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The Best and Worst of 2007

The Best and Worst of 2007

2007. What a year! Talk about ups and downs! While there were quite a few bright spots, we’re all still healing from last February, or as we here at Dread Central lovingly refer to it — The 28 Days of Suck™!

Dig on the lists by following the links below!

Andrew Kasch’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

The Mist (click for larger image) 1. The Mist – Like last year’s The Host (which topped my 2006 list), the latest Frank Darabont/Stephen King vehicle brought glory back to the creature feature with both slime and smarts. This is a movie for movie lovers with great characters, shocking scenarios, and memorable monsters, along with an air of tension thick enough to insulate your house. Years from now this gem will be mentioned in the same breath as classics like Jaws, The Thing, and The Fly.

2. The Signal – Listen up, all you independent filmmakers: Drop those backyard zombie movies and take a long hard look at this film. The Signal is the model example of what indie horror is all about. Shot for peanuts, this apocalyptic tale contains equal parts fear and black humor, along with some of the most solid acting and direction in recent memory. Most importantly, it never degenerates into a typical zombie film and its cerebral approach has your mind racing long after the credits.

3. Inside – Easily one of the most savage and brutal films ever produced, Inside goes to a level no slasher has ever dared. This is the exact film Alexandre Aja’s High Tension wanted to be (only without the gimmicks and rampant plagiarism). It’s gorgeously shot, tense as all hell, and contains some of the most nightmarish imagery ever put to film. If this one doesn’t make you squirm, then you’re as mentally disturbed as the characters in this film.

4. The Orphanage – Though he’s only credited as a producer, the spirit of Guillermo Del Toro is all over this beautiful ghost pic, which is every bit as creepy and soulful as movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. This is one of the single best haunted house movies in decades, ripe with scares and emotional complexity. We need more films like this.

5. Zodiac – It may be a movie of talking heads, but David Fincher’s epic procedural is one of the most detailed and obsessive looks at a serial killer you’ll ever see. People expecting Se7en: Part II will find themselves bored stiff, but if you have a thing for true crime, you won’t do any better than this masterpiece.

Honorable Mentions: Grindhouse, Paranormal Activity, Diary of the Dead, 30 Days of Night, Sweeney Todd, 28 Weeks Later

(Note: Films like Bug and Behind the Mask, although commercially released this year, wound up on previous year-end lists).

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. Dead Mary – Bar none, one of the most painful movie experiences in a very long time. This self-important attempt at a high-brow indie movie involves a group of lifeless twenty-somethings who get attacked by supernatural forces at their cabin retreat and proceed to…gossip. Instead of doing anything remotely terrifying, these deadite clones yap their heads off about who is cheating on whom until everyone gets mad – most of all anyone who has to sit through this dreadfully boring shit.

2. Captivity – Still the biggest embarrassment to the genre in years, Captivity hurt the horror industry all because of the antics of no-talent filmmaker Courtney Solomon and his tasteless marketing campaign designed to stir up controversy for a timid, idiotic Saw clone that no one cared about. For some reason, this braindead flick also came from the talents of the great Larry Cohen, which may be the final sign of the apocalypse.

3. The Hitcher – And the folks at Platinum Dunes rape another horror classic. If God exists, he’ll use his divine powers to burn this lousy company to the ground before they do any more damage. The dipshits behind this remake evidently thought that the original was missing scenes of raining cars and Nine Inch Nails songs. You know you’re watching a bad movie when you’re begging for C. Thomas Howell to come in and save it.

4. Dead Silence – At least the title is apt, since this one put everyone in the theater to sleep. Dead Silence joins the ranks of FearDotCom and Darkness Falls as gorgeous looking films that are mind-numbingly stupid. This may be one of the most half-baked horror scripts ever written. Every good idea that’s introduced isn’t explored in the slightest, while every cliché hits in predictable order. And Donny Wahlberg’s detective wins the award for the most annoying character of the year.

5. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – Rob Zombie’s “Halloween For Rednecks” may not be the worst remake of all time, but it’s definitely the most worthless. There isn’t anything the least bit frightening or suspenseful in this hollow bastardization other than the fact that it was greenlit. Even a hardcore fanboy like Zombie should’ve realized the golden rule: Don’t mess with perfection.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Hills Have Eyes 2, Return to House on Haunted Hill, Skinwalkers, The Invasion, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem

The Foywonder’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

Dragon Wars! 5. Dragon Wars – Admittedly not really a horror movie per se but since we’ve covered it here at Dread Central I’d say it qualifies. Let me also make it perfectly clear right up front that Dragon Wars is not a good movie – not by a long shot. The script is indefensibly bad and the acting is probably worse; Jason Behr alone gives what may very well be the worst performance of his or anyone else’s career. So why is D-War doing on my best list? I found it to be a modern day Godzilla vs. the Smog monster; a film worthy of ridicule, scorn, and unconditional love. It had an enthusiasm about it that’s inescapable and reminded me of those hopelessly goofball Japanese monster movies of the 1970’s – the ones where Godzilla would have to save the world from some giant monster menace unleashed by cockroaches masquerading as humans or purple monkey men from outer space – and there’s stuff here that appealed to the bad movie fan in me who loves laughing at schlocky films worthy of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. Like many an old Japanese monster movies, I’ve no doubt I’ll be fast-forwarding past a lot of the crud in any subsequent viewings to get to the fun stuff with the monsters. And if you thought Dragon Wars was atrocious, Boll-level bad, I can’t argue with you. Movies like Dragon Wars only come along rarely these days. I dare say that’s both a good and a bad thing.

4. Hatchet – Despite some reviews that say otherwise, Hatchet is not a film that will revolutionize horror or create a new horror movie icon in the form of Victor Crowley. It’s just a damn fun slasher flick – nothing more, nothing less. Hatchet would have been perfect as one half of a 1980’s style Grindhouse double feature. It’s campy and over-the-top without being overly cartoonish. At once both a loving homage and a send-up of Reagan Era slasher movies that’s just a whole lot of fun. If there’s such a thing as a good natured killing spree this would be it. The flailing tongue beheading is one of the most memorable movie kills I’ve seen in ages.

3. Sweeney Todd – “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit/And it’s filled with people who are filled with shit/And the vermin of the world inhabit it.” But enough about the IMDB message boards. Geez, I cannot get that song out of my head. Who’d have thought one of the best horror movies of the year would be based on a Broadway musical? I usually hate musicals too. For all you gore-hounds out there that think an R-rating and a lot of gore are all that matter, all of you should be forced to watch Sweeney Todd to see how Tim Burton spilled buckets of blood to a far more dramatically effective degree than most every other blood-soaked gore flick to come along this past year and did so in the form of a Gothic musical. A great tale of obsession, vengeance, and cruel irony sprinkled with a good deal of dark humor, a tremendous orchestral score, and far too many songs that’ll stick with you after you’ve left the theater, Sweeney Todd is more than just a big screen version of a Broadway musical, it’s one of the most sardonic horror flicks to come along in ages – sort of like an operatic Hammer film of old.

2. The Mist – Some quibbles with the ending not withstanding, Frank Darabont’s “Twilight Zone meets 1950’s sci-fi monster movies” adaptation of Stephen King’s novella gave us something that’s increasingly rare these days: a serious-minded monster movie with a brain in its head. It certainly helped that it had a great menagerie of monsters and a cast of characters that might be familiar archetypes but the actors breathed new life into them, especially Marcia Gay Harden as an insane religious zealot – one of the best movie villains of the past year. Simply one of the best monster movies to come along in a long time too.

1. Grindhouse – I’m actually a bit hesitant to put Grindhouse at the top of my list because of some of my past choices. There’s no denying that seeing Grindhouse on opening night with an audience that very much got it and were there to have a hell of a good time made this quite possibly the most fun night at the movies I had all year. Not even Tarantino’s obnoxious self-love affair with his own dialogue during what I dubbed “My Dinner With Death Proof” could kill the jovial mood. But at the same time, I’ve yet to go back and revisit either film since they arrived separately on DVD. I recall putting Snakes on the Plane at the top of my list last year after having a similar theatrical experience and then later watching it again on DVD and coming to the conclusion that it didn’t hold up as well without an enthusiastic group viewing setting. Same goes for Peter Jackson’s King Kong, a film I had some issues with but otherwise enjoyed immensely when I saw it at the theater, but a second viewing on the small screen struck me as a three-hour endurance test that reached masturbatory degrees of self-indulgence. I don’t know how I’ll feel about Grindhouse upon a second viewing – aside from knowing liberal use of the fast forward button will be made during Death Proof – but for now Grindhouse goes on the top of my list for being a riotous experiment in both homage and excess. The faux trailers alone are works of pure genius.

The Best and Worst of 2007

5) January 1st through April 6th – I joked I would do this during the Dinner For Fiends when we discussed Grindhouse and now here I am living up to my promise. When I say January 1st – April 6th I’m talking about damn near every crappy horror movie that got a wide theatrical release from the start of 2007 until Grindhouse‘s opening day: Thr3e, Primeval, The Hitcher, Blood & Chocolate, The Messengers, Hannibal Rising, Ghost Rider, The Number 23, Dead Silence, Premonition, The Hills Have Eyes 2, and The Reaping. So very much suckage in so little time…

4. The Number 23 – I realize I just listed it amongst the refuse of films listed between 1/1 and 4/6 but it warrants an extra kick to the groin. If you were to take I Know Who Killed Me and Dragon Wars and put them in a line-up with The Number 23 and ask me which one boasted the most improbable plot I’d still point to The Number 23. I Know Who Killed Me, if nothing else, achieves a “must be seen to be believed” surreal level of badness and Dragon Wars was just a nonsensical monster movie in the vein of many a Japanese monster movie of old; what’s The Number 23‘s excuse? This film is supposed to be taking place in the real world; it’s supposed to be a realistic yet mind-bending psychological thriller and yet the sheer number of improbabilities, amazing coincidences, and grossly overlooked details we’re supposed to accept would make even Jigsaw’s head explode. Wife Virginia Madsen had no idea her husband had spent time in an insane asylum despite the fact that she met him on the steps of one? And thank goodness the owners of that seedy motel never painted the walls in almost two decades otherwise we’d have never gotten all the answers. I could go on all day because there’s so much more where that came from and it’s all insulting to your intelligence. That the movie boasts such lush production values only makes it the very definition of a well-polished turd.

3. Saw IV – I’ve never been a big fan of this franchise but I’ve always kind of dug its Abominable Dr. Phibes vibe and find the Jigsaw character to be an interesting one, at least since part two. That’s all now as dead as Jigsaw himself. 2007 really was quite the year for horror movie villain origin stories that only succeeded in making the character infinitely less compelling. Finding out Hannibal Lechter started out as a man-eating samurai Punisher was ludicrous and Michael “I grew up in a dysfunctional white trash family but that still doesn’t really explain how I managed to grow up to be a superhuman killing machine that my ‘best friend’ Dr. Loomis will describe as evil incarnate” Myers’ new humble beginnings achieved the exact opposite effect of what the character should have been. Finding out Jigsaw went mad because a junkie inadvertently caused his pregnant wife to miscarry demystifies Jigsaw’s madness to a boring degree. That combined with the lousy reason for the person at the center of the plot being chosen to play the game to the lame traps this time out to unveiling the star of Dino-croc as the new Jigsaw and not offering any reason as to why – it was sawful!

2. Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem – A studio that doesn’t give a damn about anything other than making a quick buck, a pair of novice directors in over their heads, dark cinematography and erratic editing that made following the action nearly impossible, and a screenplay so execrable that it makes the worst Sci-Fi Channel original movie seem richly nuanced: all of have come together to make a movie that not only came within a hair’s inch of making me walkout halfway through – an extraordinary feat considering some of the films I subject myself too, it left me thinking that maybe I had been a tad harsh on its predecessor. Terrible as it may have been, the first AVP at least felt like a real movie and had a few ideas of its own. At the heart of this story is an uncool teenager with the hots for a pretty co-ed who has a jerkwad boyfriend that beats him up every chance he gets … I’m sorry, but is this supposed to be a sequel to Alien vs. Predator or The Karate Kid? Oh, if only the Predator would use some of that disintegrating blue liquid on this film…

1. The Hitcher and Rob Zombie’s Halloween

The more I thought about it the more I could not decide which one was worse than the other. Since I picked two awful remakes as my #1 worst last year (When a Stranger Calls and Black Christmas, irrespectively), I figured why not do it again this year?

The Hitcher – Allow me to state upfront that I have no real affection for the original film. It’s a good movie, just not one that I put on pedestal. This remake, however, I would love to see on a pedestal – preferably with a noose around its neck waiting for me to kick that pedestal out from under it. Sometimes a film is just reprehensibly bad in the most basic way that a film can be and little more needs to be said. Platinum Dunes’ remake of The Hitcher is utter garbage, plain and simple.

Halloween – Do I really need to tell you why? Has not enough already been said on this site, on the message boards, on an entire Dinner For Fiends devoted to venting about how awful, how misguided, this movie was? Maybe so since I know there are those of you out there that swear this film is great. Hey, I liked Dragon Wars but still admit the film is terrible. People who seem to defend this steaming pile usually use words like “hardcore” to describe it as if that somehow exonerates an awful movie that fails on every level, even worse given it’s an unnecessary remake of a classic. They argue that Rob Zombie should be given some credit for at least trying to put a new spin on the original. No. Zombie recycled the same white trash psycho material he’s done in every movie and then turned around and did a deplorable, at times shot-for-shot, retread of what Carpenter did a million times better thirty years ago. Zombie neither made the material his own, nor made a worthy remake. And for a guy who has practically built his entire career around horror movies, watching his take on Halloween it becomes abundantly clear that Rob Zombie really is pretty clueless as to how to make a movie scary. He just seems to be a one-note filmmaker only capable of reproducing that same riff over and over with every movie he makes. If his music was the same as his filmmaking he wouldn’t be Rob Zombie – he’d be Firehouse! Rob, please, don’t treat me bad anymore.

Tristan Sinn’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

Grindhouse (click for larger image) 5. Grindhouse – Raucous, slimy, bloody, and stinking of old popcorn and burning tires, Grindhouse stands proudly as a bold experiment that sadly failed. If judged as two single solitary and separate films, the Grindhouse movies admittedly might not belong on a top five list; however, taken as a whole, complete with the brilliant trailers from the likes of Edgar Wright, Eli Roth, and others, topped by a viewing with a hysterically enthusiastic crowd in a sold out theater, Grindhouse deserves a nod as one of the most entertaining and memorable trips to the theater this year.

If you missed this in the theater as so many did, then Grindhouse may never make your own top 5 list. This film was more of an event than a simple double feature, and it was an event that will never happen again. America committed a great sin back on April 6th, when the country stayed home and did its metaphorical hair, and it is doubtful we will ever see such a bold and entertaining experiment in theater such as this ever again. Hope you caught it.

4. The Orphanage – The classic tale of the ghost in the house is arguably the heart and soul of the horror genre. The Orphanage is one of these; a creepy tale of things living in the dark that appear only in glimpses, fragments, and chilling shadows. This is a beautiful film, set in a scenic and believably haunted old home, conveying a natural tone that somehow begs the supernatural to appear from the shadows. There is a deep sadness and tragedy that pervade this story; however, at its core, there beats the bittersweet and tender heart of love and fragile innocence. This is a beautiful movie that is memorable, sweet, and quite creepy; watch it with the lights dimmed, ideally on a rainy day, and enjoy.

3. The Mist – Frank Darabont has dutifully adapted Stephen King’s classic novellete with a skill now known and established through repeated success. On the surface, this is a monster movie; a solid skin-crawl in which beasties of twisted imagination are carried forth in a dark and thick mist to reek havoc on a small Maine town. However, The Mist is much more than just a tale of monsters from nightmare; it is also a commentary on the self destructive and superstitious nature of man.

The ending of The Mist is something that will be long remembered and rarely imitated. It is a powerful and frank commentary on some of the darker natures and trends of mankind. It is arguably also a little contrived and forced; however its bold and uncompromising finality helped to make The Mist one of the more memorable films of the year.

2. 30 Days of Night – Vampires reign at the top once again as David Slade’s 30 Days of Night adaptation manages to capture what it is to be a savage and brutal blood-drinking monster. 30 Days of Night dismisses the modern stereotypes that burden vampires, those frilly introspective dandies with oh-so-much charm and grace, and instead unveils a more primitive beast that shivers with the simple and base desire to rip your throat out and gorge itself on your blood.

The tone of this film is as cold as its environment; its stark blues and blacks reflective of the harsh brutality unleashed by a few dozen broken toothed killers. This is a mean film; cruel, unwavering, and impolite. By keeping any relieving humor low and the anxiety high, David Slade has created a dark film with a burning tension that chills the heart.

1. 28 Weeks Later – Rarely before has a film shuddered with such energy as in 28 Weeks Later. The energetic anxiety of this film is tremendous; the first 15 minutes alone a veritable work of tension-and-terror art cast and assembled in broken fingernails, coagulated blood, and cold sweat. This film carries themes of cowardice, heroism, of human tragedy, and it does this with a stark chill reminiscent of the sad and true reality of being. Replete with a resounding soundtrack that thunders over the violence portrayed, 28 Weeks Later is a powerful and beautiful film that will stand the test of time for decades to come.

The Best and Worst of 2007

A note must be made before I begin this list. Typically I take some pride in seeing many films in the theater, even those I know beforehand aren’t going to be very good. I’m confident I saw all that was good; however, this year, my radar for crap (or, Crapdar™, if you will) was somehow well in force and I just didn’t see a lot of the films that I heavily suspect deserve to be on this list. I didn’t see Captivity, Skinwalkers, Blood and Chocolate, Hannibal Rising, The Hitcher, or White Noise 2: The Light. I didn’t see numerous others that are probably just as bad, and I admittedly don’t feel too guilty about this (relieved, mostly). While the films you are about to read about are certifiably bad, realize that the greater failures are likely still out there, lurking on the DVD racks, just waiting to suck. Choose with caution!

5. I Am Legend – I like Will Smith. I also like it when horror films do well in the box office, because that’s just good for business. I Am Legend had both of these things going for it. I don’t like it so much, however, when classic horror stories are taken and modified through the arrogance of Hollywood. As a stand-alone film, I admit that I Am Legend perhaps is not deserving of being on a top 5 worst films list; however, as an adaptation of a classic, its deviations and revisions are painful enough to warrant a spot.

I Am Legend was adapted in part by the same writer who re-penned 2004’s I, Robot, and arguably it’s about as true to its source material as I, Robot was to the spirit of Isaac Asimov. The first two acts of the film were reasonable; however, the ending was a revisionist mess that was derivative of so many other sources that were anything but Richard Matheson’s classic story. The sad thing is the bankroll hauled in will undoubtedly make the makers think they did the right thing and were justified; they’ll never admit, and likely lack the imagination even to realize, that they could have made a film just as profitable that was also loyal to the spirit of the horror classic it was based upon. It is a pity.

4. Rise: Blood Hunter – It’s hard to conceive of anything but quality in a film where you have Lucy Lui willing to get nearly naked and covered in blood. How then did Rise: Blood Hunter manage to pull this stunt? Well, they accomplish this first by creating vampires who are a bunch of elitist and pompous self-absorbed fops with no special powers except being able to take a bullet and not die. Then they mix in an awkward scene of a wayward good-old-boy appealing to Jesus after getting wounded, a crappy and mysteriously self-reloading handheld crossbow that’s only reason for being in the film is because someone in the props department had one their 12-year-old wasn’t using anymore, and a non-linear story telling style that fails to hide the plot holes it so clumsily tries to camouflage. It’s a small sin to fail a film; but the sin is quadrupled and triply doubled when you squander Lucy Liu. Serious repentance and atonement are needed here. Someone get a whip.

3. The Invisible – The teenage years are the indisputable peak of all that is awkward. Hormones, acne, fashion, and the fear of getting the crap kicked out of you by ethically confused but inwardly good 98-pound girls can really put a lot of pressure on a young man. Especially if that 98-pound girl leaves you for almost dead in some drainage ditch somewhere and you’re trapped wandering the earth in a really weird and socially awkward limbo. You just can’t Myspace from the land of the dead, man, and that just blows.

The Invisible takes itself as seriously as teenage angst, and it’s just as interesting. This is a film that desperately wants to be saying something but ends up mumbling behind its long uncut bangs. The spiritual state lead character Nick finds himself is profound and it could have been used to equally profound effect; however, here it does the filmic equivalent of writing really bad poetry and then blogging it. No one cares about your blog, Nick. Half your hit count is from your mother.

2. The Hills Have Eyes 2 – In a battle between the military and mutants, you’d think the mutants would have a striking disadvantage of intelligence, wouldn’t you? Not so, in this year’s The Hills Have Eyes 2. The National Guard has never been portrayed as poorly as this. The guardsmen lose their guns, and fail to notice their camp being set on fire right behind them, only noticing when it’s fully enveloped in great leaping flames. They drift off alone to pee, well away from everyone else, which is of course what you do when you’re being stalked and picked off one by one. Their equipment is so thoroughly “Hollywoodized” that we’re expected to believe that all radio equipment can cease to function because of “the hills“. Jesus H. Christ people, we’ve managed to develop communication devices that can traverse a friggin’ hill. A military group isn’t going to be cut off just because they go over some piddly hilly terrain.

It goes on. Their military issue flashlights have the strength of a penlight pilfered from the dollar bin at 7-11. They talk to themselves when they’re alone and being stalked because we all know when something is hiding and might leap out at you from any possible direction the best thing to do is make a bunch of noise so you can’t hear them coming. Given the stupidity of the characters it would have been preferable if the film makers dropped all pretenses and made the story about a length-challenged yellow bus full of the mentally handicapped that crashes with a semi-truck full of loaded guns out in the middle of the desert quite coincidentally near a town of vicious mutants. Our retarded protagonists each seize a rifle and handgun before bouncing into the desert to combat mutants that are only slightly more intelligent than they. They also have pen flash lights from 7-11 that they use to great non-effect in dark caves. They wander off to pee alone and mutter loudly to themselves so that they can’t hear the mutants sneaking up on them. This would have made the film more plausible. And better. The National Guard should sue.

1. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – I’m not sure if I can convey how much I wanted this film to work. It sparked the underdog syndrome in me and just begged for defense. So much contempt was poured upon this film for months before its release that I just wanted it to surprise and silence all the negativity. I still hold the claim that I always have, that “Halloween isn’t that bad”, for I think it in no way is deserving of the rabid loathing many have for it. However, as a lost opportunity, as a lost cause, Halloween is without a doubt the biggest letdown this year. To remake a classic of this magnitude requires an end product that isn’t shielded by an “it isn’t that bad” defense, but rather one that is pristine, striking, fresh and new. Rob Zombie needed to bowl a strike, but he got stuck with a 7-10 split and just couldn’t pick up the spare. Please blame three hours of Wii bowling this morning for that metaphor.

Ryan “Plagiarize” Acheson’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. The Mist – A film like The Mist only comes along every few years, so when we get one its blatantly going to dominate such reflections on the year. For all of Darabont’s great adaptations of King’s work, he hadn’t done one of his horror pieces yet. Unthinkable really when you look at his career which includes scripting duties on the remake of The Blob and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.

He proved yet again that he’s one of the few people out there that get horror. That gets how to scare people, and The Mist doesn’t stop there. Andrew called the ending of the film a “gut punch” and there really isn’t anything else you can call it. Sure, it probably helped the film tank at the box office by killing word of mouth, but I wouldn’t want to see that ending changed. Not one frame of it.

The building tension as people start losing it. The disbelief… the way people are portrayed is so convincing, and so scary. The monsters are brilliantly realized and creative. You really don’t know what the hell they’re going to run into next, and what the hell it’s going to be capable of. Definitely a film I will watch again and again through the years.

2. Grindhouse – Was Grindhouse really released in 2007? Apparently so. A combination of two very different but equally enjoyable films sandwiched together with fake trailer insanity… a ballsy move that unfortunately proved to be a bad one. Split in half and robbed of what made Grindhouse such a fun experience at the cinema, I’m importing the special edition from Japan rather than buying any of the individual releases.

Planet Terror was ridiculous. Over the top. Silly. Brilliant. A film where a character actually rocket jumps. Who could forget Tarantino’s genitals? Willis’s rotting face? Marley Shelton’s advice to her son? Total B movie splatstick. Exactly the sort of thing you don’t expect to see screened at multiplexes across the country. I wasn’t a fan of From Dusk Till Dawn (to be honest, I much more enjoyed the first half and was disappointed that all those storylines were thrown out of the window) but Rodriguez won me over this time.

Death Proof split opinion much more. Too talky some said, but not me. While I think Planet Terror was the better Grindhouse movie, I think Death Proof was the better movie. Zoe Bell was a revelation. Kurt Russell was brilliant, and when a slow moving film has a payoff like that I find it difficult to see how people weren’t satisfied.

28 Weeks Later (click for larger image) 3. 28 Weeks Later – Sure it wasn’t perfect, and featured a rather silly psychic zombie who seemed able to follow his kids wherever they went, but on the whole 28 Weeks Later was a very impressive sequel to 28 Days Later. A higher budget more Hollywood production did have me worried as to how things would turn out, but the sequel didn’t just take the route of more but bigger and had a darker ending than the original to boot.

Throw in some great horror setpieces and a small thread of political commentary (as every good zombie movie requires) and you’ve got a very satisfying experience. Silly at times and shallower than the original, yes, but still a wholly satisfying and worthy sequel.

And yes. I know they don’t call them zombies in the film.

4. Saw IV – I know I’m not the only one to make this observation, but any small actor needs to try and get a bit part in Saw V, so that come VI or VII they’ll be the star of the movie. Saw IV felt like ‘who didn’t we kill yet?‘ at times which isn’t a criticism just an observation.

Probably the weakest film in the Saw franchise yet, it’s still holding up rather well. I enjoyed seeing a little bit more of John’s past which was thankfully done in such a way as to not rob Jigsaw of any menace, and arguably if it did rob him of any menace it doesn’t really matter now. I did also enjoy seeing those smaller characters take center stage, and while the series is perhaps getting overly tied up in its own continuity (a Saw 2 style refresh would be nice about now) I got my money’s worth and will be back next year.

As a footnote Donnie Wahlberg deserves to win some kind of award too for surviving the filming. If he was really put in one of Jigsaw’s devices, I have no doubt that the guy would win his game. Once you’ve spent days hanging from chains stood on a big block of ice everything else mustn’t seem so bad.

5. God of Vampires – I don’t know when God of Vampires really came out or if it technically is out yet, but Rob Fitz’s 8 years in the making, no budget Chinese vampire movie managed to entertain me more than most of the Hollywood horror I saw this year. The sheer dedication involved more than covers up the acting limitations of some (thought not all) of the cast.

The film can’t completely hide its lack of anything you’d call a budget, but shot on film, mostly on location, it goes a long way to do so. The make up effects are effective. The action actually exciting… and while it doesn’t have any pretences of depth, choosing Chinese vampires as the threat ensures that it’s consistently engaging.

If you get the chance to see the film in 2008, do. It’s one of those low budget triumphs that don’t occur too often, and I wish director Rob Fitz all the best in whatever he moves onto.

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. The Invasion – The Invasion was a film I was very much looking forwards to. I’d enjoyed every adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers on one level or another (and I’m including The Faculty in that) and had been saying we were overdue another for a few years. With the current climate of fear, it was absolutely the perfect time for those flexible body snatchers to represent the fears of modern times.

I hope one day we’ll get to see the film Oliver Hirschbiegel made, instead of the “made by committee” one we got. Oliver made his film, and the studio didn’t like it because it was too talky. He’d made something cerebral. He’d made a psychological horror movie. Instead of doing an Exorcist: The Beginning, they did something even stupider. They got the Wachowski Brothers to write a bunch of action set pieces, and they got long-time Wachoswski collaborator James McTeigue in to direct them.

The film feels like its evolution: A terrible mishmash of wildly different styles and goals that don’t remotely hold together. And the ending. Good god… the ending. You want to see the opposite of The Mist? Rent The Invasion to see how Hollywood would end every horror movie if they could… not only undermining huge portions of the film, but putting a stupidly positive ending onto something that needs a dark ending.

2. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – When I first saw the remake, with low expectations… I wasn’t actually that disappointed. I thought that once Michael had the mask on, that Tyler Mane did a great job playing the part. I loved a lot of the scenes. I thought Daeg was fantastic as young Michael. I thought that Malcolm McDowell did a great job playing Dr Loomis and hoped for an original sequel to give him more of a chance to shine. I thought Danielle Harris was incredibly brave, and loved that unlike all other heroines in such films, made no attempt to cover up once her life was in danger. She just ran for her life. It was raw and real.

And while those feelings haven’t changed, watching Carpenter’s original again on Halloween kind of brought home to me all the things wrong with the remake that I was overlooking. It’s horribly uneven. Starting like a typical Rob Zombie movie, shifting into more of a psychological drama, then into a clichéd horror movie and finally into almost a note for not condensed retelling of Carpenter’s masterpiece.

The actors don’t seem to know what kind of movie they’re in, and who can blame them? The script doesn’t seem to know how seriously it wants to take itself. On one hand Michael is seemingly being presented as just a man, but on the other he impossibly knows where his sister is, something which the film very well establishes that no one could possibly know. I’m not against remakes. Never have been and never will be. But this film neither brings Michael back to his original status (as it keeps all that Halloween 2 motive tosh) nor does it say anything new that the original Halloween did.

3. 1408 – So close. 1408 came so close to winning me over. I loved the idea and still do, and for the first half of the film at least I was really enjoying it. Some moments from it still give me chills thinking back on it. That brilliant “You are here” moment for example. But then all of a sudden the wheels fall off.

If a film is about being trapped in this horrible room for an unbearable hour, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t take the person trapped in that room out of it for months, in this actually rather nice fantasy where he starts making amends with his estranged wife. For one, we all know he’s not really out of the room. That isn’t fooling anyone. For two… all that claustrophobia you’ve been building in the audience, you’ve just thrown it away. For three, an hour of scariness to weeks of niceness is not a nightmarish scenario. Don’t go in room 1408 cause it’ll torment you for a little, then give you weeks of fun, then torment you a bit again, AND THEN MAKE YOU RELIVE IT ALL OVER AGAIN!

Yeah. Scary. Plus that ending. It seemed to be going for “It was real all along!” but given that the film hadn’t ever presented the events in room 1408 as anything but “now his wife knows it was real too” is hardly the kind of final note that’s going to resonate with me after I leave the cinema.

4. Dead Silence – It’s just too stupid. Any film where you have to do a certain thing before you get killed is always going to stretch believability. Only Clive Barker has ever managed to pull them off with any success, and Wan and Whannell aren’t Clive Barker. You scream, you die. Fair enough, but like most of these things they never actually explain that.

Mary Shaw is able to do a whole bunch of horrible things all by herself. She can make phonecalls. She can make a dead body into a puppet and roll it around in a wheel chair. She can dig up puppets and take them down to the post office and mail them to people. But she can only kill you if you scream. Why? No idea.

Leigh and Whannell did great work on the Saw films, and I appreciate that they wanted to make a modern ghost story with a kind of Candyman-esque figure… but if you can’t take the central premise seriously, the film is in trouble.

5. 30 Days of Night – I know this one is going to be controversial. Much enjoyed and much hyped 30 Days of Night was one of the big horror events of the year. People are going to tell me I’m crazy for putting Saw IV ahead of such a well made horror movie as 30 Days of Night but I was incredibly disappointed.

I was hoping for something more like The Mist for one. Thirty days hiding in attics would almost certainly bring about insanity and in fighting and moments of horrible tension. But no. 30 Days of Night instead shows the survivors perfectly safe once they get off the streets, despite constantly shining lights out the window and generally being very unstealthy. 30 Days of Night seems to suggest that you have regular days until you get thirty days of pitch blackness. Then you have the ending. Talk about stupid sacrifices. The sun is about to come up in 5 minutes, and the woman hiding under the car SURROUNDED BY ICE is apparently going to burn to death before then?

Sure, it had some fantastic gore, and some good action set pieces… but it had absolutely no logic and expected me to take it seriously. At least it looked pretty I suppose.

D.W. Bostaph’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

5. Grindhouse – This horror extravaganza was one of the cinematic wonders of the year. Never before had such an experiment been done; two movies by two extraordinary directors, three hours, fake trailers, and just tons of bullets, blood, and boobs. I remember sitting in the theater with a mile wide Cheshire cat grin on my face. We just do not get to see his type of stuff anymore! Unbridled cinematic glee spread across the screen by two distinctly different and noteworthy film-makers who get their source material, and who have an actual appreciation for their fan base. At least Rodriguez does…

I loved Planet Terror‘s unbridled enthusiasm for the material. Rodriguez splattered the screen unrelenting images of gore and uninhibited violence. Death Proof had its moments of sheer craziness, but it just did not appeal to me as Planet Terror did. Both films created genre icons and images that will not soon be forgotten. Stuntman Mike and Cherry Darling are here to stay! The film as a whole delivered just what it promised; two films, weird trailers, and a ton of fun. It just was a shame that no one else thought so. Yet, even Grindhouse‘s death at the box office is water under the bridge, as the super sexy DVD release of the entire film appears to be the herald of a long life as a cult classic superstar.

Death Note 4. Death Note / Death Note: The Last Name – Though I doubt they are to be listed as pure or real horror, the Death Note live action films represent a fantastic dark world that brings incredible characters to life via intelligent dialogue, demanding pacing, and a stunning cast of considerably strong actors.

Here we have the next big icons of horror. This series is just brimming with characters made to have vast screaming fan followings. From the anti-hero Light, with his hubris and intelligence, to the equally cerebral L with all his quirks and oddities, Death Note does not dwell on its weirdness but rather uses it to paint in the corners of the film, fully fleshing out the characters and endearing them to us. The battle of wits between Light and L redefines “cat and mouse” using saber tooth tigers and Master Splinter. The Death Note films are a deviation from the archetypical Asian ghost story horror that has permeated the market and bored the hell out of me. There are no dead little long-haired girls in this film. The only specters we see are those of the death gods, and well…

I am already seeing Ryuk everywhere. As the face behind the Death Note, the childish, apple addicted death god is poised to take over the world. Looking like the lovechild of The Joker and Eddie the Iron Maiden mascot, Ryuk is a gothic counterculture idol just waiting to be accepted by the masses. Which kind of saddens me, as I enjoyed this film so much, I do not want to see its eventual over commercialization. But it is already too late, I saw a Ryuk T-shirt in a Hot Topics window display the other day… Sigh.

3. Cthulhu – This should be in the worst of the year list. From the moment I heard about this film and its subject matter, I was afraid to see it. Yet, I am ever so glad I did. This film is a real live breathing Lovecraftian organism. Never before have I seen H.P. Lovecraft’s themes and ideas interpreted in such a manner that allowed them to actually function within a film. Too often the ideas of Lovecraft are inferred or implied, but all too painfully often, they just do not work. Either the director or writers just miss the point, or the story being told weighs the subject down and smothers the subtler things that are intrinsic to Lovecraftian storytelling…

The world we live in is ripe for this allegory: our world is dying, we see it everyday, and modern man appears to be going insane. Cthulhu takes all of this into consideration, and asks the question: are we seeing the end of our time? And if so, who gets this world when we are gone? It is ethereal and intellectual. One need to make a real commitment to it in order to get the same back, and this is what is so exciting about it. Nothing is easy with Cthulhu, and nothing is what it seems. So many people will miss the point of this film, and already so many have.

Knee jerk reactions are all the rage with film critique, and I am not above this myself. The subject matter discussed within Cthulhu should not work. Certain ideas just do not lend themselves to the master’s works, and tend to get in the way. I hate it when people use Lovecraft’s name on a project and then completely miss the point. The guys behind Cthulhu did their homework. They suffered to bring to life a great film that shocked me, and made me all too happy to be completely wrong.

2. The Mist – No other movie elicited more discussion this year than Frank Darabont’s icy adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Love it or hate it, this was the film that all the genre fans were buzzing about, and for good reason, Darabont was aligned to deliver another King knockout as he had twice before.

But this time, things were different. This was a stark, silent and mean film that never let up on its audience for a second. Once the mist rolls in, the film wraps itself around the mind of the viewer and does not allow for any sort of relief. Darabont builds layer upon layer with tension inside the film as he introduces all sorts of threats, human and otherwise. I found myself scared, almost terrified at moments as this Lovecraftian world swallowed our own. Darabont asks us many questions in the film, but none are as poignant or incendiary as the last one.

The end of the film will live on forever in history as one of the greatest endings in movie history. It is not as easy or simple as a twist. It is not salvation or damnation, but a look at how complex life is and how sometimes the hardest choices are the wrong ones.

The best thing about The Mist is all the discussions it generates. Whether it were because of the end, the story, the iffy CGI, the Lovecraftian undertones, the religious zealots, or just dumb asses thinking of it as an ad hoc sequel to The Fog, people were discussing this film, and that is the sign of an interactive experience. People got into this film like no other I have seen recently. People will someday brag about seeing The Mist in the theaters, listening to the screams and cheers of the crowd, an amazingly accurate testament to a terrifying, tense, and devastating film.

1. Sweeney Todd – To listen to Steven Sondheim’s complex song structure is to hear a complete deconstruction of the great musical framework. Sweeney Todd is replete with great moments of music, but none of them elevate into anything more than just that; moments set to music. This is the core strength of Sweeney Todd, where a lot of musicals use the song interludes to escape from the moment and then explore the feelings within the scene; the songs in Sweeney Todd just accentuate the mood, and allow us to see the character’s souls. Never is this more evident than in the “Pretty Women” duet in the film. Layers of emotion fill this uncomplicated scene with just voice. It was one of the best moments of theater, stage or screen this year.

Johnny Depp and horror films have had a long complicated relationship. Here he is in top form. He not only snarls together a fantastic performance as Todd, but croons out the stream of consciousness lyrics in a manner most surprising. Surrounding Depp is a great supporting cast, including a singing Severus Snape and the forever sullen eyed wonder Helena Bonham Carter.

Carter and Depp are the Hepburn and Tracy for the Hot Topic crowd, and Burton is their god, but his deity status is well deserved as Burton delivers. Time and time again the ex-Disney animator spins out visual feasts for the Gothic soul. Sweeney Todd sees him return to his darker Hammer inspired roots in very much the same fashion as we saw with Sleepy Hollow. No one paints on the screen quite like Burton, and he has been away from the black arts for too long, and this return marks one of his bloodiest. And my deep appreciation can be summed up in the rich, red blood that pools freely in the film. It is too red, too vivid, and very stylized. A formula that turns out to be a perfect fit for every aspect of this modern horror masterpiece.

The Best and Worst of 2007

5. 30 Days of Night – David Slade fucked himself with his apparent inability to trust in his own talent. Slade’s Hard Candy showed us an uncluttered situation, and then set it in motion, allowing us to watch. There were no gimmicks. There was no trickery. David Slade put us in the room as a fly on the wall and allowed us to become the third person voyeur in that intimate and nasty battle of the wills.

So then why the hell did Slade decide to lens each and every action scene in 30 Days of Night as if he was standing on the San Andreas Fault line while in the midst of a Lex Luthor real estate scam? Shaky cam is the sign of trying to cover up bad effects, poor direction, or a plausible Bigfoot sighting. It is not to be used by talented directors in order to make their big budget films look “edgy” or “indie“. And, even in the instances where you want to use or it is appropriate to use such a technique, do it with an artistic flair. Don’t just shake the camera so hard that it is fucking impossible to see anything that is going on.

Few other things: Make sure you know how to film a set so it doesn’t look like one, develop your characters, and make sure that we stay away from trying to improve upon the source material too much. I mean, where the fuck where the vampires? And I do not mean the faceless indifferent hordes in this film, but the vampire hierarchy and dissention from the comics? 30 Days of Night was a good enough comic book story on the page to warrant a film. So, that being the case, if the idea was strong enough to get the movie green lit, maybe we should not try to fix it too much.

4. Hatchet – Fuck the marketing that went into over-hyping this middling movie that went on to do little more than give the notion of “old fashioned American Horror” a series of poorly acted donkey punches. This film was a big ass joke, and not even one that I found funny. Why the hell was it marketed to look like it was the next “end all, be all” horror film? Where were the trailers that showed us what Hatchet the movie truly was all about? Maybe a bit of warning that we were about to watch a sub-standard gene satire would have kept Hatchet off the worst list, but nothing would have ever got it close to the best.

John Carl Buechler’s special effects are indeed a sight to see, but why do they need to be attached to such film that was nothing but a snarky, dumb, comedy? The cavalcade of cliché characters stumbling about in the dark to serve themselves up as prey for the killer are nothing more than an insult to the collective intelligences of horror fans everywhere. I still cannot figure out why a film that is comprised of characters, dialogue, and situations that comparatively make any Saturday night Sci-Fi channel original film look like Oscar caliber material got as much attention as it did.

If Victor Crowley is really the next icon of horror, then it finally means that for the first time that it is the horror fans watching the movies, rather than the characters on the screen, who are directly in danger this time.

3. Hostel II – Fuck Eli Roth and his big ass over hyped mouth. All I wanted from Hostel II was more blood, more violence, and more ultra insane Roth chaos. In the end, all Roth was able to deliver was relatively tame letdown of a film. The worst thing is that Hostel II has some inspired moments of torture that make you all the more upset that in the end it just does not deliver on what Roth was promising.

This is a sickly, withered sibling of the first film. Where Roth seemed happy to play with our prickly sensibilities in the first film, Hostel II does little more than prove that Roth has fallen victim to the consistent blow jobs that he is receiving from the media. He does nothing new here, and his twist on the subject matter (switching the gender of the principles) is about as inspired as drawing a mustache on a photo. Roth even went on a media spree touting the ample amounts of “sausage” he was going to serve up in the film. A pair of fleeting dick shots is not going to incite a wave of discussions regarding the penis’s place in modern film making, but what that type of bait and switch is going to do is prove to us all that Eli Roth is a charlatan.

Eli Roth has made two solid horror films, and one disappointingly bad one. Can the collective horror community just leave him alone, stop proclaiming him the next horror god, horror icon, or horror saint, and just let the man make more movies? I look forward to forgiving Roth for this misstep, but only if he keeps his mouth shut.

2. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – Rob Zombie fucked himself by turning into Total Sell Out. I could have accepted a well developed, fully realized Halloween remake. I do not hold the original film in an extremely high regard as it has its own share of problems. What I did not want to see was Rob Zombie get stuck in a creative rut, use the same tired characters, language, and tired musical selections to create anti-myth for the beast Myers.

At its core, Zombie’s idea was interesting, but the execution is just all wrong, and I blame Zombie’s poor ability as a writer for this. To introduce such an idea as duality in the mind of Myers, and then to completely under develop it was the death of the story. Trying to evolve the character in the midst of the Rob Zombie Acting Troupe, playing Rob Zombie stereotypical roles while speaking Rob Zombie dialogue, was like trying to tie your shoes with silly putty. You just can’t get a grip on it, or make it do what you want.

Sadly, the final nail in the coffin for this little slice of Astro-Shite 3000 is the overuse of shaky-cam technique. Where each and every time we get a kill or action scene, we have to watch it in convulse-o-vision. Is this now written into contract that directors have to use this form of directorial diarrhea in each and every horror film now?

1. AVP: Requiem – Fuck Twentieth Century Fox for playing with the heartstrings of all the Alien and Predator fans in the world, by consistently promising, but then not delivering the Alien Versus Predator we all have been waiting for. From the release of the red band trailer, to the constant sound bites from the Strause Brothers, the Twentieth Century Fuck Elder Clogs had the fans set up yet again for a lack luster wanna be title bout.

How is it that this premise is so fucking hard to get right? The most iconic, amazing, and influential monsters of the last 50 years and all Fox can do is keep wiping their assholes with them and smearing it in our faces? AVP-R replaced knock down drag out creature mayhem in place of pizza delivery boys, poor lighting, bad fight choreography, and a total lack of focus. This movie was supposed to be the answer to AVP, a film which has an approval rating on par with the current presidential administration, but without the death toll.

Where is the film we all wanted to see? Is it true there is a football field worth of footage missing from this film? Will it be on the DVD release? Will it make a difference? I don’t think so. Adding footage will not frame the monsters better. Adding footage will not choreograph the fights better. Adding footage will not show us less of the uninteresting characters. What the mythical missing footage does is get our hopes up, yet again that we may see the film we all have been hoping for, only to be let down again.

I enjoyed the first AVP for all the wrong reasons. I have never defended it, nor have I ever shied away from the fact that I did enjoy it. It is not a great film by any means, but I did not take the offense that a lot of my compatriots did. Now we get AVP-R as an answer to the entire fan outcry, and the answer was not what anyone wanted. Maybe Fox should just shelve the franchises, let them die an honorable death, and let the fans sleep in peace. So, I am asking all of you AVP universe fans, just let it go. We will never get what we want, and by creating an illusion of demand we only invite further pain.

In Hollywood, no one can hear your heart break.

Nomad’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

The Orphanage (click for larger image)The Orphanage – This was a fantastic surprise. It’s the tale of a family trying to create something good in a place harboring a dark, brooding secret. As is always the case, this secret won’t stay buried, clawing its way through the cold ground to invade their lives. Since my viewing, I’ve had people tell me they weren’t as blown away as I was, but their screening was on DVD. This leads me to believe you HAVE TO SEE THIS ON A BIG SCREEN with other people reacting around you!! At any rate, this movie will creep you out big time one minute and tear your heart out the next. It’s not often a horror film has the emotional content this film has. Let’s hope it gets the release it deserves.

Black Sheep – This year’s big blockbuster with killer sheep and people turning into were-sheep. Now, I know what you are saying. How many times do I need to watch bloodthirsty sheep go on a rampage??! Listen. This time, it’s different. You owe it to yourself to say JUST ONE MORE TIME…It’s me and a sheep. Nuff said.

28 Weeks Later – A love story about bitey people finding each other against all odds. This is the sequel to 28 Days, about the UK desperately trying to regain a foothold on humanity and failing miserably. It’s an angrier, faster, more visceral animal and super fucking fun. What’s more to say?

Sunshine – A largely sci-fi film created by a director that swears up and down he doesn’t set out to scare the shit out of his audience. Danny Boyle likes to spin a dreamy tale full of breathtaking visuals and amazing music and then yank the ground out from under you with a scene of horror that gets a grip around your small intestines and tugs till it’s tight. There. Put that on the DVD cover. Heh!

The Tripper – Described very simply to anyone I wanted to sell it to as follows: Ronald Reagan, in the woods with an axe, killing hippies. I haven’t had so much fun in a theater with horror fans in a long time. Hatchet was a close second!

The Best and Worst of 2007

The Reaping – A flawed concept from the start, filled with plagues that, by today’s standards, don’t compare to ebola, bird flu or even really bad crabs.

Zodiac – Now here was a movie that shoved me down into my seat as if I were a little chubby kid back in Catholic elementary school, told what I am watching is important. I then watched a guy run through the streets in the rain with papers in his hands and about two minutes of the actual killings. Fun? Nope. Educational? Perhaps.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 – Army kids versus rapist desert mutants. Usually, that would be the recipe for good good times. There is no joy in Hicksville this time out. This film is just devoid of any sort of depth, instead rehashing just about every theme of the first remake. Why bother?

Blood and Chocolate – A fantastical tale of young Gap models twirling through the air before their ultimate change into extremely domesticated wolf-dog-pups. Actually, it’s the angsty story of a girl seeking to outrun her past by jumping off of walls. Oddly, Jessica Alba wasn’t available for this roll. I bet she does a mean wall jump.

Bug – After my bashing of Zodiac, I’m sure you were ready to call me an uncultured boob or some such elitist nonsense. Now, I must bash a movie about two people in a tinfoil room freaking out over microscopic bugs that may or may not be there and the government conspiracy around them. It was a good time to catch up on sleep, but I had to pay attention, otherwise I wouldn’t have had a 5th movie for my worst list. I managed to avoid all the other piles of steaming monkey poo … ‘cept for Dragon Wars. I still wake up in a cold sweat from that one, but the above were worse. Yes. Worse than Dragon Wars.

And I bid you good day.

Melissa Bostaph’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

Sweeney Todd  (click for larger image) 1. Sweeney Todd – “Save the best for last” has never been a more accurate statement for me. Of course it was my luck that one of my most highly anticipated horror films for 2007 had a release date late into December, but I can tell you this…it was well worth the wait! I know it’s not possible to live without oxygen for more than a few minutes, but I’m not entirely sure if I even took a breath during Sweeney Todd. Once again I found myself simply spellbound by the wickedly beautiful imagination of Tim Burton. He may have been using an existing masterpiece of the stage, but the skill in which he translated it on the silver screen is purely astounding. I am still truly in awe.

There has never been a film that has had such a profound effect on me. There I sat at nearly one-o-clock in the morning, the credits rolled with the music as the theater lights began to glow back into life, and all I wanted is for them to return to the dim so I could watch the film again. Johnny Depp’s voice still cutting into my very soul as if it were the silver razors he had just wielded, as I sat longing for another taste. My mind searched for any reason to stay where I was, and since begrudgingly having to leave the dingy, blood soaked barber shop on Fleet Street…I’ve wanted to return.

From the opening sequence to the final scene I was swallowed up into the darkest corners of London and found myself lost in the frighteningly passionate embrace of a demon barber. The cool edge of his silver handled blade was held fast at my throat, pressing deeper into my flesh with every passing moment. Anticipation of what was to become of me at his hand filled my entire being with exquisite ecstasy. Quick silver flashes, rivers of flowing crimson, gears wheeling, crunching skulls, delicate meat pies, rancid black smoke rising in a silent alarm against the devilish goings-on…Mischief!

My friends…you shall drip rubies!

2. Death Note and Last Name (Parts 1 & 2) – A few short weeks ago my husband came home from work and I told him about a new anime series I wanted to check out. Little did I know that on the very same day he had received a package containing two DVDs with the live action films based on my new interest Death Note. It wouldn’t be until Christmas when these treasures would be unveiled, and upon watching them I now know that I must see the anime series in its entirety as soon as humanly possible! I’m going to cheat a bit here and include both films as one on my list, but I don’t feel the least bit of guilt about that because of how easily one film melds into the other as a seamless continuation of a brilliant story.

Light is a law student in Tokyo. His father is a high ranking police officer who has always tried to instill the proper respect for the law and justice in his son. Unfortunate events cause Light to lose his faith in the judicial system and he happens upon a very special and sinister notebook that allows him to deliver his own type of justice to those who commit crimes. You see if you write someone’s name in this notebook, that person will die…exactly as you have written it. Light takes on a second identity, Kira, and while he punishes criminals all over the world with a simple stroke of his pen his father along with the rest of the police force and the FBI are scrambling to find out who he is and how he is committing what they consider to be cold-blooded murders.

I can’t give these films enough praise in the small amount of space I’m allowed in this list. All I can really say is that I could recommend them to almost anyone and they would be enjoyed greatly. The characters are engaging and stunningly represented, all the way down to the CGI Death Gods (Ryuk and Rem). Ryuk is nearly flawless and Rem is so enchanting that her CGI design, even though it is far from perfect, is merely a tiny blemish on the face of this fantastic two-part Japanese film.

3. Cthulhu – Being married to a man who could possibly be H.P.Lovecraft reincarnated, I have seen countless films showcasing Lovecraft’s works. If you don’t quite grasp my husband’s connection and devotion to Lovecraft, I can show you our son’s birth certificate…his middle name is Lovecraft. Needless to say, in most cases when it comes to films with Lovecraftian subject matter I am usually not given a public voice. That’s the nice thing about these year-end lists…I get the chance to speak my mind on any films I wish, even if they delve into the forbidden realm of the Deep Ones and Elder Gods. This is my chance to speak the name of the great Cthulhu.

The film Cthulhu is, to put it quite simply, astonishing from beginning to end. From the acting and cinematography to the direction and editing, the film is truly a work of cinematic art. It takes the Lovecraftian subject matter and subtly weaves it into a modern day tale of love, fear, passion, dread, and turmoil that leaves you breathless and reeling in an uncomfortably silent awe. The talent behind Cthulhu is absolutely stellar. It’s a shame that this film is not receiving more of the recognition and praise that it so rightly deserves. I can only wish good things to the folks who were responsible for creating a Prince’s movie on a Pauper’s budget.

4. Netherbeast Incorporated – I may be guilty of having a soft spot for my favorite Netherfolk, but that doesn’t mean their film doesn’t deserve its place on my list. The imaginative and comedic twist of the vampire legend in Netherbeast Incorporated had me at the first drop. After seeing the short film The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, I couldn’t wait for the feature length Netherbeast Incorporated. How could I not be with a cast that included some of my all time favorite talents? Dave Foley, Judd Nelson, Jason Mewes, and Steve Burns just to name a few. Not to mention the fact that the short was original and bloody fantastic!

The Ronalds Brothers do not disappoint with this one! They delivered a witty, intelligent, dark comedy about vampires like none I’ve ever seen before or since. Even those who don’t like horror will appreciate Netherbeast Incorporated. Wonderful acting, great direction and writing that you can tell was done by someone who’s actually literate take this film straight from a good indie flick to a damn near perfect one in my eyes. I absolutely adored it and I can’t wait to get a DVD for myself.

5. Disturbia – When I first started hearing about Disturbia, all I could see was a rip off of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Rear Window. I had little to no interest in ever actually watching yet another Hollywood style rape of one of my favorite classic films. So I avoided it like the plague until it snuck its way up our queue and arrived in the familiar red envelope. Now I had to watch it. After it was over I felt like a complete ass for not seeing it sooner.

I can admit when I’m wrong, and seriously…I have never been more wrong about a film. D.J. Caruso may have borrowed a premise from a master filmmaker, but the method in which he transformed it in into an effective modern day thriller was truly a thing to behold. This Hitchcock fan has no complaints about the tight little package of suspense that pays nothing but tribute to one of the genre’s greatest minds!

This movie is a celluloid aneurism waiting to happen. It had been a long time since I had been so completely drawn into a story on screen. You actually give a shit about what happens to the characters, and everything is set up with such skill that you find yourself leaning around corners along with them. By the end sequences I was a total nervous wreck. The tension, apprehension, and terror grew to nearly unbearable degrees and I swear my temples got just a bit greyer that night!

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – You may want to keep all routes to the emergency exits clear for this one. I am prone to violent outbursts and spewing caustic verbal bile when Rob Zombie’s cinematic equivalent of spraying the bowl after eating bad Mexican food is mentioned around me. Yeah, I’m not just a little bitter about this film…It makes me want to gut puppies in front of a Kindergarten class on the first day of school!

I love Rob’s first two films with a sick passion that dances on the edge of sanity. I should honestly probably be treated by a physician. But even my love for everything Zombie didn’t quell the trepidation that rose in me every time I saw a new trailer or heard a new tidbit about his remake of Halloween. The poster even had me nervous, but I still held out the hope that he might not fuck it up. I’m not a diehard fan of Carpenter’s version so I knew there was a certain amount of room for improvement.

And then the movie started…and within the first few fuck-laden minutes of the opening sequence I wanted to leave the theater and piss on the poster on the way out. It seems that Rob only knows how to write one kind of movie, with one cast. He has as a penchant for using one particular expletive to a sickening degree, and can’t make a movie without showing off his wife’s glorious booty. Then of course there is what he actually tried to do with the story. I wonder if you hold the actual script up to a light if you can see through all the holes in the plot. Too bad the only redeeming moment in the film was carried solely by Ken Foree until he died in the shitter…Which is precisely where Zombie’s Halloween belongs!

2. Chasing Darkness -This movie is bound to become my own personal “Strawberry Estates” (ask Uncle Creepy). The more I say against it, the more people want to see it just to witness for themselves how bad it actually is. I even debated on whether I should include it on my list this year or not, for fear of sending more victims to lose dignity and brain cells in the blue-filtered day-for-night world of dreadful acting, bad noses, and flatulent vampires. Oh the cerebral pain I have endured…Yet, here it is…on my list of SUCK…it belongs here for more reasons than the entire internet has space for. I have taken more shit for my personal review of Chasing Darkness than almost any other, and believe me I have eviscerated dozens of movies with my wordy daggers of loathing.

Like a lame horse this film would be better off being dragged out into a field and shot in the face to put it out of my misery. But as if drawn to the image of some morbidly curious mangle of wreckage on the highway, people can’t seem to look the other way as they pass. Can’t they see me waving frantically in an effort to get them to turn away? Can’t they hear my warnings? Apparently not because even after asking my opinion of the film…people still went to the showing, and then as if to fight against the very fabric of the universe itself they bought the DVDs!

Why would they purchase a film if it is as bad as I say it is you might ask? Well, let me try to explain. If you happen upon a hideous three-headed, scaly mutation of a kitten raped by a wild boar you’re going to snap a picture if you can right? Because you know no-one will believe you if you don’t. Well, when I asked people why they bought the DVD of Chasing Darkness I always got the same answer… “I have to show my friends back home how BAD this movie is!” As hysterical as I find this answer it does still pain me to think that these people could be funding another festering pustule on cinema’s asshole.

3. HatchetHatchet brings to mind another “H” word for me…”HYPE”. Yes, for as much hype as I had fed to me about this fabulously gruesome movie that promised to deliver a new horror icon who would be sure to join the ranks of Freddy, Jason, and Michael I was sorely disappointed. What I thought was going to be a “balls to the wall“, terrifying slasher ended up being a satirical joke spattered with gore, blood, and guts. Now don’t get me wrong I totally appreciate a heaping helping of chunky carnage and spewing fountains of arterial release, but seriously if that’s all you have to offer…use it to pad your effects portfolio next time.

You’d think that maybe a movie with Freddy, Jason, and the Candyman in it might actually be entertaining beyond the thrill of seeing cameos of your favorite genre stars. Too bad it didn’t do squat for me besides make me feel like an ass for ever being excited to see it. I don’t even think I can explain the amount of disappointment I felt as I came to the realization that Hatchet had been falsely portrayed as a serious horror film. If I would have known going into the viewing that it was likely to be a mildly humorous attempt at a horror satire I may not have had such a low opinion of it.

I’m still trying to figure out whether or not the atrocious acting was an intentional part of the film or if it is just another Indie film packed full of hideous performances. The story was ridiculous enough to be laughable, but once you throw in the fact that they reused the same shot of blood hitting a tree multiple times I had lost all interest. Hatchet is one of the films that I was glad I didn’t get my husband for Christmas this year. It wasn’t worth the ten bucks it would have cost me.

4. The Mist – Let me start off by saying I have been an avid fan of Stephen King’s writings and movies for most of my life. I definitely have my favorites, but I can also admit when things go wrong either written or on film. The Mist happens to be one of the books that I have not read yet, but since my major disappointment in the film I may have to pick it up at some point to read the unsullied story. After my experience with The Mist‘s theatrical release, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be any bigger of a waste of my time.

Although the story had decent pacing and admirable performances from a capable cast, I still found myself distracted and detached from the film. There just wasn’t enough to hold my interest from one scene to the next. This fact left my mind to dwell more on the irritating characters and sloppy CGI that plagued the film than the actual story itself. Which is a shame because there was a lot of potential for tension and dread that was lost amidst the ranting of a religious fanatic and the globule splatter of artificial blood and badly photo shopped tentacles and beasties.

And then there was the kick in the dick ending that I refuse to even discuss and caused me to damn near vomit on the theater floor. It is the reason I will go out alone on the night that my husband buys the DVD…because I will not invest another second of my life on that “I’m gonna fight through shit up to my earlobes for almost two hours of a film just so I can turn into a slobbering pussy coward in the last few minutes with a heartless, let’s get a rise out of people, tacked on, lazy assed finale!

5. Hostel 2 – This is going to be a tough one here. First off I love the torture porn trend. It feeds the dark nasties deep in me that hunger for exploitation and naughtiness. The original Hostel dug right into those shadowy places and pulled me into its own murky depths of depravity where I bathed myself in bloody splendor. Too bad that scenario is the only scene I actually enjoyed out of the entire second film. The reason I said this one would be difficult is because aside from that one visually stunning Bathory scene…the film is utterly forgettable.

Roth promised a film that would far and away rival the first with more, more, more. More sex, more violence, more shocking content… and what he released was a three inch dick in a room full of nuns…useless doesn’t even begin to describe it. Hostel 2 was a slap in the face with that sorry little pecker for all the fans of the first film. The worst part was that the tiny member was a solo act…there was no testicular accompaniment.

Yes, Eli and his ball less mini-prick meandered through the entire film pulling punches and pussing out around every corner. It was like watching a puppy get chased around the living room with a rolled up newspaper as it left a trail of dribbled piss behind its tucked tail. It was absolutely pitiful.

The Buz’s Picks

There was a lot of shit this year. I mean a lot of shit. I attempted however to stay away from this shit. I actually missed what many called the worst of the year (or even decade). Movies like The Hitcher and Hills Have Eyes 2 I avoided like the plague. Fuck paying money to see all that crap. A few stinkers did get let in though. But along with all the crap that came out this year, there were also many brilliant films that emerged. Ones that I am happy to say I did not miss. So in that foul year of 2007, I bring you my 5 best and 5 worse horror films of the year.

The Best and Worst of 2007

Blood Car 5. Blood Car – I picked this movie up on a whim thinking it would be low budget fodder that would just make me laugh. I enjoy a straight to DVD shit-fest every now and again. Hell it had the girl from My Girl in it! Had to be somewhat entertaining right? Not only was it hilarious though, it was hilarious for all the RIGHT reasons. I knew as soon as I popped the dvd in and the menu options were “Watch this fucker” and “Some shit about this fucker” I was in for a real treat. The movie is not a bad movie that you laugh at like Troll 2 or House of the Dead, but is generally very funny at times, and is shot beautifully. I have a hard on for cinematography so of course good DP (Director of Photography) work will always please me. A story about a vegan in the future where gas prices are $35 a gallon who creates a car that runs off of human blood and must find fuel and quick just worked so well on so many levels. And because it’s not getting a whole lot of Buzz (I just used my name and vain!) I thought I would include it as my number 5 for best of the year.

4. Hatchet – It’s not a remake, it’s not a sequel and it’s not a Japanese one. Hatchet just fucking rocks. A true gem from director Adam Green that made me feel like a horror geek again. It’s rare that a throwback movie gets me excited for they usually fall right on their face. However, Hatchet was so much fun, so bloody, and so fucking over the top that I just got giddy and enjoyed the entire experience. It is also probably one of the best movies to watch with a big crowd. I would like to openly thank Adam Green for giving us Hatchet this year, as well as one of the best movie slashers, Victor Crowley. Rock on with yo’ bad self, sir.

3. Fido – After Shaun of the Dead, I didn’t think a zombie comedy could ever come close to tickling my funny bone the way Shaun did. Not to mention I was getting a big burned out on the zombie genre, especially after watching 10 minutes of Day of the Dead: Contiginumimmnusitous. However, Fido had me in tears. I literally rolled on the floor laughing at one point. The story is basically what you would get if Leave it to Beaver and Shaun of the Dead had a baby. That’s Fido all over. The movie takes place in an alternate 50’s reality in which zombies have been domesticated into house hold servants and chaos ensues when one zombie breaks free of his restraints. Brilliant film.

2. Grindhouse – It’s the movie nobody saw in the theatres but should have. What a glorious, awesome, just fucking fun movie. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in a theatre. Watching both those films together just makes me happy, and the trailers in between are just fucking superb. And I’m still one of the people in the minority that likes Death Proof more than Planet Terror. Admittedly I do get up to use the restroom at the same exact point in DP every time I watch it, so maybe that’s why it isn’t so boring to me. Who knows, both movies fucking rock, and that’s why they are #2 on my list of greatness.

1. Paranormal Activity – The movie you’ve all heard about, but probably haven’t seen. You may be asking yourself why is this number one on my top 5 for the year? Well because this is a list of horror movies, and PA is the only movie that actually scared me this year, I’m putting it at numero uno. I’ve probably already over hyped the movie so much that no one will really find it as scary as I did, but man the first time I saw this flick I was truly terrified. Hell, the second time I watched it I was just as frightened. The best thing about this movie though is that it is so much fun to watch other people watch it. So hats off to one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen.

So that is my best of list for the year 2007. Some honorable mentions are needed though. First off, Wrong Turn 2 rocks and would definitely like to give that a shout out for making one kick ass crazy hillbilly movie. Other honorable mentions go to Fincher’s Zodiac, 30 Days of Night, 1408, and of course Darabont’s awesome Stephen King adaptation, The Mist. And though it hasn’t come out yet, The Shark is Still Working is one of the single greatest documentaries on a film I’ve ever seen. It really needs a release date soon. It’s a must see for any Jaws fan.

The Best and Worst of 2007

5. Primeval – Now first, don’t get me wrong. For some odd reason I was tickled by this movie. And in the good way. There was just something about seeing Orlando Jones run through the African plains at full speed away from a 30 foot crocodile. That’s just special. Does that make it a good movie though? No, it fucking sucks. Primeval is nothing more than just another animal run amok film, with a shitty social commentary. The reason I place it at number 5 and not lower is because it had some truly hilarious scenes in it, the two big ones being the one I already mentioned, and the fate of the crocodile hunter character. And no he does not get killed by a sting ray. Though, sadly, that would make me laugh too. I’m a bad man.

4. I Know Who Killed Me – You have to love a movie that has Lindsay Lohan doing a pole dance strip tease and then fucking some guy while her mom is down stairs. Right? As Lex Luthor would say: “WRONG!” If it wasn’t for the multiple unintentional comedic moments and some of the surprisingly well shot scenes, I would have just shoved my head up my own ass in fear of seeing any more. Really what I wanted to do with this one was just write: WTF. That would be my entire reasoning for why it is number 4 on my worst list. Fuck it, I don’t need any more reasoning. There you go. I Know Who Killed Me sucks.

3. Ghost Rider – Again I found some extreme humor in this Nic Cage cheese fest. Some might argue it’s not horror, but the comic sure as hell is so I’m including it. Plus it was just plain bad, well for a horror film anyways. As a comedy, I’d put it at number one on the best list. What’s up with Nic Cage and in being in some of the best comedies of the past years? Wicker Man, Next, and Ghost Rider. The man is a comedic genius! And let’s give it up for Eva Mendez for literally sucking all life and substance out of any scene she is in. Not to mention the main villain that just walked out of Hot Topic and decided he wanted to kill shit. Good job at sucking guys, really. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sam Elliot. Sorry you went through that, man. What a complete waste of film.

2. The Messengers – I almost feel as if this little piece of cinematic poop has been forgotten. Not surprising really since it is one of the most utterly forgettable, and mediocre films ever made. This year was full of bad twist ending films, but for me The Messengers takes the prize home for having the worst. The dude from My Big Fat Greek Wedding did it? That deserves a big what the fuck. The acting is bad, the writing is atrocious, and just everything sucks all around. This movie was full of fail and should be voted off the island.

1. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – If you were to look up “Bucket of Fail” on Urban Dictionary you would find the definition of a bucket of fail, which this movie is. I know probably half of the other horror journalists out there probably put this as their number one worst as well, and while I try to be different and unique, this movie is just so fucking terrible that it deserves its universal recognition as being a pile of crap. No other movie this year has pissed me off, made me physically inept, and made me want to punch babies more than Rob Zombie’s Halloween. I didn’t even see the theatrical cut of it either. I only saw the work print, and it was still the worst movie I saw this year. I don’t know at what point it hit me that I was watching a shit-fest, but I’m pretty sure it was ALH (After Love Hurts). So far, Zombie is 1 and 2 for me. Devil’s Rejects is amazing, but I would love to see the guy branch out of his white trash bullshit. This movie just blows. A big steaming turd that is worse to watch than read IMDB forum comments. That is why it is my number 1 worst movie of 2007.

Now admittedly I didn’t see uber shit (at least I’m told is uber shit) like The Hitcher, Dead Silence, and Hills Have Eyes 2 so maybe my list is a little off. I’ll deal with it though since I didn’t melt my brain with that other shit. I do have a few dishonorable mentions though. First off, Alien vs Hunter deserves a mention. It was terrible. But I knew it was going to be terrible, and I felt nothing for it. No spite or venom to throw at it so I left it off the list. Then there is Spider-Man 3. Is it horror? Well using the transitive property it sure is. See, Ghostbusters is a horror comedy, and since Spider-Man 3‘s ending is essentially the ending of Ghostbusters‘ (Stay Puft Marshmallow Sandman, Venom the Destructor, etc), that makes Spider-Man 3 a horror comedy action movie. And it fucking sucks.

That’s it for me. This year has been full of win and fail. I’m just glad I was able to catch most of the win and dodge most of the fail. See you all next year. This is The Buz, signing off.

Morgan Elektra’s Picks

Ahhh, another year gone. It’s this time of year when I alternately bless and curse my sieve-like memory… On the one hand, it gives me the almost child-like ability to forget the terrible things I’ve seen since New Year’s last… sometimes almost completely. However pleasant that may be, it makes it a bit difficult to pry those suppressed memories loose for lists like these. But I love you people, so I torture my poor brain until it gives them up. All for you …

So here they are, in no particular order… my best and worst picks of 2007:

The Best and Worst of 2007

30 Days of Night 30 Days of Night – It had its problems, I won’t deny it. But it was a solid entry in the horror genre, with decent (Josh Hartnett) to great (Ben Foster, who was also great in the beyond fabulous but non-genre offering 3:10 to Yuma) acting and an entertaining story. Also, it seemed superbly clear that the filmmakers, although they did stumble, were actually attempting to make a serious, adult horror film. After being plagued with remake after remake full of casts fresh out of the OC that are liquefied so as to better be spoon fed to the masses, I appreciate that. And I enjoyed the heck out of it when I saw it. I plan to see it again. And I fully anticipate having just as good a time then. If it feels good, I do it… and this felt good.

Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street – A Steven Sondheim musical, directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp, about a blood lust crazy barber and his special meat pie cooking sidekick? Why, hello orgasmic coupling! I love Sondheim’s music, and this was the perfect showcase for it. Burton’s dark director’s eye matches the tone of the story to a T, and Depp in the title role was just delicious. Helena Bonham Carter is also one of my favorite actresses. I love her in just about everything she does. And her Mrs. Lovett was no exception. Great performances, great music, great look, a ton of the red stuff… and did I mention Johnny Depp? Delicious!

Grindhouse: Planet Terror – Much like with his Grindhouse counterpart, I’ve never been a huge Rodriguez fan either. I think he’s talented, but he’s never really lit my fire before. Until this. Planet Terror was pitch perfect… truly a loving, if somewhat teasing, homage to the campy flicks of the era that Rodriguez obviously loves. Solid acting all around, there were some great stand out performances… I don’t know who I had a bigger crush on by the end of the flick, Freddy Rodriguez or Marley Shelton. This movie had it all… it looked good, it sounded good, and boy, did it feel good. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that much fun in a theater with all my clothes on. Normally I resent the crowd around me in the dark of the theater. I can’t stand that they won’t shut up and they laugh too loud… but Planet Terror let us all get in on the act, and the side comments and jokes that were being made all seemed like part of the show. As a whole, we had a great time and left the floors slightly less sticky then if we’d had an orgy.

Dexter Season 2 – When it comes to TV, I’m terrible about remembering what time things are on. Even shows I love, I sometimes realize I missed the day and time they originally air and have to catch them in rerun. Not Dexter. I know where I am every Sunday night… curled up on my couch with Darling Dexter. The Showtime series showcases some of, if not the, best writing and acting on TV. Even though it strayed far from the source material this season, I was still hooked on my homicidal sweetie and tuned in every week with bated breath to see what was going to happen next. In fact, and I never say this, I think the show is better for the changes the writers have made. The show is bloody and good fun. And boy, can I just say, that Michael C. Hall can strap me down with Saran Wrap any old time he wants.

Masters of Horror: The Black Cat – Well, we all know that overall the series has been hit and miss… more miss than hit, I hate to say. But then, at nearly the eleventh hour this year, they gave us Stuart Gordon’s retelling of Poe’s classic tale, The Black Cat. Or rather, his and Paoli’s telling of Poe’s desperate struggle to write The Black Cat. Combs brilliant portrayal of the agonized writer was breath-taking, and Elyse Levesque’s turn as his young bridge was ephemeral and lovely. Not to mention it provided the only real feeling of dread and terror that the entire series had to offer. I fell desperately and deeply in love with the entire production from start to finish.

Honorable Mentions Wrong Turn 2, 28 Weeks Later, I Am Legend (terrible CGI aside, it had some of the best acting I saw all year), and the first 107 minutes of The Mist

The Best and Worst of 2007

Lake Dead – Last year’s After Dark Horrorfest boasted 8 films to die for… and while it didn’t completely deliver, the quality of the films presented was fairly decent. Even the ones I didn’t love weren’t THAT bad. So I was very optimistic this time around. And then, I saw Lake Dead. I don’t think there’s anything to say about the film that my esteemed colleague Foy hasn’t said vociferously already… But I would like to say that, for months after I watched Lake Dead, every time I approached a box office to buy movie tickets I was assailed by horrid flashbacks of unmitigated stupidity and cheesiness that would leave me curled into the fetal position on the concrete screaming… and not in a fun, role playing rape fantasy kind of way either.

Resident Evil: Extinction – Considering the mediocrity of the previous two installments, I actually wasn’t even expecting this one to be good. And really, it wasn’t AWFUL… just boring and completely bland. So, if it wasn’t all that bad, why is it here on my list? Simple. No Milla boobies. I’ll put up with a lot of cardboard characters used for little to nothing beyond set dressing if I get to see a little Milla tit. But no… all those Millas and they’re all coyly hiding their light under a bushel… or hiding their breasts under their hands, as it were. The first film showed more than just a little sweater meat, but not even a glimpse in part three? And she didn’t make out with Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield either. Weak.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween – I don’t know if I even need to explain this pick. Most people will understand why I found it utterly disappointing and poorly done. And those who don’t probably aren’t going to change their minds based on my opinion. But as someone who was never a worshipper at the altar of Carpenter’s version, and a fan of both of Rob’s previous films, I think I went into it with a mind very open to the possibility of him having something new to bring to the table… and he didn’t. We get it Rob… your wife is hot. How about letting her keep her clothes on next time around, or play a character that isn’t a vapid, mean cunt with a mouth like a sailor? There were a couple of brief moments where it looked like she might be able to act, until the horrible dialogue and dopey re-tread kicked in. Well, Rob always said he wouldn’t do a remake… now I know why. He sucks at it.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 – Aja’s remake of the original wasn’t groundbreaking or anything, but I liked it and it was well done. So what went so wrong with this sequel? I think it would be easier to list what went right… absolutely nothing. This one was so bad I fell asleep the first time I watched it, and was forced to watch it the second time around. Ten minutes in I was begging to shut it off… This wasn’t even fun in a dumb slasher movie kind of way. It was just inept, fumbling, messy, embarrassing and overall very unsatisfactory. Kind of like two virgins having sex for the first time.

Grindhouse: Death Proof – Okay, granted… I’ve never really been a Tarantino FAN. I like some of the stuff he’s done, and I think he’s got some talent, but I don’t suck his cock or anything. If I’m going to suck a cock, I have to be turned on… and Tarantino couldn’t turn me on with both hands, his mouth and a vibrating rocket dildo. Death Proof suffers from all of Tarantino’s short comings. Most notably, it’s too full of characters will little to no depth spouting rapid fire hipster dialogue that all sounds like Tarantino talking to Tarantino… kind of like that scene in Being John Malkovich with all the Malkovichs. Only not funny in the least. There were a few good moments, like the car chases and a surprisingly adept performance by Rose McGowan, but they were all too brief to prop up the weight of the rest of the clunky piece. I felt it sucking the enjoyment out of me, with less finesse than a two dollar whore.

Dishonorable Mentions Return to House on Haunted Hill, Primeval, and the last 10 minutes of The Mist

So, that’s it kiddies. All my picks and tricks for 2007. Here’s looking forward to a horror-filled 2008!!!

Syxx’s Picks

The Best and Worst of 2007

5. GrindhouseGrindhouse was given the raw deal during its theatrical release. Here we were given two films (one a great action/splatter fest – the other a talky pic with a decent amount of fun car chases) that should have been able to please most horror fans. Too bad it received fewer commercials and ads than the Rape-A-Minute Telethon.

Planet Terror was the real reason to see Grindhouse. Sure, Death Proof had the Tarantino flair, but there’s only so much stroking that man’s ego needs, and boy did he do a lot of it before finally showing us the goods. On the other hand PT was an all-out grind flick that gave us blood by the bucket loads and the right mix of humor to keep any potential yawns away when the action let up.

4. The Mist – The film had its problems, no doubt, but out of many of the other horror flicks we’ve seen this year The Mist stands out as one of the better ones. Not only did it deliver a good adaption of King’s work, but it gave us an ending that will be talked about for a long time to come.

How often do we get to see giant creatures terrorize small towns anymore? Hell, when was the last time you saw a little old lady brandish a can of bug spray and char a giant skull-faced spider?

Hostel Part II(click to see larger) 3. Hostel Part II – While nowhere as good as the first film, Hostel 2 did give us what we wanted from the torture porn genre. It took a long time to get there with some useless character development and long stretches of boredom, but the film took off once people started to get cut up.

Hostel Part II was the perfect way to wind down the torture porn craze that is now taking over the direct-to-video market. Eli Roth’s flick should give you enough gore and sick humor to last a few years until the next trend makes the rounds.

2. Fido – Here’s a pic that deserved a much wider release than say Blood and Chocolate. The horror-comedy about a society that has recovered from and domesticated the zombies had all the right elements missing from many films this year. There was some top notch gore mixed with various political messages that were never shoved in our faces; this film succeeded where 28 Weeks failed.

Fido also managed to be a little heartwarming with the message about what it really means to be alive. Now, take into consideration all these elements and ask yourself, “Why did we have films like The Hitcher in theatres instead?

1. Hatchet – This was a very nice surprise in ’07. Adam Green was able to create a slasher movie that made us laugh and also jolted the audience with the amount of fancy gore it created on a tight budget. Screams, blood, laughs, tits and bush bugs seem like an odd mix for something being trumpeted as “Old School American Horror, ” but it works. One minute you’re laughing about crotch crabs and the next year wide eyed as old Hatchet-Face belt sands someone’s face off.

In a day and age where the home video market is over flooded with schlock and even theatrical releases are mind blowingly lame, it is nice to know that there are some filmmakers out there that know how to entertain.

The Best and Worst of 2007

5. Blood and Chocolate – Wow. 2007 was the worst year for book adaptation. A decent young reader’s novel about family, heritage and love was turned upside down and transformed into a Eurotrash orgy for Underworld fans. Characters never developed, everyone was drinking absinthe and the filmmakers somehow turned werewolves into the gayest monsters in recent memory.

The problems didn’t stop there. The director thought it was a great idea that everyone and their mother should be jumping off of walls. Yes, “free-running” is cool … but Jesus H. Corbit at every turn someone was jump kicking off of a wall. Oh, and the title of the film never did make sense … much like in I Am Legend.

4. I Am Legend – More like “I Am Shoehorning in the Book’s Title at the Last Possible Fucking Second. ” Once again Hollywood is too scared to actually adapt a great book and would rather tear it down into a very basic and almost retarded pop-up book version of the original. Will Smith does do a great job with the watered down material, but that was never enough to save it.

Last minute changes seriously hurt a film that filled the basic entertainment needs. CGI vampires looked like they fell out of a Scooby Doo movie; there was hardly one similarity between the film and book; and the title of the film had no connection whatsoever to the film. Fact is different than Legend … what the fuck?

3. Rob Zombie’s Halloween – Here was a chance for Rob to show that he was more than a one trick pony that always had to use the middle finger and over the top trailer trash characters to make his movie work. He had the opportunity to dive deeper into the mind of Michael Myers and give us a remake worth the price of admission. Sadly, he never evolved.

What we got was a half hour’s worth of a great movie followed by the cliff notes version of Carpenter’s original Halloween, but with added shots of bare vagina. We know nothing more about Myers than in previous films. He was a fucked up kid that killed animals and eventually people … but why is never explained. Add in distracting cameos by the truckload and little Miss Strode going all John McClain at the end of the theatrical release and you’ve got one big pile of shit. Thanks Rob! Better luck with C.H.U.D. ?biting sarcasm

2. The Hitcher – Talk about a film that didn’t need to be remade and certainly not remade by Platinum Dunes! The character of the hitcher is stripped down to be nothing more than a silent boring killer and our college teen sweethearts are cardboard cutouts from GAP Ads. There had to be at least one redeeming quality to this flick, right?

Not really. Aside from the hitcher magically dropping a truck from the sky, this was a total mess of a remake. Car chases were turned into music videos and at the end the tiny co-ed was wielding weapons like a pro. You know some filmmakers shouldn’t be in the business when they make Joy Ride look like a better film…

1. Aliens VS Predator: Requiem – After working in this business for so long, you should know better than to get your hopes up. Honestly, how could this sequel to Paul W.S. (I’M A FAN!) Anderson’s nasty wet dream fail to entertain even as a creature feature? Well, when Fox gives you little money and puts two noob directors in charge you’re in serious trouble. What should have been an all out brawl between two iconic horror/sci-fi icons turned into a Where’s Waldo game.

The action was so badly lit that we didn’t know if the Aliens were fighting or trying to fuck the Predator. Good thing for there was that great story line about a pizza boy, some tart and an ex-con to keep us company. Oh wait, that sucked pretty hard too. Yes, give the cast of every WB teen drama a large portion of screen time because that’s what we paid for. This was honestly the worst film of 2007, not because it was a disappointment, but because it wasn’t AVP at all. The film didn’t even deserve the title. What a way to end the year…

Debi “The Woman In Black” Moore’s Picks

Although it got off to an incredibly bad start, when it was all said and done, 2007 wasn’t such an awful year for horror films. Sure, the lows were incredibly unpleasant, but the highs were pretty magnificent. In fact, limiting myself to only five top films turned out to be impossible (sorry, Butane). Thus, this Woman’s list is as follows:

The Best and Worst of 2007

1. 28 Weeks Later – While some have accused the film of being too heavy-handed in its metaphorical references to the Iraq War and others didn’t buy into the Robert Carlyle character’s ability to track down his loved ones wherever they went, there wasn’t another 2007 horror film that resonated so deeply with me. I adored both Rose Byrne’s and Jeremy Renner’s characterizations of Scarlet and Doyle and rooted for them throughout. The kids are a welcome anomaly in movies in that they are unannoying and highly sympathetic. The night vision scenes leading up to the end of 28 Weeks are some of the most edge-of-your-seat, bite-off-your-nails I’ve ever seen. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s and DP Enrique Chediak’s work here is brilliant and well deserving of the No. 1 spot. A rare instance of a sequel surpassing its original, 28 Weeks Later is a film that will stick in your memory long after its credits have rolled.

2. Grindhouse – The faux trailers alone make this a worthy entry on anyone’s list, and I honestly can’t remember having a more fun time at the theatre this past year than when watching the Rodriguez/Tarantino double bill of Planet Terror and Death Proof. Yes, it’s too bad more horror fans didn’t get out there and show their support, and while a lot of blame can be placed on Dimension and the Weinsteins for their abysmally misguided marketing efforts, it truly is our own fault for not taking the bull by the horns and ensuring the Grindhouse experience got the box office numbers its creators and cast warranted. But that’s all moot as the DVD’s have been available for quite some time. If you haven’t watched these two fabulous films in your own home and dug the hell out of them by now, then I just don’t see how you can call yourself either (a) a horror fan or (b) a devotee of great films, and on top of that I probably don’t want to know you since it’s obvious we are of such vastly different mindsets.

Bug (click for larger image)3. Bug – Forget about Blanchett, Knightley, Foster, Christie, and Jolie. These five fine ladies may have been nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press for best dramatic actress of 2007, but the award really belongs to Bug‘s Ashley Judd. Is her raw and riveting, no holds barred portrayal of the lonely and obsessed Agnes White the only reason to see the film? Absolutely not. She is equally matched by her co-stars Michael Shannon and Harry Connick, Jr. In addition, Bug marks the triumphant and welcome return to our genre by William Friedkin. I was fortunate enough to see a stage version of the story prior to the film, and while some of the differences were to the detriment of the theatrical adaptation, it still packs a powerful punch and shouldn’t be forgotten amidst the more mainstream offerings of 2007.

4. Sweeney Todd – While we’re on the subject of powerhouse, tour de force performances, the biggest surprise of 2007 for me was how absolutely perfectly matched Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were as co-conspirators Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in Tim Burton’s masterful adaptation of this hit Broadway musical. Of course, I had faith in the abilities of the holy triumvirate of Burton, Depp, and Carter to do the play justice and had also read all the glowing reviews (including the New York Times’, which *gasp* used the “h” word not once, but twice); but I must admit even I was a bit taken aback by the sheer brutality of it all and can’t remember when I’ve seen blood gushes look more bright red and lovely. All the supporting cast is wonderful as well, and London has never looked so appropriately Goth and gloomy in both tone and texture. Sweeney Todd is 2007’s most gorgeous film and its most spiteful. Considering I’m not typically a fan of revenge flicks, I’m surprised by how much I loved it, but loved it I did, and I’m utterly delighted to include it in my Top 5.

5. The Mist and Sunshine (tie) – This may seem like an odd pairing, but I see these two films as two sides of the same coin, that coin being the human emotion “hope.” The characters in the latter are full of it, whereas those in the former could definitely use a bigger helping of it to combat the despair that overwhelms them by the end of their journey. Both movies are buoyed by a strong cast of characters who must deal with the very real possibility of the world as they know it ceasing to exist. While The Mist tackles its subject matter on a more inherently human level (despite the presence of numerous monsters of various shapes and sizes), Sunshine takes us into deep space and the realm of metaphysics. It detours rather distractingly into very much the same territory covered by Event Horizon somewhere around the 2/3 mark, but then it regains its way and has one of the best endings of any film of the past year. As does The Mist I might add — despite its polarization of just about everyone who saw it. I thought the conflict it engendered was one of the best since M*A*S*H decided to kill off Henry Blake, which is why it’s here on this list even if a few of the characters are poorly developed and some the CGI is substandard. Both of these films overcome their shortcomings in such stellar fashion that I wholeheartedly recommend them as a perfect double-feature to enjoy this spring once they’ve each been released on DVD.

Best of the Rest: While my Top 5 list encompasses films that received wide theatrical releases, I can’t ignore a few others that represent the best of their respective subgenres:

a. Hands down the No. 1 indie feature and also the best damn ghost story I’ve seen in I don’t know how long was director Oren Peli’s debut Paranormal Activity. Those of us here at Dread Central who have seen it can’t sing its praises loud enough. Suffice to say that if it comes to a film fest anywhere near you within driving distance, get in your car and see it. I guarantee you won’t be sorry. I also guarantee you won’t be able to sleep afterwards without a night light and your teddy bear.

b. The Best Zom-Com of 2007 award goes to Andrew Currie’s bitingly charming Fido. Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, and Dylan Baker shine as inhabitants of an alternate 50’s style universe in which zombies have become a sort of household pet. This one’s been out on DVD for a while now; if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?

c. As I mention every year when compiling my Best/Worst list, slashers are my least favorite subgenre since they’ve been done to death — often very badly — but this year there were two examples that managed to rise above the fray with a fun, fresh approach: Hatchet, which gave us icons Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, AND Robert Englund in memorable roles along with a tasty sample of the big, bad Louisiana bayou, and Wrong Turn 2, which offered a reasonably likable group of mutant fodder led by consummate badass Henry Rollins and opened with an American Idol wannabe’s evisceration. Honestly, does it get better than that?

d. Lastly, in the “defies description” category we have Albert Pyun’s cinéma-vérité and sci-fi/horror hybrid Invasion. To answer the question I received after originally reviewing this film — yes, that Albert Pyun! It’s far from perfect, but Invasion‘s ballsy approach of telling its entire story via a surveillance camera mounted on a police car resulted in (to quote my own review) one of the most compelling pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen in eons and cemented its position among the year’s most innovative films.

I also have to give a quick shout out to the best DVD boxset of the year — Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of the series or a newbie, you’re bound to fall in love with this set. It is indeed the embodiment of the word “definitive.”

The Best and Worst of 2007

Now we come to the worst. Rather than go into the type of detail lavished on my top choices, I’ll limit my comments to just two or three sentences since that’s all these shitfests deserve:

1. The Invisible – Talk about bait & switch! The trailer looked promising, but the finished product was the biggest disappointment of the year. It’s everything the anti-PG13 crowd goes on and on about (for its polar opposite, check out Disturbia), and yes, I’m still in denial that David Goyer was in any way connected to it. He has a lot to make up for.

2. The Hitcher – As soon as I saw this abomination, I wrote on the spreadsheet I was keeping for 2007 films: “Worst of the year so far.” Well, it would have kept that title had it not been for Sean Bean. Only his presence was enough to elevate The Hitcher above The Invisible, but it still ranks as my No. 2 stinker.

3. I Know Who Killed Me – Thank the gods for that aforementioned spreadsheet; otherwise I would have no memory of most of the crap I endured last year. Here’s what I wrote for IKWKM: “Horrendously bad; stripper who doesn’t strip; Art Bell best part; poor Neal McDonough!” Seriously, if a cameo by Art Bell is the best part of your movie, you are in sad, sad shape. You can’t even really blame Lohan — her performance was equal to the level of the script she had to work with. As for McDonough, if he didn’t fire his agent after appearing in both The Hitcher and this stinker, then he doesn’t deserve to work in Hollywood again!

4. The Hills Have Eyes 2 – Why they even bothered with this sequel I’ll never know. The concept was a good one, but the end result was dull and boring and a completely wasted opportunity. Nothing was memorable about either the humans or the mutants — zero, nada, zilch. I fell asleep in the theatre for about 20 minutes and didn’t miss a thing.

5. Captivity – I almost feel a little guilty for piling on the derision for this film, but it can’t be helped. Its headache-inducing music sealed the deal. It’s a shame, really. The first 1/3 was actually decent; it looked good (thanks to DP Daniel Pearl) and had all the right gross-out elements for exploitation fans; but then it fell apart. Acts 2 and 3 were horrendously bad and totally nonsensical, ruining all that had gone before.

I won’t beat any dead horses by recounting more of the duds of 2007. Just think “February” and “Foy” — that’s all you need to know! But I will say I absolutely do not understand all the venom directed at Rob Zombie’s Halloween and AVP: Requiem. I certainly wouldn’t place either in my Top 5, but neither do I feel they belong in the Bottom 5, especially considering the other rubbish that befouled multiplexes last year. They were, in a word, mediocre. Nothing more and nothing less.

And with that . . . Here’s to a great 2008! We’re rooting for you!

Johnny Butane’s Picks

Please note: My list consists of films I’ve seen this year, not necessarily films that were released yet. And they’re in no particular order either.

The Best and Worst of 2007

The Last Winter The Last Winter – Though I’d never been a huge fan of Fessenden’s work in the past, I had heard enough positive buzz about this one to actively seek it out. It didn’t hurt that Ron Perlman stared in it either.

A gorgeously desolate setting, fantastic performances all around, and a director who knows when to show you something and when to merely hint at it (save for the questionable CG bests) make The Last Winter one of the most original and terrifying films I saw all year.

Fido – This one sort of flew under a lot of radars, mainly due to Lionsgate’s poor treatment of it by releasing it straight to DVD, first and foremost, and giving it a horrible cover to boot.

Currie’s tale of an alternate 1950’s society in which the dead are an everyday part of life is both fun and original, and really unlike anything I had seen before it. While you’d be hard-pressed to call it straight-up horror, it’s got just enough elements to fit nicely into our genre and re-define it at the same time.

Mulberry Street – The film that made me think After Dark Films knew what they were doing with this year’s 8 Films to Dire For (look for to the Worst of list for the reasons they didn’t). Though the premise may sound ridiculous, the film is anything but.

Most people who took the time to get out and see Mulberry Street during its week long theatrical run agreed it was the best of the lot. Mickle and writer/star Nick Damaci (interview here) did a fantastic job making a movie about mutated rat creatures with a minimal budget and an incredibly strong cast.

The Mist – Believe it or not this one almost made my list of Top 5 Worst, but there was just too much other crap I saw this year to fit it in. And why would it have been there? The fucking ending.

But the rest of the film is just flat-out brilliant, so it deserves its place among the best. It took Darabont years to finally get this one out of his system but man was it ever worth the wait. Great performances, great monsters (well, aside for those tentacles at the beginning) and a dedication to the source material pushed this one above most monster movie entries in 2007.

The Signal – Man, just wait till you guy see this one. Push all comparisons to Stephen King’s Cell out of your head right now; though the basic premise is the same (a strange transmission causes anyone who hears it to go insane), the execution couldn’t be more different.

There are three directors; each did his own segment of the film, and while you can feel the tonal shifts, especially between the first and second parts, on a whole the movie works like a well-oiled machine. Funny, scary, and touching all at the same time, The Signal is not what you’d expect.

The Best and Worst of 2007

Lake Dead – It really doesn’t get any worse than this, so I guess to a point this particular list is in order. Lake Dead not only made me question how the hell After Dark Films picks their 8 Films to Die For, but whether or not Courtney Solomon is absolutely batshit insane for thinking this piece of shit deserved any screen time whatsoever.

The story is about kids who go to a cabin inherited by one of their numbers, and the killings that go on there because of some family bullshit or another, complete with incest and beatings. Horrible performances, editing, sound … pretty much everything that can be wrong with a film is found in Lake Dead. AVOID IT

Skinwalkers – Even if the film had been just a little bit better, it still would’ve made this list because Issac let me down in a big way. The man who didn’t take himself too seriously when he made Jason X, still one of my favorites of the franchise, decided to put on the most serious face possible for this werewolf tale.

Another After Dark fumble, as it turns out. The multiple release delays and terrible early word of mouth should have been indication enough, but no; I had to go and watch it, too. If Issacs had maybe decided to make the werewolves fight each other with, I don’t know, teeth and claws instead of shotguns, maybe this wouldn’t have been so boring to sit through.

Creepshow III – A bad movie is painful enough just because it’s bad; when said bad movie is trying to be a sequel to one of the most respected horror anthologies of all time well… that’s just inexcusably bad.

It’s almost difficult to point out how bad Creepshow 3 is without resorting to questioning the mental capacities of those involved in its creation. I’ve seen some people with little to no budget pull off some pretty amazing stuff; these people did the exact opposite. Someone needs to stop these people from ever making anything ever again.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween – Just like a bad movie being worse as a sequel to a good one, Zombie’s reinvention of John Carpenter’s classic character was not as bad as I expected, but nowhere near anyone’s definition of “good”.

This is just what one would expect from a music video director; a soulless, empty piece of exploitation cinema that focuses too much on a ridiculous plot element (Myers tracking down his long-lost sister) rather than try and create a genuinely scary experience like the original did. It was disappointing but in no way, shape or form surprising.

I Am Legend – Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate I Am Legend. Indeed I thought Will Smith did a much better job than I ever expected him to as the possible last man on earth, scientist Robert Neville. I hated what was changed from the original story for no discernable reasons and the use of CG.

Oh, God, the CG. Seriously, how could you look at the CG creatures at the end of the day and actually be happy with when you see? It was just terrible from beginning to end; if they had just used it as enhancement rather than the entire characters…man it was bad. But worse was the lack of anything to make the title make any sense, instead making Will Smith a big fan of the Bob Marley CD “Legend”. Can you say lame?

All in all 2007 was a pretty shit year, full of disappointments for films that I had foolishly held out hope for. But when it was right, it was really, really right, like The Mist (except for that goddamn ending) and Mulberry Street, so I guess we’ll just be happy with what worked and leave the rest for the next generation to deal with.

Here’s to a horrific 2008!

Uncle Creepy’s Picks

What a fucking year! It’s hard to make lists and even harder to put said lists in a top to bottom fashion. So, to avoid confusion my picks will also be in no particular order!

The Best and Worst of 2007

Hatchet (click for larger image) Hatchet – This year I have sat through plenty of “films” that came close to making me question why I love this genre. Then Adam Green’s slasher opus, Hatchet, splashed itself by the gallon of grue across my screen. In that instant any doubt was erased. It all came back to me. The excitement! The adrenaline! The pure joy associated with watching a swamp monster tear someone’s head in fucking half! Starring Kane Hodder as a veritable freight train of terror, this little flick had almost everything I was looking for, except – genuine scares.

For those, my next pick more than fit the bill …

Paranormal Activity – Holy jaw-dropping, please-turn-on-a-fucking-light shit! Rarely do I ever watch a movie twice in a row. But after seeing Paranormal Activity for the first time, I needed to see if it really was as scary as I thought it was. So I invited over friends. This is now a ritual. Every time someone comes over I subject them to this. Watching people watch this film is almost as fun as watching it yourself! Every time someone covers their eyes or literally turns white as a ghost as their mouths hang agape, I get that giddy feeling inside. I like to think that when it comes to horror I’m pretty damned jaded. Parts of this film scared the hell out of me. I’m willing to bet it will have the same effect on you!

Grindhouse – Wanna talk about kickass? It doesn’t get much better than this. If you didn’t catch this in theatres (and shame on you if you didn’t), brother, you missed out on one hell of a good time. Seeing the double bill with the mock trailers and all the other bells and whistles added up to what could only be described as one of the best times I’ve ever had in a movie theatre. Being a New Yorker and having seen some of the films this “experiment” emulated in their natural environments, I was stunned at the authenticity of it all. If only the theatre had stunk of dried urine, my viewing experience would have been complete!

28 Weeks Later – Here’s the shocker of the year for me! My initial reaction to the film’s announcement was lukewarm at best. It just seemed needless and truth be told wreaked of cash-in. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. Scene for scene, scare for scare, 28 Weeks Later is every bit as solid as its predecessor. That is if you can ignore that one little golden moment of plot-line stupidity in which the zombie dad chases his kids around like the shark in Jaws: The Revenge!

The Mist – I sat there in the theatre with my jaw dropped to the floor for almost the entire runtime of Darabont’s latest King adaptation and can honestly say that The Mist may just be one of the ballsiest horror films we’ve been treated to in years! While most have an issue with the film’s ending, I loved it and thought it added the perfect exclamation point to this monster-filled thrill ride. This is a film that will leave you talking about it for quite some time after seeing it. Honestly, is there a bigger compliment than that? Job well done!

Honorable MentionsWrong Turn 2, Fido, [REC], Sweeney Todd, Flight of the Living Dead and 1408.

The Best and Worst of 2007

Captivity – The only real torture porn going on here was happening to the audience that paid their cold hard cash to sit through this boring abomination. Considering the folks involved with this shit (minus the Dungeons and Dragons guy), it’s amazing that Captivity turned out as bad as it did. To this day I hide this DVD when I see it on store shelves. I’m doing my part for the kids, ya know?

Blood and Chocolate – Hey, moron! How about you do that wacky “jump off the wall” shit from atop the highest building you can find! And please, for the love of sweet baby Jesus lying sleeping in the manger, take the entire cast and crew with you as you plummet arms flailing to your doom. My eyes still burn from watching people explode from rainbows into wolves.

The Invisible – How I wish the reels of film were invisible in the theatre that day I sat down to watch this whiny teenage drivel. At least then the projectionist wouldn’t have been able to spool the reels and run this shit. “My family doesn’t understand me. Wah!” Fuck you.

I Know Who Killed Me – This flick transcends the term “bad“. The simple truth is if you wanted to you couldn’t set out to make a film turn out as bad as this. It has to happen from a combination of honest effort and complete accident. Still, it had some great gore and was so ridiculous that it provided me with some of the best laughs I’ve had in forever. Again I ask … Art fucking Bell?!

The Hitcher – This is it, folks! I know I said these were in no particular order, but this is the stinker of the year if not the decade thus far! Platinum Dune’s faux-gritty sub-genre really scrapes along the bottom of the barrel here. It’s not so bad it’s good; it’s just a joyless piece of total shit with not a single redeeming quality to be found anywhere. Abysmal. Repugnant. Needless. It’s raining cars. Hallelujah. *throws punches in the air while saying “Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck!”*

Dishonorable Mentions The entire month of February, The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Reaping, Skinwalkers, and I’d like to include Creepshow III but honestly I don’t even consider that a film.

See you in 2008, for better or for worse.

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

29 Comments

  1. I totally forgot about Tooth and Nail until late last night, that horrible piece of crap. I think it was a repressed memory. Please consider it the sixth worst film of the year. Or the first. It deserves both. Ugh!

  2. DWBJr, based on how similar our lists were (i hadn’t seen AVPR when i wrote my list, and i didn’t think to include the brilliant Sweeney Todd) i’m going to be checking out Cthuhlu and Death Note first chance I get.

  3. There’s no mistery about it Terminal… Johnny was mistified at to why people keep talking about The Mist, because he mist the start of the mist-cussion where people were mist-cussing their favourite mist-vies from last mist, and it seems mist people here had mist-ues with The Fog… err… sorry… The Mist!

  4. Have either of your schmucks seen the “Death Note” series? If you think the movies rocked, wait till you get a load of the series. Wow.

  5. WOW…I’m in trouble and didn’t even know it… haha!

    Honestly I could have filled a dozen WORST lists with the crap that I get from Foy, Kryten, and even Steve! Hello! He’s the one that pawned Microwave Massacre off on me! LOL!

    One reason I didn’t include that and other titles like it are because they were not actually released in 2007.

    Another reason is because I wanted to let people know that there are those of us out there who don’t like every film that Hollywood puts out even if everyone else seems to.

    I’d rather just talk up films that deserve it…and not give free press to those that don’t.

  6. There is SO much shit out thee, and being involved with the Horror Fest and judging and all, it gets old. I could compile a list of shit a mile long, but what is the point of bashing something like Microwave Massacre? No body cares about that type of crap, and going into the film I was not expecting anything but a shitfest.

    Movies like 30 Days of Night, Halloween lead us to believe that they are going to be good. We got promises and sneak peeks and jerked off all day long, but in the end thy are just shit. And people need to know that they are so, IT IS OUR responsibility to do so. Why? Because these are the films on eveyone’s minds. When there is a breakaway such as Cthulhu or Netherbeast or Blood Car then it is our responsibility to tell people about it so THEY see it. It is kind of lopsided that way but we are about quality. When it is promised but not delivered on, we point it out. And when we find a nice goldmine, we scream it to the heavens so all can enjoy…

    Call it Cinematic Socialism.

  7. You hush up, Johnny Butane… or I will call you up and leave you long Mist-related voicemail messages. I can do it too. I am the Queen of long voicemail messages. :-P

  8. WIB, lucky for me I didn’t see any of those films you mentioned. ;)

    Of the films I saw this year, Halloween was definitely one of the worst…. decent production quality doesn’t save a bad story in my book.

  9. “or any number of other movies people listed in their Bottom 5 as being the ultimate in “bad” movies when there’s stuff like Captivity, The Hitcher, Microwave Massacre (Melissa, I’m talking to you!), and other real garbage to choose from.”

    simply put, i didn’t see those movies. not being a movie reviewer around this parts, i’m only subjected to the bad movies i choose to watch. if something is slammed by someone i trust like The Hitcher uniformly was, i’m not going to go see it.

  10. My problem with The Mist was that, we get the escape, then we get five minutes of crossfades on driving, driving, driving, then bam! (um..literally, I guess) and then he reacts, then BAM! again. To me, the movie needed a good at LEAST five, ten minutes more for the ending to work.

    I think it’s a terrific idea and I commend Darabont for thinking it up and actually using it, I just don’t think it was well executed. I understand that it was not a tacked on thing or a reshoot, but it definitely FELT like that to me.

    As for Hatchet, in the 80s it’s a shitty, straight-to-video slasher that isn’t funny or scary, and has boring, stupid cardboard characters, but somehow 20 years later it’s some amazing old-school classic? If it was made in the 80s it would be one of those movies like The Burning that is remembered fondly, mostly for the gore effects, and then when it’s finally released on DVD 20 years later, everyone buys it or rents it and when they watch it they realize why it’s remembered almost exclusively for the gore effects.

    I am a HUGE slasher fan and am absolutely down for a cool, old school slasher flick to come out and kick my ass with suspense, gore and nudity. This movie just sucked. It’s possible I saw movies that were worse, but this had all the build up and it’s being championed by horror fans, horror websites, horror magazines…and it’s just a boring, unfunny, unscary piece of shit. Most disappointing moviegoing experience of the year for me. And to me, when a movie like that turns out to be crap, it’s far worse than something like the Hitcher remake, which sucked, but we all KNEW it was going to suck, so who cares?

  11. For me, just not liking something doesn’t make it one of the year’s worst. I think you have to take into account the whole picture — writing, acting, effects, cinematography, etc., etc. I can’t stand Swank and didn’t much care for The Reaping, but it had enough redeeming qualities to make me realize putting it on my worst list would have meant I was taking it too personally rather than judging it on its overall merits. Which is, again, why I can’t understand how anyone could consider The Mist, RZ’s Halloween, or any number of other movies people listed in their Bottom 5 as being the ultimate in “bad” movies when there’s stuff like Captivity, The Hitcher, Microwave Massacre (Melissa, I’m talking to you!), and other real garbage to choose from.

    ————————————
    Can you feel the thirst?

    I’ll see you on the other side . . .

  12. I’M going to go on record and say that I liked the Unrated Director’s Cut of Halloween and the way IT ended…much better than the original version of that movie that I saw…and Hatchet was fucking awesome. There. I said it.

  13. I saw the end coming too… that ‘Promise me you won’t let the monsters get me, no matter what’ line was a pretty dead give away. But I don’t think it was conveyed at all that those characters thought there escape was a last ditch effort. Yes, David expressed doubts with his plan, but the whole point of doing it anyway was that he felt he had to do SOMETHING. That they couldn’t just stay there. Amanda even says ‘I’d rather die out there trying than in here waiting.’ But then they don’t. They die out there giving up. After not even going very far. Without any further discussion. And they thought enough ahead to sneak food and pack it, and plan a before dawn departure to avoid Ms. Carmody’s people and the monsters, but not what was going to be done when they ran out of gas? It was sloppy writing. THAT’S what made me angry.

  14. Here’s the thing, if you had taken some of the religious nuts in the store, had them driving off in the jeep and then had that ending, you would have been cheering at the screen… it is only because it were them there descent folks who got stiffed which makes it so controversial.

  15. i guess i just saw the escape from the store as those character’s last hopes. heck, even David expressed doubts about his own plan before they left the store. they’d left with the belief that this was their last hope, and they found no hope, no other people, just beasts in the mist. the store became more dangerous than that outside it. so they took their chances, and ultimately ran out of options. i didn’t see the decision as one of desperation, or madness. i saw it as a conscious choice under extreme circumstances that i’d seen coming since the kid asked his dad not to let the monsters get him.

  16. “in that case it would be a fault of the ending but of him failing to convey well enough the emotional state of the characters to justify his planned ending.”

    Exactly. Which I feel is poor writing on his part. As someone on the forums said, if he had spent even just five or ten additional minutes chronicalling a downward spiral of despair for those characters once they left the supermarket, then the ending would have contextually made sense. As it stands, however, there is nothing to indicate that these characters have reached their limit and are hopeless… and in fact, several things that argue otherwise. Which is what pissed me, and I know many other people, off so much about that ending.

  17. i can’t and don’t pretend to talk for why it made people angry. i know a lot of people that were angry about how bleak and upsetting it was. at the character for doing what he did. he’s angry at himself (as i was with him) though, and it’s meant to be bleak and upsetting.

    i saw those characters as already starting to lose hope before they left the store. i saw those characters as preferring to take their chances with the monsters outside than stay with the other people.

    darabont wanted that ending… he built to it… it wasn’t a late idea or a reshoot. i don’t know what you think he was building the characters towards, but it obviously isn’t what he actually was building them towards. in that case it would be a fault of the ending but of him failing to convey well enough the emotional state of the characters to justify his planned ending.

    the message i took away from The Mist was ‘in times of crisis people can do inhuman things for what seems like valid reasons at the time, but they have to live with those actions afterwards’. i think that’s pretty consistantly threaded all the way through, if being strongest at the end.

  18. Here’s my thing … I know opinions are opinions but when a year is riddled with so many cinematic abominations how a little flick like Hatchet makes it into the top 5 worst on anyone’s list really boggles my mind.

  19. And I’d like to say that I really appreciate that a couple people put Hatchet on their worst list. What a fucking disappointment that was. Admittedly, some of the gore was nice, but what a bad movie.

    Word to the wise, Mr Green. When you make a splatter comedy (whether the comedy is good or bad…and I personally thought it was pretty bad), please PLEASE don’t try to tell me that it’s “old school horror” because it most certainly is not.

  20. I’ll go on record as someone who liked the ending of The Mist is concept, but not so much in execution.

    That said, how can the fact that so many people hated the movie be a testimony to how good it is? I don’t understand…

  21. I think you’re off on WHY some of us are angry about the ending of The Mist, Ryan. It’s not because it was bleak… it’s because, like Melissa said, it went against everything Darabont had brilliantly established for those characters up to that point. I’m angry with what I consider a poorly written ending to a well written movie. And I really hope that wasn’t done on purpose.

  22. i have to say i’m surprised so many of you guys didn’t like the ending of The Mist. sure it’s probably the bleakest ending ever… but the fact that it hurts and angers so many people is a testimony to how good it is, at least in my opinion. i think we’re probably so used to only getting angry at bad movies, that when a film legitimately makes us angry we presume that it wasn’t trying to.

  23. That’s not fair, there’s not much here I disagree with. Bastards. Hatchet good but overblown, Disturbia overrated as a mofo, and Halloween sucked, yep there’s not much room here to disagree.

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