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
In honor of the release of my novella, RATTUS NEW YORKUS, I decided to share a list of 10 horror movies centered around those disease-bearing rodents. If rats make you squeamish, this makes a great double dare to watch a few of these selected horrors.
Now, in no particular order, here are 10 flicks straight from the sewer. Click the movie poster to watch the trailer and see which one ‘squeaks’ your interest.
I named one of my hamsters Ben, and he was appropriately mean as hell. With a theme song performed by young Michael Jackson, this was my first foray into rat horror films. A young boy befriends old Ben, who just happens to be the ringleader for a horde of menacing rats. I always tell people, this is the rat movie to start with.
9. THE FOOD OF THE GODS
This is my favorite because it’s a Bert I. Gordon joint. That man is my hero. When the animals on a pacific northwest island start slurping up some white goo, they get, well, they didn’t call him Mr. B.I.G. for nothing. I saw this in the theater when it first came out and buy it on every new format.
I’m not gonna lie. This one is not so great. Also known as Altered Species, its the common rat trope of a chemical getting exposed to rats and making them…well…rattier. If this came out now, it would be in Red Box with a bitching cover image and nothing else.
7. OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN
You know, I had forgotten all about this until now, and I don’t know why, considering how much I liked it back in the 80s. It stars Peter Weller (Robocop), a man possessed with figuring out what unseen terror us lurking in his home. Is he out of his mind, or is there something furry and lethal stalking him? Pure 80s goodness.
6. THE RATS ARE COMING! THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE!
This wins, hands down, for best title. Not sure how easy it will be to find this early 70s shlock (ahem) classic that’s more about werewolves than rats. If you like watching loonies do bad things to rats, this might be for you.
5. THE KILLER SHREWS
I have to tell ya, the giant shrews in this 50s scifi romp are kinda icky. They made my skin crawl when I first saw it many moons ago. Yes, I know a shrew isn’t technically a rat, but watch this one and tell me if it makes a difference. You know it’s worth a watch when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
4. DEADLY EYES
I fell in love with this VHS cover back in the day. I rented it quite a few times over the years. Now, it’s not the greatest, but there is some fun to be had here. We’ve got rats as big as dogs invading homes and an entire city. I’d love to see this movie remade with a The Meg sized budget.
3. RATS – NIGHT OF TERROR
Ok, this is an Italian horror movie, and we all know how I feel about that. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. I will give it props for being a post-apocalypse rat horror flick. And there is a pretty cool twist in the end.
2. GRAVEYARD SHIFT
Maybe not the best Stephen King adaptation, but it’s still fun to watch. And how about that movie poster, huh? There’s tons of rats in the old textile mill, and a little somethin’-somethin’ extra. I actually dig this movie and have to remember to watch it during this year’s Horrortober.
Whether you watch the original (co-starring Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein) or the remake with the supremely odd Crispin Glover, you can’t go wrong. The lesson here is, beware of dudes who have a posse of rats as their only friends. Considered a classic for a damn good reason.
And there you have it, 10 movies with high ick factors starring armies of furry beasts. Once you’ve seen them all and want more, don’t forget to check out Rattus New Yorkus and find out what happens when you take a blowtorch to thousands of rats in Grand Central Station.
For my money, ghost/haunted house movies are by far the creepiest. Luckily for us, there have been a ton of spine tingling ghost flicks over the years. This Horrortober, if you’re looking to scare yourself before heading off to bed, why not give one (or all ten) of these movies a try?
What are some of your favorites?
10. LADY IN WHITE
9. THE ENTITY
8. THE INNOCENTS
6. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE
5. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
4. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
3. THE CHANGELING
2. THE SHINING
- THE HAUNTING
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