by Rob DiCristino
1. Favorite Performance in a New-To-Me Viewing
Nina Forever. Holly is a young grocery store clerk/EMT student crushing on Rob (Cian Barry), a co-worker who attempted suicide after the death of his girlfriend (the titular Nina, played by Fiona O’Shaughnessy), whose reanimated corpse appears between the sheets every time the fledgling couple tries to have some sexy time. On the page, Holly is naive and defiant, desperate to reimagine herself as a risk-taking rebel who’s willing to get a memorial Nina tattoo and even have the occasional blood-splattered three-way in the name of bringing the dead girl some peace. But it’s Hardingham’s performance — equally vibrant, insecure, sexy, and soulless — that adds the necessary layer of character and complexity to make Nina Forever the fascinating meditation on loss, compromise, and emotional growth it ends up being.
Honorable Mentions: Peter Cushing in Horror of Dracula, Candace Hilligoss in Carnival of Souls.
2. Favorite Revisit
Re-Animator, which I’d seen several times but hadn’t truly dug into before watching Joe Bob Briggs’ presentation on The Last Drive In. I hadn’t considered the fact that Gordon and his crew came from the theater, that they’d meticulously rehearsed each scene for weeks before shooting a foot of film. With that in mind, I had a much greater appreciation for the staging of the action and the timing of the comedy. I was also clued into charming little seams in the story that I hadn’t noticed before, like how Dr. Hill (David Gale) seems to be telepathically controlling the other corpses (an element from an excised hypnotism subplot) and that the goofy Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) is technically the real, more active protagonist, not Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs).
Honorable Mentions: Lost Highway, Audition, Halloween II (2009).
3. Favorite Ensemble
Honorable Mentions: Hatchet, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Return of the Living Dead.
4. Favorite WTF
Honorable Mentions: Scream for Help, The Mangler, Nightbeast.
5. Favorite Monster, Scare, and Death
Silent Hill, Shannon Permatteo’s (Patrika Darbo) de-jawing in Hatchet (a moment so audacious that I laughed out loud before replaying it), and, of course, Ferguson’s (Ben Meyerson) ass-pull in Society. Favorite monsters include “The Man” (director Herk Harvey) in Carnival of Souls, Mathilda May’s Naked Lady Space Vampire in Lifeforce, and Ella, the killer monkey in Monkey Shines (played by Boo). Some of my favorite scares were the end reveal in The Lords of Salem, Kendall’s (Ian Sera) involuntary castration in Pieces, and the final empty, haunting shots in John Carpenter’s Halloween. I always forget that’s how the movie ends! I watched it with friends who had never seen it, and while they took jabs at the stuff that hasn’t held up, even they admitted that those closing seconds were some of the scariest they’d ever seen.
Honorable Mentions: “The Rising Nurse” in Halloween II (1981) and anything Belial does in Basket Case.
What are some of your Scary Movie Month superlatives? Leave them in the comments.