Friday the 13th fiends for a movie-fest … yes, indeed!Superstitions … whatever! To the horror fan, Friday the 13th is a great excuse to blow the dust of a few classics, crack open a cold oneor two and celebrate all things macabre.
It could be argued the date is synonymous with the film genre, thanks to Sean Cunningham’s 1980 classic which claimed the date as its title.
It may not have been the first of the slasher flicks, but Friday the 13th set the platform for one of the genres most revered creations, Jason Voorhees, and offered a blueprint for a slew of immitators. (Note – Jason steps up to the killer plate in the sequel. Mrs Voorhees is the maniac in the franchise debut).
Needless to say, the inclusion of at least one Voorhees flick show be mandatory if you are planning a Friday the 13th movie marathon.
While considering the marathon concept, here’s 13 flicks I’m considering for tonight.
1. Freddy Vs Jason (2003) Jason and Freddy cross paths.
What’s not to love about a flick that brings together two of modern horror’s greatest villains – the above-mentioned Jason Voorhees and the razor-fingered dream terrorist Freddy Krueger.
There’s plenty of thrills along the way to an epic showdown which is worth the price of admission on its own. The only problem with this one is picking a side!
2. The Evil Dead (1981) When the Evil Dead come to play it’s not pretty.
“We’re gonna get ya, we’re gonna get ya” – does it get any better than possessed twenty-somethings trying to take a bite out of each other? No! The Evil Dead may not have the greatest CG effects, but what it boasts in atmosphere, scares and innovative camera work, more than makes amends.
This is the film that gave birth to a genuine legend of the B-movie, Bruce Campbell, in the lead role of Ash – the one handed king of deadite slayers and all things groovy.
3. Halloween (1978) There’s only one Michael Myers … thank God!
Without doubt my favourite horror film of all time, and yes, I shall be watching it again on halloween itself.
Michael Myers is, in my humble opinion, the perfect screen evil – silent, expressionless, merciless and absofrickenlutely scary.
John Carpenter truly produced a gem in this beast, which features steller performances from the great Donald Pleasance and a credible debut from Jame Lee Curtis.
4. Hellraiser (1987) Pinhead may just be the ultimate punk, replacing safety pins with nine inch nails.
Clive Barker’s trippy journey into the outer realms where flesh is but a plaything.
Doug Bradley is sensational as “Pinhead” the leader of the Cenobites – a group of ghoulish beings summoned via a puzzle box.
Complete with some truly memorable scenes, this is simply a must … and closely followed by its sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II.
5. Dawn of the Dead (1978) Not necessarily what you want to see as your lift doors open.
The sequel to George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, this is the definitive zombie flick.
A mammoth production, clocking in at over the two hour mark, this flick poses some serious questions about humanity and also paints a terrifying possibility for a nightmarish end of days.
The effects in this one are gut-churning, thanks to some fine latex and gut work from the legendary Tom Savini.
6. The Exorcist (1973) The ultimate battle between good and evil.
It may have been spawned more than 40 years ago but this gem from William Friedkin, based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, is ageless when it comes to scares.
The first half of the film may roll on a little slowly for some horrorheads, but the gradual turn of young Linda Blair more than makes up for it.
Few films focused on demonic possession have come close to the sheer horror depicted in The Exorcist. As the demon Pazuzu shows its real face and battles to retain control of young Regan (Blair) the true vulgarity of the crime against the soul is mortifying.
Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras is sensational – “the power of Christ compels you”.
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II (1986) Dennis Hopper meets Leatherface with a rather familiar weapon.
While most opt for the first in the series, this follow-up from original director Tobe Hooper, is more than worth a watch or two.
This time around Leatherface and his family of cannibal nutjobs have their sights set on a radio host. After she is captured its up to a former Texas Marshall, played by Dennis Hopper, to hunt down the family and save the day.
Unlike the gritty original, this is where the franchise really got gory, with plenty of scenes to test the guts of the most seasoned gorehound.
8. The Re-Animator (1985) Dr Herbert West is not the kinda fella you’d want as your GP.
Over the top and completely sensational. Dr Herbert West, one of H.P. Lovecraft’s finest creations, is brilliantly portrayed here by Jeffrey Combs, who is bent on finding the right serem to bring the dead back to life.
The tongue-in-cheek splatterfest includes all manner of sickness, including the re-animation of the disconnected head of West’s lead adversary.
What’s not to love about a film that had the release tag line: “Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders … and another one on his desk.”
9. The Strangers (2008) Enough of the creepy sack already!!!!
Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, this flick is incredibly creepy, especially when watched in the dead of night – when you’re the only creature stirring in the house.
It’s a classic and well-used premise – a couple in an isolated house get terrorised by a group of freaks, giving way to a cat and mouse game of survival.
The difference between this and many pretenders is the fact that this genuinely freaks and leaves an incredibly unsettling feeling. Still can’t cop the bloke in the sack mask!
10. American Psycho (2000) In the game of murders and executions few are as proficient as Patrick Bateman.
Must be seen for Christian Bale’s sensational portrayal of wealthy New York investment banker and axe-wielding psychopath Patrick Bateman.
Like the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the film is much more than mere horror. It’s true horror is its jabs at the self-obssessed high-flying executive class of the American 80s.
11. Trick Or Treat (1986) Sammi’s send off is oh so fitting for a heavy metal nutjob.
Combining two of my loves – horror and heavy metal. This one focuses on loner Eddie Weinbauer who inadvertantly brings back the soul of his demonic metal idol Sammi Curr, via the playing of an unreleased album recorded before the singers ritualistic death.
With cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne, this is classic 80s pulp horror with a bitching soundtrack complements of Fastway.
12. Gothic (1986) Gothic is a trippy adventure for the senses that may just leave you feeling a little seasick.
A surreal experience to say the least, Ken Russell’s take on the drug-infused happenings at Lord Byron’s lakeside chateau is a masterclass in macabre story-telling. Joining Byron is one Percy Shelley and his fiance Mary Wollstoncraft.
The film presents the notion that the weekend was the inspiration for Shelley’s classic Frankenstein.
While I love the feature in its entirity, I would watch it for the inspired performance of Timothy Spall as Dr John Polidori alone.
13. There’s Something In The Pilliga (2014) This friendly chap may in fact be the least of your worries when it comes to the Pilliga.
A local entry and a worthy watch … so much so that my words of praise can be found on the DVD box!
From the mind and directorial vision of Dane Millerd, Pilliga is a creepy first-person journey into the woods, where “not all that wanders is lost”. As far as independent releases are concerned, it’s a cracker.
Oh yeah, and it may even include a song from a certain punk band close to this editor on the soundtrack – what’s not to love.?