My personal feelings? This was a good year for our beloved genre. Not necessarily the studio, well-marketed stuff but for the indies, there was some definite success. Despite the fact that Rob Zombie took a big, wet dump on the genre that made him, other's in the horror world strove to create something exciting and entertaining. So, I will gladly lay out my personal opinions for no one to read or care about, except a few of my geek friends who love horror or are film snobs who don't like anything. Enjoy! Note: some of these films weren't necessarily 2009 releases but DID get released on DVD this year, thus qualifying them in my book...so, shut up.
1.Martyrs-I've sucked this film off in several public forums and this one will be no exception. It actually kinda disappoints you when you know you've just watched the best movie you'll see all year and it's only like March or April. Nonetheless, I love it. It's excessive, dreary, bleak, and mean-spirited. And hopefully, it's a sign of things to come from the French. Mr. Laugier is a name I fully expect to be hearing quite a bit.
2.Book of Blood-I'd reckon this one was a long time coming, and I feel like it being good, is pretty cut and dry. The story is a combination of 2 of Clive Barker's short stories and it screams of that. The setting gives us a rainy dark back drop w/ a very simple premise-if you lie, you suffer. The last few years, Barker's stories have become popular fodder for screenplays (again) as a lifelong fan, I am glad it's happening.
3.Offspring-So, I am apparently on a island of my own in liking this one. I don't think I've read but a few favorable reviews, and I find it surprising considering the source of material. Jack Ketchum novel, feral humans, unsuspecting victims-HELL YES!!!! It's hilarious and repugnant, full of ultra gore, rape, incest, cannibalism, and all around nastiness. plus, dude from Porky's is in it! It's so completely ridiculous that it couldn't be anything but a blast to watch and clocking in at around 75 minutes, it doesn't eat up any of your time. Not for snobs or elitists, but definitely for the hardcore gorehound.
4.Drag Me to Hell-I was a skeptic. I was nervous. I was downright terrified. Fortunately, Sam Raimi proved why he is still one of the most highly lauded filmmakers of our era. YES, he's the man who made the Evil Dead series, but shit- Tobe Hooper made Texas Chainsaw Massacre and let's be honest, not much great has followed, barring a few high notes. And maybe the lesson I learned is the one all geeks should learn: You don't get that kinda pay without having done something right. Essentially, he pulled a Jay-Z move-shit was going bad, and he had to come back and remind people why he was the king. It's a truckload of fun and is highly recommended!
5.Grace-I was amazed out how much this movie got to me. Actually, no-no, I wasn't. As a parent, the notion that you will do anything for your child resonates with me quite strongly. But it's a subject I don't worry too much about when watching horror movies because I don't run acrossed it's path too often. The film kind of plays out like a Polanski film-very few set pieces that narrow down to one, a beautiful blond lead who just so happens to be VERY emotionally fractured, minimal dialogue and an evil antagonist. It's a bleak story w/ very little room to find hope and it has some darkly comic moments but overall, Paul Solet figured out how to make a strong entry into horror. I am greatly anticipating more from him in the future.
6.Black Devil Doll-With a tag line like "He's a lover, He's a killer, He's a Muthafuckin' Puppet!", I expected only the best. From the fellas that brought the world Rotten Cotton horror t shirts, comes a hilarious story about a Black Panther serial rapist/killer who's soul is reanimated in the body of a marionette puppet. I don't think I need to tell you how funny this is. This minor description should be enough of a sell. I laughed harder at this film than any film I've seen all year. It's offensive, vile and brilliant. Please, PLEASE keep making films, Lewis Bros. and I will keep buying your shirts!
7.Laid To Rest-It's a rare commodity anymore that someone could make a slasher film that's not only original but is hopeful for having a future. It's got all the trappings of success with it's masked, nameless killer and moronic victims. The dude that made this made a film called Lightning Bug a year or two ago that was okay but I didn't think he had this in him. It's a damn shame he couldn't get a really good budget and marketing because I think he's created a character that could come into his own aside Freddy, Jason, and Michael. Lots of blood and guts and a great pace.
8.Splinter-Monster movies are a tricky, tricky beast. If you do it right, you've got a potential icon on your hands. If you do it wrong, well...Uwe Boll, anyone? There's almost been a resurgence in this sorta stuff. I would link it back to Pan's Labyrinth doing so well, but regardless it's not an easy feat of accomplishment. Guillermo Del Toro has got monster ability in spades but not all guys get that kinda budget to work with. So, they do what they can to make it powerful (a good example would be JT Petty's The Burrowers, from last year) and when those filmmakers get it right, it's an awesome trip! Splinter would be such a film. It's got such a thick layer of slime and gross on it, you can practically wipe it off with a squidgy. It'll make any new young lovers rethink that camping trip. And I may be the only one who noticed this, but I like how they made the lead character out to be a spineless wuss until he absolutely needed courage, ala Ash in Evil Dead. Another one that's fun and probably a good date movie. At least, in my world.
9.Trick R' Treat-To prove that this was a kick ass film, you need to look no further than my wife. See, my one and only love has been the unsuspecting victim of many years of my genre film ingestion. She's suffered through hours upon hours of schlock and occasionally is rewarded with a film that she loves! This is one such film and she has gone on record as saying this may be her favorite horror film she's ever watched (barring the classics which she DOES love). It's an incredible amount of fun and I think will become the next big thing, so to speak, when it comes to actual horror films that are about our beloved holiday. If you're a horror fan, you'd already been waiting on this film for a few years and it was sweet, sweet justice when it landed in our laps this last fall. Funny, scary, and exciting. This is a horror film that non horror fans would love.
10. Let The Right One In-I wasn't going to count this one, as it had it's "theatrical run" in 2008 but most Americans didn't see it until this year. This is a film that falls into the category of films that I enjoyed watching with my wife. By now, most of you have heard and read plenty about this film and so I'll spare you the recap. I will, however, tell you that this Swedish gem has so much emotion wrapped up in it's cold and miserable package. If it doesn't rip your heart out of your chest when watching it, you're not alive. There are more than enough terrifying and vile moments to last a lifetime but the true story here is a love story. It's beautiful and beautifully shot by a genre first timer. I don't need to tell you anymore than you've already heard. Just see it.
-Tokyo Gore Police
-Friday the 13th (yep, I loved it!)
-The Hills Run Red
-Twatlight (I will go on record as saying that this may be the funniest thing Chris Seaver has ever done)
-Terror at Blood Fart Lake
Non-Horror Films that I loved this year
1.Inglorious Basterds-Next to Martyrs, may have been the best film I watched. Yes, I am about to say this: Tarantino NEVER misses. EVER.
2.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince-As time goes on, these films get smarter, more mature and more exciting. I unabashedly love Harry Potter films and I don't care how lame it is.
3. Away We Go-A beautiful love story that is totally realistic. Who'd have known John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph were so perfect as a couple?
4. Observe & Report-I've heard a few differing opinions but mine is in favor of this flick. I think that this is a high point in Seth Rogen's career. Jody Hill & Co. are every bit as funny as the Apatow gang but have a little bit more of a dark side. It's marvelous.
5.The Hangover-Yes, we all saw it...you know why? Cuz' it's damn brilliant! Can Very Bad Things and Bachelor Party be combined? Yes. And can said movie also feature Mike Tyson and a tiger? Yes.
6. UP-C'mon, dude it's Pixar. Of course, it's good!
7.Star Trek-HOLY SHIT! If you'd told me I was gonna love this flick as much as I do, I would've laughed at you and farted in your face. I hate Star Trek. Hate it! But this movie makes it into bad ass territory right quick with kick ass actors (Eric Bana is the shit) amazing effects, and not to mention another fantastic dive into JJ Abrahm's head. Great story, great film.
Another great thing about being a horror fan is having films that were thought to be lost, re-released onto DVD. This year, I was fortunate enough to have some of my favorite films from my past resurface and pepper my sick, pathetic life with a little bit of joy.
1.Hardware-Richard Stanley is one of my favorite filmmakers ever. To see his first film finally get it's just desserts is beautiful. Great transfer, excellent extras and gorgeous packaging. Nice work, Severin!
2.Combat Shock-Arguably one of the most depressing films ever made. it's tension and misery still hold up all the way to it's appalling climax. Plus, there are some bitchin' extras. Looks like Troma used some of that Poultrygeist cash and gave Buddy a well-deserved makeover.
3.Night of the Creeps-I don't know a single horror geek that wasn't erect with glee when you heard that we were finally, FINALLY getting this 80's horror masterpiece for mass consumption. It lives up to our expectations and the EXCEEDS them. Kudos to the cats at Sony/Tri Star for noticing that a brotha needed some action. Maybe, in our new, wonderful world Fred Dekker's gonna get another shot at a feature.
4.Happy Birthday to Me-I love Canada and Canadian people. This film would be a shining example as to why I do.
5.Cat in the Brain-Lucio Fulci is a god among men in our genre. This, one of the auteur's latter offerings, gave a glimpse into his mind while making his gore epics. Underrated and overgored, this is a nice posthumous postcard on a legend's career.
And now, lastly, there are those films that I didn't quite get to in time but plan doing so very soon, so here's a list of films I assumed I would've loved this year:
-I Sell the Dead
-The Road (seriously, how has this not opened wide yet?!)
Thanks for paying attention. See ya' in 2010!