Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Favorite Monster/Scary Movies

As promised earlier last week, here's my top ten list of my favorite monster/scary movies. They may not be the goriest, or most hi-tech, but I prefer them this way. They are far better movies than gorefests. I will almost always watch these to their conclusion if I happen upon them while switching channels. I got to see a couple of these over the past week while watching TCM's "Underground"--a series of old sci-fi/monster movies hosted by Rob Zombie (how cool is that??). I had no idea Mr. Zombie was such a skinny little guy. But I digress...

Here's my top ten faves:

#10-The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)--"Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!" Perfect example of substance over flash. Effects not all that good, even for 1951, but I suspect that in its day, it was quite discomforting. If a spaceship landed in D.C. today, no one would be allowed within miles. In 1951, you could bring the family down to look at it from no further away than 30 yards!

#9-Tales From the Crypt (1972)--No, not the cheesy HBO TV series. The original movie. Five tales of impending fate for five imperfect strangers. They are given the option of avoiding their fates - by avoiding living out the rest of their lives. Many memorable moments, including a young Joan Collins being murdered by Santa Claus. Also brings to mind the movie "Asylum", also from 1972.

#8-Frankenstein (1931)The granddaddy of them all. Not the first monster movie, but the first that truly made the genre such a hit. Frankenstein's monster was grotesque, the story was horrifying, and it was eaten up by the public--at least those who didn't faint! The attempt by man to play God once again fails. But at least he launched a whole new series of movies! By the end of the movie, you actually feel some pity for the monster. Perhaps the mob outside burning down the windmill was the real monster??? Hard to believe that the same guy who could play the monster would go on to narrate "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"!

#7-Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)--I can't remember exactly when I first saw this--grade school, I'm sure. I love this monster! He lives in the Amazon, swims around among some gorgeous scenery, and then falls in love with the girl on this boat. He swims a few feet under her as she's out in the water. He's just shy and horny. This movie was originally filmed in 3D, so there's lots of harpoons and bubbles and swimming towards the camera action going on. As with many of the monster movies from this era, you sort of have feelings for the monster by the end of the movie.

#6-The Omen (the original trilogy)--Creepy little kid is born as the anti-Christ. This is one series that I actually liked all three movies. Following Damien as a little boy, to his teenaged years, to his adulthood. You don't feel sorry for him in the end...

#5-Night of the Living Dead (1968)--This movie shows what you can do on an incredibly small budget. Yeah, the make-up is cheesy, and the dialog pretty cliche, but the story not only scared you, but also touched on race relations, family relations, distrust of government and the like. Great scene of zombies munching on intestines, organs and limbs at the burned out truck!

#4a-Young Frankenstein (1974)
#4b-Mars Attacks! (1996)--OK, so they're comedies. But fine examples of movies based on the genre. Young Frankenstein used some of the original's lab equipment, and used references to it and other Frankenstein classics. With a healthy dose of puns and laughter. Someone called in alot of favors for "Mars Attacks!". Patterned on the UFO movies of the 50s, its cast included over a dozen big-name, big-buck actors, including Jack Nicholson (in 2 roles), Glenn Close, Annette Benning and Danny Devito. And Tom Jones. While it could have become quite cartoonish, the movie was played seriously, and even had a couple of grotesque moments!

#3a-Poltergeist (1982)
#3b-Poltergeist III (1988)--Another trilogy that worked pretty well. Except for #2. And #3 was a little weak, but the concept of evil characters in the mirror (or any reflective surface) was a bit freaky. No, the scariest part of the movies are the deaths of those associated with the movies, in particular, the death of 12 year old Heather O'Rourke ("They're heeeerrrreeee....!). The real life stories are far scarier than the movies (though that clown in the picture still gives me chills...

#2-The Shining (1980)--"Heeeeeerrree's Johnny!" Stephen King's novel as envisioned by Stanley Kubrick. As mentioned in an earlier post, the music to this movie is amazing. The scenery outstanding (for the little bit that you get to see). While the movie's best scenes involve Jack, there are plenty of others. The tidal wave of blood from the elevator. The two very disturbing twins. Danny holding a large knife screaming "REDRUM! REDRUM!" This movie has just about all the good things that a horror movie should have. Great story, just enough blood, twists and turns. And Jack is phenomemal.

#1-The Exorcist (1973)--No real surprise here. This movie scares the bejeezus out of me to this day. To the point that I have only seen it all the way through without breaks twice in my life. I usually have to get up at the point where she first hears "rats" in the ceiling. Having been raised a good Catholic, I definitely remember the outcry that followed this movie. Crowds stood outside the theaters to pray for the souls that the devil would take from those who watched the movie. Some scenes were so disturbing that people got physically ill, or fainted. Certain scenes never made it to the screen as they were deemed "too graphic"--one of which is the famous "spider crawl" scene depicted in the b&w picture.
On the other hand, I spent an evening with Moose and watched "The Exorcist". She just laughed.

So there you have it. I would recommend all twelve movies (yeah, I know. That's more than ten. Deal with it.).

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