We Are Still Here
Deceptively simple but effectively creepy, Ted Geoghegan's haunted house horror relies on old tales and careful framing to elicit its jumps and thrills. It does follow some inane genre techniques (i.e. the now infamous Ebert coined BADF theory) but its heart and mind feel like they're in the right place.
Stephen King's It
Even though millions of people suffer from coulrophobia, there's still plenty of other things to really freak someone out in "Stephen King's It". I'm honestly not sure how I managed to avoid this miniseries based on King's 1986 novel, but it's well worth the wait. Marrying his two beloved thematic tendencies- one being childhood reverie of growing up during the 1960's and the second being his innate ability to terrify- King (and director Tommy Lee Wallace) have delivered a solid visual translation. The idea of a malevolent being taking the form of a clown and using a quiet New England town as his 30 year feeding ground is a spellbinding idea, and while parts of the movie are deadened by their television soap opera bearings, it more often than not succeeds. And, even more impressive is the basic idea about seven young friends suffering from psychological horror and then reuniting 30 years later to deal with them together. Those sections of the film alone would be enough to satisfy a full movie. But the real star here is Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown.... a character that's alternately full of cheap one liners and sublimely nightmarish. Alongside Wes Craven's "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, these are two primo efforts about the hellish reaches of our subconscious and the mind-bending ways in which reality and fantasy often overlap.
Cult director Richard Stanley isn't really all that interested in making an outright horror film. Most of his stuff is a casserole of genres, and "Dust Devil" is a unique horror western with some South African mysticism tossed in. Besides its strong visual style, I can sense he was reaching for a franchise here as a shape-shifting devil runs amok on the desert highlands and local police try to decipher the grisly crime scene images. It's not always successful and suffers from the sorta-bad-early-90's costume theatrics, but its different.