For those out of the loop, this is the fifth (and final!) post on my favorite type of movies – horror movies. If you’re interested in the rest of the list, check out One, Two, Three, and Four. Don’t agree with a pick? Do agree? Feel free to make conversation in the comments. I like conversation. It makes me feel like a human bean.
AND NOW LADIES AND GERMS, THE MOVIES!
Let’s throw these two in together, shall we? It’s really a coin flip as to which one is better, though I’d personally lean toward the second one myself (and isn’t that a weird thing to say – a sequel being as good or better than the original? Whoa.) POSSESSED CHAINSAW HAND WHAT NOW? Seriously, what’s not to like about the Evil Dead movies? They have some legitimately scary parts, Bruce Campbell is a god, and the Raimis have some CRAZY stories about how the first movie came together. Some of the stuff they pulled to get a scene to look a certain way? Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not an 80’s scream queen actress. The Raimis weren’t nice dudes to their people (and actually had at least one of their major cast quit.)
So is this a zombie movie? Kinda, I guess. I don’t know why I don’t really associate it with more traditional zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead (which isn’t on this list but should be – I kinda figured it was a no-brainer.) Dead rising, coming to get you in the middle of the woods, Necronomicon, blah blah blah. I guess it’s because it seems sorta cross-genre to me with its setting and the inclusion of demons. Not that that’s bad, mind you, but it makes it a little weirder to categorize. The end result is the same either way: It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s beyond-belief gory. Two thumbs WAY UP FROM . . . never mind. Those aren’t really thumbs.
Let me say this: I have a weird appreciation of Anne Rice’s early style. It’s gothic and moody; it’s crushed velvet, New Orleans on a rainy night, and strawberries dipped in rich, chocolate mousse. She wrote sensual, homoerotic books that were just so goddamned pretty. That being said – Fuck You, Anne Rice. You de-monstered vampires for the next three decades. Since Interview in 1976, vampires have been romanticized to the point we don’t find them scary anymore. They’re leading men. They’re Lestat and Angel and Vampire Diaries and Edward Cullen. They’re brooding, passionate sex-freaks who want to tie you to a bed, ravish you, and suck your blood.
Shame on us, we’ll let them do it.
That means when we get some real IN YO’ FACE vampires – the Salem’s Lot kind who will play with your organs like they’re Tinker Toys – I’m immediately interested. Vampires as monsters? Real monsters? Really? (INSERT HILLARY WAGGING HER TAIL.) 30 Days of Night not only makes vampires scary again, it makes them despicable vermin. They’re an infestation. They’re animals who will not ravish you, but will treat you like a walking pork chop. And I love them for it. Seriously. I can’t remember the last time I’d felt that freaked out with fangers on the screen. Coppola’s Dracula? Love story and, you know, GARY OLDMAN’S HOT. From Dusk ‘Til Dawn? More memorable for the boner-worthy snake dance (still great, just not scary.) Even Let the Right One In was too touching to scare me much. 30 Days of Night will make you wince, cringe, and wish that you had a stake at your side at all times. In other words? It’s awesome.
I’d mentioned Night of the Living Dead as too “no shit” to put on the list, and I’ll admit this is the same. Everyone knows this movie. It’s the bar most of us measure other horror movies against. The reason it’s here? I HAVE A STORY. So twelve year old Hillary goes to Vermont to visit her aunt and cousins. Her cousins are a couple years older than she is. They have a slumber party in the middle of the Vermont wilds and invite a bunch of other teenagers to come enjoy junk food and horror flicks. Hillary is invited! Hillary is not prepared for The Exorcist. I’m so freaked out, I can’t sleep that night. When I’m sent home to my mother in Massachusetts (to our two-hundred year old farmhouse which I swear was haunted) every creek in the house is OBVIOUSLY a demon coming to get me, and I soooob when it comes time to go to bed. “I’M GOING TO GET POSSESSED. I’M GOING TO GET POSSESSED.” I swore after that I’d never watch The Exorcist again.
Fast forward ten years when I’m dating Dave, a huge horror buff. Heeeey, they’re re-releasing The Exorcist in the theaters for a limited time with the EXTRA BONUS SHIT THAT WAS TOO FREAKY TO BE INCLUDED IN THE 70’S VERSION. He wants to go, of course, and I’m left with a dilemma: do I give into the screeching child inside of me who wants to duck away? Or do I tackle my Everest? I opt for the latter. I was doing fine for a while! Until this happened:
Then I wasn’t so fine anymore.
Ahhh, slasher movies. How I love to hate you and hate to love you! Conundrum, that. Here’s the deal: MOST horror movies are not a misogynist’s playground. MANY slasher movies are. We all know the drill here, don’t we? One character in every slasher flick is a slut. She’s going to fuck someone on the screen. During this fuck scene, her gigantic, B-Grade actress tatas are going to be bouncing for the pleasure of her male audience. After (or during) the slut’s coitus, the freaky slasher killer will come in and do gruesome things to her body, but only AFTER she was so good as to give us a little zing in the pants with her jiggling funbags.
I know, I know – you can argue that every male in the movie is going to get murdered, too, and the lone survivor will always be the virginal chick character, but the fact is, the males that are offed are not stripped down and sexualized before their inevitable disembowelment. This is not an even playing field. Thus, Hillary doesn’t really care for slasher movies. They annoy her. However, I will make an exception for Hatchet. It’s just stupid fun. Lots of stupid. TONS of stupid. But that’s the joy of it, really, is how goofy and over the top it is. The makers pull out all the stops to make this flick work and in my humble opinion, it does.
Wanna see my husband reduced to a quivering pile of man-flesh? Put in the 1982 version of The Thing and let ‘er rip. I mentioned in an earlier post how good The Haunting was at building a sense of paranoia. It keeps you enthralled by allowing the tension to build and build until you feel like you’re going to burst. I daresay The Thing does that better. The alien creature is in one of your friends, you just don’t know which friend because the alien can morph into any shape. It mimics its host’s form and the only way to fish it out is to test the blood. Problem is when you fish it out, you get hideous nightmare creatures that will stay with you all night long.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s end this on a happy note, shall we? Another horror comedy that’s both clever and legitimately gruesome! Woo for Shaun of the Dead! I loved this movie the first time I saw it. I still love it. I’ve probably seen it five times in five years and I’ll watch it again and again because it delights me in every way possible. This parodies Night of the Living Dead so beautifully, that at times you’ll find yourself pointing at the screen going, “I REMEMBER THAT FROM THE ORIGINAL.” Shaun combines laugh-out-loud humor with some really twisted horror scenes. It’s clear Wright and Pegg were huge Romero fanboys when they scripted this and I think that’s what makes it work so damned well. (Well, that and the casting. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the dynamic duo of comedy.)
From what I understand, they were considering making a sequel to Shaun but kaboshed it when they took stock of who had actually survived the original. They decided there weren’t enough characters around or good ideas left to make a second movie work. On one hand, I’m glad they stopped themselves from tarnishing the legacy of their first film by making a turdburger sequel. On the other hand, I totally would have seen that turdburger in hopes that the glory could live twice. Like the phoenix, it could rise again! Sequels can work, take a look at Evil Dead II!
And that, as they say, is that. I hope all of you have enjoyed my horror flick posts. I know I could go for another two or three articles easy, but I’ll let someone else step up to the plate. They can talk about how wonderful Pet Semetary was and tackle the mountain that is Hitchcock movies. In the meanwhile, stay tuned for my next blog post, wherein I swear about stuff that makes me angry and/or muse about writing books.