It’s a Horror to Know You: Eshbaal of Horrible Horror!
1. What is the first film that ever scared you?
I actually have a hard time remembering this. It took a long time before I really watched fully blown horror films, and I was mostly a pretty tough kid (or just left the room if I had reason to believe something would be too scary for me). One of the earliest moments I remember freaking out was at the age of 7 or 8 when I saw the heart-ripping scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. For a horror film… I think it may have been Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, during the funeral dream sequence. I feel like there’s something I’m missing here, though.
2. What is the last film that scared you?
Not so much ‘scared’ as ‘disgusted’, but “The Dentist“, despite being a kind of bad film overall, freaked me right the hell out at the dental torture scenes. For a more straight “scare” it’s been a while, but I’d say “Insidious“, which I watched last Halloween. I didn’t expect it to suck me in as fully and completely as it did, that’s for goddamn sure.
3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.
This isn’t so much “underrated by horror fans”, but more movies I believe should have higher status overall than they do. I realize all three of these choices are actually quite popular in these “nerdier” circles.
1. Paperhouse – It can be debated exactly how far this reaches into the horror territory, but when it’s frightening, it’s FRIGHTENING. The image of the “dad” with hammer in hand standing on that hill, and just the unnatural feeling that the house invokes… it’s great!
2. Castle Freak – I LOVE Stuart Gordon’s work, and yet it’s rare to hear anyone mention Castle Freak – but EVERY time it IS mentioned, it is pretty much always positive, and for good reason. It is genuinely unsettling through the whole damn thing and is probably the most wonderful homage to the gothic horror tradition to exist. While I tend to think “killing the pet” can be a cheap move (note the “can”), the image of the cat being dragged under the doorframe is etched in my mind. I’ve really yet to dislike a Stuart Gordon film. “Dolls“, “Dagon” and “From Beyond” deserve mention too.
3. Clownhouse – By God, this thing. If you can look past the kinda gross history with Victor Salva, there’s a fine little suspense piece to be found – the intro scene with the clown poster actually managed to freak me right the hell out on the spot. But what I love about it for real is that it’s one of VERY few films to get the killer clown thing right – having the clown look like a NORMAL CLOWN. I tire of the monster clowns, as this mises the point of why a clown would be frightening in the first place. These three guys are so out of place that it becomes terrifying. Plus, it’s proof of one my claims that simplicity can be key. The movie is basically just “Three kids home alone with maniacs” and uses this to scare rather than try too hard to come up with the most original setup on the planet.
4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.
I am in general in the “love stuff that’s so bad it’s good” camp, so this is a fun one.
1. Night of the Demon (1980) – ANYONE who’s seen this knows why. It is a damn near incomprehensible mess comprised entirely of an endless cycle of “walking scene – kill scene”. The acting is awful, the effects atrocious, the story nonexistant, the image quality terrible, the directing mind-boggingly bad… but it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen through the whole dman movie, and I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.
2. Stepfather III – I LOVE the original Stepfather. And I thought part 2 was really damn fun as well. By all accounts, Terry O’ Quinn is to thank for the fantastic feel to these two movies – and everything about part III screams that any fan of the series should hate it. Actor scrapped? Check. Somehow 15 minutes longer than the other films? Check. TV movie? Check. But it is so completely off its rocker that I cant’ help but love it – particularly the beginning, where our still bandaged killer takes the most menacing sip of a juicebox I ever saw. I love it!
3. Leprechaun in Space / Jason X – Another case of the film just being so completely batshit insane that I can’t help but enjoy it. The “In Space” aspect is often mocked, and rightfully so, but both of these films seem to have SUCH a freaking laugh with it. Particularly Leprechaun in Space makes NO sense whatsoever, but it is absolutely hilarious throughout and you can’t claim it isn’t at least somewhat creative.
5. Send us to five places on the Internet!
I’m afraid I can only think of three…
1. Horror Movie A Day – Despite finding myself disagreeing often and finding the guy to occasionally being a bit snobby, this is a great way to get some time to pass.
2. The Bodycount Continues Forums – I don’t post there as much as I should, but it is a very fun slasher-based forum where everyone knows their stuff… so much so it can almost be discouraging! It is a pretty tight little community, though.
3. Hysteria- Lives – Reviews can be lengthy, and the time between updates is lengthy and frustrating, but you gotta love the bodycount lists and generally amusing reviews!