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Dread Central's Best & Worst of 2009





Uncle Creepy's Picks

Two thousand and nein. Nein! Nein! Nein! Yes, there were plenty of times throughout the year that made me feel as if I were a Nazi having encountered the famed Bear Jew. Still, we have to shrug off those baseball bat strikes to the head as a means to talk about the good times, and 2009 was riddled with highs and lows.

Before I begin let's talk about the cinema landscape. It has completely changed. It used to be that going direct-to-video was a form of death sentence, but now DTV is where a lot of the good stuff has been coming out. As a result my Best of and Worst of lists will be comprised of both theatrical and video releases.

Without further ado and in no particular order as I both loved and loathed each film about the same ...

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2009

Paul Solet's GraceGrace:
Paul Solet's intriguing new spin on the living dead subgenre was both disturbing and gut-wrenching. That's exactly how I like my movies, too! Let me be the first to say that I hate kids. The little bastards have a tendency to ruin everything. Should anyone ever ask me why, this film is my prime example. They can just suck you dry, man! Special shout-out to Jordan Ladd, who in my estimation gave the performance of the year in a horror film.

District 9:
A little sci-fi flavor makes it into my Best of list thanks to the high octane alien-fueled action of District 9. Described by one of my esteemed colleagues who hated it as "The Fly II in Shanty Town", for me this flick went above and beyond what I look for in my extraterrestrial cinematic entertainment. For my money D9, which is just as preachy, packed more punch than Cameron's juggernaut Avatar while giving us horror fans more of what we want from this type of film. One of the year's biggest surprises for sure.

Drag Me to Hell:
Welcome back, Sam Raimi. We've missed you so. Drag Me to Hell is a textbook horror movie and embodies most of the genre's very definitions. For all intents and purposes with a little altering this easily could have been labeled Evil Dead 4, and fans would have been clamoring for more. Sticky, gooey, spooky, and starring a mean-ass spirit who will punch you in the fuckin' face, it honestly doesn't get much better than this, folks. Don't let its PG-13 rating scare you off. This flick delivers on all counts!

Trick 'r Treat:
If there's one thing that floats my boat just as much if not more than zombie flicks, it's anthology films. Mike Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat is the best of its kind since the big daddy of them all, Creepshow. Why it sat on the shelf for over a year is anyone's guess. Given a proper Halloween timed release, this would have made bank at the box office. Maybe it had something to do with all the child deaths in the flick. See? I told you those pricks ruin everything!

Paranormal Activity:
Now this feels good. Paranormal Activity has made quite a few of our lists since 2007, and now that it has been officially released, it can take its official rightful spot on one. While no one else even knew what this movie was, we were singing its praises. Like it or not (it certainly isn't for everyone), the film not only made millions at the box office during its uniquely demanded theatrical run (hat's off to Paramount for that one), but it has changed the way that the big studios who normally play it safe with either sequels, remakes, PG-13 fodder, or something based upon a graphic novel are looking at independent filmmakers and their original films. If we take anything out of this past decade -- horror or otherwise -- this change in perspective is easily the best one for all parties concerned -- especially for us, the fans and viewers.

Honorable Mentions: Zombieland, House of the Devil, The Hills Run Red, The Haunting in Connecticut, My Bloody Valentine 3D.

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2009

 Left for Dead on DVD and Blu-ray (click for larger image)Wrong Turn 3:
Hey! Let's take a surprisingly good franchise that's lots of fun and has been monetarily successful and attempt to cash in on its name by giving people the phoned-in entry they anticipated Part II to be! That's a great idea! And hey! Never mind a director who cares about the film he's making! Let's find someone who's only looking to collect a paycheck! AND instead of smart kills made with practical effects, let's give folks mainly poorly rendered CGI splatter that looks as if it was fashioned about ten years ago! Epic fail, Fox. Epic fucking fail.

The Cell 2:
Remember that ultra stylish Jennifer Lopez flick The Cell? Yeah, it kind of sucked, but wow, did it have some of the most amazingly striking visual sequences of our times. Yes! You do remember! Well hold on to those memories because you won't be making any new ones with this second-rate laughable cinematic fiasco.

The Box:
This is your classic example of taking a good story that could be told in less than thirty minutes and padding it out to become a two-hour long metaphysical snooze-a-thon with a silly alien plot twist that you may just miss somewhere after its first hour of undecipherable needless retardation. Attention director Richard Kelly -- how about just telling a story? Is that so rough?

Children of the Corn:
Shit. Very few movies embody that word. This is one of the more smeary examples of the Brotherhood of the Brown. From top to bottom nothing about it works. Bad acting. Bad directing. Bad dialogue. Hell, they couldn't even find a spooky kid to put in the lead. Instead they gave this really little kid a hat with a brim that was about seven times wider than the span of his shoulders. Yeah. Really creepy. Thanks for that.

Friday the 13th:
Let me start off by saying that there were a lot of films released this year that were worse than this ill inspired Platinum Dunes remake. However, there were no other ones that made me physically angry, and that's why this one is sitting here like the bastard child that it is. The Friday the 13th formula is a really simple one to follow: Kids show up. Kids die in horrible yet memorable ways. That's it. How you can fuck that up remains a mystery to me. Friday the 13th is a classic example of filmmakers tooling around with something that they really don't understand. The only victims to be found in this flaccid piece of cinematic douchebaggery other than those of us who paid to see it is the actor who played Jason himself, Derek Mears. Out of everyone involved with this mess, he seemed to be the only one concerned with making a good Friday film for the fans. Despite having nothing to do, his portrayal of Jason was spot on. Bring Mears back and team him with a director that actually knows the franchise, and the inevitable Part 2 could just be a winner. Wait … who am I kidding? This is Platinum Dunes we're talking about! Their only concern is cash and posing with prop police cars.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Final Destination, Horsemen, Halloween II, Jennifer’s Body, The Canyon.

HERE'S TO A BIGGER & BETTER 2010!

[Andrew Kasch]

[Matt Fini]

[Morgan Elektra]

[Nomad]

[The Buz]

[The Foywonder]

[The Woman in Black]

[Uncle Creepy]

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Matt Serafini's picture

Thanks El Regio, that was definitely one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in a while.

I've been tracking down movies since I saw the thing in July.


Submitted by Matt Serafini on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 3:14pm.
El Regio Dude's picture

Yeah, after watching it, i want desperately to take
a look on every movie that appears there.
That movie it´s a must see!

"Santo llamando a Blue Demon..."


Submitted by El Regio Dude on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 4:31pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Watchmen is hands down my favorite movie of the year. Not horror movie, that belongs to Drag Me To Hell.


Submitted by frank_dracman on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 12:09pm.
DavidFullam's picture

You're not Andrew Kasch. Andrew Kasch would have named Funny Games in all the top spots. It breaks the 4th wall you know.


Submitted by DavidFullam on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 12:10pm.
Foywonder's picture

Okay, I'll be the one to ask. Watchmen? I know we tend to cross genres a little but how exactly does Watchmen make it onto a horror list?


Submitted by Foywonder on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 11:38am.
Terminal's picture

I'm also wondering why District 9 made it on some lists. It's clearly science fiction. I also disagree it's a horror/sci-fi hybrid.

Oh well.


Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:14pm.
RingoJ's picture

District 9 makes sense, because it at least had the whole transformation thing going on, but I also don't understand the inclusion of Watchmen on so many lists.


Submitted by RingoJ on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 10:28pm.
Terminal's picture

Sure it had the transformation bit but that wasn't specifically horror oriented. The film is clearly science fiction based around themes not related to the genre. District 9 shouldn't even be on a horror list.

Watchmen is a puzzler as well. It's a fantasy sure but it's a superhero movie first and foremost. It can't possibly be on a list of best horror movies. There must have been more horror movies this year that warranted a spot on Morgan Elektra's list.

Try harder next time.


Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:59am.
Morgan Elektra's picture

I'd disagree that Watchmen is a superhero movie "first and foremost". For one, I consider "superhero" to be a sub-genre of fantasy the same way I consider "zombie" to be a subgenre of horror. Only superhero would be a much broader subgenre, because it would include movies like My Super Ex-Girlfriend... which in my mind is very, very different than Watchmen.

Watchmen was very dark, thematically and tonally. The main story revolves around a man who is plotting to murder thousands of people in order to, in his estimation, better the world. He's willing to kill his own friends in order to do so. It explores, even embraces, the idea that people are hideously flawed and often terribly brutal and awful... but possibly worth saving.

Yes, there are superheroes in it, and what Ozymandius does is more mass murder than serial killing but it reminded me more of Seven than anything else.

Classifying genre can be a slippery thing, and definition often changes from one person to the next... but I honestly didn't consider this as anything of a stretch, and it was one of the best movies I saw this year, so I thought it deserved a place.


Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:02pm.
Terminal's picture

Boy that's a lot of rationalizing Morgan.

"what Ozymandius does is more mass murder than serial killing but it reminded me more of Seven than anything else."

Are you kidding me? Well you'd be the first person I've read say that, that's for sure.

"Classifying genre can be a slippery thing, and definition often changes from one person to the next..."

You're right. I've heard people describe "Speed" as science fiction.

"but I honestly didn't consider this as anything of a stretch, and it was one of the best movies I saw this year, so I thought it deserved a place."

But I have to keep asking: It may be the best movie you saw this year, but is it a horror film?

You have to admit that you're pretty much stretching and reaching for reasons for the inclusion. If you think about it it seems more like a desperate place holder. Sorry but it's the truth.

At the end of the day everyone but you seems to know what kind of movie Watchmen is. Hell Star Trek had themes of Genocide, had some mean creatures and aliens too, so does that mean it should be on the list too?

But hey whatever helps.


Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 7:52pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

No, it's not a horror film. I'm pretty sure I said already that I consider it a dark fantasy film. I don't see you complaining about me including Ink on my list, which is also a dark fantasy film.

As for my being the only person that was reminded of Seven, that may well be. Doesn't mean it's not true. Tonally, Watchmen is very bleak and dark, but with that same sliver of hope. The line regarding the Ernest Hemingway quote that is the closing line of Seven ("Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part) came very much to my mind when I saw Watchmen. It very nearly perfectly summed up what it made me think of and how it made me feel.

Desperate place holder? Last year, I included The Dark Knight on my list of bests. It was also an honorable mention on Buz's list. The Incredible Hulk got an honorable mention on Debi's list. Uncle Creepy included Hellboy II: The Golden Army on his list, and Andrew gave it an honorable mention.

In 2007 Foy included Dragon Wars on his best list. Plagiarize mentioned The Invasion on his worst list that year, as did Andrew. Nomad gave Sunshine a nod on his best, and so did Debi. Ghost Rider made Buz's worst. So, if I'm stretching by including a film that's not strictly horror (which I said in my first post), there seems to be some decent precedent for my doing so because none of those picks raised a comment from anyone before.


Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Thu, 01/07/2010 - 1:25am.
NO U BUTTFACE
RingoJ's picture

NO U BUTTFACE


Submitted by RingoJ on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 6:52am.
Styling Shatner's picture

Well, I remember that in 2008, The Dark Knight was at least an honorable mention on one or two lists, so there's that.

Anyhow, I'd also love to see The Foycast return; if the next episode is about the worst direct to DVD movies in 2009, that would be even better, as the episodes talking about the worst in 2007 and 2008 were pretty great.


Submitted by Styling Shatner on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 5:57pm.
moderator We're recording a new
Steve Barton's picture

We're recording a new Foycast this week. Not to worry!


Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 6:36pm.
Styling Shatner's picture

Awesome. That is good to hear.

As for last year's Friday the 13th, I saw it at its midnight debut and while I knew it wasn't the same as the other flicks in the franchise, I ended up enjoying it, but it was mainly due to by far the rowdiest theatre crowd I've ever been a part of. They were really into the film and were flipping their shit at the most basic of scares. But, then I listened to the Dinner for Fiends podcast about the movie and agreed with most of it and then I realized that I should never watch the movie ever again as if I did, it'd be ruined and the fun I had that night would be ruined too.


Submitted by Styling Shatner on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 12:38pm.
LifeMi's picture

Great. Can't wait to hear a new Foycast.


Submitted by LifeMi on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 9:24pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

I'd say we cover horror and dark fantasy, and I consider Watchmen dark fantasy. It certainly doesn't fit well, in my mind, into any other genre. What genre would you consider it?


Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 1:36pm.

I'd call it a superhero film.

For that matter, Moon is a hard sci-fi film, and whoever described it as a horror hybrid provided the most hilarious bit of fake rationalization on this list.


Submitted by Raygun on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 11:11am.
moderator Glad I could inject some
Debi Moore's picture

Glad I could inject some humor into your day since you obviously are starving for it.

As for Moon not being a horror film, without giving too much away for those who haven't watched it, I see it as a spin on the Frankenstein tale with Lunar Industries standing in for the good doctor and Sam, of course, representing the Monster. The whole situation is beyond horrific. I'd say that more than qualifies it for our lists.


Submitted by Debi Moore on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 1:20pm.

And I see a film that deals with the moral issues of very real science, a film that never plays the situation in a horrific way, but rather deals with it in a thoughtful (and sometimes poignantly sad) manner that explores ideas.

The director himself has described it as hard sci-fi. No less esteemed a critic than Roger Ebert has described it as hard sci-fi. There's no hybridization here (whereas something like Alien is clearly a hybrid, one that leans toward horror, in fact) and even on an atmospheric level, it stays far away from horror and traffics instead in provocative sci-fi ideas based in reality (it's no surprise that Duncan Jones consulted with NASA). On an emotional level, it plays the situation for loneliness and sadness, more than anything else.

A Frankenstein tale? Not really. A tale of hard science and morals with an uplifting ending? Yep. You're spackling and rationalizing and misrepresenting.

Moon is a terrific film, no doubt. But it isn't remotely a horror film. Its ancestors are things like 2001, Silent Running and the works of Robert Heinlein, not Alien or Event Horizon. Classifying it as a horror hybrid would seem to devalue the fact that it's a sterling example of the type of hard science fiction that is all too rare in cinema these days.


Submitted by Raygun on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 2:54pm.
moderator You're certainly entitled to
Debi Moore's picture

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I still see it as a mixture of sci-fi and horror. Sure, it's more the former than the latter, but does that mean it's not worthy of mention on Dread Central? I think our readers are savvy enough to appreciate it when we expose them to things that might not be 100% pure horror but have ties to the genre. Somehow I don't think Duncan Jones would mind its inclusion on my list considering he gave interviews to *gasp* horror sites like B-D to help promote the film. And since when are loneliness and sadness not permitted to be components of a horror film? Not only that, but if I were to wake up and find that I'm a clone, I'd be pretty horrified at the situation.

From your comments, you're as bad as those filmmakers who refuse to concede their films have any horror elements, preferring to call them "supernatural thrillers" or some other nonsense. Injecting a bit of horror into "hard sci-fi" is hardly a detriment to a film -- on the contrary, to me, it just makes it even better.

And I still feel my Frankenstein analogy holds up. What else would you call Lunar Industries' actions other than playing god? And they did it for profit no less, even worse than what Victor did. They are the true monsters of the piece.


Submitted by Debi Moore on Tue, 01/05/2010 - 3:32pm.

Wow, so you're seriously comparing my notion that a science fiction film that was premiered to an audience of scientists and NASA workers isn't a horror film to that of a studio denying that a film a la The Sixth Sense has nothing to do with horror?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After your simplistic Frankenstein comparison, it's fairly clear that you're not well-versed at making analogies.

That's marvelous that you see horror in a film that decidedly contains none. Congratulations, you are the only reviewer on the planet to call Moon a sci-fi horror hybrid (even Bloody Disgusting, who clearly participated in a round-table interview, declare it "thinking man's science fiction"). And you're completely entitled to your opinion as well, as misguided and foolish as it may be.

Maybe next year you can put 2001 on your list as a latecomer. After all, it's as much a horror film as Moon or Watchmen. (g)

I think the real truth here is that you didn't see that many great horror films in 2009, so you decided to include a film that was 100% non-horror and come up with a rather goofy excuse. Good for you, but it's still bullshit. You can ramble on about how some of its core ideas are horrific until the cows come home, but the fact is that not one scene in the film is played horrifically.

Seriously, if you're going to review non-horror films (Moon, District 9, Terminator: Salvation, Watchmen, etc.) maybe you should think about changing your name to Film Central.


Submitted by Raygun on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 2:53am.
moderator Are you privy to some sort
Debi Moore's picture

Are you privy to some sort of mission statement on behalf of Dread Central that says we absolutely, positively refuse to ever, under any circumstances, stray from covering something that is not 100% pure, unadulterated horror? Because, if so, then you have every right to give us shit for including films like D9, Moon, T:S, etc., in our coverage. On the other hand, if you had been paying even the slightest bit of attention to what our editor-in-chief and the rest of the staff have said over and over again, you'd realize that we do sometimes report on, review, and yes, even include on our year-end lists, those films that we see as having ties to the genre in one way or another even if they are tinged with (or even contain primarily) sci-fi elements, superheroes, etc., and shut the fuck up already.


Submitted by Debi Moore on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 1:13pm.
moderator David. David. David. If only
Steve Barton's picture

David. David. David. If only you were writing screenplays that portrayed such passion, vigor, and theatrics.


Submitted by Steve Barton on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 5:49am.

Do you think I'm David Koepp? If I was, I wouldn't have this crappy office job.


Submitted by Raygun on Wed, 01/06/2010 - 12:26pm.
Floydian Trip's picture

Kudos to the ladies for mentioning The Burrowers. What? Is it considered a chick flick?


Submitted by Floydian Trip on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 9:52am.
moderator I guess great minds just
Debi Moore's picture

I guess great minds just think alike, and in this case they happen to be female! :)


Submitted by Debi Moore on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 1:50pm.
Floydian Trip's picture

I knew you would mention it Debi but I didn't think Morgan would too but I've never seen her mention it before. It's better than PA that's for sure. Just a how to on making a monster movie imo.


Submitted by Floydian Trip on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 1:56pm.
Floydian Trip's picture

Debi and Morgan win!


Submitted by Floydian Trip on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 4:09pm.
Terminal's picture

One thing I did like about it was the closing credits. Loved that whole comeuppance angle in the end.


Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 6:51am.

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