by Adam Riske
overrated column was an epic backfire (you weren’t here to fish). Yet, it got the most comments ever for a Riske Business. I challenge all of us to break that record with positive feedback about underrated horror movies.
Snakes on a Plane. I also love how playful 1408 is - from its effective scares (impressive for a PG-13-rated horror movie) to its jarring ‘was it all a dream?’ fake-out sequence. I can’t wait to revisit 1408 this October. It’s solid, spooky fun. Cusack should only check into hotel rooms if accompanied by Daphne Zuniga.
Tim Burton was stripped of his clout after Edward Scissorhands. Like Edward, Freaks pities the monster(s) instead of ostracizing them. It’s a pretty simple revenge story, with the “freaks” (played by actual carnival performers not relying on makeup or special effects) righting the wrongs of one of their own from a “normal” woman who is swindling Harry Earles of his inheritance. The key to the movie’s success is that it personalizes the circus performers and presents them as a community of caring and talented people. Freaks is super short – cut to 64 minutes after horrible test screenings back in 1932 – so it’s not a big investment of your time. The last 10 minutes of this movie are a surrealistic delight of revenge fantasy. It’s kind of shocking how much pre-code horror could get away with (I’m also thinking of the great Island of Lost Souls, The Black Cat, etc). We focus a lot of attention (rightfully) on Universal horror of the '30s and '40s, but it’s good to check out some of the other gems of the era like Freaks or the work of producer Val Lewton (The Body Snatcher and Cat People being my favorites).
Home Alone Macaulay Culkin and some creative and overwhelming art direction. It’s quite the experience and very much worth your time this October or any other month. I can’t recommend it highly enough. SPOILER AHEAD: The ending of this movie destroys me every time I see it. I love that this waking nightmare movie switches gears and movingly becomes about coming to terms with death and the power of angels over demons. The image of Jacob’s son walking him into Heaven is one of my favorite moments in any movie.
on Netflix Instant, so get to it! Not to be confused with its lame American remake, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse is one of the saddest and most affecting horror movies that I have ever seen. Pulse was prescient about the potential dangers of the internet and how it affects the ways people communicate. Even though we have access to one another more than ever before, it has still caused problems like social isolation and has strained in-person interaction. One of the great things about the horror genre is that it can take on societal issues while not seeming preachy, and Pulse is one of the best examples of that. It has a lot on its mind and a clear point-of-view -- one that is troubling and scary.
What do you all think of these? And, what horror movies do you feel are underrated?