Saturday, December 28, 2013

Keep Calm And Say Goodbye To 2013: A Random Recap

Another year has come and gone, and though 2013 was a really rough year for me outside of horror, I made it through and am looking forward to 2014!

The horror genre saw some really good strides, with tons of horror on the small screen (more on that in a bit) and some decent films as well.  I'll be the first to admit I didn't see as many as I'd like, but for the most part what I did see I generally did enjoy.

This is by no means your normal countdown of the yearly best.  Some of these films are not even from this calendar year, that just happened to be when I saw them. (So no nasty comments, please.) I just wanted to say goodbye to 2013 by giving my thoughts of what I saw, enjoyed, and could have lived without!

So here's my random rundown of what impressed me the most (and what made me throw up in my mouth a little bit, too!)

BEST HORROR EXPERIENCE OF 2013:   Seeing The Shining on the big screen.  I was just a little too young to see it in theaters when it came out in 1980, so the opportunity to see it this year (on the day before Halloween, no less) was one I couldn't pass up.  To see Jack's face that close when he exclaims, Heeeeere's Johnny! probably made my whole year.

In second place would really have to be The Walking Dead.  I have never looked forward to Sunday nights (because of their place in the week that is eversoclose to Monday morning and the ugly thought of going back to work). But at least I have TWD to make me forget about it for an hour or so.  This season, though great, had me in tears more than once when we lost several main characters.  Can't wait for February when we see where the story goes then! Onward!

The Conjuring
FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE (BESIDES 'THE SHINING', OBVIOUSLY)The Conjuring.  I saw this one a few weeks after it came out and was lucky enough to be the lone person in the darkened theater.  Love that feeling! And I was rewarded with a pretty solid spooky flick.  More, please.

1) Carnival of Souls: One of my all-time faves, I got the Criterion edition this Halloween. It never fails to creep me the hell out. One of the best ghouls ever.
2) Eyes without a Face: Another Criterion edition I picked up this year. With a ghastly plot like this one, you've got to have it on your horror life-list.
3) Sleep Tight: One of the more disturbing films I've seen in a while.  A quiet creep fest that will have you looking under your bed for sure.
4) Evil Dead (2013) : While not the best film of the year by far, I still think they did a decent job with the content. However, it doesn't hold a candle to the original. 
5) The Awakening: Old fashioned ghost story that has good atmosphere and a great score.
6) Byzantium: And it's back to real vampires, finally! Great relationship-vampire film, if that makes sense.
7) Maniac: This was the best remake I've seen in years, hands down. Gritty, grimy, and great.
8) The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh: From the founder of Rue Morgue magazine comes one of my favorite films of the year.  Just an ever-so-quiet movie with loads of atmosphere and an affecting story.
9) Oldboy: The original. Because I never owned it until now. Woot!
10) The Uninvited: The 1944 classic ghost story, Criterion edition of course! Waited for this release forever!
11) The Rocking Horse Winner: A pal from the UK turned me on to this oldie but goodie.  And when a film involves horror AND horse racing, it's a surefire winner (no pun intended) for me! (Thanks Pauline, btw!)
12) Cold Prey II: Because I'd been waiting FOREVER for this one!

1) Jug Face: From writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle comes a backwoods tale of a community that worships a pit.  No, seriously.  And you have no idea what you're missing if you write this one off.
2) Dark Skies: Wasn't really expecting much from this one, but was surprisingly entertained and thoroughly spooked out. Finding a good movie about aliens or alien invasions is rather difficult to do.  This film will do quite nicely.
3) Kill List: From 2011, this British film seems a little all over the page, and has a rather surprising ending. But the violence is good, the story is wild, and the acting is very credible. Oh, and did I mention the ending??
4) Julia's Eyes:  A Spanish thriller from 2010, this one was recommended to me by The Mike of From Midnight with Love.  It's a bit of a slow burn, but it gets under your skin and is really a solid film.
5) The Bay:  Holy shit was this film disturbing.  I have this thing...this innate FEAR of creepy crawly things inside your body, and this movie almost did me in.  Everyone should see it - it makes a political statement while telling a ghastly story of a small town that has a growing problem...
6) Citadel:  I loved this movie. While I don't think it's for everyone, this little Irish film packed a punch and Aneurin Barnard's turn as main character Tommy may be one of my favorite performances in horror. A feeling of quiet, impending doom surrounds the entire film, an atmosphere which I can't get enough of.
7) The Call: Maybe I'll get some smack talk for putting this movie on this list, but I think it was a tight, exciting thriller with the added benefit of getting to look at Halle Berry (ever-important when trying to keep a husband awake through an entire film).
8) Stoker: This film really snuck up on me, and I think it was one of the best releases this year.  I certainly think it would have benefited from a different title, for I - like many I'm sure - originally thought it was a film about the author of Dracula. Just a beautiful piece of film making from Park Chan-wook.
9) World War Z:  Pretty shocked that I actually liked this one, considering I heard it was so different than the book, and the fact that I blatantly detest almost everything Brad Pitt has done.  But this one was fun!
10) All the Boys Love Mandy Lane: While I don't think I was as enamored with this 2006 release that finally made it to our screens in 2013 as many others were, I did appreciate the ending, as well as the music. It wasn't really all that unique in horror, truth be told.  But yeah, Amber Heard is all kinds of hot.

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond
1) The Black Waters of Echo's Pond:  Lotta pond scum here, folks.  Sorry Danielle Harris but this one reeks of stinky excrement.
2) Evidence: Though I hear it was a decent film, I almost immediately got sick from the found footage-type effects.  I just cannot watch those films anymore.
3) The Purge: I wanted this to be decent.  Ethan Hawke's Sinister topped my list last year. But this film was an uninspired, prosaic addition to the home invasion sub-genre. I could see the ending coming a mile away. Very dull.
4) My Amityville Horror:  While I can't say I wasn't semi-entertained with this semi-autobiographical mess, watching Daniel Lutz make a case for himself for an intense need of counseling made for some pretty insipid viewing.
5) The Tortured: We just didn't need another movie that combines revenge horror with intense Saw-esque elements. Stop. Now.
6) The Possession: I was a little late to this party, and I should've skipped it altogether.  If you want a movie about a box, watch Hellraiser, not this ridiculous waste. Sorry Jeffrey Dean Morgan (you beautiful man!). Sorry producer Sam Raimi (I still love you) but.....UGH.
7) The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Which took place in.....Georgia?  Why in the name of all things good and sacred would someone use an awful sub-title like Ghosts of Georgia? In fact, why would they even use any of that title? I'm still trying to figure it out.

Mama: While it did have some creepy moments, I would have been satisfied renting from Netflix or watching it one of the three hundred times they have played it on HBO.

1) Carrie: Heard nothing good about this remake, sorry.
2) I Spit on Your Grave 2: Capitalizing on a film title assures us this will be crap.
3) Hatchet III: While I didn't hate the first one, I didn't lose my mind over it.  Never saw the second one, so there you go.
4) Bad Milo: I have enough stomach problems that I really don't need to see a flick about an intestinal demon that kills its host's enemies. Say what?
5) The Last Exorcism Part 2: Why was this necessary in life?
6) Pacific Rim: Heard nothing good, but how can they say that when Charlie Hunnam is the star? I'll just stick to Sons of Anarchy I guess.

Curse of Chucky
1) American Mary
2) The Complex
3) Insidious Chapter 2 (just bought it so we'll soon see!!)
4) Warm Bodies
5) Curse of Chucky (want to buy it since most people loved it)
6) We are what we are (remake, and I hear it's really good)
7) The Battery (another I can't wait to see!)
8) Antiviral
9) Oldboy (2013)
10) Berberian Sound Studio
11) Sightseers

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh
1) The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh - As stated above, I really loved this movie. Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere!
2) Byzantium - Vampires have returned. With teeth and without conscience.
3) The Conjuring - The clap game? No thanks!
4) You're Next - Compared to The Purge, this home invasion film is the I-Ching.
5) Stoker - What a stunning piece of film-making, profoundly affecting.
6) Maniac - Hands down the best remake in nearly ten years.
7) The Lords of Salem - Stop hating Rob Zombie and just watch this damn movie!
8) The Invoking (aka Sader Ridge) - Independent horror at its best. Just a creepy, persistent film.
9) Jug Face - Another indie winner that will keep people out of the backwoods...again.
10) Dark Skies - I really liked this X-Files-ish aliens-among-us movie. Give it a chance!
11) Resolution - One man tries to save his drug-addled best friend in a run-down crack house in the woods. With unusual results.
12) Evil Dead - Admittedly, it's nothing close to the original and yet it still managed to entertain. Gotta give it props for that.
13) World War Z - Brad Pitt saves the world. Or at least tries to. Great popcorn horror. 


1) Godzilla
2) 7500
3) The Green Inferno
4) Horns
5) Devil's Due
6) Oculus
7) The Quiet Ones
8) I, Frankenstein

Bates Motel
Even though it has been an absolutely banner year for horror on television, as mentioned previously I don't think anything could top my enjoyment of The Walking Dead this year, but two series came DAMN close.  American Horror Story and Bates Motel.
Finishing up in early 2013, AHS: Asylum was a rollicking good time thanks mostly to Jessica Lange's turn as Sister Jude.  She amped it up a little more in the fall as witch supreme Fiona when AHS: Coven came to the small screen to bring witches back to the forefront where they belong.  Throw in some voodoo tricks by Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau and Kathy Bates as the torturous, racist Delphine LaLaurie and it's a fine recipe of devilishness.
Bates Motel is the critically acclaimed series developed as a prequel to the 1960 film and stars Freddie Highmore as Norman and an excellent Vera Farmiga as his nurturing smothering mama. It's obviously a character-driven show, with enough frights to keep the viewer panting for more.  I love this show!

MY FAVORITE BOOK I READ IN 2013:  Joyland by Stephen King. 
King is my favorite author, so it was great to have him back at his best with this release in the summer of 2013. I still have Doctor Sleep on my nightstand to read and when all the hubaloo of the holidays is over I will get serious about this sequel to The Shining.  But Joyland was wonderful.  My review is HERE.

Horror Films FAQ: All that's left to know about Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens and More by John Kenneth Muir.
Muir is one of my favorite genre critics. He's a great writer/blogger and a helluva nice guy. And this is an awesome book with loads of info and even a few tidbits that seasoned fans may not know. Makes a great gift, too!

Gorezone! Back from the dead, this red-headed stepchild of Fangoria serves up a heaping helping of gore, violence, sex, and shock in every blood-soaked issue.  Available only by subscription, it is two tons of fun.

Byzantium by Javier Navarrete.  Sometimes chilling, sometimes just plain beautiful. A perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of writing....or whatever you may be doing!  The version of The Coventry Carol and the pieces that sample it and weave around it are just haunting. 

Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom.
I didn't get to see this one until January 2013, and watched it countless times this year.  It is one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Random Year-End Awards:

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond.  Gah! Nothing more I can really say about this bomb.

Maniac. An excellent, excellent redo of the 80's classic. Good job Elijah Wood! You made me forget Frodo for 90 whole minutes!

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane - A movie made in 2006 FINALLY makes it to American shelves.  Was it the almighty second coming of Christ? Nah. But it was a solid flick.

Evidence. As I mentioned before, too much found footage. I couldn't sit through it and never really figured out what was going on.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead (2013).  There was so much bodily fluid and blood in this one I doubt anything could compare.

The Conjuring.  For weeks, no - months, I'd heard about this movie. Over and over. It was going to be so scary! Have you seen the trailer? Oooh, James Wan has done it again!  Well folks, it was pretty much all true.

Oculus.  I really have no idea what it's about but if it is the same Mike Flanagan that brought us Absentia, I'm there.

The Purge
The Purge. They advertised this film like a raped ape but it fell totally flat for me and countless others.  On the opposite side of the coin: The Conjuring, which did indeed, live up to the hype.

*THE "I REALLY DON'T GIVE A SHIT WHETHER I EVER SEE THIS" AWARD:  Again I say: Bad Milo. I know a lot of people have it on their year-end lists in the "like" column, but you'll have to forgive me this one.

Honestly I can't think of a single film I would want a sequel for. But I'm sure there are several already in the works.... I know The Purge has one coming, among others. And that film was mediocre at best. Ugh...

*MOVIE I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2014:  Godzilla. Premieres May 16, 2014. Bring it!

*MOST EXCITING NEWS OF 2013: Both Marie and I were asked to join the writing crew at Eli Roth's new horror app, which is bound to change the way we experience horror forever! So, go to the App store and download the new (FREE) app for iPhone (Android access is right around the corner!) and keep an eye out for our contributions amongst some of the best writers in horror! It's interactive, too - so anyone can post on the community boards and get involved!  Do it now!

*THE "THIS IS WHAT I'M WATCHING TONIGHT SO I HAVE TO GET OFF THE LAPTOP" AWARD:  Insidious: Chapter 2.  Time for a trip further into the further. /ch


Richard of DM said...

Awesome year end wrap up! My two cents: Pacific Rim was great! It was everything I wanted from a giant robot movie.

Christine Hadden said...

Thanks Richard!
I guess I have only a marginal interest in giant robots/transformer-type films. I'll probably check it out on HBO someday no doubt!!
Thanks for stopping by!!

Jennifurla said...

Can't wait for Godzilla, loved Monsters. You really must see American Mary - It's great, and might I also recommend Here Comes the Devil - also pretty cool.

Love your blog, congrats on your new gig.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Nice recap, Christine, but def some surprises here from you! Probably the biggest being that you ACTUALLY LIKED WORLD WAR Z??? Girl, I thought you had taste. It's popcorn entertainment for sure, but it sucked so hard!!!!! Okay I'm over it.

The Walking Dead so far has been quite a conundrum. I was bored as hell and not caring about anything that happened until the last episode, which was maybe part of the point - for impact - but damn, I was a train wreck watching that last episode. So excited to see now where the rest of the season is going!

You are definitely not missing anything with the Carrie remake, however I highly recommend both Curse of Chucky and American Mary. Do you have any hopes for the Oldboy remake? Spike Lee is not my favorite (I'm being kind there...) so that terrifies me. I need to original on DVD too, thanks for reminding me!

Joyland WAS wonderful! A more simple story for King but still highly enjoyable. I just finished Doctor Sleep myself and you have a lot to look forward to with that one.

Maniac was gloriously awesome and Evil Dead was gloriously bloody and crazy. Two of my favorite films this year!

Downloading that app right now.

Emily said...

Excellent roundup! I have many thoughts here!

-Just watched The Conjuring last night and was so happpy to see it worked for me. Yay James Wan. He continues to improve.

-Aw, I liked The Purge. Maybe I heard different hype, which was primarily 'not as good as it should've been,' meaning I had lower expectations.


-Yay Sleep Tight!

-You've made me bump The Awakening and Byzantium up a few places on the queue.

-Glad to hear you liked Jug Face. I'm super intrigued by it but haven't checked it out yet.

-Agreed on the defense of Lords of Salem. Perfect, not at all, but people are being excessively hard on it. It was unlike anything that has come out in recent years, and that alone made it worthwhile.

-I'm so glad I saw Mandy Lane in 2008 before anyone had time to anoint it as the lost classic. I really liked it, but I can't say that it would live up to hype had I watched it, what, 35 years after its festival debut?

Happy new year Christine!

jimmie t. murakami said...

Christine, the 2013 remake of "Evil Dead" is much better than the 1981 original which i always thought was a tad over-rated even allowing for the budget limitations. However the best "Evil Dead" movie is "Evil Dead II" (1987), that is a true masterpiece of horror film-making and still Sam Raimi's best movie.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Happy New Year Christine, have a great 2014 dreamgirl.

Christine Hadden said...

Jennifurla: I'm really psyched for Godzilla also! I've heard mixed reviews about American Mary. I'll probably check it out soon. Is Here Comes the Devil a foreign film? I may have heard of it, will keep it in mind!

Michele: Haha, yeah - I did enjoy WWZ for what it was. Lightweight for sure.
TWD: Love that show. I know it had mixed feelings from fans this year but I had a good time all season long, truth be told.
I'm definitely checking out the new Chucky film, in fact, it's next on my Netflix queue.
I hear good things about the Oldboy remake but it will really have to blow my socks off to make me forget how much I love the original!
Maniac was a nice surprise, wasn't it?
And I'm excited to get back to
reading now that all the holiday festivities are over. Doctor Sleep awaits me on my nightstand!!
Hope you enjoy the app. It's in its infancy, but I think it will be an excellent source of horror for fans!!

Emily: Happy New Year to you, also!
Hmm, yeah - The Purge just didn't do it for me. I enjoy Ethan Hawke, and think he is impressive here, but the rest kind of fell flat for me.
The Bay was one of my faves too!
Sleep Tight made me fear under the bed for all new reasons!
Hope you enjoy The Awakening and Byzantium. I really liked both a lot.
You really need to see Jug Face. Such great fun!
Good on you for seeing Mandy Lane so ahead of the rest of us - but I wish I'd have liked it a lot more, it would have meant more after waiting so damn long!
And so happy you enjoyed Lords of Salem - I think people are nasty just cause it's Rob Zombie in many cases. I thought it was really different, and these days - that is what I am looking for!

Jimmie: Nah, I wouldn't say the new Evil Dead is MUCH better. But I would totally agree with you about Evil Dead II. So amazing and one of my faves.

JBH: Happy New Year to you as well!

Alice said...

Just wanted to say -- you should really watch American Mary! It's streaming on Netflix, so it should be easy to catch.

It's possibly my favorite horror movie this year -- it's intelligent, original, atmospheric, and boasts the kickass Katharine Isabelle. Mary is a beautifully complex and compelling character, and I look forward to the Soska sisters' next project. It made me incredibly proud of the women of horror!

Thanks for your time, love your blog as always!

Christine Hadden said...

Alice: Hello! Thanks for stopping by!

I will be checking out American Mary eventually. I'm a fan of Isabelle, so that should be one reason if nothing else. I've heard such mixed reviews. But I'll get there! :)

And thanks for the kind words about the blog! Very appreciated, as always!