see Amber Heard's appeal. She has a bright screen intensity, and I'd like to see her in a film that has higher aspirations than to just be good trash. No such luck here. The film's biggest and most inescapable problem of course is
SpoilerShow
Identity already did this, and better.
the Wasp Woman (Jim Wynorski 1995) Oh brother. One of the many Roger Corman Presents titles that aired on Showtime in the mid 90s, this is a pretty dopey update of the earlier Corman flick with Jennifer Rubin's aging model injecting magic wasp liquid to reverse her aging. The only adverse side effects to this treatment are that it randomly makes you to transform into a giant murderous wasp and also causes you to turn into your hilariously obvious body "double" during nude scenes. And there's also another giant wasp that sometimes pops up to pad the body count and for good measure, some killer bees or something.
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#3 Post by tarpilot » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:24 pm

X-|
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#4 Post by knives » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:24 pm

I love horror a great deal and will expand on this a lot more when I can. Actually in anticipation over this thread I've actually managed about 80 new to me films since September so I'm really cozy. I've seen enough that I think I'll mostly just goof around (though I'm especially curious if any of the non-HGL DVDs from Something Weird are worth buying) as I've seen nearly a thousand from the genre. This genre is just the real deal able to accomplish some of the deepest and most stimulating intellectually and emotionally films all under the guise of entertainment and certainly it has helped mainstream many experimental storytelling elements. So how about some favorites. These will just be some things I have on my preliminary list that I want people to see.

Terence Fisher right now actually has (tied with Argento) the most films on my list with three. I'll get to him and Hammer more in depth later, but here's those three anyway. I'm sure the original Dracula and Frankenstein films will get the majority of the attention for him, but I don't think even from their respective franchises they're the best films he directed. My personal favorite is Frankenstein Created Woman which has so many layers at working as a Fisher and Frankenstein movie. In general I look to horror more for tears than scares because the tears tend to be more earned in this cynical genre. With this film Fisher ties Frankenstein's scientific nature with his own religious curiosity in a way that renders neither childish. Instead they compliment each other in a way that questions the nature of identity and being. As the film may say does having a man's soul make you the man, you, or some new person. It also furthers Frankenstein's character in an exciting new direction as he's grown older, wiser, and better as a person. Overall this may be the best series in film for how the character develops and it's one of the few horror series where i think there's a great deal of benefit to watching the films in order.

Top Ten
Bride of Frankenstein
The Night of the Hunter
The Tenant
The Cry of the Owl (1987)
Don't Look Now
Witchfinder General
At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul
Deep Red
La chute de la maison Usher
The Old Dark House (1932)

I'll update this post soon, but an unexpected errand just came up.
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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#5 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:25 pm

One of the interesting dilemmas for me about this project is separating out 'horror films' (i.e. films within the well-defined horror genre) and films which I find actually frightening or disturbing (which is what 'horror movies' are supposed to do, right?). Most of the films on the latter list wouldn't qualify for the former, in my case. So I'm going to stick by the 'in the genre' definition, even when the film I love - Curse of the Cat People, say - doesn't really do anything its genre requires and is wonderful for entirely different reasons.

Swapsie? My first instinct is to recommend the very peculiar Hammer-ization of Peter Pan as psycho-mindfuck (with Rita Tushingham!), Straight On Til Morning, and then to double-feature it with the other, even greater horror version of Peter Pan, Ruiz's City of Pirates.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#6 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:27 pm

tarpilot wrote:My first love. Excited, excited, excited. Prospective top 10:

1 Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945)
2 The Grapes of Death (Jean Rollin, 1978)
3 The 7th Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)
4 All the Colors of the Dark (Sergio Martino, 1972)
5 I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
6 The Territory (Raul Ruiz, 1981)
7 Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)
8 Bluebeard (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1944)
9 It's Alive (Larry Cohen, 1974)
10 The Hitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986)

Spotlights coming soon!
Love to see All the Colours of the Dark on there (best ever horror film title?). I think it's the best of the non-Argento/Bava giallos, and definitely the best of Martino's uneven output in the genre. I'll definitely have more to say on it later whenever I get around to putting together a guide to the more notable giallos.

Domino, are you going to port over swo17's helpful addition to the decades list: links to the guides within the thread?

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#7 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:30 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Domino, are you going to port over swo17's helpful addition to the decades list: links to the guides within the thread?
Absolutely

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#8 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:39 pm

Domino wrote:Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher 1958) Early Hammer Horror entry handsomely adapts Bram Stoker's novel. Not a lot of surprises or novelty here, but the resultant film is, as DVDBeaver might say, "competent." The most shocking aspect for me was how despite Lee's Dracula being such an iconic role, his screen-time amounts to probably less than five minutes. I know the source material has something to do with that, but even so, it's an extreme case of less is more for the general public consciousness (unless that rep was helped by the endless sequels?)
Wha? It's totally the opposite: the script goes out of its way to confound the expectations of people familiar with the Dracula story from the novel and other adaptations (eg. Harker turns out to be at Dracula's castle for the purposes of destroying him). I know a lot of the things it introduced have been reused a lot since (the unabashed eroticism of the blood drinking, ect.), but plot-wise, it doesn't do what's expected.

Christopher Lee's screen time and dialogue would actually reduce even more as the series went along (he doesn't have a single line of dialogue in the the superb Dracula: Prince of Darkness).

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#9 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:46 pm

Well, I guess I'll help kick things off with a guide to the The Amicus Anthologies. Starting in the mid-sixties, Hammer's principle rival in British horror, Amicus, produced what would become their trademark: anthology horror films. The following is a brief guide to one of the most interesting cycles in British horror:

The cycle starts off with the clunkily titled Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (Freddie Francis, 1965), in which five strangers sharing a train car have their fortunes told by Peter Cushing. The stories are uneven, varying from the superb (the Christopher Lee episode) to the awful (the Roy Castle episode). Cushing is delightfully sinister in the frame story. Next came Torture Garden (Freddie Francis, 1967), where Burgess Meridith's sideshow entertainer shows special patrons a wax sculpture of fate that can tell their fortunes. Overall, the episodes here are stronger than in Dr. Terror, with the final episode being the best. That said, while it doesn’t hit Dr. Terror's lows, neither does it match its highs. The cycle entered the 70's with The House that Dripped Blood (Peter Duffell, 1970). I'm not much a fan of this one. For one thing, it becomes pretty obvious as the movie goes along that the frame story really has nothing to do with anything. The narrator exclaims variations of "don't you see?! It was the house! The house!" so often that it sounds like he's trying to convince himself more than anything. The stories are pretty weak as well, with the notable exception of the Christopher Lee episode, which is one of the best stories in any of these anthologies. As if to make up for the poorly integrated frame story of the previous film, Amicus gave the next entry, Asylum (Roy Ward Baker, 1972), what is probably the best frame story ever. A prospective intern at a local insane asylum gets the world's oddest job interview: the previous director of the asylum went insane, and the intern must interview the inmates and figure out which one is the former director. The patients' stories make up the rest of the movie. Superb, with only one of the four stories not delivering. With Tales From the Crypt (Freddie Francis, 1972), Amicus made their first adaptation of the infamous EC Comics, and it's one of their best. Sir Ralph Richardson holds court in an ancient tomb and gives some tourists a glimpse of the nastiness in their souls. There isn't a weak story in the bunch. The first and last are benchmarks, and Peter Cushing's performance in the third will break your heart. Amicus followed up with more EC Comics adaptations in The Vault of Horror (Roy Ward Baker, 1973). More lighthearted than the other Amicus films, this one is generally considered a weak entry, but I'm a fan of it. I like the ghoulishly comic tone. Five strangers descend in a lift to a strange room where they tell each other of their recurring nightmares. The second story is the best of them, the third the worst. (Note: Vault is only available in a hideous censored version that instead of excising scenes, freeze-frames them and then optically blacks-out the offending images. It's a travesty). Now we come to my favourite, From Beyond the Grave (Kevin Connor, 1974). Peter Cushing is the sinister proprietor of an antique shop, and the customers who try to rip him off come to unpleasant ends. Every story here is good, with the third being the standard bearer for how to do a comic segment. This will make my list. Amicus wouldn't make another anthology until The Monster Club (Roy Ward Baker, 1980), and it's hard to imagine them doing a worse job at reviving the format. It plays like a children's tv movie, with a lot of grating cutesiness and some wretched musical interludes. The tales are boring, and the frame story is often excruciating. The only watchable moments belong to Vincent Price (when the movie isn't trying its best to embarrass him, that is). Summary: watch every one of them except The Monster Club. These are all interesting films, and there'll be a lot of deviation in who likes what better. Grave, Crypt, and maybe Asylum will make my list.


Bonus:

Tales that Witness Madness (Freddie Francis, 1973): I'm including this one because, while not an Amicus film, it so resembles an Amicus product that it's often mistaken for one and is worth collocating with them for that reason. It's also a fantastic movie, very much worthy of the best of Amicus. Every story is strong, and the frame does an excellent job of building a sense of anticipation for the eventual resolution of the mystery surrounding the stories. I think it rivals Tales From the Crypt as Francis' best anthology film. List worthy for sure.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#10 Post by tarpilot » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:50 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Love to see All the Colours of the Dark on there (best ever horror film title?). I think it's the best of the non-Argento/Bava giallos, and definitely the best of Martino's uneven output in the genre. I'll definitely have more to say on it later whenever I get around to putting together a guide to the more notable giallos.
Oddly enough, my general experience with giallo seems to be the more brilliant and extravagant the title, the less I'll enjoy the film! The Red Queen Kills 7 Times and The House with the Laughing Windows being two recent examples that I found sorely lacking. Like you, I plan to highlight my favourites in greater detail, but right now, the ones most likely to outlast the competition look something like The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Deep Red, Blood and Black Lace, What Have They Done to Solange?, and La donna del lago, as well as Bazzoni's equally masterful The Fifth Cord. I'll try to put something longer together on him, as it's very clear even from just the three I've seen that he's a major and very sadly neglected figure in Italian horror.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#11 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:52 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: As if to make up for the poorly integrated frame story of the previous film, Amicus gave the next entry, Asylum (Roy Ward Baker, 1972), what is probably the best frame story ever. A prospective intern at a local insane asylum gets the world's oddest job interview: the previous director of the asylum went insane, and the intern must interview the inmates and figure out which one is the former director. The patients' stories make up the rest of the movie. Superb, with only one of the four stories not delivering.
As stated above, I agree about the strength of the frame story. I'm not enamored at all with the stories within, but it's such a clever device that it'd tempting to give it extra credit regardless.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#12 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:00 pm

tarpilot wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:Love to see All the Colours of the Dark on there (best ever horror film title?). I think it's the best of the non-Argento/Bava giallos, and definitely the best of Martino's uneven output in the genre. I'll definitely have more to say on it later whenever I get around to putting together a guide to the more notable giallos.
Oddly enough, my general experience with giallo seems to be the more brilliant and extravagant the title, the less I'll enjoy the film! The Red Queen Kills 7 Times and The House with the Laughing Windows being two recent examples that I found sorely lacking. Like you, I plan to highlight my favourites in greater detail, but right now, the ones most likely to outlast the competition look something like The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Deep Red, Blood and Black Lace, What Have They Done to Solange?, and La donna del lago, as well as Bazzoni's equally masterful The Fifth Cord. I'll try to put something longer together on him, as it's very clear even from just the three I've seen that he's a major and very sadly neglected figure in Italian horror.
I'm of the opposite opinion, actually: the more a giallo tries to craft and sustain an outrageous stylization, the better I like it, hence I think that All the Colours of the Dark is leagues beyond Martino's other giallos, none of which sustain the same level of delirious atmosphere and creative camera movements (although The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh comes closest).

My mix of favourites includes Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Nude...You Die!, Blood and Black Lace, and then a bunch of Argentos.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#13 Post by tarpilot » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:09 pm

Heh, I actually meant the literal title -- I'm completely with you on all other points

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#14 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:12 pm

tarpilot wrote:Heh, I actually meant the literal title -- I'm completely with you on all other points
Hah! I actually misread you. I read "brilliant and extravagant" but for some reason skipped over "title," so it thought you were declaring a preference to low-key giallos (so I was kind of baffled by your love for Deep Red). Weird thing to do. Anyways, yes, most giallos with great titles tend to be big let downs (Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Strip Nude For Your Killer, ect.).

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#15 Post by knives » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:14 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: With Tales From the Crypt (Freddie Francis, 1972), Amicus made their first adaptation of the infamous EC Comics, and it's one of their best. Sir Ralph Richardson holds court in an ancient tomb and gives some tourists a glimpse of the nastiness in their souls. There isn't a weak story in the bunch. The first and last are benchmarks, and Peter Cushing's performance in the third will break your heart. Amicus followed up with more EC Comics adaptations in The Vault of Horror (Roy Ward Baker, 1973). More lighthearted than the other Amicus films, this one is generally considered a weak entry, but I'm a fan of it. I like the ghoulishly comic tone. Five strangers descend in a lift to a strange room where they tell each other of their recurring nightmares. The second story is the best of them, the third the worst. (Note: Vault is only available in a hideous censored version that instead of excising scenes, freeze-frames them and then optically blacks-out the offending images. It's a travesty).
I actually feel the The Vault of Horror is the better film. It certainly scares me even more and I think the US edit on the DVD makes things even creepier. That said Tales From the Crypt has a stronger chance of making my list for the Cushing story which is absolutely painful. While my personal favorite actor of the genre is Price I feel that Cushing is easily the best with the willingness to go all the way no matter how low the material of Lugosi and the sheer talent of Karloff. In fact I can't think of a single bad movie he was in where he had an extended screentime just through his natural talent. Speaking of an other of the three Fishers on my list will be Brides of Dracula. I know it's blasphemy to say that a Lee-less Dracula is the best, but I think this one which primarily coasts on Cushing personality and some of the more stunning direction Fisher ever gave is so absorbing, stylish, and mind blowing that it deserves listing out of sheer chutzpah. All that said while it's not my favorite The Devil Rides Out has to be Fisher's masterpiece and one of Lee's best performances. The way it sums up all of Fisher's concerns so quickly and efficiently is amazing and in many respects is the flip side to Brides. It's certainly the movie I point to to show maturity in the genre. Also since a number if titles contained within have already been mentioned I can't stress enough how the Optimum Ultimate Hammer boxset is. If there's one purchase to make that's it. I'll give a run down of other boxsets later on, but that's the big one.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#16 Post by Murdoch » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:15 pm

I've lost the time to participate in these lists (despite my eager intentions at the outset) but if I somehow manage to squeak one out, I can't imagine any movies knocking The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Carnival of Souls from my top spots. The former is among the most enjoyable genre exercises out there, the latter is the only horror movie that manages to both creep the hell out of me and push me into a state of depression each time I see it.

Other worthy genre entries: Kairo (2001); In the Mouth of Madness (1994); April Fool’s Day (1986); The Living Dead Girl (1982); Bug (2007); Repulsion (1965); Nosferatu (1979)

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#17 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:19 pm

knives wrote:I actually feel the The Vault of Horror is the better film. It certainly scares me even more and I think the US edit on the DVD makes things even creepier. That said Tales From the Crypt has a stronger chance of making my list for the Cushing story which is absolutely painful. While my personal favorite actor of the genre is Price I feel that Cushing is easily the best with the willingness to go all the way no matter how low the material of Lugosi and the sheer talent of Karloff. In fact I can't think of a single bad movie he was in where he had an extended screentime just through his natural talent. Speaking of an other of the three Fishers on my list will be Brides of Dracula. I know it's blasphemy to say that a Lee-less Dracula is the best, but I think this one which primarily coasts on Cushing personality and some of the more stunning direction Fisher ever gave is so absorbing, stylish, and mind blowing that it deserves listing out of sheer chutzpah. All that said while it's not my favorite The Devil Rides Out has to be Fisher's masterpiece and one of Lee's best performances. The way it sums up all of Fisher's concerns so quickly and efficiently is amazing and in many respects is the flip side to Brides. It's certainly the movie I point to to show maturity in the genre. Also since a number if titles contained within have already been mentioned I can't stress enough how the Optimum Ultimate Hammer boxset is. If there's one purchase to make that's it. I'll give a run down of other boxsets later on, but that's the big one.
Fisher was highly underrated as an action director. The finale of Brides (you're right, an excellent film and the equal of Horror, despite the silly final method of dispatching the vampire) is rip-roaring. I'm continually impressed by Cushing's athleticism in this and Horror. For a forty-year old who looks like he'd be most at home sitting in a plush armchair in an old fire-lit library, he could barrel down tables and leap over railings with gusto.

I highly recommend you see Fisher's Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. Easily the best of the three Jekyll films from this period. The first ten minutes are unbelievably dull and sodden, but once Christopher Lee appears the film decides to upend the whole story and just charge headlong into the most unpredictable places. Check it out.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#18 Post by swo17 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:22 pm

Good grief, I go out to dinner and already am a week behind on my forum reading.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#19 Post by knives » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:35 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: Fisher was highly underrated as an action director. The finale of Brides (you're right, an excellent film and the equal of Horror, despite the silly final method of dispatching the vampire) is rip-roaring. I'm continually impressed by Cushing's athleticism in this and Horror. For a forty-year old who looks like he'd be most at home sitting in a plush armchair in an old fire-lit library, he could barrel down tables and leap over railings with gusto.

I highly recommend you see Fisher's Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. Easily the best of the three Jekyll films from this period. The first ten minutes are unbelievably dull and sodden, but once Christopher Lee appears the film decides to upend the whole story and just charge headlong into the most unpredictable places. Check it out.
I'm disappointed in myself for only having seen about 12 Fisher's and that one of the missing. At the very least for this project I'll be tracking down all of the Hammer horror (including their new films of which I've heard the best things about Wake Wood). I actually think my favorite moment from Cushing is his introduction for Brides where he walks into a pub and fisher photographs him in a slow reveal that makes me start to hum the Shaft theme every time. Like you said for a elder gentleman who really looks like Britishness incarnate he's an amazingly swift and physical performer. I should mention my Spotlight now with Shanks and Incubus. I'll expand more on those later too, but for I'll guess my word is good enough.

By the way does anyone know of a good DVD for The Manster? I don't know if it will make it to the end, but for now it's holding onto that number 50 spot for me.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#20 Post by zedz » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:02 am

Guess I should provide a little more info about my 'spotlights'.

Straight On Till Morning - I don't know exactly how high this will rank with me, but it's a really interesting, unusual film, that starts out like a Swinging London film with more-extreme-than-usual Nouvelle Vague nods, including very complicated Resnaisian (and ultimately Roegian) editing patterns. Tushingham's always reliable, and she keeps the film grounded during its best attempts at disorientation. We keep cutting away to the peculiar activities of a domineering boy-man, with whose path Tushingham's inevitably intersects. Will she prove the Wendy for his Peter - and what exactly does that entail anyway? I like the way the film plays with the darker implications of Barrie's story, and Collinson is very adept at creating an unsettling mood. As in his subsequent Fright, he makes especially original use of sound to disorient and terrify his characters and audience, particularly at the film's climax. I'm recommending it because it's a pretty unusual horror film - particularly coming from Hammer - and it's more genuinely unsettling than most (partly because you don't know exactly where it's going with its odd assortment of baggage.)

City of Pirates - But the above film is strictly amateur hour at excavating dark and disturbing material from a children's classic compared to this masterpiece. Probably my favourite Ruiz, and a horror film that I find genuinely disturbing because it not only replicates the queasy narrative slippage of a nightmare, but because it actually manages to snap back into logical focus for seconds at a time towards the end, allowing you to see through the creepy phantasmagoria to an underlying reality that's even more starkly horrifying, just in time for the apocalyptic ending. The film is awash with filmic and literary allusions, but in those final moments it strikes me like an adaptation of Yeats' 'The Second Coming.'

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#21 Post by YnEoS » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:12 am

Here are some lesser known horror films I'd like to highlight.

Pontypool - One of my favorite modern horror films and one of the few horror films that actually scares me. With this the less you know going in the better, but let's say it takes a whole new approach to the idea that showing less can be scarier.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum there are a lot of horror movies I like that don't necessarily scare me, but are enjoyable for the extremes of weird visuals they offer.

A Chinese Ghost Story - Probably one of the better known films on this list. A strange blend of romance, horror, and kung fu all taken fairly seriously yet somehow blended together in the way only Hong Kong films can do.

The Boxer's Omen
- Boxing film injected with black magic duels. No genuine scares in this film, like a lot of hong kong black magic films it is filled with bizarre rituals, but what's remarkable is how much time it dedicates to showing in extreme detail all the steps involved in the rituals. It takes itself somewhat seriously and also offers some of the most wild jaw dropping sights of the genre. Warning: definitely not for anyone with a weak stomach, expect maggots, worms, and animal intestines a-plenty.

Dreadnaught - Kung Fu/Horror hybrids usually have to rely heavily on humor, because vampires are less scary when everyone knows kung-fu. But Sunny Yuen gives such a good performance in this as a kung-fu serial killer with his brutal methods of killing people that he is actually pretty frightening. Though as with any Yuen Clan film, there's lots of off the wall comedy as well and ridiculous kung fu styles.

Purana Mandir - A lot of these Ramsay Brothers horror films follow the same formula so closely that they become indistinguishable from each other. But Purana Mandir was their first big hit (I believe) and is one of the best example of this formula. Bollywood horror films are absolutely delightful to watch and everyone should check them out. This is available on DVD from Mondo Macabro on the Bollywood Horror Vol. 1 DVD. I'm sure there are a lot more creative entries into this genre from lesser known directors, but unfortunately lack of english-friendly DVDs keeps many of these unknown to me.

The Living Corpse - Another Mondo Macabro DVD release. Supposedly the only Pakistani film to ever receive an X Rating. What's really cool is this film takes a slow moody approach to the material with some nice low key lighting, but then is filled with cheesy scares and musical numbers. Really unique mood that I haven't seen in any other horror film.

There are lots more to talk about, but I'll keep it short and see if anyone else shares my interest in these kinds of horror films.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#22 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:27 am

My spotlights:

Nightmare (Freddie Francis, 1964): The second of Hammer's 'mini-Hitchcocks' that Francis directed, and it is to my mind the best of them. Francis uses his considerable skill as a cinematographer to create a delirious, off-kilter atmosphere of creeping shadows, odd angles, and bizarre spacial constructions that all contribute to a feeling of obscure dread. The first fifty minutes are an incredible sustained stylistic tour-de-force. The second part of the movie shifts focus and tone a bit, and while some people don't seem to like it as much, I think it superbly displays a totally different kind of nightmare from the first half, that of the slow constriction of jealous paranoia. A great horror film; every single person doing a list needs to see it. It's available in Universal's Hammer Horror Series franchise collection along with a bunch of other Hammer must-sees like Paranoiac and Brides of Dracula.

Horror Hotel aka City of the Dead (John Llewellyn Moxey, 1960): One of Amicus' first features. Despite being filmed in England with a totally English cast, it's set in America and all the actors, Christopher Lee included, speak in an American accent. The odd foreignness this lends the movie is to its benefit, since the story involves a kind of shifting pane of reality that reveals a hidden spectral and occult world existing just around the corner of the perceivable world. That spectral plane seems to hang in a void: there is no surrounding environs to give it any context; everything beyond the houses that lie in the camera's direct field-of-view is obscured by dense blackness, and the streets are shrouded in an impossibly omnipresent fog. It is always night. The characters only arrive there when shown the way by a psychopomp whose basso profundo voice and lack of human affect is unsettling precisely because everything else about him seems normal. Except, of course, for the fact that he's always standing on the corner of an obscure road in the middle of nowhere as if waiting only for you. The dislocation from any kind of benevolent or anchoring context is what makes this movie so successful. It's a creepy, gothic horror film that puts its energy into building an unsettling atmosphere and not into the diminishing returns of startles or shocks. Available in R1 from VCI Entertainment

Night of the Eagle (Sidney Hayers, 1962): This one can be favourably compared to the equally great Night of the Demon, except in this case there was no studio tampering to diminish its wonderfully sustained ambiguity. The plot involves a skeptical college professor who discovers that his wife has stock-piled a huge amount of occult materials because of her (perhaps hysterical) fear that without them her husband will become prey to evil forces. He makes her get rid of her pile of totems, and finds himself immediately mired in personal difficulties that seemed to the viewer to have lain just around the corner anyways, but for some reason all come to a head at the same time. Things only get weirder from there. You can see where this is going, but the movie's triumph is in its atmospheric ambiguity. In the best Lewton tradition, you don't see anything. Everything is conjured with sounds, angles, and camera movements. You're unnerved without ever knowing just what is unnerving you--if it's even anything at all. The Image DVD is OOP, but I think the movie is available from MGM as an On-Demand DVR under the title Burn, Witch, Burn. There is also an R2 release from Optimum under its original title.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#23 Post by YnEoS » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:35 am

I second the recommendation for Night of the Eagle. Got to see a beautiful print of this at the Music Box Massacre (24 hour horror movie marathon in Chicago). Didn't know anything about it beforehand, but it was easily one of my favorite movies they showed that day.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#24 Post by knives » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:57 am

I guess I'll give Hammer a rest and go to AIP and bring up the four Price revenge flicks. To start off we've actually got the start of Price being a full fledged horror hero in House of Wax and remake of an earlier Curtiz film. Despite it's legendary status and amazing opening the film doesn't work completely (though it is one of De Toth's best films). The ideas are there and Price gives an admirable performance, but the main action isn't compelling as we know everything from the start. It also doesn't make good use of the 3-D beyond the opening and and the ping-pong sequence which I think hurts the already weak script. It certainly has to be seen, but I don't expect it to make any lists.

In the intervening decades Price would join Corman over at AIP and do the legendary Poe series which I'll get into later, but towards the end he went back to the Wax Museum well to better results. In many ways modern horror owes as much to The Abominable Dr. Phibes as it does to horror's own history (the Karloff starring The Man They Could Not Hang is basically the same movie). While again this is one who's reputation and importance far outstrips the movie's actual quality it's still surprisingly effective with a pleasant performance from Joesph Cotton (who by all accounts hated making the movie). It's the rare price film from the era where his minimal presence isn't a drawback. It's a lovely little ode to music with some great murder set pieces. Unfortunately I suspect that's where some of modern horror got it's worst tendencies, but it works really well here. It's not a complex film, but it's certainly pulpy fun.

There's not much to say about the sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again. It's a less inventive rehash of the first and basically worth ignoring. What's really great though is the more adult oriented Theater of Blood. Don't let the lewd title trick you though as this is a very careful is hilariously campy ode to the bard. Like with the previous films Price plays a wronged man who after being thought dead seeks his revenge in elaborately themed ways. His character, Edward Kendal Sheridan Lionheart, is an absolute petty blast. He's a terrible Shakespearean actor who upon not winning some award commits suicide only to with a pack of hobos come back to murder the critics who didn't give him the award. If that doesn't sound like fun to you, well maybe you don't know what fun is. Beyond it's campy origins though it whether deliberate or intentionally becomes an interesting comment on Shakespeare's place in modern culture and how we disrespect those works. I highly recommend it along with all of the Vincent Price Scream icons collection.

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Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#25 Post by Bill Thompson » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:00 pm

I'm a huge horror fan, easily my favorite genre, most likely because of how unfairly maligned it is by the general public. That being said, while I do consider myself knowledgeable about horror, I by no means think I know everything and I certainly haven't seen everything or anywhere near enough. I'm glad I joined the forums when I did because this is probably the list that will most interest me. I may offer up a few spotlights later, but I'm still a bit vague as to how that works and whether or not to dip my toe into that pool. Either way, right now my top 10 would look like this,

1. El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006, Guillermo del Toro)
2. Faust – Eine Deutsche Volkssage (Faust, 1926, F.W. Murnau)
3. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
4. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
5. Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (Nosferatu The Vampyre, 1979, Werner Herzog)
6. Dawn Of The Dead (1978, George A. Romero)
7. Ôdishon (Audition, 1999, Takashi Miike)
8. Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale Of Two Sisters, 2003, Jee-woon Kim)
9. Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
10. Sam Gang Yi (Three… Extremes, 2004, Fruit Chan/Chan-park Wook/Takashi Miike)

I know, it's probably far too of a mainstream list for some, but what can I say, it's my top 10. There are also quite a few films that I'm teetering on being horror or not. The Proposition for instance I think of as horror, but I'm not sure it would fit with horror as we are defining it for this list. Either way, look forward to this project and the fantastic contributions form everyone else. :)

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