Saturday, October 31, 2009

Horror Hotlist of Sam Barrett (No Through Road)


Sam Barrett, the director of the excellent indie Aussie thriller No Through Road (read my review of it here) has agreed to supply us with his list of Top Ten horror movies.  Although he was quick to point out: "I'm always discovering new films so lists turn out to be historical documents after a few months."  Regardless, here are his favorite films of the Right Now.

And when you're done reading, be sure to check out the official webpage for No Through Road, then get off your keister and buy the damn thing!  You won't regret it!

1. Suspiria (Argento; 1977)
As frightening and nonsensical as any true nightmare I’ve had. Gorgeous Bava inspired imagery, wonderfully operatic set pieces and pumping music...what else do you need? The purest exploration of fear the cinema has to offer.

2. Dressed to Kill (DePalma; 1980)
DePalma’s dizzying camera work and the ridiculous pulp nature of the story make this one of my favourite suspense shockers. The elevator scene is a paragon of suspense filmmaking. On a less cerebral note, Nancy Allen seducing Michael Caine is forever etched into my brain as a red hot moment. Nancy, you naughty girl!

3. Re-Animator (Gordon; 1985)
This movie is comparative with The Wizard of Oz in its ability to put a smile on the face of all who watch it. The endless parade of grotesque gore effects are matched only by Jeffrey Combs’ glorious (and hilarious) performance as Herbert West. The scene in which a Re-Animated body attempts to perform cunnilingus on a hot blonde is a ‘jaw on the floor’ moment.

4. Halloween (Carpenter; 1978)
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this film? Simplicity in visual style (thanks in part to Howard Hawks), narrative concision and an effective score lend this film an almost transcendent quality. The final twist is the ultimate horror film denouement and is only slightly undone by the awful sequels that followed. Don’t fear the reaper!

5. I Tre Volti Della Paura [AKA Black Sabbath] (Bava; 1963)
Bava’s look is often imitated but never matched. The’ Wurdulak’ segment alone is one of the greatest examples of atmospheric horror ever created. ‘The Drop of Water’ is still absolutely terrifying. Every fan of horror must bow to the maestro.

6. The Wicker Man (Hardy; 1973)
This movie is truly upsetting and odd. The creepy cheeriness of Summerisle is what really turns my stomach. The deluded villagers led by Mr Lee are pleased as punch with their monstrous plans and I find their righteousness horrifying. One of my worst nightmares is to be burned alive whilst being serenaded by sanguine townsfolk who want me to appreciate the sacrifice I’m making.

7. The Vanishing (Sluizer; 1988)
Just like The Wicker Man this film is a bloodless masterwork of the horror genre. This film is so dark that it takes me days to recover from it, which isn’t to say that it isn’t also a powerful tale of love. There are many layers of horror built into this little film, e.g. the fear of the unknown fate of poor Saskia and the chief villain’s arbitrary and clinical ideas regarding murder. I won’t give any spoilers but the climax is devastating and actually dramatises the most disturbing and frightening way to end someone’s life. Death was never so romantic.

8. Scream (Craven; 1996)
This film was important to me during my formative years and served as a celebration of 30 years of slasher films (it also introduced me to many that I had not seen). I consider it the first and final word in the post modern horror sub genre. Sorry Urban Legends 2. The clever script and taut direction have been forgotten over time due to the film’s popularity. Fuck that. Credit where credit is due. Mathew Lillard’s performance is truly delightful.

9. The Horror of Frankenstein (Sangster; 1970)
I love this oddball Hammer outing simply because I want to hang out with Ralph Bates in his huge castle and oggle his buxom house maid. The later Hammer pictures are filled with amusing eccentricities due in part to the changing social climate at the time.

10. The Mist (Darabont; 2007)
We’ll see if this one stands the test of time but for now I think it is an electric piece of cinema. Like all good monster movies, the monster is fear itself! Nothing is scarier than seeing how society behaves under cataclysmic pressure. We really are a bunch of dicks when the chips are down. This film boasts an ending that is more hardcore than anything Charles Bronson ever did (mind you, Murphy’s Law is pretty heavy duty). The dialogue in this film is exemplary.

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