Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Sean Wicks ""

Friday, September 20, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Sean Wicks

Sean is a good friend of mine and he runs the Cinema-Scope blog( which is very much a sister blog to my own. An all-around social media whore, he's very active on twitter(, tumblr( facebook(, and letterboxd(
Like most film fans of our generation, horror movies have always held a fascination for me. As a kid they always seemed "off limits", so adult that my parents would make sure we veered away from that section in the video store. My mother grew up watching older horror movies with her sisters and my grandmother so she loves them (while my father grimaces, makes fun of us and buries himself in a crossword book or disappears upstairs to watch a sporting event).

In High School I had a crush on a girl who was a huge horror fan, and so since I worked at a Video Store and this was the 80s, the golden age of the horror movie on VHS, I watched as many as I could so that I could someday impress her by how many I had seen. So I never really impressed the girl (more like the absolute opposite) but didn't give up watching horror movies.

My late-teens cousin is obsessed with horror and watches every single title she can get her hands on, and when I visit we binge watch them on Disc as well as Netflix. I also have become a huge fan of the SCREAM FACTORY Horror label (courtesy of Shout! Factory). Managed by Jeff Nelson, these films are given the deluxe treatment on Blu-ray and DVD with quality transfers and fantastic special features while some other studios have taken to just dumping their catalog on the market, if they release them at all. This has allowed me to tap into a genre I feel that I have only scratched the surface of.

So when Rupert approached me about assembling an under-rated horror list (I contributed to Comedy, but missed time) I jumped at the opportunity.

So without further adieu...

1) SHOCKER (1989, Dir: Wes Craven)
I remember seeing this on opening Friday night, and the crowd being so into the movie it was infectious. The film stars future Director/Producer Peter Berg as a High School football player who after helping to catch a serial killer (Mitch Pileggi of X-FILES and SONS OF ANARCHY fame) who "dies" on the electric chair, is then stalked by that same killer who has somehow used electricity to bring himself back from the dead and get revenge. This movie is a riot and in the hands of veteran horror director Wes Craven (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) has a mix of just about everything - comedy, action, drama and of course...horror.

I believe I included it on my overall list of under-rated films, and more than deserves the top spot here. I would love to see Scream Factory get their hands on this film (hint, hint).

2) MUTE WITNESS (1994, Dir: Anthony Waller)
One of the great advantages of working at a Video Store (when they existed) was the fact that as a lover of all things cinema I would go to work and be surrounded by movies. For a period during college I worked at Dave's Video: The Laser Place in Studio City (kind of competition to Laser Blazer in West L.A. where Rupert once worked) and was introduced to this surprisingly suspenseful movie.

Marina Zudina plays a make-up artist working on a horror movie in Moscow when she is locked in the studio after everyone has left and witnesses a vicious murder. She not only must find a way to get out of the studio alive, but also convince the police that she is in danger. Oh yeah, did I mention she's also a mute!

There are plot twists galore and I remember practically holding my breath through the entire movie - which I viewed several times on Laserdisc. Alec Guinness makes an appearance in what would be his last big screen movie (I believe he did one more TV movie after this before his death).

I can't recommend this movie enough!

3) THE KILLER SHREWS (1959, Dir: Ray Kellogg)
Before he was Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, James Best starred in this horror film that sees him as the captain of a boat that is stranded on an island with his crew as well as a doctor and his daughter while terrorized by gigantic killer shrews (hey look, the title). They must find a way to get to the boat and get off the isolated island without becoming lunch for the shrews.

One of the best elements of this movie is Best's character who is a complete jerk (I'll keep it PG rate here as there are more expletive terms that better define the character). The final exodus to the boat is something to behold.

4) IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958, Dir: Edward L. Cahn)
Another "drive-in" creature feature that has the crew of a spaceship that lands on Mars terrorized by a creature. A rescue ship arrives, arrests the lone-surviving crew member who they think murdered the rest of the crew - except that the real culprit - a murderous and seemingly unstoppable alien life form - has gotten on board the ship and is now after the rescuers.

A fairly suspenseful movie enhanced by a claustrophobic setting and a smart script.

5) LADY IN WHITE (1988, Dir: Frank LaLoggia)
It's 1962 and young Lukas Haas is locked in a closet during Halloween and sees the ghosts of a girl and the man who murdered her years earlier. The killer is now after him and he finds himself strangely drawn to a house inhabited by a mysterious Lady in White (hey look, the title again).

This is an atmospheric horror movie as opposed to a slasher film with a solid performance by Haas. The movie is available on DVD.

No comments: