JANUARY 26, 2013
Remember when I used to get these things up in the first week of January? This one's even later than last year's, which began with an apology for being so late. Well, again, sorry. If it makes you feel better, next year's won't be late... because it won't exist!
Yep, this is the LAST end of the year awards for HMAD, as I'll be wrapping up before the year is even half over. I know, it's a bummer, but I'll still be reviewing movies and delivering a normal top 10 list, so it's all good. Don't forget, a full HALF of the movies on the following list are terrible, so take comfort that, for my sake, I won't be watching as many bad movies anymore. And tweeting far less too! You can turn me off mute!
Well let's not delay any more - on to the awards! As always, this is based on the 365+ movies watched in the calendar year, NOT based on movies released in 2012. For my top 10 picks on that front, head over to Badass Digest - this is HMAD-centric and thus the movies might have been released in 1929, if released yet at all. Enjoy!
Best Movie You All Saw: SINISTER
Considering its low budget and that it starred Ethan Hawke (whose only two big box office hits really starred Robin Williams and Denzel Washington), I wasn't expecting Sinister to make much of a splash, despite being quite good (#3 on my traditional best of list). But I was happy to be wrong; the film nearly outgrossed its biggest competition in October (the terrible Paranormal Activity 4), and is now Hawke's biggest hit as the sole lead. Good job, folks!
Worst Movie You Didn't See: PLAYBACK
There are actually a few movies that I saw theatrically that were actually worse, but none of them reported their box office so I don't know what their final take was (in Don't Go In The Woods' case, that might just be my 10 bucks). However, Playback's pitiful 264 dollar take was reported as the lowest of the year, and I can vouch that if anything, it should have been lower. Trust me, even with Christian Slater's brief role as the town pervert (!), it's not worth the ironic rental.
Bad Title, Good Movie: CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER
With that title, I was expecting a spoof, or at least something kind of comedic, but not only was it played straight, it's actually one of Hammer's best vampire films, combining action/adventure with an engaging mystery and a terrific sidekick in Grost. Add in the usual "Hammer Glamour" and you get a movie that is far from a sidenote in the studio's impressive library.
Good Title, Bad Movie: THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Listen, if you're going to invoke Pink Floyd's classic album (though not my favorite of theirs, for the record), at least make a decent movie, instead of a mess that can't decide if it wants to rip off Alien or The Thing, and tosses in the Bermuda Triangle for good measure. This should be called, I dunno, The Division Bell or something.
Best Movie You Thought Was Found Footage: LOVELY MOLLY
It's from the director of Blair Witch Project and features POV from a video camera (used a lot on its marketing), but most of the movie is traditionally shot, and pretty damn good as well. It's a Repulsion-esque tale of a woman slowly going mad, and our job is to figure out if it's all in her head or if there are supernatural elements at play. As with Blair, the website fills in more of the backstory, but the real draw is Gretchen Lodge's incredible turn in her first film (!).
Worst Movie You Thought Was Found Footage: CHERNOBYL DIARIES
Paranormal's Oren Peli produced and the trailers featured lots and lots of floaty, jerky camerawork that easily could have been mistaken for someone's POV, but Chernobyl Diaries was indeed a standard feature film. However, it was WRITTEN like a found footage movie, in that nothing happens for an hour and then they rush through the rest, and focus mainly on characters that are fairly annoying and dumb (that proposal subplot, EGADS!). Waste of a good bear scare.
Best Movie I Saw On Vacation: THE BABY
Even a broken up viewing on a tiny portable player wasn't enough to kill the power of this masterpiece of batshit cinema; when HMAD is over this will be one of the movies I definitely revisit and watch just for the sake of watching a unique and totally bonkers horror movie again. And all in one sitting!
Worst Movie I Saw On Vacation: SQUEAL
One thing I hate about being tied to the "rules" of the site is that when I travel I have to take time away from friends or family that I don't get to see too often. When it's a good movie like The Baby, it at least softens the blow, but when it's as terrible and hateful as Squeal, it makes me wish I could just lie and say I watched something. Here I am in New York, celebrating the wedding of one of my favorite people in the world, and instead of hanging out with the other folks that have gathered (some of whom I haven't seen since moving to LA 7 years ago), I'm watching a movie about cannibal pig-men terrorizing a group of assholes. No more!
"It's Better Than Shark Night!": BAIT 3D
Another 3D shark film, but with the good sense to be R rated, Anchor Bay sadly didn't have much faith in this one (possibly BECAUSE of the failure of Shark Night). While they have put films out on as many as 80 screens in the past, Bait apparently only got a single one, the weekend before it hit Blu-ray. A shame - it was a lot of fun and had some great use of the 3D format.
"It's Worse Than Shark Night!": SHARK WEEK
Syfy seemed to be directly copying Shark Night with this one, as it had the same Saw-esque approach to a killer shark movie (and lest we forget, Shark Night's villains' main goal was to sell their footage to Discovery for Shark Week itself). Unfortunately it's nowhere near as entertaining, with a too-low body count (most of which is racked up only in its final 10 minutes) and a complete lack of Katharine McPhee, aka the reason I enjoyed Shark Night as much as I did.
Best use of John Cusack: THE FACTORY
Aw, poor The Factory. It's not a terrible movie, just a sadly outdated one... and that's something I would have said had it been released in 2008 when it was shot. Who knows when it will come out in the US (it's been released in a few overseas markets), but when it does you can at least enjoy Cusack in solemn/"driven to the extreme!" mode, feeling a bit bad for him as he tries his best to elevate a pretty generic kidnapping thriller.
Worst use of John Cusack: THE RAVEN
I assume that if a lesser actor had the lead in The Raven, it would not have been treated to a wide release (though I'm sure the success of the similar Sherlock Holmes movies played a part). The terrible mystery, lackluster action/horror, and horrible performance by Alice Eve should have sent this thing directly to cable, but Cusack, aping both Nicolas Cage and Robert Downey Jr depending on his mood, used up some of his ever shrinking box office appeal on this disaster. What a waste.
Best Homage To Guy Ritchie: COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES
I'm still bummed that I watched this one on a screener instead of at Fantastic Fest with a big crowd of (presumably) delighted moviegoers, but at least I know it's just as fun on a tiny portable DVD player. A terrific cast and lots of laid back charm, plus an endearing motivation for the "criminal" lead characters were more than enough to make up for the increasingly overused idea of "Let's make Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels but with zombies (or werewolves, or vampires)!" Also, any movie with Honor Blackman mowing down the undead is automatically worth a look.
Worst Homage To Guy Ritchie: GANGSTERS, GUNS, AND ZOMBIES
Basically the same damn movie (robbers, England, zombies), but without the charm, entertaining action, or style. This one is available now, but I implore you - wait for Cockneys to hit our stores.
Best Memento Of The 90s: TALE OF THE MUMMY
1998's Tale of the Mummy actually came before Dracula 2000, but has similar DNA - a cast of up and comers mixed with veterans, a fast moving plot that takes the time for some quickie romance, and lots of CGI. But it's actually pretty fun, and was a nice reminder of how enjoyable movies were before irony and pretension took over for good.
Worst Memento Of The 90s: BORDELLO OF BLOOD
Unfortunately, this is what a lot of 1990s horror was like: blandly shot, indifferently written, and loaded with people that don't deserve to be background extras, let alone carrying films. Dennis Miller's wannabe Fletch is possibly the most grating "hero" ever seen in a horror film, and I'm pretty sure this was the film that turned Corey Feldman from a mildly talented actor into a self-parodying goon. 16 year old me was wise enough to skip it; I guess it proves that HMADing has only made me dumber.
Best Movie Known By An Acronym: JDATE (John Dies At The End)
As I write this, Don Coscarelli's awesomely weird/splatter-y JDATE is hitting theaters, and I've already bought a ticket to see it a 2nd time - the number of movies I see twice in theaters anymore is a very low one, so consider this the highest endorsement I can give a film.
Worst Movie Known By An Acronym: HATES (House At The End Of The Street)
It should actually be HATEOTS, but the publicists and studio were going with #HATES on Twitter and such, thus going out of their way to set themselves up for easy jokes. Possibly interesting at one point (there are several writers listed), the finished product is a bland Psycho wannabe without a shred of suspense or a single actual surprise in the plot. And I love Elisabeth Shue, but working in a line about how she had her daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) when she was in her teens just to make her seem younger left a bad taste in my mouth. In reality she's 27 years older than Lawrence, still looks fantastic, and deserves better material than this.
Thanks, Twilight!: MIDNIGHT SON
Pretty much anything involving love and a vampire will find it easier to get made nowadays, because it will be pretty easy for a distributor to put together some Twi-art and get it sold in foreign territories. But that doesn't mean the movies will all be just as bland/bad, and indeed Midnight Son is one of the best vamp films I've seen in ages. Drawing more from films like Habit and Martin than Edward Cullen, it's an engaging, sad tale that is definitely worth seeking out.
Fuck you, Twilight!: I KISSED A VAMPIRE
Fuck Glee, too, as this is basically a combination of both. Two vamps (one bad, one good) fight over a girl, and sing very bad songs nonstop as they carry out this "battle". Without a single catchy song and a turn by the ever-awful Chris Coppola, the only thing this movie is good for is proving to Twilight critics that things could always be far, far worse.
Best Private Screening: RAAZ 3D (in 2D)
I actually got to the theater a bit early for Raaz 3D, because the theater was the go-to place for "Bollywood" releases and thus I figured there would be a pretty big crowd - why else would the theater consistently set aside a screen for such fare? But no, not only was it not crowded, I had the entire place to myself, without a single other patron to share the entertainment at this imperfect but enjoyable riff on The Grudge-style horror.
Worst Private Screening: DON'T GO IN THE WOODS
You'd think a film directed by an acclaimed actor that was only showing once a day at a theater in Beverly Hills would attract more than a few folks on its opening night, but nope. Everyone else in the world proved to be smarter than me, skipping this atrocious "slasher musical" and thus permitting me to wonder aloud why the hell I do this to myself.
Best Cinefamily Reaction To Incest: NIGHT WARNING
When the deranged, murderous mom forces her tongue down her teenaged son's throat (as she's dying!), the crowd let out a collective "Ewwww" with a touch of laughter, perfectly appropriate for a gonzo bit in a very nutty movie.
Worst Cinefamily Reaction To Incest: THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA
A few nights later, at least two people laughed at the scene where a young girl was molested by her father. Yeah, not so appropriate.
Best Movie To Watch Instead Of Eli Roth's Thanksgiving: BLOOD RAGE
My buddy Jackson has been telling me to watch Blood Rage for years, and upon learning that it was a Thanksgiving slasher, I finally agreed - and fell in love. I thought he was just trying to force some sort of "so bad it's good" type stuff on me, but this was a legitimately solid old-school slasher with some truly demented stuff going on, and the biggest bummer ending ever. If Eli ever gets off his ass and makes his film, the bar has been set pretty high.
Worst Movie To Watch Instead Of Eli Roth's Thanksgiving: THANKSKILLING 3
It's got impressive puppet work and an admirably go-for-broke plot that delivers plenty of insanity, but Turkie is sidelined in favor of the other new characters, and it barely even counts as horror anymore - more of a sci-fi comedy with a couple of brief kill scenes. I loved the first one, and had some fun with this, but I walked away disappointed that I wouldn't be adding it to the annual tradition movie list.
And that's it! Thanks for reading, folks! I hope these upcoming last few months are enjoyable for you all, and don't forget: HMAD may be ending, but I ain't going anywhere!