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 6, 2020

FAVE 20: Ben Raphael Sher

Welcome one and all (okay, welcome all except that one person--they know what they did) to the first special guest list of the month! Yes, all throughout SHOCKtober I'll be sprinkling in the fave 20s of various folks you either know or you should know and by the end of the month you will know, so no more excuses! Also just as an FYI: I did not include the films in any of the guest lists in the final tally. This is because I have not finished making my list yet. That's right. And if you're like "WHAT why do YOU get to wait so long?" well, my friends, that is called the power of having a BLOG. 
Also it just means that I have spent longer in list-making agony than any of you, so be warned: sometimes power comes with a price.

ANYWAY. About Ben! He is a writer and TV and podcast producer whose most recent project is AMC's Visionaries: Eli Roth's History of Horror. (Season Two launches on AMC on October 10th!) Ben is very much on my strange 70s/80s wavelength, by which I mean that Ben probably knows of the pleasures of a conversation about Marsha Mason whilst enjoying a cup of Nescafé whilst seated beneath a plant with giant fronds. Here's his list!

SUSPIRIA (1977, Dario Argento)

This movie is actually my memoir of my childhood but I’m not going to go into it. Kathy Acker feels the same way.


A movie underrated for its formal beauty, but also a necessary guide to life. Nancy is the leader, follow her. More than ever we need to know how to turn our back on evil forces and take away the power that we’ve given them. Vote.

CARRIE (1976, Brian De Palma)

What more can be said? In seventh grade I watched this movie every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now I can barely watch it because it actually feels like it contains all of the memories and feelings from that time.

THE FOG (1980, John Carpenter)

John Carpenter’s Magnolia. My cat is named after Stevie Wayne.

HALLOWEEN (1978, John Carpenter)

I really appreciate this film’s documentary-like depiction of suburban teenage life. The TV version is excellent because it has more discussion of blouse borrowing and reveals Annie’s messy bedroom. More character insight.

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

A movie about the Los Angeles of my dreams. Woody Allen shows this movie on a marquee in Annie Hall, arguing that it’s emblematic of Los Angeles’s lack of culture. He obviously hasn’t seen it. I’m embarrassed for him. What it does exemplify is Los Angeles’s quality of weird wonder, and the feeling you get here that the past hovers over everything.

LISA AND THE DEVIL (1973, Mario Bava)

The second half of the Annie Hall bill (in its butchered U.S. version, House of Exorcism). Nothing can compare. I feel like Lisa lately—traveling in an endless circle of nightmare-ish lost-ness. But everything is less beautiful and strangely, grossly erotic. I love beautiful decay—and no movie is more beautifully decayed than Lisa.

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980, Lucio Fulci)

PURE POETRY. Gore is my least favorite element in any Fulci film, and City of the Living Dead exemplifies why. The movie is so dripping with atmosphere that you can feel the cold mist emanating from the screen and smell the inside of the tomb. Like many Fulci movies, it feels like a Val Lewton film but presents a crazy nightmare world that is purely Fulci’s own. I also love an Upper West Side psychic and her apartment is bomb.

BURNT OFFERINGS (1976, Dan Curtis)

My mom once got very Karen Black-y about an Air BnB that my family stayed in on Cape Cod. But I love this movie for a million other reasons. It just makes me feel like it’s the ‘70s and I’m watching TV in the afternoon.

CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962, Herk Harvey)

I once took a date to see this film in the theater in New York. At one point, the main character Mary (Candace Hilligoss, in a brilliant performance) acted so weird and I identified with her SO much that I laughed. I don’t remember if it was the scene where she’s shopping and everything around her goes silent, or if it was the one where she throws herself at the creepy guy who lives in her boarding house and then is like “Get away!” Anyway, after the movie my date said he didn’t like it because it was “campy and dated.” I never saw him again and I don’t remember his name and I hope I never do. This movie has lots of things that I love. Driving at night listening to the radio, organs, beautiful abandoned places, a carnival, souls, loneliness, department stores...

THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971, Stephanie Rothman)

My Los Angeles ‘70s AM radio swingers vampire desert dream. Stephanie Rothman is brilliant, always.

THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980, John Hough and Vincent McEveety)

Please see my review at the flawless KinderTrauma!


I can’t choose just one. Anyway they are one cohesive vision! Each is perfect in its own way. I have written about Poltergeist II: The Other Side on my blog. It was the first horror movie I ever saw, and I still think it’s the scariest in the series. The original makes me cry, especially when I miss my parents on the opposite coast!  Poltergeist III is a visionary avant-garde masterpiece that reminds me of “mythopoeic” experimental films like Maya Deren’s brilliant Meshes of the Afternoon, where people wander around having existential visual journeys that meld the interior and the exterior (“Outside in!” as Tangina randomly screams!). I’ve also written about it at KinderTrauma.

FRIDAY THE 13th (1980, Sean S. Cunningham)

Another movie whose visual panache, delightful character development, and overwhelming atmosphere get overlooked. Unlike a lot of my favorite slasher films that I’ve seen two million times it still scares me when I watch it alone at night. Pamela Voorhees is the Miss Hannigan of horror movies. I fear her and I am her. Young people drive me insane.


In the mid-‘90s I plucked this off the video shelf (the Continental big box!) in suburban upstate New York. It blew my mind and I couldn’t find out anything about it. For years I looked for an IMDB user review. Nothing. I couldn’t meet a soul who had seen it. It felt like a mysterious projection from a haunted world. It’s crazy to me how DISCUSSED it is now, and that it has always been regarded as a classic. In the very early days of the internet you just couldn’t know. Delphine Seyrig might give the best performance in a horror movie ever? I guess that’s impossible to say.


I love a lush slasher film.

THE SHINING (1980, Stanley Kubrick)

I never guessed that my life would one day feel like the love child of The Shining and Flowers in the Attic, but here we are in 2020, watching Summer of ’42 on TV endlessly and going crazy. My husband and I watch this movie all the time. The other day he was talking to a salesperson on the phone about buying a pan or something, and he was so overly conversational that I realized he was like Shelley Duvall talking to the guy on the other end of the C.B. radio. Shelley Duvall is the main reason that this movie is terrifying and immersive—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! But then, it has like 8 million awe inspiring elements.

PROM NIGHT (1980, Paul Lynch)

I LOVE a slasher movie where nobody gets killed for an hour while people deal with life problems. The parts of Prom Night that people call “boring” are my favorite parts—Jamie Lee and her boyfriend walking by the ocean and talking about their problems! Riveting! When I was a little boy I took a bunch of flashlights and covered them with cellophane to try and replicate the glamour of the prom in this film and engage my sister in a rousing game of Prom Night. She wasn’t interested at all.

CURTAINS (1983, Richard Ciupka)

I want to watch this movie forever and also live in it. I want Audra to be a real film that I can own on VHS. Every time I write or talk about movies I have to reveal something sexually embarrassing about myself, and today’s revelation is that I find John Vernon really sexy in this film. I love this movie because it’s kind of like A Chorus Line in a snowy house with murders. Everyone singles out the skating scene (rightfully), but I am here to praise the costume shop stalking scene which is terrifying and expressionist. I am choosing this as my Samantha Eggar movie—but The Brood! The Brood! It makes me feel so validated in my anger. My kitty Stevie is my brood.

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971, John D. Hancock)

Upstate New York is creepy and magical, and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death understands. Anyone who talks to themselves and isn’t sure whether they’re paranoid or the world is out to get them understands this movie (Jessica reminds me of another favorite character, Holly, played by Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters. It’s an East coast type!). I wish that Zohra Lampert had done many more movies—but her performances in this and Opening Night are worth 100,000 normal performances. I’m realizing as I write this that I’ve left Rosemary’s Baby--the seminal “am I paranoid or is everyone around me evil” movie AND the seminal 1960s New York movie--off my list, which is impossible. But does Rosemary’s Baby really need to be on another list?

If I can have runners up, they are: Horror Hotel (1960); Basket Case (1982); Creepshow (1982); The Hearse (1980); Black Christmas (1974); Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972); Home for the Holidays (1972); The 7th Victim (1943); Curse of the Cat People (1944); When a Stranger Calls (1979, especially the Colleen Dewhurst parts).


Nicholas Kaufmann said...

This is a great list! I would let Ben program a horror movie night anytime!

AE said...

This is indeed a glorious list. Nerak!

Mighty Jim said...

I love this list, but how can I watch any of these movies? I'd love it if you could point me toward wherever they can be found as part of the article (especially streaming sites), because it's 2020 and I just don't have the energy to do the work myself.

Stacie Ponder said...

You can check which is a streaming database that tells you where movies are streaming! That is absolutely the most I will do to help you, as it is also 2020 for me :)

Susandoku said...

BURNT MOTHER FORKING OFFERINGS, BABY!!! Serving you Karen Black. Serving you Bette Davis. Serving you an attic. It. Gets. No. Better.

goblin said...

Burnt Offerings is one of the greatest haunted house movies ever and it deserves way more recognition, so I'm pleased to see it make an appearance here.

The first time I encountered the film was years (at this point, perhaps even decades) ago while I was channel-hopping in the middle of the night. I tuned in just in time to catch the last ten minutes or so, and even though I knew absolutely nothing about the plot, I was left scared out of my mind. A couple of years later, I managed to watch the whole movie and it turned out to be just as good as its terrifying final act had promised.

Ben said...

Nicholas: My dream would be to program a movie night! Outside of my own apartment.

AE: There is a sushi place near my apartment called NERAK and every time I see it I cry "KA-REN! MY KA-REN!"

Mighty Jim: If Amazon, ITunes, YouTube, and Shudder don't have it, you probably can't stream it without getting sketchy...

Susandoku: BURNT OFFERINGS may have the best movie attic. Better even than the one with flowers in it. So many creepy pictures. I love the homage in HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. WHO LIVES IN THAT ROOM?!

Goblin: BURNT OFFERINGS solidarity! Discovering it when channel hopping in the middle of the night is THE way to discover it. Although the old '80s VHS cover was great...

Mighty Jim said...

Thanks everybody! Justwatch seems like a winner. But don't turn this site into "Breakfast in the Ruins," where every movie can only be seen if you track down the last remaining 35 mm workprint in an Indonesian flea market. My fear of missing out is too great.

Stacie Ponder said...

Just Watch is the greatest invention in recent memory. A Lifesaver! And listen, this site is 15+ years old. Whatever it was going to become, it surely already is! :D

Astroboymn said...

I know you Ben, but I feel like I know you. A full 10 of the items on your list are on mine. And yes, the "boring parts" are so very often the best parts. <3