And so another year of Horror Movie A Day-ing has come to an end. I actually have less reviews than ever for 2010 (‘only’ 400!), due to Lost Episode A Day taking up some attention (mine, not anyone else’s – I’ll be glad when it’s done), some occasional odd jobs (anyone catch my typo in the Hatchet II end credits yet?), and even an acting job! As mentioned HERE, I played the monster in a short film – I had a blast and can’t wait for you folks to see it.
I also took it easier when it came to festivals; writing brief capsule reviews for movies I didn’t think much of or didn’t have a lot to say about. And thanks to the delightfully angry “anonymous commenter” on the review for one festival movie that hasn’t been distributed yet, I won’t even be doing that much for future fests. I try to be positive here, but I HAVE to be honest, and if I can’t without someone threatening to punch me in the face, then I’ll just stick to movies that have already been distributed as much as possible. I’ve long had a policy of not watching “screener” DVDs of unreleased films after a similar incident occurred a few years back, but I guess I’ll be applying it to festivals as well. Apparently, some folks think it’s OK to charge 10 bucks a ticket to see their film, but not to point out its flaws. (I do, however, appreciate the ego boost I got by suggesting my negative review could hurt a movie’s chances of being distributed. Like there’s a decision maker out there going “Well... what does BC think?” HAH!)
But while there may be fewer reviews to choose from, there are still plenty of awards to dish out! So without further ado, I hereby present the 4th Annual Horror Movie A Day Awards! Hosted by, er, me. Again.
(As always, this is just for fun and focuses on nonsensical categories, and includes the movies that I SAW this year, not necessarily ones that were RELEASED this year. For a more traditional “Best of 2010” list, head on over to Bloody-Disgusting.)
HORROR MOVIE A DAY’S BEST/WORST OF 2010!!!
Best Sequel To A Movie I Haven’t Seen: ZOMBI 4: AFTER DEATH
I ended up seeing Zombi 3 later in the year (not that it matters, none of the Zombi’s have a goddamn thing to do with each other), but 4 is way better anyway, featuring an amazing score, zombies that move fast or slow depending on the director’s mood I guess, and a hall of fame line in “The only way to stop ‘em is to blow its head off!”. And it’s much faster paced than most of these things (even the good ones like Fulci’s “original” Zombi), making it an ideal viewing.
Worst Sequel To A Movie I Haven’t Seen: GHOULIES II
I saw this borefest at the New Bev, after being assured it was better than the first one. Well, if this was “better”, I will take their word for it and probably never ever watch the original. It took the entire movie for the Ghoulies to finally wreak havoc around the carnival, and there’s a little person in the movie but he never fights one of them, which I thought was the point of hiring the guy in the first place.
Best Batshit Movie: HAUSU
I could watch this movie every day and never get sick of it. Or understand it. Making Raw Force look like the paragon of logic and subtlety, nearly every minute of the film is crammed with stuff guaranteed to make you either laugh or yell “WHAT?!?!?” (usually both at the same time), and never ceases to be entertaining – even the end credits are fun. Essential viewing in a theater.
Worst Batshit Movie: THE BOX
Would it kill Richard Kelly to make some fucking sense? The part of the movie that he took from the original story was fine. However that’s only the first third. The rest of the movie is pure Kelly, which means a lot of babble about vessels, something about aliens, incoherent character behavior, and the total lack of anyone that resembles a real human being. The only good thing to come out of watching this was asking the lovely Gillian Jacobs to explain her character to me at Comic Con (I was inexplicably doing press for Community). Luckily, she didn’t get it either.
Best 1970’s No Budget Monster Movie: ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES
I had always assumed this movie was corny as hell and probably pretty boring, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Some of the humor is dated, but I was still laughing quite a bit, and the out of nowhere musical numbers were largely enjoyable. And the tomatoes weren’t giant monsters like the ones on the VHS cover – they were normal to pumpkin sized, which is way better. A total delight.
Worst 1970’s No Budget Monster Movie: BEWARE! THE BLOB
My god what a horrid pile of filth. Painfully unfunny (despite almost non-stop attempts to be so) and boring to boot, this is the sort of movie that I wish was forever lost due to poor storage or something. Nope, it’s available on digital formats, so future generations will forever run the risk of seeing it.
Best Use Of William Forsythe: DEAR MR. GACY
Not a particularly great movie, but Forsythe is top-notch in his performance as the notorious killer, going over the top only when required and being genuinely scary at times, something he hasn’t really done in ages. It’s also a ballsy role for the guy – the script doesn’t tiptoe around Gacy’s terrible sexual preferences (at one point he encourages the hero to rape his pre-teen brother). Someone get him a meaty role in a theatrical movie again! And no, not you, Mr. Zombie.
Worst Use Of William Forsythe: THE RIG
Forsythe dies about 30 minutes into this thing, despite top billing. Worse, he never gets to fight the monster, and spends most of his screentime arguing with his daughter about her lifestyle. On an oil rig. Look, I like the guy, but he’s no Bruce Willis – don’t tarnish his filmography by having him rip off the finest oil driller movie ever made just because he’s got bills to pay.
Movie That Didn’t Live Up To Its Title: SUCK
I wasn’t expecting much from Suck, but it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable and funny little flick. Fun cameos from Alice Cooper and Moby (gleefully mocking his vegan lifestyle), a winning lead performance by writer/director Rob Stefaniuk, and a smoking hot lead actress (Jessica Paré) all combined to make one of the year’s best comedic horror movies. Decent songs too.
Movie That 100% Lived Up To Its Title: DISMAL
Oh yes, you certainly were. In fact, it may be the worst movie I saw all year (it’s one of only nine that I labeled “Crap” – a record low!). Every single scene in the movie was lifted almost verbatim from a different movie; Christ, they even ripped off Hatchet at one point. 'Dismal' is almost too kind.
Best Confined Movie: DEVIL
It’s a shame that the producer of the film (M. Night Groanalot) overshadowed the ACTUAL film, which was a tight, suspenseful little gem. And kudos to John Dowdle for keeping it visually interesting despite the obvious limitations of shooting in a cramped elevator. Luckily, I’m seeing folks renting it on DVD and discovering its worth, so hopefully future “Night Chronicles” will be forthcoming.
Worst Confined Movie: TRUNK
A girl in a trunk is driven around by a serial killer. Could have been decent, if the writer knew how to write dialogue besides “Fuck you!” or “No, FUCK YOU!”. Or if the director knew how to mix up his backgrounds – the guy drives around for hours yet it’s always the same area of downtown LA that we see rolling by. Oh, the director and the writer are the same guy (Straw Weisman), so at least I know to avoid future films from only one person instead of two.
Best Movie I Had To Put Effort Into Seeing: COLD PREY II
Anchor Bay released the first Cold Prey a while ago, but they still haven’t done the same for this sequel. So I finally tracked down an all-region copy, at a price a bit higher than I usually like to shell out for a “blind buy”, from a mysterious 3rd party seller. Luckily, the movie lived up to the original quite ably, and is actually one of the better “picks up right where the first one left off” sequels I can recall, despite a change in director and a fairly obvious source of inspiration (our survivor is taken to a hospital....).
Worst Movie I Had To Put Effort Into Seeing: PLAGUERS
I had a screener of this thing, but it conked out after a few minutes, so I had to drive out to the store to rent their copy, which I had passed by several times over the past year or so (partly due to the fact that I had a screener). Turns out I was making the right call – it wasn’t even worth the effort of putting it into the DVD player, let alone making a trip to Blockbuster to get a working copy. Some of the girls were hot, but that doesn’t nearly make up for the inept action, nonsensical plot (which rips off Alien enough that someone should be sued) and beyond laughable FX – the old Star Trek looked better than this, and I mean BEFORE they cleaned it up for HD.
Best Movie My Readers Kept Demanding I See: OUTPOST
A couple of folks have been all but showing up at my door with a copy in one hand and a gun in the other trying to get me to watch this movie, but once I saw it I understood why – it’s pretty awesome. Sort of like The Keep crossed with The Descent, it also features the awesome Ray Stevenson, who deserves better than DTV efforts (even good ones – the guy should be getting Gerard Butler’s career!). Supposedly a sequel is on the way; it won’t take a lot of arm breaking to get me to see it.
Worst Movie My Readers Kept Demanding I See: SCREAM 3
Ever since I posted reviews of Scream 1 and 2 back in October of 2007, folks have been asking for me to review 3, and I kept saying that I didn’t want to watch it again because I didn’t like it. But then Dimension announced (finally) that Scream 4 would be going ahead, so I figured I’d give it a shot – maybe the surplus of bad slashers I've seen due to HMADing would give me a new appreciation for it. Nope! Still sucks. In fact I like it less every time.
Best Killer Tiger Movie: BURNING BRIGHT
While I was disappointed that Meat Loaf never got to fight/get eaten by the tiger, I was surprised how suspenseful this “could-have-been-a-disaster” movie was. I could watch Briana Evigan read stereo manuals for 90 minutes, but she actually puts in a performance to match her looks here, and I enjoyed Garret Dillahunt’s misguided villain as well. Bonus points for using a real tiger!
Worst Killer Tiger Movie: MANEATER
They named a whole series after this thing, you’d think it would be pretty good. But alas, even Gary Busey can’t save this snoozefest. In fact, I think if you make a Gary Busey vs. a Tiger movie and it’s BORING then you have officially failed at life.
Best Addition To The Nightmare On Elm Street Legacy: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
OK, maybe four hours is a bit much on paper, but watch the film and then tell me what they should cut. Every anecdote (including several candid ones about things that went wrong) is worth listening to, and the filmmakers assembled almost everyone you could possibly want (no Johnny Depp or Laurence Fishburne though – boo!) from the series; over a hundred participants if I’m not mistaken. Add in a 2nd disc packed with entertaining bonus features, and you have a set you can be proud to place next to your boxed set.
Worst Addition To The Nightmare On Elm Street Legacy: NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)
The more I thought about this movie, the more I hated it. I didn’t get as angry when I saw it as I did for RZ’s Halloween or Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, because I don’t love the original Nightmare as much as I do those films. However, stacked against them, Nightmare is actually the worst of the bunch (and certainly the worst Platinum Dunes movie), because there was absolutely nothing to suggest anyone involved had any creative ideas whatsoever – there is simply no reason for this movie to exist except for PD to complete their “set” of available franchises to try (and fail) to revive. Fuck you, movie.
Best Movie To Inexplicably Get A Theatrical Release: BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND
Not a particularly good movie, but no worse than the average After Dark entry, and featured a few ringers (Robert Patrick, Danielle Harris) plus those smoking hot Babysitter Twins from Grindhouse. Wasn’t even the worst movie I saw that week, and kudos to the filmmakers for getting it into theaters.
Worst Movie To Inexplicably Get A Theatrical Release: CHAIN LETTER
This piece of shit has been on the shelf for a couple of years, and then suddenly found itself in theaters on the busiest release day of the year (October 1st, which also saw the release of the long-delayed Case 39, the well done but pointless Let Me In, and the “cameo” theatrical release of Hatchet II, plus 1-2 other non-horror films). Hopelessly outdated and wholly idiotic, this is the sort of movie that doesn’t even deserve to go direct to DVD. What the hell was it doing alongside The Social Network at the multiplex?
Best Asylum Movie: MEGA PIRANHA
The biggest problem with most Asylum movies is that they only have enough action for the trailer, with the rest of the movie comprised of people talking or people looking at action we can’t see. Not the case with Mega Piranha! It’s pretty packed with action – piranha dive-bombing buildings alongside the ocean, a Bourne-like hero fighting folks, car chases... easily the best thing they’ve ever done. A few more like this and they might actually get a legitimate quote to put on their DVD cases (the ones they use are fake).
Worst Asylum Movie: PARANORMAL ENTITY
Released so quickly that the film didn’t even have an IMDb page when the disc hit shelves, this is actually the rare Asylum ripoff that can’t even use its low budget as an excuse – the film it was cribbing from cost about as much. It tells you that everyone dies right at the start (and adds in some nonsense about incestuous rape that never occurs), and then takes 80 minutes of tedium and 2 minutes of action to finally get to that point. And I don’t even know who to blame, because the movie didn’t even have credits!
Best Movie Called Salvage: SALVAGE (2009)
An odd hybrid of home invasion and monster movie, the film isn’t perfect, but it’s a cool idea and well made despite obvious limitations (like shooting in an actual neighborhood – tiny suburban houses and complaining neighbors included). Cool monster design too.
Worst Movie Called Salvage: SALVAGE (2006)
I liked the writers’ previous movie Rise Of The Dead, but this one was a snoozer, with a convoluted “personal hell” plot that would have been interesting if any of the characters were. The horrible soundtrack did it no favors either.
Hottest “Gross” Sex Scene: SPLICE
Look, I don’t care if I “raised” her – if I was a weirdo scientist that created a human-esque thing that had my frigid wife’s DNA in it, and she jumped on me, I’d probably hit it too. If nothing else, I’d have the best story to tell down at the bar. Who could top that?
Grossest “Hot” Sex Scene: SUICIDE GIRLS MUST DIE!
I’m supposed to be titillated by these girls? They’re horrible human beings, most of them look like they forgot to eat for the past couple weeks, and they’re covered in garbage tattoos. All I wanted was for them to put their clothes on and then die horribly. I didn’t get my wish (no one dies – it’s all a big prank a la April Fool’s Day).
Best Movie About Making A Movie: KILLER MOVIE
I really thought this one would suck, but it turned out to be one of the better whodunits I’ve seen since Scream, refreshingly light on humor and loaded with entertaining red herrings. And Leighton Meester gets killed horribly, preemptively making it up to us for what I’m sure will be a terrible (PG-13) time with The Roommate.
Worst Movie About Making A Movie: SPLATTER MOVIE
I’m sick to death of these movies as is (the Killer Movie folks weren’t making a horror movie), but the characters in this movie are making a movie about a killer stalking a horror movie crew! What the meta-christing fuck?!? And it looked like shit too. If you’re going to waste my time trying (and failing) to be clever, at least use a decent camera.
Best Amusement Park Movie: HOUSE OF FEARS
At long last, I got a decent funhouse movie! The logistics are a bit muddled (they’re stuck in a funhouse that would seemingly take two hours to walk through normally), but the characters are engaging, the “killed by your fear” angle works pretty good, and they kill even the characters you’d think would be safe. And there’s a random Jared Padalecki cameo!
Worst Amusement Park Movie: THE FUN PARK
Not only is this wannabe Texas Chainsaw flashback-fest a total bore, but they also don’t even use the setting to their advantage! Half the movie takes place in a standard horror movie dungeon – we see some rides in the background every now and then but the characters never even run around under them, let alone on them. Includes pointless torture scenes too, just in case you didn’t find it worthless enough already.
Best “No, Not That One” Movie: THE ECLIPSE
A “The” has never been more important to a title, as this is NOT the 3rd Twilight movie, but rather a moving and quite scary (jolt scares) ghost tale starring classy folks like Ciaran Hinds and Aidan Quinn. It’s more of a tragic romantic drama than a horror film, but those scares WORK dammit, and the movie is just plain good. And no one sparkles.
Worst “No, Not That One” Movie: COPYCAT
This is not the Sigourney Weaver/Holly Hunter serial killer flick, itself no masterpiece but an enjoyable enough thriller featuring two of their generations most under-appreciated actresses. Nope, this is a forgettable lame-ass movie about a reporter investigating a killer who copies famous serial killers, and instead of making that scenario or its characters interesting, we just get lengthy flashbacks to the killers killing someone, as if we were suddenly watching a full fledged biopic about that killer. Which we should be doing instead of watching this.
Most Satisfying Documentary Lineup: THE PSYCHO LEGACY
Considering how many principles are dead and that Robert Galluzzo didn't have any previous features under his belt (like the Never Sleep Again team did), it's even more impressive how jam-packed this movie was with personnel from all four Psycho films, including Mick Garris (the only living director of a Psycho film) and Henry Thomas (young Norman), plus the always awesome Jeff "Duke" Fahey. I also enjoyed how he focused more on the under-appreciated sequels instead of spending half the time on the original, which has been documented/written about extensively - more "franchise docs" should follow his lead (i.e. if they do a more definitive Halloween series doc - we don't need to be told about the Shatner mask for the 496th time).
Least Satisfying Documentary Lineup: VIDEO NASTIES
While the doc itself was enjoyable and informative, I was really bummed that none of the directors whose movies were among the 73 banned titles were interviewed, which could have added some much needed personal perspective on the subject. Too many stuffy old Brits, not enough "names" that could not only provide some unique insight, but also help this doc get a release over here in the States.
Best Wide Release Movie (Reader Poll): THE CRAZIES
I had to pass in my Top 10 list for Bloody Disgusting by December 1st, so it’s kind of funny that The Crazies and runner-up Splice were my top 2 choices for the year as well (the poll ran until December 8th or something). There was only a one vote difference (!), and nothing else even came close, so they both sort of won this one. And I like the dichotomy – celebrating what was easily the year’s most original movie (if you think Splice was a Species ripoff, you didn’t see it), and the year’s least offensive remake (I actually think it was an improvement). In a rather dreary and forgettable year for horror, these are two I’ll still be watching in years to come.
Best Limited/Indie Release Movie (Reader Poll): BLACK SWAN/FROZEN
It was my goof – Black Swan should have been in the wide release poll, but I wasn’t even aware folks were considering it a horror movie at the time I made the wide release poll. So Frozen, which came in 2nd (by a wide margin) shares this award, with Rec 2 coming in 2nd (3rd). And four people voted OTHER but didn’t bother to let me know what exactly was better than the 20 or so “obvious” choices I picked for the poll. At any rate, Swan’s award worthy (winning?) performances and creative “story within a story” narrative didn’t floor me as much as everyone else, but it’s undoubtedly a great movie and the best Aronofsky film I’ve seen (I’ll be seeing the others soon, now!). And Frozen was Adam Green’s best and most accomplished film yet (I HAVE seen all of his), buoyed by excellent turns by Shawn Ashmore and newcomer Emma Bell. And it’s surprisingly rewatchable as well – I figured it wouldn’t hold up on repeat viewings since the suspense is the driving force, but those quieter character moments (the puppy story!) kept me entertained on 2nd and 3rd viewings. The end credits sucked though, glad they replaced that guy for the next Ariescope film :).
So that’s it for 2010! Hopefully in 2011 we’ll see a return to some things that I let slip by (commentaries, “Second Chance” reviews), as we (I) mark the 4th anniversary of HMAD on February 7th (4 years of not missing a day on February 16th!), and 1500 movies in a row sometime in March! Don’t miss these landmark events!