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!
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I was one of the few people who didn’t particularly like Max Brooks’ breakout novel, World War Z. Like I hope that I’ve made it impossible for my wife to find other men to measure up to me, just about everything in the zombie pantheon has fallen shy of the original Dawn of the Dead for me. Everything that was right with DOTD was wrong with WWZ. More on that in a moment.
I’d heard that there were all kinds of productions issues with WWZ and if memory serves correct, this should have come out a lot sooner. Sometimes strife on a move set leads to greatness, like Predator (a movie that was said to have more issues than a NYC newsstand). But most times, chaos behind the scenes transforms into chaos on the screen. It’s very easy to see that WWZ had a lot of bad shit go down between the star and producer, Brad Pitt, and everyone else connected with the film.
I’m going to summarize WWZ quite easily. It’s a series of chase scenes that carry Brad Pitt from the US, to Africa, Israel and Wales. Brad goes somewhere, soulless zombies appear, Brad runs. He survives so many impossible situations, I was beginning to think he was Daffy Duck. And for a guy who was in 90% of the scenes, he said about 20 words.
It was like watching a 2 hour car chase, which gets very boring after a while. Unlike Dawn of the Dead, there are no real personalities here, either on the living or the dead side. There’s no one to connect to here. At one point, I was rooting for an asteroid to slam the earth and put everyone out of their misery. Like the zombies, the script has no pulse, no heart, nada.
The only cool part, for me, was the way the zombies, perhaps the fastest and angriest since 28 Weeks Later, piled atop one another to scale any height just to get at human flesh. So, I got two scenes that raised my adrenaline level up a tick, and then I was rocked to sleep until the end credits.
And here’s something else that blew my mind – here we are with a zombie flick on an epic scale and there is almost no blood, certainly no gore! What the hell? Was this intentionally made for grade school kids?
Guess I’ll have to wait for the new season of The Walking Dead to get a real zombies fix, and that’s a show I think we’ll look back at and try to pinpoint exactly where in season 3 it jumped the shark.
Anyone else plunk down their hard earned cash for World War Z? Feel free to tell me I’m a small minded elitist a-hole or that you agree with me. I can take it. 🙂
Fellow Monster Man Jack and I took one for the team and spent our hard earned money to see The Thing. Here’s our first ever quick video review, shot right outside the theater moments after the final credits.
We’re also rolling out our first Halloween contest. We already have some great pics and can’t wait to see more! Get yours in to be included in our post-Halloween episode.
It took me a few weeks to haul my butt off the couch and see Super 8, despite the fact that the first time I saw the coming attractions, I decreed it THE MOVIE TO SEE for the official start of the summer. (On a side note, the actual must-see movie for me this year is Captain America. This from a guy who has Cap’s shield tattooed on his arm. ‘Nuff said) Why the delay? you might ask. Well, despite some decent critical reviews, I’d heard enough from my peers to make me think twice about spending my hard earned money. Even the folks in Twitter Land warned me against it.
Well, twits and friends be damned. I came. I saw. I ate too much popcorn. I liked. I liked it alot, and here’s why. The movie is set in 1979 and centers around 5 boys and 1 girl, all around 12 and 13 years old. Well, that’s pretty much my age in 1979. The entire movie, for me, was a trip back to my childhood. There were the Famous Monsters models I used to put together! There’s the Keep on Truckin’ poster my friend had on his wall! Look at those awful clothes! And most of all, being a kid was damned near perfect and magical before Pac Man invaded. I kept watching and saying (softly and to myself), “That’s little me up there. Go kid, go!”
I’m not going to bore you with a breakdown of the movie. Plenty of other people and places have already beaten me to that punch. Suffice to say, the boys and girl, while shooting a zombie movie by the train tracks, witness the most horrific train derailment you’ll ever see. Something is released from the wreckage, a monster you don’t really see until the end (kudos to director J.J. Abrams on that one), the military takes over the town and it’s up to the kids to save it as well as themselves. I have to say, the cast of kids was the best since The Goonies. Abrams is a bright student of the Speilberg film school (who produced this) and he manages to touch on all the right pressure points. Yes, there are some gaps in logic and the end is less than satisfying. But I finally have a movie I can show to my kids and say, “Now THAT is exactly how I grew up. We only wished there was a monster wrecking the town. It would have given your old man a great excuse to unleash some of his stash of M-80s.”
Nothing beats a good old monster movie. There’s magic in Super 8 that has been sorely missed. Don’t you miss it, too.