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The 411 Movies Top 5 04.05.13: Week 368 - Top 5 Cult Horror Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 04.05.2013

Welcome to Week 368 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: The remake of Evil Dead comes out this week. While there is no telling if that movie will match up to the originals, let's go back to the original this week. It remains one of the most beloved cult horror classics of all time. With that in mind, this week's Top 5 is your favorite cult horror classics of all time. For the purpose of this, we are not looking at mainstream favorites like Friday the 13th and Halloween, we are looking at stuff from Stuart Gordon, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson and older stuff like the original Blob and movies like that. These are movies that horror fanatics and film geeks know about but the trendy kid in school has never seen.


Bryan Kristopowitz

Honorable Mentions: The Collection (2012), The Crazies (), The Dead Undead (2010), Stake Land (2010), Live Evil (2009), Drive Thru (2007), Black Cadillac (2003), The Wraith (1986), I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Deadly Friend (1986), Zombie (1979), Re-Animator (1985), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Toxic Avenger (1984), Silent Rage (1982)

5. The Blob (1958)

The Chuck Russell directed 1988 remake of The Blob is a brilliant, scary, nasty goddamn movie. If you haven't seen it, for the love of God you need to track it down and see it. And while you're picking up that movie, be sure to check out the 1958 original starring Steve McQueen (the Steve McQueen). The original isn't as balls-to-the-wall scary as the remake, but it does manage to get under your skin anyway. The monster, the blob in the title, is some red black purple, well, blob thing, that just keeps coming and coming, consuming everything in its path. If you start to think about what you're watching and how it basically can't be stopped (it can be stopped, but if you haven't seen it I don't want to spoil the solution for you) it starts to freak you out. And, of course, there's the famous movie theatre scene, where the blob infiltrates a packed theatre and starts consuming.

The movie also has the kind of "fun" atmosphere and bit of innocence that's essentially gone from modern horror and science fiction movies. You very rarely, if ever, see a horror movie any more that, without being snarky, is "fun." I think it would be fabulous if we saw a movie like that made today, just to shake things up a bit.

4. Phantasm (1979)

Writer-director Don Coscarelli unleashed on the world one of the weirdest horror movies of all time back in 1979. Essentially, it's a movie about a young boy (A. Michael Baldwin) being chased by a terrifying undertaker known as The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) for some reason. There are killer demon midgets in robes, flying silver spheres that drill holes into people's heads, and an overall sense of dread. Because you're never really sure what the hell is going on. I still don't quite understand this movie or its three sequels, but I can't stop watching them. I know there's something large going on, something potentially mind blowing, but I just haven't figured it all out yet. Hopefully, Coscarelli is able to do another one. It's been way too long since The Tall Man battled Reggie the ice cream truck driver.

3. Anguish (1987)

I first saw Anguish on cable, on The Movie Channel back in either 1989 or 1990, and it freaked me the hell out. And just thinking about it now freaks me out. It's a movie about a sad sack loser, played by Michael Lerner, who, after being hypnotized by his wacko mother (the Zelda Rubinstein), goes on a killing spree, cutting out people's eyes for his mother's collection. When we see Lerner's character enter a movie theatre and methodically kill people with chloroform and remove their eyes with a scalpel, there's just no goddamn hope. No one is stopping this guy, and there probably is no stopping this guy. Lerner is so goddamn sleazy that he makes you sick. And Rubinstein is terrifying as his mother.

And then there's the big reveal at the end. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that the ending isn't a cheat. It seems like a cheat, but it isn't. It's just one more mindfuck for you to deal with.

Anguish is amazing, and deserves some kind of revival. Or at least a slightly bigger audience. It'll mess you up.

2. The Evil Dead (1981)

Director Sam Raimi's horror movie debut was technically surpassed by its 1987 sequel, but the original The Evil Dead still packs a punch. It's a movie about people who go into the woods, accidentally unleash unspeakable evil, and then try to survive. It's got wacked out zombies that can't be killed unless they're completely dismembered, a demonic book, blood and nastiness, and a woman is raped by an evil tree. When was the last time you saw something as insane as that?

1. Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Maniac Cop 2 is one of the best horror sequels ever made. It takes the basic premise of the original, a disgraced, believed dead cop goes on a killing spree where he helps criminals and kills innocent people, and amps it up. There's more action, more gore, more spectacle (the car stunt, where Claudia Christian's character is handcuffed to the side of a runaway car as it makes its way through the streets of New York City, still hasn't been duplicated in low budget moviedom). Robert Z'Dar kicks ass once again as the Maniac Cop Matt Cordell, Robert Davi shows up as a badass cop hot on the trail of figuring out what the heck Cordell is really up to, Michael Lerner sleazes things up as the police commissioner, Leo Rossi shows up as a serial killer with a thing for strippers, Clarence Williams III is a prisoner, Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon return from the end of the first movie, and Charles Napier shows up to tell punks on TV that their time is up ("You can't con Con Edison"). Director William Lustig and writer Larry Cohen just did a great job with this movie. It still rocks.

Shawn S. Lealos

5. Re-Animator

Released in 1985, Stuart Gordon created his masterpiece with Re-Animator, a movie that turns the mad scientist story on its head. Jeffrey Combs stars as Herbert West, a college student who becomes obsessed with bringing creatures back from the dead. The film is based on an H.P. Lovecraft story and, honestly, Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs should be spoken of in the same breath as Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Plus, it includes a wonderful scene with a very sarcastic severed head.

4. Trick 'R Treat

An anthology movie from 2007, Trick 'r Treat tells interconnecting stories about a werewolf pack, a diminutive demonic killer and a all-too-human serial killer. Honestly, a lot of anthology horror movies have some good and some bad in them, but I really enjoyed Trick 'r Treat from start to finish. Dylan Baker was fantastic in the film and the little creature that strung through the movie and ended up as the iconic killer at the end was memorable as well. This movie is not all about the horror, but it is about the fun in horror. The studio pushed the movie back, with no idea how to market it, and eventually dumped off onto DVD, where it became a wonderful addition to any cult movie library.

3. Fido

The Canadian zombie film Fido was released in 2006 and flew under the radar in the United States. The movie is set in an alternate world, where everything is colorful and pretty, like a "Donna Reed" styled television comedy, but there is a lingering darkness as the movie takes place after a zombie apocalypse. The humans won the war and a company created collars that allow the humans to control the zombies as slaves. This is the story of a boy and his pet zombie, Fido. While there are recognizable faces, such as Dylan Baker (again) as the father who is scared of zombies and Carrie-Anne Moss as the mother, it is Billy Connolly as Fido who is the true star of the movie. It is a comedy with some nice gore and some very funny moments. Sure, Shaun of the Dead is the zombie comedy everyone loves, but Fido can stand tall next to it and carry its own.

2. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

A mockumentary-styled slasher movie, Leslie Vernon has a documentary crew following a serial killer as he shows them how he goes about his business. The movie pays homage to many different slasher movies, as Vernon shows why certain staples of the genre happen in every movie. I love everything about the first part of this movie, from Leslie showing how slasher killers do the seemingly impossible things in movies to the fantastic winks at its own genre conventions. The second half is where it loses some fans, as it turns into a basic slasher movie with Leslie hunting down the film crew themselves. It's similar to another cult horror classic Man Bites Dog, as the camera crew somewhat becomes accomplices in the murders before this point, but seems to chicken out at the end and make them the next victims. Despite this, the movie - as a whole - is a fantastic deconstruction of the slasher genre and one of the best tongue-in-cheek horror movies ever made.

1. Evil Dead

While the second Sam Raimi Evil Dead movie sits near the top of many people's charts of the best horror movies of all-time, the first one remains a great cult horror movie classic. Shot on a very low budget, Raimi and Bruce Campbell used creative filming techniques to achieve a charming feel to a very scary horror film. Sure, a lot of people think of the franchise as horror comedies (splatstick), but the first one was never meant to be funny and is just a straight forward horror movie with some great practical effects and fun stop motion animation for a number of scenes. The second movie adds a lot of money to the project and adds the humor everyone loves, but nothing beats the original in my eyes.


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