By Valentina Bautista, THE HAWK
EDITOR'S NOTE: In this article, Valentina offers Camino students a fun and unique set of movie recommendations. As these are horror movies, they may contain upsetting images and themes. Make sure any movies you watch are of an age-appropriate rating.
Can you smell it? The days now darken earlier, the weather outside is… changing, slightly (damn you, global warming), pumpkins now plague the fruit aisles and leaves are starting to rot; autumn is here and the countdown towards the end of the year has started ticking.
October comes to an end, and with that comes the spooky holiday we can’t seem to get enough of, Halloween!
Yet, there is something different about this year’s Halloween that I can’t yet put my finger on…
Oh, right, a global pandemic.
What is there to do for Halloween when dressing up and strolling the streets with your friends and partying in sweaty costumes has been cancelled? Why a healthy dose of voluntary psychological torture, of course! Horror movie marathons until the moon´s well up in the sky and your digestive system accepts its fate of drowning in Halloween candy and unnecessarily spicy crisps.
We have all heard of the classics: Scream, Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Jeepers Creepers and, of course, American Psycho and its acclaimed (totally not a money-grab) sequel. However, as good as the classics are, sometimes it is necessary to turn to a new page, especially for an out-of -the-ordinary Halloween such as this, and to browse the shelves for a new, banging film to binge can be a tiring task, so leave it to the movie snobs to condense a list of watch-worthy terrific terror flicks.
This is my selection of horror movies you have not heard of, but should:
5: Rubber (2011)
“A truly cinematic masterpiece, one of the best films I’ve ever seen. The way the tire acts with no disregard for human life is nothing short of amazing. sory that was my dad move scaredy me th e tier was so scare i hate tiers i pee pant we must congregate tro burn and destroy the state of monatanana, they suck and are beaver”– Tony Palma, Google Reviews
I never would’ve thought one of the most pretentious movies I would ever see would be a movie about a murderous tire — as in car tire –, but, alas.
I can re-tire happily now.
Rubber is an independent 2011 comedic horror movie about an inanimate object, quite the trend. Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, this movie is definitely not what you are expecting, and seeing as we talk of a movie about a tire with the psychokinetic ability of making people’s heads explode, that is saying something.
The plotline is unlike any I had ever seen before, as the main characters seems to be… the tire itself, and it is followed around by a group of spectators congregated by a sheriff who’s guiding them through the experience of watching a “live movie”, without the screen being an obstacle, that is. The tire, who is named Robert, springs to life suddenly and discovers it can not only move now, but destroy things (and blow people up as if they were firecrackers), and gains a sense of self that makes it recognize itself in mirrors, get angry when it sees a tire burning site and… being attracted to a human woman, I guess, because a 2010 movie MUST have a love interest even if it is for a psychopathic tire.
This film dances along being a satirical, gross comedy movie and almost conceptual cinema. It uses interesting twists like the breaking of the 4th wall and the characters achieving self-awareness… but it is still a stupid movie about a car tire and gore, delighting!
Are you tire-d yet? … Okay, next movie.
4: The Gate (1987)
“Playing records backwards can be hazardous to more than the needle”– bootblacker, IMDB
This is the most surprising movie of the list (even more than the tire thing, yes), being from an era where movie posters were still painted by hand and movie posters had the aesthetic of fantasy literature, so, when I started watching this movie, I expected for it to be far more serious than it really was.
Instead, I got a teenage horror comedy filled with weirdly hilarious puppet monsters, rudimentary special effects, iconic late-80s characters and the exact image I think about when somebody mentions mindless horror movies produced in bulk from two decades ago.
And I ate it up.
This story follows Glen, a twelve-year-old boy, and a sudden nightmare he has involving his treehouse getting struck by lightning. He wakes up to find that the same tree from his nightmare has been cut down by workers, leaving a whole in his patio from which he unearths a geode (one of those rocks with pretty purple crystals inside). He takes it back to Terry, his friend and possibly one of the coolest kids to ever grace cinema, to investigate, all while his parents leave town and put his fifteen-year-old sister in charge of the house (she, in true late-80s fashion, throws a party, of course).
The hole where the geode was starts to look suspicious… would cracking open the geode open a door to hell in Glen’s backyard? Well, of course, and why wouldn’t you expect many rubber demon puppets to come crawling out of it?
My favourite part of this movie is, definitely, its aesthetic. There is something eternally charming about old horror movies and their resourcefulness, and by that I mean how they try to make everything out of nothing. Animatronics, special effects, CGI, monster makeup, a stuffed animal to simulate a dead dog that you OBVIOUSLY CANNOT see isn’t an actual dead dog? You call it.
This movie is a tasteful piece of vintage cinema, family friendly and jokingly scary.
3: The Banana Splits Movie (2019)
“Tra la la tra la la la”– Patrick Stump
Think of Sesame Street, now think of Saw, now think of a B movie with far too much budget, all rolled into one: that, in your head, is The Banana Splits Movie.
The Banana Splits was an animatronic puppet kids show from the US featuring (you’ll never believe it) The Banana Splits, a fictional bubblegum rock band composed of guitarist and singer Fleegle, the beagle, drummer Bingo, the ape, bassist Drooper, the lion and keyboard player Snorky, the elephant. It ran for 31 episodes on NBC from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970 and in quite the turn of events, the loveable, funny musician animals would return nearly five decades after their show got pulled off the air, as Warner Bros Television and writers and directors Jed Elinoff, Scott Thomas and Danishka Esterhazy announced that a feature film about The Banana Splits was in the making.
A horror movie, that is.
Barney’s ancestors were back with a vengeance.
The film follows young Harley Williams, an avid fan of The Banana Splits, who still have a successful television programme in this universe, and his family, as they attend a live version of the show on his birthday. They get to meet the robotic band and the staff of the fictional television set and fellow characters, who are textbook stereotypes of common-sense-devoid Horror Movie People.
But it is when the show ends and they get a special pass to take a look at the backstage that stuff starts getting wild, for the animatronic creatures have suddenly short-circuited and turned into rampaging, murderous machines there to lavish your eyes with a bizarre, gory fest.
Getting honest for a second, this may not be the most adept move when we talk about plotline, character development, gripping twists, intrepid directing takes, casting, cinematography and… well, it may not be a very good movie.
But hell if it’s fun. Have you ever wanted to see big, funky, musical animals chopping heads off, gouging eyes out and munching human limbs, topped off with Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump killing it with the theme song?
Well, aren’t you lucky!
2: The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
“I wish the Dead did die”– Marklehew, IMBD
Iggy Pop is in this movie, bear with me.
I could not make a list about horror movies and not include a zombie movie — that goes against my personal morals, and this movie is the first that comes to mind for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend.
Even I am willing to accept when a movie is bad, and this is, in fact, a pretty bad movie. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, bad, though, it’s more that, it is… misunderstood. The emo kid of zombie movies, if you will.
The Dead Don’t Die is a pretentious, comedic ensemble zombie movie with a bone-dry, deadpan approach to comedy, which makes it just dark enough to make it memorable. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and with a cast that includes Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Adam Driver, Selena Gomez and Iggy Pop, among others, you may ask yourself, “why haven’t I heard of this movie, then?”.
It was such a bad movie that it became niche despite the big music names.
The storyline follows various of these characters, the main ones being Cliff Robertson and Ronnie Peterson, two police officers of the small, rural town of Centreville, typically unexciting and dull until, of course, the movie starts. They suddenly notice their watches have stopped ticking and that the sky is completely blue and lit up despite 8pm creeping in, something they discuss in a hardware store with its owner, where they hear a worrisome radio report about polar fracking, followed by Sturgill Simpson´s song “The Dead Don’t Die”, which Cliff points out to Ronnie, saying that it is “the theme song”. Other important plot-points include a group of hippies arriving to the town to spend the weekend, the weird lady who works at the morgue and gives corpses drag looks to be buried with, and how the town is suddenly attacked by the cemetery dead coming back to life to eat some brains.
This is a zombie movie unique in a way that is hard to describe using common measures of what makes a movie good. However, I did find it uniquely entrancing.
The characters are mysterious, but the writing is successful at making you invested in them for some reason, and grasps your heart as the pessimistic, nihilistic nature of the film crashes over them slowly. The atmosphere is weird, the gore surprisingly shocking, and the sudden 4th wall-breaking lines make you go “ah” once in a while. I watched it whole very invested, and I now can say I wholeheartedly recommend this bad movie.
1: Freaked (1993)
“A classic, of sorts”– Ian Nathan, Empire
Throw the loveable tale of the unusual friendships in a circus freakshow, a chunk of Jim Carrey-esque physical comedy, a nice slab of gore and weird visuals, a mad scientist and the irreverence of early 90s comedy and you get the bastard son of comedic horror movies that is Freaked, an idiosyncratic underground movie classic for B-movie fanatics.
Freaked was directed by Alex Winter and Tom Stern, with a budget of 12 million dollars, and made from it a whopping box office total of 29,296 US dollars.
We can say it was successful… in its own way.
The story follows former child star Ricky Coogan, who is searching for a way to make a comeback in the Hollywood spotlight. He does so because he’s being interviewed for a talk show, but not in the way you may think, and the movie is shown as a flashback of the events that have suddenly made him popular again.
It all starts as Ricky is convinced to become the image of the company Everything Except Shoes and their new product “Zygrot 24”, a toxic fertilizer to be sold in South America, where he travels to promote it alongside his best friend, certified douchebag Ernie. When they arrive, they’re received by a group of angry environmentalists protesting against the popularization of the fertilizer, amongst them, Julie, a pretty activist, who Ricky tries to impress by faking an injury and concealing his identity from the protesters who hate his guts for supporting such a horrible product.
They manage to get a ride in Julie’s car, but then she discovers who they really are, so they’re now begrudgingly stuck together in an interesting plot-pushing technique of “Siamese-twins” (foreshadowing? Absolutely). As they drive, they decide to make a detour to see the local freakshow: Freak Land, which, unknowingly to them, is run by a mad scientist — the term “tourist trap” quite literally applies here: Ricky, Ernie and Julie are tricked into captivity and turned into freaks, joining a squadron of amusingly ugly monstrosities who showcase how stellarly bizarre 90s prosthetic visual effects could be.
If you’re a fan of referential humour, rock soundtracks, watching movies for the sake of getting a laugh, trippy visual effects, weirdly endearing characters and the odd mix of peculiar horror and gross comedy, Freaked is definitely the movie for you.
And if you’re none of that… Freaked is also the movie for you, everybody needs to get a little weird sometimes.
Also, make sure you like macaroons — just saying.
It is very important that, in such trying times, we stay as safe as possible, even if it means staying inside on Halloween. You never know when the virus might mutate into a zombie infection, so, why risk it? Spend some time watching quality horror movies; get scared, have a laugh, get scared and have a laugh again.
Happy Spooky Season!