Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Guest List: Peter Peel's Favorite Underrated Horror

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guest List: Peter Peel's Favorite Underrated Horror

If anyone ever asks me for a recommend on a good movie blog I say they should check out Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, I give it my strongest recommendation. The man behind the blog is one Peter Avellino. Should you decide to make a regular habit of visiting his blog or following his twitter, you won't regret it. What you'll find is thoughtful, entertaining film writing as well as a man with fantastic taste in cinema. Please do yourself the favor. Peter has done me the favor and honor of writing up a little entry for me. Enjoy:
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Truthfully, I’m never very good at coming up with these kinds of lists. I always feel like I’m forgetting something and, to be honest, it’s very possible that if I put this list together tomorrow or next week all the titles would be completely different. And what is an underrated movie in this day and age, anyway? A few movies that I thought of and love for various reasons, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE STEPFATHER and DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE, seem too well known by now to go on such a list so I didn’t include them. Whether I’m wrong or right, I have no idea. So instead of calling this a list of my most underrated horror movies, let’s just call this a list of films which I admire for various reasons—they’ve either fallen through the cracks or have been stranded outside the mainstream somewhere and are therefore invisible to the likes of most people as well as the sort of thing covered by Entertainment Weekly. But if somebody I know wanted me to show them something they may not seen before, or even bee aware of, right now these films are a few that would come to mind, horror films (or at least close to what would be called horror films) that really deserve to be better known than they are.


BODY SNATCHERS (1994) dir. Abel Ferrara


THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA (1971) dir. Paolo Cavara


DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971) dir. Harry Kümel


HORROR EXPRESS (1973) dir. Eugenio Martin

LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971) dir. John Hancock


MESSIAH OF EVIL (1971) dir. Willard Huyck


PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) dir. John Carpenter


PSYCHO III (1986) dir. Anthony Perkins

RAW MEAT (1972) dir. Gary Sherman


THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (1996) dir. Dario Argento

It’s not the most earth-shattering list, I admit that. The fact that I’ve included several from the early 70s either says something of my own limitations as a moviegoer or it just says something about the kind of filmmaking style that has the potential to genuinely interest and unnerve me. But in each of these films I can point to something that I love, something that I get a genuine cinematic charge out of, whether I’m reminded of the spontaneous applause that burst from the opening weekend Westwood audience during the single greatest moment of BODY SNATCHERS, the amazingly twisted nature of PSYCHO III which is genuinely surprising when looking at it now, the J&B drenched giallo sleaze of BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA that I kind of love as well as the overriding dread that is maintained throughout PRINCE OF DARKNESS, a very good John Carpenter film that has been slightly forgotten amidst the deserved praise of HALLOWEEN and THE THING. And it makes me think how unfair it is that something as undeniably transgressive as THE STENDHAL SYNDROME has gotten lumped in with Dario Argento’s other, lesser work from the past two decades and how it deserves much more than that. Mostly I suppose the twisted nature of these titles remind me why I love films. Are they underrated, overrated or rated just fine? I’m not sure. But, for me, they deserve to be better known than they are.

10 comments:

Will Errickson said...

I rewatched DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS just last week, and while I've always like it, this time it became one of my favorite horror films. Everything seemed in its right place and Delphine Seyrig's performance is simply one of horror's best. Plus the little bit of it having no fade to blacks, only fade to reds...

sleestakk said...

I came close to placing Stendhal Syndrome on my list! Compared to Argento's earlier work it doesn't get a fair shake but I've always enjoyed it. Was wondering if someone would include Black Belly. Hopefully by the end of this exercise there will be close to 100 solid titles for underrated horror.

J.D. said...

Nice to see some love for LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, a genuinely creepy, atmospheric films. Love this one!

Drew said...

Fantastic list! I might actually prefer Ferrara's Body Snatchers to both the original Siegel classic and the Kaufman version. It's just incredibly atmospheric, and captures that sense of foreboding so well.

Kümel is of course a tremendously underrated director, and Daughters of Darkness is a typically strong entry in his oft-overlooked oeuvre. And I really love Messiah of Evil, it's as if Antonioni had made a horror film.

Looking forward to catching up with the stuff here I've not yet seen!

Graygrrrl said...

Yea! More love for Ferrara's "Body Snatchers"! I also have to say "The Stendhal Syndrome" is awesome and a great way to intorduce the uninitiated to Argento.

Rupert Pupkin said...

I really really need to rewatch Ferrara's BODY SNATCHERS as it's been a looong time and I recall being let down by it. Thankfully it's on Netflix instant so I can do that soon. Also, have never seen STENDHAL and that's also on Instant and is at the top of my queue!

Aaron said...

More love for LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH! Always great to see that movie get some attention. Nice list, overall. I haven't seen STENDHAL SYNDROME yet, but I plan on checking it out very soon.

Shiftless said...

Good call on Prince of Darkness, it's a very underrated and atmospheric JC film. Stendahl Syndrome rarely gets its due coming late in Argento's downward death spiral. I watch LSJtD on a regular basis, just a great low key horror film.

Trick or Treat Pete said...

Prince of Darkness has a couple of scenes that still creep me out, the transmission/dream sequences. Those are just really creepy, from the way they look to the way they sound, just creepy as heck!
Great list once again!
Dreaded Dreams
Petunia Scareum

le0pard13 said...

PRINCE OF DARKNESS is the one that still haunts me. Especially so this week with the untimely death of Lisa Blount. Thanks.

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