by Adam Riske
Drag Me to Hell – I’m a mark for crazy, exaggerated horror movies and Drag Me to Hell is an absolute miracle of nuttiness that goes all the way with its premise and has no sense of decorum on its way to getting there. It’s also the loudest movie maybe ever. Initially well-received by critics, Drag Me to Hell never seemed to catch on with audiences at the box office or later as a cult classic (maybe it’s too new). That’s a real shame. I think part of it has to do with the movie being released in May, which is crazy; this should have been released during October for Halloween. It’s one of the best horror movies of the 2000s, with tons of energy, a wicked sense of humor, a terrific score by Christopher Young and a heroine worth rooting for. I know, I know, the Allison Lohman character (who replaced original choice, Ellen Page) kills a cat BUT that shouldn’t be enough for you to not appreciate everything else this movie has going for it. I love Drag Me to Hell. It’s Sam Raimi’s most underrated movie.
House of Wax (2005) – This one’s not perfect (wait, a Dark Castle-produced remake of House of Wax is not flawless??), but there is much to enjoy here including a sensational climax with the melting house of wax. I also don’t think the movie gets enough credit for how unsettling and suspenseful it is. House of Wax was known as the horror movie with Paris Hilton when it was released, but that’s dismissive because while she’s not good in it, she’s not distractingly terrible either. So who cares? House of Wax also features one of my favorite horror movie tropes – the establishing shot set to 15 seconds of heavy metal music. Whoever came up with that should be knighted. House of Wax marks the directorial debut of Jaume Collet-Serra, who went on to direct the equally underrated Orphan.
Scream 2 – While not as good as the first Scream, Scream 2 is much closer in quality to the original than to its far inferior later sequels. The college setting makes me feel like revisiting this one the most out of all the Scream movies. I just love colleges. I don’t think the humor holds up all that well in Scream 2, but the suspense set pieces still do. It feels like a time capsule of the late '90s in a fun, nostalgic way. Plus, it has one of the most surprising kills in horror history – one that gives the movie stakes and preventing it from veering into parody.
Stephen King’s Thinner - There's something about the rhythms of a Stephen King adaptation that I enjoy, which makes me forgive their faults. They are comfort food to me. I re-watched Thinner last October and enjoyed it more than ever largely due to the impressive makeup effects and the movie's dark sense of humor. The lead actor, Robert John Burke, is not the best, but he's entertainingly bad and Michael Constantine is great as the gypsy father. I could listen to that guy talk all day ("Die clean, white man from town. Die clean."). This movie is super entertaining and a prime example of good trash. You should watch it.
Wishmaster - Look, this is not a good movie. I really like it, though. I can't explain it. I know the story is bad, the acting is worse and it has no suspense whatsoever. But it's so stupid and takes itself so seriously that it somehow becomes kind of transcendent.