Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Horror - Spenser Hoyt ""

Monday, October 28, 2013

Favorite Underrated Horror - Spenser Hoyt

Spenser Hoyt works at Scarecrow Video, the Seattle Public Library and helps out at The Grand Illusion Cinema. He contributed a bunch of reviews to Destroy All Movies!!! and sometimes does stuff on the internet when he’s not busy watching movies or listening to records.
Rituals (1977)
Often dismissed as a Deliverance rip off (it isn't), this creepy Canadian backwoods thriller has been one of my faves since I first caught it on late night TV back in the eighties. Hal Holbrook leads a bunch of egotistical doctor pals into the deep wilderness for a retreat but things soon go from bad to worse. Made before the slasher boom the film avoids any soon-to-be clichéd dead camper stuff and, instead, gradually builds into something much scarier and more believable.

Dr. Butcher MD (1980)
Yeah, I know this is now available on DVD in the original Italian cut as Zombie Holocaust but for old times’ sake I genuinely prefer the vintage Wizard Video VHS edition of the AmericanizedAquarius Releasing theatrical version. For the original stateside runthe film was given a great new title, it’s running time trimmed, scenes from another zombie movie were tacked on to the start and the entire soundtrack was replaced by an enjoyably dated analog synthesizer score. The best part is an 8 or so minute condensedmini-movie that is made up of the movie’s goriest highlights.

Out of the Blue (2006)
I suppose it may be in bad taste to pick a true crime film for an underrated horror list but I tell you what, this New Zealand movie scarred me more than anything I’ve seen in a while. Based on the Aramoana Massacre in which a guy totally lost his shit and went on a brutal shooting spree in a small seaside village. I wasn’t aware of the horrific incident before I saw this movie and, apparently, it stays quite close to the actual events resulting in a harrowing and unpredictable viewing experience.

Doctor X (1932)/Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
Please forgive me, I always get these movies mixed up but I like them both so, what the hell, I’ll pick them both! The two pictures share the same director (Michael Curtiz) and cast members (notably Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill), they feature a semi-annoying comic relief reporter, and were shot using an unusual early color film process. If you dig 30s style thrills and chills then these are well worth your time. Mystery of the Wax Museum is included as a special feature on the recently released Blu-ray of 1953’s House of Wax.

Island Of Terror (1966)
This one scared the shit out of everybody at my junior high that caught it on the late show. It’s not a Hammer production but some people think it is because: A. It’s British. B. It’s Directed Terrance Fisher. C. Peter Cushing stars.  On a remote island live there are these tentacled, turtle-ish, bone sucking monsters called Silicates that are sorta like European cousins of the Boogens. The uppity critters move out of their lairs and terrorize the island’s human inhabitants causing lots of mayhem and mutilation. It’s another winner produced by the great Richard Gordon.
The Norliss Tapes (1973)
Dan Curtis followed up his classic The Night Stalker with this similar made-for-TV horror film intended as the pilot episode for a series about a paranormal investigator not named Carl Kolchak. This time around the reporter is played by Roy Thinnes and he has vanished but left his editor a box full of cassette tapes. The show would have featured stories built around these tapes but all we got was this initial supernatural encounter about a sculptor attempting to make a physical vessel for a demon. It’s another solid offering by the master of seventies TV horror.


Spenser Hoyt said...

Please excuse the typos in Island of Terror. I must have not properly saved an edit or something...And thanks to everybody else for all the great lists!

Spenser Hoyt said...

And, of course, I was scared not scarred by OUT OF THE BLUE. Why the hell is it so easy to see f ups after the damn thing is postered? I mean Posted? Thanks again RUPERT for a great sereis.