Saturday, January 3, 2015

Goodbye 2014: Wrapping Up A Great Year Of Horror In A Loose, Rambling Bow


2014 was an exceptional year for horror.  And as usual I have my longest, most rambling post ready for you right here, right now.  It's a recap of what I loved (and hated) about the horror genre this past year.  From The Babadook to Godzilla to Starry Eyes to The Guest, I was more entertained this year than I have been in several years.  And as in years past, this is not a "best-of" list like most sites do, it is more of a thank you to the horror industry, as well as several lists (my forte) that describe my favorites and some random "awards" that pretty much speak for themselves. 

I also want to give a quick shout out to my partner in crime, Marie, for all her hard work this year!  We'll be back in full force soon, with loads more original content, lists, special features and reviews. And thanks to everyone and anyone who has taken the time to read our scribblings.  We enjoy doing it!!

I hope you have a bit of time on your hands - this is a long one!!


BEST HORROR EXPERIENCE OF 2014:   Seeing Psycho on the big screen.  Anyone who knows me or has spent any time perusing this blog knows my all-time favorite horror character is (and forever will be) Norman Bates.  His over-anxious, quirky yet enigmatic self was such a joy to finally watch at the theater! I wasn't even born yet when Psycho came out in 1960, but have seen it countless times and have just about every version of the film on VHS, DVD, and even Blu Ray.  So to top it off by finally watching that shower scene on the giant screen was a dream come true. After seeing The Shining last year at the theater and Psycho this year, the only thing that could top those two is (quite obviously) Jaws.  Someday!

**In second place would really have to be The Walking Dead.  As per usual it has been a banner year so far for our favorite zombie apocalypse survivors, with some serious heartbreak on the back eight.  We've got a lot to look forward to from TWD in 2015, and I'm overly anxious to get that party started again!

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE (Besides seeing Psycho):  Godzilla
Just loved seeing the big guy again.  And he was bad-ass!


MY FAVORITE FIFTEEN HORROR FILMS OF 2014: (in no particular order)
1) Only Lovers Left Alive
2) Starry Eyes
3) 7500
4) Godzilla
5) Blue Ruin
6) The Taking of Deborah Logan
7) Soulmate
8) As Above So Below
9) Wer
10) Late Phases
11) The Sacrament
12) The Device
13) At The Devil's Door
14) The Babadook
15) The Guest

NINE MOVIE PURCHASES I'M HAPPY WITH:
1) As Above So Below
2) Sightseers
3) Stonehearst Asylum
4) Wer
5) Haunter
6) The Thing on the Doorstep
7) At the Devil's Door
8) Here Comes the Devil
9) The Invisible Man


EIGHT FAVORITE NETFLIX RENTALS THIS YEAR:
1)  The Purge: Anarchy
2) The Seasoning House
3) We Are What We Are
4) Black Rock
5) The Possession of Michael King
6) Cold In July
7) Blue Ruin
8) Only Lovers Left Alive

THREE "WHY THE HELL DID I RENT THIS" MISTAKES FROM NETFLIX:
1) Snowpiercer
2) Cassadega
3) Oldboy

 THE 'WHY THE HELL DID I BUY THIS' AWARD: The Quiet Ones.
This could fall under the "Bored me to tears" award as well...

SIX FILMS I'M PRETTY GLAD TO HAVE MISSED AND HAVE NO REAL INTENTION OF SEEING:
1) Devil's Due
2) Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
3) I, Frankenstein
4) Dracula Untold
5) Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
6) Dead Within

TWELVE FILMS I MISSED SO I CAN'T CRITIQUE YET:
1) Cheap Thrills
2) Housebound
3) The Houses October Built
4) ABC's of Death 2
5) Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
6) The Green Inferno
7) Honeymoon
8) The Pyramid
9) A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
10) Afflicted
11) Tusk
12) Willow Creek

 NINE UPCOMING FILMS I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2014:
1) Crimson Peak: del Toro. A haunted house tale. In October. Starring Charlie Hunnam. This is a no-brainer
2) The Woman in Black: Angel of Death:  While I've never been a fan of sequels, the original source novel from Susan Hill knocks my socks off, so everything and anything even remotely regarding that story is something I can't pass up.
3) Jurassic World: Because I'm an absolute dinosaur FREAK.
4) It Follows: Getting great buzz in horror circles, it has a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  That's worth at least a look.
5) Insidious Chapter 3: Because once you've seen the other two, do you really have a choice?
6) Sinister 2:  I will admit I thoroughly enjoyed the first Sinister, and also enjoyed Sinister 2's director Ciaran Foy's Citadel (2012), so I'm curious what he will do with this script.
7) The Lazarus Effect: Starring American Horror Story's Evan Peters, this one is about med students bringing patients back from the dead.
8) Victor Frankenstein: With Daniel Radcliffe as Igor and James McAvoy as the titular doctor, this is one I'm really psyched for.
9) Krampus: The polar (pun intended) opposite of Santa Claus, look for this bad-ass Santa to raise his ugly mug right around the silly season!

MY FAVORITE HORROR TV EXPERIENCES OF 2013: 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:  Penny Dreadful and True Blood. 
*Penny Dreadful brought multiple fictional characters like Victor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and Dracula's Mina Murray together in Victorian England.  It's a dark, delicious series, and I can't wait to check out season two in 2015. 
*True Blood ended its seven year run by wrapping up series-long storylines and giving everyone (well, almost everyone) a happy ending in Bon Temps. Many thanks to the show's creators for giving me something to look forward to on Sunday nights.
From here on out though, it's all The Walking Dead to close out the weekend.  It continues to thrive and surprise and just flat-out entertain on a regular basis.

MY FAVORITE BOOK I READ IN 2014:   REVIVAL by Stephen King. Wow. Blew me away. SK will forever be my favorite author, but not all his work has me as excited as this return to form novel did. Stellar.

FAVORITE GENRE MAGAZINE:  This year I've gotta give it to Rue Morgue. Consistently fabulous on every level, it remains a cornerstone of horror publications that is just one step ahead in class than all other horror rags.

FAVORITE MOVIE SCORE:  I bought a re-issue of Psycho II in October that knocked my socks off. That was my favorite purchase.  As far as new scores, I thoroughly enjoyed the score from The Device, by Joseph Molner.  When and if it becomes available I'd scoop that up in a heartbeat.

FAVORITE NON-HORROR FILM I SAW IN 2013: Gone Girl.  While I wasn't quite as enamored with it as the rest of the nation, it was a good adaption of the best-selling novel and the two leads (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) were spot-on as a married couple that love to hate each other.
And as an extreme weather freak I loved guilty pleasure flick Into The Storm

Random Year-End Awards:

*THE "I CAN'T BELIEVE I SAT THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE" AWARD:  Jessabelle
While this wasn't awful, it was a real snooze-fest and it's hard to believe I actually stayed awake for it. I wanted to love it - there just aren't enough movies with voodoo themes out there - but it really lacked for excitement and the scares were only mediocre.

*THE "SURPRISE! THIS REMAKE IS ACTUALLY GOOD" AWARD:  Godzilla
I realize some people didn't enjoy this remake but I think the general consensus is that it was a really decent reimagining of one of horror's most longstanding and beloved monsters.  To see him onscreen - after a lengthy wait time of at least 2/3 of the film - was, in a word, sublime.
Coming in second place in this category was Stagefright.  A whole lotta bloody fun!

*THE "DID WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER SAW CLONE" AWARD:  13 Sins
While slightly different in nature as the famous horror series, its graphic nature and disturbing challenges made it seem awfully familiar. Even the main theme in the beginning sounds the same. Though I did like seeing True Blood's Rutina Wesley again.

*THE "DID I SAY I DIDN'T LIKE SEQUELS?" AWARD:  The Purge: Anarchy.
I actually enjoyed this movie ten times better than the original.  Go figure.

*THE "WHEN THE HELL IS THIS TITLE GOING TO GET A DOMESTIC RELEASE?" AWARD: The Green Inferno. 
When the hell are we going to be able to see this effing movie?  Somebody give me a damn clue! 

*THE "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT, ANYWAY?" AWARD:  Under the Skin.
While this film sat near the top of many horror fans this year, I know I'm not the only one who found it an utter bore-fest. Too artsy-fartsy for me, it takes Scarlet Johansson, makes her an alien in human disguise - puts her in dark hair, a fur coat, heels and bright red lipstick and sends her to Scotland to seek out men to kill in her own bizarre way. No thanks. Wins the "DULL MOVIE OF THE YEAR" award for me, too, sorry. 

TOP FIVE MEDIOCRE FLICKS OF 2014: None of these films were anything to write home about, despite the hype and loads of press.  I could have foregone them completely.
1) The Quiet Ones- Interesting premise but bored me to tears.
2) Annabelle - A real disappointment.  Nothing scary about this one at all.
3) Horns - Daniel Radcliffe is perfectly fine here, but the story lacks pizazz.
4) Deliver Us From Evil - Based on a "true story". Wanted to like this a lot more.
5) Ouija - A trite teen horror movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

*BLOODIEST MOVIE I SAW IN 2014: Not certain, but maybe Starry Eyes.  With that shocking final act, it may have just taken this prize.

FIVE AMAZING FEMALE PERFORMANCES THIS YEAR:
1) Jill Larson in The Taking of Deborah Logan - Just an unbelievable performance that goes beyond all boundaries and takes it one step further. No one even came close.
2) Essie Davis in The Babadook - As a single mother dealing with a bad-natured little son who just can't seem to get the monsters out of his head, Davis shines as things go from bad to worse and she is soon battling a force set to destroy her and her young son.
3) Anna Walton in Soulmate - A beautiful, nuanced performance by Walton, playing a suicidal woman who has just lost her husband in a horrible accident.  She retreats to an isolated cottage in Wales to mourn and discovers the home to be haunted....and she likes it.
4) Alex Essoe in Starry Eyes: Essoe goes above and beyond to portray a young actress hoping for her big break.  She finds it when an obscure producer singles her out to star in his latest horror feature.  But what she has to do to hold on to the role is much more than she bargains for.
5) Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive: Swinton is excellent in everything she touches of course, but I especially loved her in this offbeat, unique vampire story that transcends all the bullshit we've seen in this overcrowded genre the last few years. 

FIVE AMAZING MALE PERFORMANCES THIS YEAR:
1) Dan Stevens in The Guest: One of my favorite movies this year, Stevens is David Collins, who shows up at the Peterson home claiming to be a friend of the Peterson's own deceased soldier son. He stays with the family and begins helping them with their various problems in life...until the family discovers he may be their biggest problem yet.  An astoundingly fun character that Stevens plays with a restrained abandon.
2) Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive: Yes, this film was officially released in late 2013, but we did not see it here in the US until 2014.  Hiddleston is stellar as a melancholy, vampire musician despondent with his life and wishing to end it, until his vampire wife of many centuries comes back to help him through his latest depression.
3) Gene Jones in The Sacrament - As "Father", the head of a religious cult, Jones gives a frightening turn as a character loosely (but oh-so-obviously) based on the People's Temple cult and the horrors of the 1978 Jonestown tragedy.  Sunglasses and all, you'll be terrified of his power and persuasion in keeping his flock under his wing.
4) Macon Blair in Blue Ruin:  In one of the best revenge films of the last couple decades, Blair stars as Dwight Evans, a man obsessed with exacting vengeance on the man who murdered his parents.  At first a vagrant, he quickly uses his street knowledge to track the man and through a series of uneven (sometimes hilarious) events comes to realize revenge is a tricky beast.
5) Michael C. Hall in Cold In July:  This crime thriller was the first film Hall took on after finishing his run as Dexter.  He stars as a man who shoots an intruder in his own home one night, only to find out it may have all been a set up by local police who are using him for their own gains.  Keeps you guessing till the end.

*THE "IT BETTER BE AS GOOD AS EVERYONE SAYS BECAUSE I'M DAMN SICK OF THE HYPE' AWARD:  Starry Eyes.  
All I can say is: believe the hype!

THREE FILMS THAT WERE BETTER THAN THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN:
1) The Possession of Michael King: A man searching for the existence of God and/or the Devil after his wife's untimely death gets more than he bargained for. Generally I don't care for found footage or films that attempt to be The Exorcist or in that vein.  This was a good surprise.
2) Beneath: Jeff Fahey stars as a coal miner whose last day on the job finds his inquisitive, environmental lawyer daughter traveling below ground with him to see just what her dad did for a living. What they and the other miners find is something that stalks them relentlessly.  Underground horror is always scary, in my opinion.
3)  Don't Blink:  What at first seems like a Lifetime Movie of the Week starring Brian Austin Green actually turned out to be a fairly decent supernatural flick. A group of friends arrive at a mountain lodge to discover no one there, and as they start to disappear one by one, it's obvious something else is at work...

*MOST CURIOUS TITLE OF HORROR FILM IN 2014:  Fairly certain we could peg The Babadook with this reward.  Though admittedly, the name Oculus was a tad odd.

*THE "SOOO DIDN'T LIVE UP TO THE HYPE" AWARD:  Annabelle. 
Just. Not. Scary.

*THE "OK, THAT WAS WEIRD" AWARD:  Come Back to Me. 
Sometimes, weird is good.  This oddball resurrection tale was just crazy enough to work.

*THE "I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL" AWARD: Hands down Godzilla.  I've heard Mothra makes an appearance, among others. 

*THE MOVIE I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2015:  I said it before I'll say it again, JURASSIC WORLD!!

*THE "THIS IS WHAT I'M WATCHING TONIGHT SO I HAVE TO GET OFF THE LAPTOP":
I'm actually about to watch my Pittsburgh Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens in a playoff game.  How they do will determine if I watch more horror tonight or go to bed crying the blues.  Regardless, I hope you enjoyed my little walk down 2014 memory lane.  It's been a banner year for horror - especially independent films - and I'm jazzed for what's to come!  Here's to a terrifyingly wonderful 2015!  Cheers!

4 comments:

Rachel said...

I had a chance to see Jaws at the theater this year and it was AWESOME (or maybe...jawesome...)! I've seen that movie probably twenty times and it was still amazing and scary and I noticed things that I hadn't picked up on before. And to watch it with a room full of people who HADN'T seen it was so fun! I almost forgot how funny it is too! I loved every second of it. I hope you get a chance to see it this year!
Happy New Year!

Sarah E. Jahier said...

Loved reading this, thank you for posting! I've been working on my own list and we have similar picks, as well as a few different opinions. Great 2014 wrap-up!

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I Frankenstein: worst of the year for me! So don't even bother it's a real waste of time!

Dracula Untold was a real let down for me because it wasnt a monster movie..they tried to turn Dracula into a good guy...and that's just not what Dracula is about...they tried, as they have been doing with all monster movies lately, to soften the monster up, turned him into a pansie.

I do remember enjoying Devils Due though, I went in prepared to hate it and ended up enjoying it, you might want to give that one a shot!

Christine Hadden said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back to everyone, I've been on a bit of a hiatus.

Rachel: I am fairly certain that Jaws is the movie I have seen the most. Friday the 13th would be up there, as well as Halloween - but Jaws is my I-Ching. Hard to imagine seeing it in the theater, knowing there were folks that hadn't seen it yet - yahoo, that would have been a blast. Despite having seen Jaws a thousand times, I continue to go to the beach every summer. But I don't venture into the water...go figure!

Sarah: Thanks!
I read your post as well, we do have a lot of similarities. I felt the same way about "Deborah Logan" going in- my grandmother had Alzheimers and my mom has a brain tumor that has her in a similar state, so that did worry me - but I was so pleasantly surprised by that one - it was some seriously great acting there. And I was psyched to read that you felt the same way about Only Lovers Left Alive. I didn't see it on a lot of "best-of" lists, but I just loved it. Such a brooding, melancholy slice of (vampire) life.
Most of the films you mentioned I loved as well. And as for What We Do In The Shadows - watch it as soon as you can, it's hilariously delicious!

Francisco: I had a feeling I Frankenstein would stink up the place, as well as Dracula Untold. These movie companies are doing more harm than good to our beloved classics. I hate CGI, which both of those looked to have in droves...ugh!! And the whole look of them seemed like all they were gunning for was action and/or romance. UGH.

I will check out Devil's Due though, on your advice!
Thanks so much for reading!!