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Trick ‘r Treat (2007, USA)

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology is a Halloween classic that no fan should miss. The film is an anthology composed of four interconnected tales that are all brilliantly shot and suitably scary.

The fact that this film is not derivative in any manner is a near miracle. Each story has a life of its own and fits together seamlessly with the next. The scares, dark comedy and bloody violence are well balanced and I can see watching Trick ‘r Treat each Halloween…

“If you don’t follow the rules tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.”

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Humanoids from the Deep (1980, USA)

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Humanoids from the Deep, directed by Barbara Peeters (and an uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami), is an American science fiction monster movie produced by Roger Corman and New World Pictures.

Star Ann Turkel has stated that what began in pre-production as “an intelligent suspenseful science-fiction story” soon became an exploitative splatter movie. Roger Corman, disappointed with the rough cut, requested that further sex be shot and inserted into the final cut.

“They’re not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating.”

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Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Today, when we refer to modern horror icons we still mention the now decades old Michael Myers from John Carpenter’s Halloween, Freddy Kruger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason Voorhees from Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. This is testament to their popularity, that has arguably surpassed that of both Universal and Hammer’s horror creations. It is perhaps then surprising to horror newcomers that the character of Jason is notably absent for the majority of the original Friday the 13th.

“They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.”

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In Memory of Tobe Hooper: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, USA)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper was one of the most influential horror directors of all time. His vision and intelligence can be seen in almost every slasher and splatter film over the last forty years and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Hooper’s masterpiece.

Originally conceived as a faux film “based on true events”, Hooper did draw inspiration from the story of Ed Gein, a murderer, grave robber who had a predilection for a number of other unsavory character traits.

“What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real. Once you stop screaming, then you’ll start talking about it.”

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The Blair Witch Project (1999, USA)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is ‘The Cardiff Giant’ of modern horror films. The film employed the now common trope of “found footage” to give an authentic and haunting atmosphere to the story. The movie was also one of the first to use the internet to reinforce the found footage concept, going so far as to hire actors to pose as policemen for interviews and post pictures of artifacts found at the crime scene.

“In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary… A year later their footage was found.”

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Ulzana’s Raid (1972, USA)

Ulzana's Raid (1972)

The Western is the most American film genre of them all, encompassing a variety of themes and time periods. The 1970s were a fertile period for films that questioned traditional beliefs about our country’s march towards the Pacific, the interests of big business versus individual rights, its treatment of the indigenous peoples and notions of heroism.

Ulzana’s Raid can be viewed as a horror movie that takes place in the West or a Western with all the trappings of a horror film.

“One man alone understood the savagery of the early American west from both sides.”

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It Comes at Night (2017, USA)

It Comes at Night (2017)

Deceptively titled and oddly mis-marketed as a horror movie, Trey Edward Shults’s second feature It Comes at Night, might much more appropriately be viewed as a ‘post-apocalyptic psychological family drama’.

I’m often loath to place a movie under a genre classification, because certain movies might straddle several genres and don’t easily fit into pigeonholes.

However, if you go to see It Comes at Night expecting a conventional horror film, you will be disappointed… or perhaps you’ll be surprised.

“You can’t trust anyone but family.”

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The Return of the Living Dead (1985, USA)

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The attempt to combine humor and horror is a dicey proposition at best, which makes this film all the more extraordinary. The Return of the Living Dead weaves the two genre together seamlessly, each one complimenting the other. The screenplay and cast are perfect, with the always reliable Clu Gallagher holding the action together. A group of attractive young people plays their roles with a combination of believable finesse, terror and hormonal fever interspersed with slapstick style hysteria. Any movie with Linnea Quigley as part of the cast certainly is headed in the right direction.

“They’re back from the grave and ready to party!”

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, UK / USA)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The concept of the ‘beautiful female corpse’ is by no means a new idea in the realm of gothic horror. In fact, it has been a stalwart of the genre since it began. Edgar Allan Poe was particularly partial to it and Bram Stoker took it to its natural conclusion when he hit upon the novel idea of having alluring dead ladies start walking about and seducing people.

Norwegian director André Øvredal follows up his found-footage indie sleeper Troll Hunter, with English-language debut The Autopsy of Jane Doe – a gory excursion through a dead woman’s innards.

“Every body has a secret.”

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Truck Stop Women (1974, USA)

Truck Stop Women (1974)

This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.

“No rig was too big for them to handle!”

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014, New Zealand / USA)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

There have been hundreds of vampire films made worldwide and dozens of vampire comedies produced as well. However, none of them comes close to combining horror and humor effectively as What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do in the Shadows has been highly praised by the mainstream press, and rightly so. Although not a cinematic masterpiece, this New Zealand gem has everything a fan could ask for- blood, guts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and more laughs than any so-called comedy of the last decade.

“Some interviews with some Vampires.”

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The Curse (1987, USA / Italy)

The Curse (1987)

Adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Colour Out of Space, David Keith’s 1987 directional debut The Curse is remarkably faithful to the source material; albeit poorly executed.

I must admit that I was unaware that The Curse was a tale of Lovecraftian horror until I realised the thematic similarities to Daniel Haller’s Die, Monster, Die! (1965); wherein a radioactive meteorite hits Earth with horrific consequences.

“It takes your body. And your mind. Then it takes you straight to hell…”

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