The Best Movie Critic + xander harris

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5 Favorite Horror Movies: Xander Harris

Xander Harris - Poison Belt, coming soon

Ben here. Happy Halloween everybody! In celebration of the best holiday ever, I've invited a few folks to share their 5 favorite horror movies of all time on The Movie Advocate. To start things off, we have Austin, TX based electronic musician Xander Harris. If you've heard Xander's music or seen this music video then you know why he is the first person I thought of when deciding who should kick off this column. The man has John Carpenter-esque 80s slasher soundtrack chic on lock.

In addition to his choice fright flick picks, Xander has been kind enough to share a brand new track with us. Check out "Afraid of the Light," off of Xander Harris' upcoming Ruralfaune release,
Poison Belt, and then 5 movies that should be on your required Halloween viewing list if they aren't already...
Xander Harris - Afraid of the Light

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” –HP Lovecraft

If you are familiar with my releases, it should be pretty obvious by now that I am a huge fan of the horror genre. It can be anything ranging from comics, art, film, music, fiction; I’ve probably come across something in each subsection of the genre at some point in my life that has affected or inspired me on some level. The horror genre is something that I can talk about for hours on end. I don’t know if that’s a sign of being extraordinarily morbid or an example of a profoundly boring existence but I do love my horror. I’m thankful that I’ve had such amazing friends in my life that have allowed me to ramble on about the subject in our various interactions with each other. I’m sure at times my enthusiasm for it is a little perplexing. What can I say, I like thinking about crazy weird shit. I am excited that Ben asked me to make a list of my five favorite horror films. It’s hard to list just five but I do hope that you enjoy reading the list that I’ve made.

Personally, I prefer horror movies that have a certain supernatural or element of fear that is based around an unknown, intangible source. I’ve always been intrigued by the horror that is not seen on the screen as opposed to 90 minutes of unrelenting extreme gore. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate certain films like “Cannibal Holocaust” or “Maniac”, they just don’t make quite the impression on me as those films that really turn on the atmosphere of dread in my brain. I’ve always been fascinated with stories that are an internal struggle of evil or a person that is being tormented by some inter-dimensional scary shit, which is why I chose Lovecraft’s quote to start the conversation off. I’m much more terrified reading of some 1000 millennia aged monster born from space rising from the ocean to make us into food than I am of frat boys that get tortured on a trip through Europe. So without further adieu, here is my list.

5. PRINCE OF DARKNESS - directed by John Carpenter

The first time I saw “Prince of Darkness” was at a friend’s house in high school. My initial reaction to the film was a what-the-fuck kind of reaction and not in the good way. When you first get into the horror genre as a teenager, you want the grossest, most extreme examples of the genre you can find. You want drills going through some poor person’s eye and scenes that show the archetype of that jock enemy you had in school being ripped to shreds. You’re not exactly ready for a horror film that infuses quantum theory and a lot of dialogue, especially with the name John Carpenter attached to it. Over the years though, I’ve changed my mind about “Prince of Darkness” and eventually the film has become one of my favorite John Carpenter movies. I love the idea of people staring at a weird cylinder that is holding the corporeal form of the Anti-Christ and then trying to explain the phenomenon through scientific study. It’s an interesting concept even if it falls flat sometimes. This vastly underrated and underappreciated film is very psychedelic and surrealistic to me. It’s worth it’s entry on this list on the sole fact that director John Carpenter and collaborator Alan Howarth composed one of the best soundtracks to any horror film ever on this production.

4. THE DESCENT - directed by Neil Marshall

I love Neil Marshall. To me, this is a guy who isn’t afraid to champion great B-Movies of the 70s and early 80s and incorporating their style into amazing films. His first film “Dog Soldiers” was a brilliant beginning but “The Descent” is one of the greatest horror films of the last 20 years. The film has a lot of things going for it but the biggest one for me is the strength of an all female cast, something that should be explored in the horror genre more and more. I would also like to mention that I’m terribly afraid of caves and this movie gave me serious nightmares. This film exemplifies that it is possible in today’s blockbuster environment to make a genre defining film on a low budget.

3. THE OMEN - directed by Richard Donner

“The Omen” is a fucked up movie, plain and simple. You have this child that is completely beyond redemption and is the embodiment of pure evil but doesn’t quite understand that he’s predisposed to be a complete ruthless bastard as the son of the Devil. The most impressionable sequence ever in a movie is the scene of the lady willingly hanging herself in the hopes of Damien’s approval at a children’s birthday party. That is hardcore. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is one of the best in the genre and I recommend watching the other two films in the trilogy, especially for the young Lance Henriksen cameo in the second one.

2. AUDITION - directed by Takeshi Miike

I saw this film with a friend of mine at the now defunct Dobie Theater here in Austin, Texas. I didn’t really know what to expect but I had heard that “Audition” was the definitive movie of the Japanese Horror film explosion. Friends of mine had mentioned the words “deeply fucked” whenever speaking of Miike’s films so I had to go see what the big deal was. At first, I was infuriated at what seemed to be nothing more than a bland art house affair and not the gross amoral gore fest I was promised. I started to heckle the film loudly, prompting a couple of guys to walk out and I was seriously considering doing the same. I don't know why I felt compelled to see the film through. I was convinced it was going to be a complete and total turd but I wanted some ammunition in a debate in case the movie sucked so leaving without knowing the end would not be a good debate angle. I’m glad I decided to stick around. I can say that my friends were right: the last 20 minutes of that film are “deeply fucked” and completely terrifying. In fact, I didn't say much when that film was over.

Click here for the trailer.

1. THE EXORCIST - directed by William Friedkin

In my opinion, this is the best horror film ever made. It has the entire range of human emotion and it feels more like a documentary in places than it does a horror film. Let’s just look at it like this: a child is being driven by satanic forces to masturbate with a crucifix, scream the words “Jesus” and “Cunt” in the same sentence, spew vomit, crawl down the stairs backwards like a spider while spewing blood, and lots and lots of screams. For me, this is the quintessential existential horror flick and not to mention one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time. I think I’ve seen this film a dozen times and it always completely creeps me out.

-Xander Harris

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