When I decided to undertake this grand Top 20 Favorites experiment oh-so-many moons ago, I asked a few of my friends to contribute their Top 20s for our eyeballs to behold. Today I'm posting the first of 'em, so get your eyeballs ready!
This list comes from the inimitable Amanda by Night of Made for TV Mayhem (and a zillion other places). She knows more about horror movies than the rest of us combined, so I couldn't wait to dig in to her list. The time is nigh, so let's not dally! For more Amanda-mania, visit her site or check out her turn as a Bloggenaire.
Oh, and FYI, I did not count these special Top 20 lists (including mine) in the final vote tally. So there. Take it away, Amanda!
These aren’t so much my set top 20, but rather what I came up with in a stream of consciousness-like state (and ended up with 21! Sheesh!). Then I alphabetized it:
Blood Diner (1987, Jackie Kong)
This is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s got nude aerobicizing cheerleaders, nude karate and nude women with get their heads breaded (no joke!). Lots of naked people. I love it!
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981, Frank De Felitta)
Of all the made for TV horror movies to come along the pike in those two decades of absolute greatness (the 70s and 80s, of course) this is the movie that I think stands as the perfect example of what was right with small screen terror. Perfectly plotted, perfectly acted, perfectly paced… perfectly perfect. It’s just wonderful… and it also just came out on DVD! Everyone needs to see this one (if you haven’t that is).
The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982, Stephen Carpenter & Jeffrey Obrow)
I’m kind of a new fan of this movie. I rented it eons ago and turned it off about 10 minutes in. I remember thinking, “Wow, this sucks,” and then forgot all about it. Thanks to some encouragement from fans of TDTDB, I went ahead and gave it another go. Picture it - February of 2009 - It was raining heavily outside and looked like 10 o’clock at night instead of noon. I put on my PJs and let me tell you, it was one of the most awesome horror viewing experiences I’d had in a long time. What a dark film. It stuck with me enough that after I saw House of the Devil earlier this year (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I thought a second viewing of TDTDB was in order. Somehow it was the perfect double feature. I don’t know exactly why those two films go together, but like peanut butter and chocolate, they just do. And I love them for it!
Happy Hell Night (1992, Brian Owens)
This is one of those late entry slashers that looks early 90s but exudes a sense of early 80s chaos! The jeans might be stonewashed, but the gore is tops. And of course, the Darren McGavin cameo is pretty sweet too!
Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)
In a word – perfection.
Jennifer (1978, Brice Mack)
I just can’t get enough of this psychedelic snake flick. And it has nothing to do with Bert Convy. Well, almost nothing. I mean, dude, he’s friggin’ hawt here, but then again, when is he not? Also Wesley Eure from Land of the Lost looks mighty tasty as well! Lisa Pelikan is just wonderful as Jennifer in a movie that is essentially Carrie with snakes. I thought she brought a new element to the ESP riff and she alone makes the movie worth seeing.
Just Before Dawn (1981, Jeff Lieberman)
This is probably the best slasher that went under the radar. Why it’s not as well known to non-horror fans as Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine is beyond me. It’s not only terrifying, but it’s got some wonderful actors and the final girl’s transition from shy and slightly dependent to a strong woman in Daisy Dukes, is astounding. I think this movie is slasher heaven.
Killer Party (1986, William Fruet)
It’s really hard to put Killer Party into any category, since it’s really one third teen sex comedy, one third slasher and one third possession film. It is however 100% crazy, so if that’s a sub-genre, I’d stick it there. It’s just so much fun and it’s one of my all time faves. It’s also a blues cure for me. Whenever I feel down, I’ve always got these girls to make me smile. And let’s face it, Blake might be a bit of a jerk, but he’s totally hawt.
Kolobos (1999, Daniel Liatowitsch & David Todd Ocvirk)
This creepy movie predicts the reality craze, pays homage to those crazed Italian horror films of yesteryear and was a complete surprise when I first saw it on a whim. The gore is really, really good, and although the story is extremely convoluted and a bit of let down at the end, as a whole, very few movies of the 90s could touch this oddball and eerie little film.
Madman (1982, Joe Giannone)
Mmmm, this movie divides the fans, but I find it more terrifying with every viewing. Sure he growls and there’s that lady who hides in a fridge, but overall Madman is really effective and scary. It’s no secret I love minimalist slashers and this one takes the cake because the bare bones are creepy and atmospheric as all get out.
Maniac (1980, William Lustig)
Truth be told, this is officially the first horror movie that made me love horror movies… and I was an adult when I saw it. I’d already seen some of the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movies, and I liked them and found them scary, but it was Joe Spinell’s eerie and twisted Maniac that got me to a level no other film had. It still freaks me out, and I find myself looking at other movies hoping to find that same thrill, but very little has ever come close.
Moonstalker (1989, Michael O'Rourke)
I only recently saw Moonstalker, but now it’s one of my all time favorite films of all time ever. Ever. I can’t get enough of it. I think Moonstalker does the one thing all low budget, regionally shot movies should do – have a good time. I’ll be damned if I can find one cast member who isn’t having a major blast in their part. Besides the fact that the film as a whole is quite flawed, you can tell that everyone really enjoyed helping out and did their best. The fun is quite contagious and so Moonstalker has become a pick me up film of sorts. Also, if any General Hospital nuts want to see what Blake Gibbons, who plays Coleman, looks like without his famous ‘stache, see this movie (helpful hint: he’s the killer)!
Mortuary (1983, Howard Avedis)
Man, oh Manischewitz, I loves me some Mortuary. Sexy David Wallace looks disgruntled a lot, Bill Paxton skips through cemeteries and Chris George is at his crankiest! I love the simple things in life and Mortuary is fairly by-the-numbers, but manages to have a few genuine scares, some great locales, a friggin’ roller skating rink and cute boys galore. I’m hooked!
The Mutilator (1985, Buddy Cooper)
This is one of the best regional slashers of the 80s. It’s flawed for sure, but rather effective because it’s so dang violent. I love Ralph who buys two six packs for six people and thinks it’s a party. You go Ralph!
Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker)
Oh how I adore any film that features the guy who played Bubba on Mama’s Family! This movie is a wonderful sci-fi/horror hybrid with a ton of one liners and a lot of heart. I don’t know what else to say, except here comes my date, and he’d dead. Yay!
Nothing Underneath (1985, Carlo Vanzina)
This is definitely one of my favorite giallos. It directly riffs on everything from Body Double to The Eyes of Laura Mars and becomes its own beast of excessive awesomeness. I love that the filmmakers used real top fashion models, and it shows. The women are gorgeous and also fairly talented. And it’s got a shock ending that for some reason actually moves me. Also Donald Pleasance is great as the soon-to-be-retired cop who eats spaghetti in a fast food joint. Oh, Italy! I love you!
The Pit (1981, Lew Lehman)
Talk about crazy! This is one f’ed up little tykes-gone-wild flick featuring the badass Sammy Snyders as a weird kid who feeds the less desirable locals to these little monsters he found. I mean, I think his talking stuffed animal bear told him to do it or something… He also stares at his babysitter’s nipple when she sleeps. He might get called a “funny person” in the movie but I think he’s all kinds of awesome!
Prom Night (1980, Paul Lynch)
You got it, everything is alright! I adore this movie to no end. A few years ago when I found out I’d be having surgery (quite minor but it still scared me shitless), I found solace in this movie. I ended up watching it about 1500 times prior to my operation and then 1500 times more in the weeks it took to recover. It’s not a perfect film, by any means, but there’s a real trigger effect going on here which ultimately reveals the killer motives. Watch how Kim’s friends and boyfriend treat her… sure Nick shows some signs of remorse over being responsible for Kim’s sister’s death, but how is it that most of the culprits would go on to stay very good friends with her? There’s a neat subliminal message about loss of innocence here and if you look deep enough, Prom Night becomes one devil of a good flick.
Simon, King of the Witches (1971, Bruce Kessler)
I’m a little obsessed with this oddball Andrew Prine flick, where he plays the warlock-with-the-morelock! The whole film is driven by this weird hippie mentality and was written by an actual warlock who used members of his own coven in a scene! Andrew is terrific, playing Simon as fairly calm, cool and collected, while being utterly batty and super dangerous. Also, the cinematography often feels dated, but truly captures the early 70s as a world of velvet empire maxi-dresses and super-tight bell bottoms. I’m yours, Simon!
This House Possessed (1981, William Wiard)
This House Possessed is my all time favorite made for TV movie. It’s got everything – designer jeans, awesome 80s pop music and a very creepy house. I love the atmosphere and the way it all plays out. Also, it’s no secret that I think Parker Stevenson is the most, and he’s great here. There’s just enough romance to keep the Lifetime TV part of me contented.
Woodchipper Massacre (1988, Jon McBride)
It wasn’t until recently that I came to appreciate the world of 80s shot on video horror. Although Boardinghouse is probably the best of the bunch in the general though processes of us SOV freaks, Woodchipper Massacre nudged itself ahead for me because talk about a movie that’s all heart, this is a movie where director/writer/star Jon McBride (then only a teenager I believe) put together a really fun horror/comedy that pokes loving fun at sitcoms of the Leave it to Beaver ilk, while taking it somewhere Wally and the Beav would never go: straight to hell! The kids in this movie are great and I really loved Patricia McBride (Jon’s mom) as Aunt Tess. Also, the heavily mulleted sister played by Denise Edeal is a scene stealer! Is she as cool as Tony in that other SOV charmer, Blood Lake? Maybe not quite, but as comedy duo, they could have owned the 80s!