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!)
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!
PURCHASES I'M HAPPY WITH:
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.
SIX FILMS I'M PRETTY GLAD TO HAVE MISSED AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF SEEING:
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!)
9) Oldboy (2013)
10) Berberian Sound Studio
|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.
EIGHT FILMS I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2014:
3) The Green Inferno
5) Devil's Due
7) The Quiet Ones
8) I, Frankenstein
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
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.
NON-FICTION READ: 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!
FAVORITE GENRE MAGAZINE: 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.
FAVORITE MOVIE SCORE: 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.
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 "I CAN'T BELIEVE I SAT THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE" AWARD: The Black Waters of Echo's Pond. Gah! Nothing more I can really say about this bomb.
*THE "WHEN THE HELL IS THIS TITLE GOING TO GET A DOMESTIC RELEASE?" AWARD: 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.
*THE "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT, ANYWAY?" AWARD: Evidence. As I mentioned before, too much found footage. I couldn't sit through it and never really figured out what was going on.
*THE "IT BETTER BE AS GOOD AS EVERYONE SAYS BECAUSE I'M DAMN SICK OF THE HYPE' AWARD: 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.
*MOST CURIOUS TITLE OF AN UPCOMING FILM: 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 "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.
*THE "I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL" AWARD: 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...
*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