zombies

7 Little-Seen Horror Movies You Should Watch, Because Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, which means that you really should be watching some horror movies in the next couple of weeks. ‘TIS THE SEASON, DAMMIT. If you’re not watching horror movies in October, you’re basically the acting mayor of No-Funnsylvania  (the elected mayor of No-Funnsylvania was impeached after the local newspaper discovered that he is actually, in fact, way, way fun).

“But C-dog, you’re so handsome, and also, what horror movies should we watch? THERE ARE TOO MANY CHOICES.”

First off, thank you for noticing my handsomeness. I have upped my candy corn intake as of late, and I think the resulting, constant sugar high has really given my skin a nice dewy glow. Regarding your second point: I know… BELIEVE ME… I know. There are SO many horror movies out there, and a lot of them, frankly, suck out loud. It can be intimidating, wading through that sticky swamp of eye-grabby titles and lurid cover art, which can lead to frustration, hopelessness, and, eventually, you just end up watching I Know What You Did Last Summer for the twentieth time because whatever, who cares, take me away, Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Fortunately, I am here to help. See, I like horror movies. A LOT. It’s my “thing,” which I will admit is kind of sad and even a little creepy 11 months out of the year. BUT NOT IN OCTOBER, BABY. The Halloween-adjacent weeks are my time to shine.

So, to that end, please allow me to jam some horror movie recommendations into your eye holes. Some LESSER KNOWN horror movies, mind you. No Nightmare on Elm Streets or Halloweens here. The following movies are ones you may not have seen, but really SHOULD see. While they might have flown a little under the radar, they are all varying degrees of greatness.

And if you HAVE seen all of these, well then… do you want to be best friends?

To the movies!

NOTE: All of these titles are available on Netflix. If you DON’T have Netflix, then… what… do you like read a lot or something? Do you hike? YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: 1940’s, small-town serial killer baffles cops; terrorizes locals

If you were to take a vicious, hooded serial killer and drop him into an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the resulting Mayberry bloodbath would look a whole lot like The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The movie is almost a horror sub-genere all its own; call it, “Slice of Life Horror.” Just small-town folks, goin’ ’bout their lives… having some laughs, some love, some joy, and some sorrow…  and every now and again, a couple of them get murdered by a psychopath. Tonally, this movie is all over the place; there are icy chills, and there are moments that can only be categorized as slapstick. To me, though, that makes TTTDS even MORE realistic, because life isn’t really just one tone all the time. Maybe it has something to do with this being based on true story? Or maybe the filmmakers were just kind of not great at their job. Either way, it works.

Also, the killer… dubbed “The Phantom” by the locals… is straight-up terrifying. His hood thing, seen in the posters, is simple, yet very effective as a part of his whole slasher ensemble. Plus, he murders somebody with a trombone. It’s weird. The whole movie is kind of weird, actually. It’s all just a little off-center. Which is nice.

Here Comes The Devil

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Siblings disappear. Parents worry. Siblings reappear, but changed. MAGIC CAVE!!!

If you like your horror films slightly inscrutable and also full-to-bursting with weird, sexual energy and vaginal imagery, then, boy, you have really specific taste in horror films. Also, Here Comes the Devil is THE movie you’ve been looking for!

Now… I will admit up front that I did not totally understand what was happening in Here Comes the Devil. The ending, especially, is a bit of a head-scratcher. But that’s okay! Sometimes ambiguity is a horror movie’s best friend! Besides, I’m not very smart; it is ENTIRELY possible that this movie makes PERFECT sense, and it simply sailed over my head like a low-flying, very obvious condor.

Regardless, it’s worth a look, because there is a LOT of atmospheric, creepy ghost-style shit going on in HCTD. Oh, and it’s in Spanish, by the way. If you’re scared of subtitles, you are a weenie.

Antiviral

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Celebrities infect fans with their viruses. Also, Lab-grown flesh!

Antiviral is a Cronenberg movie, but not THAT Cronenberg. This is a work by Brandon Cronenberg, who is the SON of David Cronenberg. Although, to be fair, the film-making apple did not fall very far from the auteur tree. Much like his father, Young Cronenberg traffics in body horror and ideas about “the new flesh,” all wrapped up in some rather pointed social commentary. Junior’s take is a little more arch and winking than his dad’s, but that fits well with his celebrity-culture focused plot line.

Now, I will grant you that Antiviral is technically a little more science fiction-y than it is straight horror. Here’s the thing though: Don’t worry about it. At the end of the movie, you’re going to feel pretty gross, and you’re going to really not feel excellent about life, in general, either. If that isn’t horrific, I don’t know what is.

Pontypool

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Zombie virus that spreads via non-traditional methods.

We’ve all seen a million zombie movies by now, but this one… well… Pontypool is different. Giving away the twist would be, and SHOULD be, punishable by death. Your viewing experience is well-served by going in as blind as possible. So let me just say this, as a way of teasing your interest: The majority of this movie takes place in a radio station, and that setting is not an accident nor a casually tossed-off detail.

There isn’t just a ton of action in Pontypool, but it is absolutely riveting all the same. To that end, it is worth noting that this is the only movie on the list that you could stage as a theatrical production while making almost no changes to the script. That should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. If that’s your kind of horror jam, you will dig the absolute pants off of Pontypool.

The House of the Devil

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: 80’s babysitter versus Satanic cult.

A very pleasing throwback to the Satan-crazed 1980’s, The House of the Devil feels like the kind of movie you’d find occupying some real estate on the Horror shelf of your local video store, back when those were still a thing.

It should be noted that THOTD is paced a little slower than most horror flicks. It is not, as the kids say, balls to the wall (until the final 15 minutes or so). It’s the sort of movie that you kind of just have to sink into, like a hot tub. A HOT TUB FULL OF SATAN!!! Ahem, but yes, its pacing is a little on the leisurely side. Do not get discouraged! The payoff is exceptionally disturbing.

Also, there’s a thing that happens about halfway through the movie that made me jump clean out of my skin, forcing me to stop the movie until I could find some replacement skin to wear while my own skin was at the tailors, getting the hems re-sewn. It also caused me to spill my beer. So many tragedies caused by The House of the Devil

Let The Right One In

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Swedish vampire befriends child. Shit gets ugly.

Ugh, you guys, I love this movie so much. There is some shocking, violent shit in Let The Right One In, unquestionably, but also it will just absolutely break your heart. A few times, actually.

Let the Right One In is cold, sad, gory, and amazing. Watch it. DO NOT WATCH THE AMERICAN REMAKE. It is okay, but it’s NOT the original. If you watch the remake first, an orphaned child gets his favorite toys taken away from him, which sets him on the path to becoming a serial killer. DON’T MAKE US HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANOTHER SERIAL KILLER. Watch the original, deal with having to read while you watch (it’s in Swedish), and just… you know… be a better person. This movie is worth it, you turkeys!

Grave Encounters

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PLOT IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Douchey TV ghost hunters get exactly what they ask for.

This movie is a what-if regarding those countless “ghost hunter” TV shows, and what would happen if they stumbled upon an actually, really for real, haunted location. The filmmakers… the pretentiously-named The Vicious Brothers…are almost TOO good at recreating the smarmy, self-important aura that the casts of this breed of bottom-feeding shows put off. There are almost zero likeable characters in Grave Encounters.

But that’s fine! More chum for the waters, as it were. Terrible analogy, this movie does not take place on a boat, nor is it about sharks.

ANYWAY, Grave Encounters is mostly shot in the “found footage” style. This is important to note, because a lot of people find that style of movie-making to be the cinematic personification of laziness. I don’t necessarily disagree, but in this instance, it really works within the overall conceit.

Out of all the movies on this list, Grave Encounters would benefit the most from a few stiff cocktails and having all the lights in the house turned out. Doing those things will really ramp up your enjoyment of its somewhat cheesy, yet still pretty scary, offerings.

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3/3/3 – Monsters

3/3/3 is a new series on Zombie Fights Shark where we take a look at the top 3, bottom 3, and most overrated 3 entries in a given category. The categories will cover the entire spectrum of pop culture, plus food & beverages, and even simply life itself. Let’s have some highly subjective fun, shall we?

MONSTER SQUAD

Top 3 Monsters

3) Aliens – Look, if something’s going to eat me to death or, at the very least, stab me into a pudding-esque consistency, I want it to be something FROM THIS PLANET. Maybe that’s me being outer spacist, but I don’t care. Ugh, and aliens are usually so slimy, too. And they’re weirdly textured, and some of them have eyes that are like, “What? HOW ARE THOSE EYES, THEY LOOK LIKE BUTTHOLES???” Alien butthole-eyes chill me to my very core.

2) Kaiju – You know, like Godzilla, or the thing from Cloverfield… big-ass monsters, is what I’m getting at. SO SCARY. SO MUCH STOMPING. Having to fight something that’s the size of a building is kind of the apex of terrifying. You have to use like bombs or giant robots to kill them, and that’s assuming that they can even be killed! Some of them just don’t die. Plus, movies don’t ever talk about Godzilla poop, but you have to KNOW that’s a major issue.  I don’t know, man… I’ll take a Freddy or a Jason chasing my sexy buns around a dreamscape or a campground any day.

1) Ghosts – Ghosts are the number one top monster because you can’t see them. That’s all it takes, folks… if you want to be the king, you need to be fucking terrifying (a given), but also you need to have invisibility powers! That amplifies the terrifying-ness by 1,000,000. Because the thing is, ghosts are invisible… until they’re not. SUDDENLY THEY’RE VISIBLE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. Not joking, I got fear shivers just Googling for that image. Stupid fucking scary ghosts. Last piece of evidence: You know how I know ghosts are the most scary? Because in all the Paranormal Activity movies, they made daytime, static shots of empty suburban living rooms THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES because there was a possibility that there might be a ghost somewhere in there amongst the tasteful furniture and fancy home electronics. Turning the ordinary into the horrifying: The hallmark of an excellent monster.

3 Most Overrated Monsters

3) Zombies – I love zombies. See: This website’s name. So please know that it kills me to put zombies in the “overrated” category. Literally, typing these words is draining out my lifeforce. LITERALLY. But they never said blogging about monsters on the internet was easy; sometimes you have to make the hard calls. Zombies are done. DONE. They were scary, but they’re played out now. Case in point: They have an app for phones where you can go for a jog and the app pretends that zombies are chasing you. I mean… once you’ve crossed into the health & fitness merchandise realm, you’re not really a scary monster anymore. You’re a brand, and brands aren’t scary. Okay, Ronald McDonald is a LITTLE scary, but that’s only because clown makeup dissolves your soul.

2) Frankenstein – Or “Frankenstein’s monster,” whatever. You know what I mean. Greenish guy, bolts in the neck, made from OPP (other people’s parts). That dude. Cool in concept… anything having to do with grave-robbing is inherently spooky… but, I don’t know, there’s something kind of lame about how they always try to make him the good guy. “Oh, he’s not evil, he just wants a friend!” “He’s just lonely, let’s make him a wife!” “He’ll help the Monster Squad by dragging Dracula into the time portal (SPOILER ALERT FOR A 30 YEAR OLD MOVIE)!” I mean… monsters aren’t supposed to have childlike souls that just want to love and be loved. Just not very monstrous.

1) Vampires – People shit on Twilight for turning vampires into buttwads, but… let’s be real, here… Twilight was just the last step in a long process of buttwad-ification that started decades ago. If anyone is REALLY to blame for vampires being overrated, it’s the man who mired them in a swamp of psycho-sexual lust in the first place: Bram Stoker. Have you ever actually slogged your way through Dracula? It reads like a Halloween episode of The Bold & The Beautiful, and it is SO. GODDAMN. BORING. Anne Rice didn’t really help the vampire’s cause, either… goth-ing them all up, and making them “erotic.” Look, vampires are creatures that EAT BLOOD. That’s fucking awesome. All vampires should be like the ones in Near DarkMean. Nasty. Evil as fuck. Real-deal monsters, in other words. Vampires shouldn’t be swanning around in velvet, inspiring waves of lonely nerds to buy scented candles. That’s too Hot Topic-y for an undead thing.

Bottom 3 Monsters

3) Sasquatch/Bigfoot – A monster that lives in the woods is okay as far as concepts go (I guess), but man… the shine has really worn off the Bigfoot name, lately. Have you seen that reality show about hillbilly goobers that are actually, in-real-life spending their free time and money hunting through the forests of the Pacific Northwest looking for Bigfoot? And do you realize that things are so dire,  I should be specifying WHICH Bigfoot-themed reality show I’m talking about, because there’s like 147 of them. Including one hosted by Dean Cain!!! UNACCEPTABLE. If there’s a line that a monster shouldn’t cross, it most definitely involves aligning yourself with a former cast member of Lois & Clark.

2) Werewolves – Unless we’re talking about Teen Wolf, werewolves can get the fuck out of here. OOOH, I’M POWERED BY THE MOON. So are the tides. You’re basically just hairy water. Teen Wolf was cool, though, because it proves my whole point about werewolf powers. In the film’s grand finale, Michael J. Fox discovers that the much-needed, game-winning basketball skills were inside of him all along! HIM, as a human person. Not the titular teen wolf side of him. He didn’t NEED the werewolf powers at all. Ergo, werewolf powers are bullshit. Teen Wolf says so. Also, sorry about spoiling another 80’s movie for you guys. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.

1) Mummies – All you need to know about mummies is this: They only attack you, or curse you (or whatever), if you dig them up and/or disturb their tombs. Essentially, mummies are old-ass burglar alarms. That’s it. They’re not out hunting… they don’t feed on you… they don’t DO anything. They’re just like, “oh hey, you’re here… whelp… I guess you’re cursed now. Have a nice day.” Most of the time, they’re just napping in some sand. It gets no lamer or less frightening than that. Plus, they make me think about dirty Band-Aids. EWWWW.

HorrorFlix

Reviewing the entirety of the Horror genre on Netflix, one movie at a time.

This week’s film…

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Relevant Cast and Crew…

Writer/Director: Noboru Iguchi

Megumi: Arisa Nakamura

Aya: Mayu Sugano

Maki: Asana Mamoru

The Plot…

Ostensibly, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead is about a group of teens (or possibly adults… it’s unclear, as they appear to range in ages from 17 to 35, yet are all clearly a part of the same social circle) that get stranded in the woods and are subsequently set upon by some really yucky zombies. But what Zombie Ass is ACTUALLY about is how much writer/director Noboru Iguchi is obsessed with young girls farting. I mean… far be it from me to judge another man’s fetishes. Whatever gets you through the night, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t result in everyone needing a tetanus shot, is usually fine. It’s just impressive that this dude has managed to parlay his particular fetishistic inclination into a film career. Because, make no mistake… Iguchi is to farting schoolgirls what Hitchcock was to blondes. As proof that this isn’t just a “this movie” kind of thing, here’s a short film that Iguchi made as part of the ABCs of Death anthology, entitled “F is for Fart.” [WARNING: For the love of whatever deity you hold dear, do not watch “F is for Fart” at work. Or around any loved ones that you would still like to be able to look in the eye after the four-minute running time of “F is for Fart” is up. Or around open flames. Because farts.]

ANYWAY, the farting figures into Zombie Ass in a couple of different ways (which I believe is the first time THAT sentence has ever been written). A through-line in Zombie Ass is Megumi, the central character, and her long, surprisingly violent history with Fart Shame. Megumi is deeply ashamed of her farts, so much so that… and bear with me here… she is unable to fart on command to save her little sister from a group of schoolgirl bullies. The sister, however, DOES fart in the presence of the bullies, filling her (the sister) with so much shame and humiliation THAT SHE KILLS HERSELF.

I gather that this is maybe treading into some deep cultural waters that we, as Americans, don’t really understand. Sure, we don’t ENJOY busting ass in front of people (well most of us don’t; the Frat Bro/Hilarious Uncle populations being exceptions to the rule), but we’re also not going to pitch ourselves over a ledge if a stray toot happens to sneak out in mixed company. In Japan, I gather that they take their farts a little more seriously. If this movie can be believed, of course, and given that it’s about butt-parasites that turn people in zombies… I’m not sure it’s credibility is super duper high.

The butt-parasites would be the OTHER way that farting figures heavily into Zombie Ass. Which brings us to…

The Gore…

This is the kind of movie that you’re going to want to wipe off of you when you’re done watching it, preferably with a bleach-soaked rag. Zombie Ass takes what can only be described as a “balls to the wall” approach when it comes to gore, mixing splattery practical effects with some iffy-quality CGI to create a truly nauseating buffet of blood, guts, shit, and puke. A lot of this stems from the fact that the aforementioned butt-parasites emerge from their hosts via, well, the butt. This leads to a lot… just a WHOLE LOT… of shots of creatures coming out of flayed, gaping anuses. CLOSE UP shots, mind you. Iguchi does not shy away from the butthole in Zombie Ass; in fact, whatever prosthetic they used for all the alien-ejecting-from-some-poor-son-of-a-bitch’s-rectum scenes deserves, at minimum, fourth billing on the movie poster.

The effect, overall, is at first violently gross. After awhile though, it becomes oddly numbing. By the end, when there are characters using the tentacle-like parasites coming out of their asses as weapons, it will hardly even register that you’re watching the depraved jerk-off fantasies of a madman. You’ll be like, “Oh, an ass-parasite ate that guy’s baseball bat… ho hum… what’s next, farts-as-jetpack? Oh… yep… right on cue.”

The Wrap Up…

Overall, despite this movie having a scatological streak wider than the ocean that separates Japan from the US, and despite the movie itself being… you know… kind of dumb, I actually sort of LIKED Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. It was, if nothing else, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And it’s pretty funny! The scenes of our heroes being chased by hoardes of zombies that are crawling backwards, Jersey Turnpike-style, with butt-parasites chomping from between their cheeks is inherently pretty comical. Plus… and when you’re dealing with movies like this, it’s a BIG PLUS… the movie just zooms by. No pacing issues here, probably because Iguchi couldn’t wait to get to the next fart-based set piece.

So, if you’re looking for a movie to watch with your strong-stomached buddies while getting absolutely plastered on grain alcohol, may I please recommend a trip off the beaten path with Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead? You’ll be thoroughly disgusted, but you’ll also laugh your hopefully-parasite-free butt off. Megumi, take us home…

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