Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - A.J. Hakari ""

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - A.J. Hakari

A.J. Hakari runs CINESLICE( and can be found on twitter here:
His reviews and general movie chatter are worth a look and I must admit he's turned me on to many a film.

The Abominable Snowman (1957) - A botanist (Peter Cushing) and an American showman type (Forrest Tucker) join forces as they traverse the Himalayas in search of the famed Yeti. But as their hunting party's numbers begin to dwindle, the more possible it becomes that the stuff of legend is very much a reality -- or is it?! You see, The Abominable Snowman is one of the most atmospheric Hammer chillers for a very good reason: you don't see much. A brief flash of what may or may not be a hulking beast is all you get, and the various victims bringing about their own demises due to panic, greed, etc. further enhances the suspense. The Abominable Snowman has you guessing whether or not there really is a monster until the end, with the wintry and isolated setting doing a darned good job of giving you the jitters in the meantime.

Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) - I know, I know, it sounds like the British equivalent of a blaxploitation flick. “Hey, you know that Dr. Jekyll? What if he turned into a chick?” Presto, you not only have yourself an attention-grabbing title but also, surprisingly, an extremely creative spin on a story that’s been adapted, copied, and diluted to death. Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick play the two halves of one very confused person, a hopeful scientist some of the time and one murderous mutha the rest of the time. Chuck in elements of Burke & Hare, Jack the Ripper, and plenty of gender-bending subtext, and what plays before you is an incredibly effective film that manages to be disturbing on any number of levels. 

Night Creatures (1962) - Of all the titles on this list, Night Creatures is the one folks might dispute over being an actual horror movie the most. Set in an old-timey coastal village, the flick involves in part some supposed “marsh phantoms” that haunt about, but it’s primarily concerned with a troupe of the Crown’s finest investigating a town that has more than some booze-smuggling to hide. That said, Night Creatures has the feel of a classic ghost story, and as scarce as its explicitly supernatural elements are, it conjures a spooky aura regardless. The story does a nifty job keeping you interested, what with depicting both the soldiers and the townsfolk as being as morally-shifty as the other. Night Creatures is simple in scale but has the effort of a pro seeping through every one of its fog-drenched frames. 

Quatermass 2 (1957) - Sandwiched between The Quatermass Xperimentand Quatermass and the Pit, two erstwhile hailed features that bored me to tears, was a mid-quel that sure piqued my interest. Scientific maestro Dr. Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) takes a break from devising rocketships to battle an alien invasion that comes in the form of the most ghastly gas and goo you’ll ever see outside of a Taco John’s restroom. Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style shenanigans follow, and rather than succumb to the dull pacing of the other two pictures in the series,Quatermass 2 does a jolly good job of sustaining tension throughout. With the odds so stacked against our hero and the otherworldly threat so seemingly omnipresent, just how can Quatermass save the day? Just snatch up this engaging sci-fi/horror pow-wow to find out -- but don’t forget to check for goo first. 

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) - I’m sorry to say that this one is a bit more traditional in style than Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, so there’s unfortunately not much naughtiness to go around. But hey, sometimes the classic formula is classic for a reason, and this thriller that sees Paul Massie play kindly old Dr. Jekyll and his handsome, homicidal younger half Hyde shows you just why. Massie’s performance is absolutely compelling, showing us a Jekyll who’s almost willingly oblivious to the hurt being committed against him on a daily basis and a Hyde who relishes the opportunity to serve as a murderous outlet for his emotions. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll is a battle of good and evil that spends its time frolicking in that gray area in between, the results of which make you think as much as they freak you out.

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