Tim Anderson, known as Tex Massacre here in the site, is our main man when it comes to DVDs. He watches more films that I can even imagine sitting through. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if his brains were mush by now. This morning Tex, our longest writer on staff, submitted his picks for the best and worst films of 2009. Beyond the break you’ll find his selections for the TOP 10 horror films of 2009. What do you guys think?
This was a very good year for studio horror films that didn’t suck and remakes that weren’t nearly as ill conceived as one might expect them to be. Lionsgate kicked the year off right with a near perfect slasher reboot, taking the basic premise of the classic 1981 Canuxploitation flick adding an extra dimension (literally), and piling on the blood and the boobs. In the end, the most prescient thing about the film was that only 3 weeks into the new year, the tone was already set for 12 months of horror that reminded us how much fun our beloved gene can be.
Surely a film to divide it’s audience, Paranormal Activity will likely be remembered as much for the fact that it raked in over a 100 million domestic box office dollars–on a 15 thousand dollar budget– as it will be for that fact that a good 50% of its viewing audience undoubtedly hated it. For me, this flick represents a near perfect example of the power of suggestion and the electric energy that is generated by seeing a film, in a theater, with a band of brothers and sisters whose only goal is get scared right out of their skin.
Stand up fanboys and fangirls if your spider-senses tingled at the thought that 2009 was the year Sam Rami would save the horror genre. We’ll he came, he saw, and he slapsticked his way back into the low budget (well…compared to what he’s been spending) world of gore (well…as much as you can expect from a PG-13 film). Was it all we ever hoped it would be? Not really. Was it another damn fine night at the multiplex? Hell yeah it was! Hey Sam….time to dust off that old boomstick before Spidey 4 sucks you back into summer movie hell!
I saw these two films about two weeks apart from each other at two separate film festivals in March and April. The first one was at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas and the second was at the Florida Film Festival. Both flicks are zombie-dramas about boys who keep undead girls locked up for their own twisted needs. But, despite the basic similarities in their plots, these films are as wildly divergent as they are amazingly effective. Make-out with Violence is a lyrical and atmospheric mood piece that is haunting in its beauty. Deadgirl is like what you might get if director Larry Clark (Bully) decided to make a zombie movie–sick and disturbing and choc-ful-o raw and troubling sexual content. Both films stand alone as genuinely creative productions, but together they frame an exciting group of filmmakers that are reinventing the genre right in front of our eyes.
Director Emily Hagins has just completed her feature-length zombie film Pathogen, she’s cast it, produced it, shot it, scored it and edited it. It was a labor of love, full of all the learning experiences you’d expect from someone that’s never really made a feature film before–unexpected budget overages, abusing your friends and family, losing footage, re-shoots, fake blood, long nights editing the damn thing on your home computer, you know the drill. The big difference this time? Emily Hagins is 12-years old. Zombie Girl is just a “wow” documentary! What’s more amazing than watching the film unfold, is the fact that not only does Emily succeed in the face of insurmountable odds, its that…I’ve seen Pathogen…and the film is pretty fucking good! Emily is 17 now and working on more feature film scripts everyday! Watch out…cause she’s coming to get you…er…um…Barbara?
Every year, I think that the French New Wave of Horror can’t possible get any more graphic and gory than it did the year before. Then they make, Inside or Frontier(s) or Martyrs! If you think “torture porn” is only the exalted crimson realm of Eli Roth or Jigsaw, then you need to bow down to your new God…Pascal Laugier. Few films can make me cringe, Martyrs damn near made me gouge out my own eyeballs before it was over.
A lot of filmmakers try to homage the movies they loved growing up. Sometimes they do an admirable job at paying respect to the past. Sometimes they do an admirable job at reinventing the past. But, what they never do, and I mean never, is make a film that is indiscernible from the past. Until now. Until Ti West. Until The House of the Devil. Everything from the music, to the lighting, to the 16mm film stock, to the camera angles, set ups, and movements…it’s all authentic. This is a film that could have been made 30 years ago. A film that looks like it was made 30 years ago. It’s grossly fascinating on so many levels as a genre fan, and a horror film historian. But more than anything, it totally works for today too. I don’t know how he did it, or how he’s gonna top it (and look…I liked The Roost and Trigger Man) but baby…I’ll be first in line now for everything Ti West puts his name on after this.
How much did I love Zombieland? I loved it so much that I saw it twice and very nearly went a 3rd time. Do you know how often I do that? Fucking never, that’s how often I do that. I don’t have time. And I sure don’t have the time in October. If Columbia had opened this flick in February, I’d have moved into the local AMC and just marathoned it all day, everyday, for a week. It’s like an anti-end-of-the-world-film. Zombieland looks so awesome, I actually want to live there! Of course in my Zombieland, Amber Heard and I would get to make-out before she joins the ranks of the undead.
Vexing. That’s how I feel about this film. That’s how I feel about placing it at number 2 on my list. It could be number 1, and in any other year it would be. It’s a totally different beast–a black bird, a stillborn deer, a creepy fox who coos “chaos reigns”. I make no bones about it, I think Lars von Trier is a genius. He’s working a level that almost no one will ever attain. Equal parts pure artist, sick freak, and social commentator. Don’t like what he has to say or show you? Don’t watch it. And, don’t look into the mirror, you might not like what you see there either. If you don’t think cinema can shake your synapses into a firing frenzy, see this film. If you don’t think cinema can mesmerize with its twisted beauty, see this film. And, especially if you think you’ve seen it all….see this film.
In the last decade, I’m hard pressed to recall a film that had more advance hype than this one. Even more amazing, is that Director Mike Dougherty’s film not only lives up to the hype, it might just exceed it. The biggest tragedy of loving horror films as much as I do, is that it sets you up for disappointment at virtually every turn. Trick r Treat doesn’t do that. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s a masterpiece of modern horror, and the best Halloween horror film since John Carpenter spray painted a Captain Kirk mask white and pounded out a few freaky notes in 5/4 time. I could write pages about my unabashed love of this film, it’s already iconic central character and the brilliance of intercutting the Creepshow-esque storylines into a Pulp Fiction-styled narrative. But, I won’t. I’ll just leave you with everyone’s favorite new catchphrase: “Charlie Brown’s an asshole!!!”
Like I said it was a good year for Studio Horror so, I’ll throw some love to The Orphan, The Uninvited and even Last House on the Left (if you turn it off 5 minutes early). I dug Jennifer’s Body too…so there! On the indie scene Splinter, The Burrowers, Vinyan and Grace finally got off the festival circuit and into my DVD player! If you’ve got kids or you’re just a big kid, Monsters vs Aliens and Coraline made for a super badass 3-D double feature picture show. Sci-fi drama isn’t exactly horror but hey…we covered Moon and District 9 anyway…and be damn glad we did, cause they were both freaking great! Next up, a bunch of good genre docs came out. Especially the trash opus, It Came From Kuchar and the Ozsploitation masterpiece Not Quite Hollywood. And don’t forget about Anchor Bay’s His Name Was Jason, for your unfiltered history of the most unlucky day of the year and Best Worst Movie, the making of, and legacy of, Troll 2! And last, but not least: Birdemic, a film that (when it gets released) you’ll have to see to believe!
Best Worst Film You’ll See in 2010: Birdemic
Best Films I Haven’t Seen Award: Dead Snow, Thirst
Honorary Kevin Smith “Ass to Mouth” Award: Human Centipede
Fuck Up of the Year Award: Magnolia changes the subtitles on Let the Right One In
Dumbest Marketing Award: If you’re remaking a film (Terror Train) to cash in on the name recognition…don’t change the name (now called Train)
No One Believed It Was Real Award: The Fourth Kind
Why Are They Still Doing This Award: After Dark Horrorfest III
Cinematic Armageddon Day: August 28 (The Final Destination and H2 prove that 2 incredibly shitty horror movies opening on the same day can still make big bucks!)
Better than the Theatrical Poster Award: Fantastic Fest Ltd. Ed. Screenprint for Antichrist