It’s a Horror to Know You :: Reader Eric!

1.) What is the first film that ever scared you?

The first film that ever scared me had to be The Wolfman (1941). It was the first horror movie I ever saw as well as one of if not the first movie I ever saw. My father had a copy of the Gene Shalit Critic’s Choice VHS with it’s goofy pictures of Gene on the bottom which has always stuck with me.

The movie itself had an atmosphere exuding dread, provided courtesy of the heavily fogged woods, sad and yet harrowing score and disturbing Jack Pierce make up. I think what scared me was the idea that a person could transform into some sort of grotesque violent beast and something about that tip toe walk he did was just uncanny.

Even though I love all the Universal monsters, the Wolfman has been my favorite Universal monster and no matter what anyone says he’ll always be tops in my book; so suck it Drac and fall to pieces Frankie.

2.) What is the last film that scared you?

Horror films tend not to scare me anymore, more so they mostly either get me imagining about the world in the film and/or disgust me with gore; but there is one I’ve seen recently that not only did all of this but in so doing deeply unsettled me and that is City of the Living Dead (1980).

My favorite of the Gates of Hell trilogy and my favorite Fulci movie overall (No I don’t think The Beyond is his best; I don’t even think it’s all that good and I don’t understand why it’s seen as his best film- get over it). The atmosphere in this one is the most doom laden, nihilistic and cosmically anti-human I have ever encountered in a film.

No one is safe anywhere, no matter what you do, it’s all over, there is no hope, we’re all going to die-end of story. The gore is top notch and absolutely raw and vicious and that priest! That priest is to my mind the most menacing antagonist/figure in the history of film.He wants to literally unleash hell on earth and do all kinds of nasty things to human bodies and souls.

I know everyone makes a big deal about narrative in Fulci‘s films, but I don’t watch them as normal movies with a linear plot progression. Shut up and suspend your disbelief. I see them as filmed nightmares, with all the sometimes chaotic aspects that entails. That is what this movie is to me; pure unadulterated nightmare.

3. Name three horror movies that you believe are underrated.

I’m just going to go ahead and cheat here and talk about more than three horror movies I think are underrated. Eerie is the name of the game with me and all of these evoke an eerie feeling in me.

How Awful About Allan (1970)

One of the few TV movies I actually like. Anthony Perkins is absolutely fantastic here; for my money this just edges out Psycho II as his best movie (no I don’t like the original Psycho and yes, I think the sequels-especially part II- are superior). I heard about this one from Phil Anselmo and I’m forever in his debt for turning me on to it.

This isn’t some scare fest but the atmosphere is what does it for me (atmosphere is what endears me to a film and is far more important to me in a horror film than blood and guts and stupid jump scares, which is why modern movies and modern horror in particular, suck).

This film to me is the essence of autumn; it evokes the altogether not unpleasant and oddly cozy feeling of overcast suburban cold and desolation, I as city folk experienced on excursions to grandma’s house as a child (Don’t know if anyone knows what I’m talking about).

Where Are the Children? (1986)

Provides a similar experience for me as the aforementioned How Awful About Allan. This one has a damp, dank feeling to it; a perfect overcast, rainy Saturday morning/afternoon film. Frederic Forrest is great as a real son of a bitch in this one. No one seems to talk about it, give it a watch.

The Norliss Tapes (1973)

The Norliss Tapes gave me a really uneasy feeling. I love the set up; a rainy day (if you can’t tell by now, I’m big on those) a reporter stumbles onto the supernatural, goes missing and leaves behind a series of baffling tapes which chronicle his horrific discoveries. This was supposed to be the pilot to a television series in the tradition of Dan Curtis‘s better known Kolchak: The Night Stalker that unfortunately never got made.

The premise, the zombie, the unsettling voice over narration from the tape all combine to create something which to me is quiet, strangely contemplative and unnerving. The ending with the demon is cheesy and weakens it somewhat, but other than that, it is pretty creepy and is another (almost) perfect rainy day movie.

Remakes can’t work nowadays but I think this would have been perfect for a movie remake circa the 1970’s or 80’s and had it been done in this era, would have worked. This movie got my imagination going and I have continued David Norliss’s investigations in my head for my own edification and amusement many a time. This way nothing can be mishandled by modern film making.

A Warning to the Curious
(1972) and The Signalman (1976)
Two English ghost stories for Christmas made for TV movies; Did you know the British tell ghost stories at Christmas? I didn’t. A scary Christmas? sign me up. Both at once engaging, entertaining, atmospheric and unsettling. I highly recommend both.

Schalcken the Painter
Another British TV movie. On the whole, it seems to me that the British make better TV movies than us colonists. Some mighty strange happenings in this one. Slow and eerie with one hell of an ending.

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

The third in Fulci‘s Gates of Hell trilogy but my second favorite of his films. Again, like City of the Living Dead, this one had the power to frighten me at times sitting there alone in the dark. The first time I saw it, you can bet your life it did just that. I, like Fulci, have a thing with eyes and when Dr. Freudstein’s eyes peered out from the darkness of that basement, I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat. Glowing eyes peering out of the darkness has always been a scary thing to me.

The movie overall has a sense of impending doom about it different than the aforementioned City of the Living Dead; this is a much more localized doom, to be visited only upon those unfortunate enough to enter the house and so it does not have the same scale and scope intended for us by Father Thomas in City of the Living Dead. Dr. Freudstein is a nasty piece of work quite literally and he isn’t averse to hurting you badly with sharp objects.

This film taught me something as well. I learned there is a fate worse than any of the death’s suffered by the characters in this movie, one that is infinitely more dreadful than anything imagined in the twisted inner workings of Dr. Freudstein’s mind- my own private vision of hell- ‘Bob’; god I hate ‘Bob’.

Beyond the Darkness (1979)
This movie is more disgusting than scary. One scene in particular created an extreme aversion to eating in me. The scary aspect is the thought that people like the main characters can exist in this world or at the very least someone seemingly sane can think them up. The whole of this movie from the as usual excellent score by Goblin to the acting and carnage being depicted emanates something terribly nihilistic, depressing, hopeless and empty.

Retribution (1987)
Not scary but it has a cool premise, great super gory special effects (I can’t believe what they did sans CGI) no one talks about this one and I have no idea why.

Faceless (1987)
The first Jesus Franco movie I ever saw. I had never heard of this one before so I had no idea what to expect and this one shocked me which is no easy feat. It is surprisingly good and the gore so effective you feel the pain the characters must be experiencing. 1987 wasn’t an altogether bad year for horror movies.

4.) Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

I’ll cheat again here (I’m a cheater, it’s a character flaw; nothing can be done about it) but because I both was long winded in the previous section and I can’t watch anything I don’t genuinely enjoy, I’ll skip this question. If it’s a bad movie, it’s a bad movie and I don’t enjoy it, ya know?

5.) Send us to five places on the Internet!

I’ve cheated my way through the majority of this so I see no reason to stop now. I’ll send you to six places on the internet.

SOILED SINEMA. Nothing else like it on the internet. These guys do the best movie reviews anywhere. You definitely haven’t heard this perspective on cinema before, I promise. Check it out.

HYSTERIA LIVES! 408 slasher movie reviews and counting! Who knew there were that many? Slasher movies are my favorite sub-genre of horror and I’ve seen a lot of them but I haven’t even heard of most of these. For my money, one of the best horror websites out there.

RETRO SLASHERS. Another great slasher movie site. Definitely worth a perusal.

ROTTEN COTTON. Like Spicoli said, “Awesome, totally awesome!”

SHITCASECINEMA. Some really great (and hilarious) reviews of some terrible yet entertaining movies as well as the occasional good one. Zardoz approved!

WeWatchedAMovie. Movie reviews/news, humour and Michael Myers parodies? What’s not to love? I said GOTDAMN!!!!!!!

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Ben S
Ben S
5 years ago

This is a HEROIC post! I couldn’t agree with you more about CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND and you’ve actually referenced a JILL CLAYBURGH movie that I haven’t seen! She is my favorite. I haven’t seen so many of these and I can’t wait to watch them. Loved your analyses too.