Monthly Archives: October 2010

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Connor Kirkwood

Just in time for the actual day, manager-extraordinaire Connor Kirkwood gets his picks in.  I blame myself for his last minute entry since I failed to contact him about the project when I contacted everyone else.  But no worries, because it’s here now!  On with Connor’s picks and Happy Halloween!

CREEPSHOW (1982): The first horror movie that I can remember seeing. There’s a vignette about Stephen King turning into a hunk of space moss that haunted me for about five years.

ALIEN (1979): The greatest science-fiction film ever made (yeah, I said it) and also the most legitimately scary film I’ve ever seen. Every time I even thing about a facehugger, I pee my pants a little. DIRECTOR’S CUT ONLY, as the theatrical release excised one of the most brutal scenes.

THE FURY (1978): John Cassavetes and cranial explosions are the only things I need from a film, and this one has both.

BABE: PIG IN THE CITY (1998): A horror film cloaked in the twitching corpse of a kid’s movie. An old mute clown lords over a gang of creepily apathetic chimpanzees. A pitbull drowns for an excruciatingly long time. The sets modeled are after German Expressionist films. And a weird city-as-urban-hell vibe reigns. No joke. This is one of my favorite movies of all time.

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Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Richard Beer

I know it’s been daunting, but we’re almost done.  In our (possibly) final entry, we’ve got Film Action Oregon/Hollywood Theatre Artistic Director Richard Beer!  I must admit, the impetus for this week of recommendations was partially for me to find new horror films to watch and my colleagues did not let me down.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Halloween picks!  In Richard’s words:

Trying not to steal from anyone else’s list (THE SHINING, DOG SOLDIERS and THE HITCHER are all great and would have made mine).

MUTE WITNESS (1994) A mute American makeup artist is working on a low budget horror film in a gritty soundstage in Moscow. One night she forgets her bag and returns to find that some of the locals are using the camera to make what she thinks is a porno but ultimately turns into a snuff film.  There is more tension and twists in this film than a dozen modern day thrillers, plus there’s a great cameo by the late Alec Guinness (in his last theatrical release) as The Reaper. Seek this one out!

DEAD BIRDS (2004) I originally saw this when it was shown at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival a few years ago. Set during the Civil War, a group of bank robbing Confederate soldiers decide to hide out in abandoned plantation. Bad idea all around as supernatural forces begin to wreak havoc. Several stars before they were stars (Michael Shannon, Isaiah Washington) and E.T.’s Henry Thomas make this B-movie something special. And have your remote handy. There are a lot of “did I actually see what I thought I saw in that reflection” moments you will want to watch again.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) I saw this in 1983 at a late night screening at the movie theater I first worked at. Not a huge horror fan at the time, all I can say is that it creeped me out probably more than any movie has since. This film makes the list just for that scene where Leatherface grabs the guy and slams the locker door shut. And the scene with the old man sucking the blood from the girls finger. Ewww!

CAPE FEAR (1962) Lots of people like the Scorsese remake better, but DeNiro doesn’t hold a candle to Robert Mitchum’s ex-con Max Cady. In the remake, Cady just tries to seduce the teenage daughter. In the original, he flat out tells Gregory Peck he is going to rape her. J. Lee Thompson was an underrated director that ended his career making bad Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson sequels (with a couple of Planet of the Apes sequels thrown in the middle). This was his masterpiece.

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK (1993) The television sequel to the classic “have you checked on the children” cult film isn’t all that great, but the first ten odd minutes are 10 of the most suspenseful in any horror movie. Seriously. Director Fred Walton lives here in Portland now (he also directed the original APRIL FOOLS DAY which is worth a look too).  Click here for the trailer.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) Ok, this one makes the list because of the circumstances of my original viewing. Back in 1984 I was a projectionist at the Showcase 4 in Quincy, Illinois. On Thursday nights we would build the prints up and screen all the new films opening on that Friday well into the wee hours of the morning. So my friend Brad Sullivan and I were watching NIGHTMARE at around 1am by ourselves. I found it pretty scary and quite unique at the time. Anyway, the film is ending and it all looks like it was just a dream and the kids are getting into the car and heading to school. All of the sudden the film breaks. So, we head up to the booth and I fix it and since there’s only about 2 minutes of pre-credits film left, we decided to watch the rest from the booth. Well as soon as it starts, the mother is waving goodbye to the kids and Freddy’s hand reaches through the window and pulls her through the door! We just looked at each other in shock and got the hell out of there.

And I can’t forget EVIL DEAD II, DAWN OF THE DEAD, SHAUN OF THE DEAD (see a pattern here?) PSYCHO, PSYCHO II, POLTERGEIST, THE OMEGA MAN…too many to name.

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Jason Diaz

We’re in the home stretch now!  Projectionist, sometime manager, and a guy who really knows how to clean up, Jason Diaz takes Justen‘s brief approach to the limit.  He gives you the title and it’s up to you to discover why it’s awesome.

Twitch of the Death Nerve

Rats: Night of Terror

Maniac

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Doug Whyte

Today, we’ve got the Hollywood Theatre Executive Director, Doug Whyte!  While he claims to not be well-versed in horror movies, his picks are more than admirable.  In his words:

At first, I thought I would be clever and name docs that cover scary subjects, such as The Corporation which demonstrates that if US corporations were diagnosed as human beings, they would be labeled sociopaths. But I realized that’s a lame cop-out. That said, some horror films that made a lasting impression:

Phantasm: I found a copy of Fangoria Magazine in an alley when I was young and my friend I read about this film and had his lenient Dad rent it for us. It was one of the first real horror films I ever saw and it freaked me out beyond belief. I had nightmares of that flying silver ball for months.

The Shining: Just a big fan of Kubrick. And Nicholson. Of course.

Eraserhead: Maybe not technically a horror flick, but when I saw this film for the first time it sure messed with my head in a scary way. David Lynch inspired me to make films, even though I ended up making documentaries. But I always tried to go for subject matter that I thought Lynch would appreciate (such as eccentric funeral directors and a Wild West-themed home for the mentally ill.)

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Nate Capp

I suppose now is as good a time as any for me, your humble blog host and co-manager of the Hollywood Theatre, to show my hand.  Before watching any of these (or any other scary movie during the Halloween season), I recommend watching something short and light.  Along the lines of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Garfield’s Halloween (which used to terrify me), or any of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes.  Don’t forget to check out Dan Halstead and Justen Harn‘s picks!  Now to my picks, in chronological order:

Peeping Tom (1960)
The film that effectively killed Michael Powell’s career (who, along with Emeric Pressberger directed such classics as Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes) because of its subject matter.  A disturbed man films his victims as he stabs them with his tripod.  Peeping Tom was released the same year as Psycho (both feature bizarre parent-child relationships) and explores many of Hitchcock’s favorite themes.

The Innocents (1961)
A fantastic creepy kid, haunted house psychological horror film.  Striking cinematography, overwhelming atmosphere and Deborah Kerr’s incredible performance are the highlights of The Innocents.  Based on Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” it’s perfect to show impressionable youth.  It’s classic literature! 

The Thing (1982)
If my friends were horror neophytes, I would blow their minds (and their gag reflex) with The Thing.  A remake (kind of) of the Howard Hawks’ production, The Thing from Another World, Kurt Russell battles against an alien force that can mimic anything and anyone. This film is exhibit #1 as to why CGI should be banned from horror movies.  So, FX artist Rob Bottin was hospitalized after the film was completed because he worked so hard.  Look at the results!  Totally worth it.

The Monster Squad (1987)
I always like to describe The Monster Squad as “The Goonies, with monsters.”  In other words, The Goonies, but better.  Dracula, the mummy, creature, wolf man, and Frankenstein’s monster are on the loose and trying to take over… the world?  Well, something.  And it’s up to a group of kids to stop them.  There is far too much awesome in this movie to describe.  And for some reason, movies in 1987 loved to end with vortexes to other dimensions.

Dog Soldiers (2002)
Neil Marshall’s (The Descent, Doomsday) first feature and he nails it.  A group of soldiers on a training mission in the Scottish highlands get attacked by… something.  They are whisked off to a cabin and held under siege by werewolves!  Then things get crazy.  Features homages to films such as The Evil Dead and Aliens and werewolves in The Howling stlye.  I guess I agree with Justen… werewolves rock!

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Justen Harn

Today’s recommendations come from our Education and Outreach Director and general master of all things, Justen Harn.  Ever the subscriber to the adage “brevity is the soul of wit,”  Justen fires fast and loose.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — “For credibility.”

Event Horizon — “Because it scared the crap out of me when I was a teenager.”

The Hitcher — “Solely for the scene where a dude uses a pistol to shoot down a helicopter.”

Teen Wolf — “Because wolves are so much cooler than vampires… wake up, kids!”

Staff Halloween Horror Picks: Dan Halstead

I asked the Hollywood Theatre staff for some of their scary movie recommendations for this Halloween season and figured it appropriate to start with our Technical Director, Dan Halstead.  He’s the one responsible for bringing the epic awesome that is the Grindhouse Film Fest, so he knows a thing or two about the genre.  Best to heed his advice.  Dan’s words from this point on…

BEYOND THE DARKNESS (1979) Joe D’Amato’s gruesome tale of a man who exhumes and embalms his dead lover and keeps her in his bed while he makes love to other women.  Then it gets weird.  D’Amato directed sleazy movies, but he also filmed everything himself and was one of the great cinematographers of the 1970’s.

DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980) A semi rip-off of  Hitchcock’s Psycho that I think is better than Psycho.  A man with an Oedipus complex builds a metal room in his house where he chains up women and torches them with a flamethrower.

ZOMBIE (1979) Director Lucio Fulci was a master of creating creepy atmosphere.  This is his most coherent movie, a gory story of a zombie outbreak on a remote island.  Highlights include the eyeball piecing scene and the classic zombie vs. shark battle (I’m showing a 35mm double feature of this movie and Fulci’s HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY on Tue. Oct. 26th at the Hollywood Theatre)

REC (2007) Low budget Spanish horror film about a tv news crew quarantined in an apartment building as all hell breaks loose.  Shot in an extremely effective “documentary” style that I usually find obnoxious.

THE EXORCIST (1973) It’s a cliche to list it, but this film is pure fright-fueled intensity.  I have a theory that this movie only works on people who have had religious fears instilled in them at some point in their lives.  If not, it might seem laughable.  If so, it scares the bejeezus out of you.

Also, the standards: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, and the scene from The Car when the possessed car crashes through the house and kills James Brolin’s girlfriend.