Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Noah Lee ""

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Noah Lee

Noah Lee is a part time contributor to Film Threat (http://www.filmthreat.com) focusing mostly on coverage for SXSW and Fantastic Fest and also one of the HorrorsNotDead team (http://www.horrorsnotdead.com). He also watches hundreds a movies a year and keeps track of them with the Tallyteers, a group of fanatical movie watchers. Check him out at Twitter at @noahphex, his personal website (http://www.noahphex.com) or at his movie logging website (http://movielogr.com/members/noahphex).   His is a longtime contributor here at Rupert Pupkin Speaks and we love getting his lists!
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I’m always happy when Brian asks me to do these lists. It’s interesting to go back and reminisce on things I’ve seen over the past year that stood out, or movies from my past that I love and nobody talks about. Doing the comedy and drama lists were a nice change of pace but honestly, I spend a good portion of my year watching horror movies so this list is far more in my wheelhouse than the others. Much of what I watch ends up being mediocre to terrible, as all movies go, but then sometimes you stumble on something that is special and really stands out. Here are some of my recent favorites that I feel are really underrated and deserve to have more eyes on.

Blood Lake (1987) - Director: Tim Boggs
A shot on video horror movie that I was lucky enough to see at a screening at the Drafthouse. They’ve been running a series now for a while called Video Hate Squad that shows movies only available on VHS and we were luckily treated to this Canadian oddity. For one, it’s Canadian and for me, that always means something special. I don’t know if its the maple syrup, Tim Hortons or cold weather but something our Great White North cousins have makes for special films. Blood Lake is the classic “kids go on vacation and meet a killer” trope, but what makes this particularly great is the director’s enthusiasm but also one particular young cast member who plays Little Tony. This kid is so full of spunk and quotable one liners that it’ll leave you wishing he had more than just this one role. Never before has watching a group of teens eat sandwiches, play quarters and waterski or extended shots of ducks on the lake been so entertaining. Oh yeah, there’s a killer too. He wears a cowboy hat and tucks his jeans into one boot and has a knife. That’s not important, because we just want to know if Little Tony is going to get laid and if those ducks are ever going to do anything. I’m not sure how this is available but use any means necessary to track it down, get a bottle of Crown Royal and some Molsons, invite some friends over and take a drink every time Little Tony says something inappropriate.

The Kiss (1988) - Director: Pen Densham
Starring Joanna Pacula, this tale of two sisters (no, not like the Korean film) who are separated when kids, weaves African magic, some gruesome kills and yeah, some kissing. It starts out with a bang when the mother of the girls becomes possessed by a tribal idol and passes on some kind of demon to her daughter by kissing her. Oooh taboo! I’m not sure what was in the kiss but then she ends up a corpse. Maybe revenge for kissing your daughter? Cut to modern times and the sister who was separated is now grown up and has a daughter of her own and is living in the ideal Midwest housewife life with a pool in the backyard. Get used to that pool, too, because her daughter loves to swim and Densham loves to show her swimming, over and over. The mother mysteriously dies and the sister comes back, demon hell possession breaks loose and insanity ensues. It’s all pretty great stuff and a movie I had never heard of until recently. Because there’s so many great moments in this, it’s an easy one to recommend, especially if you like escalator kills.

Spider Baby (1968) - Director: Jack Hill
Okay, maybe this is fairly well known in horror circles, but I hadn’t seen it until recently, and on a gorgeous 35mm print. I never really hear of anyone championing it, but they should! Spider Baby is balls out crazy. I don’t say that lightly either. Lon Chaney Jr stars, as does a very young Sig Haig. The tale of a caretaker who is watching over a family of three very demented children in a remote mansion is at the centerpiece. The two sisters of the Merrye family and their young brother are the unfortunate recipients of a familial disease that causes them to mentally regress to around 10 years old. It’s when their extended family shows up to try and get their hands on the family fortune turn up that things go south. One sister likes to play “spider” a game where she throws a net on her victim, then stabs them to death with two knives. Where she learned this little party trick is anyone’s guess but it leads to a dark, creepy and oftentime hilarious movie. It’s very hard to believe a movie like this could've even been made but let’s be glad it was.

U.F.O. Abduction (1989) - Director: Dean Alioto
Another shot on video film, but this is a found footage style movie that pre-dates The Blair Witch Project by 10 years. The movie presents itself as the home video of the Van Heese family celebrating a young girl’s birthday. While taping the party at a dinner table in their rural Connecticut home the power goes out. When the men of the family go to investigate they see some strange lights in the sky and decide to follow them to figure out what is going on and have a run in with some aliens. The only available versions of this are well worn copies of the original VHS that have been digitized so even though it’s sometimes hard to see what is going on, it adds to the overall eeriness of the proceedings. It’s easy, by today’s standards, to watch this and feel like the whole thing is scripted but the family really comes off as quite genuine. As the video progresses and people go missing and it leads up to its ultimate namesake it certainly generates some hair raising moments. Many people at the time thought this was real and because of its popularity Alioto remade it in 1998 with a budget larger than its initial paltry $6500. You can find a copy of it on Youtube and I suggest turning the lights off and firing it up and seeing if you think its real and the whole movie idea is a cover-up!

Resolution (2013) - Directors: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead
I always like to shine a spotlight on modern films where directors are pushing the boundaries of horror films or just making flat out great movies. Resolution just recently hit Netflix Instant but has been making the rounds at film festivals over the past year or so. It never had a theatrical release so its certainly underrated. Taking the story of an intervention, where a friend locks his best friend in a cabin in a remote woods to get him clean and then introducing some strange artifacts that he finds around the room that tell a grisly tale, Resolution ends up doing something really fresh. It’s a slow burn movie but one that does it with smarts and an attention to a script that demonstrates the directors understand how to generate fear without relying on jump scares, but rather through atmosphere, music and pacing. I don’t want to give anything away but let’s say all the build up is well worth it. Even better, the performances from its two leads Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran feel completely natural and fresh. This is a movie I wish had made it to the big screen but we’re lucky to be able to watch it now. So do that, go watch it now!

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