Favorite Horror Movies


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  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968, George A. Romero)
  2. Gremlins (1984, Joe Dante)
  3. Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)
  4. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
  5. Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker)
  6. The Last Man On Earth (1964, Ubaldo Ragona, Sidney Salkow)
  7. The Horror Express (1973, Eugenio Martin)
  8. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)
  9. Carnival of Souls (1960, Herk Harvey)
  10. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
  11. Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987, Sam Rami)
  12. Scream (1996, Wes Craven)
  13. Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)
  14. Re-Animator (1985, Stuart Gordon)
  15. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984, Joseph Zito)
  16. Horror of Dracula (1958, Terence Fisher)
  17. Sleepy Hollow (1999, Tim Burton)
  18. Trick ‘r’ Treat (2008, Michael  Dougherty)
  19. The Frighteners (1996, Peter Jackson)
  20. Arachnophobia (1990, Frank Marshall)

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Horrorfest 2013 Presents: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962, Robert Aldrich)


Have you ever been jealous of someone? We all have at one point or another. Completely envious and filled with hate towards a person experiencing success. In the case of Baby Jane her time in the spotlight is long gone, her fame eclipsed by her sister Blanche, who was forced to retire after an accident Jane was blamed for. This is the genesis of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? from 1962, a famous horror classic.

Jane begins a descent into madness, subjecting her sister to torments and driving her into a state of fear. What begins as simple jealousy turns into something darker and nasty. Monsters are far scarier when they are real people, capable of horrific acts of violence. Blanche witnesses depravity that is fairly stark for an older Hollywood film. Especially since there is no escape for Blanche due to her being in a wheelchair. Things only get even worse from their as Jane continues to lose touch with reality.

Shot in glorious black and white thus film maintains its heavy claustrophobic atmosphere throughout, never stopping to give the audience a chance to breathe. The last act is also tragic and haunting, giving the movie a lasting resonance. I will never hear the line “Am I still pretty?” the same way again. Its funny that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford gave us one of their best films despite not liking each other. Maybe that dislike was properly channeled into a masterful film. Art sometimes reflect reality.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971, Dario Argento)


That mask was insanely creepy. Really it was another one of Dario Argento’s stylistic flourishes, a nice touch early on in his  famous Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971). One of his earliest works and another fine example of his contributions to horror cinema. I also liked how Argento works in a Hitchcock style plot about a man tormented by a psychopath who knows about his accidental killing of a man that had been following him.

Ah Roberto you are in over your head, unable to go to the police, a prisoner in your own home. The list of suspects is long and the body count piles up fast. Best put on the old thinking cap if you want to survive, and Roberto is lucky that he has friends capable of aiding him. Plus a private detective that is not as incompetent as he seems.

There are some typically freaky deaths in this film and Argento deploys his wonderful and usual brutal tricks. I’ve always liked how Argento would use what scares people in real life-actual fears-and not things that scare people that only happen in the movies. That is highly effective and there were several moments in the film where I was freaked out.

Despite having a so-so last act redeemed by a great, fatalistic ending, Four Flies On Gray Velvet is another really good entry in Argento’s library. I look forward to continuing his filmography, even though his 90s and 2000s works have received mixed and bad reviews. He is still a master of horror regardless of a decline in his work, and I imagine I might even like some of his later movies more than others do.

Best of the West: Day V


16. Rio Bravo (Hawks, 1959)

Just a fair warning, folks: this list is probably going to be John Wayne and Clint Eastwood heavy, to a degree. However this is also due to the fact that both actors worked with some truly great directors. Wayne worked with Hawks a couple of times, the other one that I know of (and have seen) being the lesser El Dorado, which is really a loose remake of this movie. John Carpenter also loosely remade this film with his excellent and underrated Assault on Precinct 13, which came out two decades later. So this movie has a rather broad based appeal, despite the fact that its a simple, straightforward western. Hawks, best known for creating screwball comedies with Carry Grant, stepped out of his comfort zone to make a machoistic picture that also displays what any fan of The Thing From Another World knows: that Hawks was actually good at creating scenes of raw, engaging tension.

Despite its rather simplistic core, the movie is expertly paced and really well made. Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and Ricky Nelson all have an easy going, notable chemistry that is quite important to the movie’s success. Without their ability to act off each other quite well, there is no way this movie would have worked at all. The gunfight scenes are entertaining of course, but what I loved most about Hawks is how good he is at directing a well written script here that has some great dialogue, and he even manages to work in some witty banter. When discussing the movie, I don’t think that the movie’s screenplay, which is fantastic, is covered well enough, and I would say that this is one of the best scripts The Duke ever got to work with.

A final note on this movie is that Angie Dickinson is a wonderful actress who throughout the movie displays a good rapport with Wayne’s character. I haven’t actually examined how westerns treat women, and too many of them fail to even feature strong women characters, but perhaps because Hawks was involved (he after all worked with Katherine Hepburn) in this movie, he made sure to not make an entirely male oriented movie. For which I’m thankful, considering how easy Dickinson is on the eyes, not to mention her character gives the movie a rather funny and charming ending.

The Best of the West: Day IV


17. For a Few Dollars More (1964, Leone)

What everyone forgets is that Leone really came into his own with his second western, displaying his ability to create characters that existed in a world of gray, who were overly violent and usually quite desperate. Its also the movie that features my favorite Lee Van Cleef role, Col. Mortimer, a man seeking revenge carefully while dealing with Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, a fellow as equally good with a gun as Mortimer is, hunting the same group of outlaws that Mortimer wishes to defeat, not just for the reward but for something that happened in his past. The movie is careful never to reveal what transpired between Mortimer and El Indio, save for a handful of flashbacks and a watch that plays an ever so gentle melody, a tune that both men are very much familiar with. I think its interesting how unlike the other two movies in the Man WIth No Name trilogy, this one focuses on him the less-Mortimer is the central player here instead.

Unlike his first western, A Fistful of Dollars, which was practically a shot for shot remake of Yojimbo, Leone wisely created his own movie this time around, using much of the same actors from the first movie while adding in Cleef and Klaus Kinski as a hunchbacked psychotic who duels Mortimer, calling him “The Smoker.” A criticism of Leone’s work could be that at times nothing seems to happen, and yet during these moments either tension is built up, or people’s motivations become more clear. I recall reading something that Leone is a master of making scenes that stretches of greatness, even if they may not fit into the overall narrative or nothing really happens, per say. I can agree with that, even though I think that every shot of his movies has meaning and purpose, even if that purpose becomes unclear.

My only problem with this movie is that not much else can really be said about it. Like many westerns, the narrative and story isn’t particularly deep, and the characters are rather simplistic, although that’s not always a bad thing. Someone over on MovieJustice.com actually argued that the climatic gunfight in this movie was better than the more highly regarded one in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I’m not sure I can agree, although that argument has some merit-the showdown is much shorter, and far tightly paced. Alas, the Morricone score backing it up doesn’t hold a candle to “The Trio.”

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