Ed Wood (1994)
OK – so Ed Wood doesn’t have any shocks or frights. Nor does it contain anything remotely supernatural. Yet it does have Bela Lugosi, Vampira, a Hallowe’en scene and references to some of the worst horror B-movies of all time.
This film charts the career lows (and more lows) of Ed Wood, a man whose movies are largely considered absolute disasters. Played by Johnny Depp, Wood and his band of misfits blunder from one production to another, with far more enthusiasm than talent. Thus we see a dramatised version of Wood’s life behind the scenes of such turkeys as Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Bela Lugosi is played fantastically by Martin Landau, in a role that elicits great sympathy from the audience. The film also stars Sarah Jessica Parker, the legendary Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette and Lisa Marie as the aforementioned Vampira. Depp, too, does a riveting job, making Wood likeable – a failed hero the audience can root for.
Directed by Tim Burton, this is a film that I can watch again and again. You don’t have to be familiar with the works of Wood, but it does add another dimension if you are. It’s a wonderful film that has, at it’s core, a story of succeeding against the odds. Sort of.
Not a horror film then, as such, but the fact that Ed Wood features such icons of early horror makes this film an unmissable Hallowe’en treat.
Day of the Dead (1985)
So it’s post apocalypse and there are zombies everywhere. There are these survivors holed up in an underground mine/storage facility. Tensions mount between the survivors – some being scientists and some military – as they each have their own agendas. Eventually everything goes belly up and it’s zombie attack time.
I don’t think that gives away too many spoilers – you weren’t expecting anything else, were you?
Director George A Romero was also responsible for the completely thrilling Night of the Living Dead. He also made Dawn of the Dead, a very fine sequel. However, for me, Day of the Dead doesn’t quite reach the heights of the two earlier films. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to get your teeth into here, and there are a few genuinely innovative moments. It’s just harder to relate to people stuck in an underground cavern than it is a shopping mall.
I won’t mention the zombie Bub, a character that I definitely thought was too much. But check it out, certainly if you’ve seen the other Dead films.