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
How special is this? We have two episodes of the Monster Men for the price of…well, zippo, actually. The things we do for love.
Since the first appearance of Frankenstein in print, the horror genre has been rife with tales of terror based on the concept of science gone wrong. When man meddles with Nature or oversteps his bounds, the repercussions are very, very nasty. That goes for science fiction, too, perhaps even more so. I love mad scientists. Their creativity and singleminded obsessions are enviable, and it’s always fun to see them get their comeuppance in the end.
On the latest episode of Monster Men, we tap into this genre defining vein (after tapping into a beer or two) by repeating #ScienceGoneWrong like chattering babboons. I promise you’ll get a kick out of this one. What are some of your favorite science gone wrong books and movies?
What legendary horror actors and characters would make your Mount Rushmore of horror? Jack and I went into this thinking it would be easy (especially with a few cocktails under our belts). Man, were we wrong. Trying to whittle 100 years of horror down to 4 ain’t easy. Here’s our attempt at tackling the impossible.
Who would make your Mount Rushmore?
I’m holding out hope that I’m not the only person left who remembers some of these lesser movie beasts. I’ve always had a special fondness for monsters, be they ugly or mean or downright murderous. Think of it. If you looked half as ghastly as them, wouldn’t you be a bit on the irritable side, if not downright homicidal? Everyone knows about Jason and Godzilla and Frankenstein, but there are so many others out there that just came and went. Here are 5 that left an impression on my warped little brain over the years. Please seek them out, but don’t put your fingers in their cage!
I rememeber seeing this in the drive in when I was a kid. The thing about this mad beast that really got to me was the piercing scream he’d let out every ten minutes, turning my little bladder to ice. In the late 80’s, I rented this at a video store and was accused of never giving it back, so this movie really sticks in my head. You can’t beat the synopsis I found at IMDB. “Woman is raped at cocktail party. Years later, her son grows up to be a big hairy murderous monster who stalks a group of teens shipwrecked on his island.”
This has a great cast of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas. While on a train to God-remembers-where, a monster thaws from its icy prison and begins to murder the passengers. What scared the spaghettios out of me at the time was this dude’s face. Seriously, out of all the horror movies I’d watched as a kid, this face is the one that haunted me right through adulthood. Let’s just call him scary-red-eyed-Jesus. And he’s not even the monster that took over the train!
Think a bunch of maneating, shambling plants can’t be scary? Guess again, sucker. These things moved with the slow, measured assurance of a Michael Meyers decades before he donned his William Shatner mask. This is an all time great, but sadly forgotten monster movie. Check out the book that inspired it. Both are excellent.
4. FROM BEYOND
This gem is from the mid 80’s by the same team that brought us Reanimator. This was another loosely adapted Loevcraft story where a mad scientist (score!) develops a machine that lets us see into other dimensions. Unfortunately, they can come into ours as well, and some things are just not meant to be, like Justin Bieber’s career. What the crazy doctor eventually becomes is nothing short of awesome.
I’ll end with a relatively recent movie that very few people ever bring up. The creep in this fantastic British flick is a deformed man living in the tunnels and passageways of London’s underground. He wails like a rat and looks like all kinds of hell, plus he has some wicked strength, despite the seeping infections all over his flaky, gnarled body. If I stumbled across him in a subway, I’d probably drop dead immediately.
Those are my 5. I know there are tons more out there. Which ones did I miss that you love and remember, in a twsited kinda way? Let me know so I can include them in a future post!
To see the monsters I lived with in Forest of Shadows, click here.