Our Underwear 12: Be free… or die!

by John Velousis

Part 1 – Is today Halloween? I’m pretty sure it’s Halloween.

In honor of today’s holiday, and because I take joy in complete lack of editorial oversight, I’m going to write about my favorite horror movies, as well as bunch of other shit that has little or nothing to do with comic books. Dig, these are MY favorite horror movies. I make no claim to knowing a lot about horror films in general. Ergo, it would be foolish and irresponsible for me to claim that these are history’s BEST horror films, so I won’t do that. I try my best to only be irresponsible OR foolish, not both at once.

I have film biases: I prefer films from the ‘MPAA Ratings Era,’ that being the late 1960s onward;  While a movie doesn’t HAVE to have the word “fuck” in it to be good, I like it better if they CAN have it when they want. So, none of the great Val Lewton-Jacques Tournier films make the list, although I liked [amazon_link id=”B000A0GOF0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Cat People[/amazon_link] and am quite partial to [amazon_link id=”B0000694WH” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Night of the Demon[/amazon_link]. In fact, I absolutely LOVE the footage at the end of [amazon_link id=”B0000694WH” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]NotD[/amazon_link], despite the fact that it was forced upon the creators by the studio. It still looks totally baller to me. Another bias, I haven’t seen many J-Horror films – not [amazon_link id=”B002C8YSCE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Audition[/amazon_link], not [amazon_link id=”B000088NQR” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ringu[/amazon_link], not [amazon_link id=”B00005JNJR” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ju-On (The Grudge.)[/amazon_link] I’ve seen [amazon_link id=”B0037C1WF0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Suicide Club[/amazon_link] and that’s about it. I’m not a HUGE foreign film guy in general, although I have seen every movie ever directed by Sabu ([amazon_link id=”B001EI5C5A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Unlucky Monkey[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”B002MOE9FO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Monday[/amazon_link], The Blessing Bell, etc.,) and 95% of Luis Bunuel’s films and most of Stephen Chow’s output (in the vain hopes of seeing anything NEAR as awesome as his [amazon_link id=”B000F9RB8A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kung Fu Hustle[/amazon_link].) I’m way weak on Italian and British horror too. No Argento, Bava, Hammer Studios, Quatermass films, nothing with Triffids… Jesus Christ, why am I even doing this? I suck! Oh well, here goes. All of the following are in English, unless otherwise noted (I think only one isn’t.)

[amazon_link id=”B000RO9PUU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Witchfinder General (a/k/a/ The Conqueror Worm)[/amazon_link]  (D: Michael Reeves, 1968) I saw this for the first time as a child on TV. It was on a local ‘Creature-Feature’ show hosted by “The Son of Svengoolie,” a comedy-oriented character played by Chicagoan Rich Koz. This movie is NOT a comedy – it is a paean to the hopelessness of nobility. It aired under its alias, and I expected (for real) some kind of giant Godzilla of a worm; instead, this flick blew my fucking mind. Vincent Price is the antagonist, vile real-life “Witchhunter” Matthew Hopkins, a creature of Cromwell’s England. He abuses his power to indulge his sadism and to rape and torture women that catch his fancy, with the aid of a brutish assistant. Reined in mercilessly by director Reeves, Price gives the performance of his life, not allowing a single iota of camp sensibility to creep in – he is just EVIL, a human monster. Then at the end, the bad-guy dies, but the film’s protagonist loses, his love loses, ALL OF HUMANITY loses. After completing this film, its director, Michael Reeves, killed himself (overdose of booze ‘n’ pills, probably accidental, still…) Now THAT is talkin’ the talk and walkin’ the walk. P.S. There’s no giant worm.

[amazon_link id=”B000F3UA8E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Cemetery Man (a/k/a Dellamorte Dellamore)[/amazon_link] (D: Michele Soavi, 1994) YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE. Sorry to shout, that was rude of me. This film is really amazing, though. I love this film even more than I love compound sentences. It’s hard to describe this one. It’s not straight-up horror – in fact, it’s close to being not frightening at all, although it does have busloads of gore. It’s an existential tragi-comedic zombie film about madness and, y’know, death and love. And loving the dead, and killing the loved, and mixin’ it up a bunch. Rupert Everett is the engineer, er, I mean cemetery caretaker. Anna Falchi is the exemplar of sexual lust itself, her that sends Everett’s blood rushing to the place where blood rushes. They live, they love, they die, they love some more, they live some more, and the whole world doesn’t really exist. I mean actually, not in the movie. Just saying that apropos of nothing.

Searches for Cemetery Man images yield a LOT of pix of Anna Falchi's bazooms. This isn't one such.

[amazon_link id=”B000FS9FE4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Texas Chain Saw Massacre[/amazon_link] (D: Tobe Hooper, 1974) “An insane movie, directed in an insane way.” That’s how my college film teacher, the late and great Dr. Richard DeCordova, described this journey from normality in America to the heart of nihilism. The final shots, Leatherface’s mad dance of hatred, his lust to destroy and consume his victim, the land, the world, the sun itself… those visions tattooed themselves painfully onto my skull. Deservedly a classic.


[amazon_link id=”B003KGBIRK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Videodrome[/amazon_link] (D: David Cronenberg, 1983) All hail the new flesh. Profoundly weird, weirdly profound. James Woods at his peak, when he used to ooze danger from every acne scar on his face. Debbie Harry, young and hot and perverted, saying, “Want to try some things?” “Brian O’Blivion,” the prophet who only appears on a TV screen because he believes that the cathode ray tube is more real than reality. Assassination, cultism, cable TV perversion, nightmare clay-walled torture rooms, suicide. And videocassettes… they’re BETTER than bug-typewriters, because they have TWO rectum-objects, which is clearly why this film is better than Naked Lunch.

"And THAT's not my belly button! Oh, wait..."

[amazon_link id=”B000GBEWH0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Dead Zone[/amazon_link] (D: David Cronenberg, 1983 – not a typo, Cronenberg was just a MUTHA in 1983.) Stephen King didn’t think much of this adaptation, nor does the world in general, but I thought it was fantastic. In one of his too-few lead roles, Christopher Walken is at his peak, being weird and poignant and angry and heroic. As doomed psychic Johnny Smith, he nails it in every scene. Martin Sheen gets to play the President of the USA for the first time (kind of) and is… notably illiberal. Plenty of other excellent supporting players – Tom Skerritt, Brooke Adams, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe – but this is Walken’s film all the way. His delivery of the line, “God’s been a real SPORT to me!” is golden. Yeah, they made a TV series of it too.

[amazon_link id=”B0002CHK1S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Thing[/amazon_link] (D: John Carpenter, 1982) Just a totally cool movie. Paranoid suspense locked in with you. CLEAR!

[amazon_link id=”B005HT400A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Blue Velvet[/amazon_link] (D: David Lynch, 1986) Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of sociopath Frank Booth is amazing, and here’s why: The first few times I saw this movie, he scare the living shit out of me. Then, as time went by, his performance AMUSED the shit out of me. Seriously, I now crack up at his readings of lines like this one to Jeffrey (Kyle McLachlan): ” Do me a favor. Don’t be a good neighbor to her anymore. Or I’ll send you a love letter…[shouting] straight from my heart, fucker! Do you know what a love letter is? It’s a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker! You receive a love letter from me, and you’re fucked forever!” It’s one of the most amazing performances of the ’80s. Hopper was not a large or imposing man, but the madness he sent to his eyes was shocking and delirious. And the subtext is pretty cool too, but I’ll let you figure that shit out for yourself.

"Hnngh! Hnngh! What're these?!?"A laff riot, I'm tellin' ya.

[amazon_link id=”B000UJ48WC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Shining[/amazon_link] (D: Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Another Stephen King adaptation. This one, he out-and-out HATED. King is just NOT a very good judge of his adapted works. Two hours plus of nearly nothing BUT slow burn, capped by a final shot that tells us: Hell is in the world; Evil is forever.

[amazon_link id=”B005J9ZE5I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn[/amazon_link] (D: Sam Raimi, 1987) You know what’s fun? FUN, that’s what.

[amazon_link id=”B004CP2566″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Repulsion[/amazon_link] (D: Roman Polanski, 1965) Catherine Deneuve is beautiful and batshit cuckoo insane in this one. Roman Polanski outdoes his later [amazon_link id=”B00003CXCF” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Rosemary’s Baby[/amazon_link] in this suspense tour-de-force. Every minute that goes by, the viewer thinks more and more and more, “Something BAD is going to happen.” It does.

[amazon_link id=”B0002I84DK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning[/amazon_link] (D: Grant Harvey, 2004) Please look past the awful title. The kinda-sequel to [amazon_link id=”B002PSSNZE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ginger Snaps[/amazon_link] (D: John Fawcett, 2000), if sequels took place 120 years before their predecessors but depicted the CONSEQUENCES of the earlier film. This film is my favorite of all the great “menstruation-is-a-monster” movies ([amazon_link id=”B00005K3NR” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Carrie[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”B00006G8H3″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Company of Wolves[/amazon_link], etc.) The story benefits from being transported to a setting where witchcraft hysteria has a role to play… somewhat hilariously, since werewolves and witches are totally different, right? Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins reprise their roles again (there was a more conventionally set sequel released the same year) as the sisters who have a wee problem with the beast within. Great and weird in the way Canadian horror often is. Ask David Cronenberg. Or Neil Young. (Neil hasn’t made any horror stuff that I know of, but it would still probably be fun to talk to Neil Young.)

It IS a riding hood, I would venture to say.

[amazon_link id=”B0026ATDQE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Host[/amazon_link] (D: Joon-ho Bong, 2006) Mostly in Korean, with a little bit of English from an appropriately near-sighted and cross-eyed American. A reinvention of giant monster films like, you know, Mothra and such. Cloverfield is a good point of comparison, but this film breaks more conventions and carries more emotional weight as well as metaphoric heft. It’s entertaining and edifying, which is nice.

Honorable mentions:
[amazon_link id=”B000ID37KY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Bride of Frankenstein[/amazon_link] (James Whale, 1935) The perfect reaction to being rejected romantically? Destroying the mansion you’re in so it falls upon you and everybody within, while announcing to everybody there, “We belong dead!”

[amazon_link id=”B00000K3TO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Night of the Living Dead[/amazon_link] (George Romero, 1968) Invented the modern zombie story, scary as a knife dancing around your eyes.

[amazon_link id=”B001NHN7TU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Tremors[/amazon_link] (Ron Underwood, 1990) Has the funniest use ever of a right wing gun nut survivalist shelter. Pretty good otherwise too.

[amazon_link id=”B000MKXEME” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Re-Animator[/amazon_link] (Stuart Gordon, 1985) Stylistic brother to Evil Dead 2, plus boobs!


Part 2 – Hell, while I’m just doing whatever I feel like, here are some of my favorite webcomix.

The links from the titles mostly go to the FIRST episode. Sometimes, it takes a little while for the series to find its sea legs, but these things are all free and all awesome. In fact, I’m not going to write any commentary for any of these, because while I probably could paraphrase the words “This rules!” ten different ways, the pictures tell more than I really could. Hence, pictures. Mangia!

The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl

Abominably adorable

  Lucid TV  by Jim Keogh, David Rothlein, and Ross Hutchinson Armstrong – EPILEPTIC WARNING – SCROLL DOWN TO THE LINKS!

yr mommys ded

Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart

Amazing Superpowers by Wes & Tony- I couldn’t find their full names anywhere.

Kukuburi by Ramon Perez
Axe Cop byEthan Nicholle and Malachai Nicholle – no image here.  Come ON, you don’t know [amazon_link id=”1595826815″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Axe Cop[/amazon_link] yet? Go know [amazon_link id=”1595828257″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Axe Cop[/amazon_link]! I consider (spoiler!) President Axe Cop’s prayer to God at the end of [amazon_link id=”1595828257″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Bad Guy Earth[/amazon_link] to be THE single funniest thing I have ever read in a comic book, and I’ve read a LOT of comic books. Like, more than seventy!

Hark, A Vagrant  by Kate Beaton – this one’s really a gimme as well. Who in the world doesn’t know [amazon_link id=”1770460608″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Hark, A Vagrant[/amazon_link]?

Dar by Erika Moen – I ran into Ms. Moen by way of Bucko, the webcomic on which she collaborates with Jeff Parker. Bucko is great too, but I didn’t include it here because frankly I think I talk about Jeff Parker too much.

Awesome Hospital by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, Matt Digges, and Josh Krach

Not named on-panel (from R to L): Dr. Luchadore, Dr. Motorbike, and Nurse Holding-A-Dark-Gray-Rectangle.

Bun Toons by Ty Templeton. The usual Bun Toon is too long for me to grab and paste here, but the creator of [amazon_link id=”0921451024″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stig’s Inferno[/amazon_link] and lots of other stuff is still hilarious and great.

And that’s a wrap! I think this might be the first post I’ve submitted before 2:00 AM, so you’d think I’d be able to come up with a not-so-abrupt way to end what I’m saying. Sorry! I’m not good at endings.