Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

Anthony Arrigo's Picks

This was a good year for horror fans. It’d been a while since we last had a period so full of films worth our time, but ’13 proved to be a lucky number if you’re a cinephile. As usual, there were surprises, disappointments, lackluster entries, and forgettable tripe. I kept my list strictly horror, though I did want to mention that the best film of 2013 I’ve seen so far (still have a few theatrical releases to go) has been Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives; the best film I saw for the first time was Ted Kotcheff’s uncomfortably affable gem from 1971, Wake in Fright; and, by far, the worst film I suffered through was (surprisingly) Neill Blomkamp’s cinematic slice of Socialist shit, Elysium.

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

The WNUF Halloween Special (DVD)The WNUF Halloween Special - This is exactly how you do found footage. The conceit of the film is simple – a news show anchor decides to investigate a local haunted house where a son murdered his parents twenty years earlier, all to be shown live on TV. The verisimilitude of the resulting film is shocking, and most would be hard pressed to tell if this is genuine footage or not. Even the commercials produced for the special look exactly like cheap, public access ads, right down to even the minutest details. And did I mention the whole thing was shot full-frame and passed through a VCR three times to give it the appropriate aging? The real treat here isn’t seeing whatever macabre madness results from opening up the long-abandoned house; it’s reveling in the ‘80s aesthetic that has been so lovingly recreated here. And believe me, they made this thing to play just as any news broadcast would, complete with an (almost) excessive number of commercials, constant teases to the big reveal, and quick news bytes that are just as slyly satirical as anything Paul Verhoeven has been behind. And they manage to do it all without a hint of irony! This just secured a spot in my yearly Halloween film rotation.

The Conjuring – James Wan’s ‘70s throwback was easily one of 2013’s horror highlights. The film wisely earned most of its scares through genuine, slow-build tension that culminated in a frenetic climax full of unsettling moments. All of the actors felt perfect in their roles, with everyone doing such great work that it’s hard to single out any one performance. I will say that I hadn’t been a big fan of Vera Farmiga before this year, though after this film and her work on "Bates Motel" I’m quickly coming around. If there’s any complaint, it’s that I could have done without the handful of jump scares scattered throughout, but it’s also hard to remember the last horror film that didn’t employ them in some way. Wan and his crew delivered a faithful recreation of the type of films Hollywood used to make back in the golden days. As if the main storyline wasn’t intriguing enough, the script smartly made use of the opening segment by running it as a parallel mystery throughout the film. Can I just say how refreshing it is to see a horror film that doesn’t rely on a cold opening that is never referenced again just to deliver a quick kill? It’s a damn shame Wan is getting out of the horror business after having such a hot year in 2013, though the right script could hopefully lure him back one day.

Evil Dead – Who the hell saw this coming, right? Director Fede Alvarez had an uphill battle from the moment the project was announced, and many fans – me included – had pitchforks ready to go. It was relatively shocking when the film turned out to work well as a kindred spirit to the original, distancing itself just enough to stand on its own while also retaining some trademarks of the series. And all that gloriously gory practical FX work! There’s so much to enjoy here that it almost overshadows the bad - things like Diablo Cody’s obvious and horrid flourishes added to the script, occasional uses of CGI that stuck out like a cold sore, being beaten over the head with exposition, and that god awful Magic Car Battery Defibrillator scene before the climax that had me groaning in my seat. Still, despite any shortcomings the film is a reminder of how effective R-rated horror still is, as well as proving that even sacrosanct films of the genre can be remade (or reimagined… whatever) with some level of integrity.

Curse of Chucky – Props to series creator Don Mancini for breathing new life into this 25-year-old franchise with a sequel that ditches a lot of the screwball humor of the previous two entries in favor of a more sinister tone. And, really, major props to Universal for not taking the obvious route of remaking the first film and instead actually giving fans a series to the classic timeline. There’s a ton of fan service scattered throughout, the slightly retconned history manages to work, and Fiona Dourif is as unsettlingly gorgeous as her father is unsettlingly creepy. Make sure to watch all the way through the end credits for an extra tidbit that really ties the whole series together. Bring on the next one!

The first two thirds of The Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie is easily one of the most divisive filmmakers working in horror today, with every one of his projects met with equal parts disdain and delight. But we (read: horror nerds) still go see them. Hell, if I can get through Halloween II (2009) – and I barely got through it – then anything else he’s behind should be a breeze. If nothing else, he’s always had an acute eye towards catching visuals that helps him tremendously on screen. His latest employs a great, rarely used concept – witchcraft! Nobody uses witches anymore. The story, which Zombie himself wrote, has a wonderfully creepy hook by having our lead, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), working as a radio station DJ who receives a mysterious package containing a record. She plays it, women get hypnotized by some spell, people are KILLED! There are flashbacks to the old witchy days of Salem, where Meg Foster absolutely steals every frame of the film she’s in as Margaret Morgan, the old cackling servant of Satan. “Surely, with a setup this good Zombie won’t squander it”, is what you’re thinking. But then you come to…

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

The last third of The Lords of Salem – And everything goes horribly wrong. Was it the lack of budget? A lack of planning? Who knows? Well, I assume Rob does… I digress. A promising premise was completely eschewed to make room for gesticulating members of Immortal, melting pop art, crucified babies, and frantic shots of religious imagery. Basically, it devolves into a music video. I will say the final act isn’t so bad that I dislike the movie because of it, but it’s frustrating when a story bypasses logic and goes off on a tangent to its own detriment.

Sharknado (2013)Sharknado – Foolishly, I bought into the hype and watched this Syfy Pictures original movie. Nothing starring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering is ever worth getting excited for, and an entire TORNADO MADE OF SHARKS is barely enough to endure this Z-level picture. Most of my amusement came from living in Southern California and knowing its street-level geography, so I was able to laugh at things like people getting eaten by sharks on the 405 because I often drive the 405 and wish sharks would eat most of the people driving on it. That novelty aside, it’s a ridiculous turd of a film. Now, you want to know what the best Syfy sharksploitation film that didn’t get enough love was called? Ghost Shark. Now that has a premise so fucking ridiculous you have to love it.

World War Z – I hated Brad Pitt’s bloated zombie epic almost as much as everyone else seems to like it. For one thing, the story of the UN sending off a former employee to commiserate around the globe, getting the red carpet treatment in every war-torn, crumbling society he travels to is laughable at best. Even worse, Pitt manages to learn almost nothing on these jaunts when meeting with persons in charge, but just as he’s leaving, usually amidst extreme chaos, he sees things in slow motion that provide a little piece of the puzzle we know he’s bound to solve. And then there’s that explosive plane crash he literally walks away from. And the asinine ending where Pitt makes a major leap in logic by assuming he knows how to repel flesh eaters by injecting himself with a random virus. In addition to all that mess, the zombies are really nothing more than a force of nature; a faceless horde bowling through cities like a large, bloodied CGI snowball. Horror fans have always been clamoring to see the zombie invasion on a full-scale, and now that we have it seems even more apparent that these films work best on a smaller, more personal level.

Zombie Hunter – I’m thinking the rationale behind making this film was something along these lines:

1. Sell film using large image of Danny Trejo holding an axe, have uncharismatic C-level actor be actual lead, kill Trejo early on.
2. ???
3. Profit.

The Purge – Talk about your all-time wasted opportunities... This low-budget production employed one of the more unique premises seen in recent years, then promptly squandered it by making a terrible home invasion flick full of clichés and annoying characters. I mean, you can show the whole of America letting their inner demons run wild for 12 hours; yet, the entire focus is on one family protecting a stranger in their home? That could have been just about any home invasion film; the interesting premise is instantly nullified when everything is so confined. Here’s hoping the upcoming sequel decides to get out of the house and let the concept breathe a little.

[Andrew Kasch]

[Anthony Arrigo]

[Brad McHargue]

[Buz "Danger" Wallick]

[Debi "The Woman in Black" Moore]

[The Foywonder]

[Gareth "Pestilence" Jones]



[Scott "Doctor Gash" Hallam]

[Staci Layne Wilson]

[Uncle Creepy]



I loved grabbers! i cant believe more people dont have that in their top, nicely shot and a bit of fun!Gotta have warm bodies there too just for that "something different" appeal, new look on zombies going for the relationship thing, twas funny too, kinda like a take on shaun of the dead

Submitted by aries11 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 8:38pm.

A new Zombie film short called the first wave might be what your looking for, just saw this on io9, http://io9.com/what-happens-after-medicine-finds-a-way-to-fight-the-zo-1... , its like a kinda cure movie i think, with like a new take on what happens after the zombies are cured? check it out anyway, it looks nicely shot

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 9:43pm.
Cash Bailey's picture

My overall favourite movie of 2013 was easily THE WORLD'S END. A perfect capper to a flawless trilogy.

Worst movie of the year may be SILENT HILL: REVELATION. Michael J. Bassett seems like a really nice guy and a technically solid director, but he can't write for shit.

Submitted by Cash Bailey on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 1:13am.
GODFLESH69's picture

Skarkboy that's cool I thought Elysium delivered Pac Rim while a visual feast when you could see what was going on( i didn't fork out the extra coin for IMAX ) didn't deliver the goods when it came to the Kaiju & Jaeger battles the other Jaegers were just dispatched so quickly we didn't really get to see them do much or really care about their pilots and to me the Kaiju designs were not really that interesting way too similiar this had so much potential to be EPIC but what i got was alot of filler bad writing and annoying characters putting off the tone of the film way too much comic relief to my liking for a film supposed to be about mankinds last stand against extinction. I grew up on Godzilla & ULTRAMAN i can only hope Godzilla 2014 delivers more but not too optimistic given the director, MONSTERS was a bore. That's what makes us individuals though and like to hear other's opinions even though they don't reflect my own all the time,enjoy .

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 12:34pm.
MonsterMash's picture

Monsters is boring. It put me to sleep, and I can count on one hand the number of movies that have done that to me. As far as I'm concerned, It's gonna be a good fan film. Toho and monster in suit is where it's at. I'm excited, but the best Godzilla movies have already been made. As for your rejection towards Pacific Rim, I suggest that you merely saw the Asylum mockbuster, and not the raw cinematic carnage that the rest of us enjoyed.

Submitted by MonsterMash on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 5:30pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

So you're complaining about Pacific Rim's cinematography being unbearably shaky, but not Elysium's? I completely get your other complaints (not that I agree with them), but that's a new one!
You must truly hate Michael Bay's Transformer films.

See, I found the filler to be perfectly adequate and fun; similar in structure to most old Kaiju movies (even the climax resembled the end of some of the Mechagodzilla movies).
I thought del Toro's well designed glossy production, harmless sense of humour, and fun mix of cheesy characters made for the perfect string to tie the big battle set-pieces together. It's not trying to be more than it knows it is, and I respected that. Plus, that freakin' soundtrack generates some serious eargasms.

And no worries, Monsters may have been a bore (though I kinda loved it), but it certainly had atmosphere. I think Gareth Edwards will do a fine job of mirroring the original Godzilla's darker tones (in which case, you'd get a proper "mankinds last stand against extinction" vibe).

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 1:03pm.
Rob's picture

Best (in no particular order)

You're Next
Pacific Rim
The Conjuring
Evil Dead
V/H/S 2

And special shout-out to NBC's Hannibal. Bring on Season 2!

I actually don't have a worst list, because none of the other movies I saw I really disliked, those being Carrie (I thought Chloe, Gabriella Wilde and Judy Greer kept it from being abysmal), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (which was just fun), and No One Lives, which was dumb as hell but it didn't bug me though I think the main actress was horrendous. Actually I would've rather seen a back-story movie about Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey's characters than the actual movie. But those were the only other films I saw.

Submitted by Rob on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 12:28am.

My Top films

1. The Seasoning House - I would put this top for much the same reason as 12 years A lave. A disturbing look at the sexual violence commited against youing girls in conflict zones, in this case the worst acts of genocide since WW2 during the 1990's Blakans War. That it manages to portray these events so realistically and brutally within the context of a suspensefull thriller is a testament its director, Paul Hyett. Truely incredible performance by Rosie Day as Anglel aswell

2. Stoker - I never got the love for OldBoy but watching this in the cinema was one of the most surprising and enyoyable movie expereinces of 2013.

3. Pacific Rim - I know that yes, the characters are underdeveloped and cliche, the story ain the most complex but dammit Del Toro TOTALLY knocks it out of the park with the robot v monster scenes with his signature and mesmirizing visual style combining excellently with the fight scene's sense of scale. Brought out the 10 year old kid in me.

4. American Mary - At times explicit but equally smart, sexy and darkly humorous the Soska Sister’s have followed up their Dead Hooker’s In a Trunk with a masterpiece. Incorporating a broader female revenge narrative arc with more complex concepts of body modification and perceptions of beauty they have, however, created a quite intriguing story and character in Katherine Isabelle’s Mary Mason.

5. Dark Touch - In the same year that the Carrie remake came out another superior film with elements of Carrie snuck in largely unnoticed. Though other elements of the film are not perfect its damning and underlying themesof child abuse are as powerfull as the main characters subsequent manifestaion of telekitnic poers

6. Byztanium - I admit I have never seen Interview with a vampire or In The Coimpany of Wolves but I was pleasently surprised with this film due to the lukewarm reviews i previously heard. Among its strenghs were its beautifull look, engaging and well played characters and an interesting and quite original narrative in vampire terms.

7. We Are What We Are - Another example of how to succesfully do a remake respect the original but bring your own ideas to the tableable.Jim Mickle did just that with this.

8. Contracted - A quite impressive little indie film I caught at frightfest.

9. Frankenstein's Army - Extremely imaginative creature design made up for the films drawbacks in other elements. A true sight on the big screen.


Texas Chainsaw 3D - 5 minutes in - I was thinking, where the hell did all these extra guys in the house come from?, 10 minutes in, very bored, 15 minutes in - turned it off.

Evil Dead - not a bad film but very forgettable. Beyond the gore, the original was both scary, creepy and blackly comic in parts. The remake is none of these things. The only reaction I got from it was that it was gross, like Hostel or the later Saw sequels are gross but in no way horrifying. I can apprieciate the work that went into the practical effects and I admit the characters and story were mildly interesting but, as I say, where the original was succesfully creepy and blackly comic this has no unique character because it treats its characters and story so seriously while amping up the gore.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:59pm.
GODFLESH69's picture

just watched Byztanium was solid and Gemma Arterton is easy to look at damn she's fine!!!

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Sun, 01/05/2014 - 11:21pm.

Forgot to add Sleep Tight aswell. That is an excellent film aswell. The Seasoning House would still be top though. Portrays the disgusting and tragic acts that really happened in real life to these girls very well. To pull back on its depiction would be a disservice to the real life victims. Same thing might be happening in Syria now.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:40pm.


*12 Years A Slave

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:32pm.
frank_dracman's picture

So you missed the best part of Texas Chainsaw, the magic shirt! Go get 'em, cuz!

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:17pm.
moderator That shirt was fucking
Steve Barton's picture

That shirt was fucking tenacious!

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:27pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Yes! That DFF made me laugh out loud. Stupid movie but it gave you guys some great material.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:28pm.

I hated that shirt!
She must have had her nipples glued to it or something

Submitted by will graham on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:21pm.

she just had perfect nipple placement.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:55pm.


Submitted by will graham on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:45pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

Off the top of my head, I'd say the best (that've been covered on DC) are:

10: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9: Grabbers
8: The World's End
7: Curse of Chucky
6: V/H/S/2
5: Evil Dead (2013)
4: Maniac
3: Prisoners
2: Gravity
1: Pacific Rim

Honorable mentions would probably be American Mary, This Is The End, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Riddick.

As for the worst (I haven't hated much this year - even the first 2 on this list I don't entirely dislike. I suppose I enjoy too many movies):

6: Aftershock
5: World War Z
4: After Earth
3: Elysium
2: Oblivion
1: Texas Chainsaw 3D

Not covered by DC, but Man Of Steel gets first place alongside Texas Chainsaw 3D.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:48pm.

I really liked grabbers too, the colour/grading on it is really nice, a good watch, Prisoners was really good too, nice bit of tension all the way through, puts you in everyones shoes, well made!

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 5:15pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

Grabbers is indeed very awesome. I've yet to encounter someone who genuinely dislikes it (though by saying that I'm sure someone will come out and say it soon).
But Prisoners was incredible man! Haven't experienced a thriller so gripping and moody in atmosphere since Se7en. I tell you those 153 minutes went by real smoothly. Too bad it didn't get more recognition at the Oscars.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 7:09pm.
GODFLESH69's picture

Sharkboy 5 on your top 10 aren't even horror !!! I would switch Pac Rim job with Elysium dont get the hate for that flick it's a sci fi classic to me anyways but whatever floats your boat.

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:55pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

I know they weren't necessarily horror, but DC covered them, so I figured that still counts, right?

And nah, Elysium was a nauseating experience, and way too pretentious for my likings. Over hyped. I much preferred District 9.

And I totally get the hate for Specific Rim. All the arguments are valid. I just don't agree with them - probably cos I have the biggest soft spot for Kaiju films. It set out to be an awesome visual feast of a kaiju movie, and accomplished just that!

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:07pm.

I agree with Pacific Rim. I didnt go into it expecting a oscar winning story or well developed characters, I went into hoping it would deliver on its main draw of massive robots fighting monsters. And boy did it deliver in that regard. Gutted I missed it in Theatres as I was put off by the many bad reviews.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:45pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Glad I'm not the only one who thought Elysium was garbage. It was as subtle as a Miley Cyrus video and Damon only has one setting- boring. We wanted it to be good, but man did it misfire.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:13pm.

Newp, Elysium was pretty fucking terrible. Also I started thinking 'Hey this is a bit like Johnny Mnemonic' BEFORE they had the whole data in the head thing.

That girl talking to him about the hippo with the bird on its back or whatever, what the shit was that? I literally couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 1:30am.
frank_dracman's picture

Did someone say Johnny Mnemonic?! I know it's a dumb movie but damned if I don't love it. Dina Meyer is stupid hot and it's got Henry Rollins, Takeshi Kitano AND Lundgren? How is this not a cult classic? I know what I'm watching tonight. Thanks, dude!

Submitted by frank_dracman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 9:34am.

Hah, yeah, its stupid but I have a huge soft spot for it as well.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 2:43pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

RICH = BAD. POOR = GOOD. One of the only films I actually tried to sleep through in order to avoid feeling sick (due to the shaky-cam). Unbearable.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 9:30pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Oh man, I totally forgot about that horrendous shaky cam. That movie is all kinds of forgettable.

Bilbo, Frodo, Dildo, Sleepy or Doc. I really don't care at all about those movies. Bilbo must be the main Hobbit in the new movies, hence my brain fart.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 10:52pm.

dildo sleepy and doc hahahahaha lol

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 5:17pm.

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