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Monday, Oct 31, 2011
Sick of the same old scarefests? Here's a list of ten alternative fright films that may satisfy your hurried Halloween needs.

It’s 31 October - only a few more hours of marketing mandated terror to go. With cable channels and the Internet working overtime telling you what’s fright and what’s wrong, it seems like every angle of All Hallow’s Eve is covered…except, like any regulated holiday, the same of scares seem to be offered up. After all, how many times can you watch The Exorcist or The Evil Dead? Is there an expiration date on Halloween and its far too many sequels, or the various fleeting subgenres such as torture porn and J-horror? Indeed, if this particular celebration is all about delivering the shivers, how can something so well known provide said dread?


Luckily, Short Ends and Leader is here to help. Going back over the last few decades, we’ve come up with ten alternative movie macabres that you just might enjoy a bit more than an umpteenth viewing of Friday the 13th. We’ve attempted to address both the outsider and the independent, the ‘may be familiar’ and the foreign. Some of these titles may already be in your collection. What’s equally obvious is that all of them should. So instead of busting out your Nightmare on Elm Street box set or the various American updates of Asia betters, why not give one of these offerings a try. Perhaps they’ll become the makings of a new terror tradition in your fear factors.


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Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011
Sequels/Prequels are nothing new in the horror genre, and everyone knows that the majority are less than stellar. Here's a list of some of the most embarrassing entries into our beloved genre.

Can we all just agree that The Exorcist II: The Heretic is the worst horror movie sequel ever put to film? It’s no surprise that it’s universally loathed for its absurdity and fantastical elements that fly in the face of the sheer brilliance of the original, and as a result ends up in at least the top five of any list which counts down the worst horror movie sequels. I personally don’t hate the film as much as so many others do; I think the director was ambitious and tried to tell a different kind of story. However, I will concede that it is an awful film and is as bad as the original is good. Now that we agree on that, we can turn to 10 otherawful horror sequels that are not The Exorcist II.


As the seminal sequel film Scream 2 describes: “Who would want [to make a sequel]? Sequels suck!” The beloved Randy continues to argue that the horror genre was destroyed by the sequel, and although some sequels are welcome additions to a series franchise, or do their best to continue to build on an interesting premise set up by the first, it is very common to see sequels or prequels attempt to capture the magic of the original, only to fall short.  With the release of Paranormal Activity 3 (doing surprisingly well and pleasing critics the world over) and The Thing (a remake thinly disguised as a prequel), it would do us well to take a trip down memory lane highlighting those sequels we looked forward to, and then immediately wished we never watched.


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Tuesday, Oct 18, 2011
Halloween is fast approaching. Here are our Top 10 Picks for fright films guaranteed to disturb your sleep and shiver your spine.

In an arena as thoroughly subjective as the scary movie, how does one even begin to come up with a list of the artform’s very best? In the hierarchy of horror, things change so rapidly (and frequently) that, at any given moment, one category of creepy such as the Devil films of the ‘70s will give way to an entirely new fear fad like the slasher films of the ‘80s. This means that, as the genre shifts, trends taper off and subcategories flourish, one man’s terror quickly becomes one filmmaker’s trash. It’s the same with opinions on what is and is not petrifying. Dread is indeed a personal propensity, difficult to discuss in terms of absolutes and universals. Yet whenever fans get together and share their experiences with the cinema they love the most, conversations typically turn toward the defining films that began their affair with fear in the first place. Though they may not always agree, it is clear that there are certain films that stand out amongst the throng, that argue for their place as not only good grue, but expert cinema as well.


Again, there are certain caveats to this non-definitive Decalogue that should keep the obsessed and the angry in check, hopefully avoiding most call-outs and complaints to a minimum. Several sensational films from the myriad that many would consider crucial just missed the cut. They include current offerings like Shaun of the Dead and Hostel, as well as deserving efforts from decades past like The Howling, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness, and Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead. In addition, classics from the Golden Age—films featuring the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman—were also discounted, given their already important place in the overall history of horror. Some will still argue that favorite films are missing or seated too far down the roll. They will dismiss any compendium that does not contain their own idea of fear. While no one claims its 100% authoritative, one thing is for sure, all 10 titles here will shiver you down to the very marrow in your bones, beginning with a truly movie bit of macabre…


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Thursday, Oct 13, 2011
Oscar season may end up altering this list severely, but for now, these five films are the pleasant reminders of why we give some movies a chance instead of dismissing them on sight...of first trailer.

A good way to judge a quality film season is by balancing the pleasant surprises against the bitter disappointments. If you come out even, or by the grace of the modern digital deities ahead, it’s a pretty decent year for traversing to the cinema. Of course, Oscar season carries a bulk of these extreme ups and downs, so reevaluation may be necessary come January. Yet there are always a few gems that show up early. In 2011, I’d like to think we’re at least even. With three-fourths of the year gone, here are the surprises I found most rewarding and revelatory.


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Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011
The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Hollywood loves a remake. From the earliest days of the artform, studios have sifted through previous hits (and a few near misses) to reformulate and resell the same stuff to audiences who don’t seem to care about the subterfuge. Over and over again, similarity has struggled against individuality for celluloid recognition. For example, Love Affair, the 1994 Warren Beatty/Annette Bening vehicle was actually an update of the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr weeper An Affair To Remember...which itself was a take on 1939’s… Love Affair. There have been several A Star is Borns and dozens of Draculas. In fact, horror seems to stoke the fires of reconfiguration more than any other genre. Go down a list of classic fright films and you’ll see a smattering of originals - and a whole lot of reduxes.


As a result, the dread devotee has more to fear than the monster in the closet. Again and again, the creative forces behind the bean counters want re-imagined versions of beloved spook shows because (1) they can easily market the movie based on the original, and (2) the built in audience for fear will buy into almost anything. Indeed, as long as it is remotely scary, the macabre geeks will show up in droves. With aficionados dodging a major bullet this week (the new Thing hitting theaters is a prequel, not a remake…of the John Carpenter remake…) it’s time to look back and determine when the horror remake was actually done right. While some may argue with the choices, what is clear is that - to paraphrase Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary (itself worthy of a do over) - “sometimes, redone is better.”


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