Friday, October 2, 2009

Review: Hellraiser: Bloodline

5/10

Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley. Directed by Alan Smithee (Kevin Yagher.)


Here we have the biggest, most muddled mess of the Hellraiser series. The first two films are two of the greatest horror films in existence, and the third was a very good continuation of the mythology. But Bloodline is an anomaly, given that it is written by the same man that wrote 2 and 3 (Peter Atkins). This is a very ambitious film, and has many good ideas, but none of them play out exactly as they should. Essentially, Bloodline is a perfect example of how a perfectly good script (and it is, the original script for this movie is remarkable) can be utterly ruined by the studio.

The story spans three generations. First and most exciting, we get to see the complete origin of the nefarious box, The Lament Configuration. Turns out it was done out of ignorance by toymaker Philip LeMerchand. He was commissioned to make the box for a wealthy baron who uses it as a gateway to Hell, from which he pulls the demoness Angelique. LeMerchand, horrified at what he has created, tries to design an idea for a puzzle that will destroy demons, to mirror his design that summons them.

Cut to the present, where architect Jack Merchant is being plagued by dreams (of Angelique, who survived the centuries) as he works on his latest design, which has an ever-eerie resemblance to the box. Angelique knows that he is a descendant of LeMerchand and goes to America to find him. Carnage ensues, leading to the summoning of Pinhead, who graces a little more screen time than is usual for these films.

Our wrap-around segment, where we see our narrator, is in the 22nd century on the space station Minos. Yes, that's right. Pinhead in space. See Jason X, Leprechaun 4 and Critters 4 for info on how well that usually works. Anyway, here LeMerchand's last descendant has finally figured out the Elysium Configuration, the box that will destroy the gateway to Hell and uses it to destroy Pinhead (who's never really been the all-out villain in the series before, he's more of a shadow character, so this feels a little contrived).

Like I said, a lot of good ideas. But the end result is a mess. The film, just from the synopsis should (and deserves to be) 2 hours long. The film itself is 81 minutes. Yeah. There's a story on that though. See, the first cut of the film was indeed over 2 hours. Unfortunately, the studio decided that's no length for a horror movie, so they cut out enough footage to be considered another feature film. Also, Angelique was dubbed over with an American actress to remove her French accent. Wonderful thought process in the makings of this one. What we're left with is a mess of a movie. It's unfortunate, it really is, because there was a lot of potential here, and a lot of charisma in the early days of its making. Clive Barker, upon seeing the final product sued (and failed) to have his name removed, and Kevin Yagher (outstanding special effects guy who did the make-up for Freddy Krueger and designed the Chucky doll, as well as the Crypt Keeper) got his first shot of directing with this film, and became so ashamed he removed his name from it. Doug Bradley has more screen time, which may be out of character, but as he was one of the few things that really made this worth watching, I don't mind it.

So, while it's not all the movie's fault, what we got is what we got. And what we got ain't great. This was the last Hellraiser film to go to theaters and one can't really wonder why. It was all straight-to-DVD from here, and all those sequels, in my humble opinion, actually surpassed this. Still, Doug Bradley always brings a firm sophistication to Pinhead.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: Martin


8/10

Starring: John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forest. Written and Directed by George A. Romero.

So, here we have one of the most innovative and influential takes on the vampire genre ever made. George A. Romero created the zombie film in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead. Here, he works a similar effect on the vampire move, taking the idea and completely spinning it on its head. The story deals with a young man who may or may not be a vampire. He goes to live with his uncle, who believes he is such beyond any doubt, but Martin throws the superstitions in his face, insisting that "there's no real magic. There's no real magic ever."

Yet still he has vampiric tendencies that are clear from the first scene of the film, in which we see him drug a woman on a train and extract some of her blood, as he has no fangs. He cannot change into a bat, he possesses no supernatural gifts or, for that matter, limitations. Yet still he believes what his uncle tells him, an idea that has been forced upon him, that he is indeed an 84 year-old vampire. In the end, the choice is ours to make, though we can more easily side with the obvious, that Martin is a poor, disturbed young man who has a need for blood.

The one thing abundantly clear throughout the whole film is that Martin does not want to do what he does. But he has to, or he believes he has to. Either way, the idea of stopping it is completely beyond his control. Overall, this is a near-masterpiece of film. One of Romero's best, saying a lot coming from the director of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Creepshow. The plot and themes are superb, the acting and story are chilling, and the overall film is essential. It is a genre-bending, thought-provoking horror film.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Night of the Living Dead: Origins casting news


It seems Night of the Living Dead has yet another redux on the way. This will be the third attempt at a remake of the classic, though it looks to be more of a prequel than anything. The other two remakes ranged from great (Night of the Living Dead 1990) to awful (Night of the Living Dead 3D) though this one looks to be shaping up nicely. The film has been described as a 3D CGI "American Anime".

As of now, the film stars Danielle Harris as Barbara, Joe Pilato as Cooper, with Mos Def currently in talks to play Ben. So, in short, casting is currently epic. The film itself could still go either way. Interested to see how this develops.

Nightmare on Elm Street Trailer is Now Online!

Well, it looks like all our waiting has paid off, as the trailer for Platinum Dunes' A Nightmare on Elm Street is online as of midnight.

The Captain's Thoughts: My anticipation with this film continues to grow. The first image and poster were great, the trailer is damn near everything I wanted it to be. Jackie Earle Hayley keeps proving himself as the right guy for the job and this pretty much sets it in stone. We see shots of a scary, shadowed Freddy, some nice homages to the original film, and some beautiful nightmare imagery. The trailer's opening shot is interesting, and the film seems to be trying a new take on the Krueger mythos with adding a "did he/didn't he do it" mentality to the film. As in: was Krueger a monster before the fire, or was he made that way by what was done to him, and does it matter in the end? All intriguing. Now, for the look of the monster. This is most definitely Freddy Krueger. All the elements are there and striking images. But, this is Jackie Earle Hayley's Krueger, not Robert Englund's, and the differences are there and noticeable. They reached the perfect balance of new/old.

If the trailer is any indication, this should shape up to be one of the best horror films of 2010. You can view it here: http: http://www.myspace.com/trailerpark

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hidden Gem: Waxwork (1988)


Trying another new segment here. This is for severely overlooked horror films, even by fan standards.

Now, there were certainly some gems in the late 80's, that's for sure. They ranged from the outrageously cheesy (Night of the Demons) to the fantastic (The Serpent and the Rainbow), but if there was one overlooked camp classic to sneak in at the end of the decade, Waxwork is in my eyes most assuredly it.

The film is directed by Anthony Hicox, who would go on to direct Waxwork II: Lost in Time and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. It stars Zach Galligan (Gremlins 1&2), Deborah Foreman (April Fool's Day), John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and the always epic David Warner (In the Mouth of Madness, TRON, The Omen).

The focus of the movie is, obviously, a Waxwork. But whereas I went in expecting another ol' dip the bodies in wax to hide them type of movie, I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather awesome new take. This is a campy supernatural film, and the true plot is that the owner of the Waxwork wants to unleash hell on earth by offering up victims to his horror-themed wax exhibits. When the people step through the exhibit, they step into the world inhabited by that specific character. Dracula's victim finds herself in a castle, the werewolf's victim in a forest, etc. Now, one would think this would shift to play like an anthology film, but the plot remains surprisingly coherent throughout.

The plot point that sealed the deal for me, however, was the one spot where the film truly rose above just being a campy 80's monster movie. The heroine, Sara, is very sexually repressed and instead of having her simply do battle with a burly monster at the end, Hicox instead explores the theme throughout. Sara clearly has desires of her own. Desires that may even go a step further than what her friends are doing. For example, the wax figure that captivates her most is not The Count, nor Frankenstein's Monster, nor the Phantom of the Opera... it's the Marquis de Sade. A figure she nearly seems to idolize... until she meets him face to face.

Of course, any 1980's monster pic depends heavily on its gore and effects, and this film has these by the buckets. The special effects are done by Bob Keene, the genius who worked on the early Hellraiser films.

So, while Waxwork may not take its spot amongst the classics, it does explore some interesting themes when it wants to. What can truly be expected here is simply good, clean, messy fun. It is, just as the tagline reads, "more fun than a barrel of mummies."

Daily Cheesey Horror Trailer: Basket Case (1982)

New segment I'm trying here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uQj7j8yG6A&feature=related

Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Halloween II (2009)


7/10

Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif and Tyler Mane

This film has, as expected, already begun to take a beating as it is a sequel to Rob Zombie's Halloween, which opened to some pretty good reviews but was savagely received by fans who were expecting more of the same.

Rob Zombie's film is different for the Halloween series. It does not destroy the original classic and it would have to try hard to be as bad as Halloween III. Now, to get on to the film itself. As you can see, I was a fan of Zombie's Halloween remake. Here, I was equally impressed. With this film, there were no more boundaries, as Zombie made all the characters his own at the end of the first. This is Rob Zombie's Halloween II and he's free to do whatever he wants with it. Luckily, the directions he takes it in are pretty damn interesting.

This film is well-written and every character has something to do. It's a psychological movie and Zombie goes into depths exploring how each character from the first is dealing with the events, and no two are going about it the same way. Annie (Danielle Harris) has become a recluse unable to leave the house, Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) has become a shadow of himself, almost a joke, totally ignoring the events to surpress whatever guilt he feels. Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) is totally devoted to his job, coming much closer to filling Loomis' normal role in a Halloween film.

Obviously, the focus of the film is Michael and Laurie, and it is portrayed in a way that feels real. A question constantly raised throughout the film is whether or not Laurie (obviously the most traumatized - especially when she discovers she's Myers' sister) will be gripped by her brother's madness. We get keen looks into Michael's head as well as Laurie's, their very similar dreams and visions. And Michael, now a bearded vagrant, even gets some fun ground to play with in realizations that he has to put the mask on to kill and that in his visions, he speaks through his childhood persona.

Overall, another enjoyable effort by Zombie and a worthy entry in the (now 31 year) Halloween saga.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Posters Unveiled

The first posters for A Nightmare on Elm Street, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil and Scream 4 have been unveiled. While Scream 4 is simply a logo, I am so digging the other two. One, this is the only time a Puppet Master film has been hyped up enough to even warrant a poster, so here's that.



As a lifelong fan of the indy series, I cannot wait for January.

And then there's this guy. Nightmare news has been pouring in all day, with the first image only this morning. And it has kept on winning me over. This still doesn't show a whole lot, but I like what we see. We get a good look at the glove, for one thing, and some of the scarring. All the elements of Freddy are still there. Loving this so far, can't wait to see what else is in store.



And the Scream 4 logo. Well, I don't know how to feel about this. One, I can't vouch for whether or not it's real. If it isn't, then I'm a silly fool. If it is real, then that means the project is finally getting off the ground.

Are You Ready for Freddy?


Here it is, folks! Your first look at Freddy in Platinum Dunes' A Nightmare on Elm Street, from the people over at Bloody-Disgusting.

I, personally, love the shot. I know you can't see much, but I definitely see the presence of Freddy here. The tone is fantastic too. Very, very dark. And it definitely seems a return to original form for Krueger, as promised.

And Freddy fever continues, as Brad Fuller reveals ANOTHER shot of Freddy will be revealed this afternoon on IGN!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Way of the Future: A Look at the Most Intriguing Upcoming Horror Films


Well, I've been on a kick looking at upcoming movies, some looking good and some looking bad... so here are a few select picks I've decided to share with you.

H2: Halloween II- Well, this one's only a month away and I'm devilishly excited, so I'll start with this. Rob Zombie's Halloween was good, I liked it. My further thoughts on it are in the Halloween Retrospective post. He brought a new flair and energy to the project that was his own, yet was limited in remaking the original film as well. Now, he isn't. He's free to do his own thing, and everything I've seen so far looks bizarre, disturbing, and tells me I'm in for an experience unlike any other Halloween film.

Jennifer's Body- Megan Fox is hot. It hurts to join the masses, it hurts to go this low, but I will admit it. Yes, she looks like she belongs in porn. But now she's in a horror film, so she's halfway there already. But, to be Mr. Respectable here, I'll say that what I am looking forward to is that it's written by Diablo Cody. I thought her script for Juno was wonderful, and anyone who goes straight from winning an Academy Award to doing a horror movie is OK by me. Third, the plot sounds fantastic, especially with the other two factors. Megan Fox is a cheerleader who becomes possessed and starts killing and eating her male classmates. That seems to be it, but I'm down either way.

Zombieland- Okay, how awesome does this movie look? I figured it for another run of the mill flesheating fest, which would still have won with me. But after viewing the trailer, I am so freaking excited for this movie. Essentially, it stars Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as two brothers who kill zombies, in a world where the zombies are pretty much winning.

Daybreakers- It's set in a world where the vampire population heavily outweighs the human population, which officially makes it probably the closest we will ever get to seeing Richard Matheson's novel "I am Legend" truly adapted to the screen. And no, it's not based on it, but technically neither were the three films that were. Also, what could be better than Sam Neill as a vampire? Actually, the answer is Willem Defoe as a vampire hunter.

The Wolf Man- A remake of the classic 1940's Universal Horror Film starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugo Weaving. Isn't that all I need to say? I've heard scarily few things as of late, but I assume it's still scheduled for November.

A Nightmare on Elm Street- Um, check below to hear me drool over this one.

Piranha 3D- dude, it's piranhas. In 3D. And Elisabeth Shue. in 3D. Not only that, but it's from the director of the super-awesome High Tension, and the... above mediocre Hills Have Eyes remake. And it's about piranhas. In 3D.

New Freddy To Be Revealed Tomorrow?


According to producer Brad Fuller, the first image of Jackie Earle Hayley as Freddy Krueger will (finally) be revealed at 10am pacific time tomorrow.

I, for one, anxiously await this remake. Having met Robert Englund and heard him give his full blessings to Haley, I accept someone new taking up the mantle. I also think that if anyone is up to the job, it's Jackie Earle Hayley. He is the kind of actor that can totally immerse himself in a role, and that's exactly what this calls for. Also, his performance in Watchmen was frightening, jaw-dropping and Oscar worthy (he already has one nomination to his credit, for the record).

This new Krueger is said to return to the heyday of the first three films (and to an extent, I suppose, New Nightmare) with a darker, frightening Freddy. A true bogeyman. Haley is reportedly so intense in the role that he made co-star Rooney Mara (Nancy) cry, resulting in many extra takes that were probably worth it in the long run.

The film is directed by Samuel Bayer (his feature film debut) and hits theaters on April 16, 2010

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crimson King: Stephen King's 10 Best Antagonists

He's the King of horror for a reason, and though not everything in his massive body of work is a masterpiece, when it is, it is. So, we'll take a look at the darkest, baddest characters the King holds to his credit.

10. Jack Torrance (The Shining)- What's scarier than having an antagonist hiding in the shadows is realizing piece by piece that he's standing right in front of us. Jack is driven slowly insane by the Overlook Hotel throughout the story, in a cold isolated hotel with only his wife and son. While the book and movie are very different, and each goes about Jack's madness in their own way, both are very well-executed.

9. Blaine (The Dark Tower)- The insane, suicidal, riddle-loving monorail from The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands and The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass. In short, he is just one disturbed, crazy motherfucker even if he is only a programmed talking monorail. He's the literal crazy train. Blaine wants to die and wants to take our heroes down with him, as well as destroy an entire city. While the city cannot be saved, his game of riddle telling with the heroes makes for nail biting reading.

8. Christine- The touching story of a boy and his first car. One messed up romance, and a really unhealthy relationship. Christine will let nothing come between her and Archie Cunningham, her owner/lover. She is a vengeful 1958 Plymouth Fury, and the name is far too appropriate, as this is one crazy furious bitch. Also, this car is pretty much indestructible. One hell of an entertaining, obscurely creepy read, and John Carpenter's film is overlooked.

7. Carrie White- Carrie is a completely sympathetic character. High School is hell for her and things just don't seem to go well for her at all. We want her to be okay. We want her mother to accept her, we want the boy to like her for real, we want to be prom queen. But this is a high school fairy tale in which NONE of these things come true. What were left with is a girl now controlled by the one aspect of herself she actually tried to hide. After the prank at prom, Carrie's uses her telekinesis to destroy everyone and everything around her, and our sympathetic heroine is barely even human anymore. In all honesty, the true villain of the piece is the mother, but Carrie is one who kills hundreds of people, and the image of her in her blood stained prom dress has become iconic.

6. The Crimson King (The Dark Tower)- The overbearing antagonist of the Dark Tower series comes in late in the game. The Crimson King is not so much as scary as his lead henchman (we'll get to that dark man later) nor as his ambitious goal. He wishes to bring about the true destruction of everything. Not just the world, not just the universe, but every world in every universe. True ultimate destruction.

5. Pet Sematary- The MicMac Burial Ground is the subtlest of evils. We don't understand what happens here, not really, but we see the product and it is frightening. One of King's most disturbing books, one of his most successfully horrifying films. What we know about this place is what we hear through old-timer Judd Crandall. And we know it is bad. The message "sometimes dead is better" gets clearer and clearer as the story goes on.

4. Mr. Barlowe ('Salem's Lot)- The master vampire of King's smalltown horror, which he once claimed to be his scariest book. And it's definitely one of them, if not the top spot. Salem's Lot is half homage to Stoker's Dracula, half smalltown creeping horror. He spreads his evil through the town and these, lemme tell you, are NOT your metro Anne Rice or sparkly Twilight vampires.

3. Annie Wilkes (Misery)- Every celebrity's worst nightmare... the ultimate fan. She starts off so nice, a kindly, portly woman taking in a writer after an accident and insisting that she's his biggest fan. But when she keeps the writer captive, we see how insane she really is. Kathy Bates performance as the chilling character earned her a well deserved Academy Award.

2. Pennywise (It)- A cosmic entity with a hunger for all life, but especially prays on children, it see into the deepest parts of your soul and take the form of everything you were ever afraid of. And it's favorite form to appear in is a clown. With this character, King personified fear and dread itself in one eccentric, laughing monster. One of the scariest creations in all of literature.

1. Randall Flagg (The Dark Tower, The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon)- The walking dude, the dark man, he goes by many names and can appear in any King work ...if he hasn't appeared already. He IS King's villain. Whether he be the ultimate embodiment of charismatic evil (as in The Stand) or a crazed, power-hungry sorcerer (The Eyes of the Dragon), or in King's epic masterwork, The Dark Tower, both. He is beyond psychotic, both evil and likable, and bears many similarities to the Devil Himself. The impact he has had on King's writing is profound (not without a sense of irony for a Dark Tower reader) and there could be no other top spot than this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"You Can't Kill the Bogeyman": 31 Years of Halloween


Following on my Friday the 13th and my A Nightmare on Elm Street retrospectives, I decided to continue with a feature looking back on the Halloween series, tracing it back from John Carpenter's original masterpiece and Rob Zombie's above-average remake, and all the varied ground in between. There's nine films to cover (a tenth on the way this August) so we better get a move on, eh?

1) Halloween (1978)- Is there even any doubt? This is not only by far the best of the series, but simply one of the best horror movies ever filmed. From the intelligently simplistic story to the realistic characters, dead-on cinematography and absolutely perfect score, Halloween is a horror film if there ever was one. It tells like an urban legend (maniac escapes institution returns to hometown, stalking a core group of babysitters) set in an area so real and quaint it could be any town. It's cold, simple death infecting peaceful everyday life. It is the American horror story. Michael Myers is one of the most chilling villains ever put to film. A silent, slow, faceless killer, he is the embodiment of death itself. Jaime Lee Curtis makes an astounding debut as heroine Laurie. Donald Pleasance is perfect as Dr. Loomis, the Ahab (or Van Helsing) hunting down a monster capable of more than even he can imagine.

2) Halloween II- If a sequel had to be made, this is how to do it. Halloween was a perfect film unto itself. While the ending (Michael is shot off a porch, they look down, he's gone) was meant to simply bear the message that evil never dies, it is understandable how the general public saw it as implying a sequel. Either way, the original certainly made the money to warrant one, so it was put in motion. Picking up immediately where the original left off, Halloween II is also completely set on the same night. Both Donald Pleasance and Jaime Lee Curtis (who had already established herself as the first true "scream queen" since the Hammer era) reprise their roles. The sequel sees Laurie being taken off to the hospital while Michael continues his pursuit of her and Loomis makes a shocking discovery about the girl and the maniac. This sequel reveals that Laurie is Michael's younger sister (his elder sister, Judith, was his first victim when he was six years old). While the original film worked without the notion, it's a good twist in terms of a series. The body count is higher this time, the nudity more gratuitous, and the gore is present, but the story is not lost (original scripters John Carpenter and Debra Hill return).

3. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later- After become a scream queen in the early '80's (doing such films as Prom Night and Terror Train) Jaime Lee Curtis actually went on to become a very successful, acclaimed actress, so the series continued without her. On the twentieth anniversary of the original Halloween, however, Curtis decided to pay her respects by reprising the role of Laurie for this inventive sequel. This film ignores everything after part 2 (mind you, this is the seventh entry) but that's not necessarily a bad thing as Laurie wasn't even involved with those. Instead, this is about a woman trying to cope with her past when it literally comes back to haunt her, and she realizes that the only way to conquer her demon is to face it a final time. This was a film made for the fans, Curtis is great as always, and the only complaint is that it is meant to be a final film and ends on such a high note, but it is not the final film. Halloween: Resurrection followed before the remake.

4. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers- After Halloween II, Carpenter and crew felt they had told the Myers story. So, they decided on something new. How about a completely unrelated movie with nothing to do with the first two other than being set on Halloween and it's about an old guy trying to destroy the world with masks that make kid's heads blow up and I'm pretty sure there were robots. Well, that's exactly what Halloween III: Season of the Witch was. Scroll down to the bottom to see how well that worked out. Long story short, Halloween III was not met with universal acclaim. So, it was time to bring back Myers. Hence the title, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. So, Michael's been in a coma since he got torched at the end of 2. Loomis survived the fire. Laurie was apparently killed in a car crash, but H20 later reveals she faked her death. This time, Michael's target on his return trip to Haddonfield is his eight year old niece, Jaime (Danielle Harris). This film plays a lot like an '80's horror movie, but it is definitely a worthy sequel.

5. Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)- Rob Zombie's remake is a unique and surprisingly good adaption of the original material. It is, essentially, a completely different way of telling the same story. While the original was scary because the killer was unknown and faceless, this movie is scary because it gives Myers a face, it feels real. Myers is a psychopath whose inner rage was unleashed in the midst of an awful childhood, events he had no control over, but did not help his development. Malcolm MacDowell (of A Clockwork Orange) plays Loomis very well, but even he, a superb actor, could not hold a candle to Donald Pleasance. Scout Taylor-Compton is genuine and sympathetic as the new Laurie. Danielle Harris (of Halloween 4 and 5) is all grown up (interpret how you please) as Laurie's friend Annie and also does a very good job. Many other genre vets make appearances, most notably Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky in the Child's Play series) as the new sheriff, but none of the new, compelling story is sacrificed. Zombie did a good job with this, overall. While it obviously is not and could never be the original, it does definitely hold its own.

6. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers- The sixth film in the series also marks the last film to feature Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis (he died in post-production). This film has a very intriguing premise, but the story becomes muddled and overdeveloped. The producer's cut (unreleased to this day, but can be found online) is a much, much better and more coherent version of the film. Still, the main idea behind this film is to give origin to a character who was never supposed to have one. Tommy Doyle, one of the children Laurie babysat that fateful Halloween night in 1978 is all grown up (played by Paul Rudd, who would go on to star in comedy hits such as I Love You Man, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Anchorman) and believes Michael is preparing to return to Haddonfield, and has come into possession of the last of Michael's bloodline-- Jaime's baby. After killing said niece, but not finding the baby, Michael returns to town. Tommy and Loomis try to warn the family now living in the Myers house of the danger that surrounds them, but there is something else watching and waiting. A mysterious group called the Cult of Thorn that bears the secrets to Michael's supernatural origin.

7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers- This was released and set one year after 4, with Danielle Harris returning as young Jaime running from her maniacal uncle. It just plays like a simplistic slasher film, not much story other than the bizarre link between Jaime and Michael that unsuccessfully tries to explain why Jaime stabbed her mother to death in the end of Halloween 4, but is fine now. One of the teenage victims, Tina, is so mind numbingly annoying that one cannot help but pray for her death the moment she steps on screen. Even Donald Pleasance looks like he's starting to get tired, which is a sad thing to see. Also, what the fuck. The Myers house is now suddenly a blue Victorian mansion instead of a simple white house. They didn't even try to have it look the same.

8. Halloween: Resurrection- Interestingly, the director of the the best Halloween sequel returns for the worst (Halloween III, which we'll get to in a minute, folks, pretty much doesn't count). Jaime Lee Curtis returns for an interesting opening scene which sees her character get killed off. While I guess this has a nice message of "the past always catches up with you" the fact of the matter is, Jaime was what sold the tickets, she died in the opening scene, this film could only go down from here. And oh, does it. How low, you might ask? How's about Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers outfit and mask, telling the real Michael Myers, "I ain't playin' you to be Michael Myers! I'm Michael Myers, bitch!" and then informing him to get his ass back to the garage. Oh, and that dude from American Pie gets his throat slit.

9. Halloween III: Season of the Witch-................................... What. The. Fuck.

Just....

(sigh) what the fuck.

I mean, exploding masks? Really? I'm just, I mean, the only thing I learned from this film? Six more days til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Six more days till Halloween, Silver Shamrock! Imagine that commercial playing every fifteen minutes along with the "plot" I listed above, and you have this film. Not a Halloween film, not connected in any way shape or form, it just adds insult to injury that it's not a good horror film on its own.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: Nightbreed


8/10

Following the obvious success of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II Clive Barker brought audiences a very different film with his second feature as director, Nightbreed. Based on his novella, Cabal, Nightbreed is a unique, interesting and underrated film.

The late 1980's saw the rise of the modern horror franchise. Movie monsters like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees had become heroes of sorts. The audience went to see them do what they do. Clive's own Hellraiser (and later Candyman) had already begun heading in this direction. Nightbreed, however, does things differently. In Nightbreed, the monsters literally are the heroes.

There are some very fantastic, very imaginative creatures on display in Nightbreed. Truly striking visual designs, but with a master at the helm, there is obviously far more to the film than that. This film plays brilliantly with the established connections of "good" and "evil". In Nightbreed, the more monstrous looking characters are generally the most innocent and kindhearted. Generally. But there are humans in this film capable of far worse than many of the Nightbreed.

The film focuses on a man named Boone (Craig Scheffer) who dreams of a mysterious land called Midian. He knows nothing of this place, only that he has to find it. But, it confuses him, leading him to doubt himself. His psychiatrist, Decker (played brilliantly by astounding director David Cronenberg) has him convinced that he has committed horrific murders, that he is losing his mind. In reality, Decker himself is the killer, also pursuing Midian. As the film goes on, Boone is shot down by the police. His pursuit continues, eventually finding Midian and the creatures (called Nightbreed) that inhabit it. He is their leader. He is Cabal. Essentially, the police catch up and find Midian out, leading to a sort of war between the humans and the "freaks".

Nightbreed is a truly imaginative, completely original film, at times incredibly frightening (thank you, David Cronenberg). The human characters can become incredibly vicious, in particular the sheriff and Decker, who believes he is cleansing the world by removing the physically abnormal. The Nightbreed often look nightmarish, but the audience can much more easily connect with them. This is in part due to the fantastic visual/make up effects and obviously due to the writing and directing of Clive Barker. Doug Bradley is also noticeable in a non-Pinhead role.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Terror Overseas: Best Non-American Horror Movies

Yes, there are movies outside the US. No, they don't all speak "American". But some of them get away with a lot more than we can do over here, and a lot are more worthwhile than most of what gets released in our neck of the woods (maybe not all, but a fair amount) and many are inspiration for a lot of American horror movies and/or styles. Basically, foreign horror is often overlooked as it is, well, foreign. So sit down and let the Captain teach you a lesson in the many languages (or accents) of splatter.

Japan: Yes, we need to start with Japan. You don't even know scary until you've given Japan a good look (just see that Schwarzenegger commercial and you'll know what I'm talking about). Many have called Japan the birthplace of fear, so it gets its own section in this post.

Now, with that little note out of the way, let's get going and check out some of the best horror movies from around the globe:

Audition (Japan)- Jaw droppingly visceral and layers upon layers of frightening. This movie is so scary because it starts so peaceful. A man has lost his wife and is ready to move on, but he is nervous about meeting new people. So he and his friend host a fake movie audition so he can get to know new women. He meets the cutest, most innocent girl you've ever seen.... until you see that she isn't. From the point where we, the audience, figure out some of her habits, the movie dives into terror and does not let up for a moment.

Suspiria (Italy)- Perhaps the single most beautifully shot horror movie of all time, it earned director Dario Argento the title of master of horror, one he proudly holds to this day. The film really is fine art. It's powerful, it's beautiful, it's visceral, it is horror movie boiled down to everything that makes a horror movie, each singular aspect honed to perfection. Oop. I think there was drool there. Yeah, just see the movie.

The Descent (Scotland)- Neill Marshall proved himself as a first time director with Dog Soldiers (a very inventive and surprisingly good werewolf flick) but he became one of the greats with this outstanding horror film. The plot is simple, but the characters are real and human. Marshall's all female cast seems a risky idea, but it is done perfectly and seems quite natural. The creatures are never explained, and they don't need to be, they just are. The setting is also brilliant, and the fact that the film is set almost entirely in darkness really adds to the tension. Speaking of which...

High Tension (France)- Goddamn Sweet Jesusy Holy Shitting Brilliant. Unable to write full synopsis due to overload of awesome. Let's just say that it's powerful, character driven, unrelentingly violent and superbly written, a throwback to '70's revenge cinema. But above all, it's very, very angry.

Shaun of the Dead (UK)- What was expected to be a usual spoof was actually an amazingly well done, heartfelt homage to the heyday of George Romero. The comedy is not forced, and comes strictly out of the characters, and it is by no means an emotionless movie. Truly fantastic, and best summed up by its tagline: A romantic comedy. With Zombies.

Cannibal Holocaust (Italy)- Quite possibly the most disturbing film ever made. The violence is balanced by the statement the film is trying to make, but if you're interested in watching this one, consider yourself warned. This is not a friendly movie, this does not hold back at any point, but it is undeniably intelligent. It goes to lengths few films dare to, and says what it needs to say by any means necessary.

Zombie (Italy)-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfcHg7XLPSw&feature=PlayList&p=1BF2BA2D42831056&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=10

Yup.

The Devil's Backbone (Spain)- One of the scariest movies. Ever. Guillermo del Toro (brilliant director of Pan's Labyrinth) creates one of the most disturbing, well-paced and all around frightening ghost stories ever with this film, set against the equally disturbing backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.

Battle Royale (Japan)- What'd I say about Japan. This is not only a great horror movie, it may be one of the best movies ever made. There were attempts to ban it in many countries, including ours, but the film can still be seen. The plot is simple, and even the general idea is unnerving. A class of junior high students are sent to a desert island without their knowledge or consent, and forced to kill each other until only one remains. Friends, enemies, acquaintances, lovers... if you want to survive, you have to kill them all. What's scarier than that? How about the one guy who signed up for fun.

Nekromantik (Germany)- So grotesquely obscene, you'll either laugh or cry, but most likely you'll do both. For hours. Then you will froth at the mouth. There will possibly be some skin irritation and then you may find yourself wanting to paint clowns. That should wear off in a day or two...

Boy Eats Girl (Ireland)- It's kinda like if Shaun of the Dead were set in high school and written by someone with blatant mother issues. See the movie and you'll see what I mean.

28 Days Later- Best horror movie of the decade, so says the captain. Smart, deep, existential, human, full of emotion (rage in particular) it is the ultimate statement of humans destroying each other, and people clinging to each other when there's nothing left in the world to cling to.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Nine, Ten, Never Sleep Again": 25 Years of A Nightmare on Elm Street

As the series is in its twenty-fifth year, and with the remake fast approaching, I thought it would be the appropriate time to look back on one of the most famous and influential series in horror history. In just over two decades, Freddy Krueger has become on of the biggest, most infamous monsters of the movies. Every kid knows his name, he's swiftly becoming one of the classics, and will no doubt soon be seen along the lines of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, etc. I think the idea of a remake only grounds the character as one that has begun to transcend series (like Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th). Except, Freddy has already transcended his own series quite literally in Wes Craven's New Nightmare.

Anyway, I thought we would take this time to look back on some of the best and worst moments of the series, with my ranking of the series from best to worst.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street- One of the most powerful, shocking, and thoroughly original horror films of all time. Despite the low budget, it still holds up today. Wes Craven's original film was inspired by a mixture of folklore and newspaper articles, particularly articles based on children dying horribly in their sleep. With these he shaped a story with heartfelt, real characters, a heroine that was actually strong, and one of the most frightening bogeymen ever to appear on film.

2. Wes Craven's New Nightmare- Words cannot quite describe this film. The genius in it and behind it is simply breathtaking. It is easily one of the top ten, maybe top five, horror movies of the 1990's. Technically, this is not part of the series. Instead, it is more a companion piece to the original. In which Freddy transcends the films now that the stories have stopped, and haunts the cast and crew of the original film, in particular Heather Langenkamp (who played the heroine Nancy). The idea behind it is that this movie was the only way to actually stop Freddy, that to lay the demon to rest they had to let the story continue, so in a way the film is a part of the film. And it's when you hit that millisecond of "I wonder, could it really have...", that's when you see the sheer genius of the movie.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors- A true standout gem of the series, also one of the most entertaining horror movies of the 1980's. It wisely ignores part 2 completely, focusing itself as a direct sequel to the original. Here, the last remaining children of the parents that initially killed Freddy have been taken to a psychiatric hospital where Nancy (Langenkamp) now works. Freddy is at his most dark and malicious in this film, picking off the kids (kids we truly can care about here) in the most inventive ways yet. The series is known for having transitioned from the darker Freddy of 1 and 2 to the more comic Freddy of 4, 5, 6. This is the transition film, and there is a perfect balance here: a dark, sadistic bastard who has a well-rounded sense of humor.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master- This direct follow up to part 3 is fairly underrated, though it certainly lacks the charm of its predecessor. There are some inventive kills though, and some returning characters (even if they're the first to go), and the series has had worse scripts. Also, Englund is still ghoulishly entertaining. but there are moments, such as when a character wakes up in the hospital and sees one of the doctors to be Freddy, so he screams his name as Freddy replies "Well I ain't Dr. Seuss," moments that show the face of things to come.

5. Freddy vs Jason- It is what it is. What it is is basically a Nightmare on Elm Street story with Jason Voorhees wrapped around it like delicious bacon. Jason Voorhees, like bacon, would probably go well with everything if people were just willing to try. Anyway, the film harkens back to the oldstanding tradition of monster match-ups. Having seen some of the unused scripts, it could have been MUCH worse. Freddy is trying to return to the original dark, sadistic humor of parts 1 and 3 here, and essentially succeeds, but some of the original charm just feels gone.

6. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare- Sure, it should probably rank last, but it doesn't. It gets into the character's backstory in a way that doesn't suck and essentially it does end the series, so points for that. Yes, Freddy is over-the-top and played for laughs, but I don't think the film takes itself too seriously, so at least it's entertaining.

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child- I just don't know what the hell to make of this movie. Not only is Freddy over the top and goofy, but he's bordering on uninteresting. Also, the film tries to play itself as dark and gloomy, and is visually interesting, but the way Freddy is done does not match the tone at all. Also, the script is not the most coherent of the bunch.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge- I don't know what "revenge" Freddy's taking here, unless it's on heterosexuality. To put it as bluntly as possible, this is a very gay movie. And I mean gay in the homosexual sense. It is now infamous for its homoerotic undertones, and while such a film may easily have worked on its own, that is very far from my issue with this film in particular. The undertones in this are overtly silly in places, in others they're admittedly genius. But this doesn't feel like a Nightmare on Elm Street movie at all. In fact, its pretty much a different movie altogether. The original film is mentioned in passing, Freddy is completely out of character as a demon trying to, ahem, get into the male character's body. The boy (Jesse) sleepwalks into an S&M bar where Freddy (reduced to no more than Jesse's latent homosexuality) guides him to be picked up by his gym coach, who Freddy strips naked and whips to death. when the boy seeks help at his scantily clad jock best friend's house, Freddy "pops up" and kills him too. And Freddy dies by being kissed by a girl. Not subtle by any means. But it's the lack of actual nightmaring that make this admittedly interesting horror entry too far apart from the rest of the series to rank any higher.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Review: The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting


Starring Kari Wuhrer, Jake Busey, and C. Thomas Howell. Directed by Louis Morneau.


2/10


The Hitcher was one of the most shocking suspense movies ever made (see my review for more on that). Apparently, this was the best they could do to honor it. The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting is a 2003 (that's seventeen years, folks), straight-to-video follow up to the 1986 classic. What we have here is essentially a re-hash of the original, without any of the substance that made the original great. There aren't characters we can cheer for, there's no one to root for. Probably the only thing keeping this from a 1/10 is the fact that C. Thomas Howell had the balls to reprise his original role.


All these years after the original, Jim Halsey (Howell) is still haunted by what he went through. He's now a cop, with a bad habit of shooting the bad guys before an arrest can even be attempted. Howell is hollow this time around, and no doubt meant to be, but whatever lure his character had is now gone, leaving no room for us to connect with him. After a clever and inventive opening scene, the whole film trumbles unmercifully downhill. Kari Wuhrer plays Jim's girlfriend, Maggie, who is convinced he needs a break from his work. So, the two plan a visit to Captain Esterige, the sheriff who helped Jim near the climax of the original film (different actor, and they don't try to hide it). So, of all the places to vacation, Jim decides it's time to put the past behind him and drive down that same stretch of road from the original film. Oops.


While her character doesn't suck at times, one can't help but think Maggie was added to the roster just so the writers could say "see! It's not exactly the same!" Anyway, the film REALLY starts to dive when we are introduced to Jack, our hitcher. The writers make no attempt to explain who Jack is or where he came from, and not in a good way. He clearly knows who Jim is, but explains nothing. The only thing that's hinted at is the possibility that he is the reincarnation (uh-huh) of the original's John Ryder, and that would be the biggest insult the first film could receive.


If you check my review of the original, I note more than once that Rutger Hauer in the original Hitcher is one of the most brutal, unforgiving and incredible madmen ever to appear on film. So this time, the hitcher is played by Jake Busey.... and yes, that would be Gary Busey's son. Busey's hitcher is written to emulate the original, but whereas Ryder was cold and determined, this hitcher is hammy and lame. Jake Busey is so over-the-top that one can't even begin to fear him, or even be mildly intimidated. He attempts to frame them in a shallow mockery of the original's plot, with an ending that (by being essentially the same) slaps the original's in the face.


The only real originality comes with Maggie. Jim is (mercifully) shot early in the film, making his girl the madman's target. It is she who must overcome all odds to beat the guy, who has no reason for doing this, and there's barely room for her character to grow, as she's kind of been a bitch the whole time. Almost embarassingly, the basis of this plot was borrowed for the 2007 remake of The Hitcher.


Just like the acting father-son duo of Gary & Jake, avoid this film at all costs. Curiosity drove me to check it out because the original was a masterpiece, but let me assure you, the only horror you'll find here is Busey, trumbling between normal Busey-crazy, and acting hitcher-crazy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review: Return of the Living Dead 3


Starring Melinda Clarke, J. Trevor Edmund, and Sarah Douglas. Directed by Brian Yuzna.


7/10


Generally, the only way "difference" comes across in the zombie genre is the speed at which the monsters move. It's hard to craft a zombie movie that's different. And this movie, believe it or not, is one of the few to succeed. What does it have to do with the original Return of the Living Dead? Absolutely nothing, but neither did the second one (save for a short Tar-Man appearance). Despite it's title, the film certainly stands well enough on its own.


Director Brian Yuzna is no stranger to zombies. He produced one of the best, most original zombie movies (and horror comedies, for that matter) ever with Re-Animator, and he directed both its sequels. All three were tongue-in-cheek, humorous attempts, and it was reasonable to expect the same here, as Return of the Living Dead may be the ultimate horror comedy.


Instead, Yuzna delivered Return of the Living Dead 3: a serious, emotionally driven dark love story. While the film is plagued in early '90's low budget feel, it makes up for it with an intriguing story and surprisingly decent acting, not to mention the well-crafted effects.


As for the story. Kurt (Edmund) is the son of a military officer, which calls for them to move around a lot, but for once he's perfectly happy in the arms of his punk-goth girlfriend Julie (Clarke). He has no idea what his dad is doing for actual work, and doesn't care. Because for once, he's happy, fitting right at home in the "wrong crowd".


Well, it turns out what dad is doing is trying to control and produce zombies for the military. Obviously, indestructible undead soldiers would be the best kind to have on the battlefield. But his plans fall through (causing three casualties) and the father is taken off the project. When he informs Kurt they'll be moving yet again, the boy will hear none of it, and he and Julie take off. Now, there's the perfect opportunity here to turn both father and son into cliches, but the film surprisingly avoids the cliche at nearly every turn. Kurt's dad actually does only want him to be happy, and Kurt does momentarily find himself torn between the girl he loves and the father he respects.


The story picks up in full when the two lovers get in a motorcycle accident that breaks Julie's neck, killing her. Kurt sneaks into the military compound (as the two have done before) and resurrects Julie, foolishly thinking that everything is going to be okay. Of course, it isn't. This becomes obvious with each passing second, but both Kurt and Julie try to tell themselves that nothing has changed, and that everything is going to be just like it was. But Julie's cravings for flesh can't be ignored forever, and she's changing with each passing second.


The two come toe-to-toe with a gang and Julie gets her first taste of human meat, while Kurt has to begin to own up to the decision it could mean. As Julie learns that pain can provide release for the hunger, she shapes herself more and more into a sadomasochistic, Hellraiser-esque creature as the film progresses. The action does not make up most of the movie, but when it comes it does deliver. The acting, especially between Julie and Kurt, is convincing, and the "River Man" must be seen to be believed. The humor is sly, dark and much more subtle than previous entries. Overall, this is a well-crafted, almost touching zombie flick and probably one of the most original to come out of the genre, no small feat for a low budget '90's horror sequel.

Review: The Hitcher (1986)


Starring C. Thomas Howell, Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Directed by Robert Harmon.


9/10.


"I want you to say four words. 'I. Want. To. Die.'"


Thus begins the horror in one of the most shocking and intense thrillers ever filmed. Jim Halsey(C. Thomas Howell) is an innocent, naive young man, but we barely take a moment to get to know him before he is (and we are) thrusted into the horror that only builds and builds with every scene until the film's end.


Mere minutes into the film, Halsey drives past a wrecked car with a man standing in the rain beside it. He stops, opens the door for the stranger and jokes, "my mother told me never to do this." It is at this point that we are introduced to John Ryder (Rutger Hauer), easily one of the most cold, calculated and chilling madmen in film history.


The two start chatting uneasily, but all attempts to make friends ends quickly as Ryder makes his motives clear. Halsey asks if he saw a man in the car, to which the answer is yes, and if the man would be alright. Ryder takes this opportunity to explain, "I cut off his legs. And his arms. And his head. And I'm going to do the same to you." This triggers a brief fight between the two as Halsey forces Ryder out of the car, and we begin to think we're safe.


But it is only a short time later that Halsey is passed by a family in a station wagon, happy, and he smiles too until he sees Ryder smiling back at him from the car's back seat. Despite Halsey's attempts to warn them, the family pushes on, and he later finds them dead. It becomes evident that Ryder is framing Halsey for his murders, but what's happening here is more than that. Ryder does not want to kill Halsey, he wants to make him into a killer.


Halsey soon meets up with a waitress named Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who happens to think he is innocent, but even when things seem safe, the Hitcher is lurking in the background. Every time our hero sees an ounce of hope, Ryder comes out of nowhere to smash that hope, each time more brutally than the next. The film builds like this, perfectly, each scene more suspenseful than the last, until we reach our jaw-droppingly brutal, and almost beautiful, conclusion.


Well-written and directed, the acting and effects are top-notch, but what pushes this from being a great thriller to one of the best of all time is Rutger Hauer as the unforgivingly psychotic John Ryder.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"I'm not an asshole, I'm an actor": Best Horror Movie Victims

10. Stooge (Night of the Demons)- So annoying, so obnoxious, so "oh, god when will he just die" that you just had to admire the pig-nosed bastard. He's so annoying that it's somewhere past annoying, in his own little world of douchebaggery. With such lines as "eat a bowl of fuck, I am here to party!" Stooge has found a special place (1988) in our hearts.

9. Jimbo and Ted (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter)- An 80's comedy duo second only to Bill and Ted. They were like characters stripped from the best of teen comedies and dropped into a Friday the 13th. They gave the film a charm it needed, as well as a heart, even if all they ever really did was bitch about how they never got laid, or if Ted's best advice to Jimbo (played by Crispin Glover, for the record) was telling him that his failed relationships were probably due to impotence. But it's not his fault. The computer don't lie.

8. Trash (Return of the Living Dead)- The beautiful Linnea Quigley in one of her most famous roles. An eerie goth obsessed with death, she dreams of being eaten alive and gets her ultimate wish not too long after we get ours.

7. Tina (Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers)- Is this a noteworthy film? Not exactly. But there has never been a character that screamed "kill me" more than this little wench. She is perhaps THE most annoying victim out of any horror film. Ever. and a result, one of the most worthy and relieving deaths ever.

6. Casey Becker (Scream)- Drew Barrymore appears in the opening scene of your movie, you expect her to be there for awhile. Well, that becomes a little less likely with each ring of the phone, but throughout the whole powerful opening scene she puts up one hell of a fight, and we almost think maybe she's made it. But instead, her parents find her body hanging from a tree, and the screaming begins.

5. Shelley (Friday the 13th Part 3)- One of the most relatable horror film characters for any horror fan. He can't get the girls, he doesn't have too many friends, his love of horror isn't shared by anyone close to him, he can't really stand up for himself, so he hides behind props, gags and make-up effects. He's the ultimate stereotypical fanboy, at least circa 1983, so it's only fitting that he is the one character to put the final puzzle piece together for one of cinema's most iconic monsters, as he is the one to give Jason Voorhees his iconic hockey mask.

4. Evil Ed (Fright Night)- See the "best screen vampires" list for the full description on this fan turned fang.

3. Meg Loughlin (The Girl Next Door)- Jaw-dropping, brutal, shocking, and more-or-less true. This is real American horror. Meg is one of our main protagonists, but she is tortured throughout the film by her own dispicable aunt, who later lets the neighborhood boys join in on the torment (including rape) that eventually leads to this twelve year old girl's death. A scene with a blowtorch is most disturbing.

2. Marion Crane (Psycho)- A beautiful, compelling protagonist, Marion has our undivided attention right down to the moment she is sliced to ribbons in the shower of room number 1 at the Bates Motel. The movie is classic, the scene is an eternal icon.

1. Lucy Westenra (Dracula)- No matter which adaption, even in the most loosely based, Lucy is the ultimate horror victim. She is a free-spirited, compelling character, and the "illness" that leads to her death sets up about half of the plot. She is the catalyst to bring in Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula's now-classic nemesis. She is a symbol of innocence, as all true victims are, and this makes her later transformation so much more terrifying. The story would not exist without her, or wouldn't have happened remotely the same, and very few horror victims (if any) can say the same.

Review: Alice, Sweet Alice


Starring Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula Sheppard. Directed by Albert Sole.


8/10


Okay, so Alice, Sweet Alice has a kind of infamous history in the horror circuit. It started out as Communion, which it initially was screened as until the distributor dropped it and it was picked up by another and renamed. Then, it was re-cut and redistributed again, this time as Holy Terror. But Alice, Sweet Alice is the definitive title and version of this little known classic shocker. The film has garnered a bit of fame for its background, its subject matter, and for being Brooke Shields' first movie.


The film, shot in the summer of 1975 (long before the slasher genre took off with John Carpenter's masterpiece, Halloween), follows the sisters Alice and Karen (the young Brooke Shields). Karen is an angel in everyone's eyes, and can do no wrong, if only because her sister is vicious and vindictive. Alice teases her, abuses her communion veil and locks her in a building just to scare her.


On the day of her first communion, Karen is brutally murdered and all fingers are reasonably pointed to her sister, after Alice is found wearing Karen's veil to the alter. Everyone assumes the killer is Alice as the tension builds, and it keeps you guessing until the very end. The acting is impressive and the horror is well-paced. Originally, the film was reviled for being an apparent attack on the Catholic church, though director Albert Sole has said since that the church was merely the backdrop he wished to set his horror against. While it was initially met with mediocre praise, it has garnered more deserved respect in the decades since.


As many shocks as Psycho, as much religious commentary as The Exorcist, with as much atmosphere as The Haunting, there's no reason why this well-written, acted and directed genre masterpiece shouldn't be listed as a classic right beside all of the aforementioned.

Bear With Me Here: Best Dressed Horror Movie Monsters


Okay, now Captain Cadaver isn't to keen on the fashion scene, but why not give it a look now? If you think this list is spawned out of awkward boredom, you are quite right. In fact, best not to say too much about this before we get rolling.


10. Blade (Puppet Master)- yeah, Wesley Snipes has quite a get-up too... but this psychotic little bastard is the face of Full Moon pictures, and an iconic horror in his own right. All the puppets are memorable, but Blade with his death-like face, in his fedora and trench coat is both the most menacing and stylish of the bunch.


9. Asami (Audition)- This asian shocker from brilliant director Takashi Miike is brutal, one of the best horrors out there, and this little lady is a huge reason why. She's cute, and innocent, and so kind... you know, right up until the point where she isn't. When we realize what our little lady is really like... our jaw is on the floor until the end of the movie. The straight dark hair, white dress, with the black leather apron over it. A powerful, powerful (not to mention haunting) image.


8. Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)- I'm talking the original here, if it needed saying. Something is just so perfect about the getup he wears here. There's the mask made of human skin, first of all. Then, there's the tucked in shirt and nice dark trousers. And the leather butcher's apron. And to top it all off? What, you say, is the cherry on top of this very original horror getup. For Captain Cadaver, it is the tie. He may be a mentally challenged cannibalistic butcher, but there's something so classy and humble about a man in a tie that you just have to tip your hat to him.


7. Chucky (Child's Play)- Doesn't he look fun? rainbow colored shirt, pasty blue overalls and shoulder-length ginger hair and he's NOT supposed to be creepy until we find out he's alive. Yeah.... Don Mancini, you may have wanted to rethink that one. That little demon is not only the face of the killer toy genre, he is also the reason red-headed stepchildren are given a bad name.


6. Leprechaun- The stripy white and green socks, the dark green jacket, tophat, the black shoes with the little gold buckles and the vengeful, undying stereotype. This little Irish monster may have lost his scare factor after the original, but the look is iconic in its own right. Somehow film makers decided that this was an outfit that could fit in anywhere, so the Lep was taken to Vegas, the Hood, Los Angeles, and space.


5. The Monster (Frankenstein)- The slick black hair, the dark suit, the bolts on the neck, the ridicilous platform shoes... it all has nothing to do with Mary Shelley's novel. But, it is the image of Frankenstein's monster that has been embraced for over seventy years, kept intact through numerous films, so it's appeal cannot be argued with. Boris Karloff made the role his own in James Whale's classic Frankenstein and the phenomenal Bride of Frankenstein. He is a classic monster and every time one watches this performance, they are fully aware of witnessing a true classic.


4. Pinhead (Hellraiser)- His garb is saintly in a Hellish way, demonically ceremonial, and totally original. He is an image that could only have come from the mind of horror master Clive Barker. Pinhead has one of the darkest, most imposing presences out of any movie monster and so much of that is due to his frighteningly intruiging appearance. Everything about his scarred form (from the gridded pins to the hooks) screams order and precision. And this sense of order makes him one of the most authoritative monsters out there.


3. Count Dracula- while not entirely novel-accurate, this look of the Count in his dark suit, cape and widow's peak has become a cultural icon. It rivals Ronald MacDonald. The Count is elegant, but evil, and the combination is too intruiging to ever fade away. The outfit won't fit in everywhere, yet remains somehow timeless, so fitting for a character that is so immortal.


2. Carrie- How could anyone but our blood-stained beauty of a prom queen come in at number two? The image of her in formal wear, stained in blood, going mad in an instant... it's absolutely classic. This is one film that spends every scene building to it's ending. We've established Carrie as our tortured protagonist, but the girl can only take so much. Carrie snapping at her own prom, what was supposed to be a dream come true, turns into a horrific nightmare as she lays waste to her graduating class and gives us one of the best scenes in all of horror cinema.


1. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)- Can you name one monster whose appearance is as classic as he is? eight movies and his image never changed. Every single bit of Freddy went to make up this character, one of the absolute most monstrous villains in film history. From the sarcastically evil personality, to the sweater, the hat, the stained jeans and work boots, and the glove to top it all off. Freddy is an intimidating, interesting, and eternally iconic image. He is one of the biggest archetypes in horror, and as such he will always remain.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top 10 Horror Movies that Should Never Be Remade

First off, I'm by no means anti-remake. But I just think there's gotta be a place where we draw the line.

Note: This list should, in all seriousness, start with Psycho. But alas, I'm ten years too late on that one. So let's get rolling.

Double note: That also goes for The Haunting.

10. Killer Klowns from Outer Space- This '80's cult classic is the kind that comes about once in a generation. It's charm is, well, a little unexpected, and it's amazing this movie's been as successful as it's been, but it is a spectacle of film making. I'm pretty sure that on this one, lightning wouldn't strike twice. So leave it be, Hollywood, before the klowns are cast as Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell.

9. Return of the Living Dead- This movie WAS the 1980's. It ulilized everything the decade had to offer and rolled it into one movie. The clothes (the main cast of characters seem to be a gaggle of every kind of 80's kid, from punk to prep), the special effects (corn syrup and latex, the way God intended), even the charming campiness (okay, there are still plenty of campy movies today, but few are charming). This movie can't exist outside of it's decade, so unless it's a period piece, it would be a disaster to try.

8. Sleepaway Camp- Okay, this is dangerous territory, because this is probably going to happen at some point. But, well, it can't. See, this movie almost feels like it wasn't supposed to happen, it was yet another ripoff '80's slasher film, it shouldn't have had the impact it did. But there's a certain lure of this film series that's hard to explain. And if it's hard to explain, it's impossible to recapture. The gender-confused heroine was taboo in the early '80's, she was shocking, whereas today she'd just be one more little twist that doesn't make sense, or people would walk away thinking they ripped off the Crying Game. Not to mention the fact that we finally received a new sequel (Return to Sleepaway Camp) just this year, after the 20 years since Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. If anything, let the series get back on it's feet, straight to video, but don't force a remake on us now.

7. The Lost Boys- Again, we just got a sequel, and if you've seen the sequel, you have realized that anything Lost Boys related should have stayed in the 80's where it belongs. This vampire cult-classic would be butchered if re-imagined now, especially since Corey Feldman would no doubt beg to be involved. Not only would it be impossible for a remake to recapture the charm and feel of the original, but the original would likely lose credibility as well. Kids would just laugh at the "stupid" outfits (okay, yeah, sometimes I laugh myself) or "cheesy" special effects (which were, by the way, absolutely badass for their day). So let the Lost Boys sleep... of course, having said that, I'll take this time to mention that Lost Boys 3 is in production. And yes, Corey Feldman will be returning.

6. Creepshow- So far, in my mind, George Romero remakes have been 2/3. Night of the Living Dead turned out okay. Tony Todd turned in a pretty decent performance and the make-up was astounding. Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead has numerous, well-deserved fans. But Day of the Dead was bad enough so that there should be a law saying no Romero property should ever be remade again. Not to mention that Creepshow was one of the best anthology horror movies ever. The whole thing was an homage to the E.C. horror comics of the 1950's, and who remembers those now? Is there anyone who would tell you Tales from the Crypt was a comic forty years before it was a TV show? The five stories here were dead-on perfect recapturings of the E.C. feel. It's probably the best thing that Stephen King ever wrote for screen. Each story takes one certain type of E.C. story and they work so well together. There's no doubt in mind that what a remake would offer would be 5 totally new stories without any of the original context, just another random anthology horror with nothing in common with the original, save for the title.

5. I Spit on Your Grave- I've already got a visual of what this film would be. It would look pretty much exactly like High Tension, and it would be 1/3 as good. I Spit on Your Grave is the epitome of gritty, '70's grindhouse horror revenge cinema. And, unfortunately, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have taught us first-hand that if there's one thing the general audience wants to see, grindhouse isn't it. But with Last House on the Left being remade, I so see this happening in the future, and that's not good. This film was shocking when first released, it was brutal and the height of exploitation cinema. That would be totally lost today, when we go to the movies, and see everything.

4. Poltergeist- Now, this entry is different, kids. Because this remake is currently in production, and it will happen. Soon. But there are still reasons why it shouldn't. According to your friend, Captain Cadaver, Poltergiest is the ultimate haunted house movie. It's one of those things that just happened to turn out perfect. Not to mention the fact that all revisitings to the source material have turned out lovely so far. Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III were kind of atrocious. The makers of the remake would see that the '82 classic was heavy on the special effects, so this aspect would be incorporated and overdone. Poltergeist was a haunted house movie, but it was also a statement on the American family. The kind of family that just doesn't really exist today. We wouldn't see the parents smoking dope after tucking their kids away, or explaining death to their five year old daughter in a touchingly realistic way, or see the father calming the son down during a thunder storm. A new director could bring interesting camera angles to a new feature, but I guarantee the substance would be lost.

3. Cannibal Holocaust- This is the most brutally violent and shocking horror movie ever made. Obviously, a remake would be made with one thing in mind: "We gotta overdo it." And in basing the film on that view, it would be made ignoring all of the intelligence, emotion, and therefore all of the horror that made the original the classic it is today. The scenes of violence in this film stick with you for days, it is crafted to be an unforgettable movie. All of that would be lost in a remake that would do nothing but make you want to throw up. Okay, the original did this too, but it was scary and disturbing as hell, it wasn't about the gag-scares that would be the basis of a potential remake.

2. Rosemary's Baby- Well, this remake was in production for a good long while. But as of yesterday, Rosemary's Baby is officially NOT being remade and maybe Hollywood has finally realized when to say when. See, Rosemary's Baby is just too involved of a story, there's just too much at work in this movie to let anything be lost in a remake. It's probably the only case in history where the book and movie are just as good. The film is great, powerful, the story is scary and the acting is prime (sorry folks, but there's only one Mia Farrow), not to mention some of the best directing Roman Polanski ever did during his impressive career.

1. The Exorcist- As if it needed saying. This is arguably the greatest horror movie ever made, it's still talked about endlessly to this day, and that's not something that's gonna happen twice. And that's before we even consider the sequels we've been subjected to over the years, with the exception of Exorcist III (which is actually very, very good). Linda Blair gives one of the best performances ever (yes, ever) in her transition from innocent Regan to possessed, pea-soup vomiting, crucifix-masturbating Regan. Ellen Burstyn, as well as pretty much the whole damn cast, actually, is phenomenal too. As far as horror goes, this is pretty much close to perfection, and that's just not gonna happen again. So, let this one go, leave this classic to be a classic. There are plenty of other demonic possession films out there, and a good many of them could use remakes anyway.

Except for the Sexxxorcist, which should stay dead and buried.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Retrospective: 20 Years of Full Moon Pictures

After Charles Band's Empire Pictures went bankrupt in the late '80's, he put it to rest and moved on from his once great horror company (Empire was the company that gave us such memorable films as Re-Animator, Troll, From Beyond, Ghoulies, Dungeonmaster, Dolls and um... Troll 2) and decided to start a new. The result would be the now classic (at least sub-classic) genre company Full Moon Pictures, which remains more or less active today.

Since it's debut with Puppet Master in 1989, Full Moon has offered the frightening, the quirky, the campy, the kinda slutty, the WTF, and the downright bizarre. So I would kindly wish to take this time to share this magic with you all. So, let's take a gander at some of this eclectic company's most... interesting and noteworthy features.

Puppet Master- This series has become Full Moon's bread and butter. The first three were fairly solid horror hits, the fourth and fifth were interesting and campy sci-fi romps, and the series kind of trumbled on from there. But the puppets themselves proved very memorable, even spawning a highly successful action figure series. And your dear Captain is anxiously waiting the series' latest installment, whenever it decides to arrive.

Dollman- So, there's this cop. Brick Bardo to be exact. But he's a space cop, you see? And he's the meanest space cop around. When his nemesis (a floating head, because that's all Brick left) escapes in a space pod, Brick takes after him in his space-cop ship. But things go awry, and they crashland on earth. But wait! There's a catch! On earth, he's only 12 inches tall. Hence the title, Dollman. So, he has an awkward romance with a latina girl and her son who thinks he's an action figure, and he saves them from drug lords. I think.

Castle Freak- The title does explain things a bit, but this film is very unlike much of Charlie's movies in that it's actually a fairly decent, fairly gruesome horror outing. A man and his wife (who hates him) and their blind daughter inherit a Spanish castle where a freakish subhuman creature lurks. For decades, it was beaten and kept in a dungeon by a bitchy old woman, but now she's dead. And now the freak is loose, and it seems to take a liking to their daughter... There are so many shocking scenes here, such as when the freak eats a cat, or when it bites off its own thumb to escape its shackles. Very different from the quirky, campy humor one is so used to with Charlie Band.

Blood Dolls- Words cannot describe this film. So yes, this is Band's upteenth "killer toy" film. And apparently he decided that, dammit, his movies just weren't weird enough. So, we have Blood Dolls. Here, a greedy business tycoon (who wears a mask all the time because his head is actually the size of my fist. He also has this machine that can turn his enemies into dolls (personified by three vicious little stereotypes: a pimp, an oriental doll, and a skinhead). Also, he has five hot girls living in a cage (his "house band") and makes a midget with an eyepatch cattle prod them to get them to play. Oh, and his right hand man and business partner (Mr. Mascaro) compliments his business suit with clown make-up throughout the entirety of the film. I know it sounds like I'm making it up. But just trust me on this one.

Subspecies- The first vampire film to be shot in modern day Transylvania, this is actually one of Full Moon's better films. It's slow paced, rythmic, very in tune with Hammer horror and the vampire Radu is easily one of the most underrated of horror movie villains. Even after four films, each one jumbling the plot just a little more, Anders Hove's astoundingly evil Radu never got old.

The Creeps- Okay, a list just isn't complete without this truly, truly original film. And I mean that whole heartedly. The Creeps is not a film just anyone could have come up with. So, in this film, we have an evil professor who wants to bring the classic monsters out of literature and into reality. Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolf Man, and The Mummy, all made flesh. And so he does, but there's always that lovely Charlie Band catch. The monsters have returned to form, but they are not "complete". As in: they're midgets. All four villains are played by little actors, each one clearly very pissed about their current condition as they seek out a way to restore them to normal size.

The Pit and the Pendelum- in terms of actual quality of film making, this adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story is probably the best film that Full Moon Pictures ever made. Lance Henriksen (of Aliens, Terminator, Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, and too many others to name) gives an absolutely breathtaking and bone-chilling turn as Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor. The story is a love story that doesn't overdo itself, the elements of humor are very light and more in tune with classic films. In fact, everything feels very old fashioned until we reach the gore, which is frightening in the reality of the situation, and as the film builds to the title scene, we feel the tension mount with each second.

The Gingerdead Man- One of Full Moon's most recent films, and already a cult classic. Here, having tired from the killer toy formula, Band has respectfully settled on a killer cookie. The Gingerdead Man is a mean, mean, insane little bastard of a dessert, mostly due to the fact that he's voiced by Gary Busey. Oh, yes. Now, the poor workers at a little diner are in for a treat (eh, too much, Cap) as the night goes on and the cookie closes in. I really just said that. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love Charlie Band.

Oh, and while Busey didn't return... Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust, is also worth a look, as if I even needed to say it.

Review: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon


Starring Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, and Robert Englund. Directed by Scott Glosserman.

8/10

So, I finally got around to seeing this film after wanting to for a long, long time... and I'm so glad I did. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is beyond a doubt one of the most intelligent and entertaining horror films in recent years. The film submerses itself in the genre, it is bathed in a knowledge of horror and easily the most brilliantly tongue-in-cheek horror movie since Wes Craven's Scream.

The first 2/3 of the film are shot documentary style, as we follow along with a camera crew who wish to make a film about apparent serial killer Leslie Vernon as he prepares to make his debut as a slasher and rank besides his idols (he lists Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers). We follow along as they meet the instantly likeable Leslie (Nathan Baesel) who explains to Taylor (Angela Goethal) and her crew the tricks of the trade of being a horror movie slasher. He goes through all the cliches, poking great fun at slasher films, subtly setting one up at the same time. Leslie explains how hard he has to work out to look like he's walking after people and still somehow catch up. He explains the concept of the "final girl", that would be the one girl he chooses to survive his ordeal, and what that entails (shy, homely, virgin). And he especially explains the concept of the "Ahab" that would be the one character who sees Leslie for what he really is and vows to stop him, in this case Doc Halloran (Robert Englund).

Almost instantly, the crew comes to share his enthusiasm for the project as he meticulously sets up his own horror film which he obviously plans to act out. They continue on like this until Leslie's big night, the night of his planned massacre, when their consciences catch up with them. Leslie himself is one of the most brilliantly self aware horror villains ever, and soon tells them to leave because they have that "we can't stand here and let this happen" look in their eye.

This is when the film shifts from first to third person, as the film crew snaps back to reality and realize that there is a killer about to take out an entire house full of teens, and they are the only ones with any idea how to stop him. The humor subsides as the tension mounts, reaching a brilliant and suspenseful conclusion.

The budget on this one may be low, but this is one film that isn't set back by that in the least. The acting is great (the teens in the house essentially play stereotypes, but they're supposed to), the scares and humor walk dangerously close at hand. This is one modern horror that, like its star, could easily become a classic.

The Fang Gang: Greatest On-Screen Vampires

10. Carmilla (Ingrid Pitt) in The Vampire Lovers- Pitt's seductive portrayal of the classic vampire was mesmerizing, and became one of the greatest female vampires ever to grace the silver screen. She was powerful, beautiful, and deadly- a woman you would drool over, but then check under your bed to make sure she wasn't actually there. Carmilla here is a classic, elegant monster and represents all that was great about Hammer Studios in one of its best films.

9. Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) in Fright Night- Not one of the more well known, and not actually the film's main vampire, but Evil Ed was a character any horror fan could relate to. He couldn't talk to girls, didn't have many friends, nor much of a life outside of monster movies. And when his best friend claims his neighbor is a vampire, Evil refuses to believe right up until he's bitten himself. And he becomes what we all secretly dread: the fanboy unleashed. The vampire fan becomes the vampire, and even though his screen time is limited, Stephen Geoffreys gives a classic horror performance as the ghoulishly entertaining Evil Ed.

8. David (Kiefer Sutherland) in The Lost Boys- The Lost Boys (much like Fright Night before it) brought the traditional vampire myth out of the dark ages and into the mullet-headed, strobe-lit 1980's. David is the leader of a pack of punkish vampires trying to lure in Michael, a newcomer to the town of Santa Carla (the apparent murder capitol of the world). The seductive edge of Dracula is gone and we have a more tough, intimidating vampire, Sutherland's scariest performance since his bully in Stand By Me. David and his vampires are so tough, in fact, that it takes BOTH Coreys (Haim and Feldman) to help put them down.

7. Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) in Interview With the Vampire- The film is, in my opinion, more than a little superior to the novel on which it is based. The cast works well together, Neil Jordan is the perfect director for the material, and Anne Rice's script doesn't subject us to her prose. The scariest and most intriguing part of the novel is also luckily adapted almost intact. That would be Dunst's child-vampire Claudia. A woman eternally trapped in a child's body, Claudia's inner conflict is fascinating and she is chilling to watch through every moment of her screen time.

6. Count Dracula (Frank Langella) in Dracula (1979)- This is, to me, classic Dracula and one of the best films ever based on the character. Langella's performance here is intimidating, seductive, he provides monsters with an idol. He is powerful and gets any woman he desires. The women want him, and the men want to be him, because here in this film, he's essentially the James Bond of vampires. No widow's peak, nor accent, Langella steps in and makes the role entirely his own.

5. Severin (Bill Paxton) in Near Dark- Sorry, folks. But this list wouldn't be complete without a throwback to my personal favorite vampire film. Here, the vampires are a family, out west, almost empathetic until Paxton's big scene. They walk into a bar and the charismatic Severin starts fucking with the bartender, obviously picking a fight. He walks on the bar, crushing everyone's drinks under his heel, and when the bartender decides to make a move, Severin slits his throat with a swift kick (as there is a blade attatched to the heel of his boot). The character is a dick, but he's memorable, and plays well as the id of the family.

4. Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) in Dracula (1931)- Sure, the film and this character bear little resemblance to the novel on which it's based. But when people think of Dracula, the biggest name in horror, Lugosi's face is the first that comes to mind. Even if he's not entirely Stoker's Count, he plays the role with an elegance and a spooky charm that has become classic. There's barely a single visual effect throughout the film, Lugosi relies entirely on his acting to convey the horror, and for the most part it works.

3. Spike (James Marsters) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1998-2003)- Arguably one of the most well-written TV dramas ever, Buffy had many memorable characters. But none of them, when it came down to it, were quite as entertaining on a weekly basis (nor did any of them under go such a remarkable transformation from season to season) as this punk British vampire. Spike was one of the most perceptive, charming, tough and humorous characters in the show's history, and played off of every single character in a way none of the others cast members could. Pity plans for a spin-off fell through, because if there's one character who could likely never stop developing, Spike is certainly it.

2. Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) in Horror of Dracula (1958)- Many people will tell you that Sean Connery IS James Bond. Many will tell you Michael Keaton (or, sigh, Adam West) IS Batman. More than a few will say Boris Karloff IS Frankenstein ('cause they can't name anyone else). And that is why I'm here to tell you that Christopher Lee IS Dracula. He's imposing, menacing, with one of the most powerful presences in film history. There's a charm, but it's dangerous. He is an elegant monster, and a frightening personification of the id at the same time. When he wants something, he will let nothing stand in the way of his getting it. The image of Lee with blazing red eyes and blood running from his mouth, a look like a rabid animal, is one of the most haunting images in horror history and it remains chilling to this day.

1. Count Orlock (Max Schreck) in Nosferatu (1922)- Sometimes the first is the best. While there were vampire films (a few) before Nosferatu, it was truly the first of its kind. It began the age of film vampires, something that has only continued to grow into today. Schreck's demonic Count is still a haunting image after close to a century, and that is the statement of a powerful character. Even today, this silent shocker still haunts, and that is all due to Max Schreck as the looming, rat-like Count Orlock. He's one of the most famous visuals in film history, the most frightening vampire ever to appear on film, and after all this time, it's likely that he will remain such for generations to come.

Retrospective: Ladies of Horror

There have been many fine women to grace the screen in the history of the horror film, so today we're gonna look back on them. Ladies of horror, past and present.

Linnea Quigley- A child of the '80's (well, mostly '90's. Still) I deemed her the best place to start. Linnea's, um, assets were pasted all over the screen throughout the entirety of the 1980's. She starred in such classics as Night of the Demons, Return of the Living Dead, Jack-O, Graduation Day, Silent Night Deadly Night, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings... the list goes on and on. As far as scream queens go, she ranks amongst the top, just for the quantity of work alone if nothing else.
Memorable Film: Return of the Living Dead. Yeah, Linnea was generally sought out for a movie if there was a skin scene to be had, but in this classic she went all out. Linnea takes her clothes off randomly in about her third scene, and remains that way for the duration of the film (even past death).







Jamie Lee Curtis- Would this shindig really be complete without her? Jamie is arguably the original scream queen, and one of the few to move on to a massive career outside the genre. After her phenomenal breakout performance in Halloween, Curtis went on to star in a plethora of other genre hits (Prom Night, The Fog, Terror Train, Halloween II) before moving on to a bigger career. Then, because she's a class act, Curtis (unlike most actors) was well aware of her roots in horror, enough to make Halloween: H20 twenty years after the original. Halloween: Resurrection is another story...
Memorable Film: Is it even open to debate? Her debut as the innocent yet powerful Laurie Strode in Halloween set the bar for horror actresses everywhere.




Elsa Lanchaster- Her two minute performance in The Bride of Frankenstein will be always be remembered. If that doesn't say something about her screen presence, I don't know what can. When the doctors prepare to remove the bride's bandages, we're expecting an unsightly horror. Instead, we see a creature that is awkwardly beautiful, somehow fractured. She's like a helpless, frightened animal, so unlike the creature she was born to love.
Memorable Film: Obviously, The Bride of Frankenstein.










Angela Bettis- Angela burst onto the scene at the dawn of the millenium and pretty much headlined a new generation of scream queens. Since her debut, she has starred in Bless the Child, May, Carrie, Masters of Horror: Sick Girl, The Woods, and others. Her characters are generally very socially awkward and she is not conventionally attractive, but there is a definite lure to her that cannot be argued.
Memorable Film: Definitely May, for her frighteningly stunning and darkly humorous portrayal of a very disturbed young girl fighting to connect with the people around her.










Janet Leigh- Mother of the aforementioned Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh (like Elsa Lanchaster) had a lengthy and impressive career, but will always be remembered for one scene. That would be the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho. She's built up as our heroine, and despite making the wrong choices from the very beginning of the film, we connect with her and even fall for her. It's therefore a shock when her character is stabbed to death in the shower, only about twenty minutes into the film. In this time, however, she's a treat for the eyes and if sex appeal actually had a sound, her voice would be it. She catches the eye of Norman Bates, too, and his mother is none to happy about that. The shower scene was the closest horror came in 1961 to the nude sex scenes that have today become a genre staple.
Memorable Film: Psycho.


Ingrid Pitt- The luscious star of so many Hammer horror films of the '60's. They just don't make scream queens like they used to, and Pitt was one of the best in history, starring in such Hammer classics like Countess Dracula, The Vampire Lovers (in which she played classic literary vampire Carmilla), The House That Dripped Blood and The Wicker Man, amongst others. She had an elegance, a look, and class that is just lost on so many of today's actresses.
Memorable Film: The Vampire Lovers. Of the few adaptions of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, this is the best, for Pitt's fiendishly sexy performance if nothing else.









Elvira, Mistress of the Dark- Could one talk about the female icons of horror without talking about Cassandra Peterson's sassy, ridiculously busty late-night horror host. She starred in her own show, Elvira's Movie Macabre before getting her own film in 1988. Her name is known the world over, and few horror hosts can say the same.
Memorable Film: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.











Danielle Harris- Okay, bear with me here. She first appeared as the young star of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. But now, she's returned to the franchise with Rob Zombie's Halloween remake, and boy has she grown up. Harris carries herself through many a low budget horror movie these days, perfectly comfortable with where she is, offering every new movie a perkiness and a spunkiness that is undeniably sexy and undeniably all her own.












Christina Ricci- Another child star who grew up well. Maybe she hasn't done too much horror, and maybe Cursed isn't too much to brag about, but she has roots in the genre and certainly makes the occasional return. Returns to the genre that are generally much better than Hilary Swank's. Christina was the best (okay, mostly the only watchable) thing about Wes Craven's Cursed, and she was a very soft, Hammer-esque beauty in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, which she starred in opposite Johnny Depp. She was the perfect combination of strong and vulnerable in that film, and one cannot doubt that her next genre hit is likely right around the corner.
Memorable Film: Sleepy Hollow, for all the above reasons, and cleavage.