Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Steve Sandberg ""

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Steve Sandberg

Steve is a part-time student, and writes film reviews on his blog at Movie Marathoning ( His love of horror began at a young age when he discovered a single VHS tape containing Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, An American Werewolf in London, and Creepshow in his basement, and he's been educating himself since.
On twitter here: 

I know, kicking off an 'Underrated Horror' list with a movie that received a Scream Factory special edition Blu-ray seems inaccurate, but among die-hard horror aficianados and Wes Craven fans alike, Deadly Blessing doesn't seem to get much respect. That's a shame, because the movie is loaded with creepy atmosphere, features a supremely menacing performance by Ernest Borgnine (suck it 1982 Razzies), and an ending that will shock and surprise even the most disengaged viewers. It's a little dry at times, but Deadly Blessing deserves some of the same reverence that Craven's other classics receive.

I'll admit that a lot of my love for this film is based primarily in nostalgia, but Happy Birthday To Me is way too bizarre to be written off as just another cynical slasher cash-in of the early '80s. Not only does it feature several inventive, nasty (and often wondrously silly) kills and Glenn Ford explaining some highly questionable medical science, but it also consists entirely of characters who seem either mildly unhinged or full-blown psychotic. This gives the film a wonderfully unsettling tone, despite a pretty dopey screenplay. As dumb as it gets, Happy Birthday To Me is a genuinely entertaining, frequently creepy vintage slasher.

WAXWORK (1988)
Far different from the other "creepy wax museum" films I've come across, Waxwork takes ambitious steps in bringing its characters not just face to face with creepy wax exhibits, but makes those exhibits portals into bizarre fantasy realms. This allows the film to get somewhat meta at times, poking fun at specific horror sub-genres while also genuinely exploring them. The inside-joke humor, coupled with the chaotic climax, crowded with classic movie monsters, makes an easy argument for Waxwork as a proto-The Cabin in the Woods. Throw in John Rhys-Davies and some unexpected kinkiness, and you have what should really be a huge cult classic.

John Carpenter's directorial output post-They Live is generally regarded as mostly worthless (an opinion I can sorta sympathize with, but I definitely don't agree with). But 1993's In the Mouth of Madness is not only a terrific horror film, for my money it's one of Carpenter's best. The inventive literary storyline, paying homage to Lovecraft and King, is intriguing and pays off in a beautifully twisted finale, and the creature designs and special effects are classic. The fact that this is finally getting a Blu-ray release this October (after years of being out of print on DVD) makes me overjoyed, as it should all Carpenter fans.

I hate ghost hunter TV shows; I hate their obnoxious hosts and their staged scares and their staggering popularity. Anytime I encounter a fan of these types of programs, I try to recommend Grave Encounters. The film is hardly obscure, but seems to have gotten lost amid the Great Found-Footage Horror Epidemic of the late 2000s (the crisis has slowed, but continues to this day). It succeeds greatly in poking fun at the sub-genre of "paranormal reality" while still giving fans exactly what they secretly desire from these shows. It's sly fun that has a small following (and a disappointing sequel), but it deserves to be appreciated by the mainstream as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree on IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. Unfortunately, it's also just about the last good thing that Carpenter has done.