Friday, November 12, 2010

Horror Hotlist of Dr. Dale Seslick (Zombie Dictionary)

Dr. Dale Seslick, author of the awesome survival guide The Zombie Dictionary, has agreed to take part in Midnite Media's Horror Hotlist feature, in which we turn the spotlight over to a member of the indie horror community and allow them to shine in where they see fit.  What follows is Dr. Dale's "Top Ten in No Particular Order!"  Consider these the horror flicks you should see before the inevitable zombie uprising.

Make with the clickity-click HERE to read my review of the book, HERE to view the offical webpage, or HERE to order it already.  Better get rush delivery--the apocalypse could be here sooner than you think!



This one holds a place in the list because it’s the first true horror that I actually remember watching in a friends house, in the middle of the day when I was about 10 years old. One of the older girls in the group had hired it from the corner shop – and I actually haven’t watched it again since, but my obsession with horror must have started somewhere and I’m guessing this is it. The only things I do actually remember vividly is the killer wearing an owl mask and someone being ripped completely in half whilst being pulled through some rafters (or the floor) but it must have made an impression as I’m still into horror now – I might check it out again just to see.


Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! I work in theatre so this one had to go on the list – an actor killing off his critics in increasingly bizarre ways that are all linked to Shakespeare is just genius and there was never a better actor than Vincent Price to play the killer. It’s as Camp as Christmas, but the pure inventiveness of the whole film is just brilliant from the insanely over the top hairdressing scene to the use of the homeless meth addicts as his ‘chorus’. It may not be as gory as some of the films of the day (although according to Vincent Prices autobiography 6 galleons of blood were used) but it’s certainly one of the better examples of the originality and fun that were coming through the horror scene in the early 70s. Plus – it’s an absolute who’s who of well known Brit Actors of the time.

THE MIST (2007)

If anything, from reading the list, the one recurring theme you’ll get is that I love the kind of movie that starts with a large group of people who get killed off one by one in increasingly bizarre ways until only the few remain – if I could have included disaster movies like Poseidon and Towering Inferno then they’d have rated pretty high too! This film has all the ingredients for that kind of movie but never really plays on it. Yes, there’s a large group of people trapped in a Supermarket, and there are deaths but the reason this film goes onto the list is because of the ending. I’m not going to reveal it, so don’t worry – but before seeing the film I’d read the Stephen King Short Story – and the film followed it pretty much to the letter up until the end. I actually didn’t think a movie could pray on my mind that much but I dreamt about it for about a week after. This film put Frank Darabont up into my list of genius’s so watch it!


This follows that line of thought that I love seeing guys being killed off one by one and the genius of this film is that there isn’t actually any way that they can beat the bad guy. There is no conceivable way that you can actually beat death. The bus death was a truly great scene and was used before the shock death became standard fare – as most deaths in films had used these really slow builds and tension prior to that. There was also this Loony Toons underscore to it – and another of my favourite aspects to films is the cartoon humour. The very final scene in Paris was just like one of Wile E Coyote’s traps going into action. I think sometimes you’ve gotta make your death’s funny as well as gory otherwise they just become boring. Although the sequels have kind of devalued the whole franchise too I still think that they’re worth watching for the cheese factor and only if you’re just going to watch the set pieces of the mass deaths at the beginning. (I especially like the Roller Coaster one as I used to be the manager of the Big One on Blackpool Pleasure Beach)

THE BIRDS (1963)

Hitchcock really was the master of suspense and there are a lot of his films that I class as my favourites including Psycho and Rear Window – but I’ve listed this one again because it holds another great memory for me as it’s the first ‘horror’ that I watched with my son. Some of the imagery in it is iconic – such as the scene with the climbing frame and the fact that it uses something that is quite possibily unbeatable as the villain (would we really be able to win if all the birds in the world suddenly turned on us) Plus – whenever I see it these days I’ve always got the episode of The Animaniacs in my mind when the Goodfeathers get involved in the making of it and one of them gets attached to a phonebooth by a piece of elastic to film the famous attack sequence!


I Couldn’t rightly do this list without including a Romero Film and sorry to be obvious but this has got to be the best by far. Not only does it tick my survivalist horror box, it’s got zombies in it too and it has that great ending that you don’t see coming. You can’t say you love the zombie culture if you haven’t seen this film.

With the undead being so popular at the moment and there being so many films being churned out it’s great when something original comes along and Zombieland ticks every box for me! Again – it’s got zombies. It’s got the slapstick and the comedy. It’s got a theme park and it’s got one of the greatest film cameos of all time. We have a segment in our live show where we ask the audience if they’ve seen Zombieland and everytime at least 80% of the audience puts their hand up – as they should. Ignore all the fanboy hype of rule quoting etc. This is a very smart, funny film and is destined to be a classic.


I’m a big Clive Barker Fan, especially The Books Of Blood, (I loved the original story to Lord of Illusions but the movie was such a disappointment!) Hellraiser is a favourite of mine, though, purely because of the Cenobites and the concept of the puzzle box. If horror is my first love then mysteries have always been my second (I should be a member of Murder She Wrote Anonymous and I’m a sucker for Monk!) so the concept of a puzzle that will release hell is an exciting one. Plus – in the original film there’s not really much you learn about these legions of hell. (I think that’s where the later films fall down – much like some of these recent remakes and sequels) If you learn to much about the bad guy – it makes it less fun. I’m just happy to know that they’re bad! I don’t need an origin story. Although, I do remember watching one of the later Hellraisers which had a cameraman and a DJ in it they were turned into Cenobites utilising their equipment that I quite enjoyed. I suppose it’s all down to this over use of the imagination again (I also used to have a T-Shirt when I was about 14 which had the ‘I am in hell, help me’ blood splatter across it.)


This is one of those films that splits zombie fans, firstly because it’s a remake of a classic and secondly because it has fast zombies. You can’t fault it for it’s pure fun, though. It has some truly great set pieces. Some great tension. Some inventive kills and a spot on ensemble cast. It also introduced me to the music of Richard Cheese and I’m determined to use ‘Down With The Fever’ in one of our live shows. Plus I love Jake Weber as an actor – his so completely relaxed, chilled and easy. All that horror and panic going down and he makes you feel completely at ease. I don’t care if it splits people from the celebrity shoot off to the zombie baby this is just good clean undead fun.


I’m not even sure if this one fits into the horror genre as it’s sold as an actioner or it ould even be sci-fi. People die in wonderfully weird ways, though and there’s gore so it’s going in. This is my ultimate Guilty Pleasure Movie. It may not be likely to ever win any awards but I sit and watch this one when I need a good dose of brainless entertainment. The accidental axe in the head. The toilet Death. The half digested guy. The cast getting killed off one by one. It just appeals to my sense of humour. Even the final moments of the film where the remaining survivors land on a remote island just amuses me. In fact, I haven’t watched it for a while. I might settle down with this one tonight – just to remind myself how good mindless entertainment can be!

When you get down to writing a top ten you realise just how many movies out there you could list and these are the ones that span this massive genre that didn’t quite make it in (there will be more that I’ll forget to put and regret not mentioning but maybe they’re for another time!) House on Haunted Hill, Aliens, Gremlins 2, Saw, Carrie, The Shining, The Exorcist, Carry On Screaming, Scream, The Evil Dead (all of em!) Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street I, II, and New Nightmare, Creepshow, The Fly (both original and remake) American Werewolf in London, 28 days later, etc., etc., etc.….

1 comment:

  1. Major cool points to Dr. Dale for including DEEP RISING, a criminally under-appreciated, masterful monster-romp with m'main man Treat Williams... also for THEATER OF BLOOD, which three-way ties for me with HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) and THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES as my fave Vincent Price outings.

    But then? ZOMBIELAND? I dunno, man. Seemed like ultra-disposable crap to me, hardly even really a zombie movie, more of a teen rom-com with zombies as the ironic backdrop. Even SHAUN OF THE DEAD was a far more legit, full-on zombie movie, and that was SUPPOSED to be a farce. I thought the inclusion of ZOMBIELAND was a little out of place considering the other smart choices made on the list. But of course, your opinion is your opinion, and I respect it - tho in regards to ZL, simply cannot agree with it.

    "Stay J", Señor Metro, my brotha.


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