With the Halloween season seemingly upon us. You can already start to see decorations popping up in stores. Horror is undoubtedly in the air and that means even the most casual fan of the genre will want to either immerse themselves in horror of years past with the usual classics, such as Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street or perhaps even further back with The Hammer films of the 50’s and 60’s or the Universal monster movies of the 30’s and 40’s. Fans of more recent affairs might delve into more modern classics like The Saw and Paranomal Activity franchises or whatever the most current remake is.
However, there are a lot of young and unique talents in the horror business right now, making their mark…or I guess more appropriately leaving their SCAR on the genre. Names such as James Wan, Eli Roth and Rob Zombie, are some of the more familiar names that even the most causal horror fans know.
Other directors horror fans might have discovered because of their gaining popularity are, Ti West (House of the Devil), Adam Wingard (You’re Next), and Adam Green (Frozen).
I first became aware of Adam Green, probably like most people did, and that was by seeing HATCHET. HATCHET…what a GREAT throw back to the 80’s slasher films. Replete with unflinching, graphic voilence a decent amount of blood, especially when compared to films that get way more theather distribution and, of course…gratuitous nudity. Throw in an iconic villian in the making Victor Crowley played by a REAL horror icon, Kane Hodder and sprinkle in a couple more of the greatest horror icons, not just of this time, but of all time…Tony Todd and Robert Englund and you have a film that is sure to delight even the most fickle of horror fans.
But if you want a challenge, and feel you’re up to it let me say this to you…I love foreign horror films! I think they’re easily the best the genre has to offer. Especially with what they’ve been turning out today. I guess when you think about it though, they’ve been the best since practically the beginning. German masterpieces such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu of the silent era. The French making such game changers as Les Diabolique and Eyes Without a Face. My personal favorite period of horror with perhaps the exception only being that of the Universal Monster days would have to be Italy’s Giallo. Giallo’s are essentially murder mysteries with emphasis on murder and so many twists. By the time you think they’ve twisted you all they could they’ll throw in a few more for good measure. The genre made famous by the likes of Mario Bava, who to me was the greatest director of all time, so I guess I’m a bit bias there. Don’t get me wrong there are other greats who have emerged from this style such as, Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, and Lucio Fulci.
Let us not forget the Asian horror explosion of the late 90’s and what it’s become today. Fans who haven’t heard of the likes of Shion Sono (Suicide Club), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl) you should definitely give them a shot. And if you do give recent Asian horror a try or even Asian cinema in general a try, I can’t think of a better place to start then with the work of Chan-Wook Park. The Vengeance Trilogy alone gets him in a conversation of one of the best directors going today. Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance are amongst the most beautifully crafted, utterly mesmerizing films ever to have been made. And then you have his other work such as his segment CUT in the film 3 Extremes, second of the 3, which to me is by far the best. Another Park film that was a bit of a surprise to me was THIRST. A film about how a priest becomes a vampire after receiving a blood transfusion and how he uses his work at the hospital to obtain blood with the intent not to harm anyone. As the film wears on it had that usual power from Park that I have come to expect. To be honest I wasn’t as impressed through the first half of it, but by the time it ended I felt this wave of melancholy wash over me like a beautiful sadness, but a good sadness if that makes sense. I realized that I have had the pleasure of seeing a truly beautiful horror film.
So now I’ve touched upon all sorts of films and the people responsible for them, but I feel I need to mention someone who is a truly talented writer, director, producer, actor and whatever else he does or will do and that man is LUCKY MCKEE. I know most people are asking themselves, “who is Lucky McKee?” but for people who are aware of his work, know or should know all the praise I’m about to heap upon him is fully deserved. I believe it was in 2004 I happened upon this little film called MAY. A film about a strange lonely girl who just wanted to find happiness and love, love for the first time in her whole life. She thinks she’s found it, in aspiring film maker Adam, played by the great Jeremy Sisto. But when she gets a little too weird, even for Dario Argento loving, zombie film making Adam it sets off a trigger of bloody and devastating consequences.
MAY is portrayed by Angela Bettis who treats the character so sincere and with such a genuine, blissful kind of child like naivety and yet perfectly transitions when MAY finally snaps. It’s truly something to behold. It’s probably my favorite performance ever, by a lead actress. With references to Argento and the Frankenstein aspect to it, it was like this film was perfectly suited for someone such as me. And I’m sure a lot of people like me feel that way as well.
Lucky McKee also wrote and stared in ROMAN which is almost like the male equivalent of MAY. A film that features an adorable Nectar Rose as Roman’s would be love interest after Roman fouls things up with his other love interest played by the gorgeous Kristen Bell. It’s a film directed by MAY star Angela Bettis, which to me was a touch of serendipity. For anyone who wants to see an interesting film and witness a true master at work you should check out these films by LUCKY MCKEE. Other MCKEE films of note are SICK GIRL, which was part of Mick Garris’ short lived SHOWTIME series MASTERS OF HORROR, RED, The Woods, The Woman and the upcoming remake of his own ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE.
So as I finish this I make a mental check list of the movies that will be waiting for me to celebrate the scariest holiday of them all. Lots of HORROR movies of all different genres, hope that I left you with this parting thought. I love horror and I hope that you do too. Watch a scary movie and enjoy your night!