Thursday, 22 October 2009

10 Days of Horror: 7 Great horror films you've probably never seen

Sure we've all seen The Texas Chainsaw massacre, we've all seen The Shining and we've all seen The Exorcist ( Well except me, in what remains my greatest faux-pas as a film fan. I'm seeing it soon I swear.) But if you're a fan of horror, you burn through the big ticket names relatively quickly, leaving at a loss of where to go next. Thankfully desperation is the mother of invention and you find your way, maybe through endless and futile googling, maybe through having Film4 on at one in the morning, because you just had to watch American Psycho for the fifteen-thousandth time. ( That movie's fan base grows by the minute.) To all the obscure and unseen greatness that the genre has to offer. Or you could just read this.

7) The Vanishing
The Dutch, who are high in the running of most irrelevant film-making nations worldwide, did have this one under-appreciated gem to offer up. This clever concoction of Kidnap, intellectual evil and one of the most devastating endings to grace any horror movie, or movie for that matter. Remade with Jeff ' The Dude' Bridges in the role of the villain. No.

6) The Stepfather
Like many people, I came across this particular movie because of being a fan of Terry O Quinn. A.K.A John Locke from Lost. This story of a psycopath in search of the idyllic family promised to him by fifties TV is a an unexpectedly good movie. Or as good as its possible for an 80's slasher movie to be anyway. Mostly thanks to O'Quinn, who delivers a career defining performance, 20 years before giving a redefining one in the role we all know him from. Its ending is a bit shaky, as are some of the supporting cast, but Shelley Duval sucking in The Shining didn't make you enjoy Jack Nicholson any less right?

5) Cemetery Man
I have no idea why I watched this movie in the first place, but whatever, because this kind of awesomely ridiculous tribute to movie insanity is just in too short supply. We start off a cheesy Italian style zombie movie, morph into a twisted black comedy and then again into an almost existential WTF movie. Its clever ideas probably would have buckled under the straight to video acting that most of the cast had to offer, but thankfully its lead Rupert Everett, who has since been shoehorned into playing gay best friends and members of the 19th century literary aristocracy, delivers a much needed anchor to all the craziness. A movie you won't forget, whatever you think of it.

4) Eyes Without a Face
The argument that horror films born before the age of gore are redundant has never been more disproved then with this film, which goes to show that cinema just doesn't do creepy quite like it used to. This tale of a French doctor trying to restore his daughter's hideously scarred face by any means necessary is galling, to say the least. The kind of scary that genuinely gets under your skin and disturbs rather then the rinse and repeat gore that can be so easily brushed off these days.

3) Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer
This one is relatively well known, but still under -seen. This calling card for gory excess is also much cleverer then you first think. The fact that Michael Rooker's career went the way it did is a genuine shame, because he did something special here. But be warned that few films are rougher then this, both in terms of image and tone.

2) Martin
George Romero, trademarked as the creator of the zombie genre ( Night of the living Dead and Dawn of the dead are two of the best horror films ever made.) is known pretty much as a one trick pony who who can't make a good movie without some form of corpse walking around. Martin didn't disprove this theory, but it widened the parameters of the meaning of that sentence, because Romero's take on the vampire mythos is one of the most intelligent there is. Its more of a character study then an all out horror movie, but it makes it no less effective.

1) Frailty
2001 was a good year for movies, just off the top of my head I can remember Fellowship of the Ring. Amelie, Moulin Rouge, Donnie Darko and more. But the one that has stayed with me most is this small movie directed and starring Private Hudson from Aliens. Cheap jokes aside, this is a cleverlytold tale of a single father who believes that God has instructed him to hunt down demons hiding in human form, whilst his eldest son slowly begins to believe that he's gone insane. A fantastic blend of quality story-telling and intelligent high-concept horror tied to real characters. Like all the best horror movies, it actually has something to say aside from all the carnage.

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