Mike Flanagan wowed audiences with his feature directorial debut, Absentia, a few years back. Now he returns with an even creepier tale of supernatural terrors in Oculus (review). To celebrate the release of Oculus, we bring you a look at the Top Seven Supernatural Films that Haunt Us.
The funny thing about a really powerful supernatural movie, at least those that get wide theatrical releases, is they usually transcend the theater and become the talk of the nation for a while. And many of them even hang around our psyches for years and years to come.
We’ll begin, as always, with our honorable mentions, and you’ll see that many of them also took the country by storm. Low budget, found footage movies like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project were absolutely larger than life during their theatrical releases.
However, bigger films can also reach out and grab you. Poltergeist and The Conjuring certainly come to mind. Some other haunting projects that are worth an honorable mention are Stephen King’s 1408, a tiny indie called I Am a Ghost which had an incredibly freaky finale, cult favorite Session 9 that did for asbestos removal what Psycho did for taxidermy, and the ultra-creepy, ambiance-laden The Orphanage.
As you’ll see, this list contains some legendary horror heavyweights because once you really scare us, we don’t soon forget. Here are the Top Seven Supernatural Films that Haunt Us.
The Amityville Horror kicks off this list not because it was so frightening or because of the slew of sequels and remakes it inspired, but the fact that this is a truly horrific mystery. For those who need a quick refresher, The Amityville Horror is based on a book written by Jay Anson which claims to be the true-life experiences of George and Kathy Lutz and their family after moving into the home at 112 Ocean Avenue. Just 13 months before, Ronald DeFeo, Jr., had shot and killed six members of his family. Anson’s book and the original film are a representation of what happened to the Lutz family during their 28-day stay in the home… or is it? There has always been tons of speculation as to just what is real and what is fraud in the Lutzes’ story, making The Amityville Horror a supernatural mystery of the highest degree.
The Shining (1980)
As tales of hauntings go, perhaps no one spins a better yarn than the great Stephen King. It’s no secret that King has no love for Stanley Kubrick’s vision of his classic novel, but somewhere between King’s conjuring of the tale and Kubrick’s mad scientist filmmaking techniques (not to mention a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Jack Nicholson), a masterful cinematic haunting was born. It’s been nearly 35 years since The Shining was released, and even longer since the novel hit the stands, and still today it still stands as one of the most unsettling films of all time. This is another example of a truly excellent haunting being embraced by our culture. Sure, on the surface, The Shining looks like a slasher film to the uninformed eye. But a look deeper within the walls of The Overlook Hotel shows a much more haunted and supernatural environment. Great party, isn’t it?
12 Classic Creepy Christmas Critters!
Though Krampus and The Grinch usually get all the spooky holiday love, the team of Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass at Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc., gave us many memorable monsters who revel in Christmas fear! Each year they lurk about on TV before a multitude of heroes have had a chance to change their black hearts into golden ones! Just like Ebenezer Scrooge at noon on Christmas Eve, these monsters start as spooky as can be, and we have a list of some of our absolute favorites for you below!
“Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1978)
Faster than you can scream “La Carcagne,” the giant claw(s) of Aeon the Terrible will swoop in and carry you off to the island of No-Name: a giant iceberg near the North Pole where the sun NEVER shines! This bad boy is known to terrorize the skies of the Sands of Time, a desert near Father Time’s castle. Dare you make the trek? Make sure you look up (you know… something the characters in Larry Cohen’s Q: The Winged Serpent NEVER did), or else you might lose your head!
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1968)
For many years man has searched for the missing link. Regardless of what you call it – Sasquatch, Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman… this furry fear maker has been as elusive as finding a jawbone in a haystack on Farmer Vincent’s farm. It figures that none other than Rudolph would use his shiny red nose as a means to shed some light on this beast’s whereabouts! Let’s just be thankful he didn’t end up on Bumble’s menu. Lord knows this toothy terror tried!
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970)
Sure, there’s nothing mythical or supernatural about Burgermeister Meisterburger, but here’s a guy who makes Scrooge look like Nelson Mandela. I mean, come on… not even old Ebenezer would have banned toys from an entire town! Or would he? The jury is still out on that one. Incidentally, the police are still on the lookout for a yet-to-be-identified male who was boiled in his own pudding and buried with a sprig of holly through his heart. If you are in possession of any info leading to the capture of the heartless villain who committed this heinous act, please call 800-423-TIPS.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)
Remember the cover of Child’s Play 2? I’m willing to bet that old Charlie in the Box was more than just a little inspirational to the artist who came up with it! Never mind clowns! We DARE you to stare into Charlie’s soulless eyes… the devil’s eyes…
“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” (1985)
How foul is the Commander of the Wind Demons? So foul that he hasn’t even been given a name… just a title. Even worse, this nasty creature has been taxed with deciding the fate of Santa Claus himself! There are a lot of really weird and disturbing characters in 1985’s “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” which was based upon 1902 children’s book written by L. Frank Baum of the same name. You’ll be seeing some more of them on this very list should you have the gumption to keep on reading.
“The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974)
If Satan himself were to don a festive costume, we’re pretty sure he’d look a lot like the dreaded Heat Miser from 1974’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” With his marvelous singing voice and flair for theatrics, is it really such a stretch?
Need more proof? Just try to get that damned song out of your head. Hell hath no fury, we tell ya!
“The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” (1985)
Quake in fear, kids! QUAKE IN FRIGGIN’ FEAR! King Awgwa is the leader of the Awgwas, a race of evil creatures that have the power to influence human minds. He also had the power to terrorize Karen Black via Zuni Fetish doll 10 years earlier, but that’s another tale… a whole trilogy of them.
“The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold” (1981)
If the mythical Irish creatures known as Leprechauns have a scourge, it is no doubt Old Mag the Hag. A banshee who specialized in spreading bad luck wherever she went, Mag needed to dig her claws into a heaping helping of gold before Christmas Day or she would turn to tears and wash away forever. Reports of Mag have been eerily quiet since 1993. Despite multiple attempts Warwick Davis has remained unavailable for comment.
“The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974)
The Yin to the Heat Miser’s Yang, the Snow Miser may be a bit more cheery than his hot-headed friend, but we can assure you that under that cheery exterior he has a heart of pure ice. He also suffers from the single most severe case of post-nasal drip we’ve ever seen. Seriously, someone get this dude a chisel and some tissue. Thanks.
“Jack Frost” (1979)
The Evil Cossack King, Kubla Kraus is more or less the Dr. Frankenstein of the Rankin and Bass universe because he possesses the know-how to bring life to his creations… an army of Keh-Knights, amongst other robotic servants. Kraus sits upon the throne of his lair on Miserable Mountain, and the only thing on his agenda is keeping the residents of January Junction in a constant state of fear. Good thing old Jack Frost is around to chill him out, or his army of mechanical monsters would have no doubt taken over the world by now.
“Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July” (1979)
If Kraus could be considered a Doctor Frankenstein of sorts, then without question the evil sorcerer Winterbolt would have felt right at home in the Lord of the Rings universe at the side of Lord Saruman. This sneaky devil actually conjured that terrible storm in which Rudolph with his nose so bright guided Santa’s sleigh that night. Furious that his nefarious plan was foiled, Winterbolt rises with a vengeance and convinces both Frosty the Snowman and Rudy to head to Florida to become carny freaks for the dreaded ringmaster Sam Spangles. I know… WTF, right? Talk about a cold-hearted bastard.
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970)
Without question, the most terrifying of all Rankin and Bass’ many creations was the infamous Winter Warlock. I mean, just look at this dude. He SCREAMS “I’m nefarious!” If he didn’t have the train fetish that he did, there’s no way ANYONE, Rudolph or otherwise, would ever have made it across the Mountain of the Whispering Wind, thereby killing Christmas off for good and plunging us all into a dark wonderland of humbug!
That’s it! Did we miss any of your favorites or rekindle some long dormant memories? Let us know in the comments section below. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fright!
Fearsome Facts: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night (1985) is to All Hallows’ Eve what A Christmas Story (1983) is to X-Mas: an opus which is worthy of its own 24-hour marathon and an ensuing all-night bacchanalia where blood is the life rather than alcohol. Filmmaker Tom Holland’s love letter to vampire films revitalized a subgenre of horror that was sadly rotting away not unlike an undead creature of the night.
Holland found inspirations in the scary movies that he idolized as a youth which included Hammer Film’s visionary retellings of the Universal Monsters. In fact, Holland based Fright Night’s sage Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) on his heroes: Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, House of Wax) and Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Mummy).
Fright Night made the vampire fashionable again in the 1980s, as it paved the way for other blood-sucking projects of that nostalgic-ridden era like The Lost Boys (1987), Near Dark (1987) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Most horror cognoscentes and critics alike know every frightening behind-the-scenes macabre morsel of Fright Night’s history. But there always those tiny tidbits that slip through the cracks.
With that in mind, here are 8 Things You May Not Know About Fright Night.
8. The Great Vampire Killer
Tom Holland and Roddy McDowall became friends after working together on Fright Night, but the esteemed actor was not Holland’s first choice to play the Cowardly Lion-like character of Peter Vincent. Rather, Holland tried to hire macabre movie maestro Vincent Price to take on the role. Sadly, Price’s declining health prevented him from participating in the project.
As wonderful a casting move as that might have been, Fright Night purist are likely to argue that everything worked out for the best. McDowall delivered one of his most enduring performances in what was an A-List career, as he also endeared himself to a whole new generation of fans.
7. Charley and Amy
Actors William Ragsdale and Amanda Bearse might have been playing teenagers in Fright Night, but they were much older than their characters of Charley Brewster and Amy Peterson. Ragsdale was 24-years-old at the time and Bearse was 27-years-old!
6. 1966 Ford Mustang
Charley Brewster’s 1966 Ford Mustang had one of the worst paint jobs possible, as it appeared to have been haphazardly executed with an offbeat mixture of red and grey coloring. The muscle car actually belonged to writer/director Tom Holland. Sadly, the classic Mustang was totaled 10 years later during an accident. The paint job couldn’t have been any worse, right?
5. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Holland’s cinematic masterpiece was obviously inspired by many vampire films of the past, particularly Hammer horror, but there is a thoughtful nod and a wink to the Golden Days of the Universal Monsters. During their final battle with Jerry Dandrige, Charley and Peter think they have the upper hand. Jerry flees after Peter shoots Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), but soon the zombie-like Renfield creeps up the staircase after our heroes. Holland admitted that Billy sneaking up on Charley and Peter, as he climbed the stairs, was an homage to Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) sneaking up on Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
4. Evil Ed
Amy (Amanda Bearse) and Evil Ed go to Charley’s house to see how the tormented teen is holding up. Once they enter Charley’s room, Amy and Ed find Brewster sharpening a stake and preparing for all-out war with Jerry Dandrige. Candles flutter in the darkness, despite the sun being out, as Charley has also utilized crosses to defend against Dandridge.
During the filming of that scene, actor Stephen Geoffreys was incredibly sick due to food poisoning. You’d never know it by his performance though, because the young thespian pulled it together to complete the day’s shoot. It’s a memorable moment, as that scene sparked Amy and Ed into action. Immediately after, they recruit Peter Vincent to aid their troubled friend.
3. Box Office Boffo
According to Holland, Fright Night wasn’t expected to do much at the box office in the minds of studio executives. But to the pleasant surprise of all involved, Fright Night scared up over $6.1 million on its opening weekend alone. In fact, the movie went and won the Silver Medal at the box office for all horror films in 1985. Fright Night took home over $24 million domestically, but A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge took the top spot with almost $30 million.
2. Peter Vincent
Peter Vincent’s Hollywood apartment was cluttered with all manner of motion picture memorabilia, including a noticeable nod to former Dracula (1931) icon Bela Lugosi. But look closely and you’ll see another hidden gem hiding among the furniture and antiquities. Indeed, one of Roddy McDowall’s own life-masks from the Planet of the Apes film series can be seen adorning Vincent’s home.
1. Fright Night Sequel
During an interview in 2015, Holland discussed his vision for a follow-up he’d liked to have pursued for Fright Night. His concept revolved around Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) being a single father with a couple of teenage children.
Charlie inherits his mother’s home and soon discovers something “evil” is squatting in the abandoned house where Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) used to cloak his coffin. Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) has taken up residence and he is trying to resurrect Jerry. According to Holland, this Fright Night sequel would have included most of the original cast members unlike the much maligned 1988 Fright Night Part 2.
For those fanatics of Fright Night who also enjoy documentaries about horror movies, check out Dead Mouse Productions three-disc tribute titled You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night (2016). Disc one is a Blu-ray of the exhaustive 3 ½ hour documentary that examines the making of both Fright Night and Fright Night Part 2. There is a second DVD disc included alongside the third disc which is hours of bonus features. This is a must-own for any Fright Night aficionado. You’re So Cool, Brewster is an Eerie Essential all on its own.
In conclusion, Fright Night is one of those rare films that stands the test of time from generation to generation. It is a must-see for all horror enthusiasts and an Eerie Essential to be enjoyed by all who dare take up the cross with Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent against the duplicitous Jerry Dandrige.
SEE or sNuB recommendation: Must-See!
Which Fright Night facts were your favorites? Are there any other obscure tidbits you’d like to have seen make the list? Sound off on social media.
Horror Movies to Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving
After you’ve gorged on your Thanksgiving feast and the L-tryptophan is kicking in, you’re probably thinking about parking your carcass on the couch and watching movie after movie. But not just any movie – this is a holiday, so naturally you want to celebrate on-topic and gobble some gore.
We’ve got you covered with this curated list of choices from a 25-item menu of Native American-themed thrillers and chillers.
Death Curse of Tartu (1966)
A group of students on an archaeology assignment in the Everglades decide to throw a dance party one night. The spot they choose happens to be the burial site of an ancient Seminole shaman named Tartu. He returns from the dead to take his revenge on those who desecrated his grave site.
A Seminole Vietnam vet (Chris Robinson) goes on the warpath when a leather goods merchant (Alex Rocco) tries to grab his pet snake Stanley to turn him into a belt. A William Grefe cult classic!
Set on the Nebraska prairie in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the story follows the spiritual clash between the daughters of a recently deceased shaman and a gang of ex-aviators. Christina Raines, Scott Glenn and Keith Carradine star in this largely unknown, bizarre body-count thriller.
Shadow of the Hawk (1976)
A Canadian Indian (Jan-Michael Vincent) and a newswoman (Marilyn Hassett) join his grandfather (Chief Dan George) on a tribal walk among evil spirits.
The Manitou (1978)
A psychic (Tony Curtis) recruits a witch doctor (Michael Ansara) to get a 400-year-old Indian medicine man off his girlfriend’s (Susan Strasberg) back…. literally. The demonic Native American spirit is a tumor trying to reincarnate.
When a dispute occurs between a logging operation and a nearby Native American tribe, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and his wife, Maggie (Talia Shire), are sent in to mediate. Chief John Hawks (Armand Assante) becomes enraged when Robert captures a bear cub for testing, but he’s not as angry as the mutant grizzly mom! George Clutesi plays an Original Person who believes the monster is the personification of the god Katahdin and is there to protect the land.
A policeman (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) and a scientist (David Warner) track vampire bats on a Maski tribe reservation. Abner Tasupi (George Clutesi) is the shaman who helps them.
A New York cop (Albert Finney) investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks. His hunt leads him to Native American high worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) to see if there’s any connection between the killings and old myths and legends from the area. Finney’s character refers to as “the Crazy Horse of the Seventies… the only one of our local militants left alive who’s not making money off of Levi’s commercials.”
Hapless college science students go on a dig around a sacred burial ground for artifacts. Unfortunately, one of them becomes possessed by the evil spirit of Black Claw… and that means only one thing: Now he must slaughter all of his friends.
Eyes of Fire (1983)
Almost lynched in 1750, a preacher (Dennis Lipscomb) leads his followers (Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley) west to a valley whose dirt holds a devil of Indian origin.
Pyrokinetic protagonist Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore) is in trouble when an evil Native American named Rainbird (George C. Scott) wants to kill her because he is convinced her death would give him special power to take to the mystical other world of his ancestors.
Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)
The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces are not over. Whoops, looks like it’s another haunted Native American resting place!
Creepshow 2 (1987)
In the anthology film’s first vignette, “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” thugs who terrorize small-store grocers played by Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy are attacked in kind by the general store’s wooden Indian.
Pet Sematary (1989)
After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle into a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground.
Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is sent to investigate reports of missing persons at Fort Spencer, a remote Army outpost on the Western frontier. After arriving at his new post, Boyd and his regiment aid a wounded frontiersman, F.W. Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), who recounts a horrifying tale of a wagon train murdered by its supposed guide — a vicious U.S. Army colonel gone rogue… and who’s developed a taste for human flesh.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
In 18th century France, the Chevalier de Fronsac and his Native American friend Mani (Mark Dascosos) of the Micmac tribe are sent by the King to the Gevaudan province to investigate the killings of hundreds by a mysterious beast.
The Wendigo (2001)
Director Larry Fessenden movie uses the Native American Wendigo legend to tell an eerie and hallucinogenic tale about a family trapped in the woods with a dark force.
“Masters of Horror: Deer Woman” (2005)
A burned-out cop believes that a recent string of murders prove that the killer might be a deer-like creature in the form of a beautiful woman (Cinthia Moura) come to life from a local Native American folklore legend.
A 12-year-old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives. Based on the folk legend from Utah about the spirits of murdered Indians returning to seek revenge upon those who disrespect the land.
The Burrowers (2008)
A search party – played by Clancy Brown, William Mapother and Doug Hutchison – sets out to find and recover a family of settlers that has mysteriously vanished from their home. Expecting the offenders to be a band of fierce natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But they soon discover that the real enemy stalks them from below.
The Dead Can’t Dance (2010)
Three Native Americans discover they are immune to a zombie virus in this whacky indie comedy.
After thugs brutalize a deaf-mute woman (Amanda Adrienne), the spirit of an Apache warrior takes over her lifeless body and sets out on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge.
Volcano Zombies (2014)
Danny Trejo as a Native American who warns campers about the legendary and very angry lava-laden “volcano zombies.”
The Darkness (2016)
Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife and their two children return to Los Angeles after a fun-filled vacation to the Grand Canyon. Strange events soon start to plague the family, and the Taylors learn that Michael brought back some mysterious rocks that he discovered inside an ancient Native American cave.
After one of her tribe sets an American soldiers’ camp ablaze, a young female Mohawk finds herself pursued by a ruthless band of renegades bent on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods, Mohawk youths Oak and Calvin confront the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers. As the Americans seem to close in from all sides, the trio must summon every resource both real and supernatural as the brutal attack escalates. Mohawk is a dark, political drama with horror undertones. “While set 203 years ago, Mohawk is unfortunately a timeless story,” says director Ted Geoghegan. “It’s about marginalized people being decimated simply because they exist and scared white men who fail to realize that their racism and bigotry will place them on the wrong side of history.“
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