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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Top 25 Horror Films to Date

Its the nite before the tenth PictureStart Film festival and I am just getting used to having my mac back. I've been on a slow PC all week long, and now I am back among the 21st century dwellers. Anyway, need to respond to some of these comments, and bring the list up to date.

I've succumbed to some other subgenres including Aliens and The Thing on the list, as well as action/adventurer/natural monster movie Jaws, which is arguably the best movie on the list.

SECOND UPDATE, May 28, 2007
Wow, so we have a lot of respondents, including one, John, who nearly wrote his own blog on horror. It kind of raises the issue of what qualifies as horror (at least for the very minor purposes of this survey). Horror has many sub-genres, including monster movies, slasher, ghost/supernatural, torture, and comedy, to name a few. There are also the thriller horror crossovers, like Se7en and Silence of the Lambs and perhaps the Omen (listed below, but maybe more horror, if only judging by the amount of gore in that movie vs. its contemporaries)and the Exorcist. I guess when I was thinking of this, while I thought about the old Universal horror stuff, and the old monster movies, I wasn't necessarily considering that sub-genre. Nor was I particularly considering other related genre movies like Tod Browning's Freaks, or action/sci-fi movies like James Cameron's great Aliens, or monster action like Blade, and straight thrillers like Diabolique, which I saw when I was seventeen or eighteen, and which my father always described as the scariest movie he had ever seen. I guess where one draws the line is somewhat arbitrary.

Do Lon Chaney and more importantly, Bela Lugosi, belong on this list somewhere. Yeah, of course (not that they care), but that again raises the issue of where to draw the line. Lugosi is one of the godfathers of horror. But movies like Phantom of the Opera, to me, dont really feel right on this list. Great, influential in effects, acting technique, maybe even music (though I believe it would have been performed live, no?), yes, but horror, not so sure.

Anyway, with the obvious issue of arbitrariness now out in the open, lets update the list a bit.

My mac is broken (ugh, took it to apple in soho today, waited forever so that they could send it back - i should have it back in a few days or a week (maybe ten???) but if my computer skills (or for those of you who know me, my email response time) is less than stellar, well, now I have an excuse) and Im working on my ass-old PC.

The updated list from your write-ins is below. And I may up it to 30, because it appears I may have bit off more than I can chew. And just cuz your suggestion didnt make it in yet, doesnt mean it wont, I am just conserving space for the time being.

Cool thing about the list, it makes a good netflix or to watch list for aspiring horrorphiles.

So by request, I was asked to write a blog about the best horror movies ever made (before I started making em, right- maybe I’ll make one some day that can be on the list). I didn’t really do anything about the request, and I certainly know a bunch about horror, but would not consider myself an authority at all. I’m no Eli Roth (haha, wink wink).

What we did before here was to let people make their comments about the best teen movies of all time. Given my immersion in the horror world over the last six months or so, seems like a good time to make a new list, a horror list. I went to the horror Fango Con in Burbank this past Sunday, to hang with Bob Kurtzman, special fx wizard and the director of upcoming films like Dimension Films’ Buried Alive, and the independently produced The Rage. Bob is an authority on horror, and his work shows it. He’s also a great guy and I think we’ll be working together for a long time, or at least I hope so.

So anyway, now I am sitting in my little hovel in Hollywood, and having grabbed a bunch of DVD’s from the main house, I’ve been focusing on watching horror in preparation for Digger and Slaughter. So because of this, I have the first two (lets go for twenty five) entries, films I watched yesterday and today, for the list. Lets get the list (and blood) flowing.

1. Psycho – An original. Groundbreaking, and a film that has been copied from so much, in films considered classic themselves, like Silence of the Lambs, Dressed to Kill, and this next film…
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Toby Hooper’s classic horror oevre. I remember watching it at age 13 or 14 in Garden City. Middle of summer, late nite, everyone else was asleep. After the girl got hung on the hook by Leatherface, I proceeded to close every window on the first floor and lock em. Remarkably, there is next to no gore or blood in this movie. Other than a few rotting corpses, its all done by suggestion.
3.Halloween- Simply one of the best, and deserving of a top stop on any list. Back story goes that Moustafa Akkad approached John Carpenter after seeing Precinct Thirteen and told him that he wanted him to write and direct a movie about babysitter murderers. Carpenter and Debra Hill sat down and wrote Halloween in three weeks, on spec. They made the movie, and history, for about 300K (1979 style or whenever that was, maybe 1978).
4.Scream - One of the great scripts, one that took an overwraught genre and turned it on its head. Not the craziest about Neve in the role, but no one is perfect. Totally reinvigorated a dying (nopunintended) genre.
5. The Shining- The definition of scary. If you've seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't why are you sitting there.
6. The Exorcist - The thinking man's (or woman's) supernatural horror thriller. Maybe not as gory as some of the entries on the list, but cemented into the minds of everyone who saw it. Created a sensation when it was released, with lines around the block, becoming one of the original blockbusters (without the bloated budget). Hopefully, Friedkin's return to the genre, Bug, will hold a candle, but I digress.
7. Suspiria - Considered by many to be Dario Argento's masterpiece for your more erudite horror fan, cant leave out the foreign entries, which brings us to...
8. The Ring (Japanese version)- the start of the japanese horror remake brigade, with The Grudge, which we making slaughter happily understand.
9. The Omen (original) - Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in another child-oriented supernatural thriller, with Richard Donner at the helm. The original is really good, a point made more clear when you watch the remake (which has its moments, mostly involving Mia Farrow and Pete Postelthwaite).
10. Night of the Living Dead - One of the groundbreakers in low budget horror and the godfather of Zombie movies.
11. Nightmare on Elm Street - The house in the first one was recently for sale in LA. Thanks, I will keep renting. Pirates on Elm Street, anyone (Johnny Depp's jump to movies from tv - and another Wes Craven entry).
12. Evil Dead - while i prefer its comedic sequel (remake), one of the standard bearers in no-budget horror, complete with arborial rape.
13. Alien - Ridley Scott sci-fi horror (yeah so I guess the parallel works) with Sigourney running around in her underwear while we all wonder if the cat has the alien inside of it.
14. Jaws - By proclamation, this great movie is a horror movie, for purposes of this list. A masterful piece of cinema, not just belonging on the great horror movies list (as if), but on the list of the great American movies.
15. The Thing - John Carpenter's 1979 remake classic with another great alien monster that had some unbelievable effects and more of his go to guy, the incomparable Kurt Russell.
16. Dawn of the Dead (2004) - Widely considered, here and elsewhere, a modern horror masterpiece, better than the recent Rodriguez entry in Grindhouse.
17. Poltergeist - Still the subject of a raging debate as to whether this is a Tobe Hooper movie or a Spielberg movie (answer is, probably both), has some of the great spooks and plenty of gore for the bloodhounds.
18. Manhunter - Michael Mann directing William Petersen and Brian Cox, with great villany and support from Tom Noonan as the toothfairy. Perhaps not as well knownm as the other entries on the list, and unfairly so. A great movie. Which brings us to...
19. Silence of the Lambs - I couldn't justify not including Jonathan Demme's scarer while including Michael Mann's movie which covers most of the same ground. I have to admit, I don't know why Mann's feels more horrific than Silence, maybe its the lower budget. Perhaps neither of them belong on the list, I don't know, but I love them both and enough of you said they belong.
19. Keep going, we arent done yet with this debate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Airplane Bloggin: Burbank Dawn

My new apartment, bungalow, whatever you wanna call it, is in Hollywood. Hollywood is, in LA terms, on the eastside, more or less, as opposed to Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, all on the Westside. Long Beach airport, in addition to being quite far south, in on the Westside (its on the beach, which despite the south east to northwest running socal coastline, is pretty far west of Hollywood.

Enter Burbank Airport. Just a hop over the hill from my Hollywood haunt (say that five times fast), its now my Jet Blue airport destination of choice. Its very close to my place (we’ll see about the traffic, but miles-wise its close).

Thing is, at least as far as rewards flights go, on Jet Blue, during the week, there only seems to be 6:45 AM flights available from JFK to Burbank. Yes, folks, that 6:45 flight allows me to wake up at 4:20 AM, refreshed by a whole four hours of sleep or so, jump in a cab and head off to the airport. At least there isn’t any traffic on the way to JFK at a quarter to five in the morning.

But even though I’ll be in LA from 9:45 AM or so, if I don’t get some sleep on this flight, I am just gonna take a nap when I get to my place anyway. So much for getting in early.

But that’s OK. Needed to make the trip, and while I could have made it Sunday, Sunday was mother’s day and that was a good reason to stick around in NY.

Maybe I can get some sleep after I stop typing. 5MG of Diazepam to calm me for takeoff may help. We shall see.

I am not gonna talk about the breakup thing. I am not gonna write about it. It kinda was necessary, and it pretty much sucks. That’s all I got for ya.

Insurgents is screening at the Fine arts Theater in Beverly hills on Thursday. Wilshire off La Cienaga. Lemme know if you wanna come, there may be availability on the list. I wasn’t necessarily gonna be in town for this, but its nice that I can make it. And I hope Scott, the director, will be pleased.

I am tired. Gonna go count some sheep. I think Gina Gershon is sitting to my left. Does she play the violin? This chick’s got a violin. I’ll do my best not to think about Bound while I am sitting here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wholly single again.

Enuff said.

Dont call me to commisserate. I don't want your sympathy.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday miscellany

Saturday nite. Big pasta dinner. Sitting at home. Watching movies, good and bad.

Did anyone see the Hitcher. My friend Phil Hardage worked as the first AD on it. I just a music video by that director. Incredible. Really incredible work. I went to see what else the guy had done (besides the video) and there was the Hitcher (the remake that is, Sean Bean Hitcher, not Rutger Hauer Hitcher). Anyway, lemme know what you thought of the movie – Im pretty curious. Just in an academic sense, because I am kinda biased about music video directors doing movies, generally. But this Pink Video was so incredible looking, now I am curious.

I am headed back to LA on Tuesday. Been just a few days since I got back, it feels like, and I am already headed back to LA. Which is OK. Its for a good reason. We are about to lock someone very key to Slaughter. Can’t say more than that, but its exciting and very big news.

The apt in LA is coming in very handy, it seems. Would have been spending a lot of money with all the time out there. If I can only make it a bit nicer. Any readers in LA or thereabouts who wanna help out with that, would be great.

When I get out there, I have a meeting on the Warner Studios lot. First time for me to go to a studio lot. Ive been to offices for a major (New Line on Robertson), but this will be a first for me. I may have a meeting at Universal as well, but one thing at a time.

I hate flying. Have I mentioned that. Uggh.

Oh, so by the way, everyone who reads this know that Heidi, the frequent commenter (especially when stuff concerns her or misogynist horror movies) . She’s an actress. She was in Hot Baby. And now, with Digger coming up, well, to me, Heidi being from Connecticut and all, you know.

But apparently, Heidi doesn’t know I am working on the movie, does she? I spoke to someone we both know, and Heidi told em all about the movie, Digger, which I’ve been working on for a year. I thought she knew I was working on it. But this person in common was like, hey, you’re working on that, that’s cool. I guess that while Heidi is kind enough to weign in on the blog here and there, well, I don’t rate top billing on the producer’s list. Probably because I am so abusive. Maybe I should try to be nicer.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Nite

Not much to say. Going scouting on Digger up in Connecticut on Tuesday.

Dunno if you’ve seen any of the press on Digger. Its being reported that the Material Girl is a producer on the movie. In like 17 languages. I mean, she’s more than welcome, but I don’t think she’s really gonna produce the movie. But all over the world, in languages I cannot even identify, cunning linguist that I am, that’s the translation.

Google it. Go ahead, I cannot believe how many hits. Just try it…Google John A. Gallagher Digger Maverick. Holy Canoli.

So we’re going up to Connecticut on Tuesday to look at some locations. The woods. The college. The graveyard. Spooky huh?

I’ll let ya know how it goes.