Jim Dandy of Belfast's Opera House Video talks about the best horror movies to watch this season

The man behind the scary movies

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 10:30am

BELFAST — Jim Dandy, co-owner of Opera House Video and one of our regular movie review contributors to Killer Piks has the scary skinny on the best Halloween movies to watch before October is over... if that is your thing.

For a small store, Opera House Video in Belfast boasts one of the largest horror genre sections seen in the Midcoast, if not the entire state of Maine. Dandy, who happens to be wearing a T-shirt Zombie Island, is the go-to expert on the scariest, campiest and most horribly done horror.

“Right now, I’m leaning more toward foreign movies,” said Dandy. “All the American ones are just too predictable. When I was 10 or 11, I was in love with the universal monsters. You know, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula.”

The one that really stuck with him all these years has been Vincent Price’s Scream and Scream Again, a 1970s movie about a serial killer on the loose in London.

“That’s where my heart is, back in the 1960s, 1970s," he said. "Famous Monster Magazines was like my monster movie Bible.”

Horror tends to be one of those genres that people love with a rabid devotion or avoid at all costs.  Believe it or not, horror is an art form. Psychologists have theorized that horror movies serve the purpose of exploring our hidden fears, as well as questions about life’s purpose, death, and our connection to the spiritual world. In a white paper, Understanding the Popular Appeal of Horror Cinema, Glenn D. Walters, Ph.D. includes a Stephen King quote that aptly sums it up. According to King, horror films often serve as a “barometer of those things which trouble the night thoughts of a whole society.”

Psychologists have theorized that horror movies serve the purpose of exploring our hidden fears, as well as questions about life’s purpose, death, and our connection to the spiritual world.

Of the multiple genres and subgenres, horror can overlap fantasy, thriller and science fiction, ranging from Monsters (Aliens, Godzilla, Creature from the Black Lagoon) to Slasher (Halloween, Saw) to Supernatural Horror (The Exorcist, The Ring, The Omen.) Campy films (Killer Clowns From Outer Space: Rocky Horror Picture Show) are part of a self-indulgent sub-genre that celebrates cheesy plots and ridiculous dialogue, and likely out of that, a relatively new sub-genre, Comedy-Horror (Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead) has also emerged.

Dandy says he tends to avoid the slasher genre, as he doesn’t get any enjoyment out of gratuitous violence.

“It was a lot different in the 1980s, when the effects were just not that realistic,” he said.

Instead, he pulls out a few movies from his vast collection that he knows are customer favorites... or soon will be. “This is Zombi 2,” he said, pointing to the same image on his T-shirt. “This is a 1979 Italian movie by Lucio Fulci, which suggested it was a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, even though the two films were unrelated.”

Dandy, who also tends to lean toward campy horror, is especially fond of the smart films being produced in foreign countries, such as Australia’s  The Loved Ones, about a scorned prom queen who creates her own prom night in her basement with a kidnapped beau.  Another recommendation from Dandy is: Trailer Park of Terror, in which a bunch of high school students “find terror in the form of Norma, a damned redneck reaper with a killer body.”

If you’re one of the rabid devotees to the horror genre, you’ll be delighted with Opera House Video’s extensive collection. Or want to get over your scaredy cat phobias by trying out a movie or two, dip your toe into the campy or comedy-horror genre first. You might even find Jim Dandy sitting behind an old copy of Famous Monster Magazine when you walk in. Ask him what he’s reading about.

For hours and location and recommendations of Opera House Video, visit their Facebook page.

Kay Stephens can be reached at kaystephens@penbaypilot.com