What is the first film that scared you?
The last time I did this, I named THE WITCHES, which is still about as traumatic as it gets (and I know there are millions of people who'd agree with me), but I just recently remembered that I first saw CARRIE around the same time I saw THE WITCHES. It was on TBS one night and I was watching it with my mom and sister and the part that caused me to run out of the room screaming was when Carrie was dragged into the prayer closet by her mother, that creepy organ music starts playing, and she lights the candle next to that scary St. Sebastian statue with the glowing eyes. I still remember leaping off the bed and running out of the room. I had this thing about organ music as a kid. It always terrified me. There was an episode of SHELLEY DUVALL'S FAERIE TALE THEATRE where they adapted SNOW WHITE and Vanessa Redgrave was playing the evil queen. The moment she decides to kill Snow White, she enters her cobweb covered lab as really spooky organ music accompanies her. I ran out of the room there, too. Besides that, WHO FRAMED RODGER RABBIT was pretty terrifying. That scene at the end where Christopher Lloyd's eyes pop out might have made me hide behind the couch a few times as a kid.
What is the last film that scared you?
I just rewatched CARNIVAL OF SOULS on that glorious new Criterion disc and, boy, does that one hold up! What a brilliant case of making something out of nothing. Nothing in that film should work, but it does. It's still one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. That scene where Mary is driving on that dark road at night and "the man" appears at her window…I always shriek. I know it's coming and I shriek. It's so nightmarish. Also, for some reason, THE INVITATION really got under my skin. I have a fear of cults and people from LA, so it hit a lot of nerves.
Name three horror films that you feel are underrated.
THE REDEEMER a.k.a. CLASS REUNION MASSACRE – This one is sort of like what would happen if ALICE SWEET ALICE and SLAUGHTER HIGH got drunk and had a really judgmental, mentally unstable (yet stylish) baby. A group of friends are invited to their 10 year reunion and find out that, not only are they the only ones there, but a mysterious preacher with a hard on for disguises and sinners has staged the whole thing so that he can punish them for their wicked ways. It's hard to describe what's so great about this movie, because it's sort of like a dream that seemed really creepy when you were having it, but when you try to explain it to your friend the next day, you're met with a "meh." The atmosphere, the synth-heavy score, the nonsensical bookends at the beginning and end, the religious hysteria, likable cast, and spooky disguises from the killer are not something you'll soon forget. The scene in the auditorium with the killer muttering some bizarre Biblical gibberish as a humongous marionette dances behind him will be one that'll be sure to give you the heebie jeebies. I'd be lying if this one didn't inspire a few elements of BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN.
THE ATTIC – CARRIE SNODGRESS is so underrated, you guys. She really shines in this, which is, less horror film and more Tennessee Williams meets Baby Jane psychodrama. A lot of horror fans will probably get bored before the payoff, but it's worth it. Easily one of the saddest, most haunting endings you're likely to see. And that's not all! There's also a really cute monkey and RAY MILLAND as SNODGRESS' royal a-hole of a dad. Someone needs to clean this up and release it on Blu-Ray ASAP.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II – I LOVE the original PROM NIGHT, y'all. Like, I stayed up late on a school night once to watch and record it off of TV (I didn't know how to work the VCR timer, ok! Cut me some slack!), so I'm very passionate about it. However, HELLO MARY LOU is a MUCH better movie. No, it has nothing to do with the original (it was written by ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? alum/obvious national treasure Ron Oliver as a standalone film), but it's the perfect movie to watch when you'd like to marathon THE EXORCIST, CARRIE, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but don't have the time. It takes the best parts of all those films and crams them into 90-ish minutes of surreal imagery, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, bad hair choices, and deaths to the tune of Little Richard. Thanks to ample airtime on USA Network back in the 90's, I saw this one constantly and, to this day, it never bores me for a second. Like THE ATTIC, this is crying out for a special edition Blu-Ray. Can someone make that happen? Scream Factory? Kino? Anybody? While you're at it, someone give us 3 and 4 on Blu-Ray, too.
Name three horror films that you enjoy against your better judgment.
The Last Horror Film – Billed as a follow up to Bill Lustig's super gritty MANIAC, THE LAST HORROR FILM takes the two leads of that film, keeps their same dynamic, moves them to the Cannes Film Festival, and adds on a dollop of tongue-in-cheek cheese. It's genuinely clever at times and always nothing short of entertaining. I mean, a slasher film at Cannes? Genius! Although, whoever decided to give Caroline Munro that ridiculous skunk streak in her hair should be shot.
Rob Zombie's Halloween II – I HATED Rob Zombie's first remake of HALLOWEEN. It was like he made a list of everything people admired from the original film and made sure to do the exact opposite with a cheesy backstory and a rushed SparkNotes version of the original tacked on to the last hour of the film with characters we don't like. To my great surprise, I ended up enjoying his sequel (white horse, ghost mother, and random redneck killings aside) and admired him dedicating almost the entire film to the fractured mind of Laurie Strode, who has gone from mild annoying in the first film to a full blown psychotic in the sequel. It works this time around, especially when she's surrounded by Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, and Margot Kidder as the folks who lend her a shoulder to cry on AND it makes sense. I'd be a mess if I'd just experience all that crap, too. Hell, I wasn't even upset with RZ turned Dr. Loomis into a money-grubbing opportunist. At least he was doing something interesting and different. On top of everything else, many of the characters' deaths have legitimately emotional consequences for those around them, which one rarely sees in a horror film these days. I'll even admit that, during a certain scene, I might have wiped a tear away from my eye. Although it has MANY flaws, I admire the sheer audacity to release a film to millions of unsuspecting multiplex brats that had more in common with ORDINARY PEOPLE than it did with HALLOWEEN.
976-Evil – This was Robert "Freddy"Englund's directorial debut and it's a pretty solid first go-round. He has style to spare and, even when the story falls apart here and there, it's still always nice to look at. Plus, we've got Stephen "Evil Ed" Geoffreys as a possessed nerd with Sandy freakin' Dennis as his mother. Y'all, if there's one reason why you need to see this film, it's Sandy Dennis. Then again, Sandy Dennis is good enough reason to see anything. I believe someone once wrote (in regards to Dennis) "no home should be without one." They were right.
Name your three of your favorite non-horror films.
They seem to change every week, but – at the moment – here they are:
1. Nine to Five – Dolly, Jane, and Lily. What more do you want from a movie? Why WOULD you want anything more, you greedy bastard? Add in a great story, a ton of laughs, and Dabney Coleman being the world's funniest sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot and you've got yourselves a winner. I can quote it by heart.
2. Young Adult – Charlize Theron got the Oscar gold for Monster, but – as great as that performance was – I think this is her best performance. People didn't know what to make of this film when it was released (many still don't), but it seems to have developed a little cult fanbase. It's one of the most awkward and truthful dark comedies I've ever seen with Theron playing a washed up, emotional unstable YA ghostwriter who returns to her hometown to steal her high school boyfriend back from his (really rather nice) wife. Theron throws out the gimmicks of her Monster performance and presents us with a woman desperate to remain relevant in a world where all she's ever had to offer was beauty. It's heartbreaking and bitterly funny with one hell of a sucker punch of an ending. It's one you'll either love or hate. I, for one, think it's brilliant.
3. Terms of Endearment – There's been a lot of revisionist clap trap I've read about this film in recent years. People say it's manipulative and schmaltzy, but they can suck an egg. Every performance is perfect and it mixes comedy with drama perfectly. There are so many moments that break my heart, but number one for me is when Jack Nicholson shows up while Debra Winger is in the hospital to check up on Shirley MacLaine. Her bemused "Who'd have thought you were a nice guy?" always resonates with me more than any other moment in the film. Weird, I know.
UNK SEZ: Thanks, Chris Moore! Folks, stay tuned for much more on BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN and In the meantime, follow the official Facebook page HERE and make sure you check out the creepy trailer below!