Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Anyone who knows me or has read this blog and the old blog knows that I love horror films. I don't care whether they are great or bad, I enjoy them all. I really enjoy when horror films try so hard to be good and winds up laughable. Mainly because I know if I tried to make a horror film, it would end up being as bad or worse. However, there are moments in many of the most famous bad or campy horror films that makes us step back and say "Wow! That was creepy!" or "YIPE! That was scary!" Never mind the ridiculous concept, incoherent storyline, bad acting, bad special effects, for one brief moment in these films something worked. Sadly, these are the things that are rarely mentioned or get posted on You Tube. People focus on Bunny Brekenridge reading from his script, Linda Day George screaming "Bastard!" over and over, Hal Sherwood as the pedophile/incestuous priest, dogs with large plastic fangs and that nerdy guy screaming "OOOOOHHHHHH MMMYYYYY GGGAAAAAAWWWDDDDD!!!" Let's focus on things that the directors and producers got right. 

1. Liz's decapitated head in the roaster pot in The Ghastly Ones. Steven King once said that The Ghastly Ones was the work of morons with cameras. Actually, it was just one person: Andy Milligan. After seeing rubber mannequin arms, hard boiled eggs as eyes, a green-skinned lawyer with long grey nose hair and a priest, that is a dead ringer for Andy Dick's character in Old School, wearing curtains, we are not expecting such frightening image. Milligan used the "head-on-the-plate" gag in other films, but this one works because of the expression on actress Carol Vogel's face and angle her head is lying in the pot. The "head" actors in the other films looked bored and their heads are straight up, so you can tell they merely had their head stuck through a whole in the table. Vogel looks like she might have been the victim of a violent attack. What also makes this disturbing is Milligan using chocolate syrup for blood. Chocolate syrup was used in black and white films for blood. However, in color it looks like something else. It gives you the impression that either Liz or her killer suffered from explosive diarrhea. 

2. The floating old lady from The House on Haunted Hill. William Castle was known for bringing the audience into the film. The House on Haunted Hill was made to incorporate special tricks in the movie theater, such as skeletons dangling over the audience. That is why parts of this movie do not work to today. Except for the old lady above that comes screaming out of nowhere like a bat out of Hell. Of course, it turns out it was a dummy on roller skates that Vincent Price was using to scare people. It is one of the few of his scare tactics in the film that still works on the home video audience, without the benefit of a skeleton on a pulley. 

3. Corpse-puzzle-woman falls out of a hidden compartment behind a bookcase in Pieces. This 80s slasher film starts off in the 1940's with a little boy being punished by his hysterical mother for putting together an obviously 1970s puzzle of a naked woman. She overreacts and tells him to get a trash bag, so she can burn everything he owns. The boy overreacts and brings an axe to put in his mothers head. Years later, detectives Christopher George and Linda Day-George (real life man and wife) are investigating the dismemberment of college co-eds by someone with a chainsaw. One girl's head is lopped off in broad daylight, one is killed on an elevator (the killer hid his chainsaw under his coat), one is killed the waterbed in the girl's exercise room (???) and a girl wets her pants in the ladies room before being sliced in half. We find out not only who the killer is, but that he is also the little boy all grown up. Before it can get any more Scooby Doo-ish, a detective accidental opens a hidden compartment in the wall and out fall a "puzzle" made from the missing "pieces" of the dead girls. Now, there is one more good scare at the end of the film, but why spoil for everyone. I'll just say guys hate the end of this film.  

4. Tor Johnson rises from the grave in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lets face it, the many problems with Plan 9 are well known by the world today. However, the scene where Tor Johnson rises from his grave is one of the great creepy moments on film. The spooky lighting, fog and the way Johnson rises up worked.

5. Zombie pops up outside the open window in The Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Filipino director Eddie Romero made several half Filipino, half American horror films in the mid 60s to early 80s. Most are filled with gore, bad acting and bad dubbing. The Mad Doctor of Blood Island features a boring villain, a convoluted plot and an annoying camera zooming effect when a zombie is about to attack. The one scene that gives the viewer a legitimate shock is when Angelique Pettyjohn is awaken by what sounds like an injured person outside her window. She walks over and opens the window. A zombie (above) jumps up out of the bushes. This scene works because there is a quiet build up. Just the soft whimpering and rustle of bushes. 

6. The Killer Shrews chew through the wall. Yes, the giant shrews are dogs and sometimes puppets. They may be puppets here but this scene is effective. Many people who saw this on late night TV as a kid say that the shrews chewing through the wall caused them to have nightmares.

7. The Beast From the Haunted Cave sucks the life out of a victim. Many low budget horror films start off as one thing and end up as horror films. This film started off as a gold heist/crime movie and had the horror aspect added later. The monster looks like a cross between pillow stuffing and silly string. However, when you see the beast suck the life from Natalie leaving her darkened eyes, wide open, and staring at the audience, you'll be sleeping with the light on for the next week.  

8. The mutant escapes from the closet in The Brain That Wouldn't Die. From an illogical premise to a skirt chasing, sleaze factor, accompanied by the sleaziest sounding jazz instrumental ever recorded, this movie was a classic even before MST3K got a hold of it. All through the movie, we are told that there is an "experiment gone wrong" in the closet. Near the end, Jan (Virginia Leith) begins communicating with the "thing" with telepathy. She has it attack the lab assistant and rip his arm off. At the end, Jan commands the monster to break down the door and give her former boyfriend and his creator (Jason Evers) his comeuppance. The monster is both goofy and scary at the same time but his emergence is a shock.

9. The second head appears in The Manster. A cocky American reporter begins splitting into two people while in Japan fooling with geisha girls. First, he gets a hairy hand (You figure it out) and then grows an eye on his shoulder. He starts committing murders. A policeman follows him to his hotel and sees him sprout a head in the dark.

10. Joshua's backseat nightmare from Troll 2. Vegetarian goblins turn people into green plants and eat them. Joshua and his family encounter them on vacation. In one scene, Joshua has a nightmare while riding in the backseat of the car. He dreams his family is under the control of the goblins and are turning him into a plant. Probably, the most effective scene in this whole movie.

There is an old song we sang in church about "looking for the silver lining in the clouds." Some films are so bad that they don't have one. I found one in each of these turkeys, there may be more out there.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Wow! You picked some really obscure ones, so kudos to you!!! Great list!

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