Boo, I Tellsya: The Absolute Toppest Horror Movies Ever

The chilling climax of Assisted Living Dracula, which did not make the list.

Since I wrote a book about a horror punk band maybe people care to know my favorite horror movies. Emphasis on “maybe.” It’s understandable if you’re only here killing time until the next dumb cat video.

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

So close to perfection you can barely talk about it. Seems like the most accurate portrayal of what lycanthropy might be like (see: uncontrollable gore, psychological fraying, corpse humor). David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are genius together, the Hope and Crosby of onscreen bloodshed.

THE BAT (1926)

Bob Kane copped much of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego from this story, and it’s not hard to see why. Such striking imagery, thick atmosphere (particularly for a movie that takes place almost entirely in one house). The Bat is the best pre-Burton Dark Knight, though this flying rodent has no heroic intent.

THE BLACK CAT (1934)

Lugosi. Karloff. A torturous secret. Great suspense. Delicious turns from two spook masters. Should be up there with Dracula, Frankenstein, et al.

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)

Gonzo horror at its finest. Could you breathe the first time you watched this one? Bruce Campbell delivers a career-defining performance. Makes Elm Street look like “Sesame Street,” Friday The 13th look like Nancy Drew.

FREAKED (1993)

Bonkers carnival movie that also succeeds at skewering our country’s sick tabloid culture. Funny, sardonic, but I can’t stand to even glance at Alex Winter in that mutant bat makeup. Also, those giant sentient eyeballs with arms and legs (that are also Jamaican for some reason) wig me out.

GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

The ultimate power trip: harnessing the fury of the atom to capture evil spirits for profit. Only bureaucracy stands in our heroes’ way. Even when it does, they still have that boss car and an endless stream of wisecracks.

HALLOWEEN (1978)

The first time we realized William Shatner’s pasty visage could be an instrument of evil. What’s more horrifying, though: the anonymous killer hunting teenagers or the fact these teens have no grasp of local history?

JAWS (1975)

Frightening beyond belief because there is no supernatural element. Sharks are real, and there’s nothing fantastical about them nibbling on a human.

NOSFERATU (1922)

Max Schreck’s makeup is amazing and his movements are hypnotizing. On top of that, Murnau’s direction is wonderfully feverish. None of it seems real. Sticks in your craw like the best kind of haunting.

PSYCHO (1960)

It’s a testament to this film’s genius that so many decades and parodies later you can still watch it and hope against hope that Anthony Perkins is innocent. The score might be the greatest in horror history. The entire score, that is, not just the “ei ei ei ei!” part.

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)

Everything is sort of romantic and intriguing until Lon Chaney’s mask comes off. Then the fur starts flying. Unlike most modern horror movies where the titular evil is allowed to escape in case of sequel, here we get to watch a zealous crowd beat their ghoulish tormenter to death. Cathartic.

POLTERGEIST (1982)

“The Simpsons” made a joke out of “can’t sleep, clown will eat me,” but in Poltergeist that terror is all too real. Ground zero for the movement against all grease-painted jesters. Not that I’m downplaying the movie’s bigger theme: manufactured communities are evil, as are those who develop them.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

Not traditionally in this genre but sneaks in thanks to its bleakness. Two robots fighting over the seed of the only woman who has foreseen the apocalypse. Of course no one believes her, so they have her committed. Also, one robot is comprised of an indestructible liquid. Any way we can downgrade to evil clowns?

Please feel free to bombard me with angry comments and angrier e-mails concerning the lack of Leprechaun movies on this list.

Unsolicited Thoughts/Notes On Grease 2: Pfeiffer Boogaloo

- I have no affinity for the first Grease but my house mates were watching this last night and I have an iron clad rule about always stopping to view anything with Eddie Deezen

- Michelle Pfeiffer often resembles Deborah Harry in her role as Stephanie, which is probably no accident; according to Grease 2 lore (now there’s a phrase) the filmmakers approached Harry for the female lead but Deb felt she was too old to be playing a high schooler (never mind that everyone in Grease 2 is too old to be playing a high schooler save Pamela Adlon)

- if we’re to believe this movie, the sport of bowling is an alien concept to the British and they need guidebooks just to have conversations about it

- if we’re to believe this movie, Adrian Zmed is a fucking great singer

- Eddie Deezen is only in Grease 2 for about three minutes and does not seem to be present at the final graduation scene (spoiler alert); this must mean Deezen’s character flunked out or died…we’ll never know for sure, though, because plans for Greases 3 & 4 were scrapped after this one imploded at the box office

- can you imagine the suffocating reheated hell of a Grease 4?

- it’s incredible how absolutely bland the music is in this high profile major studio musical; Michelle Pfeiffer’s big number is called “Cool Rider,” about how she wants to date a cool rider (of motorcycles), making “Greased Lightning” from the first movie look like Chaucer

- Tab Hunter is in this; yes, they make him sing, but he emerges unscathed

- of course the action climaxes in a motorcycle melée/pie fight that breaks out in the middle of a homecoming luau, but since this is Grease 2 the entire set piece is less exciting than a trip to Big Lots

- if you’re in the market to make ninety minutes feel like five hours, run don’t walk to the nearest copy of Grease 2

- if you’re in the market for gratuitous Deezen, take your ass to War Games

Q: What’s The Most You’ve Ever Spent At Goodwill?

A: Over the years I’ve probably spent tens of thousands at Goodwill, but the most in one fell swoop was $50 for the suit I wore to my ten year high school reunion. Kind of a charcoal grey number I set off with a dark red shirt, no tie. I guess I sort of looked like a 1980s business version of the devil, but it was comfortable and stylish and I think everyone was a little too drunk to fully realize any Satanic implications.

Unfortunately, I did not own a camera at that point in my life, so I do not have several Facebook albums dedicated to this ensemble’s greatness. Trust me, it looked cool.

Fifteen Hall Of Fame Drummers From The Past Score & Five

Joel Robinson demonstrates his BGC-19 kit, not utilized by anyone listed.

The Drumming Hall of Fame: as far as we know, no such place exists, not even within the angular confines of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe that’s a good thing. The Rock Hall’s stirred up enough controversy as it is with their general inductees. Look, I have nothing against Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’re fun. However, if you put a gun to my greasy noggin and pose the question “funk crossover?” Faith No More will come up first.

But I digress. If there was a Drum HOF and they were looking to honor the best players from the past twenty-five years, the following fifteen people would get my vote, first ballot. Assuming I could participate in such an election process. I’m not really a part of drum writing’s sacred cabal.

TIM ALEXANDER

Drumming in Primus seems like a thankless task, but Alexander’s handled it with aplomb. He has no problem letting the other instruments breathe without sacrificing his own unique flair. A true craftsman’s touch.

MATT CAMERON

Matt takes the scenic route to the benefit of many a Soundgarden recording. Even their weakest stuff is interesting thanks to his little flourishes. He’s also been in Pearl Jam now for god knows how long; that surely speaks to something considering PJ’s previous drumming turnover rate.

JIMMY CHAMBERLAIN

The Chamb (as no one calls him) strikes such a nice balance between the fanciful and the forceful. He also managed to navigate the Corgan minefield for an impressive stretch. Seems like a mensch outside the drug abuse and the Dutch Schutlz haircut.

DALE CROVER

Slogging away in the Melvins, Dale has developed his own cult, and for good reason. He maps out those throbbing rhythms like a conquering hun.

JOSH FREESE

Pretty versatile in his session work (Guns n’ Roses, Sting, Ween, Perfect Circle, DEVO), equally versatile on his home court with pop punk clowns the Vandals. Loose, limber, electric, Josh has helped keep the Vandals a joy far beyond their sell-by date.

DAVE GROHL

Shades of Bonham, right? Can you think of an album Dave’s tapped on that isn’t classic? Even the first Tenacious D is held in esteem because of Grohl. The only drummer on this list your grandchildren’s grandchildren will know in absolute terms.

JOEY JORDINSON

Like Primus, Slipknot would be unlistenable without the right person steering the rhythmic ship. Joey’s a busy drummer but never lets his rolls get away from him. Extra props for commercializing so many death metal moves.

NICK MENZA

There’s a reason Megadeth fans are constantly up D. Mustaine’s ass to reform the Rust In Peace lineup. Menza brings that clean, precise heavy metal fury. Extra props for his dedication to UFO culture.

ANDERS MØLLER (A.K.A. GLUEROS BAGFIRE)

A hard call only because I have so much reverence for the Danny Young era of Gluecifer, that glorious span of time when they were the greatest hard rock band America was ignoring. The white hot early stuff with Anders is what got me there, though. A great melding of punk speed and classic rock cues.

CHARLES MONTGOMERY (A.K.A. CHUCK BISCUITS)

Has anyone ever played with so much reckless abandon yet remained so precise and powerful? Has any other drummer for Danzig been able to so precisely match that singer’s strength and swagger? Doesn’t seem like coincidence that Danzig’s career began wobbling once Chuck departed.

HUGH O’NEILL

Hugh’s meter was offensively good, the best in ’90s punk. Don’t Back Down is still the top Queers album thanks to his presence. What a crime cancer took him from us in ’99. Desperately wanted to hear his next moves.

DAN PETERS

His Mudhoney band mates jokingly call him “Tippy Tap” due to some perceived lack of power, but that light n’ limber touch works wonders when the guitars are vomiting up ’60s fuzz. Motherfucker can jam, too.

AHMIR THOMPSON (A.K.A. QUESTLOVE)

Dumbledorish in his musical knowledge, which of course informs his fantastic percussion. Superb control. Obliterating the stereotype that all drummers are one dimensional drooling clowns.

JANET WEISS

Always impressive to hear the inventive turns and accents this Sleater-Kinney stalwart utilizes. Seems to be much Bill Ward in her playing.

ADAM WILLARD

The Rocket From The Crypter who can shift tempo on half a rusty dime. So exuberant, such a party when he’s thumping away.

So who would you vote for?

Current Fashion Role Model

Tommy Stinson, seen here performing at the final Replacements gig, July 4, 1991. Not sure what you’d call this look (power pop bohemian?) but I want to dress like it every day. Photo by Bob Ingrassia; click here to see another one of Bob’s ‘Mats photos and a little write up about his experience attending this storied event. Yes, they played “Within Your Reach.”

Area Man Brutalized By Pop Tart

The relief map of Hawaii you see on my hand in this photo comes courtesy of a Family Dollar brand frosted toaster pastry (a.k.a. a fake Pop Tart). During this morning’s toasting procedure, the pastry cracked, allowing a few globs of s’more-flavored filling to leak out. Said globs came in contact with my palm as I attempted to remove the pastry from my non-industrial toasting device, searing me like a branding iron.

Coincidentally, just yesterday I was joking on Twitter about the possible radioactivity of Family Dollar brand frosted toaster pastries. Oh, how carefree I was in my mirth, unaware of the shocking and dangerous truths at hand.

I’ve been toasting edibles for over thirty years and nothing like this has ever happened before. Family Dollar, why do you put lava in your frosted toaster pastries? More importantly, why don’t you list the lava in the ingredients? I would have never purchased your off-brand Pop Tarts had I known they contain molten rock.

Yes, I’ve already picked myself up a nice pair of toaster-friendly wooden tongs. Thank you for your concern.

Q: Whattya Reading Lately?

A: Thirty-Nine Years Of Short-Term Memory Loss by Tom Davis; yes, he jumps all over the place and spends too much time talking about the Grateful Dead, but it’s still an entertaining read that offers many a colorful Al Franken story (if you can’t handle Al Franken at his worst you don’t deserve him at his best). All I Did Was Ask by Terry Gross; she mines gold out of Albert Brooks and Grandmaster Flash, manages to handle the entitled jackassery of Gene Simmons with grace. Flipped through Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams; apparently he had great difficulty straightening his hair as a youth. Flipped through Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? by Robin Gardiner; reads like incomplete text book translated from a few different languages.

Just started Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking; so far so candid and engaging.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91 other followers