Phantoms, Specters and Hautings …Oh My! My Five Favourite Ghost Movies

“These souls, who for whatever reason are not at rest, are also not aware that they have passed on. They’re not part of consciousness as we know it. They linger in a perpetual dream state, a nightmare from which they can not awake.”

-Tangina (Dialogue from Poltergeist, 1982)

What really scares us? Besides death, bills and other regular day-to-day horrors. When I think about what gets my heart pumping, it is fear of the unknown. What you cannot see can AND will hurt you. Think about it for a second; walking alone down a dark alley after dark, hearing a noise in the middle of the night that you cannot immediately identify. When I want to watch a movie that might get my guard up and give me a little scare, I always go for one type; a good old ghost story. Slasher movies are great for some jump scares, gross-outs, and humor. Unfortunately, ninety-five percent of them fail to serve up the chills. The thought of an invisible force is a lot creepier than a dude wearing a mask that you can see coming a mile away. Besides demonic possession, supernatural films (when done right) make my skin crawl the most. I would like to share with you my five favorite ghost films. There are plenty of these types of films I have not seen, mostly because I have heard terrible things about them, or I have not gotten around to watching them yet. I am fairly confident that I have seen enough to make these five films my most revered supernatural viewings.

The Shining (Directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson 1980) From top to bottom, a brilliant film on so many levels. Jack Torrance is tormented. Not only by the spirits that haunt the halls of the Overlook Hotel, but also the ghosts of his past. There are so many theories and dissections of this film, trying to look for the real meaning behind Kubrick’s madness, but on the surface it is a gritty and lingering story about a haunted hotel that truly wants to make it’s residents feel unwelcome. From subliminal flashes of butchered families to the terror behind the door of room 237, there are many things to love about The Shining. Jack Nicholson is perfect.

The Blair Witch Project (Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, 1999) Love it or hate it, BWP is a polarizing film. This was the first of a rash of “found footage” films to break into the mainstream. Three students get lost in the Maryland woods and find out that the legend they are documenting is indeed true. I will admit that the camera work is nauseating in some spots, but lends to the authentic feel. The viewer never sees the entity that terrorizes the characters, but is presented in other ways that are effective and creepy regardless. Freaky scenes include children’s hands pressing on the outside of the tent while the sound of children can be heard, and Josh disappearing during the night, with only his tongue remaining wrapped up in a piece of his shirt. The final scene is also tense and well done. Any film that made my brother (self admittedly) stay up all night pacing the house will always make my top five.

Poltergeist (Directed by Tobe Hooper, starring Craig T. Nelson 1982) This is the proof that you don’t need an old house to have a haunting. All you need is a house built on a Native American cemetery. Although Poltergeist is not as scary as it once was, it sure scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. At first, the spirits seem harmless enough; moving objects and furniture around. The spirits then become malevolent, becoming violent and then kidnapping the young daughter, Carol Anne. Stylish and well produced, Poltergeist is a charming ghost story well worth the watch. On a side note, the 2015 remake starring Sam Rockwell is not very good at all, and no where near as charming as the original. But that is just my opinion.

Sixth Sense (Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Bruce Willis 1999) A young boy with the ability to see ghosts who don’t know they are dead needs the help of Dr. Malcolm Crowe to cope with his “ability”. This film is not scary in the traditional sense, but has some very strong imagery that will get inside your head. Sixth Sense is a movie that will make you think, and take you on a few twists. I include this one in my list of favorites because it is well written and very well orchestrated in delivery. There is one scene in school involving bodies hanging from the rafters that still gives me the creeps. Also, who doesn’t love Bruce Willis?

The Fog (Directed by John Carpenter, starring Jamie Lee Curtis 1980) The small seaside town of Antonio Bay has a dark past, and the spirits of the done wrong want their revenge. What is freakier than ghosts you ask? What about ghosts that arrive and hide inside a thick fog that has rolled into town? John Carpenter is a master of simple suspense. The Fog is no exception. In typical Carpenter fashion, the soundtrack is brilliant and makes the atmosphere that much better. A pretty fun movie with some good spooky ambiance. If you like John Carpenter, and or ghosts, you’ll like this one.

Honorable mentionAmityville Horror, The Changeling, The Conjuring

Note – Although two films, Ghostbusters ,The Frighteners, and Beetlejuice are “ghost” movies, I felt they are too comedy oriented to be part of the list. However, all three films are personal favorites of mine.

T.

Top Five – Favorite Screen Serial Killers

Each and every one of us have a little darkness in our soul. It is just human nature.We all go a little mad sometimes…but these next five gentlemen take it maybe a little too far. I am sure they each have their reason for murdering people, but the difference between them and some regular fit-of-rage Joe Blow murderer is that they carefully plot out each and every detail so they don’t get caught. Almost admirable, but wrong none the less. My list has been chosen through a couple of factors. First being style AND substance. You can be as cool as you want, but if you are not smart, you are not a great serial killer. Second being the level of cruelty these characters inflict upon their victims. Please enjoy my top five Hollywood serial killers.

5. Dexter Morgan (Dexter, TV Series played by Michael C. Hall)  Dexter should be higher on my list, but because his kills were restricted to victims whom “deserved to die”, he is bumped down. Dexter had a code, and he pretty much stuck to it. What made Dexter a unique character was that he definitely had a human side. His inner dialogue always had him claim he was a monster, but he was also a husband, father, and brother. The show declined after the fourth season, but when the show was on its game, it was great. Dexter may have been the most intelligent of these five men. After all he did last eight seasons.

4. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, played by Christian Bale)  Young, rich, handsome, and insane. Sounds like the American dream to me. A few things drove Patrick Bateman to murder. Professional jealousy and vanity were the main reasons. The man put on a rain coat and laid down newspapers so he would not get Paul Allen‘s blood all over his luxurious furniture…while Mr. Allen sat there drinking a cocktail. For those that have seen this film, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that Huey Lewis and the News meant something different after this film came out.

3. Sweeny Todd (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, played by Johnny Depp)  Some musicals are good, some are terrible. Well, most are terrible, but what if you add a maniacal barber who dispatches his victims while they sit down for a trim and a shave. Sweeny Todd not only slits the throats of the good people of London, but he also struck a deal with the neighboring pie shop below. Sweeny kills ’em, and Mrs. Lovett will them into pies. The people of London are eating their own. Sweeny gets bonus points for inventive disposal of his victim’s bodies. Wonderfully dark film with a great cast, including Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

2. Hannibal Lector (Hannibal, TV Series, played by Mads Mikkelsen)  Hannibal Lector has been portrayed three times. First, by Brian Cox in the 1986 film Manhunter, followed by an incomparable performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs and also in the 2001 release Hannibal. The most recent and current Dr. Lector is played by Mads Mikkelsen on the NBC drama Hannibal. The big screen version of this character from Silence of the Lambs is an incredible work by Hopkins and the film deserves all the attention it has received. I chose the current television version of Hannibal Lector simply because there has been significantly more time to develop the character, and make him more dynamic, and quite frankly, demonic. “The Chesapeake Ripper”  is a man of well refined taste and talent, and a world-class chef when it comes to human flesh. Hannibal is far more than a cannibal. He is also a master manipulator and plays each other character on the show as he pleases. It is a sickening shame that NBC will pull the plug on this show at the end of the current season. It is truly enjoyable and has pushed the boundaries of network television with its mature content.

1. Jame Gumb “Buffalo Bill” (Silence of the Lambs, played by Ted Levine)  Although not the most amount of screen time a serial killer of this ilk deserves, what we do see of “Buffalo Bill” has left a lasting impression on all of us. Mr. Gumb is an all time creep, and the most disturbed serial killer I recall seeing in cinema or television. What gives him this distinction, you ask? Jame Gumb kidnaps his victims, usually larger females (because they have more skin) and keeps them hostage deep in a hole in his basement. This is all done in preparation to skin them and turn them into suits that he can wear. If that is not enough, he also loves moths, and stuffs one down the throat of his victim’s bodies while he discards them. Ted Levine plays this absolutely disturbed maniac brilliantly. There are a handful of scenes involving this character that have become pop culture references that you see from time to time, including a reference in Clerks II that is equally funny and disturbed. “Would you f**k me…?”

Honorable mention: Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs), Mickey and Malory Knox (Natural Born Killers), The Trinity Killer (Dexter), Norman Bates (Psycho 1960)

Top Five Favorite Doom/Stoner Debut Albums

Everybody band has to start somewhere. Some take years to polish their sound before they record their first album. Some bands hit the ground running. In either scenario, you don’t always get a gem on your first try. For some bands, they smash it out of the park their first swing, and capture gold. Look at Gn’R. They made the greatest rock n’ roll record of all time, raw and relentless. Then they imploded. That is a whole discussion for another time. Today I share my top Doom/Stoner band debut albums. I’m sure you won’t agree with a few of my choices, but that’s the fun of it all.  I can’t really decide on a ranking for these five albums. It was hard enough to pick five. So, in no particular order…

Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age (Ipecac, 1998) What do you do if your ground breaking band Kyuss disbands? If you are Joshua Homme, you find a few other musicians and record QOTSA’s self-titled debut. This band has become my favorite over the past decade, and this record still stands up seventeen years later. The riffs drone out and create a total robot-rock feel. Homme proves he has some great falsetto singing chops as well. Listen to: If Only, How To Handle A Rope

Down – NOLA (Electra, 1995) It is hard to believe that this album is twenty years old this year. Pepper Keenan and Phil Anselmo wrote this album of the course of 5 years. The music is heavy and dirty and the lyrics are personal and dark. New Orleans has an amazing history of Doom and Sludge metal, and the members of Down borrowed a little inspiration to bring this amazing record to life. Listen to: Stone the Crow, Bury Me In Smoke

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (Vertigo, 1970)  What kind of list would this be if it didn’t have this album as part of the list. The word influence cannot even describe the effect that these lads from Birmingham have had on heavy music for the past 45 years. The title/opening track is still one of the darkest riffs ever played. Tony Iommi created the heavy guitar sound out of necessity as the result of a factory accident. He lost a couple of finger tips, so drop tuning the guitar made it easier to bend the strings as he played. This created his ominous, heavy sound. Listen to: The Wizard, N.I.B. (Nativity in Black)

The Sword – Age Of Winters (Kemado, 2006) It is almost embarrassing to admit that the first time I remember taking notice to The Sword was on the game Guitar Hero II. The song was Freya, and I was blown away by it. I went out and bought the album and listened to it for the better part of the summer. The album is well balanced and the guitar work from J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt complement one another perfectly. The riffs are huge, as they should be. These boys are from Texas. Listen to: Barael’s Blade, Winter’s Wolves

High On Fire – The Art of Self Defense (Man’s Ruin, 2000) Stoner rock giants Sleep mad some amazing material, but all good things must end. Guitar player Matt Pike formed High on Fire after his departure from Sleep, and took the musical style into a harder, more aggressive direction. Pike, along with drummer Dez Kensel and bass player George Rice (now former member) recorded The Art of Self Defense. From the opening song Baghdad, you get hit with a wall of riff and sound. After you listen to a High on Fire album you need to sleep it off, because you feel like you just got your ass kicked. Listen to: Fireface, Baghdad

T.

Pro Wrestlers Turned Horror Film Actors… My Five Favorite Roles for Wrestlers.

Over the years, professional wrestlers have tried to cross over into the world of acting. A few have been successful; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might currently be the reigning box office champion with films like San Andreas and Fast 7. On the other side of the coin, many wrestlers have struggled to make the transition, such as Hulk Hogan. Films like Santa With Muscles and No Holds Barred did everything but run wild at the box office. Sure those movies were pretty bad, but you would think that the late 1980’s drawing power and popularity of the “Hulkster” would have translated into Hollywood gold. I guess people do appreciate substance over muscles at the cinema. Today, the world lost one of the all-time greats, and a fine actor in his own right; “Hot Rod” Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away at the far too young age of sixty-one years of age. The Hot Rod could play the hated villain, booed by thousands, but could play the hero as well. adored by the fans who paid to see him in action. Tonight, in Roddy Piper’s honor, I have decided to bring you my top five film roles played by professional wrestlers. Rest in Peace, Hot Rod.

Diamond Dallas PageBilly Ray Snapper (Devil’s Rejects 2005)DDP” was a superstar in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s in the now defunct World Championship Wrestling. In Devil’s Rejects, Page plays one half of the “Unholy Two” with his partner being the incomparable Danny Trejo. The sheriff hires these two to bounty hunt the Firefly Family. Diamond Dallas plays a great greasy, dirty ex-con creep. One of my favorite films.

Paul Levesque (Triple H)Jarko Grimwood (Blade: Trinity 2004) Paul Levesque or “Triple H” has held the WWE world title over ten times and now runs a portion of the WWE along with Vince McMahon. In the second Blade sequel, Levesque plays an unstoppable henchman for the Blade’s most powerful enemy, Dracula. The character is pretty wooden, but Triple H does his best with what he is given. This is a pretty stacked cast, but the former WWE champ still manages to get noticed. Blade wins in the end, but I bet Triple H would show him a thing or to inside a steel cage.

Glen Jacobs (Kane)Jacob Goodnight (See No Evil 2006) In the world of pro wrestling, Glen Jacobs has played Kane, an evil disciple from hell tagged “The Devil’s Favorite Demon” for close to twenty years. In See No Evil, and plays a psychotic recluse who stalks the hallways of an abandoned hotel. Not too much of a stretch as far as stepping outside of his acting comfort zone, but at seven feet tall and three hundred pounds, he plays a mighty imposing slasher. I actually thought this was a well done, if unoriginal, horror flick.

Jesse “The Body” Ventura Blain (Predator 1987) Before “The Body” was a reclusive conspiracy theorist, he was the Governor of the state of Minnesota. Even before that, he tried his hand at acting. After a career as pro wrestler and a WWE color commentator, Hollywood called. Ventura starred in a few action roles, and even played a “Man in Black” in an episode of X-Files. His best, and quite frankly, most macho role was as “Blain” in the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic Predator. A total bad ass complete with chewing tobacco, Gatling gun, and absolutely no time to bleed.

Rowdy Roddy PiperNada (They Live 1988) In John Carpenter’s underrated classic They Live, Piper plays a drifter who finds a pair of Ray Bans that reveal a pretty big secret. Through these sun glasses, Nada can see who is human, and more importantly, an alien. The world is controlled by these creeps, and the Hot Rod must stop them. A much taller order than having a boxing match with Mr. T at Wrestlemania 2. And just like in life, in They Live the Hot Rod came to do two things…chew bubble gum and kick ass. And he is all out of bubblegum.

T.

Top Five Favourite Halloween Movie Deaths

The Halloween film franchise has always been my favorite. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th are close seconds, but there is something more appealing to me about Michael Myers. “The Shape” has the expressionless white mask, and seems to be a more “hands on” murderer. A knife or a simple choking always seem to be his go to methods. The series has gone down hill in quality and originality, but the original Halloween and Halloween II are classics as far as I’m concerned. I even enjoy Rob Zombie’s 2007 Re-imagining, with a much larger and imposing Shape (played by Tyler Mane). A few of the sequels are decent, but lack the charm and atmosphere of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. The second sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an entertaining watch, and actually quite original, but has nothing to do with the Michael Myers storyline, so I have not included any deaths from it in this list. These five deaths are not the most brutal, or most gory of the series. These are simply my favorite for reasons I will give with each one. Please enjoy!

5. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)   Oops! – Ok, so this is technically not one of Michael Myers’ kills, but he is indirectly responsible. Basically, Michael returns to Haddonfield after 10 years to finish off his only remaining heir. The town’s rednecks are getting shit faced at the local tavern and learn through a television newscast that Michael is at large. Well, now it’s time to take the law into their drunken hands. The posse storms out of the bar and goes to make a citizen’s arrest. It goes badly. Poor Ted Hollister is creeping around some bushes and becomes the victim of mistaken identity. Please, if you are drunk and decide to go out and mob an escaped lunatic, make sure you ask questions first, and shoot second.

4. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)   Batters Up! – A young Michael Myers could have made the Major Leagues with a swing like this! Poor Steve Haley was famished after having sex with Michael’s sister Judith. So when you are hungry, you make a sandwich in the kitchen. Unfortunately at the Myers’ house, even snacks are danger. His thirst results in a crushing baseball bat blow to the top of the head. This one makes me cringe each time I see it. Lesson? Michael Myers is not a fan of you banging his sister. Or stealing his lunch meat.

3. Halloween (1978)   Oh Brother… – This is the opening scene of Halloween, and really sets the tone for the entire film. The scene is ninety-five percent shot as it was from a young Michael Myers’ perspective.  Judith is supposed to be watching Michael on Halloween night. As it turns out, she is entertaining her boyfriend in her upstairs bedroom. We follow Michael’s perspective as he observes his sister’s promiscuity. After he waits until Judith’s suitor leaves,  he goes into the kitchen to retrieve a large knife. He makes his way upstairs, pulls his mask down and stabs his sister multiple times. All this done while dressed in his clown costume. His parents return home to find their son standing on the sidewalk holding the knife that butchered Judith. I am not sure if Carpenter intended this as an homage to the famous point-of-view shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but the result is as effective. A very simple and personal introductory murder for the young psychopath Michael.

2. Halloween (1978)   Annie’s Death – The original John Carpenter’s Halloween was great for numerous reasons. The music score was perfect, the acting was believable, the tension and suspense was beautifully done, but I feel the best reason was the simplistic nature of the film. The film was believable because it was not over the top and gory. The killing was minimal and done in a personal manner, which made Michael Myers have a human element. Annie’s death is a great example of a smart, simple, and suspenseful film work. While you are watching, you know Michael is there, stalking Annie, but you don’t know when. Michael is a smart, patient predator that waits until he knows Annie is absolutely alone and vulnerable. The detail is pinpoint, right down to the steam on the inside of the car windows that is generated by Michael’s breathing. The shot of young Tommy witnessing Michael carrying Annie’s lifeless body across the front yard is a nice touch.

1. Halloween II (1981)   A Real Lady Killer… – Michael seems to have a real problem with people’s promiscuity. Nurse Karen decides to take her break with ambulance driver Bud…naked…in the hospitals hot tub room. This should have been Bud’s lucky day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Things are getting hot and heavy in the tub, too hot for Karen actually. She send Bud out to turn the thermostat down (which Michael has cranked right up). Bud is easily dispatched while Karen waits for him to return. Michael enters, Karen thinks it is bud standing behind her and she begins seducing “Bud” by sucking on his fingers. “Do you want to go for breakfast after?” she asks. She doesn’t know that Michael is only hungry for death. Michael drowns/burns Karen by repeatedly shoving her face into the boiling hot tub water. This is my favorite death because it was the first attempted seduction of Michael Myers, and because it is the first time I remember being exposed to a half nude woman when I was a child. Those types of milestones are exciting and not easily forgotten. (I have included the PG edited version video. Sorry fellas.)

T.

Top Five Guilty Pleasure Songs

Everybody has a few of them. Songs that are a guilty pleasure. It’s not that the artists are not held in high regard, because they are, but these are artists that are generally not in my wheelhouse when it comes to my typical listening habits. This was a list that was suggested by my brother. After much more thought than it should have taken, here are my five favorite guilty pleasure songs.

5. Mr. Big – To Be With You (Atlantic 1991)  I’m not really sure why I like this song, but it’s kind of catchy. It’s a typical hair rock ballad, which is probably why there is a soft spot for this song. Also, it reminds me of high school.

4. Duran Duran – Girls On Film (EMI Capital 1981)  I suppose Duran Duran as a band is a guilty pleasure.  Their lyrics don’t really make sense unless you base song writing on the ability to make verses rhyme. I am a sort-of-proud owner of their greatest hits album, and this is the best song as far as I’m concerned.

3. Bon Jovi – Let It Rock (Mercury 1986)  When I was ten years old, we went on summer vacation to some small town that I don’t recall. My grandma bought me this tape from some five and dime store. I played the shit out of the first side, got sick of it and never really listened to it again. I don’t really care for Bon Jovi now, but this song rocks. If you are ever going to play “air key-tar”, the intro to this song is the perfect choice.

2. La Bionda – I Wanna Be Your Lover  (Baby Records 1980)  Why the hell not? You’ll understand after viewing the video.

1. Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen No More Love On The Run) (Jive 1984)  When you hear this one on the radio, you have to turn it up and sing along. This is not only my favorite guilty pleasure songs, it just might be my go to 80’s song. I can’t explain it, Caribbean Queen is embedded in my soul. ‘Cause we’re sharing the same dream, and our hearts they’ll beat as one…

TOP FIVE DESERT ISLAND ALBUMS

I am sure we have all played this game. Stranded on a desert island, or anywhere remote without anyone to save you. The five albums that you would take with you. It is not a very realistic game; what would you play the albums on? Where would you get the power to run the device? Rules are kind of stupid, so let’s ignore them and play anyways. These albums mean different things to me, fond memories, times in my life. So here in no particular order here are the five albums I would pack if I was ever to become a castaway.

Appetite

GUNS ‘N ROSES – APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION (Geffen 1987) You would hard pressed to find a better hard record than this beauty. No other album brings back as many fond memories of growing up than Appetite. The attitude and bite of this debut is unrivaled. If you are between the ages of 35-45, you probably know the words to every song on the album. Also, this is the first time I remember hearing the word ‘fuck’ on a rock song. I have probably owned this album ten times over.

Lullabies

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – LULLABIES TO PARALYZE (Interscope 2005)  It was hard to choose the QOTSA album that I would have on a desert island. I love them all, but a decision had to made. I chose Lullabies because it was the record that blends the bands raw desert rock background with the new wave type sound they have adopted for their last two albums. This is also the last album that Mark Lanegan has a large contribution on, as well as the debut of drummer Joey Castillo and multi-instrumentalist Troy Van Leeuwen.

Angel Dust

FAITH NO MORE – ANGEL DUST (Slash 1992)  Faith No More pretty much do what they want when it comes to recording albums, and it works so well on this one. Angel Dust is beautiful and ugly, complex and simple, accessible and confounding all at the same time. This was Mike Patton’s first real contribution to writing songs with the band, and it shows brilliantly. If you took almost every style of music you could think of, put it in a blender and mixed it up, you would end up with Angel Dust. RV is one of my favorite songs ever. Also, the album artwork, inside and out, is amazing and disturbing.

Dopesmoker

SLEEP – DOPESMOKER (Tee Pee 2003)  Not be confused with the album Jerusalem, which was released in 1999, chopped into multiple tracks and released without the bands input or permission. Dopesmoker is a titan, with the title track timing in at 63:31. This is Sleeps final album as a band, even though they released a single last year. This is a powerful, slow, heavy prophecy of doom, delivered by the high council of “stoner metal”. The only thing that would top listening to this on a lonely island would be to have Sleep perform. I also have a soft spot for this album because guitarist Matt Pike a guitar giant, and one of my favorites.

Bubblegum

Mark Lanegan – Bubblegum (Beggars Banquet 2004)  I’m not sure what about this album that draws me in. It could be because Bubblegum is perfectly flawed, and from the heart. Lanegan’s gruff, soulful voice seems to make the songs have more meaning (see Tom Waits). The album features a long list of guest contributors featuring the talents of P.J. Harvey, Joshua Homme, Nick Oliveri, and Alan Johannes. A very dark, intimate record, but beautifully crafted. It is also one of the CDs I go to when driving on the highway.

T.

TOP FIVE FAVORITE HORROR/COMEDY FILMS

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I watched Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell the other night. In the tradition of Raimi horror films, this one is pretty campy, like Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. So I thought I would come up with my top five films of this co-genre. Keep in mind, these are not judged on the film making merits or acting performances, they are simply my favorites for various reasons. Feel free to comment with your own list.

5.  What We Do in the Shadows ( Dir. Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi – 2014) Pretty fresh, but highly entertaining and clever. I had not laughed at the cinema like I did while watching this film earlier this year. Mockumentary about four vampires renting a flat together in New Zealand. The scene where the Vamps run into a pack of werewolves in the park is very funny stuff!

4.   Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Dir. Tobe Hooper – 1986)   The very campy sequel to the classic 1974 horror Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dennis Hopper (yes, thee Dennis Hopper) is tracking the infamous Sawyer family. Bill Mosley (Devil’s Rejects) provides plenty of creepy comic relief as Leatherface’s chrome-domed brother, Chop Top. Not a huge body count, but violent and funny.

3.  The Cabin in the Woods  (Dir. Drew Goddard – 2012)   A very original and very pleasing film.A group of young adults head out to a remote cabin for a weekend of fun. They discover a book in the cellar, and things go wrong. Sounds familiar (Evil Dead)? Rest assured that it is what you’d expect.  Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers) is a tremendous comedic actor, and delivers in The Cabin in the Woods. Plus Joss Whedon co-wrote.

2.   Gremlins   ( Dir. Joe Dante – 1984)   I shouldn’t assume that anyone reading this list has seen Gremlins, but I’m sure you are all aware of what a Gremlin is, and who Gizmo is. Billy gets a gift from his dad, and is given 3 simple rules. Never get it wet, never expose it direct sunlight, and for god sakes, do not feed him after midnight.  Well, Billy screws up, gets Gizmo wet, and then feeds his brothers after midnight. Terror and comedy ensues. A very charming Christmas film, complete with green little ghouls getting piss drunk in the town pub. The Gremlins themselves offer up most of the laughs, but the film also features a young Corey Feldman. A nice trip back into the ’80’s.

1.   Evil Dead II   (Dir. Sam Raimi – 1987)  This movie has everything. “Dead by Dawn” features blood, guts, books bound in human flesh, Bruce Campbell battling his severed hand, and mounted deer head cackling like a psychopath. Ash (Campbell) battles demons in a secluded cabin, and loses a few body parts along the way. This is a chaotic, nerve-biting, bloodbath that you will thoroughly enjoy if you have a soul. Bruce Campbell is absolutely amazing, as he takes Ash from a shivering coward to a certified Deadite ass-kicker. Groovy!