Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh, the horror! My 10 or so favorite monster movies

When it comes to modern horror movies, I'd be the first to admit that I'm more than a bit of a wimp.

I just can't see the attraction of gorefests like "Hostel" or the "Saw" movies (yes, there's a 3D version coming out very soon, if that's your thing), and in particular I just don't have much stomach at all for movies that showcase the torture of women.

That said, however, I do love a good horror movie, and when you mix that up with a little humor, it's even better. Here, to get everyone in the Halloween spirit, are my 10 or so favorite horror movies, in no particular order.

Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection: If you spring for the whole box set, you get a big bite of truly classic horror with "Dracula" "Frankenstein," "The Mummy," "The Invisible Man," "The Bride of Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon." Or, you can buy them all individually for less than $10 a pop, and you really can't go wrong with any of these early favorites.

"Let the Right One In": Almost no one went to see the recent American remake of this Swedish vampire movie, "Let Me In," but do yourself a favor and rent the original this Halloween. Part horror movie and part coming of age tale, it's a truly unique movie experience, and my single favorite movie of 2008.

"The Orphanage": Orphanages are scary enough, but when you make them haunted it's that much more fun, and ghost tales just don't much more stylishly frightening than this Spanish flick from director Juan Antonio Bayona.

"Rosemary's Baby": If I had to pick one single favorite horror movie, this one from Roman Polanski would be it. Author Ira Levin's tale of the ultimate deal with the devil is a creepy as it is campy, and once you see it, I guarantee you'll never get Ruth Gordon out of your head.

"The Shining": Probably the most quotable horror movie of all time, it's easily the most fun movie Stanley Kubrick ever made and probably also the most fun Jack Nicholson ever had on screen too.

"The Evil Dead": No director better mixes humor and horror than Sam Raimi, and this is his masterpiece. Zombies have always been much more scary to me than vampires, and what could be worse than an army of them? Besides, has anyone ever heard of a cuddly zombie? 'Nuff said.

"Drag Me to Hell": A double shot from Raimi, because he really is a horror maestro. After the thorough disaster that was "Spider-Man 3," Raimi desperately needed to get back to his wickedly fun roots, and this gypsy curse tale was just the perfect cure. I bought this one for $5 at a Redbox machine a while ago, and go back and watch it every few months or so, and get thoroughly creeped out each time.

"Cloverfield": I normally have little time for "found footage" movies (don't even get me started on the friggin' "Blair Witch Project"), but this monster movie from Matt Reeves is a welcome exception. It expertly builds the tension until the monster is finally revealed near the end, and it's very well worth the wait.

"Near Dark": Long before Bella met Edward or Kathryn Bigelow won the Best Picture Oscar for "The Hurt Locker," Bigelow made this, my favorite vampire movie. Adrian Pasdar stars as young man who joins an evil pack of vampires because - why else? - he's chasing a pretty girl. Definitely watch this vampire Western (yes, really) if you can find it.

"Shaun of the Dead": That the great Simon Pegg is the most dead person in this zombie zoo may be the biggest and best joke in Edgar Wright's flick, but there's much more fun to discover if you've never seen it, and I guarantee that the pub scene will make you think twice before stopping into a seemingly tame watering hole you've never visited before. Simply hilarious from start to finish.

And there you have it. Please feel free to add any of your favorites I managed to snub (believe me, I could have taken this list to at least 20), and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.


M. Dean said...

That was a good, well-rounded list. As a horror connoisseur I also could go on for days regurgitating my favorites. As with you though, horror can, and needs to be, broken into sub-genres: fun, frightful, and immobilizing. One I just got around to watching, that fits into the fun / Evil Dead category is called Dead Alive which ends with the main character wielding a push lawn mower to fight off zombies in what is easily the goriest fifteen minutes ever put on film. Great flick though.

There's a part of me that wants to add another section to the list and call it horror just beneath the surface. I would throw in any Lynch film, as well as any Harmony Korine and some Kubrick. Just this idea that every day, mundane things and people can be so grotesque that they need to be filed under horror. Gaspar Noe would certainly fit into that. To say that sitting through "Irreversible" took a strong stomach was putting it lightly. The scene in the rectum is as unsettling as any horror movie ever will be.

Reel Fanatic said...

That is indeed a whole other level of horror that I considered diving into, M.Dean, because it's a fascinating subset of movies .. There are indeed several Lynch movies that would probably make the cut, and much more Kubrick too ... I had never heard of "Dead Alive," but with your recommendation, it's going into my Netflix queue .. Thanks!

M. Dean said...

Yeah, I hope that you enjoy it. It's actually directed by Peter Jackson, so, trying not to name drop maybe that adds some validity to it. It also goes under the name braindead and am not sure what version netflix uses.

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J. Marquis said...

Dead Alive is a GREAT flick. So wonderfully over the top you don't know whether to laugh or shriek.

I would also throw "Poltergeist" and "Carrie" on the list because they both do a great job of expressing the horror potential of mundane events like proms or places like a modern American suburb.

Reel Fanatic said...

Good choices both, Mr Marquis, and "Carrie" is one that just missed making the cut for my list

daphne said...

nice choices, , I watched all of those film, freaky=0

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free movies said...

I just felt compelled to post this because somehow... and I can't even begin to understand how... people and even professional critics like the movie Drag me to Hell. I don't get it. I loved Evil Dead and I still don't get it, because this wasn't campy -- it was just bad.