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Dread Central's Best & Worst of 2009





The Woman In Black's Picks

2009 provided a bounty of some truly amazing films … unfortunately very few of them were of the horror variety. And to add insult to injury, the best of those that were horror-related took a bit of effort to find. With only a couple of exceptions, the genre offerings that made my Best of list weren't theatrically available to the masses. I either saw them via DVD, on a screener disc, or at a film festival/convention. That might be seen as bending the rules a little, but I have to call 'em like I see 'em. And when it comes to the Best of the Year, these are what I believe to be the highlights worth seeking out and remembering for future reference:

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2009

Paranormal Activity/Trick 'r Treat (tie) - I see these two films as the yin and yang of the movie business in the new millennium. On one hand we have Paramount's savvy and successful midnight rollout of Oren Peli's creepy and now widely beloved Paranormal Activity that resulted in huge new box office records for indie films. And on the other we have Warner Bros.' cold shoulder to Mike Dougherty's outstanding Trick 'r Treat anthology that is destined to become required viewing on Halloween night (if it isn't already). Aside from being a breath of fresh air, it has one of the hottest actresses on TV right now, True Blood's Anna Paquin, in a key role; and still their marketing people didn't see its potential. Nor did they put much stock in horror audiences, who have embraced both of these films for one reason and one reason only: They kick copious amounts of ass!

Moon ReviewMoon - Sci-fi/horror hybrids often provide an opportunity for an actor to shine, and this year Sam Rockwell gives an award-worthy performance in Duncan Jones' debut feature. Out of all the portrayals I saw during 2009 (and believe me, I saw a LOT!), his haunting … and haunted … astronaut Sam Bell left the most lasting impression. Rockwell is stellar from start to finish, as is the film itself. It's atmospheric as hell and quite stirring. Seek it out, and watch it with friends since there's a lot to talk about afterwards.

The Revenant - I caught this nearly perfect gem at Austin's Fantastic Fest, and although it's a tad too long and drawn out at the end, I knew immediately it would show up right here as one of the year's best. Keep your eyes peeled for a proper release hopefully sooner rather than later.

I Sell the Dead - This is one of those movies that draws you in with characters that take their time to grow on you. I love its stream of consciousness, kitchen sink approach with vampires, graverobbing, and even an alien. Dominic Monaghan is awesome, and Larry Fessenden makes you question why he ever leaves the front of the camera for directing. He's that damn good as the ghoulish Willie Grimes.

District 9 - Yes, another horror/sci-fi mash-up makes the Top Five, but seriously, can you name a film that was smarter and more unique than this simple yet tightly complex tale from New Zealand that's set in South Africa? How does one even begin to describe it? I said smart. How about intelligent? Clever? Actually, Nomad summed it up best in his review: "District 9 is a thoroughly original, super realistic, sci-fi-tinted tale of woe; and at the end of the day we have to applaud such originality as loudly as we possibly can."

Honorable Mention: Embodiment of Evil, The Burrowers, Pontypool, Alien Raiders, Disney's A Christmas Carol 3D (sue me; it's a blast the whole way through … and really pretty spooky, too!)

Biggest Surprise: Showtime's Dexter (Season 4). Holy shit! Just when I was thinking Dexter's glory days were behind him (although certainly not Michael C. Hall's, who continues to shine week after week), John Lithgow pops up as the chilling and utterly compelling Trinity Killer, Jennifer Carpenter is a standout as Deb's life-changing story arc forces her to run the gamut of emotions, and those damn writers throw us for a loop at the end that pretty much nobody saw coming. Hooray! Add in True Blood, Supernatural, and BBC America's Being Human, and it's obvious quality horror TV is thriving. It's just good to see a familiar back at the front of the pack.

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2009

Only three films that I saw in a theatre were bad enough to warrant inclusion on my Worst of the Year list, including the Dishonorable Mentions. Yep, seven out of the ten turkeys of 2009 were direct-to-DVD only. So if you let your Netflix membership lapse and were too lazy to visit Blockbuster (if there's even one still left in your home town), then chances are you dodged some major bullets. Here's what you might have luckily missed:

The Cell 2 - This movie is soooo bad! There's nothing but stilted dialogue and over-enunciation by the actors. Very dry and dull -- worse than a Lifetime knock-off. What was good in the first Cell has totally disappeared and been replaced by torture porn wrapped in bright colors. Most obvious killer in recent memory.

Horsemen - How a flick can start out so well and look so good, but then go to such shit, is beyond me. At first it's a solid little mystery, but then it delves into "emotion" and connections between the characters that are totally unbelievable. YAY, Platinum Dunes, for continuing your record of producing nearly unwatchable tripe. The saddest part is that Dennis Quaid almost gives a good performance.

Friday the 13th (2009)Friday the 13th - No one denies this franchise reboot has a good … no, make that a great … opening, but then it's all downhill from there. There aren't more than two even semi-memorable kills. Padalecki is wasted. Mears is wasted. Viewers' time is wasted. It's a textbook example of what not to do to pay homage to a classic and endear yourself to fans.

Jennifer's Body - If pitiful best describes this year's F13 redux, then the only word for Jennifer's Body is lame. It was poorly shot, has ridiculous dialogue, and proves how one-note Megan Fox's acting abilities really are. Amanda Seyfried and J.K. Simmons are the only good things about this flick, and even they could have done better.

Diagnosis: Death - I kind of feel bad for disliking Diagnosis: Death so much because I think its intentions are good and harmless, but it just is not fun in the least, and for a horror comedy to be successful, viewers have to be having a good time. I did not have a good time. It's uneven and dull and feels twice as long as it is. Admittedly, there are a few good ghost effects and not a bad storyline, but they don't outweigh the terrible acting, script, and pacing.

Dishonorable Mention: Voices, Shuttle, Elsewhere, The Canyon, the last few minutes of The Last House on the Left remake

Biggest Disappointment: The Box. Richard Kelly had never let me down before, so I may have possibly let my expectations run too high, but I found his adaptation of Richard Matheson's short story surprisingly muddled and pretentious. Uncharacteristically for the writer/director, it rings rather hollow, and Cameron Diaz's performance doesn't help. Marsden is okay but vanilla, and a script that over-explains some things and doesn't explain others enough only makes matters worse. But no hard feelings, Richard. They can't all be Donnie Darko and Southland Tales!

[Andrew Kasch]

[Matt Fini]

[Morgan Elektra]

[Nomad]

[The Buz]

[The Foywonder]

[The Woman in Black]

[Uncle Creepy]

[Home]


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Revolver's picture

Oh man, I keep remembering good movies that I have not seen listed here, but then again these are my opinions. The Tripper, Otis, Satans Little Helper, Night of the Creeps, Trick r Treat, Hardware, Punisher War Zone (not horror I know but gruesome anyway), Severance, Severed (I liked it), Botched, Mirrors (forgive me), The Host, Black Sheep (funny right?),Freak Out (pushing it I know), and Ink. Just some of my beer hazed mind thinking.

Not a monster, not a bogeyman. Understand that it's just a person-not worth devoting any nightmares to.


Submitted by Revolver on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:42pm.
Revolver's picture

Did anyone add "REPO! The genetic opera" to their list of cool movies? I really liked it and it seems there is going to be a remake of sorts called "Repo men" Blatent rip off.

Not a monster, not a bogeyman. Understand that it's just a person-not worth devoting any nightmares to.


Submitted by Revolver on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:21pm.
onenonlyheather's picture

Wow! I looked up Repo Men on IMDB, and yeah, it's a big budget version of Repo! The Genetic Opera! without the music. There's big arguments on the boards having to do with what was written first and why isn't someone being sued?


Submitted by onenonlyheather on Thu, 01/14/2010 - 9:16pm.
jonny_numb's picture

Hats off to Foy for taking the less predictable route and naming End of the Line his favorite of the year. After a wobbly 15 minutes of setup, the movie quite literally goes to Hell. What could have turned into a campy flick instead chilled my blood.

For anyone who hasn't seen it, here's the short that made me a fan of Maurice Devereaux:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCwKbUVyHLY


Submitted by jonny_numb on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:20pm.
Floydian Trip's picture

The fact that The Burrowers gets so little mention makes me wonder if anyone but the ladies can tell a great movie when they see one.


Submitted by Floydian Trip on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 3:37pm.
sav's picture

did anyone put Mulberry st on their list? i thought it was original and for the budget extremely effective....i mean ZOMBIE RAT PEOPLE....genius...fucking genious

****but it wasn't 09 so ill just shut the fuck up!


Submitted by sav on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 7:58am.

Kind of sad I Can See You didn't get any mentions. It's starts off normal with a bunch of hipster ad-men going off into the woods to camp. Progresses the same as all horror films. Then BAM musical number awesomely placed for no good reason. Then back to normal again until the end where it veers off into an abyss of mindfuck nonsense only David Lynch could appreciate.

It certainly wasn't the best film of the year but it was so odd in awesome, quirky ways that it deserves to be seen.


Submitted by AngryChairr on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 4:38am.
moderator It's on my list to watch --
Debi Moore's picture

It's on my list to watch -- just haven't had the time yet. But I've heard a lot of good things.


Submitted by Debi Moore on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 1:22pm.

Best flick of the year is "Triangle" dir by Chris Smith. H2 is better than the first one. And if you like Paranormal Activity, something's very wrong. Paranormal State on A&E does it better in 21 minutes a shot with quality music, good Cinematography and real scares, not a movie that has been made by countless others and just not seen by Steven Spielberg... that movie is like a cheap loser band who can't play like "Fall out Boy" (I was sound engineer..got the real scoop on those cats) catching a break for knowing someone, not for talent reasons. Boo!


Submitted by rockhigh on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:32pm.
Gareth Jones's picture

*Parachutes in*

"Hey, where the party at?!?"

*Pause*

"Bollocks."

Good lists, folks! Thinking it over, 2009 doesn't seem to have been that bad a year overall. It was much easier to pull more great films from memory than terrible ones...but maybe that's due to mental trauma response, I dunno.

Creepy & Co., apologies for quite some length in the Comments, but get your trunks on for my list.

I’ve been lucky enough this year to have seen a few flicks that haven’t surfaced Stateside yet, but I’m sure you guys will love ‘em. To keep things getting too messy I've also kept it to mainly theatrical/festival flicks. Straight to DVD is still way too easy pickings for the Worst. The decisions are always hard, so everything is in no particular order, but here are the movies that I most – and least – enjoyed in 2009.

Best:

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
Ti West’s throwback to the late 70s/early 80s is so damn good you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d actually walked in on someone watching a lost classic. Unsettling, tense and just plain masterfully crafted, this Satanic Panic flick hits all the right buttons.

DRAG ME TO HELL
Sam Raimi returns to the genre with this slam-bang entry, oozing with an EC Comics style. While it certainly does lean on the comedic side of things, it never strays too far from what one expects from Raimi and the fantastic direction coupled with staggering sound design make for a truly theatrical experience. Welcome back, Sam, don’t disappear for too long.

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE)
An exceptionally easy choice for my Top 10, Tom Six’s film is disturbing, gut-churning madness and features one of the best on-screen villains of the decade. Every horror fan needs to see this. When that will be possible, I don’t know...but I hope it’ll be very soon.

LA HORDE
I’ve said it before about this one – Left 4 Dead: The Movie. There you go. Fast paced, bursting with action and just plain adrenaline-fuelled, La Horde is a blast from start to finish. If you’re not a “running zombie” hating puritan, throw this to the top of your zombie-lovin’ wish list.

DISTRICT 9
Not just a member of my top five for the year, but my undeniable number one. District 9 is nothing short of absolutely astounding. The greatest theatrical experience of 2009, and also the best at home courtesy of the mind-blowingly awesome Blu Ray release.

Honourable mentions include HEARTLESS, THE HILLS RUN RED, SPLINTER, SAW VI, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE CHILDREN, TRICK 'R TREAT, SALVAGE and TORMENTED.

Worst :

JENNIFER'S BODY
An utter heap of faux-edgy tripe, I just wished the entire damn cast would “shutty” and get the credits rolling already. Was Jennifer’s character supposed to change as part of this, or did I miss something besides from some bigger teeth? I know it has its fans, but for me this was almost unbearable.

HALLOWEEN II
“Fuck! Fuck! FUCKKK! Aaaahh....fuck...fa...fa, fa, FUCK! FUCK-kak-kaaa, a-huuu, aa-huukkk, fuck...”
Rob Zombie pisses all over the series again.

FRIDAY THE 13TH
As a massive fan of the series, and Jason as an iconic slasher, this made me want to weep. More faux-grittiness from Platinum Dunes and while Derek Mears makes for a physically great Jason, he’s betrayed by the script. Jason keeps people alive but unconscious? He takes hostages now because they look like mommy? This isn’t a remake, just another shitty sequel. Double “fuck you” goes to the so-called “whole new film” of the extended DVD/Blu-Ray.

THE UNBORN
Jumby? Are you fucking kidding me?

GIALLO
Dario can try as much as he likes to claim that this was always intended as a send-up of the genre, or things beyond his control messed it up, but excuses are excuses and this is plain shit – a nice big curly yellow dog turd. Adrien Brody’s wobbling rubber nose might be worth the price of admission in laughs, but in the end it all just feels like one big joke aimed squarely at you, the unfortunate viewer.

Dishonourable mentions include CASE 39, PANDORUM, THE FINAL DESTINATION, BLOOD - THE LAST VAMPIRE and ANTICHRIST.


Submitted by Gareth Jones on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 8:37pm.

Friday the 13th is definitely getting too much flak here. It seems like everyone is getting too hung up on the lack of 'unique' kills. And while I agree that they were all pretty basic, they were at least brutal enough to be enjoyable. The film did was it should, and that was provide a solid reboot to get the rest of the sequels going again. It has a good actor doing Jason, and it established what sort of Jason he is (the 'wild woodsmen', as opposed to the 'invincible zombie'). It did have flaws (Jason taking a prisoner is wrong no matter how you look at it), but it's still a decent film (certianly better than some of the drek in the franchise, like Part II). It's a room-to-grow situation, and I look forward to further offerings.

Otherwise, I generally agree with the lists. I am very happy to see Paranormal Activity, Drag Me To Hell, District 9, and Trick 'r Treat getting lots of much-deserved love. I'd also like to give a high five to WIB for including the stellar Moon and The Foywonder for including the excellent Pontypool.


Submitted by Relaxing Dragon on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 8:18pm.
moderator Dragon, since you seem to be
Debi Moore's picture

Dragon, since you seem to be so forgiving of F13, I'm curious as to what your worst *theatrical* picks would be. I really had a hard time coming up with anything (other than Jen's Body) that fit the bill as well as F13. Direct-to-DVD, no problem, but theatrically, nothing was worse than what Platinum Dunes did to Jason as far as I was concerned.

And thanks for the Moon love -- that film really needs to be seen by everyone!


Submitted by Debi Moore on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 1:27pm.

Apologies and standard excuses for the late post.

I must admit, my pickings for a worst-of-the-year list would be rather slim. This is mainly to do with the fact that most of the obvious choices (New Moon, Halloween II, The Final Destination) I didn't actually watch. I somehow found better things to do with my $11. I suppose if I could count sci-fi stuff I'd put Transformers 2 on (it was certainly a horror to watch).

So, under the reasoning of nothing being worse (matters of opinion notwithstanding), it could work on someone's list. I just don't think it deserves to be on any such list because I happened to enjoy it and think it a suitable reboot for the franchise (especially considering its other recent outings).

And yeah: Moon love all the way 8)


Submitted by Relaxing Dragon on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 10:30pm.
moderator Sorry man, but Friday the
Steve Barton's picture

Sorry man, but Friday the 13th deserves its flack and then some. The kills were brutal? Really? They were as lame as they come. It's such a simple formula, really. It was botched about as badly as it could have been. The only redeeming value this has is its surprisingly good Cliffs Notes beginning and Derek Mears as Jason. Other than that it reeks ridiculously thick of Platinum Dunes looking to make a buck off of another franchise. And that's coming from someone who actually liked the Texas Chainsaw remake.


Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 8:23pm.
FireRam's picture

I too also thought the kills were WEAK. My fav was the girl getting cooked in the sleeping bag, BUT, it was brief and not too graphic. I wish the scene would have been prolonged a bit, and been more graphic. Maybe I'm sick but watching someone burn (movies, JUST movies) is my favorite way to watch someone go. I really liked the dad getting cooked being tied to the tree in "The Hills have Eyes"!


Submitted by FireRam on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 9:22pm.

What really gets me is how everybody is hung up over kills. Kills, kills, kills. They are not the sole component of a good horror film; after all, what point is suspense, atmosphere, plot, and characterization, if everyone's worried about how inventive and dragged out the kills are? So, it seems that the film everyone wants is just "unique, stylized, and unrealistic slayings," after another without of the other components. Jeeze! ! !

Yet, "Friday the 13th" did not have any of these. Still, we are going to be bombarded with these half-developed films until we mature and evolve as an audience and demand better movies, instead of existing as the carnage happy automatons that we are.

Just saying...


Submitted by robertmundy on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 5:12pm.

Brutal in the simple sense of damage caused (the thrown ax kill, for instance). I simply don't see a botch here. It had the forumla down, what with the fair amounts of sex (and deaths to those who had it), it had the comic relief characters (who were actually funny for once), and it had Jason stalking everyone just on the other side of the wall/floorboards/what-have-you. Shoot, even his caves can be handwaved as something he dug and uses to do said stalking (I mean, he's got a lot of time on his hands, after all).


Submitted by Relaxing Dragon on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 8:46pm.
moderator Disagree completely. Here's
Steve Barton's picture

Disagree completely. Here's all that had to happen: Kids show up. Kids die in creative and sometimes ironic ways. Roll credits. That's it. It's really that simple, and how this formula got screwed up is a complete and utter mystery. The Friday the 13th remake is over-produced, over-shot, over-thought, and not over soon enough. But its biggest sin? It's just not fun, and that's something that every Friday film, for all of their missteps and misfires, homo-erotic shaving bits and imposters, were.

In the Platinum Dunes remake we had the nonsensical missing sister/Jason takes a hostage subplot which single handedly killed said formula. The most creative kill was the machete through the head on the dock, the rest were cookie cutter at best. Come on a thrown axe? A stab in the throat with a screwdriver?

Even the The music is miscued.


Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 9:27pm.

I continue to think that you're getting too caught up on the creative kill aspect. Consider that in the beginning of the series, the kills weren't all that creative either (even not counting the Jason-less first entry). Mostly just a lot of machete stabbings and impalings and what-have-yous. It wasn't really until the middle of the series that all the kills really started to branch out. Considering this is supposed to be a restart, that sort of fits.

Plus, and this seems to just be me, I did have fun with it. Mainly, I admit, because I really liked the new Jason (even you guys did too). Since these movies basically revolve around him, when he's good and enjoyable to watch that makes the rest of the film enjoyable to watch (and I even had a terrible theater audience when I saw this (damn potheads in the back rows), still enjoyed myself). Though I admit the enjoyment aspect is a pretty subjective aspect (and it is missing that 80s charm that added to the classic series funness).


Submitted by Relaxing Dragon on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 11:51pm.
The Buz's picture

I still do not see, and probably will never see how one can LOVE the original pieces of shit, but not like this new piece of shit.

As far as I'm concerned, they are all the same exact piece of shit, just molded in different ways.

Even though I enjoyed the Friday remake, but then again I saw it with a rowdy theater crowd who made the experience all the more enjoyable.


Submitted by The Buz on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:30pm.
Sirand's picture

Because the original piece of shit at least had some innovative gags courtesy of Tom Savini...not to mention a sleazy low-budget 42nd St feel.

I'll take that over the MTV garbage Platinum Dunes gave us.


Submitted by Sirand on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 4:15pm.
Revolver's picture

I was on the fence as far as the new Friday goes, but I think this reinventing is a conglomeration of all of the Friday movies. Trying to get the new audience into the Friday franchise is no easy task. This one movie combines all the other movies into one easy to swallow pill. Just imagine what Nightmare on Elm Street fans will have to sit through to bring new fans on board. Going into the way back machine to define what Freddy has become even tho the veterans already know the story.

Not a monster, not a bogeyman. Understand that it's just a person-not worth devoting any nightmares to.


Submitted by Revolver on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 10:55pm.
LifeMi's picture

Yes, they might all be the same film. True, there is no real story; it's just an environment with characters getting knocked off. But that's not the point. The whole point of this franchise is to do nothing more than entertain the audience and give them 90 minutes worth of great gore. That's why we love these movies, regardless of whether they're good (Part 4) or bad (Jason X). The remake didn't even remotely entertain nor did it have any great gore. The remake was an unredeemable piece of shit. At least Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X are fun to laugh at. There's nothing wrong with not liking these films, but in a world where we have 6 Leprechaun films, 2 Twilight films and 2 Transformers films, Friday the 13th looks positively stunning in comparison.


Submitted by LifeMi on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 12:48am.
RingoJ's picture

Nope, you never will understand.


Submitted by RingoJ on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:56pm.

Hmmm...maybe I should see the house of the devil.

Completely agree about 99% of these lists. Still don't understand why people dislike jennifers body so much. But, I do understand why train is the worst on one list. I really dislike torture porn films (that phrase reads like an oxymoron..."films" my ass). Really wish they would just stop making them altogether. I don't hate gore or explicit torture scenes, but they lose their effect after the third scene in 20 minutes.

Watchmen and district 9 are both fantastic horror tinged additions though!


Submitted by Axeslinger0u812 on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 7:59pm.

Pig Hunt got released here in the uk a couple of months ago and is easily one of the worst films I've seen this year!


Submitted by will graham on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 5:41pm.
The Buz's picture

Like I said, it was everything I was looking for in that kind of movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the living fuck out of Pig Hunt. But I understand the hate. The beginning is too long. It just takes awhile for the really good shit to start, but once it does, it more than makes up for the beginning.


Submitted by The Buz on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:28pm.
moderator It seems to really be a love
Debi Moore's picture

It seems to really be a love it or hate it kind of film. I know two people who agree with Buz and a couple who, like you, thought it absolutely sucked. Guess that's what makes the world go 'round!


Submitted by Debi Moore on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 7:34pm.
El Regio Dude's picture

And speaking about top ten lists, what about the
Foycast??? It´s the show i wait every year...

"Santo llamando a Blue Demon..."


Submitted by El Regio Dude on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 4:30pm.
El Regio Dude's picture

"Not Quite Hollywood" was an excelent pick, Fini.
That documentary is awesome!

"Santo llamando a Blue Demon..."


Submitted by El Regio Dude on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 1:10pm.

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