Hack-Off: Underrated?

The Bloody Good Horror Crew goes at it on a new topic every Friday afternoon, we call it the "Hack-Off". Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments.

An underrated film that you think deserves more attention?
I think I'll jump straight out of the gate here with a controversial choice and say "The Village." I understand a lot of people are M. Night Shyamalan haters, and that will make it hard to give his films a second chance after seeing them and not digging on them the first time. To me, "The Village's" biggest problem was that it had a highly misleading marketing campaign. It came out in the summer, and was very much marketed as a big summer scare-fest. Instead, it's a low-key, character driven romance that has outer-lying elements of a horror film. It's a difficult film, and a lot of the dialog is heavy handed, but there are several moments that are hard to ignore. The first time we see the "creatures", and there's a slow-mo shot of Joaquin Phoenix grabbing Bryce Dallas Howard's hand in slow motion while trying to save her... incredibly well done. So, give that one a chance.

I have tons of others, but I also just wanted to mention "Book of Shadows". I caught the Blair Witch sequel for the first time this summer and was sort of perplexed as to the hate it got. Well, not really perplexed I guess. We had been beaten over the head with Blair Witch stuff pretty constantly for a while after the original came out. Artisan figured they had to strike while the iron was hot, but what they should have done was wait a few years and let the interest rekindle. They didn't, and the final product didn't satisfy fans. For my money though it's pretty awesomely creepy, plus, Erica Leerhsen is super hot. So, give it a chance for sure.

I am going to go with an even more controversial choice and say "The Lady in the Water." Like Eric said with "The Village," they had no idea how to market this one. I am a huge Shyamalan fan and have practically loved everything he's done, but it was hard to absorb the backlash when this one came out and defend it--people almost instinctually hated it. It has its problems, sure, but it's also such a beautifully moving adult fairy tale with horror undertones that doesn't pander to forced whimsy like, say, the wacky-stupid "Harry Potter" outings. I'm sure that if most people, now that the backlash has died down, would rent it on video, they'd probably see a fantastic film there.

Let me also add that I really wish more people would give non-Asian remakes a chance. Now I know this is going to draw plenty of ire, but I honestly loved "The Hills Have Eyes" (1 and especially 2), Rob Zombie's masterful "Halloween" redux, the way fun "Black Xmas" and the even-though-it-was-a-hit
-people-malign-it zombie do-over "Dawn of the Dead." While I acknowledge the originals as classics, I gotta say, that I like the remakes a whole lot better. If people can disassociate their fandom of the originals long enough, they'd discover some of these remakes are fun fright flicks.

Well, now that I've pulled myself together here after the seizure induced by all the Shyamalan love, let me throw out a title that can be a little divisive among horror fans: "Event Horizon." This was a film that I actually caught in the theater, back when I had to sneak into R-rated movies. But I've probably watched it 2 or 3 times since then, and I've always found it entertaining, as well as pretty damn scary. I'm definitely a sucker for sci-fi/horror mash-ups, so this film played to my tastes, but even still I'm surprised that it never pops up in discussions of solid horror films of the 90s.

There's a handful of reasons that I like this movie, and at the top of the list is the team-up of Sam Neill and Larry Fishburne. "Event Horizon" sort of caught Sam Neill on a downswing, in that post "Jurassic Park" period where he was doing a lot of genre stuff, and it caught Fishburne as his career was really starting to crest, with a ton of good work at his back and his blockbuster days as Morpheus still ahead. Both actors are at their creepiest and weirdest throughout. The film probably gets ignored mainly because of its director, Paul W. S. Anderson, who has carved out a role as the guy who brings high-concept genre films to the screen. My honest guess is that 25 years from now Anderson will have a much more favorable reputation among serious critics than he does now. In a lot of ways, he's a modern day B-movie director, and those films tend to pick up steam as fans coalesce around them. "Event Horizon," in my mind, certainly deserves more attention than it has received in the decade since its release.

Ooo...Schnaars got a good one! Anywho.... for me, I'm going to go for the obscure angle and pull out a movie that many have never seen, nor heard of for that matter. 'Six String Samurai' came out in 1998 to little to no fanfare. About as indie as you can get, Six String told the tale of a man dressed like Buddy Holly armed with only his ratty tux, his guitar, and his katana ducked taped to his back. Most would look at the back of the dvd box and write it off as pure crack from the first couple sentences. Once you give it a watch though, you realize there's so much more to this movie. Set in a post apocalyptic world, the story boils down to the death of rock and roll, over taken by the heady beast that is metal. There's many allegories contained with in and I myself find the writing truly a wonder. It's a movie that deserves to have it's absurd plot over looked, and ranks right up there in my 'Top 5 Films Evar' list.

And holy crap on the Shyamalan loving! We go to much further we're going to have to invite him to the Hack-Off because only he could truly understand how misunderstood his movies are!

Well played, Casey. I do have to take issue with Louis' pick of "Lady in the Water." I wanted to think that it was just misunderstood but the evidence against it is pretty overwhelming. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a film that was more poorly edited than "Lady." Like I said on the last episode of the podcast, you can't help but feel embarrassed for Paul Giamatti after watching that flick. So, I'm not an unconditional "M. Night" lover.

Agreed on "Dawn" though. The remake is highly solid and in a lot of ways better than the original. As I try to think of more titles, I'm realizing that there's an incredibly fine line between "underrated" and "guilty pleasure." There are a lot of movies I'm sort of ashamed to love, but I don't really think that necessarily qualifies them as underrated. In a weird way, I would almost say something like "The Evil Dead." Which sounds ridiculous, but my point being that a lot of people only look at it as a precursor to "Dead by Dawn," which is considered by many to be the superior film. In that sense, I think the genuine scariness of the original is often overlooked.

By Gramthorr's hammer I swear that in ten, maybe twenty years that "The Lady in the Water" will be regarded as an "underrated" classic. It has all the makings of a future cult film. I would be willing to bet each and everyone of you $1,000 to that fact. But, speaking of Shyamalan, is there anyone else besides me who is fully erect over "The Happening?" C'mon--you know that even if you dislike M. Night, that because of his masterfully cut trailers that every time a new flick of his comes out, you'll be there that weekend.

Also, I agree with Jon not only about "Event Horizon," but also the entire Paul WS Anderson filmography. Here's another genre guy that, for some reason, gets nothing by shit on non-stop. Along with "Event," "Mortal Kombat," "Soldier," and "Resident Evil" are all highly entertaining movies, and I know that everyone is curious about his "Death Race 2000" remake starring Jason Statham, who is also very awesome.

I first heard about "Six-String Samurai" about two months ago, while reading something not too unlike this Hack-Off about underrated films. To illustrate just how shocked I was about not having heard of or seen this film, I'll tell you that I skipped over putting it in my Netflix cue, and instead put it in my Amazon wishlist, so confident was I that not only do I want to see this film but that I wanted to own it. So, Casey, you're selection only further solidifies that.

I also think Louis, you have a point in addressing Shyamalan's trailer cutting abilities. I've been excited about almost all of his films from the outset precisely because of what you describe: the man can make a nasty trailer. Sadly, the films themselves most often fail to sustain the hype, which is worse than anything really because it means even if the movies aren't awful (which they typically aren't) audiences can't help but feeling let down.

Finally, Eric, I think you definitely hit on something with "Evil Dead." It does sound a little crazy, because we're talking about a pretty highly loved film, but the sequel gets so much slurpage, it's easy to forget that the original is fucking amazing. Personally, I've always preferred the original for a lot of the reasons that you lay out—it's terrifying. The sequel is really solid, but it shouldn't even really be considered a horror film as it turns tension into laughs at virtually every opportunity.

I'm backing Schnaars up on 'Event Horizon'. This movie was pretty damn disturbing in it's own right. Creepy claustrophobic settings, trapped in space, etc. etc. I'd go as far to say as the recent 'Sunshine' cribbed a hell of a lot from 'Event Horizon' as well, especially when the film starting to head down hill.

Comparing 'Evil Dead' and 'Dead by Dawn' is an unfair comparison. They're essentially the same flick. 'Evil Dead 2' was pretty much an entire re-shoot of the first. I don't think they really qualify as underrated either. The films have a really strong following on their own right.
Finally, I'll bat one back to Louis (and the rest of you for that matter). Shyamalan....I could get behind the guy 100% on his directing and story telling skills alone, but it's impossible to watch one of his flicks without watching or the ZOMG TWIST! If the man could be put in charge of somebody else's script, he'd be golden. Unfortunately, I tried giving 'The Village' a chance; it was boring as and predictable as hell. 'Lady in the Water' had it's moments, but when M. Night showed up as the writer who would save the world, I couldn't stop laughing the rest of the way, regardless of what else happened. The potential was there though. (Note: Eric, I'm with you on the Bryce Dallas Howard crush) And finally, "Signs" had great potential. But I can't get over the idea that an alien race who's weakness is water is going to attack a planet in that is over 75% fucking water! The fucking planet's BLUE from outer space for christ sake!

I agree with Louis that "The Happening" looks like it has potential; I can dig Marky Mark as an actor, and Zoe Deschanel's big brown eyes make me all weak in the knees. For my own under rated Shyamalan flick though, I can't stress my love for "Unbreakable" enough. Why? "Unbreakable" is the best comic book super hero origin story we've had put to film yet. No, I'm not detracting from the original 'Superman', but he captures a man's discovery of his power, his coming to terms with said power, and even the developing relationship of his arch nemesis, all while fooling the viewer that they're not watching a super hero movie.

Why so much hate for the twist ending? I myself love the twist. If you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments, and check back every Friday for a new edition!

Eric N

Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief / Podcast Host

Eric is the mad scientist behind the BGH podcast. He enjoys retro games, tiny dogs, eating fiber and anything whimsical.

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