No.3 The Evil Dead (1981)
Without The Evil Dead, if you said the phrase “tree rape” to me, I’d swear you were Todd Akin. Now it’s only possible that you’re Todd Akin. The Evil Dead was Sam Raimi’s major debut as a director, and what a debut it was. It’s the equivalent of opening a business meeting by screaming “YOUR GOD IS HERE”, side kicking an executive out the window, and then naming yourself Managing Zeus.
The film has a very simple story, like the other films on this list, where five teens go to a cabin and are attacked by demonic forces. The Evil Dead also introduced us to the reason for your parent’s shameful divorce, Bruce Campbell. Now, I know that Bruce Campbell was in the movie because of a decision-making process akin to that one short story where a town chose someone at random to stone to death, but Bruce is in complete and full-chin’d good-looking glory here. This was Bruce Campbell before he actually realized he was Bruce Campbell. And that, for me, was the best time for Bruce Campbell.
No2. Hostel: Part II (2007)
Eli Roth is a fairly divisive figure among the horror community. Nonetheless, he’s created some of the most popular gore films of the past decade, and he produced one of the most well-written ones (The Last Exorcism). Hostel: Part II is his greatest work as a director though.
Many will claim that Hostel: Part II is the same thing as the first, but they’d be overlooking key differences. They refuse to consider the changes in the art style and cinematography, and the way the torture scenes are set up. Because, while the first Hostel was inspired by Asian cinema, like the works of Takashi Miike, Hostel: Part II is much more European in its flavor.
It combines Roth’s love for Italian giallo, with all the things that made the first Hostel so good. It’s utterly relentless and an improvement over the original. I look forward to Eli’s next effort, as he’s grown with each movie that he’s made.
No.1 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Tobe Hooper created The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 because he felt that the dark humor of the first film was lost on audiences. I totally feel you, audiences. It’s hard to find the humor of anything that makes you too nervous to travel anywhere except down a crowded interstate. I can’t even see a chainsaw anymore without one nervous pee, which makes any trip to Home Depot an embarrassing affair.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 takes place years after the first. The Sawyer clan has somewhat morphed. They’ve relocated to an abandoned amusement park, and added Chop Top (the best Chainsaw character in the series) to the family. Chop Top was away at Vietnam during the events of the first film, and he shows off what Vietnam did to him in the same way that every other veteran of that war did. By acting fucking nuts.
Or does he? Because Chop Top is kind of the straight man when set against actual nutso actor, Dennis Hopper, who plays the hero, Lefty. Lefty spends his time leeringly looking at everything around him, yelling things like “I’M THE LORD OF THE HARVEST” and spending the last bit of his life having a chainsaw duel against Leatherface. That’s right. The film ends with a veritable lightsaber duel between someone who wears human skin on his face and an actor who can’t get through breakfast without his orange juice asking him to take another acid tablet. TCM 2 is an insane, wonderful ride.
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