The Shallows (2016)
Blake Lively V Shark. What more could you ask for? Forget the script and just get into the battle between woman and shark. Good little bit of entertaining, edge of your seat action fun to pass 90 minutes of your time.
Jaws 2 (1978)
Many horror enthusiast say 'Oh Jaws 2 is much more fun and less boring that the original'. That's not true though is it? They make two hours feel like three! Having not seen this since I was little, I was expecting a zippy little action packed 'When Animals Attack' movie. What did I get? Roy Scheider pondering and pensive with no particular reason or suspense for what seemed like at least half of this movie. When the cameras finally made it to the sea with the shark it was very entertaining. Forty Five minutes of fat could have been trimmed off this film to make it more watchable. Totally disappointing. The VHS nerds get it wrong once again. Let's face it most Sequels suck.
The House Of Whipcord (1970)
This is the sort of thing I remember horror was when I was little. Grim Old scary people in dilapidated mansions who were scary and doing strange things. A beautiful young French model who had previously been arrested for public nudity is lured to a country mansion by her new enigmatic boyfriend. It turns out to be some kind of renegade prison for permissive ladies though. This is some disturbing shit right here as many transgressive shenanigans take place. Is it just me or are there Nazi vibes happening here? House of Whipcord is put together with finesse and sophistication for such a low budget exploitation flick. I highly recommend.
Friday The 13th (1980)
This is a tight lil slasher that does exactly what it says on the tin. A summer camp at Crystal Lake is re-opening after tragedy closed the camp down 20 years earlier. The camp counsellors arrive to make the camp ready for its reopening. Yet they have been forewarned by the town's nutbar (Walt Gorney) that they are all doomed and he is not wrong as the gory bodycount soon begins. Everything is right on here including the pacing, the tone, the characters, the kills and the funny 80s gore FX to place it into the top echelon of this reviled sub-genre. How frightening is Mrs Voorhees (Betsy Palmer)?
Another fine Pete Walker directed horror movie (House Of Whipcord (1970), Frightmare (1974), House Of Mortal Sin (1978)). Schizo is a proto-slasher-thriller with a score from the fabulous Stanley Myers. This was when horror was more about adults than teens which makes it so refreshing in 2019. Set amongst the mid 70s posh London set where a beautiful young figure skater Samantha (Lynne Frederick) is stalked by a creepy old man (Jack Watson). A body count begins as we wonder if Samantha is being gaslit. Why is Pete Walker not a massive legend amongst exploitation, cult and horror movie fans? He's made at least four classic movies and probably should be as rated as someone like the fabulous Jack Hill.
Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)
Quite possibly more entertaining than the first instalment. Along with Aliens perhaps this is the exception to the sequel rule. Part 2 has a similar premise to the original, a bunch of camp counsellors are setting up a camp next door to the old crystal Lake site where Part 1 took place 5 years earlier. Bloody mayhem ensues and the new camp never really gets off the ground as Mrs Voorhees' son Jason is on the loose with murder on his mind. Look out for the spectacular wheelchair death scene. There are many unanswered questions though. What happened to Ted (Stuart Charno) the nerdy drunk guy who stays at the bar? or Terri (Kirsten Baker) the skinny dipping chick? & most importantly why did Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor) choose those gross brown undies as her best sexy time knickers? The soundtrack from Harry Manfredini really adds to the outstanding final battle between Jason and the final girl Ginny (Amy Steele). Is this the second best final girl scene ever after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The most notorious film made during my lifetime. Is this the most terrifying movie ever made? I really am starting to think that might be the case even though it's also a little bit funny. Just the sound of this film puts me on an edge that is too much for a human to bare. Strangely enough there is very little gore or violence onscreen, most of it is implied. So it's no mean feat that Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most horrifying movies in the history of film. Brother and sister Sally and Franklin Hardesty set out on a road trip in a Kombi van with their friends Jerry, Kirk and Pam to see if their grandfather's grave has been robbed. They pick up a disturbed hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) then quickly turf him from the van after some abhorrent behaviour. Things start to get more weird when they turn up at a gas station that has no petrol, then weirder still as they approach the farm house. The slaughter soon begins. Do movie critics ever discuss the cinematography because it's stunning and sometimes quite beautiful. Marilyn Burns should have won the Oscar for her outstanding and gut wrenching performance as Sally the final girl. That final Iconic scene of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) flailing around maniacally with the chainsaw above his head in the sunset is so memorable, it's embedded into to my brain forever.
*Gunnar Hansen wrote a good book about the making of and continuing legacy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre called Chain Saw Confidential (2013) which I recommend if you're a fan of the movie.
Silent Rage (1982)
In recent years I may have been converted to diggin me some Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson but fuck me here's is where I draw the line - Chuck Norris. I think I watched over half of this movie and then thought 'Wait a minute, why am I watching this shite. This is the worst.'
Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)
I reckon I've watched this around twenty times in the last ten years. It has quite possibly become my favourite film of all time. Jessica has recently been discharged from a mental hospital so her and her husband decide to make a new beginning outside of New York by purchasing an old house in the bucolic countryside of Connecticut. Their new provincial town and back country are full of strange, unkind, creepy and possibly monstrous people. The rural idyll gradually begins to close in on Jessica in a sinister and nightmarish manner. She starts to question her mental stability and becomes unhinged or does she? The ambiguousness of whether or not the the locals are ghosts, demons or vampires or whatever doesn't matter if it's all in Jessica's head does it? This film is so atmospheric, eerie and compelling despite what detractors might say. The acting of Zohra Lampert who plays Jessica is phenomenal. I have very personal reasons for being so touched by this film. Lampert's depiction of someone having been through a breakdown and still experiencing all the alienation, paranoia, phobia, delusions and mania of mental illness is so incredibly nuanced, I cannot believe it's actually acting and not real. Zohrah Lambert's performance has to be one of the greatest performances of mental instability ever captured on celluloid.
Mad Max Fury Road (2015)
...er...I dunno...just don't think I was in the right frame of mind for this or it might just be complete and utter shite. I'll reserve my judgement until I've watched it again, which could be a while...like twenty years maybe.
More mental illness wonderfully portrayed on film. This time by the fabulous Cathy Deneuve. Carol Ledoux (Deneuve) is a young Belgian woman living in 60s London just before psychedelia happened. Carol is depressed, detached and forlorn. She has trouble dealing with everyday things like work, paying the rent, interest from men etc. She becomes unhinged, agoraphobic, starts hallucinating and it all becomes quite grim. Repulsion is another Roman Polanski gem that gets better each time I watch it.
*I love movies shot in London by foreign directors like Blow Up (1966), Deadly Sweet (1967) Deep End (1970), What Have You Done To Solange? (1972) etc. in the same way I enjoy films shot in Australia by non-Australian directors like They're a Weird Mob (1966), Wake In Fright (1971), Walkabout (1971) et al. You get an outsiders skewed but honest point of view of certain national characteristics that might be too close to the bone for an actual citizen to depict on celluloid.
It's been a very long time since my eyeballs have been set on this movie so I was not expecting this to hold up in any way in 2019 but Hellraiser's a really enjoyable and unique movie. A weird sort of modern day gory S&M vampire/monster romance kinda thing (aren't they all?). This quintessential 80s occult classic includes a puzzlebox, hell, creatures called cenobites, a resurrection, a haunted house, different dimensions etc. 'Come To Daddy.'
The Thing (1982)
I've been thinking for a few years now 'Why is everyone so keen on The Thing these days? Wasn't that the world's most boring film?' So I finally braced myself to watch it again after over 25 years but I must have had John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece confused with 1951's The Thing From Another World or something else entirely. Sci-fi-Action-Psychological-Horror doesn't get much better than The Thing. A bunch of American research scientists in Antarctica have their lives turned upside down when someone from the neighbouring Norwegian research station mysteriously shows up in a helicopter trying to shoot a runaway dog. It turns out an imitative alien virus is lurking in the icy wilderness making everybody in the camp nervous and vulnerable. Conditions then become very unsettling and tense for the rest of the movie. This film has aged like fine wine. I now totally understand why so many film buffs are obsessed with The Thing. The special FX, action, ensemble cast and cinematography are sensational as is the minimal Morricone does Carpenter score. I keep being surprised at how gross and gory 80s movies were. They seem more extreme now than they did back in the day. Were MacReady (Kurt Russell) or Childs (Keith David) The Thing and does it even matter?
Friday The 13th Part III (1982)
It's probably not as good as the first two instalments but it's still more fun than a Tarkovsky film innit? The opening tune is Friday The 13th goes electro which is is outfuckingstanding. Starts out very dodgy, quite funny and takes it's time to get to the usual maniacal killing spree from Jason. This time we don't have camp counsellors. Instead we get a motley bunch of friends going to a holiday house for the weekend. Harold (Steve Susskind) from the Crystal Lake store is one of the grossest characters in 80s film. He eats fish food and is later filmed sitting on a toilet drinking while doing number 2s or what can only be described as plops (The Hysteria Continues Podcast attest to this as well). Why this scene is included I dunno. Some highlights include a nasty biker gang wearing crazy 80s fashions, a mental eye-popping kill and a pot smoking hippy couple who seem way to old to be hanging out with these doomed holidaying youngsters. Part III is probably not as gory as the previous two entries and it was made for 3D, making many of the scenes redundant for my normal telly. Still if you like the first two you'll probably enjoy this.
The Perfection (2019)
A very entertaining and inventive modern 'Horror Movie right there on my TV.' The Mrs thought it was gonna be a bit like The Black Swan (2010). I thought it was going to be a virus outbreak movie. It turned out to be much much more. The Perfection was unpredictable, didn't miss a beat and ended in a place I was totally not expecting. If only directors and producers would take note that 90 minutes is the perfect movie length. Best thriller/horror of 2019?