Rhett's Halloween Top Ten 2014

Discussion in 'Site News' started by rhett, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    It’s been 10 years since I submitted my first Halloween Top Ten to the site, how time flies. October flew by this year too as I was mired by more work than I’d like which made it tough to try to pump out content for HORROR DIGITAL this year. But October 31st is a special day. It’s my horror sanctuary. And I’m not doing any work today. I’m just going to watch horror movies. And here are 10 of ‘em.

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    It’s been 10 years since I submitted my first Halloween Top Ten to the site, how time flies. October flew by this year too as I was mired by more work than I’d like which made it tough to try to pump out content for HORROR DIGITAL this year. But October 31st is a special day. It’s my horror sanctuary. And I’m not doing any work today. I’m just going to watch horror movies. And here are 10 of ‘em.



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    10. Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

    I often like to champion the ill-regarded sequels of popular franchises – often with sequels, I have the most fun with the movies that cut the pretense and just deliver the baseline – blood, sex, violence and fun. Hellraiser III is like that for me, same with the movie that’s gay in every sense of the word, Freddy’s Revenge. In the Friday the 13th series, that movie has to be Part V. Danny Steinmann injected all kinds of crazy into a series that had previously already had its final chapter, bringing together chocolate-munching retards (I say that not out of disrespect to the mentally handicapped because the caricatures in A New Beginning are so far from real people), shitbox-stuck greasers, cocaine-shorting creeps, stew-making hillbillies and Debbie Sue Voorhees sweet, sweet breasts. The Friday the 13th series never took itself particularly seriously (isn’t that right, Muffin?) but this sequel throws caution to the woodwind (to the orchestral tunes of Harry Manfredini) and just has a blast doing so. It’s the perfect, madcap way to start a Halloween party, and if you must watch only one YouTube video today, let it be this crazy flying-outhouse remix of Demon’s famous shitbox serenade. Ooooo baby!






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    9. Scanner Cop 2 (1995)

    Here’s another sequel that doesn’t get much love, and this pick is probably all the more surprising from me, a proud Canadian, because it’s the only film in the franchise that was not Canadian-made. It features the effects of gore god John Carl Buechler though, and anyone who knows me understands my affinity for his work in Ghoulies Go To College, Friday 7 and Mausoleum. Buechler has a blast with the veiny mind games in this sequel, even giving his old buddy Kane Hodder a literal earful near the start. It’s a fast-paced and frenetic picture, and with all respect to Michael Ironside and Stephen Lack, nobody gets more intense when “scanning” than Daniel Quinn. Every time I watch the Scanner Cop movies I think he’s going to give himself a hemorrhage, and that’s even before any of Buechler’s effects. Props also to the amazingly-named Patrick Kilpatrick as the creepy adversary always out for a rush. He was a baddie that never got his due respect in turns like this and as the Sandman in Van Damme’s Death Warrant. The first film in the franchise may have been a cerebral slow burn until the climax, but Scanner Cop 2 is all fun and a wild way to keep the horror flowing through your veins on October 31st.





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    8. Shock Waves (1977)

    I hadn’t been reviewing here very long when Dave sent me the first wave of Blue Underground titles. The Prowler, The Toolbox Murders and Shock Waves. What a great start to a distribution label that still today is putting out some of the best grindhouse discs on the medium. In that first wave, though, Shock Waves really hit me, and it’s a film that’s stuck with me hundreds and hundreds of reviews later. This cheap, sparse, and unassuming little zombie flick sure gets under your skin as it takes you underwater for some SS soldier resurrection. It sustains one of the best, most threatening atmospheres I’ve experienced in horror movies, and its low budget charm is as infectious as the zombie plague. It’s a film I like to revisit often, but now that it’s finally getting its due on Blu-ray, there’s no better time to plunge the depths of underrated horror director Ken Wiederhorn’s deadly debut.





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    7. Tales From the Darkside, Season 4, "The Cutty Black Sow" (1989)

    Anthology entries are what horror is all about, so I always try to work one into my lists, and this year it’s one of the forgotten final episodes from the last season of George A. Romero’s loveably low rent Tales From the Darkside series. “The Cutty Black Sow” is one of the darkest and scariest episodes in the entire series, and it might be one of the darkest things ever let on prime time television. It involves a deathbed warning by a dying grandmother on the very day we’re celebrating today. Her grandson takes her heed about a killer man-pig seriously, and what transpires is a forboding look into the runaway subconscious of a child, and how horror can encase the mind long after the story is told. With a cyclical bagpipe score constantly droning in the background, it’s a sinister instalment that just never lets up, right up to the big nuts conclusion that spares any kind of happy ending. This sow is black to the bones, and the ending, that culminates into the ultimate attack on domesticity, might be the darkest scare to ever punctuate horror on television. Sueeeeeyyyy!





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    6. Ben (1972)

    Okay, time for a little levity. I guess it’s becoming an unconscious trend on this list, but here’s another sequel that nobody talks about that I happen to really like. After Ben somberly disposed even of his own master in Willard, this sequel to the 1971 rat attack hit went bigger and had more fun with its animals amok high concept. Rather than a cerebral look into the mind of an outsider, Ben’s all about rodent mayhem, with rats ravaging the supermarket cereal aisle, burrowing into anyone who messes with the little boy who befriends the titular rat, and by the end taking over the city sewers. It, like House II, Poltergeist and Tremors is one of those rare PG horror movies that works just as well for kids as it does adults. The scariest thing today might be a loving song to It’s pretty amazing that in 2014 we still have yet to have even a DVD release of either Willard or Ben (consider that the shot-on-video WTFtrocity, Boardinghouse, has had two DVD release including a 30th Anniversary set), but until these distribution companies get their act together, it’s pretty readily available on YouTube. Here’s a link, even.





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    5. Splatterhouse (1988)

    Growing up in the 80s, the two fringe things kids could (and would) enjoy at home were watching horror movies and playing video games. Now, horror has certainly become mainstream, with horror films often some of the top box office performers of the year, like we saw last year with The Conjuring and the enduring success of the Paranormal Acitivity series among many others. With video game systems now virtually an appliance in every home with somebody under 50, why not work a horror game into my list? I’ll go back to one of the landmark games in the genre, and a game that scared me silly as a kid, Namco’s Splatterhouse. It’s a simple beat ‘em up where you control this juiced up Jason clone (complete with hockey mask) as he hacks his way through a haunted mansion to try and rescue his girlfriend. Sounds pretty derivative, but the game is just ghastly with a never-ending barrage of creatively horrific creatures to pummel with your cleaver or 2x4. It’s got it all, with bloody, severed limbs, teething slugs, giant, skinless, molten heads, possessed chairs, and some of the grossest bosses you’ll ever see in video games. The present tends to make the past seem tame, but this 16-bit horror show is still a scary little shocker. Since 2010 the game has been available on the Wii Virtual Console, but this TurboGrafx-16 port doesn’t have the grisly detail and animation of the arcade version (and it changed the white hockey mask to a less copyright-infringing red), but it still packs a punch if you’re in for a cheap thrill. The better arcade version can be found as an easy unlockable (along with the two sequels) on the surprisingly good Splatterhouse remake on 360 and PS3, or, if you want to play it on the go with haphazard touch controls, the arcade version can be got on iOS for $1.99. Splatterhouse ’88 was the game that started it all though, and in its 7 stages creates a world scary and diverse enough that it could hold its own as a movie. In fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t yet.





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    4. Faces of Death (1978)

    Like Splatterhouse, the 1978 notoriety, Faces of Death, offers an endless display of carnage in its attempt to display death of all sorts, including drowning, suicide, slaughterhouses, gang violence, disease, disasters, tribal conflict, genocide, death sentences, animal attacks and even crime against animals. Sounds like a fun time, right? Well, the fun is had in the showmanship, like a grand ol’ circus freakshow, and in how the filmmakers actually staged a number of the notorious sequences in the film as reality. It’s provocative if you’re watching, a kind of low rent version of Orson Welles’ F For Fake, but it works just as well in the background of a Halloween party as some scary, and sometimes goofy, freakshow. Gorgon Video’s Blu-ray is still one of the best discs I’ve ever reviewed on the site, the ultimate restoration and retrospective on one of the VHS-era’s most notorious curiosities. A death worth facing!





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    3. Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout (1990)

    Faces of Death was a notorious title in rental houses, the kind of movie that would never be in stock because it would either always be rented out or never returned because of the infamy of the images. A video less infamous and more just famous, was 1982’s Jane Fonda’s Workout, a VHS that almost singlehandedly created the 1980’s fitness craze. Eight years later, someone had the bright idea of combining Jane Fonda’s Workout with horror, and thus was born one of the true oddities of the video era, Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout. The Queen of the B’s leads us on a workout like no other, where she patronizes zombies for letting themselves go in death, and instead makes them do poolside aerobics to stay fit. I don’t know who asked for this, but it’s truly one of a kind. As someone who likes to compulsively stay fit, if I’m going to be locking myself inside today watching horror films, I may as well spin an offering that I can sweat to.





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    2. The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

    We’ve finished 8 films and even got a workout in, but now the sun has set and in the nighttime reprieve we hear a beast’s lonely cry. Charles B. Pierce was a one of a kind filmmaker, a guy who liked to push the limits of the medium, and did so in virtually every role you could imagine on a film set. He’d act, direct, produce, shoot, sing and even set design on his movies – he was like the deep south’s version of Orson Welles. This year’s remake of Pierce’s wonderful The Town That Dreaded Sundown even called out Pierce by name out of respect for the inauspicious auteur. The film that forever put him on the map though, was the 1972 drive-in smash, and the movie that brought bigfoot to the mainstream, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Today it’s pokey, tame and a little quaint, but what it does best is capture that “legend” that has allowed us to share horror stories since the beginning of storytelling – from the campfires to the silver screen. This one, a docudrama with dramatic recreations of supposedly true tales of the titular Arkansas bog monster, manages to cleverly scare both by what we don’t see in the shadows, and what we hear in howls through the trees. It’s probably one of the only G Rated horror movies out there, but the way that Pierce works the darkness and the mystery, it’s all the better for it. It’s a scary, somber and sometimes even touching “true story” about what life must be like for the minority, even if it’s a monster, haunting people’s dreams while at the same time just looking for contact.





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    1. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

    It’s been a few years since I’ve entertained an actual Halloween film on my list, and with the recent Anchor Bay/Scream Factory box set, you pretty much have to pay lip service to the guy with a butcher’s knife and a bleached out Shatner mask. As you can tell from my list, I’d rather sift through the crap than play it safe with the hits, and Halloween 5 will always be to me the loveable stepchild in a series already defined by off-kilter creative choices (celtic cults, crazy mask makers and webcams be damned!). I mainly bought the box set because of all the hype around the (finally) restored Producer’s Cut of Halloween 6, but when I popped that Blu-ray in I realized I still hated that movie. Defining the motivations behind a killer that most famously HAD no motivations, and doing it so insultingly in the form of a ludicrous pagan cult might be the worst decision a franchise has ever made. I suppose Halloween 5 deserves a bit of the blame by introducing this inexplicable “Man in Black” during the final act of the film, but like Friday 5 the whole film is crazy, you don’t try and make literal sense of it, you just need to enjoy the ride. From Cookie Women to clown-horned cops, there’s a lot of inexplicable insanity in Halloween 5, but there’s also some of the series’ best moments, like the claustrophobic laundry chute scene, the kinetic, foggy countryside car chase and Loomis’ seriously disturbed offering to an unmasked, and crying Michael Myers. It’s a film where all bets are off – no kid or leading lady is safe, and compared to the by-the-numbers Halloween II, 4 and H20 its Nietzschian nihilism is a welcome retreat. Face the 5, embrace the chaos, and get down with your inner Dominique Otherin-Girard. Happy Halloween!

     
  2. satans-sadists

    satans-sadists Ghost

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    Glad to see some love for Shock Waves & The Legend of Boggy Creek. :) Really looking forward to Shock Waves on Blu-ray.
     
  3. indiephantom

    indiephantom Horny Spirit

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    Outstanding list and more I've not seen. I just picked up that final season of Tales From the Darkside last week at Wal-Mart's horror display and haven't seen any of it yet. Looking forward even more to the day I crack open the set.
     
  4. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    Most series peter out (whaddup Tales From The Crypt) but Darkside goes out on a high note. The last season features episodes by Stephen King and Clive Barker, and those aren't even the best ones. "Family Reunion" by Tom Savini is pretty amazing, a highly personal project, you can tell, and one with amazing effects and a gut punch climax. Great stuff!
     
  5. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

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    Hilarious picks and write-ups, rhett, thank you. I'm especially intrigued by the Scanner Cop series--should I start with #1 or just jump directly to the sequel?

    Also, Splatterhouse is available again? Sah-weeet!
     
  6. Kim Bruun

    Kim Bruun Resident Scream Queen

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    Good list (though I personally consider Halloween II excellent)! A New Beginning and Revenge of Michael Myers (poor plot continuity and all) are both great. Shock Waves and The Legend of Boggy Creek are enjoyable 70's horror movies, though the latter occasionally provokes a chuckle. I get the fascination with Faces of Death, but I doubt I'd enjoy it. :nervous:
     
  7. Angelman

    Angelman OCD Blu Ray Collector

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    SHOCK WAVES rules, obviously. Not a Faces of Death man myself, but the rest of the list is solid.
     
  8. Erick H.

    Erick H. Well-Known Member

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    I love SHOCK WAVES, it's a little gem. I actually saw LEGEND in the theater as a young kid at a drive-in. CUTTY BLACK SOW is one of the best DARKSIDE's. Did Michael McDowell write that one ? He later did BEETLEJUICE and wrote a segment of the underrated DARKSIDE theatrical film. Solid list !
     
  9. Hellbilly

    Hellbilly Active Member

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    I like the addition of Faces of Death, though back then we didn't always know how much was staged or faked, but it sure was a "dare you to watch" kind of thing.
    Perfect choice for a Halloween movie viewing the more I think about it.
     
  10. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    I actually watched Scanner Cop 2 first because it was titled "Scanners: The Showdown" on the DVD I had, so I thought there was no continuity needed. Pop it in though, and the title card is "Scanner Cop 2". The good news is that the order doesn't really matter. Part 2 is self-contained, although it does feature the same lead character for both films, so if you want his history and backstory for the 2nd, you'll want to see the first before. Doesn't really matter in the end, though.
     
  11. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

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    Ha ha, thanks, man.
     

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