Here’s that list of horror movies I promised.
Dog Soldiers – A band of Scottish marines go into the deep woods on a military wargame and encounter a pack of werewolves. Taking refuge in an isolated home, they use military tactics to fight off the monsters. A gory, freaky, FUNNY movie with a terrific surprise ending. Only flaw is the premise that you can find a place in Scotland where you are 100 miles from civlization in every direction.
Evil Dead – If you want full-on horror, this is the biggie. Raimi, Campbell, you know.
Evil Dead II – If there are people in your party who aren’t up for the full X-rated gore fest, go for this funnier remake (it’s not a sequel, it’s a redo!).
Army of Darkness – Not really scary. More like a Xena episode with corpses.
Peeping Tom – A movie so disturbing for the sixties British audiences that the director couldn’t get work again. It’s all about a seemingly nice but disturbed young gentleman who uses his camera to kill women.
Freaks – If you haven’t seen this movie, then you are missing out on all the references to it in the Clerks cartoon episode and Route 666 and Starman and that X-files episode with Vincent Schiavelli. Pretty much anything where a circus sideshow gives you the creeps is based on this movie. The plot sounds pretty basic: a beautiful circus aerialist and a handsome strongman scheme to steal a rich midget’s money. She pretends to be in love with the tiny man, wooing him until she can make a black widow play. However, his fellow freaks learn of their plan. I won’t give away any more. The film was made with a cast of several dozen midgets, pinheads, half-men, bearded ladies and other circus freaks. You couldn’t even make this film today without being branded “insensitive” 100 times over, even though the film is entirely on their side. This is one utterly creepy movie that will stick with you, and yet the scares are all psychological.
Ghost Story – Alice Krige, the Borg Queen, is in this one. Several elderly men recount a buried incident from their past. This one is rather forgotten, surprisingly, despite having a number of good frights. Like the bathtub…oh, I’ve said too much.
The Thing – One of the most intense, claustrophobic goreflicks.
Village of the Damned (original) – An entire English town falls unconscious. When they awaken, all of the young women are pregnant. George Sanders (the cultured voice of Shere Khan) stars as a father who thought he was too old to father a child, but realizes that these children are not born of the men of the village. He tries to support his son and the other children, but is appalled as they develop mental powers that strike out viciously at anyone who harms them in any way.
The Village of the Damned (New version) – John Carpenter’s remake with Mark Hammill, Kirstie Alley and the late Christopher Reeve (the last movie before his accident) moves it to a California town. That slight change ruins it; the kids are only half as creepy without British accents. Nonetheless, it’s worth seeing once, and I still remember the horror of the people waking up at a barbecue to find that a man fell asleep across the grill. Kirstie’s fate is equally terrifying.
Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are two zombie movies I enjoy. Every Halloween I have to listen to horror experts go on about the messages in these movies. I’m glad to say they go blissfully over my head.
Return of the Living Dead – A bit dated with all the punk rock stuff, and I really don’t know why the pretty girl is hanging out with a gang of degenerates, but still a major fun movie. The zombies run full tilt, talk and even use the radio to call for more cops (so they can eat them). Added bonus: naked chick.
Bubba Ho-Tep – More comedy than horror, this cult fave features Bruce Campbell as Elvis, alive, somewhat well and wasting away in a rest home. When a mummy begins killing off the other residents, he and his friend J.F.K. (Ossie Davis, who explains that he was dyed black in order to hide better) decide to take action. Some of Bruce Campbell’s best acting work, especially when Elvis (in flashback) meets the Elvis impersonator who takes his place and it is clearly the Bruce Campbell who plays himself in every movie.
Ghost Ship – Not the greatest horror movie, but the first five minutes features one of the most memorable horror scenes ever.
From Hell – Alan Moore’s heavily researched theory of the identity of Jack the Ripper was made into a 2001 movie.
Elvira’s Haunted Hills – A little-known movie from 2002, this gem is a sendup of all the old Hammer horror films and features an actor named Scott Atkinson who does the remarkable feat of unmistakeably evoking Vincent Price while not actually doing an impression of him.
Memento – The famous “unfolding in reverse” movie, a psychological chiller where everything runs backwards to reach a terrifying conclusion (or beginning).
The Others – If you haven’t seen this Nicole Kidman film, do.
If any other Monitor Duty contributors want to post their reviews/lists, you’re welcome to. There’s still time for people to run out to Blockbuster!