It’s getting on the end of October, Gasmii! You know what that means… Time to buy Halloween candy ahead of time and then eat it all and have to make a last minute trip for more at 5pm on Halloween night (I know that’s not just me). For the ladies, it’s time to go out and try and find a single costume in the entire store that isn’t a variation of role-playing hooker costume. For the guys, it’s time to rejoice in the fact that all the ladies will probably give up and just dress like hookers.
Hooker Ninja Turtles. I can’t make this shit up.
Also, it’s time to have some friends over, pop some popcorn, and put on some good ol’ fashioned scary movies. TheMiki loves you all, and would like your splatter fests to be as enjoyable as possible, so I’ve compiled a list of all my favorite scary movies. A few caveats: First, in the grand tradition of Hypnotoad wanting a single horror movie list that didn’t include The Shining, I’m not including ANY of the usual suspects in horror movie top ten lists. Not because I don’t like the movies or because they weren’t scary. I just don’t really think you guys have anything to gain by me telling you that Psycho was awesome or Rosemary’s Baby was creepy as fuck. I’m hoping to convince you to maybe watch some movies you haven’t seen before, or maybe just appreciate a few you never gave much credit to. Some of these are big budget movies you’ve definitely heard of, but maybe you just never had any reason to actually add them to your Netflix queue because they looked stupid as shit. I’m not going for the top ten best obscure horror films here or anything (there are several of those lists online, but mostly they suck). I’ve even limited myself two foreign language films because otherwise they would make up my whole list and a bunch of angry readers would be bitching about how hard it is to read subtitles when you’re drunk at a Halloween party.
I’m also dividing this into a three part series, because when I sat and thought real hard about my favorite horror movies I realized that a lot of them were more funny and than scary, and then some of them were absolutely TERRIBLE but still completely awesome. So, this week we’ll be looking at:
The Good, which means movies that are brilliantly written or beautifully shot or genuinely piss-your-pants scary or at least unique enough to warrant a nod for giving us something new to be terrified of that we hadn’t thought of before.
The Bad, which means campy, gory, low-budget, badly acted, plot-hole filled drivel that still manages to somehow be awesome, along with basically good horror movies that just aren’t very scary or realistic. Yeah yeah, we all love a good deep psychological mindfuck that makes us sleep with the lights on, but sometimes we want to just be ENTERTAINED by the murder of the innocents.
The Funny, which means tongue-in-cheek style horror flicks that aren’t going give you nightmares or anything, but that use a terrifying premise to make you laugh. Because for every night that you want a complex narrative from a horror master, there’s a night where you want to giggle your way through a splatter fest that’s both gross and clever.
Okay, all set? Ready to learn a little something about what TheMiki watches on horror movie nights? Well then, let’s get to it, and let’s start things off right with The Good. These aren’t in any particular order, because if I put them in order I would spend the next six hours rearranging them because I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best.
Married couple with terminally ill child moves into a creepy old orphanage with only the best intentions, child starts playing with a group of invisible friends, parents write it off as standard kid behavior, kid disappears, scariness ensues.
This is one of the two foreign language films I’ve allotted myself, and it is amazing. After seeing Del Torro’s most recent, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, I have decided that the man clearly does not speak English, and that whoever interprets for him when he’s directing an English language film is an asshole. Orphanage is the pinnacle of what makes Del Torro great. It’s creepy and atmospheric and the tension builds so effortlessly that you almost forget you’re watching a movie at all.
Six complete strangers wake up in a strange room. They don’t know each other, they don’t know how they got there, and they don’t know where they are. No one remembers anything beyond going to sleep and waking up there. There are doors on each wall, along with the ceiling and the floor, giving them six different directions to try and find a way out. Oh, but a lot of the rooms have horrible gruesome booby traps in them, and the cube seems to go on forever with rooms in every direction and no end in sight. This movie is terrifying partially because it so brilliantly shows us how ordinary people can come unglued when put in a stressful situation, and partially because of the randomness of it all. Also, while it does go for the gore at times, the gore is so damn creative that it doesn’t feel like a cheap scare. A lot of big-budget horror films have ripped off some of the deaths from Cube, so if you watch this and think, “I’ve seen all this crap before and TheMiki is full of shit” then try to remember that Cube probably did it first. And also, fuck you.
Sure, it’s kind of a lame premise. Three college kids bribe their way onto a mountain to avoid paying for lift tickets, then they talk the guy running the lift into letting them take one last run after the mountain is closing down and they wind up getting stuck after the lift powers down while they’re still on it. The rest of the movie is just the three of them panicking and trying to think of ways to get down and bickering and crying and occasionally getting chewed on by wolves. It’s great in that the situation is so dreary and leaves them so completely helpless. Basically your choices are sit in this chair until you die or jump out and fall until you die. The characters are pretty much assholes, so you don’t mind watching them break-down and succumb to frost-bite so much. There are parts in the beginning of this movie where they’re behaving like such asswipe entitled coed dickweeds that I’m dying to see them get on that chair and start suffering. This should probably be on the bad list, but it gets a good rating simply for giving us one more thing to have an irrational phobia of.
A Tale of Two Sisters
I couldn’t sleep for days after I watched this movie. DAYS. This movie is so twisted and creepy and beautiful and horrible that I couldn’t get it out of my head. And when I slept I dreamed about it and woke up with my heart beating out of my damn chest. The story follows two sisters returning home after spending time in a mental institution. Their stepmom is a heinous bitch and there’s a ghost fucking with everyone, plus there’s the issue of dealing with the reason the girls were in the nuthouse in the first place. This was remade into a terrible American movie, but for the love of all that’s unholy don’t watch that version. Either buck up and read the subtitles, deal with shitty dubbing, or don’t watch the movie at all.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
This was the first Freddy movie that Wes Craven actually had a hand in since the original, and holy hell did he breathe new life into it. Instead of making a sequel or a prequel, Craven went for something I can only really call a parallel-quel. Everything takes place in the real world, where the Freddy movies are just movies and Robert England is some guy who lives in the mountains and paints pictures now that he’s done playing Kruger. Nancy, the star of the first movie, plays herself, only she’s being haunted by a very real Freddy who isn’t happy about being killed off in movieland and is trying to make his way into the real world via Nancy’s incredibly creepy yet adorable son. A brilliant way to make an actual good movie out of a franchise that had been milked to death.
House of the Devil
Do you have a soft spot for those creepy Satanic cult horror movies of the early 80’s? This movie sure as hell does. Set in the 80’s and shot in a grainy 80’s movie style, you would almost think you were watching a classic horror film. Okay, not almost. If I hadn’t seen the release date on Netflix (2009) I would be wondering how on earth I managed to go my entire childhood without having this movie scare the crap out of me. Aside from being an impressive homage to an era of awesome scary cinema, this film is genuinely suspense-filled and kinda fucking scary. Next time you’re watching Poltergeist and one of your friends bitches that, “they just don’t make movies like this anymore,” make them watch House of the Devil.
Okay, fine, this one is absolutely not scary. It is sort of a thousand different kinds of awesome though, so it’s going on the good list. It’s also the only good werewolf movie to come out during my lifetime. American Werewolf in London came out the year before I was born, and every attempt since then has been half-assed and funny when it meant to be scary. Ginger Snaps tells the story of two teenage sisters, the older and hotter of which has been bitten by a lycanthrope. Her transformation into a werewolf is a great big metaphor for puberty, and it’s a really enjoyable if not slightly campy take on the whole werewolf genre.
Let Me In
Umm… So while I sit here and instruct you to absolutely under no circumstances watch the American version of A Tale of Two Sisters I must admit that I haven’t seen the Swedish version of Let Me In. Maybe it’s a thousand times better and blows this American version out of the water, but after just seeing this one I absolutely loved it. It’s sort of a sweet young love take on the vampire mythos, where the girl next door and only friend to nerdy protagonist Owen just happens to be a bloodthirsty vampire. Played by Chloe Grace Moretz who I will go on record as calling the greatest child actress in the world, the vampire is tragic and sympathetic while still being a killing machine. The bullies Owen encounters at school are dark and twisted and terrifying in their own right, and those moments of violence that come out of nowhere are all the more unsettling because you almost get comfortable feeling like you’re watching a somewhat dark yet sweet coming of age film. But then there’s biting and blood and horrible icky death to startle you right out of that.
I was trying really hard not to have any repeats from Hypnotoad’s list last year, but I just can’t bring myself to make a list of scary movies and not include Event Horizon. This movie scared me more than any movie has ever scared me, and I still have occasional nightmares brought on by early childhood Event Horizon watching PTSD. Space is the final frontier because space is fucking scary and full of crazy demon shit and Sam Neil. As a hardcore science nerd with dreams of being an astronaut as a kid this movie hit right where shit got really scary. Because the science nerd in me could scoff at things like ghosts and vampires and satanic forces. I was scared of serial killers and stuff that could really happen, but the supernatural stuff was silly. But when they threw science into the supernatural stuff I just shut down and curled into the fetal position and hid under the impenetrable fortress of my blanket where it was safe.
Super effective mockumentary about a series of strange occurrences that follow the mysterious drowning death of a teenage girl. The narrative focuses around the girl’s family and uses interviews spliced together with news footage and home movies to tell the story. I had to double-check after watching this because it feels so much like a real documentary that I had a rough time believing it was just a movie. More psychological study than actual horror movie, it will leave you wondering why you’ve never heard of it and yet absolute boring dreck like Paranormal Activity cleaned up at the box office.
What the fuck, Kevin Smith? I just watched this movie. Like, literally threw this on without knowing a damn thing about it because Netflix recommended it based on my enjoyment of some of Kevin Smith’s earlier films (namely Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). And I was finishing off writing this post and thought some mindless stoner comedy might make good background noise while I tried to find good trailers on Youtube and figure out how to get them into my post. Holy balls, this is not a comedy. This is a dark, twisted, brutal fucking slasher style flick about backwoods homophobia in the name Jesus. Think House of 1,000 Corpses if you crossed Rob Zombie’s family with the Westboro Baptist Phelps family of fuckheads. This movie is unsettling and just downright uncomfortable to watch. I find it mildly amusing thinking about all the whacked out stoners who probably made the same mistake I did, only in much more fragile states of mind and proceeded to have their mellows violently and permanently harshed.
And even though it has no place here on TVgasm (and on a movie list, no less) if any of you want to do anything totally crazy like.. say… read a book…
House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
This book fucking broke my brain. My inner voice/narrator that I hear in my head turned into the voice of Johnny Truant. I thought in his vocal stylings. I saw wacky shit and weird meanings in things that seemed normal before I opened this book. I still get mildly on edge when I start reading it again, and I’ve read it at least a dozen times.
All right kids, weigh in. Argue, agree, suggest movies I’m criminally insane for omitting, etc. I’ll be back in couple days with Part Two: The Bad. That’s where we have cheesy fun that might make us jump or squirm or but that doesn’t make us turn on all the lights and check under the bed before going to sleep.
I enjoy mocking other people because it's the only thing I'm really good at, and I think we should all use the gifts God gave us. My childhood was way more fucked up than yours, and yet I'm a fully productive member of society with no criminal record or bastard children. As such, listening to coked-out hookers whine about their baby-daddies getting arrested and how they live this life cause their mama didn't breastfeed them makes me want to throw furniture at my TV. When I'm not tearing down people on television I like to paint, write, drink coffee, hike, and make pathetic attempts to play the guitar, because chicks dig a lady with an instrument.