Tales of Public Domain Dementia: Life Returns (1935)

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I am struggling to think of a film with a more bizarre conceit than Life ReturnsTod Browning’s Freaks comes to mind, as both films were attempts to meld real-life oddities with a Hollywood story, and both were ultimately shunned by their own studios out of fear of public distaste. But I am getting ahead of myself.  Before we watch a dead dog brought back to life, some history.

Horror stories may have originated from superstition, but the horror film owes its existence to science.  Literally, with the invention of motion pictures, and figuratively, as the maimed and disfigured soldiers of WWI, soldiers who in previous wars never would have survived, came home thanks to startling advances in medicine.  It is difficult to understand just how drastically the world changed in a short period of time.  Air travel, radio, photography, the telephone, refrigeration, the automobile—all of these things were non-existent (or at the least wildly impractical) in 1830, but a mere hundred years later they were becoming commonplace.  Between 1830 and 1930 there was more scientific progress than between 1030 and 1830.  It must have been an intoxicating time to be a scientist (mad or otherwise), when anything seemed possible.

This leads us to a true curio, Life Returns.  Onslow Stevens, bearing a terrific first name and delivering the only thing resembling a performance, plays a doctor obsessed with conquering death.  His obsession alienates him from his friends and colleagues, and ultimately leads to his son Arnold being taken away due to neglect.  Arnold and his trusty dog escape the clutches of social services and end up with a band of tough-but-tender-hearted street kids.  Arnold’s beloved dog is taken away by the pound and put down, just as dad is starting to pull his shit together.  Dad’s old colleagues, one of which is played by Robert E. Cornish, come to the rescue and bring the poor pup back to life, reunited with dad in son in a heart-warming finale.  It is a typical 30’s melodrama, with the Little Rascals and Frankenstein thrown in for good measure.

DogJust like Where The Red Fern Grown, except written by a lunatic.

Here is where things get weird.  Robert E. Cornish was a real doctor at the University of California, and the scene of him bringing the dog back to life is actual footage of him bringing a dog back to life.  The dog was Lazarus V (Lazarus IV had been a success as well, but don’t ask about Lazarus I-III), and Cornish did indeed resurrect him, albeit with brain damage, and the dog had been dead minutes, not hours as the film suggests.  He also is the one who killed the dog, but that makes a less touching story, I suppose.  Cornish was convinced he could replicate the success on a human being, but the university started to get creeped out by the whole thing and let Cornish go.  According to Wikipedia, he then went on to create his own brand of toothpaste.  Universal Studios suddenly realized they made a movie about a dead dog and never properly released Life Returns.

Cornish was right, of course, at least in theory.  A modern EMT can bring back the dead, and what are defibrillators if not machines that return life to the dead?   But sometimes a guy can just stand on the wrong side of history and watch his dreams turn into toothpaste.  I don’t know exactly how to rate this movie.  As a film it is passibly entertaining if unremarkable, but as a glimpse into a radically changing world, it is quite fascinating.

Two and a half out of five stars (assuming you are fascinated by the history behind it, add a star).

Review by Paul Moody

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“The Walking Dead” Season 4 Trailer. It’s a Little Late But Enjoy….

The fourth season of AMC’s television series The Walking Dead will premiere on October 13, 2013, and consist of 16 episodes. The series is based on the series of comic books of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard; it was developed for television by Frank Darabont, and is executive produced by Kirkman, Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and Gale Anne Hurd.

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My Top 15 Horror Movies

My Top 15 Horror Movies

Let me start off by pointing out, that I am not a Horror Movie guy, it isn’t my genre of choice.  Don’t get me wrong I love the Horror Movies, it’s just not my number one favorite.  I am the guy who loves movies in general, pretty much without exception of the genre.  I will say that I probably watch more Drama than anything else.  So when you see this list you are not going to see the most diverse list out there, you are not going to see a huge amount of cult classics, you are also not going to see many really old classics.  I have not seen the Classic Dracula and Frankenstein movies or the classic 50’s scary movies, since I was a little kid.  I am also one who looks for a lot of substance in movies, so these movies are not exactly the scariest or goriest movies ever made.  I also look for movies that stand the test of time, so you are actually not going to see much in the way of newer films.  I do enjoy many of the modern movies, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Trick r Treat, The Orphanage, The Decent, Drag Me to Hell, and Let the Right One In, are among some of my favorite newer horror movies, but I am not sure how they will stand up over time.  In that same vein you are not going to find the more gore driven modern movies that have consumed the genre the last decade such as Saw and Hostel.  In addition, you are not going to see any of the “Found Footage” films like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Rec.

What could have made it, but didn’t and why.

The Evil Dead Franchise

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My personal favorite is Evil Dead 2, but the second installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series is where the scarier elements of the movies are replaced with funnier parts.  It happens to be why I love the movie, but also why I chose not to include it on my list. Bruce Campbell is able to carry the movie almost single-handedly (no-pun intended) as he fights off evil in a cabin in the woods.  The Evil Dead (1981) is probably the quintessential cabin in the woods movie, it has its campy moments but is more serious than the Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, for this reason its actually my least favorite.  Since I can’t put Evil Dead 2 on my list, I don’t want to put The Evil Dead on my list, but it deserves mention.  Army of Darkness the third installment brings on more of the same comedic elements from Evil Dead 2, this time taking the main character Ash to another dimension to battle Evil, this time in a more physical way, and with a lot more characters involved.  It’s a great movie with some great memorable moments but again, like Evil Dead 2, it doesn’t fit with the movies that I did pick for my list.  Note: Evil Dead (2013) released earlier this year was in my opinion a good remake, it didn’t try to do too much with the story and was really more of a well done homage, than say a blatant rip-off.  It may not have been as scary or taking itself as serious as some others had hoped, but the amount of horror and gore is more than entertaining enough for me.

The Alien Franchise

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First off, asking me to pick between Alien and Aliens is almost sicker than asking a parent to choose between kids, OK that is overstating, but still, I love them both for different reasons.  In terms of the list I compiled Alien would fit better; but Aliens, while being one of my all-time favorite movies, is more of a Sci-Fi action movie than it is Horror.  With Alien, director Ridley Scott blended the Sci-Fi genre with the Horror genre extremely well, maybe it’s a suspense thriller more than anything else, the crew members fight off an alien while in deep space.  This formula was quite successful in the 1950’s, and Alien gave it a futuristic life that was unparalleled at the time.  The art of H.R Geiger is just beautiful and really makes this movie stand out far better than any movie similar in subject.  The acting performances are top notch as nearly every actor in the film went on to have long, great careers.  With Aliens, James Cameron looked to be in a “no-win situation” if a sequel to Alien works, then Ridley Scott would get all the credit, and if it didn’t, James Cameron would get all the blame.  Well, no one could have ever expected what happened.  Aliens was a resounding success.  Not only did Aliens capture the intensity of the first film, but amped it up as we have to deal with not one alien but an entire colony of aliens.  With a cast of actors not nearly as prolific the original, but solid with most of them turning in the best performance of their careers, Aliens is quite possibly the best sequel film ever made right up there with the likes of The Godfather pt II.  Note: Alien3 was a huge let down especially when you look at what could have been, but Alien Resurrection was decent, it’s just no where near on par with the first two.  The Crossover with the Predator franchise are also worthy of checking out, but again just for fun.

The Silence of the Lambs

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I have seen the Silence of the Lambs on other best horror movie lists, and while there is an element of horror there, its more of a cop catches a serial killer movie than it is a horror movie.  I wanted to address that here in case anyone asks why it wasn’t included.  If I were to consider it horror, it would no doubt make my list, as it is one of the best movies ever made on the subject.  The film the Silence of the Lambs was an adaptation of the book written by Thomas Harris as sequel to Red Dragon. The Red Dragon novel was earlier made into the 1986 movie Manhunter.  Where the Silence of the Lambs succeeded over the aforementioned Manhunter was what Anthony Hopkins brought to the role of Hannibal Lector, one of the greatest performances in cinema history, fully warranting his Academy Award.  Jodie Foster won an Oscar as well.  The movie was chock full of great performances and keeps you on the edge of you seat.  It’s the great story and great the performances that make this movie stand the test of time, even when all the shock and awe from its original viewing has gone away.  The Silence of the Lambs is a fantastic movie, I am just not going to list it in the horror genre.  Note: While Manhunter is probably a bit more faithful to the Thomas Harris novel, I prefer Brett Ratner’s 2002 film Red Dragon to Manhunter,  mostly due to preferring this cast to the cast of Manhunter, especially when it comes to comparing Edward Norton to William Petersen and Anthony Hopkins to Brian Cox.  Also, I recommend checking out the new TV Series Hannibal as it is one of my favorite new shows on any network.  Here is my article on that fantastic show.

The Amityville Horror Franchise

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With more than a dozen (according to Wikipedia) movies in the franchise, it would be terribly wrong of me to not at the very least mention these movies here.  I am, however, only a fan of the first film as it really seems to me that the story got cheaper and cheaper with the subsequent films that I have seen.  I have probably only seen three or four including the terrible remake, so if I am wrong here please someone let me know.  The first film was based on a book about a real life house where a family was murdered and future occupants of the house claim the house is haunted.  The real stories of these people were far more interesting then the movies themselves.  Sure, there is a certain sort of creepiness to them but ultimately the only scary thing is to think of the real life events, which were highly exaggerated for these movies.  From a movie standpoint they were not done all that well, as the more dramatic horror movies of that time were far superior.  Note: I really don’t have much else to say other then I should make it a point to watch a few more of these movies at the very least to feel like I have a valuable opinion.

Child’s Play (Chucky Franchise)

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The original Chucky movie, Child’s Play is probably still the best in terms of good movie making, but it is still not exactly the greatest movie ever made.  Sure, Brad Dourif is great in the role, so good that he is the only component of all the subsequent sequels.  Catherine Hicks does a good job as the mother and Chris Sarandon is more than adequate in playing the stereotypical “horror movie cop”.  The formula of good horror movies is all here and works really well.  A generation of kids would become “creeped out” by killer dolls, with the Child’s Play movies along with the hilariously fun Puppet Master movies.  However, the second and third Child’s Play movies really got worse and worse, it wasn’t until Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky that the franchise stopped trying to take itself serious and went straight for the laughs.  I find all the movies entertaining, but not really worthy of making the list outside the original.  Note: Chucky returns this year with Curse of Chucky, picking up where Child’s Play 3 leaves off a return to the more serious side of Chucky could be what the franchise needs, or it could be a huge miss, either way I can’t wait. Here is a link for you to check out.

The Omen (Franchise)

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Starting with the 1976 Richard Donner classic film, you got a series of movies following Damien, the son of Satan, and even a pretty weak made for TV movie Omen IV: The Awakening about Damien’s daughter.  Also, like most of the great classic horror movies, we have a dreadful and pointless remake in 2006.  Each of the first three movies in the franchise has its share of hits and misses, which actually makes it difficult for me to pick my personal favorite.  Usually that means the original would get the nod, but I think growing up I saw Damien: Omen II more often. Meaning, when I think of Omen movies that is the one that comes to mind.  Moreover, I actually really enjoyed the story of grown up Damien from Omen III: The Final Conflict. Plus, Sam Neil was great in that movie.  The idea of an antichrist and stories revolving around the antichrist were not really new and The Omen wasn’t the first, however the impact of film can be felt even today, lets face it, how many kids did you know named Damien, assuming you grew up after the movie came out like myself.  Not many and when you did meet a Damien didn’t you immediately think of the Omen?  I know I did.  With Gregory Peck in the first movie, William Holden in the second movie and Sam Neil in the third movie one thing is for sure for a horror franchise you get a hell of a good cast of actors.  Note: Speaking of Sam Neil, I would like to mention how great In the Mouth of Madness is, and could easily have made my list.  I know it really doesn’t relate here, but it is just as good of a place as anywhere to mention it.

28 Days (Franchise)

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I would call 28 Days Later more of a “Contagion Movie” than a Zombie movie, which is why I will give it a pass on how quickly the infected move in this movie.  It is what makes the movie more action oriented and less dramatic.  The movie has an outstanding cast and really puts you on the edge of your seat.  I think it does a great job in really putting you into the setting of a post apocalyptic world.  This movie didn’t make my list only in that I am not a huge fan of it like some others are.  I did like it quite a bit and it could easily make a top 25.  I only left it off because of how much more I liked the movies on my list than I liked 28 Days Later.  28 Weeks Later however, was nowhere near as good as the first one and seemed a bit pointless to me in the long run.  Note: Speaking of “Contagion Movies” The Crazies (1973) would also have to be up there on my list.  Romero, the king of the zombie movies, did something a little different but nearly as effective as his “Dead” movies.  The 2010 remake was very nice, but nothing tops the original.

Creepshow (Franchise)

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With three entries into the series, it should be mentioned; especially the strength of the first one.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you ask, I have not seen the third movie yet.  The first movie is, in my opinion, a classic.  A collection of shorts book ended with another short story is definitely not a format you see duplicated as often as others on my list, but out of all the ones I have seen, Creepshow is by far the best. The best segment in my opinion is The Crate, which could be the most straight up horror of the bunch, also it helps that I am a huge of Hal Holbrook and Adrienne Barbeau.  Stephen King is great in front of the camera in his segment also Leslie Nielsen playing a character most people my age and younger don’t see him do too often is worth mentioning here.  Creepshow 2 was a little shorter with fewer stories was still solid, but not spectacular.  Note: Other movies similar to make note of are Nightmares (1983), Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.

And now the list

 #15 The Brood

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What can I say about The Brood I didn’t say in my earlier review for this blog, so here is the link.  The progression of the movie as you learn about the creation of the Brood and what they were all is so incredible and so shocking even by today’s standards I think that The Brood not only stands the test of time, it seems to get better with age.  Note: I also want to address all David Cronenberg movies here.  The Fly (1986) is a movie that could easily, have been added here, and if I had extended my list out further it would have.  Rabid and Shivers are both excellent 70’s horror from the master of Canadian horror movies.  Shivers, is another one I highly recommend to Horror fans, especially fans of “Contagion Movies”.  All four movies I listed here as well as Scanners and Videodrome are deserving of being on anyone’s top horror movies list.  Cronenberg’s ability to creep you out with visual effects and disturbing scenes is nearly second to none.  Most of the movies I have listed here have elements of sci-fi, so they are not straight up horror, but they are great nonetheless.  The Brood stands out to me as being the most horror and least sci-fi of those listed.  Since it is my favorite David Cronenberg movie, and it is more horror than sci-fi, I have it on my list here instead of the other fantastic movies of his.

#14 Poltergeist

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While directorial credits go to Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist feels more like a Steven Spielberg movie, and for good reason since he was one of the Writers and Producers. So he had a lot of say into what happened in the film.  Poltergeist is so good because it was at a time when Spielberg was doing quite possibly his best work; it is also why it seems to hold up so well over time.  Craig T. Nelson and Jo Beth Williams turn in great performances as parents of three, including two young children.  The kids in this movie do a fine job, and anyone who was a kid at the time they first saw this will agree the creep factor involved was excellent.  Filled with many classic memorable scenes such as “They’re here” or Timmy and the Tree, Timmy and the Clown, spinning objects, moving chairs, and let’s not forget the bathroom scene.  Poltergeist showed that a movie could be scary, beautiful, and intense all at the same time, a true classic of the genre.  Note: Followed by two useless sequels, the one real fascinating story outside of the movie being great is the so-called curse that came with making the movie.  When each movie was made, an actor died either during, or right after the movie was filmed.  This is probably just a coincidence, but it is interesting to note that no one has attempted to remake this Poltergeist despite the money that remakes of horror classics have been making the last few years.

#13 The Shining

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I like to call this movie Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, not to be confused with Stephen King’s The Shining which was a made for TV mini-series which was much more faithful to the book.  The major difference is Kubrick focused more on the individuals in the story vs. the Hotel itself.  Not to say that the Overlook Hotel in this movie is anything less than amazing as far as haunted houses go, it’s just that Jack Nicholson’s performance is so intense and amazing that you just can’t see anything else.  The scene with the twins is one of my all-time favorites.  That shot maybe the goriest, creepiest scene I have ever seen to this day.  Its really quite jarring to watch, and Kubrick does an outstanding job in only giving you quick glimpses to make you say to yourself, “Did I.. just.. really.. see that”  The suspenseful build up through the movie resulting in one classic scene after the next in the final half of the film makes this movie a true classic in every sense of the word.  I think the movie like so many on this list has gotten better with age and will stand the test of time for as long as people watch movies.  While there have been an incredible amount of Stephen King stories to have been made into movies, this is the only one to make my list.  I do however love Carrie,  It, Christine, Misery, The Stand, The Dead Zone, and countless others. Note: While Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors of all-time he doesn’t have many other entries into the horror genre, the closest could be A Clockwork Orange which is a brilliant movie that I would recommend to anyone.

#12 Friday the 13th pt IV: the Final Chapter

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OK, so here we go, this is the only installment of this franchise, the inspiration for the name of the blog in which this piece appears, on my list.  Let me start by saying to me, this is the definitive Friday the 13th movie.  The first movie would be the next best movie to make my list, even though I am a huge fan of what you would call the Tommy Jarvis trilogy (pt. IV, V, VI) and would say I like VI even more than the first one.  I will concede that the first movie would need to be mentioned first almost solely on the fact that it was first.  The original did a great job in hiding the killer until the very end, with part II being a very similar movie but actually showing Jason the killer, with a Bag over his head.  It wasn’t until part 3 we see the now infamous hockey mask; however, that movie is really brought down by the 3D gimmicks of the time.  It isn’t until this movie that we get our first real Jason movie.  This movie would set the bar for all subsequent Jason movies.  Corey Feldman was a great child actor and does a great job in battling Jason for what was supposed to be the final time; instead, it was just the beginning of a trilogy of battles with the two characters.  Note: As I stated before I love the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, which also puts me in the extreme minority for liking Friday the 13th pt V: A New Beginning.  With a high body count and a wide variety of kills it’s actually one of the more violent installments in the franchise.  It also has one of my favorite victims (Tina) played by Debi Sue Voorhees, and was in my opinion not a horrible idea, as some other people tend to believe.

#11 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

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Robert Bloch created a story called Psycho, largely based on serial killer Ed Gein, his interesting hobbies, and his relationship with his mother.  Ed Gein also inspired the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This time, it was even more macabre then Psycho.  This time, let’s take a family of psychos and focus on the even more disgusting things that came from the Gein story.  Wow, what a brilliant idea! The result is a movie that still holds up to this day as one of the most shocking ever made.  The chainsaw has become an iconic image in horror movies, right up there with the butcher’s knife and the machete.  In addition, Leatherface is one of the genres most iconic figures along with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger.  This movie along with the next movie on my list really set the tone for horror movies for the decades to come.  They set the bar extremely high, and while there are many imitations, including sequels and remakes, this is the only true classic.  Note: While no subsequent movie has ever been close to the original, I do find the remake and the prequels fun movies to watch, the remake wasn’t horrible, but definitely not worthy of being on this list.

#10 Halloween

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John Carpenter’s big breakthrough that spawned a myriad of sequels featuring killer Michael Myers.  Carpenter’s score is memorable, Jamie Leigh Curtis shows why should would go on to have a great acting career, and an unforgettable Captain Kirk mask.  All of this but keeping the feel of a low budget independent movie feel.  When it comes to this franchise accept no substitute for the original, as the sequels seemed to get worse with each installment (although its hard to get much worse than III) Halloween may not have created the slasher sub-genre, but it certainly ushered in an era that would go on to dominate the horror genre for the next several decades.  Rob Zombie would remake Halloween nearly three decades later, but in my opinion, the results only showed how good John Carpenter’s original movie was and how well it has held up over time. Note: After Halloween, the subsequent sequels really lack much of what made the first great, however Halloween 2 would be my next favorite, but it is a distant second. I would also like to mention another John Carpenter movie here with The Fog (1980) while it is a great movie, it is just not quite good enough to make my list.

#9 Hellraiser

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Hellraiser’s appearance this high on my list probably has more to do with the strength of the series as a whole than it does with just how great of a movie it is.  Hellraiser is a great movie, and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is actually just as good of a movie, and could have easily been mentioned with a separate entry.  So why is Hellraiser so great? Well, lets start with the fact that it came out when slashers were the big thing in horror.  However, Hellraiser is not a slasher at all; it’s more in the sci-fi subgenre of horror.  It’s also a bloody, gory, movie similar to the movies that have been made in this decade, making it a movie that was ahead of its time.  It may not be the main inspiration for the modern day blood-fest movies that we have, but it certainly has made Hellraiser a better movie over time, just on the fact that it was ahead of its time.  Probably not the most critically acclaimed movie on my list, and its likely considered a lesser movie than the previous movies I have on here by many however, I find the franchise to be one of my all-time favorites.  Doug Bradley would go on to be the face of the franchise as Pinhead, including stepping into the slasher type role with the third movie, but what made this movie great wasn’t Pinhead, it was the terror of all the cenobites, and the hellish dimension into which they want to take you.  Note: Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is definitely the second best movie in the franchise and is really nearly equal to the original; however, I would like to mention Hellraiser: Bloodlines as another personal favorite, but again don’t forget I love the sci-fi sub-genre of horror, except for, of course, Jason X)

 #8 The Thing

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John Carpenter makes my list again, this time with his 1982 Sci-Fi Horror classic, The Thing.  Kurt Russell leads a team of workers, who are infiltrated by an alien. Similar to Ridley Scott’s Alien, however, this time the alien is hidden, as it disguises itself in the form of living beings.  Instead of being in space, the setting is Antarctica, which is just as much of a character in the movie as the actors themselves.  The feeling of isolation is worse than in space because like space, there is no escape from the cold, but we don’t have to use our imagination as places like this exist here on earth which makes it even more real.  What makes this movie work is how great each actor in this movie is, you are able to really see yourself in their camp with them, as I am sure there is a character you can relate with somewhere.  It is also great because it presents some of the best, and scariest, special effects of the time.  The transformation scenes are like a train wreck, you are repulsed but can’t look away. You think, “You gotta be f***ing kidding me!”. It’s just an all around great movie and my personal favorite movie in John Carpenter’s filmography.  Note: I would like to take this time to mention another one of my all-time favorite John Carpenter movies, They Live.  They Live is more Sci-fi/Action than it is horror which would be my only reason for not mentioning it here.

#7 The Exorcist

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Often imitated, but never duplicated, to this day The Exorcist stands the test of time, sure some may find it a bit dated in terms of effects, and if looked at the right way there are moments that some may find inadvertently funny.  The rest of the people will view this movie as one of, if not the scariest movies ever made, especially for 1973.  It helps having the great Ellen Burstyn in the lead role as she is one of the best actresses still working today and has the accolades to prove it.  I also have to give a nod to Max Von Sydow who also is one of the best currently living actors ever, his work with Ingmar Bergman especially.  The possession sub-genre of horror has become a major player because of this movie, especially when you look at the fact that there really wasn’t such a genre before 1973.  Linda Blair is exceptional especially for such a young age in the role of a child possessed by a demon.  Jason Miller does a great job as well as the young, struggling priest who tries to help the family.  40 years, two prequels, two sequels and countless rip-offs later this movie still stands as the best of the sub-genre.  Note: Go back and give The Exorcist III a second viewing, however this time think of it as a Crime Drama movie and give it a different title, its actually not bad.

#6 Rosemary’s Baby

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Witchcraft, Satanism, pregnancy, murder, covens, the Pope, and Satan… sounds like a pretty good mix to me.  Why is this movie so classic? Is it the fantastic performances from Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon?  Is it the fantastic story written by Ira Levin, and directed by Roman Polanski who also wrote the screenplay?  I have to say yes to all of those things and then some.  The movie may be too slow for some viewers hoping to see grotesque gory scenes that is more typical of the horror genre.  In Rosemary’s Baby, there is a tension that builds through the entire movie and pays off wondrously at the end.  I am sure it isn’t too difficult to figure out what is going to happen in the end as the clues are all spelled out for you, but with this one it’s the journey that proves to be the most important part, as it has a perfect mix of suspense, drama and horror.  Not only is Rosemary’s Baby one of the best horror movies of all-time, but its one of the best movies of the time. Note: a TV movie called Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby was made in 1976 staring Patty Duke as Rosemary Woodhouse, sadly I have never seen this movie, I have not heard anything particularly good about it, but it would be nice to see if given the opportunity.

#5 Night of the Living Dead

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The 1968 George A. Romero classic that completely revitalized the Zombie genre, still to this day has to be given most, if not all of the credit for the current wave of Zombie films, comic books, and TV shows that are out there right now.  Released during the Civil Rights movements of the late 60’s Romero casts a Black man in the lead role, this was extremely huge at the time, and lets face it, with the amount of horror movies that see the token black character killed early its still actually a big deal. Romero uses the platform of a zombie attack as means to show humanity its faults.  The level of paranoia, distrust and selfishness, we as humans have in ordinary circumstances is ramped up tons more under pressure.  George A. Romero gives us a life lesson, entertains us, and even frightens us in just a matter of roughly an hour and a half.  With a limited budget and an amateur cast and crew Romero created something the has never been replicated.  I have seen this formula work, hell look at the found footage sub-genre that has saturated the market as of late, same formula, but nothing has ever been made that is this good, not only for its time, but of all-time.  Note: Special effects Artist Tom Savini remade the classic film in 1990, essentially remaking the film nearly identical with only some slight variations and increased gore and special effects.  It is mostly an uninspired mess that really wasn’t necessary, as the original stands up over time much better.  I would rather watch the terrible colorized version of the original, than re-watch Night of the Living Dead (1990) again.

#4 Dawn of Dead (1978)

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As I said earlier, it’s rare to see a sequel compare to the original, let alone surpass it.  However Dawn of the Dead isn’t really a sequel, so really its not inconceivable that I have it here on my list higher than Night of the Living Dead.  Now please be sure to note that I have it exactly one spot ahead and that is because it is extremely difficult for me to pick one over the other.  I could have put them under one entry, but really, both movies are so good that both deserve to be in my Top 5.  Like Night of the Living Dead, Romero is making a social commentary on the human race, this time he is concerning himself with consumerism.  I think for most of us we look at the movie as what we would want to do if we were faced with the “rising dead”. We would want to be fully stocked and locked away.  Inevitably, the movie has to come to an end as the little world that the characters created comes crashing down on them and in a fashion that is significant to the Romero’s comments on society.  The interplay between characters may not be as strong as in Night of the Living Dead, but the setting is far superior.  I have three versions of the movie, the Theatrical Version, the Extended Version, and the European Version.  All 3 are fantastic and I love them all, but the Theatrical is the way to go if you are only going to watch one.  Note: Dawn of the Dead was remade in 2004, by Zack Snyder.  Unlike the Night of the Living Dead remake, this one is worth checking out, as if you haven’t already.  This time we have what could be considered the pinnacle of remakes, at the very least a blue print of what you should do.  Don’t remake the exact same movie, just take a basic concept and make it your own, as long as you do a good job with it.  This is what we have here, outside of being “hold up” in a Mall there are very few similarities.  My only complaint has been the speed in which the zombies move in the remake is a pet peeve of mine.

#3 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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The first film in a long running franchise is to me the quintessential horror movie.  This one out of the franchise is by far the most straight up horror.  Its many sequels, while I love, do get to be a little campy and going for laughs.  Wes Craven’s brainchild is still to this day his best work by far.  Robert Englund’s performance is one of the most iconic in movie history let along horror.  Whether it’s quick witticism, or sheer terror, Englund delivers his lines in a way to make you love him, even when you aren’t supposed to.  This is something we don’t seen in the other movies on the list.  Jason and Michael Myers are both mute so its all about action, here Actions may speak louder than words, but for real entertainment it helps to have both.  The Subsequent entries into the franchise range anywhere from very well done, (Wes Craven’s New Nightmare) to just downright silly (A Nightmare on Elm Street  2: Freddy’s Revenge).  I would recommend every single one of them before offering up anyone to go see the lousy 2012 remake.  Note: I want to make special note of how good A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is.  Heather Langenkamp returns for this sequel and essentially saves the franchise from what could have been a string of silly, useless sequels.  The only knock on this one, and why it didn’t make my list, is this is the first one to really start going for laughs more than scares.  Still it is one of the better entries of any horror franchise.

#2 Jaws

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If you grew up in the late 70’s and into the 80’s you probably can’t get into the ocean without thinking about sharks.  Some may criticize Jaws for its villainous approach to sharks, Great Whites specifically.  However, for me, it had the opposite effect.  I absolutely love the movie that made me love sharks (Shark Week starts Aug 5th). When I said Steven Spielberg was doing his best work in the early to mid 80’s, it all started here.  Jaws created the summer blockbuster and created a panic to ocean swimmers for years to come. Roy Scheider is great in the lead role, but Robert Shaw steals every scene he is in.  The story of the Indianapolis is one of the best scenes in movie history.  The popularity of ocean horror movies is all due to Jaws, and while many are entertaining, nothing will ever touch this movie.  When the third movie came out 3D was huge so you got Jaws 3D, a total joke, and Jaws Revenge was ludicrous.  However, because of Jaws we do have some fun movies like Piranha and its sequels, Deep Blue Sea, the Shark Attack movies, the Megashark movies, and oh yeah Sharknado.  The original is the only one worthy of being on my list, and its second because it is one of the best movies ever made and just happens to be scary enough to qualify.  Note: Jaws 2 was actually a decent effort, Roy Scheider returned and they attempted to recapture the magic, as well as tried to make it a little scarier.  However, without Richard Dreyfuss and more importantly Robert Shaw, it was just not quite up to par.

#1 Psycho

Janet Leigh in Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock, having already been labeled the master of suspense even before making Psycho in 1960.  He made many great suspenseful thrillers, but never really made a horror movie until Psycho.  With Psycho, Hitchcock not only made the greatest horror movie of all time, he made what in my opinion is a shining example of a perfect movie that is quite possibly the best movie ever made.  More than 50 years later Psycho is flawless and timeless.  The iconic score works perfectly to jar the viewer and keep them on edge.  Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh are magnificent in the main lead roles, Joseph Stefano, Hitchcock, and Alma Reville, adapt Robert Bloch’s novel so perfectly its one of the few examples in which the movie is better than the book(the #2 movie on my list also fits this bill).  The twist ending of Psycho has been ripped off countless times in the last 53 years, and by today’s standards is relatively tame, however, for 1960 it shocked and appalled many viewers who had never seen such a thing on screen before.  The shower scene is also in my opinion the most iconic scene in movie history.  Followed by two sequels, a prequel, a made for TV movie, and a hideous shot for shot remake, the original is hands down, far and away, the best of them all.  Psycho II was decent follow up and those of us who like the 80’s slasher flicks have little to complain about with the movie, its just not worthy of a top list.  I also didn’t mind Psycho III and enjoyed Psycho IV: The Beginning when I first saw it.  Bates Motel was made into a TV movie after it failed as a Pilot.  Gus Van Sant insulted us all by doing a shot for shot remake in 1998.  While Psycho (1998) had a decent cast, you would have to pay me to sit through that piece of garbage again.  It was completely unnecessary as it was a shot for shot remake, the little subtle changes are not worthy of doing the movie again.  Alfred Hitchcock made the perfect horror movie by making a perfect movie that has stood up for more than 50 years and will stand up for another 50 years.  Note: Check out Hitchcock, a movie about the making of Psycho; also check out Bates Motel on A&E, for more about that here are two articles I wrote about that new TV series. Link & Link

By Barry Daulton

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Convention Review: “Days of the Dead” 2013 Delivers

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As a horror convention goer it’s not hard to notice the writing on the wall.  Horror conventions are growing at a break neck pace and soon will be like most Comic Con’s and Star Trek conventions where you are paying top dollar for an autograph and top dollar for a photo (don’t even get me started on Photo Ops, you can just read my article here) Thus, pricing the “Average Joe” right out of the scene.  Which is fine, I am a firm believer that if I can’t pay for it, I don’t need it.  Which brings me to “Days of the Dead”.

“Days of the Dead” has been around for about 3 years and is operated by Adolfo, Bill and others whom I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting.  They currently run “Days” yearly in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Chicago and LA and seem to be growing leap and bounds with each show and there is a reason for that. “Days” provides a no bullshit attitude, laid back atmosphere and a genuine feeling that even though they want to make money, they don’t want to break their customers wallets.  They charge a great price for their VIP Package ($100) which got me admission to all 3 days (sadly, I could only make Saturday this year), one hour early entry into the event before the general public, 6 months of Fangoria Magazine, exclusive admission to the VIP party, which is almost worth it itself as I have talked to and mingled with a lot of the celebrity guests that come to these parties.  You get preferred seating for all events, a goody bag and an exclusive shirt limited to only the VIP ticket holders as well as the all important line skipping privilege for certain guests.

They also bring in some great things to do other than just walking to guest to guest.  They bring in a very nice collection of venders, some of which I frequent more than I should.  They have had some great museum collections on display, like the “Nightmare on Elm Street” showcase and this years “Thing-Fest”. They also provide a great tattoo contest (which I unfortunately finished second in, lost out to some girl who now does hardcore porn, so I guess I shouldn’t complain), a costume contest hosted by one of the baddest cosplay players out there, WickedBeard.  They also have a film fest for people who just want to sit down and watch a movie.  So, there is ALWAYS something to do at a “Days of the Dead” show.  Just a fan friendly show ran by a bunch of fans who want to have a good time.

With that said, the guest list is always pretty solid and other than getting hit with the cancellation bug last year (a little this year but no where near as bad) everyone seems to have a great time (unless you’re Tom Sizemore). We couldn’t stay the whole weekend like we normally do as life sometime interferes with fun but we got to go on Saturday and it was already super busy when we got there at about 10 AM, we got our VIP tickets and jumped straight to Danny Trejo who already had a long line.  Fortunately, we used our line jump and were the second people to see Danny on Saturday which was great as he was genuinely a guy who seemed humbled.  Also, much shorter than I imaged.

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I bought a machete for him to sign and he added that personal touch to it by signing it “Machete Don’t Text”.

20130706_112803Then up next was my ONLY purpose for making the trip up there, as I thought I wasn’t going to make it all.  “Days” announced it was bringing in Rochelle Davis who played Sarah in “The Crow” my all time favorite movie.  Seeing as I just decided to add signatures to some of my “Crow” merchandise this trip was a no brainer.

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Let me just say, Rochelle was amazing.  She was very up front and candid in her responses and seemed genuine in our conversation.  It really made my day and to be honest, this is now the second time “Days” has delivered a guest that left me giddy… the first being the man that terrified me when I was 5.  Gunnar Hansen, AKA “Leatherface”.

20130706_114218We also got to meet our family favorite Chris Sarandan, whom you may know as “Jack the Pumpkin King” from “Nightmare Before Christmas”.  We had to get his signature for Hailey, as she LOVES Jack!

20130706_114624All in all, it was another great convention that I have zero gripes about.   Looking forward to next year and staying the full weekend this time getting insane once again!

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Oh yeah, we met Hot Rod Roddy Piper as well!  WIN!

 

Article written by Shaun, who you can follow on Twitter @RavenEAP

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Review: “Sharknado” Is The Greatest Thing Ever.

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Oh, SyFy Channel.  How I love the things you do.  The poster pretty much sums up the whole movie.  “Sharknado” is a movie about tornadoes that has sharks in them.  That’s the movie. You can go home now.  Still here?  Ok then, lets do this then. “Sharknado” stars Tara “What the Hell Happened to my Career” Reid, Ian “Remember me?  I was Steve on 90210” Ziering, John “Hey, I was the Dad in Home Alone” Heard and is about a freak hurricane that swamps Los Angeles, thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace and when high-speed winds form tornadoes in the desert, nature’s deadliest killer rules water, land, and air. Seriously.

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The film starts with a freak hurricane hitting Los Angeles, sharks are scooped up in the subsequent tornadoes and flooding the city with shark-infested seawater. You laugh now, but keep reading it gets better. Surfer and bar-owner Fin sets out with his friends Baz and Nova to rescue his estranged wife April and teenage daughter Claudia. He succeeds, but April’s boyfriend is eaten by the sharks, which is awesome.  The group meet up with Matt, the adult son of Fin and April, who is in flying school. They decide to try to stop the threat of the incoming “sharknadoes” by tossing bombs into them from helicopters. You read that right folks, apparently you can stop tornadoes by simply throwing a bomb in it.  Someone needs to get a hold of the National Weather Service and start stockpiling bombs.

As Nova prepares to throw one of the bombs, she falls out of the helicopter and into a shark’s mouth, which is absolutely the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. Matt, who has fallen for her is obviously a little butthurt after watching her fall into the mouth of a shark.  After Matt lands on the ground in what has to be the most hilarious helicopter crash since Stewie and Brian flew to Colorado to rescue Rupert, a flying shark plummets toward the remaining members of the group. Fin jumps into its mouth with a chainsaw and cuts his way out as demonstrated here:

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He emerges unscathed and with Nova. Matt is reunited with Nova, who is no longer butthurt and Fin gets back together with April. Seriously.

Go home movie studios, Sharknado is a cinematic masterpiece that should win all sorts of awards for being completely awesome. Seriously.

This not so serious review was written by Shaun, whom you can follow on Twitter @RavenEAP

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Press Release: “Crawl Bitch Crawl” Releases Trailer and Stills

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Gritty, claustrophobic Independent Horror/Sci-fi film ‘CRAWL BITCH CRAWL’ directed by Oklahoma Ward releases OFFICIAL TRAILER!

Synopsis: An elite security team assigned the task of protecting the last known woman who can become pregnant, find themselves caught in an endless claustrophobic underground tunnel system. The team soon learns – the real horror is not the unstoppable creature chasing them, but the ever growing smaller tunnel itself. The will to live for each member of the team gets challenged with the obstacle of a fourteen inch two thousand foot tunnel.

Website: www.crawlbitchcrawl.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CRAWLMovie
Twitter: www.twitter.com/EXTREMEINDIE

Directed By: Oklahoma Ward

IMAGE GALLERY

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Post created by Shaun, whom you can follow on Twitter @RavenEAP.

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“The Walking Dead” Walkers are Getting a Little Worn Down

Here is a look at a walker from Season 4 of “The Walking Dead”.

“The Walking Dead” returns this October with brand new episodes. Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, “The Walking Dead” tells the story of a group of survivors who travel in search of a safe and secure home in the months and years following a zombie apocalypse. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Emily Kinney.

Posted by Shaun, who you can follow on Twitter @RavenEAP

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