Over the past year Tim Anderson, better known as ‘Tex Chainsaw’, has reviewed 78 films for Bloody-Disgusting, most of which were direct-to-DVD releases. Today we have for you his best and worst list of 2007, which will give you a little insight to what you may or may not want to check out at your next trip to the video store. Watch this spot for our official Top 10 feature film list later this week.
Synopsis: When a Canadian research photographer is killed, leaving behind a photo of a boy in an otherwise empty room, paranormal investigative scientist, Hashimoto, and his team investigate the scene. Armed with a newly invented material they capture the ghost: an unidentified 13-year old boy. Who is this ghost? Why does it kill people? As they seal off the room and monitor the captured spirit, they soon learn that even though it’s energy can be visibly seen, humans are unable to hear it. In an effort to learn the ghost’s past, Hashimoto’s team enlists the help of special agent Ye, gifted with extraordinary eyesight and ability to lip-read. As Ye gets closer to solving the riddle of the boy’s past, he learns the horrifying truth of the boy’s death. Fearing that the ghost child is dangerous, the team decides to isolate the ghost but in doing so they unknowingly unleash a mysterious force, a much more powerful and ferocious energy to which the boy somehow seems connected.
Final Thoughts: Speaking of J-Horror, Silk is proof positive that the blue-hued, raven-haired specters are far from passé. Sure most of what comes from the East is repetitive and derivative but have you looked at the American Multiplexes lately? Silk manages to weave a fairly complex mythology into an accessible and entertaining film while still offering a few surprises and a breadth of believable performances inside a hyper-realistic setting. It’s ambitious and simple at the same time. A very well crafted film.
Synopsis: After a brutal death in the gross anatomy lab, first year medical student Alison Blanchard must discover the truth behind her mysterious cadaver – whose spirit she’s certain is in a state of unrest. When her lab partners start dying one-by-one, Alison must face her own mortality before it’s too late.
Final Thoughts: The 2006 After Dark Horrorfest didn’t have too many shining moments but Unrest stood far ahead of the pack. Directed by former Medical Resident Jason Todd Ipson, this spooky tale of Gross Anatomy class gone wrong, layers on the Atmosphere and pushes the boundaries of effects realism in probably the best ghost story this side of the Pacific.
Synopsis: A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.
Final Thoughts: The Burning capped off a year where some of the great, unsung genre films finally made their way to DVD (Scarecrows, El Topo, Bava Box Sets). This 1981 feature—the debut film from the fledgling Miramax label—is a whose who of future television and movie stars. But, its status as one of the original killer camp films, and some impressive Tom Savini effects work really make it a must have for all.
Synopsis: This compilation contains short films from America’s most controversial cult filmmakers. FAITH IN NOTHING is a fever-dream of eroticism and haunting beauty. VOMIRE is a sucker-punch of expressionistic imagery about angels, sex, and meat. SATISFACTION explores the intense relationship between an abused woman and her one-night-stand. Eight daring, unique, and bizarre shorts in all.
Final Thoughts: Actually a re-release of two previously available short film packages, this collection of experimental films by the crew at Wicked Pixel Cinema (Savage Harvest) offers an uneven, but often brilliant, look at the future of microbudget filmmaking. This one makes the grade for the DVD menu alone!
Synopsis: An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a rural town in New Zealand.
Final Thoughts: There must be something in the water down in New Zealand that makes those crazy Kiwis keep churning out this extreme-slapstick-gore. Director Jonathan King serves us his equivalent of “2000 Mutton Maniacs” in this flocking good time.
Synopsis: New Dark Sky release now on DVD: This highly influential cult classic from writer-director Jack Hill (Switchblade Sisters, Foxy Brown) tells the demented and darkly comic tale of the Merrye children — Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Ralph (Sid Haig)– all of whom suffer from a rare genetic malady that causes its victims to mentally regress to a condition of “pre-human savagery and cannibalism.” The children live in the old family mansion, and though under the cautious guardianship of chauffeur Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.), they manage to terrorize anyone or anything that passes through the gates. So when the family is visited by a pair of distant relatives and their greedy lawyer, a wild night of murderous thrills ensues.
Final Thoughts: Jack Hill’s little seen—and much influential—cult classic finally gets some love with a full blown DVD release that demands to be in the home of any so-called-cult-horror fan. Sid Haig is fascinating and Lon Chaney Jr. is touching but it’s the late Jill Banner’s performance as Virginia that truly makes this “The Maddest Story Ever Told”
Synopsis: Riddled with guilt over the loss of his rock star older brother, 16 year old David Forrester (Ricky Ullman) becomes obsessed with death, leading his misguided parents to send him to Driftwood, an “Attitude Adjustment Camp for Troubled Youths” run by the sadistic Captain Doug Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page) and his brutal young henchman, Yates (Talan Torriero). Once there, David becomes haunted by the spirit of Jonathan (Connor Ross), a former inmate who met a mysterious end; a mystery whose resolution could very well be David’s only way out.
Final Thoughts: Tim Sullivan’s 2001 Maniacs graced my Bloody-Disgusting list back in 2005. This year, Driftwood makes the list for a wholly different reason. Sullivan totally abandons the furious hilarity of “Maniacs” for a personal and profoundly melodramatic follow-up. It might not be perfect in every detail, but it stands next to “Maniacs” as a testament to its creator’s broad vision of horror.
Synopsis: A kindergarten teacher invents a car that runs on human blood to combat high gas prices in BLOOD CAR, a horror/comedy from first time director Alex Orr. In the first feature film from Fake Wood Wallpaper Films, narrative conventions and predictable, by-the-book plotlines are left behind in favor of an absurdist look at a future in which no one drives due to $40-a-gallon gasoline prices. Both a satire on our voracious habit for oil as well as a cleverly structured horror film, BLOOD CAR will make you cringe and laugh at the same time.
Final Thoughts: Proving once again that you need neither wild-eyed originality, nor an epic Hollywood budget to make a great film, Atlanta-based filmmaker Alex Orr’s debut feature combines the best aspects of Roger Corman and John Waters to exact a vicious satire on rising gas prices.
Synopsis: Tormented by his co-workers and trapped in a life of tedium, Roman’s one pleasure is his obsession with the elusive beauty next door (Kristen Bell, Pulse, Fifty Pills). When a chance encounter goes horribly wrong, a moment of frenzied desperation triggers a chilling turn of events. As he teeters between deranged fantasy and cold reality, Roman’s struggle to hide his grisly secret is further complicated by an eccentric neighbor (Nectar Rose, Serenity), who forces herself into his dark and tortured world. Lucky McKee stars in this menacing follow-up to his 2002 cult hit, May.
Final Thoughts: The dynamic duo of Lucky McKee and Angela Bettis swap roles in front of and behind the lens in this companion piece to McKee’s masterpiece May. McKee turns in a heartbreaking performance and Bettis fills the screen with surrealistic imagery and sullen despair.
Synopsis: A paranoid, unhinged, war veteran who sees insects everywhere holes up with a lonely woman, who is hiding from her abusive ex-husband in a spooky Oklahoma motel room.
Final Thoughts: Director William Friedkin finally escapes the studio-polished turds he’s been churning out for the past 20-years and gets back to the kind of intimate 70’s genre film that made him an Academy Award winner in the first place. Easily the best film of the year and possibly the best film Friedkin’s ever made (including The Exorcist).
Coming Soon Honorable Mentions – or – watch out for 2008:
Grimm Love, Ils (Them), The Rage and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Synopsis: After three ruthless serial killers team up in the Mexican border town of Juarez, hundreds of women are abducted, tortured and murdered in this grisly new thriller from famed horror master Ulli Lommel.
Final Thoughts: It wouldn’t be “TEX MASSACRE’S WORST LIST” if I didn’t give my annual shout out to the king of crap—Ulli Lommel. Keep ‘em coming brother!
Synopsis: In the original a group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.
Final Thoughts: It’s just a bad year all around for zombie film fans…and with A Dead Calling, Dead Man’s Hand and Rob Zombie’s Halloween…it’s also a pretty under-whelming year for Sid Haig fans.
Synopsis: In the tradition of Night of the Living Dead and the zombie-classics comes an all new twist on undead terror. When a young couple inherits ownership to an abandoned California property, they decide to make it the home of their dreams. Little do they know, but fate has delivered them a nightmare, in the form of an army of undead zombies. Their dream house sets atop an ancient burial ground, cursed by an evil Mayan ritual killing. Now, with fresh meat nearby, the undead emerge to feast on the living and deliver their zombie carnage. The fate of the world is in the hands of our two, terrified homeowners, who must find a way to stop the undead before it s too late!
Final Thoughts: Just when you thought any asshole with a 3-Chip DV camera could make a zombie film, Director David Heavener shows us that sometimes it takes actual Film Stock to make an unwatchable zombie film too. Congrats on wasting the cash Dave!
Synopsis: RAVE TO THE GRAVE has Garrison’s nephew finding two secreted barrels of the chemical and manufacturing from it an Ecstasy-type drug that turns Halloween partygoers into crazed ghouls.
Final Thoughts: All the Trioxin in the world couldn’t resuscitate this fallen franchise!
Synopsis: In ZOMBIES GONE WILD, three guys, Marty, Randy, and Leroy go on a spring break road trip in the hopes of becoming men and finding the year’s crop of spring break hotties. They get a hell of a lot more than they bargained for when the girls of their dreams become their worst nightmare. The trio ends up wishing that they were only in hell as they go on the ride of their lives! At times, startling funny and others, downright frightening, ZOMBIES GONE WILD will have the guys wishing they never went looking for some action. All they wanted was to score! They didnt expect to get eaten too!
Final Thoughts: The best thing about this DIY Zombie flick was the bottle of Hot Sauce that the filmmakers included with the screener. Zombies Gone Wild miraculously takes the dishonorable distinction of unseating S.I.C.K. as the worst horror film I’ve ever seen!
HORRIBLE MENTIONS (The rest of the worst):
Dark Corners, Dead Mary, Penny Dreadful and Masters of Horror Season 2.