The Most Under-rated Horror films-Part of the Corner Critic’s Over-Enthusiasm about the Fact It’s Halloween

This is the final Halloween Post that I will do. I also think that the title says it all, so I will not bother really doing a prolonged introduction. I just hope that, tonight, if you are in the mood for something a little different, you will seek one of these out.

Dead and Buried (Gary Sherman, 1981)-This film is a creepy little piece that was co-written by the people who wrote Alien. Instead of going back to the deep reaches of space, the writer’s took the Lynch route and decided to expose the horror of small town America. The film revolves around a series of murders and a bizarre coroner who can reanimate corpses. The film’s atmosphere is what makes it work. The film is dark, foggy, and gives everyone a look of unease.  Of course, despite this, the film never garnered the respect it deserves, simply because it does not fit the classical definition of a zombie film. It does not describe the end of times, but it does describe your own existence may not be what it seems. 

Phenomena (Dario Argento, 1985)-Dario Argento is one of the masters of horror. Everyone has, by now, seen his classic Suspiria. But apparently, few of his films are as widely regarded as that one. Phenomena, featuring a young Jennifer Connelly as a psychic who uses bugs to help her solve murders. OK, Argento’s plots were always a tad abstract, but he is the best director since Hitchcock who uses visual cues to create suspense. Every one of Argento’s films is like a Munch painting – it creates moods based on a few manipulations of basic colors. I chose this one because it has the potential to be every bit as revered as Suspiria, if given the chance. It explores the same familial dynamics as Psycho (or maybe Friday the 13th) and the same technical tricks that John Carpenter built his career out of. The film is vital for any Argento fan and any horror fan in general.

Hostel (Eli Roth, 2005)-This film is still popular, but does not garner the critical respect that it deserves. I see it frequently on the “most overrated” and “least scary” horror film lists.This is unfair. The film is at least as effective as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in exposing American fears about its own population. This time, it is about how certain people can fear business – after all, if there was a demand for it, no doubt something like the hostel would exist somewhere in the world. The extreme torture and brutality is part of the point. Humans are capable of being very cruel. Trying to say anything else would have been damaging to the film’s point. After all, we may squirm about the fact that people are paying to torture others – but then, we are also the ones shelling out the cost of the ticket. The film is equal parts horror and satire. It is not just among the most underrated horror films, but among the most underrated films in general.

The Blob (Chuck Russel, 1988)-Many people today complain about the endless bombardment of remakes. This trend started in the 1980s, in which the remakes of B-movies from the 1950s were released in large quantities. Two of those (The Thing and The Fly) are remembered more fondly than the originals that inspired them. This is another remake that eclipses the original, but no one seems to remember it. The original was just another examination of Cold War paranoia and the all encompassing nature of Communism. The remake is far more cynical; released right after the Iran Contra Scandal, it insists that no one can be trusted. In a horror film, such a worldview is far more terrifying. This is one of the few horror sequels I actually wanted to see (the film sets up a good one) but it’s failure crushed those plans.

Martin (George Romero, 1971)-Most people, when they hear the title, will think of that 90s sitcom centered around Martin Lawrence and the effects of his heavy drug use. It’s actually a vampire movie directed by George A Romero about a young man who frequently kills to satisfy his need for blood. The thing is, he doesn’t have fans, eats garlic, and frequently goes out into the sunlight. So, is he a vampire? Do vampires exist? It is all left ambiguous look at sexual awakenings (the woman who seals Martin’s fate is the only one he does has sex with) and about the long death of small town America. It is every bit as good a film that Romero ever directed. Plus, how can anyone not watch the teenage vampire Martin and think certain other sources were maybe borrowing a tad too much from the film?

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One Response to The Most Under-rated Horror films-Part of the Corner Critic’s Over-Enthusiasm about the Fact It’s Halloween

  1. I agree with your thoughts on Hostel, although I think it’s more of a revenge film than a horror film. I also like the fact that you included The Blob in your list. I liked this movie when it came out and it’s a shame there’s not many films being made like this one any more.

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