Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Guest List: Hal Horn's Underrated Horror Films ""

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest List: Hal Horn's Underrated Horror Films

Continuing with the series of guest lists relating to horror films I have scheduled for this month; here we have a fantastic assortment from my good friend Hal Horn. Hal runs THE HORN SECTION, which is a favorite blog of mine and a treasure trove of wonderful film obscurities. Highly recommended. He has a post about the upcoming release of Roger Vadim's oddball classic PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW. Also check out his series called "Why the Hell isn't this on DVD yet", which most recently included Robert Clouse's THE PACK, an "animals attack" favorite of mine. Have a look at Hal's Underrated horror list(in no particular order):


The lone directorial effort from Philip S. Gilbert, and a definite influence on NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (check out the crispy-faced killer here) and HALLOWEEN (the hammerin‘ intro). Len “Uncle Leo” Lesser, Melody “Wrangler Jane” Patterson, Vic Tayback in ass kicking form (!), THE BIG HEAT’s Gloria Grahame, and a very young Dennis Christopher. The lowest budget you can imagine, which makes it all the more fascinating. Sleazy and really sick.


The Wes Craven film no one seems to remember, but it starred a young Sharon Stone in her second film, with the equally sexy Maren Jensen, and the ever-popular Ernest Borgnine. Falters near the end but is well worth seeking out.


Michael Myers is missing, it is a HALLOWEEN flick in name only, and the plot is very silly when you get down to it. Still it is imaginative, surprisingly gory, and that damned Silver Shamrock jingle will stick in your head for days afterward.


Literate, intelligent horror from director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale moves a tad slowly for the modern audience, but features Peter Cushing (excellent as usual) and Forrest Tucker (also terrific as the ‘ugly American’ in this British production) searching for the title creature in the freezing mountains. Still not as well known as it should be; the cheapie THE CRAWLING EYE seems better known among Tuck‘s British horror excursions, but this one is a legitimate classic, and 53 years later, still the best film about the Yeti.


No Lugosi in this direct sequel, which is one reason it isn’t as ubiquitous as, say, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, but a daring amount of homoerotic sexuality for a post-Production Code film from its decade and a hypnotic performance by Gloria Holden. The thinking person’s horror film of the 1930’s.


Hoodoo (a practice) has been explored by far fewer films than voodoo (a religion), and the two are often mistaken for one another. But enough hair-splitting that you can look up for yourself on wikipedia. This Kate Hudson vehicle boasts a tight script by Ehren Kruger (THE RING), a clever twist, very good use of the historic Felicity Plantation, and memorably creepy cameos from Ronald McCall and Jeryl Prescott. I couldn’t say much more without spoilers, but IMO this one was unfairly dismissed by critics in the summer of 2005.


Speaking of voodoo….SUGAR HILL has the misfortune to share its name with a well-known 1994 Wesley Snipes vehicle. Starring Marki Bey (should have been Rosalind Cash IMO) and 1970’s horror icon Robert Quarry. This revenge tale might lack the star power and nudity of a FOXY BROWN or COFFY but it boasts perhaps the quintessential screen interpretation of Baron Samedi, a terrific and scene stealing performance by Don Pedro Colley. Also with Zara Cully (THE JEFFERSONS).

J.D.’S REVENGE (1976)

An excellent lead performance by Glynn Turman as a modern day student overtaken by the ghost of a 1940’s gangster. One of the better possession-themed EXORCIST ripoffs, with Lou Gossett Jr. (too young for the role, the biggest flaw) as a minister with skeletons in the closet, and some welcome nudity from Joan Pringle (THE WHITE SHADOW). Turman is better known to modern audiences for his role in A DIFFERENT WORLD but he had some plum roles in the wake of his great performance in COOLEY HIGH in the mid-1970’s. Directed capably by the also underrated Arthur Marks (FRIDAY FOSTER, BUCKTOWN).


It might be more accurately called the most stylish of all revenge films. It certainly demonstrates that The Bard offered death scenes several centuries ago that could rival any slasher flick in gruesomeness. Vincent Price is better remembered for his DR. PHIBES films or his Poe series for AIP, but this film from Douglas Hickox represents Price’s horror film apex (along with THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL). As disgraced Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart, Price gets the last laugh on several of his critics. A very classy cast also includes Diana Rigg, Robert Morley, Michael Hordern and Coral Browne, a.k.a. Mrs.Vincent Price. Catch it on MGM HD if you possibly can.


Peter Fonda and Warren Oates get a little too close to a Satanic sacrifice while on vacation, and face one of the many far-reaching conspiracies from cinema’s post-Watergate period. Directed by Jack Starrett (CLEOPATRA JONES) and also starring Loretta Swit, Starrett and R. G. Armstrong.


Damocles66 said...

Brilliant stuff. A couple I consider standards, and I couple I am unfamiliar with. I have The Skeleton Key om HD sitting abandoned and forgotten on my shelf. Never gave it a shot after the unanimous slagging it seemed to receive. Guess I will have to bump it up the queue. Thanks for your insights.

btsjunkie said...

Great list! Even though JD'S REVENGE is one of my favorites, I constantly forget about it. Was crushed to miss a 35MM screening of it recently.

Unknown said...

Love DEADLY BLESSING even if the ending evokes SLEEPAWAY CAMP a little bit. It also features a very young (and beautiful) Sharon Stone. Also, Michael Berryman has a nice, small bit in it, too.

Cinema Du Meep said...

Excellent list. Glad to see Sugar Hill, Race With The Devil and Deadly Blessing getting the attention they really deserve.

SteveQ said...

I've seen all but Skeleton Key. Real mixed bag - completely disagree about some of them (my fave (not best!) Yeti movie has Joy Lansing parachuting in swimwear - you could look it up).