Sunday, 14 October 2012
MY 50 FAVOURITE HORROR MOVIES: 50 TO 41
Greetings fellow horror hounds!
This year, to celebrate Halloween, I thought I’d do a countdown of my own personal favourite horror films of all time.
Now, I don’t claim these to be the ‘best’ horror films, just the ones I find I enjoy the most and can watch the most. In doing this I’ve tried where possible to steer clear of comedy/horror and to concentrate on pure horror, though there will be a few notable exceptions to that rule. I’ll aim to post my fave fifty in blocks of ten starting here with fifty to forty one, leading up to the final top ten being posted around Halloween itself.
This has been far from an easy task and almost certainly isn’t gonna be definitive as I’ll probably end up remembering titles after the fact that I should have included. But hey ho, it’s all just a bit of ghoulish seasonal fun.
Feel free to comment and slag off my choices and to suggest your own faves.
So, without further ado, here numbers fifty to forty one:
50. Ginger Snaps 2 (D. Brett Sullivan, 2003)
Brett Sullivan's sequel to John Fawcett's brilliant Ginger Snaps is a rare beast: a direct to dvd sequel that is not only a worthy follow up but a logical and smart continuation of the story begun in the first film. The excellent Emily Perkins returns as Brigitte, who after the death of werewolf sister Ginger in the original, is also now infected and is regularly injecting herself with wolfsbane to keep the curse at bay. This soon leads to a mix up with Brigitte being locked up in a drug rehab centre. Separated from her wolfsbane she must try to stop her change while also avoiding a new werewolf who is apparently tracking her down, looking for a mate. Smartly written, crisply directed and with two excellent performances from Perkins and Tatiana Maslany as a strange young girl called Ghost, GS2 is a sequel almost as good as the original.
49. City of the Living Dead (D. Lucio Fulci, 1980)
The first of two films in this countdown from Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci, City is the first instalment of Fulci’s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy, which also includes The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery. City is a weird surrealist mash-up of atmospheric Lovecraftian horror and Romero inspired zombie flesh munching. The story is something to do with the gates of hell about to be opened in the small US town of Dunwich, New England due to the suicide of a local priest. For some reason this suicide has gone and unleashed a horde of ghostly teleporting zombies to eat people up as well as various nasty curses which sees one young girl literally (and grossly) puke up her own guts. Like the best of Fulci, City doesn't make much sense but it is stylish, weirdly dreamlike, supremely atmospheric and utterly gross. Great demented fun.
48. Rec. (D. Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, 2007)
This Spanish found footage/mockumentary about a city building under quarantine after some kind of deadly outbreak is a swift, intense, super tense, super scary rollercoaster ride. Being shot almost in real time lends extra urgency and desperation to the whole affair with the dark hallways and rooms of the labyrinthine building being a non stop terror trap with hostile zombie types ready to leap out and attack at any second. The final ten minutes in the pitch-black attic is one of THE scariest sequences in horror history. The sequels are pretty damn good too.
47. Trick r Treat (D. Mike Dougherty, 2007)
Mike Dougherty's gleefully nasty anthology celebrates Halloween with a slice of twisted small town Americana. It's as if Amblin had decided to make a proper horror film, if say, they'd pushed Gremlins that extra couple of notches to make it really gleefully nasty. The film's four separate tales intertwine cleverly, linked together by the presence of tricky little Halloween sprite Sam, before becoming one big and hugely satisfying whole at the end. Shot for only $12m and produced by Bryan Singer, the film looks gorgeous and is full of splendid actors including the fabulous Dylan Baker, Bryan Cox and Anna Paquin. No trick, this is a brilliant Halloween treat. Just don't be dissing the 31st October or little Sam will come get you.
46. The Ring (D. Gore Verbinski, 2002)
Gore Verbinski's US remake of the Japanese original is to my mind the superior version of the story. Verbinski manages to capture the atmosphere of the original (something no other US remakes of J-horror have been able to do) while also building a deeper and more satisfying story around the cursed videotape and the dead girl who haunts it. Tense, chilling, and featuring a great central performance from Naomi Watts, The Ring will make sure you never watch TV the same way again. Seven days!
45. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (D: Jorge Grau, 1974)
Spanish director Jorge Grau's zombie horror is a strange one. It's a Spanish/Italian co-production set in England featuring the Manchester Morgue in the title yet set somewhere up in the Lake District instead. An experimental sonic pesticide machine being tested on a farm has the bizarre side effect of raising the recently deceased as flesh hungry zombies who roam the countryside killing and eating locals. It's up to a local copper, a young female tourist and a biker dude to combat the undead menace. A weird film, TLDatMM succeeds for three key reasons. First, the English locations (mostly the Peak District) are beautiful and Grau films them with an artist’s eye for composition and capturing natural beauty. Second, there is a strong eco theme running throughout the film re. science messing with nature. And third, the zombies, though not that many of them, are fab and do some very gory kills. Thanks to Grau, a good director, the film has atmosphere and though overall it might not make a whole heap of sense, it does stay with you.
44. Audition (D: Takashi Miike, 1999)
Acclaimed Japanese director Takashi Miike's deeply disturbing tale of obsessive love and pain is a hard watch, especially once things get really full on and the wire saw comes out. Middle aged widower Shigeharu is looking for a new wife and decides to accept his film producer friend’s offer to hold an open audition for his prospective new bride with Shigeharu soon becoming smitten by Asami, a seemingly sweet young ex-ballet dancer. But Asami hides an appalling secret. And what follows is an exploration of how the search for true love can go horribly, horribly wrong, shown to us as only Miike can. Ghastly but great.
43. I Walked with a Zombie (D: Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
The first of two films in this countdown by French-American director Jacques Tourneur is a dark, dream-like tale of jealousy and betrayal set on an island in the West Indies where a young Canadian nurse relocates to look after the sick wife of a rich white land owner. The nurse is introduced to the landowner's dysfunctional family as well as to the local legends of voodoo, which may or may not have something to do with the zombie-like state the sick wife is now in. Tourneur, who previously made the seminal Cat People (a toss up for this spot), was a great director for creating mood and atmosphere and went on to become a major player in film noir. Here, a deep sense of creeping unease permeates every frame of film, which also includes sound effects of omnipresent distant drums and whispering grasses and rumbling storms. Tourneur was also one of the first directors to use and to master the jump scare, with this film having one great one. A correctly regarded classic of the period.
42. Braindead aka Dead Alive (D: Peter Jackson, 1992)
Peter Jackson's crazy, OTT, blood and gore soaked period Kiwi horror nearly didn't make this list as it also falls in to the comedy genre. And I've tried with this countdown to focus more closely on pure horror (with a couple notable exceptions). But Braindead is such a riotous affair and is so, so gory and so much horrible fun that it simply can't be ignored. A rare Sumatran Rat-Monkey is captured and taken back to New Zealand where it bites the ghastly mother of hapless put upon Lionel, turning her and then others in to depraved, flesh hungry zombie mutants. What follows is a Grand Guignol of Sam Raimi inspired sick, gory lunacy. Fun with a capital F.
41. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (D. Terence Fisher, 1966)
It took Christopher Lee eight full years to be convinced to reprise his most iconic role for a sequel to Hammer's huge 1958 hit The Horror of Dracula. And according to Lee he only did it under the proviso that all of his dialogue was thrown out and that he wouldn't say a single word on screen. A genius move as it turned out. DPoD is essentially Dracula as The Terminator – a single minded, utterly unstoppable killer focussed on tracking down and getting the one woman he wants. And nothing will get in his way. Lee is all red eyes and snarling fangs, charging around with a manic animalistic energy. In his way is the gruff gun toting friar Father Sandor played by the late great Andrew Keir who delivers a performance as charismatic and charming as Lee is intense and bestial. A simple, streamlined plot and stylish and energetic direction by Hammer legend Terrence Fisher together with Lee's intensity and Kier's gruff charisma makes DPoD the very best of the classic Hammer catalogue.
40 to 31 coming soon. Stay tuned.