Monday, November 1, 2010

Dia de los Muertos (Top Ten Scary Movies of All-Time)

A lot of changes have gone on in the past week and a lot of things have been occupying my time.  I’m sorry to be so cryptic my Puddlers, but let’s just say that you are going to be getting a lot of new good content in the coming days.  There are also going to be some Puddles of Myself affiliated events coming up in the next few months and I am going to keep you up to date with those items as well. It goes without saying that when things change, when the weather gets cooler and I have time to contemplate, you will be rewarded with entertaining and illuminating material – that is just a truism of the world that has come to pass over time.

Now, since we are on the nature of “crypts” and that Halloween has passed, I want to present you with a list (also because for those for some greater topics I need some more time to write the cogent, athletic and moving prose that you are used to).  I’m not the biggest Halloween fan and I am not the biggest lover of scary movies.  However, what I saw this past weekend on TV was atrocious.  There were no great scary movie marathons at all.  Sure AMC screened the entire Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises over the past two weeks, but I want some variety.  You don’t just throw in Predator, Predator 2, and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.  You contemplate your scary movie decisions. You make some truly terrifying and viewer pleasing choices.  There are people having Halloween parties at their homes and apartments who want to have some good scary movies playing in the background while they blast Gucci Mane, Thriller or their favorite Halloween mix including “Thriller” and Gucci Mane.  I was shocked, appalled and disgruntled at the terrible television programming I saw this Halloween weekend.  So, due to my disgust, I have taken it upon myself to create a list of the Top Ten Scary Movies I Would Have Liked to Have Seen on TV on Halloween Weekend 2010.  Maybe a television programmer will pay attention and learn how to make the god damn best Halloween lineup for Halloween 2011.  Maybe I won’t completely terrify myself by writing about scary movies.  In any case, please enjoy another of my completely entertaining and inane lists.

10. Poltergeist  - In my world, this movie would absolutely be number one.  However, I have to take the greater population into account.  It is not one of the scariest movies of all time because it has the Spielberg touch to it, but it features some truly classic and iconic moments. You can’t go wrong with the steak crawling across the counter top, the parapsychologist who hallucinates that his face is falling off, Carol Ann Freeling sitting in front of the static television, the scary clown, the scary tree, the crazy fallopian tube looking portal that emerges in the children’s bedroom, as well as the house collapsing onto itself into another dimension at the very end of the movie.  This also features some classic Craig T. Nelson acting that he would later use to great effect in Coach and The Incredibles.  No one plays a dad like Craig T. Nelson.  In fact, no one screams, “You moved the headstones, but you DIDN’T MOVE THE BODIES” quite like Craig T. Nelson.  One of the most enjoyable scary movies that you can possibly watch.

9. Leprechaun 3 – This movie only gets a vote from me because it completely terrified me when I was in the seventh grade.  I went to my friend’s Halloween party dressed as a werewolf, hoping to nervously make out with a girl that I liked (she was a brunette).  However, when I got there I was completely thrown off my game as I watched some bizarre events occur in this movie.  First there is the guy watching porno and the girl comes through the screen and starts having sex with him only to turn into a robot. The Leprechaun then appears and makes the robot go haywire and electrocute his victim.  There is the Leprechaun poking out somebody’s eye with his stick.  The most terrifying is the Leprechaun turning a magician’s act against him and literally chain sawing him in half in a box, opening the box and exposing the poor guy’s midsection.  Completely disgusting and horrifying.  This move took place in Las Vegas.  This was not a Halloween to remember.

8. The Thing – If you have not seen this movie, then let me tell you something: this movie is terrifying.  The Thing came in the wake of the success of Alien and it feeds off of the same sort of “scientific haunted house” vibe. Instead of taking place in space, this movie takes place in an exploratory science colony in Antarctica.  This movie feeds off of classic paranoia/cabin fever themes, when all the members of the crew realize that an alien who can take human form and assimilate with other life forms is lurking in their ranks. What is truly horrifying about the movie is not the prospect of the alien escaping, but rather the increasing paranoia that all of the crewmembers give off as the movie goes on.  Well, that and the absolutely insane makeup that is used to portray the alien when it is assimilating with one of the humans or when Kurt Russell starts torching the alien assimilated humans with his flamethrower and the alien begins to melt and change into disgusting shapes.  When you set all this carnage amongst the Antarctica backdrop you get some truly memorable scenes; definitely a cult classic that should be seen by anyone who enjoys crazy shape assimilating aliens with tentacles.  Did I ever think I would write that sentence? I’ll let you guess.

7. Poltergeist 2 – You may be asking, “Wait, how could, what I assume is a completely inferior sequel make it higher on the list than the original?” I can tell you how: this movie is completely bizarre and it disturbed me on some level that I still don’t completely understand even fourteen years after the fact. This movie creates a totally different explanation for what happened in the first movie, arguing instead that the house was above a giant underground cavern where the terrifying leader of a cult led his followers to death.  This leader is still wandering the streets wearing a somewhat orthodox Jewish/Amish getup.  This is one of the creepiest performances that I have ever seen.  This movie gets most of its points for its baffling nature.  You have to see it in order to understand this kind of nonsensical terror.

6. Alien – I’ll probably take some heat for putting this all time horror/sci-fi classic this far down the list, but I have my reasons.  That is not a knock against this movie, which is one of my favorite scary movies of all time, just an endorsement of some of the terror that the films above this one have inflicted upon my imagination.  There is not much to say about Alien that hasn’t already been covered.  It is one of the most iconic movies of all time, it marked the creation of one of the fiercest and most terrifying beasts and it launched the career of Sigourney Weaver.  Whether the Alien’s triple mouth or its ability to weave its victim into a mucousy web that drained them of their energy horrified you – you were most definitely scared.  And there was something completely disturbing about Ash’s speech where he says how much he loves the Alien for its purity and the perfection of its evolution.  That speech just leaves you with an insane sense of dread. Obviously, Alien is not only a great sci-fi/horror movie but also a terrific film itself.

5. Event Horizon – Some of you might scream, “Blasphemy!” but I say, “Did you ever stay home from school sick and decide to watch a movie, but the movie you watched was actually a gruesome tale about finding the gateway to hell in deep outer space? No? Then you don’t know what scary is.”  This is one of the most violent and disturbing movies of all time.  You know things are going to be bad when the crew finds that horrifying video left by a crew that abandoned their space station and there is all kinds of chanting in Latin.  Things then only get weirder when the black “antigravity chamber” is opened and reveals to lead to the “chaos dimension.” This is soon followed by horrifying visions of people ripping out their own eyes, a character been opened up and spread out on the ship and all kinds of other horrific mayhem.  This is a movie you would not want to watch alone on a space shuttle – or while you are eating anything at all.  One of the most horrific movies I have ever seen.

4. Scream – If you don’t like Scream, then you are just crazy.  I watched this movie when I was in sixth grade and it scared the hell out of me.  The opening sequence alone is so iconic.  Then you have all the meta-commentary on scary movies in general including the great “I’ll be right back” refrain.  You have some truly violent stabbings, an inspired performance from Courtney Cox, an “in her prime” Rose McGowan, a “peak babe era” Neve Campbell, promising debuts from Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lilliard as well as the entire memorable, prolonged party scene that ended in a bloodbath.  This movie was so terrifying because there was nothing supernatural about it.  This was just about deranged and deluded teenagers who liked to party just like the rest of us.  You also have to give it credit because it was scary and also fun and smart enough that it reinvigorated the horror genre for a solid five-year period at the end of the 90’s.  One of my favorite entries into the horror genre.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street – The original of this movie scared me beyond belief - a movie about a ghoul who uses your dreams as the place to attack and torment you? Come on, how are we supposed to sleep?  Freddy Krueger himself was frightening to look at let alone the horrifying scenes like when he sticks his face through the wall or opens up the bed and sucks Johnny Depp down and then all of the blood pours up.  This movie affected my sleep for at least a week straight and then periodically after that.  I don’t need to go further into it.  You all know how terrifying this one is.

2. Exorcist – The aspect of scary movies that always draws me back in is the desire to find out “what’s going to happen.” This is what makes them unlike good stories in general.  The Exorcist has all of those elements of story as well as tying into Christian and other religious/occult mythology, which enriches the story. We don’t care if these are truly viable occult beliefs or practices, but they feel real and the idea of possession and then exorcism is completely frightening.  The horrifying showdowns in Regan’s bedroom with Father Merrin and Father Karras are fantastically done.  The random shots of the demon with the white face are always unsuspected and catch you off guard, lending the movie a completely eerie air.  There is a tremendous sense of dread in the movie as if something occult is sneaking into the room every time to watch it.  It tells multiple levels of stories and the ending of the film with Father Karras jumping out the window is completely memorable and always up for discussion.  The movie contains so many iconic and disturbing images that you can go on discussing its merits.  I always thought it was the most terrifying movie I had ever seen, until I reevaluated number one.

1. The Shining – This movie always freaked me out but its only because I have happened to watch it a few times in the past year that it has climbed to the top of my list.  I just happen to catch it on TV at random times when I can just sit and be filled with horror. Even when it is cut for commercials and edited down it is still terrifying.  Whether it is the ominous image of the Overlook hotel or the creepy scenes with Lloyd the bartender or Delbert Grady the ex-caretaker, there is just something creepy about the entire movie.  Much of that has to do with Kubrick of course, but there is just something about the story in general.  You are always hoping that Nicholson doesn’t lose it or that Scatman Crothers doesn’t get an axe to the back, but in the end it is always going to happen.  The best part of the movie as you watch it more and more is picking up on Jack’s little nuances as an alcoholic.  How he is despondent in the car ride up to the Overlook.  It really lends to thinking that perhaps he was always meant to come to the hotel and to try and murder his family.  That creepy shot of him in a picture from a party at the overlook from years ago is definitely an unsettling way to end the movie.  And I haven’t even touched on the scene with the dead woman in the hotel room, the twins, or the elevator full of blood.  You want to sit there and tell me a movie about a haunted hotel and a murderous psychopath/alcoholic that features a subplot about ESP isn’t the scariest movie of all time?  You are crazy.

Now, please excuse me while I try to get to sleep after writing about all of these movies that terrify me.

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