Five Favorite Films with John Cusack

The man synonymous with the Top Five list runs down his favorite horror films; plus, he talks about playing Edgar Allan Poe and his underworld phase.

If there's one actor who was made for the five favorite films quiz, it's John Cusack, the man who spent the better part of High Fidelity dispensing his own top five lists on matters of girls, relationships, and of course, records.

"Weirdly, I'm not a 'top five' guy," Cusack smiles when we sit down with him to ask the question, before traces of his character start to emerge. "It depends on your mood and how you're feeling," he explains. "You gotta give this to me as a genre. I can tell you by different genres." Since Cusack is in town to promote The Raven -- a pulpy murder thriller in which he plays the Godfather of American Goth, Edgar Allan Poe -- he decided to run through his five favorite horror films. "We could do the horror genre," he says, "you know, the scariest movies. I've made a couple, but I don't know how good they are --'cause I'm in 'em."

Read on for more of our chat with Cusack, in which he talks about his attraction to playing Poe and the many sides of the writer, but first, here are his Five Favorite (Horror) Films.


The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973; 85% Tomatometer)

As far as the horror genre, I think The Exorcist is the scariest movie of all time. It's like head and shoulders above... there's nothing more terrifying, or deeply sinister than that. When I saw The Exorcist, at that time when I was a kid, I may have slept with the light on. I can't remember the exact time [I saw it], but I remember being literally knocked back. You have the pure theological question about, you know, "What is the role of evil and what is the nature of evil and what is its function?" And I think in The Exorcist the point is, the reason it's here is to try and make us give up hope, and find the courage to not give up hope. Evil wants to so demoralize you that you abandon all hope; it's only human beings' capacity to love and to fight back. But that's the role of evil: To challenge, and to make you choose. And growing up as a Catholic, too, I was immersed in the theology and doctrine of the church, so that movie was a serious, serious f-cking movie.

Do you go back to it ever?

Yeah -- I mean, not all the time. But it's an intense thing. Did you ever see the recut version of it?

That was the one I saw for the first time.

I didn't like the recut version. I didn't like it as much. I thought there were a couple of scenes that he added in that were improvements, but I think the original is pretty damn perfect.




The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980; 88% Tomatometer)

Well The Shining I thought a lot about, because we did Stephen King's 1408, which was another movie set in a hotel room, and the madness of that. But I think just seeing it in theaters, you know -- I think it's when you saw it. My mom was from Boston, so we used to go to Nantucket, and it was the summer and I remember I snuck away in the afternoon to go see it, at around 4 or 6 o'clock or something, and when I came back out it was dark and I had to walk down this dark street alone. And I remember being really, I mean really scared coming out of that theater; like, I did not want to leave the street lights to walk home. The other experience I remember was I saw Apocalypse Now in the theaters and I remember coming out of that and I almost couldn't speak. Stunned.




Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968; 96% Tomatometer)

There's two Romeros. Night of the Living Dead and the 1978 Dawn of the Dead. I think they're... well, it's obviously about racism, and class issues, and consumerism and capitalism, you know, thematically and satirically.




Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978; 94% Tomatometer)

I just think the premise of holding up in a mall... being that prescient about the kind of gated communities, and consumerism, and mixing that with zombies in 1978 is just beyond genius. If you look at, like, John Waters doing Female Trouble in 1974, saying things about crime and beauty and the rise of paparazzi, you know, this kind of crazy Kardashian, TMZ, beauty industry -- I mean, as psychotic as that film is, it's so ahead of the curve. It's so amazingly looking into the future. So I think those kinds of themes I responded to. And Goblin did the original soundtrack.




28 Days Later... (Danny Boyle, 2002; 88% Tomatometer)

28 Days Later... is pretty damn good. I like that movie. I just liked how Danny Boyle recreated it. I liked its heart, you know. I loved all the actors.

Great music, too. Some Godspeed You! Black Emperor in there.

Yeah. I loved the music, too.



Next, Cusack on the appeal of playing Poe in The Raven and why he's in his "underworld" phase.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Coooz! Pretty great list of some of the classics. I like what he says about "Exorcist", which reflects something I said about the curse of hopelessness in a lot of current horror films. I'm sensing a Goblin/Godspeed shuffle in my future. Even if "Raven" looks very trashy (sorry), it'll be one of my guilty pleasures. Anyone unfamiliar with the strange and opaque circumstances around Poe's death may not appreciate the possibilities for how this film will try to incorporate it. Truth is stranger than fiction, and all, so perhaps we'll never know.

Apr 26 - 11:32 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

The Raven movie inspired me to buy a collection of Poe's works. Familiar with many of course, just never actually read them. So, even if the movie blows, there's that.
I missed what you said about hopelessness in horror movies lately, but I am certain I agree. While it was interesting/different for a while - everyone dying or whatnot - it's actually come to be expected lately, and the last thing you want with a horror film is to be predictable.
Regarding his list, yeah, it's good. But he's an interesting guy and very diverse in his roles, so I'd have liked to see a general top 5. Aw, well. I agree with Exorcist and The Shining. I was born the year Exorcist came out, so didn't experience it in theaters until an early 90's showing at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Scared the piss out of me at the time. The Shining I caught on cable as a kid, and it haunted me for years. Still does. The zombie movies he picked are good, I'm just not a big zombie fan. My top five horrors would not include a zombie movie.

Apr 26 - 11:43 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

My top five would have to include "Psycho" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". And I'm not big on zombies either, and especially tired of their recent resurgence (although I play Left 4 Dead occasionally). The first three Romero zombie films are still classics though, and if you had to pick one among the recent crop, I don't think you could do better than "28 Days Later". Amongst the Poe films, I still like the Price-Corman films of the 60s, and Bela Lugosi in the 30s version of "Murders in Rue Morgue", and teamed with Karloff in "Black Cat/The Raven" (usually available as a two-fer). More obscure, I like Lucio Fulci's "Black Cat" from the early 80s with Patrick Magee (best known as the vengeful writer in Clockwork Orange) and Dario Argento's "Black Cat", starring Harvey Keitel, from "Two Evil Eyes" - a double feature that also includes one of Romero's worst films. Another Poe omnibus from the 60s, "Spirits of the Dead", includes a fair Roger Vadim (Jane and Peter Fonda), a better Louis Malle (Brigitt Bardot, Alain Delon) and a wonderful Frederico Fellini starring Terence Stamp as a young swinging star who bets the Devil. Anyway, I recommend all of the above. And Cusack fans, steer clear of "Identity" with one of the cheapest deus ex machina's I've ever seen. They should have just cut to Patrick Duffy stepping out of a shower and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Apr 26 - 12:12 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I've already cracked open my book and "Hop-Frog" is by far my favorite.

I'll have to check out some of your suggestions, I appreciate it. Argento gives me nightmares in a good way, and Keitel is a favorite of mine... had no idea they collaborated on a Poe story. Definitely will take a look.

LOL at the Dallas reference. And I agree, Identity had me hooked until the lazy ending.

Apr 26 - 01:58 PM

LividEmerald

David E. Miller

Personally, I like the concept behind "Identity." But then, I also like Brian De Palma's "Femme Fatale." I've been a fan of John Cusack since he starred in "The Grifters." I'm also a big fan of E.A. Poe, so I will almost certainly have to see "The Raven."

Apr 26 - 08:20 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Sounds like we have similar tastes, JJ, so I'm going to throw a couple your way.
If you haven't seen them, check out the animated "Tell Tale Heart" (1953) and Jan Svankmajer's "Pit & Pendulum" (1983). They're both under 20 minutes and both can be found at You Tube. Those are two of my faves, in addition to the ones you've mentioned.

Apr 27 - 07:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Awesome stuff, Captain. I'm a big fan of Svankmejer. And that Taymor may be the first version of HopFrog I've seen. Wild! And, Brad, it's funny because I was going to mention that my favorite Poe is still "Pit and the Pendulum" (it's a very good example of how difficult it is to adapt his stuff to the screen), so these clips are right on time! Thanks.

Apr 27 - 12:09 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Another one I forgot is Jean Epstein's "House of Usher" (1927?) I believe it was you that expressed an interest in Vampyr recently on another thread? If so this one will be up your alley for sure. Probably out-of-print but also on YT.

Apr 27 - 12:36 PM

Mark Hamstra

Mark Hamstra

A good list of horrors. I'm not a zombie film fan but I like them if they are well done, and the ones he picked are classics. I follow his tweets and the dude is pretty anti-establishment, so I can definitely see zombie films as being his fav sub-sub-genre. I'd love to hear his thoughts on A CABIN IN THE WOODS (which I enjoyed immensely). The last film I saw Cusack in, 1408, sucked hard; his acting was subpar in the film too.

Apr 28 - 11:11 AM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

What about the social implications in Dawn of the Dead, the zombies are all gray-faced, they are a race unto themselves. Night of the Living Dead, there such a overwhelming sense of doom and of no escape. Re-animated corpses scare me after having worked in my family's funeral home for almost twenty years.//we have such a diverse crowd here; I enjoy reading these many comments.

Apr 26 - 04:43 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

In the 90s, the infamous Julie Taymor directed a bizarre version of Hop Frog on PBS. I taped it and still have the vhs, but I don't think it's ever been shown/released again. You can find that one on You Tube as well.

Apr 27 - 07:56 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Finally found the time to finish "Hop Frog" tonight. Thanks again, Cap'n.

Apr 30 - 12:33 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I agree with you about the possibilities, I just don't think from what I've seen that it's going to live up to the potential. Unless it's a victim of a piss poor add campaign it's going to be one of the more unimaginative takes on Poe ever made which is sad because he is such an inherently interesting character. Plus, as I said before as much as I like John Cusack and I do, he Really is like Tom Cruise and Will Smith in that he always plays John Cusack only he's never even tried to stretch beyond that like Cruise did with Interview with the Vampire/Magnolia or Smith did with Ali. That's fine for movie's designed around, pardon my sense of whimsy, Being John Cusack like Crosse Pointe Blank, Better off Dead or High Fidelity or even pop action like Con Air, I just don't see how it's going to work in a period piece.

Apr 26 - 12:00 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The 'serial killer' thing just sounds so cliched and lazy. In the interview, Cusack almost apologises with a line about how he just wanted the opportunity to play Poe. But I disagree about your assessment of Cusack as Cusack. True enough, he does coast on his charm frequently, but I'd recommend "The Grifters", "Eight Men Out", "Being John Malkovich" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" for evidence of his talent. Also, "True Colors" is alright, but it has a rare Cusack role as the villain.

Apr 26 - 12:22 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Agree on 8 Men Out and I forgot about The Grifters, never seen Midnight cause I heard it was bad and just never have found a reason to take it in in the intervening years, but I think especially in Being John Malkovich like Cameron Diaz in the same film it was all just make up and presentation it was John Cusack in his sunday clothes without a haircut. Not saying I don't enjoy that, I often do. It's impressive in it's own right that he's had such a long and illustrious career just being himself. IN Malkovich I thought Malkovich ironically put in more acting work than Cusack or Diaz. Catherine Keener was pretty good too I guess.

Apr 26 - 01:33 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

My first girlfriend, at 13, plays Cusack's daughter in "8 Men Out." Not a speaking role, though.

Oh, and let me beat some asshole to the punch: Cool story, bro.

Apr 26 - 02:01 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

@Brad H
Non-speaking girlfriends are the best kind! Oh wait I think I read that wrong...

Apr 27 - 02:17 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You neglected to tell them you were 40 at the time lol.

Apr 27 - 02:42 PM

Paul Atreides

Paul Atreides

Midnight WAS bad (worse than Identity, btw)... you didn't miss anything. Being John Malkovich (although John Malkovich is an asshole in reality, lol) and the Grifters are the gems among Cusack's work, IMO. Generally speaking, I always liked Cusack himself better than his movies. Say Anything was probably the worst one I sat through (at the theater, no less... thanks to a girlfriend). Dammit, I really wanted the Raven to be good!... I haven't been this disappointed since seeing The Wolfman's low rating. :(

Apr 27 - 08:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

??? "I'm not a political person actually, and I don't have an ideology." -- John Malkovich, 2011.

Apr 27 - 12:03 PM

Paul Atreides

Paul Atreides

LOL, who the hell are you talking to, idiot? Go to the optometrist, because you apparently read some words that weren't there. I've never known anything about the douche bag's politics, and I'm right of center myself. Interviews over the years, especially one in Playboy where he went out of his way to insult people (and America, as well... Republican boy), were the basis for my assessment of asshole... not his politics. He even insulted Einstein, LOL... a little thespian court jester disparaging one of the greatest minds in human history. You political trolls, both left and right wing, sure are a strange lot... you look for an excuse to spout your scripted, frequently delusional, political statements under any rock you can find. For the record, John Malkovich is obviously an extremely talented actor... I've enjoyed his performances in several movies.

Apr 29 - 10:02 AM

Mark Hamstra

Mark Hamstra

I agree. His acting can be one dimensional, and he needs a good script with lines designed for his style of delivery. It's ironic and fitting that he has played himself in a couple of films about Hollywood. I think he can stretch himself out as a character actor; he was very good in EIGHT MEN OUT and CITY HALL for example, where he pushed himself. Sometimes it comes down to what kind of scripts pile up on his coffee table, or which films he's invited to read for.

Apr 28 - 11:24 AM

Todd Garry

Todd Garry

I am gonna catch a ton of heat for this but I have never been able to get into Romero's Dawn of the dead. He is a genius for coming up with the idea and premise, but I just can't get past that grey makeup they used for the zombies. It completely took me out of the movie.

Apr 26 - 03:53 PM

Preston Orrick

Preston Orrick

I agree, the makeup could have been much better. They even had Tom Savini on board, so I don't know why the makeup was so poorly done. But maybe it's scarier if you can't tell a reanimated corpse if it's not all bloodied and bruised up. You wouldn't be able to tell friend from foe if there was no obvious sign.

Apr 28 - 08:20 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

To be fair, Tom Savini was/is best known for more gore effects: punctures, impalings, lost limbs and bowels, etc. rather than the actual zombie makeup itself. But I remember Romero saying that there is a progression of putrification in his zombies from the relative 'fresh'ly dead from "Night" to the more ashy "Dawn" to the more decrepit "Day". That may be (probably is) a convenient excuse, but it works. The more recent feral zombies (Resident Evil, Dawn-remake, 28 Days Later, etc) have made it harder for younger audiences to appreciate the creeping death of Romero's era.

Apr 30 - 12:36 AM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

yes!!!! The Exorcist IS about Satan's attempt to make people despair and give up hope. There can be seen an implied hopelessness in the horror movies they are making today.///moviegoers have been saturated and innured to imaages of horror.

Apr 26 - 04:34 PM

Dean W.

Dean Wirth

Just saw the Raven and liked it a lot. It had minor flaws but if your a Poe fan you have to see it, even ifg to criticize it. I liked it and have read everything Poe ever wrote when I was a teenager, even his home decorating articles. He wrote humor, and a lot of his horror stories were meant to be humorous. After all he invented the mystery and sci-fi genres.

Apr 27 - 02:59 PM

Nick Castronuova

Nick Castronuova

Woo! John Cusack spent his summers on Nantucket. Just like One Crazy Summer.....

Apr 26 - 11:42 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

The Raven movie inspired me to buy a collection of Poe's works. Familiar with many of course, just never actually read them. So, even if the movie blows, there's that.
I missed what you said about hopelessness in horror movies lately, but I am certain I agree. While it was interesting/different for a while - everyone dying or whatnot - it's actually come to be expected lately, and the last thing you want with a horror film is to be predictable.
Regarding his list, yeah, it's good. But he's an interesting guy and very diverse in his roles, so I'd have liked to see a general top 5. Aw, well. I agree with Exorcist and The Shining. I was born the year Exorcist came out, so didn't experience it in theaters until an early 90's showing at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Scared the piss out of me at the time. The Shining I caught on cable as a kid, and it haunted me for years. Still does. The zombie movies he picked are good, I'm just not a big zombie fan. My top five horrors would not include a zombie movie.

Apr 26 - 11:43 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

My top five would have to include "Psycho" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". And I'm not big on zombies either, and especially tired of their recent resurgence (although I play Left 4 Dead occasionally). The first three Romero zombie films are still classics though, and if you had to pick one among the recent crop, I don't think you could do better than "28 Days Later". Amongst the Poe films, I still like the Price-Corman films of the 60s, and Bela Lugosi in the 30s version of "Murders in Rue Morgue", and teamed with Karloff in "Black Cat/The Raven" (usually available as a two-fer). More obscure, I like Lucio Fulci's "Black Cat" from the early 80s with Patrick Magee (best known as the vengeful writer in Clockwork Orange) and Dario Argento's "Black Cat", starring Harvey Keitel, from "Two Evil Eyes" - a double feature that also includes one of Romero's worst films. Another Poe omnibus from the 60s, "Spirits of the Dead", includes a fair Roger Vadim (Jane and Peter Fonda), a better Louis Malle (Brigitt Bardot, Alain Delon) and a wonderful Frederico Fellini starring Terence Stamp as a young swinging star who bets the Devil. Anyway, I recommend all of the above. And Cusack fans, steer clear of "Identity" with one of the cheapest deus ex machina's I've ever seen. They should have just cut to Patrick Duffy stepping out of a shower and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Apr 26 - 12:12 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I've already cracked open my book and "Hop-Frog" is by far my favorite.

I'll have to check out some of your suggestions, I appreciate it. Argento gives me nightmares in a good way, and Keitel is a favorite of mine... had no idea they collaborated on a Poe story. Definitely will take a look.

LOL at the Dallas reference. And I agree, Identity had me hooked until the lazy ending.

Apr 26 - 01:58 PM

LividEmerald

David E. Miller

Personally, I like the concept behind "Identity." But then, I also like Brian De Palma's "Femme Fatale." I've been a fan of John Cusack since he starred in "The Grifters." I'm also a big fan of E.A. Poe, so I will almost certainly have to see "The Raven."

Apr 26 - 08:20 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Sounds like we have similar tastes, JJ, so I'm going to throw a couple your way.
If you haven't seen them, check out the animated "Tell Tale Heart" (1953) and Jan Svankmajer's "Pit & Pendulum" (1983). They're both under 20 minutes and both can be found at You Tube. Those are two of my faves, in addition to the ones you've mentioned.

Apr 27 - 07:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Awesome stuff, Captain. I'm a big fan of Svankmejer. And that Taymor may be the first version of HopFrog I've seen. Wild! And, Brad, it's funny because I was going to mention that my favorite Poe is still "Pit and the Pendulum" (it's a very good example of how difficult it is to adapt his stuff to the screen), so these clips are right on time! Thanks.

Apr 27 - 12:09 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Another one I forgot is Jean Epstein's "House of Usher" (1927?) I believe it was you that expressed an interest in Vampyr recently on another thread? If so this one will be up your alley for sure. Probably out-of-print but also on YT.

Apr 27 - 12:36 PM

Mark Hamstra

Mark Hamstra

A good list of horrors. I'm not a zombie film fan but I like them if they are well done, and the ones he picked are classics. I follow his tweets and the dude is pretty anti-establishment, so I can definitely see zombie films as being his fav sub-sub-genre. I'd love to hear his thoughts on A CABIN IN THE WOODS (which I enjoyed immensely). The last film I saw Cusack in, 1408, sucked hard; his acting was subpar in the film too.

Apr 28 - 11:11 AM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

What about the social implications in Dawn of the Dead, the zombies are all gray-faced, they are a race unto themselves. Night of the Living Dead, there such a overwhelming sense of doom and of no escape. Re-animated corpses scare me after having worked in my family's funeral home for almost twenty years.//we have such a diverse crowd here; I enjoy reading these many comments.

Apr 26 - 04:43 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

In the 90s, the infamous Julie Taymor directed a bizarre version of Hop Frog on PBS. I taped it and still have the vhs, but I don't think it's ever been shown/released again. You can find that one on You Tube as well.

Apr 27 - 07:56 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Finally found the time to finish "Hop Frog" tonight. Thanks again, Cap'n.

Apr 30 - 12:33 AM

StonedMagician99

Andy Spencer

This has to be the most genre-centric Five-Favorites list I've seen so far. At least these are all excellent horror films.

Apr 26 - 11:48 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Perhaps that is due to this being his top 5 favorite horror films.

Apr 26 - 12:09 PM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

perhaps.

Apr 26 - 04:38 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

lol

Apr 26 - 07:17 PM

StonedMagician99

Andy Spencer

Yeah... I just noticed the blurb on the home page says that there are only horror films, which I didn't before. I click things before reading the headline sometimes.

Apr 28 - 05:04 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

Please stop using crack.

Apr 30 - 08:37 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I agree with you about the possibilities, I just don't think from what I've seen that it's going to live up to the potential. Unless it's a victim of a piss poor add campaign it's going to be one of the more unimaginative takes on Poe ever made which is sad because he is such an inherently interesting character. Plus, as I said before as much as I like John Cusack and I do, he Really is like Tom Cruise and Will Smith in that he always plays John Cusack only he's never even tried to stretch beyond that like Cruise did with Interview with the Vampire/Magnolia or Smith did with Ali. That's fine for movie's designed around, pardon my sense of whimsy, Being John Cusack like Crosse Pointe Blank, Better off Dead or High Fidelity or even pop action like Con Air, I just don't see how it's going to work in a period piece.

Apr 26 - 12:00 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The 'serial killer' thing just sounds so cliched and lazy. In the interview, Cusack almost apologises with a line about how he just wanted the opportunity to play Poe. But I disagree about your assessment of Cusack as Cusack. True enough, he does coast on his charm frequently, but I'd recommend "The Grifters", "Eight Men Out", "Being John Malkovich" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" for evidence of his talent. Also, "True Colors" is alright, but it has a rare Cusack role as the villain.

Apr 26 - 12:22 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Agree on 8 Men Out and I forgot about The Grifters, never seen Midnight cause I heard it was bad and just never have found a reason to take it in in the intervening years, but I think especially in Being John Malkovich like Cameron Diaz in the same film it was all just make up and presentation it was John Cusack in his sunday clothes without a haircut. Not saying I don't enjoy that, I often do. It's impressive in it's own right that he's had such a long and illustrious career just being himself. IN Malkovich I thought Malkovich ironically put in more acting work than Cusack or Diaz. Catherine Keener was pretty good too I guess.

Apr 26 - 01:33 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

My first girlfriend, at 13, plays Cusack's daughter in "8 Men Out." Not a speaking role, though.

Oh, and let me beat some asshole to the punch: Cool story, bro.

Apr 26 - 02:01 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

@Brad H
Non-speaking girlfriends are the best kind! Oh wait I think I read that wrong...

Apr 27 - 02:17 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You neglected to tell them you were 40 at the time lol.

Apr 27 - 02:42 PM

Paul Atreides

Paul Atreides

Midnight WAS bad (worse than Identity, btw)... you didn't miss anything. Being John Malkovich (although John Malkovich is an asshole in reality, lol) and the Grifters are the gems among Cusack's work, IMO. Generally speaking, I always liked Cusack himself better than his movies. Say Anything was probably the worst one I sat through (at the theater, no less... thanks to a girlfriend). Dammit, I really wanted the Raven to be good!... I haven't been this disappointed since seeing The Wolfman's low rating. :(

Apr 27 - 08:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

??? "I'm not a political person actually, and I don't have an ideology." -- John Malkovich, 2011.

Apr 27 - 12:03 PM

Paul Atreides

Paul Atreides

LOL, who the hell are you talking to, idiot? Go to the optometrist, because you apparently read some words that weren't there. I've never known anything about the douche bag's politics, and I'm right of center myself. Interviews over the years, especially one in Playboy where he went out of his way to insult people (and America, as well... Republican boy), were the basis for my assessment of asshole... not his politics. He even insulted Einstein, LOL... a little thespian court jester disparaging one of the greatest minds in human history. You political trolls, both left and right wing, sure are a strange lot... you look for an excuse to spout your scripted, frequently delusional, political statements under any rock you can find. For the record, John Malkovich is obviously an extremely talented actor... I've enjoyed his performances in several movies.

Apr 29 - 10:02 AM

Mark Hamstra

Mark Hamstra

I agree. His acting can be one dimensional, and he needs a good script with lines designed for his style of delivery. It's ironic and fitting that he has played himself in a couple of films about Hollywood. I think he can stretch himself out as a character actor; he was very good in EIGHT MEN OUT and CITY HALL for example, where he pushed himself. Sometimes it comes down to what kind of scripts pile up on his coffee table, or which films he's invited to read for.

Apr 28 - 11:24 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Perhaps that is due to this being his top 5 favorite horror films.

Apr 26 - 12:09 PM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

perhaps.

Apr 26 - 04:38 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

lol

Apr 26 - 07:17 PM

StonedMagician99

Andy Spencer

Yeah... I just noticed the blurb on the home page says that there are only horror films, which I didn't before. I click things before reading the headline sometimes.

Apr 28 - 05:04 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

Please stop using crack.

Apr 30 - 08:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

My top five would have to include "Psycho" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". And I'm not big on zombies either, and especially tired of their recent resurgence (although I play Left 4 Dead occasionally). The first three Romero zombie films are still classics though, and if you had to pick one among the recent crop, I don't think you could do better than "28 Days Later". Amongst the Poe films, I still like the Price-Corman films of the 60s, and Bela Lugosi in the 30s version of "Murders in Rue Morgue", and teamed with Karloff in "Black Cat/The Raven" (usually available as a two-fer). More obscure, I like Lucio Fulci's "Black Cat" from the early 80s with Patrick Magee (best known as the vengeful writer in Clockwork Orange) and Dario Argento's "Black Cat", starring Harvey Keitel, from "Two Evil Eyes" - a double feature that also includes one of Romero's worst films. Another Poe omnibus from the 60s, "Spirits of the Dead", includes a fair Roger Vadim (Jane and Peter Fonda), a better Louis Malle (Brigitt Bardot, Alain Delon) and a wonderful Frederico Fellini starring Terence Stamp as a young swinging star who bets the Devil. Anyway, I recommend all of the above. And Cusack fans, steer clear of "Identity" with one of the cheapest deus ex machina's I've ever seen. They should have just cut to Patrick Duffy stepping out of a shower and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Apr 26 - 12:12 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I've already cracked open my book and "Hop-Frog" is by far my favorite.

I'll have to check out some of your suggestions, I appreciate it. Argento gives me nightmares in a good way, and Keitel is a favorite of mine... had no idea they collaborated on a Poe story. Definitely will take a look.

LOL at the Dallas reference. And I agree, Identity had me hooked until the lazy ending.

Apr 26 - 01:58 PM

LividEmerald

David E. Miller

Personally, I like the concept behind "Identity." But then, I also like Brian De Palma's "Femme Fatale." I've been a fan of John Cusack since he starred in "The Grifters." I'm also a big fan of E.A. Poe, so I will almost certainly have to see "The Raven."

Apr 26 - 08:20 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Sounds like we have similar tastes, JJ, so I'm going to throw a couple your way.
If you haven't seen them, check out the animated "Tell Tale Heart" (1953) and Jan Svankmajer's "Pit & Pendulum" (1983). They're both under 20 minutes and both can be found at You Tube. Those are two of my faves, in addition to the ones you've mentioned.

Apr 27 - 07:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Awesome stuff, Captain. I'm a big fan of Svankmejer. And that Taymor may be the first version of HopFrog I've seen. Wild! And, Brad, it's funny because I was going to mention that my favorite Poe is still "Pit and the Pendulum" (it's a very good example of how difficult it is to adapt his stuff to the screen), so these clips are right on time! Thanks.

Apr 27 - 12:09 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

Another one I forgot is Jean Epstein's "House of Usher" (1927?) I believe it was you that expressed an interest in Vampyr recently on another thread? If so this one will be up your alley for sure. Probably out-of-print but also on YT.

Apr 27 - 12:36 PM

Mark Hamstra

Mark Hamstra

A good list of horrors. I'm not a zombie film fan but I like them if they are well done, and the ones he picked are classics. I follow his tweets and the dude is pretty anti-establishment, so I can definitely see zombie films as being his fav sub-sub-genre. I'd love to hear his thoughts on A CABIN IN THE WOODS (which I enjoyed immensely). The last film I saw Cusack in, 1408, sucked hard; his acting was subpar in the film too.

Apr 28 - 11:11 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The 'serial killer' thing just sounds so cliched and lazy. In the interview, Cusack almost apologises with a line about how he just wanted the opportunity to play Poe. But I disagree about your assessment of Cusack as Cusack. True enough, he does coast on his charm frequently, but I'd recommend "The Grifters", "Eight Men Out", "Being John Malkovich" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" for evidence of his talent. Also, "True Colors" is alright, but it has a rare Cusack role as the villain.

Apr 26 - 12:22 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Agree on 8 Men Out and I forgot about The Grifters, never seen Midnight cause I heard it was bad and just never have found a reason to take it in in the intervening years, but I think especially in Being John Malkovich like Cameron Diaz in the same film it was all just make up and presentation it was John Cusack in his sunday clothes without a haircut. Not saying I don't enjoy that, I often do. It's impressive in it's own right that he's had such a long and illustrious career just being himself. IN Malkovich I thought Malkovich ironically put in more acting work than Cusack or Diaz. Catherine Keener was pretty good too I guess.

Apr 26 - 01:33 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

My first girlfriend, at 13, plays Cusack's daughter in "8 Men Out." Not a speaking role, though.

Oh, and let me beat some asshole to the punch: Cool story, bro.

Apr 26 - 02:01 PM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

@Brad H
Non-speaking girlfriends are the best kind! Oh wait I think I read that wrong...

Apr 27 - 02:17 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

You neglected to tell them you were 40 at the time lol.

Apr 27 - 02:42 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Agree on 8 Men Out and I forgot about The Grifters, never seen Midnight cause I heard it was bad and just never have found a reason to take it in in the intervening years, but I think especially in Being John Malkovich like Cameron Diaz in the same film it was all just make up and presentation it was John Cusack in his sunday clothes without a haircut. Not saying I don't enjoy that, I often do. It's impressive in it's own right that he's had such a long and illustrious career just being himself. IN Malkovich I thought Malkovich ironically put in more acting work than Cusack or Diaz. Catherine Keener was pretty good too I guess.

Apr 26 - 01:33 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

I have a weird desire to see this movie, but I know it will be crap. Maybe because it looks like a fun movie not to be taken to seriously. But I'll probably just wait for the home release. Exorcist would be on my top 5 horror flicks as well. I actually prefer Day of the Dead to Night and Dawn. Bub is just too awesome. Anyways, good list overall. He seems to love his zombie films.

Apr 26 - 01:43 PM

Cal Doritosaurus

Cal Doritosaurus

Awesome. Dawn of the Dead is one of my favourites as well.

Apr 26 - 01:49 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I've already cracked open my book and "Hop-Frog" is by far my favorite.

I'll have to check out some of your suggestions, I appreciate it. Argento gives me nightmares in a good way, and Keitel is a favorite of mine... had no idea they collaborated on a Poe story. Definitely will take a look.

LOL at the Dallas reference. And I agree, Identity had me hooked until the lazy ending.

Apr 26 - 01:58 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

My first girlfriend, at 13, plays Cusack's daughter in "8 Men Out." Not a speaking role, though.

Oh, and let me beat some asshole to the punch: Cool story, bro.

Apr 26 - 02:01 PM

Todd Garry

Todd Garry

I am gonna catch a ton of heat for this but I have never been able to get into Romero's Dawn of the dead. He is a genius for coming up with the idea and premise, but I just can't get past that grey makeup they used for the zombies. It completely took me out of the movie.

Apr 26 - 03:53 PM

Preston Orrick

Preston Orrick

I agree, the makeup could have been much better. They even had Tom Savini on board, so I don't know why the makeup was so poorly done. But maybe it's scarier if you can't tell a reanimated corpse if it's not all bloodied and bruised up. You wouldn't be able to tell friend from foe if there was no obvious sign.

Apr 28 - 08:20 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

To be fair, Tom Savini was/is best known for more gore effects: punctures, impalings, lost limbs and bowels, etc. rather than the actual zombie makeup itself. But I remember Romero saying that there is a progression of putrification in his zombies from the relative 'fresh'ly dead from "Night" to the more ashy "Dawn" to the more decrepit "Day". That may be (probably is) a convenient excuse, but it works. The more recent feral zombies (Resident Evil, Dawn-remake, 28 Days Later, etc) have made it harder for younger audiences to appreciate the creeping death of Romero's era.

Apr 30 - 12:36 AM

Ken

Kenneth W.

"Dawn of the Dead" and "28 Days Later" are excellent picks, as far as the zombie subgenre is concerned. These two in particular do right what most imitators and lousy Romero remakes/spin-offs (though Snyder's "Dawn" was pretty good) in the zombie resurgence do wrong: the human element. They're scathing movies about humanity and society that happen to use zombies/"The Infected" as a catalyist.

Apr 26 - 04:19 PM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

yes!!!! The Exorcist IS about Satan's attempt to make people despair and give up hope. There can be seen an implied hopelessness in the horror movies they are making today.///moviegoers have been saturated and innured to imaages of horror.

Apr 26 - 04:34 PM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

perhaps.

Apr 26 - 04:38 PM

Gordon Sr.

Gordon Sr.

What about the social implications in Dawn of the Dead, the zombies are all gray-faced, they are a race unto themselves. Night of the Living Dead, there such a overwhelming sense of doom and of no escape. Re-animated corpses scare me after having worked in my family's funeral home for almost twenty years.//we have such a diverse crowd here; I enjoy reading these many comments.

Apr 26 - 04:43 PM

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