Okay, I am back with yet another horror movie challenge. In case you missed my first Horror Homework Assignment for the year 1980 (found here), the rules are simple: I'll give you 5 relatively obscure movies from a specific year and you tell me in the poll at the bottom how many you've seen. If you haven't seen them all... what are you waiting for? Head out to the video store or to your favorite internet streaming site and look these gems up!
Are we ready?
1. Army of Darkness
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert
Okay, okay... not obscure. Very true. But I include this movie out of sheer importance. While a bit different in form from it's Evil Dead predecessors, there might not be a bigger cult movie in horror. If you haven't seen it... do so... tonight. And if you haven't seen Evil Dead and Evil Dead II either? Well, I guess you have a long night ahead of you, now don't you? Get watchin'.
The story picks up from the literal end of Evil Dead II where Ash (Bruce Campbell) is ported back in time to the medieval ages. There he must save the lands from the undead evil that exists all while trying to figure out a way to get back to the future and save the girl. Once again, Bruce Campbell is at his hilarious best in this overtly campy romp. Even more tongue-in-cheek than it's predecessors, there is no way you can not enjoy yourself watching this movie.
2. The Dark Half
Director: George A. Romero
Writers: Stephen King, George A. Romero
Stars: Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker
Few people seem to know that George Romero actually directed this Stephen King adaptation and it was his only directorial effort in the 90's. While there are fairly mixed opinions on this movie, I continue to think the effort is a bit underrated. King adaptations have a much maligned history, but I think this is one of the few that really stands out and honestly, is a pretty good book-to-movie conversion.
The story follows a writer whose fictional alter-ego begins to materialize within his own life. Around him, bodies begin piling up and the local authorities start to suspect that there is more to this writer than meets the eye. If you haven't read the book, there is a nice little twist to make this horror/thriller a bit more interesting. This is definitely a must-see for King and Romero fans alike.
3. Return of the Living Dead 3
Director: Brian Yuzna
Writer: John Penney
Stars: Kent McCord, James T. Callahan, Sarah Douglas
Admittedly, I am a big fan of campy horror. I have more of these types of movies in my collection than I care to admit. I will also readily admit that I love the Return of the Living Dead series. While I think the first two movies of the franchise are probably better, you have to complete the trifecta and watch this one as well. There are a lot of laughs and lots of gory fun to be had.
I think the one thing that sets the Return of the Living Dead series apart from other cheesy, B-movie horror is that the practical effects used are quite good throughout the series. You'll see a few recognizable actors and actresses as well, even though the acting is quite over-the-top - purposefully. All-in-all, these are just fun movies to watch. Nothing serious, nothing too scary, just good old fashioned comedy horror at it's finest.
4. Man's Best Friend
Director: John Lafia
Writer: John Lafia
Stars: Ally Sheedy, Lance Henriksen, Robert Costanzo
A tongue-in-cheek horror about a genetically mutated dog bred to kill? Yes, please. Honestly, I am not really sure what to say about this film. It's a bit of an oddball, to be sure. It stars Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen, who aren't A-listers, I know, but the movie is a bit cheesy for landing these two and the acting is pretty sub-par overall. Still, it has it's redeeming qualities that make it worth your time.
Lafia is quite inventive here, even if you have to suspend believability for an hour and a half. It's a silly premise to start with, so if you fixate on that, you will likely be disappointed. Instead, let yourself be amused with the more-than-acceptably gory special effects that were probably quite good at the time of the film's release. Now, they just add to the charm of this movie. I can't say that this is much more than a mediocre movie overall, but if you liked Cujo, you might just enjoy this one too - if you have a sense of humor.
5. Dead-Alive (a.k.a Braindead)
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Stephen Sinclair
Stars: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody
So where did Mr. Lord of the Rings get his start? Yep... horror. Before he helped usher Frodo and Sam to the fiery chasm of Mount Doom, he started his directing career as a low-budget gore aficionado. And just like his Hobbit movies, he did them very, very well. I honestly can't believe that so many people I talk to haven't seen this movie. If you find yourself among those, let's end that tonight. You NEED to see this movie.
One of the greatest, over-the-top gorefests in horror, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. There are so many wonderful effects in this movie, it's just a joy to watch. It's not just the effects though, it's honestly a good movie, with a good story and likeable characters you are actively rooting for - just in a B-movie's dressings. For those of you that love a good splatterfest, this is your movie! There are still scenes that make me squirm a bit even after seeing this numerous times.
Okay... how many have you seen?