Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The AFI pisses me off.

Recently, AFI (http://www.afi.com/10top10/) aired a tv show called "10 Top 10", in which they chose ten genres and picked what they thought (?) were the best ten films within that genre.

Besides the serious disagreements I had with the films and/or their order of placement on said lists- (Chaplin's 'City Lights' as best romantic comedy? Ugh.... '2001' as best Sci-Fi flick? Kubrick hard-on alert!... 'Raging Bull' over 'Rocky' for best sports film? And no 'Seabiscuit'? OY! ) - they did not include the HORROR genre. This just flat out pissed me off. The fact that "Courtroom Dramas" made the list just amazed me - and perhaps they thought including separate categories for sci-fi and mystery would pacify all us horror-hounds.
I think not.
I mean, how about Psycho? Silence of the Lambs? Dracula? Halloween? Hell, what about JAWS for pete's sake? These are all major milestones in movie cinema. They really missed the mark here.

(To be fair, they also didn't include action, adventure, musicals, martial arts, documentary, romance, foreign, straight-out dramas, childrens.... wondering if there might be a part 2 coming along? Including the horror genre, that makes ten more...)

I didn't want to mess with what the ten most influential horror movies might be - that's a rough list to conjure. Too many great movies.
So I thought I would take a stab (no pun intended) at listing the ten horror movies that most made a lasting impression on me throughout my life. I've got nearly 40 years of memories... well, make that 28 years... don't think I watched many before the age of 12)

So, here goes. In my personal viewing order (not order of release) as best I can remember....

10) Friday the 13th - Ahh... my first horror movie and was it a doozy. I was 12. The folks went out for the evening and I was home alone for one of the first times at night. Showtime was having some kind of horror-fest and guess what was on? Yepper. I don't think I slept for a week. But I was exhillerated and psyched for more. It was only the beginning. For Kevin Bacon, too.

9) When a Stranger Calls - Who thought up this movie? Holy crap. When you're like, 13 and just starting to babysit - then you see this movie? The first half hour of this could not be scarier or make a bigger impression on a young girl. "Have you checked the children?".... maybe that is why I never wanted kids?

8) A Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy when he still scared the pants off of people instead of making them pee their pants with laughter. I think I saw this at a slumber party or something.
All I know is when Freddy was in that dank wet alley and he had those creepy long arms and made that squeaky sound with his finger-knives.. whoa.
And I gotta give Freddy props for killing the beautiful Johnny Depp in such a bloody fine fashion. It was my 'first time' with Johnny.... and my most recent was Sweeney Todd.
We've come full circle, honey.

7) JAWS - This is actually in my top three favorite movies (the other two being #1 Sideways and #3 Forrest Gump) with good reason. It is a fantastic movie. Who hasn't heard the famous line about the bigger boat, or how Jaws is to a beach vacation as Psycho is to taking a shower. You just don't wanna.
To this day, I cannot be near the ocean's edge without thinking of Brody leaning over the edge of the boat and throwing the chum in the water and old Brucey suddenly surfacing, mouth open - nothing but teeth. Farewell and adieu, to you fair spanish ladies.....

6) Halloween - Michael Myers rocks my world. He's my favorite horror movie villian and I do believe, given the chance, he would kick Jason and Freddy's sorry asses. I have watched every incantation of Mikey in all his many sequels, including Rob Zombie's most recent, but of course this one holds up the best, with good reason. The scene where Laurie is in her bedroom and looks out the window and sees Michael standing in amongst the laundry on the line... then he's gone.... It is so much more effective than any other piece of dreck movie that has come along since.

5) Psycho 2 - I love the original Psycho, it's one of my favorites. So when this came out I had to see it, and did so at the drive in with a few friends. I was wondering what Norman had been up to for the last 22 years. A well-done sequel, in my opinion. Nothing really special about it, but Perkins is just so effective in the role, and the score by Jerry Goldsmith is one of my favorites.
Pre-retirement Meg Tilly does well as the niece of original victim Marion (Janet Leigh) Crane.
You have to wonder, during the course of watching this movie - is Norman up to his old tricks again?

4) Hellraiser - Clive Barker is a nutjob. What on earth made him think this shit up? Thank goodness he did, cause the world would be so much more boring without his inventive take on the sadomasochistic bloodbath that is this movie. Seriously - it is a deranged look at pain with pleasure and all things in between. He created an icon in Pinhead, who was actually not even supposed to be a main character. With a storyline more demented than Charles Manson, this is one not to be missed. I can still close my eyes and see that dude being ripped apart with chains and hooks. Even 'Saw' doesn't have that visceral of an effect.

3) The Blair Witch Project - After seeing this movie, I couldn't go to my basement to let my dog outside. Seriously. And I have no idea why. The shaky, motion-sickness inducing camera shots can be misleading and distracting for some, but once you put that aside - this film will get to you. You start believing - though you know for a FACT it is totally fiction - that there just might be something out there in those woods. I have never looked at our camp in the northern woods quite the same after seeing this. Matter of fact I'm not sure I've even went into those woods since this film...
The very last scene of the movie, for most everyone I have talked to, is so disturbing. It really is the icing on the cake. Love it or hate it, it makes an impression.

2) Dawn of the Dead (2004) - What a fantastic re-make. I love it. I could watch it again and again. What the director did with this Romero staple is upgrade it to today's standards. I simply love what they did with this. The cast is outstanding, the music is perfect, the vamped up storyline rocked, and the zombies are upgraded and apparently on acid. No more lumbering around aimlessly with arms outstretched... these dudes are flying at you at maximum speed.
Favorite part? The dancing to Richard Cheese's version of Disturbed's 'Down with the Sickness'.

1) Shaun of the Dead - Wow, I love this movie. Absolutely meant to be a comedy, it has so many great elements in it, as well as some full-on gore. Sharp, ingenious, and totally witty with a vengence, it is a bloody good time to say the least.
Shaun is just trying to save his friends and family from becoming the living dead. I bought this on a whim, before even renting it - one of the very few times I have ever done that - and it worked out for me. I can quote lines until the cows come home.

"Ed: Any zombies out there?
Shaun: Don't say that!
Ed: What?
Shaun: That!
Ed: What?
Shaun: The zed-word. Don't say it!
Ed: Why not?
Shaun: Because it's ridiculous!
Ed: Alright... are there any out there though?
Shaun: [looking out the door mail slot, he sees an empty street] I don't see any. Maybe it's not as bad as all that.
Shaun: [turns his head and sees a pack of zombies] Oh, no, wait, there they are.

So anyway, those are my ten. Not the ten best of all time by any stretch, and not my ten favorites... just ten movies that I will never forget. They have all been influential and made me the messed up individual I am today.


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