Vampires, Crazy Birds, Witches, Weird Neighbors and Giant Bugs in Tonight’s Entry

Again, life gets in the way and I am playing catch up. We really are starting to get to the meat of my favorite horror films as the countdown continues.

  1. Screen shot 2015-10-24 at 11.07.45 PM Nosferatu – 1922

You know…we almost didn’t have this one. I first saw this in elementary school on an old 16mm projector. I don’t remember which teacher showed it or what grade, but I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful to whomever did not destroy every copy after Bram Stoker’s family successfully sued to have that happen. Max Schreck stars as Count Orlock and he is truly rat-like and frightening. This is atmospheric and suspenseful. My love of horror films began with this one.

  1. Shadow of the Vampire – 2000

Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich star in this interesting film that posits what if Max Schreck really was a vampire? Set during the filming of Nosferatu, Malkovich plays filmmaker F.W. Murnau and Dafoe portrays Schreck who basically eats his wasy through the film crew. Murnau grants Schreck way too many concessions in order to get his epic vampire opus made.

  1. Tarantula – 1955

John Agar stars in this giant bug movie. Remember what wrote in the prologue for this countdown? We were afraid of nuclear power in the 1950s and this movie is at the apex of the genre. An accident creates and absolutely enormous spider that terrorizes the countryside. I have found memories of watching this on a random Saturday afternoon when I was a kid.

  1. Them! – 1954

Before Tarantula there was Them! James Whitmore and The Thing veteran James Arness star in the this sci-fi horror classic as giant ants created by nuclear bomb testing make their way west to Los Angeles terrorizing the populace as they go. The Army is called in and the guys in green save the day.

  1. Damien: Omen II – 1978

The anti-christ is now ensconced in military school and is starting to figure out just who he is. William Holden and Lee Grant star in this fairly well done sequel. Jonathan Scott-Taylor is excellent as the now 13-year-old Damien, who starts to come into his own as the son of Satan under the guidance of some unlikely helpers. The Final Conflict with Sam Neill didn’t really do much for me. It’s okay, bit not worthy of the list.

  1. Suspiria – 1977

If you watch one Dario Argento film, watch this one. Murder and mayhem at a ballet school all orchestrated by, well, not what you’d expect. Oh, sure, read the IMDB synopsis for spoilers if you like. Or, just watch the movie. Jessica Harper stars as the unwitting American ballerina who travels to this school and is thrust into a world of the macabre. Horror veteran Udo Kier also stars.

  1. The People Under the Stairs – 1991

Wes Craven crafted a really good dark film with this one. Weirdos in the neighborhood kidnap and collect children. If a child doesn’t behave, he/she ends up mutilated and sent to the basement. Urban legend says the creeps are loaded and Ving Rhames plays the neighborhood crook who is going to get that money. A young boy saves the young girl destined to be the next to be sent to the basement. There is some great dark humor in this film and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

  1. The Birds – 1963

Rod Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette, Jessica Tandy, Veronica Cartwright (Alien) and Tippi Hedren star in this Alfred Hitchcock classic as flocks of birds inexplicably start attacking the townsfolk on the west coast of California. No explanation for the birds’ strange behavior is ever offered. The panic seems real throughout the movie. The sense of forboding is palpable and the anxiety builds as the main characters try to escape the vicious bird attacks.

  1. Dracula: Prince of Darkness – 1966

Christopher Lee reprises his role as the Count, Barbara Shelley also stars as two vacationing couples encounter the vampire to end all vampires. Dracula’s minion Klove resurrects him with the blood of one of the unwitting vacationers. This is another I like because I fondly remember watching it whenever it would come on TV by happenstance. I own it now and can watch it whenever I like.

  1. Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter – 1974

This film is one that I had largely forgotten about and found it again recently and remembered how much I liked it. This is one I often saw on USA Networks with Commander USA. Horst Janson is wonderful as Kronos, who travels from village to village eradicating vampires as he goes along. He picks up Caroline Munro as a traveling companion and the rest is Hammer Studios film history.

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