Sunday, October 17, 2010

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen: Conclusion

Here we are folks with the final installment of The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. These are the final ten films that I actually had a somewhat difficult time organizing into what you see below, the top one of which some may have a difficult time wondering why it was placed so high. Granted that none of these films are without flaws, but as I stated before, these are the horror films that get swept under the rug and deserve your time and attention. So strap yourselves in bitches, it's a celebration.

10. MAY (2002)
Director: Lucky McKee
Starring: Angela Bettis, Anna Faris, Jeremy Sisto

A somewhat slow-moving psychological horror/drama in which a lonely young woman with a traumatic childhood and past makes some desperate and awkward attempts to connect with people, whether it be her lesbian co-worker who more and more aggressively makes passes at her, or the handsome stranger who has caught her eye. “May” is a strange hybrid of a horror film that details the title character’s gradual descent into madness, but instead of painting a picture of a psychotic person, “May” instead presents a sympathetic take. Combined with a quite creepy, yet strangely touching, conclusion, “May” is something that stands out on its own, and is all the more unique for it.

9. [REC] (2007)
Director: Juame Balaguero/Paco Plaza
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Carlos Vicente

Remade over here as “Quarantine”, “[REC]” is a Spanish handheld camera-horror thriller that was a hit overseas (and spawned a recent sequel). A TV reporter and her cameraman become unknowing victims while covering the overnight shift at a local firehouse when the place receives a call about an old woman trapped in her apartment building. Upon their arrival, they discover that something is very, very wrong, and everyone soon becomes trapped in the building when quarantine is issued. If you’ve seen “Quarantine”, seeing “[REC]” won’t really do much for you in terms of showing you things you haven’t seen before, considering “Quarantine” was nearly a shot-for-shot Americanized remake. Still, “[REC]” is scarier and more suspenseful (and let’s face it, just better filmed with much better talent involved) that the remake could have ever hoped to have been. With that being said, check this out if you’ve never seen “Quarantine”.

8. PHANTASM (1979)
Director: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Michael Baldwin

The “Phantasm” series has always been a unique horror series, just for the fact that it is so existential in its storytelling in between all the scenes of bloodletting and shock-scares. The first film is an underrated classic, in which two brothers discover that the local funeral director (dubbed “The Tall Man”) is hardly anything what he seems to be. This leads them and their ice cream truck driving friend to discover some horrible secrets, and a fate worse than death. Writer/director/creator Don Coscarelli has always been short on explanation when it comes to what’s really going on in the “Phantasm” films (all four of them), but the fact that he leaves so much open to interpretation is something that I myself have always admired about the series. And oh yeah, “Phantasm” has balls…literally.

7. TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox

Produced by Bryan Singer and directed by his “X-Men 2” and “Superman Returns” partner Michael Dougherty, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a gleefully fun, “Tales From the Crypt” style horror anthology. All the stories featured here happen one Halloween night in a small town that takes the holiday very, very seriously. Among them are a school principal whose extracurricular activities include instilling the true traditions of Halloween in the kids of the local neighborhood…with bloody results. Also featured are a few kids looking to play a prank and end up getting more than they bargained for, a virgin girl searching for that special someone (and this segment features the absolute best twist…well, maybe ever), and a mean old man with a dark secret who finds himself in for one hell of a night. Originally slated for theatrical release in 2007 and instead pulled from Warner Bros.’ release schedule, only to sit on the shelf for two years before finally getting released straight to DVD last year, “Trick ‘r Treat” is such a blast that you will not regret checking it out, I guarantee it.

6. VERSUS (2000)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka

In modern-day Japan, an escaped convict, a mysterious woman, and a group of blood-thirsty yakuza gang members have all found themselves in The Forest of Resurrection, which is a direct portal to the other side. Those who were once killed there start to come back, and before you know it, a bloody massacre ensues. Sure, “Versus” is incredibly convoluted and hard to understand or even grasp, but the film is so bold in its storytelling and action sequences that it’s just plain mesmerizing to watch. Plus, the fact that there is a ridiculous amount of blood splattered shocks to be seen, and the dynamite twist ending will leave your jaw on the floor.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

Another modern foreign horror classic that was recently re-made (“Let Me In”), “Let the Right One In” is one of the most unique vampire films you’ll ever see. Young Oskar is constantly bullied and neglected, yet manages to find a special relationship with the recently arrived girl Eli, who just so happens to be a vampire. Oskar is both horrified and exhilarated by Eli’s presence, even as things all around them gradually go from bad to worse, and it isn’t long before Eli’s bloodlust garners the attention of others and she herself becomes a target. Based on the Swedish novel, “Let the Right One In” is a brilliantly somber piece of work that takes the tried and true vampire lore and mythology and manages to manipulate it to the point where it still manages to feel fresh. That along with the fact that there are plenty of downright chilling, haunting, and surprisingly touching moments to behold as well. Fuck “Let Me In”.

4. THE MIST (2007)
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

At its core, “The Mist” is a glorified B-movie. That however doesn’t stop this adaptation of the Stephen King tale from being one of the most underrated fright stories you’ve never laid your eyes on. When a mysterious mist descends on a sleepy town, those who become trapped in a local grocery store not only end up fighting for their lives against the creatures outside, but from each other as well as a religious extremist takes it upon herself to decide that this is “God’s work”. Other than the old school chills, “The Mist” also offers up some inventive camerawork, genuinely surprising moments, an A-list cast, and a shocker ending that you’ll never see coming. Dumped into theaters as a small release, “The Mist” has since found a cult following on DVD since its release, particularly the Special Edition which features a black & white version of the film, which surprisingly makes it all the scarier and even more firmly rooted in its B-movie glory.

3. FROM BEYOND (1986)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree

Based on a tale from H.P. Lovecraft, “From Beyond” is a lost classic of sorts, from “Re-Animator” director Stuart Gordon (and it even boasts about half the cast from that classic as well). Two scientists have created a device that can stimulate the human being sixth sense, but in the process have opened up a door to a deadly universe. When one is seemingly killed, the surviving one, along with a shrink and a cop, return to the house where the experiment was conducted, and discover that things have grown ever so out of control. Featuring some stomach churning makeup effects work, “From Beyond” has risen in cult status since its release on DVD a couple years back, and remains the best of Gordon’s adaptations of Lovecraft material other than “Re-Animator”.

2. HARDWARE (1990)
Director: Richard Stanley
Starring: Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch

Before he directed the aforementioned on this list “Dust Devil”, Richard Stanley achieved genre-fame with “Hardware”. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, a soldier returning home to his metal sculptor girlfriend brings home a robot head which he found on the way back. What neither of them know however is that the robot is the prototype model of the M.A.R.K. 13, a vicious killer bot capable of rebuilding itself, and its only priority is to kill and destroy. For a low budget sci-fi/horror dirge, “Hardware” still looks surprisingly sophisticated to this day. From the psychedelic and introspective moments to the blood-curdling finale, “Hardware” remains a beloved cult classic to this day, finally seeing the light of day on DVD earlier this year after being stuck in production company-dissolution hell. Along with the industrial/punk soundtrack and cameos from Iggy Pop and Lemmy from Motorhead, what’s not to love? “No Flesh Shall Be Spared…”

1. NEAR DARK (1987)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton

Before she became uber-famous for marrying James Cameron and winning an Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”, Kathryn Bigelow directed this blend of horror and the western…and it remains not only one of the best vampire films ever made, but THE BEST horror film you’ve never seen. When Caleb falls in with a crew of murderous vampires, he tries to fight the growing bloodlust within him, even though his new abilities thrill him like never before. His father travels after him in an attempt to save him, culminating in a fiery showdown. Comparisons to “The Lost Boys” are numerous (in fact, it opened around the same time, but bombed in theaters), with the only real differences being is that there is nothing lighthearted at all to be found with “Near Dark”. Typical vampire conventions get thrown out the window as well; in fact, the word “vampire” is never mentioned once. Instead of typical vampire film conventions, “Near Dark” is a brutal yet startlingly poetic horror film that, while not for all tastes, has made a surprising mark on everything vampire today. From “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “True Blood”, various creators have drawn upon and cited “Near Dark” as being a key inspiration, and to this day it remains a dreadfully underrated classic. There has been recent talk of a modern-day remake, but in these days of “Twilight”-mania and crazy amounts of remakes, I can’t fucking imagine seeing a film so near and dear to my heart being remade by Hollywood for mass consumption by the movie going masses.

...and there you have it! The final ten of the Top 50 Horror Movies You've Never Seen. Feel free to share your thoughts in agreement and disagreement, or even provide your own feedback as to what I should have included.

Happy muthafuckin' Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. Some interesting movie choices here that I really haven't heard of and have included on my list of movies to see. Great job!