Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - J. Brad Wilke ""

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - J. Brad Wilke

J. Brad Wilke programs feature films for the Seattle International Film Festival and writes screenplays (including, but not limited to, SyFy creature features for Roger Corman). Twitter: @jbwilke.
1) The Lair of the White Worm
Ken Russell made weird, funky movies. However, The Lair of the White Worm, based on an unfinished novel by Bram Stoker (who was in the throes of syphilis at the time), is easily his masterpiece. With a giant worm, a shape-shifting Amanda Donohue, and campy, surreal dream sequences that leave nothing to the imagination, this definitely requires repeat viewing. 

2) Eaten Alive(1977)
Eaten Alive, Tobe Hooper’s criminally overlooked follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is just as raw, gritty and over the top as his career-making opus, but also about ten times more fun. Judd (Neville Brand) is just your average motel operator with a crocodile pit just off his building’s front porch and, thankfully for us, he puts it to frequent use throughout this raucous drive-in classic. Also, features an early appearance from Robert Englund.

3) The Burning(1981)
Part of the first wave of early ‘80s slasher films following in the wake of Friday the 13th, The Burning boasts an original story by none other than Harvey Weinstein (yes, that Harvey Weinstein) and the first on screen appearance of Jason Alexander (Costanza!). Oh, and the movie is pretty good, too.

4) Halloween 3(1982)
The Never Say Never Again of the Halloween franchise, this third installment was intended to initiate an annual “scary movie” released under the Halloween brand, but when it was released to dismal box office and fan backlash for its failure to include Michael Myers (oops) in the story, the concept was quickly scrapped. Nevertheless, this movie stands on its own merits as a creepy, paranoid horror flick that hearkens back to the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s.

5) A Serbian Film(2010)
I will never watch this movie again. I struggled with the decision of whether or not to include this film on the list, but I think it’s, ultimately, a singular achievement that transcends the horror genre and achieves a level of political allegory not often witnessed in cinema. On par with Pier Paolo Passolini’s Salo, but focused on the atrocities perpetrated by both Serbs and Croats during periods of ethnic cleansing in the 1990s, this is a film not to be trifled with.

6) Video Violence(1987)
Video Violence is a bona fide direct-to-video effort (meaning it was actually shot on VHS) that manages to turn its technical shortcomings into effectively creepy, cinema verite gold. Helmed by former video store clerk Gary Cohen, this film explores what happens when the new-to-town owners of a mom and pop video store begin to find freshly recorded snuff films on their recently returned tapes. Begging for a remake.

7) The Stuff(1985)
There are few genre directors in the same league as Larry Cohen, and The Stuff stands shoulder to shoulder with some of his more popular works (depending on your definition of “popular”). Equal parts horror film, paranoid conspiracy thriller, and anti-corporate diatribe, Cohen’s film is a rip-roaring yarn that’s also notable for Michael Moriarty’s off-kilter performance.

8) Chopping Mall(1986)
One of the all-time great b-movies, Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall features all of the necessary staples of ‘80s-era goodness: big hair, killer robots, and naïve teenagers. Produced on the sly by Julie Corman and shot at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, Wynorski’s magnum opus was originally released as Killbots, but after a lackluster opening weekend, distributor Roger Corman pulled the prints, retitled the film Chopping Mall and the rest is history. Also features Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov in supporting roles.

9) Motel Hell(1980)
“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters.” Kevin Connor’s horror-satire, starring Rory Calhoun as Farmer Vincent, is that rare film that succeeds as a genre piece while also subverting (and satirizing) the very genre in which it exists. Don’t miss the dueling chainsaw showdown at the end.

10) Dead Heat(1988)
Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams star as LAPD detectives on the trail of zombies in Mark Goldblatt’s 1988 horror-comedy. Featuring a juicy cameo from none other than Vincent Price, Dead Heat is a smart flick that blends the ‘80s-era buddy cop picture with the humor and irreverence of Return of the Living Dead, creating a hybrid genre (zombie procedural?) that is well worth a look.


Tommy Ross said...

Love THE STUFF (1985), one of a kind film!!

sherpstein said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant.