I’d like to think that I’m fairly well-read, but whenever I come across one of those recurring lists of “greatest books of all time,” I invariably find myself amazed at how many important milestones of literature I’ve completely neglected. Sadly, the same is true of horror films. So, in the spirit of full disclosure and honesty, I present my list of films that I’m embarrassed to say I have not yet seen. Feel free to chastise me, make fun of me, or, if you feel so inclined to join me, mention a film that YOU hate to admit you’ve never seen.
1. Anaconda (1997)
I’m not sure why I’ve never seen this movie, as I recall seeing a pretty cool trailer involving a lithe and wicked-looking snake whipping around a boat. And I know that it stars some venerable actors, including Jon Voight, and that rapper who sang “Mama Said Knock You OUT.” Maybe it’s this connection to rap music that’s kept me from seeing it. Don’t’ get me wrong, I like rap as much as the next guy, but being a child of the 80s, I can’t help but think of the lyrics to “Baby Got Back” whenever I hear the word “Anaconda.” It’s just part of my subconscious now. So thank you very much Sir Mix-A-Lot. You’ve kept me from seeing what I’m sure is one of the better films ever made about a giant reptile eating Angelina Jolie’s father.
2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
I like The Omen, The Exorcist, The Prince of Darkness, The Ninth Gate, The First Power, The Car, The Devil’s Advocate, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, and I even kind of like Bedazzled and My Demon Lover. The first song I remember loving as a kid is Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Let’s face it, the Devil is just plain interesting. Add in the fact that this is one of the seminal films from legendary and controversial director Roman Polanski, and it’s ludicrous that I haven’t seen Rosemary’s Baby. I know little about the film except that it stars Mia Farrow, so if Woody Allen is the demonic father of her onscreen hell baby, I’ll kick myself even harder for not seeing this.
3. An American Werewolf In Paris (1997)
One of the things I love about An American Werewolf In London is its strange and unsettling mixture of horror and comedy. I imagine that the Parisian sequel has even more hijinks than the original, with plenty of characters comically slipping on banana peels and whatnot. I’ll wager that the story goes something like this: a romance develops between an all-American wolf-boy and a young French waif, but their relationship is doomed after an inane but tenacious French detective stumbles upon the mutilated, half-eaten body of a well-loved mime.
4. Stir Of Echoes (1999)
This is a film I’ve had in limbo at the bottom of my Netflix queue for years now. I’ve always heard that it’s a pretty good ghost story featuring Kevin Bacon. If I remember correctly, I think the film is about an all-American town haunted by the tragic deaths of some high school kids who were drinking and driving after their box social. Kevin Bacon plays the part of a strange newcomer who must cleanse this town of its ghosts through the power of rock ‘n’ roll and the sheer force of his furious dancing.
5. Dog Soldiers (2002)
The only reason this film is on my list is because my co-writer, Corey, suggested that I include it. I have never seen a trailer for this film, read any reviews of this film, or even heard anyone mention this film until he did. So I figured it must be a film along the lines of Ginger Snaps—a really good film that somehow never got the mainstream attention it deserved. But Corey seemed amazed I’d never seen it, so it must be some kind of mega-hit that I just somehow missed. Apparently, you can even buy Dog Soldiers action figures. And, as Corey pointed out to me, there are no Ginger Snaps action figures (but I say there should be).
6. Dead Alive (aka Braindead) (1992)
Before Peter Jackson made the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I knew him from Heavenly Creatures, his superbly crafted film about the tenderness and cruelty of adolescent obsessions. Apparently, he also made splatter films about zombies and aliens, and one of them, so I’ve been told, features muppets. I REALLY hope it’s Dead Alive, because I think undead muppets would be a wonderful way to introduce kids to the delightful world of re-animated corpses ushering in the apocalypse.
7. Cujo (1983)
I’ve loved gore films since I was a kid, but I can’t stomach the idea of a dog being injured or hurt in a film. I just about had to stop watching I Am Legend because of that terrible scene involving his dog. So maybe that’s why I‘ve avoided Cujo. I also haven’t read Stephen King’s novel, so I’m really in the dark about this one. Of course, “Cujo” has now become a synonym for “vicious dog,” so I think I’ve got the gist of the story: man’s best friend turns out to be not so friendly after all. I’m pretty sure they used a St. Bernard for the film, and I imagine it’s pretty scary, as they’re big dogs, and usually very friendly and trustworthy. However, I think it would be even scarier to be attacked by a gang of very small dogs, say, beagles or pugs.
8. White Zombie (1932)
I love classic black and white horror films. I think James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein is just as savvy and sophisticated as anything being made today. I also love zombies. So, once again, I’m at a loss as to why I’ve not yet seen what is credited as being the first zombie film. And it features the original bad-boy of horror, Bela Lugosi. I don’t know exactly what his particular role in the film entails, but I’ve seen stills of his character, and those big, bushy eyebrows and fu Manchu beard are strangely hypnotic. I’m also pretty sure that Rob Zombie’s band White Zombie took its name from this film, so I bet the immaculately coiffed Lugosi is the real inspiration for Rob’s ongoing fascination with long-haired villains, heroes, and every other character type.
9. Prom Night (1980)
I’ve heard the remake of this film really stinks. But I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t seen either one. I know that it’s an important slasher film, and I’ve heard it described as the unofficial sequel to Halloween, largely due to the fact that it features Jamie Lee Curtis as its final girl. I’m sure this film is as good as everyone says, but I don’t think you need to throw a homicidal maniac into the mix to make prom night scary. They’re inherently terrifying events, what with all those awkward teenage boys in their ill-fitting tuxedos and girls in their big, poofy, southern antebellum prom dresses. And I think 1980, in particular, must have been really tough on proms because it was a lousy year for music. Disco was still around, and a lot of music’s best and brightest tragically died in 1980, including Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Darby Darsh of the Germs, Bon Scott of AC/DC, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and, of course, John Lennon. And that’s horrifying enough.
10. Black Christmas (1974)
I’m especially embarrassed that I haven’t seen this one, as it’s one of those films that slasher fans constantly reference. I suppose it’s kind of like being a football fan who never watches the Superbowl. I have, however, seen Silent Night, Deadly Night, so I’m not completely in the dark when it comes to violent yuletide films. I know that Olivia Hussey stars in Black Christmas, and I think it must have killed her career. She was brilliant in her portrayal of youthful naiveté and unabashed sexuality in Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. But I don’t think her career ever really went anywhere after 1974. And this makes me wonder all the more about what horrible things Santa must have done to her in Black Christmas. I bet it involves something nasty from that big sack of toys he carries around and the repeated use of the phrase “naughty.”