Friday, December 18, 2009

LET THE WRONG ONE IN - My Favorite Wide-Release Horror Films of the Last Decade

With everyone compiling their "Best horror films of '09" lists, I thought I'd do my usual one-upsmanship routine and take it one step further - offering you my "Favorite horror films of the oughts." That's right, I've taken the time to put together not one - but two (the next appears tomorrow) - Top 10 lists covering my favorite horror, suspense, and splatter since the dawn of the new millennium.

And before you start having multiple crygasms over the titles I've chosen, please try to remember whose blog you're reading. I don't cream jeans when I catch a great performance or a cinematic treasure that chills me to the bone. For this guy, its all about firehose-like fountains of blood and multiple bad puns. If that ain't your bag, feel free to go jerk off whatever garbage Lisa Schwarzbaum is currently praising.

So, without further ado, my ten favorite theatrical wide-releases (U.S.) since 2000:

10. (2005)
Narrowly beating out DOG SOLDIERS as my favorite Neil Marshall film, THE DESCENT managed to take a guy who wasn't afraid of enclosed spaces or crazy blind albino mutants and somehow scare the precious life out of him. The first time you see one of those critters, I dare you not to leap out of your skin.

9. (2001)
Two brothers play a prank over a CB radio, and turn a faceless, gravelly-voiced trucker into a murderous sociopath. There should have been a lot more love for JOYRIDE - a totally unrelenting thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, with great performances from the entire cast and truly gasp-inducing tension.

8. (2004)
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said... SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a spot-on brilliant homage to Romero's zombie films, filled with lovable characters, amazingly quotable dialogue, hilarious laughs, and (as a bonus) some truly disturbing moments of genuine horror.

7. (2000)
Eat it. This movie has flaws, but I think BLAIR WITCH 2 is a wonderful mindfuck of a film that was brave enough to avoid the trappings of a traditional sequel while taking on the unavoidable pratfall of the first film's celebrity status. And its got great boobs... and spooky dead kids.

6. (2008)
College kids. South America. Me actually looking away from the screen. The less you know about it, the better... but the best part is that real gross-out shock moments aren't from the "monster" - but from man. Had this movie come out at the height of torture porn's popularity, it would have been a blockbuster.

5. (2007)
Forget THE MIST's gut-wrenching finale (I always do) and you've still got one of the best monster movies ever made - period. If THEM! had a baby with H.P. Lovecraft's brain, it might look something like this beautiful, character-driven creature feature... And Mrs. Carmody? Its been a long time since I've begged that desperately to see a character get what's coming to them.

4. (2007)
This movie embodies everything I love about cinema, from the bad puns and disembodied genitals to unbelievable celebrity cameos and gratuitous, improbable gore. But the very best part? Writer/director Robert Rodriguez never, ever forgets that its all just supposed to be fun.

3. (2004)
I bitched and bitched (and bitched) about DAWN OF THE DEAD '04. Every part of me was ready to hate this action/horror remake of one of my favorite films... but after its breathtaking intro and the opening credits rolled to When the Man Comes Around, I leaned over to my wife, smiled, and said, "Okay. I'll kindly shut the fuck up now."

2. (2005)
Angry about BLAIR WITCH 2 being on this list? Well, prepare to fume even harder. A zombie-filled 9/11 political drama starring Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, and Asia Argento?! Romero, like me, was never subtle about his political beliefs, and this is his big, unapologetic "fuck you" to conservative ideals. I love it.

1. (2002)
Say what you will about Eli Roth, but CABIN FEVER is an all-out riot. It is the kind of film I would love to make, and the only movie that has actually driven my wife to drink. I could watch it once a month and always find something to laugh at or gag upon.

Honorable mentions go to HOSTEL (I loved it), THE RING (but I loved the original more), THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (wherefore art thou, Rob Zombie's talent?), JEEPERS CREEPERS (and its TREMORS-eque sequel), DOOM (its ALIENS - only retarded!), 28 DAYS LATER/28 WEEKS LATER (they kicked my ass), THE ORPHANAGE (made me cry), ZOMBIELAND (total fun), and dozens more.

Tune in tomorrow for my top ten favorite direct-to-DVD (and video, remember those?) horror, suspense, and splatter movies of the oughts! I expect you to both laugh (at my picks) and cry (for my taste in film).

And if you've made it this far, please comment and complain about my picks, make some of your own, and tell me what I obviously forgot!

Happy 2010! ...Feels kinda futuristic, doesn't it?


  1. I was at first surprised by your addition of "The Mist," but upon reflection, I find that it WAS noteworthy for it's horrific (yet gleefully off-the-beaten-path) ending. I also was fortunate enough to get to a showing in Black and White, which they added to the DVD. It is MUCH scarier that way.

  2. Of those you ranked I saw Planet Terror, Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead. The first two are good, but the last one in amazing. I really like Trick 'r' Treat (which I watched on your recommendation). It reminded me of the Creepshow movies I used to love (though more boobs would have helped). I generally get really bored with any horror film that takes itself seriously.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this list, and I like that you stated what you're looking for in horror right up front so the masses (and I, LOL) didn't ask where the Del Toro films were, ha ha!

    You know I never knew you were a devotee of Cabin Fever but I should have, given what you like! Even though I'm usually leaning to the GDT type films, Cabin's straight up one of my favorite oughts films. That shit's in the DVD player every four months, total comfort food.

    Nice to see some love for Land of The Dead and BW2, as always. We should watch that one. I really feel if they'd pushed its release a bit further from the 'first' film, and not done the cheesy edits/studio retinkering, that it would have done quite well.

    I love Joe Berlinger's documentary work, but I hope he can get more narrative films going too...considering all the shit he ate making this one, he still did quite good.

    And ten million kudos for the Doom synopsis. I haven't seen Doom but now I HAVE to!

  4. I haven't seen Land of the Dead, Cabin Fever, or Blair Witch 2. I'm in total shock about the latter. I've never heard anyone say anything about it, good or bad. Please don't judge me or look down on me for not seeing Cabin Fever yet. And, Yes! I do live under a rock, just so you know. It's quite an embarrassing thing to admit. How this one got by me? I don't rightly know. I will most certainly be watching all three of these before the year is over.
    The only one on your list that made me vomit in my mouth a little...The Ruins. Haaated it. Practically unwatchable. I admit the gore and gross out scenes were decent but if I wanted to watch a movie that wasn't scary about killer plants, I could watch The Happening. At least the actors in that weren't completely annoying and Mark Wahlberg's breathy, Boston accent allows for some comic relief. O.K., enough said.

    Other than that, I really love all your picks. Shaun of the Dead, being my favorite, followed by Planet Terror, and the Descent.

    If I had to add to the list... HIGH TENSION would be at the top. Never saw the twist coming. So fucking amazing. Loved everything about it. One of my favorite horror movies ever. THE SKELETON KEY, rare that I like a high budget horror film but this one is impeccable. SEVERANCE,it's like the cast of THE UK OFFICE in a horror film. Brilliant. I laughed my ass off when I wasn't completely freaking out at the creative and gruesome ways the cast gets killed off. THE LAST WINTER, I'm a huge Ron Perlman fan so just that he is in this movie is already a huge bonus for me. It has a great plot and yes, I like the eco/political message. And finally, DREAMCATCHER, based on Stephen King's book. I watched it for the first time in my log cabin in the woods in Vermont. I admit, this definitely added to the viewing pleasure. But you want gross out scenes? This has gross out scenes. I was afraid to go to the bathroom by myself for a week. Ewww.

  5. I fucking love Joyride! It's just a movie I can watch over and over and over again. God... it feels so good to say that.

  6. Ted, you're one of the few opinions on the web I dig, but you are high on fizzy-lifting drinks to rank JOY RIDE and BLAIR WITCH 2 over THE DESCENT. Rest of the list is tits.

  7. What can I say, anonymous friend? I loved all three, but I stand by my numbering. THE DESCENT is a wonderful, very scary film, but ultimately, I don't think it broke any new ground. It took a good formula and made it great.

    While JOYRIDE isn't anything too new either (cough cough DUEL cough), I think its genuinely terrifying and amazingly well-made.

    BW2 is totally original, very scary, and just a movie that I love watching.

    But, when it comes down to it, I made it a point to avoid calling these "the best" movies of the decade. They aren't... they are simply *my* favorites. Glad you liked the rest!