::Literate Blather::
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Six Obscure Horror Flicks for Halloween

The opening sequence of “Jeepers Creepers” is so damn good that you think you may have stumbled on the “Casablanca” of low-budget horror flicks.

Trish and her brother, Darry, are motoring home for spring break in an old jalopy and engaging in one of those teasing tit-for-tat conversations that can only take place between a woman and her younger brother. There are flashes of annoyance, extreme irritation, and an undercurrent of familiar love.

The writing, the acting – it sparkles.

The car bumps and rattles through farmland – acres of corn, dusty trees, weather-beaten silos, and dusty dirt roads. Then, as the two siblings continue to talk, a truck looms in the rear windshield and rockets up behind them.

Oh, boy.

A pit grows in your belly because, damn it, you already like these two kids and that truck’s got very bad news written all over it (it looks like a rusty hearse made on the Planet of Evil Clowns). And when it starts blaring its horn (which sounds like someone skinning a goat alive), you understand that things ain’t never gonna be the same for old Trish and Darry.

Unfortunately, by the end of the movie, “Jeepers Creepers” lapses back to slasher flick clichés, shattering the promise of the first hour. But the film is definitely worth watching in this Halloween season – shining bright enough to be included on DaRK PaRTY’s reccomended list of six obscure horror flicks that are worth watching in honor of Halloween.

So without further ado – the list:

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Trish and Darry are stalked by the bizarre Creeper – a blood-thirsty creature that looks like a cross between Freddy Krueger and a lunar moth.

Wendigo (2001)

Five minutes into this independent movie by writer and director Larry Fessenden and you realize that you’ve dropped into a scary movie. Not a “horror” flick like the ridiculous “Cabin Fever” or the terrible “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (movies that think scary because they feature buckets of blood, decapitations, and dead teenagers). Fessenden slowly builds a sense of dread by making everyday occurrences slightly off-kilter -- ominous. It's like watching a storm building over a mountain top and the result is that you spend most the movie clutching at your armchair.

An unhappy couple – Kim and George – take their young son to a cabin in the Catskills for a weekend. The marriage is in trouble and there’s considerable tension between the adults and you begin to empathize with young Miles. Its clear George has a lot of deeply buried rage that keeps bubbling to the surface.

When George hits a deer and gets into an argument with three hunters – including the psychotic Otis – you know the table has been set. You can watch “Wendigo” on a several levels. It may be about two angry men coming to blows. Or it might be about the clash of city and country cultures. Or it might be about a shape-changing mythical creature called a “Wendigo.” It might be all or none of these things.

One thing is for sure -- “Wendigo” should not be watched alone.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

This understated movie by Wes Craven stars the always fun-to-watch Bill Pullman. Pullman plays a Harvard researcher who travels to Haiti to explore the possibility that a drug used by voodoo priests might be used as anesthetic. This is a voodoo movie and like all voodoo flicks – it’s extremely creepy (just like the more popular and very uncomfortable “Angel Heart”). Of course, Pullman ends up in a coffin, paralyzed with a fat, hairy spider crawling across his face.

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

A British horror flick featuring a roguishly young Hugh Grant playing a modern day Lord and archeology student on the verge of inheriting his family’s ancient castle and estate. The day before his big party to celebrate his new pad – he discovers a strange skull that resembles a dragon. His ancestor is said to have once slain a dragon and the tale is part of his family’s mythology.

That’s when things get weird, spooky, and, strangely enough, erotic. Enter Hugh’s next door neighbor – a vamping, snake-worshiping, topless Amanda Donohue – who steals this movie right from under Hugh and everyone else. Once Amanda makes her appearance there’s lots to like here: psychotic visions of the crucified Christ, nuns being impaled, and unleashed carnal sex.

Director Ken Russell (“Altered States”) gives you a bizarre, campy flick with plenty of scenes to make you squirm.

Pet Sematary (1989)

This is one of the often forgotten adaptations of a Stephen King novel, but one of the better efforts. King’s books usually make bad movies – which is odd since his novels are extremely visual and are seemingly paced for the cinema. “Pet Sematery” breaks out of the pattern and proves to be an excellent horror movie.

“Pet Sematery” features a horrifying scene as a cute little kid runs away from his parents giggling and veers toward the a windy, rural highway. In the distance, an enormous lumber truck rounds a bend unnervingly fast. The viewer is assaulted with flashes of the father seeing the truck and realizing what is about to happen. Kid toddling toward road. Big truck growling and picking up steam.

It ain’t pretty.

Especially when the cute, little kid comes back from the dead – very pissed off.

Not for the faint of heart.

Eraserhead (1977)

This David Lynch movie is the undisputed king of disturbing films. It’s never quite clear if the movie is a nightmare or a vision of the future. I suppose it really doesn’t matter because you never quite get over the baby – a freaky, mutated baby that bleeps like a wounded calf. I mean it. That baby will get inside your head – for a long, disturbing ride.

The first time I watched “Eraserhead” I immediately took a shower afterwards. I felt like I had done something hideous wrong – something evil. It’s that type of movie. The film – shot entirely in black-and-white – is about Harry Spenser, factory worker who gets his pissed off girlfriend pregnant. They move in together and deliver this monstrosity that… just… won’t… stop… screaming.

You might not stop screaming either. Do not watch alone

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