As much as I hate to bring up the T word again (in hushed voice whispers; Twilight) people have been going ape shit for the soundtrack to the latest installment. That might be because Twihards get hectic and snap up anything to do with the phenomenon. Or perhaps it’s because, like the first soundtrack, there’s actually some pretty decent music on there. Now pump the brake kids, I said `pretty decent’, not amazing, but that got me thinking... the soundtracks accompanying movies these days often have the potential to skyrocket the featured artists in to the charts, or at least give them well needed exposure.
Take Kimya Dawson’s boost after the success of the Juno soundtrack or Muse’s merge in to the mainstream after the Twilight soundtrack hit number one in the Italian Movie soundtracks make up a huge portion of my iTunes library and I’ve discovered some incredible bands courtesy of films like Idle Hands and I’m Not There. And then you have the rare gem of a film that has such an incredible original score and songs, they themselves become treasured, i.e Hairspray, Chicago and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Everyone has their own beloved movie soundtrack and opinion on the best movie soundtracks of all time. For future reference and in no particular order, here’s a list of my ultimate favourites.
It’s only a few days until my favourite holiday of the year — Halloween! So, in preparation of the event that trumps birthdays and Christmas in my books, I’ve put together a list of five underground horror films you most likely haven’t seen, but should definitely give a whirl in the DVD player. Personally, I like to relive classic horror films in the lead-up to Halloween (Psycho, Dracula, Frankensteins Bride, The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween, Jaws, Scream, 28 Days Later), but I also thoroughly enjoy trying out a few newbies I haven’t seen or have slipped under the radar. Oh, for those of you who aren’t American and lucky enough to have the much hyped Paranormal Activity released in your country yet, I’m heading along to a sneak screening on Friday and will have a fresh review of the flick come Halloween, a solid two months before it’s released here in Australia! Wooo! Hopefully it’s as scary as they say, colour me skeptical...
So, 5 Underground Horror Films You Must See This Halloween:
If this movie teaches you anything, always choose the treat option — unless, that is, your candy has been laced with poison by your school principal in a ploy to turn you in to a human jack-o-lantern. Trick ‘R Treat follows several such interwoven stories — including a group of bitchy, female college students; a bickering married couple — on Halloween. Funnier than it is scary, genre fans should get a kick out of this celebration of 1980s horror, especially the sillier, gory moments for just when you think you’re going one way, a cabbage patch kid slaughters people with a lollipop, and you’re heading in a completely different direction.
It’s refreshing that director Michael Doughety (making his debut after writing the likes of X2) wants us to enjoy a horror movie, rather that recoil from it, and the respectable cast including Anna Paquin and Tahmoh Penikett, add class. Trick R’ Treat is at its best when it’s not trying too hard, and falters slightly when it tries to incorporate alternate time-lines and flashbacks. Check your brain at the door and you will have a good time with this mish-mash of Halloween myths and horror conventions.
For every Intruder and Future Cop, producer Charles Band makes something like Puppetmaster; a film so bizarre you know only he could have made it. This time out, the intention of this direct-to-video production was to cash-in on the success of Child’s Play, released a year earlier. But even Band couldn’t have guessed at the demented following the movie would accrue, allowing him to make nine sequels and a line of merchandise.
Puppetmaster opens with, er, puppets lovingly put in a box by their, um, master... who brought them to life using an ancient Egyptian spell. Once the toys are packed, the old man shoots himself in the head, as you do. Fast forward a few decades, and a group of people — each member has their own unique psychic ability — is brought together in mysterious fashion at a hotel where they fall victim to Pinocchio and pals, who’re not only real boys, but sadistic killing machines. Best of the bunch? Tunneller, a Kim Jong-il lookalike with a drill for a head.
With such l’il bastards running wild, mayhem and increasingly creative death scenes are the order of the day, some involving a human-doll orgy, bondage and leeches. Fans of “so bad it’s good” horror will be right at home, especially with the villain declaring stuff like, “I put a gun in my head and blew away my past knowledge and now here I am. . .dead”, before trying to explain his reincarnation “metaphysically”. Also amusing is the revelation that the original puppet master thought his creations were harmless, but fretted they might hurt people if he wasn’t around. That said, one wonders why a) he killed himself and b) he made, say, a puppet with a hook and butcher knife for arms.
That’s the point though; if puppets regurgitated rainbows instead of leeches, that wouldn’t be a very interesting horror movie. So, get past all the dodginess and you’re in for a daggy delight. It will also be a treat to see this kitsch classic before the upcoming 3-D remake to be released early 2011.
Brilliant, unsettling and hilarious are perhaps three words I’d use to describe this little gem of a black comedy. Or is it? It’s hard to define as a black comedy when there are definitely elements of horror. But whatever genre you want to throw it in, Teeth is just a little bit awesome. In a nutshell Teeth is about a teenage virgin named Dawn who discovers, through a series of unfortunate incidents, she has teeth in her vagina. Yes, that’s right I said teeth in her vadge (a phenomenon popular in mythology in civilisations throughout the world know as vagina dentata). And if you think she’s unlucky, wait to you see the how the handful of men that try to pop her cherry end up. Lets just say there are certain scenes the male audience may find, er, uncomfortable.
An indie film with a cast of unknowns, you can tell lead actress Jess Weixler is going to be a star. Praise for director Mitchell Lichtenstein is well deserved, as he tackles the taboo topic of female sexuality in Hollywood films in an intelligent, satirical way. But the film’s greatest strength, once you put the shocking concept of the film aside, is Teeth is essentially a movie about a young woman who comes to accept her flaws and use them to her advantage. Who would have thought a film about a fang-filled flange could present a strong message on female empowerment?
Sick of werewolves acting more like domesticated Labrador’s then the vicious, bloodthirsty fiends they are? Well, I am, especially when we’re surrounded by were-wimps in the Twilight series and Professor `fuzzy’ Lupin in the Harry Potter franchise. But if, like me, you enjoy your werewolf movies with plenty of bite, then Ginger Snaps is one to add to the must-see list. A sharp, intelligent, teen angst, werewolf film, it’s arguably the best lycanthrope movie since An American Werewolf In London. I know, big call, but the number of sequels the indie original has spawned and its elevation to cult status confirms Ginger Snaps is more that your run-of-the-mill monster film.
Using werewolfism as a metaphor for puberty, the film focuses on the two close teenage sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, who are the gothic outsiders at their highschool with their only friends being themselves. When Ginger gets attacked by a beast in the woods one night, and her wounds miraculously heal, she starts undergo a series of `changes’. Initially disregarded it as an element of puberty, her sister knows better and so begins the journey to discover and live with what she is. Received surprisingly well by critics and compared favorable with the work of legendary horror filmmaker David Cronenberg, Ginger Snaps is fangtatsic spin on the werewolf movie and a thoughtful look at the bonds of sisterhood.
Easily one of the best, most original horror offerings this year, Splinter is a thrilling twist on the zombie-infection scenario. In fact, it creates its own rules with the clever concept of a blood-crazed, parasitic creature that absorbs the corpses of its victims. Visually, there hasn’t been a horror creature quite like the possessed nature of those in Splinter, nor too has such a potentially ridiculous plot been executed so perfectly. For a low-budget release, you wouldn’t be able to tell Spilnter is lacking the financial support of most mainstream horror films given the slick production and creative special effects. The debut for British filmmaker Toby Wilkins, the film follows two very different couples who take refuge in an isolated gas station when the parasite attacks... so to speak. Never taking itself too seriously, Splinter is a cringe-inducing, jolt-filled, fast-paced, thrilling ride and a throw back to the best creature features of the 70s and 80s.