by Adam Riske
This movie has its fans, but it doesn’t get brought up all that much anymore. Arachnophobia was a gateway horror movie for me during my early days and I had just as good of a time with it on a revisit a couple of years ago. It’s fun in a The Blob (1958) sort of way. Jeff Daniels is an inspired everyman lead as the new town doctor, the movie has just the right balance of scares and laughs (John Goodman!) and the deadly spiders are very creepy crawly. This movie doesn’t get the love it deserves. Co-starring Harley Jane Kozak who at 8 years old I saw and was all “If I weren’t 8, I’d ask for a date.”
Cat’s Eye (1985)
Creepshow 2 (1987)
Yep, another anthology. Like Cat’s Eye, Creepshow 2 goes 2 for 3 for solid stories with the highlights being the freaky and gross “The Raft” which was my immediate favorite story the first time I watched it and my new favorite “The Hitch-hiker,” an amusing segment that closes the film out. Just get past the first story, the slow and shruggy “Old Chief Wood’nhead” and it’s smooth sailing from there. Bonus: The Hitch-hiker is played by Tom Wright who would go on a play basically the same type of zombie role in the original Tales from the Hood.
Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the film really doubles down on the ingenuity of the gags and the creature design. It also moves at a fast clip making it a great hangout movie if you’re having a Halloween-themed movie night. Critters 2 holds a soft spot in my heart because it comes from the awesome writer-director-podcaster extraordinaire Mick Garris and features a scene of hundreds of Critters converging to form a rolling Critter Ball. This movie’s a blast from start to finish.
Halloween II (2009)
Specifically the director's cut. I’ve beaten the drum for this movie in the past and I’m going to again. I don’t think there’s another movie like Halloween II in the franchise. It takes the trauma of the events of the original Rob Zombie remake dead seriously and it really works as a tragedy about the death march of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton, in a performance I think is a bit underrated too). I rewatched this movie a few days ago and it’s exhausting and impactful with some masterful sequences. I totally get when people don’t like Rob Zombie films, but I will never understand when they simply dismiss the quality of his filmmaking.
Hell Fest (2018)
Birth of the Dragon i.e. it’s a perfect movie.
The Night Flier (1997)
This was my favorite new-to-me discovery of last year’s Scary Movie Month. It has that great, warm early-90s Stephen King adaptation feel and tells an interesting story about a tabloid night crawler (who flies, making him a night flier) in pursuit of a vampire attacking regional airports. It’s a page-turning (can I use that phrase here?) character study with a showcase performance by the late, great Miguel Ferrer. The movie is methodically paced but stick with it until the end which is full of creepy imagery and great payoffs.
I hope you’re all having a great month. If you have any underrated horror film recommendations, leave a comment below!