Friday, September 7, 2012
Top 100 Regional Horror Films: The Bottom 50
My book, Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990, is entering the final stages of layout and production, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be available by this Halloween. In the meantime, I thought I'd try to present a preview of the types of films featured in the book by presenting my completely arbitrary list of the Top 100 Regional Horror Films of All Time.
I initially thought I'd make a list of the best regional horrors, but I quickly realized that by focusing on quality I'd be leaving out some important (but crappy) films. Instead, what I'm presenting here is list of the best, the most well-known, and most influential regional horror flicks. This is the bottom 50, and I'll be working my way up to the top 10 as we get closer to Halloween. I had to weigh notoriety against quality, in many cases, which is why you'll see some pretty bad films outranking better films as we get further into the list; on the other hand, I put some very good (but lesser known) films in the top 25. The descriptions below are brief, but as we get into the higher rankings I plan to spend more time explaining why the films are important, so expect longer entries.
Please feel free to post comments and send me feedback on the list; I'm curious to see what films you think belong in the top 10, and how they match up to my picks.
100. Blood Cult (Oklahoma, 1985): Not the first shot-on-video horror film, nor the best. But it was the biggest, and it launched a hundred (probably a thousand) even worse imitators.
99. Blood Sucking Freaks (New York, 1976): Joel M. Reed's offensive masterpiece (?).
98. Driller Killer (New York, 1979): Abel Ferrara's shrill (and often dull) tale of urban insanity made the UK "Video Nasties" list.
97. Satan's Children (Florida, 1975): Simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic, and one of the most peculiar of the Florida films (which is saying something).
96. Flesh Feast (Florida, 1970): Maggots, Hitler and Veronica Lake collide in the Florida heat.
95. Killing Spree (Florida, 1987): Follow-up to Tim Ritter's Truth or Dare? starring the unforgettable Asbestos Felt.
94. Mars Needs Women (Texas, 1967): Possibly the most poetically direct movie title in history.
93. The Wizard of Gore (Illinois, 1970): H.G. Lewis goes all cerebral and meta on us. Montag!
91. Blood Sisters (New York, 1987): You can best describe Roberta Findlay's approach to horror films as "satisfyingly disinterested."
90. Zontar the Thing from Venus (Texas, 1966): Larry Buchanan's most beloved sci-fi flick was embraced by the Church of the Subgenius.
89. The Alpha Incident (Wisconsin, 1978): A talky sci-fi drama that, nonetheless, may be Bill Rebane's finest film.
88. The Dead Next Door (Ohio, 1988): The most expensive Super 8 movie ever made, probably.
87. Don't Go in the Woods (Utah, 1981): Especially if you happen to be in a wheelchair.
86. Redeemer! Son of Satan (Virginia, 1978): A confounding early slasher film with religious undertones and a freaky marionette.
85. Don't Go in the House (New York, 1979): Troubling early slasher film that in many ways serves as a precursor to the better-known Maniac.
84. I Eat Your Skin (Florida, 1964): Underrated film that lays the groundwork for a number of later Italian zombie flicks.
83. Beyond Dream's Door (Ohio, 1989): Intriguing early work from low-budget director Jay Woelfel.
82. Invasion of the Blood Farmers (New York, 1972): Don't eat before you see it, and you'll have nothing to lose!
81. The Giant Spider Invasion (Wisconsin, 1975): One big spider (and a bunch of little ones) arrive from space to eat Wisconsin.
80. Blood Stalkers (Florida, 1976): More than just a Bigfoot movie, more than just a killer hillbilly flick; the finale will leave you speechless and exhausted.
79. Chillers (West Virginia, 1988): Enjoyable horror anthology with genuine Appalachian accents on display.
78. Liquid Sky (New York, 1982): Arthouse sci-fi that features the only other film appearance of Alice, Sweet Alice star Paula Sheppard.
77. Keep My Grave Open (Texas, 1976): A minor, but still satisfying, entry from Texas stylist S.F. Brownrigg.
76. Blood Suckers from Outer Space (Texas, 1984): A low-budget horror/comedy that's actually funny.
75. Midnight (Pennsylvania, 1982): Rough-around-the-edges rural cult flick that provided a surprising amount of inspiration for Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses.
74. The Flesh Eaters (New York, 1964): Never trust a Nazi marine biologist.
73. Last House on Dead End Street (New York, 1977): Brutal, downbeat curio from Roger Michael Watkins.
72. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (New York, 1964): A holiday tradition in some quarters.
71. Night of Bloody Horror (Louisiana, 1969): Sleazy psychological horror starring a young Gerald McRaney. You can practically smell New Orleans.
69. Lurkers (New York, 1988): Not Roberta Findlay's best film, but probably her best horror film.
68. The Killer Shrews (Texas, 1959): They're giant. They're poisonous. They're really dogs in creepy costumes.
66. The Ghastly Ones (New York, 1968): Andy Milligan's first color horror film.
64. The Mutilator (North Carolina, 1985): This Carolina-lensed slasher favorite may have the snappiest theme song in the entire horror genre.
63. Black Devil Doll from Hell (Illinois, 1984): Shot-on-video possessed dummy yarn that stands as one of the most unique films ever released commercially.
62. Stanley (Florida, 1972): Easily William Grefe's most fully realized horror feature.
61. The Brain that Wouldn't Die (New York, 1962): Seedy monster madness from the cracked imagination of Rex Carlton.
60. Alien Dead (Florida, 1980): Fred Olen Ray meets Buster Crabbe.
59. Girls Nite Out (New Jersey, 1984): Not exactly a slasher classic, but it has Hal Holbrook and a great soundtrack.
58. Last Rights (New Jersey, 1980): Director Dominic Paris presents an amusing take on the vampire myth. He later directed one of my favorite compilation tapes, Filmhouse Fever.
57. The Alien Factor (Maryland, 1978): Debut feature from the late, great Don Dohler.
56. The Children (Massachusetts, 1980): Radioactive kids who hug you to death. Seriously.
55. Deadtime Stories (Connecticut, 1986): A horror anthology custom-made for Scott Valentine fans.
54. The Nesting (New York, 1981): A stab at the mainstream by adult filmmaker Armand Weston, and a final film appearance for Gloria Grahame.
53. Fear No Evil (New York, 1981): Debut feature of Frank LaLoggia. It also has a fantastic soundtrack.
52. Creature from Black Lake (Louisiana, 1976): Bigfoot on the bayou.
51. Impulse (Florida, 1974): Low-rent psycho cinema raised to the level of high art by the Tony Crechales script and a tour-de-force performance by William Shatner.