It’s my blog, I can make useless lists if I wanna

18 Oct

I like my horror movies with ghosts, zombies, or monsters. Stay away from me with your serial killers and escaped mental patients. With just a few exceptions (well, just one I can think of now: Scream) those just don’t scare/entertain me. There are only so many options for chasing someone, and seeing someone tortured just makes me feel gross-icky, not fun-creeped. And when the baddie who is chasing/torturing you  is mortal, if you aren’t gouging at eyes and biting everything in reach, then I don’t feel bad for you, victim. But ghosts and zombies and monsters? They don’t have delicate windpipes and kneeable testiculars. How can you kill that which is undead? How can you escape that which can move through walls? YOU CANNOT.

Even within those genres I have my peeves. I want ghosts who show their dead, rotting faces. Creaking in the house and whispering on baby monitors ain’t enough. Fast zombies are preferable to slow zombies. And while I reference Shaun of the Dead on average of three times a day (in my head. Not out loud. I don’t want just anyone to know that my idea of a romantic nightspot and an impenetrable fortress are the same thing.), this time of year I want my zombies to be brain-eating-death-machines, not funny-zombies and definitely not commentaries-on-society-zombies. Monsters should not be sympathetic or have any lofty motives. Gore can be a’plenty, but must be effective (a good eyeball-dangling-out-of-socket goes a long way).

Being as I’m feeling all seasonal, I decided to make a quick list of my favorite more obscure horror movies that fit these criteria. I’m in no way any kind of horror-phile . . . like I said, I have very specific wants from my scary movies, and I’m not really super picky as long as they meet those needs. I loved Paranormal Activity and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, even though I’ve seen both eye-rolled at by TRUE horror fans. And it’s not like I don’t go for mainstream scares (<3 u 4-eva, 28 Days L8r!). But the wonderful, wacky world of netflix streaming has given me some hidden gems, and I just thought I would share them with you, o’ internetly friends!


Skeleton Key: I was very skeptical of this, mostly because of Kate Hudson. But it also has Peter Sarsgaard, Sarsgaarding it up, and a great southern plantation atmosphere. Spanish moss ups any creep factor by 5, at least. I can’t say much more about it without giving away spoilers, but it’s worth watching. I begrudgingly admired Kate’s ability to kick ass, and the story is original and twisty. 

The Orphanage (el Orfanato): I’m not sure how obscure this really is, because I roll with a crowd who would see this kind of movie no problemo. But I’ve met plenty of people who claim to like scary movies who haven’t seen it, so. Ghost children. One with a creepy mask. In a Spanish mansion (sadly moss-less, but lots of other atmospheric dreariness). A few scenes that legit made me yelp and/or jump in the theater, and that I still watch through my fingers on rewatch. Buenisimo.

Poltergeist: This lil’ movie was produced by some kid named Steve Spoilburger? Spillberg? Something like that. I believe he went on to make somewhat of a name for himself, in a certain crowd? Ok, so this isn’t obscure, but I hadn’t watched it in years, and it definitely stands the test of time. Especially the end scenes, and that tree! Zelda Rubinstein pretty much created the spooky-little-old-person soothsayer/medium genre with this role. So, yes, if you haven’t seen this because it was too old by the time you go to a ripe scary-movie watching age, it’s still worth checking out. The sequels are also worth watching, because they are so laughably awful and terrible.

Watcher in the Woods: This movie is the reason I’m still scared of mirrors. When I was a kid, my mom told me that if I thought a movie was too scary, I should just turn off the sound, because scary music is 90% of a scary scene. I tried that during this movie’s scariest scene. It didn’t work. And it was a KID’S MOVIE. It’s not quite as scary now, so it might be that added boost of nostalgia-fear that makes it work for me, but it’s still a ridiculously campy and insane movie.

The Frighteners: I have never met anyone else who has seen this movie (AND YES I ASK EVERYONE I MEET). It’s Peter Jackson and Micheal J. Fox and some urban fantasy before it was popular. It’s got a bit of a corny love story that I could do without, but it’s frantic and dark and–while not super-duper-scary–it has plenty of ghosts and spooky tension.

Session 9: Abandoned mental hospital? Check. Scottish accented main character? Check. Disembodied voices? Check check. Disturbing medical records? Check. Inner turmoil and outer drama amongst the protagonists? Checkity check check. Plot holes? Check. But still worth seeing.

Dead Silence: Another thing I get annoyed with in horror tropes are the scary dolls. I mean, they add spooky atmosphere, but you can’t tell me that Chuckie, a toy-sized toy, could overpower whoever he overpowered in that movie (full disclosure: haven’t seen that since I was a teen. But I thought it was dumb then.). Dead Silence is a strong exception to this annoyance. First, ventriloquist dummies are scarier than regular dolls. Their moving eyes, and how their mouth parts can fall open like a corpse-mouth might have something to do with it (for me at least). Second, there is more backstory to it than a simple doll possessed by spirit thing that usually is the case for scary dolls (see Poltergeist, et al). Also, this movie was made by the Saw guys, pre-Saw, so you know there’s some original nastiness (full disclosure: I haven’t seen Saw, and never plan to, but I respect how successful it is).


Isolation: Stephen and I watched this last year Halloween-time, and I just asked him “what was the name of that movie with the Irish mutant cows?” Isolation. Isolation is the name of the movie with the Irish mutant cows, and it is very well done for an Irish mutant cow movie. It’s very graphic, but mostly only in the name of plot-enhancing, and it uses mud very effectively. You haven’t seen mutants till you’ve seen Irish cow mutants.

Dolls: Also goes against my toys-aren’t-that-scary bias. But I claim the Ellen Degeneres defense here: A lot of anything is scary. A thousand lambs are scarier than one leopard without legs. A creepy mansion worth of dolls, working in unison, is scarier than one possessed demon toy. It’s campy in all the best ways, and manages to be goofy while still being scary.

The Thing: Another non-obscure one, I know, I know. But with new interest in the pre-quel, I had to shout out to the original. For my money, one of the best endings to a movie ever, and so, so disgusting throughout. And no stupid romantic subplots! Loses points for hurting dogs, gets points for making the dog-hurting look so completely fake that it’s not really an issue. 


The Children: Take the Rage virus, make it only applicable to children, and then turn those children on their own parents. And make the children still smart, only evil-smart now. Bonus points for isolated setting, awesome pacing, and not being afraid to show kids being gruesomely hurt.

Trick R Treat: This could have fit under any of these categories, actually. It’s a bunch of intertwined vignettes that all take place on the same Halloween night in the same town. The stories are fun and disturbing, and don’t drag out the tension to fill 80 minutes, but get right to the good stuff. Some are unpredictable stories with twists, and some are traditional urban legend kind of stories that still are fun to watch. Grab bag! It’s like going trick-or-treating yourself, and coming home with a mixed bucket of candy, but leaving out the lame dum dum lollipops. Only king-sized chocolate bars of fun-filled screams! 


3 Responses to “It’s my blog, I can make useless lists if I wanna”

  1. vivren October 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Wow, I’m totally going to queue most of these and watch them! Except The Orphanage, which I own, and The Thing, which I’ve seen a couple time, especially now that is it playing on TV like, all the time. Also, The Dolls because I was afraid of dolls when I was little and I still don’t like them very much because I think they’re super gross. A movie about them coming to life and killing people might not be that great.

    • camalittle October 20, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      We saw The Orphanage together! Awww. You probably shouldn’t see The Dolls, though it’s pretty campy so wouldn’t be too scary. They only kill people who have (spoiler!) lost their sense of childhood wonder, so. They would just have to take one look at Rupert and they’d know you were ok.

      Your Mimi icon cracks me up every time. So vicious!

    • camalittle October 20, 2011 at 12:36 am #

      PS-I think you’ll really like The Children!

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