Tag Archives: Movies

6 horror movie must-sees you’ve probably never heard of (and a few you have)

Now that Halloween is upon us again (literally, like, it’s tomorrow, whoops), it’s time for my annual horror movie compilation post. For the last two years, I’ve put together some pretty great lists of some pretty classic, pretty awesome and pretty classically awesome scary movies, most of them known by the general public. You can revisit them here and here.

This year, I’ve put together what I consider a pretty sweet list of movies generally unheard of by the kind of people who a) aren’t huge horror movie buffs and/or b) who only watch movies that are produced on a large scale and featured in the theaters (with a few popular ones thrown in for good measure). Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally awesome to go to the theaters and see the cliche horror movies they’re coming out with these days (another exorcism movie, how original), but anyone looking for a good scare (or two) this Halloween should check out some (if not all) of the following:

Insidious Chapter 2. Okay, this one is obviously well-known to anyone with a TV, but I loved the first one (so much it made my list two years ago) and the second one is no different. Actually, I liked the second one better which, for anyone who knows how obsessed I was with the first, obviously means it’s worth watching. Obviously. It should be out on DVD in about a hundred years (okay, really, like a month, but same difference). Chapter 2 seemed to have more terror to it, more scenes to make you jump out of your seat, and I especially liked the development of the Old Woman. Just go watch it, you’ll see what I mean.

The Barrens. You may or may not have heard of this one (I hadn’t) but you’ll find a familiar face in this flick. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer plays Richard Vineyard, a troubled man just trying to bring his family back together with an innocent camping trip. But an urban legend from his past comes back to haunt him and his family, and what seems like a nice vacation quickly turns grim. Not the scariest movie of the year, and the special effects aren’t quite Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights standards, but it will definitely make you think twice before wandering off into the woods.

V/H/S. Loved this movie. It’s actually a horror anthology, a series of short films strung together with an overall story line to tie them all together. I’m particularly fond of Adam Wingard’s segment (mostly because I’m slightly obsessed with him), but all of the segments bring something unique and terrifyingly awesome to the table. Apparently the movie was so successful they produced a second.  V/H/S/2 is actually pretty great as well (and available at Redbox right now) and doesn’t require having seen the first one, but I personally enjoyed the original more than the sequel. But you should watch them both anyway. In a row. In the dark. By yourself. Right now. And… go.

ABCs of Death. Speaking of horror anthologies (and Adam Wingard), ABCs of Death is a pretty badass movie (that most normal people who don’t sit up at night watching horror movies in the dark have never heard of). It is exactly what it sounds like, a horror anthology chronicling 26 ways to die in alphabetical order. You’d be surprised how some of the letters of the alphabet could off a guy.

Would You Rather. Less of a scary movie and more of a disturbing one, it viewed like a mild version of Hostel as far as content and plot, but it’s by no means as gory or sexually explicit (although I still wouldn’t recommend letting your kids watch it). I thought it was a fairly creative idea for a movie, and it had a pretty good twist at the end. Although I saw it coming, but nothing gets by me, so that’s not surprising, but it was still a decent ending to a decent flick.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence). This movie is several years old, 2009 I think, so more and more people have heard of it by now, but it’s still a good one to make this list. I actually watched the second sequence first but was unimpressed. I finally sought out the original, first sequence, about 8 months ago and, while completely disturbing, I found it sickly satisfying. I think you will too. Don’t deny it, you love watching this sick crap almost as much as I do.

So there you have it folks. This year’s awesomely unheard-of horror movie mania list. Be terrified, be disgusted, have nightmares for weeks. These are all signs of a positive horror movie experience, and I think everyone should know what it feels like at least once in their life (or every day, if you’re me). Happy haunting!

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How I would want to be shipwrecked, or lost to sea (and a brief book review in between)

So I read Life of Pi and watched the movie version in about the course of two days (which is impressive for the book, not the movie; who takes two days to watch a movie?) and, while it’s not something I’d go around hoping to have happen, I think it would be somewhat interesting to be shipwrecked as Pi was, especially in the manner and specific circumstances he endured.

I’ve never really come close to anything super tragic in life, that I can remember. I was in a car accident once, which I wrote about here (and was shortly thereafter totally blowing up on Freshly Pressed, which, for you fellow WordPressians, you know how much of a big deal that is), and I broke my arm pretty badly when I was a teenager, which sucked and completely ruined the end of my freshman year of high school (but what can you do? I became RoboJulie 3,000 and had to spend the next few months at home with my arm in a machine) but neither of those experiences were truly life-threatening, end-of-the-world-type ordeals (though they may have seemed so at the time). So the idea of experiencing something (and surviving, hopefully) as life-changing as what Pi did (which, the jury is still out on whether it’s a true story or not; the author makes it seem like it is, but everything else I’ve heard leads me to believe it’s fiction so who knows) is not necessarily appealing but definitely intriguing.

1024x1024 life of pi 13I can’t decide firstly if I’d want to be lost to sea or simply shipwrecked on an island (think Tom Hanks in Castaway). They each obviously have their pros and cons; if you’re lost at sea, you have a higher risk of being eaten, swallowed up by a storm or simply dying of thirst.

You also have a higher chance of being found, in my opinion. If you drift long enough (227 days, in Pi’s case), eventually you will be discovered by a boat, or reach land (hopefully the shores of some place densely populated and non-cannibalistic). If you’re stuck in one place, like Tom Hanks (and Wilson), unless search parties know exactly where to be looking for you (which they didn’t in his case), you’re basically screwed. You’re screwed either way, but that’s besides the point.

Of course, your chances for survival also depend on your circumstances up to the point, and even after, your ship (or plane) crashes. Pi got lucky that his lifeboat was so well-equipped with supplies; he probably would have died of thirst long before he could even consider being eaten by Richard Parker (who, for those who haven’t read it, is NOT a cannibal-man, but a Bengal tiger).

If he hadn't tried to leave the island, he never would have lost Wilson. Makes me cry e'rytime.

If he hadn’t tried to leave the island, he never would have lost Wilson. Makes me cry e’rytime.

Although, (spoiler alert), if I’d just lost my entire family to a shipwreck, and had no real chance of going back to the home and people I once knew, I probably would have hung out a little longer on the only island I happened to stumble upon (even if it was a carnivorous one). If I shipwrecked onto an island initially, I probably would have just stayed there. If someone wanted to find me, they could, but when you have a pal as great a listener as Wilson, who needs real people? I never really liked people that much anyway, though, so that could have something to do with it.

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10 movies to watch with the lights off (because you can’t be afraid of the dark anymore)

Last year, in the true spirit of Halloween (whatever that means), I wrote the epic 10 movies to watch with the lights on, which, for those who never read it, you need to go review. Right now. I poured my sweat and blood into that post, losing sleep for days to write and perfect every single word, so the least you could do is read it.

Okay, it took me like 5 minutes to write, but still, it’s worth a read.

Anyway, now that you’ve finished reviewing last year’s list, let’s get on with this year’s top 10.

Last year I advised watching said movies with the lights on. Because I know you are probably a big scaredy cat and can’t handle watching scary movies in the dark. But this year I challenge you to the ultimate horror test. Watch them alone. In the dark. Okay, well maybe not alone, but definitely in the dark. I know everyone can’t be as tough as me. I watch these things alone like it’s my job. Which I wish it was, cause that’d be the coolest job ever. Anyway, getting back to the list.

Now, just as a disclaimer, I can’t repeat any of the movies I quoted last year; that would just be silly. Then there’d be no point in writing this entry because you could just go read last year’s and save everyone a load of writing, reading, editing and rewriting (and re-editing). So, if you think about it, this is actually the next 10 in my never-ending list of scary movies to watch, after last year’s 10, which were the first 10. Are you following?

Before I confuse myself any further, here is the next installment of the top however many movies to watch with the lights on or off, alone or with other people.

10. Young Frankenstein. Everyone loves a good Frankenstein movie, and what better one than the Gene Wilder version? He’s crazy enough by himself but add one of the most iconic monsters of our time and you’re set for a great night at the movies. Of course, you will most likely be watching this at home on your computer and not in the theaters, because it’s from the 70s and what theater is showing movies from the 70s? So yeah.

9. Disturbia. Not a true horror flick, but definitely one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. Whether you’re a Shia fan or not, this movie is pretty great, and it’s one of those movies that make you never want to trust your neighbors again, so it’s pretty realistic as far as thrillers go. Just be careful you don’t turn into a super stalker, because more than likely your neighbors aren’t interesting enough to be killing people in their basement. Unless you live next door to me.

8. The People Under the Stairs. What a freaking weird flick. I bought this movie on DVD years ago thinking it was going to be some dumb scary movie attempt, and there were times when I mourned the $10 I spent on it, but this movie is super creepy. Wes Craven never fails to deliver, and this movie is no exception. I suggest watching in a large, open room, one devoid of any nooks and crannies someone could be lurking in.

Jaws ate me. The end.

7. Jaws. Maybe not the scariest movie ever created, but I doubt there’s anyone who can honestly say they don’t give it a second thought when they’re swimming in open water. I’m a diver and even I freak out at the surface when I can’t see what’s below me. You never know what’s lurking beneath the inky blackness of the sea. Thanks a lot, Steven Spielberg.

6. The Descent. Maybe not one of the better-done horror movies out there, but this movie will terrify you if you’re a) claustrophobic b) afraid of the dark c) afraid of being trapped underground d) afraid of being hunted by creatures you can’t see. Oh yeah, and e) afraid of being eaten alive.

5. Silence of the Lambs. They say serial killers usually keep a trophy from each victim. Well this one ate his. A classic horror movie, usually at the top of most people’s lists. Although if you grew up with a name like Clarice, you probably hate this movie and all the times people called and said “good evening, Clarice” in that creepy Hannibal Lecter voice.

4. Hostel. Some people can’t handle this type of movie. Maybe it’s because it puts the all-too-real idea of being kidnapped abroad and tortured to death right in front of your face. Or maybe it’s the explicit scenes full of sex and gore that blend together in such a twisted manner you don’t know whether to be turned on or throw up. Not for the faint of heart.

3. It. Ah, the original killer clown movie. Well, one of the better ones. This movie is why grown men will not let their kids have clowns at their birthday parties. Reverting back to the old school horror movie standards (and another Stephen King classic), this movie has just the right amount of visual scare, leaving plenty of room for your imagination to do the rest.

2. The Hills Have Eyes. This movie is quite disgustingly awesome. It has the right amount of gore and scare and is possibly just a tad too f*cked up but it’s a good movie to watch this month. Just don’t be surprised if you never want to take any road trips after this one.

1. Halloween. Michael Myers is one of the classic killers of our time, and he deserves a certain level of respect around this time of year. Try and swallow the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis is a terrible actress in this film (well, in most films, but this isn’t a critique of her acting abilities, it’s a scary movie list, so get over it), because there’s nothing scarier than a mute masked madman menacing  a mundane midwestern town. Oh, you like alliteration? You’re welcome.

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10 movies to watch with the lights on

I’m one of those Halloween fanatics, one of those people who live to be scared, who’d rather it be October all year

Into the dungeons...

long, who’s dying to live in a real haunted house. But of course, the terrifying events, the Halloween parties, the decorations, the pumpkin-carving, all only come for those precious 31 days in the middle of the fall. The scary movie marathons on TV only last so many days (Syfy actually has a full 31 days of Halloween marathon that I highly recommend).  But to keep the spirit alive all year long, I keep my DVDs stocked with plenty of horror flicks, ranging from the insanely gory to the horrifyingly insane. Before Halloween comes and goes- we have less than a week left- treat yourself to some of the best horror flicks out there.

10. Beetlejuice. It’s not exactly scary, but this Tim Burton classic is one that never fails to entertain. With stars like Michael Keaton (’nuff said), Alec Baldwin (when he was still relevant), Catherine O’Hara (before Home Alone) and Winona Ryder (before she turned klepto), you’re guaranteed some serious tricks and treats. Though the special effects would be deemed “cheesy” by today’s standards, there’s something comforting about the simplicity of the horrific in this Halloween must-see.

9. Donnie Darko. This movie is less scary and more weird, but if you’re easily disturbed by otherworldly occurrences, then this is the movie for you. Bear in mind it is a very strange movie, and can be difficult to follow at times, but if you remove expectations and open your mind to the impossible, you will be delightfully entertained. A younger, more baby-faced Jake Gyllenhaal plays the troubled Donnie, who finds himself plagued by visions of a perverse rabbit throughout the film. I highly recommend this if you enjoy movies that require you to pay attention more intently and think outside the box.

8. Funny Games. Both versions are very similar- as they should be, they were both done by Mike Haneke- but I’ll admit I’m more partial to the 2007 version. It’s more modern, in English (subtitles are a bitch during scary movies) and Naomi Watts does a fantastic job of being every part the distressed mother and wife. It’s a shocking movie, different from what we’re used to with Hollywood scares, but it’s probably more paralyzing than the jumpiest, goriest movie to-date. For me, the best scares are those you get from a horrific reality, and Funny Games is every bit the gruesome truth.

7. The Strangers. Liv Tyler shines in this all-too-realistic thriller about a couple who faces a terrifying bout of  ding-dong-ditch. Similar to Funny Games, The Strangers takes it up a notch by adding fear to the drama and torture. It’s all about the scare in this movie, with unknown antagonists lurking behind closed doors and dark fences. With its dark lighting and troubling camera angles (you’ll find yourself desperate to know what lays just behind a corner wall or a closed pantry), prepare for some lip-biting, fist-clenching terror as you endure the suffering along with the characters. If you’re easily spooked by movies that could happen in real-life (we call them “realistic”), make sure you are not alone when watching this tormenting thriller.

6. Hellraiser. An oldy, but goody. Make sure you watch the original,- Clive Barker did a decent job with all his movies, but the first is the best- with Doug Bradley as the ghastly Pinhead. The special effects are simple, but they do the job in creating a hideous and bloody otherworldly dimension. Some scenes can be quite gruesome and hard to watch, so keep a pillow close by to hide behind when the guts get to be too much.

5. Poltergeist. Who doesn’t remember the movie with the creepy girl stuck in the TV? The image of little Carol Anne staring into the static black and white of the haunting TV is usually the first thing you think of when you hear the title. Sadly, Heather O’Rourke, who played the five-year-old, died at age 12, but her rendition of the precocious tot is one still praised to this day. Like most older movies, the special effects are what they are, but the feeling of fear and haunting stands strong on it’s own- it’s only reinforced with the addition of monsters and corpses. This is one that usually tops most lists, but it’s definitely one worth watching at least once. Or twice…

4. Insidious. It’s been a very long time since Hollywood has produced anything remotely close to the mind-thrillers of the old days. But in 2010, hope was restored that true horror still existed in the realm of cinema. Insidious will scare you in ways you never thought you could be scared again. It will be the opposite of what you’re expecting, and, though some critics complain the ending turns too sci-fi, it truly is a terrifying thriller up to the very end. Keep in mind, it’s unlike the cheap thrills we get from modern-day horror movies, so go into it with an open mind. And consider watching it with a friend, or during daylight hours- I still can’t watch it alone in the dark (hard as I try!).

3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ah, my ultimate fear. Chainsaws. Due to a childhood incident that scarred me for life, chainsaws have always been my Everest; I’ve watched the Texas Chainsaw movies many times, and have silently screamed my way through many haunted chainsaw houses, but until I faced my fear just several years ago, this movie was the epitome of terror to my influenced mind. It still rattles me nowadays, and with good reason- everyone loves a movie that portrays real events. The actuality behind it is what increases the intensity. Amidst all the blood and guts and loud chainsaws and scary, twisted faces, the lingering notion that what you’re watching actually happened keeps the fear alive in you every second of the movie.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Most people forget Johnny Depp was one of the teens in this 80s horror flick. But Depp, along with Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss and Jsu Garcia, find themselves terrorized by a child murderer the second they fall asleep. And unlike most villians, whom you can usually escape by hiding or running away, there is no escaping Freddy Krueger. Because, after all, how long can you keep your tired eyes from closing and sending you off into Freddy’s nightmare? One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

1. The Shining. One of the most classic horror films around, Stanley Kubrick forces your mind to the brink of insanity in this famous Stephen King tale. The Shining is what horror should be, what current Hollywood cinema has forgotten. It moves somewhat slow-with a runtime of 146 minutes- but the long, drawn-out scenes are what keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Personally one of my all-time favorites, this movie represents the epitome of what a scary movie should do. It’s less about the gore and special effects and more about playing tricks on your mind. As the first horror movie I ever watched (surprisingly, at the age of 8), The Shining is the reason I’m in love with everything spooky and horrific. It is definitely a must-see that should be on the top of your Halloween movie marathon list.

There are so many more fantastic horror flicks, but this list would never end if I tried to include every one of them. All-in-all, whatever your Halloween traditions are, one scary movie has to make it’s way into your priorities. It’s a Halloween right-of-passage you just have to give into. Again and again and again…

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