October is a special time for movie nerds on the internet. Whereas normally we have to at least keep up a veneer of respectability and avoid movies about mutants or killer babies, now we can dive in headfirst, because it’s Halloween, suckas! I can talk about killer baby movies and there ain’t jack you can do to stop me, muahahaha!
I mean….horror movies, then.
I already listed off my favorite horror movies way back when, and while that list is still a perfectly good list of Halloween viewing material, I thought it would be worthwhile to take at some lesser known but still definitely worth watching flicks for you FTB readers who want to be all indie and underground and see, see, I’m working with the system, don’t fire me!
Picking just one work by the infamous b-horror director Frank Henenlotter is no easy task. I mean, how do you even pick between a movie where this happens and a movie where THIS happens.
But in the end, I went with the one that started it all, the story of a young man in New York carrying around a wicker basket containing his hideously deformed separated Siamese twin, who looks like what happens if you melted Gary Busey in a microwave. The two are on a mission, you see, to get bloody vengeance on the doctors who separated them, and yes this is all as profoundly fucked up on screen as it sounds here.
My friends, there are low-brow films. Then there are REALLY low-brow films. And then, there is Basket Case, a film where at one point during the filming of a particularly effed-up scene, the entire crew reportedly just packed up and left.
And that’s not even the first time Henenlotter’s had that happen on a shoot. Guy just films some messed up shit.
As you probably guessed from the links above, Henenlotter films are a special kind of demented, but if you can roll with that, Basket case and its’ two sequels are great fun. Just the kind of fun you made need a long shower after indulging in.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Neil Marshall is another one of those relatively unknown, hardworking directors who just knows how to bottle awesomeness and put it on film. But before directing early Fassbender flick Centurion or The Descent, a film that is to claustrophobics as the circus is to coulrophobics (oh, look it up, I ain’t got all day), he filmed a little flick called Dog Soldiers.
God, this movie kicks ass. Our heroes are a bunch of rough-and-tumble British soldiers on a routine combat exercise in the woods of Scotland. But things start to go somewhat askew when they’re set upon by a pack of ravenous werewolves and have to survive till dawn in an old farmhouse, or die trying.
The film boasts some impressive acting talent in the form of Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham and others, and Marshall’s technical prowess for action scenes can even be seen here in his first feature film.
But on top of that, the movie just rocks. It’s one of the only werewolf movies I know where the heroes put up a vicious fight against their attackers, even going hand-to-hand in one memorable scene. Of course we all know where it’s going, but it’s still one hell of a ride.
Everybody loves babies, right? Well, apparently not film maker Larry Cohen, who made not one, not two, but three movies about killer mutant babies. Killer mutant babies. Doesn’t saying that just get you excited?
What’s really interesting about the first one in particular is just how mysterious the little bugger is. For one thing, you never really get a good look at it. This is probably more due to the fact that the film had ZERO budget and the effects were pretty shoddy, but the tension that comes from only ever catching glimpses of the killer mutant baby is pretty decent.
And there’s the fact that the film never outright tells you WHY there’s a killer mutant baby. Oh sure, it makes some suggestions. Maybe it’s a mutation caused by hazardous chemicals. Maybe it’s the next step in human evolution. Maybe the baby somehow sensed that the parents briefly considered terminating, and actually became this way to defend itself (isn’t that just the most demented thing you ever heard).
The whole thing is has this almost artful obliqueness to it, which isn’t something you see in most movies about killer mutant babies. Killer mutant babies!
The Exorcist 3 (1990)
Yes really. Believe it or not, this movie is actually really damn good. I wouldn’t say it’s on a “it’s raining million dollar bills” level good, more like a brief flurry of scrumptious cakes. You should still avoid part two like it was a plague rat with a live grenade strapped to it, but in spite of all logical assumptions to the contrary, The Exorcist 3 is actually a movie worth seeing.
The film takes place some 13 years after the original film, and sees Detective Kinderman (a minor character from part 1) grapple with a series of homicides that match the MO of the Gemini Killer, a serial killer who’s only been dead for around a decade. You can probably glean from the title that it involves demonic possession in some way, you being one of those snooty college-educated internet readers.
What really makes this movie (besides a great atmosphere and some good scares) are the performances by the two leads, George C. Scott and Brad Dourif. Oh, did I mention George C. Scott is in this? Small-time actor, you may have heard of him. Scott plays Kinderman and squares off against Dourif’s Gemini Killer, and the results are nothing short of pants-tighteningly spectacular.
The film is actually based off of Legion, a novel by William Peter Blatty, the author of the novel The Exorcist was based off of, and surprisingly enough this time Blatty adopted to direct his own adaptation. Given that he’s only ever directed two movies, the result is about as astonishing as if Genghis Khan leapt out of my tuna sandwich, though without the ensuing brutal murder.
Exorcist 3 is an easy film to overlook when you see it on a shelf, but trust me. Go against your better instinct and memories of pretty much any third installment in a film series ever. This one is well worth a look.