“This is the Zodiac speaking…”
Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith becomes obsessed with the case as Avery’s life spirals out of control.
Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.
Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac is a quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers spine-tingling suspense and legitimate chills. This true crime story is Fincher’s best film and perhaps one of the best crime procedurals ever filmed.
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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
“One of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history…”
Tobe Hooper‘s cult classic continues the subgenre of horror movies based on the life of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, which began with Alfred Hitchcock’s own influential classic Psycho. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a cult classic in low-budget exploitation cinema – a film that went on to inspire John Carpenter’s Halloween and Ridley Scott’s Alien.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been hailed as one of the most terrifying, horrific films in the annals of shock cinema, though perhaps my favorite quote comes from Stephen King, who declared, “I would happily testify to its redeeming social merit in any court in the country.”
Massacre was a product of the Vietnam War era, a film that depicts senseless, appalling violence in a very realistic way – without specters, demons or monsters. The inbred cannibals that make up Leatherface’s family are so terrifying because they could be real – and yet nothing the skin-wearing, chainsaw-wielding psycho has committed on film skims the surface on the true crimes of Ed Gein.
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The Amityville Horror
“For God’s sake, get out!”
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg, The Amityville Horror stars James Brolin and Margot Kidder. The film is based on the allegedly true story of the Lutz family, who move into a home in Amityville, New York, only to find that it is possessed by the demonic spirits of its previous owners.
The Seven Deadly Plagues emanate from every household fixture, while other forms of supernatural terror are suffered by the Lutz children. Enter kindly Father Delaney (Rod Steiger), who does his utmost to exorcise the house.
James Brolin was hesitant when first offered the role of George Lutz. Because there wasn’t a script, he got a copy of Jay Anson’s best-selling novel, which the film was to be adapted from. Brolin started reading and couldn’t put the book down, reading well into the early hours of the morning. He had hung up a pair of his pants earlier and, during an especially tense passage of the book, the pants fell to the floor. Brolin jumped from his chair in fright. It was then that he decided to do the movie.
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“Why don’t we just… wait here for a little while… see what happens?”
John Carpenter‘s 1982 film The Thing is both a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1951 The Thing from Another World and a re-adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story Who Goes There?.
The film’s title refers to its otherworldly antagonist: an extraterrestrial life form that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. That night at the American base, the Husky changes into the Thing, and the researchers learn first-hand that the parasitic organism has the ability to mutate into anything it kills and absorbs.
This is Carpenter at the top of his game, with an amazing ensemble of talent at his disposal to make one of those most suspenseful monster movies ever. From the calculated camerawork of Dean Cundey, and Ennio Morricone”˜s formidable score, to a cast that includes pitch-perfect performances by Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David, 1982″²s The Thing is without a doubt one of the best horror films ever made and, 30 years later, remains an unsettling, gory benchmark in creature effects.
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“In space no one can hear you scream.”
The commercial towing spaceship Nostromo is on a return trip from Thedus to Earth, hauling twenty million tons of mineral ore, and carrying its seven-member crew in cryostasis. Upon receiving a transmission of unknown origin from LV-426, a nearby planetoid, the ship’s computer awakens the crew.
Acting on standing orders from their corporate employers, the crew lands on the planetoid to investigate the distress signal, which is being broadcast from a derelict alien spacecraft. Capt. Dallas’s (Tom Skerritt) rescue team discovers a vast chamber filled with leathery eggs, and when crew member Kane (John Hurt) takes a closer look, a face-hugging creature bursts out of an egg and attaches itself to his face.
Over the objections of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), science officer Ash (Ian Holm) lets Kane back on the ship. The acid-blooded parasite detaches itself from Kane, who appears to have fully recovered from his otherworldly encounter. During dinner, an alien erupts from Kane’s stomach and escapes. Later, the full-grown Xenomorph starts stalking the remaining crew, pitting Dallas and his ill-equipped, unexperienced team against a killing machine that is the perfect organism.
Ridley Scott‘s 1979 film, Alien is the definition of horror. It’s a B-movie dressed up as an A-Movie – with some of the most impressive sets ever created for a film and one-of-a-kind art direction and production design utilizing H.R. Giger’s unique style. It’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre in space – a monstrous beast stalks the members of a spaceship one by one, it just doesn’t get any more “˜drive-in movie’ than that.
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