I promised myself I wasn’t going to come out with any top 10 lists for the new year…and I’m sticking to it. Rebel that I am, I’m here to dish on my 13 favorite horror movies of 2013. That’s right, where all the other blogs only give you a measly 10, I’m like Five Guys Burgers and Fries dishing out the extra fries.
Admittedly, I didn’t see every movie that came out (most noticeably, I didn’t catch Insidious Chapter 2 – dumb ass name), but I did watch a hell of a lot of horror flicks last year – and every year for that matter. A few of these came out in 2012, but weren’t available to anyone outside the lone theater they premiered in until 2013. You want to take me to the mat for that, let’s throw down. So, let the countdown begin!
13. THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY
Yes, it’s a found footage movie, but the premise and execution are a notch above most of this sub-genre. A descendant of the mad Dr. Frankenstein takes a team to the Arctic Circle to prove that Mary Shelley’s iconic tale was not a work of fiction, but a recounting of a true and chilling story. The atmosphere is stark, desolate, and the chills you feel are very real. This one totally took me by surprise.
OK, I’ll admit I picked this one up because of the attractive and, aahhh, nude woman on the cover. Sometimes, being shallow pays off. The Thale in this tale is a mythological Norwegian creature that looks a lot like a pretty damn sexy woman with a tail. That’s right, a tail. When a couple of house cleaners stumble upon the imprisoned Thale, all hell breaks loose. Freakin’ strange, but beautifully shot and just plain haunting.
11. DARK SKIES
I finally relented and bought a BluRay player last year. This was one of the first discs I asked Santa to cram in my stocking. I’m a sucker for alien abduction movies (Communion, Fire in the Sky, The Fourth Kind). What makes this movie so strong is the way it builds up the family and makes you truly care for them, making it that much harder to watch an alien presence tear their lives apart. Top notch performances and some great visuals. This one can get pretty creepy at times and has an ending you rarely see anymore.
10. THE PURGE
My hopes were so, so high for this one. There was no way it could ever live up to them. But it came pretty damn close. Think Assault on Precinct 13 (where Ethan Hawke also starred in the remake) in the ‘burbs. I fell in love the moment I saw Ethan Hawke’s gun. Tense, futuristic, and at times downright gory, it’s worth the time. Plus it has Cersei Lannister, so how bad can it be?
9. WOULD YOU RATHER?
I think I’m one out of the dozen or so people who saw this one, but man was it fun. Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs is a twisted, rich SOB who invites a handful of down-on-their-luck folks for dinner in his mansion. One of them will receive enough money in the end to solve all of their worldly problems. All they have to do is play a little game called Would You Rather? Sick, sick, sick, awesome, awesome, awesome. How did no one think of this one before?
Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of the 80’s original. Elijah Wood stars as the socially awkward Maniac this time around. What made this work, aside from his performance, was the concept to shoot the movie through his eyes. Brilliant. This one will give you the heebie-jeebies. One of those movies where I say, “I am so glad I’m not a single woman.”
7. V/H/S 2
When I caught the first V/H/S on Netflix, I was did my little horror dance – the one I do when I stumble upon little gems of terror. I was worried that the sequel would fall short of the original. There was no need to worry. In fact, I think part 2 is slightly better and more cohesive than the first. The short on the cult alone makes it one of the best flicks of the year. Go catch it on Netflix streaming.
Here’s the second alien abduction movie on my list, as well as the second found footage flick. You’d think that combo would add up to el stinkeroo. Not so fast, capitano! Again, an achingly powerful performance by Erin Way as a woman who mysteriously lost her baby in late term pregnancy keeps this one humming. It has a few real scares that will make you think twice when you look up at the night sky.
5. THE BATTERY
In a year when World War Z crapped the zombie bed, this mega low budget movie had to rely on something a lot of Hollywood movies ignore – an actual, well written story. This is the best zombie movie in a long while. Two minor league baseball battery mates (a pitcher and a catcher) survive the zombie apocalypse and walk from place to place, trying to survive. I love this movie because it gave us the first ‘masturbation to a dead girl’ scene and for the absolutely claustrophobic, dire last twenty minutes. Take that Brad Pitt!
4. RITES OF SPRING
I had never even heard of this movie until I saw it as a suggestion on Netflix. Whoa, this one was a wild ride that reminded me of all the best elements of 80’s horror. This came out in 2011, but I believe wasn’t available until 2013. Screw it, I want it in my top 5. This one has kidnappers, a creature that comes out for the spring ‘harvest’, screams, some ugly bastard under a barn, blood and more. I had a blast watching this, and in the end, that’s what matters most.
3. THE CONJURING
The first movie adaptation of famed paranormalists Ed and Lorraine Warren and their ghostly travails. This one is genuinely scary at times. The Warrens are called to investigate an exceedingly haunted house that is driving a family to the brink. It stars Vera Farmiga, as Lorraine Warren (who I met with her late husband in the 90s) so I was already hooked. As I watched it, I kept thinking, if even half of this shit is true, we live in a world of truly terrifying potential. And don’t ever ask me to play hide-and-go-clap with you. Ever.
2. AMERICAN MARY
A body modification movie gone horribly awry. Med school dropout takes to underground bod-mod surgeries in her apartment to make cash. This one is so bizarre, it has to be seen to be believed. Surreal, kinky, debased, sexy, it’s one of the most surprising horror movies I’ve ever seen. Whenever people ask me for movie recommendations, I tell ’em, American Mary. If you don’t get it, well, we’ll part as friends.
1. YOU’RE NEXT
A family reunion goes to complete shit when crossbows start burying themselves in necks and backs in what was, by far, the most fun I had at the movies all year. Hell, I even took my mom to see this and she dug it. The lesson we learn here is that all girls should go to survivalist camp. Aside from the brutal murders and tense, graphic action, there are some fantastic laughs here, as well as a song that will loop in your head for months. This one gets my number one slot with ease!
It’s been a tale of two summers here in New York. The first half felt like we were living on Mercury, and the second half was mild and sunny on the San Diego-ish side. I’m not a big fan of summer and I’m happy to see it go. Bring me colder, darker days and falling leaves and, most of all, let the true horror begin!
Here are a few things you should be looking out for to get in the mood.
Looking for a great Horror Con to attend? Why not try Rock & Shock in Worcester, MA (10/4-10/6), Spooky Empire in Orlando, FL (10/25-10/27) or, my favorite, Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, NJ (10/25-10/27). I’ll be at Chiller, as I am every year. Where else can you drink next to celebs, be surrounded by like minded maniacs, catch some indie movies, stock up on horror gear and have the time of your life?
I’m a big fan of the movie V/H/S (and the tapes as well. I must have watched hundreds of horror videos in the 80s when I should have been in school). I wasn’t convinced that they could catch lightning in a bottle twice with the sequel. I’m here to tell you I was dead wrong. V/H/S 2 is actually better than the first. The segments are tighter and creepier, especially “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and the ultra gore-fest, “Safe Haven”. This sequel is a must see. I hope they get the band back together for a third.
Speaking of sequels, one of my favorite paranormal TV shows, Ghost Mine, gets a second season starting September 4th. I know I’ll be writing more about this in the next month, but you really should check it out. If you never heard of the show, read my post about the first season so you’re ready to dive in to season two.
Often when I write, I have music going in the background. There are a couple of rules I have when it comes to writing music. First, it can’t have lyrics. Hearing other words screws with my head. Two, the music has to match the mood of the scene I’m writing. Naturally, I listen to a lot of soundtracks. I just picked up the soundtracks to Sinister and The Innkeepers. Both helped me finish my last book and will take me well into my next. Warning, Sinister, like the movie, will creep you the hell out! Both are excellent.
Calling all squatchers! Yeah, that means you! Are you ready for the new Bigfoot flick, Willow Creek? Click the movie poster below to watch the trailer and get as amped as I am. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one by Bobcat Goldthwait. You all know I’m a sucker for sasquatch.
Need something to read? I’m not going to sugar coat this one. I fucking loved Brian Moreland’s The Witching House. His latest novella reads as fast as an out of control freight train and has genuine scares. Read the description and tell me if you can resist.
Some houses should be left alone.
In 1972, twenty-five people were brutally murdered in one of the bloodiest massacres in Texas history. The mystery of who committed the killings remains unsolved.
Forty years later, Sarah Donovan is dating an exciting man, Dean Stratton. Sarah’s scared of just about everything—heights, tight places, the dark—but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean and another couple on an exploring adventure. The old abandoned Blevins House, the scene of the gruesome massacre, is rumored to be haunted.
The two couples are about to discover the mysterious house has been waiting all these years, craving fresh prey. And down in the cellar they will encounter a monstrous creature that hungers for more than just human flesh.