Inching towards mediocrity.


Still scary after all these years. (Now with 58% more Bruce Campbell!)

Well.

It is officially Halloween Eve-Eve-Day. Can ya FEEL IT?!?

Halloween has always held a special place in my heart. I’m not “goth” by any means, but a holiday based around the macabre warms my heart for some reason. I love the supernatural. I love that “other world” that rests just slightly to the left of ours, here, but not here – yet always in danger of letting something loose into our dimension…something different, something Not Quite Right. Shapes and creatures that shift and ripple, always staying just out of focus to to the human eye – because if they ever did come into focus, the mere sight of them would loosen your mind from whatever moorings held it in it’s place, sending it floating away like a boy in a balloon (topical!), while blood poured from your nose and your hair turned to white.

I love scaring people and being scared. I love horror movies. The gorier the better. The gruesomer the better. I don’t know why – maybe I’m morbid. Maybe I’m not. Because I’m not alone in my love for these films. And the more violent and ridiculously over-the-top, the better.

It’s schlock. It’s camp. It’s not real.

And it’s fun. Key-word, there. FUN.

What does Christmas have, after all? Family? Reindeer? Goodwill towards men?

Psssh. Give me Bruce Campbell cutting down hordes of the undead with an arm made out of a chainsaw anyday. Give me corny one-liners from Freddy Krueger as he tears some kid apart with one clawed hand. Pumpkin pie? Give me Pumpkinhead. Freshly fallen snow? I’ll take an extra dose of freshly spilled blood, please. (Created by a special effects team with just the right amount of corn syrup and food dye, of course.)

Let’s revel in madness for a bit…and, just to make sure you can make your way back, let’s throw in some good old fashioned laughs with that good old fashioned terror while we’re at it.

Here’s a rundown of yesterdays bottom six:

10. The Frighteners. (1996)

Michael J. Fox sees ghosts for fun and profit – until things, inevitably, go horribly wrong. Jeffrey Coombs shows up briefly, but memorably, to be awesome.

9. Dead Alive (Brain Dead). (1992)

Peter Jackson gives us a heaping helping of over-the-top, ridiculous, gory camp. And god bless him for it.

8. Beetlejuice. (1988)

Michael Keaton steals the show from Tim Burton, and just about everyone else, in this goofy supernatural comedy.

7. Return of the Living Dead. (1985)

Zombies head off in search of brains – with hilarious results!

6. Re-Animator. (1985)

Jeffrey Coombs is back to raise hell, and the dead, in this Lovecraftian horror. With hilarious results!

5. Shaun of the Dead. (2004)

Two slackers take on the zombie apocalypse in this very funny, very, original, very British film

And now…let’s get bloodier! (But we’ll play if for laughs, so it’s totally okay.)

Four: An American Werewolf in London. (1981)an american werewolf in london

John Landis, the used-to-be brilliant comedy director of such classics as “The Blues Brothers” and “Animal House”, tackles the horror genre – and brings some laughs with him. Griffin Dunne and David Naughton star as Jack and David, two Americans lost in the English countryside, who disbelieve the frightened townspeoples warnings about full moons and werewolves until it’s to late.

A funny movie, with great performances from the two leads, sure…but the real star here is Rick Baker’s Acadamy Award winning make-up work. David’s initial transformation from uncouth American to uncouth-er werewolf is a treat to behold. Keep in mind, this was before the advent of CGI, and long before that technology was allowed to run amuck – much like the werewolf in this movie. Practical effects are where it’s at, folks, and ths movie is a wonderful showcase for them. And, soon, I’m sure these classic films will be the only place we can still witness those effects.

Three: Evil Dead 2. (1987)

evil dead 2Ash is back, baby. And this time – it’s personal.

Part sequel, part remake, “The Evil Dead 2” is a genuine cult favorite – and for good reason. It’s bizarre, gory, hyperkinetic, and, perhaps more importantly, slapsticky enough to resemble a Three Stooges film…and all thanks to the genius of writer/director Sam Raimi. His style is original, his ideas, batshit crazy. From Ash’s prolonged battle with his own severed hand, to his eventual prosthetic replacement (a chainsaw), this movie showcases some truly unique sight gags and visual stimuli.

Which is all very well in good. Yeah, it’s original. Yeah, it’s over-the-top funny. Yeah, a chick gets raped by a tree. But we all know there’s more to this movie’s charm than that. Precisely One Thing More.

Bruce Campbell.

If schlock horror B-movies had a chiseled, heavily chinned face – it would be the face of that man. Bruce. Campbell.

The dude is the greatest living embodiment of B-movie horror greatness, and the Evil Dead films were the perfect outlet for him to perfect his cult idol status. And he damn well knows it. And relishes it.

If you haven’t seen any of the Evil Dead films, you are missing out.

Two: Young Frankenstein. (1974)

young frankensteinGene Wilder might just be the greatest comedic genius of all time. There. I said it. And this movie certainly supports that statement.

Along with co-writing the script with comedy legend Mel Brooks, Wilder stars as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein – who, despite being a member of the dreaded Frankenstein clan, really has no interest in reviving dead tissue, thank you very much.

But when a solicitor arrives with news of his inheritance (his family’s estate), the old Frankenstein spirit resurfaces, and he resumes his families morbid business with zeal – aided by his two new assistants, the lovely Inga (Teri Garr) and the bizarre Igor (Marty Feldman.)

The cast is fantastic. The aforementioned Wilder, Garr and Feldman hit all the right notes, and Cloris Leachman and Peter Boyle as the Monster only add to the lunacy. Throw in Kenneth Mars as the ridiculous Inspector Kemp, and an unexpected cameo by Gene Hackman as a blind hermit, and you’ve got one of the most perfect casts every assembled for a comedy movie (the number one movie on this list has an equally impressive cast.)

The jokes come fast and furious, spoofing Universal horror movies, musicals and even (at least then) current events at a breakneck pace, all while leisurely circling this absurd cast of characters.

While not particularly frightening, it’s one of the most impressive comedies I’ve ever seen, and will always remain a favorite. Mel Brooks may not be the genius he once was, but this is a prime example of him, and Wilder, at the top of their game.

One: Ghostbusters. (1984)

ghostbustersWhat else?

“Ghostbusters” changed my life. I’m dead serious. This movie stands out as a landmark to me. As a film enthusist, as a comedian, as a writer, as a goddamn human being – this is it. This is the big one.

“Ghostbusters” is a nearly flawless film.

The cast is unbelievable. Bill Murray, Dan Ayckroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis…it’s like a who’s who of comedy elite. Throw in some Sigourney Weaver, some Ernie Hudson, and some William Atherton (who would make a very fine living in the ’80s playing assholes) to round out the cast, and you’re golden.

The music, the writing, the ghosts. Again, no reliance on CGI. And they still look great. The Staypuft Marshmallow Man – iconic. The lines…Murray’s ad-libbing is ridiculous, gelling well with the script, and the other actors. Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, Zeddemore…names that will live in infamy forever. These guys are the real deal. Real dudes fighting ghosts. Wearing volleyball pads on their elbows and sporting equipment that is untested and designed by themselves. Brilliant.

Scary? No. Hilarious? Always. The movie still holds up to this day. None of it seems dated in the slightest (alright, maybe the dog-demons at the end look kind of sketchy). The cast has amazing chemistry, and bounce off each other like pros. (Which, I guess, they were.)

This is one of my all time favorite movies…definitely one of my top comedies of all time, and clearly, my favorite comedy horror of all time.

Who you gonna call?

Well.

There you have it. Agree, disagree? Let me know. There’s a lot out there, for sure. In fact, here’s some more Honorable Mentions:

Arachnophobia. (1990)

Gremlins. (1987)

Army of Darkness. (1992)

Tremors. (1990)

So that’s it for me this week – and until Monday…

Happy Halloween, from the Tabby-ban!

kitty

*cue spooky laughter.*

Pretty scary, eh?

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