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.

Fantastic Fest Review: ‘The American Scream’

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One day per year there is a holiday wherein kids can be kids and adults can…be kids too.  This is a holiday enjoyed equally by all ages. That holiday, of course, is Halloween!  Candy, costumes, and celebrations abound! For some it’s a day to be scared, but for others it’s a day to SCARE! And what better scare medium is there than a haunted house?  The American Scream is all about the scare; all about the people that create those haunted houses.

The American Scream is the product of Michael Stephenson , creator of the universally loved Best Worst Movie. Set in the small town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, this documentary tells tells the story of three unique families who spend months preparing for an event that has a single day’s payoff. We have an obsessive-compulsive computer systems manager, a father-son team, and a construction worker. Each of these families has a unique vision of what a haunted house should be, and during the film we watch them implement their distinct visions.

This movie provides a unique insight into how complicated and detail intensive these haunted house constructions can be. A person wanting to construct his or her own haunted house must have a multitude of skills. You must have the eye of an artist, design skills of an architect, the steady hand of a carpenter and the constitution of Rasputin. It take a special person to be a “house haunter” as they are called.

Horror News: Journey to Universal Studios to Visit ‘Silent Hill’

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Every Halloween season, I make my pilgrimage to any haunted house of repute that I can afford to attend. My ultimate goal is to feel absolute fear, confront it, slay it, and triumph over it. As I get older, and as my mind grows harder to the horrors I face at my day job, it becomes more difficult for anything to scare me. But I always keep my eye out for the next challenge.

And I think I may have found it.

I will admit I have never played any of the Silent Hill games, but I have heard many good things about them, particularly the older ones. I have heard them described as exactly the type of claustrophobic, suffocating, paranoia-inducing, slow-tension-building horror that I am drawn to. And the series does have one other good thing going for it. It is the only video game-to-movie adaptation I have ever thought of as not just a competent film, but also one that I actually enjoyed. The story was formula, but the tone and the imagery was haunting, surreal, and disturbing. And, I’m not gonna lie, I really dug the ending.

And now, Universal Studios is bringing Silent Hill to Halloween Horror Nights. On select dates from September 21st to October 31st, you will be able to visit the most infamous haunted town in digital media. But, remember…

“This is not a game. This is not a movie. This is real.”

Introducing HND’s Halloween White Elephant!

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Can you feel it? That palpable fervor in the air, that eerie drop in temperature and the prevalence of scores of leaves on the ground means that October is here, and our favorite holiday is right around the corner. To celebrate the coming of another glorious Samhain, we here at Horror’s Not Dead decided to put a sick twist on a tired old convention normally reserved for Christmas. To wit, I give you the nastiest blood-soaked gift exchange to ever disgrace the spirit of giving. Welcome to the Horror’s Not Dead Halloween White Elephant.

How Does It Work?

Each member of the staff was randomly assigned another staff member for whom he would select four horror films. These may be films the person choosing believes their designated staff member hasn’t seen or just favorites of their own or just films to which they want to mercilessly subject their designated staffer. Every week day in October we will post another review as our staff makes their way through their assigned films. With each review, we will also post the assigner’s reasons for selecting that film for that viewer. Confused yet? Ok, let’s break it down like a fraction…

Let’s say I’ve been assigned Jacob Hall. I would tell Jacob Hall to watch Bubba Ho-Tep without telling him why. But then when Jacob watches Bubba Ho-Tep and posts his review, my reasons for choosing this film for him will appear at the top of that review. This should be a fun way for each of us to reveal what we know, or criminally misunderstand, about each other as horror fans. Tomorrow we will post the first review and we think you’ll have fun following along. If not, I would encourage you to please please please watch as many horror films as possible this month just for good measure.

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