I fancy myself the type of guy that can see the objective point of view in most situations. People who act like ass-hats around me rarely get chewed out, because I’ve grown very good at just shutting that stuff off; it’s a waste of energy. Perhaps that’s why I like slasher movies so much. I get to experience the shadenfruede of dumb jackasses and slutty bimbos being torn to pieces by a freakishly tall mountain man with a mask.
Discovering new and awesome horror movies has always been one of my favorite hobbies. When I was little, my parents would only let me watch all of my favorite slashers on Halloween night, but their rule was that I had to stop the second I started to get scared. Never happened… except once at a sleepover in 5th grade. I had boasted to some friends that I’d seen Scream and knew all the details, and then we actually watched it and I got so scared I had to get picked up. I’m not proud of myself.
But I digress.
There are those who may have to work the morning after Halloween, or just don’t feel like putting on a costume and hitting the bars. Don’t feel bad. Somebody’s gotta hand out Mary Jane’s and Swedish Fish to the tots cruising the streets for treats. But if your plan is to have a spooky movie marathon (which I’m encouraging that you do), here are some suggestions of off-the-beaten-path films that you can find either at Video Port, or on Netflix. In no particular order, here’s my top 5 screamers that may have flown under your radar. Oh, and in case you haven’t figured it out already, SPOILER ALERT.
1.) TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010 – 88 minutes)
Two kind-hearted hillbillies have just purchased a vacation home deep in the woods, and are stoked to drink some beers, do some fishing and get to work renovating the cabin. Little do they know that a group of teenagers are camping nearby and… well these kids are kind of clumsy. When beautiful Ali knocks herself unconscious and is saved by Tucker and Dale, the others are convinced that she’s been kidnapped by two psychopathic killers. Desperate to save her life (even though she is safe and happily comfortable in their care), the teens keep accidentally killing themselves, much to the dismay of Tucker and Dale. All of these instances look as though they’ve been murdered. A hilarious role reversal on the cabin-in-the-woods style of slashers, our two hillbilly heroes are sweet, caring guys who like PBR more than your local Amigos-goer. Their banter back and forth when cleaning up bodies and the like, plus the villain that later reveals themselves, are enough reason to check this bad boy out. I laughed my ass off, and was still able to appreciate some solid gore scenes.
2.) PIECES (1982 – 89 minutes)
This gem is loaded with some of the best low-budget 80’s gore, coupled with some of the worst acting ever. I absolutely adore everything about Pieces, mostly because it’s completely absurd. A young boy is caught by his mother in the middle of putting together a nudey jigsaw puzzle. She takes it away, and he takes a hatchet to her as a result. The police blame somebody else and he gets away with it, growing up mostly by himself. Fast forward 40 years at a Boston college campus. As people are being chopped the fuck up by a chainsaw-wielding maniac, all of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle being put back into place using real human body parts. The gore is rivaled only by few other movies of this era, and the scenes are laughably atrocious. A drive-in, grindhouse-style classic.
3.) THE SHRINE (2010 – 93 minutes)
Carmen is a journalist who is tired of her boss not taking her seriously. She is assigned shitty stories to cover, and he won’t give the time of day to her story ideas. She has been reading up on different backpackers that have gone missing in a certain area of Europe. When concrete evidence leads her straight to Alvania, Poland, Carmen disobeys her editors and hops on the first plane, accompanied by her intern and her frustrated photographer boyfriend, with whom she’s been having issues. The townspeople in Alvania are less than friendly and quickly drive them out of town. But buried in the woods is a mysterious patch of fog that keeps the town’s dark secret, and Carmen won’t rest until she discovers it. Normally, I’m that annoying guy at the movie theater that is laughing out loud at all of the scary parts. This movie genuinely scared me. That’s really hard to do. The Shrine has a great story, and the cast was equally fantastic. And the ending will freak you the hell out. You’ve been warned.
4.) SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983 – 87 minutes)
If you have already seen this cult slasher, don’t be that dickhead that ruins the ending. Nobody likes that guy (thanks Kid from 3rd Grade That Ruined Titanic and later The Sixth Sense… jerk). Sleepaway Camp is frequently at the top of lists celebrating wonderfully shocking, surprise twist endings. The plot is pretty standard: Ricky and Angela are two cousins sent to summer camp. Angela is really shy after a traumatizing accident from her childhood, and she is tormented by her peers. Anyone that crosses Angela, however, mysteriously ends up in a body bag. As the fatalities pile up, the race to figure out whodunit before it’s too late gets more and more intense, leading to one of the most disturbing and horrifying conclusions to a movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Nightmare-worthy. The acting is hilariously bad, especially from Judy, the bimbo bully. There are such classic lines as “Eat shit and die, Ricky!!” / “Eat shit and live, Bill!!” to keep you laughing—right up to the shocking finale. Hold on to your hats. Shit gets real.
5.) THE DESCENT (2005 – 99 minutes)
Six female friends, all adventure-seekers, take a trip deep into the mountains to discover an unmapped cave system. A tunnel closes (very narrowly) behind them, trapping the women inside. Because this system is unmapped, the authorities don’t know that they are in the caves and there is no chance at a rescue. They’ve got to find a way out, fighting with disorientation and lack of light… oh, and some hideous humanoid creatures that are pumped to tear them to shreds and eat them. No big deal or anything. I have to say, this movie might be one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. It should be watched in the dark, as most of the scenes take place underground. The mix of claustrophobia and gore take this film to the next level. Jumpy, action-packed and full of bloody goodness, The Descent was absolutely terrifying, and the sequel surprisingly didn’t suck, either.