Things are finally opening up and we’re all slowly going to crawl out of our houses over the next few weeks. After what the world has been through the past three months, I’m very concerned about the impact this will have on the horror genre. Will people want more scares after the coronavirus? I have a strong feeling that therapists won’t have a free hour in the day for years to come. This pandemic has given birth to a host of new fears for many, some still lurking under the surface and waiting to leap out the moment folks start to regain their equilibrium. I speak from experience, having grappled with a crippling anxiety disorder twenty years ago. If you’ve been sheltering in your house for months watching the news and worrying, it’s going to leave a scar.
So, what will the wave of the horror future be? I think what people need now more than ever is laughter. We’ve dwelled in the darkness for too long. We need the light. Luckily, if you’re a die hard horror fan like me in need of a chuckle, there are a lot of good movies out there to satisfy your craving while letting in the light. Here are 13 movies guaranteed to give you a break from your worries. What are some of your favorites?
EVIL DEAD 2
ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
A HAUNTED HOUSE
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
We’re all finding ways to cope with our shelter in place orders. And everyone has their own private concerns they have to grapple with while in isolation. It could be loss of a job, loss of a loved one, illness, anxiety, grappling with home schooling, feeling disconnected or, as most of us will agree, worrying about the future.
Some days are better than others. Two days ago was just a gray fog kind of day for me. I woke up that way and the fog never lifted. After a while, I didn’t fight it. I just reconciled myself to the fact that the blahs would win this battle. After beating down a panic disorder some twenty years ago, I keep feeling as if those old ways are going to break down my defenses and find their way back. That fear leads to the irrational fear that nearly broke me.
For me, I had to find a new line of defense. Something that could take my mind out of my mind (aka, my head out of my ass) and also give me comfort.
Enter Roger Corman.
Knowing his birthday was coming up was what made him top of mind for me. He just turned 94 and is still cooking. He’s even started a short film fest competition where people in quarantine shoot a 2 minute video in their home.
I immediately went to online streaming haunts like Amazon Prime, YouTube and Tubi to see what I could find. Damn, I found plenty. When I feel like my day is shit or even when I’ve had a great day, a Roger Corman film is both a perfect, nostalgic pick me up and a reward for a job well done.
Lately, I’ve been devouring Corman flicks like an elephant at a peanut factory. Or a bottle fly at a murder scene. These movies take me back to when I was a kid or an early twenty-something, eager to devour anything horror and scifi. If you’re of a certain again, they might do the same for you. So, what movies have been keeping me sane? Check out the trailers below and maybe you’ll find one that will give you an hour and a half of blessed relief and comfort.
THE TERROR WITHIN – George Kennedy, Andrew Stephens, the end of the world and gargoyles. Need I say more?
FORBIDDEN WORLD – A cheesy, sexy, gooey Alien riff that’s a blast to watch. And check out some of the walls in the spaceship. They were made of painted Big Mac boxes.
GALAXY OF TERROR – Erin Moran, Sid Haig, Robert Englund and Ray Walston head this total Alien ripoff that is seriously creepy and trippy. Some pretty cool monsters in this one. Be careful what you fear!
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP – Polluted salmon turn into bipedal, horny fish men. Always a go-to movie for me. That dummy scene in the tent is a true WTF moment in film history.
IT CONQUERED THE WORLD – A line from this movie is very apropos today – “It’s the end of everything!” If that monster doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. And it has Peter Graves and Lee Van Cleef!
ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS – The Professor from Gilligan’s Island wishes he was back with the crew of the Minnow. This movie is way better than it has any right to be with some really disturbing concepts. Oh, and the crab monsters are a lot of fun.
X : THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES – Ray Milland kills it in this horror/scifi thriller. It also inspired my novella, Optical Delusion.
Since Flame Tree Press only gives very small windows for book deals, I had to make sure I let you all know about this one ASAP. Take advantage of this one-time special between 4/15/20 and 4/17/20. If you ask me, The Wraith could straight out murder the coronavirus and get us all back to normal.
“A story surpassing in concept any slasher novel/film made thus far.” – New York Journal of Books
Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.
“Watch out, world, the Wraith is coming for you. As always, Shea brings the thrills with this urban exploration mystery chiller!” Megan Hart, New York Times bestseller author
“The violence is visceral and unnerving.” – Publishers Weekly
Man, as if all this craziness with coronavirus (and the possibly more dangerous reaction to it) wasn’t enough, did we really have to lose a horror legend? News that Stuart Gordon suddenly passed away was a total shock. I have to admit, it rocked me. Let’s be glad Dr. West wasn’t around to revive him. That would not have gone well. (And no, not too soon! Gordon had a wicked sense of humor, as anyone one who has watched his movies can see.)
When I think back to the glory days of the video store in the 80s and 90s, the films of Stuart Gordon loom large. Some of my favorite discoveries on VHS were products of his warped imagination. I read Lovecraft as a teen, but I never truly enjoyed his stories until Stuart Gordon made his, most times, loose interpretations. Who knew they could be so…sexy?
He wasn’t afraid to inject his tales of terror with dark humor (Dr. West battling a reanimated feline), sex (Barbara Crampton in full S&M gear), gore (the feasting creature locked in the dungeon) or even utter sweetness (a little girl befriending a man who is just a kid at heart). Above all, he brought Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton into our lives. For that, I would never be able to thank him enough.
I’ve been spending the week going back and enjoying Gordon’s filmography. Below are my top 5 in order. Step away from the anxiety for a spell and lose yourself in some trailers. If you haven’t seen any of them, shame on you! If you’re a fan like me, which ones are your favorites?
#5 – DAGON
#4 – CASTLE FREAK
#3 – DOLLS
#2 – RE-ANIMATOR
#1 – FROM BEYOND