2016 may not have been a year chock full of future classic horror flicks, but there were some real standouts. I had a bigger list than usual to choose from, but once I got past my top 5, the rest were pretty interchangeable as far as jockeying for position. March was a banner month for quality horror releases. October never seems to be. Strange.
So, without further ado, here is my annual top 13 list for the year. Hopefully this will give you something to watch on these cold January nights.
13. THE BOY
This was one of the first horror movies I watched in a theater last year. I was bored and figured it would kill some time. It makes my list because of the strong performance by Lauren Cohan and the overall creepiness of the doll, Brahms. Just look at that face. *shudders* With a very cool twist, The Boy is definitely worth a watch. Plus you’ll want to have a son and name him Brahms, just for the sake of saying his name over and over again.
12. THE CONJURING 2
Look, I know that this movie has as much to do with the real Enfield haunting as I do with ending World War II. That being said, it was fun in a well made, house of horrors kind of way. There were some good jump scares and that nun haunts my dreams. Plus, I’ll watch anything with Vera Farmiga (and if you haven’t been watching her in Bates Motel, shame on you!).
11. THE PURGE – ELECTION YEAR
I’ve come to realize that The Purge is one of the most solid horror franchises to come along in many years. For my money, it gets better with each movie. Election Year is just bat shit crazy with some of the wildest visuals of the series. I fell in love with the ‘car of lights’ and masked hotties out for a night of murder. Might be my next tattoo. It’s a wild ride and I demand a fourth flick!
10. THE WAILING
Don’t let the 2 1/2 hour running time scare you off. The Wailing is a disturbing, engrossing trip into witch doctory and possession. A product from Korea, it has the most stunning imagery of the year, with scenery to die for. Add to that several scenes that will make your blood run cold, and you have a winner.
The premise is deceptively simple – a deaf woman is trapped in her remote house, stalked by a masked (at least for a while) killer. I didn’t realize how tense I was until it ended and I felt stabbing pain in my jaw. Being deaf, she can’t hear her attacker as he prowls around the house, nor can she hear the noise she makes as she tries to get away. Good home invasion horror.
8. THE INVITATION
This is why you don’t accept a dinner invitation to your ex-wife’s house! You know right away that something is up with this gathering of old and new friends in the Hollywood hills, but it’s a blast watching it all unfold. The ending left my mouth hanging wide open. Best watched with sketchy friends.
7. DON’T BREATHE
Now, I know a lot of folks were calling this the best horror movie to come along in years. It’s not, but it is a lot of twisted fun, especially thanks to Stephen Lang’s killer portrayal of a blind man trying to fend off a trio of burglars. This is the second movie of note to be set in the ruins of Detroit (the first being my favorite, It Follows). The abandoned neighborhood alone gave me the willies. There is one scene that will linger with you. I won’t spoil it, but don’t watch it after you’ve eaten turkey.
6. 13 CAMERAS
A young couple moves into a house owned by the strangest looking and sounding dude since the wackadoo from The Human Centipede 2. What could go wrong? Disturbing owner installs cameras all around the house and sees things he should not see. I LOVED the way this one ended. If you’re a fan of The Loved Ones, the vibe this flick gives off is just for you.
5. THE WITCH
Hands down, the creepiest movie of the year. Colonists are thrown out of town and forced to struggle to survive in the wilderness. Right off the bat, a witch steals their baby and it’s all downhill from there. This movie has it all – creepy twins, bitter cold and darkness, the devil and Black Phillip the goat. Do not miss this one.
4. THE MONSTER
No one should be surprised that a guy who calls himself a monster man would be over the moon about a movie called The Monster. The real horror here is the relationship between an alcoholic mother and her young daughter. Trapped on a dark, rainy road in the dead of night, they have to battle a terrifying creature that is the physical embodiment of mom’s karma. With two stellar performances, it’s sometimes hard to watch and pretty bleak. All the ingredients I look for!
This is the first Turkish movie to ever make my list. It’s a true WTF flick. It makes Hellraiser look like a kid’s cartoon. It’s gross, disturbing and maybe doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it’s a freaking blast. If this is what hell is like, I’m going to church every day.
2. TRAIN TO BUSAN
Look, I’m sick to death of all things zombie, which just goes to show how great this movie is. It’s a Korean zombies on a train and easily the best zombie flick since the original Day of the Dead. I love the way the zombies reanimate here and pile up on one another. It’s the only movie I’ve watched in years that had me shouting out loud. Get your ticket for this train. You won’t regret it.
1.10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
The moment I saw this in the spring, I knew it would be my favorite movie of the year. John Goodman is menacing and simply awesome as a doomsday prepper who ‘saves’ a man and woman from a supposed alien invasion above. This is vastly different from Cloverfield, and for my taste, far better. I almost didn’t want to leave the bomb shelter. It’s the only movie that came out in 2016 that I bought so I can watch it over and over.
And now, for some honorable mentions…
Like I said, once I got past my top 5, quiet a few movies on my longer list could have cracked the top 13. Here are some others that tickled my horror bone : LIGHTS OUT, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, and I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE.
What were your favorite movies of 2016? What movie do you think I’m crazy for including or excluding? Lay it on me!
I’m not afraid to admit I have an addiction. I can’t get enough movies about UFOs, aliens and abductions. No matter how bad, I’m compelled to watch them all. Lately, it seems as though a law has been passed decreeing that all UFO/Alien flicks MUST be found footage with a 10 shilling budget. I’m here to guide you from the darkness and into the light (you know, the one emanating from the underbelly of the Mothership).
Here are my favorite 11 (because anyone can do a top 10 list). I’ve put a quick synopsis followed by my own review for each. When you’re not watching the skies, put your peepers on these…
FIRE IN THE SKY
(Based on a true story) In 1975, logger Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) and his co-workers discovered a hovering UFO. Walton’s pals fled, but Walton was not so fortunate. Whisked aboard the strange craft, he was subjected to a painful, unearthly medical study.
The Travis Walton case is one of the most intriguing abduction cases of all time. The movie is very well done, tense and downright creepy, especially once we get a glimpse of the interior of the gross and trippy alien ship. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Was a damaged alien spaceship really hidden by the government in the infamous Hangar 18? This film shows you how it might have happened. Aired on television as “Invasion Force,” but with a different ending.
I loved this movie when I was a kid. Plus, it stars Kolchak himself, Darren McGavin. It doesn’t hold up so well, but I can’t ignore the pull of nostalgia. 2 of 5 flying saucers
Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, April (Brittany Allen, Dead Before Dawn) is dragged by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, Pitch Perfect), and a group of his friends back to the cabin where she spent summers as a child. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. The group venture out to the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet, along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. They soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.
This is one bat crap crazy movie. And the more I watch it, the more I like it. I especially love the ending, the very point most directors in this little genre drop the ball. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
(Also based on a true story) Whitley Strieber goes with his family and some friends to his holiday home in the forest. They experience some weird occurances, are they UFO activity? Whitley is abducted and then faces a horrible dilema; was I abducted or am I going mad? He sees a psychiatrist who tries to use hypnotic regression to discover the truth.
Now, this one holds a special place in my tin foil heart. Living close to where author Whitley Strieber had his experiences, the book and then this movie totally captured my attention in the 80s. I watch it at least once a year, every year, despite its odd construction. Hey, it stars Christopher Walken and a score by Eric Clapton! 4 of 5 flying saucers.
THE FOURTH KIND
Based on actual case studies, The Fourth Kind uses archival footage and dramatic reenactments to present the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever in this provocative thriller.
Set in a remote Alaska town, I admit I was one of the suckers who bought the line that the footage interspersed within the movie was real. No matter. Even knowing it’s fake, the movie still gives me chills. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
Doctors are baffled when an expectant mother wakes to find her nearly-to-term pregnancy apparently disappear overnight. Police investigate the situation as a missing child, and only her husband and brother trust her version of events.
I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this one. I plucked it off of Netflix one day and was pleasantly surprised. It’s downright haunting and a found footage flick that gets it right. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
In the summer of 1947, a rancher discovers the charred remains of an unidentified flying object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. 20 years and 350 eyewitnesses later… the truth about what he found is finally coming out.
No, this is not the TV series. I think we all know about Roswell and Area 51 by now, but when this came out, it was pretty riveting. I believe this was produced by Showtime. I had to wait to watch it on VHS because I couldn’t afford Showtime back then. It was worth the wait. 3 of 5 flying saucers.
A farm family wakes up to find a 500-foot crop circle in their backyard and are told that extraterrestrials are responsible. The circles begin appearing all over the world as the family grapples with the fact that Earth is being invaded.
By far, this is my favorite M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson movie. It’s a movie about a broken family smack in the middle of one of the most terrifying alien invasions ever put on film. Very atmospheric and one of the few movies where old Mel is not the macho hero. Swing away! 4.5 of 5 flying saucers.
As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Another well executed film about a family in crisis. I actually jumped a couple of times when I saw it in the theater. The ending pulls no punches. Pretty bleak stuff. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Wow, wow, wow. Don’t expect over the top theatrics and insane special effects. This is pure storytelling woven with some high concept science. It’s taut, intelligent and at times, heartbreaking. A must watch! 5 of 5 flying saucers.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Universally considered the best film ever made about alien visitation to Earth, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind was nominated for eight Academy Awards®, winning for Best Cinematography. Power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an extraordinary encounter with a strange spacecraft while out on a call. Recurring visions of a mountain fuel an increasing obsession that drives him to an emotional breaking point.
This is the godfather of all UFO movies. So much of this has become part of our everyday culture. Beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Richard Dreyfuss, at almost 40 years old, it’s still the one UFO movie to watch if you plan to watch only one. 5 of 5 flying saucers.
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Tis the season for lots ‘o horror movies. There are so many to choose from, it’s always difficult to decide what to watch. If you’ve been following what I’ve been watching on Twitter under hashtag #Horrortober, you’ll see I’ve watched over 30 so far. I’m hoping to hit the 50 mark this year. I give a rating for each movie so you know which ones to avoid and which ones to pop in the Blu Ray player or get On Demand.
Catching up on a couple of episodes of Monster Men, we review perfect movies for Horrortober like HUSH, DON’T BREATHE, GREEN ROOM and NEON DEMON. These 4 flicks will definitely have you waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
Next up, we wax unpoetic about unnecessary remakes and who we would cast in each. Do movies like Jaws, Alien and Escape from New York need to be remade? Hell no! But we all know that Hollywood can’t help itself. It will happen. If it happened today and we were casting directors, here’s where we would take things. The big question is, how would you recast them?
My man man, pots and pans, Spencer Mitchell is back, this time with a review of a very cool flick called 13 Cameras. I haven’t seen it myself, but after reading his review, I’m going straight to Amazon this afternoon. There’s great horror out there. Sometimes, you just need to rely on someone’s recommendation to point you in the right direction! And this particular movie opens up a whole can of worms about the prevalence of cameras in today’s society and what that means for us.
Take it away Spencer…
13 Cameras: A Video Surveillance Horror Story
While ugly, failing appliances and bug infestations may be at the top of the list of a renter’s worst fears, being spied on by creepy landlords is also another concern. No one wants to be unknowingly watched and recorded, but the movie 13 Cameras takes it a step further. If nothing else, this film shows that the technology so many depend on to protect their homes, property, and person can easily be used against them.
As 13 Cameras opens, Gerald, played by Neville Archambault, is seen purchasing a load of little cameras and installing them in a house. In come newlyweds Ryan and Claire, played by PJ McCabe and Brianne Moncrief, who are expecting their first baby and looking for a new place to rent. Claire picks up on Gerald’s unsettling vibes right away, but since the house is perfectly suited for their growing family, the couple signs a lease and seals their fate.
During the film, Claire and Ryan do the normal things that all married couples do within their homes: argue, have sex, and plan their futures. The problem is most people don’t have a landlord watching their every movement on camera. Then comes the twist: Ryan is having an affair with his assistant Hannah, played by Sarah Baldwin. It gets to the point where Ryan’s indiscretion is not only threatening his marriage with Claire, but Gerald’s favorite pastime as well. And you know Gerald’s not having that. As the tension between Ryan and Claire becomes more intense, Gerald steps beyond watching them on camera and physically invades their lives.
Archambault’s performance as Gerald is excellent and flawlessly gives the audience sweaty-crazy-landlord realness. He doesn’t say much throughout the film, but his very presence is unnerving. Once the audience sees he’s not some quivering lump but a very muscular man beneath his sweat-stained shirt, you get a sense that Claire and Ryan are in serious danger. As for the ending of 13 Cameras, let’s just say that it is as disturbing as the rest of the film.
Theatrical drama aside, there are some real life problems with video surveillance. It’s commonly abused and can easily put sensitive information and footage into the wrong hands. Technology simply hasn’t reached the point of being fool-proof, and that era may never come at all. That said, home security systems can provide some major benefits, are effective at warding off would-be intruders, and there are ways to safeguard them, according to many resources.
One of the biggest vulnerabilities with most home security systems is they’re not encrypted, which makes it much easier for hackers, stalkers, and even pranksters to spy on you and invade your privacy. Choose a system that uses encryption and is tamper resistant. Another way to stop hackers is by properly securing your home’s router if your security system relies on WiFi. Change the default password and be sure your router’s firmware is current. To very easily determine whether unauthorized users are interfering with your security system, regularly scan the IP history of your camera logs.
The problems presented by unlawful, intrusive surveillance all seem like infrequent worse case scenarios, but cameras are hacked into more than people realize. Because it touches on real life issues that people have encountered with surveillance gone wrong in a terrifying way, 13 Cameras is more of a horror movie than a suspenseful thriller. Take a lesson from Claire and Ryan: to avoid a safety and privacy catastrophe, you have to be careful when it comes to having cameras within your home.
Growing up in the 70s, I was exposed to dozens of horror films from the 50s and 60s that centered around man’s environment getting revenge on the beasts who dared tamper with or destroy the world around them. Those movies, along with Universal’s monster movies, were my ‘starter-horror’. They’re what made me what I am today. Not sure if I should thank them or sue anyone left alive who made them.
Guest blogger Spencer Mitchell loves the Eco-Horror sub genre as much as I do. So this week, I’m jumping in the back seat and letting Spencer take the wheel. Take it away, #1 Hellion!
Many popular films and novels feature conflicts involving man vs. man or man vs. beast. But what happens when humans face conflict with the world around them? The world is indifferent to the suffering of humans, but that doesn’t mean the fates of the two are not intertwined. So here are five of the scariest movies that show what happens when we don’t respect the power of planet Earth and the end of the world comes for us.
The idea of nature rebelling against humankind is not a new one. In 1954, just as the world was in full terror due to the Cold War and the rise of nuclear technology, the horror movie Them! provided quite the scare. This movie was one of many “big bug” films that focused on nuclear testing gone awry to create humongous, radioactive creatures. Though it is remembered as little more than a classic black-and-white B-movie today, Them! certainly shocked audiences with its frank portrayal of what could happen to the natural world in the event of an atomic incident. (Hunter’s note, Them! is one of my all time favorite movies.)
In 1976, tiny creatures went rogue once more in the sci-fi thriller The Food of the Gods, loosely based on an H.G. Wells novel. This time, the abnormal growth in animals is due to a miraculous “food” that bubbles up from the earth to provide sustenance for rats, wasps, and worms. This substance (a result of man-made waste) ends up making the animals grow larger than humans, disturbing the gentle balance between man and nature. Though the film was financially successful, it is widely forgotten today – which is actually rather unfortunate since the theme of ecology striking back against industry remains prevalent in our modern world.
In the 2004 action movie The Day After Tomorrow, Manhattan is thrust into a climate-change-induced Ice Age, leaving millions stranded in a polar prison. Though the film dramatizes the effects of global warming, it definitely serves as a potent worst-case scenario. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), drastic climate change is in our imminent future whether we like it or not, forecasting “a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.” This will eventually cause changes in precipitation patterns, droughts, the melting of ice caps, and even stronger hurricanes.
When a horror master decides to take on the subject of man versus nature, you know the result will be a chilling portrayal of what can happen when the world fights back. M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening involves a mysterious plant-based neurotoxin that drives those exposed to it to commit suicide. This film may include more fantasy elements than others, but the message is clear – when science messes with the natural world, the natural world has ways of defending itself and seeking retaliation.
Found-footage horror films have always served to bring the viewer in closer to the subject and make it feel more realistic. This is even more chilling when the subject is a deadly waterborne epidemic that hits a small Massachusetts town during a local festival. In 2012’s The Bay, hundreds of townspeople succumb to a flesh-eating, stomach-turning illness caused by unsafe waste disposal that was covered up by the local government. The entire event is captured on film by a young reporter and presented as a mockumentary. It’s a chilling horror film, but it also shows how far some people are willing to go to deny the effect humans have had on nature.
Though many of these films were made to entertain and frighten viewers, they are not created in vain. They show what could happen to our world if we keep disturbing nature’s delicate balance…and what will happen if we don’t make the changes soon.
I have to admit, I was an X Files fan for life right from episode one. The show carried me through the 90s and was a constant source of inspiration when I was starting my writing career. Christ Carter was a guy just like me, a man deeply influenced by Kolchak and The Twilight Zone. I wanted to believe I could be Christ Carter one day!
The TV series lasted 9 years, ushering in the wave of paranormal shows that continue to this day. It spawned two movies, video games, comic books, novels and a lasting legacy with legions of fans who have always wanted more.
Well, sometimes, you get what you ask for.
The X Files returned to our lives for a 6 episode run on Sunday night. As soon as I heard the opening theme song, I was taken back to settling in on Friday nights (before it moved to Sunday) with a scotch and a cigar, phones off the hook so I could savor every episode. I don’t smoke cigars anymore and scotch gives me acid reflux, so this time I had to settle for a water some Skinny Pop popcorn. I made it manlier by getting the pepper popcorn. So there.
The first and last episodes will feature the continuing alien conspiracy, with the four in between being the monster of the week.
Although the first episode wasn’t exactly a barn burner, I was amazed over how easily David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson slipped into their roles as Mulder and Scully. Sure, they’re older, a little wiser, a little jaded, slightly broken. But they’d have to be after everything they’ve been through. Their chemistry is still there, and the look and feel of the show was spot on. All of the alien stuff was confusing, but it always was! It even ended with the Cancer Man (I’m not calling him the Smoking Man). From the sneak peek, it looks like all of the gang is back, and I couldn’t be happier.
Will this lead to another 6 episodes? A movie? A full season? I hear Carter is already prepping more episodes. It’s all going to come down to ratings and the willingness of the stars to commit. So you better get everyone you know to watch!
If I was a betting man, I’d plunk down some dough on more X Files to come. Let’s hope I’m better at seeing the lay of the land than Fox Mulder.
I have to admit, I was watching horror flicks right down to the wire to make sure I got as many as I could in before making my annual top 13 list. There were some I had high hopes for that didn’t make the cut like Let us Prey and, believe it or not, Paranormal Activity – The Ghost Dimension. And then there were the usual pleasant surprises that just had to make the cut. Unlike other years, there was no question about my #1 movie. I love it so much, I’ve made it my favorite movie of the 21st century.
Oddly enough, there are no cryptid movies on the list this time around. Didn’t really see any worth considering, other than Zombeavers. That’s right, I said Zombeavers.
OK, enough of my preamble. Will you join me for the countdown?
#13 – A GIRL WALKS HOME AT NIGHT
Admittedly, I’m not a big vampire guy (though I do love Near Dark!). This Iranian art-house vamp flick may be a little slow for some, but I loved the change of pace. And the fact that it was in black and white gave it huge points in my book. Heavy on atmosphere and subdued performances, I give it two fangs up.
#12 – ORB
You all know I love alien movies. I can’t make a top 13 list without including at least one. Knowing that, I watched just about every alien-esque movie that came out last year. Most were total duds or just plan confusing. Not so with Orb, a neat gem that reminded me a lot of the movie Bug (the Ashley Judd one, not the awesome 1975 drive-in creature feature with Bradford Dillman). Three siblings are confined in a lake house. One of them is a vet who is admittedly crazy, but says he has something captured in the basement. Aliens + paranoia = Hunter bliss.
#11 – BACKCOUNTRY
You like Jaws? How about moving the action to land and substituting the shark for a bear? Yeah, that hits the spot. Based on a collection of camping gone wrong stories, this one literally had me holding my breath. It was one of those Netflix random discoveries that makes my subscription worth it. This city boy is staying the hell out of the woods now.
#10 – GOODNIGHT MOMMY
Ah, those crazy Austrians and their demented children. This subtitled affair is a slow burn of sheer craziness. I figured out the twist early on, but it didn’t matter. The execution makes this a must-see for true horror fans. Kids are creepy – especially twins who collect hissing cockroaches and are left on their own like feral children. TV star mommy with a shrouded face thanks to mucho plastic surgery makes for a very unsettling home in the middle of freaking nowhere. And I love what those boys do with super glue. Bad kinder!
#9 – ALMOST MERCY
You know that weird kid that everyone swears will grow up to be a school shooter? Well, in Almost Mercy, he has a friend – a strange girl, no less – to keep him grounded. Or can she? I can’t get over how good this movie is. It’s bleak, funny, sarcastic, loaded with social commentary and drenched in blood. And if you think you know what it’s about by my description or the blurb on IMDB, try again. Watch this so you can be one of the cool kids.
#8 – THE GREEN INFERNO
Man, a lot of people have dumped all over this cannibal gore fest. I guess I just don’t run with their crowd. The latest movie from Eli Roth, starring his lovely wife, Lorenza Izzo (who was also in Knock Knock – yowza), delivers on what it promises to be – a brutal movie about conservationists getting what they deserve, at least according to Trump. The gore in this one was way over the top for a theatrical release, and for that, I applaud Roth. And you will truly hate the asshole activist leader. Watch it on an empty stomach. Or if you’re truly badass, watch it during a pig roast. Mmmmm, long pig.
#7 – CREEP
2015 was the year for Mark Duplass, who gave us a great indie horror movie like Creep, and a big budget clunker like The Lazarus Effect. Creep is a 2 man show about a dude hired online to film a guy going about his regular day because he’s dying and wants to leave a record of his life behind for his child. Duplass is downright unsettling. You will never be able to get ‘Tubby Time’ or ‘Peach Fuzz’ erased from your brain after watching this. This is part of a series of low budget horror flicks that Duplass is slated to make for Netflix. You have to check it out.
#6 – BONE TOMAHAWK
Of course an author who wrote a horror western (Hell Hole) is going to love a horror western movie. The fact that it stars my hero, Kurt Russell, had me all in from the word git! Part The Searchers and part The Hills Have Eyes, Bone Tomahawk is a dusty ride through dangerous terrain with the ragtagiest bunch of ragtags ever assembled. The spooky race of Trogs that have kidnapped a woman and Russell’s deputy are freaking bizarre. Saddle up and hit the trail!
#5 – WE ARE STILL HERE
Horror movies need more main characters north of 40 (coming from a man living in that altitude). You get better, more believable actors and a sense of gravitas that can’t be found in most tits ‘n zits flicks. Barbara Crampton is one of my all time faves (and yes, I met her last year!), so I had to watch this one. An older couple settle in to a house that is very haunted, but by what? There are several scenes that actually disturbed me and made me jump. And the third act is just bat shit wild. After watching this, I dare you to go into your basement with the lights off. Go on, I triple dog dare you!
#4 – THE VISIT
M. Night Shyamalan is back! The Visit is about the most fun you’ll have with a horror movie. And, it’s found footage done right. The performances by the kids are great and grandma and grandpa are simply off their rockers. If I was staying with them overnight, I’d need a diaper (like grandpa and his dirty diaper shed) and 10 Xanax. This is one I can watch again and again. Naturally, there’s a twist at the end, and the payoff is damn good. Let’s hope M.’s days of The Happening are behind him.
#3 – THE FINAL GIRLS
This wonderfully original premise has a girl who gets reunited with her deceased scream queen mom by transporting into the 80’s slasher flick that gave Mom her start. I loved living in an 80’s slasher movie for an hour and a half, considering I was a teen during that golden decade. The Final Girls is snarky, nostalgic and touching as all get out. My wife actually cried when we watched it. And she’s as jaded a horror fan as I am. It’s a trippy movie with lots of blood, just enough laughs and a few salty tears. This one really took me by surprise.
#2 – SPRING
In any other year, this would be my top movie. Maybe because I’m getting older and soft, but I can’t get Spring out of my head. It’s a horror love story. That’s right, a horror love story. Set in Italy and beautifully shot, the story centers around an American 20-something who stumbles into and falls in love with an exotic, mercurial beauty who just happens to turn into a different creature every night. These are the two best performances of the year, hands down. It was done so well, I was ready to pledge my love for Louise despite her monstrous nature and the possibility she may kill me. I had vivid dreams about this for nights afterward. I haven’t had a movie affect me like that in at least 20 years. Right after it ended, I ordered it on Amazon. This will be one I go to every year.
#1 – IT FOLLOWS
There is nothing I don’t dig about It Follows. First, it’s a totally fresh idea wrapped around familiar territory. From the opening scene of a neighborhood that brought me right back to Halloween to the nerve jangling synth soundtrack, I was smitten. A curse in the form of a shape shifting ghost that will follow you until it catches you and kills you can only be transmitted by sex. That’s right, VD meets an ethereal Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. I posted a full review when I saw it that you can read here. It Follows is my favorite horror movie of the past 30 years. I don’t think I’ve been this jazzed by a movie since The Thing. I’ve watched it several times and it only gets better. I listen to the ass kicking score when I write. I may even tattoo a scene from it on my body one day. Yep, you can count me in as an unapologetic, rabid fan.
If you want another top 13 list that is very different from my own, check out my partner in Monster Men crime’s list. Old Jackie has quite a few great recommendations even I have yet to watch. Between the 2 of us, you definitely have enough movies to keep you busy during a big ass snowstorm!
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