2009 was a pretty great year for horror. Paranormal Activity kicked all kinds of ass, Zombieland became the highest grossing zombie film of all time (even with inflation factored in), and for the most part, R rated horror films outperformed their PG-13 competition. Unless, of course, you count New Moon as a horror movie, then 2009 sucked, since the goddamn thing managed to gross nearly 300 fucking million dollars, pretty much more than everything else combined.
Sparkly vampires and homoerotic werewolves aside, the only real downer about 2009 is that the Saw series got back on track in a big way and no one showed up to see it, with the film’s final gross not even equaling the opening weekend of the previous movies. That, and we STILL haven’t seen the release of (2007 HMAD entries) All The Boys Love Mandy Lane or The Poughkeepsie Tapes.
As always, we (me) here at HMAD would like to take a look back at some various highs and lows of the year, eschewing “top 10 movies” or “the worst film of the year” (which would be The Cell 2) type wrap-ups for more important categories, such as “The Best/Worst Films That Were Dumped By Lionsgate”. And again, this list is comprised of the 365+ movies WATCHED this year - not ones that were necessarily RELEASED this year. For that sort of typical thing, head on over to Bloody for my enforced Best/Worst lists.
HORROR MOVIE A DAY’S BEST/WORST OF 2009!!!
Best Sequel That Should Have Sucked: THE DESCENT: PART 2
When I think about the first sequels to the all time greatest horror movies (Halloween, The Exorcist, Texas Chain Saw Massacre), the word disappointment frequently comes to mind. Not that I DISLIKE those films, but they fail to even come close to matching the heights of the originals. But I have to say, that is not the case with The Descent’s sequel, which takes an Aliens approach for the most part (Sarah has to lead a team back there to figure out what happened) - and succeeds at scaring the shit out of me all over again. With some super splattery death scenes and a surprisingly tense final act (which sees the return of another character from the original), I was a happy camper.
Worst Sequel That Should Have Been Great: THE GATE 2
This movie had the same writer and director as the original, and put the awesome nerdy best friend character front and center. So why is this movie so fucking terrible? Nothing about it works, and worse, it makes you actually utter the words “I miss Stephen Dorff”.
Best Movie I Managed To See In Theaters: THE NEW DAUGHTER
This film opened on I think 12 screens, had no advertisement whatsoever (I can’t even find a trailer on Youtube. I can find footage of me eating a canoli on Youtube, but I can’t find the trailer for the newest Kevin Costner movie.), and no one even knew it was coming out until the day before it did. Hell, I didn’t even know what it was about until it was revealed in the film itself. It starts off like a haunted house movie, starts to seem like a killer kid movie, and then ends up being a full blown monster movie! Plus: COSTNER. Awesome. Check it out on DVD (from Anchor Bay I am sure, who was in charge of its “distribution”)..
Worst Movie I Managed To See In Theaters: HOMECOMING
Like The New Daughter, this movie opened on a few screens and you had to go out of your way to not only find one, but to even know it was out at all. In fact, if not for the fact that Mischa Barton tried to off herself the night of its premiere, I don’t think I’d have even heard of it. After watching it, I fully understood Ms. Barton’s actions. I hope she recovers both her ability to cope with life as well as her ability to choose better fucking scripts.
Best Movie Everyone Hated: DEAD SNOW
Friends told me this was one of the worst movies ever, but I dunno what the hell they were watching. I thought it was a blast, and pretty creative - it’s a zombie movie that’s set up like a slasher for its first half. It also has some of the best gore gags in years (entrails, meet tree!) and, you know, NAZI ZOMBIES. A damn fun time.
Worst Movie Everyone Loved: SURVEILLANCE
I’ve been seeing this on a lot of the “year’s best” lists - what? It’s not a terrible film, but when the whole thing is built around a blatantly obvious twist (one that prevents anything from actually happening until the film’s final act), I don’t see how it can qualify as some sort of cinematic triumph. Let’s chalk this one up to “Well David Lynch is involved so it must be genius!” -itis.
Best Wish Come True: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V (at the New Beverly!)
I asked for it in last year’s awards, and earlier this year, Phil and Amoeba were kind enough to show A New Beginning in the middle of a triple feature (with Final Chapter and Jason Lives). I was in enchilada heaven.
Worst Wish Come True: VACANCY 2: THE FINAL CUT
I’ve always wanted to see a prequel to one of these “People run afoul of killers who have been doing this for years” movies that showed the killers doing their thing for the 1st time. Unfortunately, the movie Vacancy 2 showed us just that, and proved what a fucking dull story it would make. My bad, everyone.
Best Anaconda movie: ANACONDA 3
Not too bad, as these things go.
Worst Anaconda movie: ANACONDA 4
What a piece of shit.
Best Movie Still Not Released: THE REVENANT
I saw this film in October at Screamfest, and while it went over well (not to mention had screened at Fantastic Fest the month before), I haven’t heard a peep about it getting picked up for distribution. Come on, studios - zombies are hot again thanks to Zombieland; snap this one up and get it out there while the iron is hot!
Worst Movie Still Not Released: ANIMALS
Please, Animals, stay buried. We have enough “so bad it’s good” movies already, we don’t need your nonsense adding to the pile.
Shit Title/Great Movie: ALIEN RAIDERS
That doesn’t sound like a Sci-Fi original movie - that sounds like the fake title of someone MAKING FUN OF Sci-Fi original movies! But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty kick-ass movie, with Tony Almeida AND C-Note trying to locate an alien (disguised as human) in a locked down supermarket. Lot of badassery, lot of great kills, and a lot of “Wow I can’t believe how good a movie called Alien Raiders is.”
Great Title/Shit Movie: OLD HAG
You see the title Old Hag, and you think “Sweet, a killer granny movie!” But nope, it’s a “Bunch of people in a warehouse sit around yammering on and nothing happens until the end and it doesn’t make any sense when it does” movie. And I hate those movies.
Best Movie About A Bunch Of Stranded Soldiers In The Desert Getting Killed By A Supernatural Entity: RED SANDS
Shitty effects and some obvious tinkering aside, there’s a lot to like here from the team that gave us Dead Birds, and I dug the old-school slow pace.
Worst Movie About A Bunch Of Stranded Soldiers In The Desert Getting Killed By A Supernatural Entity: THE OBJECTIVE
This one starts strong but gets repetitive real quick, and the ending is atrocious. Worse, the lead actor keeps narrating the damn thing for no reason, and each time he starts to speak, I liked the movie less.
Best Movie Featuring A Twilight Star: SUMMER'S MOON
Alice Cullen, né Ashley Greene, stars in this gonzo hybrid of Motel Hell and Taboo 2, with lots of icky incest and a human garden separating this one from the scores of other “Tie a girl up in the house until she pretends to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and escape” movies.
Worst Movie Featuring A Twilight Star: THE HAUNTED AIRMAN
Even the most die hard Twilight fan I know (my wife) was bored by this snoozefest, noting that the part where Robert Pattinson got a sponge bath was the only part she liked (mine too, but that’s because it was being administered by his aunt. Hey-O!). But it has lots of raves from Twi-fans on the IMDb, which means that from now on, Hollywood producers simply have to land one of the cast members in order to get good notices for their shitty movies.
Best Q&A I Got To Moderate: SHOCKER
I had been dreaming of seeing Shocker on the big screen for years, so just to finally do just that would have been awesome enough. But getting to host a Q&A with Richard Brooks, Vincent Guastaferro, Ted Raimi, and WES CRAVEN (!!!) before the film was just divine. There’s some video online for you to enjoy, edited to remove all my nervous jibberish.
Worst Q&A I Got To Moderate: MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D
The Q&A itself was actually pretty fun, since Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier are great guys and told some awesome/funny stories. But my goddamn subwoofer of a voice kept making the mic go apeshit (cue Will Ferrell “Ooh, hot mic! Hot mic!”) and I looked like an idiot in front of 300 people. Luckily, as usual, 90% of the friends who said they were going to go didn’t, so I only looked dumb in front of strangers who probably don’t even remember it.
Best Maskless Slasher: HOME SWEET HOME
Body By Jake Steinfeld stars in this, the only Thanksgiving slasher movie I know of, where he kills an entire family via electric guitar, car hood, and other offbeat implements. And he does it all in a grey t-shirt and black pants. Which means that for the first time ever, some dudes in the audience might have come to the theater dressed as the killer without looking like a moron as they waited in the lobby.
Worst Maskless Slasher: SORORITY ROW
I dug the movie for the most part, but I was PISSED that they didn’t make up for one of the original’s biggest flaws, which was not using the awesome jester mask more often. The remake actually goes the other way, and doesn’t give the killer a mask at all! He just wears a druid robe for some reason. Perfect opportunity to finally put a jester mask to good use, and they blow it as badly as conceivably possible.
Best Movie I Saw Solely Due To My Attraction To The Female Lead: UNDERWORLD 3
Not being a big fan of the first two, I could have easily waited until DVD to see Underworld 3, but Rhona Mitra deserves to be seen in as big a format as possible. And even when she wasn’t on-screen, I found this one to be largely enjoyable, with some actual werewolf action (sans machine guns) and a far less convoluted plot than the others.
Worst Movie I Saw Solely Due To My Attraction To The Female Lead: WHITEOUT
There are actually a number of films that caught my eye primarily thanks to the comely female lead, but Whiteout is easily the worst because A. Kate Beckinsale is hotter than any of them and B. it’s one of the least interesting movies I’ve ever seen. I was bored even when she was doing her heroine thing. Only good thing that came out of this movie? It allowed me to eat Ms. Beckinsale’s fruit.
Best Movie Lionsgate Didn’t Let You See: BLOOD CREEK
Joel Schumacher’s Nazi/supernatural siege movie isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than anything else he’s done in the past fifteen years (I haven’t seen Tigerland yet though, I hear that one’s pretty good) and it’s one of the year’s more original movies to boot. I had to drive 40 miles to see it in theaters (at a place so rundown that the ticket counter and concession stand were the same thing), but it was worth it. Plus there was a Gamestop next door selling the awesome Stage Kit for Rock Band for like 30 bucks. Win-win.
Worst Movie Lionsgate Didn’t Let You See: THE HORSEMEN
This one didn’t even play in LA! Dennis Quaid deserves better - but he deserves better scripts even more. “You haven’t been in my room for three years!” would be one of the most oft-mocked lines of dialogue in film history if anyone had actually seen the goddamn thing in the first place.
Yay! Hollywood: A HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT
I thought the “real” version of this case would be even better than the above average THE Haunting In Connecticut, but it’s a total snoozefest, and the scares are botched to boot. And it actually manages to make less sense than the dramatized version.
Boo! Hollywood: QUARANTINE
A shot for shot remake of a film that was effectively buried until this one was long gone from theaters, with even minor characters played by recognizable actors in a film that’s supposed to be “found footage”? It’s a fun enough flick, but an incredibly pointless one all the same.
Best Movie Called Campfire Tales: CAMPFIRE TALES (1991)
This low budget oddity actually has a better than average ratio for anthology stories (3/4 are good) and a healthy smattering of gore to boot. Add to that a pretty informative commentary by journalist Mike Watt, and you have yourself a surprisingly decent disc.
Worst Movie Called Campfire Tales: CAMPFIRE TALES (1997)
Only one story is any good, and the whole movie is a PSA telling you not to drink and drive. But its rated R, so the 15 year olds who need to be told such a thing can’t see it until they’re 17 and have already driven drunk, fucked up their mother’s car, and learned their lesson the hard way.
Best Reason To Add Documentaries As HMAD Entries: BEWARE THE MOON
Paul Davis’ kickass and thorough look at American Werewolf In London is one of the best docs I can recall about a single film, and unlike the otherwise stellar His Name Was Jason doc, the people who talk about the film were actually INVOLVED with the film.
Worst Reason To Add Documentaries AS HMAD Entries: MICHAEL LIVES
I spent the better part of the day watching this goddamn thing, and I didn’t come away with anything I didn’t already learn in the 10 minute EPK clip on the previous DVD. Lacking insight, reflection, or even basic honesty, it’s an exercise in patience and nothing else, and Rob Zombie and co blew a perfect chance to defend/explain their controversial film.
Best Reason To Keep Doing This: DISCONNECTED
One of my favorite experiences of the year would not have occurred had I not been watching any old horror movie at random every day. It played in a little community center in Echo Park (a city I’d just assume never set foot in) and it was so under the radar that even the expert movie gurus at the New Bev had never even heard of it. But what a delight it was; a WAYYY low budget expanded student film that bears the distinction of not making any sense despite the fact that nothing actually happens throughout the entire thing. Tommy Wiseau ain’t got nothing on this gem. Seeyabye!
Worst Reason To Keep Doing This: STRANGELAND
I had managed to go over ten years without ever seeing this movie, and thus retained nothing but positive thoughts of Dee Snider. But one day at Blockbuster it was the only thing I could find that I hadn’t already seen. And now, I look at Dee and see not the frontman of Twisted Sister, but the guy who made one of the worst serial killer movies of all time (and trashed several great horror movies - such as Scream - while doing it).
Best Filmmaker Response: Paul Moore
If you would have asked in 2007 or 2008 who I’d be most afraid to meet, I’d probably say “The director of Dark Harvest”, as it was one of my more vicious reviews (as was my review for his followup, Keepsake). But he approached me at a party for Screamfest (where his short film Leftovers, which I quite liked and had reviewed a few days before without even realizing it was the same guy) and introduced himself, thanking me for the Leftovers review and joking about my Keepsake review. Thus, Mr. Moore is a class act (I woulda punched me in the fucking face).
Worst Filmmaker Response: Mike Feifer
Feifer found my review of his Ted Bundy film and commented, and instead of defending himself as a filmmaker, or addressing my concerns with some of the story gaps, he merely whined about how little money he has to work with and then boasted that they have all been bought by major studios (or, one - Lionsgate, who will buy 90 minutes of me running around with a screwdriver if the price is right). Since that is precisely what I don’t like about the guy (that he makes films on the cheap to sell for profit and no other reason), I think he should have just kept quiet and let me go on thinking that he wasn’t aware of the site (especially when I actually enjoyed Bundy, something he seemed to have missed).
READER POLL AWARDS!
Well that’s a wrap, folks. The third year of Horror Movie A Day has come to a close. HMAD hit a lot of milestones this year (one million hits, 1000 reviews, the start of my hopefully long series of screenings at the New Bev), and I hope you all stick around as long as I do!
Happy New Year/Decade!