Hope you've been enjoying the monster and ghost tales we've been sharing all month. Besides having a passion for visiting odd and haunted locations, I also have a love for cinema, particularly the horror genre. In celebration of Halloween I decided to share some of my favorites, and of course in Outta the Way fashion I chose 13, okay, it's really 14 films that I feel are obscure, hidden or lost horror gems.
One of the first feature length horror films is also one of the best. "Nosferatu" is a 1922 adaptation of Bram Stroker's "Dracula." Instead of the suave Count Dracula that is normally depicted, this film shows a repulsive man portraying the vampire Count Orlok. German actor Max Schreck gave such an eerie and ominous performance that most on the set were even afraid to approach him. In fact some even believed the methodical actor was in actuality a real life vampire.
Director Tod Browning is most famous for directing the horror classic "Dracula," but his 1932 film "Freaks" is far more scary and much more realistic. His use of real sideshow "freaks" in the film was deemed highly controversial, and pretty much ruined the director's career in Hollywood. The film depicts the daily lives and tribulations of sideshow workers from behind the scenes. Many accused Browning of exploiting the sideshow people, they obviously missed the message of the movie!
1955's "Night of the Hunter" portrays a menacing Robert Mitchum, as a villainous Preacher in search of his former cellmate's hidden loot. Only problem is the man's children are the only ones who know where the stolen money is hidden. The movie is a pleasant mix of suspense, fantasy, and Gothic settings, but it's Robert Mitchum's performance as the nightmarish man of the cloth, that will be haunting your psyche for days.
In 1960 the sleazy horror-drama "Peeping Tom" was released to harsh criticism and unprepared crowds. Many were disturbed by the films brutal storyline. The plot revolves around a psychologically disturbed individual who finds art in photographing women, while he simultaneously is murdering them. Most were so put off by the subject matter, that they didn't notice many of the groundbreaking directing styles. Michael Powell's film is a disturbing tale which will leave a lasting impact, it certainly did on numerous top name directors who site the film as highly influential to their careers.
In 1963 most motion picture audiences weren't prepared for the smorgasboard of blood and guts that Herschell Gordon Lewis was about to unveil on them. "Blood Feast" centers around a group of individuals who wish to partake in an ancient Egyptian, religious tradition. Problem is this bizarre ritual involves the eating of human organs and flesh. This film spares no punches, hearts and intestines are shown being torn from bodies, than consumed by unsuspecting participants. This B-movie helped to earn Herschell Gordon Lewis the illustrious title "Godfather of Gore!"
The deranged, psychotic family in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" has nothing on the strange Merrye family, featured in 1964's "Spider Baby." The three remaining relatives from this branch of the family, suffer from a rare and peculiar disease known as Merrye Syndrome. They have a strange fascination with spiders, and a thirst for blood. They've been entrusted into the care of the family chauffeur, a man who tries to steer the young siblings away from evil, but it may already be too late!
David Lynch's 1977 full length premiere "Eraserhead", is an incredibly strange, bizarre, and surreal journey sure to leave you scratching your head. The film delves into the lives of a particularly odd couple and their abnormal newborn child. The world they inhabit is a noisy, industrial, lifeless wasteland. The film has a unique was of delving into the back of our subconsciousness. Haunting you for days, having yourself trying to answer questions that were never asked.
Not too long after horrors appeared at Crystal Lake, many carbon copies tried to repeat that film's success. Though only one other truly stands out from the others in my opinion. 1983's "Sleepaway Camp" is a pretty standard slasher film. Teens gather at a Summer camp, party, have sex, and get iced. What sets this one apart is it's truly unique ending, in fact another film won an Oscar for best screenplay using a very similar ending. Before that kid was seeing dead people, this was the horror ending that had everyone shocked!
When "Re-Animator" hit the big screens in 1985 it gained an immediate cult following. The film centers around Dr. Herbert West and his quest to re-animate dead human tissue. Once the dead come returning, the gags come flying, the blood comes splashing, and the severed heads start...well you'll just have to watch to see that unforgettable scene. The film's mix of pitch black humor, and grisly horror, remain the reason it's remained a cult classic for over 25 years.
"Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" opened in limited release in 1986 and had viewers terrified and horrified at what they were witnessing. The film gives an almost documentary look into time spent with a serial killer. It's frank brutality is sure to offend and be too overwhelming for some viewers. Those who do make it through this provocative film, find the experience to be unsettling, disturbing, and most importantly, thought provoking.
Before Peter Jackson was winning Academy Awards he was serving up a bloody great time in the 1992 zombie comedy "Dead-Alive." Poor Lionel has to deal with his constant overbearing mother all the time, until she becomes infected with a strange virus. Now he might have to kill her! This film is a great blend of slapstick humor, and slayed heads. Be warned this film is often considered to be the goriest movie of all-time, and it definitely lives up to the hype! If the sight of blood repulses you, don't bother! If you always thought it would be great to see Laurel and Hardy meet "Night of the Living Dead," this is right up your alley!
Takashi Miike's 1999 film "Audition" sets up perfectly as a romantic art film. A widowed single father is having difficulties meeting women. During a phony casting call he sets up, he sees the woman of his dreams, before he even meets her, he's infatuated. As their romance begins to blossom, we begin to realize she has a disturbing secret. The tension in the film builds to an insurmountable high, as her dark secrets begin to unveil themselves. Eventually the skeletons don't come out of the closet, they tear the whole damn door down. All her past secrets are revealed, and the nightmare begins!
Many may not consider 2003's "Oldboy" to be a true horror film. The film follows around a man who has just been released from being captive for 15 years, now he has 3 days to find out why, and exact his revenge. As the mystery unravels before us, we begin to realize the torrential physical and psychological tortures that are being placed upon our protagonist. When the truth comes to light and we realize the shocking conclusion, the horrors placed upon our hero are atrocities we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy!
2007's "Teeth" was a nice breath of fresh air in a genre that was literally killing itself! No pun intended! The movie deals with a young Christian girl striving to keep her purity, problem is every man in her life seems to only be interested in one thing. Once Dawn gets violated, she realizes she has a gift or a curse, one that could cause pleasure or pain. Dawn finds a unique way of exacting revenge on these perverted deviants. This film gave women a sense of empowerment not often seen in horror films. While Dawn is exacting her revenge on the degenerate men in the film, women are applauding, while men cross their legs in trepidation!
Happy Halloween Everyone!!