Thursday, October 29, 2015

Top 10 Underrated Horror Films - The Final Six!

 Since it's almost Halloween, I decided to not keep you in suspense and give you the last six underrated films.

6. Sweet Home (1989)

 A television crew go to the creepy old mansion of a dead great artist to find several frescos that he had hidden in his home and film the restoration. But they don't realize until too late that the ghost of his wife is still in the house, and she's pretty pissed.

 A fun, atmospheric ghost story with likable characters, this one ends up on my list because I enjoy when several different types of horror mix together. A sort of "peanut butter in my chocolate" kind of deal, only more like "your severed gory torso in my haunting" way. Several awesome FX effects (by Dick Smith!) and a compelling story makes this a winner. 

 Fun Fact: There was an Nintendo game based on this film that was a heavy inspiration for the Resident Evil series!

5. Masks (2011)

 In the 70's a guy creates this revolutionary acting technique, one that's suppose to make you better than Brando, Streep, and Pauly Shore combined. People die trying to learn it and the guy vanishes.

 Modern day acting student Stella gets invited into a world class acting school. You'll see right off she really isn't very good, but somehow she gets invited to learn this super secret technique and things get dark as fuck quickly.

 It's obvious there's a big nod to Suspiria in this German film, but it creates it's own spooky atmosphere. It eases you (and Stella) into the horror, but once it does, it doesn't let up. The actress playing Stella is really good, and seeing some of these people die is very gratifying. 

 This one seems to be very hard to find in the US, but if you can find a way to see this, by all means do.

4. Midnight (1982)

 John Russo has had some hits and misses (sadly more misses than hits), but when he hits, he fires on all cylinders. While this is a typical "young people drive their van to places they should never go and die" kind of flick, Russo doesn't try to make it classy and instead rolls this movie around in the dirt and grime and make it as sleazy as possible. Let's check out the grindhouse checklist...

 Creepy perverted stepdad played by the boss in Reservior Dogs? Check
 Evil santanic family? Check
 Hapless young folks getting killed in dragged out ways? Check
 Some sweet sweet revenge? Checkmate!

 This is one of those movies you need to watch when you want to take a shower afterwards for getting so damn down and dirty. It's not particularly gory, but the atmosphere sure as hell makes up for it. 

3. Spider Labyrinth (1988)

 Man is sent by his employers (a college) to get some research papers from a professor. After meeting the Professor and his wife, the Professor is murdered. When the man asks about the wife, we learn the Professor wasn't married!

 So we begin a long strange trip for answers, and what the man finds at the end...a spider cult. Of course. It's ALWAYS a spider cult.

 There's some Wicker Man touches in this film, and that's never a bad thing. Combine that with some imaginative and stylish kills (the death with a maze of bedsheets come to mind) and the always beautiful cinematography that our Italians horror overlords are capable of, and you got yourself one heck of a good time. This is one I fully "blame" my wife for getting me into.

2. We're Going To Eat You (1980)

 Agent 999 comes to this run down town on a secluded island in search of a wanted bandit. Little does he know that he's entered a town chock full of them there cannibals and they got their eyes on his thighs as their next meal!

 It's incredibly hard to mix horror and comedy together and not make it look stupid. It can either go  Shaun of the Dead or Saturday the 14th. This one goes for the former far more often. We got a clueless detective, a thief who ends up in trouble far more often than he is stealing, a crazy dictator like Chief, and a giant ugly Syphilis having  drag queen who looks way too much like the love child of Andre the Giant and Giant Baba.

 There's tons of gore in this, with people getting sawed in half, knives landing in all sorts of heads, ripped out hearts, and a loose limbs or twelve.

 Fun Fact: This movie was a not so subtle jab against Communism!

1. The Dead Next Door (1989)

 I'm sure this is a surprising pick, and judging by what I've read online, one that really seems to polarize people. But I feel it's vastly underrated.

 Yeah, let's be honest, director JR Bookwalter has made some not so good films. But this movie feels different. I know people will say because Sam Raimi pumped money into it to get finished (took over 4 years to make) or that Bruce Campbell dubs over TWO of the voices, but I feel it's not that at all.

 There's a real "throw as much of the money onscreen as possible" feel in this super 8 classic. Yeah, it suffers from the low budget acting bug, and I'm not a fan of naming characters after well know horror folk (takes me out of the film) but it makes up for it in other ways. Here's my check list of positives for this movie:

- Excellent pacing. Most low budget films have no concept of this.

- Good running time. There's no reason for your no budget zombie film to be hours long. The 84 minute running time is perfect.

- Unexpected deaths. I hate that in most films, you know who is going to live or die. You don't get that here. Anyone is a throat rip away from death.

- Great gore. You expect gore in a zombie film. Outside of a couple of goofy (but forgivable) shots, the gore effects in this are well done.

- The cult. Adding in a zombie Jonestown kind of cult was very clever, and a good way to introduce adversaries to the Zombie Squad

- It looks like everyone is having a great time...especially the zombies (mostly locals from Ohio)

 Bookwalter just ran an indiegogo campaign and appears to be putting out a new blu-ray of Dead Next Door. Anyway, this is one any lover of low budget films need to check out.

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