Horror 365 Movie(s) 269: CatalAugust Day 30! 7 Smashing Sequels

One thing I’ve learned from doing an entire month of lists is that they are significantly more difficult and time consuming than a straight-up review. Not that I’m complaining. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you 6 misguided souls who regularly seem to read the rantings of this bitter, broken-down ol’ hack. Plus lists can be a good deal of fun, especially when one happens upon a topic that might be just a little outta the ordinary.

Sadly, this is not such a topic though, in fact, I’m surprised I haven’t done this kinda sequel list before. And currently it is a topic that is suddenly near and dear to my heart for reasons that will become obvious once we get to #1. So stick around to the end (or just scroll there directly if you’re one of those types). Really, what better way to end as auspicious an occasion as The Final List Of CatalAugust than with a surprise announcement? 

#7 Troll II

Right outta the gate I gotta point out that some things stand out for all the wrong reasons. Sure ya gotcher Ed Woods, your Manos: The Hands Of Fates, your Giant Claws, your Forrest Gumps. But it’s a rare star indeed that luminesces as brightly in the dark Bad Movie Sky as Troll II. It’s not an actual Troll sequel for one thing. Just like Fulci’s Zombie was not any kind of George Romero sequel. But at least Fulci was still firmly planted in a zombieverse. Troll II’s Claudio Fragasso doesn’t even do that much since Troll II ain’t about trolls, but rather goblins. Just gets better & better from there gang.


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#6 Halloween III: Season Of The Witch


I’ve posted about this underrated, overlooked gem before, but it still deserves a spot on this list. It’s said that Carpenter’s original idea was for the Halloween franchise to embrace a number of different kinds of stories. I even saw a rumor once that the masks were designed to have some kind of tie-in with Michael Myers. Anyway, I think this movie got and continues to get short shrift, so here it stays.

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#5 Maniac Cop II

This movie has something very much in common with another just a bit further ahead on this list, and that’s the fact that it mercilessly stomps the original into the ground. Maniac Cop II is arguably the strongest movie in the series despite having Bruce Campbell’s significant role in the original. In Part I, Cordell is mostly but not entirely brain dead and therefore technically alive. In the sequel, he is inexplicably now undead. This is never clarified in any satisfactory way which, for some reason, doesn’t bother me. At all.

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#4 Psycho II

By now, you poor things are probably sick to death of my calling back to this movie again and again, but it remains one of my favorites. And while it most assuredly does not achieve anything near a Hitchcock level of greatness, it’s still a nifty little noirish whodunnit slasher with a nice twist at the end and one of the greatest lines in cinematic history.


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#3 The Devil’s Rejects

Huge Rob Zombie fan, so much so that for a while I thought that when I finally end up with another cat, I’d rename it Zombie regardless of what its name is. I love his music, his movies, his general demeanor, his movie knowledge, hell all kindsa thangs. My point is, I’m not tryin’ to piss on House Of 1000 Corpses by any means. It’s a good movie, a solid movie. But holy crap did Zombie ever outdo himself with the sequel. He plugged in those same characters and cranked up the voltage well past the “keep the T-Rex inside Jursassic Park” level. For sure the standout of the trilogy.


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#2 Halloween

Speaking of Rob Zombie, his Halloween remakes took a great deal of crap. I’ve never been sure why. I loved them. I liked the backstory and character development, but all that’s another list for another time. But even more than Zombie’s take, I love what Green did with his 2018 sequel. Let’s start with erasing everything that happened between the end of Carpenter’s orginal Halloween and the beginning of Green’s. Hell yes please! Let’s go on to make Laurie Strode a paranoid victim of trauma, and this movie becomes as much about her as it is about him.


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Honorable Mentions

Beware! The Blob, Return Of The Living Dead, Shock Treatment

#1 Evil Dead II

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that this is not my favorite sequel in movie terms. But the reason it’s #1 comes down to one simple word: Groovy. It’s become another one of those iconic movie moments and quotes.


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“But, benevolent overlord of Castle Blogferatu,” you’re saying, “how is that enough to afford Evil Dead II such exalted status?” It’s a fair question, and in response, let me introduce you to Groovy, Castle Blogferatu’s newest resident and head of vermin control.

I brought this little guy home from a local place called The Catnip Cat Cafe. They work with a few different shelters getting mainly adult cats adopted. You can go to the cafe and spend a time with the approximately 20 furballs in residence, all of which are adoption-ready.

The day I went, there were also a couple shrieky toddlers, and this guy jumped up next to me on a couch and gave off some powerful “God damn kids. I’m stayin’ away from that shit” vibes—a bonding moment if ever there was one. His name at the shelter really was Groovy, and I decided to adopt him and his name. Cuz Evil Dead II. Plus, black cats, right? Seemed like destiny.

Told ya there was a surprise.

Horror 365 Movie(s) 268: CatalAugust Day 30, Top 10 Horror Movies I’ve Never Seen

A few days ago the Candyman reboot hit, and I thought, “I should go see that.” But then I realized, I’ve never seen the original either. Whaaat? Yeah, I’m as shocked as you are. As The Neverending Movie List and my Letterboxd account demonstrate, I’ve seen and collected a couple of horror movies in my time. As with anyone else’s cinematic proclivities, though, there are some gaps.

For that reason, I’ve collected a few of what folks might consider some of my more egregious omissions. I’ve avoided mentioning franchises I never finished because the first movie was too dumb and/or overrated, and focused instead on movies that people who know me would be surprised to learn I haven’t seen. Here then are my Top 10 Horror Movies I’ve Never Seen.

Candyman

Yep. It’s a classic. And I do love me some Tony Todd. But there’s just something about this that keeps me from pullin’ the trigger and watching it. It’s something I come across when I’m scrolling through stuff to watch, and something always pops up that I’d rather see. I dunno. I have no rational explanation.

Dogtooth

This one does have a rational explanation. I hate Lanthimos. But he’s also like a bad tooth you keep pokin’ at with your tongue. Despite hating every second of The Lobster, I went back for The Favourite, and while I love Rachel Weisz and some of the individual set pieces in The Favourite, I ultimately didn’t like it any more than The Lobster. And yet, on one hand, I’ll probably force myself through The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. But this one? Probably not.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

In my defense, I don’t like musicals. In the movie’s defense, I love Neil Patrick Harris. I do own it, so it’s ultimately just a matter of time…probably.

Faces Of Death

I saw Faces Of Death II, and that’s enough. Not “enough” as in I was emotionally and psychologically scarred by it, but “enough” in the sense that it’s pointless and boring. Plus a good bit of it was faked or staged. It’s also enough to tell me that the Faces Of Death movies in general are in the same overhyped, sensationalistic vein as Mondo Cane.

Fantastic Planet

This may not be horror in its truest sense (whatever that is), but it certainly has some horrific elements to it. It’s another timeless classic that seems eternally stuck on the back burner. Seems right up my alley though: the revolution of an oppressed race against a population that has all the power, control, technology, and information? Sign me up.

Frankenhooker

Even I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss this one for this long.

Man From Deep River

This one might be a little obscure, but it’s probably one of the top 5 in the cannibal movie pantheon. As subgenres go, cannibal flicks are not among my favorites. But I slogged through the far-too-touted Cannibal Holocaust and its ripoff Cannibal Ferox. I even suffered through Green Inferno, the first Eli Roth movie I ever hated (one of those movies where, 20 minutes in, I hate everyone and can’t wait for them to get killed). My point is, I’m in no hurry.

Nekromantic

This one might legitimately surprise people. It was so balls-to-the-wall shocking for its day that you’d think I’d have rushed out to see it the first chance I got. And I probably would have, but I don’t remember it ever showing anywhere near any place I’ve ever lived. The know Buttgereit’s reputation as a director but have only seen his segment in the German Angst anthology. It was okay. I found it the least effective part of the movie—a little too gratuitous with a couple violent, splattery bits, so I’m not really jumpin’ up and down to see this.

Night Of The Comet

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only horror nerd who’s never seen this. I get the appeal I guess: comets, zombie apocalypse, 80s hair. Being a not huge zombie fan, it hasn’t risen very high in the Must See ranks.

Vampyr

I didn’t even know this movie existed until probably about 10 or so years ago, but I did get the Criterion version recently, so I should be able to correct this rather egregious oversight. Also, I’m a sucker for movie books, so the equally major reason I bought the Criterion Blu-ray for the booklet that comes with it entitled Writing Vampyr.

So…have I shocked and appalled anyone? What’s on your “surprising I haven’t seen this” list? Let me know in the Comments so I’m not the only shamefaced outcast.

Horror 365 Movie(s) 267: CatalAugust Day 29, 8 More Rules Of Horror

Some time ago, I posted what I called the 13 Rules Of Horror. Since then, a number of new “rules” have reared their heads and demanded their due. So here are another so many 8 More Rules Of Horror, resulting in a nice, Fibonaccian total of 21.

1) Guest Star Syndrome

This applies more to television and starts probably as early as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone and continues in The Hitchhiker (forgot about that one didn’t ya?) and Tales From The Crypt. The recognizable face is often the victim or the antagonist. The latter is particularly true of police procedurals (and if you don’t think those count as horror, check out a few choice episodes of Law And Order: Special Victims Unit). When there’s a guest star, especially a high-profile one, that actor overwhelmingly is the antagonist or at least in some way is involved with the antagonist. Martin Short, Robin Williams, Cynthia Nixon, Carol Burnett, and Henry Winkler are all prime SVU examples. Incidentally, this leads to a corollary rule which is…

2) Comedians Can Be Creepy

Stephen King has mentioned the horror/humor connection a number of times, and just look at that list up there. All of them are and/or at one time were comedians and/or comedic actors. Just in the Law And Order universe, that list just gets longer: Melissa Joan Hart, Bob Saget, Brad Garrett, and so on. In terms of actual cinema, Robin Williams deserves another mention for One Hour Photo and Insomnia. It’s also worth mentioning Jim Carrey, Tim Curry, John Goodman, and Michael Keaton.

3) Victim Zero

I discuss this extensively on its own, but it’s a prevalent enough element to list it here. Lotsa movies have the clueless dude (cuz it’s almost always a dude) who pokes/touches something he shouldn’t and starts off the chain reaction that will be the rest of the movie.

4) Nightmare Double Tap

This isn’t a rule so much as a super-frequent occurrence. The “wake up from a nightmare” shtick got tired pretty damn fast although that never stopped directors from using it anyway. It became increasingly replaced by the nightmare within a nightmare which at this point is also pretty well played out. Character wakes up from a nightmare only to face another jumpscare and then wake up for real. The 2017 French movie Revenge really ups the ante on this one.

5) The Kong Error

I mentioned this in Horror 102. It’s the fact that, in the vast majority of creature features and nature’s wrath movies, the problem is humanity. We either fuck things up in the name of science/progress/pride/greed/late stage capitalism, or we find something and decide to exploit it. Either way, we don’t just leave shit alone. We always think we can control it, destroy it, and/or outsmart it. Why The Kong Error? Because as far as I know, King Kong is the first time this happens, and it almost always leads to…

6) The Kong Effect

That which we fucked up, created without fully understanding it, or found then disturbed turns on us. Death, destruction, mayhem, and other assorted hilarity ensue.

7) The Doomed Parent

This is a character you see early on in a movie. Sometimes they even end up being the protagonist. Probably a good 90-95% of the time, it’s the father. The most common iteration of this is a space mission which typically involves a character soon becoming or having recently become a parent. They are shown in communication with their family, and they are usually dead before the end of the movie, and frequently become one of the first to go. Life, as much as it fails as a movie, is a great example of this. What I love most about this rule is that it flies in the face of entitled parents everywhere. You’re not special, and whatever lurking evil we’re dealing with doesn’t care about you or the fact that you’ve declined birth control.

8) Air Of Mist-ery

Ya gotta go all the way back to The Odyssey for the origins of this one. See, Odysseus and his men get blown off course because of a massive storm after which all the hilarity ensues. Then there’s the tornado in Wizard Of Oz. Well in lots and lotsa horror movies, a scene crops up where one or more main characters go through some kind of mist, almost always as a scene marker for what comes next and/or becomes the focus of the movie. Sometimes it’s just a visual effect in the form of mist drifting across a road/field/etc. It can also be pipe steam in a factory/tunnel/subway/etc. And sometimes it’s a major part of the movie like The Beach House, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and of course, The Fog. My point is, be on the lookout. You’ll be surprised how often it creeps into a movie.

And there we are, 8 More Rules Of Horror. I’m just happy I could use the adjectival form of Fibonacci.