Mel’s Readings: August – September

SIGNS OF THE GODS?
Written by: Erich von Däniken
Read by: Peter Berkrot
Notes: A lot of what was in this book they’ve talked about in Ancient Aliens, but it was a fun read nonetheless. Crazy as all hell, but interesting.
Score: 8/10

SERIAL KILLERS: TRUE CRIME ANTHOLOGY 2014
Written by: Various, including Peter Vronsky and RJ Parker
Read by: Me
Notes: Enjoyed this one much more than the 2015 one, but that’s just because I didn’t have to listen to that droning voice reading it.
Score: 8/10

MAYA TO AZTEC: ANCIENT MEZOAMERICA REVEALED
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Awesome, awesome, awesome! If you have even only a passing interest in the Mayans and/or other Mezoamerican cultures, I highly recommend this set of lectures. It was over 23 hours, but I absolutely inhaled it, and got sad when I had to turn it off.
Score: 10/10

DEAD EVER AFTER
Written by: Charlaine Harris
Read by: Me
Notes: So I finally got around to reading the last of the Sookie Stackhouse books (that’s the books that True Blood was based on… in the beginning, anyways). And it was a fine conclusion to the story, all ends neatly clipped and taken care of. While she didn’t end up with the person I’d hope she’d spend her life with in the end, I can’t dislike it just for that (like I’ve read from other readers).
Score: 8/10

DEAD ICE
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Read by: Kimberly Alexis
Notes: Finally, a strong entry from the Anita Blake series. The series, now at 26 books, has been in steady decline, but looks like Hamilton is finally listening to her readers, and took Anita’s head out of her ass, and gave her stuff to do other than complain and have power-gaining orgies. In this book, Anita goes back to her roots, and Hamilton delivers a fine book filled with zombies, magic, and crazy bad guys. It would have had a perfect score, but Hamilton tends to repeat herself… a lot. A good 2 or 3 hours could have been shaved off the 20 hour reading time easily, I’m sure, and we’d have lost none of the current story.
Score: 8/10

GREAT PHARAOHS OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Written by: Bob Brier
Read by: Bob Brier
Notes: A little disappointed with this one, not because it’s uninteresting, but because it’s an almost word for word redux of certain lectures from his The History of Ancient Egypt, which I’d already listened to. Still gets a perfect score, though, because it is still an excellent set of lectures.
Score: 10/10

THE VIKINGS
Written by: Kenneth W Harl
Read by: Kenneth W Harl
Notes: Awesome beginning, meh middle, good end. The middle was meh because they went on and on about the Viking’s conversion to Christianity. The first lecture about it was fine. But then there were more; how Sweden converted, how Finland converted, how Norway converted, how Iceland converted, how… we get it, they converted, move on. And the, um, lecturer, uh, always seemed to, uh, need to, um, search for his, er, words. I got used to it, but it was annoying at first. There were also people occasionally heard in the background, and there was a constant humming sound, like he was right beside an AC or something.
Score: 7/10

THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
Written by: Garrett G Fagan
Read by: Garrett G Fagan
Notes: I really want to give this one a perfect score, cause it was so very interesting, but I can’t. Not with this lecturer. I did finally manage to get used to his way for speaking, but it took me half the course. He’d pause right in the middle of……. a sentence, for a real long time sometimes, too. But the course was so amazing that I’m only going to knock him half a point for it.
Score: 9.5/10

LOST WORLDS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Not quite as good as Maya to Aztec, but still very, very good. You can almost never go wrong with The Great Courses.
Score: 10/10

RED LAND, BLACK LAND
Written by: Barbara Mertz
Read by: Lorna Raver
Notes: Absolutely stunning portrayal of life in Ancient Egypt, told with perspective and humour. Excellent!
Score: 10/10

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Written by: Stephen Hawking
Read by: Michael York
Notes: Excellent, but rather repetitive if you, like I, have already read A Brief History of Time. Still, the man is brilliant, no denying that!
Score: 9/10

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Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones
(2013) Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Jemima West, Aidan Turner, CCH Pounder, Kevin Zegers, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Robert Maillet, Kevin Durand, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-Bones

I’ve wanted to see this film since it came out, yet at the same time, I didn’t. I’ve read the first two books of the series, and they were pretty darn good, especially for YA fare. It’s been recorded on my pvr for months now, but I kept passing it over for other stuff. But my sister begged to watch it (again), so this time I finally gave in. And I’m glad I did, it was much better than I was expecting. They changed it quite a bit, but that’s ok, since the memory of the book is kinda hazy. I remember certain scenes, but as a whole, it’s pretty much faded away. Which is good, otherwise I’d be more upset at the changes. The acting was alright, nothing really special, but all the actors were competent. The effects were pretty good too, if a little over-cgi’d in some parts, although the werewolves could have used a little more work, especially the teeth, which were atrocious. The characters all look like they’ve just stepped out of a music video, but I guess that’s ok, too. All in all, it was a fun little film, and gets a good 7/10 from me.

This film is not currently streaming on Netflix, but I’m sure it will be soon. Enjoy!

M.

Mel’s 5 Second TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 1

Penny Dreadful (2014 – now)
Season 1 cast: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani, Olivia Llewellyn, Olly Alexander, David Warner, Alex Price, Alun Armstrong

PENNY DREADFUL

So, I haven’t been keeping up to date on TV shows for a long time now. Even shows I love, like Supernatural and Doctor Who, I’ve completely slacked on. Not sure why. I still watch a lot of stuff, but it’s all documentaries and stuff like that. But slowly the fiction bug seems to be creeping back, with me watching more and more movies, and even some TV shows, like this one.

I’d been interested in it since the moment I heard of it (back when it was still in production, I did an article about teen hearthrobs, and Josh Hartnett was on the list), and I told myself I’d watch it when it came out. Of course, I didn’t. But speaking to my mother this weekend, she told me she tried to watch it, but couldn’t because it was too creepy. That immediately piqued my interest, and I just had to watch it.

Disappointingly, season 1 only has 8 episodes, but I absolutely devoured them, doing the whole thing in two sittings. I’d have done it all in one, but it was late, and I had to drive home the next day (3 hour drive), which is always hard on me. The setting and costumes are gorgeous, and the actors seemed perfectly suited for their roles. Even Josh Hartnett, who, despite his beauty, was never the best actor, has upped his game. The characters are all from classic horror, with Dr Frankenstein, Mina Harker, and a master vampire who has to be Dracula (but we still haven’t met him yet) rounding out the cast. And the story, there’s definitely no slouching in that department either, wonderfully complex yet simple at the same time. All said and done, this is, simply, a wonderful, wonderful show. 10/10. I can’t wait for season 2!

This series is currently streaming on Netflix Brazil, and is also on CraveTV. Enjoy!

M.

Review Club #3 – Dracula Untold

DraculaUntold

 

First up, here’s Rob from over at MovieRob:

I am by far not the biggest fan of movies in the horror genre, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed the “generic” stories of the “original” four; Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman and of course Dracula.

When this movie came out, I avoided it like the plague because I had heard so many crappy things about it that it just didn’t sound worthwhile to give it a watch.

…But then came Review Club

So I decided that worse comes to worse, I wasted 90 minutes on a movie (which happens now and again)

Instead, I found myself sucked in to the story, because it wasn’t a horror movie, it was instead a historical action/drama with a supernatural element to it.

I could empathize with the characters and although this isn’t a Braveheart or Gladiator, it was still a compelling movie about love, honor and protecting one’s family and loved ones.

This really is an interesting take on the Dracula myth and I liked how it all comes full circle at the end in order to open up the possibility of continuing the storyline.

It’s too bad that it seems that this will be the last of the series because the idea to reboot the “monster” franchises of days of old is a great idea.

7/10

 

Next up is Eric, from The IPC:

When I first saw the trailer for this, I blew it off as PG-13 CGI horseshit and never gave it another thought. Then I saw a couple of positive reviews from some writers I believe in and I was all “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!” You know – I dropped to my knees and aimed my head at the sky and screamed “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” much to the alarm of my co-workers. Eventually I composed myself and went on about my business and forgot that anything like that had ever happened and then Melanie started Movie Club and she took out her whip and snapped it a few times and said we had to watch this movie and I was all, knee dropping again and I screamed “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” But, I am loyal and faithful to my friends so I ordered it up and it wasn’t too bad, actually. But I wasn’t really in love with this:

DU1

The opening and first third of the film was pretty good and I was buying into it. I thought it got a little dodgy when he killed 1000 men by himself but…. OK…. the rest of the thing wasn’t too bad – that part where someone falls off of the tower was pretty good but there were too many “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” moments for me. Would I recommend it? MEH. It’s better than I thought it would be, for sure, but it’s still a movie about how Dracula became Dracula filled with lots of CGI and melodrama. It’s a better vampire movie than that one Twilight movie I watched.

3 out 5 Men Screaming NOs

DU2

 

We continue with Abbi, from abbiosbiston:

Luke Evans plays Vlad, a fifteenth century Transylvanian prince who was once part of the Turkish army after being offered up by his father as a kind of hostage (like they do in Game of Thrones) as a child. During his rule his kingdom has been at peace with the Turks, mostly by paying them off. When the Turkish king, Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) – or I think he was the king anyway – decides he wants a thousand boys for his army, including Vlad’s son (again played by the kid who played Rickon Stark – he’s everywhere), Vlad cannot bring himself to acquiesce. He’s outmanned and outmatched though so he makes a deal with a vampire (Charles Dance) to receive his powers for three days. If Vlad can stay off the old claret for that time he’ll go back to normal if not he’ll be forever changed and the vampire will be released from the cave he’s imprisoned in. Vlad finds himself almost unbeatable but also tortured by an unslakeable thirst. Will he be able to resist and will it all be enough to hold off Mehmed’s horde?

So Luke Evans is super hot and Vlad has some pretty epic powers – infrared vision, sonic hearing, star gazing, he can turn into a fleet of bats… but that is about all that is good about this lacklustre film. The dialogue is stilted, most of the acting is wooden and there is zero character development. This movie is only 92 minutes long but it feels like it goes on forever, probably because it’s hard to give even a single fuck about any of the characters. I didn’t care about Vlad or his inspid wife or Rickon Stark and I half wished the Turks just mowed them down in the first 10 minutes. Oh and what was up with Dominic Cooper playing a Turk? He’s about as convincingly Turkish as I am, and it didn’t help that he’s been taking accent lessons from the Tom Hardy school of sounding not very Russian at all. What a load of batshit. 1/5

 

And lastly, here’s mine:

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Dracula Untold
(2014) Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert

sunburn

This film was torn apart by the critics, getting the abysmal score of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience liked it a bit more, but still only gave it 59%, and only slightly better on IMDB, with a score of 6.4. And I truly don’t understand why. I thought it was great. No, it wasn’t Shakespeare, but really now, it wasn’t trying to be! Taken as what it is, a vampire action film, it succeeds very well. This origin story starts with the same base as a lot of the films, that Dracula was born from Vlad the Impaler, but everything else is rather new, and interesting. Most of the acting was quite good, the action scenes were fun (if a little over-CGI’d at times), and the characters were engaing enough to keep us caring about them. And yes, the two leads were plenty pleasant to look at. I’m a bit sad that then open end took us all the way into the present, I’d have liked another period piece as a sequel (if they do indeed decide to make one), but then again, Dracula films in the present are relatively few, so it’ll (hopefully) be something fresh. All in all, I thought this film was great fun, and it receives an equally great score of 8.5/10.

This film isn’t currently on Netflix, but is rentable on On Demand. Enjoy!

M.

 

And that’s it for this round! Join us again in 2 weeks for reviews of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters! 😀

Review Club #1 – Stake Land

Allo all my netizen friends! Welcome to the first edition of Review Club, and hopefully not the last! No ado needed, lets get right to it.

 

Stake_Land

Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris, Sean Nelson, Michael Cerveris, Bonnie Dennison

 

First up, the ever entertaining Eric, from The IPC.

STAKE LAND (2010)

The rendering of this review for Film Club kind of comes with some explanation. When I watched this, I absolutely hated every single piece of noise that came out of all of the character’s mouths. I hated the growly lead’s voice-noise, I hated the kid’s voice-over voice-noise, I hated the growling-noise that came from the vampires and I hated the main villain’s voice-noise. I hated it so much I wanted to start punching those noises. But I couldn’t because that would be insane, right? But, if I stop being an asshole and get over myself, I really enjoyed the scenery and the sets and the gore and my forever girlfriend Danielle Harris so I had to break out my Scales of Ma’at.

MAATSCALES

In one scale I placed a blackened heart, pulled from the body of a Canadian man who had tried to barter sex with my horse for four of his pulled, rotten teeth; this represented my hatred for the noises I heard. On the other scale I placed the feather of hawk who had just eaten one of my neighbor’s fucking incessantly barking chihuahuas; this represented Relief and Pleasure; symbolic of the visuals of the movie. I then waited patiently for the balance to measure and, when the sands had settled, I looked up my scales with this face:

neutral

Somehow the weight was divined evenly and I can give this a:

3 Canadian Celsius out of 5

P.S. This movie is about some apocalypse survivors trying to make their way to Canada while avoiding being devoured by vampires. Thus the Canadian references.

 

And now, my turn. Hopefully this will catch on more with time, hehe.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Stake Land

 

Stake Land

This film fell into my “blind spot” almost as soon as it came out. I’ve been wanting to see it for years, but I never got around to it. And so when it was picked for my very first Review Club post, I kinda had no choice. And boy do I feel like a weenie now. I really liked it, more than I thought I would. It’s pretty slow, so for people who like all-action-all-the-time kinda films, I’d advise against seeing it, but I thought it was great. I’ve never really been a fan of the animalistic vamp (I like my vamps sexy and sophisticated), but they do a good job of it here. The acting was all pretty good, the only one who faltered here and there was Danielle Harris. She may be pretty, but she’s not a very good actress, which is likely why she’s never made it outside indie horror (sorry Eric :-p ). There was plenty of gore, but not so much so that it just became a bloodbath with little else. They also put a couple of truly horrifying scenes in there (one at the very beginning, one close to the end) that I was pretty surprised they had the balls to include. All in all, it was quite good, and get a score of 8/10 from me.

This film is currently streaming on Netflix. Enjoy!

 

And that’s it! Join us next week for Beyond Clueless!

My Top 30 Fantasy Films

Fantasy is my second-favourite film and book genre, not far behind horror. While anything that’s “not real” can be considered fantasy, I’ve kept this list down to the films that are “classic fantasy”, which is to say films that contain elements that people automatically think of when they think fantasy: magic, fairies, elves, witches and wizards, that sort of thing. So no horror, sci-fi, or anything else “fantastical” that’s not straight fantasy. There are a few that have some horror elements, but are very far from being horror films, so they’re allowed here. I also won’t be including films who’s only fantastical element is talking animals, otherwise we’d be here all day. If there are films on the list with talking animals, it’s because there are other fantasy elements as well. And finally, I haven’t included any animated Disney or Pixar films, they’ll have their own list.

The films will be in approximate order only. As I did with My Top 50 Horror Films, I will separate them into groups, then put those groups in order. They will be numbered from 5 to 1, with each number having 6 films that will be “tied”, if you will, for that place on the list.

So, without any further ado, here are my top 30 fantasy films. Enjoy! 🙂

 

NUMBERS 5

5 The Wizard of Oz

Title: The Wizard of Oz
Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Terry the Dog
Released in: 1939
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
Based On: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Despite the bright technicolour, this is actually a pretty dark story. One of the very few films to actually scare me as a child (Freddy Krueger, no problem! Wicked Witch of the West? Flee crying. *shrug*)
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (man-lion, flying monkeys, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
Why I Love It: One of the very first fantasy films I saw as a kid, I didn’t love it as much as the others (which are mostly in my number 2s and 1s), but it’s nevertheless undeniable that this is a classic. That it’s still enjoyable today is a testament to how good it really was.

 

M8DWITC EC001

Title: The Witches
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Jasen Fisher, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Paterson, Brenda Blethyn, Charlie Potter, Jane Horrocks, Anne Lambton
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Written by: Allan Scott
Based On: The Witches by Roald Dahl
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark. The book is even darker (and better).
Fantastical Elements: Witches, magic, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: A young boy stumbles onto a witch convention and vows to stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.
Why I Love It: From the moment I could read properly, I loved Roald Dahl. Unfortunately, most of the films based on his work are turds. Not so this one. It’s bat-shit crazy, and I love it. No other reason needed.

 

5 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Starring: Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Naseeruddin Shah, Max Ryan
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Written by: James Robinson
Based On: The comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Immortality, vampirism, invisibility, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as The Fantom.
Why I Love It: This film gets a lot of flack from critics and audiences alike, but I quite enjoyed. Yes, it has it’s problems, but really, what film doesn’t. It’s a fun watch, just grab your popcorn, and don’t think too hard!

 

5 Return to Oz

Title: Return to Oz
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Sean Barrett, Denise Bryer, Brian Henson, Lyle Conway, Justin Case, John Alexander, Deep Roy, Emma Ridley, Tansy the Dog
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Walter Murch
Written by: Gill Dennis, Walter Murch
Based On: Ozma of Oz and The Land of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark. Kid’s film, my ass!
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (wheelers, tin-man, man made of rocks, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale (who’s somehow much younger now :-p ), saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.
Why I Love It: It’s not often a sequel is better than the first film, and I’ll probably get yelled at for thinking so, but this one definitely is. It’s crazy on so many levels, and shit-your-pants terrifying in others, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. What a shame.

 

5 FernGully

Title: FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Starring: Samantha Mathis, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Grace Zabriskie, Geoffrey Blake, Robert Pastorelli, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Tone Loc
Released in: 1992
Directed by: Bill Kroyer
Written by: Jim Cox
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fairies, magic, fantastical creature (Hexxus)
5 Second Synopsis: When human Zak stumbles into the fairy world, he realizes that he needs to help them preserve their rainforest home before it’s all destroyed.
Why I Love It: Heavy-handed environmental message aside, this was another of my faves as a kid. It’s got nice animation, good voice acting, catchy songs, not to mention one of the scariest villains in a cartoon made for kids, voiced, of course, by Tim Curry.

 

5 Dungeons & Dragons

Title: Dungeons & Dragons
Starring: Justin Whalin, Jeremy Irons, Zoe McLellan, Marlon Wayans, Bruce Payne, Thora Birch, Kristen Wilson, Robert Miano, Lee Arenberg, Richard O’Brien
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Written by: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright
Based On: The role-playing game created by TSR (Gary Gygax)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark-ish
Fantastical Elements: Way too many to list all of them, but the basics are magic, dragons, elves, witches and wizards, and many other fantastical creatures, such as the Beholder.
5 Second Synopsis: Profion, a tyrant wizard, attempts to overthrow a peaceful kingdom ruled by a tough empress. A group of fighters, led by a cunning thief, try to stop him.
Why I Love It: This movie is awful. The effects are cartoony, the acting atrocious, and the D&D lore seriously messed up. And yet I loved it. I guess it falls into the so bad it’s good category for me.

 

NUMBERS 4

4 What Dreams May Come

Title: What Dreams May Come
Starring: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock, Rosalind Chao, Cuba Gooding Jr
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Vincent Ward
Written by: Ronald Bass
Based On: What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Afterlife, heaven, hell, reincarnation
5 Second Synopsis: After dying in a car crash, a man searches the afterlife for his wife, who committed suicide afterwards, her grief being too great.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful story about love and loss, there’s no way not to love this film. All the acting is amazing, the depiction of heaven stunning. On the flip side, hell is terrifying, but unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The idea of people ending up in a hell of their own making is at once heart-breaking and frightening. If you somehow haven’t seen this film, I highly reccomend you go see it, right now!

 

4 The Secret of NIMH

Title: The Secret of NIMH
Starring: Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet, Peter Strauss, John Carradine, Paul Shenar, Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton, Jodi Hicks, Hermione Baddeley
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Don Bluth
Written by: Don Bluth, John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Will Finn
Based On: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark
Fantastical Elements: Super-intelligent rats and mice, magic, telekinesis through a jewel
5 Second Synopsis: A field mouse named Mrs Brisby must move her family to a safe location before the farmer plows the field where they live, but her son Timmy cannot go outside due to his pneumonia. She enlists the aid of some highly intelligent escaped lab rats that have built a subterranean society inside a rose bush near the farmer’s garden.
Why I Love It: Such a great story with beautiful animation. I never realized how creepy some parts of it were until I’d rewatched it as an adult. How on earth did that owl not give me nightmares?? hehe Definitely one of the very best non-Disney animated films.

 

4 The Ghost and Mrs Muir

Title: The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Starring: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best, Vanessa Brown, Natalie Wood, Anna Lee
Released in: 1947
Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Written by: Philip Dunne
Based On: The Ghost and Mrs Muir by RA Dick (pseudonym of Josephine Leslie)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Ghosts, afterlife
5 Second Synopsis: In 1900, a young, head-strong widow finds her seaside cottage is haunted, but rather than being scared off, she forms a unique relationship with the ghost.
Why I Love It: Old timey movies have to be really, really good for me to love them, and this one definitely is. Wonderfully charming and superbly acted, this unconventional love story was one of the first of the genre, and is still endlessly enjoyable, even today.

 

4 Shrek

Title: Shrek
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Jim Cummings, Vincent Cassel, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Frank Welker
Released in: 2001
Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger SH Schulman
Based On: Shrek! by William Steig
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Transmogrification, dragons, curses, fantastical storybook characters (ogres, big bad wolf, gingerbread man, etc)
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Lord banishes all fairytale creatures into the swamp, which much angers the resident ogre, Shrek. In order to regain his swamp, he agrees to go rescue the princess that the Lord wants to wed. But something is very different about this princess, and Shrek finds himself falling for her, despite himself.
Why I Love It: Tongue firmly planted in cheek, this film is hilarious and touching at the same time. The characters go through a rather astounding transformation during the film, and I’m not only referring to the obvious. I guess everyone really does have layers. Like onions, of course, not cake 😉

 

4 Edward Scissorhands

Title: Edward Scissorhands
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Conchata Ferrell, Alan Arkin, Caroline Aaron, Vincent Price
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Tim Burton
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Frankenstien-ish creature with scissors for hands
5 Second Synopsis: A kind inventor is almost finished piecing together his latest creation when fate prevents him from completing this most important project. Edward may seem dangerous, with scissors instead of hands, but when a compassionate Avon lady comes calling, she sees his pure heart, and decides to bring him home.
Why I Love It: One of Burton’s best, and his first collaboration with Johnny Depp (which should have ended with Sleepy Hollow, but maybe that’s just me). I didn’t like this film all that much the first time I saw it (I was only 9 when it came out), but once I got older, I was able to appreciate it’s quirky story, and now I love it. Classic Burton, right here.

 

4 Dragonheart

Title: DragonHeart
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, Dina Meyer, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Isaacs, Brian Thompson, Peter Hric
Released in: 1996
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Charles Edward Pogue
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Dragons, magic
5 Second Synopsis: A dragon slayer teams up with the last dragon to take down an evil king.
Why I Love It: A perfect blend of funny and tense, this is one of the very best dragon films ever made. And the CGI holds up surprisingly well, despite the film being almost 20 years old. David Thewlis was so perfectly evil in this film, that I found him disgusting until his brilliant turn as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films.

 

NUMBERS 3

3 Wizards

Title: Wizards
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Steve Gravers, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Jim Connell, Mark Hamill
Released in: 1977
Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, fairies, elves, mutated talking animals
5 Second Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic future, a wizard and his fairy folk comrades fight his evil brother, who’s using technology in his bid for conquest.
Why I Love It: Definitely not for kids, this is one cartoon with a lot of bite. Tense, bloody, and violent, it’s one of the very best of the genre.

 

3 Pirates of the Caribbean

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Zoe Saldana, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Damian O’Hare
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Based On: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyLand
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, undead
5 Second Synopsis: When his love is kidnapped by pirates, a young blacksmith teams up with perpetually drunk pirate Jack Sparrow in the attempt to get her back. Little do they realize that the evil pirates are undead, and need Elizabeth to break the curse.
Why I Love It: A fun ride (pun intended) from start to finish, this is undoubtedly the best film in the franchise. Johnny Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow, and the rest of the cast also shine, especially Geoffrey Rush as the evil Captain Barbossa. The perfect blend of action and thriller that’s more than a little funny, this is one of Depp’s best. It’s really too bad that he’s fallen into the rut of always playing this same kind of character over and over now.

 

3 Merlin

Title: Merlin
Starring: Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, Miranda Richardson, Martin Short, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Curran, Lena Headey, Jeremy Sheffield, Jason Done, John Gielgud, Rutger Hauer, James Earl Jones
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Steve Barron
Written by: Peter Barnes, Edward Khmara, David Stevens
Based On: The legends of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, elves, curses, spells, gnomes, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: The legendary wizard tells his story of his war against Queen Mab of the Sidhe, and his creation of Camelot.
Why I Love It: This has to be one of the very best made-for-TV movies ever. The actors they got to do it were all top notch, the writing was great, and even the effects, which are usually pretty pathetic for TV films, were quite good. And I never thought I’d say so, but Martin Short looked… hot!! hehe

 

3 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Title: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix
Released in: 1989
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, the holy grail, magical booby traps, immortality
5 Second Synopsis: Indiana Jones acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail, which was sent from his father. Learning that his father went missing while searching, Indy hops a plane to Italy to save him.
Why I Love It: The best of the three Indiana Jones films, this is the only one that I still rewatch from time to time. Fun and sometimes tense, this is a wonderful conclusion to the story. (Yes, I’m fully aware there’s a fourth, I just don’t acknowledge it.)

 

3 Hook

Title: Hook
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Charlie Korsmo, Dante Basco, Amber Scott, Caroline Goodall, Maggie Smith
Released in: 1991
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo
Based On: Peter Pan books and play by JM Barrie
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical world, fairies, power of imagination, flying, immortality, magic
5 Second Synopsis: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.
Why I Love It: Saw this film when it first came out (I was 10), and I’ve loved it ever since. Robin Williams gives a great performance as the aged Peter Pan, while Dustin Hoffman eats up every inch of the screen when he’s on it as the (slightly insane) Captain Hook. A definite childhood favourite, a total gem of a film.

 

3 HellBoy

Title: HellBoy
Starring: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Brian Steele, Bridget Hodson, Ladislav Beran
Released in: 2004
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro
Based On: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, demons, immortality, humanoid creatures with special abilities, pyrokinesis, wizards, portals to hell
5 Second Synopsis: A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.
Why I Love It: Such a fun film, it also has surprisingly good acting, and an awesome story. The effects are absolutely stunning as well, and Ron Perlman embodies HellBoy perfectly, head to toe. One of the first in the modern superhero/comic book films, and still one of the best.

 

NUMBERS 2

2 Willow

Title: Willow
Starring: Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Kevin Pollak, Rick Overton, Pat Roach, Gavan O’Herlihy, David Steinberg, Phil Fondacaro
Released in: 1988
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Bob Dolman
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fairy folk, witches, spells, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.
Why I Love It: Such a wonderful, beautiful story. Good acting and surprisingly good effects for it’s time, it still holds up very well today. Plus Val Kilmer is smokin’ hot as Madmartigan, who was perhaps my very first adult crush. *swoon*

 

2 The Princess Bride

Title: The Princess Bride
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Peter Cook, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane
Released in: 1987
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: William Goldman
Based On: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fantastical creatures (RoUS’s), miracles, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride, about a young princess, believing her true love to be dead, who settles with marrying a wicked prince.
Why I Love It: Pretty much every film in the rest of this list is a true classic, so I’ll stop saying it, hehe. This film is both schmoopy and full of adventures, perfect for kids and adults alive. And one more thing: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

 

2 The Crow

Title: The Crow
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling, Anna Thomson, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee, Tony Todd, Jon Polito, Sofia Shinas
Released in: 1994
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: David J Schow, John Shirley
Based On: The Crow graphic novel by James O’Barr
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Re-incarnation, invulnerability, superhero-like prowess
5 Second Synopsis: Musician Eric Draven is brought back to life by a crow a year after he and his fiancée are murdered. The crow guides him, and leads him to his killers, whom he kills in revenge.
Why I Love It: This film would likely be found in the action section of your video store rather than fantasy, but this definitely is indeed a fantasy film. Dark and violent, this is my very favourite revenge film, by far. But with this great film came a great loss, for actor Brandon Lee was accidentally killed while filming. What a shame.

 

2 Ladyhawke

Title: Ladyhawke
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo McKern, John Wood, Ken Hutchison, Giancarlo Prete, Alfred Molina
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Edward Khmara, Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, David Webb Peoples
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, transmogrification
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Bishop curses a woman and her lover when she rejects him. With the help of a sly thief, they will travel back to the Bishop and try break the curse.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful film. Nauseatingly romantic, this film has a bit for everyone. Schmoop, laughter, action, and drama, this is simply a wonderful, wonderful film.

 

2 Harry Potter

Title: Harry Potter Octology
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, John Hurt, David Thewlis, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Mark Williams, David Bradley, Imelda Staunton, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Clémence Poésy, Shirley Henderson, Natalia Tena, Emma Thompson, Warwick Davis, Richard Harris
Released in: 2001 – 2011
Directed by: Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves, Michael Goldenberg
Based On: Harry Potter Septology by JK Rowling
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, magic, and more magic! Plus fantastical creatures, flying broomsticks, curses, prophecies, transmogrification, and much more.
5 Second Synopsis: Young Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he finds out that there is a very evil wizard who wants him dead.
Why I Love It: I’m cheating a little by putting all 8 films here, but it would have taken a huge chunk out of my Top 30, or I would have had to add 7 more slots, and I really didn’t feel like doing basically the same entry 8 times. So there. These films are fun, whimsical, and at the same time, tense and even frightening (dementors, anyone?). They did such a great job of translating these books into films. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t seen these, I very highly reccomend you crawl out from under your rock and see them.

 

2 Dogma

Title: Dogma
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Bud Cort, Alanis Morissette
Released in: 1999
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Angels, demons, God, heaven, hell
5 Second Synopsis: A woman with special ancestry is enlisted to prevent two angels from reentering Heaven and thus undoing the fabric of the universe.
Why I Love It: I’m not the hugest fan of comedies, not because I don’t like laughing, but because I have a slightly peculiar sense of humour, and a lot comedies are just dumb to me. This one, though, this is my very favourite comedy, the whole thing is perfect (save one scene), beginning to end. It had me literally rolling on the floor, laughing.

 

NUMBERS 1

1 The NeverEnding Story

Title: The NeverEnding Story
Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Alan Oppenheimer, Tami Stronach, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill, Gerald McRaney, The Horse (Googled my heart out to find his real name, but could find it, unfortunately 😦 )
Released in: 1984
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Written by: Wolfgang Petersen, Herman Weigel
Based On: Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, wishes, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.
Why I Love It: This was one of my favourites as a kid, and it’s still now. Despite some of the acting being rather shaky (especially the Child-like Empress, yikes), this film is simply marvelous. Fantasia is beautiful, most of the practical effects are cool, and while it’s quite different from the book, the story is still amazing, even today. Noah Hathaway as Atreyu was my very first movie crush, and remained so until I passed him in age, about 8 years later.

 

1 The Dark Crystal

Title: The Dark Crystal
Starring: Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Percy Edwards, Billie Whitelaw, Barry Dennen, Jerry Nelson, Joseph O’Conor
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Written by: David Odell
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, flight, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.
Why I Love It: Another of my childhood favourites, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. So many of the films I loved as a child are like this one, “too weird and scary” for today’s wimpy children. Well, not my child. I’ve introduced him to Labyrinth, and he loved it. Up next, the rest of my number 1’s, starting with this one.

 

1 Rock & Rule

Title: Rock & Rule
Starring: Don Francks, Susan Roman, Gregory Salata, Chris Wiggins, Brent Titcomb, Dan Hennessey, Greg Duffell, Catherine Gallant, Samantha Langevin, Catherine O’Hara
Released in: 1983
Directed by: Clive A Smith
Written by: Peter Sauder, John Halfpenny
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical technology, demons, mutants
5 Second Synopsis: A malevolent rock star kidnaps a female singer to force her to participate in the summoning of a demon, and her band must help her stop him.
Why I Love It: This little, mostly forgotten Canadian film is, in my opinion, the very best in the genre. Forget the much over-rated Heavy Metal, this adult cartoon is where it’s at. Awesome animation, kick ass soundtrack, and great story, this is a must-see for anyone who likes adult animation.

 

1 Lord of the Rings

Title: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Craig Parker, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Ian Holm, John Noble, Sala Baker
Released in: 2001, 2002, 2003
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based On: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, hobbits, elves, dwarves, visions, immortality, fantastical creatures, and more
5 Second Synopsis: A young hobbit must get to the gates of the enemy to destroy a ring that, if in the hands of the monster, would end the world as they know it.
Why I Love It: I don’t think there’s a geek on the planet that didn’t love this one. It was so beautifully done, acted, written and shot that it’s hard not to fall in love at first sight. It has the perfect blend of practical makeup and effects, and CGI, something that was sorely lacking in the Hobbit films.

 

1 Legend

Title: Legend
Starring: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Annabelle Lanyon, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Robert Picardo
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: William Hjortsberg
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Demons, goblins, fairy folk, unicorns, magic, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves.
Why I Love It: Probably one of the very first fantasy films I’ve seen, and still one of the very best. It’s so beautifully done that it would be impressive even coming out today. Even all the acting is good, and that’s saying something for a film of the 80’s. So sad that they don’t make them like this anymore.

 

1 Labyrinth

Title: Labyrinth
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Brian Henson, Ron Mueck, Dave Goelz, David Shaughnessy, Michael Hordern, Denise Bryer, David Healy, Robert Beatty, Toby Froud
Released in: 1986
Directed by: Jim Henson
Written by: Terry Jones
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, goblins, fairy folk, fantastical creatures
5 Second Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Sarah accidentally wishes her baby half-brother, Toby, away to the Goblin King Jareth, who will keep him if Sarah does not complete his Labyrinth in thirteen hours.
Why I Love It: If I had to absolutely choose a favourite fantasy film of all time, this would be it. I saw it at 5 years old, when it came out, and I’ve seen it well over 100 times. I learned all the words, songs and talked, in a very short time, and I still know most of them now. I’ll be sounding like a broken record, but they don’t make them like this any more. It’s an absolutely perfect piece of film. And David Bowie is so beautiful in this, I can’t help but swoon every time, hehe.

 

Finally done! It’s only been 2 months in the making… This is what happens when I get lazy. Shit just doesn’t get done, hehe. Here’s hoping at least a few people will enjoy the fruits of my labour! 😀

M.

Top 10 Favorite Book Series

It wasn’t until recently that I realized just how many book series there were out there. I mean, I knew there were a lot, but I had no idea just how many “a lot” was. I spent a good few hours hunting for new stuff to read about a year ago, and browsing series on Goodreads yielded hundreds of choices. Dare I say, thousands, even! It makes me wonder how I, an avid reader, could have missed so many. There were so many that I’d never even heard of. Some of them have 15 plus books, and there are a good amount of them about vampires, which is even more baffling that I missed them. But anyways, I’m babbling here. In this list I’ll count down my 10 favorite book series. I’ve included all genres, although to be fair, I don’t really read much else besides horror (both supernatural and “true crime” style) and fantasy. I’ve put them in order, but the order is approximate at best, especially for the top 5. The top 5 are all ongoing series (except for the Sookie books, author Charlaine Harris has made clear that the last one published was her final Sookie novel), and my favorites are pretty much based on what I’m reading at the moment. I’ve also based my rating on my enjoyment of the series, and not technical merit. I think it’s pretty obvious that someone like George RR Martin is not on the same level technically as, say, Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake) or MaryJanice Davidson (Betsy Taylor), so it’s kind of unfair to rate them the same way. Before I get started, here are a few honourable mentions:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Xanth by Piers Anthony
The Belgariad by David Eddings
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
Merry Gentry by Laurell K Hamilton
Rachel Morgan by Kim Harrison
The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

And, extra special honourable mention, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. The only reason this isn’t on the main list is because I’ve just started the series, and only have 2 of 14 books read. It’s not fair, then, for this to edge out a series of which I’ve read all (or almost all) of the books in the series.

And now, without further hubub, my top 10 favorite book series! 🙂

10 – The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

anne_rice_books

Starting off the list, unsurprisingly, is Anne Rice‘s Vampire Chronicles. I read the first three while I was still in high school, and the next 3 in college, but after The Vampire Armand, I kinda got bored with the series. Anne Rice got just too weird. And religious. Religion isn’t something I look for when I’m reading a vampire novel. I have a few of her later books, but they’re basically sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I doubt I’ll ever read them. But the series still makes the list (albeit at number ten) because of how amazing the first three are, and how much I still love them, even interview queennow. Interview with the Vampire is simply one of the best vampire books, ever. The books were so popular that of course Hollywood had to have a crack at it. Why it took them so long, though, I’ll never know. Interview was written in 1976, and the first film didn’t come out until 1994. Of which I’m forever grateful, now that I really think about it. 70’s horror films, especially vampire horror films weren’t really known for… well… being good :-p I shudder to think of what would have become of Interview with the Vampire had it been put into the hands of a 70’s horror director. Thankfully, though, we got Neil Jordan, and he gave us one of the most beautiful pieces of film in horror history. No, forget horror history, make that film history, period. True, the casting was a little off in it’s choices for most of the characters (ok, ok, it was a lot off), and many fans, myself included, even Anne Rice herself, were horrified to learn that Tom Cruise would be playing our favorite brat, Lestat de Lioncourt. After the movie came out, however, every single one of us who’d booed the casting took it back. Despite not liking Tom Cruise hardly at all, I have to admit he does a wonderful job as Lestat, and he even looks the part. He’s the only one, unfortunately. If I had anything bad left to say about this film, it would be that, that the characters don’t look like themselves. Louis is supposed to be young, with curly black hair up to his chin. And Armand looks like a 15 year old red-head. That description doesn’t bring Antonio Banderas to mind, does it? And Claudia… well I understood why they did it, but in the book she was just 5 years old. Queen of the Damned was made in 2002 and as much as I love the film, let’s just pretend that it’s not based on a book. We’ll all be much happier for it.

 

9 – Betsy, Queen of the Undead by MaryJanice Davidson

betsy

Betsy Taylor is a tall, blonde bimbo who’s only real passion in life is shoes. On her thirtieth birthday, she has the worst day anyone could possibly have, being fired from her job, then being run over by a speeding SUV. Horrified after waking in the morgue, she tries to kill herself multiple times, unsuccessfully. She then realizes why: she’s risen as a vampire. And not just any vampire, either. According to elder vampire Eric Sinclair, she’s the new vampire queen. Betsy, who’s biggest problems in life before were the stain on those new Louboutins she bought, is about to find out being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Told in the first person, Betsy’s perspective, these books are absolutely hilarious. I’m generally not a fan of reading comedy, but since this was also a vampire thing, I decided to give it a go, and boy am I glad I did. The books are short, sweet, and always fun. I’ve fallen a bit behind on this series, though, I’ve only read up to number 7. But I have so much stuff to read now, that these fluffy little comedies have been shuffled to the back of the line.

  1. Undead and Unwed
  2. Undead and Unemployed 
  3. Undead and Unappreciated
  4. Undead and Unreturnable
  5. Undead and Unpopular
  6. Undead and Uneasy
  7. Undead and Unworthy
  8. Undead and Unwelcome
  9. Undead and Unfinished
  10. Undead and Undermined
  11. Undead and Unstable
  12. Undead and Unsure
  13. Undead and Unwary 

 

8 – Zinc Chandler, Special X by Michael Slade

Special X

I discovered this author quite by accident. I got a book as a gift, I think it was for christmas, but I have no idea who from. The book was by an author I’d never heard of before, but the title was cool: Ghoul. I started reading it, and yup, it was right up my alley. Each novel follows agents from the fictional Special X department of the RCMP as they hunt horrifying serial killers. You can tell it’s fiction already, Canada doesn’t boast enough serial killers to write a new book every year, hehehe. I’m way behind on this series too, I made it to number 7 (again? That seems to be my lucky number…) and then sort of pooped out. The books, although always with fascinating stories, are a little hit and miss sometimes. Ghoul, Ripper, Headhunter and Primal Scream were all excellent, absolute page turners, while Cutthroat and Evil Eye were a little hard to get through, sluggishly paced and sometimes downright boring. I had no idea the series had grown to 14 books, though! I’ll have to pick them up again.

  1. Headhunter (1984)
  2. Ghoul (1987)
  3. Cutthroat (1992)
  4. Ripper (1994)
  5. Evil Eye (1996)
  6. Primal Scream (1998)
  7. Burnt Bones (1999)
  8. Hangman (2000)
  9. Death’s Door (2001)
  10. Bed of Nails (2003)
  11. Swastika (2005)
  12. Kamikaze (2006)
  13. Crucified (2008)
  14. Red Snow (2010)

 

7 – Victoria Nelson, The Blood Books by Tanya Huff

blood books

This series, like most others actually, now that I think of it, I came into when it was already done. Not only was the book series done, but a TV show had come and gone as well, with myself none the wiser about it. I’m not entirely sure how I came upon this series, then, but I think it was one of my Facebook friends who had mentioned the show, and how he was ticked off at all the changes they’d made, but damn did that vampire look good. And after seeing a picture of the vampire in question, I decided that this show was something I needed to see. Right now. So after I started watching the show (and falling in love with it), I went hunting for the books. I read the first one in one sitting blood tiesI think, so that should tell you what I thought of it. The first book, Blood Price, is faithfully recreated for the show’s two-part Pilot episode, but after that the show pretty much goes it’s own way. (Dexter did the same thing, but at least we got a whole season of faithfulness before the writers crapped all over it, but I’m straying from the topic again.) I don’t actually mind that much when producers take some artistic license with the material they’re adapting (mind, I’m only talking about TV here. Adapting to film is a whole other monster), as long as they’re honest about what they’re doing. Dexter‘s writers were very clear in saying that season one would be the only one based truly on the books, and the rest will only bare some similarities in the characters. Same with Blood Ties here. True Blood, on the other hand, HBO bought the rights from author Charlaine Harris with the understanding that their vision was the same, and that they were headed in the same direction with their ideas. In fact, a (more or less) direct quote from Harris about it: “I sold the rights to Alan Ball because of all the people asking for the rights, his vision of the story was the closest to my own”. I bet she really regrets that now, with the ridiculousness that has become that show. But anyways, side-tracked again, who me? Maybe I should stop ranting and tell you what the books are actually about. Vicki Nelson is an ex-cop (known by her colleagues as Victory Nelson, for her impressive record) who’s now a private detective. She left the force because a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which starts off by slowly killing night vision and peripheral vision, will eventually leave her blind, and she didn’t want to stay on the force if that meant riding a desk for the rest of her career. One day she gets a client who is positive her boyfriend was killed by a vampire, and hires Vicki to prove it. Vicki takes the case, never for one second imagining that she’d not only meet a vampire in her search for the truth, but that he’d be Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII… and an ally. Such great books, and finally, a real female role model. She’s still beautiful (of course) but she’s a “real” woman. No “waif-fu” here, Vicki kicks ass cause she works out her 5’11” frame. She’s also not a “lost little damsel, waiting for her knight”. She does most of the saving here. If you enjoy vampires and detectives, this short series is a perfect read for you. I just wish there was more of it!!

  1. Blood Price (1991)
  2. Blood Trail (1992)
  3. Blood Lines (1992)
  4. Blood Pact (1993)
  5. Blood Debt (1997)
  6. Blood Bank – a short story collection

 

6 – Harry Potter by JK Rowling

harry potter

So, of course this series will be in almost all fantasy lovers favorites list. Never mind that they were aimed at kids, this is some quality reading right here. 7 books (later made into 8 movies) of pure, unadulterated, magical fun. If I have to tell you what these books (and/or movies) are about, you really need to crawl out from under that rock you’ve been hiding under. But on the off-chance that you like it there under your rock, it goes a little something like this: 11 year old Harry Potter discovers that he’s a wizard and gets recruited by a half-giant named Hagrid to attend a harry-potterspecial wizarding school, Hogwarts. The end. No of course it isn’t, although, to be fair, that’s pretty awesome all by itself. So, wouldn’t you know, little Harry is famous all over the wizarding world for having defeated (read: didn’t die when shot at by) the evil Lord Voldemort. Voldemort’s not as dead as everyone thought, though, and with Harry’s return to the wizarding world, evil is stirring once again. A classic story of good against evil, black against white, the noseless vs the… nosed? I dunno. You get my point. The books are incredibly well written, especially for something that was originally aimed at a younger audience, so that’s even more impressive. So many YA authors think that since their stuff is aimed at teenagers, it can afford to not be well written. It’s a shame too, because some of them have good ideas, but their writing is total shite (I’m looking at YOU, Stephanie Meyer!) Thankfully, JK Rowling isn’t one of those authors, so her books are a joy to read, for the young and old alike.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

5 – Dexter Morgan by Jeff Lindsay

dexter

Dexter Morgan is a wonderful character, both in writing and on the TV screen. I only heard about the book series after the show started playing, and though, at that time, I didn’t like the show, the idea is wonderful, so of course when I heard this was a series of books I went out and bought the first 3 all at once. I sat down with the first one expecting a real treat, and I definitely was not disappointed. The story (for the book series and the show) goes a little something like this: Dexter Morgan is a mild-mannered employee of the crime lab of Miami Metro police Dexter Season 8department, his exact job title is blood spatter analyst. His job is to find out how all that precious life juice got out of the victim and onto wherever it is that person got killed. And he’s very good at his job. Both of them. Because by night, mild-mannered Dexter becomes the Dark Passenger, or rather, he lets the Dark Passenger drive. He is a serial killer. His prey of choice? Other killers. Brilliant!! The reason it’s not a little higher than number 5 (besides the fact that the top 4 are absolutely amazing) is that book 3 kinda… well… sucks 😦 The first 2 were absolutely amazing, but then book 3 goes ahead and spins the whole story from a supernatural angle and that, to me, was the very wrong direction to take this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love supernatural stuff (which I think most of my readers (all 104 of you!! Hi!!) know by now, hehe). But Dexter, in his first 2 books, gave absolutely no indication that he was anything other than human. And for the supernatural element to be introduced out of the blue in the third book of the series, well, I didn’t think it was a good idea. I guess Lindsay must have gotten a lot of grief after that one, because in the next two books, while he still talks about his Dark Passenger, it goes back to the way it was in the first two books, no weird demon mumbo-jumbo. There are 8 books in the series, and the author has said that this is it for Dexter. This was also (coincidentally? Who knows) Dexter’s last season on TV. I’ve read the first 5 books, and am looking forward to finishing the series (although I’m sad that there will be no more coming), and I’ve watched 7 and a half seasons of Dexter, still need to watch the last few episodes of number 8. Oh, one small word of warning. The prose is very purple, and the author has a slightly twisted sense of humour. I love it, but I thought I should give a heads up, for those that don’t like that writing style.

  1. Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004)
  2. Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005)
  3. Dexter in the Dark (2007)
  4. Dexter by Design (2009)
  5. Dexter Is Delicious (2010)
  6. Double Dexter (2011)
  7. Dexter’s Final Cut (2013)
  8. Dexter Is Dead (2015)

 

4 – Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter by Laurell K Hamilton

AnitaBlake

When one of your favourite book series is at number 27, and the author seems to have no end in sight yet, you’re bound to end up reading a series that’s run (or running) out of steam. Which is why this series is now at number 4, when it was at number 1 for so long. Trying to condense 24 books into a understandable blurb is hard, but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. Anita is an Animator, which means she raises the dead. She works for a firm that deals in dead raising for legal purposes (family disputes, a lost will, etc), but she’s also a sanctioned Federal Marshall and vampire executioner. When things get supernaturally hairy, the police call in Anita to take the big bad guys down. Slowly, as she moves more and more through the supernatural world, she makes friends, and soon, lovers, and discovers, through them, that she has a lot more power than she’d ever dreamed of. These were my favourite books for a very Anita_Blakelong time. I discovered them not long after high school, and they were completely amazing till about book 12 or 13. That’s when the sex started to get out of hand. I like a good, steamy sex scene as much as the next vampire fan, but when that’s all the books are, with no character development at all, and little to no plot even? No thanks. Hamilton has finally started listening to her fans, though, because the last two novels that I’ve read, Kiss the Dead and Affliction, were concentrating much less on the sex, and more on actual story, and (and this is a big deal, you Anita fans know what I mean) she finally seems to be able to let go of her hangups about sex and just do it already. Seriously, a few of her books were exactly like this: “Oh, I’m horny, need to feed the Ardeur.” *Starts to have sex, stops* “Oh no, I can’t do this again, it’s just wrong.” *After talking for two chapters, finally have the sex* “OMG, what’s happening? What did we do (this time)??” *Some new power was gained by her, or her people. “We’re so strong!! But we have the attitudes of high school drama queens!” *More sex, more complaining about the sex, and more drama, mostly with Asher* And, yup, that was pretty much all that there was to the books. Even the passing of the biggest of the bads, “Mommie Dearest”, I barely saw because it was lost in all the sex and angst. But, like I said, her last two were better, so here’s hoping we see something new soon, instead of just the same old boring porn. And for those who like comic books and graphic novels, Marvel has turned the first three of Hamilton’s books into comics. They’re sold in separate little floppy books (in sheaths, you know, those old-school comics), or you can get them all together bound in a hardcover (which is what I did). Each book made 3 hardcover comics, except the first, which made 2. I’ve got the first two  and sometime in the near future I hope to get the third one. I also have the prequel comic, The First Death, which was the story of one of her very first cases with fan-favourite Edward. I don’t know if Marvel is going to keep going with the comics, but I certainly hope so. They’re incredibly well done. Also, Hamilton has mentioned “being in talks” with producers of film and TV for the rights to film, but it seems she’s “been in talks” since the late 90’s. Not sure we’ll ever see Anita up on the big screen. A shame. Done Underworld style, it could be great fun!

  1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
  2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
  3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
  4. The Lunatic Cafe (1996)
  5. Bloody Bones (1996)
  6. The Killing Dance (1997)
  7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
  8. Blue Moon (1998)
  9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
  10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
  11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
  12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
  13. Micah (2006)
  14. Danse Macabre (2006)
  15. The Harlequin (2007)
  16. Blood Noir (2008)
  17. Skin Trade (2009)
  18. Flirt (2010)
  19. Bullet (2010)
  20. Hit List (2011)
  21. Beauty (2012)
  22. Kiss the Dead (2012)
  23. Affliction (2013)
  24. Dancing (2013)
  25. Shutdown (2013)
  26. Jason (2014)
  27. Dead Ice (June 9, 2015)
  1. Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death (2007)
  2. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures (2008)
  3. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Animator (2009)
  4. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Necromancer (2009)
  5. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Executioner (2010)
  6. Anita Blake: Circus of The Damned – The Charmer (2010)
  7. Anita Blake: Circus of The Damned – The Ingenue (2011)
  8. Anita Blake: Circus of the Damned – The Scoundrel (Ongoing)

 

3 – Sookie Stackhouse, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

sookie-book-set

Here’s another light fluffy series that’s just so much fun and easy to read. I can easily pick up one of these books and finish it in a single sitting, which I often did after the new book came out. It was the end not only for Dexter this year, but for Sookie as well, her 13th adventure being her last. Not to say that she’s dead (of course I can’t say she isn’t, either, because as of now I’ve yet to read book 13). The story is this: Sookie Stackhouse is a young woman living in a tiny Louisiana town called Bon Temps. She’s a waitress at the local watering hole. Oh, and she’s a telepath. Living in the world has always been difficult for her, since she could hear all the thoughts of people around her, so she’s built up a wall to protect herself, the guise of stupidity. One day, she meets a man who’s thoughts she can’t read, and she becomes excited, following him out the door. Saving his life from a gang of V (vampire blood used as a drug) dealers, their bond is immediate and quick. Here starts Sookie’s story of womanhood and survival and, yes, of course, true-blood-castromance. The show I wish I could say is a good as the books, but it’s really not. Seasons 1, 3, and 4 are good, about half of season 2 is good. But season 5 and the other half of 2 are pure shite. Especially season 5. It was just… ugh… I don’t even know. I didn’t bother continuing the show after that. When the show first started, it seemed as though they were going to try stick to the books, which is why, the author is quoted as saying, that she sold the rights to HBO in the first place, that their vision was the closest to hers (I bet she regrets that now!) So season 1, pretty good. There were changes, but nothing super dramatic. Lafayette, who was nothing but a bit player in the books, got to live in the show (which I have to admit being a wonderful change, he’s an awesome character), and Jessica doesn’t exist in the books. I guess they wanted more female main characters for the show? I dunno. But it’s not too bad. I hated her at first, while she played the brat, but once she “put on her big girl shoes”, I liked her much more. The rest is pretty similar to the books. Murdered women, murdered Gran, the culprit is Arlene’s fiancée. Then season two… oh my god. Everything dealing with the vampires (the stuff that was actually in the books) was good, but everything else… that creepy (and not in a good way) demon chick and the black-eyed orgies and stuff… ugh. I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous (until I got to season 5, that is). But anyways, I won’t keep going on about everything they’ve changed or added in that series, or I’m going to be here all night. All I’ll add is that they shouldn’t be allowed to write “Based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris” in the opening credits any more, because season 5? Yeah, there was not one single thing in that season that happened in the books. They should have to write “Based on characters created by Charlaine Harris”, or however it is they say it when they take a character, but not the authors own stories.

  1. Dead Until Dark (2001)
  2. Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
  3. Club Dead (2003)
  4. Dead to the World (2004)
  5. Dead as a Doornail (2005)
  6. Definitely Dead (2006)
  7. All Together Dead (2007)
  8. From Dead to Worse (2008)
  9. Dead and Gone (2009)
  10. Dead in the Family (2010)
  11. Dead Reckoning (2011)
  12. Deadlocked (2012)
  13. Dead Ever After (2013)

 

2 – Special Agent Pendergast by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

pendergast

I honestly don’t remember if I saw the film The Relic first, or if I read the book. But what I can tell you is that I didn’t remember about one before I read/saw the other, which is a very, very good thing. Because these two could not have been more different. The biggest case in point being the fact that Pendergast, the heart of the book series, isn’t theReliceven in the film. But enough about that. I’ll just say that it’s a good, fun creature feature, and if you’ve read the book, put it out of your mind and you’ll be fine. As for the rest of the series, it’s amazing. The only book that I enjoyed a little less was the second one, Reliquary, the others I all but inhaled after buying them. The stories revolve a very peculiar FBI agent named Aloysius Pendergast. He’s absolutely brilliant at detecting things others cannot, and his knowledge about, well, everything really, is unmatched. He’s a modern day Sherlock Holmes, if you will, minus the deerstalker and cocaine. The stories are all based in scientific fact, but let’s say they really stretch that limit. The things that are “possible” in the books are very much akin to the fact that light speed travel could be “possible”. Possible, but not very likely, especially not with our current technology. Each book has it’s own evil-doer, but three books follow the other Pendergast, Diogenes. And he’s Moriarty to Pendergast’s Sherlock. These books are so good, but again, with everything on my list to read, I’ve fallen a bit behind. I’ve read 9 out of 13 books. And (I just found out, right this second on Wikipedia) that the next three books I have to read are another trilogy inside the series, this one about Pendergast’s wife, Helen. I just got it on audiobook, too, if I’m not mistaken. I’m looking forward to reading it now, more, since I’m writing about it. These books are just brilliant, very entertaining. If you like detective stories mixed with a little horror, this is definitely for you, and I’d highly recommend it. Hell, I’ll recommend it even if you don’t like horror. The books are good enough that I think even non-horror-lovers will enjoy them.

 

1 – A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

game of thrones

This series, which now occupies the number one spot and is one of my very favourite book sets ever, I came upon as a complete accident. I had never heard of the books before, and this was before the show. I’d never  even heard of the author before. So one night, around 4am or so, I was visiting with my husband at his parents. As usual, I couldn’t sleep, but being away from home, I had nothing really to do, so I hunted around for something to read. My eyes set upon A Game of Thrones, but at that point I wasn’t interested. I’d asked my husband about it and he said something like “kinda like Lord of the Rings, with mostly humans and less magic”. Well that description got a big old “meh” from me, and I was uninterested. But, after rummaging around some more, there was nothing else. So with a resigned sigh, ice and fireI took the book and began to read. My mind, as you can probably tell, was blown, right from chapter one. The writing is so good, the characters are so real, you could literally almost see them coming to life on the page. I read it, and the following four, and am now impatiently awaiting book six, which, as of yet, doesn’t have a release date. Martin likes to keep his fans waiting I’ve heard. Books 3 and 4 are 5 years apart; books 4 and 5, 6 years. That’s an insane amount of time to keep fans waiting. It’s a testament to how good the books are that the fans haven’t just given up on him. There’s also the fact that we’ve now got a show to keep ourselves occupied, if only for a while. When I first heard that they were doing a show, I was super excited. I had read the first three books by that time, and had fallen deep in love with the world and was happy to see it was going to get filmed. My happiness faded once I heard who had bought the rights: HBO. After what they did to another of my favourite series (True Blood), I was scared that they’d put these books through the blender, too. But thankfully for me, and everyone else who loves the books, HBO has been doing a pretty damn good job of sticking to the story. There’s changes, of course, more sex (this is HBO, after all), and quite a bit of the “boring” descriptive stuff is cut out, but that’s only natural when you have to condense a book so big. There’s a thing or two they changed that I’m kinda hmm-ing about, as to how they’re going to fix it when that story line comes back later, but nothing overly dramatic. Season 5 of the show just started this month, I can’t wait! As for book 6? I guess we all just have to wait and see.

 

And I’m done! Phew!! Not sure why, but this post took me 3 days to complete. I had my layout all done, I knew approximately what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t seem to get it out. Or I’d zone out, just stare blankly at the screen. I hope you enjoy this, cause it almost did me in! But tonight I persevered! This laptop won’t be getting the best of me! Mwahahahaha!!! *ahem* Ok, I’m done…

M.

My Top 50 Horror Films

So, articles like the one you’re about to read are actually one of the biggest reasons that I decided to start blogging in the first place. I love reading Top 10 (or more) lists about all sorts of stuff, but I always get frustrated that a lot of the stuff that I enjoy the most either are low in the lists, or not there at all. And the top spots are often reserved for the same old “classics”, most of which I don’t like. After reading the millionth Top Horror Movies article with movies like The Shining, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria and others in the top spots, I decided that I’d make my own blog where I can show people that there are other movies than those in the world, and they’re just as good (or better, even) than those so-called classics.

I also won’t be putting them in exact order, because I just don’t have the patience to sit there and sort them all. I also doubt that I could choose a definitive order to put them in. So what I’ll do is kind of make it a Top 5, each number having a 10-way tie. And those 10 won’t be in any order, either. So with that said, allons-y!! 😀

 

NUMBERS 5

 

Cube

Title: Cube
Released in: 1997
Starring: Maurice Dean Wint, Nicole de Boer, David Hewlett, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, and Julian Richings
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: André Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali, and Graeme Manson
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Seven strangers awaken to find themselves captive in what seems like an endless cubic maze, each door leading either to safety or a gruesome death.
Why I Love It: A brilliant, character driven film that doesn’t shy away from the atrocities that humanity is capable of in a survival of the fittest kind of environment. And while there are a few gruesome scenes when the prisoners accidentally enter a booby trapped room, the film never goes too far with it. Nothing like buckets of pointless gore to ruin a great film.

 

Jeepers Creepers

Title: Jeepers Creepers
Released in: 2001
Starring: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith, and Eileen Brennan
Directed by: Victor Salva
Written by: Victor Salva
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Siblings Darry and Trish are driving home together from school when they are followed and attacked by a humanoid creature driving a big, rusty truck who wants to eat them to regenerate its own body parts.
Why I Love It: It’s a slightly ridiculous concept with sometimes shaky acting, but the visuals and effects are great, the villain is suitably creepy, and the whole film just gives off a vibe of great fun. It’s not very scary (to me anyways), but it’s always a good time.

 

Re-Animator

Title: Re-Animator
Released in: 1985
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, and Robert Sampson
Directed by: Stuart Gordon
Written by: Dennis Paoli, William Norris, and Stuart Gordon
Based On: Herbert West, Re-Animator by HP Lovecraft
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young medical student finds himself in over his head when new student Herbert West arrives with his experiments. Experiments to bring dead flesh back to life.
Why I Love It: This film is totally nuts, start to finish, but it’s got that 80’s horror charm, and Jeffrey Combs is electrifying, eating up the whole screen every time he’s on it. The film also boasts the most uncomfortable-to-watch “sex” scene in the history of film. You’ll spend most of the film not knowing whether to laugh or cringe, but that’s just part of the appeal of this classic gem.

 

Saw

Title: Saw
Released in: 2004
Starring: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Monica Potter, and Shawnee Smith
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Two men wake up in an almost empty room, each chained by the foot on opposite ends of the room, with a dead man sprawled on the ground between them. A cassette player informs them that to escape one must kill the other, or saw their own foot off with a provided jigsaw.
Why I Love It: When it first came out, Saw was unlike anything the horror genre had seen in a long time, a real breath of fresh air. It was a wonderful idea, and very well executed, with only a little shaky acting sometimes. Unfortunately, with all the sequels that came after, the Saw name became synonymous with “crap”, and the brilliance of the first film became lost in the sea of awful sequels.

 

The Crazies

Title: The Crazies
Released in: 2010
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby, and John Aylward
Directed by: Breck Eisner
Written by: Scott Kosar & Ray Wright
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Remake of 1973’s The Crazies, directed by George A Romero and starring Lane Carroll
5 Second Synopsis: After having their water contaminated, inhabitants of a small town become infected by a virus that makes them incredibly, mindlessly homicidal.
Why I Love It: Despite its rather silly name, this is a great film. I’m not much of a zombie movie fan, so I was reluctant to watch this one, but I was really glad I finally did. It may be classed as a zombie film, but besides a few similarities to the genre, it’s thankfully quite different. No dead people shambling around trying to eat flesh, this film is tense and sometimes scary, with great acting and awesome effects. This isn’t your grandfather’s zombie film :-p

 

The Pit & the Pendulum

Title: The Pit & the Pendulum
Released in: 1991
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Rona de Ricci, Jonathan Fuller, Stephen Lee, Mark Margolis, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Jeffrey Combs, and Frances Bay
Directed by: Stuart Gordon
Written by: Dennis Paoli
Based On: The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No. While The Pit and the Pendulum has been made into several films, this one isn’t a remake of any particular film.
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: An innocent young woman is arrested for witchcraft and tortured, while the leader of the inquisition, the evil Torquemada, lusts after her.
Why I Love It: I love Poe’s stories and poems, so it’s no surprise that I’d love the films based on his works. The film screams 90’s camp, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Lance Henriksen is wonderfully evil, he really makes the film the little gem that it is.

 

The Relic

Title: The Relic
Released in: 1997
Starring: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Clayton Rohner, Chi Muoi Lo, Thomas Ryan, and Lewis van Bergen
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Written by: Amy Jones, John Baffo, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver
Based On: Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A detective teams up with an anthropologist when strange murders are committed in a museum, bodies discovered with the hypothalamus of the brain missing. They discover a strange, monstrous creature living beneath the museum, and it seems to need to eat these missing brain pieces.
Why I Love It: Now, I saw this film before reading the book, which is a very, very good thing. If I’d have read the book first, I’d have been very upset, since the main protagonist of the book series (Special Agent Pendergast) isn’t even in the film! But since I saw the film first, I was able to just take it as it was, and I loved it. It was the best monster movie of its time, and still holds up well today. A real fun ride.

 

Thirteen Ghosts

Title: Thirteen Ghosts
Released in: 2001
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davitz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Alec Roberts, JR Bourne, Rah Digga, and F Murray Abraham
Directed by: Steve Beck
Written by: Benjamin Carr & Richard D’Ovidio
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Remake of 1960’s 13 Ghosts, directed by William Castle and starring Donald Woods
5 Second Synopsis: When his uncle dies, a man takes his two children and their nanny to visit the house that they inherited. While looking through the gorgeous glass house, they unwittingly release 12 very powerful, very homicidal ghosts.
Why I Love It: I’m not sure why I love this one so much, but I really do. I know it’s far from being a perfect film, but I don’t know, I just have so much fun watching it, and the ghosts are just so cool and well done that it doesn’t matter that half the film doesn’t really make sense, hehe.

 

Underworld

Title: Underworld
Released in: 2003
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Sophia Myles, Erwin Leder, Robby Gee, and Wentworth Miller
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Written by: Danny McBride
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A beautiful vampire warrior allies herself with a newly bitten werewolf when she begins to suspect that the war that has been raging for centuries between their two races is built on lies.
Why I Love It: A whole lot of style with a little substance, but it hardly matters. This film is so fun to watch, so visually pleasing that you can’t help but love it. And the story, while it’s the same old same old rehashed stuff, is just different enough to keep you entertained. And talk about eye candy, my goodness…

 

Warlock

Title: Warlock
Released in: 1989
Starring: Julian Sands, Richard E Grant, Lori Singer, Mary Woronov, and Kevin O’Brien
Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: David Twohy
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: An evil warlock opens a portal from his time, the 17th century, to the present day to escape execution. A righteous witch-hunter jumps into the portal after him just before it closes, and vows to stop the warlock’s evil for good.
Why I Love It: Julian Sands. Do I really need another reason? Oh, I do? Well, I guess it’s a good thing that the film is so much fun, then! Wonderfully campy and acted better than most movies in its genre, it’s definitely a gem of the 80’s.

 

NUMBERS 4

 

Event Horizon

Title: Event Horizon
Released in: 1997
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Jason Isaacs, Jack Noseworthy, Richard T Jones, and Sean Pertwee
Directed by: Paul WS Anderson
Written by: Philip Eisner
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A rescue crew is sent to investigate a ship that has been missing in deep space for years. Once on board, they realize that the abandoned vessel isn’t as empty as they first thought.
Why I Love It: Everything about the film is awesome. Great acting, great effects, great story, and just enough gore to slightly turn your stomach but not enough to just make it a gore-fest (which, you all may know by now, I’m not fond of). Almost 20 years later, it still gives me shivers while watching. A sign of a job well done!

 

Frailty

Title: Frailty
Released in: 2001
Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, and Powers Boothe
Directed by: Bill Paxton
Written by: Brent Hanley
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A man confesses to an FBI agent his family’s story of how his religious fanatic father’s visions lead to a series of murders to destroy supposed “demons.” (Taken from IMDB, I was having a hell of a time trying to make a small synopsis, hehe.)
Why I Love It: It’s absolutely brilliant. Well written, incredibly acted, a wonderfully creepy story with a killer twist, before twists were a dime a dozen. Just wonderful.

 

Ginger Snaps

Title: Ginger Snaps
Released in: 2000
Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Kris Lemche, Jesse Moss, Danielle Hampton, John Bourgeois, and Mimi Rogers
Directed by: John Fawcett
Written by: Karen Walton
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After being attacked by a large, furry creature on the night of a full moon, teenager Ginger and her sister Brigitte are on the lookout for clues that she is turning into a werewolf.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, it’s bloody, it’s smartly written, well acted and has cool practical effects. Werewolf films are hard to do without getting schlocky, but Ginger Snaps manages just fine. Also, Katharine Isabelle is a fox. And she loves making horror films, good news for us pervy horror fans! 😉

 

Idle Hands

Title: Idle Hands
Released in: 1999
Starring: Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Jessica Alba, Elden Henson, Vivica A Fox, Jack Noseworthy, Katie Wright, and Christopher Hart’s hand
Directed by: Rodman Flender
Written by: Terri Hughes & Ron Milbauer
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A stoner’s hand becomes possessed by an evil spirit and it kills his two best friends. To try stop the killing, he chops his hand off but, much to his chagrin, it just keeps moving and escapes his house to go wreak havoc at a school Halloween dance.
Why I Love It: Despite its silly subject matter, this film is actually quite good. Laugh out loud funny with awesome special effects (that still hold up today), it’s a great popcorn movie. Plus, Devon Sawa. Total 90’s babe. Meow.

 

Near Dark

Title: Near Dark
Released in: 1987
Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Joshua John Miller, and Tom Thomerson
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Written by: Kathryn Bigelow & Eric Red
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After being bit by a beautiful vampire, a young man is given an ultimatum by her “family”: make a kill within a week, or die. When he realizes he can’t kill, he and the girl run off, with her family in hot pursuit.
Why I Love It: I saw this for the first time as a teenager, and it had everything a teenage girl could possibly want. Romance, eye candy, and lots and lots of blood. Oh yeah 😀

 

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Title: Repo! The Genetic Opera
Released in: 2008
Starring: Alexa Vega, Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Sorvino, Terrance Zdunich, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, and Nivek Ogre
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by: Terrance Zdunich & Darren Smith
Based On: Their play of the same name.
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Set in a future where surgery has become a fashion statement, a chronically ill teen longs for the outside world. When she finally gets her wish, she’s quick to notice that not everything in her life is as it seems.
Why I Love It: A goth musical? With Sarah Brightman, Ogre, and Giles? How the heck could I not love it?? Great songs, great performances (even Paris! *gasp!*), and killer costumes, this was an instant cult classic. So much fun.

 

Signs

Title: Signs
Released in: 2002
Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones, and Patricia Kalember
Directed by: M Night Shyamalan
Written by: M Night Shyamalan
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A preacher and his family find giant crop circles in their corn. Then they, and the rest of the world, come to realize that this time, it’s no hoax.
Why I Love It: A lot of people say that this was the beginning of the end for Shyamalan’s films, but I really liked this one. Yes, there’s a lot of self indulgent bullshit, but there’s a lot of great, tense moments, too, which more than make up for it.

 

Sinister

Title: Sinister
Released in: 2012
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, and Nick King
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Scott Derrickson & C Robert Cargill
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A true crime writer moves his family into a house where a horrific quadruple murder took place. He finds old reels of home video in the attic that leads him to believe that these murders were just one in a string of horrifying serial murders, taking place as far back as the 60’s.
Why I Love It: This is an excellent piece of film. Well acted, well written, awesomely atmospheric. Us horror fans are blessed that an actor of Ethan Hawke’s caliber loves doing horror films. But before you write this off as “just another ghost story”, think again. It’d probably have been higher on the list, but I’ve only seen it once, and so many others are higher simply for being loved longer, hehe.

 

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Title: The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Released in: 2005
Starring: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore, Joshua Close, Kenneth Welsh, Duncan Fraser, and Mary Beth Hurt
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson
Based On: A true story
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A tough lawyer takes on the case of a priest who is accused of negligent homicide after the death of a young woman on whom he had performed an exorcism.
Why I Love It: Exorcism movies, I find, are either amazing, or they’re crappy. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. This one is amazing. You wouldn’t think a courtroom drama and exorcism horror would mesh well together in the same film, but they really do. I don’t believe for a moment that this is actually a true story (not the possession part anyways, the exorcism and trial were real enough, though), but it’s captivating, and all the acting is wonderful, especially from Dexter actress Jennifer Carpenter.

 

The Exorcist III

Title: The Exorcist III
Released in: 1990
Starring: George C Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson, Scott Wilson, Nancy Fish, and George DiCenzo
Directed by: William Peter Blatty
Written by: William Peter Blatty
Based On: Legion by William Peter Blatty
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Sequel to 1973’s The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin and starring Linda Blair.
5 Second Synopsis: As a police lieutenant mourns on the anniversary of his friend’s death (Father Karras, from the first film), a serial killer strikes whose MO is eerily similar to a killer’s who’s been dead for 15 years.
Why I Love It: This is the sequel that The Exorcist should of had, instead of the abomination that was made (seriously, what the hell was that??) It’s a great story, and has real scares, with none of the camp that 90’s horror was so famous for. A real, under-rated gem.

 

NUMBERS 3

 

Constantine

Title: Constantine
Released in: 2005
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachael Weisz, Shia LeBoeuf, Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Max Baker, and Peter Stormare
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Written by: Kevin Brodbin & Frank A Cappello
Based On: Hellblazer by Jamie Delano & Garth Ennis
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A supernatural detective stumbles on a world-ending plot while ridding the world of demons.
Why I Love It: I won’t try give credit where none is due, Keanu Reeves is still a pretty bad actor. And yet this movie is awesome. The film doesn’t follow the books very closely (but that’s ok with me since I didn’t enjoy them all that much anyways). But the story is great, the effects are amazing, and the supporting cast is very strong, giving poor Keanu all the help he needs.

 

Dracula 2000

Title: Dracula 2000
Released in: 2000
Starring: Gerard Butler, Justine Waddell, Jonny Lee Miller, Christopher Plummer, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, Jeri Ryan, and Nathan Fillion
Directed by: Patrick Lussier
Written by: Joel Soisson
Based On: Characters created by Bram Stoker
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No. The Dracula story has been told in countless films, but this film, while based on the same story as all the others, is its own film, not based on its predecessors.
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: In modern-day London, the long-entrapped Count Dracula is unwittingly released by thieves, and goes to New Orleans to find the one born of his blood, Mary Van Helsing.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, hip, relatively well acted, and has a neat new idea for the identity of everyone’s favourite Count. Gerard Butler turns in a mesmerizing performance, it remains one of my very favourite on-screen vampire portrayals of all time. And he’s so sexy in this. So very, very sexy…. mmmmmmm… *snaps out of it* Ok, I’m done, sorry :-p

 

From Dusk Till Dawn

Title: From Dusk Till Dawn
Released in: 1996
Starring: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, and Ted Williamson
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Two brothers on the run from the law take a father with his two kids hostage to sneak across the border into Mexico in their RV. Once there, they hole up in a brothel for the night to await a contact. Little do they know that this brothel is also a vampire nest, and they’re going to have to fight through the night if they want to survive.
Why I Love It: What not to love about this film? Badass characters, hyper-violence, buckets of blood, and lots of boobage, this movie is a ton and a half of fun, while still boasting a solid cast of good actors, and killer practical effects. Grab the popcorn and have a blast!

 

Identity

Title: Identity
Released in: 2003
Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John C McGinley, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, and Pruitt Taylor Vince
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Michael Cooney
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A group of strangers gets trapped in a small motel while a storm floods the roads. Elsewhere, a doctor awaits the arrival of his patient, who is on death row and is to be executed the next day.
Why I Love It: Despite some rather shaky acting from some of the smaller cast members, this film is amazing. Good acting from the core actors, awesome story that’ll keep you guessing till the very end, and a killer twist that actually makes sense. I’d have preferred the last 2 minutes to be cut from the film, though, I find it kinda cheapens the whole thing, which is why I gave it 9 stars instead of 10.

 

Queen of the Damned

Title: Queen of the Damned
Released in: 2002
Starring: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah, Marguerite Moreau, Vincent Perez, Paul McGann, Lena Olin, and Matthew Newton
Directed by: Michael Rymer
Written by: Scott Abbott & Michael Patroni
Based On: The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Sequel to 1994’s Interview with the Vampire, directed by Neil Jordan and starring Brad Pitt.
5 Second Synopsis: A long-sleeping vampire wakes when a bold and arrogant younger vampire decides to start a rock band, and divulges “vampire secrets” in his lyrics.
Why I Love It: The acting is pretty shaky, the story is so far from Anne Rice’s original idea that it probably shouldn’t be allowed to claim to be based on her books, it’s full of clichés, and yet I love it. And nothing anyone can say will change my mind. Trust me, people have tried :-p

 

Stir of Echoes

Title: Stir of Echoes
Released in: 1999
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Zachary David Cope, Kevin Dunn, Conor O’Farrell, and Jennifer Morrison
Directed by: David Koepp
Written by: David Koepp
Based On: A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After being hypnotized, a family man starts to unravel after he starts seeing cryptic messages from a ghostly girl.
Why I Love It: Wonderfully acted, creepy and atmospheric, and well written, this is an almost perfect ghost story.

 

The Exorcist

Title: The Exorcist
Released in: 1973
Starring: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max Von Sydow, Lee J Cobb, William O’Malley, and Mercedes McCambridge
Directed by: William Friedkin
Written by: William Peter Blatty
Based On: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, a true story
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After playing with a Ouija board, a young girl is possessed by a malevolent demon. Her mother begs a priest to perform an exorcism to save her.
Why I Love It: Just the right amount of body horror with psychological terror, this is one of the original greats. Saw it for the first time when I was 16, and it still scares me today. A true classic.

 

The Last Man on Earth

Title: The Last Man on Earth
Released in: 1964
Starring: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart
Directed by: Ubaldo Ragona
Written by: William F Leicester & Richard Matheson
Based On: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After an epidemic sweeps the globe and turns everyone into blood-sucking monsters, a lone survivor searches for a cure, while killing as many of the monsters as he can.
Why I Love It: Vincent Price, Richard Matheson, and vampires? Of course I love it! No other reason is necessary! 😀

 

The Mummy

Title: The Mummy
Released in: 1999
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachael Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J O’Connor, Oded Fehr, Jonathan Hyde, and Patricia Velasquez
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Written by: Stephen Sommers
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Reimagining of 1932’s The Mummy, directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff
5 Second Synopsis: Adventurers looking for treasure and artifacts on an ancient Egyptian site accidentally awaken an evil mummy that had been buried for thousands of years.
Why I Love It: I love anything to do with ancient Egypt, supernatural or otherwise, so it was a given that I’d love this one. Thankfully, it also happens to be great fun to watch.

 

The Stand

Title: The Stand
Released in: 1994
Starring: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Adam Storke, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe, Corin Nemec, Matt Frewer, Miguel Ferrer, and Ray Walston
Directed by: Mick Garris
Written by: Stephen King
Based On: The Stand by Stephen King
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After a man-made super flu kills 99% of the people on earth, the survivors band together into two groups, one drawn by dreams of a kind old lady, the others by an evil man.
Why I Love It: I saw this at 13 when it first aired on tv, and I hadn’t read the book yet, which was probably a good thing, since it allowed me to love the mini-series, and not continuously compare it to the book. When I read the book a few years later, I was amazed at how much extra stuff was in it, but my love of the show was already cemented, hehe. It’s hopelessly dated, but it’s still a fun watch.

 

NUMBERS 2

 

Aliens

Title: Aliens
Released in: 1986
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and William Hope
Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Sequel to 1979’s Alien, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver.
5 Second Synopsis: The sole survivor from the first film assists a tough group of space marines in containing the Xenomorph threat, while a malevolent company wants the alien offspring captured alive. Naturally, stuff goes very wrong.
Why I Love It: Do I really have to explain myself? A definite success in the merging of sci-fi and horror genres, it was, and remains, one of the best films of its genre. Everything was done so well that it’s easy to forget that the film wasn’t made recently, but rather almost 30 years ago. A sign of a job well done!

 

Beetlejuice

Title: Beetlejuice
Released in: 1988
Starring: Michael Keeton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Glenn Shadix
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Michael McDowell & Warren Skaaren
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After a young couple tragically dies in an accident, they’re told that they will have to “haunt” their house for quite a few number of years. When a new family moves in and start making changes to their beloved home, they contact a “bio-exorcist” to make them leave.
Why I Love It: This film almost didn’t make the list at all, since I wasn’t sure if I should include it in a horror list, but it’s so awesome that I decided to go ahead and add it. Wickedly funny with awesome practical effects, this has been one of my favourites since I was a kid.

 

Cabin in the Woods

Title: The Cabin in the Woods
Released in: 2012
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison, Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland, and Sigourney Weaver
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Written by: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods for some R&R. Meanwhile, a government office seems to be preparing for something that involves the group. And that’s pretty much all I can say without giving spoilers, just in case there are still a few horror fans who haven’t seen this.
Why I Love It: “Written by Joss Whedon” was all I needed to see to convince me to go see it. It was so much fun, so tongue-in-cheek, that’s impossible to not love it. There are so many winks to so many horror films and tropes that even after multiple viewings, there’s always something I didn’t notice ‘last time’. Just awesome.

 

Dracula

Title: Dracula
Released in: 1992
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Sadie Frost, Cary Elwes, Richard E Grant, Tom Waits, and Monica Bellucci
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: James V Hart
Based On: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No. The Dracula story has been told in countless films, but this film, while based on the same story as all the others, is its own film, not based on its predecessors, and is actually closer to the book than the rest.
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After seeing a photograph of a woman who resembles his long-dead wife, a centuries old vampire travels to England to find her.
Why I Love It: I don’t really think I need to explain why I love this film, hehe. The only thing that’s not perfect is Keanu Reeves’ acting :-p

 

House on Haunted Hill

Title: House on Haunted Hill
Released in: 1999
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Bridgette Wilson, Max Perlich, and Jeffrey Combs
Directed by: William Malone
Written by: Dick Beebe
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Remake of 1959’s House on Haunted Hill, directed by William Castle and starring Vincent Price.
5 Second Synopsis: An eccentric millionaire offers a million dollars to one of four guests if they can survive the night in a supposedly haunted mansion, which used to be an asylum with a horrifying past.
Why I Love It: Such a fun film that doesn’t rely on jump scares to creep you out. I absolutely love this one. Strong acting, strong writing, and a superbly creepy setting make this film step ahead of a lot of others in its genre.

 

It

Title: It
Released in: 1990
Starring: Tim Curry, Richard Thomas, Jonathan Brandis, Annette O’Toole, Emily Perkins, Harry Anderson, Seth Green, Dennis Christopher, and John Ritter
Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace
Written by: Tommy Lee Wallace & Stephen King
Based On: It by Stephen King
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: In 1960, seven outcast kids known as ‘The Losers Club’ fight an evil child-eating demon who poses as a clown. 30 years later, they are called back to fight the same clown again. (from IMDB)
Why I Love It: I watched this when it came out,which meant I was 9 years old. Pennywise traumatized the crap out of me, and I’ve hated clowns ever since. But despite all this, I loved it, and still do. I’m not sure I’d have liked it so much had I seen it for the first time now, because it absolutely screams early 90’s, so I guess it’s a good thing I saw it way back then, hehe.

 

Pitch Black

Title: Pitch Black
Released in: 2000
Starring: Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Claudia Black, Rhiana Griffith, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, and Simon Burke
Directed by: David Twohy
Written by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, and David Twohy
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A cargo ship carrying a dangerous fugitive crashes on a planet that is always bright. When the sun finally goes down, though, the survivors realize that they are not alone.
Why I Love It: I can’t really explain why I love this one so much. It should have just been a generic crash-land-on-dangerous-planet thing, and yet just because all components were slightly better than usual, it made this film a total gem. At least to me, hehe.

 

Stigmata

Title: Stigmata
Released in: 1999
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long, Thomas Kopache, Rade Serbedzija, Enrico Colantoni, and Dick Latessa
Directed by: Rupert Wainwright
Written by: Tom Lazarus & Rick Ramage
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young woman is plagued with vicious bouts of stigmata, the wounds of Jesus Christ while being crucified, after receiving a rosary from her mother from Brazil. A priest from the Vatican is sent to investigate.
Why I Love It: I’m usually not big on religious stories, but this one spends more time on the characters, and less time being preachy, and so I enjoyed it very much. The story is great, most of the acting is great, and Gabriel Byrne is a stone-cold fox. Three great reasons to love it, hehehe.

 

The Eye

Title: Gin Gwai (The Eye)
Released in: 2002
Starring: Lee Sin-Je, Lawrence Chou, Candy Lo, Yut Lai So, Edmund Chen, Chutcha Rujinanon, Sue Yuen Wang, Pierre Png, and Yin Ping Ko
Directed by: The Pang Brothers
Written by: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang, and Yuet-Jan Hui
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young woman, blind from birth, gets cornea transplants, allowing her to finally see. But she soon realizes that her new eyes see much more than everyone else.
Why I Love It: Asian films are often too weird for me to enjoy, but when they get it right, they get it damn right. The acting, effects, and atmosphere are all stupendous. A definite gem, express from Hong Kong.

 

The Woman in Black

Title: The Woman in Black
Released in: 2012
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, Shaun Dooley, Mary Stockley, Roger Allam, Jessica Raine, Sophie Stuckey, and Misha Handley
Directed by: James Watkins
Written by: Jane Goldman
Based On: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Remake of 1989’s The Woman in Black, directed by Herbert Wise and starring Adrian Rawlins.
5 Second Synopsis: A young, widowed lawyer is sent to close the estate of an old woman who just passed away. While getting her affairs in order in her manor, he is plagued by an evil presence that brings a horrible end to some of the towns’ children.
Why I Love It: Superbly acted and creepily atmospheric, this film was a masterpiece. Young Daniel upped his game for this role, and he did a wonderful job. It’s hard to be in a film with so little dialogue and still be entertaining, but he, and the rest of the cast, managed beautifully. In my opinion, it’s one of the finest films to come out of the horror genre in the last 15 years. The only reason it’s not in the number ones is because all the films up there (save one) are long-time favourites.

 

And now, for the best of the best, my very favourites, the top 10 horror films that I strongly suggest everyone see, even those people who don’t really care for horror. As usual, these aren’t in any order, it’s a 10-way tie for the number 1 slot, hehe. There’s only one recent film, one from 2002, two from 1999, and then the rest are 1994 and earlier. But, like I said in my intro, you won’t be seeing hardly any of the ‘usuals’ in this spot. My number one spot(s) is reserved for films that are actually good 😉 So, without any further ado, here are my-

 

NUMBERS 1

 

Fright Night

Title: Fright Night
Released in: 1985
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark, Dorothy Fielding, and Art Evans
Directed by: Tom Holland
Written by: Tom Holland
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A teen becomes suspicious of his new neighbour when bodies of young women are found dumped in trash bags. He soon realizes the suave, handsome man is an evil vampire, and he tries to enlist the help of a tv vampire slayer to stop him.
Why I Love It: One of the original great horror-comedies, this film is fun, campy, and scary. The actors are perfect in their roles, especially Chris Sarandon as the evil yet seductive Jerry Dandridge. The remake, while nowhere near as good as this one, is still worth a gander.

 

Interview with the Vampire

Title: Interview with the Vampire
Released in: 1994
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, Stephen Rea, Domiziana Giordano, Indra Ové, and Thandie Newton
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Anne Rice
Based On: Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young man who has lost his wife and baby in childbirth is offered immortality by a charming but ruthless vampire. We follow him through his centuries of life as he tells his story to a young writer.
Why I Love It: So beautiful and sumptuous. Incredibly acted and written, it follows the book quite closely (which is to be expected when it’s the author who writes the screenplay). A lot of the actors don’t look like their book counterparts, but the movie is so well done that I was able to forgive this.

 

noes

Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Released in: 1984
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Charles Fleischer, John Saxon, and Ronee Blakley
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: In the dreams of his victims, a spectral child murderer stalks the children of the members of the lynch mob that killed him. (From IMDB)
Why I Love It: This was the very first horror movie I ever saw, even before The Lost Boys, which means I was just a wee thing (only 3 or 4 years old) when I saw it. And it’s stuck with me ever since, still one of my top 10 favourites, even with the sometimes laughable acting and effects. When a movie is this good, lots of stuff can be over-looked! hehe

 

Poltergeist

Title: Poltergeist
Released in: 1982
Starring: Craig T Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Heather O’Rourke, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Martin Casella, and Zelda Rubinstein
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, and Mark Victor
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorize the family before they kidnap the youngest daughter. (from IMDB)
Why I Love It: An absolute classic of the genre, it’s still one of the very best haunted house films ever made, even 32 years later.

 

Sleepy Hollow

Title: Sleepy Hollow
Released in: 1999
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones, Casper van Dien, Richard Griffiths, Michael Gough, Marc Pickering, Lisa Marie, Ian McDiarmid and Christopher Walken
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker
Based On: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A slightly eccentric Constable is sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate killings that the locals are sure were committed by a ghostly headless horseman.
Why I Love It: This is Burton and Depp at their very best, when the creative mojo was still mojoing, and they were still making terrific pictures together. The scenery is dark and brooding, the characters are all captivating, and Johnny Depp is, of course, absolutely gorgeous. Simply wonderful.

 

The Conjuring

Title: The Conjuring
Released in: 2013
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton and Joseph Bishara
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes
Based On: The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle, a true story.
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: When the strange occurrences in their new home become more frequent and violent, a family of seven asks a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators to help them.
Why I Love It: The most recent film in my whole list, and yet it blew right to one of the top spots almost immediately. Everything in this film is perfect. All the actors are in excellent form, the writing and directing are phenomenal, and it’s more than just a little scary. Not many recent films have this kind of power and atmosphere. If you haven’t seen this yet, I highly reccomend that you drop everything and go watch it right now!! 😉

 

The Lost Boys

Title: The Lost Boys
Released in: 1987
Starring: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Keifer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes, Edward Herrmann, Jamison Newlander, Alex Winter, Billy Wirth, Brooke McCarter, Chance Michael Corbitt, Folsom the Dog, and Cody the Dog
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Jan Fischer, James Jeremias, and Jeffrey Boam
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: When brothers Sam and Michael move to a new town after their parents divorce, they quickly realize that the town is over-run by vampires. Sam gets help from self-appointed vampire slayers, but for Michael it may be too late…
Why I Love It: It was the first vampire movie I ever saw, and was the beginning of a life-long love affair with all things that go bump in the night. The story isn’t really anything new (I’m not even sure there’s any original ideas left anywhere), but the ride is so fun that it doesn’t matter. Their vampires are the ‘real’ deal; they’re strong, fast, sexy and oh so evil, just the way vamps aught to be, hehe.

 

The Ring

Title: The Ring
Released in: 2002
Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Shannon Cochran, and Daveigh Chase
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Based On: Ringu (Ring) by Kôji Suzuki
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: Yes
Of what?: Remake of 1998’s Ringu, directed by Hideo Nakata and starring Nanako Matsushima.
5 Second Synopsis: After her niece dies under mysterious circumstances, a journalist promises her sister she will investigate the death. What she finds is a cassette tape that kills you in seven days if you watch it. With the clock ticking, she must figure out what the spirit in the tape wants, or else die like everyone else who has seen it.
Why I Love It: It doesn’t happen very often that a remake is better than the original, but this happens to be one such instance. Despite the dated nature of some of the plot points (does anyone even own vhs anymore? lol), this film is still immensely watchable and creepy, even 12 years later. Everything is wonderful, acting, effects, writing, everything. Not just one of my favourite horror movies, it’s one of my favourite movies, period.

 

The Silence of the Lambs

Title: The Silence of the Lambs
Released in: 1991
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Brooke Smith, Lawrence T Wrentz, and Diane Baker
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Written by: Ted Tally
Based On: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A young FBI rookie is sent to ask the help of brilliant cannibalistic killer Dr Hannibal Lecter in catching another killer who kidnaps his victims, holds them for many days, then skins them to make a “woman suit”.
Why I Love It: I love serial killers. I’ve got this weird, morbid fascination with them. I watch a lot of true crime stuff, read true crime books, and of course, I love serial killer fiction as well. And this film, even after so much time, is still the best of the best. Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill are still two of the creepiest serial killers ever to be captured on film, and it’s still, to my knowledge, the only horror film not only to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, but to win it. And it was very much earned.

 

The Sixth Sense

Title: The Sixth Sense
Released in: 1999
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Mischa Barton, and Donnie Wahlberg
Directed by: M Night Shyamalan
Written by: M Night Shyamalan
Based On: N/A
Remake/reimagining/sequel?: No
Of what?: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. (from IMDB)
Why I Love It: I do love me a good old haunting. I remember when I saw this for the first time. I went to see it at the cinema with my cousin. And we were both so blown away by that ending, we went back to see it again right after, just to see if we could spot any mistakes that would have the twist make no sense. We couldn’t. And thankfully, unlike a lot of films with such twists, this film is so good that even knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t take any enjoyment away from the film.

 

PHEW!! That’s it! I’m finally done!! I hope you guys really enjoy this article, it took me more than 3 weeks to complete! (Not working at it full time, obviously, but still!) I had loads of fun making it, and I hope you have as much fun reading it.

Thanks for coming by, and stay tuned for more! (I’ll try my best to return to a more regular posting schedule 🙂 ).

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys
(1987) Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Keifer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes, Edward Herrmann, Jamison Newlander, Alex Winter, Billy Wirth, Brooke McCarter, Chance Michael Corbitt, Folsom the Dog, and Cody the Dog

the-lost-boys

This is one of my top 10 movies of all time. Actually, it’s probably my number 1 favorite of all time. It was the first vampire movie I ever saw, and was the beginning of a life-long love affair with all things that go bump in the night. I was 6 years old when this film came out, and when my mom brought it home on VHS, she hid it saying it was too scary for me. So of course I had to see it. I probably saw it a dozen times already by the time she caught me, and since I hadn’t had any of the nightmares she promised I would have if I saw scary movies, she just sighed and let me watch whatever I wanted from that point on. The story isn’t really anything new (I’m not even sure there’s any original ideas left anywhere), but the ride is so fun that it doesn’t matter. Their vampires are the “real” deal; they’re strong, fast, sexy and oh so evil, just the way vamps aught to be, hehe. If for some strange reason you haven’t seen this little classic gem yet, go do it now!! I obviously give it 10/10 😀

This film isn’t currently on Netflix, nor did I manage to find a full copy on YouTube, but it’s definitely worth the 10 bucks or so it costs on DVD. Go ahead, don’t be cheap!! hehe

 

M.