Hey, everybody! There’s a new “Saw” movie out!
You like movies that exist just so you can watch people be tortured, right?
Eh. Screw that crap. I like real horror movies, real monster movies, real thrillers. I have no problem with grue, but it has to be in context, and there has to be a goddamned story. Preferably a good story.
So, for those who might like to watch something scary and good, I figured I’d throw you a few bones. Collect ‘em all and you can build a skeleton.
These are just five classics, not my all time favorites or anything with that much thought behind it, not in any particular order. All of them are first rate.
- Bride of Frankenstein. This movie is a true piece of motion picture art. Its story is spooky, surreal, and moving. It goes to surprising places. It is brilliantly directed and performed. If all you know of it is still images of a hissing Elsa Lanchester with electric Marge Simpson hair, you have a real treat ahead of you.
- The Thing. First there was the 1938 story “Who Goes There” by science fiction writer John W. Campbell Jr., then there was the 1951 movie called the Thing From Another World from Howard Hawks. But I’m talking about 1982′s The Thing, considered a remake of the 1951 film, but in actuality a far more accurate adaptation of Campbell’s original tale. Directed by John “Halloween” Carpenter, and starring Kurt Russell, this is one fine sci-fi horror flick. An Antarctic research station comes under attack from an alien life-form that can shapeshift, taking on the forms and personalities of its victims. The claustrophobia of the setting, the paranoia of not knowing if the guy in front of you is still who he seems, and the incredible, gruesome effects all add up to a scary as hell movie. (Watch it at http://www.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK//video/hulu/vi3614179353).
- An American Werewolf in London. One of the three best werewolf movies ever made (the Howling being another, and the third I’ll be covering in another blog entry later today). John Landis directs David “I’m a Pepper” Naughton, along with Griffin Dunne in varying states of decomposition, and Jenny Agutter in varying states of dress and undress, and Rick Baker handles the absolutely amazing pre-CGI makeup and effects. The cast is engaging, the story is smart, there’s lots of humor, and the movie is just damn scary. The werewolf isn’t your Lon Chaney Jr style wolfman, scrambling about on two feet, but an enormous and terrifying wolf that will eat your head as soon as look at you. Watch it, then go take a leisurely moonlit walk on the moors.
- Dracula. There are a lot of Dracula movies, and it’s hard to beat Bela Lugosi’s original take on the character in 1931, which is still effective in spite of decades of lampooning. But, in my eyes, one actor did: Frank Langella, in the John Badham-directed 1979 film. This movie is gothic creepiness incarnate, oozing with sex, carried solidly on the shoulders of a world-class cast including Laurence Olivier as Dr. Van Helsing. “You are a wise man, Professor, for someone who has not yet lived even a single lifetime…” Great stuff.
- Near Dark. Adrian Pasdar (widely known from the TV show Heroes, but more properly known from the “Brilliant But Canceled” TV show Profit) runs up against a pack of redneck drifter vampires led by iconic Lance Henriksen. This is a real horror movie, putting aside all the billowing curtains and tender bites of romantic vampire movies in favor of stark, ultraviolent, really scary undead encounters. Lots of blood, lots of suspense, great fun. (Watch it at http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi2699231257).
So there you go. If you haven’t seen any of these, you owe it to yourself to do so before some critter of the dark gets you and you lose your chance.
Next up, 5 more recent horror classics…