Saturday, December 19, 2009

DRACULA 2010 - My Favorite Direct-to-DVD Horror Films of the Last Decade

Yesterday's list didn't scare you off? Well then, up next, I've got my ten favorite direct-to-video/DVD horror, suspense, and splatter films of the last decade. Now I know some of these had very limited theatrical runs in the U.S., but for the sake of 99% of the populace who saw it first at home, they're getting listed here. Deal with it.

And whereas you probably heard of my theatrical favorites, I hope you'll find a few unheard-of ones on this list, take a little time off from your mainstream cinema, and seek them out.

10. (2004)
DRACULA 3000 - the only movie on the list that's so goddamn horrible, it supersedes being unwatchable and ends up amazing. Casper Van Dien, Coolio, and Erika Eleniak stop their spaceship on Planet Carpathia and pick up a coffin containing a man wearing a Dracula Halloween costume. Really. Watch it. Now... With booze.

9. (2006)
What starts as a fun, cinema verite look at what goes on "behind the mask" of a slasher movie villain turns into a genuinely creepy modern slasher with an amazing final act! Robert Englund delivers a very solid performance as Vernon's "Ahab", again proving he can actually act. Why there isn't a sequel already, I have no idea.

8. House of the Devil (2009)
The slowest burn in the history of slow burns, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL makes ROSEMARY'S BABY seem like doing crystal meth at Six Flags. Halfway through, you're shocked so violently that you'll levitate off the sofa, but the film then slams right back into quiet creepiness for another 45 minutes. If atmosphere and dread are your cup 'o tea, this film is an absolute must.

7. (2004)
HELLBENT is all about a group of young friends' night on the town, unaware that they're being stalked by a masked psychopath. Oh yeah, and everyone's gay. What makes it work however, is that it actually functions as a great slasher movie - and not just a gay movie. The guys are likable, the kills are brutal, and the film is just a ton of fun.

6. (2007)
Defying every genre expectations, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END somehow manages to be a far-superior direct-to-DVD sequel than the theatrical original. Why is it so great? Probably the gallons of gore, Henry Rollins, and the only time a reality show has ever worked as a plot device in a genre film.

5. (2009)
A graverobbing ghoul dishes on his life of crime in this wonderful throwback to Hammer horror, combining comedy and the supernatural with just a touch of raucous Irish thuggery. The script is amazingly tight, lively, and entertaining - and having heavy-hitters Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman in your cast certainly doesn't hurt, either. Fun and beautiful, ISTD is the kind of film I ultimately aspire to create.

4. (2006)
HATCHET is another film that embodies everything I love about movies: a group of Mardi Gras misfits end up trapped in a swamp with Kane Hodder, who leaps through clouds of red mist to tear them all limb-from-limb. It never takes itself seriously, pours on the excess, and practically forces you to cheer for each and every kill.

3. Splinter (2008)
A couple runs afoul of a pair of criminals and a bloodthirsty, porcupine-like parasite in this absolutely amazing film that was somehow sent directly to the Sci-Fi Channel and then shuffled off the DVD. The effects are mind-bogglingly good, the performances are amazing, and the action and scares are completely unrelenting.

2. Trick 'r Treat (2008)
I've already fondled this movie enough to be on a watchlist, so I'll just say that I adore it. It makes me feel like a kid again, and not a lot of horror can accomplish something that special. I absolutely love it.

1. Battle Royale: Director's Cut (Collector's Edition) (2000)
Wide-released (and amazingly successful) in its native Japan, this powerful look at school violence was all but ignored on US shores - and took somewhere around eight years to get a solid DVD release. What America missed, however, was one of the most poignant, beautiful, gory, and action-packed non-genre genre films ever made. It doesn't matter how you feel about Japanese cinema - you owe it to yourself to watch BATTLE ROYALE. Immediately.

Honorable mentions go to BOY EATS GIRL (amazingly cute), THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (I dug it), MACHINE GIRL (schoolgirl vs yakuza? I'm in love!), FRANKENFISH (Really. Its actually fun), JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER (the pacing's off, but the movie is a riot), and DOMAIN OF THE DAMNED (a movie so good, I called the director and said "We need to make a film together." And we did.).

So, there you are - my favorite DTV horror of the past ten years. Please feel free to complain, comment, or otherwise say hello below.

And for those of you wondering if I'll do a "Worst of" list, the answer is no. Truth is, there were so many horrible films released over the past decade, and I hated a great number of movies that my peers loved.

If you ever want to hear the hate list, buy me a beer and we'll discuss it like adults... Drunk, ranting adults.


  1. Trick 'R' Treat = Awesome

    Battle Royale = More Awesome

    I seel the Dead = Awesome? Not sure but I'll rent it and find out.

  2. 'Casper Van Dien, Coolio, and Erika Eleniak stop their spaceship on Planet Carpathia and pick up a coffin containing a man wearing a Dracula Halloween costume.'

    My jaw is on the floor. Might have to do that one..

    As for Leslie Vernon-

  3. I will never understand why some folks gravitate to Hatchet. It is such a piece of shit--even if it had good intentions. I think Adam Green is an awesome dude and means well, and hopefully a better filmmaker than evidenced in that little turd of a movie. BATTLE ROYALE was divine.

  4. Well, anonymous hater, I loved it. I think HATCHET is an extremely entertaining film with great characters, amazing kills, and a wonderfully simple-yet-fun setup. I don't feel like its trying to break any new ground as a movie, but that's probably because its ultimately just a modern redux of an 80s slasher - which I think it achieves with plenty of panache.

    And hey, if you don't like it, that's your bag. I wasn't setting out to change anyone's mind or prove a point - its just a list of *my* personal favorites.