As I’m primarily a DVD critic for Bloody-Disgusting, my year-end Top 10 list traditionally cites only DVD horror releases for a given year, which automatically excludes some of the movies I’ve seen at festivals or through pre-release screeners. Whereas I’m generally jealous of my fellow B-D critics for their all-encompassing year-end lists, I have to admit that 2009 was a fantastic year for horror DVDs, and this list was a pure pleasure to put together. Once again, just so I don’t catch any flak down in the comments, this is a list of the BEST HORROR DVDS OF 2009. Hence, no Zombieland.
Some might say this horror anthology series, buried in the compost heap of NBC’s summer schedule, has been unjustly forgotten. But you can’t forget something if you never knew it existed in the first place. Overproduced and mysteriously under-promoted, Fear Itself is actually a pretty good show. Although none of the episodes can equal the best of Masters of Horror, the first season is solid across the board, each episode a strangely comforting 40 minutes of basic, well-produced horror.
I first saw The Killing Room at the Sundance Film Festival. To my pleasant surprise, Shea Whigham, one of the stars, took the theater seat directly in front of my wife. Remember that scene were Whigham gets his arm crunched in the door slot? The audience jumped out of their seats. And so did Whigham. His friends whispered props for really selling the arm crunch, and Whigham sunk low in his seat, looking both pleased and embarrassed to have pulled of the scare. It’s one of several good moments in a tense, captivating film. With its claustrophobic setting and clever B-movie premise, The Killing Room plays even better on DVD.
Buried for years in the rubble of horror fan apocrypha, Warner Bros. finally dumped its highly-anticipated Halloween anthology onto DVD the first week of October. Like most horror fans, I spent the next 4 weeks trying to spread the word: You feeling a Halloween movie? Well check this one out. Nimbly edited, keenly executed, and oozing loads of Halloween spirit, Trick r’ Treat is an All Hallows’ Eve tradition in the making.
Sam Raimi’s roller-coaster ride of a horror flick serves as proof-positive the director hasn’t lost a step since wrapping Army of Darkness. Steeped in the same youthful exuberance of his pre-millennial horror films, Drag Me To Hell has energy to spare: as far as pacing is concerned, the movie cooks. One of those horror flicks that oozes fun like a summer carnival.
Splinter features the best movie monster I’ve seen this year. It’s bone-snapping, joint-contorting, black-splinter-sprouting parasite is something out of a horrible, horrible nightmare. Stranded at a rural gas station, the characters are stuck in a rut of paranoia and confusion that’s all too palpable. It’s one of those movies that makes your palms sweat.
Vampires and sexual abstinence? Worst combo ever, Twi-hards. Horny adults with a jones for fast-pumpin’ vampire sex, hard-core neck suckin’, and even the occasional blood “snowball”, know where to go to get their vampire fix. True Blood, bitches! It took a few episodes for the series to find the right tone, but once it got a head of steam, it was impossible to stop watching. And Season 2 (available on DVD in 2010) is even better.
One of the more controversial horror releases of 2009, Deadgirl is certainly a polarizing movie. It poses a question frequently bandied about in the B-D forums: if you discovered a chained up female zombie who happened to be pretty hot, would you have sex with it? Okay, perhaps…but what about sloppy seconds? That’s the quandary faced by a couple of high school youths in this highly accomplished indie effort, one of those films that sticks with you for days after you watch it.
Better than Quarantine, that’s for goddamn sure.
Magnolia may have jacked up the subtitles on the DVD release, but don’t let that stop you from seeing one of the most emotionally resonant vampire movies of all time. Thought-provoking, mesmerizing, and overwhelmingly beautiful, this is an excellent movie based on an excellent novel by Swedish author John Lindvist. An unforgettable experience.
One of the smartest horror movies to come along since Silence of the Lambs. Unfortunately, Martyrs‘ overwhelming violence deterred all but the most adventurous of movie-lovers, which is too bad, since French director Pascale Laugier has crafted a philosophical, deep-thinking horror movie that’s practically begging to be discussed in intellectual circles. Yes, it can be hard to watch, but sometimes the reward of personal revelation is worth the hefty price of fleeting pain.