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My Favorite Movies

 

I love movies. You might say that I'm nuts about movies. I particularly love horror movies, but I like a little bit of everything. Here are some of my very favorites, along with why I like them so much.

To help you out, I've added icons to some of the movies:

Splatfest! Splat galore! Gorehounds will love it. Others may barf.
Mindwarping! May destroy your sense of reality and freak you out for life.
Scary! Really scary. Don't come whining to me if you pee your pants.
LOVE! I love this movie! I own a copy of it! I've watched it at least 20 times!
Funny! Funny! Just remember, my sense of humor isn't exactly normal.
Cheesy! Cheese fest! But hey, sometimes cheese can be fun.
barf! Warning: gross and disgusting content may cause you to barf. Keep a bowl handy.
low budget! Low budget. Which makes me admire the filmmakers even more. If you see two of these, it's srsly low budget. But don't let that scare you off! DIY or die!

Icons designed by Fenris and Orion, who did a fabulous job.

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This list is a work in progress. I'll continue adding movies and descriptions, so if you're a movie fan, check back often. If you have any move recommendations for me, drop me an email!

Jump to your favorite category!

ferret

Supernatural Horror

Psychological Horror and Splatter

Monster Movies

Black Comedy

Kids' Movies

Midnight Movies

Other Movies



Supernatural Horror

I love supernatural stories. Ghosts, curses, demons, haunted houses--these are a few of my favorite things. (See "Monster Movies" for vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other beasties.)


Yikes! Scary! Mindwarping!<LOVE!Abandoned, The (2006)
This was the first movie to actually scare me in years. Creepy beyond belief. Set in the ultimate haunted ranch house in (of all places) Russia. Pay attention while watching--"The Abandoned" isn't just scary, it's smart and complex. You snooze, you're gonna miss something.

Mindwarping!LOVE!Angel Heart (1987)
Voodoo, Satan, weird murders, Mickey Roarke, Robert DeNiro, scary chickens, what's not to like? This movie maintains a sense of dread and unease throughout, while somehow keeping a low-key sense of humor. A classic.

Yikes! Scary! Art of the Devil 2 (2005)
Yep, there's an "Art of the Devil I," but it's nowhere near as scary and disturbing as the follow-up. Not a direct sequel--the movies are related only by their connection to revenge, and Cambodian Voodoo. This Thai horrorfest is part thriller, part splatter, and all fun

. Mindwarping! Attic Expeditions, The (2001)
Weird, twisted horror story with a Lovecraftian feel. Also very funny. Yanks your reality around but good. Pause the DVD when you get up for a potty break or a sammich, or you'll lose track of what's going on.

Funny!LOVE! Behind the Mask The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
I can't even tell you how clever this movie is. The title character, Leslie Vernon, is an epic serial killer in training. He aspires to be more terrible than Jason or Freddy. He's created his own horrible backstory, which is completely untrue. But how serious is he? Will he really do it? This movie is scary, funny, and utterly entertaining.

Below (2002)
Incredibly spooky ghost story set in a WWII submarine. Well acted, well directed, stylish, mysterious and just plain creepy. The opening sequence is intense in the extreme.

Yikes! Scary!LOVE! Blair Witch Project, The (1999)
People either love this movie or they hate it. I love it. So original (for the time) and creepy as hell. I loved the multiple point-of-view, hand-held camera approach, but beware if you get motion sick! One of the best things about this flick was the multi-media approach the filmmakers took, spreading the story over a movie, the website, books, and mockumentaries. I wouldn't mind seeing more of that approach to filmmaking at all.

Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)
This poor movie got no love at all. Y'know, I actually liked it a lot. It was well written and creepy. If it hadn't had "Blair Witch" in the title, I think it would have been better received. People wanted another hand-held-camera-style improv fest, and what they got was a stylish traditional horror flick. Be brave. Give it a try.

Bones (2001)
Snoop Dogg plays Jimmy Bones, a 70's gangsta who's come back from the dead to plague a group of young club owners. Mr. Dogg is actually a marvelous villain, and the movie is stylish and fun. And Pam Grier is in it. Pam Grier adds awesomeness to everything.

LOVE! Candyman (1992
Beautiful, spooky film based on a Clive Barker short story. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen put in amazing performances. And did I mention that Tony Todd is awesomely, staggeringly beautiful? Even for a guy with a hook-hand and a chest full of bees...

Car, The (1977)
A demonically possessed Hot Rod Lincoln (designed by the eternally awesome George Barris) decides to kill everybody in a small desert town. Sweet! I'm telling you, the car has more personality than anybody else in the film. It even throws a tantrum!

Carrie (1976)
Brian DePalma + Stephen King = True Love 4-ever! Quite possibly the finest Stephen King adaptation ever made (although Misery and Dolores Claiborne are up there). Sissy Spacek is just remarkable as the young girl with the amazing powers and the psycho mommy.

LOVE! Christine (1983)
One of my favorite Stephen King books, made into one of my favorite killer car movies. OMG that '58 Plymouth Fury is so pretty I want to kiss it. Bonus: John Carpenter directs! Double bonus: the lead actor, Keith Gordon, looks just like my buddy Harold!

Splatfest!Cheesy! Cradle of Fear (2001)
Dani Filth stars in this horror anthology of four interwoven creepy stories. Okay, it's kinda goofy, But it's also huge fun. Pretty good splat, and let me tell you, I loved the ending.

LOVE! Craft, The (1996)
Entertaining, well-written film about a group of teenage witches (no, not the "Sabrina" variety) who get in way over their heads. The always awesome Fairuza Balk steals the show as the black magic hits the fan.

Splatfest! Dagon (2001)
Nobody directs H.P. Lovecraft like Stuart Gordon. He has a wonderful feel for the material, but he's not afraid to throw in the sex and gore that's lurking beneath the surface of the text. This is possibly the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptation ever.

Day Watch (2006)
Kickass continuation of the epic story started in "Night Watch." The battle between the forces of light and dark escalates in this dazzling Russian film. Absolutely gorgeous and stylish. Don't blink, or you may miss something. More dark fantasy than horror, but hey. Vampires!

Mindwarping! Dead Birds (2004)
Quiet, spooky period piece about some Civil War veterens turned robbers who decide to hide out in the wrong (haunted) house. Things go from creepy to outright freaky. I didn't see the ending coming, which is pretty rare for me, considering the huge number of horror flicks I watch.

Dead End (2003)
So a cranky guy takes his cranky family on their yearly roadtrip to the in-laws' for Christmas. He decides to take a shortcut. Dude. Never, EVER take a shortcut in a horror movie. Soon the family is followed by a mysterious hearse, and something starts picking them off one by one. Nope, not a killer hillbilly movie. It's much weirder than that. Enjoy!

LOVE! Dead Zone, The (1983)
No, I don't just love this movie because I'm madly in lust with Christopher Walken. It's an excellent adaptation of Stephen King's mega-creepy book. The sense of dread that builds in this movie is exquisite.

low budget!LOVE! Def by Temptation (1990)
Absolutely awesome indie horror about a young seminary student vs. a really nasty demon girl. Original and twisted. I'm heartbroken that the writer/director, James Bond III, never made another movie.

Deathwatch (2002)
Extra-creepy tale of unknown evil in the tranches of WWI. A company of British soldiers take a German trench and tries to hold out for reinforcements. But there's more down there than just a few dazed German soldiers. Soon the Brits are at each others' throats--and so is something else. Bonus: Andy Serkis!

Devil’s Backbone, The (2001)
Spooky, heartbreaking early Guillermo del Toro movie. The characters are haunted by the devastation of the Spanish Civil War, as well as spirits left behind.

Splatfest!LOVE! Dust Devil (1992)
Creepy, gory, South African horror movie about a shape-shifting warlock (or maybe he's a demon, you're never quite sure). I've seldom seen a film that had such a "magic realism" feel. The Dust Devil is one of the all-time great bad guys, and the direction and scenery are gorgeous. Get the director's cut if you can.

low budget!low budget!Mindwarping! Empty Acre (2007)
Super low-budget, eerie flick set in rural Kansas about an acre of land that grows nothing, and kills--or takes--anything that ventures onto it. The filmmakers do wonders with what little they have. Watch for Lovecraftian overtones!

Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi's low-budget, scary tale of four hapless young people who release murderous demons is a classic. Raimi does a whole lot with what he has. Bruce Campbell appears for the first time as the character of Ash Williams, and he plays it straight.

Scary! Exorcism of Emily Rose, The (2005)
I am not usually a huge fan of exorcism movies. As a concept, demonic possession just doesn't scare me. (If you don't knwo why, you've never spent time wtih my kids.) But I loved this movie. And this movie is all about Jennifer Carpenter. I have never before watched a movie where I thoroughly bought into the idea that somebody was possessed. And she does it with out make-up, sfx, or flying pea soup.

Scary!LOVE! Exorcist III, The (1990)
My other favorite demonic possession movie! Some of you may be shocked to see that I don't have Exorcist I on my list of favorite movies. I like it fine. It's gorgeously directed. But I just didn't "buy" it. too much make-up, too little scare. Exorcist III is based on Legion, William Peter Blatty's actual sequel to The Exorcist, and it is a major creep-fest. George C. Scott and Brad Dourif ROCK this movie.

Eye, The (Gin Gwai) (2002)
I never saw the American remake, but I love the Thai original. It starts out spooky and builds to nail-biting intensity, with hundreds of lives at stake. There are some seriously eerie ghosts, and the backstory is terrific.

Splatfest!Funny! Final Destination (2000)
I love this movie! And so does John Waters. And John Waters is always right. Amazing special effects (love that plane crash) and rollicking good fun as Death, who is evidently as compulsive as Adrian Monk, hunts down and kills everyone he missed. In order.Pay attention to the soundtrack. John Denver as the harbinger of death is particularly delightful. Bonus: cameo by Tony Todd! I like the following two FD movies, particularly the spectacular multi-car wrech in the second, but the original remains my favorite.

Mindwarping! Frailty (2001)
Really disturbing psychological (or is it?) horror movie about a good-hearted farmer and devoted father who is suddenly told by God that he needs to kill demons. With an ax. Problem is, demons look, act, bleed and die exactly like humans. Bill Paxton deserves accolades for his direction and starring role in this movie. I hope he returns to the dark material someday, because he does it well.

Funny!Scary! Frighteners, The (1996)
Half hilarious, half scary tale of a con man who rids people's homes of unwanted spirits. Unwanted spirits who are his partners in the endeavor. Everybody's having a fine time, until a mysterious, murderous phantom appears and starts slaughtering people left and right. One of Peter Jackson's "transitional" films, somwhere in between "Dead Alive" and "Lord of the Rings..." Bonus: John Astin!

Scary!Cheesy! Gravedancers, The (2006)
I love the premise of this movie. Dance on a grave, and the ghost of the person you Macarena'd on will come get your sorry ass. The ghosts in the flick are AWESOME. Seriously creepy. Gets a little goofy toward the end, but what the heck. (By the way, if this story was true, my ass would have been ripped apart by a multitude of ghosts by now. With more still waiting in line.

Grey Knight (1993)
Freaky Civil War story of a rogue brigade of Southern soldiers, who might just not be alive. Paced slowly like a western, the movie is worth the watch. A little gruesome, and more than a little spooky. Corbin Bernson and Adrian Pasdar are terrific. Bonus: Billy Bob Thornton! Have I mentioned my little Billy Bob problem...? Note: This movie was also released under the title "The Killing Box."

Mindwarping!LOVE! Grim Prarie Tales (1990)
I am flat-out crazy about this film. It stars James Earl Jones and Brad Dourif. Woot! Brad is a young clerk traveling through the desert to meet his wife. James is a scruffy, deadly-looking bounty hunter with a dead guy strapped to his horse. They meet at sundown, and make camp together. It's not long before they're swapping scary stories, trying to freak each other out. The stories themselves are terrific, but the character interactions between the stories are dazzling. When I get bummed out, this is one of the first movies I reach for to cheer myself up.

LOVE! Haunting, The (1963)
This movie was made before I was born, and I have loved it all my life. A moody, unsettling, faithful adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House. (One of my top ten favorite books.) With just about no special effects, this flick will still creep your stuff out.

low budget!Mindwarping! Headspace (2005)
Utterly freaky story of two young brothers, put into the foster care system by their father after their mother goes crazy and tries to kill them. Flash forward to the younger brother as a 25-year-old. When he meets another young man, an artist and chessmaster, his world starts to fall apart. There's clearly much more going on than appears on the surface. Don't blink or you'll miss something. Bonus: Cameo by Larry Fessenden!

LOVE!Scary!Splatfest! Hellraiser (1987)
Wondrous, horrifying, and true to Clive Barker's vision. I love this movie. I love Pinhead. I love Cenobites. I love dudes with no skin. Yay!

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Usually sequels are covered with suck. Not this one. It's as full of horrifying Clive Barker-y goodness as the first. It's got Cenobites. It's got a woman who can slip in and out of her skin. And it has this demon doctor who's just the coolest, scariest thing you're likely to see this side of Gehenna. Watching the first and second movies together is a sublime experience. (There are a few of the many sequels that I enjoyed, but none of them come close to the first two.)

Scary!LOVE! House on Haunted Hill (1999)
What a great remake! (See "Midnight Movies" for the original.) Geoffrey Rush is amazing as the morally bereft main character; manic, menacing, and charming all at the same time. The scare factor has been ratcheted up quite a bit since 1959. Bonus: Jeffrey Combs!

LOVE! I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
This story of ambition, love, betrayal, and Voodoo was way ahead of its time. Eerie, well-written and high-class. And sorry--these aren't the brain-eating kind of zombies. More like the "Voodoo priest brought me back from the dead and fried my brain" variety.

Mindwarping!LOVE! In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
I'm a sucker for any kind of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired entertainment, and this is a fine example. Scary and just a little self-mocking, this is one of my favorite John Carpenter movies. (And I'm happy to watch any movie with Sam Neill in it.)

Mindwarping!Yikes! Scary! Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Mind-bending story of an emotionally shattered Vietnam vet and the demons that literally seem to haunt him. One of Tim Robbins's finest performances.

Yikes! Scary! Ju-On (2000)
I'm not talking about the Japanese movie that was filmed for American release. And I'm not talking about the American movie, "The Grudge." I'm talking about the three-part Japanese series that started it all. To avoid further confusion, here's the link to the first movie at IMDB. Not that you shouldn't see "Ju-On: The Grudge" (2003) or "The Grudge" (2004). But despite the low budget, I think the original 3-part minisseries is the most creepy and creative of all the "Grudge" entries. And Yuya Ozeki, the little boy who plays Toshio in all the movies, is such a cute little punkin pie! I just want to kiss his little supernatural cheeks.

Yikes! Scary!Funny!LOVE! Kingdom, The (1994)
Lars von Trier's masterpiece of weird, scary, and sometimes hilarious goings-on in a huge, cavernous, haunted hospital. The characters are marvelous, and the plot is mysterious and fascinating.

LOVE! Kingdom II, The (1997)

Not quite as wonderful as the first instalment of "The Kingdom," but still pretty darn great. And now for the tragic part. There was supposed to be a third Kingdom, but the end of the story will never be told. Many of the principle actors have died, and von Trier seems to have no plans to move ahead with different actors. WAH!

 

LOVE! Last Winter, The (2006)
Larry Fessenden's ecological/supernatural horror story is hard to forget. Set at an isolated drilling base in the Arctic, the film is bleak and unnerving. The sense of dread gets almost overwhelming. Ron Perlman gives a strong, understated performance as the base leader. And I'm always delighted when Fessenden himself appears onscreen, even if it's just a cameo. (Yes, Mr. Larry F is my all-time favorite indie film director. Y'know, in case you hadn't noticed.)

Yikes! Scary! Messengers, The (2007)
This haunted house film flew under a lot of people's radar, and that's a shame, because it's really good. The creepiness continues to build as restless spirits reveal themselves to the family who's bought the old North Dakota farmhouse. But what do the ghosts realy want?

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest!LOVE! Midnight Meat Train, The (2008)
Ultra-gory, ultra-fine adaptation of Clive Barker's short story. This movei really captures Barker's talent for creating his own world, in which dreadful things live just below the surface of reality. Great plot, plus some excellent, high-quality splat. Wait 'til you see what happens to poor Ted Raimi...

low budget!Splatfest!LOVE! Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993)
This low-budget but enthusiastic anthology of three stories based on H.P. Lovecraft is delightful. Hell, it even features Jeffrey Combs as H.P. Lovecraft! Don't watch this expecting to see faithful adaptations of Lovecraft's stories. These are variations on a theme, and they're a kick in the pants.

Night Watch (2004)
Kickass dark fantasy/horror story from Russia about the ongoing epic battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Anton is a reluctant agent for the light, driven to atone for past evil actions. This film is both engaging and beautiful. Be sure to see the follow-up movie, "Day Watch."

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Despite all the silliness that came after, the original NoES is Pretty Dang Scary. In a tide of boring '80's slasher flicks, Freddy was a breath of brimstone-scented fresh air. Bonus: Baby Johnny Depp!

Mindwarping! Number 23, The (2007)
This freaky, unsettling movie got no love from the critics, and I still can't figure out why. Maybe they just didn't get it. It juggles three storylines about the same character at once, and does it beautifully. Jim Carrey is excellent and understated in his role as the tormented protagonist. If you like horror that makes you think, don't miss this one.

Oblong Box, The (1969)
Extra-creepy adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story, starring Vincent Price. I don't know what it is about this movie, but it's seriously unsettling. Could be the combination of leprosy and African Voodoo...

Orphanage, The (2007)
A woman brings her husband and her adopted son to the creepy old orphanage where she grew up. Her dream is to start a school for special needs children. Things start to go awry when her son begins to communicate with an invisible friend. This movie is an example of everything that's wonderful about modern Spanish cinema--gorgeous direction plus a strong, original plot.

Outpost (2008)
This is a weird one. I love that! A group of hard-boiled mercenaries venture into a forgotten Nazi bunker in Eastern Europe, at the behest of a rich businessman. There they discover evidence of horrifying Nazi experiments--on their own German soldiers. And guess what? Something down there is still alive. Or sort of alive. Alive-ish. And it wants to kill everybody. Anyway, great flick. Intense and scary.

LOVE! Paperhouse (1988)
Weird, intelligent movie about a little girl who seems to be able to influence the world with her drawings. The problem is, her drawings start influencing her right back. She's sick, and as her fever grows, she starts to be pulled into her not-so-lovely imaginary world. This is one of my all-time favorites.

low budget!LOVE! Phantasm (1979)
What horror movie fan doesn't love Phantasm? The Tall Man, the mortuary, the bug...and the ball! Dude! Where can I get one of those? Actually, I enjoyed all the Phantasm sequels. Reggie just gets cooler and cooler! And Angus Scrimm rules.

Scary!LOVE! Prince of Darkness (1987)
A movie about an ancient order of priests who keep a giant bottle of liquid Satan in their basement. How can I not love this movie? Plus, it has Alice Cooper in it. YAAAAAAAAY ! And did I mention it has my all-time favorite horror movie line, ever? "I have something to tell you. And you're not going to like it. Pray for death." My husband and I still say that to each other from time to time...

LOVE! Prophesy, The (1995)
Touched by an angel? You don't want to get touched by these guys. (Well, I might, but you don't.) There's a second war in Heaven, and Gabriel's gone bad! And he's played by Christopher Walken! YAAAAAAAAAY! Lots of creepy stuff ensue and Gabriel and Simon battle it out ove the sould of a Korean war criminal, which can be used as a catalyst for something apocalyptic, and is now hidden in the body of an innocent little girl. Bonus: early appearance by Viggo Mortensen as Satan!

Scary!Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Ravenous (1999)
Yes, it really is scary, mega-gory, and funny all at the same time. I'm a sucker for Wendigo stories, and this is one of my favorites. Guy Pearce, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette and Robert Carlyle all in the same movie! The bizarre trance-and-twang soundtrack is really unique and cool. This is the first movie I've ever sen that made being a Wendigo kind of look like fun.

low budget!Splatfest! Reeker (2005)
Completely sick and twisted horror/mystery fusion about a group of people stranded at a desert in. Yes, they're being stalked down and killed one by one--by a creature that smells like ass. Well, maybe not ass, but roadkill + ass. Or roadkill + landfill + ass. Things just get crazier, until the utterly messed-up conclusion. What a hoot.

Splatfest! Rest Stop (2006)
The DVD packaging makes this look like just another torture porn flick. I was pleasantly surprised to find out otherwise. This flick is tense, scary, nervewracking, and surprising.

Scary! Ring, The (2002)
It isn't very often that the Americn adaptation of a foreign film is as good as the original, but this is the exception. (Mainly due to some beautiful art direction, haunting imagery, and Brian Cox. Brian Cox RULES.) Every bit as scary as the original, in its own way.

Scary! Ringu (1998)
The Japanese movie that the American movie "The Ring" was based on. Wonderful in its own way, with a creepy atmosphere and a horrifying backstory. The end is a serious kick to the side of the head. I like the other two movies in the Japanese "Ringu" trilogy, but this is my favorite.

low budget!low budget!Splatfest!Mindwarping! Salvage (2006)
Don't freak out in the first few minutes of this movie, when you realize it was made on a budget of about twenty bucks. Hang in there. This is one freaky, disturbing, original and bizarre bit of cinema. I was absolutely delighted with the ending. Chris Ferry puts in an excellent performance as the depraved Duke Desmond. Bonus: Fantastic soundtrack by the band Devola.

Scary!Mindwarping! Session 9 (2001)
This is one of the creepiest, most unnerving movies I've ever seen. And that's saying a lot. Some of the credit goes to the setting itself. The movie is filmed in the awesomely, beautifully spooky Danvers State Mental Hospital. A crew of workmen is hired to clear out asbestos from the old building. Some of them don't seem to be the most mentally stable guys in the world to start with. When they discover tapes of a highly disturbing psychologist's session with a murderous patient, things really get weird.

Splatfest!Mindwarping! Shallow Ground (2004)
Bizarre, creepy mindfreak of a film. A teenage boy covered in blood wanders into a rural sheriff's station. Who is he? What has he done? Is he even human? Bonus: Patty McCormack, who played Rhoda Penmark in the 1956 film "The Bad Seed," has a juicy role! YAY PATTY MCCORMACK!

Scary! Silent Hill (2006)
Yes, I know it's general knowlege that movies based on video games are crap. "Silent Hill" is the exception. Surreal and spooky, it captures the unnerving feel of the game while carrying a reasonably complex and interesting plot. Great CG, some gore, and some genuine scares. Okay, I admit it, I was really happy to see Pyramid Head (not to mention Sean Bean and Alice Krige).

Scary! Sixth Sense, The (1999)
If you haven't seen this movie, you've probably been living in a cave since 1999. M. Night Shyamalan's excellent, spooky breakthrough film rocks. Bruce Willis is excellent as always, and ten-year-old Haley Joel Osment is astonishing.I see dead people! Oh wait, that's just my husband crashed out on the couch.

Mindwarping! Skeleton Key, The (2005)
I love stories about Voodoo, and this is one of my very favorites. A young woman comes to work at an old plantation, taking care of an elderly man who is trying desperately to warn her--about something. Believe me, it's worse than you think. Kate Hudson proves she can do more than romatic comedies, and I'm always happy to see John Hurt. (And no, nothing explodes out of his chest.)

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Johnny Depp! Christopher Walken! Fire-breathing hell horses! Christina Ricci! Jeffrey Jones! Miranda Richardson! Heads flying everywhere! WOOHOO! This is by far the most entertaining version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" I've ever seen. Bored some evening? Get your friends together and count the decapitations!

Stir of Echoes (1999)
This wonderful creepfest had the misfortune of coming out at the same time as "The Sixth Sense." It got no love, but it should have. Kevin Bacon is terrific as the working-class guy whose eyes are suddenly and unwillingly opened to the other side. His newfound ability to see the dead leads him closer and closer to uncovering a horrific neighborhood secret.

low budget!Splatfest!Mindwarping! Sublime (2007)
Surreal, gruesome mindfreak of a movie. A man goes into the hospital for a routine procedure the day after his his 40th birthday. Something goes horribly wrong and he goes into a coma, where he finds himself in a hellish alternate reality of pain, introspection, and terror. Low budget, high concept. Loved it.

Scary!Mindwarping!LOVE! Suspiria (1977)
I adore Dario Argento, and this is possibly my favorite of his movies. A young girl (the ever-fabulous Jessica Harper) comes to an exclusive ballet academy. She gradually learns that the staff is a coven of highly powerful witches, and their motives are too horrible and bizarre to be understood. Bonus: Great soundtrack by Goblin.

Splatfest! Tales from the Hood (1995)
I love the horror anthology movies, and this one is terrific. Clarence Will iams III is delightful as a bizarre undertaker who tells a group of would-be robbers four scary stories. The tales range from grimly amusing to downright grim.

Splatfest! Tattooist, The (2007)
Being a big fan of tattoos, I love the premise of this movie. A young tattoo artist named Jake impulsively swipes a traditional Samoan tattooing instrument from a convention in Singapore. When he travels to Samoa to learn new tattooing techniques, he guiltily attempts to return the tatau stick. But the damage has been done. A horrible curse has attached itself to him, and it starts wreaking havoc whenever he practices his art. Yikes. Ink and blood everywhere!

Scary! Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Of course I love the original William Castle cheez-fest. (See "Midnight Movies.") But this version has some of the scariest ghosts I've ever seen. Plus the haunted house set is an absolute work of art. Not the best movie I've ever seen, but highly entertaining. Bonus: Tony Shalhoub!

Splatfest!barf!Mindwarping! Three…Extremes (2004)
Three top Asian directors (Fruit Chan, Chanwook Park, and my secret love muffin, Takashi Miike) present three extremely disturbing horror stories. I'm not kidding--this movie will mess your stuff up. Y'know, unless you're okay with onscreen amputations and wholesale baby-eating.

Splatfest! Toolbox Murders (2004)
I confess. I didn't particularly like the original very much. But the remake is scary, fun, gory and weird--splat with a twist. The setting is a creepy, glorious old Hollywood hotel, full of secrets. Sigh. I love me the Hollywood gothic.

Funny! Trapped Ashes (2006)
A riff on the '70's Hammer anthology horror films, this movie has stories so weird, so twisted, so delightfully imaginitive that it makes up for its considerable silliness. Seven people visit an old "horror house" set on a Hollywood backlot. They get trapped, and end up telling four scary stories. That's where the similarities to the old-school anthos end. In the first place, all of these stories have a lot of sex in them. If you ever read the Hot Blood short story collections--like that. Then there are the stories themselves. Vampiric breasts. Undead sex-crazed Japanese monks. A gorgeous succubus who drains the talent and ambition out of men. A girl who grew up with a giant tapeworm as her twin brother. Or sister. Invertebrate sibling. Whatever. Bonus: Henry Gibson and John Saxon!

Trick or Treat (1986)
A guilty pleasure from my wasted youth. A lonely high school boy is devastated when his favorite metal rocker burns to death in a house fire. But when he accidentally summons an evil version of the rock star, the blood and metal hits the fan.

Splatfest!Mindwarping!LOVE! Uzumaki (2000)
A rural Japanese town gets possessed by, um, spirals. No really. And it's scary. This surreal freakfest is based on a terrific manga trilogy. You will never look at Cinnabons the same way again.

LOVE! Wendigo (2001)
Moody, multi-layered, surreal story by the always amazing Larry Fessenden. On one level, it's the story of a man's disengagement from his family, and the impact it has on his lonely son. Then there are the unpleasant upstate New York rednecks who seem to have it in for the family. Woven throughout is the local legend of the Wendigo, in this case a mysterious shapeshifter that the boy finds all too real. Um, just go watch it. Larry won't let you down.

Wind Chill (2007)
Well-written, tense story of two college students who get stranded on a stretch of deserted road in mid-winter. Sure, this could be a standard slasher setup, but it isn't. This is boy and girl vs. nature vs... something really bad.

low budget!LOVE! Wishbaby (2007)
Excellent British story of witchcraft and revenge. A beautiful young girl wants out of her life of poverty. She meets and old woman who teaches her how to make a "wishbaby"--basically a voodoo doll that grants wishes. But as in most stories of wish-granting creepy things, the poor girl gets more than she bargained for.

Splatfest!Cheesy! Wishmaster (1997)
Okay, I admit it. I love Wes Craven's splattery, twisted take on the genie myth. The gonzo opening scene is worth the price of admission. The Wishmaster is an evil djinn who always manages to turn wishes into their most horrible possible interpretations. And he has so much fun doing it! I love his voice. "You have no more wishezzzzzz!"




Psychological Horror and Splatter Flicks

Of course, I dig a good psychological horror flick. I like them creepy and intelligent, and I like them filled with brainless gleeful splatter, and everything in between.


Splatfest!Funny! American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale is beyond perfect as Patrick Bateman, businessman by day, crazed serial killer by night. Her performance is both hilarious and horrifying. The movie is way, way better than the desperately overwritten novel it was based on. You will never look at Huey Lewis quite the same way again...

Splatfest!Funny! American Psycho 2: All American Girl (2002)
This movie was generally ignored, and it got pounded by the critics. I thought it was hilarious. Okay, I do have a weakness for killer chick stories. Well-written, gory and witty, this movie follows the exploits of a young grad student who will do anything to get ahead. Anything involving sharp implements, that is.

Splatfest!barf! Audition (1999)
Takashi Miike is one of my favorite directors, and when he gets nasty, he gets seriously nasty. If you've never heard anything about this movie, lucky you! Go rent it. Don't let anyone tell you anything about it. Don't even look at the cover. If you have heard of it...yes. It's as gruesome as everybody says it is. For hardcore horror fans only.

Splatfest!Funny!barf! Autopsy (2008)
Despite the generic title, this was one of my favorite movies at the 2008-2009 Horrorfest. A group of young people on their way back from Mardi Gras crash their car in the middle of nowhere. An ambulance shows up, even though nobody called it, and two thuggish EMTs load the kids up in the back. They end up at the old and creepy Mercy Hospital. Soon they're separated by a pushy, not-quite-normal nurse, and the fun begins. This movie has some of the most delightfully over-the-top gore I've seen in ages.

LOVE! Bad Seed, The (1956)
Yay! It's the ultimate evil little girl movie! Patty McCormack chews the scenery as Rhoda Penmark, a ten-year-old who will kill anybody who gets in her way. Or has something she wants. Or even irritates her. The tacked-on Dios ex Machina ending bites (the play has a much better ending) but little blonde Patty rules!

low budget!Splatfest! Barber, The (2001)
There's something wrong with the barber in a remote Alaskan town. Maybe because he's Malcolm McDowell! WooHoo! (Have I mentioned that I'm on a quest to see every Malcolm McDowell movie ever made?) This movie is very low-budget and has some of the most god-awful continuity errors you will ever see on film, but the writing is sharp, and Malcolm, as usual, rocks.

Splatfest!Scary! Black Christmas (1974)
I mean the original, of course, not the lame-ass remake. Yeah, it's a "crazed killer picks off houseful of sorority girls" movie. But it's well-directed, and severely creepy. Plus, it has one of the greatest horror movie taglines ever: "If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl...it's On Too Tight!" I heartily agree.

Mindwarping! Bug (2006)
This creepy story of two people going slowly insane together is gorgeously directed by William Friedkin, of "The Exorcist" fame. Michael Shannon (no relation) and Ashley Judd put in amazing performances. This movie was badly promoted and poorly distributed, but it's a modern masterpiece.

LOVE! Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The (1920)
German expressionist arti direction + mad scientist + creepy zombie-like dude = awesomeness! If you haven't seen this gorgeous classic, you're really missing out.





Splatfest!Splatfest!barf! Cannibal (2005)
This is one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen. And I've seen waaaaaaay more than I should. It's based on the true story of Arwin Meiwes, the German man who advertised on the internet for another man who wanted to be eaten. Literally. The casting in this film is perfect. The two men seem like ordinary guys, neither outstandingly handsome or homely. In the first half of the movie, they spend their time as lovers on a playful weekend retreat. Then, when he's ready, the "Meat" is killed and eaten. The depiction of the murder and cannibalism was based faithfully on Meiwes' videotapes of the actual incident. It is NASTY. And yet, I found the movie weirdly beautiful. What happened between those two people was intensely personal, and really, beyond our understanding.

Catacombs (2007)
This isn't the best movie in the whole world. But it sure is entertaining. And Shannyn Sossamon sure can scream. She plays a nervous young lady who goes to visit her bitchy sister in Paris. Bitchy sister drags nervous girl to a party in the catacombs below the city, where she hears a horrifying legend. Then, y'know, it comes after her. Tons of fun, well directed, and the ending absolutely kicks ass.

Clean, Shaven(1993)
Thoughtful and disturbing tale of a schizophrenic man, recently released from the hospital, on a desperate quest to get his daughter back from her adoptive family. I have seldom seen a movie that creeps up on you like this one does, leaving you utterly unsettled.

Cronicas (2004)
Seriously disturbing movie about a reporter from Miami, played brilliantly by John Leguizamo, to search for a serial child murderer. Unfortunately, the reporter cares more about his story than he does ensuring that the killer is caught. No real violence onscreen, but still, not for the squeamish.

low budget!Splatfest! Cube (1997)
Hell, I'm not sure if this is science fiction or horror or what, but a whole lot of people get killed in a whole lot of weird ways. Sometimes I wonder if the "Cube" movies gave a bit of inspiration to the creators of the "Saw" series. The most interesting aspect of "Cube" is the relationships between the people who find themselves tossed together in a seemingly endless deathtrap. To tell you the truth, I'm rather fond of the whole "Cube" series.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Dance with the Devil (1997)
Also known as "Perdita Durango," this is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's just so out there. Rosie Perez plays a tough, hard-luck young woman who falls in love with a seriously evil (yet totally hot) Santero priest. (Played by Javier Bardem. Did I mention he's totally hot?) The result is a weird conglomarate of road movie, romance, and crime drama. Lots of sex and violence. Yay!

low budget!Mindwarping! Dirt Boy (2001)
Low-budget yet fascinating story of a lost young man who travels to a small, Cape Cod-like town to study wtih a famous criminal profiler. There he meets the author of a (supposedly fictional) book called Dirt Boy. Then reality starts to warp and change. Was Dirt Boy just a story? Is he real? If not, who's killing off the locals? Tons of fun. Pay attention or you'll get lost in the complex but well-constructed story.

Splatfest!Funny! Dr. Giggles (2002)
This is one of my very favorite guilty pleasure splatfests. Simple story: a deranged doctor runs amok, killing people in gruesome, disgusting, and highly, uh, medical ways. Larry Drake is fantastic as the good Doctor. He throws himself into the role with such utter fearlessness that he's delightful to watch. More movies should have Larry Drake in them.

Mindwarping! Dr. Petiot (1990)
Fictionalized story of a real French doctor who lured dozens of Jews to his house during WWII with the promise of smuggling them out of occupied territory. Instead he gave them "innoculations," burned their bodies, and took their possessions. This movie is gorgeously filmed, and one of the most haunting and disturbing things I've ever seen.

Splatfest!barf!Funny! Devil’s Rejects, The (2005)
Rob Zombie's ill-natured follow-up to House of a 1000 Corpses. Deeply disturbing, hyper-violent and occasionally really funny. Not for the faint of heart, the easily offended, or anybody who isn't a demented wack job like me.

Felicia's Journey (1999)
This is horror set on a slow boil. Playing against type, Bob Hoskins is a seemingly normal, even kindly guy who happens to be a serial killer. He picks "special" girls, and he's focused on Felicia, a pregnant Irish girl looking for the English soldier who knocked her up. This is a classic "bomb under the movie seat" movie. You know what horrible danger Felicia is in, and there's nothing you can do about it. Very disturbing, very little onscreen violence. Superb.

LOVE! Freaks (1932)
A masterpiece by the eternally awesome Todd Browning. A troupe of circus "freaks" have their own tight society, and they look out for each other. If you cross them, you can't even imagine what they'll do to you. Gooba Gabba Gooba Gabba one of us! One of us! If you haven't seen this movie, shame on you. Go out and rent it right now.

Friday the 13th (1980)
The original. Only the original. None of the sequels. Not the remake. But the original is such a prime example of teenage "boink-and-die" movies, and the gore is quite fine for 1980. The twist at the end (which everybody on the planet knows by now) is really wonderful.

Splatfest! Frontiers (2007)
Gruesome, ill-natured story of a group of young French thieves who flee a riot-torn Paris, but end up in a bed and breakfast-full of demented neo-nazis. Let the splatter begin. One way to look at this movie is as high-class torture porn. Another way to look at it is a portrait of the fiery determination one young woman has to live. Either way, it's strong stuff, and not for the weak of heart or stomach.

Splatfest!Scary!LOVE! Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter's Halloween is, I'm pretty sure, the first movie that truly terrified me as a kid. Once things get going and the Boogeyman is out to get Jamie Lee Curtis at all costs, you're in danger of gnawing your nails down to the first knuckle. I never get tired of this movie. And yes, I love John Carpenter's score. I think he's a terrific musician as well as a terrific director and writer.

Splatfest!Scary!LOVE! Halloween (2007)
I walked into Rob Zombie's Halloween with huge excitement and huge trepidation. I love Rob Zombie. Love his music, love his movies, love his awesome wife. But I also love the original Halloween. I would have been heartbroken if Rob had hosed it. Joy! He didn't! (I should have had more faith.) More of a re-imagining than a direct remake, the first 45 minutes of the film are focused on Michael Myers' life as a child. This adds a depth to the movie that takes it beyond the "faceless slasher" film. You think you know Michael, but you don't know him at all. When you realilze you have no idea what his motives are, or what he'll do next, thing get really exciting.

Splatfest!barf! Hannibal (2001)
I know, I know, it wasn't as good as "Silence of the Lambs." But still. Great performances by Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman. And people-eating pigs! Plus the best brain-eating scene EVER outside a zombie movie!

Splatfest! Hellbent (2006)
Rockin' slasher set in West Hollywood's (mostly gay) Halloween carnival. A group of young men go out on the town for some wild fun. What they get is a demented (yet weirdly hot) serial killer in a devil mask, who's overly fond of his hand-held scythe. Excellent performances, and the killer is scary as hell, so to speak. Lots of splat. Bonus: live performances by some fine queercore bands!

Splatfest! Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Yes, it's dated, and the sfx aren't the best. But this was one of the first serial killer movies I ever saw that attempted to show the human side of the "monster." Not that Henry is very sympathetic. He's a merciless killer who can't seem to control himself at all. But he's also a human, with a personality and depth. This is Michael Rooker's movie. He is astonishing as the tormented, twisted Henry. (And he was great in Slither, too. Heh.)

Hills Have Eyes, The (1977)
I loved this movie when it first came out. I was just a kid, so I had to whine all my older cousins to take me to see it in the theater. Three times. Rockin' good mutant cannibal fun! And everyone knows Michael Berryman rules.

Splatfest!Funny! Hills Have Eyes, The (2006)
I wasn't expecting much from this remake. It totally surprised me. The opening scene was both disgusting and hilarious. The entire movie swings wildly between black humor, gore, and stuff so disturbing it will stick with you for weeks. And the mutants are AWESOME. I especially loved Billy Drago as Papa Jupiter. Have I mentioned my little Billy Drago problem...?

Splatfest! Hostel (2005)
Yep. I dig the "Hostel" movies. I'm not afraid to admit it. What I liked best about the first movie was the snarky political commentary on the United States's standing in the world in 2005. Yeah, sure, there's loads of violence. Eli roth has figured out that when you torture people, they don't just scream, they cray, vomit, and otherwise spray bodily fluids. Good for him. Is it the most gruesome or disturbing movie I've ever seen? Not by a longshot. But I wouldn't take it on unless you're a gorehount.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie's gonzo tribute to 70's splat-horror is just about perfect in every way. This movie is gruesome in the extreme and funny as hell, not to mention disturbing and sick. It makes me very happy. Get the DVD, and just let the menu fun for awhile. Then check out the extras on the disc. You won't regreat it. If you're a splat-fan, that is.

LOVE! Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)
High Southern gothic, covered with kudzu and sins of the past and stark insanity. Bette Davis is amazing as the faded Belle commonly thought to have murdered her lover years before. She's a strong woman, and she's lived in her crumbling plantation home for years, with only her faithful (and very cranky) housekeeper as a companion. But strange, frighteneing things begin to happen. Is Charlotte losing her mind? Are there really ghosts coming to seek their revenge? Or is it something else entirely? And I love, love, LOVE the ending!

Identity (2003)
Ten strangers are stranded in a Nevada motel during a storm. People start to die. But this isn't Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians." There's something much more warped, weird and disturbing going on here. Engrossing, entertaining and tense.

Splatfest! Inferno (1980)
One of the many Dario Argento movies that I'm crazy about. A young woman is afraid for her life, convinced that someone or somthing is out to get her. Her brother arrives to help, only to find her murdered. The killings have just begun. Second in the "Three Mothers" series, which started with "Suspiria." Surrel, visceral and gruesome.

Funny!LOVE! Jekyll (2007)
This made-for-British-TV miniseries is worth every one of its six hours. Tom Jackman, a scientist with a wife and twin sons, begins to have what he thinks are psychotic breaks. He soon realizes that he turns into another person from time to time. Ever the professional, he hires an assistant, sets up a video camera, and tries to study his alter-ego. It soon becomes apparent that he can't control "Hyde." What are his evil twin's intentions? Is his family safe? Part horror, part science fiction, part family drama, and all awesome. James Nesbitt carries off the pivotal role in fine style. And did I mention he's drool-making sexy? Just sayin...

Joshua (2007)
There have been plenty of "evil children" movies. This is by far the most subtle and chilling. Joshua is a brilliant young boy whose mother has recently given birth to a baby girl. Joshua's behavior grows stranger, disturbing. At first, it seems like he's just jealous of the baby, but there's way more going on than meets the eye. Joshua's motivation remains opaque until the end of the film, when it kicks you in the dishpan and leaves you gasping for breath. Bonus: Sam Rockwell!

Funny!Mindwarping! Kontroll (2003)
A troubled young Budapest man retreats from his life and the surface of the earth, to patrol the city subway system for non-paying riders. It's a whole different world down there. He meets a lovely, enengmatic young woman whose father drives one of the subway trains. His retreat from reality is shattered when someone begins brutally murdering subway riders. Freaky, funny and disturbing.

low budget!low budget!Scary! Last Broadcast, The (1998)
Super-creepy predecessor of "The Blair Witch Project." The feeling of unease grows almost painful as the movie progresses. Great punch-in-the-gut ending.

LOVE! M (1931)
Once upon a time, Peter Lorre was almost angelic looking. And he played one of the best, sickest, creepiest, and most pathetic serial killers ever portrayed on screen. Fritz Lang directs beautifully, of course. No violence on camera, but HIGHLY disturbing content.

Mindwarping! Machinist, The (2004)
Yeah, let's get it out in the open. The creepiest thing about this movie is Christian Bale's emaciated body. He plays it like an instrument through this haunting, surreal movie.


Madhouse (2004)
A young psychiatric intern comeos to work at a creepy old mental hospital. BIG SURPRISE, somebody starts killing people. Yeah, sure, it's been done a lot. But this movie does it particularly well, and it has a delightful twist.

LOVE! Mafu Cage, The (1978)
This is one seriously weird flick. Two eccentric sisters live in the creepy old mansion their father left them. The father was a naturalist, and they keep his pet ape in a cage on the house. Then everybody goes crazy. Possibly including the ape. Carol Kane is at her most charming and ethereal in this movie. She beautifully projects innocence with an undercurrent of insanity just below the surface. Bonus: excellent African music soundtrack!

Manhunter (1986)
Before there was Anthony Hopkins, there was Brian Cox in the role of Hannibal Lecter. Some people don't care for the Miami Vice-like look of this adaptation of Thmas Harris's novel, Red Dragon. Slick 80's direction aside, the performances are terrific. Not as gory as the Harris-based movies to come, but plenty of suspense and general freakyness abound. Bonus: Shriekback in the soundtrack!

LOVE! Martin (1977)
George Romero's movie about a deeply disturbed young man who may or may not be a vampire is a cult classic for a reason. Excellent writing, effectively bleak direction, and an outstanding performance by John Amplas as the confused and dangerous Martin raise this movie to an art form. Bonus: A very young Tom Savini created the effects, and acted in the movie.

Memories of Murder (2003)
Over the past few years, I've become a huge fan of Korean filmmaking. This is one of the finest examples out there. There's a serial killer in a rural part of Korea,, preying on young women. The local cops area both dumb and brutal, and have little chance of solving the mystery. A detective arrives from Seul, and the three men immediately clash. As much a character story as a murder mystery, this film is just terrific.

LOVE! Minus Man, The (1999)
Owen Wilson plays against type as a serial killer drifting through (and wreaking havoc on) a small town. He chooses his victims from people who complain about their lives, or seem generally miserable. Moral of the story: no whining! Thoughtful and low-key, this is no splatfest. But it will definitely creep you out, and keep you thinking about it for weeks to come.

Splatfest!Funny!barf!LOVE! Misery(1990)
1991 was the best Oscar year EVER. I was on my feet and screaming when Kathy Bates won Best Actress. And did she ever deserve it, for her role as obsessed, bipolar, dangerous fan Annie Wilkes. Then "Silence of the Lambs" won best picture. My shrieks of glee made my husband's ears bleed.

Splatfest!Mindwarping! MPD Psycho (2003)
This is actually a six-hour Japanese miniseries, broken into three parts. "MPD" stands for "Multiple Personality Disorder." This is an intensely weird, twisting tale involving mental illness, a cult leader from the '60's, mysterious barcodes on young people's eyes, and a killer who can leap from body to body. I got a little tired of the detective whining and starnding in the rain looking all emo, but overall it's bizarre good fun. Another warped masterpiece by Takashi Miike.

Splatfest! My Bloody Valentine (1981)
This is just one of the many slasher flicks that came out of the early 1980's, but I always felt there was something special about this one. I mean, you really can't go wrong with a guy in a gas mask removing people's hearts with a mining pick. Gruesome and entertaining, this is a fine example of the genre and time.

Splatfest! My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)
I'm generally not crazy about remakes, but I loved this one. For one thign, it has the adorable Jenson Ackles, of "Supernatural" fame. But the digital, high-definition 3-D is what made this movie for me. I got pickaxes flying at mmy head, body parts appearing to land in my lap, and blood spraying from the screen like an ornamental fountain-- exactly what I was hoping for. The picture quality was so good I felt like I could reach out and touch Jenson's adorably stubbly cheek at any time. I was riveted to the screen. Would I love the movie as much if I'd seen it in its non-3-D incarnation? Doubtful. It's a solid remake with some great gore, but not Oscar material. But damn, that was just the finest 3-D I'd ever seen in my life.

Nightwatch (1997)
Here I go again, loving up another remake. But this American film was written and directed by Ole Bornedal, who created the Danish original. Ewan MacGregor is excellent as a law student who takes a job as a night watchman at a morgue. As if that wasn't creepy enough, somebody starts playing nasty tricks on him involving dead people. This quickly escalates to murder, and our hero is the prime suspect. Not to be confused with Night Watch, the excellent Russian horror/fantasy.

Nattevagten (1994)
The original Danish version of "Nightwatch," above. Same plot, equally creepy, but with a slightly different approach than the American remake. I like them both. In fact, I've been known to watch them back to back.

Splatfest! Opera (1987)
Dario Argento at his grisly best. This over-the-top gore extravaganza is beyond fun. The movie showcases Argento's direction at its most stylized, and it's not for everybody. But I found it delightful, in a sick and wrong kind of way.

Splatfest!LOVE! Pit and the Pendulum (1991)
Of course I love the Roger Corman version, but this Stuart Gordon adaptation is my favorite. From the infamous Full Moon Entertainment, this movie is full of gore, naked chicks, and, um, rats that have been dyed black. Best of all, it has Lance Henricksen as Torquemada. Okay, it doesn't have a lot to do with the Edgar Allan Poe story, other than the pit and the pendulum themselves. But dude! Stuart Gordon and Lance Henricksen! If only Lance had gotten naked too, this would have been a perfect movie.

Scary! LOVE! Psycho (1960)
You MUST have seen this movie. Everyone on the planet has seen this movie, or should have. Alfred Hitchcock is an Elder God. Anthony Perkins was his avatar. That is all.

P2 (2007)
I was not impressed by the previews for this movie. It looked like just another retro slasher. But it's actually suspenseful, well-written, and highly creepy. Wes Bentley is excellent as the deranged night watchman who wants a young businesswoman to spend Christmas with him at any cost.

Splatfest!Scary!barf! Red Dragon (2002)
Fantastic adaptation of Thomas Harris's great (but deeply disturbing) novel. Ralph Fiennes is amazing as the demented Francis Dolarhyde, and Ed Norton is the perfect Will Graham. Emily Watson is awesome in everything she does, including this movie.

Splatfest!Funny!Mindwarping!LOVE! Red Riding Hood (2003)
An unhinged little girl roams the streets of Rome with her companion George, who is sometimes a puppy and sometimes a Big Bad Wolf in a black robe and mask. She deals out "justice" to people who have done wrong by her standards. Power tools are sometimes involved. I found this movie to be wicked good fun from one end to the other.

low budget!Splatfest! Romasanta (2004)
This indie delight is based on the true story of Manuel Romasanta, a batsh*t crazy soapmaker who killed at least 15 people in 1850's Spain. The thing was, Romasanta insisted he was a werewolf, and that he transformed into a wolf before each and every one of his murders. He maintained that story until the day he was executed. Julian Sands is fantastic as the charming yet terrifying Romasanta. FYI: the alternate title for this movie is "Werewolf Hunter," but you won't find any actual werewolves in this movie. Sorry.

Splatfest!Mindwarping!Funny! Santa Sangre (1989)
Completely demented Mexican horror flick. Surreal and grotesque, yet weirdly beautiful and sometimes very funny. Just when you think it can't get any weirder, it does. Watch it at least twice. You'll want to.

Splatfest!Funny! Satan’s Little Helper (2004)
This movie was an unexpected delight. A young boy is obsessed with a violent video game called Satan's Little Helper, about a little demon who helps his master commit mayhem. He dresses as the demon for Halloween, and to his utter delight, discovers someone dressed as Satan. The kid starts following Satan around and helping him with his "pranks." Problem is, Satan is a serial killer, and the boy's family is on his list. Alternately grisly and hilarious. What a hoot.

Splatfest!Scary!Funny! Scream (1996)
Everybody's seen this witty, bloody, ill-natured sendup of the slasher genre by now, but it was fresh and surprising when it first came out. I still enjoy watching it. Heck, I liked Scream 2 and Scream 3 as well.

Secret Window (2004)
Low-key psychological horror flick starring Johnny Depp and the always awesome John Turturro. Subtle and graceful direction , and fine performances by all involved. An exceptional adaptation of the Stephen King story.

Splatfest!Funny! Severance (2006)
The sales division of a British weapons company sends its empoyees on a team-building exercise in Eastern Europe. Their bus driver kicks them out miles from the lodge, because he's too afraid to go into the territory. (You'd think that would have given these people a clue...) Things go rapidly downhill as a group of crazed paramilitary types start taking the sales force out one at a time. Hysterically funny and over-the-top gruesome. Don't miss writer/director Christopher Smith's first feature-length film, "Creep," listed in the "Monster Movies' section. I hope to see lots more from him.

Splatfest!Scary!barf!LOVE! Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Yep. It's in my Top Ten Favorite Movies Ever. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster are riveting. And Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill--wow. I watch this movie every couple of months. And I'm proud of it! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Sister My Sister (1994)
Based on the true story of the Papin sisters, this all-woman production is outstanding. Two young French girls go into domestic service in the early 1930's. Secretive and strange, they create their own little world to escape the misery of their day-to-day existance. Eventually, their obsession with each other and their resentment of their nasty employers explodes into violence. Slow-moving and beatuiful, this is a movie that will stay with you for a long time.

Splatfest! Slaughter
(2009)
Another excellent entry from the 2008-2009 Horrorfest. A young woman named Faith, trying to escape her violent boyfriend, impulsively moves to a remote farm with Lola, a girl she just met. Lola's father and brother are creepy, the farm is creepy, and the pig slaughterhouse is really, REALLY creepy. But don't be fooled, this is no cannibal hillbillyl movie. It's a well-written, twisted psychological horror movie. This movie had some elements that I found extremely disturbing, possibly to the point that I never wnnt to see it again. But that doesn't mean I won't recommend it to you.

Splatfest!barf!Mindwarping! Strange Circus (2004)
This is Japanese gonzo horror cinema at its most bizarre and twisted. The subject material is pretty disturbing all by itself. I don't have much of a tolerance for abused-child movies, but dispite the yuck factor, this is a fascinating flick. Gross and surreal, I felt like I needed to wash my brain out with Comet when it was over. But the ending totally rocks! Not for the easily offended, squeamish, or, um, normal.

Splatfest!LOVE! Strangeland (1998)
Okay, so there's this crazy (but weirdly hawt) guy who kidnaps people and gives them free tattoos and piercings. What's the problem? Yeesh! BUT SERIOUSLY, this movie by rocker Dee Snyder is super-creepy and entertaining. Gimme a kiss, Captain Howdy!

Splatfest! Suicide Club (2002)
This demented Japanese movie starts out with 54 high school girls throwing themselves in fromt of a speeding subway train at once. The splash of blood looks like a freakin' tidal wave. At that moment, I knew this was a movie I was going to love. A harried detective tries to investigate a series of teen suicides. (Yep, the subway dive is just the first.) There seems to be a teenybopper girl group involved, and maybe a cult leader, and a website that tallies the death toll. Things get weirder, grosser, and progressively more surreal. Don't watch if you're a fan of neatly tied-up endings. Do watch if you like gallons of blood.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
I've been a fan of the musical for years, of course. I was thrilled when I learned that a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version was in the works, and I wasn't disappointed. Johnny Depp brings a scary intensity to the character of Sweeney Todd, and Helena Bonham Carter has a whole new take on Mrs. Lovett. The music is wonderful, the direction is wonderful, and the gore factor is both hilarious and unsettling. I found the bodies dropping on their heads into the cellar to be even grosser than the explosions of blood. That CRUNCH...

Splatfest! Sweeney Todd (2006)
I'd be willing to bet that most peole haven't seen this made-for-British-TV movie, but everybody should. It's not a musical. It's not even a little bit funny. It poses the question: if there was a guy like Sweeney Todd in real life, what would have made him that way? The always amazing Ray Winstone plays Sweeney, and he absolutely broke my heart. This is a deep character study, and I found it fascinating. Probalby not interesting to pure gorehounds, but if you like good cinema, don't miss this movie.

Splatfest! Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
I'm' sure I didn't need to tell you that I love Tobe Hooper's original shocker. It's grisly, twisted, and occasionally hilarous. If you're a horror fan and you haven't seen it yet, shame on you! I didn't like all the various sequels ard remakes, but there were a few I thought were fun. "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1994) isn't exactly what you'd call a good movie, but watching a very young Matthew McConaughey chew the scenery makes it worth a watch. Hell, Viggo Mortenson is in "TCM III" (1990). The 2003 TCM remake wasn't bad, actually, but for some reason, I didn't find it as wonderful as the original. However, I loved "TCM: The Beginning" (2006). It's got the origin of Leatherface and his lovely family, and R. Lee Ermy is in just about every scene. Everything he touches turns to aweesome.

Splatfest! Trauma (1993)
Yeah, yeah, hardcore Dario Argento fans don't consider this one of his best, but I just love it. And not just because Brad Dourif is in it (although that doesn't hurt). Asia Argento is adorable, and the murders are just so freakin' over the top. (If you don't know what a Gigli saw is, go forth and Google it.) I happen to love horror movies that have a Big Horrible Secret involved. And the Big Horrible Secret in "Trauma" is just, well, spectacularly horrible.

Scary! When a Stranger Calls (1979)
Seriously scary take on the urban legend about the babysitter getting calls from a creepy stranger. Carol Kane is wonderful as the vulnerable babysitter. Forget the '06 remake, this is the real thing.

Scary! When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
Another rare instnace of a sequel living up to the original. This time it's another young girl being victimized by the crazy stalker, and Carol Kane's character appears as her college counselor. There is something so stunningly creepy about the bad guy in this movie. Yikes.

Splatfest! White of the Eye (1987)
This low-key serial killer flick was mostly overlooked, which is just a cryin' shame. The setup: somebody is killing women in a wealthy desert community. A married sound engineer finds himself the prime suspect, and tries desperately to clear his name. Great writing, great acting, and lots of surprises abound. This is high-class horror, but it doesn't pull its punches. I think this was one of David Keith's best performances.

Wicker Man, The (1973)
I mean the original. With Christopher Lee. Of course. An uptight policeman (Edward Woodward) travels to a remote Scottish island to search for a missing child. The residents are weird, to say the least. There's something going on, something completely beyond his experience.Yeah, I know, this isn't exactly a horror film. But the ending is horrifying enough. And no, do NOT check out the 2006 version, just because you heard it has Nick Cage wearing a bear suit in it. The few moments of unintentional hilarity are not worth the pain and agony of the rest of the film. You can watch the "good" parts on YouTube.

Cheesy!LOVE! Willard (1971)
I love this movie, despite the cheese factor. Bruce Davison is an outstanding actor, even when he's playing with rats. And hey! Elsa Lanchester plays his mama! How cool is that? This movie takes itself pretty seriously, and Mr. Davison does a fantastic job of portraying the shy, isolated Willard's descent into violence and insanity. And there are tons and tons and tons of cute ratties to look at. Yay! This movie is not going to scare a modern moviegoer, but it's a classic. (And the truth is, I love every rat-related horror movie ever made.) I'm nuts about the 2003 remake as well, by the way. You'll find it under "Black Comedies."


Monster Movies

Monsters rock! Big scary toothy ones, little evil slimy ones, vampires, werewolves, zombies--oh wait, that's my social circle.


Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! 28 Days Later (2003)
This fast-moving "living zombie" movie kicks some serious butt. The zombies aren't dead, they're living people who've been infected with a virus, and they want to kill anyone and anything they look at. The good news: you can kill them with a bullet through the heart, not just a headshot. The bad news: if they splatter blood on you, pretty soon you'll be gnawing on your best friend. Dark and intense!

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Outstanding follow-up to "28 Days Later." People have kinda-sorta got the infection under control. Europe is in a police state, and civilians live in a kind of protected captivity. All it would take is one little slip-up to let the virus loose in the safe zone. Oh, but THAT'S not gonna happen, right? Just as gory and intense as the first movie, with even more rich character development.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! 30 Days of Night (2007)
Really scary, atmospheric adaptation of the graphic novel by the same name. These are no romantic velvet-draped vampires. These are nasty predators wtih teeth like broken glass and a mean streak a mile wide. And gory? Considering how much blood gets splashed across the pure white snow, I'm surprised the vampires got anything to eat at all.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! Alien (1979)
This movie is iconic. Even people who haven't seen it recognize the H.R. Giger sets, and the alien himself. (Herself? Itself) There are a few dated sfx, but the movie is as effective as ever. Intense almost to the point of pain. Sigourney Weaver is fantastic as the closed-off but incredibly resourceful Ripley. And as for Jonesy the cat...I always knew cats were out to get us.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! Aliens (1986)
Technically this is more of a war movie than a horror movie, but it's still plenty scary, and even more intense than the first film. Plus lots more aliens! Aliens all over the place! And who doesn't love the alien queen? Well, other than Ripley.

low budget!Splatfest! Blood (2000)
Exellent British indie about a genetically engineered vampire, and her addictive, narcotic-like blood. Highly origina and eroticl, with wonderful writing and acting, despite the low budget.

LOVE! Bram Stoker ’s Dracula (1992)
Gary Oldman. SIGH! Plus Tom Waits, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Sadie Frost, and a lot of gorgeous art direction and costuming. Oh, and did I mention the kinky werewolf sex? Growf! I have the "Love Never Dies" gargoyle on my bedroom door to this day. (Yes, that was TMI, wasn't it.)

Mindwarping!Funny!LOVE! Cemetery Man (1994)
There's weird, there's really weird, then there's Cemetery Man. One of Rupert Everett's earliest roles, and probably my favorite. Gruesome and hysterically funny. If you think zombie boy scouts are funny, anyway.

Cloverfield (2008)
I was so happy to see an awesome giant monster movie come out of the U.S.! And this is one big, nasty monster. With lots of nasty little monsters attached. Some people didn't care for the hand-held camera, home-video approach to the movie, but I thought it worked perfectly. And don't worry, you get a great money shot of the beast before the movie's over.

Mindwarping!LOVE! Company of Wolves, The (1983)
When I watched this movie in the theater in 1983, half the audience walked out. They didn't get it. It's a twisted Freudian fairy tale about the fears girls have about males, sex, and growing up. With werewolves. I adore this flick.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest! Creep (2003)
This was the first feature film by the wildly talented writer/director Christopher Smith, but it's better than a lot of movies from much more experienced directors. The setup: a party girl gets trapped in the London Underground. Something seriously nasty is down there with her. Anybody who tries to help her meets a horrific fate. Innovative and scary, this movie rocks.

Splatfest!Funny! Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Of course, I'm talking about George Romero's masterpiece of black humor, mondo gore, and social satire. This movie is just as much fun as it was thirty years ago. I liked aspects of the 2004 remake. But it just didn't have the fantastic balance of splat and hilarity that the original did.

Splatfest! Day of the Dead (1985)
Delightfully gory (yet weirdly thoughtful) conclusion to George Romero's original "Dead" trilogy. Bub the zombie rocks my world! Again, the remake is okay. But it just doesn't have the same edgy feel of the original.

Splatfest!Funny!barf! Dead Snow (2009)
Or "Dod Sno," in its native Norwegian. It’s the simple “besieged cabin in the middle of nowhere” setup. The young attractive victims are kinda-smug med students. And the zombies…they're NAZI zombies! Zombie Nazis! Um, ugly-ass dead guys who had been Nazis when they were alive! These zombies are fast, vicious, and animalistic. That's pretty creepy. But there are so many wonderful splatstick moments too. I’d say this movie is a 60/40 split of horror and comedy. The humor is seriously nasty, just the way I like it. And the gore. The GORE! WOW! If you love zombies and have a strong stomach, this film's for you.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Death Machine (1995)
I have little memory of the first time I saw this film. I was too gobsmacked by Brad Dourif with long hair, ripped jeans, and strange sexual proclivities. Have I mentioned my little Brad Dourif problem? Anyway. I watched it a few more (dozen) times. Great flick Great killer robot. Some sly humor thrown in just for spice.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest!LOVE! Descent, The (2006)
Things go horribly wrong when a group of badass female cavers venture into caverns off the beaten track. Something is hunting them, and it ain't human. Ultra-gory, intense and scary. I never get tired of this film.

Splatfest!Funny! Dog Soldiers (2002)
British special forces vs. werewolves! Yay! Funny, scary, and even touching at times, the writing is sharp and the effects are grisly. Happily, the plot is full of surprises. I love surprises. And werewolves.

LOVE! Evil Dead II (1987)
Evil Dead II is very nearly a remake of the original, only with a higher budget, and much, much funnier. Sam Raimi turns Bruce Campbell loose, and he steals the show as a man fighting for his sanity, fighting demons, and, uh, fighting his own hand. Funny as heck, but has some good scares too.

Fly, The (1959)
Okay, the guy with the fly head and claws was kind of silly. But I loved Dandelo the cosmic particle kitty. And that last scene freaks me out to this day. Heeeeeeelp meeeeeeee!

Splatfest!barf! Fly, The (1986)
Directed by the generally demented David Cronenberg, this more of a re-imagining than a remake. Rather than the scientist coming out of the teleporter with a fly head, he seems to be perfectly fine. But changes are starting from inside. By the time everything's said and done, things get really messy. Oh--did I mention that before he starts turning into a really big bug, Jeff Goldblum is stunningly hot?

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)
Some people complain about the schizophrenia of this film--it's half crime drama, half vampire flick. I happen to love that. Once the characters get to the Titty Twister bar, the gross-outs and lulz just don't stop. It's got a great cast--Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, George Clooney, the eternally awesome Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Salma Hayak (in a performance that eve makes me drool). Bonus: Tom Savini as Sex Machine! Have I mentioned my little Tom Savini problem? Rrrowf...

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Frostbitten (2006)
Deliscious, gory and funny vampire movie from Sweden. The setup is similar to 30 Days of Night. Vampires show up in a far-northern town that doesn't see daylight for a month at a time. But the similarities end there. The script is original, hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Writer Daniel Ojanlatva deserves huge credit for a delightful script. I hope to see more of his work.

Splatfest! Ginger Snaps (2000)
Gritty, intense and tragic story of a teenage girl who becomes a werewolf. As if getting through high school didn't suck enough, right? The emotional responses of the were-chick and the kids around her are particularly well done. Watch the original, and if you like it, check out the sequels. They're all pretty entertaining.

Mindwarping!LOVE! Habit (1996)
Let me just say that Larry Fessenden rocks my world. He wrote, directed and starred in this original take on the vampire movie. Gritty and realistic, the existence of the vampire seems as solid as the New York setting. This story of horror and sexual obsession is a must for every serious student of horror.

Splatfest! Hamiltons, The (2006)
Thoughtful, original and disturbing movie about a family that has the bad habit of killing people, then quickly relocating before they can get caught. Told from the point of view of sensitive teenager Francis, there's much more going on than meets the eye. The story starts out so quietly, it's almost a surprise when things get really nastly.

Host, The (2006)
This Korean giant-monster movie is no Godzilla flick. (Not that I don't love Godzilla. Everybody loves Godzilla. But Godzilla movies aren't exactly known for their depth.) The story follows a slacker single father and his smart, worldwise young daughter. Their lives are disrupted when a giant mutant salamander-squid thing living in Seoul's Han River snatches the little girl away. Gang-du, the slacker dad, must rely on his (scanty) wits and weird family to try to save his daughter. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, this is just a terrific movie.

LOVE! Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Yeah yeah, I know, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. But Neil Jordan's gorgeous direction and fine performances by all of the actors make this movie excellent.

Yikes! Scary! Jeepers Creepers (2001)
I dig so many things about this movie. The Creeper's truck is awesome. I want it. The Creeper himself is one of the scariest movie monsters to come along in years. And it has a custom '59 Impala in it! SuhWEEEET! The sequel is OK, but not as much fun as the original.

Splatfest!barf! Land of the Dead, The (2005)
George Romero's back with a vengeance! He's up to his old social satire in this ultra-gory, highly entertaining undead-fest. One of these days I'm going to try to count how many feet of intestine actually appear onscreen. I'm sure it's in the hundreds.

LOVE! Let the Right One In (2008)
Simply incredible Norwegian take on the vampire film. Centering around Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old, and Eli, a mysterious girl who appears to be a vampire, this is the strangest of love stories. The child actors put in amazing performances. The direction is beautiful and stark. This is a movie that makes you want to watch it over and over again.

LOVE! Lost Boys, The (1987)
This teen vampire flick has been one of my favorite movies since it first came out oer twenty years ago. Wee little Corey Haim is fantastic as the kid whose older brother is getting sucked (ha ha) into a nest of vampires. And before he was torturing terrorists, Kiefer Sutherland was the cutest bad-boy vampire you've ever laid eyes on.

Splatfest!LOVE! Near Dark (1987)
I love me the redneck vampires! And I especially love Lance Henricksen as a badass redneck vampire. These sh*t-kickin' fang-faces are pretty much the antithesis of Anne Rice vampires. THEY ARE MY PEOPLE! This flick is almost too much fun to be legal.

Yikes! Scary!Splatfest!LOVE! Night of the Living Dead, The (1968)
Yes! Of course I adore it! George Romero's original flesh-eating zombie masterpiece rocks my world. And yes, I did give it a "splatter" icon. Those blood n' guts may be in black and white, but there's plenty of them.

Splatfest! Night Flier, The (1997)
Ill-natured, gruesome and wildly entertaining story of a tabloid reporter (the ever cool Miguel Ferrer) on the trail of a vampiric serial killer. He finds waaaaaay more than he really wanted to. (Wow. Those are some fugly-ass vampires. Seriously.)

LOVE! Nightbreed (1990)
Like every other misfit horror geek on the planet, I love this movie. The monsters are the heroes! They're super-cool! And any of us horror geeks might just be one and not know it! Directed by Clive Barker himself! Plus David Cronenberg in a super-creepy role! Okay, confession...I named two of my ferrets Peloquin and Shunasassi...

Yikes! Scary!Cheesy! Prophesy (1979)
Yay! My favorite inside-out giant mutant bear movie! This flick starts out as an environmental thriller, and ends up as a monster-chasing-everyone-through-the-woods movie. Dude. I love inside-out bears.

Yikes! Scary!LOVE! Pumpkinhead (1989)
Nothing better than supernatural Southern gothic! This story of revenge and black magic has one of tmy favorite movie monsters ever. And Lance Henricksen! Have I menttioned my little Lance problem? Yeah...(sigh) The Pumpkinhead monster is just gorgeous, in his own monstery way. No CGI here, just some fantastic animatronics and puppeteering. Plus the whole movie looks like an E.C. comic!

low budget!Splatfest! Quick and the Undead, The
This low-budget zombie movie is absolutely brilliant in its own way. Set in a Western ghost town where bounty hunters vie for zombie kills, this flick is paced and filmed exactly like a Spaghetti Western. You can practically see Sergio Leoni hanging over the director's shoulder. It's gotten a lot of bad reviews from the 15-year-old dipstick set at IMDB, because they didn't understand what they were seeing. I found it utterly delilghtful. I just wish that the soundtrack had been more Spaghetti Western. Then it would have been absolutely perfect.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Terrific spoof of the zombie genre, years before Shaun of the Dead. Hilarious, creepy and gross, with a kickass punk soundtrack. (The Cramps' "Surfin' Dead" remains one of my favorite songs to this day.) There's a fun twist--you can't kill these zombies with a shot to the head. They have to be burned. My favorite exchange, when the local funeral director is caught carrying a bag full of squirming zombie limbs: "What's in the bag?" "Uh...rabid weasels!"

low budget!Splatfest!Mindwarping! Signal, The (2007)
Excellent indie "living zombie" movie, in which a mysterious transmission is turning people into rabid killers. The story is shown from three different perspectives. The writing is terrific. And pay careful attention to what you're watching, because you will get your sense of reality seriously jerked around.

Stepford Wives, The (1975)
I love this creepy film, written by William Goldman, based on the book by Ira Levin. You probably know the story by now. A young couple moves to a seemingly perfect little town. The wife immediately notices how unnaturaly perfect the local women really are. She's convinced that there's something awful going on. And guess what, she's right. Ira Levin's novel was serious horror, and so is this film. Yes, I do love the 2004 remake. You'll find it under "Black Comedies."

LOVE! Tremors (1990)
This is one of the best monster movies ever made, in my opinion. The monsters are scary. The people are in terrible danger. But they're smart. No dumb-bunny victims here. Throw in a hefty dose of warped humor, and you've got yourself a classic. Actually, I like all four of the Tremors movies. Each one is innovative and fresh. And Fenris adores them. He wants to be Burt Gummer when he grows up.

Splatfest!LOVE! Undead (2003)
Sincerely deranged Australian zombie movie, with the weirdest twist I've ever seen in the genre. Both gruesome and wildly funny, I was captivated start to finish. Now this is real entertainment! Bonus: zombie fish!

Splatfest! Underworld (2003)
This vampires vs. werewolves epic is big, splashy Hollywood fare. But what the hell, it's gorgeous to look at, and I love the plot. Bonus: The utterly wonderful Bill Nighy has a creepy role as the hardcase head vampire. I enjoyed the second Underworld movie, "Underworld: Evolution" quite a bit too. The fight scenes alone make these movies worth watching.




Black Comedy

Funny!

Hey, I like a laugh as much as the next girl. But my sense of humor tends to be a little, uh, different. These are movies that have a dark twist to their humor. Okay, a few of them are just plain twisted. I'm not putting a "funny" icon next to all of them, because, they're all freakin' well funny.


LOVE! Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (1971)
Dr. Anton Phibes went completely insane when his wife was killed in an accident years before. Now he's out to get revenge on the doctors who "failed" her. Being a creative fellow, he takes revenge in the form of the Plagues of Egypt. Grim, but really, really funny.

LOVE! Adam's Apples (2005)
I've fallen in love with the Scandanavian sense of humor. It's hard to describe--dry, wry, and sometimes downright mean. This wonderful film from Denmark is a perfect example. Adam, a Nazi skinhead, is sentenced to community service at a rural church. Ivan, the pastor, is blindly devotional and painfully upbeat. He gives Adam a task: guard the church's beloved apple tree, harvest the apples, and bake a pie. Seems simple enough. Yeah, not so much. A battle of wills between Adam, Ivan, and God promptly gets underway. I laughed until my sides hurt.

Adaptation (2002)
This movie is an example of the freaky, high-concept hilarity Hollywood is capable of, when they're not being asshats. There's a wonderful, funny, weird book called The Orchid Thief, written by a woman named Susan Orlean. (In the real world, not the movie world Read it. It's awesome.) So this book gets optioned to be a movie, and nobody can figure out how this book can be adapted. So smartass screenwriter Charile Kaufman comes up with the movie "Adaptation," a comopletely fictional account of two brotehrs attempting to adapt the book into a movie. And it's hilarious. Trust me.

Addiction, The (1995)
Delightful, dark, and somewhat gory snarkfest skewering the politics of the university system--using vampires as the metaphor. Lily Taylor and Christopher Walken, yay!

American Beauty (1999)
This gorgeous black comedy, written by the ever-awesome Alan Ball, explores the unhappy underside of the American middle class. Of course, this movie was made back when there WAS a middle class...

Army of Darkness (1992)
In the third Evil Dead installment, poor Ash finds himself cast into Medieval times, battling an entire army of the undead. This is probably the silliest of the three Evil Dead movies, but great fun.

Barton Fink (1991)
Like all writers, I love stories about other writers. This tale of a '40's screenwriter trying to come up with something brilliant in a creepy old Hollywood hotel doesn't disappoint. John Turturro always rocks my world. And John Goodman should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Seriously.

LOVE! Beetlejuice (1988)
Every Tim Burton fan and former or current goth loves this tale of a lonely little girl who befriends the ghosts of her home's former owners.. It's not only hilarious, it's got that gorgeous Burton aesthetic, including an early version of Jack Skellington! Great for older kids, if they're not easily creeped out. Bonus: Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and a very young Winona Ryder!

Splatfest!LOVE! Black Sheep (2006)
This is a killer sheep movie from New Zealand. Really. Best tagline ever: "Get ready for the Violence of the Lambs!" A group of genetic engineers accidentally turn harmless lambs into vicous, flesh-eating beasts. Better yet, the flesh-eating trait is transmissable to other sheep. Soon the entire countryside is teeming with sheep that want to eat people for lunch. Extremely gory, extremely funny and silly. And I haven't even mentioned the half-human weresheeep yet...

LOVE! Bob Roberts (1992)
Tim Robbins's pitch-black comedy about a creepy, folk-singing neocon's political rise to power hits a little too close to home. Brilliantly written and directed,, but I find it somehow less funny after eight years of W. But see it anyway, it's great. Bonus: Gore Vidal as an honest senator!

Splatfest! Botched (2007)
A thief working for the Russian mob blows a job in a spectacular fashion. Rather than kill him, his boss sends him on a "special" mission to steal an ancient cross from the penthouse of a creepy old hotel. Then things really get weird. The theif and his accomplices end up taking hostages. Some kind of freaky serial killer starts killing criminals and hostages alike. Splatfest! And it's funny. Really, REALLY funny. Bonus: Soundtrack by the Red Elvises!

LOVE! Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
I was a fan of the movie before I was a fan of the TV series. This weird, delightful story of a status-obsessed high school princess who is transformed into a badass vampire-killing ninja chick is just so much fun. Great performances by Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer. And yes, it WAS written by Joss Whedon. Bonus: Paul Reubens as the head vampire's snotty right-hand ghoul.

LOVE! Coldblooded (1995)
Totally strange story of a low-ranking mob numbers guy who gets an abrupt promotion to hit man, and, um, falls in love. Jason Priestly is brilliant and spooky as the hollow young killer. Veterens Peter Riegart and Robert Loggia are also wonderful. Bonus: this movie has quite a remarkable soundtrack.

Comedy of Terrors (1964)
Funny and warped tale of a drunken undertaker (Vincent Price) who decides to drum up business a bit by killing people. With Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, and Boris Karloff, you really can't go wrong. Vincent Price really had a flare for comedy.

Splatfest! Curdled (1996)
After witnessing a gory suicide as a child. beautiful Columbian immegrant Gabriella is obsessed with violent crime. She gets herself a job as a crime-scene cleanup girl to get closer to her passion. (Ew.) There's a serial killer who's keeping her plenty busy, and the sharp Gabriella finds some evidence on him that the police missed. Now he's after her. And yep, it's funny, in a sick and wrong sort of way. Bonus: Angela Jones, who played Esmerelda Villa-Lobos in "Pulp Fiction," portrays Gabriella. The characters are so similar that some people have speculated that they are meant to be the same person.

Daddy and Them (2001)
Jim Varney's last movie, directed and starring Billy Bob Thornton, is an absolute deep-fried delight. A self-absorbed Arkansas couple comes to the aid of an uncle, jailed for assault. What results is a hilarious tale of the most disfunctional family in the deep South. Super-bonus: John Prine in an acting role!

low budget!
Dark Star (1974)
John Capenter's early science fiction/dark comedy masterpiece. If you're a science fiction fan, you really don't want to miss this. Bonus: A starfaring country-western song about Benson, Arizona! What else could you ask for?

LOVE! Death Becomes Her (1992)
I still have trouble believing that Hollywood created something this dark and twisted. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn are fabulous as undead rivals, and Bruce Willis shines as the poor schlub caught between them. Brilliant!

LOVE! Death to Smoochy (2002)
Am I the only person in America who loves this movie? No wait, my mom loves it too. Edward Norton plays an innocent, sweet natured children's entertainer, and Robin Williams is the out-of-favor kiddie host determined to end his career at all costs.

Delicatessen (1991)
As you can probably guess by the title, this delightful French movie is about cannibalism. There are a lot of cannibal movies in my lists, you may notice. You either think eating people is funny or you don't. Obviously, I do.

LOVE! Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
The good doctor is back, this time on a quest for eternal life for himself and the bride he hopes to resurrect. He kills a whole bunch of people in really excellent and weird ways along the way. Just as much fun as the first movie.

LOVE! Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Wicked funny spoof of a small-town beauty pageant. Denise Richards is fantastic as Becky, the girl who wants to win at any cost, because "Jesus loves winners." Kirsten Dunst plays her sweet-natured white trash rival, and the girl has a flare for comedy. But this is really an ensemble piece, and everyone puts in a fine performance.

LOVE! Eating Raoul (1982)
Why look! It's another cannibal movie! This absolute classic is a must for every fan of black comedy. It's got everything--perverse sex, ridiculous homicides, and a smokin' version of "Devil with the Blue Dress On" in Spanish. I went to see this in the theater with my grandma. She loved it. DAMN but I miss that lady.

Scary! Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
This movie is both scary and very, very funny. If you're afraid of spiders, it's REALLY scary. David Arquette rocks, as usual. I'm sort of in love with the giant tarantula. I want her for a pet.

LOVE! Freeway (1996)
This demented variation on "Little Red Riding Hood," starring Reece Witherspoon as a violent, underage white trash girl and Kiefer Sutherland as a serial killer named Bob Wolverton (WOLVerton, get it, get it, get it?) is one of my favorite movies in the whole world. Bloody, outrageous, and hilarious, with a nasty surprise at every turn. Bonus: one if my all-time favorite movie quotes! "What are you lookin' at? F*ck you! F*ck all y'all! F*ck you, chipmunk face, and your f*ckin' Skipper wife!"

LOVE! Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999)
Not quite as wonderful as the first "Freeway," but almost. Another fractured fairy tale--this time it's Hansel and Gretel--starring badass chicks. Have I mentioned my weakness for badass chick movies? Natasha Lyonee is outstanding as White Girl, an underage escaped convict. She and her insane, homicidal friend Cyclona escape to Mexico, where they end up in the clutches of the evil and utterly warped Sister Gomez...played by Vincent Gallo. No, seriously! Yummy Day of the Dead fantasy, not for the squeamish.

LOVE! Fido (2006)
Delightfully bizarre alt-history/horror/comedy about a 1950's America where zombies are domestic servants. The zombie war has been fought and won, and with the usual American spirit of innovation, scientists have found a way to make the dead helpful and harmless. They're supposed to be mindless too, except Fido, played by Billy Connolly, shows some disturbing signs of self-awareness. Wonderful, wry, and just a little gory.

Green Butchers, The (2003)
Could it be? Why, yes! It's another cannibal movie! This one is from Denmark, and it's just delightful. This tale of rival butcher shops and dark family secrets is actually touching as well as hilarious. Mads Mikkelsen (who also co-stars in Adam's Apples) is always excellent.

Green Man, The (1956)
Alistair Sim (of "A Christmas Carol" fame) is fantastic as an assassin put out of work by World War IIr. What's an honest cold-blooded killer to do? Nobody does sly black comedy quite like the British.

Mindwarping!barf! Happiness (1998)
Like American Beauty, this pitch-black comedy takes a look at America's seamy underside. But Happiness goes way, WAY under. Not for everyone, but the bleak nihilism of this film pings nicely with its nasty sense of humor. (I suppose I should tell you that I have friends who have not yet forgiven me for recommending this movie. TEN YEARS AGO.)

Happiness of the Katakuris, The (2001)
One of Takashi Miike's extremely rare light-hearted movies. This is a dark comedy about an urban family who moves to the countryside to open a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, through a bizarre set of circumstances, guests keep dying on them. This flick is funny, offbeat, and features gratiutious claymation and the occasional musical number.

LOVE! Heathers (1989)
Brilliant, over-the-top black comedy about what happens when a popular girl turns on her perfect posse and decides to exact revenge. The problem is, her boyfriend is more than a little unhinged, and he takes things waaaaay too far. Excellent early performances by Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.

LOVE! I Sell The Dead (2008)
Larry Fessenden and Dominic Monaghan are just delightful as the graverobber Willy and his apprentice Arthur, who recounts wild tales of the trade on the night before his execution. This is a style of horror comedy that really hasn't been seen since Vincent Price did "Comedy of Terrors" and "Theater of Blood." The movie is genuinely scary in places, then it'll suddenly flip back into hilarious mode, keeping you totally off balance. Some parts are scary and funny at the same time. I'm going to be looking for more movies from Larry Fessenden's Glass Eye Pix. He's giving the horror genre a much-needed kick in the butt.

Idle Hands (1999)
Incredibly silly but funny tale of a lazy young man whose hand gets demonically possessed. A little gory, and very naughty. Seth Green is always a treat.

LOVE! Jawbreaker (1999)
The "Heathers" of the '90's. Perfect, popular high school girls accidentally kill one of their own. How will they cover it up? Much hilarity ensues. Rose McGowan is brilliant as the coldhearted, beautiful, evil genius leader of the pack.


Ladykillers, The (1955)
Excellent British comedy about a gang of thieves posing as musicians, using a sweet old lady's basement to tunnel to illicit loot. Alec Guinness! Need I say more?

Ladykillers, The (2004)
A lot of fans of the original movie didn't like this remake. I adored it. Tom Hanks was deligthful as the Edgar Allan Poe-obsessed criminal "mastermind." The "sweet old lady" has been replaced by a tough-minded Southern Baptist who takes no crap from anyone. Bonus--fantastic soundtrack!

Splatfest!Funny! Lake Placid (1999)
Gory and hilarious giant alligator movie. It contains all the cliched characters of a standard monster movie--all played brilliantly against type. More fun than a barrel of weasels.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Most everybody's seen this send-up of children's beauty pageants by now, but if you haven't, you should. What a wonderful ensemble cast! Alan Arkin steals the show as the incredibly cranky grandfather.

Little Nicky (2000)
I'm generally not a fan of Adam Sandler's movies, but this bizarre, bawdy and hilarious tale of Satan's dorky son Nicky is just wonderful. Harvey Keitel is superb as the charming and pragmatic Prince of Darkness. Rhys Ifans rocks as Nicky's scheming brother. Lots of fun cameos, and a talking demonic pug. Yay demonic pugs!

LOVE!Mindwarping! Little Otik (2000)
This is one of the most wonderfully demented movies I've ever laid eyes on. Written and directed by Czech filmmaker and animator Jan Svankmajor, I guess it could be classed as "absurdist." (If you've never seen his animation, you should. It's disturbing and hilarious at the same time.) "Little Otik" is the story of a childless couple who turn a vaguely human-shaped treestump into their "baby." Problem is, it comes alive. And it likes to eat. And eat. And eat. This has become one of my favorite flicks.

LOVE! Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
One of the perenneal favorite movies in our household. This film vesion of the musical based on Roger Corman's freaky tale of a man-eating plant from outer space just rocks. Great music, fine acting, and Levi Stubbs!

Love Object (2003)
This movie is about an insane technical writer! How could I not like it? Kenneth is a shy, weird young man who splurges on a super-realistic sex doll. He falls in love with it, talks to it, dresses it, and generally behaves like it's human. Problems begin when an actual, living female takes an interest in him. A battle starts inside Kenneth's head, and somebody's gonna get hurt. This is on the darkest end of the black comedy spectrum, but it's truly wonderful.

LOVE! Loved One, The (1965)
Based on Evelyn Waugh's ever-so-snarky novel, this tale of a young British poet who goes to work at a huge Hollywood cemetery is wry, weird, and huge fun. Packed with bizarre characters and surprising cameos. I never get tired of this movie.

low budget!LOVE!Lucky (2002)
This deranged movie took me totally by surprise. I was expecting low-budget gore, and I got a certain amount of that. What I wasn't expecting was the excellent writing and superb acting. Michael is a creatively blocked cartoon writer with an alcohol problem and a dead talking dog. Dead talking dog starts suggesting he do very bad things. Much merriment ensues. Merriment if you're me, anyway. This is extremely dark stuff, but funny as hell.

Splatfest! Machine Girl, The (2008)
This Japanese tale of bloody vengeance could have been played straight and it probably would have been a pretty good movie. But making it a dark comedy was brilliant. When a teenage girl's younger brother is killed by bullies, she seeks revenge. Getting her arm blown off doesn't even slow her down. She just replaces it with a huge machine gun. This flick has CRAZY over-the-top gore, to the point that it's pretty damn funny. A fine example of the "splatstick" genre.

Splatfest!barf! Man Bites Dog (1992)
This is one of the nastiest black comedies I've ever seen. In fact, unless you're a total sick puppy like me, you may not find it funny at all. Just revolting. But I got a huge kick out of it. So far as I know, this was the first of the "film crew follows a serial killer" crop of films, and by far the best.

Maniacts (2001)
This completely overlooked dark romantic comedy is serious fun. Two serial killers meet in a hospital for the criminally insane, and fall in love. They escape, and try to start a new life. But can they resist killing people long enough to start a normal life? Ignore the dopey DVD cover, by the way. It has nothing at all to do with the film.

Mars Attacks! (1996)
Very funny and silly spoof of 1950's alien invasion movies, directed by Tim Burton. Pretty much hysterical from start to finish. Nobody says "Yikes!" like Jack Nicholson.

Splatfest! May (2002)
Delightful story of a shy girl seeking the perfect man. Lucky McKee's fine direction and Angela Bettis's sympathetic yet disturbing performance are a perfect match. Throw in the unsettling humor, and you have a fine patchwork of a movie.

Modern Vampires (1998)
Hilarious, silly, and a little gory, this tale of a rebellious young vampire in love is great fun. It's full of lovely little details, like a scene of a vampire brushing his fangs. I know, that doesn't sound like much, but it's hysterical. Trust me.

low budget!low budget!Splatfest!LOVE! Murder Party (2007)
This hilarious gorefest is a fine example of how to make a kickass film on very little money. The premise: a lonely man finds an invitation on the street to a "Murder Party." He makes himself a costume (which is in itself wildly funny) and heads out to the old warehouse where the party's being held. What he finds is a rogue collective determined to kill somebody in the name of art. Wicked funny and mega-gory, with one really fine special effect. (Watch the DVD extras. The filmmakers are very proud to tell you about it.)

Nothing But Trouble (1991)
Strange but very funny movie about a small rural town that routinely traps and kills hapless motorists. Nobody saw this movie because the studios didn't know how to market it. One of Dan Ackroyd's weirdest and most over-the-top roles.

Otis (2008)
Inky dark comedy about a pathetic, needy serial killer named Otis. All thirty-something Otis wants is the perfect prom date, so he kidnaps one girl after another. But something always goes wrong, and somebody always ends up dead. Until Otis captures a girl who can outwit him, that is. Then things really get delightfully grim.

Splatfest!LOVE! Parents (1989)
Utterly demented tale of cannibalism in the idyllic 1950's suburbs. Randy Quaid is amazing as the seemingly normal but completely creepy (and crazy) pater familias. Things get really interesting once his son starts wondering where all the "leftovers" his family eats actually come from. One of my all-time favorite movies

Postal (2007)
I never thought I'd find myself writing this, but Uwe Boll has some talent. Yes, the man who brought us "House of the Dead" and "Bloodrayne" (shudder). Turns out he should stop making crappy video game movies and write more comedy. This flick is gross and over-the-top silly. If you like Trey Parker, you'll probably get a kick out of "Postal."

Raven, The (1963)
Roger Corman's awesomely silly tale of rival magicians is just delightful. It just doesn't get better than Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price all acting silly at the same time.

Scotland, Pa. (2001)
Terrific black comedy, set in 1970's PA, and based on William Shakespeare's "MacBeth." If you're a Shakespeare fan with a sense of humor, you'll love this movie. The better you know the play, the funnier this movie is. Bonus: Christpher Walken and Andy Dick!

LOVE! Serial Mom (1994)
I adore John Waters, and this is some of his very best work. Kathleen Turner is brilliant as the sweet-natured, perfect mom with a murderous dark side. Prepare to laugh yourself silly. Bonus: Live performance by L-7!

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Subtle, low-key pitch-black comedy about the filming of the original 1921 movie "Nosferatu." The twist--Max Schreck is really a vampire, and the director of the picture is having a devil of a time controlling him.

Splatfest! Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Okay, just about everybody on the planet has seen Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's wonderful ZomRomCom. (Zombie Romantic Comedy.) If you haven't, you are a poor, deprived soul. Funny as hell, but with a fine spicing of gore.

Splatfest!barf!LOVE! Slither (2006)
Laugh hysterically, or gag? You'll be doing both in this amazing sci-fi/horror flick starring Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker (of "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer" fame). Slimy alien monsters, Exploding infested chicks. Tentacle sex. Giant leeches. Possessed deer. A near-perfect moviegoing experience.

Stepford Wives, The (2004)
Yet again, I seem to be alone in the opinion that this re-imagining of Ira Levin's chilling book is a delight. Where the original movie was creepy and claustrophobic, this snark-and-satire fest is wildly funny. The interesting thing is, it hasn't lost its feminist element. This time around, the women involved are brilliant overachievers, and their husbands just can't stand to be overshadowed anymore. They come up with a fiendish plot to replace their high-powered wives with...something. Christopher Walken and Glann Close shine, as usual, and Nicole Kidman shows her sly, funny side.

Splatfest! Stuck (2007)
Leave it to Stuart Gordon to take a real-life, tragic event and turn it into an ill-natured black comedy. The setup: a young woman, about to be promoted at work, goes out and celebrates with her friends. Driving drunk on her way home, she hits a homeless man with her car, breaking his leg and catapulting him through her windshield. Amazingly enough, the guy isn't dead. She panics, takes him home, and hides the car and its embedded occupant in the garage. Things can only go downhill from here. A lot of this movie is pretty grim, but when it's funny, it's really funny. Way more gore than I was expecting, actually.

Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1990)
One of the most unusual takes on the vampire film I've seen, this film has been sorely neglected. Vampiers have occupied a Southwestern town for centuries. They wear a lot of sunblock and keep to themselves. Then a descendent of Van Helsing shows up to disrupt their mellow existance. And who could possibly play such a role? BRUCE CAMPBELL! YAY! Bonus: David Carridine as a cranky old vampire!!

Thank You For Smoking (2004)
Inky satire about a Big Tobacco spokesman who seems to have no soul and no conscience. Aaron Eckhart is outstanding as the charming but hollow Nick Naylor. Katie Holmes (pre-Cruise) is adorable as the reporter who wants to find out who Nick really is.

Splatfest! Theatre of Blood (1973)
Hilarious and surprisingly gory (for the time, anyway) Vincent Price vehicle about a scorned Shakespearian actor and his grisly revenge on the critics who gave him no love. The more you love Shakespeare, the funnier this movie is. Bonus: Diana Rigg!

Undead or Alive (2007)
Ridiculously funny zombie western starring Chris Kattan. Okay, it's pretty darn silly. But I enjoyed every minute of it. And dang, what a kickass ending!

Vampire’s Kiss (1989)
This is some severely dark comedy. Pretty subtle stuff, wtih some disturbing content, but brilliant. Nick Cage plays a man convinced he's turning into a vampire. Is he? Or is he just going nuts? Less of a laugh-out-lout flick, more of a "nervous chuckle" type experience.

Very Bad Things (1998)
A bunch of guys accidentally kill a hooker at a bachelor party. They try to cover it up. Most of them are crippled with guilt. One is a sociopath determined to survive at all costs. Throw in Cameron Diaz as a bride-to-be from the bowels of Hell, and much hilarity ensues. Be prepared to whip back and forth between laughing and feeling desperately uncomfortable. And by the way? Best. Ending. Ever.

LOVE! Willard (2003)
I loved the original "Willard" with Bruce Davison. Despite Davison's brilliant performance, it was often unintentionally funny. Well, this remake with the always-incredible Crispin Glover is flat-out hilarious (on purpose). R. Lee Ermy is hysterical as poor Willard's hideous boss. And whatever you do, don't miss Crispin Glover's "Ben" music video. If your head is on straight after watching THAT, you must be wearing a neck brace. Oh, by the way, the character of Ben is played by a giant Gambian pouched rat. I cannot begin to tell you how badly I want one of my very own. GIANT WATTY!





Kids' Movies

I have two little boys, so I see a lot of kids' movies. Most of them (like most of everything) are total, utter crap. But there are some great ones too. Here are some of my (and Fenris and Orion's) favorites.


A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Gorgeous (if slightly grim) movie based on the first three Lemony Snicket books, in which three kids are orphaned, passed from one weird relative to another, and pursued by an evil uncle determined to steal their inheritance. Great costuming and direction, and the kids are super.

 

 



LOVE! Addams Family, The
(1991)
I grew up watching the original Addams Family TV show. I was very skeptical about the movie. Turns out that Raul Julia, rest his soul, and Angelica Huston were born to play Gomez and Morticia. Adorable wee Christina Ricci is perfect as Wednesday. And the always awesome Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester? Yes ma'am!

LOVE! Addams Family Values (1993)
More Addams family fun, this time including Joan Cusack as Uncle Fester's highly dubious sweetheart. Christina Ricci gets plenty of screen time in this delightful sequel.

Aladdin (1992)
Okay, don't start baggin' on me because I like some Disney films. Some of them are awesome, and I am unapologetic about digging them. This retelling of the Aladdin stories is fun and fast-paced--Robin Williams's manic Genie doesn't let it slow down very often. The soundtrack is just terrific.

LOVE! Babe (1995)
Wonderful tale of a farm pig in New Zealand who dreams of being a sheepherding dog. Fantastic performances by the human actors, and voice actors for the animals. James Cromwell is fabulous as the quiet but deeply nuanced Farmer Hoggett. Sometimes I watch the song and dance he did to cheer up Babe just to cheer myself up.

Babe, Pig in the City (1998)
Very different from the origninal, but with the same sly sense of humor. Thsi time Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) is the human star of the show, and she does beautifully. The various animal characters are great in tis surreal allegory about the way we treat animals, and each other.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Yep, another fairy tale reinterpreted by Disney, but I really liked this one. The bookish, thoughtful heroine is always in control of the situation. The Beast may think he's holding her captive, but it's really the other way around. Filled with wry humor and excellent music, not to mention singing and dancing kitchen implements.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
Okay, sure, it's massively goofy. But if you put me or my family in front of the TV and show us cute dogs for an hour and a half, we're going to like it. Truthfully, this flick was way better than I expected it to be. Don't miss the giant Chihuahua production dance number on the extras!

Bingo (1991)
Now, this is my kind of dog movie. It's both a "brave dog on a quest for a family" flick, and a spoof of the whole "brave dog" genre. Wonderfully weird and quirky, and the dog is adorable. An often-overlooked delight.

Bolt (2008)
Hilarious, high-concept animated movie about a normal dog who plays a superhero dog on television, and consequently thinks he's a real superhero. Needless to say, this causes problems when he gets out on his own. Just sayin'-- Rhino the bloodthirsty hamster steals the show. This one is good for kids of all ages, including old ones like me.

Bugsy Malone (1976)
It's a musical. About 1930's gangsters. And nobody in the movie is over 13 years old. Sound weird? Yep, it is. Also terrific. The kids are all great in their roles, and the soundtrack by Paul Williams is outstanding. This movie is kind of hard to find, but worth the hunt.

Catnapped (1998)
Weird but hugely fun Japanese movie about a brother and sister who are swept away to Bonepal Witt, a planet populated by cat people. It seems that someone has kidnapped their dog, and he's turned into a giant goofy monster, and the kids have to stop him before they turn into kitties forever.

Cats and Dogs (2001)
Okay, fine, it was a fairly big-budget Hollywood kids' movie, but hilarious none the less. Lots of cute dogs! Lots of cute cats! Great voice acting! Mad science and insidious plots to take over the world! Yay!

LOVE! Chicken Run (2000)
This brilliant release from Nick Park and Peter Lord is damn near perfect. Adults will appreciate the homage to WWII POW escape movies. Kids will find the silly chickens and goofy rats hilarious. Wonderfully well written. Great fun for everybody.

Corpse Bride, The (2005)
Who else but Tim Burton would take the world's most morbid fairy tale and turn it into a charming musical? Once again, Burton and Danny Elfman are paired to create something brilliant. A little dark and twisted, but my kids love it.

Curious George (2006)
This cute movie has the look and luminous colors of the original Curious George books, with just a bit of snark and spice to keep the grownups awake. Great for younger kids.

Emperor’s New Groove, The (2000)
This is one of the flat-out silliest Disney moveis ever. Don't look for depth, it's all fun and flash. But my whole family loves it. Delightful voice performances by Eartha Kitt (peace to you lady), John Goodman, and the always hilarious Patrick Warburton. Watch it if you're in the mood for a belly laugh or two.

Finding Nemo (2003)
Another fine flick from Pixar, this movie follows the grand old Disney tradition of family annihilation (or at least dead moms). Don't worry, it's not too traumatic, and the movie is funny, well-written, and exciting. It's worth it just for Ellen Degeneres as Dori, a fish with a short-term memory problem.

Five Children and It (2004)
A group of city kids are moved to the country while their father is away, flying a fighter plane in WWI. (No, it's nothing like Narnnia, so don't even go there.) They find a weird little creature on the beach called a Sand Fairy. Turns out Sand Fairies can grant wishes. The only trouble is, each wish lasts only a single day. The kids in the movie are great, and the Sand Fairy is voiced by Eddie Izzard, who I kinda-sorta worship. Really different and fun!

LOVE! Flushed Away (2006)
Fresh and fun story from Nick park's Aardman Animations about a pampered pet rat who, through a series of unfortunate events, gets flushed down the toilet. Down in the sewer, he has to learn how to be a real rat. Hugh Jackman's voice acting (and singing) are charming beyond words. Kate Winslet is terrific as the tough, self-sufficent Rita the rat. And Sir Ian McKellen plays, um, an evil toad. That right there makes the movie worth watching. Yes, I DO in fact love any movies regarding rats. But this is one of my favorites.

Good Boy! (2003)
What if your dog started talking? What if you find out that all dogs can talk? And what if all the dogs in the world have a secret common agenda? This delightful story of a kid who walks dogs as a summer job is serious fun. Plus lots of cute dogs to ogle, yay!

LOVE! Hoodwinked (2005)
I'll put this right out front. The animation is not good. Get over it. The writing is beauttiful. This "Rashomon" stlye retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale is smart, funny, and totally fun. Benjy Gaither perticularly shines as Japeth the Goat, cursed to sing every word he speaks. Great soundtrack.

Hotel for Dogs (2009)
YES! IT'S ANOTHER DOG MOVIE, OKAY? I CAN'T HELP MYSELF! Anyway. This movie is charming, brimming with cute dogs, and will please the mad scientists out there with amazing dog-related inventions. The story of the humans involved, siblings in foster care, is pretty decent too. I was floored and delighted to see Oscar-winning actor (and stone cutie) Don Cheadle in a major role as a kind social services worker.

How to Eat Fried Worms (2006)
Based on the best-selling kids' book, this movie is gross good fun. Tween boys clash, and somehow, one of them tells the other he could eat ten worms and not puke. Game on! The kids travel the neighborhood, coming up with revolting and hilarious worm recipes. Awesome stuff if you're a ten-year-old boy.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Another beautiful fantasy from Hayao Miyazaki. This one involves a self-absorbed wizard, a brave young girl who gets turned into a granny, a smart-alec fire demon, and of course, a fantastic walking castle. Younger kids may not get it, but it's pretty enough they'll probably watch anyway.

Ice Age (2002)
Witty animated movie from Blue Sky Studios about a cranky mammoth, a sullen sabertooth, and a goofy sloth on a quest to return a lost human infant to its tribe. There's plenty of hilarity and adventure, but (surprise surprise) there are some heart-bruising moments involving the baby's mom, and the mammoth's family. If your kid was traumatized by "Bambi," you might not want to go here. I liked "Ice Age 2" as well, mainly because of the insane possums.

LOVE! Incredibles, The (2004)
One of the best-written animated movies out there, if you ask me. This tale of the rise, fall, and rise of superheroes has plenty of comedy, action, and genuine emotional impact. Plus, the most awesome baby in the whole world! A family favorite of ours.

LOVE! Iron Giant, The (1999)
I love this movie on so many levels. On the surface, it's a story about a boy and a giant alien robot he befriends. On another, it's about the cold war culture of the 1950's, and the rampant paranoia it fostered. Worth watching for kids of every age.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Fun animated adaptation of the rather grim Roald Dahl book. This movie has its grim moments, but it keeps them pretty low-key. The bugs that occupy the peach are terrific, as is the little boy who plays James. Songs are OK. The ending is spectacular.

Jumanji (1995)
Excellent kid flick about a magical game that intrudes on the players' world, and occasionally grabs a player and pulls him into its own world. Based on the gorgeously illustrated book by Chris van Alsburg.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Sweet and lovely Japanese animated movie (by the wonderful Miyazaki) about a culture where young witches leave home on their 13th birthdays, to seek their fortune in the world. Problem is, little witch Kiki doesn't seem to have any special talents. Watching her story unfold is a real treat. Her snarky talking cat is pretty cool too.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Outrageously funny movie set in ancient China, where a pudgy, noodle-selling panda dreams of becoming a kung fu master. Gorgeous, hilarious and inspiring. Jack Black rocks as the panda. Bonus: Ian McShane voices the bad guy, Tai Lung. I just kept waiting for him to call somebody a hoople-head...

LOVE! Labyrinth (1986)
Jim Henson + Brian Froud + David Bowie = complete and utter awesomeness. This story of a teenage girl's quest to save her baby brother in the land of the Goblin King is a classic, great for kids and grownups both.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1989)
Beautiful science fiction fairy tale from the always-incredible Miyazaki. Adventure, young romance, air pirates and giant robots! Woohoo! Also one of the many films that carry Miyazaki's anti-war sentiments.

LOVE! Lilo and Stitch (2002)
I'm pretty sure that this was the first Disney movie where Child Protective Services is involved in the plot. This story of a lonely little Hawaiian girl, her (very young) big sister left to care for her when they are orphaned, and a hilarious, ill-natured alien named Stitch is a modern classic.

Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The (2005)
I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was but a little wee kid. I always hoped that somebody would make a movie that did it justice. Well, this one comes close. Since it's just a two-hour movie, it can't get as deeply into the characters as I'd like (especially Aslan). But it's still Pretty Darn Great. And Tilda Swenton as the White Witch KICKS BUTT.

Little Mermaid, The (1989)
This is not just another Disney chick flick! The mermaid princess, Ariel, is brave and strong willed. The soundtrack is excellent (the "poisson" song kills me every time, and we played "Kiss the Girl" and "Under the Sea" at our wedding). Singing crabs rock. Ursuala the evil octopus enchantress is one of my all-time favorite Disney villains. In fact, "Life's full of tough choices, IDN' IT!" has become part of our family lexicon.

Little Vampire, The (2000)
Another movie that didn't get the press it deserved. A bullied American boy in an English school finds an odd ally and friend in a child vampire. Partly touching and sweet, partly incredibly funny. (Imagine vampire cows hanging upside-down from the rafters of their barn.) Bonus: Amazing costuming!

MirrorMask (2005)
Story of a young girl on a quest in a strange and unknown land. The geniuses behind the movie are Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeon. Thematically similar to "Labyrinth," but considerably darker. Great for grownups and older kids. May be a bit too creepy for wee ones.

Monsters Inc. (2001)
In an alternate dimension, monsters run their society and their power grid by harvesting the screams of children. So what happens when a fearless little girl wanders into the monsters' domain? If you don't laugh while watching this movie, go visit the doctor. Your funny bone is busted.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)
Gentle and charming story of an enchanted toy store and its equally magical owner. Sweet without being sappy, and poignant without being tragic. My whole family really enjoyed this movie.

LOVE! My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My kids never get tired of this delightful fairy tale from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, and neither do I. Two young sisters move to the contry with their dad, to be close to the hospital where their tubercular mother is staying. It turns out the house and surrounding woods are filled with spirits and other strange but benevolent creatures. After you watch this, you'll find yourself looking for Black Soots and wood spirites out of the corners of your eyes.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Gorgeous ecological fantasy/allegory by the staggeringly talented Mr. Miyazaki. This one is probably better for older kids. Little guys might be scared by some of the imagery, and the plot is fairly complex. This is Daniel's favorite Miyazaki movie.

LOVE! Night at the Museum (2006)
It's every kid's dream. What if everything at the museum comes alive when the lights go out? This movie is crazy amounts of fun. Ben Stiller is terrific as the hapless museum guard who is suddenly confronted with tiny cowboys, a giant T-Rex, and Teddy Roosevelt. Don't miss this one.

LOVE!LOVE!LOVE! Nightmare Before Christmas, The (1993)
If you've been paying attention at all, you will hae figured out that this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Tim Burton and Danny Elfman had a love child, andi t is a beautiful thing to behold! The near-perfect story, the weird yet loveable characters, and the incredible songs...I want to live in Halloween Town. Oh wait, I already do... Three hearts, one for me and each of the kids!

Open Season (2006)
Fluffy, hilarious story of a bear raised entirely in captivity, and his attempts to adjust to the wild. I laughed all the way through this flick. Ashton Kutcher is particularly wonderful as Elliot, a loopy deer, and Billy Conolly rocks as the voice of McSquizzie, a cranky Scottish squirrel. The sequel to Open Season was pretty darn entertaining too.

Peter Pan (1953)
Oh come on, everybody loves the animated version of Peter Pan. Nana the dog, the cranky Tinkerbell, the blowhard Captain Hook. Any movie that gave us a song like "Never Smile at a Crocodile" is worth watching.

Peter Pan (2003)
This live-action version of Peter Pan is wonderful, and much closer to the original book than the Disney vision. The child actors are terrific. However, I had to watch this movie twice, because the first time I was so transfixed by Jason Isaacs, who plays the traditional roles of the children's father and Captain Hook, that I really didn't notice the rest of the movie. DANG but that man is hawt!

Pirates of the Plain (1999)
Low-budget kids' movie about a pirate, played by the eternally awesome Tim Curry, who somehow travels through time and space to land on a lonely little boy's midwestern farm. (When he lands on his back in the middle of a wheat field, the pirate comments "the grass grows high in Hell!) If you're a Tim Curry fan, you'll love it.

Princess Mononoke (1999)
Another stunner from Hayao Miyazaki. Probably the most outspoken of his environmental pieces, this movie is intense. Probably not for younger children, but older kids who like some intelligence and a lot of adventure.with their anime will love it.

Ratatoille (2007)
Yippee, anothe rrat movie! This one takes place in Paris, where a young rat named Remy who dreams of cooking (and eating) gourmet food. He meets a young chef named Linguini, who just doesn't seem to have much talent for cooking. The two team up to become a super-chef. Much silliness and fun follows. Bonus: Remy is voiced by the hilarious and wonderful Patton Oswalt!

Red Balloon, The (1956)
Mildly surreal yet charming story of a little boy and his seemingly sentient balloon. This French movie with basicaly no dialog was awesome in 1956 (I assume, since I wasn't born yet) and it's still awesome today.

Return to Oz (1985)
Dark, milldly creepy interpretation of the world of Oz, starring a very young Fairuza Balk. Lots of weird muppety creatures, and fine, consistent art direction. Plus Fairuza Balk deserves an Oscar for spending an entire movie with a mechanical chicken under her arm.

Rocketman (1999)
This funny but weird movie seems to have been written as a vehicle for comedian Harland Williams. The man is hilarious, and carries the movie with ease. Some actual laughs for the grownups, and plenty of fart and toilet jokes for the tweens.

Secret of Roan Inish, The (1994)
Lovely, quiet story of selkies (kind of like were-seals) on the rocky coast of Ireland. Charming and low key, this one is fine for kids and grandparents alike.

LOVE! Scooby Doo (2002)
Okay, the great thing about this movie is, it's huge fun if you loved the original Scooby Doo cartoons, or if you hated them. Matthew Lillard absolutely channels Shaggy. Pokes enough fun to keep the haters happy, and feels close enough to the original stories to make fans smile. Plus really funny and entertaining character development. No really.

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)|
You may have noticed that I don't document all sequels separately. That is not because I'm senile. It's because I only talk about sequels if they have enough original content for me to go there. This one does. Anyway. The great thing about this Scooby sequel is that it pulls monsters from ALL of the various Scooby Doo cartoon shows, including the really short-lived and obscure ones that nobody saw (like the one featuring the voice of Vincent Price).. Goofy monsters everywhere!

Shrek (2001)
What's not to like about a cranky, ill-mannered, hygienically challenged ogre with a heart of gold? Filled with sharp wit, fun characters, and plenty of satire. The entire Shrek series is snarky, fun, and wildly entertaining.

Sky High (2005)
Fun story about the son of two high-powered super-heroes, who doesn't seem to have any powers himself. Cool heroes and villains, decent story, and Bruce Campbell! Yay!

Spirited Away (2001)
This Miyazaki masterpiece is definitely not for smaller children. It's all about childhood fears and nightmares, and some of the imagery is pretty creepy. Should be fine for the ten-and-over set. Filled with super-cool Japanese spirits and deities!

Stardust (2007)
Wry and charming story of a young man who goes to fetch a fallen star for his beloved, and discovers that the star is a person in her own right. Wow--Robert DeNiro is actually winsome as a sky pirate with a secret. Probably won't hold the interest of younger kids, but tweens and up will like it.

Toy Story (1995)
Everybody knows how great this movie is by now, or at least they should. How cool would it be if your toys had lives of their own when no one was looking? Interpersonal relationships? Rivalries based on relative toy coolness? Toy Story 2 (1999) is equally wonderful.

LOVE! Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Hysterical and bizarre Brit comedy brought to you by the incredible Nick Park. I'm not even going to try to describe what goes on in this movie. Just watch it. Were-rabbits rock!

WALL-E (2008)
Why yes, this movie really IS all that and a bag of chips. Lots of character building, lots of action, and very little dialog. It's incredible how much personality the robot heroes display, without saying more than a dozen words. This flick actually made me like a cockroach. (I hate cockroaches.) Fun for all ages.

LOVE! Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1998)
This one is great for grownups and kids alike. Spoofing the 1950's hard-boiled detective movie, but set in a world where cartoons and people co-exist. Alternately snarky, silly, and witty.


Willow (1998)
Fun fantasy adventure about a magically blessed baby who can save an entire kingdom. Warwick Davis is wonderful as the title character, and a young Val Kilmer is adorable as the self-poclaimed "world's best swordsman."

LOVE! Yellow Submarine (1968)
The Beatles' delightful animated fantasy is still making kids happy, over 40 years after it was first released. With a gorgeous Peter Maxx-like visual style and the Beatles' typical offbeat humor, this move is always a treat.

Zathura (2005)
Same premise as Jumanji--a game that reaches into your reality and messes your stuff up--different setting. Space. This is more of a companion piece to Jumanji than a sequel, but it's action packed and fun.




Midnight Movies

These are movies that are utterly, totally warped. Most of them are best when watched late at night with a bunch of your best buds, lots of munchies, and a steady flow of beer. (Just don't come whining to me if you blow a Frito through your nose.


Cheesy! 13 Ghosts (1960)
IT"S FUN TO BE SCARED BY 13 GHOSTS! Yes, that was the original tagline of this awesome William Castle cheezfest. Goofy as heck, but I dig it anyway.

low budget!Splatfest!Funny! Basket Case (1982)
Hysterical, gross story of a young man and his malformed conjoined twin, forcibly separated and pissed about it. Gore and weirdness aboud.


Blood Diner (1987)
Ridiculous, gory, and hilarious tale of two bumbling brothers' attempt to resurrect an ancient, bloodthirsty goddess. Assisted by their uncle, who is a brain in a jar, they plan the ultimate cannibal feast! Silly but surprisingly well written, this movie is hard to find. See it if you can.

Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)
So this dude named Sardu owns a theater, and he likes to torture and kill people onstage, pretending it's all faked. This is the only movie I've ever seen that features Death by Ballerina. Outrageously gross, Grand Guignol fun. As a side note, this movie wins the Most Alternative Titles award. Among the best are "The Incredible Torture Show," "Heritage of Caligula," and "The House of the Screaming Virgins."

Splatfest!Funny! Bone Yard, The (1991)
What has Phyllis Diller, demonic children, and a seven-foot zombie poodle? This batsh*t crazy movie, that's what. Mostly very goofy, occasionally creepy and gory, this is a cult classic.

Funny!LOVE! Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Excellent film adaptation of Joe Lansdale's hilarious, touching and weird story. Set in a nursing home, it's Elvis and JFK vs. an evil mummy who feeds on the life energy of the dying. Contains plenty of the original, fabulous Lansdale dialog, and the Best Insult Ever.

low budget!low budget!Funny! Buttcrack (1998)
Yes. There really is a movie called Buttcrack. It's about this slovenly guy who's accidentally killed by his roommate. His sister the Voodoo priestess brings him back from the dead. He doesn't look like a zombie, and he doesn't eat brains...but if you look at his GLOWING BUTTCRACK, you will become a zombie yourself! (Yeah, it's terrible. But it makes me laugh wildly every time I see it.) Super-bonus: Mojo Nixon plays Preacher Man Bob! And wrote the soundtrack! Yeehaw!

low budget!Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Cannibal: The Musical (1996)
Trey Parker's demented musical version of the life of Alferd Packer. Absolutely hilarious, and the music is actually pretty darn good. (Trey Parker has a lovely voice when he's not playing Cartman on South Park.) I never get tired of this movie.

low budget!Splatfest!Funny! City of Rott (2006)
This is the weirdest damn zombie movie I ever saw. In the first place, it's animated. In the second place, it was written, directed, animated, and voiced by one guy. (Makes for very creepy female character voices.) In the third place, the protagonist is a senile old man in search of a pair of shoes, who battles zombies (quite well, I might add) with his walker. Major points for originality!

low budget!low budget!Funny!Cheesy! Curse of the Queerwolf (1988)
Totally non-PC, super low-budget tale of a straight young man who is bitten by a "queerwolf," and changes into a fabulous gay guy whenever the moon is full. I laughed myself silly.

Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Dance with the Devil (1997)
Dark, nasty, yet sometimes weirdly funny story of a deeply disturbed young woman who hooks up with a nearly Satanic Santeria priest, and goes on a cross-country rampage of destruction. Rosie Perez is fantastic as Perdita Durango, and Javier Bardem is hot beyond description as Romeo Dolorosa. Rrrrrowf!

Mindwarping!Funny! barf! Dark Backward, The (1991)
Okay, so there's this guy who wants to be a stand-up comic, and his beyond-sleazy friend (who scrounges for girlfriends in landfills, among other things) wants to help him. Then the comic guy grows a third arm out of his back, and...oh hell, I give up. For the adventurous and demented filmgoer only. Bonus: Surprisingly good cast for such a freakfest film, including Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, Lara Flynn Boyle, and, uh, Wayne Newton.

Splatfest!Funny! Dead and Breakfast (2004)
Wildly funny spoof of zombie movies. An unlikely mix of people find themselves trapped in a bed and breakfast, surrounded by the living dead. And, um, it's musically narrated by a country singer. And the weirdness is just starting...

barf!Splatfest!Funny! Dead Alive (1992)
Peter Jackson's brilliant, deranged take on the zombie film. It's hard to describe the incredible amounts of blood and gore in this flick. It's truly awe-inspiring, not to mention pee-your-pants funny. True "splatstick." Beware of Sumatran rat-monkeys!


low budget!Splatfest!Funny!Cheesy! Dead Meat (2005)
Ron Jeremy in a slsahser film. What more can a person ask for? Oh right--magical pee! (You think I made that last bit up, don't you. Well, I didn't.)

Cheesy!Funny! Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978)
This made-for-TV movie about a satanic dog is truly, deeply, incredibly awful. It's also unintentionally hilarious. You'll spend part of the movie with your mouth hanging open, not believing anything this bad could possibly exist. If you're like me, you'll spend a good bit of time going squee over the cute dog--a handsome German shepherd, who mysteriously turns into a Rottie wearing a black feather duster on his head at the end of the flick. I love this movie for its sincere dreadfulness.

Mindwarping!LOVE! Donnie Darko (2001)
Freaky, reality-bending story of a young man whose grip on reality seems to be slipping. Jake Gyllenhaal's breakout performance. (And unlike a lot of the films in the "Midnight Movies" list, this one is actually really good.) Bonus: The scariest damn bunny you've ever seen in your life.

Cheesy!Funny! Dracula's Dog (1978)
Why, look! It's another incredibly crappy evil dog movie made in 1978! This time, Russian soldiers accidentally uncover Dracula's vampire pooch Zoltan, and Dracula's undead servant Veidt. (This is Igor Dracula, mind you, not Vlad. WTF???) Veidt and Zoltan travel to America to try to create a vampire master for themselves, because they can't live without one. A whole lot of vampire dog silliness ensues. (The vampire puppy is AWESOME.) Bonus: Veidt and Zoltan cruise around in a hearse!

Splatfest!Funny!barf! Dr. Lamb (1992)
Let me start out by saying this is not a good movie. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It's a Chinese production, supposedly based on a real Chinese serial killer. It has every bad cop cliche in the book. But the truly fine part about this movie is the English subtitles. It gets really good when the characters occasionally curse in English, and the subtitles say something else entirely. Okay, maybe you have to be me to find this funny.

Splatfest!Funny! Evil Bong (2006)
A college-age stoner buys a big, freaky bong (more like a hookah) on the internet. Guess what, it's alive! And evil! And it has an agenda! SHE has an agenda! She wants world domination! A world with potsmoke clouds and bongwater seas...okay, it's a pretty dumb movie, but pretty darn funny. I have a serious soft spot for Charles Band and Full Moon.

low budget!low budget!Mindwarping!Funny! Fatty Drives the Bus (1999)
Satan is behind on his monthly soul quota, so he commandeers a tour bus and tries to swipe everybody's soul before crashing into the sea. The problem is, Jesus is hanging around and doesn't much like Satan's plan. This movie is weird, goofy, and ridiculous. I recommend it only to people who really like absurdist humor. If you think Firesign Theater is really funny, you'll probably like this.

low budget!Funny! G-Men from Hell (2000)
Two murdered G-men escape from Hell and start a private investigation service. All the while, Satan's agent is following them, trying to send them back to the Pit. Weird, funny, and unexpected. Bonus: Bobcat Goldthwait, Gary Busey, and Robert Goulet (as the Devil).

LOVE! Gargoyles (1972)
When I first saw this made-for-TV bit of weirdness as a wee small kid, it scared the heck out of me. When I went back and watched it later on, I no longer found it scary, but it certainly had its creepy moments. Sometimes funny and definitely original, this remains one of my favorite movies. Despite the rubber gargoyle suits. Okay, they're really COOL rubber gargoyle suits. And the head gargoyle is kind of hot...

Splatfest!LOVE!Funny! Grindhouse (2007)

I saw this delightful work of filmmaking as it was meant to be seen--in the theater, as a double feature, with fake movie trailers, awful intermission slides and all. I loved both Rodriguez's gory zombie epic, "Planet Terror," and Tarantino's kickass take on the serial killer flick, "Death Proof." They are both terrific films, in their own gonzo, over-the-top way. I love "Grindhouse" so much I have a pair of official "Death Proof" shoes. Seriously.

 

low budget!Splatfest!Funny!Cheesy! Head of the Family (1996)
Just one of the many Charles Band Full Moon productions that I so dearly love. This one is about inbred mutants. Another of my favorite subjects. A gooey banquet of gore, sex, and cheesy goodness.

Cheesy! House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Fun, fabulous William Castle flick starring Vincent Price. Okay, not very scary and godawful special effects, but the characters are totally entertaining.

low budget!Funny! Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter (2001)
Yep. It's every bit as goofy as it sounds. It's a kung-fu/action/horror movie pitting Jesus "El Saviorrrrrrr" Christ against a bunch of nasty vampires. And it has a musical number. And cute girls. And a sainted Mexican wrestler. Yes MA'AM!

Funny! Killer Condom
(1996)
Tagline: The Rubber that Rubs You Out! This bizarre German production is a real treat. Part monster movie, part mystery, part gay romance, and entirely funny. You have to see it to believe it. It's WAY better than you think it's going to be.

Splatfest!Funny! Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
The title kind of says it all, doesn't it? Clowns are creepy. THESE clowns are downright scary. Funny and gory, this is a B-movie classic. It's got a terrific theme song, too.

low budget!low budget!Funny!LOVE! Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Roger Corman's black-and-white classic chunk of weirdness is one of my favorite movies. Filmed in two days on a tiny budget, it's packed with hilarious dialog and bizarre performances. As much as I love the 1986 musical version, I have to watch this one every few years, just because. Bonus: Jack Nicholson in one of his very first roles!

low budget!Funny! Cheesy! Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The (2001)
Some of my friends think this 1950's style horror movie spoof tries to hard. I think it's hilarious. Made on a shoestring, the one-liners just keep coming. You've got to love a snarky skeleton.

barf!Splatfest!Funny! Meatball Machine (2005)
Demented Japanese cyberpunk splatfest about aliens that parasitically infect humans, turn them into freaky cyborg fighting machines, and then battle their human hosts to the death. Waaaaaay over the top, this movie is sick, wrong, and weirdly funny. Well, if you're me. Not for the easily queased.

barf!Splatfest!Funny! Meet the Feebles (1989)
Another early Peter Jackson, when he was all about the gross and the shock. This spoof of muppet-type shows doesn't skirt the edge of bad taste. It hauls up its skirts and wades through the muck. Disgusting, but wildly funny.

Do NOT eat while watching.

Cheesy!Funny! Microwave Massacre (1983)
This is an awful film, and gleefully proud of it. A brutally henpecked husband (perfectly played by comedian Jackie Vernon) snaps one day and kills his wife. Then he, um, accidentally eats part of her. Before you know it, he's addicted to killing and eating hookers. I giggled all the way through this goofy flick.

Cheesy!Funny! Monster Dog (1984)
Is it possible? Yet another godawful evil dog movie! Heck yeah! And this one has Alice Cooper in it! Squee! I love me the Alice, but this movie is so bad it's painful. Okay, painfully funny. It has some great alternate titles. My favorite is "Los Perros de la Muerte." Snork!

barf!Splatfest!Funny!LOVE! Monster Man (2003)
I stumbled across this twisted flick on cable late one night. It seems to have a standard formula--young men on a road trip pursued by crazed hillbilly in a (really cool) evil monster truck. But the writing! THE WRITING! Seriously, this is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Bring a barf bag.


Splatfest!Funny! Motel Hell (1980)
"It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters!" This was one of the first horror comedies I ever saw. It just plain rocks. Rory Calhoun as a demented, homicidal farmer in a pig mask? Yeeeeeehaw! Funny as heck and just a little creepy. Bonus: Wolfman Jack as Reverend Billy!

Splatfest! Ms. .45 (1981)
Abel Ferrara's aweome exploitation, girl-with-a-big-gun movie. After being raped twice in the same day, mute seamstress Thana loses her stuff, takes one of the rapist's handguns, and starts seeking and blasting criminals in the streets of New York. Only problem is, all men start looking like criminals to her after awhile. Grindhouse classic!


Cheesy!Funny! Night of the Lepus (1972)
It's...it's...it's...a giant mutant killer bunny movie! For serious! Due to a scientific slip-up (of course) jackrabbits around a desert town grow to the size of cows, and start killing people. Because, y'know, bunnies are so bloodthirsty. Played deadly seriously, this is one of the silliest damn things I've ever watched. I love it! Bonus: DeForest Kelley!

Funny! Orgazmo (1997)
Trey Parker's utterly silly tale of a Mormon missionary turned porn star is a guilty pleasure. Very, very guilty. You kind of feel like you're going to hell just for watching it...but I couldn't stop giggling. Lowbrow comedy gold!

barf!Splatfest!Funny! Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)
This German gorefest is so gross, so over-the-top, that it's pretty much hilarious. Demons, archangels, and gallons and gallons of blood. With an onscreen kill count of 139, it just may be the most, um, prolific zombie flick ever. And there's a tank in it! Yay!

Splatfest!Funny! Puppetmaster, The (1989)
The first appearance of Charles Band's devilishly creative killer puppets. (Have I mentioned that I'm madly in love with Charled Band?) This movie is more slow-moviing and surreal than later Puppetmaster movies, but start here and then see ALL OF THEM! Including "Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys!" (Six-shooter is my favorite puppet, in case you were wondering. Which I'm sure you weren't.)

Splatfest!Funny!barf! Re-Animator (1985)
Yep. H.P. Lovecraft would be rolling around in his grave at all the perverted sex in this interpretation of his story "Herbert West: Re-Animator." Well, tough cookies. Jefffrey Combs launched his career as a B-movie god in this sick and hilarious flick. One of my all-time favorites. Go Stuart Gordon!

Cheesy!Funny! Rodentz (2001)
Okay, this is a really, really bad movie. But it's full of RATS! Loads and loads of RATS! Lots of close-ups of their cute little ratty faces. Lots of adorable rats running here and there. Then there are the rat attacks. Simply sublime. Shaky camera work, girls tossing their hair around, people screaming wildly as rat puppets "chew" on their body parts, people holding fat, bewildered pet rats up to their throats and shrieking. If you're not giggling by the end of the first demise, you're in a coma. And then, there's the giant rat. YES, what a surprise, there's a giant rat. Sometimes it's a giant rat puppet, or a disembodied tail dragging around. But the very best part comes at the end, when you get a good look at the whole rat. IT'S A GUY IN A RAT SUIT! I laughed so hard I sprayed diet Dr. Pepper through my nose and hit the dog from five feet away!

low budget!Splatfest!Funny! Special Dead (2006)
Zombies attack a summer camp for the mentally handicapped. Can you say "Not PC?" Then the retarded kids proceed to KICK ZOMBIE ASS. Sharp dialog and a deranged sense of humor--this movie is freakin' hilarious.

LOVE!Funny! Spider Baby (1968)
The ultimate cult classic! This wacked-out tale of a creepy caretaker (Lon Chaney Jr.) and his three inbred, insane charges is so much fun it might be illegal. When distant relatives show up to try to claim the family home, the blood hits the fan. Bonus: Super-young Sid Haig!

barf!Funny! Team America: World Police (2004)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone hit it out of the park with this hysterical, sick and wrong, um, puppet movie. There isn't an action movie cliche that doesn't get skewered in this flick. My personal favorite moment: the "panther" attack. Warning: this movie gets gross. Very, very gross.



Other Movies

Movies that aren't horror or dark comedy. Some are drama, some are fantasy or science fiction, and some are not easy to classify.


3:10 to Yuma (2007)
There are many things to love about this intense remake of the Glenn Ford classic. Christian Bale and Russell Crow's amazing performances are just the start. But I think what I like best about this movie is...the armored stagecoach robbery. That stage has a GATLING GUN! DUDE! Best stagecoach robbery on film to date!

LOVE! 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
Delightful story of a traveling circus that changes a small Western town. Tony Randall stars as the mysterious and magical Dr. Lao, as well as a whole lot of other bizarre characters. Family friendly--this is one of my kids' favorite movies.

Splatfest! 8mm (1999)
I suppose you could put this movie under "horror," considering the subject matter (snuff fulms). I think it's more of a character study of the investigator on the case. Disturbing, creepy, weird, and occasionally funny. One of Nick Cage's best roles.

12 Monkeys (1995)
Bruce Willils is amazing in this Terry Gilliam movie about a future devastated by a man-made disease. Time travel, insane asylums, radical animal rights groups and mad scientists are all elements of this haunting and strange flick.

Certain Kind of Death, A (2003)
Amazing, beautiful and sad documentary about what happens to people who die with no next of kin, and no money. Okay, this is kind of a "special interest" film. But it's wonderfully made. The gentle efforts to preserve the dignity of the deceased, from the police who find the body to the mortuary assistant who runs the ancient crematorium, are really very touching.

LOVE! Majority of One, A (1961)
Romance movies generally make me barf. However, this story of a midlife love affair between a Japanese businessman and a New York widow is delightful. Yeah, okay, Alec Guinness plays a Japanese guy. Not PC. What do you want, it was 1961. As well as being very sweet, this movie has a lot to say about race, class, and social expectations.

Scanner Darkly, A (2006)
This is probably the best film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's work that I've ever seen. The freaky rotoscope-style animation just adds to the overall sense of unreality and disconnection. Grim, low-key, and fascinating.

LOVE! Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, The (1984)
How can you not like this movie? A crazy, hilarious mix of aliens, secret agents, mad science, and general weirdness. John Lithgow rocks as Dr. Emilio Lizardo.

Apocalypto (2006)
Okay, yeah, everybody knows Mel Gibson is a bigoted nutball. He's also a pretty brilliant director, as this film demonstrates. The story is simple: a young man and his tribe are captured by a Mayan war party, where they are marked for slavery and sacrifice. He managed to hide his wife and child away from the invaders, and he'll do anything to get back to them. Visually gorgeous and beautifully acted. I loved this movie. (I did not love "The Passion of the Christ," aka "Hostel 33 A.D.")

Arlington Road (1999)
Creepy, tense story of domestic terrorism. Tim Robbins and Jeff Bridges are both fantastic. Great writing and a highly unpredictable plot. Don't look for a typical Hollywood ending here.

LOVE! African Queen, The (1951)
Adventure, romance, Nazis and stuff blowing up! Nope, not Indiana Jones. Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn! I've been watching this movie since I was a wee-small kid, and I still love it today.

LOVE! Bagdad Café (1990)
Surreal and lovely story of the troubled owner of a little gas station and cafe in Bagdad, AZ, and a German tourist who leaves her abusive husband in the middle of a road trip. I guess you could say this is a chick flick, because it stars CCH Pounder and Marianne Sagabrecht, and it's full of female empowerment and such. But really, this is a movie for anybody who loves good cinema and unusual characters, not to mention the occasional musical number.

Balls of Fury (2007)
Yes, this IS a dumb movie. It's also freakin' hilarious. In this spot-on spoof of martial arts movie, a goofy white guy strives to be the best in the Chinese dominated sport of...ping pong. Christopher Walken absolutely rocks as Feng, the evil sponsor of ping pong death matches. Bonus: Patton Oswalt cameo!

Before Stonewall (1984)
Excellent documentary about the gay and lesbian community before the Stonewall riots of 1969--the event that kicked off the gay rights movement. Fascinating and often tragic, it's the story of an entire class of people marginalized by society, and hidden just to stay alive.

Better than Chocolate (1999)
Another of the few romances I really enjoy. This tale of two young lesbians in love is hilarious, touching and fun. Their life gets suddenly more complex when one girl's oblivious mother moves in with the happy couple. Watch for the song "I'm Not a F*cking Drag Queen." One of the funniest songs EVER.

LOVE! Beverly Hillbillies, The (1993)
I am not ashamed to say I love this movie. I loved the TV show as a little kid, and this wonderfully silly flick distills it down to its very essence. Diedrich Bader is the ultimate Jethro. I mean, he's more Jethro than Jethro. Jim Varney is absolutely perfect as the quiet, courtly Jed Clampett. In fact, just about all the casting is perfect. The story is goofy, who cares. It's about the characters. THEY ARE MY PEOPLE! Bonus: Excellent country and rockabilly soundtrack!

LOVE! Black Orpheus (1957)
Gorgeous and spooky retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set in Rio de Janero at carnival time. The young actors are brilliant, and the setting and cinematography are breathtaking. One of my all-time favorite movies. (See, I'm capable of appreciating fine cinema. Really...)

Black Snake Moan (2006)
Wow. What a bizarre movie. A wild, self-destructive, sexually addicted young girl is beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. She's found by a God-feaaing bluesman, who's been driven nearly crazy by the betrayal of his wife. He decides he's going to save her, body and soul...by locking a chain around her waist and not letting her leave. Dang. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci are wonderful in the lead roles. I usually can't stand Justin Timberlake, but even he was terrific as Christina's panic-prone boyfriend. This a truly unique film, and most people either love it or hate it. I love it.

Blood Simple (1984)
This was the frist Coen brothers movie I ever saw, and I was captivated. This flick is is grim and twisted, with moments of uncomfortable laughter. (Coen Bros. movies seem to fall into two classes: lighthearted and fun, like "Raising Arizona" and "The Hudsucker Proxy,' or severely grim, like "Blood Simple" and "No Country for Old Men." Then there's Fargo, which straddles the line. Anyway.) If you like bloody movies with convoluted plots, this one's for you.

Boondock Saints, The (1999)
I love this crazed, stylized, overblown tale of two Irish brothers who abruptly decide to rid Boston of evil, using large-caliber weaponry. Willem Dafoe devours scenery as the FBI agent on their trail. Bonus: Billy Connolly in a rare "badass" role!

LOVE!Funny! Blazing Saddles (1974)
This Mel Brooks classic swings between slapstick and intelligent social commentary, but it's always hysterical. Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little were an unbeatable comedy team. And you've got to love Harvey Korman as the evil Hedley Lamar.

Brazil (1985)
Another dystopian masterpiece from Terry Gilliam. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought provoking, this flick is just all-around brilliant. DO NOT watch it on network TV. It's been gutted. Just don't go there.

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride (2006)
I think this is the very best documentary on the life and death of Hunter S. Thompson. Filled with interviews with his friends, lovers, and the man himself. Loads of great HST anecdotes.

LOVE! Blues Brothers, The (1980)
Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, loads of crazy action and a killer soundtrack make this movie a classic. It's been one of Orion's favorite movies since he was six. Yes I know it's rated R. What? Just for a couple of F-bombs? No way this movie would have been smacked with an "R" today. Okay, I AM the world's worst mother. But there's nothing cuter than a six-year-old singing "Soul Man."

Celia (1988)
Quiet, unsettling story of a little girl's frightening (and frightened) imagination. Set in 1950's Australia, the movie centers around a little girl whose world gets repeatedly rocked, until her sanity becomes questionable.

Celluloid Closet, The (1995)
Terrific documentary on the depiction of gays and lesbians on film throughout the history of Western cinema. Lots of delightful commentary from Harvey Fierstein, Quentin Crisp, Tony Curtis, and many, many more fascinating individuals.

LOVE! City of Lost Children, The (1985)
Gorgeous, surreal story of a mad scientist who wants to steal the dreams of children. You may want to watch this one twice, because the first time around, the visuals are so stunning you find yourself just gaping at them. But the story is terrific too, so watch it again. Now!

Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Of course I love this movie. Malcolm McDowell is the granddaddy of punk. In fact, I've made it my mission to see every movie he's ever been in. I don't think I've even reached the halfway point, but I'm having fun!

Con Air (1997)
Yeah, I know, it's just another adventure movie. But this flick is well-written, well-acted, and exciting. Nick Cage as the wrongly-convicted hero kicks some major butt. Steve Buscemi is fantastic as a seemingly mild-mannered serial killer. The terrific cast includes Ving Rhames, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Danny Trejo, and Dave Chappelle.

LOVE! Corndog Man, The (1999)
Wow. This movie is brilliant, hilarious, disturbing and bizarre. A foul-mouthed, duplicitous, bigoted southern boat salesman starts receiving weird phone calls. They start out irritating, and rapidly become threatening, personal, and scary. The late Noble Willingham is absolutely amazing as the beseiged boat salesman. Some of the insults that come out of his mouth are truly wonderous to hear. And the ending...dang.

Crazy Love (2007)
In 1959, an obsessed, married lawyer throws acid into the face of his former girlfriend, blinding her and scarring her for life. Sixteen years later...she marries him. No, this is not a demented melodrama. It's a documentary. And the people involved are still married. Fascinating, horrifying, and baffling.

Cry-Baby (1990)
As far as I'm concerned, John Waters can do no wrong. And as much as I love his really nasty stuff, I have to admit a huge soft spot for his more gentle social spoofs. Cry-Baby has all sorts of awesome going for it, including Johnny Depp and Iggy Pop!

Dark City (1998)
Bizarre, creepy and wonderful science fiction/fantasy tale. Rufus Sewell is terrific as the only guy in Dark City who seems to know that something isn't quite right. Bonus: Richard O'Brien! Yay!

Dangerous Liasons (1988)
Glenn Close and John Malkovich are fantastic as the heartless aristocrats whose scheming destroys lives in 18th century France. Gorgeously filmed, and brilliant performacnes. DANG but John Malovitch is HAWT in this movie! Grrrrrrowf!

LOVE! Dead Again (1991)
Supernatural myster/romance about murder and reincarnation. The parallel storylines of doomed lovers are fascinating. Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson are terrific.

Dead Girl, The (2006)
Despite the title, this is not a horror movie. At least not in the traditional sense. A young woman is found murdered by a highway. Although she seems to be "nobody,' just another substance-addled lost soul, her death affects a number of other people in a ripple of sorrow, fear, hope, and despair. Not the happiest movie ever, but really, really good.

LOVE! Dead Man (1995)
This is my absolute favorite Jim Jarmusch film. For one thing, it's a western. Yay! For another thing, it stars Johnny Depp, along with Gary Farmer, Lance Henrickson, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, and more fantastic and unusual actors than you can shake a six-shooter at. This story of a young man's transformation from mousey accountant to cold-blooded gunslinger is surreal, dark and hilarious. I have to watch this film several times a year, just because.

Departed, The (2006)
I'm not generally a big Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon fan, but they are absolutely outstanding in this story of two men on the opposite side of the law, eyeball-deeep in the brutal Irish mafia. Pretty grim, but excellent.

Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Keanu Reeves vs. Satan! Yay! Al Pacino is fabulous as the Man Himself. This movie is chilling, disturbing, occasionally funny, and entertaining one end to the other. Keanu puts in what is possibly the best performance of his career, and Al Pacino is both hilarious and scary. He has some of the best monologues since Brad Dourif in "Exorcist III."

Dolores Claiborne (1995)
This movie is proof that good screenwriting can, in fact, take on and successfully adapt the most difficult novels. Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh are terrific in this story of murder and dark family secrets.

Doom Generation, The (1995)
I got a huge kick out of this stylized story of socially alienated youth. Rose McGowan is adorable, in a bored, burned-out kind of way. And hey! Cameo by Skinny Puppy! Bleak, surreal, violent and grimly funny.

LOVE! Ed Wood (1994)
Johnny Depp and Martin Landau shine in this biopic of the famous horror and science-fiction director, and his friendship with the declining Bela Lugosi. Funny, touching, and weirdly inspiring.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton at his freaky best. Johnny Depp plays a boy who was created by a gentle mad scientist (Vincent Price, in one of his last roles). Problem is, the scientist died before he could attatch Edward's hands, leaving the sweet-tempered lad with scissors for fingers. Touching, funny, tragic and romantic.

Enduring Love (2004)
Weird, disturbing story of a man (a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) who witnesses a fatal ballooning accident. Another man (Rhys Ifans) on the scene suddenly and inexplicably fixates on him. Rhys (who is incredibly creepy in this role) proceeds to tear poor Daniel Craig's life to pieces. This movie is both a mystery, and a fascinating study of how people react under pressure.

Evil Roy Slade (1972)
This western spoof is pure fun. It's a showcase for the incredibly adorable and talented John Astin. He plays Evil Roy with a manic sincerity that is a wonder to behold. The writing is fast-paced and clever. Bonus: Henry Gibson and Dick Shawn! Fine for kids. Mine are crazy about this movie.

Splatfest! Enemy Mine (1985)
Terrific social science fiction story of a human fighter pilot and an alien fighter pilot, stranded on a strange world and forced to cooperate. Brilliant performances by Lou Gossett Jr. and Dennis Quaid.

Splatfest! Fargo (1996)
I love the Coen Brothers. "Fargo" is an example of the directors at their hilarious and disturbing best. One minute you're cringing in horror, the next minute ashamed to find yourself laughing wildly. Brilliant. Frances McDorand rocks as the level-headed, pregnant Minnesota cop on the trail of brutal kidnappers.

Feast of Death (2001)
The bitter, sardonic and brilliant James Elroy shines in this dark documentary about the still-unsolved Black Dahlia murder--and the murder of Elroy's own mother. Grim but fascinating.

Fifth Element, The (1997)
Delightful, tongue-in-cheek science fiction story. Filled with wild action and over-the-top performances by Bruce Willis, Milla Jonovich, Gary Oldman and more, this flick is surreal, colorful, and just plain fun.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
If you're a fan of Hunter S. Thompson, this crazed Terry Gilliam adaptation of the famous book will make you very happy. It successfully translates the Doc's looney narrative into wacked-out film reality. The bar full of lizards is priceless. Johnny Depp channels Doc Thompson, and Benicio Del Toro is wonderful as his faithful friend and lawyer Dr. Gonzo.

Fight Club (1999)
I'm sure everybody on the planet has seen this movie by now. If not, shame on you, and go see it right now! As much as I love Chuck Palahniuk, I think the movie version surpasses his novel.

LOVE! Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Rich and colorful adaptation of Fannie Flagg's novel of love, loyalty, and murder in the deep South. Kathy Bates, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jessica Tandy are wonderful, but Mary Stuart Masterson steals the show as the ferociously independant Idgie. I never get tired of this movie.

LOVE! Ghost and the Darkness, The (1996)
Don't think wild animals are scary? Then you've never seen this movie. Based on true events, a railway construction site in 1800's Africa is terrorized by a highly unusual pairing of two male lions. It's believed that the creatures killed more than 130 people. The action scenes in this movie are absolutely terrifying.

Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (1998)
This bizarre Australian film written by Nick Cave and Gene Conkie is brutal, surreal, and fascinating. Centered around a futuristic prison, the movie is more about the institution than the inmates. It was politically relevant in Australia in the late '80's, and sadly, in this era of rendition and black-site prisons, it's relevant to the U.S. Nick Cave has a small but grimly hilarious role as an unhinged convict who screams obscenities and abuse night and day.

Funny! Groundhog Day (1993)
Most everybody's seen this modern fantasy about a self-centered, ill-natured reporter who inexplicably has to repeat the same day--Groundhog Day--over and over again. This could have been a sapfest, but it has a wicked sense of humor to give it some backbone. (Cranky reporter spends weeks trying to kill himself, but wakes up on Groundhog Day each time anyway.) Fun, weird, and romantic.

Funny! Hairspray (1988)
Yeah, okay, I like the Broadway show and the movie they made of it, but this is the movie that came first. Before Ricki Lake was a talk-show host, she was a cute little chick who could dance like crazy. And hey! Debbie Harry with a killer beehive!

Hard Candy (2005)
Highly disturbing movie about a 14-year-old girl who turns the tables on a pedophile she meets on the internet. There's really no blood, but if one scene in particular doesn't make you squirm, there's probably something wrong wtih you. (Even worse than me, I mean.) The movie stumbles a bit at the end, but the performances by Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are outstanding.

LOVE! Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
There's really no summarizing this movie, other than to say it's brilliant. A drag queen with amazing musical talent tells her life story, and how her songs were stolen by the boy she loved. Funny, touching and sexy, and the songs--wow. Can't recommend this movie enough.

Funny! Hudsucker Proxy, The (1994)
This tale of a naieve young man's rude introduction to the corporate world is one of Joel and Ethan Coen's more playful movies. Silly, funny, and brilliantly written, it has whipcrack-fast dialog like a 1940's Tracy?Hepburn flick. There's a touch of dark humor, of course. That's part of the Coen brothers' trademark. But this movie really is fun and sweet-natured.

LOVE!Splatfest!barf!Funny! Ichi the Killer (2001)
I love this move waaaaay too much. Takashi Miike is one of my favorite Japanese directors. Tadanobu Asano is flat-out my favorite Japanese actor. Add in some ultra-violence, madness, perversion, revenge, and body piercing, and you've got the perfect movie (for me, anyway). Gotta warn you--this movie is pretty messed up. Don't come whining to me if you barf, faint, or end up with PTSD.

Funny! Idiocracy (2006)
Some of you science fiction buffs may recall a terrific short story called "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth. Well, "Idiocracy" is Mike Judge's update on the same theme. This movie is hilarious, crude, and demented...and just a little bit scary. It's not all that hard to imagine a future like the one in "Idiocracy." Huge fun, but makes you want to go to the library and read reference books, just in case.

In Bruges (2008)
This isn't your standard Brit crime movie (although Brit crime movies are one of my favorite genres). Alternately funny, disturbing, and tragic. I really had no idea what to expect when I walked into the theater, and the movie continued to surprise me throughout. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play off each other delightfully.

Jurassic Park (1993)
I enjoyed the movie much more than I liked the book. With a great cast and terrifyingly realistic dinosaurs, this flick is eternally fun. Older kids will love it. It'd probably scare the beans out of the preschool set. There are some great-looking creatures in the sequels, but none of them stand up as movies like the original.

King of Hearts (1966)
Not your average 60's French art film. During WWI, a young soldier, mistaken for a demolitions expert, is sent into a small French town to deactivate a bomb. There he finds that the inmates are literally running the asylum--residents of the local loony bin, abandoned by the fleeing villagers, have enthusiastically taken their places. This is a lovely movie. (Yes, I DO like lovely movies from time to time.)

Splatfest! King of New York (1990)
Christopher Walken carries Abel Ferrara's violent story of a drug lord fresh from prison and determined to take back his old territory. Ultra-violent, grim and colorful, with some terrific early performances by actors like Lawrence Fishburne and Steve Buscemi.

Splatfest! King of the Ants (2003)
Stuart Gordon directs this disturbing and demented tale of crime, consequences, and bloody vengeance. The movie is difficult to even watch at times, but so good that you can't look away.

Kissed (1996)
This is a movie about a female necrophile. Yeah, I know, I kind of recoiled when I first heard that too. But this is a sensitive portrait of how a young woman could end up caring for the dead more than the living. Molly Parker is brilliant in the role, and her, um, proclivities are handled very tatefully. (Yes, I AM capable of recognizing good taste when I see it, thank you.) Not everybody's cup of tea, but unforgettable.

LOVE! Last Wave, The (1977)
I love Peter Weir's gorgeous tale of ancient Australian aboriginal magic, ritual murder, and the end of the world. The story is fascinating, and the cinematography is so lovely it's nearly hypnotic.

Legend (1985)
Yes, I am enough of a geek girl that I dig this goofy fantasy. Even though Tom Cruise plays some kind of fae boi. (This was before Tom went entirely insane.) What I like best about the movie is Tim Curry as the demon Darkness. Oh, and the awesome dress he gives Mia Sara when he's trying to woo her. I'd marry a demon if he'd give me a dress like that. Oh wait, I did.

LOVE!Funny! Love at First Bite (1979)
Yep. I love a George Hamilton movie, and I'm completely unashamed. The man is a brilliant comic, and in 1979 he was cuter than hell. This is a silly, goofy, but awesomely well-written comedy, and the disco background is a hoot. Arte Johnson is a terrific Renfield, and Richard Benjamin rocks as the neurotic descendant of Van Helsing.

Mask, The (1994)
I'm not a huge Jim Carrey fan, but I totally enjoyed this silly story of a meek guy who becomes a crazed Tex Avery cartoon-like creature when he puts on a magical mask. Jim Carrey completely rocks the role. And okay, I admit it, I liked "Son of the Mask" too. It's nowhere near as good as the first, but the semi-demonic baby vs. the insanely jealous dog dynamic is pretty great. (I TOLD you I was easily amused. Believe me now?)

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr. (1999)
Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. is one bizarre dude. He's a self-described "execution technician." He improved the efficiency of the electric chair, and invented an early version of the lethal injection machine. Self taught, he got involved in this line of work (he says) for humanitarian reasons--to make death less painful for convicts. This documentary is a study of the man, his work, his incredibly weird personality, and the huge, heaping amount of trouble he got himself into when he got suckered by a pack of holocaust deniers. This is one of the most compelling bio-docs I've ever seen.

Mummy an' the Armadillo (2004)
Whoopass low-budget mystery/thriller set in a rundown Texas diner. The plot is twisted and complex without being confusing or unbelievable. I had no idea what to expect when I rented this movie--to tell you the truth, I got it just for the title. I wasn't just pleasantly surprised, I was delighted by what I saw.

Mystic River (2003)
Wow. This is one of those rare cases where the movie is as good as the book. Dennis Lehane's story of murder, class, honor and revenge is brought to vivid life by Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon. Not a happy movie--in fact it's pretty devastating--but it's still one of my favorites.

No Country for Old Men (2007)
Hey look! It's another brilliant book-to-movie transition! I was REALLY skeptical about translating Cormac McCarthy to the screen. His style of writing is so minimal and stripped down, it would be easy for a filmmaker to veer away from the source material. Luckily, it was made by the Coen brothers. Woot! Between their fantastic script and direction and the stunning performances by the actors, this movie is a masterpiece. Javier Bardem scared the living hell out of me, which is, um, not my usual reaction to the man.

LOVE!Funny! O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
Hey look! Another Coen brothers movie! This is one of their finest comedies. It's hysterical whether you know the source material or not, but if you know it's based on Homer's The Odyssey, it's doubly funny. George Clooney has an amazing talent for comedy. (So do John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson, but you already knew that.) Set in the 1930's midwest, the incredible bluegrass and gospel soundtrack is the crowning touch.

Funny! Old Men in New Cars (2003)
Terrific crime flick/black comedy from Denmark. The plot is weird and funny, involving a crime boss's search for his biological son, and his two sons' (bio and foster) desperate attempts to raise enough money for their dad's liver transplant. I laughed all the way through this movie.

Splatfest!barf! Oldboy (2003)
Director Chan-wook Park's brutal story of duplicity and revenge kicks ass up, down and sideways. The plot is fascinating, the characters unique, but this movie is definitely not for the squeamish. There's some nasty stuff here, but this isn't just splat or shock cinema. It's a brilliant movie. Some of the best movies I've seen lately have come out of Korea, and Chan-wook Park leads the pack. By the way, this is the middle movie in Park's "Revenge" trilogy. I like the other movies, "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance," but I think "Oldboy" is my favorite of the three.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
My absolute favorite spaghetti western. Henry Fonda makes an awesome villain. Jason Robards always rocks, and a young Charles Bronson is wonderful as a mysterious stranger bent on revenge. Italian actress Claudia Cardinale is excellent (not to mention staggeringly gorgeous) in her role as a self-sufficient widow in peril. Bonus: The (extremely dark) script was co-written by Dario Argento!

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Gorgeous, stunning, and heartbbreaking historical fantasy from writer/director Guillermo del Toro. Set if fascist Spain in 1944, a young girl with a vicious stepfather escapes from the horror of everyday life into a fantasy world that's almost as dangerous as the real one. If you don't cry at the end of this movie, you need to be checked for a heart.

LOVE! Party Monster (2003)
Hilarious and horrifying real-life story of Michael Alig, the orignal club kid, and convicted murderer. Based on James St. James's memoir of the events, Disco Bloodbath. Seth Green is terrific as St. James, and a grown-up Macaulay Culkin is no less than amazing as Michael Alig, a young man whose charm and wit covers up a black hole in the center of his being.

LOVE!Mindwarping! Perfume: Story of a Murderer (2006)
I was skeptical when I heard there was going to be a movie adaptation of Peter Susskind's wonderful novel, Perfume. After all, the entire book revolves around scent. How could that possibly translate to film? Well, between an excellent script, fine direction and outstanding acting (especially from the young lead, Ben Whishaw), they pull it off. This movie is dazzling and disturbing.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Another eerie tale of ancient Australian magic from director Peter Weir. Slow-moving and gorgeous, this movie tells the story of three female students and a teacher who vanish during a Valentine's Day picnic. This surreal story was Australia's first international hit.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Yeah, I know it's a Disney blockbuster. Cannot...resist...Johnny...Depp... Not to mention Geoffrey Rush as the quintessential undead pirate Barbossa. This movie is just rollicking good fun. I enjoyed the second and third PotC movies, particularly Bill Nighy's performance as Davy Jones. But the first remains my favorite.

Pitch Black (2000)
Excellent, creepy science fiction/horror movie about a small spacecraft that crashes on a planet inhabited by, well, something not so friendly. This was the first movie I saw Vin Diesel in, and he was terrific. Did I mention he looks totally hawt with silver eyes?

LOVE! Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Brian dePalma's brilliant Faust/Phantom of the Opera fusion. Paul Williams is incredible as the satanic recod producer Swan. His soundtrack for the movie is fantastic. In fact, I think Paul Williams is one of the most talented and overlooked songwriters and composers around. Go Paul!

Prestige, The (2006)
This freaky story of two rival nineteenth-century stage magicians completely blew me away. The escalating hatred between the two men and the bizarre science-fiction twist make for one intense moviegoing experience. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are amazing as the magicians. Bonus: David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, my all-time favorite real-life mad scientist!

Proposition, The (2005)
Outstanding Australian western, written by the multitalented and ever-dark Nick Cave. A lawman captures an outlaw, and gives him nine days to kill his vicious older brother, or the lawman will kill his younger brother. Yikes. Excellent performances by Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone as the outlaw and the lawman. Danny Huston is astonishing as the philosophical, intelligent, and evil older brother. Bonus: Soundtrack by Nick Cave!

LOVE! Pulp Fiction (1994)
I wandered into a Seattle theater to watch Pulp Fiction an hour after I had my nose pierced. I knew nothing about the movie, and I was absolutely delighted with what I saw. Years later, it's still one of my favorites.

Quid Pro Quo (2008)
Bizarre story of a paralyzed young man (The stunningly adorable Nick Stahl) who uncovers a subculture of people who aren't wheelchair-bound, but wish they were. This movie is a mystery, a romance, and just plain weird. Fine performance by Vera Farmiga as one of the "pretenders."

LOVE!Mindwarping! Quills (2000)
This is one of my all-time favorite movies (and not just because I have a crush on Geoffrey Rush). On the surface, this is the story of the Marquis de Sade's last few years in a mental hospital, and his desperate attempts to write, and to get his writing out into the world. A few layers down, it's a story about the responsibility of writers. Do writers have a responsibility to themselves? To the community? If a writer's work indirectly causes something awful to happen, is it his fault? Wonderful performances by the whole cast, including Kate Winslet, Joachin Phoenix, and Michael Caine.

Rabbit Hash (2004)
Awesome documentary about the town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, where the townspeople once elected a dog mayor. But that's just the surface story. The real fun comes along as you're introduced to various citizens of Rabbit Hash. It's a haven for artists, eccentrics, and rugged individualists. And, as one little girl vehemently points out, they are not "hilljacks."

Raising Arizona (1987)
My absolute favorite Coen Brothers movie. I was born and raised in Arizona, and believe me, the Coens have captured its essence. This lighthearted but somewhat twisted tale of a couple so desperate to have children that they kidnap a baby is delightful and hilarious.Nic Cage, Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, and John Goodman rock the delightful script.

LOVE! Rat (2000)
Weird and wildly funny movie about an Irishman who gets home late from the pub one more time, and, uh, turns into a rat. Much surreal hilarity ensues. Pete Postelthwaite has quite the comedic gift.

Red (2008)
I'll just get it out into the open. This is a movie about a guy whose beloved old dog is killed by a rotten rich kid. NOT my usual fare. (I can watch people get killed in movies all day long, but as soon as you off a puppy, I'll cover my eyes and cry like Paris Hilton in a jail cell.) Howver, the guy in question is played by Brian Cox. This is his movie. His solid, good-hearted character slowly slides into madness, and he plays it brilliantly. Almost nobody saw this film. I don't think it was distrubuted to theaters. If it had been, Brian Cox would have been nominated for an Oscar.

Reflecting Skin, The (1990)
In 1950's rural Canada, a young boy's scary fantasies begin to control his life, and he begins to overturn the lives of the people around him. This grim fable is a creepy masterpiece. Bonus: an early appearance by Viggo Mortensen!

Reign of Fire (2002)
It's badass dragons vs. Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey! There's been a dragon apocalypse (no really) and not many people are left on Earth. When a crew of American dragon fighters shows up at a British human hideout, the fire-breathing reptiles hit the fan. Utterly fantastic dragon and flame effects.

Splatfest! Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Yep, I fell for Quentin Tarantino's hyperviolent crime flick. I love the script (especially the "Madonna" conversation), the performances, and the direction. I have a high tolerance for blood, but this one made me squirm the first time I saw it. Dang, poor Tim Roth...

LOVE! Richard III (1995)
I can't even tell you how much I love this adaptation of Shakespeare's play. Ian McKellen shines as the evil, driven title character. Set in a surreal 1930's Europe-like limbo, the art direction and acting are unforgettable. Bonus: Fantastic 30's style soundtrack!

LOVE! Secretary (2002)
One of the weirdest romances I've ever seen. When depressed, self-mutiliating secretary Lee goes to work for controlling, uptight lawyer Mr. Grey, it's a case of sadomasochistic love. Surprisingly tender and sexy, this is a story of two people who were made for each other.


From Hell (2001)
Based on a graphic novel, this unique story of a man investigating Jack the Ripper is more epic tragedy than horror. As usual, Johnny Depp is amazing.

Gattaca (1997)
This really is a brilliant bit of social science fiction. Ethan Hawke plays a young man who was born naturally in a world where genetically engineered people rule. In order to get by in society, he has to pass as one of the "superiors." Thoughtful and wonderful.

Seraphim Falls (2006)
What a weird, cool movie. At the end of the Civil War, a man named Carver is tracking another man named Gideon with a singleminded bloodlust. Carver is hellbent on revenge, but why? As if this weren't interesting enough, the movie ventures into the realm of supernatural, biblical fable. Excellent performances by Liam Neeson as the hunter, and Pierce Brosnan as the hunted.

Se7en (1995)
Fascinating and horrifying story of an anonymous serial killer who's taking out victims based on the seven deadly sins. Gruesome visuals, excellent performances, and a tense storyline make this a crime thriller classic.

Seventh Seal, The (1957)
My favorite Ingmar Bergman film. Of course. During the time of the Black Plague, a knight and his squire on their way home from the Crusades encounter Death. The knight challenges Death to a chess game, with the knight's life at stake. Max von Sydow is absolutely amazing as the troubled knight. (And yes, this is the movie "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" was riffing on.)

Sexy Beast (2000)
I love me the Brit crime movies. Especially when they're infused with black humor. Ray Winstone plays Gal, a retired safecracker who just wants to be left alone with his beautiful wife in their beautiful house in Spain. Then Don Logan, a vicious gangster and old acquaintance, shows up and tries to drag Gal into one more job. If this sounds lke a tired plot to you, believe me, it isn't in this movie. The twists and turns this movie takes are a hoot. Ben Kingsley's Don is so weird, so uptight, so crazy, that he's funny as hell, in a really scary kind of way.

Shallow Grave (1994)
Hey, look Another British crime movie! This was the first movie I ever saw Christopher Eccleston in, and he was terrific. Three arrogant young professionals advertise for a new roommate. They get one, who promptly turns up dead, leaving a huge pile of money behind. It isn't long before the three turn on each other. Then things really go bad when the mobsters whose money they have find them. Terrific ending!

Shout, The (1978)
Weirdass British dark fantasy tale of a traveler named Crossley who disrupts the lives of a man and his wife. Crossley insinuates himself into the couple's life, and itt isn't long before he starts laying the Australian aboriginal magic on his hapless host, taking over his life.

LOVE! Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (2008)
Anybody who's a fan of RE/Search books knows who Bob Flanagan was. He was that crazy dude who did things like nailing his nuts to a board as performance art. I rented this movie out of sheer perverse curiosity. I was in for a huge surprise. Yeah, I got the gruesome masochistic stunts I was curious about. But I also saw Bob Flanagan himself, and just fell for him. A fiercely intelligent, sweet, funny guy, his fragile little-boy demeanor was downrights winsome. His partner Sheree adored him. Her life revolved around making him happy, by doing what most people would consider awful things to him. By the end of the movie, I was crazy about Bob. When he basically died on camera, at the age of 43 (he was the oldest living Cyxtic Fibrosis patient in the world), it was absolutely crushing. It was way harder to watch that than the scenes of "super-masochism."

Sid and Nancy (1986)
Raw and realistic biopic of the Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, and his doomed relationship with his girlfriend. One of Gary Oldman's best performances. Hell, has he ever put in a BAD performance?

LOVE! Silent Tongue (1994)
This dark, twisted supernatural western was River Phoenix's last film. The son of a brutal Medicine Show scam artist goes slowly mad when the Indian girl he loves dies. He refuses to give up her corpse, and she haunts him relentlessly. Filled with grim family secrets, weird roots music, and bleak cinematography. I love this film more every time I watch it.

Silverado (1985)|
Another of my favorite westerns. It's a sweeping, fun story of four less-than-heroic men who band together and ride to the little town of Silverado, where they fight the corrupt strongmen who have taken it over. It's a classic story, but unique characters and a lively script make it fun and fresh.

Splatfest! Sin City (2005)
Brilliant, gorgeous and hyper-violent interpretation of Frank Miller's classic graphic novel series. I've never seen a movie look more like its source material than this one does. Add in fine performances and gobs of action, and you're in for a terrific movie experience.

Spider (2002)
The always awesome David Cronenberg directs this creepy story of Spider, a mentally ill man living in a halfway house, who starts to remember some horrors from his childhood. The central character is played beautifully by Ralph Feinnes. At once sympathetic and scary, he takes us with him on Spider's backslide into insanity.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
Based on Tennessee Williams's play, scripted by Gore Vidal, you know it's going to be good. WOW is it good. I almost put this movie into the horror section, because horror is at the core of the story. A young man is killed while on vacation with his cousin in Greece. His cousin witnessed his murder, and what she saw has driven her mad. Now her cousin's coldblooded mother wants the girl lobotomized, so what she saw will remain a secret. (And yeah. It was that bad.)

LOVE! Sunset Boulevard (1950)
I just never get tired of this movie. Hollywood gothic at its best. William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Max von Stroheim--it doesn't get much better than this. MAAAAAX!!!

LOVE! Tank Girl (1995)
Okay, so it's not as violent or crazy as the original graphic novels. I love this movie anyway. Lori Petty is fantastic as the nihiliistic heroine. And Ice-T as a kangaroo dude? Awesome! Not to mention Malcolm McDowell. at his most evil. Just tons of fun.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
My second-favorite Sergio Leone movie. Two men form an uneasy partnership to go up against a coldblooded gunslinger, in a race to get to a stash of stolen gold. Filled with action and occasional humor, this is the spaghetti western in its finest form.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Truly outstanding (loose) adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel Oil. In this case, the film is much more powerful than the book. A heartless prospector turned oilman, Daniel Plainview will use anything and anybody around him to get what he wants. Daniel Day-Lewis deserved his Oscar for Best Actor. The movie is almost three hours long, but it's so fascinating it goes by in a flash.

This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Eye-opening--no, eye-popping documentary on the American movie ratings board. I had long thought that movie ratings seemed arbitrary and uneven. This film proves that they are, and shines a light on the disturbing agenda held by most of the extremely conservative members of the MPAA. Weird and mysogynistic, the board will give a blood-drenched horror movie or crass (male-centric) sex comedy an "R" rating. But the moment a movie depicts something outside their norms, like gay sex, or (gasp) women showing pleasure, it gets smacked with an NC-17. Rumor has it that the MPAA has become a bit more even-handed since Jack Valenti died. I certainly hope so. I don't want my kids growing up in a world where Hollywood is telling them "exploding heads good, female orgasms bad." Crikey.

Thunderheart (1992)
Excellent mystery about a part-Indian detective, played by Val Kilmer, who teams up with a tribal policeman to solve a series of murders on a Sioux reservation in the badlands of South Dakota. Excellent writing, a twisty plot, and fine performances by everybody involved. The story is all the more interesting for being based on actual events that took place in the 1970's.

Tideland (2005)
One of the very best of Terry Gilliam's movies, in my opinion. Based on Mitch Cullen's demented novel, this is the story of Jeliza-Rose, the bright, lonely daughter of an aging rock star and his drug-addled groupie wife. When her mother dies of an overdose, her father takes her back to his abandoned childhood home in the middle of nowhere. He promptly dies, leaving Jeliza-Rose alone with the crazy lady next door, her mentally handicapped son, and Jeliza-Rose's own rich fantasy life. Tragic, horrible and beautiful. What makes this movie even more impressive is that it is carried almost entirely by little Joelle Ferland. The kid is astonishing.

Titus (1999)
Fantastic movie version of Shakespeare's most violent play. Gorgeously directed by Julie Taymor, the visual beauty of the movie is in stark contrast to the violence and madness spiraling out of control. Bonus: Anthony Hopkins and Alan Cumming!

LOVE! Tombstone (1993)
I've got a thing for westerns, and this is one of my favorites. Basically telling the story of the Earps vs. the Clanton gang, the movie is stolen by Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday.

Kurt Russel rocks as Wyatt Earp. Watch for an unusual performance by Jason Priestly.

LOVE! Toys (1992)
Werid and surreal story of the battle for the soul of a toy company. Will war toys win out, or will gentle whimsey take the day? Robin Williams is wonderful (and fairly restrained) as the sweet but slightly mad son of the company's founder.


Trap (2006)
Well written, low-budget thriller about a sociopathic woman named Amy who convinces her online "friend" Nicole to kill Nicole's abusive husband. In a panic, Nicole travels to Amy's house, where she meets Chandler, Amy's beaten-down, abused husband, who's just done something terrible. Tense to the point of pain, relieved only by moments of black humor (some so subtle they're strictly visual), this is an example of how good non-Hollywood movies can be.

Triplets of Belleville, The (2003)
I am absolutely crazy about this weird animated French film. For starters, the heroes of the movie are four old ladies and a geriatric dog. That's just plain awesome. The art style is delightful, and the soundtrack is terrific. The "dog dream" scenes are some of the best parts of the movie. Fine for kids, if you're a little openminded. There's a pair of cartoon boobs at the very start (gasp), and at one point, a guy gets shot off camera. But hey, so does Bambi's mama. My kids just love this movie.

Unbreakable (2000)
M. Night Shyamalan's quiet, low-key story of the inner lives of superheroes and supervillians. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson are both remarkable in their roles.

LOVE! Undertaking Betty (2002)
Best romantic comedy EVER. Sweet, middle-aged Welsh funeral director Boris Plots (Alfred Molina) has been in love with Betty ever since they were children. The problem is, Betty married the obnoxious and unfaithful Hugh. One day Betty and Boris rediscover each other, and hatch a wild plan to run away together--by faking Betty's death. This is complicated by the nosy Frank Featherbed, a manic American funeral director who's moved to Boris's small town and wants to steal his business. The ending is beyond hilarious. Bonus: hearses drag racing!

LOVE!Valley Girl (1983)
Yep. It's a teen romance. I love it anyway. Little punk Nic Cage! How cute can you get? Witty writing, good acting, terrific soundtrack, and just plain fun.

Virgin Spring, The (1960)
My second favorite Ingmar Bergman film. Set in 14th century Sweden, the events in this grim story are set into motion when the pampered daughter of a comfortable peasant family is raped and murdered on her way to church. Through a bizarre coincidence, the murderers come to her parents' house to ask for food and shelter. Bloody revenge ensues. And if this sounds familiar, that's because Wes Craven's classic "The Last House on the Left" was based on this movie. Did I mention Max von Sydow plays the dad? He's so cool!

Warlock (1987)
I'm crazy about this dark fantasy/adventure, starring Julian Sands as a seriously evil warlock (no Harry Potter business here), and Richard E. Grant as the righteous witch-hunter who pursues him through time. Well-written, full of action and occasional humor. (Not to mention two completely adorable male leads.)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
This is a terrific film about a hyper-responsible, overburdoned young man caring for his mentally handicapped brother and his enormously overweight mother in a tiny little town where everybody knows each other. Johnny Depp stars as Gilbert,, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio plays his brother. Crispin Glover plays Gilbert's friend, who owns the local mortuary. Crispin Glover makes any movie better.

Wild Wild West (1999)
Yeah, I know. I don't care what you think. I got a huge kick out of this movie. Will Smith and Kevin Kline are adorable as James West and Artemus Gordon. (Yes, I WAS a big fan of the original series when I was a kid.) Kenneth Branaugh just has too much fun as Dr. Loveless. And dude! GIANT STEAM-POWERED TARANTULA! Any movie involving a giant-steam powered tarantula is A-OK with me. My kids love this movie too. (Other than some mildly bawdy humor, it's pretty harmless.) Oh, and did I mention? GIANT STEAM-POWERED TARANTULA! BOOYA!

Wise Blood (1979)

John Huston's gorgeous adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel rocks my world. (And not just because it has an incredibly hot 29-year-old Brad Dourif as the star.) This story of isonation, desolated souls, sacrifice and redemption that comes at a horrible price isn't for everybody. But if you're a Southern Gothic fan, this is for you.


Witches of Eastwick, The (1987)
Jack Nicholson is perfect as the devil, who settles into a small New England town, and starts romancing the local women. He's the devil, you know his motives can't be good! Cher, Michelle Pheiffer, and Susan Sarandon are terrific as the "witches" who won't be so easily controlled.

Witchfinder General, The (1968)
One of Vincent Price's most chilling performances. Based on the evil of Matthew Hopkins, a man who took advantage of the political climate in 1600's England to hunt witches--for profit. One of the most horrifying non-horror movies you'll ever see.

LOVE!Funny! Young Frankenstein (1974)
My other favorite Mel Brooks movie. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle absolutely rock in this silly and hilarious take on the Frankenstein legend. This flick is packed with classic comedy bits. The world is a poorer place without Marty Feldman.

Funny!barf! Young Poisoner's Handbook, The (1995)
This British flick is based on the true story of Graham Young, a teenager who, well, liked to poison people. Brilliant yet entirely lacking in empathy, he watches his mother slowly die of thallium poisoning. But he's just getting started. This movie can be very (darkly) funny at times, but the poisonings are pretty gruesome. Lots of vomiting involved. Okay, true story--the first time I saw this movie, I watched it on cable, and I was home from work--with the stomach flu. Kind of made for a 3-D, audience participation experience.

You're Gonna Miss Me (2005)
This excellent documentary tells the amazing, heartwrenching, and ultimately triumphant story of Roky Erickson, the wildly talented musician who fronted the band 13th Floor Elevators in the mid-60's. Roky is brilliant, but he's suffered from depression and mental illness all his life. In a misguided attempt to protect him, his mother kept him unmedicated and away from society for more than 20 years. His talent smoldered on below the surface, waiting for the chance to come out. (And if you've never heard of Roky Erickson or the Elevators, for heaven's sake, go to Rhapsody.com and listen to him. He's amazing.)

Zebraman (2004)
This is probably as close as Takashi Miike will ever get to making a children's movie. A schoolteacher who gets no respect likes to dress up as his favorite TV hero, Zebraman. Before he knows it, he's in over his head, battling real evil. This movie is charming, funny, and just plain weird.

LOVE!Funny! Zorro the Gay Blade (1981)
I completely adore this movie. George Hamilton is hilarious as Don Diego Vega, a self-absorbed 1840's Spanish nnobleman who returns to California when he gets the news that his father has died. Turns out his father was the famous Zorro, and he intends to pass on his legacy to one of his sons. Don Diego relishes the role and the adventure--until he badly injures his leg. Along comes his long-lost twin brother, now called Bunny Wigglesworth. Bunny is delightful, extremely gay, and and every bit as much as a hero as Don Diego. I think Hamilton may have been the only actor able to stand up to the hilarious scenery-chewing of Ron Leibman, the nasty and unpopular Alcalde.

Zzyzyx (2006)
Creepy low-budget story of three people who drive down the remote Zzyzx Road in the California desert. Word has it that a strange, possibly murderous cult leader lived in the area in the '60's and '70's. The gorup finds out more about him than they ever wanted to know. Part road movie, part crime movie, part psychological drama, with a little supernatural spookiness thrown in. A terrific film.



Great Double Features

Various movies that go together especially well.


Blazing Saddles (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)

American Beauty (1999)
Happiness (1998)

Cry-Baby (1990)
Hairspray (1988)

Celia (1988)
The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Heathers (1989)
Jawbreaker (1999)

Hellraiser (1987)
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Jumanji (1995)
Zathura (2005)

Labyrinth (1986)
MirrorMask (2005)

Ringu (1998)
The Ring (2002)

When a Stranger Calls (1979)
When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)



Great Triple Features

Some movies should be seen in threes...


Three horror-comedy-revenge movies starring Vincent Price!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Theatre of Blood (1973)

Three stories of dead guys, evil books, and mayhem starring Bruce Campbell!

Evil Dead (1981)
Evil Dead II (1987)
Army of Darkness (1992)


The All-Night Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe Movie Fest!

You know you wanna!

And no, I'm not going to describe each movie. They're all directed by Roger Corman. They all star Vincent Price. And they're all very, very loosely based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. What more could you ask for?

The Haunted Palace (1963)
House of Usher (1960)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Tales of Terror (1962)
The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

 


Jump to your favorite category!

Supernatural Horror

Psychological Horror and Splatter

Monster Movies

Black Comedy

Kids' Movies

Midnight Movies

Other Movies

 



lorelei@psychenoir.com
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