Well another year has passed, and thus we must honor it in the time-honored tradition of the internet: posting about the best and worst (whatever the website is about) experienced in that year. 2008 was, as you all don’t care, the first full year of Horror Movie A Day (No missed days! 440 total reviews! Dozens of annoyed friends!!!), and if I may toot my own horn a bit, that’s pretty goddamn impressive of me. Much more impressive than previous “___ A Day” attempts. Turkey Club Sandwich A Day was particularly grueling, and only lasted a month or so.
Like last year, I have decided to write a HMAD specific list for 2008, which will focus on the 365+ movies that I watched for the site over the course of the calendar year. For a more traditional best/worst list (one that only concerns movies released in 2008), head on over to Bloody-Disgusting for my picks. I will also eschew the traditional categories, because, come on, this isn’t a traditional site. Let the other sites point out the best movie overall and the biggest disappointments, I know what you’re all really concerned with: The best/worst movies about killer chairs!
So without further ado...
HORROR MOVIE A DAY’S BEST/WORST OF 2008!!!
Most Consistent Franchise: PHANTASM
Unique in that every film in the series has the same writer/director, and pretty much the same cast, it comes as no surprise that the Phantasm series is pretty consistent in terms of quality. While I can put them all in order of ‘best to worst’, they would all be in the B+/A- range if I were to assign letter grades, which is more than I can say for any other franchise in history (OK, maybe the Witchcraft series, which would all be D).
Least Consistent Franchise: THE EYE
Not only do the films vary in overall quality (2 being great, 1 being OK, and 3 being a mess), but they have nothing in common storywise either. The actual concept of an “Eye” doesn’t even really factor into the sequels, which are more straight ahead ghost tales. But 2 is a serious drama/thriller, and 3 is a goofy comedy. At this rate, part 4 could be a romantic western and no one could really complain.
Best Movie With Terrible Greenscreen: FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS
Unlike the “loser” of this category, there was only one major greenscreen set in Feast II. Unfortunately, it’s the one where about half the movie takes place. Still, it’s too fun of a film to really hurt, and depending on how good the color is on your TV, you might not even notice most of the time.
Worst Movie With Terrible Greenscreen: PULSE 2/3
This one’s a tie, because 2 is a better movie than 3, but the greenscreen work is much worse. At least in 3 it seems like a few actual sets were used (such as the climax of the film), and they are scaled correctly, unlike in part 2, in which Jamie Bamber appeared to be in Wonderland half the time due to poorly sized backgrounds. And unlike Feast II, neither film was good enough to really forgive the cynical laziness involved in the decision to eschew generic locations (houses, gas stations) in favor of lousy composite work.
BEST INDIE ZOMBIE MOVIE: Zombies Anonymous
It falls apart in the 3rd act (as most zombie movies do), but until that point this is the closest I’ve seen to an original zombie movie in years. Shame it didn’t get picked up by one of the bigger studios, which could have given it more exposure, like the-
WORST INDIE ZOMBIE MOVIE: Zombie Diaries
Unless the character is a descendent of Hitler or something, there’s no reason to hate a movie character as much as you will hate the guy in this movie who compares what he’s going through to 9/11. The fact that he’s British makes it even more annoying. The fact that the rest of the movie is just as banal and pointless is just insulting. And I actually stopped buying Dark Side magazine after they claimed it was “the greatest zombie movie ever made”. It wasn’t even the best one made that week.
BEST MOVIE I WISH I WATCHED AT THE BEV: Friday the 13th Part V
A New Beginning was always on the lower end of my “Rank the Fridays” list, but watching it for the first time since I became a regular member of the rowdy/celebratory crowd at the New Beverly Cinema, I realize that I simply haven’t had the right viewing experience for it. This sleazy and ridiculous entry deserves a big crowd, not a solo home viewing. Let’s make it so for 2009!
BEST MOVIE I WISH I WATCHED AT HOME: Phase IV
Midnight movies should be ridiculous, fairly fast-paced, and generally “awesome”. Phase IV, while a good movie, is none of those things. We never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression, but if we could, I would probably start with this. At least for movies. If we’re talking human beings I totally would have been less of a lameo my freshman year of college.
BEST REASON TO KEEP DOING THIS: Pieces
Thanks to Eli Roth, maybe I would have seen Pieces this year even without Horror Movie A Day-ing, but it’s a risk I am not willing to take. This movie can’t be described, it simply must be experienced. Again and again. (Note – Raw Force may be even more epic, but it’s not as much of a horror movie)
BEST REASON TO STOP DOING THIS: Michael Feifer
I became sort-of familiar with this non-auteur with A Dead Calling, which was one of the worst movies I watched in 2007. Foolishly forgetting his name, I was subjected to not one but TWO of his godawful movies this year: The Graveyard and The Butcher. These movies were so bad that I swore off watching any DTV movies that I’ve never heard of. So if you’re an indie filmmaker who was hoping to see your film reviewed here, thank Michael Feifer for taking that dubious honor away from you.
BEST CRAPPY MOVIE: Alive Or Dead
One of some 200 Lionsgate releases I watched this year (I like how that might not even be an exaggeration), this one stuck out due to its charming peculiarities, like our heroine using her phone charger as a dildo in the opening scene. It’s otherwise no better/worse than any of these other breakdown/mutant movies, but the moments like that earned it a special place in my heart.
WORST “GOOD” MOVIE: Otis
I seem to be the only person who disliked this movie. But I’ve never been happier to be in the minority.
BEST BUDGET PACK FIND: Vampire’s Night Orgy
Not only is this one of the few Mill Creek movies to get a 2.35 transfer, but it’s actually a pretty great movie as well. I would pay handsomely for a pristine DVD – this movie made the otherwise underwhelming Tales of Terror set worth buying.
WORST BUDGET PACK FIND: Black Dragons
The 60th in my probably never ending series: “Movies about a big house with a reporter, an uncle, a mysterious death, and a suspicious butler that had nothing to do with it”
BEST KILLER CHAIR MOVIE: The Chair
It’s slow going, and the main actress is a bit annoying, but I would be willing to watch whatever director Brett Sullivan does next, and I would certainly watch whatever cute co-star Lauren Roy does next. Also, best screenshot of all time:
WORST KILLER CHAIR MOVIE: The Devil’s Chair
I really hoped Funny Games would be the last time I go out of my way to watch a horror movie and then be told that I am an asshole or a sick bastard or whatever for wanting to watch it, but nope. If it wasn’t an improvement over their last film (the truly execrable and pointless Broken), I consider Adam Mason and Simon Boyes to be sub-Uli Lommell at this point.
BEST MOVIE I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER: The Sickhouse
My review says that it’s pretty good. I’ll take my own word for it, because I honestly don’t even remember what this is about anymore. Something about the plague, a clock, and a coyote? And it’s good? OK.
WORST MOVIE I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER: Hatchetman
Considering the things I said, you’d think this burned Dark Ride-sized holes into my psyche, but damned if I can recall anything that happened in it.
BEST FILMMAKER RESPONSE: Antibodies
The director was like “I’m a regular site reader, and I just realized you reviewed my movie.” LOL, awesome.
WORST FILMMAKER RESPONSE: Nightmare Man
Within like, an hour of posting my review (hurrah for Google alerts!), the director posted a response, explaining how I was being too harsh and that the plot holes I mentioned weren’t plot holes. And that’s fine, but the main reason I disliked the movie was that it was trying hard to be funny when it wasn’t and was tonally all over the place - issues his response ignored. That’s like if you buy a car that explodes and the automaker chastises you for bemoaning the lack of cupholders.
BONUS: STRANGEST FILMMAKER RESPONSE: Return In Red
Maybe it wasn’t actually him, but a guy with the same name as the director of this underseen little gem posted a rambling and pretentious review of his own movie as a comment (the ONLY comment received for the film so far), rather than just say “Hey thanks for the nice review!” or whatever.
BEST TOM SIZEMORE MOVIE: Red
Not really horror, but a great dramatic thriller nonetheless, and it gives Tom Sizemore the first work he can be proud of in about 5-6 years.
WORST TOM SIZEMORE MOVIE: Furnace
Maybe Tom thought the director was Bill Butler, legendary DP of Jaws and The Conversation, not Bill Butler, writer of Return of the Living Dead 4: Rave to the Grave. Or he just didn’t care who was directing as long as it meant another decent paycheck for appearing in another lousy DTV horror movie.
BEST DTV SEQUEL: BOOGEYMAN 2
While nothing lived up to the promise of last year’s Wrong Turn 2, Boogeyman 2 at least gave me hope for the year (I saw it the first week of January) by vastly improving on the original and surprisingly offering up a traditional, and above average, slasher movie.
WORST DTV SEQUEL: REST STOP 2
Unfortunately, most of the DTVs were like this: lazy, pointless, and displaying not a single sign of creativity.
BEST MALE NUDITY: ANTIBODIES
In the film’s best scene, a naked serial killer runs around, then smashes through a window, falling 2-3 stories to the ground below. Considering I won’t even trim my beard unless my boy parts are fully protected, kudos to this guy for running balls first into a goddamn sheet of glass.
WORST MALE NUDITY: Don’t Look Now
I guess I’d rather see 1973 Donald Sutherland’s ass than 2009 Donald Sutherland’s ass, but it’s still a pretty ghastly sight, made worse by the fact that the scene is supposed to be kind of sexy.
BEST HORROR MOVIE ABOUT HORROR MOVIES: Hack!
Some of the humor falls flat, as expected, but its worth watching for William Forsythe’s hilarious turn as what is essentially a live action version of Groundskeeper Willie. Also: Winnie Cooper as a murdering slut who fucks her uncle. Hey-O!
WORST HORROR MOVIE ABOUT HORROR MOVIES: Trapped Ashes
This pointless anthology manages to waste Dick Miller AND my time, without a single decent entry (out of 5) to show for it. Filming in the Psycho house just reminds me of what I should be doing with my time instead.
BEST REMAKE: Last House On The Left
The trailer just debuted, and its one of the shittiest trailers I can recall. But don’t let that deter you from checking this one out when it is released (I saw a test screening), which takes what could have been a pretty terrible idea (mildly “Hollywood-ing” the original film) and manages to almost improve on it, thanks to a more consistent tone and an easier to digest approach. Bonus points for casting Tony Goldwyn as the dad.
WORST REMAKE: April Fool’s Day
Great idea, morons: remake a movie, but toss everything out BUT the one thing everyone dislikes about the otherwise fun original. You fucking asstards.
BEST TREND: Less "crap"
Out of the 75 movies labeled crap (refresher: a movie without a single redeeming quality), only 15 of them were from 2008 (as opposed to - math skills here - 60 from 2007). Either I'm becoming a more sympathetic person, or I'm just getting better at picking movies.
WORST TREND: Spam
I didn't get a lot in 2007, but I guess since the site is a bit more popular now, it's a more viable target for spammers and spam-bots. People posting in random reviews to link exchange when they aren't even human, people posting links to download the movie free, and worst of all - bigoted morons commenting in the Brokeback Mountain review. Also the folks (or just one bored folk) trying desperately to claim that Poughkeepsie Tapes (still unreleased!) is real. It's nice to hit the "reject" button every now and then, but enough is enough.
Well that's it. Feel free to post your own best/worst picks of the year! Enjoy 2009!!