I’m not a huge fan of scary movies for one very legitimate reason. They scare me. That can be difficult this time of year as Halloween draws ever closer and seemingly everyone I know is watching the creepiest, ickiest films imaginable. That’s not to say that I’m completely unable to get into the undead spirit of the season. For example, I love horror films that use the genre’s conventions for laughs as much as scares, from films like Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn to Shaun of the Dead and The Cabin in the Woods. But I really enjoy horror films that aren’t scary as much as just plain weird.
Sleepaway Camp may sound like your average Friday the 13th rip-off with its homicidal maniac running rampant at a summer camp but whoa Nelly, is this thing bananas. From the glacially paced prologue depicting a motor boat heading towards a family of victims to the most shocking final shot in cinema history, Sleepaway Camp astounds in its lurid absurdity. Director Robert Hiltzik didn’t make another film until a belated sequel decades later. I like to think that’s because he crammed all of his ideas and obsessions into this one exceptionally odd artistic statement. Bless him.
Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff are most famous for their iconic roles in Dracula and Frankenstein respectively but a few years later the two teamed up for a film that might be better than either horror classic. The Black Cat throws anything it can think of onscreen including Satanists, modernist architecture rigged with explosives, and yes, a black cat. The film claims to be based on the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe but any trace of the Bard of Baltimore’s work has been scuttled for ever-increasing insanity.
Now, there is weird and then there is House. Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s take on the haunted house film is certifiably, undeniably bonkers. The main character’s name is Gorgeous. There are violent mattresses and homicidal pianos. There is a floating head that chases people around and bites them on the butt. It’s chaos from the very first frame and each scene is more psychedelically psychotic than the last.
These films are so much fun it’s scary.
~posted by Mike