Last time, I went through the thirteen movies and TV shows that directed my interest in horror. Well, when my significant other of fifteen years now Ally heard about my plans for that article, she wanted in on it, too! It makes sense since our mutual interests in gaming and horror movies were what got us together in the first place. (Maybe this could've been a Valentine's Day project...)
Anyway, since I couldn't trace her history with the genre and she couldn't remember herself, she decided to give me the thirteen things that she just enjoys plugging in for the occasion. Unlike my list which had plenty of horror-comedy, Ally jumps between the genuinely disturbing and outright schlocky.
Amityville: It's About Time
The original Amityville Horror is one of the truly great haunted house stories. None of the sequels can top it, but this one from 1992 is enjoyable in its own way. It just embraces its own cheesiness. It is so ridiculous and over-the-top that it becomes fun and unintentionally hilarious. It does the "so bad, it's good" thing just as well as movies like The Room.
This Tim Burton masterpiece is Ally's favorite movie ever, and it made #19 on my favorite movies list. The mix of horror and comedy is absolutely perfect. Tim Burton's visual style mixed with Danny Elfman's music is a match made in Purgatory here, far more than in Burton's more recent work. All the performances are great, but Michael Keaton as "the ghost with the most" is absolutely hypnotic. I think this is his best work, even more than Batman or Birdman.
Clive Barker may be known more for Hellraiser, but Candyman is much more haunting. The dark, supernatural romance reminds me a lot of Dracula, but the realistic display of the grungier parts of Chicago provides a far more chilling atmosphere. Of course, Ally & I can't ignore the unbelievable performance of Tony Todd in the title role. I really need to do a full article on him; he's one of the best sci-fi and horror actors who never became a big name.
This one (known as Della Morte Dell'amore in its native Italy) is just insane! Rupert Everett plays a new cemetery worker who gets involved with a grieving widow and ends up killing zombies. Talk about escalation! The story is weird as hell, but its worth watching for the amazing practical effects. No crappy CG here! It even has one of the coolest depictions of the Grim Reaper ever put to screen!
The recent Constantine TV series may be more faithful to Alan Moore's Hellblazer comics, but the 2005 movie with Keanu Reeves is a fun ride all the same. Reeves plays this version of John Constantine as if John Wick had a goth phase, but it works. I swear, with this, the 1992 Dracula, and The Devil's Advocate, I'm amazed that he hasn't done more horror. He's great at it!
I wouldn't be surprised if the guys behind the Saw films were inspired by this little Canadian gem. This story of a group of unrelated people trapped in a complex with different deadly traps in each room shows how much can be done with minimal sets and characters. The tension is thick enough to cut with razor wire, and no one will see the twist ending coming. The best horror films have the simplest concepts, and Cube shows that in all three dimensions.
Here's another one from the 90s that pulled off the "so bad, it's good" idea. Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne examine a deep space ship that returned after being missing for seven years only to find all Hell had broken loose. The visions and gore go completely over-the-top (as seen by that shot of Sam Neill at the top of this article), but it's still fun enough to go with it. It even clearly provided inspiration for Dino Crisis 3 on Xbox!
There have been plenty of American remakes of Japanese horror movies, and most of them have been pretty good. However, the version of The Eye with Jessica Alba just doesn't top the original from 2002. What elevates the Japanese version is how it makes use of local mythos which just doesn't translate. The whole concept of not believing what your senses tell you is better handled here than in the remake.
Apparently getting the people behind The Blair Witch Project and The Lord of the Rings together results in some truly twisted stuff. Lovely Molly looks at one person's descent into madness. What makes it work is its ambiguity. You can never really tell how much is supernatural and how much is just in Molly's damaged mind. It is one of the most disturbing movies of the last decade.
Millennium (The TV Series)
I wrote a piece about Chris Carter's other show (the one that's not The X-Files) years ago; check that article out for more. Suffice to say, this show is far more disturbing than network TV usually got in the 90s, and Lance Henriksen is awesome as Frank Black. The show ran for three seasons but isn't currently available for streaming. Check it out on DVD!
Pet Sematary 2
Ally has a thing for "so bad, it's good" sequels. The original Pet Sematary was a very faithful and disturbing adaptation of Stephen King's book. The sequel throws the tense atmosphere into the grave in favor of some fun horror schlock. Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) and Anthony Edwards (Gotcha!) do a great job, but the always incredible Clancy Brown (Carnivàle) steals the show!
Ally also has a thing for found footage movies, and [REC] is one of the best ones aside from the original Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. The Spanish version of the movie that became Quarantine in America has so much tension and such a breakneck pace, you'd hardly believe it's only an hour and eighteen minutes long. Its outstanding cliffhanger ending even led to an equally great sequel.
A work crew cleaning up a condemned insane asylum gets their minds warped. Low budget horror tends to be the most effective as it leaves a lot to the viewers' imaginations, and Session 9 shows that to a tee. Every second the guys are in the run-down loony bin is thick with dread to the point that you feel their relief when they step outside. You'll be transfixed the whole hour and a half.
What do you think? Any that Ally and I left out that should be Halloween essentials? Let me know, and stayed tuned for more creepy stuff leading up to Halloween!