From Worst to Best but all equal in some capacity or I wouldn’t have considered spending money on them.
**all plot synopses via IMDb.com. This post contains spoilers**
Encounter with the unknown (1972)
Three eerie tales based on actual events are enacted in this film. First, three college students play a prank on a geeky classmate, who is accidentally shot and killed. His vengeful mother forecasts the deaths of the three young men she holds responsible, on 7, 14, and 21 days hence. And, one by one, her grim predictions come true. Next, a ghoulish sound emanates from a mist-shrouded hole in the Earth near where a Missouri boy has lost his dog. The boy’s father is lowered into the hole and lets out an agonizing scream! Finally, a senator returning home from a party finds a lost girl on a bridge and learns from her father that she died years earlier!
What can I say about this film ? For starters it is a pretty crappy film. There is a lot of padding. Many scenes are repeated especially during the best of the three stories, the first one. But as a kid, my brother and I both ate this film up on repeat showings on TV in the mid 70’s. The witch saying the inane “One by land, two by air, look to the hexagon, 7 times the three of you!” That line scared the hell out of me. The story is a decent revenge story that was probably an influence on the writer of the first Final Destination film. The second story about a hole to hell, is kinda cheesy but the sound design of the hole is pretty creepy. The last tale sucks.
Horror High (my copy is a re-issue called Twisted Brain) 1973
A shock-filled tale of a serious and shy but brilliant science student who, when wrongfully forced to consume a new drug he’d created, becomes a modern day Jeckyl and Hyde.
This film is a tiny bit more entertaining especially Pat Cardi’s performance as the Nerdy Killer. A favorite scene is a mean teacher that gets her arm cut off by a paper cutter. There is some cool staging in this film as well, the effects ain’t half bad either. Again, another film I saw on rotation in the mid 70’s on TV. It seems in the 70’s horror films had a pretty quick turnaround to playing the small screen on shows like Chiller Theater, Dr. Shock and Creature Double Feature.
A spider escapes from an isolated Arizona desert laboratory experimenting in giantism and grows to tremendous size as it wreaks havoc on the local inhabitants.
Okay, you would think this wouldn’t be on my list because I have a fear of insects including spiders. But this is an astronomically giant spider. I had far more of a problem watching both Kindom of the spiders and Arachnophobia, but this is a fun film. Plus it’s a mystery and there are other monstrous human elements. I really like this film but it can be slow at times.
The Tingler (1959)
An obsessed pathologist discovers and captures a parasitic creature that grows when fear grips its host.
A film by William Castle is a film centered on a gimmick. At the time when this film was released some cinema goers had joy buzzer rigged seats to give them a jolt, if you screamed the Tingler would die. The film itself ends with the monster in a movie theater. This film has Vincent Price hamming it up as a coroner/scientist looking into this parasite that develops on your spine when you are scared to death, manifests into a monster that leaves the host body of a mute woman who was unable to scream at the time of her death. The creature is super cheesy but this film might be the first to venture into a character injecting themselves with LSD as the coroner does in his studies. The cool factor of this black and white film is that there is a bad ass creepy color sequence thrown in to the mix. Another fun movie.
I was a teenage werewolf (1957)
A hypnotherapist uses a temperamental teenager as a guinea pig for a serum which transforms him into a vicious werewolf.
Most likely the only time wholesome actor Michael Landon played against type. Here he is a brooding teenager named Tony with a major chip on his shoulder and a penchant urge to kick ass. Enter a crazy hypnotherapist who Tony thinks is helping repress his anger but this douchebag doctor has nefarious plans to bring out the animal in our young thug. Every time he hears a loud noise Tony becomes a werewolf. A gnarly looking one at that. There is also a musical rockabilly interlude performed by actor/singer Ken Miller called Eeny Meany Miney Moe that is quite a hoot.
The Deathmaster (1972)
A mysterious, articulate stranger who draws a cult like following of local hippies. Rather than showing them peace and love, he has more sinister plans for them, as he is a vampire.
Hippies, Bikers, Voodoo,Vampires, Bobby “Boris” Picket, John “The Voice of Piglet from Winnie the Poo” Fiedler, Shades of the Manson Family, and one hell of a downbeat ending ! Who can ask for anything more ? This is a great vampire film with lots of atmosphere. Robert Quarry (also played a modern day vampire in the Count Yorga films) as vampire Khourda is a pretty evil son of a bitch. Stand out moments have to do with leaches, the death of Fiedlers character, the tune character Barbados, plays on his flute, the score by Harpo Marx’s son Bill, and of course the super downbeat ending. The best horror films in my opinion aren’t the kind with a happy ending.
A storm causes some power lines to break and touch the ground, drawing millions of man-eating worms out of the earth, and into town where they quickly start munching on the locals.
This is one hell of a fun film to watch. Seriously when people think man-eating, a worm is the last thing to come to anyone’s mind. Worms, worms and more worms filmed in extreme close up with a pretty disturbing sound design. Stand out moments include city boy Mick, played by Don Scardino, getting harassed by the good old boy town folk, someone nearly showering under the worms, slow witted redneck Roger getting a face full of worms and eventually turning into a human/worm hybrid with make up fx courtesy of the great Rick Baker, and my favorite scene the Sheriff making time to get busy with his girlfriend and the following classic exchange of dialogue. GF: Stop, doing that ! S: Doing what ? GF: That ! S: I ain’t doing nothing… Crazy Worm Noise, Close up of Worm, Girlfriend screaming (implying that the worm was going up her vagina and not the Sherrif). My wife and I love recreating this dialogue exchange.
An 18th century African statesman is transformed into a vampire, cursed with the name Blacula, and entombed in Dracula’s Castle after he fails to convince the Count to support him in his cause to end the slave trade. Two hundred years later, a pair of interior decorators transport his coffin to L.A. where he awakes with an unquenchable thirst for human blood. As Blacula pursues a woman who resembles his long dead wife, her brother-in-law, a pathologist, investigates the string of carnage that follows in the vampire’s wake.
Hands down my favorite vampire film of all time. Yes, it’s got a few slow moments but man, this film is a real hoot on so many levels. Okay, yeah the gay characters are flaming sterotypes and the word faggot is used at times, but this bisexual approves none the less. The great and sexy William Marshall as the romantically tortured Prince Mamuwalde/Blacula makes this an incredible romantic tragedy more than a straight forward horror film. Great performances from the black cast which also includes Vonetta McGee as Luba/Tina, Mamuwalde’s wife reincarnated & her brother-in-law Gordon, the hero of the film played by Thalmas Rasulala. Seriously you really feel for the pain Blacula goes through, he never wanted to be a vampire and just wants to be reunited with his wife even if she is a reincarnated version. There is one particularly creepy slow motion moment in the film featuring old Hollywood character actor Elisha Cook Jr. One of the best exchange of dialogue is from this dude named Skillet. Skillet to Gordon: Man that dude was strange, you see that cape, that was one bad ass cape, man who was that dude ? Gordon: One strange dude. This film also features the musical debut of the singing group The Hues Corporation most well known for the song, Don’t rock the boat. THC got signed after being in this film, a lucky break. The two songs they perform in the film are damn good and the score by Gene Page is also a nice compliment.
Tales from the crypt (1972)
Five strangers get lost in a crypt and, after meeting the mysterious Crypt Keeper, receive visions of how they will die.
Of the multiple horror anthologies made by Amicas Films, this is the best of them. Each story just gets better and better as the film progresses. The first story (remade for the HBO TV version) is about a woman who murders her husband only to find herself the victim of a Killer Santa Claus, The second tale is about a guy that has no idea that he is a walking corpse, the 3rd tale is an elderly gentleman with a love of stray dogs and who likes to help out the neighborhood kids is disliked immensely by some snobs who invent a smear campaign against him, having no clue that he is also secretly invested in the black arts, the 4th tale is a version of the Monkeys Paw…a woman progressively makes matters worse when she wishes for husband to come back from the grave, the end of this tale is pretty chilling, the final tale is about a cheap bastard that takes over as the man in charge for a shelter for blind men, making their life a living hell while he lives it up. But the men are cunning and build a death trap in the basement utilizing razors in an increasingly narrow hallway leading to safety (well, cut to hell safety) and the man’s German Shepherd who was being starved by the blind men, release the dog and knock out the lights to give this sadist his just desserts.
Friday the 13th Film Series (In order of my 4 favorites) Pt2 (1981), The Original (1980), Pt 4 (1984) Part 3 (1982)
Yes all of these films are essentially interchangeable, but these 4 are the most definitive.
Part 2 (1981)
Months after Alice beheaded psycho killer/mother Pamela Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake, survivor Alice is still traumatized because of the murders. But there is one problem: Mrs. Voorhees’ son Jason never drowned and died, so he saw Alice behead Mrs. Voorhees. Jason finds Alice soon and murders her. Five years later, a camp counselor-in-training program begins at Packanack Lodge, right near Camp Crystal Lake. As teenagers in the program start snooping around Camp Crystal Lake, they start getting killed violently one by one.
The first to feature Jason as a deformed monster whose wardrobe consists of overalls, hiking boots and a burlap sack on his head. Honestly, the origin of Jason (not to mention the fact that his overall look kept changing, this film series definitely lacks continuity but it’s still a great showcase of special effects and imaginative ways to kill horny teenagers and a few adults thrown in for good measure) this films has three impressive deaths, one guy is hanging upside down in a tree/rope trap and gets his throat slit, another guy (hopeful to be cured guy in a wheelchair, yeah not very PC by today’s standard) gets a machete to the face and rolls backwards down a flight of steps in the rain no less, and a horny amourous couple are impaled together while doing the deed.
Friday the 13th (1980)
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child’s drowning and a grisly double murder years before.
Okay better than it’s first sequel, it also features veteran actress Betsy Palmer as the killer Mrs. Vorhees, classic score by Harry Manfredini, Bing Crosby’s son Harry and Kevin Bacon in his 4th feature film. Notable death scenes include Bacon’s gruesome spear thru the neck and a girl with an axe to the face, the death of the killer and a very jarring surprise ending. Classic lines of dialogue Crazy Ralph: “You’re all doomed, doomed!” Alice to the Sherrif: “But what about the boy ?” Sherrif: “The boy ma’am ?” Alice: “The boy in the lake, Jason.” Sherrif: “We didn’t find any boy.”
Part 4 (at the time The Final Chapter, 1984)
After being stabbed in the head by Chris Higgins. Jason Vorhees is believed to be dead and is taken to a Hospital for an Autopsy. However, He is Alive and kills a Doctor and a Nurse and is loose once more. He Returns to Camp Crystal Lake where Young Boy Tommy Jarvis lives with his Mother and Older Sister. A Group of Teenagers move in to a House next door to the Jarvis House. Jason begins killing the Teenagers and kills Tommy’s Mother. It’s now up to Tommy and His Older Sister to kill Jason and end his murderous rampage once and for all.
This is probably the most brutal film of the first four. And it has a kid (Corey Feldman) as the hero. On a personal note, My Mom took me and my friends “Cabbage Head” and Darrell to see this flick when we were 14. My Mom was awesome. It also has two of my favorite character actors (Lawrence “The Last American Virgin” Monoson and the eccentric Crispin Glover) playing off of each other. Glover even does a weird dance in the film. Favorite death scenes Glover asks where he can find a corkscrew and Jason slams it through his hand and puts a cleaver to his face & when young Tommy kills Jason in slow motion.
Part 3 (1982 in 3-D)
Jason Voorhees, having barely survived a wound to his shoulder from his own machete, is back to revenge on all that visit “his” woods. A new group of friends come over to party at an area close to the campsite. This time, Jason will be stronger than ever, and getting a hockey mask from one of those friends
Hands down this is my favorite of the series. It’s got a super cheesy disco theme song. It’s in 3-D. It’s got the great Larry “Shelly” Zerner as the nerdy, frizzy haired fat kid violent practical joker. It’s got pot smoking hippies and a classic scene of everyone eating the pot cause they think they are being persued by a cop. 3 Badass Bikers ! Jason putting on the Iconic Hockey Mask, and the most impressive creative death scenes. A girl gets a harpoon in the eye, the last guy standing gets his head crushed popping his eyes out in 3-D glory, and the best ever…a guy is doing a hand stand and Jason slices the guy in half at the crotch..OMG ! My favorite of all 11 original series films and the super lame remake from 2009.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Larry Talbot returns to his father’s castle in Wales and meets a beautiful woman. One fateful night, Talbot escorts her to a local carnival where they meet a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.
This is an incredible dramatic film about a tortured soul whose life is completely turned upside down even further when he is bitten by a werewolf. The acting in this film is superb from the likes of Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Raines and Maria Ouspenskaya.
Classic dialogue exchanges:
Col. Paul Montford, chief constable: [showing Larry’s stick to him] Is this your walking stick?
Larry Talbot: Why, yes. That’s the stick I killed the wolf with.
[Sir John Talbot and Col. Montford look at Larry with great concern]
Sir John Talbot: Larry, Bela the gypsy was killed last night. Your walking stick was found next to the body.
Larry Talbot: You mean, Bela the fortune teller? But… I only saw a wolf.
Doctor Lloyd: I believe a man lost in the mazes of his own mind may imagine that he’s anything.
Maleva: The way you walked was thorny though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.
After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.
This film is over the top fucked up on so many levels. It’s a balls to walls unrated H.P Lovecraft adaptation. A monstrous cat is re-animated and thrown against a wall in splatter fashion, the intestines of a corpse tries to strangle someone, a headless body carries it’s head and sexually assaults a woman. Zombie Mayhem and a real snarky sense of humor permeates this film. The score is damn good too.
Terror Train (1980)
Three years after a prank went terribly awry, the six college students responsible are targeted by a masked killer at a New Year’s Eve party aboard a moving train.
Next to the original Halloween and The Fog, this Canadian gem is my favorite Jaime Lee Curtis Horror film. This film has a super creepy vibe from the start. A college freshman is traumatized by a gruesome sexual prank during a frat hazing. Fast forward three years and it’s a Halloween graduation party on a train and the deranged freshman is back for revenge. He kills the first person who was a practical joker in a Groucho Marx costume, no one takes this guy’s death seriously and he is left to die and have his head squashed under the train. The killer takes his disguise. There is super cheesy disco dancing and a magic performance by David Copperfield with a lovely assistant. The next guy to get offed is an alcoholic dressed as Godzilla, gets his hand cut off which is used to fondle his girlfriend before the killer kills her and then starts changing costumes and killing off the remaining frat dudes that made him crazy. Curtis is last woman standing and was there for the traumatic event of three years prior, the killer turns out to be the magician’s assistant in drag and goes loony in the end when he forces Curtis to kiss him, which takes him back to that fateful night from his past and he falls to his death from the train after being smackedin the face by the shovel weilding conductor. This is a creepy and suspenseful horror film with a lot of red herrings. Classic.
Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, afraid to lose his brother follow him to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lifting a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate, and discovers that the Tall Man, protected by his flying spheres, is shrinking dead bodies down to half their normal size and reanimating them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.
That is the most basic description of this film. This is one of those films that in more broad terms doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the quirky characters, the dialogue, the 70’s fashion, the cool impromptu musical interlude from actor/musician Bill Thornbury, the impressive practical sfx…to me makes this film an enjoyable classic fun bad movie.
The odd dialogue choices, my guess is that because a child actor was in the film characters couldn’t utter iterations of the word fuck. Multiple times people say “let’s get that Mother” as opposed to Mother fucker or Mike (the child actor) silently words the phrase “What the fuck ?”, other classic dialogue moments ” Don’t fear Michael”, “Ummmmm!”, “What the (pause) the hell is going on ?” “He’s not going to leak all over my ice cream is he ?”.
The protagonist brother’s have a significant age Gap 13 and like 24.The older brothers best friend is a balding hippie ice cream man of age 31.Yet somehow, they all have believable chemistry. The brothers parents have died and they don’t seem to be very rich yet they have a live in black housekeeper named Myrtle who’s only appearence is a jump scare.
When Bill Thornbury who played older brother Jody starts playing some chords and singing a song that goes “Just a sitting here at midnight..” It is just a beautiful moment. Honestly had the entire song been included like in a montage, would’ve been classic, but the snippet is just as cool.
The special effects with a chopped off finger moving in yellow blood which then turns into a monstrous fanged fly, metal spheres that drill into a characters head in blood spurting glory, the sci fi other dimension scene in the morgue, Mike looking at a postcard from the 1800’s that becomes a moving picture of the antagonist “The Tall Man” on a horse and carriage turning to look at Mike.
And the impressive film score.
All of it’s sequel suck. Only watch this film, if you have to watch any.
The Shining (1980)
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.
I know, Stephen King hates this film because it is absolutely nothing like his novel. There was tv adaptation years later that was more accurate. But this film by Stanley Kubrick is still to this day creepy as all hell. I saw this film, first run with my family when I was 10. So many scenes left an impression. Jack Nicolson is in typical form in this film, but weirdly his performance never scared me. The blood coming out of the elevator, the score, the brutally murdered ghost twins, the hot naked lady in room 237 that becomes a gross looking older woman that drowned in a bathtub (to this day 41 years later, I have a hard time watching that scene), Danny saying “Redrum” which is murder in reverse and I wouldn’t be surprised if my fear in any kind of maze, corn, hedge ECT is because of this film.
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
My second favorite werewolf film/second favorite romantic horror film. Director John Landis more widely known for making comedies, by far made the best werewolf film ever. Yes, this film is riddled with comedy both regular and black. Incredibly impressive sfx by Rick Baker again ! Especially the practical effects full body transformation from man into wolf, I believe that scene created the Oscar for sfx. The use of music throughout all relating to the moon. The hot shower sex scene. The protagonist David waking up naked at the zoo and stealing a kids bunch of balloons with the kid uttering “A Naked American Man Stole My Balloons”, then stealing a woman’s fur coat waiting on a double decker bus. The increasingly graphic deterioration of David’s best friend Jack who is in limbo until the werewolf curse is broken. The building heartfelt romance between David and nurse Alex makes it all the more heart wrenching in the end when David as the werewolf is shot dead, Alex’s sobs cut write into the end credits with the song Blue Moon. This is a crazy fun film to watch. I highly recommend it.
And there ya have it, 19 of my all time favorite horror films. One film from the ’40’s, three from the 50’s, seven from the 70’s (4 from 1972 no less), five from the 80’s (3 from 1980, 2 from 1981)