Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #1 - Dawn of the Dead

Happy Halloween!! Here we are! We've finally arrived at the ultimate finale for the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time! Its been a great 10 days, and so much fun counting down with you to see what ranks on EWLYD as thee greatest Horror movie ever made ... Thank you, and your patience has been rewarded, my friends ...

#1Dawn of the Dead

You should understand I'm talking about the original 1978 release of Dawn of the Dead, written and directed by George Romero ... I said it before and I'll say it again - EJ loves zombies ... And as far as zombie movies go - Dawn of the Dead is the best. For those that don't know, it is essentially Romero's follow up to Night of the Living Dead. The movie starts off with the zombies already up and running and doing what they do. And as one of the few remaining television broadcasts is on the air, discussing the turmoil and trying to keep the public informed, chaos ensues and 2 reporters find themselves teamed up with 2 SWAT team members attempting to hide out in an "abandoned" shopping mall in order to fight for their lives ...

How does it make the top 10?

Horror movies don't come any better than this. The strength of ANY movie is how much it can resonate with an audience, making the 'character connection' the most vital aspect. Therein, the weakness many horror movies suffer from is their limited characterization. They are too bogged down in their own premise or the 'horror figure' itself to truly connect to viewers. Some make weak attempts or try to compensate for the lack with shock, flash, and gimmickry, but its only the very BEST movies can effectively create that connection. And like I mentioned with Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies aren't about the zombies, they are about the survivors, which gives this type of horror film the perfect pallet to create something meaningful.

Romero's 1978 Dawn gave us 4 characters and ONLY 4, which is important. This meant that they weren't just fodder for zombies to pick off one by one. These 4 individuals had to make a story, and that they did. From the point that they decided to clear out the mall of the undead roaming around, we got to ride with them as 'real people' making practical decisions. We got to see relationships form and friendships put to the test ... Sometimes it was lighthearted. Sometimes it was sad and scary.

Some fantastic scenes of the survivors doing something as natural as just shopping and trying to enjoy whatever type of life they can while trapped in a mall ... And of course, the political statements that abound in the film, from its views on consumerism, feminism, and social activism ... It was the 70's afterall .... There is just so much to take away from it. And although Dawn isn't all "horror" and "monsters" all the time, when it is, it is awesome. There's a measure of real fright and intensity in almost every scene, even when trying to accomplish the simplest of tasks. What's going to happen? Can they really keep the zombies at bay?? How much longer can they hold out??? These are the questions that keep viewers on the edge of their seat the whole way through and when you find out the "answer" at the end? ... Wow.

Best horror movie. Hands down. Period.

Love to hear your thoughts, criticism and commentary!
What shouldn't have been on the list? .... What was missing?

Take care and Happy Halloween!!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #2 - Halloween

We made it folks! We're at the front gates of the mega-grand finale for the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time Countdown! Today is the eve of Halloween, but before we get to that big day tomorrow with the big reveal, we still have the #2 or the runner-up for top horror movie of all time, and it may come as a bit of a surprise ...


Whoa! Wait! What?!?! Arguably the most famous and iconic holiday scream picture of all time only got the #2 spot?! Believe it. But that's not to take anything away from this classic picture. Halloween, written and directed by John Carpenter, began scaring the mess outa people back in 1978, making it the slasher flick that every OTHER slasher flick wanted to be like. Michael Myers was the psychopath's name ... And family slaying was his game, beginning with his sister when he was just a child, only to be institutionalized, escape 15 years later, return home to Haddonfield, IL, and pick right back up where he left off ... Stalking his long lost sister, Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and murdering all her teen chums that Halloween night ...

How does it make the top 10?

Duh. This one isn't up for debate. The pacing and timing of Halloween can only be described as poetic ... Methodical in how Michael returns and begins his mini rampage. From the start of the film, its like a gradually accelerating car, and upon nearing the finale, that car is barreling down the highway, your heart-rate is through the roof, and there is no chance of slowing down. And that legendary haunting musical theme?! What?!?! Awesome.

Halloween doesn't force itself. The "slower" periods are used expertly to establish the tone. It FEELS like actual Halloween night all the way through. They spend a lot of time with that, and it's important.

And as solid as Jamie Lee Curtis is, the standout and REAL hero, is Michael's 'fake-no-jacks' psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, played by Donald Pleasance. He was Michael's doctor for 15 years, though, for a psychiatrist, Loomis constantly seemed to have trouble dealing with everyone, as nobody seemed to like or trust him throughout ... But that's ok. Loomis is the only one who truly understands that therapy is over for Michael, and the only form of medication left for his patient is a bullet to the head. Gotta LOVE a doctor like that.

From the host of talent that created the movie, the legitimization of the 'slasher movie' genre, the genuine frightfulness and impeccable pace and strength of storytelling in a premise that could have just as easily been a total wash, Halloween is a classic. Forget the crappy psychoanalysis and wasteful backstory of all the bullshit Rob Zombie remakes ... And forget all the sequels (except Halloween 2, which was fairly decent) ... Halloween is a work of art and makes itself thee film to forever define an entire holiday season.

Don't forget - "You can't kill the boogeyman! ..."

Tomorrow ... #1 ... the Finale. Oh what could it be?!?! ...
Want a hint? .... heh heh heh ... Nope! Tune in a find out!!!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #3 - Poltergeist

Can you FEEL the tension?! ... Is it Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm breathing down your neck?! ... Nope! We're closing in on the finale for the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time countdown!! The bad news is theres only 3 to go. The GOOD news is that everything left? - MASTERPIECES.


Directed by Tobe Hooper (who also brought us yesterday's Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and written by Steven Spielberg (that is QUITE a parentage for a film), 1982's Poltergeist is easy to be overlooked as a horror film. Why? Perhaps cuz a "PG" rated 'Spielberg' movie seldom falls into that genre? Well don't let that fool you. Poltergeist is the definition of horror. The story? A normal California family notices strange things happening around their home and its not long before monstrous spirits bridge a connection through the youngest child and begin a terrifying rampage over the entire household.

How does it make the top 10?

Sure, we've seen this story before - Creepy kid? Check. (although Carol Anne is cuter than she is creepy) Annoying brother? Check. Spooky ghosts? Check. One parent that refuses to believe? Check and double check. Its the textbook that every single 'ghost' and 'haunting' horror movie has studied since then, but NEVER has it been done better and more scary than with Poltergeist. The movie was powerful cuz it was just so relatable. The trials and tribulations of the "average family", but then not SO banally average that we just didn't give a shit.

Great performances from every single character, particularly the children. Heather O'Rourke's (R.I.P.) legendary cinematic catchphrase - "They're heeere ..." Zelda Rubinstein as the psychic Tangina? Epic. She was like the 'Yoda' to The Empire Strikes Back, and remains today as one of the most iconic and unlikely horror movie heroines ever.

It forever changed the way we looked at our television sets, and anticipated a coming storm - "1-1,000 ... 2-1,000 ... 3-1,000 ... " ...

Poltergeist was one of the revolutionary proponents of change for Motion Picture Association ratings, as at the time a movie was either rated "PG" or "R". Being family centered, with no nudity or swearing, Poltergeist got a "PG", although as horrific as it was, it probably deserved the "R". Poltergeist and movies like it were instrumental in the creation of "PG-13".

Lastly, at the end of the day, Poltergeist was just frighteningly unforgettable. The clown doll? The tree? The ants? The face in the bathroom mirror? ... That creepy-ass movie anthem?! I don't want to spoil any of it, but if you've SEEN this film, you know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't yet? Then you are in for one of best and and most shocking movie watching experiences of your life. You'll definitely go and hug your family when you are done.

Tomorrow? #2! We're almost there!!!!!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #4 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Almost there .... "Where?" you say? We are almost at the big finale of our Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time countdown!! Today we serve up #4 on our list, and even without a big name writer, director, or cast ... This film gave birth to one of the most FAMOUS and iconic horror franchises ever ...

#4The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

One of the original horror films to tease viewers with the notion of "this movie is based on accounts of a true story", The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974 with that unnerving premise. Like countless others films that will eventually follow, it all starts with a group of young folks on a road trip. The poor lambs stop off in the wrong part of Texas backcountry only to find themselves being hunted and terrorized by an inbred family of cannibals and their maniacal chainsaw-wielding kinsman - Leatherface.

How does it make the top 10?

Let's face it. No, and I mean "NO" horror list can be complete without the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Leatherface predated Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers ... All of them, and he had a style all his own. No stalking, no teasing, no messing around ... Leatherface just came right AT you - brute force, bludgeoning, hacking, and chopping ... day or night. The tone of the film was impeccable. Taking time to get to know the doomed vacationers before the nightmare began ... the madness of not knowing who to trust ... And the 'lack of buildup'! These days - horror movies "tell" you when you are supposed to be frightened. The music score BUILDS to that big shock ... They tease with a fakeout or two and then REALLY let you have it ... *yawn* .... Texas Chainsaw didn't bother with that. One moment people are walking and talking, and then, before you even realize it, Letherface is out there in full view, doing what he does best.

I'm not a fan of "torture films" like Hostel or Saw, which people all too often lump together with real horror movies, but Texas Chainsaw Massacre floated that line between the 2 genres expertly, without even being aware of it. The menace was psychological as much as it was physical, and the abrupt, open-ended "What the hell just happened?" conclusion was nothing short of a cinematic work of art.

The remake had hot-ass Jessica Biel in it, but the effort, like most remakes, pretty much sucked. Forget that trash and all the sequels that followed the original ... Just stick with the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a dose of horror movie perfection.

#3 tomorrow ... Want a hint? Just ask the tv people ...

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #5 - It

Good morning, afternoon, or evening - wherever you might be and whenever you are reading this! Welcome back to the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time! We are officially on the homestretch here with today's entry at #5 - the first and only non-theatrical film to make the countdown. Made for TV? Perhaps. One of the scariest movies EVER made? Without a doubt.


Official a mini-series, first appearing on the ABC network in 1990, It is based on the horror novel by Stephen King. (there's that name again!) It is a terrifying story about a small town (shocker, again) wherein dwells a demonic, child stalking creature that appears in the form of a horrific clown named Pennywise, played to monstrous perfection by the working man's actor, Tim Curry. 7 children, all unlikely friends with the shared bond of being outcasts, join together to fight and defeat the monster ... However, 30 years later as adults, they are called back together again to try and battle that evil once more ...

How does it make the top 10?

Well, simply speaking - It is just that damn scary. Like many of the entries, the movie targets very real fears - loss, isolation, persecution ... And as the movie starts out with the protagonists as children, those that are just so much more vulnerable, it makes everything that much more intense. They are preyed upon by Pennywise, day OR night, whether or not others are around, meaning they are NEVER safe. And as children, they exist in a world which adults can't fully relate to, meaning that there is no help coming from anywhere either. In addition, the kids are victimized by the evil of other children ... the social intolerance that was quite a bit more commonplace in the 1960's as well as the frightening apathy towards which it was treated.

It is such a big story that it had to be done as a mini-series, and told over 2 of the most FRIGHT-FILLED nights in television EVER. Some of my picks for the top 10 may be controversial ... This one is not. If you've never seen It? - Watch it. It'll scare the shit out of you. I promise.

Tomorrow? #4. Want a hint? ... Well, we're going a little bit south!
See you then!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #6 - Creepshow

We're halfway home with the countdown for the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time ...

Greetings folks! Today we discuss the #6 film, and the thing about this entry? Well, it varies a bit from the others in that its not just one horror story ... but FIVE completely separate frightful features which are tied and bundled together to create one awesome ride of cinematic scariness!


As mentioned, Creepshow is more than just 1 movie. Its 5 scary mini stories stacked and assembled elegantly by 2 of horror movie royalty - Writer Stephen King and director George Romero. Based on the horror comics of the 1950's, Creepshow was released in 1982 and featured an incredible, award winning cast including Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, Adrienne Barbeau, and Leslie Nielsen, although in a far more menacing light than we are used to!

Story #1 - Fathers Day - A horrible old man, on the eve of his death, returns from the grave in zombie fashion, to revisit his spoiled and greedy children ...

Story #2 - Something to Tide You Over - A man takes revenge on his cheating wife and her lover, burying them up to their necks on the beach and reveling in their torture as the tide slowly drowns them ...

Story #3 - The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill - Stephen King himself starred in this one as a dull-witted, luckless farmer who finds a strange meteor one night that he hopes will be the answer to his financial woes ...

Story #4 - The Crate - An unenlightened college professor ponders what to do with a musty old crate he discovers in the basement ... Particularly, as the crate houses an unfriendly occupant ...

and Story #5 - They're Creeping Up on You - A bitter germaphobe begins to find himself plagued and overrun by more roaches than he and his sanitary resources can handle ...

Creepshow actually has a 6th story broken up and told as interstitials between the main 5 ... Its about a young boy whose father doesn't approve of his son's taste in reading material so throws the kid's horror comics in the trash ... But not before the boy has ordered one thing from the back of the sinister periodical ...

How does it make the top 10?

Anthologies are fun, and Creepshow is the finest example of a horror film doing it right. The stories are very different, each with a unique tone and narrative, ranging from The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill which plays more comical but no less horrific, to the Crate, with its own comedic undertones, yet the downright SCARIEST of the collection. Tight, concise storytelling, terrific, memorable characters, genuine scares that come at you that perfect moment when your guard is down, and the biggest talent behind and in front of the camera of ANY horror movie, EVER. Creepshow is kinda a class all its own.

Tomorrow? - Its the weekend, but that can't stop the greatest Horror Movie countdown that's ever been blogged about in the history of ... EVER! #5! Curious much??

See you then!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #7 - Hellraiser

Yeah boy! Back at'cha with the #7 entry of our all-star all-AWESOME countdown of the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time! What could it be? Well this one may come as a bit of a shocker, (as maybe a few others have been on this countdown, and may continue to be) but I'm nothing, if not habitually surprising ... *intense smiley face*


The movie that fostered a guilty conscience just by even saying the title - Hellraiser. Written and directed by fright legend Clive Barker, Hellraiser hit theaters in 1987 and has the most covoluted plot of any of the films in the countdown (with the possible exception of 'Phantasm'). A bunch of different things occur throughout the movie and it takes a minute to tie it all together. It starts with a mystical puzzle box that once solved, opens a gate to hell, summoning these goth-type demons known as Cenobites. With their leader Pinhead, the Hellraiser posterboy, they proceed to torture and eventually tear apart the soul of whomever opened the box, with nobody ever escaping. And so one day a young girl unwittingly reopens the puzzle box, and is forced to strike a deal with the Cenobites - spare her own life and soul in exchange for the returning to them the one man ... the ONLY man that DID ever manage to escape ther grasp ...

How does it make the top 10?

Hellraiser is just one of the most legitimately scary movies you will ever see, operating on dual levels of terror - From the familiar to the fantastic - Fear found in trying to to protect loved ones from those that seek to do them the most harm, as well as fear from the supernatural. It was 'shocking', to say the least.

A lot of horror movies of the time favored very specific themes as well - the "slasher" picture, the paranormal, the theological ... You name it. Hellraiser was kinda a combination of all of them! Then lastly, the Cenobites, though being brutal monsters, are almost instantly forgiven when measured against the wickedness of mortal men and women in Hellraiser and it's subsequent sequels. In fact, it became easy to see them as a force (sinister as it may be) of justice and retribution. You like rooting for the bad guy? Well its very easy to do so in Hellraiser ... even though you'll probably feel a little greasy for it afterwards. Def check it out, but be warned! - Hellraiser is NOT an easy one to get through.

Tomorrow? #6 of the top 10 movie countdown! Want a hint? Well, whether or not its the KING of all scary movies is debatable ... But one thing's for certain - it will DEFINITELY give you the Creeps!

See you tomorrow!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top 10 Horror Movie Countdown! #8 - Night of the Living Dead

The countdown rolls on today folks and we are at #8! You know what that means? Only 8 more days till Halloween!! Getting excited? Nice! (you're welcome) So what ranks at the 8th spot of the Top 10 Horror Movies of All-Time countdown? None other than perhaps the quintessential, most famous zombie film of all-time - a true "classic" in every sense of the word ...

#8Night of the Living Dead

If anyone knows ANYTHING about me, its that EJ loves zombies, and Night of the Living Dead is THEE zombie film. Written and directed by the legendary George Romero, Night of the Living Dead debuted in 1968, (the oldest film on the countdown) and if you've never seen it, I can't stress enough that you have to watch it in its original Black & White. The story is quite simple as it involves a girl and her brother getting attacked one day, out of nowhere, by a strange old man. Turns out the old man is actually a zombie, and unable to help her brother, the girl takes refuge in a nearby house where she and a ragtag group of individuals aim to survive the night by banding together ... Or at least that's the PLAN, anyway ...

How does it make the top 10?

Its hard to deny a classic and Night of the Living Dead earns that distinction by holding true to the core of what makes zombie films so great. Anyone who understands the appeal of zombie movies knows that its not REALLY about the zombies ... Its about the survivors. A character study on how seemingly normal and average people handle an abnormally fantastic, dire, and insurmountable situation. Romero makes you relate to each character at least a little and wonder what the "right" course of action would be.

The movie is kept blessingly (not a real word) simple by steering clear of any elongated buildup to the horror and not bogging viewers down with unnecessary information or explanation as to the "why" the zombies are attacking. We're trapped with the survivors in the house and know what THEY know ... which is nothing! And its the 'not knowing' of what is going on, what is causing this madness, if your loved ones are safe out there somewhere, or if there is any hope or reprieve from this nightmare, that the true terror lies

... And on top of battling the undead zombies outside, they also have to deal with the monsters lurking inside the hearts of the desperate people they are trapped inside the house with, who will do ANYTHING to ensure their OWN survival.

With a fantastic ending that we don't get the likes of anymore, (I'm not even going to spoil it for you) Night of the Living Dead is without a doubt one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Definitely check it out. You will NOT be sorry that you did.

Tomorrow? - #7 on the Top 10 countdown!
Be there ... or ELSE!!

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