Top 100 Horror Flicks #50-41

#50 – CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)

Directed by Jack Arnold
Genre:  Monster
Last Year’s Rank:  60
Rating:   5 stars
Sequels:  Revenge Of The Creature (1955, D: J. Arnold)
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956, D: J. Sherwood)

The Creature is hands down my favorite Universal Monster.  Part of that, I guess, is that it was originally released in 3-D.  I caught it on tv during the mid-80s 3-D craze and fell in love with it.  The story is about a scientific expedition to the Amazon that uncovers a missing link in evolution – a “Gill Man”, or a fish that walks like a human being.  The locales and characters and especially the monster are all first rate and this does have some pretty suspenseful moments.  I liked this one so much that I ripped it off for my short story, “The Expedition”.

#49 – EVIL DEAD (1981)

Evil Dead

Directed by Sam Raimi
Genre:  Zombie
Last Year’s Rank:  46
Rating:  4 stars
Sequels:  Evil Dead 2 (1987, D: S. Raimi, 3 stars)
Army Of Darkness (1992, D: S. Raimi, 3 stars)

The Evil Dead trilogy is pretty infamous.  First off, it stars cult favorite Bruce Campbell (why doesn’t this guy get more parts in mainstream movies?).  Then there’s Raimi’s highly stylized direction.  And finally, there’s the crazy ass stuff that goes down.  A woman gets raped by a tree, Ash (Campbell), loses his arm (which tries to kill him), and he replaces it with a chainsaw, and for once the tension-cutting comedy is actually funny.    The second movie is pretty much a bigger budget remake of the first one, but the third one takes the series in an entirely new direction with great results.  A must see for any real horror fan.

#48 – THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Genre:  Ghost, Devil
Last Year’s Rank:  45
Rating:  3.5 stars
Sequels:  Amityville II:  The Possession (1982, D: D. Damiani, 1 star)
Amityville 3-D (1983, D: R. Fleischer)
Amityville:  The Evil Escapes (1989, S. Stern)
The Amityville Curse (1990, D: T. Berry)
Amityville 1992:  It’s About Time (1992, D: T. Randel)
Amityville:  A New Generation (1993, D: J. Murlowski)
Amityville:  Dollhouse (1996, D: S. White)
Remake:  The Amityville Horror (2005, D: A. Douglas, 2.5 stars)

Admittedly, the original version is a pretty shoddy movie.  The acting is a bit off and the scares seem a little too manufactured, but man, it’s scary.  The storyline is surprisingly similar to The Shining, where a family moves into an impressive new house and shit starts going bad.  The dad is haunted by the house’s violent past until he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands.  Very, very creepy.  The sequels invariably all sucked.  The remake was a step in the right direction, but with a PG-13 rating, the scares and gore were minimal at best.

#47 – THE WICKER MAN (1973)

Directed by Robin Hardy
Genre:  Thriller
Last Year’s Rank:  44
Rating:  4 stars
Remake:  The Wicker Man (2006, D: Neil LaBute)
I haven’t seen the remake, and really don’t intend to.  But the original is very unsettling.  A police detective travels to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a child who the locals say never existed, but everything on the island is just a little bit off.   Something is definitely going on with the people that populate the island, as the detective witnesses weird rituals.  It all leads up to a stunning conclusion that blows your mind.

#46 – DAWN OF THE DEAD (2006)

Directed by Zack Snyder
Genre:  Zombie
Last Year’s Rank:  43
Rating:  4 stars

I was skeptical too.  A remake of Romero’s classic?  I mean, it’s been done before, with the 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead (which I liked), but this was a stand-alone movie and not a sequel to that remake.  But I liked it a lot.  The zombies were scary, the humans were a mixed bag of sympathetic and evil, and the direction was energetic.  But if you leave before the end of the closing credits, you’re missing the best part.

#45 – THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

Directed by Wes Craven
Genre:  Thriller
Last Year’s Rank:  42
Rating:  4 stars

Review:  What to say about this movie.  This is not a pleasant experience.  12 years before creating Freddy Krueger, Wes Craven teamed up with Sean Cunningham (the creator of Friday the 13th) to make this gruesomely realistic and disturbing low budget fright fest.  A gang kidnaps, rapes, and kills two girls and then unknowingly seeks refuge with the family of one of their victims.  It isn’t long before the fate of their daughter is revealed and things take a turn for the worse for the killers.  This is so low budget that it takes on the look of a snuff film combined with a documentary.  There’s an uncut version out there that’s worth tracking down.  You won’t necessarily enjoy this movie, but it will stick with you long after it’s over.

#44 – JENIFER (2006)

Directed by Dario Argento
Genre:  Mutant Human, Cannibal
Last Year’s Rank:  61
Rating:  3.5 stars

This is another entry from Showtime’s “Masters Of Horror” series and the second Argento film on this list.  This was written by and stars Steven Weber (from “Wings”) and it’s a genuine surprise how effective it is.  Detective Frank Spivey stumbles on a deranged guy about to kill a nubile young girl in the woods.  The killer is stopped, but not before uttering, “She’s not what she appears to be.”  He’s talking about Jenifer, a very special young woman who has a great body, but whose face is horribly disfigured.  Frank can’t get her out of his mind, and he rescues her from an institution where she is being held and takes her home.  Forsaking his wife, child, and job, Frank spins more and more out of control and Jenifer reveals her true self and a disturbing appetite.  This one will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching it.

#43 – PON (PHONE) (2002)

Directed by Byeong-ki Ahn
Genre:  Ghost
Last Year’s Rank:  41
Rating:  3.5 stars

A cautionary tale about not changing your phone number when you get a new phone.  Too bad Ji-won didn’t know that before she got her new cell phone.  If she had, maybe her daughter wouldn’t have freaked out the minute she put the phone to her ear and Ji-won wouldn’t have to investigate the gruesome deaths of previous people who had the unlucky phone number before her.  But then there wouldn’t be many scares in this South Korean horror classic.  I’m sure they’ll get around to remaking this sooner or later for American audiences, so if you have an aversion to subtitles, you can just wait for the inevitable PG-13 version.  If you want some good scares, though, you may want to add this to your Netflix.

#42 – THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005)

Directed by Rob Zombie
Genre:  Mutant Human
Last Year’s Rank:  40
Rating:  3.5 stars

The completely unnecessary and over-the-top sequel to Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses is disgusting, depraved, and a bunch of other “d” words that I can’t think of right now.  The Firefly family is at it again (no Karen Black this time out, though) in what I consider to be a superior film to Corpses.  This doesn’t play as such a direct Texas Chainsaw Massacre rip-off.  And there’s no weird, completely baffling ending.  Just good old fashioned terror and the best use of “Free Bird” in cinematic history.

#41 – HOUSE OF WAX (1953)

House Of Wax

Directed by Andre De Toth
Genre:  Wax
Last Year’s Rank:  39
Rating:  4.5 stars
Remake:  House Of Wax (2005, D: Jaume Collet-Serra, 3 stars)

The original film starred Vincent Price and took advantage of the 50’s 3-D craze.  I saw it once in 3-D on tv and the effects weren’t bad, but you don’t need the blue and red glasses to enjoy this classic.  This is probably my favorite Vincent Price performance.  The remake is pretty good in its own right, but doesn’t hold a candle to the original (pun intended).  The effects are stunning, though.  It sort of treads the line between a Wax movie and a Mutant Human movie, but it’s a solid thriller that’s better than you think it is and probably one of the best of the current crop of remakes.

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