Movie Review – The Matrix

 

Movie Review - The MatrixAfter reading RunPee Dan’s amazing retrospective on “The Matrix After 20 Years“, I’m a little intimidated to try and pen my own review. He’s RunPee’s resident Matrix EXPERT. And I don’t say that lightly. Uber. Fan.

I especially get nervous trying to do justice to classic A+ level films. But I do have a few things to say, and here we go…

I’m packing for a move and might add more later. Suffice to say: this movie was a total mind-f#ck when it came out in 1999…and still is. The only really dated aspects are the corded phones and noisy modem (if you’re old enough, you KNOW this sound and it’s still as jarring as it was back then).

If you’re seeing The Matrix for the first time, remember this was the first film to attempt anything like this. At all. It’s a game changer that subsequent dystopian sci-fi films emulated to varying degrees over the years. “Inception“, for one, got it right. And then quite a few missed the boat more or less, like “Looper” which is a decent movie itself, but doesn’t come close to The Matrix.

(Funnily enough, both Inception and Looper featured one of the the same actors).

Why The Matrix is Still so Good

The difference is STYLE. And terrific direction, color palette, intelligent writing, and actors who couldn’t be better suited — both in the casting department, with each actor going balls to the wall in to the new world they had to sell.

Keanu even gets to say “Whoa,” and it doesn’t seem like fan pandering. It IS a WHOA moment.

the-matrix-bullet-time-keanu-reeves
Bring it.

Not to mention The Matrix sports a fabulous soundtrack, and effects that hold up extremely well. I just rewatched this yesterday to get Peetimes, since The Matrix is enjoying a theater revival. It’s still spectacular in look, feel, and story.

(Little realized fact: Most of the effects were done realistically with real actors in wires, and the 360 degree use of physical cameras to create the “Bullet Time” effect we take for granted now. I’m a huge fan of truly realistic physical effects in a modern age of CGI Everything.)

the-matrix-trinit-carry-anne-moss
Practical effects shot on wires. Trinity can still kick your butt.

This is how to make a movie. I can only hope the Watchoskis are up to the 2020 fourquel after all this time. Some crucial threads are left unresolved, so I’m fine with bringing the original cast back, dead or alive. (In Sci-Fi, death is relative.)

Deeper than The Usual Sci-Fi Flick

I’m not even going to handle the intense philosophies presented in the Matrix Trilogy — Philosophy professors wrote many books and teach actual courses just on this.

Enough for now. This will get you started. Also, if you hurry, this will be your only time to catch The Matrix on the big screen after two decades, so go get on it. Our three good Peetimes on the RunPee app will help you remember what scenes NOT to miss.

Free. Your. Mind.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: We just noticed The Matrix was released on a limited basis, so we added Peetimes now. Keep in mind this is a seriously intense mind-bending movie that you have to pay close attention to. All 3 Peetimes are really good. The last time to go is at 1 hour into the 2 hour film, so make sure to empty your bladder proactively, especially if this is your 1st time watching the film. (Or if it’s been a while.) #TheMatrixHasYou

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Matrix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for sci-fi violence and brief language
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Analysis of Inception

Movie Review – Looper

 

Tears in the Rain – RIP to Icon Rutger Hauer

rutger hauer
RIP to an Icon

Rutger Hauer sadly passed away July 19th, 2019. Hauer was a character actor best known for genre films.  His most famous and beloved role was the replicant (a type of cyborg) Roy Batty in the 1982 movie Blade Runner.  If Hauer had done nothing else, he would still be fondly remembered for this performance

It is said there are only so many basic story types.  Blade Runner can be seen as a take on Frankenstein: man vs his creation. 

The three replicants in the film seek vengeance against Eldon Tyrell, the rich scientist who created them.  They want longer lifespans than just the four years they are given.  Theirs are close to ending.  Although the replicants are the antagonists in the film, Hauer’s final speech makes it impossible not to feel sympathy for their plight.  Roy Batty’s final speech is made even more incredible by the fact that Hauer improvised the entire thing.  It wasn’t in the original script.  

Essential Rutger Hauer performances include: the movies Ladyhawke, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Hitcher.  To my knowledge, his last widely celebrated big screen performance was the title role in 2011’s violent instant cult classic Hobo With a Shotgun.  It was deeply disappointing that the filmmakers did not find a way to bring him back for Blade Runner 2049.  

Hauer will be missed, but his legacy in sci-fi  and fantasy cinema history is secure.  

Here’s Rutger Hauer’s beautiful, iconic Tears in the Rain speech from the 1982 Blade Runner:

 

To make sure you don’t miss essential moments like Roy Batty’s speech, always use the RunPee app.  We’ll have Peetimes for Ad Astra, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and all your other upcoming sci-fi favorites.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Blade Runner: 2049 review

About RunPee

How to find Older Movies in the RunPee App

Movie Review – Midsommar

Movie Review - MidsommarMidsommer is a mind blower. It starts slow but it picks up steam  — and not just a little steam, but a lot. It is probably one of the most explicit movies I’ve ever watched.

I went in expecting not to like it, because it seems I’ve hated every A24 production I’ve ever seen. They fully redeemed themselves with this one.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I saw. RunPee Mom went with me and there was not a silent moment on the way home. We were both able to shed light on each other with the things we noticed. This is a great movie to see with a group of friends; you’ll be able to talk about it for hours.

It’s very artistic. I’ll be honest: I don’t usually like those types. I’m more of a comedy or horror movie fan. Scare me and make me laugh, but don’t make me think too hard. That’s what I have to do in life — just entertain me please. Midsommar gets a free pass. I was entertained and shocked.

The way they filmed it made me think I was tripping on the intense drugs they were using. The cinematography was amazing. One word comes to mind: psychedelic.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: Of the 2 Peetimes, I recommend the 2nd. It’s really the last moment in the movie that could be summed up without leaving you in the total dark. Side note: During the last 45ish minutes, there is a lot of nudity; full frontals of men and intense sex scenes. It is explicit.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Midsommar. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

Movie Review – The Curse of La Llorona – A Good Scary Time in the Conjuring Universe

Ranking the Chucky Movies – From a True Horror Fan

Rewatch Review – A Look Back at The Hunger Games Series

The Hunger Games, My current favorite franchise. Again…

Last night I wasn’t in the mood for TV. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a movie, read a book, play the PS4…On a whim, I started the Vudu app on the fire stick and browsed my digital copy collection. When I saw the cover for the first movie, I knew I wanted to rewatch the Mockingjay saga almost instantly.

The Hunger Games is the first book series I read before seeing the movies. The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone led me to read the books, which is where I developed my love of books. But Harry Potter doesn’t get to hold the spot that Katniss Everdeen does. Suzanne Collins’ books led me to the movie, in this case.

I remember reading the scene of the reaping. Imagining the crowd, the peacekeepers, the bowls filled with names.

I remember seeing this scene, almost exactly as I’d pictured it in my mind, on screen for the first time. I remember getting choked up when Prim’s name was called, and when Katniss screams she’ll volunteer.

That scene still hits me today. Even more so now, than then.

The sets of the districts, the Capitol, the arenas. Amazingly done, and the CGI holds up today. The screenwriters, directors, cast, and crew all did great jobs translating page to screen. I can even forgive most of the changes.

The casting of Jennifer Lawrence was perfect. She brought Katniss to life, in a way that is perfectly believable. She’s a normal person that wants to live and let live. To keep her head down and survive. When her life is torn away, she only wants to survive and return to some sense of normalcy.

Or course, she doesn’t get that wish. She truly didn’t want to cause the rebellion, the war. She just wanted the game makers to honor the rule change they made, and let Peeta be a victor by her side. To let them both live in peace.

Who among us could do what President Snow demanded in the second film? To calm the districts and end the uprisings? To convince him that she loved the boy she kept alive, when she wasn’t sure herself?

Maybe those of us that are a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit more connected to the real world. But who of us at the age of 17?

Not me. That’s for sure.

Then she became the face of the war. The voice, the moral compass, the hero. Still, not because she wants to be. But because she is continually being forced to do something she never wanted. But she clenched her bow and made a deal. Rescue Peeta and the others, and she’ll rally the troops.

In the end, when the lines get blurred, when enemy and friend aren’t clear, she makes another choice. Another choice that lands her in hot water again. Also a choice that keeps her, and those left that she loves, alive.

Katniss Everdeen, and Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of her, is a hero done right.

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

1998 godzilla title card
Tell this Godzilla to go go GO.

I really don’t want to make this a long review, since the movie’s trash and it’s not worth a lot of my day.

I say all this in advance and with apologies to Matthew Broderick, who’s a fine actor. Broderick is always adorable, and can normally pull a film out any mire it might be stuck in. Imagine LadyHawke without Mouse. It would be an overblown, floofy, brain-bashing melodrama with seriously depressing leads and minimal dialog. Broderick MAKES this movie. And he makes Ladyhawke a personal favorite of mine. I cry at that one day/night scene every time, but it’s only because Mouse keeps me in such good spirits, chatting with God, crawling in sewers, and being a lovable character throughout. You don’t even notice the bizarre 70s rock track. 😉

Wait. This is a Godzilla Review?

Back to 1998 Godzilla, which you can see I don’t want to talk about — sorry. I saw it in theaters in the day, and remember thinking, “Hmmmm, lousy ripoff of Aliens and Jurassic Park.”

Then I saw it again last night. I wondered if I’d been too hard on it in the past, so scrolled it up in preview preparation to the new Godzilla sequel out this week (2019). And what did I think?

More of the same, with a bonus: “Lousy ripoff of Aliens and Jurassic Park, but with endless hours of running and shooting in the rain!” I guess I was more tolerant of that back then. FX have come a long way, and we don’t need rain to hide the seams anymore. Yet I can forgive 2 & 1/2 hours of pouring rain if the PLOT WAS BETTER.

I watched this with my mother and we both agreed on two things (and we never agree on anything): 1.  Shooting bullets at Godzilla wasn’t working, so why did we have to follow the military around trying out new ways to shoot it…over and over…? Answer: filler.

2. And. We felt really bad for Godzilla and the babies. These aren’t monsters — they’re animals. Big ones. Looking for food and procreating. The better ending would have been finding a way to bring poor Godzilla to a (sizeable) animal sanctuary. Teams of happy conservationists and scientists would give body parts, vying to care for this new life-form.

Godzilla would have hot and cold running fish, and a carefully applied form of birth control to keep population levels stable.

Gremlins too?

Oh, and problem 3. Having the babies act like overgrown Gremlins wasn’t as  funny as the producers must have thought. (Oooo, another classic movie to rip off — they can fight over popcorn!)

Lastly, the slowly dying heartbeat sound at the end wasn’t remotely earned, unlike with King Kong, which was always intended as a tragedy. Here, there’s no “It was Beauty that killed the Beast” (goosebumps just thinking about it). As the Aliens Space Marines Corps once said, Godzilla was a ‘bug hunt.’ To its detriment.

How to fix Godzilla for Modern Audiences

I can’t say the 2014 remake is a work of genius (still too much padding with planes and guns) but it’s a world of better. With the Broderick version, I’d say there are two movies going on. One is decent, and human, and has a moment where the lead connects with the beast. The other is what the fast-forward button was made for. In a 2 and 1/2 hour film, excising an entire hour would make this watchable. My other issues (1, 2, 3…4?) remain, but it would be a tighter, more watchable experience, focusing on the human element and not illogical plot points that test the viewer’s patience.

Clearly, the Industry still has no idea how to handle Godzilla. Less bombs. More worry about animals we are now responsible for, in our hubris. More how to handle a brave new world that includes unintended creatures of mankind’s folly (the nuclear annihilation of South Pacific Islands).

Jurassic Park itself touched on these issues, but didn’t bring home the yummy carnivorous bacon. I think it’s time to move past Monsters As Bad and say, “We did this. Now what are we going to do about it?”

Movie Grade: D

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie review: Aliens

Movie Rewatch – Jurassic Park

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

2014 godzilla breathing fire
A pot-bellied ring of fire…

Did this movie do Godzilla right? Yes,  better than the previous Godzilla. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? (It isn’t.)

The 2014 Godzilla HAD to be an improvment over the  1998s  Matthew Broderick mess, just to even things out. But I’ll save that for its own review.

In case you find the concept of reboots confusing, consider Godzilla’s long past as a remake, a reboot and a reimagining, all at once. The overgrown lizard suffered many iterations since his first appearance in 1954: including a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, stop-motion photography figures, men in heavy suits, comic book images, rock star subjects, and was even the subject of video games. Sometimes he’s a hero, and sometimes a menace…although with anyone that massive, collateral damage just happens.

godzilla ruined city
Collateral damage is a bitch.

At this point the makers of Godzilla are knee-deep in what they call a Monsterverse. 2014’s Godzilla was the first in this shared universe, and the story blows past Kong: Skull Island, and on to a multi-mega-monster-lineup in 2020.

But what about the 2014 Godzilla in the Monsterverse series?

I enjoyed this in a nice-to-have-on-in-the-background sort of way. Having just seen Avengers Endgame after many viewings, I was super-sensitive to each time a character said, “Whatever it takes,” (which I think was 4 times in Godzilla). And it didn’t take long to notice poor Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) once again didn’t have anything important to do.  Instead of looking mad while running, here she looked scared while running. What happened to those scarlet Infinity Stone blasts, girl? Would have been ‘handy’ – no pun intended.

Unfortunately, her role here, like every human but Ken Watanabe’s, was filler. Even the main soldier, who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, was only there to show off some giant blue trembling Elijah Wood Hobbit eyes. Why are there even people in this Godzilla? Oh, right, to add human stakes (steaks?) to the story. This isn’t a Pokemon Smackdown after all.

Bryan Cranston lent some welcome personality at first, but after spouting off meta-jokes like, “That was NOT a Transformer…” (heh),  the torch was inexplicably passed to the aforementioned cute young actor. Once the egg cracked, no one did anything you haven’t seen at the cineplex dozens of times over. For international world-spanning human tension you can slice your hands on, re-watch Arrival again. Then come back here to see really big bugs eat subway trains like churros. Make your own movie!

I’m sorry I’m not treating this review with more dignity. It really does have worthwhile bits in between shots of pesky humans staring like deer in the headlights (or running full tilt too late to make a difference).

Godzilla images over the years
Every Godzilla ever. Enjoy.

The Monsters looked pretty good, though.

But the monsters were creatively designed, which are presumably the reason you bought your ticket. Like all good monster flicks — Jaws, Jurassic Park, Aliens et al. — the producers withhold the glamour shots until a good part of the film is underway. Part of the fun lies in imagining the huge beasties.

What’s nice here are the pay-offs, when they arrive.  Godzilla and his nasty parasites are on full display. It’s not like in 1998, where blinding rain purposefully obscures 3 hours of film.

I liked the heroic Godzilla as a creature a whole lot, tubby profile and all. I feel like he had to be a rolly polly oil barrel to stoke that kind of fire.  He also felt right with his triple spined back, beady (yet caring) little eyes, and a tail made for whipping. He seems almost intelligent.

And he looked great underwater.  I loved the scenes where he swam between the two aircraft carriers. Humans and man-made radioactive lizard — working together on one goal. This Godzilla is a lover, not a fighter.

So, how to grade 2014s Godzilla?

Looking good isn’t a reason for a high grade, unless you’re watching Avatar. Non-stop action is just exhausting — and for today’s more discerning audiences, boring. Running and screaming as buses fly around & tension high-wires go down went the way of the dinosaur (ha, sorry) in the disaster-porn film era of the 70s.

Want an example of how to do big-stakes disaster-flicks the right way? One word: Titanic. Or look to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which we at RunPee always grade on a curve.

This could have been a better film, and I’m sad we can’t find a proper starring vehicle for Godzilla yet. We have the tech now (even the esteemed Andy Serkis consulted with WETA on the motion-capture work). So we can make it look good. Why can’t we find the right director — and a proper cast ensemble — to make us CARE?

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Grade: C

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

The Animated 1978 Godzilla Cartoon – Lyrics & Video

Interview with John Wick director Chad Stahelski – from stunt double to director

Remember the 1990s movie The Crow, staring Brandon Lee who was tragically shot on set during filming? In order to finish the movie, a young Chad Stahelski went from stunt double to actor double. Now here he is, decades later, as one of the brightest new directors in Hollywood.

Read the full interview at Yahoo.com.

Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Everything You Need to Know About Hellboy

Hellboy reboot movie
Hell’s a bitch, boy.

Hellboy opens on April 12, 2019.  It will be the titular character’s third major theatrical adventure.  Not sure who Hellboy is? Never heard of the B.P.R.D.? Wondering what’s up with his forehead? No worries. We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what the deal is for the new Hellboy movie:  

— Hellboy is a popular comic book character.  However, the movie will not be like your typical superhero or comic book movie.  

— Hellboy is a half-demon, summoned from hell as a baby by Nazi occultists.  His actual Latin name means “And upon his brow is set a crown of flame.” Which brings context to one of the movie posters and an image from the trailer.  

— One of Hellboy’s main weapons is his right hand, which is made of stone.  

— Hellboy has horns, but he files them off.  This is why he has two large round stubs on his forehead.  

— Hellboy is destined to bring about the apocalypse, but he rejects that destiny. 

— Hellboy was raised by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm like a normal boy.  

— Professor Bruttenholm founded the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.).  Hellboy works for the B.P.R.D.

— Guillermo del Toro made two films featuring the character Hellboy:  Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro chose not to finish what was originally planned to be a trilogy.

— Ron Perlman was the first actor to play Hellboy in the original films.  He is famous for playing Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast TV series and Clay on Sons of Anarchy.  Perlman said he feels remorse for not completing the trilogy, and that he feels like he let the fans down.  

— Doug Jones played fan-favorite character Abe Sapien (an amphibious man) in the original films.  The character will not appear in the new movie. Jones was invited to do a cameo but had to decline.  He had a scheduling conflict with the shooting schedule for Star Trek: Discovery. He also had an injury which prevented him from taking on the physically demanding role.  (Side note: If you ever get the chance, it’s totally worth waiting in line to meet Doug Jones and get an autograph. He’s one of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve met at any of the cons.  And why wouldn’t you want to support one of our greatest living character actors?)    

— The new movie is a reboot, not a sequel.  It stars David Harbour (Sheriff Hopper from Stranger Things) as Hellboy.    

— It will be more of a horror film than the original, which was more of a fantasy film.  

— The new movie will be more faithful to the comic books.  Creator Mike Mignola was a concept artist on the original Hellboy movie.  He’s been more involved with the script for the reboot.  

— The movie will be bloodier and more adult.  In an interview with Empire, Harbour said, “There’s really a sense that you’re actually killing things, even if they are giants or monsters. You’re chopping their heads off, you’re bathing in their blood, and you’re feeling the complex feelings of actually cutting the heart out of another thing. We’re taking the time to deal with the fact that Hellboy is a killer. He’s a weapon.” 

— The movie is not an origin story and begins in the middle of the action.

— David Harbour says the stunts made it the hardest shoot he’s ever done. 

— The main villain is Blood Witch Nimue, who wants to join the monster world and the human world.  The character is played by Milla Jovovich, who’s no stranger to monster movies as the star of the Resident Evil series.  

–The main inspiration for the movie is The Wild Hunt storyline from the comics, but there are also elements from Darkness Calls and The Storm and The Fury.

–When the producers were accused of whitewashing, by hiring a white actor to play a Japanese character from the comics, actor Ed Skrein resigned so they could recast the role.  Daniel Dae Kim was then cast in the part of Major Ben Daimio.

— The original Hellboy had a girlfriend played by Selma Blair.  David Harbour says his version of Hellboy is more isolated and is unable to have sex with humans.

This presumably makes the apocalypse more appealing.  

— David Harbour told Empire, “In our movie Hellboy’s younger. He’s rougher. He’s much more of a teenager. He’s really struggling with the idea of whether or not he’s a good person.” 

— In an interview with Independent, Harbour compared Hellboy to Hamlet.  “On a surface level, he’s an adopted kid from Hell. He was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Yet, he just wants to be a good guy and fight evil. But he has this destiny. That struggle is very Hamlet-esque, even having tones of Coriolanus, where you have this guy who cannot understand his own true nature. Those levels of complexity, if we can bring that to this movie, which we’re trying to do, I think will be really rich.”

— The producers already have loose ideas for sequels.

Be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes and a review for Hellboy, and to find out if there’s anything after the credits.  Follow us on Twitter @RunPee to stay up to date on the latest movie news.

Peetimes are coming soon for Shazam and Avengers: Endgame — make sure you have the RunPee app on your phone, so you won’t miss a moment of the action.

Making of Hellboy Featurette — Enjoy!

Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Did YOU Survive The Snap? You may as well get this over with…

Thanos Snap

It’s been a year ago now, at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Almost as soon as Thanos got his “mitts” on every stone for the The Infinity Gauntlet, he snapped his giant purple fingers and snuffed out half of all living beings in the universe — people both  good and bad, rich and poor, young or old, in a process utterly random and without distinction, race, worthiness — anything. In fact, you are probably dead.

I, for one, AM dead. Gone: snuffed away, dust. My cold, grim, no nonsense message:

“You were slain by Thanos, for the good of the Universe.”

The Snap. 50-50 odds. Now it’s your turn to find out once and for all.

Want to know if YOU survived The Snap? This one little unadorned link will tell you, for good or ill.

Did Thanos Kill Me?

Go ahead. Click the purple link.

But once you know, it’s permanent. No matter how many times I try this site, they still tell me I’m ashes. They remember.

You may as well take a deep breath and know. If you’re dead, like me, our only hope is the Avengers  — and Captain Marvel — can bring us back on April 26th, the opening night of Avengers: Endgame.  At least RunPee will have Peetimes ready to go, so if you’re still alive, the three-hour runtime won’t make your survivor’s guilt worse.  🙂

#AvengeTheFallen

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

Avengers Infinity War – what does the post credit scene mean?

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

cabin in the woods poster
The name is the plot. But it’s the most original way it’s ever been done, and the most fun.

Horror movies aren’t for everyone. But sometimes a film will come around that everyone can enjoy, even if you’re a little (or a lot) nervous about seeing it.

To sum: if you found you could handle the scarier episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The X-Files, you’ll be okay with my suggestions below. It’s going to be a subjective list, though, so your mileage will vary. That’s all the warning I can give you, besides my little story notes next to the movie titles. And some films I really can’t talk about..because…you know — spoilers.

Because I have a low tolerance for grossness, I’m not including any real body horror, like Slither, even though a lot of people found it quite funny. I refuse to see it, even though I’m a huge fan of James Gunn’s best-known Guardians of the Galaxy. The Thing has the most body horror on this list, and a few of the Alien and Predator installments have icky moments that are hard to forget. But since those films are more sci-fi than real horror, I think these are okay. In any case, read my notes about each to see which iterations in the franchises are more story-based, and less gore or jump-scare oriented.

I’m including some comments from RunPee Dan here and there, mostly where he disagrees with my choices. 😉

Best Horror Movies for Non-Horror Fans

  1. Zombieland — With perfect casting, sparkling chemistry, an engagingly funny (!) post-apocalyptic zombie plot/buddy road trip film, you can’t beat this. There’s even a great list of rules to live by and a cameo that must not be missed. The only gross scenes are pre-loaded in the beginning and they aren’t too bad. If you can survive watching the first five minutes, the rest is cake: slender yellow cream-filled Hostess cakes. (If you don’t get this reference, you’re too young, or haven’t seen the film yet.)
  2. Army of Darkness — I’m a long time Bruce Campbell fan. After discovering his classic B-movie comic character work on Xena: Warrior Princess, I began tracking down his filmography. Army of Darkness is a precious concoction of horror, fantasy, and comedy. The horror is actually almost non-existent compared to Evil Dead 1 and 2, which I do NOT recommend viewing in any form. Those are straight horror and the Evil Dead remake is the worst. Fortunately, Army of Darkness requires no prior knowledge. Ash describes what you need to know in less than a minute before you’re thrown, car and all, into the time of castles, wizards, and knights.
  3. Shawn of the Dead — There’s only one gross-out moment in this funny, funny zombie film. It’s set in the UK and involves a slacker and his best friend in a fun bromance where they are less interested in fighting hordes of the undead than having a beer in their favorite pub. My second-favorite zombie film, with Zombieland only coming first by a hair’s width. And the scene set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now must be seen by everyone. I demand this. 😉
  4. A Quiet Place — I’m not sure why this was even billed as horror. This A level film hits all the sci fi and dystopian marks, and hits them so well you’ll be floored. Don’t watch this if there’s any racket or busy activity in the house, because you need absolute silence to appreciate this fully for the first viewing. I’m excited a second Quiet Place was announced, and can’t gush enough over how exciting and smart this film is. Also, Emily Blunt can do no wrong. She should have gotten at least an Oscar nod for the bathtub scene.
  5. Happy Death Day 1 (and 2) — The original is definitely horror, although on the lighter, funnier end. The sequel barely qualifies as horror, and is more like a comic sci-fi movie with some continuing horror themes. I heard this got green-lit for a threequel, so we’ll see if that installment goes in yet another direction. They might drop the “killer baby” element completely by then, seeing as how it’s only kind of shoe-horned into the sequel.
  6. The Alien Franchise — Every installment qualifies as horror, in my book. It’s firmly in the sci-fi genre, but it’s scary every time, and has horrific elements. But the first film is mostly a suspense thriller with jump scares, and the second is pure adrenaline-pumping action. It’s the first movie I sat forward in my movie seat for the entire way through. So watch Alien and Aliens, and then STOP. I can’t recommend anything else in the entire ourve. Actually, you can see the first Aliens vs Predators, but not the second. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.
  7. The Terminator — Few people would consider The Terminator horror, but the original is intended as a scary sci-fi film, regardless of where the rest of the franchise went. (Dan says he doesn’t think this film belongs here.)
  8. The Predator franchise — These are intended as horror/sci fi films, but they are very watchable. Most of the horror has safe discretion shots, or long off views of the Really Bad Things. You can safely watch any of these except Predator 2, which is a freak show and awful. Sorry. (Dan: I wouldn’t put this here, but it’s borderline.)
  9. The Thing — This sci-fi horror/thriller (the original, not the update) has some true gross-out moments, but since I can handle this film, I’m including it. If I can tolerate these scenes, I think anyone can. (Dan: Carpenter’s The Thing is way horrific. Like body horror to the extreme.)
  10. Cabin in the Woods — Some scenes are a little brutish, but they happen to be amusing at the same time (remember: mermaids). And I can’t say a single other thing about Cabin in the Woods without spoiling your first experience. This one has made my regular movie rotation. (Dan: Again, borderline. It’s really graphic.)
  11. Tucker and Dale vs Evil — Another regular viewing film for me. The horror is funny (we’re noticing a theme here — humor helps a lot), and there are no jump scares, gross outs, or even much ‘evil’. It’s just Alan Tydyk (Beloved as Wash in Firefly) and Tyler Labine (Sock from Reaper) having a grand old time, as they twist the horror trope on its head. Enjoy!
  12. Pitch Black — I don’t know why I resisted this film when my husband wanted to show it to me. I watched it eventually, and instantly fell in love with both it and Vin Diesel. If you liked Aliens, this will be easy. It’s more like scary science fiction, with no gore I can recall (again with the discretionary shots), and a rousing adventure tale that unfolds like some alien orchid under three suns. Pitch Black, as Part One of The Chronicles of Riddick, now has two sequels, plus an animated short. All are easy to view horror-wise, but nothing will come close to the original in execution, appeal, and pure excitement. I love that we figure everything out as the characters do. One of my faves.  Enough of my gushing, eh?
  13. Poltergeist — This one still scares me, even though there’s only one bad moment (in a bathroom, which is a trope for trouble if there ever was one).   Lots of good lines, too: “You moved the tombstones, but you forgot to movie the bodies!” I think I had more shudders from the simple “They’re here,” than anything with a nominally higher fear factor.
  14. Gremlins (1 and 2) — You’d think this was a cute and cuddly kid’s flick, but you’re wrong. The Mogwai is way high in the cuteness charts (he’s like a Pokemon), but his progeny are just mean. Funny, I guess, but nasty. But except for the infamous “microwave’ scene, I think it’s mostly discretionary shots. Have you clued in by now that I think violence in a film is tolerable if I’m not subjected to actual gore and realistic suffering?
  15. The Sixth Sense — Yes, this has some scary moments, but they’re always jump scares, with almost no gore. It’s about dead people after all, but it turns out that the dead don’t always want to hurt you. And that’s all I can say if you’ve never seen this genuinely great movie.
  16. Signs — This is honestly more about suspense. You never actually SEE anything. Not well, and not for more than a heartbeat. You’ll enjoy this film. It’s an updated and isolated version of…wait. I can’t say more. It’s Shylaman. You can’t discuss his films. It’s a law.
  17. Jaws — I saw this as a kid and was terrified. Times have changed. Now Jaws is a buddy thriller set in the ocean against an implacable foe. There are only two genuine jump scares, and they barely qualify as gory these days. (I’ll just say it: the crabs in the early scene; the ‘head’ mid-way through.) In my recent re-watch, I was amazed how spectacular Jaws is, and it still holds up. It’s a freaking masterpiece that’s the forerunner of today’s blockbuster. If it’s been a while, try it again. A +, with the Indianopolis monologue reaching legendary status (that tale really happened, BTW…Goggle it. Man, to live through that…). Anyway, Jaws qualifies now as an adventure movie. As far as other Jawses, I can’t comment. Try me later when I I’ve seen them. I’ve heard Jaws 2 is okay.
  18. Warm Bodies — Not horror. But it’s got regular octane and super octane zombies, so I guess it qualifies. It’s actually a zom-rom-com. Seriously. A love story! And a sweet one at that. Your kids could watch this and not be scared.
  19. Maze Runner — This is science fiction dystopian film, but the creatures in the maze are pretty hideous.  (Dan: I don’t think this has anything to do with horror. But maybe I just don’t remember it well enough.)

You’ll probably think some of these don’t belong on the list, and you might find some of the films  scarier or grosser than you personally prefer. Or I might have left some good choices off the list completely — like Silence of the Lambs, which might be considered more of a scary thriller than anything else, and bring this list to 20. I haven’t seen Silence of the Lambs yet, so I can’t say anything about it. Maybe The Shining, which actually is super creepy, but I lived through it and now see a lot of it as ludicrously amusing (it has not held up so well). I do want to see the recent Us, but I’m a weenie and need someone to hold my hand. I’m sure there will be a number 20 in my future eventually.

I’d love to hear what I missed, or what you disagree with in the comments.