Our Ten Best- Episode 28: Undiscovered B-Movie Horror Flicks
Halloween is fastly approaching and if you’re not up for trick or treating, then odds are you may be having your own horror movie marathon. However, you have seen every “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” a dozen times and desperately want to see something new and exciting.
The best suggestion for a true treat this Halloween is to check out some of the wonderful titles that are featured on the DVD series “42nd Street Forever,” which just released “The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema” on Oct. 27. The company has compiled a series of trailers devoted to what used to play on the old Times Square (And in the latest edition, the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas), and of course some of the trailers are just plain funny. However, a select few lead one to try some new titles that they never heard of.
This Top Ten list will help you check out some obscure gems of horror.
1- “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” is a slow, methodically paced horror film that keeps you guessing until the end. You have no way of knowing where this motion picture is headed and that, along with some great performances, creates a genuine feeling of horror. Be prepared –despite any blood and a PG rating, the ending will linger with you for days to come.
This trailer is featured in volume 4: “Cooled by Refrigeration” and is available on DVD from Paramount.
2- “Jennifer” is a by-the-numbers clone of Stephen King’s “Carrie,” which centers on the title character, who is a poor girl accepted to a snotty boarding school for young women. This movie tried to distance itself from “Carrie” by making Jennifer have the power to summon snakes, though it is poorly executed. In fact, the producers didn’t even include any of the snakes in the trailer, but when all is said and done, it is a fun little B-movie.
This trailer is featured in volume 3: “Exploitation Explosion” and has not yet surfaced on DVD.
3- “Mortuary” was the last picture of Christopher George (“Enter the Ninja”) and a well structured horror film. This was made as an attempt to improve the quality of the slasher genre and the one reason this movie is so great is a young Bill Paxton. This is the type of performance where a young actor, ready to break out, is given that chance in a B-movie, similar to Steve McQueen in “The Blob.” However, describing any more of his performance and why it is so great will ruin this treat for you.
This trailer is featured in volume 4: “Cooled by Refrigeration” and has not yet surfaced on DVD.
4- “Ms. 45″ is a chilling and haunting tale of a woman who is pushed to the breaking point after being brutally raped twice in one day. Similar to Bronson in “Death Wish,” she takes the law into her own hands but snaps in the process, creating a relentless experience in horror.
This trailer is featured in volume 2 and is no longer available on DVD from Image.
5- “Alligator” features B-movie icon and Academy Award nominee for “Jackie Brown,” Robert Forster. A top-notch screenplay from the great John Sayles excels in mixing genuine horror with a strong sense of humor. It is a credit to him that the silly premise of a radioactive alligator living in the sewer is taken so seriously throughout the movie. This is the best of the flicks that tried cash in on the “Jaws” craze.
This trailer is featured on volume 3: “Exploitation Explosion” and is available on DVD from LionsGate.
6- “Murders in the Rue Morgue” was made in 1971, which was a time when Jason Robards was having trouble finding work, which he considered a low point. Interestingly enough, it is one of the better AIP pictures of that decade and a unique interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe.
This trailer is featured on volume 2 and is available from MGM on DVD as part of a double-header with Vincent Price’s “Cry of the Banshee.”
7- “The Evictors” is centered on a young couple whose precious life is turned upside down for buying a property where several murders took place. An early scene features a shoot-out, though those involved are never explicitly revealed. The end is startling, especially since it was shot with a documentary-like quality, making it seem realistic. Also of note is the great performance by the late Vic Morrow.
This trailer is featured on volume 2 and another film that has been the casualty of the transfer from VHS to DVD.
8- “Humongous” is a horror movie that seemed to utilize the stereotypical characters from “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” A stoner, nerdy chick, a Fred-wannabe minus the Ascot and a hot chick become stranded on an island inhabited by a humongous. A few more characters are introduced and the horror is truly palpable. This was another slasher entry that attempted to stray from the pack and is effective despite some poor, dark cinematography.
This trailer is featured on volume 4: “Cooled by Refrigeration” and needs a DVD to literally shed some light on the dark scenes.
9- “The Dark” is about an alien rapist on Earth that feels like an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” after dark. This features William Devane as a concerned father and the always sexy Cathy Lee Crosby as a reporter out for the scoop of her life. It is a fun horror picture that is of note primarily because Tobe Hooper (“Poltergeist”) was fired early on has director.
This is featured on volume 2 and available on DVD from Media Blasters.
10- “Slaughterhouse Rock” is a blast that mixes old-fashioned horror and infuses it with new ideas, then throws in a soundtrack by Devo. It was an attempt to make a punk-new-wave horror and succeeds despite barely being seen by horror fans.
This is featured on volume 5: “The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema” and is not available on DVD.