by Tom Kapr
This has been an interesting month of film viewing, made far more enjoyable by the friends who voted on the movies I watched.
I’ve had dragons, witches, vampires, werewolves, Nazis, serial killers, beast people, alternate realities, zombies of every variety, at least two alien invasions, at least two foiled armageddons, about half a dozen mad scientists, at least half a dozen cases of possession, and at least half a dozen disembodied hands (seriously, did I watch a single movie this month where someone’s hand didn’t get proper mangled?); as well as killer ants, cars, cats, klowns, plants, goats, beavers, Drew Barrymores, and one really big octopus.
I’ve been including my Flickchart rankings with each film, so I thought as a wrap-up, it would be fitting to list again the 30 films I watched, in order of their placement on my chart. I’ve re-ranked each film to see if hindsight has had a significant change on their placement.
Here are the 30 films, by ascending rank, with a comparison to its original placement. I’m ending this month of October with 3275 titles ranked on my chart, which includes 32 more than I ended September with (I saw two new movies at the theater), so numerical rankings and percentages are always fluid.
Original rank: 3202 (2%)
Adjusted rank: 3166 (3%)
Zombeavers is now 1% less terrible.
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)
Original rank: 3081 (5%)
Adjusted rank: 3081 (6%)
Interesting that Killer Klowns ended up at the same numerical rank but falls 1% relative to a list that is now 32 titles heavier.
Original rank: 2863 (12%)
Adjusted rank: 3036 (7%)
I actually expected this to come out higher than its original rank. Deathgasm was such a great movie for the first half. I tend to rank movies lower if they build me up only to knock me down so hard by the end.
Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982)
Original rank: 3193 (2%)
Adjusted rank: 3019 (8%)
Which is probably how Q managed to rise above Deathgasm. No goodwill built up, so less disappointment at an ending that was just as bad as the rest of the film.
Original rank: 2612 (20%)
Adjusted rank: 2643 (19%)
Here, on the other hand, Firestarter is a slog for much of its running time only to suddenly race full speed ahead with a hell of an ending. Not enough to save it from dropping a bit, though. I covered two Stephen King adaptations this month. One was a good movie called Christine. The other was Firestarter.
Original rank: 2634 (19%)
Adjusted rank: 2512 (23%)
I expected Roar to rise a bit, and won’t be surprised when it eventually breaks out of the bottom 25%. It might even breach the 2000 mark. I have a feeling the bizarre and singular nature of the film, coupled with the fact that it really is well shot, will cause it to appreciate over time.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)
Original rank: 1629 (50%)
Adjusted rank: 2049 (37%)
Prince of Darkness was my biggest disappointment based on expectations going in. Those expectations being that John Carpenter is a favorite director of mine, and this was made when he was in his prime (1978-1988). I didn’t expect it to drop quite so far on the re-rank though, and I am sure it will rise back up to around the middle of the list over time.
THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960)
Original rank: 2553 (22%)
Adjusted rank: 1906 (42%)
Little Shop has one of the biggest leaps of all the films on the re-rank, a 20% jump, freeing it from the bottom quarter. I’m not totally surprised, as this one had already been slowly creeping up my chart.
BLAIR WITCH (2016)
Original rank: 2186 (33%)
Adjusted rank: 1706 (48%)
Blair Witch is another I expected to rise somewhat in the ranks, simply because I found it to be mediocre but not terrible. It definitely has some excellent sequences, and I suspect that if I watch it again on a small screen in a dark room, it will be more effective.
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955)
Original rank: 1588 (51%)
Adjusted rank: 1612 (51%)
It Came from Beneath the Sea manages a 24-spot jump but doesn’t shake its 51%. This is another one I found disappointing, certainly not by its special effects, which are still awesome thanks largely to Ray Harryhausen; but because the story framing them was much less well done than other favorite Hollywood creature features of the 1950s like Them! and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
EVIL DEAD II (1987)
Original rank: 1510 (51%)
Adjusted rank: 1531 (53%)
Evil Dead II has been in and out of the “gateway” position into the top half of my chart; that is, when I add a new title, this is the one it often comes up against, being at the middle. I honestly don’t know which way this one will head over time, but the 2% indicates an appreciation in hindsight. Sam Raimi’s ingenuity and Bruce Campbell’s campy, cult-status-cementing performance will be the deciding factors.
Original rank: 1206 (63%)
Adjusted rank: 1425 (56%)
Phantasm probably doesn’t deserve to have fallen even further, and I think it’ll probably rise back up a bit over time.
CAT PEOPLE (1942)
Original rank: 1607 (51%)
Adjusted rank: 1297 (60%)
Cat People managed to rise a couple hundred spots, thanks in no small part to the fact that it’s just a technically well-made film. It’s my aversion to some of the norms of the time period (xenophobia and animal abuse being unfortunately among those crimes) that will keep it from making a showing in the Top 1000.
Original rank: 1894 (42%)
Adjusted rank: 1261 (62%)
Another 20% leap, this time from the bottom half well into the top half. Xtro is the one that has appreciated the most in my mind, and rather quickly. It may have been the tug-of-war between my awe at its visual effects and my repulsion to those same visual effects. I’m sure it also helps that this has become somewhat of a favorite in the past month among my fellow horror aficionados. It’s a strange film to bond over, but hey, if it works, it works.
GREEN ROOM (2015)
Original rank: 1230 (62%)
Adjusted rank: 1031 (69%)
Green Room is another I expected to appreciate a bit, though I don’t expect to see too much greater movement.
Original rank: 761 (77%)
Adjusted rank: 887 (73%)
I was actually surprised to see May drop out of the top quarter on the re-rank. This is one that will always have favor based almost entirely on its wonderful lead performance by Angela Bettis. That will be the deciding factor anytime it’s up against a film of similar quality.
Original rank: 782 (76%)
Adjusted rank: 885 (73%)
Triangle. I’m still not sure what to make of this film. It will definitely take a second viewing to know how I feel about it. For now, I expect it to bounce around the top middle quarter of my chart.
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)
Original rank: 919 (72%)
Adjusted rank: 884 (73%)
Zombie rose a bit, and no surprise. Sometimes a film’s effective qualities stick more than its ineffective ones, and this one is a slow-build of a scary film that overcomes its bad narration and the hard-to-swallow romantic relationship at the center. It also has the distinction of introducing me to the work of producer Val Lewton, whose catalog I wish to complete.
Original rank: 804 (75%)
Adjusted rank: 876 (73%)
Hush is the one that I was second-guessing the most on whether it deserved the A I gave it, or if it was really more of a B. It works far more often than it doesn’t, but some of those things that don’t work stick with me. This will probably be one of those films that is always just on the verge of being knocked out of my top 1000.
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932)
Original rank: 877 (73%)
Adjusted rank: 826 (75%)
Another film that manages to overcome an inauthentic romantic entanglement with a genuinely horrifying story, a strong heroine, and an iconic villain courtesy of Charles Laughton, Island of Lost Souls manages to climb to the brink of the top quarter on the re-rank.
Original rank: 511 (84%)
Adjusted rank: 666 (80%)
Christine dropped just enough to land at #666. So, yeah. Devil car.
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961)
Original rank: 438 (87%)
Adjusted rank: 615 (81%)
Pit seems to have dropped a bit, but I won’t be surprised to see it claw its way back into the top 500. Of the two Roger Corman pictures I covered this month, this was the good one. (The other was The Little Shop of Horrors.)
TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
Original rank: 614 (81%)
Adjusted rank: 595 (82%)
Trick ‘r Treat was a pleasant surprise and a great film to end on. Full disclosure: this is the second time I re-ranked this. The first time, it came up against Fargo, which was inexplicably low and kept it from even breaking into the top 1000. After re-ranking Fargo (which jumped way into my top 250), Trick ‘r Treat was able not only breach the top 1000 but the top quarter of the list.
Original rank: 397 (88%)
Adjusted rank: 417 (87%)
Halloween has been on my Flickchart for years. It had started out in the 500s before I saw it on the big screen this month. The re-rank didn’t hurt it much, and I expect it to be a staple of my top 500.
PHASE IV (1974)
Original rank: 751 (77%)
Adjusted rank: 383 (88%)
Phase IV was probably the greatest surprise of the month. What I expected to be a cheesy 70s creature feature turned out to be a thoughtful piece of sci-fi. No great surprise that it jumped a few hundred spots on the re-rank. Sometimes it just depends on what films it comes up against.
THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)
Original rank: 177 (95%)
Adjusted rank: 318 (90%)
Again, sometimes it just depends on what it comes up against. I didn’t expect The Body Snatcher to drop as far as it did, but nor do I expect it to depreciate over time. Even if it weren’t an excellent film, it would be kept afloat by Boris Karloff alone. But this is a great film that will continue to haunt my 300s.
THE WITCH (2015)
Original rank: 329 (90%)
Adjusted rank: 316 (90%)
The Witch was another pleasant surprise: not surprise that it was good, but because it was nigh impeccable. I think the only thing that keeps it from climbing any higher is its extremely disturbing subject matter. The higher on my list we go, the more likely we are to see films that emphasize the beauty in life rather than the horror. But The Witch is about as beautiful as a truly disturbing horror film gets. It had its general release in 2016, and I expect it to be on my year-end top 10 list.
Original rank: 347 (89%)
Adjusted rank: 270 (92%)
Gojira makes the leap to the borderlands of my top 250. This was a film that actually got more engaging as it progressed, and has appreciated quite a bit in my mind.
EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960)
Original rank: 389 (88%)
Adjusted rank: 178 (95%)
While Eyes Without a Face, with the benefit of some time to process, leaps effortlessly into my top 250. I was considering compiling my list of the best horror film of each year, only to realize that it would have to be between this and Psycho. That’s not a decision I want to make, but it does speak volumes about how good this movie is to challenge an established favorite.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013)
Original rank: 150 (95%)
Adjusted rank: 145 (96%)
I knew this was going to be the top spot. I was pretty sure about it even when I watched it on day 4. I was expecting Only Lovers Left Alive to be a challenge to sit through, but it is such a beautiful, engaging, life-affirming film–about vampires. It’s funny, heart-warming, shimmering with music and art. I certainly didn’t expect it to take a place among my favorite films, but now that it’s there, I don’t see it leaving any time soon. Thank you, Jim Jarmusch.
And thank you everyone who read and commented and voted and helped make this such an unpredictable movie-watching adventure for me.