Monday, January 3, 2011

Best of the Decade: Horror Movies

First, I must address something my sister brought up about last night's posts on the Best TV Shows of the Decade by saying she was shocked that I hadn't included "Fringe" on the list. While I do believe it is currently one of the best shows on TV, and should have at least been given an 'Honorable Mention' (something I'm adding to tonight's list), in a Top Ten list, there should only be 10. And while I could have placed it in a tie with another show, I don't think that would have been fair to either one. Of course, my sister has yet to actually comment here, rather than send me an email so maybe we'll wait to share her thoughts until she shares them herself...

Anyway, as promised, below are my picks for the Best Horror Movies of the Decade. That's not to say that all of them scared me. It takes an awful lot to actually scare Uncle P, and that hasn't happened in a very long time. But many of them either disturbed or unnerved me. All of them were exceptionally entertaining, for any number of reasons.

I know I have lots of Horror Fan readers. I hope you agree (but won't be in the least slighted if you don't). Here we go:

10: Saw (2004)

Yes, Saw. The franchise may have devolved into ridiculously convoluted parodies of itself, but the original from Australian writers James Wan and Leigh Whannell was exceptionally well-done and featured a twist ending that actually surprised yours truly, something M. Knight Shamalamdingdong has never been able to do. Directed by Wan and featuring a truly diverse cast which includes Cary Elwes; Danny Glover; Dina Myer; Monica Potter; Shawnee Smith and "Lost" alums Ken Leung and Michael Emmerson, Saw deserved all the attention it got at Sundance. Sadly, it didn't deserve any of its increasingly lame sequels.

9: Zombieland (2009)

While hardly the the first comedy to take on the genre, Zombieland gets extra points for its out-and-out ballsiness.   Jesse Eisenberg; Woody Harrelson; Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are having a ball as a group of survivors in search of a fabled "Zombie-Free Zone" at an amusement park in southern California. And I won't even get into the gut-bustingly funny cameo by Bill Murray.Warning: Here there be 'Evil You Know Whats' that sent Dear D into a fetal position in the corner of his seat. "Nut up or shut up!"

8: Slither (2006)

So many reasons to love this movie: gorgeous Nathan Fillion ("Castle;" "Firefly"); hot Elizabeth Banks (almosy every thing her husband Judd Apatow, directed); hilarious Gregg Henry ("The Gilmore Girls" and who should totally play Chance's father on "Human Target") and Michael Rooker ("The Walking Dead"); bad 80's horror homage; a billion and four jokes and the best line since Dead Alive* - "Somethin's wrong with me..." When a slug-like alien invades a small Southern town, the resulting zombie/alien/gross-out fun is as over-the-top as it gets. Writer/Director James Gunn wrote the screenplay to Zack Snyder's 2004 excellent remake of Dawn of the Dead.

7: The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Rocker turned director Rob Zombie's sequel to his debut film, House of 1000 Corpses, is as brutal and nasty as they come.  An homage to 70's horror, The Devil's Rejects is a tale of revenge more than anything; has some of the most disturbing scenes in any movie; an amazing performance from Leslie Easterbrook and lunatics as only Sid Haig and Bill Mosely could portray them. Oh, yeah. it will forever change what you think about when you hear "Freebird."

6: The Mist (2007)

Frank Darabont has been one of the very directors to right by Stephen King. His versions of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are nearly flawless (I can't watch The Green Mile without bawling like a baby, no matter how many times I've seen it), so it's no wonder his adaptation of my favorite King short story is on this list. After an "incident" takes place at a military facility, a strange mist envelops the small town below, trapping a group of neighbors in the local grocery as unimaginable creatures roam outside, mostly unseen. Creepy and fun, The Mist features hottie Thomas Jane, Darabont favorites Laurie Holder and Jeffrey DeMunn (both in "The Walking Dead") and Marcia Gay Harden in a performance that would have been nominated if it wasn't in a horror movie. And Darabont's disturbing ending is actually far more effective than King's, which was completely ambiguous. 

5: The Descent (2005)
Claustrophobic; terrifying; original... just a few words that describe British director Neil Marshall's Sophomore effort. A group of adventure-loving gals gather a year after a tragedy to continue their annual rite, this time caving in West Virginia. A cave-in leaves them trapped in an unexplored system where they soon find out that they are not alone. Grim, gory and tension-filled, The Descent should be seen in its original version, rather than the U.S. theatrical cut.

4: The Others (2001)

Taking a cue from classics like the original version of The Haunting and The Innocents, Spanish writer/director Alejandro Amenabar creates an atmospheric and creepy ghost tale about a war-widow (Nicole Kidman in an exceptional performance) and her photosensitive children. I may have figured out the movie's twist long before the reveal, but the reveal itself was so well done that I forgave its transparency. Creepy and unnerving without a single drop of blood or CGI demon, The Others is the kind of horror movie directors should aspire to make. 

3: Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Michael Dougherty's massively entertaining  anthology interweaves four stories that take place during a Midwestern town's Halloween celebration. Urban legends; werewolves; vampires; serial killers and a particularly nasty little fellow called Peeping Tommy all add up to one of a fun movie. The movie garnered festival raves, but never saw a theatrical release, making many genre fans (myself included) rabid to see it. When it finally came out on DVD in 2008, we weren't disappointed in the least. Word is, Dougherty is peparing a sequel, which will actually in theaters. I, for one, can't wait.

2: Let the Right One In (2008)

The Swedish adaptation of John Alvide Lyndqvist's novel about a vampire in sheep's clothing is both stylish and atmospheric. Like Matt Reeve's American take (Number 2 on my Best of 2010), it's a quiet film that lets the evil ooze through its cracks, while creating sympathetic characters with whom we can relate. A stunner.

1: Drag Me to Hell (2009)

I'll admit I may be prejudiced by the circumstances under which I first saw this film (shared with a group of people whom I love dearly and who all had such a good time together that night), but Sam Raimi's return to the genre that made him the director he is today is an outrageous, disgusting, hilarious and relentless rollercoaster of a movie that holds up (and actually gets better) after multiple viewings. Gorgeous Allison Loman and adorable Justin Long are the young couple beset by forces beyond their control and character actress Lorna Raver is the disgusting hag who sets things in motion. Raimi pulls out all the stops and delivers what is certainly the most entertaining horror movie of the decade. 

Honorable Mentions:

Grace; 30 Days of Night; Let Me In; 28 Days Later; Shaun of the Dead; May; Cabin Fever; Planet Terror; Dawn of the Dead (2004); High Tension.

*Which still holds the title for Best Line in a Horror Movie with: "Your mother ate my dog!"

So, what do you think? Give me your picks in a comment. I always love hearing from you!

More, anon.

1 comment:

David said...

Start off by saying I'm not a horror film goer. I have a friend who does, and we watched the original UK edition of Descent. Wow, was I not even frightened by it. Predictable and nowhere near scary, I found all the girls annoying (and I kind of like the idea in European films that make the hero unlikable) and I was rooting for the creatures by the end.

The filming with the red light help temper the unnecessary gore, but I found nothing to root for in this silly film.

Loved The Mist, though. I've been reading Stephen King for 30 years, and Darabont seems to be the only director who understands King. Still, its an episode of The Twilight Zone (but an effective one). The ending was brutal and rather brilliant.