19. The Exorcist III: Legion (1990, William Peter Blatty)
The Exorcist III is one of the best horror films of the 90s, yet there has always been an air of ‘what if?’ about it. Recut by the studio, with a superfluous exorcism added at the end, fans have long clamored for original Director’s Cut and last year, we got it.
The original footage has been lost, and all that survives are VHS dailies, which have been used to create this version of the film, which reinstates Brad Dourif’s full performance and loses the exorcism while adding more dialogue scenes.
It’s still an incredible film, and the best moments (the carp speech, that jump scare) are present and correct, but it’s not really that different from the theatrical cut. The ending we get now is pretty anticlimactic, though I do prefer it to the previous one. The extra scenes are naturally pretty poor quality, but that’s not gonna bother me. Here’s an example –
So yeah, still masterfully written and directed, still far better than the overrated original, just not the revelation I was expecting/hoping for.
20. Amityville: The Awakening (2017, Franck Khalfoun)
Sometimes I feel like the only person on Earth who’s excited to watch the latest Amityville film. I was excited when it was filmed in 2014, and here I am in 2017, still excited that it’s finally getting released. Direct to Google Play. For free.
Word is that it’s a terrible film, shelved with good reason. I, on the other hand, think it’s the best horror film I’ve seen all year. Between this and the laborious Blade Runner 2049, I’ve rarely felt so out of touch with what people want from a movie.
Sometimes, Amityville: The Awakening feels like the more respectable cousin of Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond. Oh, it’s not a fair comparison – The Beyond is maybe my favourite film – but Amityville has a similar cockeyed approach to logic and plotting. Weird and dreamlike, it takes the time to develop its scares, rarely resorting to cheap ‘boo’ moments, unlike the recent IT adaptation. I’d expect no less from director Franck Khalfoun, who made the best horror film of the last ten years with his remake of Maniac.
The distinctly European feel bleeds over into the lush cinematography, the terrific electronic/orchestral score, and the occasional ventures into pure camp. People renounce God, there’s a sinister Red Room with magic properties and a zombie dog appears (is it Dickie from The Beyond? We’ll never know.) No one needs any convincing that the house is haunted, it just seems to go without saying. It’s pure melodramatic nonsense of the highest order, with some really creepy shit to boot.
One last thing – the leads get together and watch the original Amityville Horror on DVD.
Too much for you?
21. Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood (1988, John Carl Buechler)
Welcome to Friday the 13th Part 7, one of the ugliest films ever made. From the grotesque make-up, hair and costuming to the flat, tv movie photography to the cheap special effects to the revolting, unlikable characters, this film is everything that normal people think slasher movies are.
The plot in three words? Jason versus Carrie!
Cue wobbly plant pots on strings flying through the air.
There’s nothing good to say about this. Even the opening credits are surely the most boring, half-hearted ever created, with no musical score, just the thump of a drum every time a new name appears. Meanwhile, the gore effects have been completely wiped out by the MPAA, and the nudity is supplied by people you’d really rather not see naked.
It’s a disastrous entry in the franchise, but it did leave me with one important question – why are there bra and pants hanging on the kitchen door in the middle of the party?