Tis the season and so forth so here we are recommending Christmas movies you may or may not or may enjoy. We’ll do one a day up until the 24th of December and then you’re on your own.
The Ref (Ted Demme 1994) – Dennis Leary breaks into a bickering couple’s (the wonderful Judy Davis and, er, um Kevin Spacey) house and, for some reason, is forced to spend Christmas with them. Hilarity ensues. Boy does it ever. Good if you like to laugh.
Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out. (Lewis Jackson 1980) – Let me just start off by saying that this is not a good movie. Very low budget, dodgy acting and direction, it makes no sense. But why am I recommending it you ask? Because it’s weird and strange and fun! John Water’s favourite Christmas film is about a guy, scarred as child after seeing Santa caressing his mom’s thigh, who grows up to be a crazy, good/bad child enthusiast with homicidal rage tendencies. I laughed a good number of times. For those of you who are into this type of thing.
The Night Before (Jonathan Levine 2015) – Fun cast, hilarious drug sequences (no-one does baked better then Seth Rogan) makes this a good time holiday party movie that’s even a bit sweet. Not the best thing out there but you could do worse.
Rare Exports (Jalmari Helander 2010) – Fun Finnish film finds Santa buried deep in a mountain. What happens when he’s excavated? What happened to all the kids in the town? What’s with the creepy old man elves wandering about? Dig into this terrific slice of Christmas cake.
Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff 2003) – Mean, cynical, hilarious, rude, charming, gross. One of these words does not describe this holiday classic. Billy Bob Thorton is at his best (or worst) as a terrible mall Santa with crimes and sex on his wasted mind. Don’t watch this with your mother-in-law like I did.
The Lodge (Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala 2019) – Soon-to-be stepmom Riley Keough is stranded in a remote cabin with her boyfriend’s two kids over the Christmas holidays. Things start to get weird in this creepy Christmas thriller-chiller!
A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (Todd Strauss-Schulson 2011) – Stoners Harold and Kumar are back, getting stoned and ruining Danny Trejo’s Christmas tree. And Neil Patrick Harris is along for the goofy, some might say, hilarious ride. *note – I watched this last night and it is quite dated and terrible and embarrassing. I cannot, with good conscience, recommended this movie. *
Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine 1958) – Finally saw this charming little number after so many years. Pyewacket the cat stole the show (as cats are apt to do) as Kim Novak’s lonely witch character’s familiar. A nice romp but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why either of these two lovely women would be interested in stodgy old James Stewart.
Better Watch Out (Chris Peckover 2016) – Pretty fun “babysitter must defend her charges against a home invasion on Christmas” film! But this isn’t your average “babysitter must defend her charges against a home invasion on Christmas” film! Or is it? Nope it’s not. You decide!
Scrooged (Richard Donner 1988) – While it’s not the best version of this oft-told tale – it’s not a particularly well-made movie and it’s tonally all over the place, this version has Bill Murray as Scrooge and a great supporting cast highlighted by Carol Kane’s violent Ghost of Christmas Present. You could do worse than this film. You could also do better.
It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra 1946) – Ya, ya, I know, it’s THE Christmas movie of all time but I just recently discovered this film after years of avoiding it because I thought it was all schmaltz and lame. But for a movie about Christmas suicide, it’s pretty warm and uplifting (maybe a tad too sentimental), but then again, the older I get the more I can dig these kind of sentiments. To a point. Enjoy.
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas ( Jim Henson 1977) – I have never actually seen this (nor heard of it until recently) but Dylan loves this thing and made me bring it into the shop. Seems it’s about some hick country otters who enter a talent contest (jugs may or may not be involved) to win some much needed cash. Christmas spirit, I presume, flows mightily from these jugs.
The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke 1978) – Excellent Canadian thriller has Elliot Gould as a bank teller who thwarts a robbery by funneling the money into his own account. Christopher Plummer’s crook ain’t none too happy about this. Oscar Peterson jazzes up the score and cold-ass Toronto has rarely looked better. Bonus points for having a young John Candy in it! Dig into this forgotten gem.
Gremlins (Joe Dante 1984) – Everybody loves Gremlins, right? We sure do. Holiday mayhem ensues as these nasty little creatures are let loose during the holidays to tear up the town and get all up to no good! A classic!
Trading Places (John Landis 1983) – There’s been a little debate about this film if it actually holds up or not (the 80’s seem like a decade from another planet). I haven’t seen it in a long time but I remember liking it quite a bit back in the day (hence the recommendation). Must watch soon! What do you folks say?
The Long Kiss Goodnight (Renny Harlin 1996) – Geena Davis kicks a ton of ass as an assassin with some memory loss as she teams up with classic Samuel L. Jackson to solve the mystery and kick some more ass. One of the few good and fun Shane Black written films out there that, for some reason, all take place at Christmas. We did this one for the podcast last year and had a blast with it.
Krampus (Michael Dougherty 2015) – Adam Scott and Toni Collette head this fun family style Christmas film about a kid, who thinks he’s having a bad Christmas, accidentally summoning a malevolent Christmas monster thing. Evil clowns and nasty ginger bread folks add to the fun!
Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey 1945) – Delightful screw-ball comedy has Barbara Stanwyck as a food writer who has lied in her columns about being a great cook. Of course she’s invited to her boss’ country estate for the holidays to cook for them. Madcap hi-jinks ensue!
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick 1999) – Nothing says Christmas more than Tom Cruise traipsing around New York during the holidays looking for weirdo orgies and danger! Kubrick’s last film is lovely and strange and coldly sexy.
Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick 1993) – Full disclosure: I’ve never seen this film. But it’s not all about me, right? From most accounts, this is some wonderful stop-motion animated fare about a skeleton Halloween man who discovers a Christmas town and things happen after that. Sounds intriguing!
Black Christmas (Bob Clark 1974) – My second favourite Christmas film (number 1 will be revealed on the 24th) is an awesome Canadian slasher from the early seventies. It’s creepy, it’s weird, it’s terrifying and it’s sometimes funny. Great cast featuring John Saxon, Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin and Art Hindle, who never met a fur coat he didn’t like. Outstanding!
The Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke 1934) – A Black Dog favourite! Nick and Nora Charles look to solve a murder at Christmas time and enjoy a few cocktails along the way. Everything about this film is brilliant – cast, script, dog. Sit back with your favourite beverage and enjoy!
Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon 2003) – Lovely animated fare from Japan finds three homeless folks who find a baby in the trash on Christmas Eve. They then set out to find the garbage baby’s parents. Adventures and hilarity and other things ensue.
Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) – (Brian Desmond-Hurst 1951) The most faithful and the best version of this way-to-often told tale (looking at you WKRP and Family Ties!). Sure it’s earnest, sure it’s corny, but it is done with such heart and conviction, the black and white cinematography is outstanding and featuring one of movies greatest performances in Alastair Sim as Scrooge, this Christmas Carol cannot be beat. His transformation after the ghost visits will leave you with a huge smile on your face and if you don’t tear up a few times, especially where Tiny Tim in involved, then your heart is 3 sizes too small. I’ve watched this film almost every Christmas Eve since 1988. Much love and I hope that you all have a very fine Christmas indeed!
It’s our favourite time of the year – October/Halloween! And even thought it’s alarmingly warm, we’ve got some devilishly hot horror movie recommendations to thaw your cold dead heart. We will toss up one a day here for the entire month with a slant towards some scary things that might have passed you by (sprinkled with some favourites!). Sit back, strap in and enjoy the ride!
The Brood (David Cronenberg 1979) – Something weird is happening in an unconventional therapist’s (Oliver Reed – natch) office! What are those nasty little gremlin-like creatures? What’s growing out of Samantha Eggar’s belly? Why does Art Hindle always look so good in winter coats? These and other questions may or may not be answered in this Canadian horror classic!
Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter 1987) – Love this weirdo Carpenter entry about some folks finding a mysterious cylinder on a creepy church (are there any other kinds?) whose contents may mean the end of the world. Donald Pleseance and others are there to deal with the horror. Plus Alice Cooper shows up to kill someone with a bicycle.
Midnight Meat Train (Ryûhei Kitamura 2008) – A young Bradley Cooper investigates the mysterious murders and disappearances on elegant butcher Mahogany’s (Vinne Jones) late night subway in this fun, gruesome Clive Barker story that might just have the best movie title ever.
Terrified (Demián Rugna 2017) – There’s some supernatural shenanigans going down in a nice neighborhood in Buenos Aires! Who ya gonna call? A former cop who used to dabble in the paranormal? Another cop who’s afraid of everything? A doctor specializing in ghost and things? Check! Very good little chiller that with some nifty, creepy images.
My Bloody Valentine (George Milhalka 1981) – Fun, gory Canadian effort looking to cash in on the holiday murder craze of the 80’s (April Fool’s Day, Halloween, Mother’s Day etc) is delight from tip to tail, using the already creepy setting of a mining town as it’s backdrop. We did this one for the podcast last year and loved it!
Sleepaway Camp (Robert Hiltzik 1983) – This movie was made for me! Awesome 80’s fashion and music, strange weird characters, over-the-top violence and fun killings and a ending to die for. So much fun!
The Innocents (Jack Clayton 1961) – Stay away from this year’s remake (The Turning) and lean into this classic ghost story! I love ghostly goings ons in movies and this one rises above most as Deborah Kerr is convinced the grounds of the mansion where she’s looking after a couple of kids is haunted. You decide!
Monkey Shines (George Romero 1988) – I love this hilarious , creepy “paralyzed man’s helper monkey gone bad” film! We did this for the podcast last year and it garnered high marks with all! So many choice moments but it may make you think twice about getting that monkey you’ve always wanted to do your chores and your bidding! A warning: don’t mess with nature!
Final Destination (James Wong 2000) – These movies are fun! At least the 3 that I saw (maybe I saw 4 or 5, they kind of blend into each other). The premise sets up nicely for a lot of creative way to kill folks – surviving a plane crash, car wreck, roller coaster mishap, pileup on the Lion’s Gate bridge only means that death will hunt you down and do you in. Make it a drinking game!
The Changeling – (Peter Medak 1980) – Old man George C. Scott (he was always an old man) takes up residence in a huge old haunted mansion after the death of his wife and child in a car accident. Good ghostly happenings are in store. You may never look at a rubber ball quite the same way again.
Come to Daddy (Ant Timpson 2019) – Norval (Elijah Wood) travels to the far reaches of Tofino at the request of his long lost dad hoping to reconnect and find some stability in his chaotic life. But, of course, things don’t go as planned. Loved this fun, bloody weirdo film. I think you might as well!
Society (Brian Yuzna 1989) – This is one F’d up movie! Nice 80’s silliness mixed in with some gruesome and disturbing special effects make this one a blast. A regular teenage kid (Billy Warlock!) finds out that all the adults (and some other kids) in his posh neighborhood are way into some weird orgy cult that has to be seen to be believed.
Tigers are Not Afraid (Issa Lopez 2017) – Wonderful, sad tale with supernatural elements finds some kids trying to survive the violent, intense streets of Mexico city. And there’s some ghosts! Check this one out for something different.
Carrie (Brian De Palma 1976) – Poor, shy Carrie White has a tough time at school and at home (with her crazy mother, Piper Laurie). But she also has telekinesis powers that she unleashes at the school prom in the films amazing climax. Oh and don’t forget about that ending!
The Burning (Tony Maylam 1981) – Not the most original if ideas (but maybe it was in 1981?!) – a summer camp caretaker gets horribly burned (see title) by some miscreant teenagers. Armed with his trusty (rusty?) garden shears, he seeks revenge! Good bloody mayhem ensues with some great practical effects courtesy of Tom Savini. Watch for a young Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander!
Bubba Ho-Tep (Don Coscarelli 2002) – Bruce Campbell is Elvis and Ossie Davis is JFK who live in a boring nursing home until an ancient Egyptian mummy shows up and starts sucking the residents souls out of their assholes. They team up to fight the mummy! From the creator of the Phantasm series, this awesome film is both hilarious and scary at the same time and at different times.
Cronos (Guillermo del Toro 1993) – This cool, early effort from the famed director about a mysterious device that promises the owner eternal life but at a horrible cost is slick and stylish and everything you’d expect!. Give it a spin.
Inside (Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury 2007) – A recently widowed pregnant woman is stalked by a crazed lady lunatic who really, really wants her unborn baby. What follows is much bloody mayhem! I loved this crazed piece of French nastiness! Pay no mind to the American remake.
Piranha/Piranha (Joe Dante 1978/Alexandre Aja 2010) – A double bill of nasty flesh eating fishes are on the hook for today’s recommendation. Both are fun and silly with lots of carnage. Wade into the bloody waters for some good time fish action!
The Beyond (Lucio Fulci 1981) – Unsuspecting woman buys an old house in New Orleans that happens to be built over a portal to hell. I would think that the previous owners would have to disclose that in the sale information. Such a good, weird time this film is. And you’ll never want to own a cluster of tarantulas again!
Starry Eyes (Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer 2014) – Young actress in Hollywood has some big dreams. But those dreams soon turn nightmarish as she discovers some unsavory secrets of the Hollywood elite and the what the cost of fame might be. Crazy, cynical and gory. Yes please.
Death Spa (Michael Fischa 1989) – I thought we’d go with something completely silly, ridiculous and fun for today’s pick! Careful when you head on over to Michael’s Spa or you might get baked in a sauna, go blind, have your head explode or even lose an arm. Your call!
Oculus (Mike Flanagan 2013) – Early effort from Mike Flanagan (Dr. Sleep, Haunting of Hill House) about a haunted mirror! Sounds scary, right? Well, if you’re like me and find inanimate objects – photos, mirrors, killdozers – that become possessed by evil spirits terrifying, then this one’s for you!
Dead Snow/Dead Snow 2 – (Tommy Wirkola 2009/2014) What’s better than a fun, gory horror/comedy about Nazi Zombies rising out of the snow to devour the living? Two movies about Nazi Zombies rising out of the snow to devour the living! And in the second one, they drive a tank!
The Love Witch (Anne Biller 2016) – Cool, retro witch tale that, while not particularity scary, is a sumptuous psychedelic freak-out for the eyes and other senses (if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge). Elaine the witch is looking for a mate and she has some potions to help her achieve her goal but the consequences are deadly! Very much fun!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Seigel 1956/Philip Kaufman 1978) Double bill Monday! I love both of these versions of this creepy pod people story. Paranoia runs deep as seeds from outer space grow and replace humans with bland emotionless copies (aka Republicans) of themselves. Take your pick or watch both!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper 1974) – I know the plan was to highlight some lesser known titles but I was chatting about this film last night and it got my juices flowing about how great and grim and disturbing this film is still 46 years later. Top notch.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (Tommy Lee Wallace 1982) – Three more days till Halloween. Halloween. Silver Shamrock! That stuck in your head now? This is a weird film. An evil guy wants to murder all the kids in the US by having a creepy mask melt onto their heads and that makes bugs and snakes come out of their skulls for some reason. Many plot holes and bad acting make this one a hoot. We have a watch-along track coming soon for this as well.
Rec (Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza 2007) – A reporter and cameraman tag along with some firefighters to a disturbance in an apartment building in Barcelona. What they find there is well, not what they expected. Great, terrifying found footage film was followed up by an very good sequel and a pretty OK 3rd installment.
Castle Freak (Stuart Gordon 1995) – What’s better than inheriting an old scary castle? Inheriting an old scary castle that also houses freak in the basement! A Castle Freak! And he’s not happy. The fun, crazy proceedings are made even better with Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton on board!
Suspiria (Dario Argento 1977) – Here was are, the last day of October, Halloween. I’m going to miss posting these and I have so many more to recommend. That said, let’s enjoy this wonderful, weird, colourful extravaganza that finds the mesmerizing Jessica Harper checking into a strange German ballet school. A classic. A masterpiece. (The remake was quite excellent as well!)
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the most wonderful time of the year, Halloween month! And it has become a bit of tradition around these parts to do our 31 days of scary films to recommend to you fine folks! Everyday we’ll recommend a nice horror film guaranteed (no actual guarantee) to flip your hair back and scare the pants off of you (figuratively and hopefully, literally!) We’ll also stay away from the big kahunas – Halloween, Shining, Exorcist – as everyone already knows about those fine films and instead focus on some other shockers you may not be familiar with. Enjoy!
Hole in the Ground (2019)
Woman and her son movie to the countryside (never move to the countryside) where the kid discovers a large sinkhole deep in the woods. After he returns he’s, well let’s just say, he’s not quite the same. I’m a sucker for weirdo, creepy kids (what kid isn’t creepy and weird in some fashion?) in films and this one fits that bill.
I could have gone with the sweaty grimy original starring the sweaty grimy Joe Spinell but I opted to indulge you with the remake starring Frodo as the unhinged killer who’ll surely get under your skin. You may think twice about collecting mannequins!
The Eclipse (2009)
Ciaran Hinds plays a grieving widower in a small Irish town who may or may not haunted by his dead father-in-law. More a drama with great scenery and dialogue but with a touch of the supernatural that, when employed, is very effective. Give this little ghostly little number a ride.
Hounds of Love (2016)
Grim, nasty, intense little piece of the horror pie from the land of the talking koala, Australia. A crazed couple likes to kidnap and have unpleasant relations with the local school girls. But have they targeted the wrong lass. You tell me!
Of Unknown Origin (1983)
A giant rat invades Peter Weller’s house in Montreal! And it’s mean and has a grudge against Peter Weller for some reason. This film is tons of fun as Peter Weller descends into madness with his attempts to rid himself of the gnarly beast. It’s not particularity scary unless you don’t like rats (or Peter Weller) or have rats (or Peter Weller) in your house which I did (in my walls!) at the time I watched this. It freaked me out! It’s also featured on one of our podcast episodes. Listen here if you like!
Twitch of the Death Nerve aka Bay of Blood (1971)
Colourful fun weirdness from Mario Bava finds an elderly heiress being murdered for her fortune and then a whole bunch of other murders as there’s a murderer on the loose murdering folks left and right. Big influence on Argento and, especially, the Friday the 13th movies in the eighties. Dig in!
The Blob (1988)
What can I say? A glutenous blob from outer space eats it’s way through a small town. Wonderful special effects and a nice heaping of 1980’s cheese make for an excellent time at the movies! Belly up to the car bar! Another one featured on our podcast! Listen here!
No, not the Disney tripe. This is a “I’m cold and there are wolves after me” type of affair as three chums are stuck on a ski lift after the park shuts down for the weekend. Tense, grim and chilly.
Remake of the Argento classic is way better than anyone thought it might be (at least much better than I thought it would be). Great style, atmosphere, some horrific set pieces and a triple shot of Tilda Swinton elevate the proceedings. Might be a tad too long but worth the time for sure.
Terrifying Thai film about a couple involved in an accident that later have mysterious shadows and things appear in their photographs. I’ve always thought it downright scary when thing move in places that they shouldn’t – like photos or mirrors etc. Check this one out!
Five doctors, led by Hal Holbrook, go hiking in the scary Canadian woods only to have a mysterious figure steal all their shoes. Something’s up! What’s with the decapitated deer head? Who’s that weirdo in the shadows? Fun, tense, Canadian fun! As I’ve always said, never go into the woods.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Who knew that a film about an evil piece of particle board that spells out scary things very slowly could be so good? Mike Flanagan knew, that’s who. If you like good terrifying things, he’s your man – check out this or his Haunting of Hill House series or Oculus (both available at Black Dog Video – shameless plug).
Bug-nuts crazy psychedelic horror trip through the woods and Nic Cage’s thirst for revenge against a deranged hippie cult and some demonic bikers. Might not be for everyone but it was definitely for me.
The Invitation (2015)
I love a good “dinner party gone wrong” movie. This dinner party definitely goes wrong. Amazing ending.
A stylish, beautifully horrifying sojourn into the Swedish countryside of folk horror. The dude who made a splash on the horror scene with (IMHO the much scarier Hereditary) gives us some sunlit pagan rituals to feast upon. Might be a bit too long but it does a masterful job of maintaining the dreadful tense atmosphere throughout. One of the best of the year.
Braindead aka Dead Alive (1992)
Before the Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson grossed the world out with this insane splatter-fest. What’s a poor boy to do when his mom gets bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey and turns into a cannibalistic zombie nightmare? One of the best “get your friends together and pop a few cold ones” party movie ever.
The Haunting/The Haunting of Hill House (1963/2019)
The original Haunting, based on the Shirley Jackson book – also great , is a master class in atmosphere and sound design. It’s my favourite haunted house movie (skip the terrible 1999 version). The mini-series remake, under the watchful eye of emerging horror master, Mike Flanagan, is a great, terrifying re-imaging that had me riveted for the whole thing. It’s just released on DVD in director’s cut form. Interested to see what that means!
I Saw the Devil (2010)
Wanna see a crazy film that will flip your hair back? Look no further than this twisted tale of revenge and murder. Insanely violent and crazily intense, this Korean masterpiece follows a tough cop bent on revenging his girlfriend’s murder by catching and then releasing the killer again and again. Zoinks!
The reason I’m picking Scream today is not just that it’s a fine horror/comedy film in it’s own right – it is – (and we miss Wes Craven) but that today is International Independent Video Store Day across the globe and it’s one of the character’s, the uber-knowledgeable horror movie nerd Randy’s, home turf. You don’t see the charming video store in movies much so I thought that it would be fitting. Scream if you want to!
The Wailing (2016)
Let’s go back to Korea for a moment, shall we, and visit a small village where a mysterious stranger appears at the same time a series of brutal baffling deaths occur. This mash-up of genres takes it’s time to tell it’s engrossing crazy story but it’s worth the ride. Strap in and get on board.
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
What would a Halloween horror movie list be without a John Carpenter film? Sure I could have gone with The Thing or Halloween or The Fog but I thought I’d dig a little deeper into this nightmare starring Sam Neil as a writer going mad. Maybe, or is his madness real? Tons of fun film and featured on the Black Dog After Dark podcast!.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Early Guillermo Del Toro effort finds a war-orphaned boy in 1939 Spain being dropped off at an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. Scary janitors and ghostly ghosts are just some of the terrors living (or not living) there. Great stuff.
The Descent (2005)
A woman, just have suffered a family tragedy, goes spelunking with some friends in an uncharted cave. Bad idea. I found the cave adventure part more terrifying then what they run into down there. Top notch horror!
Some folks go into the Australian outback (never a good idea!) and stumble across an enormous crocodile that’s hellbent on eating all of them! Great croc, some fine tension and good eating scenes make this a fine night of dining at the movies. From the director of Wolf Creek. Pair it with this year’s Crawl and Bob’s your uncle!
Black Christmas (1974)
Before Halloween or Jason’s exploits there was this fine little Canadian shocker about a maniac murdering coeds at a sorority house. Great POV shots, terrifying phone calls and a great cast including Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Olivia Hussey, John Saxon and Art Hindle make for a creepy holiday (notice that this pick falls on the 25th?) movie ride. Also featured on the Black Dog After Dark podcast!
Crazy freaky strange horror number about a kid and an ice cream trucker driver who face off against a ghoulish, very tall, grave robber who turns dead bodies into small Jawa-like creatures. Or something like that. Oh and there’s a flying silver ball with spikes and a drill. Love this film!
It Follows (2014)
An unseen (or seen) force is following Jay after sexual encounter. Terrifying and relentless with a great soundtrack and visuals make this such a treat. I know it’s a fairly divisive film but it’s aces in my books. Yours?
Fright Night (1985)
Guy obsessed with horror movies has a real-life (well, real-dead) vampire move in next door. Chaos ensues. I loved this film when it came out all those years ago. It was awesome to see the vampire as an actual monster. And it was funny and scary and had Roddy McDowell! The remake in 2011 wasn’t half bad either. Our podcast of this film just dropped today! Go figure.
Killer slugs are on the loose and it’s up to Mike Brady (!) to take them down! Is this a great movie? No. Is this a good movie? Probably not. Is this a fun movie to watch with your friends that features exploding heads and naked people writhing around in a sea of gross flesh-eating slugs? Yes, yes indeed it is.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
OK, let’s do that! Forgotten gem from 1971 finds a woman, fresh from a stint in the local asylum moving to the country with her husband to regain her marbles. But what follows does no help her one bit. No it does not.
Sure, I could have gone with Halloween or Trick r Treat but that’s too obvious. Instead try on this fun little horror/comedy gem from New Zealand. A woman is forced to return to her childhood home to be under house arrest. But is there something sinister waiting for her? You tell me!
Have a great Halloween everyone and thanks for playing along!
We here at Black Dog love the horror genre and are terribly excited to share our favourite terror-filled films with you. So it’s become a (somewhat) tradition that we concoct a very nice list of horror films to be celebrated during the month of October! Everyday we’ll recommend a sweet little number guaranteed (no actual guarantee) to flip your hair back and scare the pants off of you (figuratively and hopefully, literally!) We’ll also stay away from the big numbers – Halloween, Shining, Exorcist – as everyone already knows about those fine films. Enjoy!
Hereditary – I thought that since this is a new list for this year, we’d start with what is probably going to end up being the best horror film of 2018. Part dour family drama, part haunted house dealy part, well I don’t want to give anything away suffice to say that what starts out as a slow burn ends with an intense crazy, if somewhat derivative, ending. Great performances throughout. Looking forward to seeing what this guy does next!
The Innocents (1961) – Let us step back in time a few years for an amazing tight little ghost story. Based on Henry James story Turn of the Screw, Deborah Kerr is the ward of a couple of youngin’s at a giant house with big gardens. But something’s not right! Is it haunted? Are their ghosts? Well, I’m not one to spoil anything but… It would make a great double bill with another fine ghost story from around the same time that will appear later on this list.
Baskin – Strap yourself in for a weird, gross ride into the pits of hell! No we’re not going to Denny’s, we’re watching a bunch of Turkish cops set out to investigate some goings on out at a large country estate. But what they find there is a stairway to hell! It’s revolting, debauched, bloody and even a tad repulsive. And fun did I mention fun?! (I guess it would also depend on your definition of fun.)
The Others – I love a good haunted house movie. Have I mentioned that? And here’s an excellent little number that finds Nicole Kidman and her two kids living in an old dark manor house out in the country (sounds eerily familiar!) who come to believe that their house is haunted. Is it? Well, I’ll never tell.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956/1978 – It’s not often the remake of a great film equals or betters the original but here’s the exception to the rule. I remember watching the original on TV when I was a kid – I didn’t really get the communism allegory at the time – but it freaked my crazy beak right out the door! It was like a giant game of Spider but with stakes being much higher. The remake, which features a nice little cameo but Kevin McCarthy – star of the original, held up it’s end of the bargain and heightened the paranoid horror. Props for having the better ending of the two as well (it also made me look at capers in a different light!) .
The Wicker Man – I remember catching this on late night TV when I was but a youngin’ and I couldn’t believe what I was watching! Strange rituals and masks, naked women, singing and dancing and that ending, holy hotdogs! Such a great creepy experience. The remake is fun on its own because it’s so absurd and poorly made and over-acted (looking at you, Mr. Cage). But for good chills, stick with this classic.
Raw – Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone!. On the menu for tonight is a tasty little number from France. A nice vegetarian girl from the countryside goes off to veterinarian school and soon develops a tasty craving for the joys of the flesh. I won’t say anymore about this fine film except bon appetit!
Everyone likes a good ghost story, right? Well here’s a nice little anthology movie dealy from England! Three spooky tales are book-ended by another scary story. Usually in these types of affairs not all the of the tales are quality but the three on display here are all top notch. My only complaint is that I wanted more out of each. The wrap-around story is just OK as well but there’s lots of good scares here!
Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi has made some of my favourite movies (Evil Dead II can’t be beat) and this is among his very best. I just re-watched it on the weekend (probably scarring my 13 year-old son in the process) and loved it all over again! It is simply a perfect film. It balances the comedic elements (which there are many) with the terrifying parts (which there are many!). Best old hag fight sequence ever laid down on film!
The Haunting (1963)
I’m a sucker for a good haunted house or ghost story and this is one of my all-time favourites.. Based on the Shirley Jackson book, The Haunting of Hill House, the story is simple – Some folks spend some time in the in an awesomely creepy old mansion to see if it’s haunted. This black and white masterpiece is a master class in the use of sound and editing to heighten the scares. So good.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
A couple of lovable hillbillies head to their cabin where they run into a bunch of preppy college kids who assume they are redneck maniac chainsaw-wielding murderers. Much hi-jinks, hilarity and gross gory deaths ensue. This totally fun take on the cabin in the woods scenario is a hoot. And it’s Canadian!
A woman, who recently lost her unborn child and husband, really wants another woman’s unborn child. And I mean really really wants it! This film is bonkers! It’s as intense and gory as anything I’ve ever seen. Man, I want to watch this again! But be warned, if you’re pregnant, about to be pregnant, know someone is pregnant or know what the word pregnant means, this might not be for you! Or it might!
Under the Shadow
When was the last time you saw a ghost story from Iran? Well here’s your chance! Not only do a mom and her daughter have to worry about living in war-torn, post-revolution Tehran in the 1980’s, but they also have to deal with a terrifying presence in their home. Very effective chiller. Check this one out!
Whoever thought a film about a haunted mirror could ever work? Well Mike Flanagan sure did (he’s behind the new adaptation of the Haunting of Hill House – better be good, Flanagan!). And he was right. A pair of siblings attempt to destroy a sinister mirror – one that shows you things that aren’t there, which is very scary in itself, that was responsible for the death of their parents. Great tense atmosphere add to the chilling fun!
Another great haunted house film! I think one of the key factors in this genre is to have an amazing house to start with. And then add George C. Scott. Shot here in Vancouver (and Victoria) but set in Seattle the tale tells of a guy who, well, moves into a haunted mansion. That’s about it. It’s a very well done, tense chiller. Reportedly based on a true story!
A woman inherits an old mansion in Louisiana (of course) that happens to be built atop one of the 7 gateways to hell (I imagine there’s one in Surrey as well – aaoo!). Lucio Fulci’s fun, barely-coherent, poor-acted piece of awesomeness takes such delight in staging weird, crazy murders it makes up for all that it’s lacking. The scene with a bunch of tarantulas is the highlight (for me at least)!
I could riff on The Burning of weed or maybe suggested some marijuana themed horror movies (if there are any) because, as of today, weed is legal in Canada! But, whatever. I remember seeing this nasty little shocker way back in the 80s and it’s reputation has grown since then. A caretaker is horrible burned when a prank by some unruly teenagers goes wrong. Of course the only course of action is to get some garden shears and seek revenge! Features spectacular gore effects from the master, Tom Savini.
More Evil Dead II and Dead Alive than a straight up horror film, New Zealand’s Deathgasm is a riotous mix of heavy metal (a song is used to invoke a nasty demon that makes everyone go crazy) and blood and guts (and lots of it!). It’s a fun blast of a party movie and with a description such as this – Suddenly, they are attacked by Brodie’s uncle Albert and his wife Mary who have also been possessed, but manage to kill them using three dildos and a chain saw! – one can’t really go wrong.
Let the Right One In
This Swedish gem is one of the best vampire movies. Ever. It has a great, cold atmosphere, compelling characters – all brilliantly acted – and tight perfect direction. And cats. Don’t forget the cats. If you’re looking for an interesting, unique take on a tired genre, this is your baby. Your vampire baby. The remake, Let Me In, is also worth a gander.
Time for another double bill of the original and the remake. Loved me to bits, tiny fleshy bits, each of these hungry little numbers. Directed by Joe Dante and Alexandre Aja respectively, both follow the same plot -nasty meat-eating fish are accidentally released into the surrounding waters and feast on the unsuspecting public. Lots of good eating in both flicks with the latter upping the gore content to dizzying heights. Yes please!
It’s rare when a horror anthology hits on all notes. And while some stories in this are better than others, most are pretty spot on. The stand-out here is the one directed by the folks who made The Raid movies. It’s set on some weird cult plantation in Indonesia and it’s totally bonkers and terrifying. I’d say watch it for this part alone, but I enjoyed all of the tales of dread and horror.
Cemetery Man aka Dellamorte Dellamore
Rupert Everett plays a guy who works at a eerie cemetery (is there any other kind?) and must kill the recently deceased a second time as they always return as zombies. This movie is weird, creepy, hilarious and gross. Pretty much everything I want in a good horror film. It’s quite unlike anything you’ve seen before and the ending is a mind freak. Check this one out!
An odd amalgamation of gangster story, family drama and some culty twisty brain bashing, Kill List is a hard film to categorize. It’s violent as hell and will leave a mark on your mind that may or may not recede with time. The story is simple; after a hit gone wrong, a killer-for-hire accepts a job to take out 3 individuals. What follows is a nightmarish descent into the abyss. Good times (maybe not).
Gross, weird early body-horror from the master of such things, David Cronenberg. An unstable woman (Samantha Eggar) undergoes strange and intense psychotherapy sessions with an unconventional practitioner of such things, Oliver Reed (perfect casting). The results are, well, lets just say, some folks shouldn’t have children. Also stars the great Art Hindle. Interesting note – Oliver Reed was arrested by the Canadian police during the production of this film after he made a bet with someone that he could walk from one bar to another without wearing clothes in freezing cold weather. There you have it.
Return of the Living Dead
I wasn’t going to include this minor zombie masterpiece in this year’s list as I’ve tossed it on almost every other list we’ve made (except, maybe, favourite documentaries) but with the recent passing of James Karen, I thought it would be appropriate. I remember seeing this in the theatre when it came out and I loved the breath of fresh air it breathed into the festering corpse that was the zombie genre at the time. It’s hilarious, gross, scary and has a killer soundtrack. A great party movie that ends with a bang. Literally. Send. More. Cops.
Maybe more of a thriller than straight up horror, this is a nice tale of a dude – Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey (Dan Stevens) – who shows up at the house of a dead army buddy and is welcomed into their home. But then some strange things, like death and stuff, starts happening? What’s it all about? Even if the ending is fairly predictable and can’t live up to the first 2/3rds of what came before it, I still totally enjoyed this film.
The Loved Ones
Lola wants Brent to go to the prom with her. Brent’s not into it. So what’s a nice psychotic girl like Lola to do? Why kidnap Brent for her own home-made prom, that’s what. Bloody mayhem and nasty, darkly funny things transpire. From Australia in case you’re wondering.
I love me a good revenge film. And this is one of the best I’ve seen since I Saw the Devil. A woman is assaulted at a remote fancy cabin by the buddies of her creepy boyfriend and left for dead in the desert. What follows is a bloody trail of nasty awesome revenge (hence the title) as this quality film (written and directed by a woman – Coralie Fargeat) breathes new life into a somewhat stale genre.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Two girls are left behind at their boarding school over winter break and must deal with some sort of strange evil force lurking there. Tons of atmosphere, weirdness and dread fill the halls in this underrated little gem. The devil is in the details.
While everyone goes bananas for Suspiria (and rightly so) I’m going to throw this Argento giallo craziness into your pinned-opened eyes! A young opera singer takes over for the recently run-over-by-a-car star of the show only to find herself and her associates being stalked by a deranged killer. Some amazing, gross things are on display here as this is from the time when Argento was operating at the height of his insane powers.
Trick r’ Treat
Well today’s the big day and to absolutely no-one’s surprise, Trick R Treat is our pick for the 31st. This anthology piece of mayhem gets it right. It embodies the spirit of fun and mischief and horror of Halloween night. It’s my Christmas Carol for this season. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it, and if you have seen it, do yourself another favour and watch it again! Happy Halloween everyone!
We here at Black Dog love us some scary films. I’m actually surprised we haven’t made this list sooner. But what is time really? Just a human-made construct to let you know how long you have left to live. But I digress…Here, in alphabetical order, you can find a list of our favourite horror films of all-time! I’m sure not everyone will agree with all of our picks and there may be some missing and we couldn’t keep it to under 100 but I think, and hope, that you can find something here to make you scream in the dark. Enjoy if you dare….
I’m not even sure how to define a Cult Film. Where do I start? Where do I stop? What do I do in between? Maybe make a sandwich because I’m hungry? Here at Black Dog we’re kind of obsessed with the weird, the disturbing, the off-beat, the fantastic, the hilarious. It’s pretty much why I started this video store business over 20 years ago. I love cult films. And we’re here to share our favourites with you right now! This is from all of us at Black Dog to all of you. xo
We here at Black Dog Video love comedy. In movie form mostly. We love to recommend our favourite comedies to our favourite customers. Read more...
We here at Black Dog Laboratories love documentaries. We also love lists. So we’ve gone ahead and made a list of, what we think are, the best documentaries ever made. If you think of most Hollywood fare as a sort of fatty junk food then a good documentary is a nourishing bowl of amazing soup with a nice delicious broth and teeming with your favourite healthy vegetables. It’s good for the soul and good for the mind. The plan was to do up about 50 or so but with all of the staff’s contributions we couldn’t even keep it under 100! So many great docs out there and I’m sure that we missed a few of your favourites. So without further ado (enough ado already!) may we present to you good folks this swell list. It is categorized alphabetically for your convenience.
Welcome to Black Dog’s list of, what we like to think is, essential viewing. You won’t find Citizen Kane or The Godfather on this list. They are great films, no doubt. But this is a list of what we here at Black Dog like. Really like. Love even. This list won’t please everyone or maybe even anyone but it is what it is. There are tons of other films that easily could have made this list as well. Maybe we’ll do another essential list further on down the road. Enjoy responsibly.
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