Top 10 Horror Movie Tricks!
Ah yeah friends, 15 gloriously ghoulish days before our favorite day of the year is upon us. Halloween! What will you be doing this year? Gonna hit a creepy Halloween haunt, a la a Haunted Hayride or something like Halloween Horror Nights? Will you be donning a creepy costume and hitting the streets for some killer camaraderie and candy-filled pillowcases? Hell, will you posting up with some loved ones, cracking brewskies and watching old horror flicks? Yeah, I like that last idea!
So much so in fact, for this Top 10 we're celebrating our favorite horror movie tricks. That is, pranks, gags, ghastly games, twisted tomfoolery - good intentions and bad - if the result ends up as a horrifying hit, we're showing it some love. So, in order to set to mood for All Hallows Eve, slam it up to indulge in our Top 10 Horror Movie Tricks above!
Allow me to bare my soul and admit that I actually like VALENTINE more than most. Silly film, sure, but with its inventive death scenes (Denise Richards getting power-drilled in a jacuzzi!) and effective whodunit murder mystery, it's not as bad as you may remember. Speaking of recollection, the entire plot of the film is motivated by revenge when, as a teenager, a girl plays a heartbreaking prank on a boy when sending him a Valentine's Day gift. The joke is played, the girl and her pals laugh it off, and years later the man exacts vengeful slaughter when skulking the night in a cherubic Cupid mask.
Well goddamn! Here's one of the most delightfully horrific ruses ever attempted in a mainstream genre pic. In what seems like a gender-reversed retelling of THE GOOD SON, ORPHAN's daringly taboo and deeply perverted 3rd act reveal catapults the piece into another stratosphere altogether. Remember, after acting far too precocious for her age, it turns out the little girl Esther in ORPHAN is not a girl at all, but a devious 33 year old woman with a rare anti-aging condition that makes her appear eternally young. A hell of a prank pulled on her adoptive family, and even more so on the unsuspecting audience.
Okay, so this might be a bit of a cheat. But think about it. What else is the entire SAW franchise but one twisted, sadistically elaborate puzzle meant to trick its victims into making the wrong - fatally wrong - moves? Our sadomasochistic mastermind Jigsaw - the king of killer pranks - is pulling all the horrific strings, setting up booby-traps, gruesome gauntlets, moral quandaries, and other graphically violent death-pits and profligate pratfalls. Sick shite!
Toxy! Oh poor Melvin, the geeky pool-boy and subject of peer ridicule in the wildly entertaining Troma horror comedy THE TOXIC AVENGER. You remember the gag. When Melvin is wooed by a way-out-of-his-league blond hottie, precise measures are taken to ensure the biggest practical joke ever executed. But not so fast. When Melvin goes sailing out the window and lands in a smoldering vat of toxic green goo, our nerdy nobody transmutes into a superhuman brute with heroic intentions. Well, vengefully heroic intentions, as he goes on a pay-back spree of violent rage.
You forgot to check on the children! Ah, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, the first truly shit-your-pants scary movie I remember seeing as a wee lad at my cousins house (I love you Brendan, thanks for the poster as well). Of course, the entire plot of the movie is built around the conceit that a babysitter is being prank called by a psycho-killer phoning from INSIDE the house. Now that's one sick f*cking trick! Of course, the premise was also featured in BLACK CHRISTMAS, and for true fans, I urge you to check out Fred Walton's sequel WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK for the most truly terrifying first 20 minutes of any movie I can remember.
Paul Lynch's seminal slasher flick PROM NIGHT features an array of terrifying tomfoolery. First off, the opening finds a foursome of taunting teens that, by chanting "kill kill kill" repeatedly to a 10 year old girl, causes the poor kid to stumble and plummet out of a window to her death. 6 years later however, long after the so-called killer was captured, it turns out the viciously vindictive twin sibling of the dead girl is back with bloody revenge on the brain. One by one the four kids who caused the 10 year old to fall out of the window are stalked, slashed and left in a gory heap. Save for ultimate Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis that is.
One of the more sterling horror anthologies to come about in recent history is TRICK R- TREAT, the awesomely atmospheric ode to all things Halloween. Of course, as the quartet of tales are interwoven, we can't help but recount with great relish the one story involving a gaggle of young kids who pull a cruelly killer prank on a nerdy peer. Of course, the planned ruse backfires and a terrifyingly real situation plays out instead, rendering our so called cool kids just as pants-pissing scared as the poor little girl they targeted.
Much like ORPHAN, consider this jaw-dropping, show-stopping final shot of the 1983 slasher joint SLEEPAWAY CAMP is one giant trick played on us, the audience, as well as that of the ill-fated characters. Wow. This shite's the CRYING GAME of underrated slasher flicks. You know by now, when all signs point to a disgruntled young teenage woman as the killer culprit, the curtain is pulled back to reveal a goddamn dangling penis! That's right y'all, a murderous hermaphroditic homunculus is at the helm! Truly one of the all time oh-shit! horror moments. Fooled us all!
Still ranking as one of my sister's all time favorite horror joints, APRIL FOOL'S DAY is perhaps the greatest and most morbid 90-minute charade ever put onscreen. Really. You must know by now, when a nonet of naughty teenagers head to one of their parent's remote mansion over April Fools Day weekend, they begin to die one by one in extremely grisly manners. And yet, when the truth is finally revealed, it turns out that the entire cast of characters were simply pulling one giant April Fool's Day joke on their pal. Christ, with friends like these, right?
Oh poor Carrie White. One of the great things about Brian De Palma's searing adaptation of Stephen King's first published novel is the perfect casting of mousy Sissy Spacek (not to mention Piper Laurie), soft, kind spirited heroine who absolutely commands the kind of sympathy needed for the incendiary 3rd act revenge. As for the prank, high school is hell, proven when an elaborate hoax to crown Carrie prom queen humiliates the poor gal when a trough of pigs-blood is unceremoniously dumped on her dome in front of the entire senior class. Fiery vengeance follows suit, as Carrie leaves her gymnasium in a ball of flames!