Saturday, October 6, 2007
31 Films That Give Me The Willies
Here is my list of films that I submitted for Shoot The Projectionist's 31 Films That Give Me The Willies project. I decided instead of submitting a strictly 'best of' list I would try and highlight worthy, if sometimes undervalued films in the place of the recognized classics. This is why films like HALLOWEEN, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, PSYCHO, CARRIE, THE EXORCIST, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, ALIEN, Romero's DEAD films etc are not on here. I figured those films among a few select others were shoe-ins whereas a film like LEMORA might not be. It also allowed me to vote for more personal favorites from the likes of Carpenter, Romero, De Palma and so on. Unfortunately this also caused a few directors I greatly admire, Craven and Hooper chief among them, to be left out entirely.
My own personal rules were pretty simple. I just included one film per director to open up the field and, with the exception of one film, just made it since 1970. This is the reason that Hammer Horror and A.I.P are essentially ignored, another regret but honestly choosing just one Hammer from the fifties or sixties or just one of Corman's Poe films was mind numbing.
31 is such a small number but then again even 100 would be as Horror is my favorite genre. There were many films that I wish I could have gotten on here but for the most part I am happy with my choices, with the exception of accidentally leaving off THE WICKER MAN, DON'T LOOK NOW, and CEMETERY MAN. I hope, and expect, though that all three of those films will be on the final list so I can vote for them.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun and thanks to Ed at Shoot The Projectionist for putting it on.
Here are my choices in alphabetical order.
1. THE BEYOND ’81 (Lucio Fulci)
It was harder than hell to choose just one Fulci film, but this one encapsulates everything I love about his work. Haunting, funny, terrifying...like a hallucinatory whirlpool that sucks you in completely. Most noteworthy, outside of Fulci's direction and compositional style, is the incredible Fabio Frizzi score and the iconic performances from David Warbeck, Catriona MacColl and Cinzia Monreale.
2. BEYOND THE DARKNESS ’79 (Joe D’Amato)
One of the most disturbing and perverse love stories ever committed to film, and one of the great films from Joe D'Amato. It is a shame that in his later life he just referred to himself as a business man, because there is an artist at work behind the scenes of this film. Featuring one of Goblin's great scores and a final nonsensical but incredibly effective moment (featuring again the lovely Cinzia Monreale from THE BEYOND) that sums up my love for Italian horror as much as any other.
3. BLACK CHRISTMAS ’74 (Bob Clark)
Clark's film has influenced everyone, and it remains one of the most chilling and intelligent films from the seventies. Featuring Clark's inventive, stylish direction and one of the best young casts he could have gathered together, including a scene stealing Margot Kidder, BLACK CHRISTMAS reigns supreme.
4. BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE ’72 (Vicente Aranda)
Aranda's strange art vampire film is so great and features so many iconic moment that it is hard to know where to begin. Alexandra Bastedo is especially memorable in this truly inspiring Spanish film.
5. CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER ’74 (Brian Clemens)
The lone Hammer film on the list and an oddball favorite. I wish they could have made a whole series of these films as this one is so winning. A relative failure at the time, Clemen's work has aged incredibly well and I never tire of revisiting it. Look for a young and incredibly gorgeous Caroline Munro in it.
6. DARK WATER ’02 (Hideo Nakata)
This might not be the scariest Japanese horror film ever made but it is among the most stylish and moving. Everything about the film works and I prefer over Nakata's own RINGU. I'm one of the few who also admire Walter Salles' remake but it doesn't hold a candle to the original.
7. DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS ’71 (Harry Kumel)
Kumel's unforgettable vampire opus with its driving Francois de Roubaix score and mesmerizing turn by LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD star Delphine Seyrig is the stuff of cinematic dreams. It remains one of the great meetings between the European art film and horror film ever made.
8. DEMONS ’85 (Lamberto Bava)
Lamberto Bava's film often gets overlooked these days but it is one of the most important of the eighties, and one of the most entertaining. Bava and producer Dario Argento's kinetic, gory and incredibly fun film is still endearing and even in its most dated moments still remains brilliantly inventive. Look for legendary Nicoletta Elmi all grown up as the creepy ticket taker.
9. DEMONIACS ’74 (Jean Rollin)
While not as important or masterful as REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE or FASCINATION, this Jean Rollin film is still one of his best and I think most heartfelt. Minor mis-castings aside and some problems with a budget even lower than usual, Rollins' film is totally engrossing, and features one of the great Rollin performances by Joelle Coeur.
10. DR. JEKYLL AND HIS WOMEN ’81 (Walerian Borowczyk)
Borowczyk's unhinged and nightmarish retelling of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic is unlike any film ever made. With a near unwatchable intensity and two of the great faces in European cinema, Udo Keir and Marina Pierro, Borowczyk creates a savage and searing vision of repressed sexuality that has yet to be equalled. Will someone please release this masterpiece on DVD.
11. THE FOG ’80 (John Carpenter)
Since I decided that HALLOWEEN and THE THING didn't need my help in getting on the final list, this is the Carpenter film I going with. What can I say, I fell in love with it as a youth and it still haunts my dreams.
12. FULL CIRCLE (HAUNTING OF JULIA) ’77 (Richard Loncraine)
I just covered this masterful Richard Loncraine film in detail last week so I will not say anymore, except to add the question again as to why this jewel isn't on DVD?
13. HIGH TENSION ’03 (Alexandre Aja)
Te newest film on the list and one of the most deserving in my eyes. Aja's brutal and savage film made horror dangerous again, if just for a short while as it appears the trend is unfortunately fading. Featuring a minimal chilling score and an impressive turn by respected French actress Cecile De France, Aja's searing film is among the best of the decade.
14. LEMORA: A CHILD'S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL ’73 (Richard Blackburn)
I hope this film makes the list. I adore this film, I absolutely love it. Under Blackburn's great stylish direction, the much missed Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith delivers one of the most unforgetable genre performances of the seventies. I could frankly watch her for hours in this film and never grow bored or tired of it.
15. LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE ’74 (Jorge Grau)
Grau's Zombie opus is one of the most intelligent and creepy films to come out of Spain in the seventies. Fun but with a powerful political pull, Grau's film features great performances, a terrific score and some truly astounding make-up work. One of the great Zombie films of the seventies.
16. LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVED DOWN THE LANE ’76 (Nicolas Gessner)
Here is another film I have wrote about in detail before. Gessner's poetic and disturbing little film captured my imagination when I was young and set off my life long admiration with Jodie Foster, who turns in one of her best performances here.
17. LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH ’71 (John D. Hancock)
Another film from my youth that seemed lost for a while but has recently resurfaced as one of the great and creepiest films of the seventies. Hancock's direction is confident, inventive and never lags despite budget limitations. His cast is also superb in this truly unforgettable film.
18. MANIAC ’80 (William Lustig)
Lustig's brutal Giallo tribute caused a big stir back in 1980 and it still packs a huge punch. Joe Spinell's legendary turn as the deranged Frank Zito remains one of the most disturbing and perfectly realized performances as a killer in screen history...and Tom Savini's effects blow any generic looking and tired CGI out of the way completely.
19. MARTIN ’77 (George Romero)
Since I wasn't voting for his DEAD films here, MARTIN is the one George Romero film I wanted to highlight. Touching, chilling and amazingly well rendered, MARTIN is close to being the greatest film Romero ever shot. It is at least among the greatest. Jon Amplas' performance as the lonely and confused Martin still resonates thirty years after the premiere of the masterful film.
20. PERFUME OF A LADY IN BLACK ’74 (Francesco Barilli)
Another film in bad need of an American DVD release. I am not sure how to place this strange and hypnotic masterpiece but it is usually lumped in as a giallo. Whatever you want to call it, it's unforgettable and features possible the best performance talented Mimsy Farmer ever gave.
21. RABID ’77 (David Cronenberg)
Another one I have written on before here in detail, while not as great as THE BROOD or VIDEODROME, Cronenberg's second film is one that I revisit often. You can feel him creating and building his very individualitic mythology here and I greatly admire Marilyn Chamber's work as Rose.
22. SISTERS ’73 (Brian De Palma)
Much like with Fulci, choosing just one De Palma film was near impossible. With CARRIE pretty much secured on the final list I think, this is the one I decided to go with as it is one of his smartest and scariest works. Featuring another brilliant turn by Margot Kidder, one of the great split screen montages in histoy and a closing shot that is among my favorites, SISTERS is a major work and still one of the master's best film.
23. SHOCK ’77 (Mario Bava)
No where near Bava's best but another personal favorite and one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen. Read about my admiration for Daria Nicoldi's performance here.
24. STIR OF ECHOES ’99 (David Koepp)
The one film from the nineties on here and one I will be writing on in detail soon. I think Koepp's work is one of the great ghost stories from the past couple of decades and is the superior to the film, THE SIXTH SENSE, that buried it at the box office eight years ago in every way.
25. SUSPIRIA ’77 (Dario Argento)
I couldn't not vote for it even though I nearly went with INFERNO and even thought about PHENOMENA at one point. Still everything I love about Dario Argento is in this film and it was the one I had to give my vote to.
26. THE SHUTTERED ROOM ’67 (David Greene)
My major wild card I guess. No one seems to much care for this forgotten little gem but I will be writing in detail on it later in the week.
27. TALE OF TWO SISTERS ’03 (Ji-Woon Kim)
Another more recent film and one of the most perfect of the decade. Haunting, incredibly well acted, scripted and directed. I haven't been able to shake this masterful South Korean film since I first saw it a few years ago.
28. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD ’71 (Amando De Ossorio)
De Ossorio's mindbending mammoth creation is still one of the great Spanish horror films. Everything about it feels important, from the incredibly cool blind dead to the final shot that Almodovar would pay tribute to years later in LIVE FLESH.
29. TORSO ’73 (Sergio Martino)
I didn't attempt to include many giallos on the list just to make it easier on myself, but Martino's brutal and terrifying film had to be on here.
30. TROUBLE EVER DAY ’01 (Claire Denis)
Poetic, disturbing and stylishly directed by Claire Denis. TROUBLE EVERY DAY is another film too little seen in America. Featuring a beautifuly disturbed Vincent Gallo and a monstrous turn by Beatrice Dalle, Denis' film is one of the most original and effective of the decade.
31. VAMPYRES ’74 (Jose Larraz)
It might not be the best Jose Larraz film but it is the ultimate one. Erotic, bloody, bold and chilling, I couldn't imagine my list without VAMPYRES on it.
So, there are my choices. I hope that the films I deliberatly left off will be on the final ballet and that at least a few of the above slip in.