FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 23, 2020

SHOCKtober: 244-213



Aw yeah, now it's gettin' real. Why, I can smell the top 200 from here! At least I hope that's the Top 200...

Anyway, each of the following films received four votes

244. All Cheerleaders Die -- 2013, Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson
243. American Mary -- 2012, Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska
242. American Psycho -- 2000, Mary Harron
241. Army of Darkness -- 1992, Sam Raimi
240. Battle Royale -- 2000, Kinji Fukasaku
239. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon -- 2006, Scott Glosserman
238. Black Sunday -- 1960, Mario Bava
237. Brain Damage -- 1988, Frank Henenlotter
236. Climax -- 2018, Gaspar Noé
235. Creature from the Black Lagoon -- 1954, Jack Arnold
234. Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight -- 1995, Ernest R. Dickerson
233. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark -- 1988, James Signorelli
232. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood -- 1988, John Carl Buechler
231. Frankenstein -- 1931, James Whale
230. Funny Games -- 1997, Michael Haneke
229. Grabbers -- 2012, Jon Wright
228. Grave Encounters -- 2011, Colin Minihan & Stuart Ortiz
227. Hellbound: Hellraiser II -- 1988, Tony Randel
226. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer -- 1986, John McNaughton
225. I Know What You Did Last Summer -- 1997, Jim Gillespie
224. I Walked with a Zombie -- 1943, Jacques Tourneur
223. Jacob's Ladder -- 1990, Adrian Lyne
222. Just Before Dawn -- 1981, Jeff Lieberman
221. Krampus -- 2015, Michael Dougherty
220. The Lair of the White Worm -- 1988, Ken Russell
219. Martin -- 1977, George A. Romero
218. Misery -- 1990, Rob Reiner
217. Nightbreed -- 1990, Clive Barker
216. Onibaba -- 1964, Kaneto Shindô
215. Orphan -- 2009, Jaume Collet-Serra
214. Scanners -- 1981, David Cronenberg
213. Scream 2 -- 1997, Wes Craven

  • (crowd chants) Or-phan! Or-phan! Or-phan! She sure is different! I still love that bonkers movie so much. I'm also still waiting for Esther's head to fall off when she removes her velvet choker...
  • Of Nightbreed, a reader says: "The monsters-as-good-guys angle was still pretty fresh at the time, and as the years have passed I've grown to love it as an LGBTQIA parable."
  • Can me pathetic if you will ("Oh don't worry, I will!" -- you), but I'm still hanging onto a sliver of hope for that All Cheerleaders Die sequel. What a fun movie, I'm glad more folks are getting hip to it.
  • "Yes, it's a comedy, but there is 100% a dark supernatural event at the heart of it. The best cast you could ever want, and dialogue that is forever memorable," says a reader about Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and so say we all.
  • Upon seeing Jacob's Ladder in today's list chunk, I thought "Hmm. What has that purveyor of lite-n-sexy sleaze Adrian Lyne been up to? Sure has been a while." It turns out he has a new movie coming next year (or whenever), his first since 2002: Dark Water, an adaptation of a very "Patricia Highsmith" Patricia Highsmith novel, if you know what I mean. Love the book and I'm looking forward to it...Ben Affleck is perfect casting, same as he was for Gone Girl.

FAVE 20: G.G. Graham


G.G. Graham is horror's sultana of sleaze, grande dame of grindhouse, and empress of exploitation! Whether she's writing for Drive-In Asylum (I love Drive-In Asylum by the way), The Horror Hothouse, Wicked Horror, her own site Midnight Movie Monster, or any of the countless other places you can find her byline, she most often delves deep into the genre's depraved depths, the places I, your humble blogmistress, dare not tread. I love that even after my 77 years as a horror fan, there are corners of the genre I've yet to explore and so many films I've never heard of out there waiting to eat my face. This list features plenty of lesser-known gems and you'll get gobs more ghoulish goodies at G.G.'s gtwitter.

I don't know what's with all the alliteration today, sorry. Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to manifest a gig writing headlines for The New York Post?



THE BEYOND (1981, Lucio Fulci)


While often unfairly made the Jan to Argento's ever-so-stylish Marcia, The Beyond's slightly daft, dime store surrealism proves Fulci could navigate a visual set piece with a puckish, gleefully gory abandon. The actual narrative borders on nonsensical, but The Beyond zips along through eyeball trauma and acid attacks on undead zombies in a frenetic manner that is rarely linear, but never boring.

It's a gothic nightmare that has no problem leaving us blindly standing alone in the road, lost in the depths of despair while one of horror cinema's best scores pounds in the background. Hell may be an endless void, but they really do have the much better band.


NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985, Bill Leslie & Terry Lofton)


If this movie were an intentional slasher parody, it would have been brilliant. As it stands, it's just brilliantly inept. Line readings are sub-dinner theater level, dead extras forget to hold their breath and the killer cracks punny one liners that would make a third rate Borscht Belt comedian cry. Massacres are perpetuated with the titular nail gun at a brisk pace, damn the plot threads left to dangle in the Texas breeze. 

This direct to video dreck is the best possible example of passion project regional filmmaking, where the sheer love of the movies overrides tiny budgets, better sense and a lack of any discernible talent. Do you remember when you could go outside without worrying about the mosquitos...or the killers? I do. It was in the sad days before I had discovered the goofy joy that is Nail Gun Massacre, surviving proof that every movie that gets made is a tiny miracle. Even the awful ones.


SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000, E. Elias Merhige)


The mid to late 90s boom of meta horror started out as a breath of fresh air, but soon devolved into a dull, interminable game of "Are You Smarter Than A Slasher?" Released at the tail end of that trend cycle, Shadow Of The Vampire instead wraps its meta-narrative around the filming of 1922's silent classic Nosferatu. Rather than a joking poke at genre tropes, the film revises history to offer a terrifying explanation of what may have made the silent classic so damn scary. 

Simultaneously, we also get a gorgeously shot contemplation on creativity, and how far someone can be willing to go to realize an artistic vision. With a stacked cast of some of the finest actors of their generation and a visual aesthetic that incorporates some of the best techniques of the silent era into a modern movie, Shadow Of The Vampire is an arthouse meditation on all of the ways making great art can (quite literally) suck the life out of you.


I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970, David E. Durston)


One of the first films rated X primarily for violence, David Durston's exploitation classic is a first-rate example of the wild world of grindhouse era, fly by night filmmaking. A faux-Manson Family of Satan-worshipping grifters terrorizes a tiny town in a spectacularly bloody fashion. Watching the last few townsfolk battle the frothing undead, we learn some valuable lessons about both rabies and LSD along the way. 

Rabid hippie zombies! Scooby-Doo-style chase music! Meat pies as carriers of vengeance and disease! Geysers of red paint gore! Satan as an acidhead! If this fast paced, hippie hangover freak out doesn't have it, you don't want it.


HELLRAISER (1987, Clive Barker)


In all of the franchises that dominated the 80s horror box office, Clive Barker's Hellraiser was a welcome dose of Euro weirdness that gave gooey practical effects a highly stylized S&M groove that has been rarely matched before or since. 

Frank Cotton was perhaps cinema's slickest sleaze, willing to take his search for sensation straight to the gates of Hell. The character type wouldn't be out of place in the cheaper environs of 70s exploitation, but the journey his hedonism instigates owes as much to giallo oddities and your local leather bar as it does any of the horror trends of the time. A pile of in name only rights-fueled sequels and the passage of time have done little to diminish how singularly strange Hellraiser still is. "We have such sights to show you..." indeed.


DEAD & BURIED (1981, Gary Sherman)


Potter's Bluff is one of the greatest of horror's many small towns with a secret. Shrouded in seaside fog and as subtly unsettling as holes to a trypophobic, when the idyll becomes something far more grisly, it's almost a relief. As the body count rises, it’s very clear Sheriff Gillis isn't crazy and neither are we.

While the entire film is a masterpiece of mood and atmosphere, Jack Albertson gives us one final, magnificent turn as eccentric mortician William Dobbs. For the generation who likely best remembers him as the kindly (if incredibly lazy) Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, it’s an utter disservice to Albertson's incredibly prolific career not to see him swing from dodderingly sweet to utterly sinister here. Genre has always been the place where character actors can swing for the fences in meatier roles, and that is exactly what happens in Dead & Buried.


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz)


Speaking of seaside shockers, Messiah Of Evil is a moody chiller that transcends its myriad of production problems to become something far more unsettling than it otherwise might have been. A young woman goes searching for her father in a coastal California town, and runs afoul of a cult of ghouls that sit at an odd juncture between vampires and zombies, obsessed with moonlit bonfires and the consumption of raw flesh.

Rather than jump shocks and manic chases, Messiah Of Evil settles into a nightmarish, disjointed surreality. Alternating between dourly drab and luridly vivid colors, a bevy of disaffected beauties find themselves wandering some of the best slow burn horror set pieces I've seen at this price point. Messiah Of Evil might just be a lost masterwork of arty low budget horror. It might just be proof of the infinite monkey theorem. Either way, it’s still pretty great.


FREAKS (1932, Tod Browning)


Outcasts and the creation of chosen families is a thematic throughline that genre cinema loves to come back to, but few films are more effective than Freaks at illustrating how tightly wound the ties that bind can be. Tod Browning's otherwise promising directorial career was ground to a standstill with this verbose melodrama and its cast of sideshow and circus performers. The open display of so called "oddities" and a sympathetic portrayal of their lives was considered obscene at the time.

What makes Freaks a masterpiece isn't necessarily its corker of a twist ending, or its bucking of public opinion of the era. When the titular cast of "freaks" takes their revenge on a gold-digging trapeze artist who has harmed one of their own, the climatic rain soaked chase is one of the tightest, tensest sequences in cinema history. What becomes of the victims afterwards is almost beside the point. The terror lies in knowing just how far the avenging angels are willing to go.


SHATTER DEAD (1994, Scooter McCrae)


In the massive glut of SOV content, Scooter McCrae's Shatter Dead deserves a reappraisal and rediscovery for its impressively empty post-apocalyptic world (made more so by the fact that the cleared streets were accomplished without the luxury of permits), and a conceptual ambition more in line with foreign art films than video store trash.

God abandons humanity, and death ceases to exist. The dead just keep on living, minus the ability to heal and the luxury of blood circulation. A woman named Susan is just trying to make it home to her boyfriend, and encounters all of the factions of this strange new world. Manic revivalist preachers thinking undeath is a gift of immortality, terrorists mutilating the comparatively unblemished dead, and hopelessly mangled zombies begging for change on the street all take a turn in delaying her long trip home.

Once your eyes adjust to the microbudget visual limitations, Shatter Dead is an oddly transfixing mix of philosophical musings and exploitation style shocks that will definitely stick with those willing to ride along with its contemplative take on the nature of living, and the natural place of death to add poignancy to life.


AN EYE FOR AN EYE (aka THE PSYCHOPATH, 1973, Larry G. Brown)


The Psychopath is a prime slice of grindhouse golden age weirdness that hasn’t seen home video release since the heyday of VHS. Tom Basham puts in a disquieting performance as Mr. Rabbey, a stunted manchild who also hosts an inexplicably popular local children’s television program. When some of his favorite fans and park playtime pals are abused by their parents, Mr. Rabbey takes the law into his own hands, assuming they aren’t otherwise occupied by his selection of creepy ass puppets.

This isn’t the most ambitious or bloody of exploitation era fare, but what it lacks in gore, it makes up for in a particular strain of only possible in the 70s, psychosexual weirdness. Mr Rabbey is a grown man that goes from eating chocolate cake with his substitute mom/producer to killing people with household objects as if both were part of the same game of make believe.

Long before the first murder even happens, it’s disturbing that people would let this fractured, fey wreck of a man anywhere near a playground. What makes it worse is that Mr. Rabbey is then encouraged to inflict his excessively punitive puppet shows on both the local children’s hospital and a cheering television audience. Never has a pouty squeak and the shadow of a bowl cut lurking at a window been so squirm inducing. I pity the fool that declines to become one of Mr. Rabbey’s rangers. Best watch out for that lawnmower.


CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962, Herk Harvey)


Carnival Of Souls separates itself from the herd of low budget indie films in that it takes the opposite approach than most of the B cinema of its era. Rather than tossing its characters into a flashy parade of blood, beasts and bad taste, it surrounds its supernatural trappings with the distinctly ordinary patterns of small town life. Mary Henry is just trying to get settled in a new job, and a new city, not succeeding particularly well at either one.

The ghostly elements sneak in with a whisper, rather than a bang, and we have every reason to question Mary's sanity as her obsession with an old carnival pavilion becomes more consuming, her visions of a stalking man more frequent. We'd all be more likely to blame stress or loneliness before we started looking toward the otherworldly.

In that specific sense, Carnival Of Souls tracks the same haunting territory as some of the best episodes of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. It's terrible to feel as if you don't belong, but utterly horrifying to discover the hidden reasons your hunch is exactly right.


THE STUFF (1985, Larry Cohen)


Of all of the riffs on 50s creature features like The Blob and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Larry Cohen's The Stuff livens up his monster kid nostalgia with razor sharp satire of 80s consumerism and a host of lived-in, delightfully quirky performances.

It's an utterly ridiculous idea that a groundswell of something that looks uncannily like soft serve ice cream could so easily take over the world. The brilliance of The Stuff is that it makes this off the wall tale far more plausible than it has any right to be, tongue firmly planted in cheek. The atomic age B movies didn't get the details wrong, necessarily. The Stuff posits that the US military and hosts of small town sheriffs were lucky in that their impending invasions weren't accompanied by a catchy jingle and a slick PR firm to market the invaders as a low calorie dessert.

Much like Michael Moriarty's star turn as corporate spy/savior David "Mo" Rutherford, The Stuff is a fast paced, funny spoof that isn't nearly as dumb as it first appears. Too much really is never enough, when it comes to Larry Cohen, New York City's finest indie film eccentric, at his most accessible.


GANJA & HESS (1973, Bill Gunn)


Originally funded as an attempt to cash in on the success of Blacula, writer/director Bill Gunn instead used the loose framework of a vampire narrative to deliver a richly layered thematic kaleidoscope of the effects of addiction, assimilation, and religion on Black experience in America. The visuals are framed oddly, sometimes obscured, and Sam Waymon’s gorgeous musical history lesson of a score is often just as key to conveying plot elements as the spoken dialog. Ganja & Hess has far more in common with the arthouse explorations of the 70s “New Hollywood” period than exploitation flicks.

Duane Jones (Night Of The Living Dead) and Marlene Clark star as the titular couple infected with an ancient African blood disease. While both actors were woefully underutilized in the bulk of their filmography, their performances here shine even amongst the dense layers of visual and sonic quilting that flesh out the film’s aesthetic. The director’s cut was unavailable for decades due to the producers’ unhappiness with the final result, but has since been restored to Gunn’s original vision by MOMA and Kino Lorber. A fiercely intelligent fever dream and a masterpiece of Black horror cinema, it rightfully belongs on any genre lover’s watchlist.


HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986, John McNaughton)


A hyper-realistic low budget film loosely based on the life of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer is a horror film in the most literal possible sense. There is no catharsis here, no comforting explanation of the how and the why of its protagonists’ ruthlessly efficient violence. Director John McNaughton and co-writer Richard Fire have very little interest in diagnosis or explanation, just a grey, grimy tour through a few days in the lives of men incapable of human empathy.

Henry and Otis don’t kill out of any misguided sense of justice or cause, and if there is some tragic backstory, the film doesn’t make us privy to it. In a genre littered with tragic monsters, anti-heroes and sympathy for the devil, it is a deeply harrowing experience to see characters kill primarily just because they can. They drift from city to city, picking off the weak and the forgotten with impunity, without any real remorse or calculation. Boredom and a vague dissatisfaction is more than enough to add another victim to the body count, nonchalant as a trip to the corner store.

Often shown alongside the more violent strains of exploitation film, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer’s power comes from its utter disinterest in making any moral judgments with which to exploit its subject matter. Cold and clinical as an industrial film, its only aim is to quietly document the daily routine of a pair of men for whom the depths of human depravity have become horrifyingly mundane.


CANNIBAL FEROX (aka LET THEM DIE SLOWLY, 1981, Umberto Lenzi)


All roads in the journey to the center of the bad taste world of extreme exploitation and horror cinema eventually make at least one stop amongst the 80’s Italian cannibal trendlet. The cannibal films take the exoticizing, cynical snicker of the Mondo subgenre to its logical, fully fictional extreme. Hiding behind a thin veneer of ethnography and supposed larger points about the nature of civilization, the cannibal flicks had a perfect cover of plausible deniability for a plethora of blood, boobs, and completely unnecessary animal cruelty.

Cannibal Ferox doesn’t particularly deviate from the basic template, but it is the only entry that combines its crueler excesses with extremely overblown line readings and scenery chewing performances that almost feel imported from another, less self-serious film. Giovanni Radice’s tooth-gnashing cokehead abandon as Mike and Zora Kerova’s utterly dippy Pat are far campier than they have a right to be thanks to their paired commitment to exaggerated overacting. There’s also the steady thump of an amusingly mismatched funk disco score. By the time you add in the dub’s melodramatic pauses in a line about a recently consumed set of genitals, Cannibal Ferox proves it is indeed brutally violent, but also occasionally brutally funny.


SCREAM BLOODY MURDER (1972, Marc B. Ray)


This manic 70s gem is one of the treasures lying buried in the trash heap of those 50 movie public domain DVD box sets. Matthew is a strange young man with a hook for a hand and the mother of all Oedipus complexes. He was sent away after murdering his dad with a tractor and mangling his own hand in the process. Years in a mental institution have done nothing to cure any of his issues, other than allowing his long-suffering mother to forget who he is.

Jealous at anyone who dares to be happy, soon Matthew is on a hitchhiking spree of murder, mayhem, and visions of men defiling dear old Mommy whenever he sees a happy couple. Home invasions, kidnapped prostitutes, and a hysterical speech about his captive’s lack of gratitude zip by in a tight 88 minute runtime that leads to one of the most delightfully left field endings this everything but the kitchen sink approach to filmmaking could possibly conjure up. Scream Bloody Murder isn’t the most polished of turds, but it amazingly never really manages to stink. Goofy, gory, and unapologetically cheap, its madcap energy is infectious fun.

M (1931, Fritz Lang)


Fritz Lang is better known to modern audiences for his sci fi masterpiece Metropolis, but while 1931’s M is less flashily stylized, it is both importantly directional (as one of the earliest extant examples of a police procedural) and quietly terrifying. A serial killer of children is on the prowl in Berlin, and when the police have no success locating the murderer, even the criminal underground joins the manhunt.

For an early sound film, there is masterful use of long stretches of silence to enhance the import of key dialog, a whistled tune and shadowy silhouettes marking the primarily off-screen murders. A young Peter Lorre was typecast for the majority of his career after his masterful turn as the murderous Hans Beckert, a monster with the most inhuman of impulses hiding behind a nondescript baby face.

The tension and fear of the city are palpable, from mobs questioning strangers on the street to the full blown kangaroo court that dominates the film’s final act. Made in the shadow of the rise of real-life Nazism, M’s deeper thematic questions of the appropriate punishments for inhuman crime and the fear fueled mob mentality lying just beneath the surface of our civilized trappings were certainly prescient of the real world events to come.

M was one of the first films to make plain the most terrifying of truths: The world is full of monsters. They don’t announce themselves in coffins or spaceships or laboratory experiments gone wrong. The darkest desires hide in ordinary seeming people, that on the surface, look just like us.


BABA YAGA (1973, Corrado Farina)


Baba Yaga is a loose adaptation of a story arc from Guido Crepax’s Valentina, a long-running Italian series of erotic comics. What plot there is involves a battle of wills between Valentina, a mod and modern fashion photographer, and the titular ancient witch, who is enthralled with Valentina after a chance late night run-in. 

However, Baba Yaga soon abandons the linear narrative for a pop art surrealism that owes more to the graphic novel source material and stylized European Gothics than it does any straightforward horror cinema traditions. Fascist visions and high fashion parties mix with an action/reaction Sapphic S&M struggle between the ancient and the modern models of fierce female autonomy. This sleek, sensual nightmare is made for late nights and altered states, a literal comic book come to life. Consider it the cool blue, cool jazz older cousin to the (equally queer coded) blood red of fellow high style arthouse Eurosleaze classic Daughters Of Darkness.


NOSFERATU (1922, F. W. Murnau)


One of the first stone cold, blood curdling classics of early silent horror cinema, Nosferatu’s genius lies not in its highly questionable, slightly clunky adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, but in the visual vocabulary of creeping dread that it essentially invented. Lacking the technology or the inclination for the visceral and gratuitous, Nosferatu’s terror lies in the light exposing the outlines of the shadows and the things that lurk there. Max Schreck’s masterful performance as Count Orlok has none of the suavity of the later cinematic adaptations, but is something closer to death, at home in desiccation and decay. What thrall he wields is not a seduction, but the predatory instincts of a carrion creature, the not quite dead sapping the lifeblood from the living.

Nosferatu was also perhaps the original “cult” film, with the majority of the prints destroyed due to a legal injunction against the unauthorized adaptation of the source novel. The few remaining prints were copied and distributed in secret, and allowed the film to survive into the modern era. Almost a hundred years on, its silent, lurking menace is still all the reason in the world to be afraid of the dark.


BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)


As a born and bred New Yorker, I have an eternal soft spot for films in which New York itself may as well be a billed character. Frank Henenlotter is another of my hometown’s indie eccentrics, and Basket Case is a seven layer dip love letter to grit, grime, and the Deuce, with all of the trash cinema delights it once had to offer.

Duane and his basket-bound, misshapen brother are the rubber appliance, stop motion stuff B movie dreams are made of. Had Henenlotter stopped right there, he would have made a sleazy delight of a creature feature. However, he tossed all notions of taste to the wind and served up healthy doses of violence, nudity, and oddly sympathetic stunted sibling drama to take what would have been an amusing grindhouse novelty into exploitation classic territory.

None of this should work, but Basket Case is unafraid to lean into its essential silliness with a wink, a nudge, and a seemingly infinite number of rubber Belials wearing a variety of expressions for all close up occasions. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a movie about a murderous claw-wielding wad of what looks like flesh-colored ABC gum, and it is fantastic.

Oct 22, 2020

SHOCKtober: 271-245



Well, already we're at the final chunk o' list featuring films that received three votes each. Enjoy your final day in the spotlight, you trilogies of terror, 'cause tomorrow we start getting kinky with foursomes and moresomes!

271. Something Wicked This Way Comes -- 1983, Jack Clayton
270. Son of Frankenstein -- 1939, Rowland V. Lee
269. Sorority Row -- 2009, Stewart Hendler
268. Sugar Hill -- 1974, Paul Maslansky
267. Suicide Club -- 2001, Sion Soto
266. Teeth -- 2007, Mitchell Lichtenstein
265. The Babysitter -- 2017, McG
264. The Children -- 2008, Tom Shankland
263. The Loved Ones -- 2009, Sean Byrne
262. The Lure -- 2015, Agnieszka Smocszynska
261. The Midnight Hour -- 1985, Jack Bender
260. The Neon Demon -- 2016, Nicolas Winding Refn
259. The Old Dark House -- 1932, James Whale
258. The Stepford Wives -- 1975, Bryan Forbes
257. The Witches -- 1990, Nicolas Roeg
256. The Woman in Black -- 1989, Herbert Wise
255. Thelma -- 2017, Joachim Trier
254. Triangle -- 2009, Christopher Smith
253. Trilogy of Terror -- 1975, Dan Curtis
252. Urban Legend -- 1998, Jamie Blanks
251. Uzumaki (aka Spiral) -- 2000, Higuchinsky
250. Viy -- 1967, Konstantin Ershov & Georgiy Kropachyov
249. We Are Still Here -- 2015, Ted Geoghegan
248. Wes Craven's New Nightmare -- 1994, Wes Craven
247. When Animals Dream -- 2014, Jonas Alexander Arnby
246. Witchboard -- 1986, Kevin Tenney
245. Wolfen -- 1981, Michael Wadleigh

  • Ugh, The Old Dark House is such a treasure. So funny, so charming, even kinda spooky. A must see!
  • Viy is also a treasure, what a delightfully theatrical fairy tale of a film. 
  • A reader called The Children "a gold standard creepy kids movie" and I totally agree! It's such a nasty little gem.
  • A big heck yeah to Thelma getting some love! I mentioned on my Top 20 that it almost made my list and that is the truth. A gorgeous film with filled with *chefs kiss* actressing.
  • I am not a musicals gal but holy crapping crap do I love The Lure.
  • I try not to think about the fact that I was due to see a theatrical production of The Woman in Black in NYC this past April, but...well, we've all missed out on cool opportunities over the last nine months, I'm sure. Still. This pandemic sucks big ass! But we'll get through it. Right?

FAVE 20: Jason Edward Davis


Lemme tell you, Jason Edward Davis gives great movie recommendations, especially to folks like me who think they've seen everything, because clearly I have not but clearly he has. Jason knows every movie! If I say "Jason, I'm in the mood for a slasher, what should I watch?" he won't say "Have you heard of Psycho?"--he will say "The Legend of the Willywompadoo Swamp Killer is a good one!" or something, you know, the one 80s slasher I haven't heard of, never mind seen.

Jason also puts his movie knowledge to incredible use in his work as an artist. Horror folks around Portland OR are familiar with Jason's work from gallery shows and the like, in particular his work as the resident artist for the Queer Horror series at the Hollywood Theatre.  I love that so much of his work centers the oft-overlooked women in horror films, the sidekicks and the weirdos, including some of the queens he mentions in his list. And he draws cats both spooky and cute and plenty of horror hunks too, ok my. Here's his website. Spend some time giving your eyeballs some treats!

And spend some time with Jason's favorite 20 horror films! I knew there would be some off-the-beaten-path entries and it doesn't disappoint.



NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988, Kevin Tenney)


It's Judy's turn to cry... for help!


DEMONS (1985, Lamberto Bava)


Perfect movie, perfect cast, but the real question is... how did the usherette get the job? What was the application process like? Who trained her? Does she have a comprehensive benefit package?


DEMONS 2 (1986, Lamberto Bava)


When Sally is the life of the party, it means the party is going to be the death of everyone else!


KILLER PARTY (1986, William Fruet)


When I was kid, this movie would play on the television in the afternoon all the time. Now it plays in my heart all of the time. Bless Sherry Willis-Burch, who plays Vivia, my favorite final girl. She laughs, she loves, she lives!


SPOOKIES (1986, Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, & Brendan Faulkner)


Five minutes in and the kid is dead. Then the spider woman shows up, after the mud monsters, but before the monkey-like-carny-killer, in the room with the haunted-trivial pursuit, next to the grim reaper, who works for the pale man with the head thing, who's in love with the ghost, who isn't a ghost, but she's good, but also the mother of the other monster kid.


NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION (1982, Michael Miller)


What do you get when you combine a devil worshiper, a vampire, a serial killer (who is not Ben Stiller), and Bunny Packard? A sleepover at my house... I mean, a class reunion! MVP goes to Zane Busby, as Delores Salk, a real go-getter.


EKO EKO AZARAK: WIZARD OF DARKNESS (1995, Shimako Sato)


A teenage witch, an inescapable school, and a huge body count! Yes please!


IT FOLLOWS (2014, David Robert Mitchell)


It followed me all the way home... and now we are married. I don't make the rules, I just lock the doors.


STAGEFRIGHT (1987, Michele Soavi)


Hide the axe, tuck in the chainsaw, put away the knives, because once this dancing owl hears the sweet-sweet sounds of burning-hot-cool-murder-saxophone no one is safe! But then again, danger has never looked this cute!


CHEERLEADER CAMP (1988, John Quinn)


Lucinda Dickey will have you yelling Cory all the way to the insane asylum! Poor Bonnie though.


I SAW THE DEVIL (2010, Jee-woon Kim)


I saw the devil and the devil saw me... we both cried. It's been a hard year.


HONEYMOON (2014, Leigh Janiak)


I've never been more upset watching someone fail to make coffee. Watch this, then read Claire C. Holland's book of poetry I Am Not Your Final Girl.


THE BONEYARD (1991, James Cummins)


Hands-down my favorite leading lady. A burned out psychic a.k.a. middle-aged butch who rises from a pile of laundry like a phoenix from the ashes to take on zombie children, poodles, and Phyllis Diller.


THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (1985, Jack Bender)


I refuse to acknowledge a life in which this isn't watched every October since it came out.


THE TALL MAN (2012, Pascal Laugier)


What can I say, I got a bad case of the Beasles!


PUMPKINHEAD (1988, Stan Winston)


I first saw this when I was the age of Lance Henriksen's kid. Now I am older than Pumpkinhead and I would like to think we've both grown during this time.


TRIANGLE (2009, Christopher Smith)


This is my High Tension.


THE KISS (1988, Pen Densham)


National treasure, Meredith Salenger, with the help of an amazing eagle sweater, must fight for her life against her beautiful-witch-aunt Joanna Pacula. If you grew up in the '80s you were terrified of dying on an escalator. This movie shows you why!


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz)


When this movie pulls over and offers you a ride in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, you'll be saying "sure, why not" all the way to the end! You'll be so in love with the cast and the visuals that you won't even realize you're being surrounded... until it's too late!


JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993, Adam Marcus)


Body jumping, Jason Voorhees, and an endless parade of character actors?! I don't want to be right, when being wrong is this bad... I mean, good!