Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top 10 Horror Movie Directors

A Tribute to those masters of the macabre, who's talents and vision have terrified us over the years.

10. Tod Browning - Beginning his career as a clown and variety theater director, he was taken under the wing of D.W.Griffith himself and began acting, and finally directing film. His best works in horror include Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, and Mark of the Vampire. But his most notable work, Freaks, was universally panned by critics and film-goers at the time, being too repulsive for mainstream audiences. In fact it has been banned in several countries for 30 years. Only the last 20 years or so has his film been rediscovered by contemporary audiences who truly appreciated his vision and talents. Truly a director ahead of his time.

9. David Cronenberg - Known as the king of Venereal Horror, Cronenberg's films require a bit of refinement in ones taste of horror movies. With films like Videodrome, Scanners, Dead Ringers, The Dead Zone, and the remake of The Fly, Cronenberg brings a sense of style to a genre known for crass and base sensibilities.

8. Tobe Hooper - One of horror's greatest contributors, Tobe's list of horror films is both long and impressive. With movies like Poltergeist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Salem's Lot, The Funhouse, Lifeforce, and Night Terrors, Tobe will always be remembered as one of Horror's greats.

7. Steve Miner - One of Hollywood's more prolific directors, Miner has contributed greatly to the horror genre, going all the way back to Friday the 13th parts 2 and 3. He also directed Halloween:H20, Lake Placid, Warlock, and the recent version of Day of the Dead.

6. Alfred Hitchcock - Easily the finest director on this list, Alfred comes in at number six, simply because he's not a true horror director. His refined skills lend more towards mystery and suspense films, both of which have carried over to entice horror fans. In fact, to tell a good horror tale, suspense and tension need to be created, and none can do so better than Alfred Hitchcock. With films like The Birds, Psycho, Rear Window, and Dial M For Murder, almost every director has borrowed from the master.

5. James Whale - Once he left Paramount for Universal Studios, James White contributed to the Horror Genre with such classics as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Old Dark House. Like many directors on this list, his talents went beyond horror to other genres, but his horror films are still loved and appreciated nearly 80 years later.

4. George A. Romero - The father of the zombie genre, George A. Romero's films like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, have cemented him with that title. Not just for bringing flesh-eating zombies to screen, but in his social-commentary that lies in the films' subtext. Beyond zombies, George has directed other horror classics such as Creepshow, Monkey Shines, and The Dark Half.

3. Dario Argento - Italian horror director Dario Argento is praised as one of the true horror film visionaries. Claiming to be inspired by his close nit family, who would tell him scary Italian folklore stories, his films have a surreal quality that can be unnerving. His impressive filmography includes Susperia, Inferno, Deep Red, and The Stendhal Syndrome. While not as accessible to mainstream audiences, horror fans of a certain palliate find his films deeply artistic. 

2. John Carpenter - No ther director has made cult following a success as John Carpenter. While never being an Academy Award winner, his films resonate with horror and sci-fi fans. Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Christine, In The Mouth Of Madness and Prince of Darkness are watched religiously by horror fans every year. His Non-Horror, such as They Live, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble In Little China are staples of dark action thrill rides. He also writes the musical scores for many of his films, chilling us with sounds as well as sights.

1. Wes Craven - From the 1980's on, the Horror Genre has had many directors, but the one that has turned horror from cheap thrills to a legit genre has to be Wes Craven. From his early days of Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, to the iconic creation of Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare on Elm St, Wes has pushed the envelope on how we see and appreciate horror. He even created and directed the Scream series, which both satirizes the horror genre, and yet improves upon it. This only showcases his artistic merit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top 10 Werewolf Movies

A tribute to those shaggy man-wolves of cinema who've thrilled us with their lycanthropy and chilled us with their lunacy.

10. I Was A Teenage Werewolf - 1957. Michael Landon stars as the teenager who's hypnotherapist experiments on him, regressing him into a primal, rampaging werewolf. A far cry from Little House on the Prairie. 

9. The Howling 6 - 1991. The Howling was a phenomenal werewolf film. Sadly the sequels were abysmal. Howling VI however, does have some redeeming qualities making it arguably the best among them. Here a man not only struggles to form relationships while being a blood-thirsty werewolf, but now contends with a circus owner who wants him in his freak show. A circus owner, who also happens to be a vampire. 

8. Wolfen - 1981. Interesting spin on the genre. The wolfen are  breed of shapeshifters, worshiped and admired by the native Americans in and around New York City. Albert Finney plays a detective investigating a series of murders that look like animal attacks.

7. Wolf - 1994. Jack Nicholson let's out his wild side. As a mild mannered editor in a publishing company, Will Randall is used to getting pushed around by his superiors, colleagues, and friends. But a bite from a wounded wolf changes all that. Will becomes aggressive in his personal and professional life, all the while the call of the pack urges him to let lose the wild within.  

6. Ginger Snaps - 2000. Here, Werewolf-ism is a metaphor for puberty. Ginger is going through changes, and more than simply breasts. Ginger and her sister a a couple of goth kids who enjoy photographing each other in various "death" poses. But when Ginger gets bit by a wolf, her sister must find a cure. 

5. The Wolf Man - 1941. Quit literally the film that put the werewolf on the cinematic map. Starring the big names in early Universal horror films, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains,  and Bela Lugosi, they gave us the iconic image of the werewolf for decades to come.

4. Dog Soldiers - 2002. This film is the Howling meets Rambo. A squad of British soldiers are on a training mission when they run afoul of a pack of werewolves. It's intellect vs instinct as trained soldiers take on natures most ferocious hunters. 

3. The Company of Wolves - 1984. This is an interesting addition to the werewolf genre. The Company of Wolves is a horror anthology in which each story revolves around werewolves, including a dark retelling of the classic red riding hood fable. The stories attempt to put the werewolf into a more erotic light, all told by "the Grandmother", played by Angela Lansbury.

2. An American Werewolf In London - 1981. This film certainly breathed new life into the genre with the most brutal and realistic transformation sequence to date. With American tourists traveling through English moors gives off a sense of traditional horror in a contemporary period. 

1. The Howling - 1981. Hands down the best werewolf film. The first to introduce the werewolf in an anthropomorphic form, it also showcases the werewolf in a pack, and not just a lone man, cursed with lycanthropy. Great effects and tense moments make this a hit at any Halloween party.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 10 Vampire Films

A tribute to those nocturnal, undead blood-suckers who've thrilled and chilled us over the years. Be sure to sleep with your crucifix and a clove of garlic.

10. Fright Night - 1985. Young horror fan Charlie Brewster must contend with the fact that his neighbor is not only a vampire, but has his eyes, and fangs, set on Charlie's girlfriend. This film makes good on many vampiric myths including holy water, unable to enter unless invited in, and a ghoulish day protector who guards the vampires lair. It also introduces in film the idea that crosses do not work unless faith is behind them. 

9. Shadow Of The Vampire - 2000. An interesting spin on the vampire genre. It comes off as a docudrama about the filming of the legendary vampire film, Nosferatu. The twist is the director hires a real vampire to play the title role. But things get out of hand when he begins to feed on cast and crew.

8. Blade - 1998. When the world is populated with vampires, Blade, a half-vampire himself, stands alone as humanities protector. An action packed kung-fu take on the genre, Blade is based off of a Marvel Comics' character.

7. Bram Stoker's Dracula - 1992. As the 20th Century came to a close, the iconic figure of Dracula got a modern day face lift. Despite some questionable casting choices, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins more than pull their weight as Dracula and Van Helsing respectively in this new classic directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

6. 30 Days Of Night - 2007. Finally, after almost 2 decades of sexy, homoerotic, gothic creatures of romance and fantasy, someone remembered that vampires are f*cking monsters. In this tale of "why didn't anyone think of this sooner", a North Alaskan town is situated where a sunset can last for 30 days. What better place for a pack of ghoulish vampires to prey upon? The people are isolated, cut of from communication and rescue, and the vampires have a whole month to prey upon and torment their victims before the sun comes up. Vampires finally get their teeth back.

5. Let The Right One In - 2008. This European film is perhaps one of the best Vampire films of the early 21st Century. It is fascinating in its melancholy. A simple story of childhood and friendship, in which the new girl is a savage and powerful vampire. 

4. Nosferatu - 1922. Unofficially the story of Dracula, this silent film is one of the first true feature length vampire films. It has endured almost 90 years now thanks in part to it's unique vampire look (a sort of rat-man), innovative special effects, and fine performances.

3. Dracula - 1931. While Dracula has been told and retold dozens of times throughout the years, this 80 year old film is still the gold standard of Dracula films. Bela Lugosi puts in his career defining performance, and creates an iconic image of the Count that still resonates today.

2. The Lost Boys - 1987. Perhaps the definitive "Vampire in a modern-day context" films, The Lost Boys is truly monumental in the vampire genre. Plenty of scary moments, peppered with action and comedy make this a universally enjoyable film. It also has a deeper subtext as a dark reflection of the Peter Pan story. These teens won't ever grow up.

1. Interview With The Vampire - 1994. The movie based on the novel that redefined the vampire genre. No longer monsters, the vampire is a tragically flawed character, damned to loneliness and despair. While the more nobler parts of their humanity are eroded away, their more crass and selfish natures are nurtured over time. Louie, the central character, struggles with this tug-of-war over his soul throughout this epic tale told over the centuries.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Top 10 Board Games Hollywood Should Convert Into Movies

A tribute to Hollywood's dried up creativity, where it seems now they're drawing inspiration from board games. With movies like Clue, Battleship, and Real Steel (seemingly based on Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots), what's next? Here is a list, with plausible plot lines they can use to create the next big movie.

10. Sorry - A diabolical mastermind kidnaps four children, and four different families must race about town on a scavanger hunt to collect tokens and bring them back to the evil games master. The first one to have all four saves their child. For the others, not so lucky. But those falling behind have a chance to impede those ahead of them, forcing them back. How will they cope trying to save their own children knowing they are endangering the lives of other children? TAGLINE: In this deadly game, "Sorry" doesn't cut it.

9. Candy Land - Four children from around the world are whisked to a magical land. The Candy King has gone missing, and it's up to these four kids to find him before time runs out. If they fail, no candy will ever again be made, and childhood will be ruined for kids the world over. TAGLINE: Childhood has never been sweeter.

8. Connect Four - In a dark future, an Emperor King dominates what is left of New York City, the new capitol of the United States after the 3rd great war. To bring law and order to the masses, almost any offense is punishable by a life sentence. With prison's over-populating quickly, a life and death game is devised that will both appease the masses, and terminate the prison population. Prisoners are forced to play Connect Four. Should they win a series of10 matches, they go free, but if not, they die. Keanu Reeves plays Charlie, a mathematical genius who studies probability is forced into prison and uncovers a deadly secret. No one goes free. TAGLINE: It's time to Connect Four, or die.

7. Yahtzee - David Allister is a man who can't catch a break. Seems all his life, bad luck has followed him. That is until a mysterious man hands him a magical, golden Yahtzee cup. Now, whenever he rolls the dice, they come up exactly what he needs. He takes his lucky cup to the casinos looking to clean up at the craps table. But when the mob gets wise to his lucky streak, they hold his family for ransom. What's worse, the magic is all used up. Now, he has to win on his own or lose everything. TAGLINE: This summer, Adam Sandler risks it all in a game of Yahtzee.

6.The Settlers Of Catan - Two tribes of men, the peaceful Permanians and the ruthless Schafferites sail the oceans fleeing a ravaged and war-torn homeland. Over the course of the next hundred years, both settle in different parts of the new world, Catan. Both have created homes, stockpiled resources, and built roads. Now it seems they have learned of the other's existence. Will they work together, exchanging resources so both societies can thrive? Or will war once again rear its ugly head and destroy all that they built? A war started a thousand years ago when the Schafferites desecrated the temples of Lord Maulus. TAGLINE: In the new world of Catan, mankind can start anew, or destroy themselves again.

5. Twister - Ricco Johnson has just been released from prison, going down in history as the worst cat burglar in the world. When it comes to poise, grace, balance and dexterity, Ricco is all thumbs, and two left feet. With a wife and kid, and mounting bills, Ricco finds it impossible to get a job with his prison record. Then he learns about a heist job that pays $200k. All he has to do is sneak across a pressure sensative floor and crack the safe. As long as he sticks to the pattern laid out in the security system's blue prints, he should be fine. TAGLINE: One clumsy cat burglar, one expensive heist, one complicated security system. This Summer, Martin Lawrence is caught in a Twister

4. Chutes And Ladders - In the dark fantasy world of Illigard, a Paladin must brave an elaborate maze as he quests to reach the center. If he does, he will discover the Golden Rose, a rare flower with magical properties to heal the dying king. But he's not alone. A wicked thief has also entered the maze looking to take the rose for himself. It becomes a life or death game of keep away as both have not only to seize the flower, but to escape each other and the maze. This proves difficult as corridors change randomly, some sliding them to lower levels, while others offer ladders up to higher levels. Will they escape? Or be trapped forever? TAGLINE: A knight must match wits against a cunning thief in a maze full of chutes and ladders.

3. Jenga - Three friends decide to spend the week hiking in the mountains when an earthquake hits, and they fall a hundred feet down a chasm. With no rescue in sight, and food and water gone, they must make their own escape. They gather logs and branches from the trees that have fallen in with them and begin to build a makeshift tower to climb up and out of the chasm. Unfortunately, with less than 30 feet to go, they run out of wood, and must use pieces from below to stack on top, without collapsing the whole foundation killing them all. TAGLINE: To get to the top, the bottom must fall out. 

2. Operation - In 1947, a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. The spacecraft and three alien bodies were recovered. It's a story everyone heard about, but that's just the half of it. The "bodies" were actually cyborgs, part machine, part organic. Two have died on impact, but the third lies wounded. The aliens are overdue, and if the ship isn't repaired and the alien doesn't return home, soon others will come. In order to repair the living alien, the U.S. Military must extract vital components from the other two dead aliens for use on the third. The problem lies in the fact that the components contain anti-matter, and should it come into contact with anything, the anti-matter annihilates destroying all within a 3 mile radius. TAGLINE: A scientist must quickly learn alien biology and advanced technology before Earth is invaded. It'll be a delicate Operation.

1. Hungry, Hungry Hippos - A strange chemical leaks out in New York killing all wild life at the metropolitan zoo. Only the hippos return from the dead. Now, these hippo zombies break out and hunt for human flesh. But the more they eat, the hungrier they become. TAGLINE: How many must die to satisfy their insatiable hunger? Run, don't walk from Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top 10 Movies That Make Prostitution Fun

A Tribute to those movies that honor the oldest profession by showcasing the workers as fun-loving, level headed, party goers who need the cash to pay rent, get a new car, or put themselves through college. The media wants you to believe their sex slaves, stricken with STD's, and are supporting a heroine addiction. Tish, pasha, nonsense. Why would movies lie?

10. Night Shift - meek and mild Henry Winkler is demoted to the night shift at the city morgue. Worse, his partner is a care-free, loud mouthed dreamer played by Michael Keaton. With a controlling fiancee and Mother, his only friend seems to be a neighbor lady who happens to be a hooker, played by Shelly Long. Things spiral out of control to the point where Henry and Michael turn the morgue into an escort service office, and with Henry's business experience, turns quite a profit for both him and Michael, as well as the girls. All the hookers here have a heart of gold, and end up purchasing a fast food restaurant. Neighborhood pimps, however, are not so thrilled.

9. Risky Business - Here, prostitutes aren't just fun, they're profitable. Tom Cruise falls for Rebecca De Mornay who not only educates him in the physical ways of pleasure, but shows him how to make a profit by turning his parents home into a brothel. It's a win-win for everyone, except Rebecca's old pimp, who wants his cut. The world would be such a better place without pimps.

8. The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas - Nothing illustrates the light-hearted side of prostitution like a musical comedy. Here, the local law enforcement is also a long time patron of the house of sin, which is in and of itself a historical site. Suddenly, a preacher arrives in town looking to shut it down, in order to save souls from this den of evil. Party pooper.

7. Milk Money - A bunch of kids decide to pool their money together and hire a hooker to strip for them. They encounter a prostitute named V, a hooker with a heart of gold, who gives them a lift home and decides to live in their tree house. Meanwhile, the father, played by Ed Harris, thinks she's his son's teacher, until her old pimp boyfriend comes looking for her.

6. Trading Places - When millionaire Winthorpe's life is turned upside down, he is taken in by a hooker. Like most prostitutes, she is a level-headed, business savvy woman who saves her money in various investments and savings, looking to retire at a young age. She helps Winthorpe gain revenge on those who took his life from him. Winthorpe, being a refined and cultured individual succeeds and the two of them retire to the tropics together.

5. Pretty Baby - See, Prostitution isn't so bad. It's a wonderful place to work, live, and raise children. Brooke Shields makes her film debut at 12 years old to the tune of full nudity in this film. A period piece set in 1917 New Orleans, this film explores life in a house of ill repute. Brooke Shields' character Violet lives with her mother, Susan Sarandon, also a prostitute. A photographer comes to the house and over time collects a series of photos of various women, and begins a sexual relationship with Violet. She's certainly no stranger to grown men, having her virginity auctioned off earlier.

4. Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo - Prostitutes certainly run into a wide assortment of characters in their profession, and Deuce Bigalow is no exception. Posing as a male gigolo to pay for an expensive aquarium he broke, he has to pleasure a 500lb woman, a woman with narcolepsy, another with torret syndrome, and other oddities. He falls for a one-legged girl who may not understand his situation.

3. Bachelor Party - In the world we live in, having sex with hookers is grounds for divorce, break-ups, or worse. In the Bachelor Party world, it's kind of frowned upon. The boys throw their soon-to-be-doomed pal Rick a bachelor party with wall to wall hookers. The girls are only booked for an hour, but hang around all night as they're more concerned about partying than incurring the wrath of their pimps. As it should be.

2. Pretty Woman - If only all hookers looked as good as Julia Roberts right? Richard Gere plays a wealthy businessman who needs a woman to escort him at various functions. So instead of an escort service, he picks up a random street-walker. She enjoys a Cinderella-like experience as she shops for jewelry and thousands of dollars worth of clothes. She is honest and grateful, and he falls in love with her. A very likely and believable premise.

1. Sin City -  Wow, not only are the hookers of Basin City hot, but their superheroes. They keep the balance by policing their own district. They perform favors for a fee, but for those who get out of line, watch out. They punish crime, except, the crime of prostitution, of course. Things go bad when a corrupt cop is killed inside their turf.