Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Horror Movies of the Decade

Having been practically raised on Horror movies, it takes a lot to unsettle, surprise or scare me. And in the last 10 years, I can count on one hand the Horror movies that really got to me. And on the other hand, I can count the ones that at least entertained me.

There had to be hundreds (if not thousands) or Horror movies released since Y2K had many of us convinced that the Apocalypse was nigh. Most of them were actually quite terrible (see my last post). A few were okay. Even fewer were actually any good.

Once again, this list is based solely on my opinion. Agree, disagree, rant and rave... I really don't care. As I've said before, my feelings aren't easily hurt (unless you're my boyfriend and you cheat on me - but that's unlikely these days, anyway). So, without further ado, here is my list (in order of my personal favoritism) of the 10 Best Horror Movies of the Decade:

10. 30 Days of Night

David Slade's 2007 adaptation of Steve Niles' graphic novel put the blood back into the vampire movie. A small town in far northern Alaska is under siege by a group of nasty Euro-trash vampires who know they have an entire month without sunlight to do whatever they want with those who elect to spend the long, long night in the far north. Josh Hartnett is the town Sherrif; Melissa George is his estranged wife; Ben Foster is the enigmatic Renfield-like Stranger and Danny Huston is the vampire leader in this violent, gory and relentless film.

9. Dead Silence

Also from 2007 comes the second film from director James Wan and writer Lee Whannel (Saw) about a man (Ryan Kwanteen) who returns to his hometown after the death his wife to uncover the truth about the evil ventriloquist Mary Shaw and the curse she has placed on his family. Underrated and under-seen, Dead Silence may well be the creepiest ventriloquist movie since Magic.

8. Kairo (Pulse)

Kaiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 Ghost in the Machine story is one of J-Horror's most disturbing and effective titles. When a friend commits suicide, a group of Japanese students investigate a string of events that may well lead to the end of life as they know it. When first watching this film, I found myself desperate to see around corners in a effort to stave off the incredible tension Kurosawa manages to build. Forget the lame (and downright boring) 2006 American version and get together with someone you want to hold onto to watch this incredibly intense ghost story.

7. The Mist

Film adaptations of Stephen King's novels and stories have always been hit-or-miss. Luckily, director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption; The Green Mile) is one of those few directors who actually understands King's works and and can successfully translate them for the screen. The Mist has long been one of my favorite King novellas, and Darabont's version of it is both creepy, fun and exciting while featuring some excellent performances from Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher and Frances Sternhagen. And Darabont's horrifying ending is actually far superior to King's original, ambiguous ending.

6. The Devil's Backbone

Before he made the brilliant Pan's Labyrinth, director Guillermo del Toro took on Franco's post-revolution Spain in this highly disturbing tale of an orphan who encounters the ghostly occupant of his orphanage's well and the unexploded bomb waiting for Franco's troops. Chilling, haunting and visually arresting, The Devil's Backbone is the perfect companion piece to Pan's Labyrinth.

5. (Tie) Shaun of the Dead / Fido

Really more of a comedy than a horror movie, Edgar Wright's 2004 homage to all that is Romero is both hysterically funny and gruesomely creepy. As Shaun (Simon Pegg) tries to keep his girlfriend, best friend and family safe from the zombie plague that has enveloped England, he learns a thing or two about responsibility, love and survival. I still want to know why I was the only person in the theater to laugh when Ed (Nick Frost) screams "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" into the phone at Shaun's mum.

Equally funny and even more satirical is Andrew Currie's hilarious Fido, starring Carrie Ann Moss, Dylan Baker and Billy Connolly in an alternate history tale of a 1950's America where zombies have been domesticated via an electrical collar which turns them into docile servants and sex-slaves. Taking cues from such staples as Lassie and Dawn of the Dead, Fido may actually be funnier than Shaun, because it takes on The American Dream and turns it completely upside-down.

4. [Rec]

Juame Balaguero and Paco Plaza's first-person tale of a reporter trapped in a building filled with zombies was re-made in the U.S. as Quarantine, though the original is far more effective. Chilling and filled with shocks, Balaguero and Plaza use the techniques pioneered in The Blair Witch Project and elevate them to a whole new level.

3. The Descent

With his first film Dog Soldiers, director Neil Marshall took on werewolves. For his follow-up, he took us underground with a hardy group of female thrill-seekers exploring caves in the Blue Ridge mountains. Following a cave-in, our intrepid adrenaline junkies find themselves lost in the dark and pursued by cannibalistic humanoids. Claustrophobic and filled with tension, The Descent is one of the few movies that ever made Uncle Prospero actually jump out of his seat. And it's also one of the very few Horror movies where the women are actually real people rather than just jiggly-boobed victims. Make sure you see the original version, rather than the U.S. version with it's typically happy ending...

2. Trick 'r Treat

I have talked about Michael Dougherty's Halloween anthology ad nauseum, but I still think it is one of the finest and most entertaining Horror movies or the past 10 years. I just hope his planned sequel lives up to the original.

1. Drag Me to Hell

Director Sam Raimi (Darkman; Spider-Man) first made a name for himself with The Evil Dead, a groundbreaking horror film about a group of college kids who unwittingly unleash a horde of "Calderian Demons" on the world. After a long and varied career (which included the highly underrated The Gift), Raimi returned to his Horror roots with this summer's most entertaining film. The story of a young woman (Allison Lohman) who denies a mortgage extension to an aging gypsy and pays the ultimate price, Drag Me to Hell is an old-fashioned tale of terror loaded with Raimi's signature shots, loads of violence and not a single F-Bomb or one second of gratuitous nudity. The most fun I have had at the movies in a very long time.

Honorable Mentions: 28 Days Later; Ginger Snaps; Teeth; Saw; The Ring; The Devil's Rejects; The Gift; The Others; Cabin Fever; May; The Orphanage; Orphan; Zombieland.

Oh, and the picture at the top of the post? Only there to freak out my dear friend, Dan. Yeah, I'm evil like that...

More terrors, anon.

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