Noah’s Top Horror Discoveries of 2012

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When asked to put together a top whatever list for the site, I knew I didn’t want to do another October/Halloween “Best Horror Movies of 2012” or even worse the “Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Heard Of” because inevitably, any decent horror fan has heard of all of the movies but one and the whole thing is absolutely insulting. Instead I’d rather showcase movies that I personally hadn’t known anything about until this year, whether old or new, and spotlight them as something I found particularly outstanding.

1. Mikey (1992)

Little Mikey is a troubled kid. So much so that he keeps killing off his adoptive parents. I’m a huge sucker for killer kid movies and this one came up on my radar thanks to Horror Movie Night (which our own Brian Kelly runs and Damon Swindall covers). The film itself was banned in the UK, although not as a “video nasty,” due to its featuring a murderous child, and the paranoid notion that kids could learn from this. Whatever the case, the movie is dark and effective, and the titular character played by Brian Bonsall does a bang up job of being a little creep.

2. Possession (1981)

I’m not sure how I heard about this, but it should be much more lauded than it is. It feels very much like a Cronenbergian nightmare and features stand out performances from the always excellent Sam Neill and his co-star Isabelle Adjani. A young wife grows increasingly restless and distant from her husband and leaves him. After sending out an investigator to find out what is going on, it’s learned she’s involved in something much worse than an affair. And it’s completely mind-bendingly weird! You will never view milk the same way again. I’m not going to spoil the ending but what I love is how effectively Possession builds its drama and how much of it is focused on the characterization and performances before it gut punches you into a bizarre black hole.

3. The Sentinel (1977)

A movie like this couldn’t even be made these days. Check out this list of actors in the movie and if this alone isn’t a prompt to see it right away, your taste has to be questioned: Chris Sarandon, John Carradine, Jose Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D’Angelo and Tom Berenger. The Sentinel tells the story of a fashion model, played by the so stunning Christina Raines, who gets her own apartment in New York and then discovers that the apartment is full of scary occurrences that eventually build to a climatic, insane ending. This is another slow burn of a movie, but one that’s so effective and the payoff is so great that I instantly considered it a lost gem in my viewing list.
Watch it on Netflix!

4. Absentia (2011)

A movie I had picked up randomly off Netflix Instant Watch and then as soon as it was done made sure to recommend to friends. Absentia takes its low budget and creates a very eerie atmosphere and delves into a balls-out crazy horror story. It features all no name actors and through a very effective sound design and corner of the eye scares, makes for an uncomfortable and enjoyable watch. It tells the story of a woman who has lost her husband when he went out for a run one day, and now when she’s about to declare him dead learns the tunnel near her home may house something more sinister. Courtney Bell, who plays the lead, was actually pregnant through the shoot and puts forth a very convincing and terrific performance. I can only imagine what Mike Flanagan, the director, will come up with next, but I can’t wait to see it.
Watch it on Netflix

5. Dead Dudes in the House (1989)

I’m not going to claim that I found this to be a lost classic by any means. In fact, there really is nothing  contained within Dead Dudes in the House that hasn’t been seen before, but what I really loved about it was the absurdity of how everything plays out. When watched to enjoy more for it’s lost comedic genius, I think it’s quite a winner. A bunch of jocks, who can’t seem to open any doors or windows for the life of them, go to help a friend fix up an old house they discover something sinister, the previous owner’s ghost! Okay, yeah, it sounds awful and many will find it so (and many will be turned off by it being a Troma release), but when watched at Horror Movie Night we had a blast laughing along with it. Even more ridiculous than the movie itself is the cover art which has absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

6. Twisted Nerve (1968)

One of the craziest things about Twisted Nerve is that it stars Haley Mills who is well known for being a darling of early Disney family movies. In Twisted Nerve she plays a lovable young woman who takes pity on a young man whose family is dysfunctional to say the least. Her kindness is rewarded with him pretending to be mentally disabled so he can get close to her. A strange, off kilter film that at times is a bit disjointed but overall is well worth the time to watch.

Terror Tuesday Report: The Burning Moon (1997)

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Editor’s Note: Usually we like to post Terror Tuesday Reports on the Tuesday following the screening, but the overwhelming and intense insanity of THE BURNING MOON actually put our intrepid writer, Noah, into a blood coma. When he awoke, this post had somehow found its own way onto the site. Enjoy.

The Film

Terror Tuesday is a celebration of horror movies on 35mm film, so when our host Zack Carlson announced he was showing The Burning Moon it was a bit of a shock. This German movie was shot on video so it really only exists in a digital format. I missed the previous week’s showing, but apparently when announcing he was showing The Burning Moon, Carlson told people specifically not to come see it. Not only is it shot on video but it’s also such an extreme gut punch that they would just hate it. He probably said it much more cleverly than I (and this is why we love Zack), but you get the idea. Regardless, expectations were that the audience would be thin and there would be walk outs, so the movie was shown in the much smaller Alamo Ritz theater that only holds 70 people.

Halloween White Elephant: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

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From Brian Salisbury–“Knowing Noah’s proclivities as well as his blind spots, I continued with the theme of Italian horror. Noah seems to know Fulci pretty well, but that’s about it. I don’t blame him, Fulci is my favorite as well and Argento can get a little flowery with his more supernatural stuff. But his giallo films are fantastic and I wanted to expose Noah to that side of him as a filmmaker.” 

If you’re a horror fan you’re almost instantly required to be a fan of Dario Argento. Well, that seems to be the general consensus in conversations I’ve had. Unfortunately for my status, I’ve never really found his movies to be all that compelling. I believe the man produces some beautiful looking films and his influence on how horror films are shot is undeniable. I’m also a fan of the music he chooses for his movies, whether it’s working with Goblin or Ennio Morricone, the soundtracks are nearly always a treat. And to be fair the man helped to write The Church, which I already stated is a favorite of mine. However, when Argento delves into the realm of gialli he loses my attention completely. To be fair, I’ve really not seen a compelling giallo as of yet. I’ll keep looking.

Halloween White Elephant: The Church (1989)

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From Brian Salisbury–“I assigned Noah THE CHURCH for a couple of reasons. The first is I know he’s not really big on Italian horror, which is ultimately chief among his many character flaws. In all seriousness, I know that our intimate horror circle (a term having almost nothing to do with masturbation) loves the DEMONS franchise by Lamberto Bava and THE CHURCH is (un)officially considered the third chapter of that story. I am interested to see if I can trick Noah into liking this Italian horror film via the similarities it shares with an Italian horror film he actually enjoys. Because gift-giving, in the end, is all about trickery and hoodwinking (again not a self love term).”

When Brian assigned me The Church I was actually quite excited. I’ll be honest here and say that while I do enjoy a lot of Italian horror films, I’m not quite as enamored with the giallos that many horror fans are so fond of. I much prefer my horror like I like my whiskey, straight, on the rocks…with a lot of blood…and no mystery nonsense. Let’s just say The Church is right up my alley with its critical eye on the religious persecution of supposed witches, demonic insanity, self-mutilation and shithouse rat crazy ending.

Halloween White Elephant: Les Diaboliques (1955)

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From Brian Salisbury–“Noah watches an unholy amount of shit. Don’t get me wrong, I watch some bad movies myself. But Noah revels in, for example, making his way through the entire National Lampoon’s catalog of direct-to-video garbage. For once, I wanted Noah to watch something of the utmost quality that was still a first-class horror film. Hopefully, he won’t be dismayed by the lack of tits and fart jokes.”

Rumor has it that the film rights for Diabolique were purchased by director Henri-Georges Clouzot mere hours before Alfred Hitchcock had a chance to snap them up. And while I am a fan of Hitchcock’s work, I don’t feel he could possibly outshine Clouzot with the material, as Diaboliqueis an absolute classic and stunning movie.Set in the French countryside at a private boys school run by an abusive headmaster, Michel (Paul Meurisse) and his gorgeous wife Christina (Véra Clouzot). As the school year comes to a holiday break, Christina talks with her husband’s mistress and fellow teacher at the school (how awkward is that?) about how she cannot stand to be with her husband any longer and a plan is hatched to get rid of him. Leaving the schoolhouse on holiday Christina and Nicole (Simone Signore) head to Nicole’s summer house to establish an alibi, as they prepare for Michel’s inevitable arrival where they proceed to drug him and drown him in a tub. It’s not until they return to the school and dump the body in the pool that things take a turn for the worst. When the investigation by the police begins, a more sinister plot reveals itself. Over the course of its run time we’re treated to a complex and thrilling story that takes several unexpected and spooky turns.

Terror Tuesday Report: Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile

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The Film

Edward Theodore Gein is one of the United States most notorious killers and disturbed human beings. With an actual body count of only 2 people, Gein was known for digging up graves of recently deceased women to fashion keepsakes from their skin and bones. And it’s this level of depravity that has given rise to the notoriety of this sick puppy which has spawned many of our horror movie icons. Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Normal Bates from Pyscho and Jame Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs are all based in some form or fashion on mister Gein. However, the most accurate depiction of his crimes comes in the form of the 1974 film Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile, which was recently shown as our Terror Tuesday selection at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Fantastic Fest Third Wave Trailers

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Today Fantastic Fest has unleashed it’s third and final wave of movie announcements. To say we’re excited would be a huge understatement. The lineup this year appears to be incredibly solid with lots of US premieres and even an extra special screening of An American Werewolf in London with a guest appearance by Rick Baker and a special Mondo poster from Olly Moss. This is only the tip of the iceberg on the amount of cool stuff the festival even has to offer. Listed below is the final wave of films they’ve announced, along with our usual collection of trailers where we could find them.

Note: The synopses below the trailers are from the official Fantastic Fest Website.

Fantastic Fest 2nd Wave Trailers

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Today Fantastic Fest announced the second wave of programming for it’s annual film festival. Of course everyone here at Horrors Not Dead was excited to see the releases and we’ve put together a collection of links to all the trailers we could find for the named films along with the descriptions from the press release.

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