Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Mike Williamson ""

Friday, September 6, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Mike Williamson

Mike Williamson is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, having directed for Spike TV's "1000 WAYS TO DIE", Black Box TV, the Hulu/Bloody Disgusting web series "Killer Sisters Midnight Hour", and the award winning short film "In the Wall".

He also programs the free monthly cult film series "Secret Sixteen" at Jumpcut Cafe, where a 16mm film print is screened to an unsuspecting audience who doesn't know the title but has been given hints throughout the month.

On twitter he's @mrfutterman(so named based on a character from his favorite film):

Tobe Hooper's 1995 freakshow is often dismissed right out of the gate because of the ludicrous setup: A haunted laundry press. But to me, this bold, berserk movie is one of the more exhilarating pieces of pure cinema the 90s delivered. As close to German Expressionism as I've seen in any modern entertainment, "The Mangler" is so electrifying because of its ludicrous nature, not in spite of it. Nightmarish production design in an exaggerated industrial style, over the top acting, unhinged camera work, and colorful-cartoonish lighting blend together to deliver a movie that never fails to make my head spin with delight. I mean, this is a movie so out of its mind it cast post-"Silence of the Lambs" Ted Levine, in all his sleazy-baritone mumbling glory, as the GOOD GUY! A must see for any fans of the truly bizarre.

Hammer is more well known for its updating of classic Universal movie monsters in blood dripping Technicolor, but for me, this abnormal foray into haunted house mysteries is the best film the studio produced. As nerve wracking as "The Haunting" or "The Innocents", this black and white thriller deals out the heebie-jeebies in spades, aided by fantastic performances and a cracker jack script Jimmy Sangster which has a doozy of a double twist ending you'll never see coming. Should be an undisputed classic, but amazingly is only a footnote in the genre.

No, not the Wayans Brothers spoof. This 1991 indie horror film was shown in art houses around Texas, where it was filmed, before fading completely into obscurity. Self released on VHS locally, the film has never received domestic distribution - which is shocking once you actually see the film. It's good. VERY good. And surprisingly has one of the earliest starring roles of highly regarded actor John Hawkes. The story is an easy sell for horror fans: A funhouse carnival on Halloween night with an escaped madman on the loose. But instead of dealing up a straight forward slasher, the then 19 year old writer/director instead went psychological; showing Hawkes' mental breakdown while trapped in the funhouse. It's not a perfect film (like I said, the director was 19), but it's an extremely impressive debut that should be seasonal viewing for any fan of quality indie horror. But alas, it's essentially unattainable aside from a youtube link recently uploaded by the film's composer.

I could do an entire list of underrated horror films just from director Freddie Francis, who I consider to be one of the most underrated directors of all time. Inventive scene blocking and camera work always elevated the sometimes dreary scripts he was dealt. But in "The Psychopath", he was given a solid script by Robert Bloch and Francis directed the hell out of it. Clearly commissioned to wring more juice from his successful "Psycho" script, Bloch wrote something similar in name only. This whodunnit, involving a series of murders where creepy handmade dolls are left behind with the corpses, would be included in every list of essential early giallos or slashers if it was Italian or American. But because of its British nature, and the lack of similarly styled films from English studios to be categorized with, it's never mentioned at all.

You can usually hear the record player screech to a halt when I tell people I like William Friedkin's "The Guardian" more than "The Exorcist", but it's true. It's not a better film, but the pitch black fairy tale nature of the narrative is so deliciously wicked that I find "The Guardian" more re-watchable. I also find myself more frightened by the woozy, dreamlike tone of the film than the stark reality of "The Exorcist". "The Guardian" seems unhinged; like a waking nightmare filled with Hansel and Gretel witches and hellish forests of living, twisting trees. The stuff nightmares are truly made of. Mine, at least. Highly recommended for fans of supernatural fantasy frights.


Unknown said...

Rockula - 1990. Lunchmeat rules!!!

Ryan Dean Tucker

Evan said...

There's certainly tons of underrated Horror movies, but one of my favorites that I rarely hear mentioned is Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead. With flashbacks to WWII, Medieval Times, the Crucifixion of Jesus, and a finale with about 30 minutes of straight Zombie killing, what's not to love?

Unknown said...

Frankenhooker. I love this movie and I think it gets overlooked.

Unknown said...

I would have to say Warning Sign, that movie never geta props!