Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Guest List: Mike Ensley's Underrated Horror Films ""

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guest List: Mike Ensley's Underrated Horror Films

My friend and drive-in movie connoisseur Mike Ensley cranked out today's list and it's a good'n indeed! Check out Mike's Nightmare Theatre and his excellent podcast, The Podcast that Dreaded Sundown. Highly recommended are the episodes on the films of Charles B. Pierce & George Romero. Now check out Mike's list!


1. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1977) – Charles B. Pierce’s low budget, high atmosphere thriller. When the hooded killer is onscreen, slowly stalking his victims, the tension is almost unbearable and the sheer brutality of his crimes is still shocking.


2. The Night Stalker (1972) – Made for TV by Producer Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows), The Night Stalker has so much great stuff: a script by the legendary Richard Matheson (based on Jeff Rice’s novel), a cast featuring veterans like Simon Oakland, Claude Akins and Elsiha Cook, Jr. and a great villain, in vampire Janos Skorzeny (Barry Atwater). But the real key to the film’s success is the charm and wit of Darren McGavin as reporter Karl Kolchak, a man in over his head, who is forced to be the hero.


3. Dagon (2001) – No one does H. P. Lovecraft better than director Stuart Gordon and this adaption combines elements of the short stories Dagon and The Shadow Over Innsmouth to create a creepy, non-stop chase in which the dread escalates at every turn.


4. Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) – While this film treads the familiar vampire mythos, it
succeeds by adding a swinging 60s vibe to the mix. Robert Quarry is absolutely wonderful in the lead role.


5. Macabre (1958) – The first horror film by the King of Ballyhoo, William Castle is the gruesome story of a disgraced doctor whose daughter is buried alive. Features veteran actor Jim Backus as one of the sleaziest sheriffs in film history! (just released as a Warner Archives DVD-R.)


6. Incubus (1965) – William Shatner stars in this surreal, satanic themed-film, which features dialogue exclusively in Esperanto. The real star of this film is the beautiful cinematography by three-time Academy Award winner Conrad Hall.


7. The Diabolical Dr. Z (1966) – One of the best of Euro-Sleaze master Jess Franco’s filmography (I know, that’s not saying much…). This film features imaginatively creepy sequences and is beautifully shot, using its black and white canvas to its fullest potential.


8. Sting of Death (1965) – Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, the monster suit is cheap and ineffective. Yes, it has Neil Sedaka singing “Do The Jellyfish.” But there’s something really charming and fun in a MST3K-kind-of-way about Director William Grefe’s man to jellyfish monster transformation flick!


9. Grave of the Vampire (1974) – Genre great William Smith stars in this surprisingly graphic flick, in which a woman raped by a vampire gives birth to hybrid son, who grows up to hunt down his “father.” Written by David Chase, who would go on to create The Sopranos.(Currently on Netflix Instant)


10. Martin (1977) – George Romero is best-loved for his zombie films, but it’s his take on the vampire mythos that may be his best film. Dark, violent, funny and sad – Martin hits all the right notes and leaves the viewer wondering what is real and what is fantasy.

10 comments:

J.D. said...

Great to see THE NIGHT STALKER and DAGON on yer list! Both personal faves of mine. And you're the second person to speak highly of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. I must watch this film...

YRAGAEL said...

TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN has some great proto-slasher moments, but sadly hasn't aged well. And that trombone+knife killing scene is REALLY one of the dumbest kill scenes in all of horror cinema. Definitely worth a look for slasher film completist.

Shiftless said...

I must see Grave of the Vampire now!!!

sleestakk said...

GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE looks delicious. Very inspiring list. A few of these are going on my immediate list of need-to-view-now titles. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

Graygrrrl said...

Ohhh!! I love "Macabre"! Thanks for including it

Aaron said...

I love NIGHT STALKER, or anything Kolchak or Darren McGavin-related for that matter! Nice to see MARTIN get some props on someone else's list as well. Wasn't a fan of COUNT YORGA at all, but I do like the cadt - Donna Anderson from WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS and the gorgeous Judy Lang in what was sadly her only film role that was worth a shit. Good picks, Mike.

Aaron said...

*cast

?uestion said...

Thanks for everyone's comments! It was a fun list to do. As for The Town That Dreaded Sundown, it's certainly not a perfect film, but it holds a special place in my heart and is a well done piece of regional drive-in cinema. I am a big Charles B. Pierce fan and would also recommend The Evictors. Grave of the Vampire is so odd that it deserves to be seen. Everyone's lists have been so informative! Thanks again, Brian!

Ned Merrill said...

I'd say the kill scenes in TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN still pack a major punch, including the trombone killing. I'm not so keen, however, on Pierce's insistence on comedy (maybe if it was funny) and the ever-present narrator. Otherwise, it's very much a precursor to ZODIAC.

Stephen said...

Great list. I always thought Count Yorga was an underrated vampire flick. One of the original and best movies to bring vampires into the modern, swinging world.