Monday, October 03, 2005

Monster Movie Mon. - My what big fangs you have

I am definitely not getting my money’s worth out of my Netflix subscription this month.

I’ve only seen one movie since last week’s post, and I think we all know what movie that was by now. Speaking of which, the initial box office estimates show that it came in #2 this week, taking in about $10.1 million. A pretty good take, considering the film itself was only about $40 million (50 with ad budget), and that it was on about a 1,000 fewer screens than the #1 movie. The real test is going to be its staying power; I’m curious to see how far the Browncoat fan base (I know both Papa L. and I plan to see it again) and good word of mouth can carry it. Papa L. is hoping for the return of the TV series, and I would love it if that’s what happened; as much as the movie rocked (did I mention that it rocked hard?), I would much rather have a full 22-ep season than another 2-hour movie. However, at this point I’ll take any Firefly/Serenity I can get.

Since I don’t have any more new movies to review, and since it’s now October, I thought I’d take the chance to talk a bit about some of my favorite horror flicks.

I’ve been a fan of horror movies for as long as I can remember. It’s probably the only genre in which I enjoy bad films almost as much as good ones. There’s just something about a cheesy, poorly acted horror movie that appeals to me. Not that I don’t prefer a well-made one, mind you. I’m also not much of a gore-hound; the blood and guts don’t bother me, but that’s generally not the biggest selling point for me. I like the creepiness factor, the tense moments, the inventive death scenes, the cool monster FX; a sense of humor in the film doesn’t hurt.

Today I’m going to talk a bit about my top five films from two prominent horror sub-genres: Vampire and Werewolf films.


Lost Boys: 80s horror film about a teenage vampire biker gang that stills holds up pretty well. Yes, I know how silly “teenage vampire biker gang” sounds, but like I said, it was the 80s. Plus, you gotta love any flick that has Jack Bauer, Richard Gilmore, Bill S. Preston Esq. and both Coreys. I think this film was my first glimpse into the depth of vampire lore (need for invitations, aversion to running water, etc.). Lots of creepy, and lots of funny.

Fright Night: 80s horror/comedy about a teen horror fan who becomes convinced his neighbor is a vampire, and enlists the help of an aging TV host to kill the vamp. Loved this movie as a kid, was one of my frequent rentals, can still remember bits of the closing song (surprise surprise). Outside of the more well known actors in the film (Roddy McDowell, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale), the character of the very creepy Evil Ed really stands out in my mind, so out of curiosity I looked him up on IMDB to see what he had done after this and the classically cheesy horror film 976-EVIL. And, well, let’s just say that I can’t really type most of the titles into a blog that’s going to be read by folks from my church, but that lots of them had the word “Gay” in them, and leave it at that, okay?

Martin: 70s horror from George A. Romero, this one straddles the line between Vamp and Slasher, as it follows a disturbed young man who is convinced he’s a vampire. Off-beat, and very well done, the thing that sticks out the most in my memory is Martin’s elderly relative from the Old Country chanting “Nosferatu! Nosferatu!” over and over again. I’ve been waiting years for a chance to imitate that chant, and I’m sure it’s going to pop up any day now. Any day now.

Wisdom of Crocodiles: An early Jude Law film, with Jude playing a very non-traditional vampire who only feeds on victims who have certain feelings for him. Not a lot of action, from what I remember, but the concept and plot development kept me hooked. Released in the U.S. as “Immortality,” but I like the original title better.

Underworld: Although this is nominally a werewolf/vampire combo, to me it’s the vampire sequences which were the most compelling. Yes, the whole vampire-as-aristocracy theme has been done to death now (thanks, Vampire: The Masquerade), but the way it was handled in this film helped raise it a notch above the others.


Silver Bullet: How can you not love an 80s Stephen King horror film about a kid in a souped-up wheelchair fighting werewolves? Especially when the kid is Corey Haim, and the guy who soups up the chair is Gary Busey, and the sheriff is none other than Locke from Lost? This was one of the films that had me convinced for years that the only way to do a good Stephen King film was to adapt his shorter work.

An American Werewolf in London: Probably my favorite werewolf film. Tons of dark humor in this one, which I always appreciate. Plus, some great transformation sequences. My only complaint is that the ending has always felt a bit rushed to me.

Dog Soldiers: Recent British film that was a straight-to-video release in the U.S. about a group of soldiers sent on a training mission only to find that they’re now being hunted by a pack of werewolves. This one is just a fun flick.

Ginger Snaps: Unleashed: Out of the three Ginger Snaps films, each of which revolves around a pair of lycanthropic sisters, this one, which finds surviving sister Brigitte locked up in an asylum after the death of Ginger, was my favorite. Why was it my favorite? Because of the exceedingly creepy performance of Tatiana Maslany as the exceedingly creepy inmate known only as Ghost, who becomes exceedingly creepily fixated on Brigitte. The character of Ghost makes the film.

The Company of Wolves: A beautifully shot film that tries to be a deep and artistic look at lycanthropy and the Red Riding Hood myth as a metaphor for puberty and sexual awakening, but ultimately just winds up being pretty. Have always hated the “it’s a dream but it’s not” cop-out of the structure, but there are so many wonderfully creepy moments that I can forgive it its weaknesses.

That’s all for today, but thanks to my borderline-OCD, I have now compiled multiple Top 5 Sub-Genre lists, and will be posting them throughout the month. Upcoming Movie Monster Monday genres include Slasher, Ghost Story, Zombies, SF Horror, Horror-Comedy, Giant Animals, and Franchises.


Anonymous said...

No love for Vampire's Kiss?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

First, let me assure you that I have much love for Vampire's Kiss. I went back and forth on including it here, but although it's nominally about vampiric behavior, I don't tend to think of it as a "vampire" film for some odd, unfathomable even to myself, reason. Instead, to me it leans more on the "dark horror-comedy" side of things, so I'll cover it when I get to those.