Let’s just say that I hate making lists in general. It forces you to chose or narrow down a “favorites” list. I have way too many movies that I honestly love the hell out of, so getting it down to a list of ten is just impossible. And honestly, I really don’t care for these kind of lists that are always going around Facebook, mainly because I just don’t want to spend the time on them and my above mentioned hatred for lists. But since this quest was to name films that had a “lasting impression” on you, I figured I could come up with ten titles that did have a major impact on my life. But instead of just listing the movies, I figured I’d try and expand on why these certain titles affected me the way they did. Of course, this list could change at any time…day or night.
Plus, since a friend tagged me on this, I figured it was the least I could do to reply. Thanks Jessica…this was a nice little trip down memory lane.
Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1971-72) – Okay, so while this is actually a TV show and not a movie, no other program had an effect on me more than this one, since this was where I can trace my love of the genre back to, when I was only six years old. Produced by William Castle, and filled with a rotating all star cast, these stories might not have been the best, but they entranced me back then. Never scared me, but fascinated me with these tales of terror, often not ending on a happy note. Great life lesson there, for sure!
Frankenstein (1931) – Out of all the characters in the horror genre, there is no one I relate to more than this poor abandoned creature. Being a horror fan for most of my life, it is easy to become an outsider, so it was very easy for me to find a kinship with the “monster”. Karloff gives one hell of a performance. But then again, we all know that already. Through all the variations, remakes, re-telling, the original is still one of my favorites.
Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) – Yes, nowhere near the “true story” the title states. But this is a film that I can vividly remember watching when I was only eight years old, making sure I was there to watch the second part of the two-part series. The fact that the creature started out ‘beautiful’ but then decay started to set in, rotting away at his appearance. While it didn’t follow Shelley’s original tale, it sure did keep this little kid’s attention.
Star Wars (1977) – That’s right…not a horror film. Seeing Star Wars in the theater changed my life. While some people decided that they were going to work in the film industry in some form or another, I decided that I was going to learn as much as I could about this movie, as well as many others as well! It fascinated me so much that a simple movie could not only transport your brain to another world, but it made me felt things as if I was there. It was because of this movie, I started on a quest that has not stopped, even after almost 40 years.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) – I first got to see this movie at a midnight screening, sometime around in the early ’80s. This was still before video rentals and VHS were a common thing. Romero showed me that even with an old black and white film, a film could not only terrorize you, but make you question life. What if something like this really did happen? Could you trust your ‘neighbor’ anymore? Sadly, times have not changed since then, making this a harsh look to the future. It is film that still makes an impact viewing it today.
The Haunting (1963) – I caught this on TV the first time while watching it with my future wife and her mom. I had never heard of it before and couldn’t believe just how creepy this film was, as it worked its way under your skin. With incredible performances by the small cast, some terrifying sequences that are sure to effect anybody watching it, it remains one of my favorite films of all time. It never gets old and it never loses its effectiveness. Just powerful.
The Exorcist (1973) – Speaking of powerful…I first caught this when it was being screened on television, so this particular version was cut to shreds. But that didn’t mean that it simply scared the hell out of me…no pun intended. I didn’t sleep that night because every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was the scared face of little Regan. Hearing the sound of her voice, laughing, crying out, all of it ringing in my head and I tried to go to sleep. It would be sometime later before I could actually sit and watch the film in its original release and it hit me just as hard. This tragic tale that we witness, all through the eyes of the tortured mother, played with an Oscar worthy performance by Ellen Burstyn. And of course, Dick Smith’s makeup work is a story all on its own.
Creepshow (1982) – Another Romero film that also remains in my top pics of all time. So much fun, so much style, and just one of those movies that is entertaining to its core. This is a film that I could watch over and over and never get bored with it. Classic dialogue, great performances, and some wonderful stories inspired by the E.C. Comics of the ’50s. Kudos to King and Romero for giving fans this wonderful picture.
The Beyond (1981) – The first time I got to see this was when I was working at the theater and we had the American version there, called The Seven Doors of Death. Sure, it was the cut print, but that still didn’t mean I was thrown by out strange and confusing the plot seemed. Things happened that didn’t make a lot of sense. But then, once I became more familiar and ‘experienced’ with Italian cinema, or European cinema in general, you start to realize that sometimes things aren’t what they seem, nor are they supposed to be. Sometimes you just sit back and watch the visuals unfold in front of you and enjoy. Don’t try to figure them out…just experience it.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) – I first saw a short clip of this film on the British program Incredibly Strange Film Show, hosted by Jonathon Ross. The episode was on Tsui Hark, where they showed a variety of clips of movies that he produced and/or directed. One of them featured some unbelievable visuals, with demon ghosts fighting a mystic swordsman, with creatures and monsters that I’d never even imagined before. I immediately put that movie on my MUST FIND list, which didn’t take too long. The first version I got had no sub-titles but I was still blown away by it. It also still remains as one of my favorite films. Such a haunting piece of cinema, with wild visuals and effects, but with a simple love story underneath it all. Great stuff.