Monday, October 17, 2005

Monster Movie Mon. - Slice Like a Psycho, Cut Like a Laser Beam

Continuing on with my Halloween movie theme, let's hit on a genre that I almost always enjoy and one that I rarely do: Slashers and Sci-Fi

Body Count Bingo

Out of all of the horror genres, this is the one that has the potential to be the cheesiest, but also the one with the potential to freak me out the most. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc., I can laugh off. Psycho killers? Not so much. If I watch one of these at home, it usually doesn't faze me; however, if I watch one of these at night and then have to walk outside, alone, in the dark . . . much jumpiness ensues. A few of the more well known films won't be showing up here, as they will be covered in my "favorite horror series" list on Halloween.

Halloween: Best of the old-school slasher films. Yes, it set the dangerous precedent of "no matter what we do, he just won't die!" which would come to haunt the genre over the years, but the idea of Michael Myers as this unstoppable force of nature made it work incredibly well in this film. I always liked the creepy score as well.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Considering the near-mythic status the original film has obtained, I was pretty surprised the first time I saw; in terms of slasher films, it was really pretty tame, gore-wise. That didn't lessen my enjoyment of the film, of course. Tons of creepy characters help propel the film, especially the near-mummified Grandpa. Creeps me out every time.

Scream: First (and, perhaps not coincidently, best) of the overly-self-aware-and-self-referential horror films. Found just the right mix of humor, thrills, and pop culture for me.

High Tension: Looking forward to seeing the original, uncut and undubbed version on DVD. Although I didn't particularly care for the ending the first time I saw it, the more I thought and read about it, the more I wanted to see it again to see if my opinion changed the second time through. Because, up until the end, I was totally hooked; quite possibly the tensest movie I've ever seen. Pretty brutal at times, but it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

Sleepaway Camp: On the whole, just your average "oh no, somebody's killing the campers!" flick. Fairly well done, but nothing super exciting. So what merits its place on this list? The ending. The big twist ending. The big "holy crap, what were they smoking when they came up with that?!?!" ending. If you want to know what the ending was, just ask The Mag, who still carries the psychological scars with her to this day.

Four Aliens and a Cyborg

There's sometimes a thin line between Sci-Fi and Horror, a line that the Sci-Fi Channel seems intent on rubbing away completely. Now, there aren't too many SF/Horror films that I enjoy (the pain of the cheesy SF aspects often outweighing the fun of the cheesy Horror aspects), but the ones that I do, I usually enjoy a lot.

John Carpenter's The Thing: Absolutely love this movie, one of those that I feel compelled to re-watch periodically. It's the ultimate "we're stranded, and one of us isn't what he seems" movie, as the alien creature begins to replace the crew members one by one. Some great alien effects; the severed-head-turned-spider-crab thing left a big impression on me as a little kid.

Pitch Black: The movie that helped bring Vin Diesel to the forefront in Hollywood, but I'll try to forgive it for that. It's just got such a great concept, not to mention a small role by Claudia "Aeryn Sun on Farscape" Black. Bonus points for having the final survivors not be precisely who I thought they would be.

Alien: Not too long ago, I watched all of the Alien movies again in preparation for AvP. To my surprise, one of the ones I always loved didn't hold up as well over time (Aliens), while I discovered some hidden depths of entertainment in the two I didn't particularly care for the first time around (Alien3, Alien Resurrection). Not so surprising, however, was that this, the one that started it all, is still far and away the best of the series. I'm still bummed I missed out on seeing it on the big screen when it got re-released a couple of years ago.

Jason X: Now, I'll be talking about the Friday the 13th movies as a whole in my series list, but I couldn't talk about SF horror without discussing the film which I will always think of as "Jason in Space." Went to see it at the theater with the Core Four Book Monkeys, and had a blast. Very funny movie, but intentionally so. They knew it was a ludicrous concept, and had fun with it. And even if the rest of the film had been crap, it all would have been worthwhile just for the holodeck Camp Crystal Lake sequence, featuring the nubile young fans of beer, pot, and premarital sex, and the side-splittingly funny method cyber-Jason chose to dispose of them. Well, side-splittingly funny to me, your mileage may vary.

The Faculty: A lesser variation on the body snatcher theme, but something about this one appealed to me. I chalk it up to a likeable cast, and a fun script. Its place on the list here is tenuous; it's highly possible that there's a superior SF/Horror film that's just slipped my mind.