18 August 2016

[Part 9, #1 + Guest Post!] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

1. 
The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin

Granted... William Friedkin is a talented director with a terrific eye for visuals and atmosphere. His adaptation of William Peter Blatty's bestseller novel "The Exorcist" is packed to the brim with beautifully photographed settings and stunningly gorgeous images. There's also some well-used "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield, cool special/make-up effects and a neat cast. You see, on a technical level, I find it really good.

Dafuq? William Friedkin is also an arrogant, pretentious and snot-nosed jerk. A terrible person who's so full of himself, it's hard to bear - and when someone like him makes a movie like "The Exorcist", the result is a stinker. A beautiful stinker, but still a stinker.

During my youth I heard nothing than frightening things about this movie. How scary it is, maybe even the scariest movie ever made, how people passed out in the theaters back then, some may have died or at least went bananas, and, most important, how scared my mother was when she first saw in on TV and was so creeped out by the possessed Regan, that at one point she ran into the bathroom and hid there for a couple of minutes because it was too much for her.

So, with all this shocking and earth-shattering stuff in my mind, I finally went to see "The Exorcist" in the local theater when it was re-released in 2000. It was a huge disapointment. When I came home and told my mom how bored and annoyed I was, she thought I watched an entirely different movie. Since then, I tried to understand what's so awesome about it, read countless books, articles and reviews, and even watched it three more times. Needless to say that no-one and nothing could convince me, that it is a masterpiece. Even worse: I realized that it actually gets worse and more laughable with every single viewing. Michael Keaton as Bio-Exorcist Beetlejuice nailed it: "I'VE SEEN THE EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT!"

Okay, just like with "Dracula" (1931), I realize that "The Exorcist" was something radically new back when it came out. It shocked audiences all over the world because they've never seen stuff like this before. It was quite a milestone and kinda revolutionary, I totally give it that. The problem is: other scary movies from that era, "Halloween", "The Omen", "The Wicker Man", "Suspiria" et cetera, they all stood the test of time perfectly and are still as creepy as they have always been - while "The Exorcist" just does not live up to its reputation. Both versions, the original as well as "The Version You've Never Seen" are dull to the max, frustratingly boring and tedious, at times unintentionally hilarious, at times just absurd, but on a terrible level.

Regan pissing on the carpet, vomiting pea soup, doing some wild masturbation tricks with her crucifix, and looking like a kid who just played around with mum's beauty case... that's not scary, that all just makes me giggle and facepalm. Also, after every oh-so-scary scene comes a dialogue scene that feels like it's three hours long. *yawn* Every character is so serious and everyone talks and talks and talks - pity none of them is any likable or sympathetic, and the viewer simply doesn't care about them because there's nothing about them to care for.
Needless to say: the entire movie takes itself WAAAAAYYY too seriously, many thanks to William Friedkin who always took himself way too seriously, though here, he was completely overdoing it. It's all so serious, so self-important, so self-regarding, it ends up as completely ridiculous.
It will puzzle me forever how anyone can be scared to death by all this hokum.

And now, here's what my good buddy and passionate writer Christian (FictionBox.de | Alifein24fps.com | Letterboxd.com/cornholio1980)
has to say about it:

"Apart from a couple of exceptions, I came to horror rather late in life. When I reached my 20s, I finally and slowly started to catch up on many of the classics – and while some of them held up really well, there were others whom I felt were hurt considerably by the ravages of time. However, even if I didn't fall head over heels with some of them, I usually – taking into consideration the time and the cultural environment they were made in – am at least able to understand why they are so beloved. However, up till now, in all my travels through classic horror territory, nothing baffled me quite as much as the undying love, appreciation and downright worship of William Friedkin's “The Exorcist” – a movie that, from my point of view, is the most overrated horror film of all time, and which I found to be extremly dull, too lenghty, and, most of all, completely unscary.

Maybe it's a cultural thing. Hearing young people swear might not be quite as shocking for someone in Europe (where movies that get rated R for swearing in the U.S. might be rated the local equivalent of PG) than in greater parts of the States. Now, granted, when Chris MacNeil is told by the doctor what her sweet little girl allegedly said, she laughs, but later scenes of swearing or inappropriate behavior which clearly were meant to be shocking just didn't work for me. When Regan pees on the floor in front of her Mum's dinner guests, tells the priest that his “mother sucks cock in hell”, or when she moves in suggestive fashion and screams "Fuck me!", I had a hard time not to burst out laughing. Which, I assume, was not quite the intended reaction.

Maybe it's a parental thing. Not having kids myself yet, I might have a harder time understanding Chris' anxious feelings towards her daughters behavior, than if I'd have a little girl or a little boy of my own, maybe even close to Regan's age. On the other hand, there are more than enough movies where kids are in danger, or where parents are worrying about some grueling fate that might befall their offspring, which work for me like a charm. Furthermore, shouldn't the movie ideally make me scared for Regan on her behalf, and not just on her mother's? I mean, take “Poltergeist” for example, where I hoped just as much for Carol's than for her parent's sake that they would be able to save her from the “other side”, since I really liked her. With “The Exorcist”, however, I unfortunately never felt any similar connection to either Regan or her mom – or any of the other characters, for that matter.


Maybe it's a religious thing. Being an atheist myself, I don't really believe in demonic possession, exorcism, and/or the power of Christ that's supposed to compel them to leave Regan's body. However, since I don't believe in Vampires, Werewolves and similar monsters in real life either, the fact that I'm a non-believer shouldn't really matter. Also, even though I admit to a certain reluctance concerning past and present politics of the catholic church, which in turn means that I have a hard time with movies that propagate some sort of Christian agenda, I'm also aware that it's not all bad, and that the church is also doing some good in the world, helping people in need, and giving comfort to those who are desperate. Thus, I don't oppose it utterly. (Or, as the saying goes: They're not all bad.)

Maybe it's a period thing. Back in its day, “The Exorcist” really might have been tremendously scary. Having seen it for the first time roughly 30 years after its release, at a time when I already knew many other, more modern horror films, which are much more “flashy”, I simply might have been too late to appreciate it – while those who saw it back in the day can still remember the fear that they might have felt in the cinema when they saw it for the first time. And I freely admit that “The Exorcist” isn't the only film of its era that I didn't quite find as scary as they are made out to be. However, there are also a couple of movies that were made around that time which scared the shit out of me. And there are also those which, even though I might not find them particularly creepy, I can still enjoy. Why should this be any different?


So maybe, just maybe, “The Exorcist” simply isn't all that it's made out to be. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. The performances are very good across the board, it's shot rather nicely, there is the occasional memorable moment, I love Mike Oldfield's “Tubular Bells”-theme, the make-up and effects are really well done, the ending wasn't quite what I expected, and when the exorcism comes around, the movie finally manages to create some sort of tension. However, from the weird prologue in Iraq, whose purpose eluded me even on this second viewing, the very slow buildup, many unnecessary – or at least unnecessarily long – scenes (like the stuff about Father Karras and his mother), and the fact that for more than two thirds of its running time, nothing much happens, “The Exorcist”, for me, first and foremost is a study in boredom.

Maybe it would have helped if Friedkin hadn't decided against the use of music for much of its running time (which might have enhanced the creepy atmosphere considerably). I'm also still baffled by the decision to age Max von Sydow instead of simply going with an older actor. It also definitely would have helped if I would have cared about any of the characters (which especially was a problem with the priests). Furthermore, I could have done without the occasional, far too loud and hysteric moment (even though, like the well-placed jump scare with the ringing telephone, they at least prevented me from falling asleep). And I'm pretty sure I would have liked it better if they would have omitted Regan's physical transformation, which, even though done well, meant that the later scenes missed the contrast of a sweet and innocent looking little girl doing and saying all these bad things (not to mention the fact that because of it, Father Karras' initial skepticism was hard to swallow).

Or maybe I'm just full of shit. You decide. :-p


To Quote... Vincent Canby, The New York Times 
"William Friedkin's film version of The Exorcist (is) a chunk of elegant occultist claptrap, (...) spectacular nonsense, (...) a practically impossible film to sit through.
(...) There have been unexplained noises in the attic of Chris's Georgetown mansion. The devil, it seems, for all his supposed powers, can't break and enter without sounding like Laurel and Hardy trying to move a piano (...).
The care that Mr. Friedkin and Mr. Blatty have taken with the physical production, and with the rhythm of the narrative (...) is obviously intended to persuade us to suspend belief. But to what end? To marvel at the extent to which audiences will go to escape boredom by shock and insult. According to trade reports, The Exorcist cost about ten million dollars. The money could have been better spent subsidizing a couple of beds at the Paine-Whitney Clinic."

Critter Karr, CritterKarr.com
"The Exorcist is one of the silliest and dullest horror movies ever made. It's weighed down by a thudding sense of self-importance. The filmmakers really believed they were creating an emotionally powerful piece of art that offers a serious examination of evil.
(...) This is Hollywood's idea of evil. It was conceived by a comedy writer and directed by a hack and blessed by representatives of the Catholic Church (...).
(Blatty) calls it 'an apostolic work' and when you watch the movie (which he protectively produced) you can tell he takes his own claims a little too seriously seriously. He takes himself a little too seriously. This over-reverential seriousness sucks all the life out of the movie. There's a constant sense of cold sterile foreboding. We find ourselves caring very little for a girl who's possessed by the Devil(!) because the filmmakers have no compassion for her. Like the demon who possesses Regan they only care about how they can use the poor girl to convey their own shallow and infuriatingly obtuse 'understanding' of evil. It's a movie utterly lacking in compassion and warmth and depth — that's why we feel so indifferent to what's happening. It induces apathy in the audience because the filmmakers are apathetic.
(...) The Exorcist is a hollowed-out husk. An abandoned haunted house ride. It still makes noise and it looks kind of scary but there's no point in going inside. You'll only find rusty decay."

Clare Simpson, WhatCulture.com  
"I hate The Exorcist. Well, hate is maybe a strong word. Hilarious is closer to the mark. I cannot believe all of the apocryphal tales of people fainting in the aisles back in the 1970s whilst The Exorcist was on the screen. The only hysteria The Exorcist inspires in me is hysterical laughter. (...)
Everything in the film is too overblown and over the top to really offend people unless they are pottering around looking to be offended by something. I cannot believe it was banned for so many years, Mary Whitehouse must have rubbed her hands in glee. The problem with watching the film today is that it has been overhyped and turned into an 'event' movie. The viewer has heard so many stories about people collapsing and how the film is the 'scariest' film ever made that they are bound to find the film either stupid or laughable.
(...) The Devil/demon in the movie must be pretty boring if all it wants to do is possess a young girl and get her to talk like The Incredible Hulk and puke green stuff."

Better: The ONLY really great and wholly watchable entry in the "Exorcist" franchise is also one of my favorite movies of all time: "The Exorcist III" (1990), an indescribably awesome movie, not just way scarier, way more suspenseful than the first part, but also much more intense, intriguing, intelligent and thought-provoking.

If you want something else, you definitely can't go wrong with the gritty "Deliver Us From Evil", the quite entertaining "The Last Exorcism", the highly unsettling "Requiem", the fairly eerie "Possession" or the blaxploitation classic "Abby".

In case you're not interested in any kind of Exorcism-humbug, but still want some religious horror from the 70s: go watch "The Omen", a much, much better movie on every single level (storyline, actors, direction, atmosphere, creepiness...).


Thanks for reading! :-)


17 August 2016

[Part 8, #2] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

2.
American Psycho (2000)
Director: Mary Harron

Granted... What a marvellous cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto etc. and they all deliver top-notch performances.

Dafuq? I only know one other person who prefers the novel over the movie (Hi Phil!), and even he wasn't as disappointed and frustrated as me. Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" is IMO the greatest novel anyone has ever written. So far, I've read it more than 20 times in German and in English, and it keeps getting better, keeps getting more interesting. Even at the 20th time, you discover something new, discover little jokes, nods to other Ellis' other books, or some other weird things that suddenly stick out like a sore thumb. I've read of all Ellis' books several times, and they're pretty much all genius, but "American Psycho" is the unbe-fucking-lievably outstanding pinnacle, the one book every writer hopes to write at least once in his career.

The movie? Blech. Yes, I understand how hard it is to properly adapt an Ellis novel, but goddammit Mary Harron, you didn't even try! In the movie, Patrick Bateman is a dorky serial killer who seems to be one helluva funster, while in the book, he's a complete emotional wreck on the brink of self-destruction, desperately trying to fit in and save face, but also slowly realizing that his whole life is wrong. The book starts out rather amusing, but gets darker and darker, more and more disturbing, and by the time you're through, you, the reader, are an even bigger wreck than Bateman. Reading "American Psycho" is a brutal, shattering experience. Watching the movie is just a waste of time.

Ok, I admit it stays pretty true to the book, but omg, it completely omits any kind of over-the-top uber-violence (and there's A LOT of really unsettling uber-violence in the book), it turns Bateman into a complete idiot, some of the best scenes were left out, important characters get degraded to 'cameos', there's hardly any tension or suspene, and half of the actors were simply miscast (Cara Seymour, what the fuck??).

I love the way how Bale's Bateman became an internet phenomenon (does anyone remember the times when half of 4Chan consisted of Bateman memes?), and I love how the general popularity make more and more people go check out the book - but actually, I would have preferred if they would have never turned it into a movie. Ellis' "American Psycho" is a fucking masterpiece. Harron's "American Psycho" is utter bollocks, a wrong and terrible adaptation made for people who don't read and laugh at literally everything without thinking.

Like Ellis' once said: "I think that book is unadaptable because it's about consciousness, and you can't really shoot that sensibility. Also, you have to make a decision whether Patrick Bateman kills people or doesn't. Regardless of how Mary Harron wants to shoot that ending, we've already seen him kill people; it doesn't matter if he has some crisis of memory at the end."

To Quote...  Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com  
"Are you, more or less, setting yourself up for disappointment if you go to see
a film adaptation of one of the most powerfully written novels you can recall reading? (...)
Harron has (...) altered a story supposed to be about a shallow era into a film that is, ultimately, just shallow. (...)
One of the most compelling aspects of the novel was eventually realizing that Bateman is not a vile excuse for a human being, but simply an unstable man who, somewhere down the line of his life, has lost the ability to feel emotion, either for himself or those around him. It was a surprisingly poignant notion by Ellis, subtle, yet effective. The film attempts the same thing, but verges off-course in its conclusion to be something that almost begs you, in an overwrought fashion, to feel sympathy for this man.
(...) Having read the novel, it is impossible to watch American Psycho and not have your expectations tarnished, as the whole affair is an enormously large missed opportunity. Harron has taken nearly all that was great about Bret Easton Ellis' fine novel, stripped it of its dignity and profundity, and left it for the film-viewing world to behold as a sadly trivial, puerile, and, ultimately pointless, misfire."

Wesley Morris, SFGate.com  
"Harron can't find an angle, therefore a reason, to have made a film of this book - beyond the simple fact that she could. (...)
Harron turns a stream-of-consciousness confessional into a flat, impatient murder mystery/detective story. For better and worse, she has locked us out of Patrick's psyche, afraid perhaps, that an immersion in his hilarious stream-of-consciousness would corrupt us. But any movie that shows its title nutjob dropping a running chainsaw onto one of his prostitute victims (...) or sets an execution to a long-dead Huey Lewis song is already in too deep."

Jim Judy, Screen It!
"Despite an initially intriguing premise in plot, character design and teasing storytelling technique, the film ultimately fails to hold one's interest and comes off as neither scary nor humorous enough to excel in either of those approaches."

Better: Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book.
READ THE FUCKING BOOK GODDAMMIT!


[Part 8, #2] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

2.
American Psycho (2000)
Director: Mary Harron

Granted... What a marvellous cast: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto etc. and they all deliver top-notch performances.

Dafuq? I only know one person who prefers the novel over the movie (Hi Phil!), and even he wasn't as disappointed and frustrated as me. Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" is IMO the greatest novel anyone has ever written. So far, I've read it more than 20 times in German and in English, and it keeps getting better, keeps getting more interesting. Even at the 20th time, you discover something new, discover little jokes, nods to other Ellis' other books, or some other weird things that suddenly stick out like a sore thumb. I've read of all Ellis' books several times, and they're pretty much all genius, but "American Psycho" is the unbe-fucking-lievably outstanding pinnacle, the one book every writer hopes to write at least once in his career.

The movie? Blech. Yes, I understand how hard it is to properly adapt an Ellis novel, but goddammit Mary Harron, you didn't even try! In the movie, Patrick Bateman is a dorky serial killer who seems to be one helluva funster, while in the book, he's a complete emotional wreck on the brink of self-destruction, desperately trying to fit in and save face, but also slowly realizing that his whole life is wrong. The book starts out rather amusing, but gets darker and darker, more and more disturbing, and by the time you're through, you, the reader, are an even bigger wreck than Bateman. Reading "American Psycho" is a brutal, shattering experience. Watching the movie is just a waste of time.

Ok, I admit it stays pretty true to the book, but omg, it completely omits any kind of over-the-top uber-violence (and there's A LOT of really unsettling uber-violence in the book), it turns Bateman into a complete idiot, some of the best scenes were left out, important characters get degraded to 'cameos', there's hardly any tension or suspene, and half of the actors were simply miscast (Cara Seymour, what the fuck??).

I love the way how Bale's Bateman became an internet phenomenon (does anyone remember the times when half of 4Chan consisted of Bateman memes?), and I love how the general popularity make more and more people go check out the book - but actually, I would have preferred if they would have never turned it into a movie. Ellis' "American Psycho" is a fucking masterpiece. Harron's "American Psycho" is utter bollocks, a wrong and terrible adaptation made for people who don't read and laugh at literally everything without thinking.

Like Ellis' once said: "I think that book is unadaptable because it's about consciousness, and you can't really shoot that sensibility. Also, you have to make a decision whether Patrick Bateman kills people or doesn't. Regardless of how Mary Harron wants to shoot that ending, we've already seen him kill people; it doesn't matter if he has some crisis of memory at the end."

To Quote...  Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com  
"Are you, more or less, setting yourself up for disappointment if you go to see
a film adaptation of one of the most powerfully written novels you can recall reading? (...)
Harron has (...) altered a story supposed to be about a shallow era into a film that is, ultimately, just shallow. (...)
One of the most compelling aspects of the novel was eventually realizing that Bateman is not a vile excuse for a human being, but simply an unstable man who, somewhere down the line of his life, has lost the ability to feel emotion, either for himself or those around him. It was a surprisingly poignant notion by Ellis, subtle, yet effective. The film attempts the same thing, but verges off-course in its conclusion to be something that almost begs you, in an overwrought fashion, to feel sympathy for this man.
(...) Having read the novel, it is impossible to watch American Psycho and not have your expectations tarnished, as the whole affair is an enormously large missed opportunity. Harron has taken nearly all that was great about Bret Easton Ellis' fine novel, stripped it of its dignity and profundity, and left it for the film-viewing world to behold as a sadly trivial, puerile, and, ultimately pointless, misfire."

Wesley Morris, SFGate.com  
"Harron can't find an angle, therefore a reason, to have made a film of this book - beyond the simple fact that she could. (...)
Harron turns a stream-of-consciousness confessional into a flat, impatient murder mystery/detective story. For better and worse, she has locked us out of Patrick's psyche, afraid perhaps, that an immersion in his hilarious stream-of-consciousness would corrupt us. But any movie that shows its title nutjob dropping a running chainsaw onto one of his prostitute victims (...) or sets an execution to a long-dead Huey Lewis song is already in too deep."

Jim Judy, Screen It!
"Despite an initially intriguing premise in plot, character design and teasing storytelling technique, the film ultimately fails to hold one's interest and comes off as neither scary nor humorous enough to excel in either of those approaches."

Better: Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book. Read. The. Book.
READ THE FUCKING BOOK GODDAMMIT!


[Part 7, #3] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

3.
Dracula (1933)
Director: Tod Browning

Granted... It's one of the very first Dracula-adaptations ever made, and it gave us the wonderful Bela Lugosi who delivers a truly marvellous performance as sexy-AND-uncanny Count which turned him into a movie star overnight.

Dafuq? Tod Browning's "Dracula" wasn't an adaptation of Bram Stoker's cult novel, but of an 1924 stage play - one of many reasons why this movie doesn't work anymore nowadays. It sure has worked back then (when people went to the theatre because they had nothing else to go) with Lugosi scaring the shit out of the audiences, but seeing it today is just immensely underwhelming. There's absolutely nothing scary, nothing tense, nothing suspenseful, just a few hints of atmosphere and eerieness, some great settings and a truly cool Lugosi in the first third of the movie. The rest ranges from unintentionally hilarious (worst bat special effects ever) to unbelievably boring with actors delivering performances that range from okay to really stilted and ridiculously terrible. It's a chore sitting through it. I tried it three times: I watched the original version (boring), the German dubbed version (even more boring) and the version with the new Philip Glass score (even though the music is good, it's not able to make the movie any better). None of them worked for me.

And, no, it's not that I'm an ignorant prick who gives a shit about classic horror. I like a lot of movies from back then, the old "Frankenstein" movies, "The Mummy", "The Wolf Man", "Dr. Caligari", "The Hands of Orlac", "White Zombie" etc. They all work perfectly for me - but not "Dracula". How this dullfest is still considered as one of the greatest horror classics of all time... I don't understand it. Okay, I totally get its impact and its influence on cinema and horror/vampire/Dracula movies, but that totally doesn't make it a good movie.

To Quote...  Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy  
"The bulk of the film, as much as the last two-thirds, feels exactly like what happens when you put a film camera on a theatrical stage to record a live play. Considering that this is frequently cited as the film linking German horror cinema with American horror cinema (...), it is peculiar and frustrating that the adjective which best describes it is 'uncinematic'.
(...) Almost from the moment that Dracula exits the ship and walks into the Royal Albert Hall, Dracula becomes a crushing bore, not just visually uninspired, but crippled with a barely functional screenplay. Nearly all of the film takes place in the home of Dr. Seward (...) where Dracula has set up his new home, and for a solid 40 minutes, exactly nothing happens. (...)
There's precious little to like about Dracula. Nothing I can do would make the least dent in its historic position - rightfully so, and I do not wish to take away its awesome influence - but there are very few films I can name for which the sniffy phrase 'of historical interest only' has been more dreadfully accurate."

Brian Welk, The Sanity Clause
"(...) The film is horribly dated and overrated. It's a much maligned classic that is beyond cheesy and feels long even at 75 minutes. (...) Hell, Ed Wood could've directed Lugosi in a remake of Dracula. Maybe it would've even been good."

David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews 
"(...) Dracula is, by and large, unable to sustain the viewer's attention or interest for more than a few minutes at a time and it's clear that the movie simply doesn't hold up terribly well all these years later."

Better: You want an old-era Dracula film that is actually good and not that dated? Watch "Nosferatu" (1922). Although it's a silent film and was made 10 years earlier, it's so much better than "Dracula". It's terrifically directed, very well paced and stunningly built. It's creepy, atmosheric and really tense from start to finish, and... as much as I like Lugosi, but he is nothing compared to the bafflingly intense performance by Max Schreck. Simply wow!


15 August 2016

[Part 6, #7 - #4] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

7.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Granted...  After years of lame and rather forgettable Dracula adaptations, the, erm, Godfather of Directors Francis Ford Coppola decided to turn Bram Stoker's legendary book into a more faithful film adaptation with a stellar cast and a massive infusion of style. Well, when it comes to the movie's look, Coppola fully suceeded with an insanely awesome amount of fantastic settings, costumes, sceneries and special effects...

Dafuq? ...but when it comes to the rest, my goodness, did he misfire. As a youngster, I was pretty amazed by it, but, just like Imdb user Spikeopath said, it "gets worse on repeat viewings". The entire movie is about style, style, style, and nothing else. It's already awful that it's called "Bram Stoker's Dracula" because it essentially differs very strongly from the book, but that's nothing compared to how slow, dull and lifeless the pacing and parts of Coppola's direction are, as well as how unbelievably terrible the cast is, with Keanu Reeves delivering the second-worst performance in his career (his worst is obviously "Knock Knock"), and probably the worst fake accent in the entire movie history ("Byuuudapest!"), plus a completely miscast Winona Ryder, as well as highly underwhelming performances by Anthony Hopkins and Cary Elwes. Gary Oldman is great, but his tophat looks so fucking ridiculous, it's tough to take him for serious. It definitely says something when someone like weirdo-musician Tom Waits delivers the absolute best performance in this $40 million trainwreck.

In addition, it's all too overladen, with a way-too-pompous score, an overlong runtime, and... is it just me, or does the whole thing feel as if Coppola was just jerking off to himself and on the book? I said it before and I definitely say it again: Coppola's not-much-liked movies "Jack" (1996) and "Twixt" (2011) are both more satisfying than this Crap-ula.

To Quote... Tom Hibbert, Empire Magazine
"The film is a calamity, a muddle, a mish­mash, nothing but blood spouting from the mouths of the undead. (...) Bram Stoker's Dracula is all style, no content (...), so if "horror" hokum is your particular cup of tea, might I direct you instead to The Abominable Dr. Phibes. You know where you are with Vincent Price.
Has a film ever promised so much yet delivered so little? There was so much potential, yet when it came down to it, Coppola made his Dracula too old to be menacing, gave Keanu Reeves a part and took out all the action. So all we're left with is an overly long bloated adaptation, instead of what might have been a gothic masterpiece."

Jennie Kermode, Eye on Film 
"There's some really strong set design work and excellent costuming for the astute viewer to spot but its impact is smothered under the weight of the antique velvet and twee gothic trappings that saturate the film. Coppola's aesthetic is all about excess and lacks the self awareness that let Hammer Horror films get away with this. (...) It's shame to see such a mess made of a project with such a capable cast."

Better: You want a great "Dracula" film? Well, there's "Dracula" with Christopher Lee, "Nosferatu" with Max Schreck, and the fantastic "Nosferatu" remake with Klaus Kinski. There's obviously tons of other rather good adaptations, but if you want the creme de la creme, you should stick to these 3 masterpieces.



6.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder

Granted... Zack Snyder tried his best to revive the zombie genre with a fresh, modern remake of one of the genre's most beloved classics from the Father/Godfather/Grandfather/etc. of the Living Dead a.k.a George A. Romero.

Dafuq? Calling this movie "Dawn of the Dead" is blasphemy, since it offers absolutely nothing as remarkable or groundbreaking, as what Romero managed to do in 1978. I have a feeling that Snyder didn't like the original, maybe even didn't understood it (yes, I think he actually IS that stupid), and that's why he a) erased almost all of Romero's fabulous social satire, and b) updated the all-so-familiar premise with running zombies because... well, I guess the slow zombies reminded him too much of himself. It's tragic to see what became of Simon Pegg's favorite movie of all time: what once was a splendidly made piece of zombie extravaganza, is now just another turn-off-your-brain gorefest.

Aside from a neat cast and good gore effects, there's nothing worth of mentioning or remembering, which makes the insanely high RT score (75%!!) more than just baffling. Why did critics love it so much, for fuck's sake? Why? There's nothing original about it, music and cinematography are rather disappointing, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the way they included the shopping center is insulting, and the zombie baby... ugh, no comment. Even Romero's disappointing "Survival of the Dead" is better than this.

Oh btw, even though I love "300" and "Watchmen", I'd say this rubbish as well as the rest of his filmography prove that Zack Snyder is quite a cunt.

To Quote... Brian Orndorf, FilmJerk.com 
"I'm not even a George Romero enthusiast, and I can clearly see that the new Dawn of the Dead remake is a joke. A literal bitch-slap to everything that made Romero's 1978 original film such a sneaky, DIY gem of the genre, Dawn 2004 is devoid of crucial character development, in love with its action and violence, and lacks a true visionary behind the camera to deal with pesky things like spatial relationships and coherence.
(...) What makes the lack of respect even worse is that Snyder is armed with a budget bigger than the three Romero films (Night / Dawn / Day) combined, and still manages to create a hollow, bewildering, and unsatisfying motion picture, plagued by this incessant need to be as slick as possible. Dawn is all style, gore, and hyperactivity, lessening the dread inherent in the plot, and the social commentary Romero's Dawn was created to provoke. Dawn 2004 is a film for teenagers who know nothing about the 1978 original."

Willie Waffle, WaffleMovies.com  
"When there's no more room in hell, the dead and dumb take over Hollywood and make movies like this. (...) Dawn of the Dead is not a movie. It's an exercise in gory makeup and showing off how many ways the special effects crew can blow up human heads."

Better: If you wanna see a good, intelligent zombie movie, ignore this and watch Romero's Living Dead Hexalogy ["Night of the Living Dead" (1968) / "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) / "Day of the Dead" (1985) / "Land of the Dead" (2005) / "Diary of the Dead" (2007) / "Survival of the Dead" (2009).]

If you want a movie with running zombies that's actually good, watch the mother of all fast zombies, Umberto Lenzi's still way-too-overlooked "Nightmare City" (1980), or the fabulous "28 Days / Weeks Later" double feature.



5.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Director: Drew Goddard

Granted... With the name of an entire horror subgenre as movie title and a massive dose of meta-humor and self-awareness, two of the main driving forces behind "Lost" tried to revolutionize the teenagers-in-an-old-cabin-somewhere-in-the-woods-where-evil-lurks horror trope by turning it into some kinda "Scream" for the 21st century.

Dafuq? I'm not a fan of meta-humor (see #11), but I love, love, love "Scream". Even though it makes fun of the genre, it still takes horror seriously with all its flaws, clichés and hair-raising moments. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a completely different caliber. It makes fun of the genre, disrespects it, craps on it and doesn't give a single fuck. It's all about meta and shit, right? WRONG! Fuck you, Drew Goddard, and fuck you, Joss Whedon, for giving us one of the biggest piles of rubbish of the 00s. Ok, no, it's obviously not that bad; it's well-directed and well-written, has a neat cast, and some fun dialogue - but the way it was executed in this motherfucking self-aware, self-referential way is just a chore. All the mocking, all the smartassery, all the inside jokes, all the back-patting and self-praise, all the nerdy geekiness and geeky nerdiness... rrrrraaahh, it's sooo unbelievably unbearable!!!

Imagine being on a long flight, and next to you, there's a guy who tells you one dumb joke after the other, constantly giggling like he's retarded, constantly punching you in your sides with his elbow, and constantly asking you "Get it? Get it?". THAT'S how this movie felt and still feels to me. Yes, I've only seen it once. No, I won't watch it a second time. It wasn't that painful during watching, but the more I think about what I saw back then, the more painful it becomes. Did I mention the horrible CGI, the incredibly dull-looking zombies, the daft oh-so-clever plot twist ending, Sigourney Weaver doing her tiresome women-in-a-suit routine-schtick? The worst thing about it is that, for the bigger part, it just wasn't funny. Like Imdb user oldman007 said: "If you haven't laughed within the first 10 mins, then you better walk out right now, because the movie is exactly the same all through out."

To Quote... Mark Ramsey, Movie Juice 
"As I write this, The Cabin in the Woods has a 92% 'Fresh' rating over at RottenTomatoes which suggests to me most critics are smoking their fresh tomatoes rather than squeezing them. Seriously, are you kidding? 'It’s meta!' they say. More like meh-ta."

Mark Olsen, The Village Voice 
"With Goddard and Whedon much more invested in their own clever storytelling and genre-nerd inside jokes than in human emotion and motivations, viewers can't be expected to care much, either.
More than anything else, Cabin feels like the endgame of so-called fanboy culture in the way in which it is first and foremost about itself, interested only in a fundamental adherence to rules of its own devising and fenced off from the world at large. Even the way in which the story dares the anger of the spoiler-sensitive feels like a bit of cute game-playing (...).
The Cabin in the Woods does pull off some neat tricks of narrative realignment (...) but a film created simply for the sake of regarding its own genre smarts is a hollow vessel. Without a human, emotional component, there actually isn't much to spoil."

Rob Humanick, The Projection Booth 
"Pity that the film partakes in contrivances as egregious as the conventions it aims to deconstruct; the resulting double standard corrupts the initial appeal of the concept, and reveals The Cabin in the Woods as pretentiously self-serving lip service that assumes hateful mockery of the material it relies upon justifies its own one-note pandering. I'd like to forgive the have-its-cake-and-eat-it-too, excessively ironic self-awareness, but it's hard to overlook the transition from smart to smart-assed and the dispensation of credibility for a weightlessly nihilistic punchline."

Better: If you want a good and funny cabin-in-the-woods movie, watch "Cabin Fever" [look, it even has the word 'Cabin' in the title!], watch "The Evil Dead", watch "Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn" (even though it's overrated... ^^), maybe "Wrong Turn", "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil", "Dead Snow", or, heck, why not "Antichrist". All good, all non-meta, all non-frustrating.



4.
1408 (2007)
Director: Mikael Håfström

Granted... So, the director of the terrific and much too unknown "Evil" (2003) turns one of Stephen King's best post-"Nightmares & Dreamscapes" short stories, the incredibly haunting and thought-provoking "1408", into a $25 million horror movie with John Cusack (back in the days when he was still bankable), Samuel L. Jackson and Tony Shalhoub - what could go wrong? Well, it actually starts out pretty neat...

Dafuq? ...but after a couple of minutes after Cusack entered the hotel room, the entire movie falls down and becomes an over-packed and over-the-top special effects disaster, packed to the ceiling with plot twists and jump scares and CGI crap and what not. "1408" has almost nothing to do with the slightly Lovecraftian story, with its gripping atmosphere, its basic essence, its shockingly eerie descriptions of 'normal' hotel-room-things suddenly going completely wrong. It's just shocks and stylish scares galore, all of them in-your-fucking-face-all-at-once. It's frustrating if you know the short story, and it's even more frustrating if you don't know it, or simply ignore it during watching. In both cases, you watch a movie that starts wonderfully creepy and ends up horribly annoying. In some kinda way, it really feels as if Håfström simply lost his mind during the shoot. Looking at all the nonsense he made afterwards ("Shanghai", "The Rite", "Escape Plan"), it just proves my theory ;-)

I never got why it got so effin' popular. Maybe because it was pretty different from other horror movies that came out in 2007... maybe people just loved the combination of the Stephen King nametag, an a-list cast and the fact that it takes place in an old hotel *cough* The Shining *cough cough*... or maybe people are just stupid and have an awful taste. Who knows? Imdb user reviews claiming that it's "The Shining for 2007" or "Best King Horror Adaptation since The Shining" may prove me right... ;-D

To Quote...  Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"The horror of the room (...) must be the return of the repressed in the umpteenth rehash of King's The Woman in the Room drama. (...). 1408 is the world's best, most aggressive therapist and the horror is pop psychology's Satan: Belial...I mean, denial. Ah, closer to the truth, I think, because the whole thing feels like a platitude, from repeated reverse POV shots up proverbial rabbit holes to Mike's snaking through dank crawl-spaces as he's pursued by a dead ringer for 'Bone Machine'-era Tom Waits (Why there are physical bogeys in the picture at all is more evidence of a concerted lack of imagination, since the evil fucking room shouldn't need help, the evil fucking room is an evil fucking genius.) The picture doesn't have the balls to live up to the challenges posed by its closed-room premise, it doesn't have the balls to make its evil fucking room evil or fucking (the room is a Freud-box), period, though it has the balls to pick on little girls and old men. So it's a bully; and like most bullies, if you push back, it folds up like a day lily."

Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review 
"(...) The movie has few scares, fewer surprises, and an ending that's at once predictable and unsatisfying. The hit-'em-with-everything plot is pure King, but even when the movie is most off-the-wall, it feels somehow generic, routine - and exactly like a padded-out short story."

Dennis Schwartz, Okus' World Movie Reviews
"(An) old-fashioned King scary tale that only made me scream in agony on how hokey it was. (...) It's written in a cheesy style by (three screenwriters) who try to get every phony Hollywood version of a fright scene into their slight script and should get an A for providing a laundry list of creepy scares that would make any second-rate horror story filmmaker proud. It's the kind of garbage spook tale that calls for more than a little suspension of belief - it calls for the viewer to experience a lobotomy."

Better: Instead of watching this overbudgeted effects-rubbish, you should definitely read the "1408" short story, one of many, many examples why King's ideas (mostly) work so much better in short form than in novel form. "1408" is just scary as hell!

If you're not the reading type, but still need a dose of Stephen King hotel horror, watch either Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" [gives a crap about the book], or Mick Garris' 1997 made-for-TV mini series adaptation [follows the book religiously]. Both are lightyears better.



[Part 5, #8 - #11] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

11.
New Nightmare (1994)
Director: Wes Craven

Granted... An Elm Street movie that takes place in reality - it's one of the greatest and most intriguing, most thought-provoking ideas Wes Craven ever had. Krueger entering the real world, haunting actress Heather Langenkamp, Krueger-actor Robert Englund and Craven himself. Meta as fuck and original as hell!

Dafuq?  I saw it a couple of times, and the more often I watch it/the older I get, the less does it work for me. Back in the 90s, I quite enjoyed it, but I wasn't in love with it. Nowadays, I'm rather bored by it. It's too slow, at times downright boring. There's hardly anything happening in the overlong and tedious first half. The movie focuses way too hard on Heather Langenkamp whose performance is mediocre at best. There's not enough Krueger in it, his new make-up looks just weird and his new nightmare world looks completely out of place. Worst of all: the damn kid who is just a pain in the ass. I might be wrong, but I'm 100% sure that Craven is to blame for all these misfires. He was just too much in love with the idea of creating a 'new nightmare', that eventually ended up 'too new'. IMO, the movie would have been so much more interesting if it would have focused on Krueger haunting Englund, maybe turning Englund into a child murderer, or using his body to come into the real world "Freddy's Revenge"-style. Why Craven passed on this will always be a huge conundrum for me.

Why is it so popular then? Maybe because it was directed by Craven? Maybe because people are just in love with the basic meta-idea? I have no idea. Well, at least, I realized that its reputation these days isn't as high as twenty years ago, and I also know a couple of peeps who, like me, enjoyed it at first, but don't enjoy it that much now. Still, IMO it totally gets way too much praise (Hi Kevin Sommerfield!).

To Quote...  Evan Dickson, Bloody Disgusting 
"I know a lot of people prefer New Nightmare over Scream, which is insane to me. The film has a bunch of interesting post-modern concepts, stuff that Scream would later improve upon (...), but the execution here is haphazard. The design of the "new" Freddy isn't remotely frightening or aesthetically pleasing and the film is too in love with its ideas to let them play out organically. Almost 20 years later, this film feels forced."

insertusernamehere, MovieWeb 
"Even the worst of the Nightmare movies were at the very least creative, and while New Nightmare is creative, it's a creativity that spits on the unfolding story of all that happened in the Nightmare films. Freddy first terrorizing Nancy in part one. The reveal that his mother was raped and impregnated, resulting in a "devil child." The fact that he has a daughter and killed his wife. All of this means nothing when New Nightmare comes along, all because of Wes Craven's inflated ego.
(...) Craven thought he was doing a favor for fans by bringing something drastically new to the table, and because he is who he is, people would be okay with it. Well, I'm calling bullshit. More times than not, the sequels did bring something new and they did it by keeping it contained in this fantastic imaginary world that six movies crafted, and one movie destroyed."

Better: You want a meta-movie with Robert Englund that takes place in the real world? A world where Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers exist for real? No problem, go watch "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" (2006), one of the best meta-horror-movies ever made, and also one of the best slasher-homage-parodies next to the "Scream" films.



10.
American Mary (2012)
Directors: Jen & Sylvia Soska

Granted... At a time when David "God of Body Horror" Cronenberg was already long done with body horror and nearly no-one else dared to get into the bowels of the body horror subgenre, the Soska Sisters single-handedly revived it with this little flick and opened the doors for future filmmakers to explore the organic side of Horror.

Dafuq? A good idea quite badly executed by the god-awful Canadian Soska twin sisters, probably the most overhyped/overpraised/overrated filmmakers of the 21st century. Their only talents are to dress oh-so-sexy, to watch wrestling, to read comics, to hang around on social networks and to appear at every single horror-convention on this planet. That's it. Their fanbase is as horrible as Eli Roth's, their output is as sparse as Eli Roth's, and their movies... well, at least Roth's filmography is somewhat solid, while the Soska's filmography consists only of no-budget exploitation dreck and WWE-produced low-budget crap. Call me misogynistic, but I strongly assume that a great deal of their fans just love them because they're female filmmakers. Damn, I give a fuck if they're male, female, transgender etc. If they'd make good movies, I'd obviously love them too - but they don't, and that's why I hate them. There's a thread on Reddit where people explaining their love for the Soskas, claiming 'they worked their asses off on social media' - if that's what makes a filmmaker applaudable nowadays, then I'm outta here.

Admittably, "American Mary" is their most innovative effort and the only watchable movie they made so far, but it's still far, far from being what some of their fan-dorks call 'instant cult-classic' or 'first-rate shocker'. It starts out good, but ends up as fucking mess, thanks to massive pacing problems, implausible character U-turns and super-pointless scenes. It's neither good, nor bad, just okay; a good idea badly executed. I can see people like Cronenberg, Brian Yuzna, Clive Barker, Darren Lynn Bousman, Rob Zombie, maybe even someone like Lloyd Kaufman turning this into the badass shocker it should have been, but with someone as half-assed, pretentious and lazy as the Soskas, it was supposed to fail from the very beginning. Pity.

To Quote...  Cassie Carnage, Cassie Carnage's House of Horror
"American Mary is a movie that started out with a good premise and ran with it for awhile at full steam, before it formed a debilitating cramp in its side and the plot suddenly, and rather abruptly, fell apart at the seams as it stopped to catch its breath.
For all of the recognition American Mary, and the Soska Sisters, received for being an important entry in modern horror, to me the movie just didn't earn its praise. This is mainly because it turned out to be just another slasher film with a lot of revenge porn in it, and that was very disappointing, because for all of it's potential, (it) really didn't live up to it's hype in the slightest."

Richard Haridy, Quickflix
"For the first hour, (it) has remarkable restraint and direction, but the last thirty minutes fragment the narrative into several tangential sub-plots that never coalesce. Story threads that barely registered suddenly become significant, whilst others that seemed important are thrown by the wayside. It's a frustrating experience that gives the impression the Soska sisters either didn't know where to take their story or just lost control of their vision."

Better: You want an indie horror flick with a weirdo-girl that wants to be a surgeon, as well as some serious body horror? Do yourself a favor, erase the words 'Soska' and 'Sisters' out of your life, and watch the amazing "Excision" (2012) right fucking now, a movie that manages to be surprisingly clever, highly amusing and super-shocking at the very same time.



9.
Black Christmas (1974)
Director: Bob Clark

Granted... Back in the good old days when made-for-TV horror movies were still really good, director Bob Clark (a.k.a the guy with the weirdest filmography ever) created an original and quite inventive variation of the average Christmas-themed movie and laid the basic foundation for the entire American 80s slasher movement.

Dafuq? How his snorefest could have ever become one of the most most celebrated, if not THE most celebrated Christmas-themed horror film of all time will always be completely beyond me. Yes, the cast is lovely, and yes, there are some neatly made tension scenes, and yes, there are a bunch of elements which later became well-known standard slasher tropes - but christ(mas) goddammit, this movie is just a tedious and highly frustrating hodgepodge of too many characters and too many subplots; it's too slow and (even at a length of 'only' about 100 minutes) it's far too long, there's too much stuff that just doesn't make any sense and the non-ending is just craptacular. I saw it two times, and both times my reactions towards it were the same time: why? Tell me, people, please, tell me: why is this so popular? I read tons of positive reviews and discussions threads all over the web, but I still don't get what's oh-so-awesome about it. Clark was definitely a talented director, but looking at all the projects he chose to direct... well, IMO "Black Christmas" is about as uneven as his overall output.

People who claim that "Black Christmas" is scary/have scared them... well, they probably haven't seen many other scary horror flicks. People who claim that this is the best slasher ever made, are either nuts or simply haven't seen many other slashers. People who claim that this is one of the best horror movies ever made... IRRELEVANT.

To Quote... CdM Scott, Cinema de Merde 
"Don't worry if you don't catch the first 14 shots of the plastic-encased corpse face as it reposes in the attic - there'll be 28 more interspersed throughout the film, obviously there to make you say 'Oh my God! There's a corpse in the attic!' Though after the first hour that changes to: 'How come the fucking dumb police haven't found the rather prominently-placed plastic-encased corpse in the attic?'
(...) Now, obviously one needs to be understanding and realize that this movie was made before the classic slasher movie tropes were solidly in place, and that it doesn't move to the same pace we're used to, and seeing a plastic-covered corpse in the attic like 206 times probably WAS scary back in the day, and people weren't used to being stalked by psychopaths, so they wouldn't think to, you know, lock the doors or windows. (...) You see, people were stupid back in the 70s. We have to understand that."

Rob Gonsalves, eFilmcritic.com  
"Perhaps frightening in 1974, it really doesn't hold up today unless you can forget the 12,000 films exactly like it, which is difficult."

Better: If you want an Xmas Slasher filled with blood, gore, nudity and quotable dialogue, you should either watch the 2006 reboot "Black Xmas" which is probably the most misunderstood, most entertaining remake in horror history, or the notorious 80s classic "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (1984).

If you prefer eerie and chilling 70s Xmas Horror, you should check out the completely overlooked "Silent Night, Bloody Night (a.k.a "Night of the Dark Full Moon", 1972), and/or the equally forgotten "Home for the Holidays" (1972), both superb, both made before "Black Christmas", and, obviously, both way, way better than "Black Christmas".



8.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Director: John McNaughton

Granted... John McNaughton is a great and unbelievably underrated filmmaker, and his debut "Henry" is a unique and interesting variation of the serial-killer genre with a cool cast, lots of intense violence and fabulous camera work.

Dafuq? Yes, it's well-made, yes, it's quite intriguing, but omg, I just don't understand all the praise it has got - and still gets! It's definitely a unique movie and it takes an interesting look at a serial killer's life without being exploitative, and without being a simple-minded gore-feast, but it's also so cold and distant, and it feels so goddamn aloof and distanced from anything and anyone, it's ultimately a rather bland experience. Actually, the whole thing feels as if it wasn't even made for an actual audience... for ANY audience; as if the director just wanted to get this out of his system without any kind of emotional investment. Good for him, bad for the viewers.

Watching Henry and his strange buddy talking and killing and driving around and killing and buying a television and etc. etc... to me, it's about as exciting as watching someone emptying a dishwasher. There's nothing that grabs me, or moves me, or shocks me. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is not exactly bland or boring or frustrating... it is just there. It just exists. The movie starts, stuff is happening, and about 80 minutes later it ends and I lean back, wondering what's all the fuss about it. What's with all the people calling it a groundbreaking masterpiece? Or the people being super-disturbed by it? I may have felt a slight emptiness during a few scenes, but most of the time, I felt absolutely nothing.

To Quote...  Terrence Rafferty, New Yorker 
"Sure, it's compelling; the nature of the material guarantees that. But it doesn't seem to be telling us much more than that the world is a scary place and murder is ugly. We knew those things. This is tabloid chic."

 Hal Hinson, The Washington Post  
"Henry leaves us feeling more numbed than moved. Half art film, half schlock-horror cheapie, Henry isn't quite sure what it wants to be. (...) It's unrelievedly ugly, and yet there's a kind of "conceptual" white space surrounding the barbarity - it lives in its own art bubble.
(...) What you want Henry to be is Taxi Driver - a movie that, while avoiding facile explanations, knows what it wants to say about its subject. The point McNaughton seems to make about his protagonist is that he's dead inside. In one scene he gazes into a mirror, and there's absolutely nothing in his eyes. The void looks into the void. But the emptiness in Henry seems like an artistic convenience or, worse, an evasion. What we suspect, finally, is that the deficiencies belong more to the artist than to his subject."

Better: There aren't that many 80s movies about the every-day life of a disturbed serial killer, but there's at least one from that era that is so much more satisfying than "Henry", so much more diverting and unsettling at the very same time: William Lustig's "Maniac" (1980), a classic that definitely won't make you feel bland and empty. Even better: Franck Khalfoun's riveting and electrifying 2013 "Maniac" remake that is surprisingly even more effective!



10 August 2016

[Part 4, #12 - #15] TOP 27 Most Overrated Horror Movies of all Time

15.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Directors: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

Granted... Of all the countless found footage flicks that flooded the movie market over the last 20 years (doesn't matter if good or bad), Myrick & Sanchez' debut still stands out as one of the most original, most ambitious and, obviously, best-advertised movies of that still insanely popular sub-genre. I'd say it's also well-directed, well-written, interestingly shot and built; it's simply a solid movie, but...

Dafuq? ...4 stars from Roger Ebert, 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, 81% on Metacritic... like, really?? As solid as "The Blair Witch Project" is, it's also pretty flawed and far from what Ebert called 'a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see'. I wasn't scared when I saw it on the big screen, and I wasn't scared whenever I rewatched it over the last 15 years. Yes, I think I've seen it 5 or 6 times so far, mainly because it has certain elements to it that are damn good, like the opening outside the woods or the grand finale in the woods. The problem is that whenever it's getting a bit scary, the three main characters immediately destroy any ounce of scariness by behaving in annoying ways, by talking rubbish, by quarreling over nonsense, or simply by wandering and talking and wandering and talking etc. etc. It's just frustrating.

It may be scary to younger audiences, it may be scary to average chickenshits, but to grown-ups... wait a minute, when I saw it in theater, I was 17 years old, and even back then it didn't scare me!!

To Quote... Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com
"Some have said that if we didn't know Blair Witch was fake, it really would be as terrifying as many critics are claiming. But who ever thought Halloween or Night of the Living Dead were really happening? Those movies scared us because, well, they were scary, not because they were cleverly faked to seem real. Blair Witch is a labored gimmick with too much 'realism' and too little inventiveness.
In an early scene in 1981's An American Werewolf in London (...), two college students are lost on the foggy Moors, surrounded by blood-freezing growling noises; one of them clenches his teeth and says quietly, 'Ah, shit, David, what is that?' That brief, understated scene does everything that this movie tries, and mostly fails, to do in 86 minutes.
The Blair Witch Project may bother those who are easily freaked out, and it may dissuade a few campers, but the lofty talk in the press of its being a new horror masterpiece is nonsense. That's a burden of hype this scrawny cinema-verité stunt can't carry."

Better: It's ridiculous, but Myrick & Sanchez' fake-documentary "Curse of the Blair Witch" (1999) [made for TV, available on every Blair Witch DVD] is FAR scarier than the feature!
Even more ridiculous: "The Burkittsville 7" (2000), another Blair-Witch-themed fake-documentary [made for TV, NOT on the DVD, but easily available online] is even scarier than "Curse..."!!

If you're not interested in Missus Blair, but still wanna see a found-footage flick about some scary thing roaming the forests, check out "Willow Creek" (2013). It's very basically the same movie, but with characters that are actually likable, with a slow but intense build-up, super-effective creepiness, and footage that looks much, much, much more believable than anything we saw in "The Blair Witch Project". Trust me, it's that good!



14.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
Director: Brian Gibson

Granted... The adorable Freeling family is back and has a new house. There's a couple of good-looking practical effects, a great score by Jerry Goldsmith, and an exceptional performance by JoBeth Williams.

Dafuq? I always thought that "Poltergeist II" isn't exactly a popular movie - but then came the stupid remake and suddenly everyone was talking and writing about the old "Poltergeist" movies and I realized how many people actually enjoy, or even lurve this flick, and they all enjoy/lurve it because of one damn thing: Julian Beck's performance as Reverend Henry Kane. In case you didn't know, Beck was suffering from colon cancer and even died during shooting, which is why he looked so damn fucking skeletal. I admit his performance is pretty neat, but far from being what others call "shockingly gaunt", "god-damned terrifying old man", or "one of the greatest horror villains of the 1980s". Actually, it's not so much him, or the fact that he looks like an old, horny pederast, as the fact that the whole movie is more about him INSTEAD of good ol' Poltergeist action and shit

I mean there's dull Indians and silly Giger-creatures and Craig T. Nelson as kinda-hippie and a horrible Zelda Rubinstein and dumb fun with braces - but NOTHING tense, NOTHING scary, NO suspense, NO NOTHING. It's a bad sequel, plain and simple. The awful opening alone gives me the shivers *brrr* The remake is bad, but clearly better than this piece of trash.

To Quote... David Keyes, Cinemaphile.com 
"It is clear no one on screen here is having fun with the material (...) The film drifts through the material with a sleepy focus that diminishes the power of the tension, and brings it all together in a final climax so utterly preposterous and cheesy that we howl out in protest. As far as the trend of follow-ups go, here is a film that offers a few shining moments of inspiration and then does exactly what the audience expects it to: throws it all away in a mad dash of conventional (and often boring) exchanges between characters that undercut the strength of their personalities and the purpose of their struggles."

Better: It doesn't matter which 80s haunted-house movie you choose over "Poltergeist II"... they're  all better than this, doesn't matter if classics like "The Shining" or "The Changeling", or the hilarious "House", or the slightly forgotten "Ghost Story" or maybe "Amityville 2: The Possession", or even Italian rubbish like "Witchery", "Ghost House" or "Beyond Darkness"

Oh, and of course the original "Poltergeist" =D



13.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Director: William Castle

Granted... It's about as enjoyable as William Castle's other flicks, it's short and sweet, it has a pretty cool storyline, a delightful cast with a top-notch Vincent Price, some very memorable dialogue and 2-3 fun jump scares. Oh, and it's in public domain = free shit! :-D

Dafuq? Aside from the facts that it's a tad too silly and too campy, and that it has aged pretty badly and looks extremely dated nowadays, the main reason why "House on Haunted Hill" just doesn't work anymore is because all the stories about its initial famous promotional gimmick "Emergo", the plastic skeleton that was flown over the audience, sound so much more entertaining and exciting than the actual film. I mean, you're sitting in front of your television and you watch it and it's all fun and well, but aside from some eerie shenanigans, there's not much happening, and when the skeleton finally appears at the end, you turn around and you look above and you realize that there's no skeleton on your walls or ceiling, and that is just damn frustrating. 

Ok, I'm kidding, but... well, I hope you know what I mean. Back in 1959, you didn't saw it at home, you saw it at a packed theater and hot damn, there WAS a fucking skeleton!!! It must have been sooooo awesome!!! If you've seen Joe Dante's "Matinee" or Mark Herrier's "Popcorn", you are aware of how awesome it would be to experience such an insane horror gimmick. "House on Haunted Hill" is a child of its time. It was something completely new at that time, especially due to its famous gimmick and its terrific marketing, but now, it's just an old hat. Watchable, but unfortunately also quite forgettable.

To Quote... Mutty McFlea, Imdb
"William Castle's movies might be a bit shonky, but the gimmicks he used to publicise them are legendary. (...) However, the movies themselves don't live up to their own gimmicks, and this one, while supplying a few chills and a typically enjoyable performance from Vincent Price, is no exception. (...)
Castle's genre movies are usually as corny as they come, and this one has a job lot of hokey horror staples (...), so it should be good fun, but unfortunately once the set-up is out of the way the sludgy pacing and the one-note characters become boring very quickly.
Watching a Vincent Price film is never a complete waste of time, but House on Haunted Hill is never really spooky or fun enough to raise it above the level of patchy dullard."

Better: I'm one of those insane bastards who think that William Malone's 1999 remake is far more entertaining than the original, so if you don't care about William Castle, I totally recommend the new version.

However, if you still wanna see a good old black-and-white haunted house movie, there's no denying that classics like "The Innocents", "The Haunting", "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" or "Gaslight" are far better, far scarier, and far more chilling must-see choices.



12.
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
Director: Sam Raimi

Granted... Don't get me wrong! I like "Evil Dead 2". I have seen it many, many times before, one time even on the big screen. It's a terrific sequel, extremely well made, packed with fantastic special effects and hilarious scenes, and Bruce Campbell's performance is simply top notch.

Dafuq? Actually a big, huge, gigantic DAFUQ when it comes to peeps who frequently hail this as 'one of the greatest horror comedies of all time' or 'one of the greatest horror sequels of all time'. Even worse: when they call it a 'perfect blend of horror and humor'. It's a horror comedy with too much humor and not enough horror. The horror is there, but toned down and/or replaced with a huge portion of humor that is often way too fucking stupid. The first "Evil Dead" is so awesome because it takes itself serious for the greater part, while "Evil Dead 2" is too much of a parody and doesn't take itself seriously at all. Various scenes even feel like Raimi had a hard time deciding if he wants to do straight horror or pure comedy, before he eventually focused on the comedy part.

Also: the fact that it starts out with such a weird smells-like-reboot recap... I never really liked that. I know why Raimi made it that way (no rights to footage from the the first part etc.), but I would have preferred if the second part would have started at the exact same moment where the first one ended. And... hm, am I the only one who thinks aside from Ash, all characters are rather annoying?

All in all, it's great fun, but way too flawed to be hailed as a masterpiece.

To Quote... Pat Graham, Chicago Reader 
"The effects are just as delirious this time around, but the nightmare poetry has vanished, along with the sense of archetypal purpose and narrative inevitability that held the jack-in-the-box original together. Everything's so show-offy and literal that nothing really matters beyond the self-conscious display of technique: it's like a chopping-block adaptation of Edison's old Dream of a Rarebit Fiend, without the excuse of primitive experiment to justify the arbitrary flailing about. The pop-up humor and smirkiness suggest Raimi's aspiring to the fashionable company of the brothers Coen, though on the basis of this strained effort I'd say he's overshot the mark."

Jay C. Gallagher, Letterboxd
"My main issue (...) is that the film simply doesn't have a story. Whilst the original was never big on plotting, at least it made sense and seemed to be saying something. Evil Dead II, by contrast, relies much too heavily on the fact that Ash is impossible to dislike and, as such, feels like a hastily cobbled together series of admittedly wacky sequences that ultimately add up to nothing. Back in the day, I found it easy to embrace the madness and accept the fact that the film was totally and utterly barmy. Today, I just felt like I was being cheated. (...)
I can't stress enough that I think Campbell is amazing, and his descent into madness is very well handled, I just thought everything else was a total let-down."

Better: Sam Raimi actually has made one movie that could be described as 'perfect blend of horror and humor', and that is the awesome, often misunderstood "Drag Me To Hell" (2009), a stunning blast of a movie that delivers both, a huge portion of hilarious fun AND a huge portion of blood, shocks and scariness. For me, it works so much better than "Evil Dead II".

Same goes for "Army of Darkness" (1992), the third part of the Evil Dead saga, a medieval slapstick-horror-comedy with almost no horror elements, but an incredible amount of excellent one-liners and terrific absurdity.


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