Rupert Pupkin Speaks: More Underrated Horror? ""

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More Underrated Horror?

Here's one more round of underrated/obscure horror titles from me! I just couldn't help but put together another short list, the spirit of all of these is so infectious! I went with a few campier titles here that could potentially play more funny than scary, but they are nonetheless films I dig and recommend!
Oh and if you missed my first Underrated Horror list, here's that one too:

THE OTHER (1972; Robert Mulligan)
I am pretty excited that this movie just got a nice Blu-ray release from Twilight Time as I thought it might be one that'd never show up (esp in high def). Very creepy and sometimes perplexing but done in that 1970s "art horror" kind of way that I really like a lot when I am in the proper mood. For more of my thoughts on this one, check out my review of the new Twilight Time Blu-ray:

WITCHTRAP (1989; Kevin Tenney)
A favorite of master film programmer Phil Blankenship (of Heavy Midnites), this movie from director Kevin Tenney (WITCHBOARD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) had some unfortunate sound issues and had to be entirely re-dubbed after filming. As I've mentioned before, this kind of dubbing can give a film this quasi-other universe feeling that can sometimes play to it's benefit. This film has screened once (thanks to Phil) in Los Angeles, which would have been amazing as it has some outstanding crowd-pleasing moments and dialogue. It's basically the story of a team of paranormal investigators who go into a supposedly haunted house to try to figure out the deal there. Shit goes crazy basically and it's a hoot of a good time to watch this movie. VHS only and it sounds like there's a good chance it may stay that way. Seek this one out.

DEAD BIRDS (2004: Alex Turner)
From screenwriter Simon Barrett (YOU'RE NEXT, V/H/S) comes this low key creepy gem that genuinely scared the hell out of me the first time I saw it on DVD years ago. It helps the movie that it starts Henry Thomas in one of the main roles. Since I am a longtime fan of his from the 80s (especially in CLOAK & DAGGER and THE QUEST), it really helped bring me into the story and since I was unused to seeing Thomas in a role like this, it probably made the film scarier.
SON OF BLOB (1972; Larry Hagman)
"The Blob is back in a horrifying new adventure!"
Cheesy, but not without some effective moments, this follow-up to the original 1958 classic is much lesser known and yet still worth a look. I like that it brings the blob to early 70s and that it was directed by Larry Hagman himself (was sold as "The Movie that J.R. shot!")!. Hagman himself stars as do Burgess Meredith, Robert Walker, Cindy Williams, Carol Lynley, Godfrey Cambridge and Dick Van Patten. Feels like a 70s disaster film meets a Blob film. It is also know as BEWARE THE BLOB. DVD is out of print now, but it can be found on Youtube if you're interested.

FROM HELL IT CAME (1957; Dan Milner)
One of only a handful of 'killer tree' films out there. More silly than scary, but I put this in a class with something like THE GIANT CLAW (which came out the same year) in terms of entertainment value. An early Warner Archive dvd release and one of the first ones I picked up from them years ago.

THINGS (1989; Andrew Jordan)
Truly in a class by itself as are most of the Intervision DVD releases (see: SLEDGEHAMMER & THE BURNING MOON). A disjointed, dreamlike (see: inexplicable) narrative and otherworldly dubbing really bring it to a special place though. I have trouble trying to describe it so I just recommend you check it out for some thoroughly satisfying WTF viewing. The closest I could come up with was if David Lynch and James Nguyen collaborated on a lower budget remake of THE DEADLY SPAWN, but that doesn't quite cover it.
Intervision's special edition DVD is pretty spectacular in that it includes a director commentary and glowing praise in the form of short interviews with the likes of Tobe Hooper, Jason Eisener, Frequent RPS Contributor Paul Corupe and Joseph A. Ziemba.

TWISTED NERVE (1968; Roy Boulting) 
The most famous whistle-based theme music from the movie that most folks have nver heard of. I first came across this via Quentin Tarantino playing it at one of his Austin Film fests years ago. He of course used the now infamous whistling theme music(composed by Bernard Herrmann) in KILL BILL. The movie itself is a fun creepy deal wherein former Disney poster girl Haley Mills(who I had such a crush on when I was a kid) is a little older(& sexier!) and now finds herself pursued by a deranged rich kid(who first meets her by pretending to be mentally handicapped in a department store). 

DISCONNECTED (1983; Gorman Bechard)
Like THINGS and OGROFF, this is another mesmerizing oddball that captivates while it perplexes. An old man asks a young girl to use her phone and then seems to disappear inside of it and haunt her through it (I think?) for the rest of the movie, while a creepy dude stalks her (and eventually dates her) at her video store job. Bizarre is one way to put it, but bizarrely compelling is a better way to put it. Sadly, this one may never come out on DVD as it sounds like the director has moved on to documentary filmmaking and doesn't want any prospective collaborators to see it. Boo!
Heard this one mentioned on the Mike Williamson(Of Secret Sixteen) episode of the Killer POV podcast and it also cropped up in Phil Blankenship's VHS Gems list from last year.

WOLFEN (1981; Michael Wadleigh)
Horror fans are certainly aware of this film, but between THE HOWLING, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (which both came out in 1981 as well) and even SILVER BULLET, this movie often gets lost in the shuffle a bit and that's a shame. It gives a new twist on a werewolf-type tale and has some interesting ideas at play. It is a well shot film (in 2.35 to 1) and has a strong cast featuring Albert Finney, Gregory Hines, Edward James Olmos, Tom Noonan, Reginald Veljohnson, James Tolkan and an uncredited Tom Waits. Now Blu-ray yet, but I am kind of hoping Warner Archive might just pick this one up and give it some high definition love.

Honorable Mention:

THE VAGRANT (1992; Chris Wallas)
Bill Paxton plays an anal retentive analyst who buys his first home across the street from a refuse-strewn vacant lot. As he's moving in, he notices that a disgusting, deformed vagrant is in his home and using his sink (via the back door). What follows is a progressive descent into paranoid madness as Paxton does everything he can to keep the vagrant out. Would make an interesting (if more darkly comic) double feature with OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN in that both films deal with men trying to protect the sanctity of their homes. It also feels a bit like a companion piece to something like THE DARK BACKWARD.  The movie's score by Christopher Young is unusual and unsettling, working well to up the movie's anxiety quotient.  Cast includes Marc McClure as Paxton's best buddy, Stuart Pankin as his boss and Michael Ironside as a homicide detective. Mel Brooks was an executive producer on this which is fascinating as it's probably the darkest film he's ever been attached to. It's kind of like SAW meets NEIGHBORS.
THE VAGRANT is part of Scream Factory's new All Night Horror Marathon 4-Movie set.

1 comment:

giles edwards said...

I love the 1,2,3 punch of WITCH BOARD/WITCHBOARD 2 and WITCHTRAP. my VHS of the latter is a treasured relic of my teenage years, when a Linnea Quigley shower scene was the cherry on any rental cake.