As I'll be taking a few days off for my favorite holiday, Halloween, I'll be condensing the Essential Horror Lists over the next two days.
Now, on to the werewolves! Remember: Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright!
1) American Werewolf in London – Quite simply the best werewolf movie of all time. This movie, and Rick Baker’s (at the time) awesome special effects did what no other werewolf flick had done before - - it made the idea of a man changing into a werewolf real and visceral. Add on top of that a great script (including the creepy opening on the moors and the kick ass idea that the werewolf is ‘haunted’ by his victims) and you have the perfect lycanthrope film.
2) The Wolfman (1941) – I’m a sucker for the old Universal monsters and this was my favorite. Lon Chaney is at his sad sack best as a returning lord to his father’s estate after years of estrangement. When he runs afoul of a werwolf on the moors (Bela Lugosi in all of his creepy glory!) he becomes a beast himself. I remember being 7 or 8 years old and watching this movie for the first time on our local late night horror shows, (Houlihan and Big Chuck, and Ghoulardi) and being terrified by the dog like face of the Wolfman. You always go back to the childhood trauma!
3) Dog Soldiers – A small budget British film about a group of soldiers who are on maneuvers and run afoul of a pack of werewolves. A surprising and fresh look at the genre that had great effects and a great story. It’s movies like this(and Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, etc…) that reaffirm my faith in the coolness of the independent British horror industry…
4) Ginger Snaps – A Canadian independent horror film that turns the genre on it’s ear, this is an incredible horror film. In it we meet two odd goth girl sisters. The older, more beautiful one, Ginger, is attacked by a werewolf just as she gets her period. The marrying of the concepts of science in the 21st century, old world folklore, and werewolves drawn by the ripe smell of a girl in heat are perfect, as is the tasty Katherine Isabelle, who plays the now wolfy Ginger.
5) Underworld – Underworld made it to the Werewolf list because, although I’d give my right arm to drool over the delectable Kate Beckinsale, I’m tired of the current concepts of vampires. Yeah, we get it; they all dress in leather and long trench coats. Yeah, we get it: they all live and brood in grand mansions. Yeah - WE GET IT! - they’re all beautiful and shoot cool guns. Blah blah blah. Underworld is on THIS list because, frankly, the Lycanthropes were far more interesting than the Vamps. Hands down, no need to argue. The vamps, except for Victor and an ability to jump off of buildings and land like cats, were really just like normal people. The Werewolves though, they were damn kick ass.
6) American Werewolf in Paris – I know this is a pale comparison to its predecessor, but I still liked it. For all of its cheesy jokes and even cheesier computer animated werewolves, this was a fun – and more importantly, gory - movie.
Bark at the moon, dear reader!
Now, for something a little different - - Sci-Fi Horror.
1) Alien – By far the best horror movie set in the vacuum of space. What a perfect concept and execution! Imagine being hunted by an HR Giger designed and inspired alien on a claustrophobic space ship. Add on top of that Sigourney Weaver in panties, and you’ve got a piece of fried gold!
2) Event Horizon – One need only watch the half hinted at carnage on the Event Horizon’s logs to get a feel for how awesomely creepy this sci-fi film was. And to design a ship after the Cathedral of Notre Dame - -brilliant!
3) The Thing (1941) – This movie was the first sci-fi movie to scare the piss out of me. The lumbering, menacing bulk of James Arness as the alien, and the claustrophobic confines of the research center in the arctic meld to make a perfect warning about why it’s bad to contact extraterrestrial life.
4) John Carpenter’s The Thing – This takes all that was good about the first, and adds some of the goriest scenes ever put to celluloid. I get shivers thinking about it!
5) Invasion of the Body Snatchers – The perfect metaphor for the Cold War, this movie hits all the right notes. Who could forget the panicked screams of Kevin McCarthy as he tries to warn somebody, anybody that the aliens are there.
6) Predator – Although primarily an action film, I’d be remiss to not mention it. It had it’s horror moments. My only dissapointment here was the subsequent sequels. Especially the abortion that Paul W.S. Anderson created…AVP. I couldn't imagine how one could take the two greatest sci-fi creatures and icons of the last 30 years, put them together in a movie, and have it suck. Anderson managed to do just that with AVP. I shake my head in appalled wonder…
7) Signs – At first I wasn’t sure I’d like this film. Truthfully, M. Night Shymalan is a one note pony with his now almost trite twist endings. And, this movie doesn’t dissapoint in that regard. However, there are some truly jump out of your seat and gasp scenes in this movie that merit inclusion on this all time best list. For instance, the first glimpse of the alien in the birthday home video footage actually made me startle and jump in my seat. It has been many a long years since ANY movie has done that to me. The little girl waking the dad up, “There’s a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?” This movie is filled with beautiful little creep-outs like this that make it worth the rental…
Remember dear reader… Watch the skies everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!