PDA

View Full Version : Chunkblower's Halloween Top Ten 2011


Chunkblower
10-14-2011, 10:08 AM
Wow. Itís hard to believe that October has already arrived. A year has passed since the first time I participated in Horror Digitalís October Madness, though it hasnít felt like even a tenth that time has passed. Seriously, it seems like just last week I was preparing my first Halloween Top Ten. Now here I am again, a year older, hopefully a bit wiser, trying to whittle a shortlist of more than thirty selections down to just ten. It gets harder every year with tons of great new movies being released
http://horrordigital.com/reviews/pictures/b_chunk11.jpg
Wow. Itís hard to believe that October has already arrived. A year has passed since the first time I participated in Horror Digitalís October Madness, though it hasnít felt like even a tenth that time has passed. Seriously, it seems like just last week I was preparing my first Halloween Top Ten. Now here I am again, a year older, hopefully a bit wiser, trying to whittle a shortlist of more than thirty selections down to just ten. It gets harder every year with tons of great new movies being released and a cryptful of older films being resurrected from obscurity. The past few years have seen studios open their vaults to provide manufacture on demand availability for some of their more obscure titles. Itís also witnessed the rise of HD cable and satellite stations specializing in horror, along with instant streaming services like Netflix. Every day it seems like itís getting easier and easier to see obscure gems from around the world. I know many members of my generation are lamenting the decline of the brick and mortar video store but, with a world of films literally at your fingertips, thereís never been a better time to be a horror fan.

When I set out to compile this list, I didnít have a particular theme in mind. I just perused my movie collection and started pulling out the films that appealed to me most. Looking over the list now that itís complete, I do see that a definite pattern has emerged. Overwhelmingly, these films star human monsters rather than supernatural ones. Theyíre films where the horror is internalized; the most frightening dark is the one that resides in each and every one of us. Itís uncomfortable to look into the abyss of our own subconscious and to see hate, cruelty and malevolence staring back. Being human isnít about supressing that darkness but about exploring it and giving it a healthy outlet so it doesnít overtake us. I think that vicarious release is one of the biggest appeals of horror films, or at least it is for me.

Interested in touching the darkness?

Start here:

http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/manhunter/manhunter_fs.jpg


10. Manhunter (1986)

Seeing Drive this fall really put me in the mood for the neon drenched milieu of early 80ís crime films. No director typified this motif better than Miami Vice creator Michael Mann. Luckily, he also just happens to be the director of one of the greatest serial killer films ever, Manhunter. The sharpness of the basic premise of Manhunter has been dulled in the intervening years due to a slew of sequels, remakes and copycats. Mannís grim procedural thriller remains potent nearly 30 years later thanks to stylish direction and, especially, strong performances from William Peterson and Tom Noonan. The two actors play largely flips ides of the same coin: Petersonís Will Graham internalizes his darkness and uses it as a tool to track serial killers, yet has a tough time keeping it at bay. On the flip side, Noonanís Francis Dolarhyde is overtaken by the hurt and pain in his past and becomes a human monster because of it. Both represent a unique brand of human tragedy. While serial killer films like Seven ooze with dark menace and atmosphere, Manhunter pulses with a gritty, low-key intensity that never fails to get under my skin.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/pictures/bparts.jpg


9. Body Parts (1991)

A modern take on the Frankenstein story, Body Parts could very well be described as one part science gone wrong, one part serial killer thriller and one part meditation on the nature of evil. As the story of recent amputees who receive new limbs via unwilling donation by a notorious serial killer, only to experience unforeseen side effects, this patchwork blending of elements seems appropriate. Just before its theatrical debut was scheduled in February 1991, the Jeffery Dahmer story broke and, in the interest of sensitivity, Paramount unceremoniously (and quite understandably) pulled almost all the advertising for Body Parts. The film came and went with little fanfare; the only people seeing it were the critics panning it. Enough time has passed now that itís ripe for re-evaluation and rediscovery, without having to sit in the prejudicial shadow of real life tragedy. In Body Parts, director/co-screenwriter Eric Red crafted a Cronenbergian tale of revolt of the flesh against its master that is as lurid and trashy as Cronenberg is classy, thoughtful and restrained. With an icy, wan, late November in Canada look to it and an evocative, classically influenced score by Loek Dikker, Body Parts is a potent and unfairly dismissed film.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/pictures/varney.jpg


8. Varney the Vampire or, The Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer (1845)

Okay, soÖitís a book. Books are digital, too.

Predating Bram Stokerís Dracula by a good 50 years, the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire is one of the oldest, yet lesser known English vampire tales. Iím going to sidestep levelling a charge of outright plagiarism against Stoker but the similarities between Count Dracula and Sir Francis Varney are too numerous to be mere coincidence. My wife and I have been reading Varney aloud serially, a chapter or two a night, for the better part of a year. Weíve loved the atmosphere, the mix of soap opera and gothic horror and experiencing this tawdry tale in small, tantalizing instalments. If youíre similarly interested in the origins of the western interpretation of the vampire myth, this is a great place to start. Best of all you can read it online in its entirety and completely free of charge if youíre hesitant to shell out $35 for the complete, annotated edition.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/PreVarn.html



http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/pictures/martyrs.jpg


7. Martyrs (2007)

Some movies leave impressions. Martyrs leaves scars.

You have been warned.




http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/melting/melting_fronts.jpg


6. The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

After twenty or so years of anticipation, I finally saw The Incredible Melting Man for the first time this fall when I reviewed it for the main page. As soon as I finished watching it for the first time, I hit play and watched it again. That pretty much says it all. Goofy and goopy in equal measures, The Incredible Melting Man is a rare bird: a campy, silly monster movie that boasts stellar creature and gore effects (courtesy a young Rick Baker). Best of all, it an absolute blast with its stilted dialogue, awkward transitions, decidedly un-PC attitude and hilarious use of stock footage. My list is loaded with dark, grim picks this year, so I need a film to give me some fun and goofy catharsis. The Incredible Melting Man is a shit-eating, ear-to-ear grin in cinematic form.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/pictures/dread.jpg

5. Dread (2009)

Hereís a gem that was easily best new horror film I saw last year. Based on, but not slavish to, the short story from Clive Barkerís Books of Blood anthology, Dread inspires just that from viewers through its carefully observed character moments and its slow build of tension, both of which culminate in one of the singularly most disturbing moments Iíve seen in a long time. A young girl so emotionally destroyed that she proceeds to try and physically destroy herself, is horrifying precisely because itís grounded in reality. It is not the result of a supernatural entity or undead slasher, but of one human beingsí capacity for cruelty to another. To me, thatís the scariest villain youíll ever see in a movie.



http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/cos/cos_fs.jpg


4. Carnival of Souls (1960)

My list this year is loaded with gory, graphic films that revel in the visceral, so itís nice to take a breather with a film that places emphasis solely on atmosphere. Like a lot of genre classics, Carnival of Soulsí restrained tone stems as much from its ultra-low budget as it is a result of any conscious artistic decisions. As the old saying goes: ďart through adversity,Ē and although financial restrictions could have been a hindrance, they actually wind up being a boon. Much of Carnival of Souls is filmed in a typically flat, 1960ís way: people sitting around talking in medium shot with a minimal of coverage. Director Herk Harvey sidles the film right up to the point of boredom, lulling the viewer into lowering their guard and then shifts abruptly into the surreal and ghostly. It works like gangbusters. I can almost guarantee that you will never have a more unsettling cinematic experience than watching Carnival of Souls late at night in a darkened room with the wind outside howling through the trees and rattling the windowpanes. Carnival of Souls almost seems like the reason the word ďcreepyĒ was invented.



http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/dd/dd_fs.jpg


3. Cemetery Man (1993)

One of the best genre films of the 90ís, Cemetery Man blends horror (specifically zombie movie) tropes with romantic, almost poetic sensibilities and an off-beat sense of humour. It doesnít always work but, when it does, the result is transcendent. Rupert Everett gives a wonderfully downbeat performance in the titular role; his work here makes his relegation to comic sidekick or rom-com second banana all the more disappointing. Horror comedy is exceptionally hard to do, and nearly impossible to do well, but Cemetery Man manages the near impossible. The final shot is poignant and never fails to cause a lump in my throat. Or, as Gnaghi would say: ďGna!Ē


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/pictures/fly.jpg


2. The Fly (1986)

If Iím going to include a movie thatís neo-Cronenbergian in tone, Iíd damn well better include a film by the master himself. Cronenbergís bold reimagining of the minor 1950ís sci-fi film is still the higest grossing film of Cronenbergís career and remains one of his most popular, as well. Itís not hard to see why: at the heart of what seems, on the surface, a drippy monster movie is a sensitive and moving modern love story. Better still is the fact that Seth Brundleís horrifying condition and resultant transformation are due not to his lust for power or the incorrectly perceived innate untrustworthiness of science, but simply because in a moment of weakness he got careless. It stands in nice contrast to the standard clichť of science gone wrong through greed and hubris. Like many of Cronenbergís films The Fly can be viewed as a compelling allegory for disease, yet itís the romantic heart beating at the centre of the film that makes it works so well and keeps me coming back again and again.


http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/halliiblu/halliiblu_fronts.jpg


1. H2: Halloween II (2009)

It gets a bad rap but Iím sticking to my guns on this one. Rob Zombieís sequel to his less than stellar series reboot is an undeniably messy affair. Yet when itís on, it is so on. From the intense and brutal opening sequence, to the spot-on autumn atmosphere, to Danielle Harrisí surprisingly heartbreaking exit from the picture, H2 manages to find little ways to surprise at every turn. There arenít many slasher sequels that deal with the psychological impact the events of its predecessor would have on the survivors. The earlier Halloween movies and the Friday and Nightmare sequels all gloss over this is an offhanded or flippant way. H2 spends much of its running time dealing with these very questions, and exploring the answers in a surprisingly sensitive way. The once fresh-faced Laurie now displays a hardened exterior that hides her wounded soul. Annie is angry at the wedge thatís slowly driving itself between her and her surrogate sister, while Leigh Brackett doing his best to put on a brave face and hold the makeshift familial unit together. I wish it were a little leaner, even the 100 minute theatrical version feels overstuffed by 20 minutes and that Loomis played a more central role. And the white horse imagery is undeniably embarrassing. Yet itís still a fascinating, often very effective, film and one that Iíll be revisiting and re-evaluating for many years to come. Never thought Iíd be saying that about a Rob Zombie movie.

crikan
10-14-2011, 04:47 PM
Good Stuff. I look forward to revisiting Halloween II this year. I have no idea whether I'm going to love or hate it this time around.

I still can't watch Martyrs. I think I'm better off skipping that one.

Shannafey
10-14-2011, 05:13 PM
You had me until Halloween 2. But maybe someday I'll give it another chance.

othervoice1
10-14-2011, 08:07 PM
I was in the minority that I kind of enjoyed Zombie's first Halloween- well the 2nd half of it. The prequal portion wasnt very good but the actual remake portion I thought was solid. And the theatrical cut is better then the Directors cut IMO.

And I agree that Halloween II was better and I think a fine entry on its own. I just wish I could have the extra scenes in the Directors Cut along with the theatrical cut's ending and to me it would have been a lot better. But alas the Directors Cut that I prefer gives me the ending I do not prefer.

dave13
10-14-2011, 10:03 PM
an interesting list, well done. i've had an inkling to check out body parts again for the last few months, after having not seen it since the mid 90's on VHS. i always love me some Fahey.

its a gutsy move putting H2 as your number one pick, so kudos for that. i'm not a fan, but watching it a second time this past year made me appreciate a few of the points you mentioned. Specifically the last scene with Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif which is, like you said, heartbreaking and very effective.

About the only real disagreement i have with your picks is Martyrs. Besides a rather clever ending, I found the rest of the film to be incredibly forgettable. I'm trying to remember it now, in fact, and im having a hard time. it definitely gets lost in the shuffle of "torture porn" pictures released these last 5 or so years. Which is ironic, given your succinct recommendation above - Martyrs really left no impression on me whatsoever.

Cooperkill
10-14-2011, 10:22 PM
Halloween II is awesome. One day, people might detach Rob Zombie's name from the project and watch it without any preconceived notions. It's a psychological bloodbath that might stand as the single most underrated movie of recent years.

Mutilated Prey
10-14-2011, 10:55 PM
I just wish I could have the extra scenes in the Directors Cut along with the theatrical cut's ending and to me it would have been a lot better. But alas the Directors Cut that I prefer gives me the ending I do not prefer.

Yeah, what the F is up with that!??!

Anywho, good list and I too like the Halloween II remake.

MarkWarner
10-15-2011, 01:55 AM
Major props for putting Zombie's H2 as number one. Too many people get hung up on what it's not and don't even bother focusing on what it is: a fairly well done film that tries to escape the traditional trappings of a slasher film (although it does succumb to them at points due to studio demands) and present something fresh and new.

Also, the atmosphere in this one is only surpassed by the atmosphere in Carpenter's original. This is one moody film, and I love it for that.

spawningblue
10-15-2011, 03:23 AM
Interesting list until Halloween 2 came in. I watched that for the first time this month and wrote up all the problems I had with it. And no, I am not a Zombie hater. I enjoyed his first two movies and thought Halloween was okay (Although I like it less and less every time I go back to it), but man is he a terrible writer! He is a talented Director, but unfortunately he only Directs scripts that he wrote. I was really impressed with how he handled Danielle Harris' death though, and I did find it interesting that he actually dealt with what being a survivor would probably do to you, but again his dialog made me hate Laurie's character and her acting. Also what was up with the Charles Manson poster above her bed, and the grapihtti all over her bedroom and bathroom walls!? And the... well ffor my lsit of problems check out my review in the October viewings thread.

Caspar2112
10-15-2011, 03:41 AM
Martyrs will mess you up. Great list and it is nice to see Manhunter get the props it deserves. Thanks.

MarkWarner
10-15-2011, 05:13 AM
Also what was up with the Charles Manson poster above her bed, and the grapihtti all over her bedroom and bathroom walls!?

Who cares what's up with it? It's in the film for a few seconds and has no effect on the plot or the characters. Besides, I've known people who have posters of infamous criminals (John Dillinger for example) in their room because they think they look cool for whatever reason. I don't see how the Charles Manson poster is any different.

CrazyFatEthel
10-15-2011, 03:26 PM
The only problem I have with ALL of Rob Zombies movies are that he just tries to do WAY too much with everything. And when you really look at his scripts, they aren't very litterate at all :/ And the violence was just WAY too much, everything with Rob Zombie is over the top, and therefore distracts from the movie.

indrid13
10-16-2011, 04:24 AM
Great list. There's a few here I've yet to see. I'm not a big fan of Zombie's remake, but I really like his Halloween II. It's a little long and has a few too many arty moments, but overall it's a fairly rocking slasher. And I love how it deals with the aftermath of the first film. I wish more sequels did that.

indiephantom
10-16-2011, 07:19 AM
Love the list! I really do have to check out Dread, and I've been meaning to forever. Agree totally on Zombie's H2.

hatfull
10-16-2011, 09:42 PM
Interesting list, including a few I've yet to see. I'm probably in a minority, but I was a fan of Zombie's first 2 films, so I really must check out Halloween and Halloween 2.

17thJuggalo
10-18-2011, 03:10 PM
I purposely have been avoiding Halloween 2 because of all the horrible things I've heard about it. Maybe I'll give it a chance after all.

I too am not a Zombie hater, I really enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. But his Halloween remake was just laughably bad on all levels. Even after multiple viewings of attempting to find something worthwhile I found nothing.

spawningblue
10-25-2011, 03:19 AM
Who cares what's up with it? It's in the film for a few seconds and has no effect on the plot or the characters. Besides, I've known people who have posters of infamous criminals (John Dillinger for example) in their room because they think they look cool for whatever reason. I don't see how the Charles Manson poster is any different.

Yeah but like I mentioned it's one small problem among many. And did those people you know who had posters of serial killers hanging on their walls just survive an attack of a mass murderer? It's just one of those things with Zombie's films where everyone has to look and act like him. With his first two films it wasn't that noticeable, but when you take Laurie and turn her into that I'm not a fan. But hey, to each their own, like I said I found some things to like in this film, and I do think he is a talented Director, but I'm sick of seeing every character all grungy and potty mouthed in his films. To me personally it's not relatable at all. I'm sure there are people that live like slobs like that, but it would be nice to see characters that are more normal for once. It's like everything has to be to the extreme, you either get the pretty slutty model characters in a horror film, or you get Zombies opposite where they haven't taken a bath in months. I miss the average every day main characters like what were present in Carpenter's original film.