Ezy Reading: Horror Films You Could Also See Before You Die 'but don't really have to' Part II
(a.k.a Revenge of the Nerds)
Evan Kanarakis

Okay, I have to admit, when I came up with the idea for last week's column about twelve of the best horror films of all time, I figured there would likely be some that might disagree with my assessment. The genre is full of hundreds upon hundreds of films to choose from, and personal preferences differ widely. That's why I made the specific point of noting that these were merely my own humble and, above all, non-definitive selections. Little did I know that not only do personal preferences about favourite films differ widely, but some folks have chosen to guard, protect and indeed, promote their favourites as if their own lives depended up on it (read: HORROR NERDS). Consider the following e-mails, but a few of the glut that arrived in my inbox this week in the aftermath of the column:

What about the Shining, you knucklehead?
Oregon, USA

You picked Scream!?!? That's a comedy, smartypants. What about real horror classics like Nosferatu, and Frankenstein? I've seen episodes of Baywatch with terrorists threatening to blow up lifesaver observation posts that were scarier than Scream. Get it right, man!
Newcastle, Australia

I'd like to suggest the Goonies for consideration. As a kid, I found certain scenes profoundly disturbing.
Sydney, Australia

My wife can't believe you didn't include Gremlins. I told her I thought the Ghoulies movies were way better.
Arizona, USA

You left out Final Destination and the Faculty. Best horror films ever. By the way I'm fifteen and they're the only horror films I've ever seen.
Brisbane, Australia.

See what I'm talking about? The Goonies? Ghoulies?? How about getting called a knucklehead? All this and I still didn't show you the two page e-mail I received from London wherein 'Leo' outlined why Battlefield Earth could be classified as a great horror using the same reasoning I applied to declaring Alien both a sci-fi and a horror. Battlefield Earth?? I mean isn't it like a general rule of human kindness that we're agreed to try and make sure everyone forgot that film was ever made? I've been having bad dreams all week since Leo gave me the heads up and now all I can think of is Travolta dressed like Chewbacca and saying 'exterminate those man-animals!' You know, on second thought, Leo was right. That movie was horrifying...

Anyway, such comments aside, I figured just to keep some of the rabid emailers at bay and appease a few of their favourites, I might offer you the five films that almost made my final cut of twelve, but just missed out. I'll leave you guys to debate amongst yourselves what the appropriate order should be between numbers one through seventeen, or what other additions should be made to make it an authoritative list (Goonies, anyone?). Just leave me out of it. Thank goodness I'm no Star Trek fan or I can imagine the firestorm I'd have created if I decided to rank what my favourite episode was, or perhaps numbers one through five of the best William Shatner toupees. That kind of grief I can do without.

So here's five more horror films I can recommend, but please bear in mind the following:

(i) This is not a definitive list.
(ii) This list is not endorsed by any major studios, production companies or actors.
(iii) Goonies is NOT a bloody horror film...


Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
If you ever get the chance, watch this vampire movie and marvel at how over eighty years later, in black and white and with no sound, it is still captivating, atmospheric, and downright spooky. Based closely upon Bram Stoker's Dracula, evil Count Orlock still manages to score with hot chicks despite the fact he looks like an albino chimpanzee.

Jaws (1975)
Steven Spielberg's blockbuster idea may have been running out of franchise steam by the time Jaws 3D was released, but the first film was an instant classic. A Great White Shark terrorises the residents of beach resort town Amity Island, and the local police chief (played by Roy Schieder) sets out to organise a team that will rid the monster from their waters. Perhaps the most memorable theme score in movie history.

The Shining (1980)
The majority of the e-mails I received over the past week about my column were concerned with the absence of this cheerful little flick from Stanley Kubrick. It's irrelevant that Stephen King was reported to have been unhappy with the finished product (he favours the 1997 mini'series remake), because this is still definitely one of the best horror films around. A writer on retreat as caretaker to a haunted hotel slowly goes mad while his wife and young son attempt to keep their own sanity and avoid elevators flooded with hundreds of litres of gushing blood. In the lead role, Jack Nicholson must surely have had a blast making the film given the free'reign he was awarded to run rampant throughout the large hotel with an axe in hand and eyebrows on high alert.

The Dead Zone (1983)
Perhaps this film (also based on a Stephen King novel) would be better classified merely as a thriller, but regardless I always thought this was an underrated film. Christopher Walken plays Johnny Smith, a young man who emerges after five years in a coma to discover he now has psychic abilities. While trying to cope with the five years 'and the fiance' he has lost, he also grapples with the responsibilities of his newfound gift when recruited by local police to help on a murder investigation. As the movie tagline offers, In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
I first watched this movie at a buddy's sleepover birthday party in 1985. After devouring KFC, birthday cake and opening presents, we watched BMX Bandits, and then waited for the parents to go to bed before we watched Zapped and Fraternity Vacation (pausing the VCR during all the rude bits. Hey, I was ten.). Finally, at about 2am, we decided to watch A Nightmare On Elm Street. Bad idea. I think it's safe to say that at the age of ten it was a touch early for me to be seeing this kind of graphic horror, so the fact I was afraid to go to sleep for the next eight weeks is probably understandable. Still, before he became a parody of himself, Freddy was a pretty scary horror character, and Wes Craven's story of a psychotic killer that stalks his victims in their sleep was a great idea delivered with cutting'edge special effects. Who can forget the scene where Freddy invisibly drags his victim kicking and screaming up a wall and onto the ceiling to kill her? It's little surprise that over five hundred gallons of fake blood were used during the making of the film. Look out for a young Johnny Depp.

The Others (2001)
A well-paced, well-acted film with a great twist at the end. Nicole Kidman plays Grace Stewart, a woman living in a dark Victorian mansion towards the end of World War Two with her children, both of whom are afflicted with an extreme sensitivity to light, so that the home is barely lit, and the curtains always drawn. While waiting for her husband to return from battle, she hires three servants to help in the mansion, and it is at this point that Grace and her children begin to suspect that their house may be haunted. Then again, if they ever bothered to just turn on a damn light, perhaps the place wouldn't seem so scary...

Honourable Mentions:
Frankenstein (1931), The Birds (1963), Dawn of the Dead (1978), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Hellraiser (1987), The Sixth Sense (1999), 28 Days Later (2002).

Drop by every Monday for another edition of Ezy Reading