House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Run, rabbit, run! One of my all-time clutch horror films is House of 1000 Corpses. There isn’t much I don’t love about it, including the soundtrack. Rob Zombie’s first real splash into directing is an hour and a half of what seems, at times, like a fever dream. It follows the typical “two couples on a road trip in the middle of nowhere” trope, which is fine. But as it introduces it’s interesting cast of baddies, including horror vets like Bill Moseley and the recently deceased Sid Haig, along with the iconic Karen Black, you get to see how far down the twisted rabbit hole goes.
When the action finally kicks in, it’s absolutely relentless. It’s got an absurd amount of gore and aggression, par for the course in a flick like this but where the film takes its own unique turn is in how it’s presented. The film is interjected with other elements that seem spliced in by accident and almost makes you feel like you are watching an old-school creature feature horror host show. A little nostalgia to offset the ‘arthouse’ feel that the movie can have at times. Overall, this is a great film if you love the DNA of a slasher mixed with the presentation of a bloodbath. Afterall, it’s a Rob Zombie film.
Spoopy Fact: Rainn Wilson makes an appearance in his pre-Dwight Schrute days and is absolutely a gem.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I know, I know. You have seen Nightmare a ton. You know Fred Kreuger and the dream-menace premise. It’s got two handfuls of sequels and a reboot to its name. Why is such a staple of horror on my list? Well, this one is personal for me.
I first encountered the Springwood Slasher when I was a child. No, not a kid. A CHILD. My parents were very open about not censoring my entertainment (within reason) as a means to allow me to understand what was make-believe and what was realistic. This led me to being allowed to rent the original Nightmare based solely on the vague box art. I couldn’t read at the time so I just said I wanted to watch it. And I did. And I proceeded to have Freddy nightmares intermittently for the next five-ish years. This film and the character of Kreuger rooted itself in my impressionable mind and it never let go. It’s the reason I was ever afraid of the dark.
As a film, some of the effects have NOT aged well at all but the story is sound. The Krueger character, as executed by Robert Englund, was a new look on evil in 1984. Charismatic but still driven and evil as hell. Literally. It was before the camp of the 80’s really took hold and even if you have seen it scores of times, you owe it to yourself to occasionally revisit the original Elm Street as it truly is ‘nightmare fuel’
Spoopy Fact: Johnny Depp earned his first big-screen acting credit playing one of the murdered teens in this film.