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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2007!
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 394  (Vol. 8, No. 41). This edition is for the week of October 8--14, 2007.

"Eastern Promises"
Halloween Brew: A Potpourri of Halloween Recommendations, Pt. 1--Books and Music
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando 2007
Forgotten Horrors: Blood of Dracula's Castle

Book Review: The Birthday Party by Panos Karnezis
Mom .... Movie Notes .... Don't Tell Terence .... .... .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 30: John Rhys - Davies o
Horror Month Continues!

Plus....The Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time (Cont'd)
           Readers Comments

Sad Passing
Last Friday, Matt Drinneberg's (of "Matt's Rail") mother Margorie passed away at the age of 87. Mike Smith ("Mike's Rant"), Matt, and his brother Mark flew down to Tampa from Missouri, Maine, and Illinois respectively to attend her funeral, which was today (Wednesday as I write this). Corey Castellano ("Film Biz 101") and I decided to attend at least the viewing and wound up staying for the full service (there was family present we hadn't seen in years and may never see again). I'm grateful for the opportunity to hook up with these fine people, Margorie was a great and kind lady.

The Enlightenment Returns
We welcome back Terence Nuzum's all-too-rarely seen special feature column which is devoted to all things Halloween this month. Check out Part 1, this issue.

Readers' Comments Glitches
I apologize for any inconvenience caused by the severe glitching the Readers' Comments section was experiencing last week. First the comments would be there, then they wouldn't, then they'd be back again. I still don't know what the problem was, it seems to be better now, but I am monitoring it for any further misbehavior. No need to worry about lost posts, back-up copies are made even if the comments aren't showing up right away. I may have to insert them manually in those cases.
Letters to the Editor My Top 10 Horror Movie List
I'm taken aback, maybe even flattered that so many readers noticed I hadn't posted my Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time list by the end of last week's issue. Not to worry, they're here now, below. I spent so much time getting the PCR writers' sections stabilized, I neglected to work on my own list. Plus, I thought the others would take more time with theirs than they did. Oops, haha.

The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time     by Nolan B. Canova
Waaaaay back in PCR #30, October 2000, we had our first Top 10 Best Horror Movies challenge, initiated by one Terence Nuzum, much like this year's. At that time my listed faves, in order, were: The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, Alien, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead, John Carpenter's The Thing, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, The Evil Dead, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, and The Cyclops. Although I knew I had something in the Archives I deliberately avoided looking until after I composed this year's list. I was surprised at how relatively intact my list remained. I did notice some subtle changes over the years, however. KEEP IN MIND, my definition of "Best/Favorites" are what actually horrified me at the time and age I was when I first saw them! So without further ado, drumroll please, starting with Number 10...
10. Alien (1979). I'm a little softer than Terence when it comes to specific catagorization. Ridley Scott's sci-fi/horror/monster movie that defies exact categorization virtually re-invented the space thriller. Based loosely on "It: The Terror From Beyond Space" (admiited later by collaborator Dan O'Bannon). James Cameron's "Aliens", deserves mention as being that rare very worthy sequel.
9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)/Dawn of the Dead (1978). I'm going to get monstrous guff from Terence for the two-in-one title, but I really feel like these two are forever tied together in post-apocalyptic horror history. Re-defined the Zombie movie with a dystopian scenario and a downbeat ending. Explored the way we see things through the media, then later our mass consciousness on consumerism. Social commentary like that is what I'm all about.
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Like so many original ideas that have been so heavily spoofed, it's hard to remember when this was a truly mind-bending horrifying experience. But I do remember. Introduced the character of child-killer Freddy Krueger, himself killed by an angry mob, who came back to kill again through the dreams of neighborhood teenagers
7. Friday the 13th (1980). Like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees has been spoofed so many times, the original horror can get lost in the comedy. But I was there was this was pretty ground-breaking stuff in terms of violence. Jason, like Freddy, enjoyed several sequels that milked the franchise for all it was worth. The idea of the unkillable killing machine, and the message that "sex equals death" to partying teenagers went as far as it could here.
6. John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). After one of the most impressive horror debuts of all time with Halloween (the film that usually gets the credit for being the first to feature an "unkillable slasher/killer" type), John Carpenter absolutely blew me away with this remake (or re-imagining, depending on you you talk to) of John Campbell's "Who Goes There?" and the '50s Howard Hawks film adaptation, starring James Arness as The Thing. Make-up maestro extraordinaire Rob Bottin created an incredible show-stopping series of special effects for Carpenter's version, demonstrating the alien's possession and re-creation of the human host bodies. The Antarctic locale, like the original, emphasized the lonely despair of the men, cut off from worldly contact. For many horror fans, this was the shit for many years. Still is.
5. The Evil Dead (1981). I figured I'd seen everything by 1981. Then I visited a midnight show at the South Tampa Twin Bays dollar theater and took in The Evil Dead on a casual recommendation. Holy Christ Jeezis, I wasn't prepared for this as director Sam Raimi's violent paranormal vision of ghosts and zombies-in-the-woods completely shook my world and demonstrated what could be accomplished on a low budget. I can remember thinking "This isn't going to let up! If anything, the pace is accelerating!". Introduced Bruce Campbell as "Ash", a character he's trademarked since.
4. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1960). Alternately titled The Head That Wouldn't Die, this was a childhood nightmare-producer that exposed its low-budget roots on another look in adulthood. BUT.... you have a mad doctor who saves the head of his finacé after its decapitation in a car accident. You see the head talking from a laboratory plate. You have the creepy, humpbacked assistant. You have the doctor visting whorehouses to find a suitable replacement body for his finacé (I love this guy). And the best...the best.....the mutant horror-in-the-closet, the result of expermental mistakes and accidents, not only rips an arm off "Ygor" (graphically shown!), but breaks out at the end with some coaxing from The Head! This kept me coming back to Terminus!
3. The Cyclops (B&W, 1959). The very first horror movie that literally gave me nightmares as a child, but I was compelled to watch whenever it repeated on Shock Theater or Terminus. To me, director Bert I. Gordon absolutely nailed the horror of post-nuke mutation frenzy (a popular theme at the time, although I think the Cyclops was created from Uranium radiation). Of course, any repeated viewings in adulthood (which are rare) resulted in the realization that it was a very low-budget, cheezy affair, but hey, it had Lon Chaney and giant lizards! A better-remembered Gordon effort, The Amazing Colossal Man came out around the same time and explored similar themes. The giant's deep, heavily-echoed grunting still gives my chills.
2. The Silence of The Lambs (1991). I figured I couldn't be captivated by horror-thrillers much anymore after the amazing '60s, '70s, and '80s. it had all been done, or so I thought, until this "crime drama" based on the book by Thomas Harris played with your head more than exhibit violence (although it did do that, too). The most notable appearance of serial-killer Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lector (I say "most notable" because the character's actual first appearance was in "Manhunter", played by Brian Cox). Anthony Hopkins created an indelible impression that could not help but stick with you after you left the theater. His obsession with FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) played on the Beauty and the Beast theme, sure, but created a crazy onscreen chemistry that was as mesmerizing as it was bizarre.
1. The Exorcist (1973). This film, like so many other horror originals, has been spoofed so many times that it's hard to remember a time when its release created a scalper's market for movie tickets (I'm not kidding). I was out of Catholic school only a short time when this came out. The reality of the duel between God, man, and the devil was a very real thing to me back then. Based on the book by William Peter Blatty, director Billy Friedkin provides an ultra-realistic and modern portayal of a mother (Ellen Burstyn) coming to grips with the paranormal. After exhaustive examinations by doctors and scientists fail to find a cause for her daughter, Regan's, strange behavior and illnesses (Linda Blair in her landmark role), it is suggested demonic possession may be the culprit. Incredulous, Mrs. MacNeil can only respond with, "Are you suggesting that I take my daughter...to a witch doctor?" No, but exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is summoned to perform the rites. Attending Jesuit priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller), already tormented by his own crisis of faith, witnesses a duel between good and evil he never imagined. The foul language, sexual situations and violence were quite ground-breaking for its day as 12-year-old Linda Blair was required to say lines that would've gotten us expelled from Catholic school! This film cost me many nght's sleep at the time and, despite my conversion to Atheism since then, the "what if?" questions it raises makes it, to me, the most disturbing and personal horror movie of all time.

Honorable Mentions: Psycho (1960. The classic--and first--modern-day serial killer "slasher" movie), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974. Like Psycho it was based on real-life serial killer Ed Gein's exploits and created the "crazy hill family" horror category on the spot), Halloween (Carpenter's classic slasher movie that re-wrote the rules for those that followed), Frankenstein (original 1931 -- along with "Dracula" set the tone for the sound era's monster movie), Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (saw it in 3-D and uncut in 1973. The first movie I was carded to enter), Aliens (James Cameron's very worthy sequel), Fright Night (perfect combination of horror and comedy that makes for a the best kind of fun horror movie without being ridiculous, and Jaws (saw it before I went swimming -- and I didn't enter the ocean again for 15 years!

Readers' Comments

The Readers' Comment section for this issue of PCR is now closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or write a Letter to the Editor! Comments below are posted starting with the most recent. Thank you.

Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
Odds [12-10-2007 15:35] 
"I gotta say Andy i am both surprised and disappointed by your list.The Cat People remake. what an insult to Val Lewton."

Terence, how can you call your column "The Enlightenment" and be so unenlightened?
terence [12-10-2007 08:43] 
dont get me wrong Andy Natasha Kinski is hot but she is not her father when it comes to acting.
ED [12-10-2007 05:09] 
Mike - Kevin Smith's Land of the Lost reference in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was more than just a combination of the kid's names. For some reason the theme song of the original Land of the Lost series had it's lyrics fouled up and no one either caught it in time or cared enough to fix it. The opening lyrics are "Marshall, Will, and Holly....on a routine expedition". It should have been "Rick Marshall, Will, and Holly" but apparently someone misread the script and thought the father's first name was Marshall. Hopefully the feature will be based on the original 70's series and not the inferior remake.
ED [12-10-2007 04:49] 
Andy - Blood of Dracula's Castle is a great fanboy film. I can't believe you never caught it on Creature Feature. I distinctly remember it playing on there several times (possibly in both versions) and often on a double bill with Dracual Vs. Frankenstein. Check out Amazon.com and there third party marketplace for DVDs. You can often buy DVDs off there for cheaper than you can rent them, especially boxed sets. I just bought a copy of the Camp Crystal Lake Box set of the first 8 Friday the 13th films for $23 including shipping! It came in the mail yesterday and the deleted/extended scen section was very nicely done.
Odds [11-10-2007 16:06] 
Great write-up about "Blood of Dracula's Castle". That's one of the few Al Adamson movies I haven't yet seen (along with "Satan's Sadists"). I was just speaking to Frank Granda Jr. of Unique Video about it and referred him to your piece. I think he's got it at his shop - not sure. I'll look for it next time I'm in.
Odds [11-10-2007 16:04] 
"I gotta say Andy i am both surprised and disappointed by your list.The Cat People remake. what an insult to Val Lewton."

Just remember, that's Klaus's daughter you're talking about, there...
Lisa [11-10-2007 09:57]  
Interesting question -- what is a horror movie?? I'm almost finished with my top ten list. I started off with around 25 movies! I have been looking at various online "best horror movies" lists and have found lots of movies on those lists that I wouldn't have thought of as horror. I didn't realize before how wide that category could be or actually is to some people.

Will post my list this afternoon....gotta give Andy fodder for another column! :)
Lisa [11-10-2007 09:53]  
My condolences to Matt and his family. I was very sorry to hear about his mother's death.
Paul Guzzo [11-10-2007 08:11] 
Ahh... brings up a good discussion ... We have dissected the meaning of a cult film. So what is the definition of a horror film?
terence [10-10-2007 19:28] 
I gotta say Andy i am both surprised and dissapointed by your list.The Cat People remake. what an insult to Val Lewton. the Thing, Destroy All Monsters, and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers are all sci-fi to me. Especially the Thing. Demons...well im gonna keep quiet what i think about that movie. The Stand is awesome but again not really horror though.
ED [10-10-2007 17:30] 
So Andy, are you going to Screamfest?
Odds [10-10-2007 15:10] 
Very sorry to hear about the passing of Matt's mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you guys.
Nolan [10-10-2007 12:06] 
Cross your fingers this section will funtion properly this week.
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    

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"Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino    "The Enlightenment" is ©2007 by Terence Nuzum    "FANGRRL" is ©2007 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2007 by ED Tucker      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova    
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