Undead, Shapeshifters and a God

We are getting close horror fans. We cross into the Top 15 and the films are as eclectic as your humble narrator. From the undead to giant monsters, tonight’s four-pack will leave you shivering.

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George Romero defined the zombie genre for generations to come with this low-budget, black and white chiller. Previously, most zombies were voodoo-commanded revenants. Romero changed all that adding a science fiction element.

The crush of the weight of the mob of zombies, the desperate people holed up in the farmhouse boarding up doors and windows, the coward who falters at the wrong moment, Night of the Living Dead set the standard and the formula for the modern-day zombie film.

Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea star in what is widely considered a genre-defining horror masterpiece. Often imitated, never duplicated.

MV5BNTYzMDk3MzIyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTM2OTE4MzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,634,1000_AL_16. An American Werewolf in London

Quite possibly the greatest werewolf movie ever made.  John Landis directed this award-winning gem starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, Brian Glover (Alien III).

Naughton and Dunne play college students backpacking across Europe who stop in at a pub on the English countryside. After a weird experience with the locals, the boys set out again. Dunne is mauled to death by a werewolf and Naughton is injured. He transforms during the next full moon in the greatest werewolf transformation scene ever filmed. 

Agutter plays the sympathetic nurse that falls for Naughton’s character and tries to help him. John Woodvine is great as the London doctor who also tries to help. 

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Let’s see … Jason Patric (son of Jason Miller, The Exorcist’s Father Damien Karras), Keifer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, the two Coreys, an awesome soundtrack, vampires … what’s not to like?

Set in Santa Carla, Calif., (actually Santa Cruz, along the beach boardwalk), vampires take up residence and they are recruiting. Well done in a manner that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s heavy with lighthearted moments. This film explores the seduction of the life a vampire offers and the struggle to maintain humanity.

Soundtrack spoiler, this is a bit of a pet peeve – it’s Echo and the Bunnymen’s version of People are Strange over the closing credits, not The Doors. That being written, I think this film has the best horror movie soundtrack in movie history.

MV5BMjAzNTk3MTc2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzI5MzU5MTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,697,1000_AL_14. Godzilla/Gojira

If you don’t think Godzilla is a horror film go back and watch it again. The original, not the Americanized release of the original with Raymond Burr. An allegory for the nuclear nightmare unleashed on Japan during World War II, Godzilla is awakened and rampages throughout Japan. The destruction he brings is portrayed poignantly as we see the human cost of the monster’s mere existence.

Eventually Godzilla is defeated by a scientist, Daisuke Serizawa, and a controversial weapon. The scientist sacrifices himself to vanquish the monster.

This film spawned one of the most successful movie franchises of all-time and Godzilla is enjoying a resurgence with Hollywood’s Monsterverse films – uneven quality, reviews and success, they are at least paying homage to the original movies.  The original is dark and apocalyptic. You can’t tell me it’s not a horror movie.



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