By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN Presents The “BOOS”
The consensus among BASN boils and ghouls was that great horror comes in black and white, while science-fiction flicks reached classic status due to improvements in special effects and color.
The overview was that characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man have stood the test of time, and have been reworked to present day. They are the epitome of what scary movies are all about.
The Best of Otherworldly Science-Fiction Awards and Poll (hereafter nicknamed the ‘BOOS’) now commences with their responses to the following categories:
The envelopes, please (or I’ll kill you):
Best Classic Horror: Night of the Living Dead wins in a landslide, with The Exorcist a distant second. No truth to the rumor that the Oilers-Bills comeback playoff game from 1993 came in third.
Best New Horror/Sci-Fi: The Matrix (1999), with The Star Wars series (all six) second.
Best TV Series: Dark Shadows (1966-71). A gothic soap opera with vampires and things left undead.
The Outer Limits (1963-65) Twilight Zone (1959-64) and The Invaders (1967-68) ended in a three-way tie for second.
Best Anime/Animated Series: Vampire Hunter D (1985). A young girl, bitten by a vampire, enlists the aid of a hired killer to destroy the vampire that has bitten her, in order to spare herself a life of eternal damnation.
The dialogue for Spawn (1997-99) was done in a manga-inspired style by Todd McFarlane, using Keith David as the voice of Spawn, a soldier sent back to Earth with the choice of commanding the armies of Hell or reconnecting with his true love.
By the way, the role was first offered to Al Davis. Surprisingly, he turned it down!!
Best Special FX: The Matrix (1999): Ground breaking, earth-shaking effects are still talked about after the trilogy was completed. Not since the era of Ray Harryhausen has there been such a genre – changing component.
Best Actor/Actress: With respect to the departed Brother Jones, Tony Todd is our choice for his presence in the Candyman (1992) trilogy — “Sweets for the sweet,” indeed. Lou Gossett Jr., gets runner-up for Silence of the Lambs (1991) Say what??? You better tell ‘em whazzup, Lou. “There were two roles I have auditioned for that I really wanted but didn’t get,” recalls the Oscar-winning actor. ” The first was ‘ Kiss the Girls‘ which Morgan Freeman eventually got.
“The second was the Hannibal Lecter role in Silence of the Lambs. I had the NAACP contacting me about what kind of image it would send; a Black guy eating people.
“I wanted to say, ‘Mind your business,’ but I didn’t get it. It was, however, a great role, and Anthony Hopkins was great.” Alison Hayes may be known for one film, but Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) was a heck of a role for her. Gone but not forgotten
is runner-up for Queen of the Damned (2002); but Aisha Tyler gets an honorable mention for her performance in the remake of Thir13en Ghosts (2001) and doing what we know most sane folks (and most Black folks) would do in such a situation – get the fuck out of the house!
Best Villain: Darth Vader. ‘Nuff said. There were sympathy votes for Don Imus, Al Campanis, Marge Schott, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, and the state of South Carolina.
The Thing (1982) John Carpenter’s version added a delightfully gory touch to the original without ruining the storyline.
The Fly (1986) David Cronenburg’s reworking gets an A-plus for casting Jeff Goldblum as the doomed scientist. Goldblum was tailor-made for quirky characters like this.
Dracula (1979) John Badham called up Frank Langella, who fit the role like a size 13 coffin. Langella’s Dracula gave you the impression he was down for more than sucking blood whenever he entered the fair maiden’s room (but of course, you didn’t hear that from me).
House of Wax (1953) Vincent Price rules — especially with our editorial department. No matter how good or bad the plot, you can count on Sir Price to give a malevolently magnificent effort. This remake of 1933′s ” Terror in the Wax Museum ” is replete with some humorous moments, and the very young Charles Bronson as the basic evil underling – in — training is a nice touch.
Dawn of the Dead (1986) Night of the Living Dead was a tough act to follow as sequels go, but this one comes close.
Exorcist II — The Heretic (1977). A rotten egg of a flick that should’ve been exorcised in the rewrite — was as horrible as the first film was great.
The Bride (1985) Luckily for Sting he can sing; being comfortable on stage doesn’t mean you can act.
Diabolique (1998) Sharon Stone is awful; she couldn’t carry Simone Signoret’s g-string in this horribly done revamp of the 1955 French thriller.
Son of Blob (1972) Blob’s parents should’ve sprung for acting lessons — and a better agent.
Psycho (1998) I think the real psychos were the ones who tried to remake this picture. Some things are better left alone — right, Norman? Cue strings…
The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler………Ooops, that’s another horror……..
Best Rotten Kid Movies: 1.
The Bad Seed (1956)
Damien — Omen II (1976)
Children of the Damned (1963)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Village of the Damned (1960)
Best Witch: 1.
Burn, Witch, Burn! (1962)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Best Beast in Show: 1.
Godzilla (1954 Japanese original, 1956 American version)
King Kong (1933)
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
The Giant Behemoth (1959)
Bats the Way I Like It: 1.
Blade (1998) trilogy
Kindred, the Embraced (the TV cable series, 1996)
I, Desire (1979)
30 Days of Night (2007)
6. George Brett vs. Yankees……..The “Pine Tar” Game of 1983……’Nuff said…..
Best Score / Sound: 1. (tie) Them! (The whistling striations of the giant ants communicating with each other); and the strings layering the infamous shower scene in Psycho (1960)
Invaders from Mars (1953); the choral colorings that were used to identify when the Martians attacked;
3. The original War of the Worlds (sounds of the laser weapons used by the Martians — I told y’all to leave Mars the fuck alone!)
4. John Carpenter’s The Thing used an ominous opening and closing theme that set an excellent mood throughout the film;
The Star Wars series – the sound of light – sabers in battle.
Honorable Mention: The use of the weirding modules in creating sonic weapons in ” Dune“.
Best Special FX
Dracula Goes Batty: Christopher Lee is very cool as he morphs into a bat. Done in the 1958, it has never lost its oomph as the most special of effects.
Guess What’s Coming From Dinner: John Hurt’s last supper was interrupted by the little rascal that grows up to be Alien (1979). Talk about food not agreeing with you …
Monsters from the Id: Forbidden Planet, based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ won an Academy Award for best FX in 1956. One exceptional scene was Leslie Nielsen’s spaceship crew fighting off a creature conjured up by Walter Pidgeon’s subconscious.
Don’t Lose Your Head: Michael Ironside gets someone to literally blow his top as a telekinetic baddie in Scanners (1981).
5. (tie) The Kiss: Space vamp Mathilda May’s smooch sucks the life out of some poor sap in Lifeforce (1985) and the jump to light speed in Star Wars; well thought out and technically sound in approach as a visual translation.
Honorable Mention: Let’s go back to Alien for this one. Sigourney Weaver and Yaphet Kotto reconnect a raging android’s head back on, only to find out the crew of their ship is deliberately being served up as Alien Chow (Watch for the cute edit before Ian Holm’s head gets screwed on).
Second Honorable Mention: Dennis Rodman going from Detroit to San Antonio to Los Angeles to Chicago to Dallas without one bad hair day………SIKE!!!!
Based On a True Story
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). While the screenplay did take some liberties, it was loosely based on the exploits of a serial killer.
The Exorcist (1973). Scared millions of moviegoers when this film was released, and millions more when re – released in 2000 — but many others were grossed out (I know I won’t be eating pea soup again!) The Exorcism of Emily Rose ( 2005) was also purportedly a source for the screenplay.
The Entity (1981) Barbara Hershey plays Carlotta Moran, a woman who is attacked and raped by an incubus (male demon).
The Amityville Horror (1979). A house is definitely not a home when murder has been committed there.
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984). Reportedly based on a WWII incident, experimentation in invisibility causes a Navy destroyer to disappear from a Philadelphia harbor.
Honorable Mention: Bram Stoker’s Dracula was inspired in part by the life of Prince Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia (not Transylvania) a/k/a Vlad Tepes. Roxana Tudorache was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania; and says this is the legend told to little Romanian boys and girls:
” The legend of Dracula is really a love story — albeit a rather warped one. Prince Vlad’s wife loved him very much, and she desired to stay young and beautiful for her husband. In order to find a way to stay pretty, she sought counsel from a witch, who told her if she bathed in the blood of virgins, it would keep her youth and beauty.
“So virgins were slain for the blood, and as more and more young girls kept disappearing, the townspeople grew more concerned. Fearing retribution from the people, Vlad locked his wife in a room, devoid of sunlight. As guilt encompassed her, she refused to eat or drink and eventually died.
“Vlad Dracula, torn by grief, decided he deserved to die as well, and ordered himself locked in a room, same as his wife until he passed. From that, the story deviated to what the world knows as Dracula.”
Special Honorable Mention: Shaquille O’Neal starring as himself in “Kobe, How Does My Ass Taste??”
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) Not only can you clearly see hubcaps on strings starring as flying saucers, there are neurotic aliens, and, unfortunately, Bela Lugosi died during the filming.
Queen of Outer Space (1958) Zsa Zsa Gabor, having run out of husbands and other men to slap, decides to stop the evil, man – hating Queen from blowing the Earth the fuck up from the moon. Now, that’s an illegal alien, dahhhling …
Mars Needs Women! (1967) Well — so does Albuquerque. Just ask Bugs Bunny!
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1979) I would’ve thrown a tomato at the screen if they hadn’t all been working as extras in the movie! So bad, it’s good.
King Kong versus Godzilla (1963) A movie that would’ve been a quality match-up had both protagonists been restored to their dinosaur whupping /police-car roasting black and white glory. Don’t buy the pay-per-view; a Mike Tyson fight would offer better value.
Aliens (1986). Had there never been another movie after Alien, then it would have stood alone as a classic; but when you can provide a better movie than an awesome first effort, that’s really saying something. In every phase — action, storyline, FX, characters and screenplay, James Cameron’s Aliens delivers the goods.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) One of Boris Karloff’s best — and there are still hair stylists feebly attempting to copy Elsa Lancaster’s bridal coif.
Star Wars: Episode V–The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Follow-up to the first released film Star Wars (1977), this series starts in the middle, is full of non-stop action and endearing characters you feel free to cheer or hiss and boo. The technical logic behind the great light-speed effect is eye – opening, and only James Earl Jones’ bombastically bellicose baritone can properly state the answer to the iconic quip, ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’
Children of the Damned (1963). Great use of minimal special effects; and the film trailer’s narration warns the viewing audience to “beware the eyes that paralyze;” an excellent companion flick to the 1960 hit, Village of the Damned.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) There were dozens of chat rooms abuzz with ‘what if? ‘ scenarios after The Matrix came out; given the action, special effects and the Beanfield remix of Dave Matthews ‘ ” When the World Ends,” my favorite part is the tease at the end for The Matrix Revolutions — it gives the series that serial feel of anticipation the Star Wars films borrowed so heavily from.
Honorable Mention: Quatermass II (1957) Follow-up to The Quatermass Experiment, this is a British import released in the U.S. as Enemy from Space. Don’t know whether to laugh or take Brian Donlevy serious as the beleaguered Professor Quatermass, but the action’s great. First installment of this trilogy carries the U.S. title, ” The Creeping Unknown.”
Best Titles: 1 . I Dismember Mama (1974)
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)
Ganjasaurus Rex (1987)
The Rats are Coming — The Werewolves Are Here (1972)
Devil Girl From Mars (1954);
Old Ghoul vs. New Ghoul
Sometimes a horror flick will borrow from an original work, but not enough for it to be considered a re – make. The later versions may provide fresh terror – tory for a new set of storylines. It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) set the table for 1979′s Alien. Here are some other examples:
Demon with the Glass Hand (the Outer Limits’ 1964) and Terminator (1984).
2. Carnival of Souls (1962) and Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Suspiria (1977) and Resident Evil (2002)
Frankenstein and Re-Animator (1985)
The H-Man (1958) and Prince of Darkness (1987)
And here are my top five horror/sci-fi flicks:
Aliens. The only story lines that matter if there is a fifth film (and not Alien v. Predator)–where did the aliens come from? Turn Ellen Ripley loose one more time!
Fiend without a Face. The brain/spinal cord monsters were ingenious. Good story, building to a proper climax; true black-and-white “old ghoul” style horror.
Blade Runner (1982) Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah and William Anderson in a cleverly done, very stylish science – fiction classic.
4. Dune (1984) Some devotees of the Frank Herbert books didn’t like the fact director Raffaella de Laurentiis tried to cram too much into this film, but I love it just as it is.
Colossus – The Forbin Project (1970) and The Matrix (1999) in a tie. Computers going haywire at any time can be a scary thing.
And some video sleepers:
Near Dark (1987) Good modern day vampire tale with many of the Aliens cast.
The Dark (1979) Cathy Lee Crosby in a good movie? Surprisingly, the answer is — yes!
The Tingler (1958) Rare Vincent Price as he trips on LSD (Check out Vince when he starts screaming, “The walls…the walls!”)
Kronos (1957) Jeff Murray stars in an old-ghoul sci-fi robot flick way ahead of its time with its environmental message.
The 4-D Man (1959) Robert Lansing goes from wallflower to wallpaper in another underrated science – fiction drama.
Event Horizon (1997) a pre – Matrix Laurence Fishburne in a very good and very disturbing space mystery.
Parents (1989); Father Knows Best meets Soylent Green.
The Last Wave (1977) Richard Chamberlain and aboriginal mysticism in this Australian gem.
The Day of the Triffids (1962) Man (and woman) eating plants nosh on Londoners after re – animation during a meteor shower.
10. John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars (2001) Ice Cube as a hard-core spirit remover, bussin’ caps into Martian ghosts.
Spellbinder (1988) Tracy (daughter of singer Mel) Torme writes an excellent script in a witch’s tale of lust, deception and power; very hard to find, but worth the search.
The Lost Missile (1958) Rogue projectile streaks to Earth, destroying everything in its path; first movie to destroy a Canadian city (Ottawa).
Underworld (2003). While this film has seen a lot of airplay lately, it is still one of the best vampire/lycanthrope movies ever.
And always remember – never send a monster — to do the work of an eeeeeeeevvvviillll scientist…