We claw our way into the Top 30 tonight as the Countdown of My 100 Favorite Horror Movies rolls on to its climax on All Hallow’s Eve.
33. The Curse of the Werewolf
Most of the younger generation’s introduction to Oliver Reed came via 2000’s Gladiator as he portrayed Proximo in his last on screen performance. He died before the film’s release. This legendary actor’s performance as Leon in Hammer’s The Curse of the Werewolf is obviously my favorite performance of his.
In the late 1950s, Hammer Studios decided to re-invent Universal Horror, with remakes and reboots of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy. The effort would not have been complete without a werewolf film. Again, I am not one for genre-bending, however, this film, directed by Terence Fisher, dares to be different and that’s one of the things I like about it. John Landis borrows heavily from this movie for 1981’s American Werewolf in London.
The make-up effects alone make this movie worth the watch. The more I see and read about this movie makes me like it that much more. It is set in Spain, another element that sets it apart from other werewolf films.
George Romero directed this fantastic anthology featuring an all-star cast including Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook (The Fog), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Swamp Thing), and E.G. Marshall. Several tales inspired by and tied together by a vagabond horror comic book are depicted. Ted Danson also stars. The Crate, featuring Holbrook, Barbeau and Fritz Weaver, may just be the best horror short ever filmed.
Danson and Gaylen Ross team up to get revenge on Nielsen, Marshall plays a tycoon tormented by insects in his supposedly secure penthouse apartment, Ed Harris appears in a story called Father’s Day, and Stephen King, who wrote the screenplay, stars in his own short about a rube who finds a meteorite that changes, well, everything.
I do like horror anthologies and I think this is the best one ever made.
31. The Ring
After a slew of films in which a person who develops medium-like abilities is enlisted to help a spirit find its way in the afterlife after a horrific crime, you’d think this film was in the same vein. However, the creepy little girl from beyond really is evil and should be left in the well.
The premise of the deadly videotape and the evil spirit reaching out with murderous intent makes for a good horror flick. This is borrowed from a Japanese original and it is very well done. There was influx of Japanese horror films that Hollywood just had to remake to varying degrees of success. I like Naomi Watts and she is excellent in this. She was very much in demand after this film. Martin Henderson (Smokin’ Aces) also stars.
Unless it is done a throwback, I am not exactly sure how this could ever be rebooted. I doubt a haunted Netflix stream would work the same way as a bewitched video tape. The sequels didn’t quite measure up to the quality of the original.
I could have included any number of 1950s giant bug movies in the countdown, but then I would have to sacrifice other great films. So, I decided on Tarantula as my absolute favorite. It’s dark and ominous, it has a mad scientist, a damsel in distress and an uncredited Clint Eastwood.
After a scientist’s experiments go horribly awry, a giant tarantula is set loose on the unsuspecting countryside. After draining cattle and a few of the locals dry, the military is called in to do deal with the menace. A squadron of U.S. Air Force fighters, led by the aforementioned Eastwood, takes the enormous arachnid down. Directed by Jack Arnold and featuring John Agar and Mara Corday, Tarantula speaks to me for some reason.
The 1950s were replete with giant bug movies and I do enjoy quite a few of them – Them! The Deadly Mantis, The Black Scorpion, Earth vs the Spider, et al, but Tarantula is my favorite.