Jul 12, 2013

A Master of Horror's 13 Favorite Films

Article By: Chiller

Writer, Director and Producer (he acts, too! Quadruple threat!) Larry Fessenden has been behind some of the most original and talked about horror movies of the last decade - The Last Winter, House of the Devil, Stakeland, and Wendigo, amongst them. He's also the creative force behind Beneath, out from Chiller Films this Tuesday, July 16 (It's available On Demand and in select theaters, so its super easy to watch). To celebrate Beneath's release, we asked Larry to tell us his 13 favorite horror films. Here's what Larry had to say:

"A list like this can never be complete because its purpose is never clear: is it to give insight into me? Or is it designed to prod you to see movies you otherwise wouldn't? Because those would be different lists of course; One overflowing with well-worn classics, and one filled with clever obscure titles and odd surprises. Then there is the question of genre: strictly horror, or can we spill into neighboring territories like sic-fi and drama/comedy with scares? Jaws, District 9, Alien, Attack the Block, Shaun of the Dead, King Kong (1933, 2005) Godzilla, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978) — see there I go, trying to sneak a few other favorites onto the list. So, we'll leave it at this: here are 13 films that have made an indelible impression on me and that I continue to draw from."

1. Frankenstein (1931)

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Modern viewers may think it quaint, but I still find the design and performance of the Frankenstein Monster to be breathtaking to behold in its sheer iconic invention. I respond to all the pathos the film brings to the monster.


2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

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Amazing effects and still shocking in its violence, this is another classic that has great relevance, even today. I always liked the fact Frederich March won an Oscar for his performance in a horror movie; it hasn't really happened since (except maybe Silence of the Lambs).




3. Dead of Night (1945)

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A hard to find anthology film with a genuinely creepy atmosphere. The ventriloquist story is the most compelling, and anticipates Anthony Hopkins in Magic, but the wrap-around story has the atmosphere that really chills.


4. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

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Like Frankenstein's Monster, the design of this creature is mesmerizing (even while the rest of the film is obviously dated). Can I put The Wolf Man (1941, 2010) here too? I love monsters!


5. Psycho (1960)

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It is the lead-up to the shower scene that resonates most strongly; the intricate, riveting step-by-step decisions that lead to Marion Crane's demise. Hitchcock is in total control of the medium, shooting at a low budget, still re-inventing himself at age 60, and changing the face of cinema.


6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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Iconic, low budget, defining horror which still shocks with its intimacy, claustrophobia and rage.


7. Tales From The Crypt (1972)

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Another anthology film with memorable sequences and a disarming creepiness all around. These were the horror movies of my youth, more than the films of the 80s which are so often sighted by filmmakers today.




8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The original. Come on, guys. Truly off-kilter and shocking to this day.



9. The Shining (1980)

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I didn't like The Shining when it came out. It seemed over the top. But how many movies can you watch over and over and never grow tired of? It puts a spell on you.


10. Angst (1983)

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This almost impossible to find Austrian serial killer film has camerawork so extraordinary you can't understand how it's done. With a first-person POV of a killer narrating his slaughter of a family. Truly harrowing.




11. Dracula (1992)

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So much of this film is fantastic: the atmosphere, music, costumes, makeup, design, the old-timey special effects, the blending of the historical Vlad Tepes with the fictional Dracula as well as the performances by Gary Oldman and Sadie Frost, that the flaws are easily overlooked—or all the more frustrating.




12. Man Bites Dog (1992)

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A biting satire about the self-delusion of filmmakers with violence as shocking as Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer.


13. The Mist (2007)

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A genuinely frightening film with a strong sense of encroaching dread, scary weird monsters that feel other-worldly, very scary humans and a bleak ending that doesn't let you off the hook. And an Aristotelian sense of time.


Rosemary's Baby (1969)Okay, so this makes 14. So sue me. The point is, I don't like Satan movies. Maybe that's why The Exorcist isn't on here either (Yeah, I know I produced The House of the Devil), but this list wouldn't be complete without Polanski, whose films are seminal to my thinking about cinema: spare, psychologically twisted, seemingly effortless in detail and tension, elegant and assured: The Tenant, Repulsion, Cul de Sac.

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That's it. Thanks for taking a look at my list which didn't even include The Stepfather, Ravenous, The Host, and all the awesome J-horror and K-horror that's been floating around the last decade. See why we need horror channels like Chiller!? (How's that for sucking up to the boss?).


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