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30 Days of Madness, Day 31 — Ranking the 30

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.




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.




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.


ROAR (1981)


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.




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.




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.




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.




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.




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.




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.


XTRO (1982)


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.




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.


MAY (2002)


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.




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.


HUSH (2016)


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.




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.




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.)




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.




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.


GOJIRA (1954)


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.




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.




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.

30 Days of Madness, Day 5 — Gojira (1954)

by Tom Kapr

Wherein I attempt to watch one new-to-me horror film every day of October till Halloween and write a quick review. I will end my review with a letter grade like we do on our podcast (A, B, C, D, or F–pluses and minuses are for the non-committal!) and with the movie’s rank on my Flickchart.



Directed by Ishirō Honda. Written by Honda & Takeo Murata; story by Shigeru Kayama.


Just kidding. I had actually seen the 1956 Americanized version of this, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, on Turner Classic Movies a couple summers ago, which is basically a heavily edited (i.e., destroyed) version, with terrible voice-over narration added (just to make it extra-irritating) and interspersed with shots of Raymond Burr looking mildly concerned. (It is not good.)

I have also seen many bits and pieces of many of the Godzilla films over the years, but couldn’t possibly tell you which ones I’d seen. So I am happy to have finally seen Ishirō Honda’s original 1954 classic, Gojira, the movie that opens with the most iconic roar of all time.

I have always admired this film greatly, in an indirect way. It is one of the all-time great monster movies. It is one of the few films in history to claim the distinction of creating its own genre–the kaiju film. It is, beyond monster movies, simply one of the most influential and enduring films ever to be made. The question is, though, do I merely admire it, or do I actually personally like it?

I’m a huge fan of one of the films that inspired Gojira, the 1953 monster flick The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, as well as one of Gojira‘s most outrageous and bizarre progeny, Godzilla: Final Wars (both of which I personally made sure got covered on our podcast). I also greatly enjoyed the latest American incarnation of Godzilla (which we also covered, in one of our most entertaining podcasts ever, affectionately titled Godzilla vs. The Salami Bear.) (We’ve also done episodes on Pacific Rim and Godzilla 2014 director Gareth Edwards’ earlier film Monsters.)

Thing is, though, Gojira is quite bleak, and I have a hard time loving bleak. I actually find this film more horrifying than fun. But then I don’t think it was intended to be fun, beyond the spectacle of a giant monster running amok through land and sea. No director in his right mind includes, in the middle of the mass destruction, a scene of a doomed mother cradling her doomed children in the street, buildings crashing around them, telling them they are about to go be with daddy, and thinks his movie is supposed to be fun. Gojira may have spawned a series of mostly fun movies about monsters fighting monsters, and Godzilla himself may have evolved into a more benevolent symbol over the decades, but here in the beginning of it all, Godzilla is definitely the villain, though little more than a rampaging dinosaur. And it’s all a rather somber exploration of the horrors of the atomic bomb.

I suppose my feelings on the film lean more toward admiration than personal love. But now that I’ve seen it, in its uncut glory, I admire the hell out of it. It is absolutely one of the greatest monster movies ever made, and a brilliant sci-fi/horror film. I care about all four of the main (human) characters, which I was a bit surprised by. And the special effects are still (mostly) great. (Though it is difficult, for my money, to beat the previous year’s Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Ray Harryhausen is a tough act to follow.)

All said? This is a great film.


Final grades (for perspective, I’m including the 1956 version):

Gojira: A

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!: D (It gets by on Godzilla being Godzilla. And I suppose it did at least introduce Godzilla to American audiences.)


My Flickchart rankings:

Gojira: #347/3251 (a relative 89/100)

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!: #2476

The Films That Made Us — The Horse Whisperer

By Brian Slattery

I am not going to tell you about my favorite movie. I am not going to tell you about a movie that affected me in any positive fashion. I have not seen this movie more than once and have not seen this movie since it was released in 1998. The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford, is the first movie I saw in theaters that I remember not liking. Did it have anything to do with the fact that I was a 12-year-old boy watching a romance movie? Of course. But the effects of me watching this movie run deep.

For those of you who do not know, The Horse Whisperer starts off with a girl named Grace MacLean (played by Scarlett Johansson) and her friend Judith going out to ride horses in the early morning. On the ride, Grace and her horse Pilgrim are hit by a truck, causing serious physical and psychological harm to both of them. In an effort to rehabilitate both Grace and Pilgrim, Grace’s mother Annie (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) takes them to Montana to visit the widely renowned “horse whisperer” Tom Booker (played by Redford).

The next hour of the movie is dedicated to the rehabilitation of both Pilgrim and Grace. Pilgrim must allow people to ride him again. Grace needs to regain her courage, both to ride Pilgrim and to take risks in general. The movie’s two main problems, solved. Great, roll credits, we can go home, right? Wrong. Turns out that Annie has fallen in love with Tom and is having an affair. This leads to an entire second half of Annie trying to decide if she wants to stay with her new flame or return home to her husband and family.

Imagine yourself as a 12-year-old boy. Is this the kind of movie you want to see? Of course not. You want to go see Godzilla destroy New York as Matthew Broderick tries to kill the beast. To this day I make my displeasure in Redford’s film known. People complain The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has too many endings; I tell them it could have ended and started an entirely new film in which Frodo has an affair with Sam’s new wife.


In this metaphor, Scarlett Johansson's look of injured memory represents Brian's theater experience. The horse represents Godzilla, naturally.


Since that fateful day in 1998 I haven’t been able to take the idea of romantic films seriously. There have been a few that I can say I’ve enjoyed. Overall, the thought of me having to sit in a theater and watch some people fall in love, have relationship issues, then get back together, is cringe-worthy. I go to movies to enjoy myself; if I wanted to watch a couple fight with each other and then make up I’d walk around the mall all day.

I am probably giving The Horse Whisperer a worse rap than it deserves, but that does not mean that I am going to watch it again. It has taken nearly three hours of my life from me. I shall not allow it to have any more. It also stole an opportunity to see Godzilla, which I had to watch a few days later than I had wanted.

And that is why Godzilla holds a special place in my heart — for being Not The Horse Whisperer.


I come to destroy New York and to heal your heart.


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