The Bloody Envelope, Please!

A top 10 list of terrific terror moments

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo and Shane Hnetka

Sure, “classy” movies have their Academy Awards and Golden Globes, but what do horror flicks get? Pretty much bubkus, I tells you! Every year there are hard-working lunatics /vampires /aliens /demons /monsters of all types out there, working their scaly, tail-y butts off to wipe out as much of humankind as they can, and they get no credit!

Well this Halloween, Prairie Dog is out to change that, courtesy of two of our most horror-crazed movie geeks: Jorge Ignacio Castillo and Shane Hnetka. Without further ado, here are their picks for the “Best Of All Time” in 10 awesome categories.

And remember: support your local axe murderer. If you don’t, who will? /Chris Kirkland

BEST USE OF “IMPLEMENTS”

AUDITION (1999)

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has used about every tool in the shed (scalding grease comes to mind). Yet no other instrument has the elegance and inexorability of the piano wire that psychotic beauty Asami employs to dismember her suitors. Just to make the procedure more horrifying, Asami paralyzes her victims and forces them to watch. /JC

EVIL DEAD II (1987)

Chainsaws have been used in horror movies before, but not quite like this. When Ash straps on a chainsaw where his hand used to be, magic happens. It’s an elaborate montage filled with zooms and quick cuts — and then he goes hunting Henrietta, the thing in the fruit cellar. Groovy. /SH

BEST USE OF ANIMALS

THE BIRDS (1962)

Only Alfred Hitchcock could make a movie about the end of the world by taking something as commonplace as birds and turn them into unstoppable killing machines. You’ll think twice before you feed the pigeons again. /SH

SLUGS (1988)

There’s something about slugs that makes them instantly revolting — meaning a cheap movie like Slugs can ooze its way to revolting success. Just the idea of one of these critters sneaking into your ear and eating your brain should give you nightmares. I can’t guarantee that no slugs were harmed in these movies, but c’mon — they’re slugs. They had it coming. /JC

BEST SINGLE SCENE

THE SHINING (ANY SCENE!) (1980)

New details pop up with every viewing of The Shining. Each scene has been carefully constructed and is slightly askew: the geography of the place doesn’t make sense, the hotel bathrooms are way too red, and so on. You can probably recall a number of sequences without making an effort, because it’s seared into your mind. /JC

LES DIABOLIQUES (1955)

Okay: I hate giving spoilers away, but the best single scene has to be the ending to this masterpiece of terror. After spending the majority of the film plotting and carrying out the murder of her husband with the help of his mistress, Véra Clouzot receives one hell of a surprise. /SH

BEST CAMEO

JASON X (2001)

In this film, David Cronenberg allows himself to be chopped to pieces by the ultimate exploitation monster, Jason Voorhees. Honorable mentions: Alice Cooper as Freddy Krueger’s dad (who else can pull that off?) and the mellow Moby as a crazed, metal band singer in Suck. /JC

SCREAM (1996)

Ever since Alfred Hitchcock popularized cameos by doing one in most of his films, they’ve been a horror movie staple. In Scream, director Wes Craven has a brief one dressed as a janitor in his most famous creation’s clothes. /SH

BEST F/X

THE THING (1982)

Made long before CGI took over, the practical effects of Rob Bottin hold up extremely well even by today’s standards. Where else can you see a dog try to absorb several other dogs and transform into them at the same time? And the part where the shape-shifting thing manages to pull its own head off, sprout legs and try to quietly scuttle away is still one of the all-time great scenes. /SH

HATCHET II (2010)

The Hatchet films are known for being over-the-top, but the disposal of Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) at the end of the second one is beyond nightmarish. First he’s chopped in half, then stripped of his skin, and later grabbed by the spine and thrown into the woods. Jeepers, that’s harsh. /JC

BEST MOVIE FOR MAXIMUM DAMAGE/CARNAGE

DEAD ALIVE (A.K.A. BRAINDEAD) (1992)

One of Peter Jackson’s earliest efforts, this zombie horror used 300 litres of fake blood just for one scene. After being bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey, a woman causes havoc in a small town and it’s up to her son to cover up the killing spree. The proceedings result in decapitations, impalings, cannibalism and a ton of zombies butchered with a… see below. /JC

DEAD ALIVE (A.K.A. BRAINDEAD) (1992)

Holy crap, Jorge and I picked the same film in this category. Well, it’s a very good movie. So shut up. Anyway. What do you do when you end up with a house full of zombies because you were hiding them in the basement but your evil uncle decided to throw a party? Well, you clean house, don’t you? And Lionel, the hero of the film, decides to use a lawnmower to get the job done. When that fails, it’s up to fire to finish the job. Good old fire. /SH

BEST “ESTABLISHED CREATURE” INNOVATION

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

True, a good chunk of “found footage” horror movies are awful, but the first-person point-of-view felt fresh back when The Blair Witch Project led the parade. Too bad Paranormal Activity and its clones have become the genre’s equivalent of Ow, My Balls! /JC

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

This is the film that introduced the modern zombie. True, there have been some recent tweaks, but those wouldn’t have happened without this ground-breaking (or ground-erupting-out-of) film. No longer were zombies simply puppets of evil voodoo practitioners, they were fleshing-eating ghouls capable of bringing down society. And only destroying the brain can stop them. /SH

BEST CHARACTER DEATH

PSYCHO (1960)

The film that broke all the rules: top-billed actress Janet Leigh is introduced, her life and her problems are all laid out, and then about 20 minutes into the movie… stabby stabby! One of the most memorable and oft-imitated death scenes ever. /SH

DEEP BLUE SEA (1999)

One of Renny Harlin’s best movies (granted, that’s not saying much), Deep Blue Sea is best remembered for Samuel L. Jackson’s rousing speech at the mid-point of the film — interrupted halfway through by a shark that devours him in one bite. Now it’s almost a cliché, but 15 years ago it was shocking — particularly when the rest of the cast was so incompetent. /JC

BEST ENDING

SEVEN (1995)

Movies in which someone gets away with murder are a dime a dozen, but John Doe (Kevin Spacey) has higher aspirations: he wants to teach morality to a godless society. The final lesson is the most memorable, as he essentially forces the hothead detective assigned to his case to kill him, thus staging the final two mortal sins: envy and wrath. The poetic fulfillment is unparalleled. /JC

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

I generally hate remakes, but both The Thing and this film are exceptional — and the ending to Body Snatchers is masterful. After fighting the entire film to avoid becoming a mindless pod person, Donald Sutherland comes across Veronica Cartwright… only to find out that it’s too late for both himself and the rest of humanity. /SH

BEST HORROR FILM OF ALL TIME

THE EXORCIST (1973)

Hands-down the scariest horror movie of all time, there’s just something creepy and perfect about this film — from its opening to an archeological dig in Iran, to the seemingly ordinary introduction of the main characters. The film builds and builds, until it reaches a climax that has inspired countless imitations. /SH

JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982)

Sure, a number of classics come to mind, but The Thing is unbelievably concentrated. The setup is brief yet alluring, the tension is relentless, and the audience has no one to trust, not even the lead. The gore comes purely from practical effects, which gives the entire experience a visceral feel: when a severed head sprouts legs and a witness screams “You gotta be fuckin’ kidding!”, we know exactly how he feels. /JC

2013-10-17