Oh, The Horror
Halloween. All Hallows’ Eve. Samhain. That’s right, folks, tis the season that smiles upon devilry and perversion. Here at 3D, we’re staunch supporters of both, and accordingly felt it our pagan duty to guide you on a cinematic journey through the terrifying, the bizarre and the just plan wrong. We have such sights to show you, so take a deep breath, our hand, and remember: it’s not fine to dislike horror movies; it’s weak. 3D’s Tristan Burke takes you to the dark side.
By way of easing you into our horror moviethon, let’s begin with a title that conforms to the definition only in term of quality: The Beastmaster (1982), from the mind behind the Phantasm series Don Coscarelli. Actually fitting more comfortably into the fantasy realm, this is the kind of film that belongs in the pantheon of greats if viewed at a tender age 10, and not for entirely naïve reasons. Though it features a warrior who discomfortingly looks like a member of the Master Race (The Beastmaster’s called Der Befreier in Germany, fact fans), he’s on a quest to destroy evil by harnessing the power of nature and talks animals into doing his bidding. Cool. It boasts lingering shots of slave girls’ unmentionables. Cooler. And its emotional centerpiece occurs when our Aryan hero’s ferret is killed. Moving on…
On the subject of blonde hair, blue eyes, let’s take a proverbial stab at John Carpenter’s Village Of The Damned, the 1995 adaptation of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos. You know, the one that finally saw a studio declare ‘budget be damned; we’re opening our pocket books and forking out for Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley and Mark Hamill. It’s what the fans want.’
Of course, it’s nothing of the sort. Village of The Damned is, however, unmitigated excrement; its fright-factor equal only to looking in a mirror and saying ‘blamonge’ five times, and a disaster that should’ve sent Carpenter into a frenzied bought of self-flagellation under the piercing glare of his alien childrens’ cold, dead, accusatory eyes.
Upping the standard, if not the production value, is the pleasantly grisly warning to trainee teachers everywhere, Class Of 1984 (1982). An eventually bloody battle of wills between a music tutor and the asbo youth who rules the school roost, on release the film drew one critic to declare, “It’s the class of 1982 – with herpes.” A slight, assumedly, though we prefer to think he inferred bite, sleepless nights and a lasting impression. You be the judge.
Now, onto a classic that requires little introduction, except to say it’s considered in the cinematic firmament to be the best film ever depicting a woman getting raped by a tree: The Evil Dead (1981). Though surpassed by its sequel/remake Dead By Dawn, the visceral overload of blood, entrails and violation by timber helped usher in the daisy age of ’80s horror. As for Bruce Campbell’s imperilled Ash, the chiselled boomstock-wielder with a wisecrack for every ghoul… hail to the king, baby.
Godfather of the undead, The George A Romero Collection boasts all Halloween’s dietary requirements: zombification, plague and blood-thirst. But while Dawn Of The Dead (1978) and to a lesser extent The Crazies (1973) are the more vaunted of the bunch, it’s the disquieting vampire – or is he- – tale Martin (1977), Romero’s own personal fave, which leaves arguably the biggest impression. Razor blades may replace fangs, but thematically it’s one of the most refreshing takes on a well-chewed genre.
Alas, our night is drawing to a close, but in honour of the occasion we thought it apt to leave you a word of warning should you decide to end your diabolical revelry by watching ‘rape romp in Rome’ epic Barbarian Queen (1985): no man can touch her naked steel. We tried; she castrated.
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
CLASS OF 1984
THE EVIL DEAD
THE GEORGE A ROMERO COLLECTION