Category Archives: Entertainment

5 Great Horror Anthology Movies

Looking for some good horror anthology movies other than the Amicus ones? Well, here are five you might like to check out:

Dead of Night (1945) – This black-and-white masterpiece was the first real horror portmanteau movie. Martin Scorsese once described it as “the granddaddy of all horror anthology films.” The Ealing Studios production certainly has some real creepy moments, and in the tradition of all good horror portmanteau flicks, it has an excellent framing story concerning an architect (Mervyn Johns) who arrives for an appointment at a house he’s never visited before. However, it’s not long before he realises he has vivid recollections of the place and all the people gathered in it from a dream. Then, one by one, each guest relates their own strange experience, as an oppressive sense of impending doom grows in the house. Among the tales told are “Golfing Story” and “The Haunted Mirror” (which features the lovely Googie Withers). But the story that really stands out in Dead of Night is “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”, in which Michael Redgrave plays a performer who is terrorised by his wooden partner.

Black Sabbath (1963) – No, not the group, but the movie. Starring the Master of Horror himself, Boris Karloff, as the framing-story narrator (as well as appearing in one of the tales himself as a Russian vampire), this portmanteau classic brings you three stories: “The Telephone,” “The Wurdalak,” and “The Drop of Water.” The English language version of the movie differs somewhat from the Italian one, although both versions are extremely effective Gothic chillers.

Trilogy of Terror (1975) – This is the made-for-television movie that is especially noted for its story “Amelia,” in which Karen Black is terrorised by a malevolent fetish Zuni doll. Produced by Dan Curtis and based on a trio of short stories by Richard Matheson, Trilogy of Terror is an extremely entertaining, fun film, and if you ever manage to come across a copy on DVD – especially the Special Edition one released by MPI Home Video – I would highly recommend that you snap it up for your collection, as it is well worth having. A sequel, Trilogy of Terror 2, was released in 1996, in which the crazed Zuni doll returns in the story “He Who Kills,”, this time to terrorise a young female doctor.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – The ideal horror anthology to watch on Halloween night, as its title seems to suggest. Bearing some similarities to Stephen King’s Creepshow in its comic book credits, this movie was initially planned for a theatre release by Warner Brothers for Halloween 2007, but this fell through and so the film just went straight to DVD in 2009. A highlight of the movie is the story starring True Blood actress Anna Paquin, who plays a virginal Red Riding Hood-turned-supernatural-being. The busload of severely disturbed kids and Dylan Baker as a sinister school principal are other memorable, creepy segments. The four stories are tied together by a mysterious child trick-or-treater called Sam, who wears shabby orange pyjamas with a burlap sack over his head. This entity shows up in all the stories whenever someone flouts Halloween traditions. Over the years, Trick ‘r Treat has amassed quite a cult following.

Grave Tales (2011) – In the tradition of the old British Amicus movies, Grave Tales is a great little portmanteau film which, the instant I saw it, I just HAD to add to my DVD collection. Quite a difficult movie to fin, Grave Tales stars Brian Murphy (who played George Roper in Man About The House and George and Mildred) as an old gravedigger who’s eager to share creepy stories with a visiting genealogist (Heather Darcy), each of which relates to a certain grave in the cemetery. There are four stories in all – “One Man’s Meat,” “Callistro’s Mirror,” “The Hand,” and “Dead Kittens.” – and they are all brilliant. The late, great Christopher Lee actually starred in the original theatre release, but does not appear in the DVD release.

TThe Little Horror Movies That Could

Contrary to popular belief, good horror is not dead. There are still a few filmmakers out there who, despite restricted budgets and lack of major studio backing, have not forgotten how to scare the crap out of us. Here is a list of excellent horror films you probably haven’t heard of.

Shutter (2004): This is the original Thai version (shut up and deal with the subtitles). A young couple think they have hit and killed a woman with their car. Maybe. Discovering the answer will be the most fun you’ve had in a long time. You will jump out of your skin at least once, guaranteed, and you will be utterly creeped out by the ending. This is one of my all-time favorites.

Baghead (2008): Super low-budget quickie that surprised the hell out of me. A new twist on the friends-stuck-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods story, this one keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing until the final frame. You’ll think you know what’s going on. You won’t.

Automaton Transfusion (2006): Strangest name for a zombie flick I’ve ever heard. The story isn’t anything new, but it’s fast, frantic, and chock full of excellent gore. The people who made it are obviously true fans of the genre. It does leave you hanging a bit at the end, but the sequel is due out later this year.

Dog Soldiers (2002): British horror yarn about a group of soldiers on a training mission in a remote forest. Predictably, they find themselves hunted by something. What that something is and how it came to be there is the unpredictable part. The humor was a nice surprise. This film’s a lot of fun.

Mum & Dad (2008): Another Brit flick, this one’s pretty disturbing. A family lives next to Heathrow airport and occasionally lure some of its young employees to their house. What’s done to them is not easily described. Suffice it to say they aren’t given milk and cookies. Try to make it through to the end because the payoff is outstanding.

Feast (2005): Think Tremors on crystal-meth. Disparate group of folks holed up in a desert tavern fending off some very nasty critters. This movie does not follow the rules and revels in it. What other movie gleefully kills off the hero in the first five minutes? A word of warning: avoid the sequels like they were the bubonic plague.

Bubba Ho-tep (2002): The most bizarre premise for a horror movie, ever. Normally, just by saying a movie stars Bruce Campbell is enough for any horror fan. You’ll need more with ths one. Bruce plays an elderly Elvis (living in a nursing home with JFK, no less) who takes it upon himself to defend it from an, um, evil mummy. Not weird enough for you? Ossie Davis plays JFK.

Below (2002): How many haunted house movies have you seen that take place on a submarine? Exactly. It’s very well done and spooky as hell.

Dead Birds (2004): Another high concept film. Civil War-era bank robbers hide out in a secluded, and abandoned, mansion. Creepiness ensues. The ending will either leave you scratching your head or completely freaked out. Be aware: there are corn fields.

Deathwatch (2002): Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame stars in this shocker about a band of WWI soldiers who get trapped in a series of trenches behind German lines. They begin to die, one by one, and it’s not a spoiler to reveal the killing is not being done by any of the Kaiser’s men. The film’s grimy, smoky, and bloody well done.

There you have it. You can stop sitting on the dog now. There are many more good little horror movies out there and I will cull the dregs and bring more titles as I find them.

A Look at Popular Horror Movies

Human beings enjoy being scared, under controlled circumstances. There is a certain thrill in experiencing fear, yet knowing that we are in no real danger. We ride roller coasters and engage in extreme sports, all for the thrill of the fear. One of the most popular ways of thrilling ourselves is through horror movies, a thriving industry rich in history and fear.

As a very large part of the movie industry, the horror genre contains many smaller sub-genres, all aimed to scaring the audience and providing a thrilling, yet fearful experience. Although taste in horror films will differ from person to person, there are some movies that are widely considered crowning achievements of the genre. Take a moment and familiarize yourself with these epic horror movies.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, widely considered the king of horror literature, the film adaptation of “The Shining” is often considered the crowning achievement of horror movies. Light on gore, but heavy on atmosphere and tension, the film provides a frightening experience that does not end when the movie is over. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the plot follows the developing madness of a failed novelist who succumbs to insanity after a long winter in a vacant, haunted hotel.

A faithful exploration of the 1971, best selling novel by William Peter Blatty, “The Exorcist” has been a pinnacle of fear since its release. The film follows the story of a young girl who has been possessed by demons. Directed by William Friedkin, the film offers some of the most sensational and frightening scenes in the history of cinema.

Inducing many irrational fears of water, the psychological thriller “Jaws” is an extremely popular movie that revolves around the terror a large shark causes to a community. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film is full of classic scenes and memorable lines that put the movie into an elite category as one of the most frightening films of all time.

Director John Carpenter gave birth to the American “slasher” genre with the release of the movie “Halloween”. Spawning countless imitators and sequels, the film focuses on the traumatic relationship between a brother and sister, to put it mildly. The brother, a mysterious, unexplored murderer, rampages through a small town, butchering everyone in sight in an effort to kill his estranged sister.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is also a frightening pillar of the horror genre. Director Wes Craven crafted this intense horror film around a nightmare-stalking psychopath by the name of Freddy Krueger. The film takes on a new premise in the horror industry, as the protagonist attacks his victims when they are the most vulnerable, while they sleep. Krueger become a pop culture icon in the 80’s, and continues to inspire imitations and sequels.

Many people have differing tastes in horror films. However, there are many frightening achievements that stand the test of time, terrorizing people even to this day. The horror industry has been around for decades, and does not appear to be slowing down.

Mr. Vampire Asia Horror Movie You Must Watch

Before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, True Blood and of course Twilight took to our big and small screens, audiences mostly thought of vampires as the horrifying image brought vividly to life by the late Sir Christopher Lee as Count Dracula with his bloodshot eyes and scary fangs, rather than the modern, romanticised version with teenage good looks and sculpted six-pack abs that would be a dream to date and make out with. And just as Sir Christopher Lee was memorable as the fanged fiend, so too was Sir Peter Cushing as his arch nemesis Van Helsing, the original slayer before there was Buffy.

The horrors of vampires are of course not limited to the West, i.e. Hollywood. Here in the East, we too have our version, but instead of sharp toothed demons, Eastern vampires known as “jiang shi” (translated as petrified corpses) are hopping Qing Dynasty garbed zombies with outstretched arms. Based on Chinese legends and folklore, these nocturnal creatures might look silly and laughable, but they are certainly not to be underestimated as they kill any living beings in order to absorb their life essence or “qi”. As for their nemesis, ask any Hong Kong film fan and you’re likely to get the same answer – the Taoist priest played by the late Lam Ching Ying, our very own “Van Helsing of the East”.

Starting from the very first Mr. Vampire film in 1985, Lam Ching Ying memorably made the role of Gau Suk the vampire slaying Taoist priest his own and even received his very first nomination as Best Supporting Actor at the 5 th Hong Kong Film Awards that year for the role. Thereafter, he continued reprising the iconic role not only in the many sequels but also numerous spin-offs both on film as well as on TV that followed the film, so much so that it solidified and some would say typecast him as the Taoist priest of all Taoist priests in the cinematic world. So memorable was his legacy that the 2013 film Rigor Mortis that successfully revived the “jiang shi” film genre was proclaimed a tribute to Mr. Vampire film franchise and him.

Besides Lam, this film franchise was also responsible for sky-rocketing the many film careers of Ricky Hui, Chin Siu Ho, Anthony Chan Yau, Wu Ma, Pauline Wong, Loi Fong, amongst many others, who either portrayed Lam’s vampire-fighting disciples, fellow or rival Taoist priests or ghosts in the film series or spin-offs. In fact, Chin and Chan even went on to star in the latest Rigor Mortis, now veterans, coming full circle from their original roles in the 1985 original film.

Horror Movies That Feel Real

Anyone who enjoys watching horror films will agree that even within fans of the genre there are factions. There are people who enjoy the more graphic, bloody horror movies. Some are fans of Natural Horror, that is movies where nature turns against human beings and throws out super-natural creatures and plants to kill and eat us. Some insist that the movie must have a rock solid plot, some are hot for hauntings, and yet others are suckers for “Based on a True Story”. Each fan club insists that their kind is the only kind that is worth watching, but producers and studios still continue to populate each sub-genre equally.

The scariest of all these sub-categories is, for obvious reasons, movies that feel real. Movies in which you cannot keep the filter of “It’s just a movie” on, and get totally immersed in the story. A lot of films have done justice to this genre.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) changed the game as far as horror movies went. It set many records at the time, including a Guinness World Record for Top Budget: Box Office Ratio- a sleeper hit if there was ever one. Shot over eight days, the film tells the story of three college kids who go into a forest to explore the legend of the Blair Witch and are never heard of again. Only the footage, which is the film, is found. It doesn’t get more real than that! The makers worked really hard to make sure that the film felt authentic, keeping the actors in the dark about many things that were going to happen in the woods. This ensured that the reactions were genuine and that much more credible. It also ensured that a lot of people were scared of going near the forest for a long time!

The Japanese and Koreans know horror like nobody else. Some of the creepiest horror movies in Hollywood are re-makes of films in those languages. Most fans of the genre would have at least heard of A Tale of Two Sisters (a Korean film from 2003) and definitely watched The Ring (the Japanese version or the Hollywood one). This film is about a video that leads to the death of all who watch it within a week of viewing it. While the actual film has not been shot realistically, the story is told convincingly enough to make you really iffy about watching the video.