MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS ABOUT HORROR FLICKS!
As horror fans, we obviously all love horror movies! And sometimes the horror movies we watch are even about a horror movie, is a movie within a movie, or about the making of one. So, here are twelve horror flicks…and they are not all classics…that are about horror flicks!
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Woman have always played a role in horror. Whether it be fiendish femme fatales, the damsels of yesteryear or the final girls of the modern era, they have always played a part. As this is Women In Horror Month, I’ve decide to look back at the past year and some very strong roles/performances from the ladies. 2014 was an exemplary year for female horror roles, as there were a lot of very strong performances from actresses in the lead parts of some of the year’s best flicks…and some movies where the performances was the only thing worth watching for. Which to me is solid proof that the ladies ruled horror in 2014!…
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The Town That Dreaded Sundown is considered a classic and has a reputation but, personally, I don’t get it. Maybe it’s that I finally have caught up with it now and not back in the day when it made it’s impact but, I found the film dull and even silly at times.
The film takes place in 1946 Texarkana, Arkansas and is based on a real series of murders (check out Killer Legends for the scoop on the real case) that happened in that year and area by an individual that was dubbed “The Phantom Killer”. This horror flick dramatizes the events with a pseudo-documentary format, complete with monotone narration, as this small town becomes immobilized with fear as a masked killer stalks the night. In the actual case, the killer was never caught and his activities ceased as mysteriously as they began. The film version follows the small town’s Deputy (Andrew Prine) as he teams with a notorious Texas Ranger (Ben Johnson) to try and catch this madman.
Charles B Pierce (Legend Of Boggy Creek) directs Earl E. Smith’s script with a very slow pace, which would be alright if it wasn’t also given such a deadpan tone. The documentary-like structure robs the film of any real intensity or atmosphere as it comes off like one of those old fashioned school warning films that you can watch on Youtube. The only time the film livens up is for some really obtrusive comic relief sequences surrounding a bumbling deputy nicknamed “Sparkplug” (ironically played by director Pierce). These sequences stick out like a sore thumb, though and the silly slapstick completely undermines the dreadfully serious tone of the rest of the film. They almost seem like they are from a completely different movie and really have no place in a flick that is trying to present a series of horrific events that should be taken seriously. The killings are disturbing and bloody but, nothing that really had impact enough to really grab me, though that can be forgiven as they are based on fact. For the most part I was bored and very disappointed but, not being a big fan of Pierce’s Boggy Creek either… which suffered from the same problems… it wasn’t all that much of a surprise. Maybe in the 70s this was considered a disturbing flick but, now it’s tame, dull and, at it’s worst points, very silly. With a chilling real series of events to base this on, it’s sad how little this film captures the horror of what actually happened and fails to really bring to life the fear with which it gripped a small town community.
The cast, which also includes Gilligan’s Island’s Dawn Wells, all perform with the same monotone as the film’s narration by Vern Stierman. Prine and Johnson are veteran actors but, here they seem like they are just going through the motions with Johnson giving a bit of arrogance and pompousness to his Texas Ranger but, far from his usual rich character work. The only actor who shows some life is, unfortunately Pierce whose comic bits mimic Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. Wells plays one of the killers victims who survives and as most of her role is screaming and crying, she’s fine. A decent cast but, sadly without the guidance of a more sure-handed director.
So basically, I found little to like about this crime/horror thriller and it’s reputation is a mystery to me. It’s slow moving, has little atmosphere and what little effect the murder sequences have, is eradicated by shamelessly slapstick comic relief performed by the director himself. It’s sad that a film based on actual events that are chilling on their own, couldn’t make effective use of a plot that is already written in real history. Watch the documentary Killer Legendsfor a far more effective segment on the actually events that inspired this ‘classic’ film. There is currently a remake… that sounds more like a sequel… in release that sounds like it could be a lot better or at least a far more entertaining film.
Just a short while ago, I took a look back here at a very disturbing 2010 documentary called Cropseyabout the real-life disappearances of five children in Staten Island and the urban legend it spawned. Now from Chiller TV, the director of Cropsey Joshua Zeman, is back with a new and equally unsettling documentary taking on four more classic urban legends and the real-life crimes that inspired them. Zeman and researcher Rachel Mills travel across the U.S. and dig deep to find the truth that inspired some of America’s most chilling campfire tales…and truth is always scarier then fiction.
Zeman and Mills first travel to Texarkana to investigate a series of brutal murders of teens at a popular make-out spot that occurred in 1946 and inspired not only the urban legend of the “Hookman” but the chilling horror classic The Town That Dreaded Sundown. We get another chilling investigation into a series of attacks and murders by a man dubbed “The Phantom”, a crime spree that was never solved and even more unsettling is how the town is still haunted by these horrific events decades later and it has provoked some equally disturbing customs from the residents.
Zeman and Mills then travel to Houston, Texas to investigate the murder of a little boy poisoned by tainted Halloween candy and quite possibly the case that started the popular fear-inducing Halloween urban legends of candy filled with glass, razor blades and poisons…of which there are actually no recorded incidents aside from this sad tale. We learn of the death of 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan in 1974 and the intense police investigation which culminated in the arrest, conviction and eventual execution of the “Candyman”, the man who poisoned the Pixie Stick that lead to Timothy’s death and the start of these scary Halloween tales. Even more shocking was the man’s name was Ronald Clark O’Bryan…the boy’s own father. Proving the most frightening ghouls and goblins are the ones living in our very own backyards.
The duo next take us to Columbia, Missouri to tackle the popular urban legend of babysitters being stalked by unknown fiends with the heartbreaking rape and murder of young Janett Christman in 1950, who was sexually assaulted and strangled while babysitting for a local family. We are treated to an investigation that finds how the popular urban legend was fueled by the possibility that the same man may have committed a number of similar crimes and was never caught…though some unfortunate individuals were blamed for his heinous acts. Even more chilling is their research points to a man who was questioned, but never connected to the crimes…a man some of the victims knew as a neighbor and friend. This segment was particularly disturbing to think that someone got away with murdering these poor young women and actually might have lived among them in plain sight.
Our final segment is sure to send goosebumps rippling up and down arms with a story touching on the fear of clowns and some really creepy clown cases and tales from the windy city of Chicago. For decades Chicago has suffered reports of clowns driving around in white vans trying to lure children inside and even more disturbing is that there are actually police reports and eye-witness accounts of this occurring…and the reports suggest there were more than one of these ‘clowns’ stalking the city. Thankfully, no children were abducted…that we know of. It’s a case that has never been solved. We also get an in-depth look into a city that was home to the world famous Bozo The Clown show and to perhaps the spookiest clown creep of them all…John Wayne Gacy, who was convicted of killing over 30 people. Where did the fear of clowns originate?…Chicago apparently!
All these stories are given some very thorough investigations by the documentary filmmaker and his researcher. We get some bone-chilling facts, shocking crime scene photos, interviews with those involved and visits to some of the actual locations which these real-life crimes and occurrences took place. It’s very informative and the information provided can really be unnerving as we find the true start to some popular urban legends and the movies they inspired. And Zeman and Mills take us on this journey of discovery, eagerly trying to get to the bottom of these cases from which some of our culture’s scariest bedtime stories have spawned. They dig deep and it’s not only fascinating, but also quite horrifying that, in most cases, the perpetrators were never caught, or worse still, the wrong person was charged or suspected of the crime. And what better way to start an urban legend than an unsolved real incident! Zeman and Mills are more then happy to give us some hauntingly all-too-real facts that will make one sleep with a light on, far more effectively than any movie or bedtime story. A very effective and disturbing documentary that chills and informs equally.