Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

The Foywonder's Picks

The mere fact that I found it much harder to compile my worst list than my best list for a change is proof that 2013 was a solid year for the horror genre. Or it could just be proof that I chose to skip a lot of movies I knew would be terrible. Have you seen The Last Exorcism Part II? I damn sure didn’t. In any case, most of my honorable mentions could have just as easily made it onto my top five, and even most of the bad movies this year were more mediocre than outright affronts to cinema.

Now, before I begin by listing my choices for the best horror movies of 2013, I would like to take a moment to give special recognition to the best non-horror horror movie of the year:

12 YEARS A SLAVE - I can hear many of you grumbling right now: "12 Years a Slave isn't a horror movie!" Oh? You're happily married with kids and a thriving career. One day you wake up in chains, stripped of your identity, and any attempt to stand up for yourself is met with violent reprisal. You're sold into bondage under false pretenses, forced to live in squalor, and warned that if you ever let anyone know who you really are, you will be killed. You're regarded as subhuman by people who wouldn't hesitate to savagely maim or murder you for even the most minor infraction, even if you're in the right; sometimes even forced to deliver brutal beatings to your own friends on their behalf. You don't know whom you can trust, and the only people who can help you fear doing so because it could potentially cost them their own lives. Every single day you are worked to the bone and know you could be killed at a moment's notice for no other reason than that’s how little your life means to your captors. And you live this nightmare day in and day out for a dozen years. Still want to tell me 12 Years a Slave isn't a horror movie? It's the most horrific movie of the year because it's the one that actually happened.

Not only did I come close to including this on my best list, I was prepared to top my list with it. Since doing so would probably cause too much of an uproar, I will simply bestow upon it special recognition for being the year’s greatest feel-bad horror movie that is not actually a horror movie.

With that out of the way, I now present my five favorite horror movies of 2013, in no particular order:

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

My Amityville Horror (2012)MY AMITYVILLE HORROR – In an age when embarrassing displays of paranormal crackpottery have become a staple of cable television “reality” programs (I’m looking at you, “Finding Bigfoot”), a documentary such as this that casts a pragmatic, skeptical eye is a breath of fresh air. Think you know everything there is to know about the infamous “Amityville Horror”? Think again. My Amityville Horror left me convinced of two things: the real “Amityville Horror” was anything but in terms of supernatural horror, and the real Daniel Lutz is in serious need of deep psychological therapy he will probably never receive because there are too many kooks and charlatans out there willing to enable him and he is far too angry and lost in his own delusion to ever want to truly confront the real psychological scars of his unhappy childhood. There was a dark force in the Lutz house, and young Daniel called him “dad.” See it and judge for yourself. In what has been a banner year for documentaries in general, My Amityville Horror will go down as one of the most riveting.

LESSON OF THE EVIL – If you loved the Maniac remake, then just wait until you get shot in the face with Takeshi Miike’s mean-spirited new thriller about a psychopathic teacher who manipulates his way into the lives of his students and fellow teachers before unleashing a high school killing spree the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Battle Royale. A subtle, slow-burning first half melding high school melodrama and psychological thriller gives way to a second half that is nothing short of a volcanic eruption: a “Cronenbergian Columbine” mixing Battle Royale caliber violence, dark humor, and some truly surreal moments. Disturbing, thrilling, smart, and sometimes strange - exactly what we’ve all come to expect from Miike.

SHARKNADO – I make no apologies for my total enjoyment of Sharknado. Never would I have imagined when I watched a screener of this Asylum/Syfy flick that two weeks later it would explode the internet and become a mini-cultural phenomenon. Before hipsters began loving it ironically, before their high-minded opposites shoved their sticks even further up their asses at the very notion that a movie such as this could be enjoyable, before the title reached an oversaturation point that even made me get sick of hearing about it, there was still that magical late night when Uncle Creepy and I laughed our asses off at the absurdity of this modern day Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. The rest of you can love it or hate it; I don’t care. I had more fun watching Sharknado than I did most every other film this past summer.

THE WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL – As someone who works for a local television station and has dealt with all manner of old TV footage from the same time period this film is set in, The WNUF Halloween Special is not just a clever horror comedy – it’s a work of art. Actually, WNUF is more of a sly Halloween-themed media satire with some aspects of horror thrown in. It may also quite possibly be the best use of the found footage format I’ve ever seen. Lovingly degenerated to appear as if it were copied from a VHS recording down several generations and formatted to look like a long-lost 1988 Halloween night broadcast of a small market evening news show that leads into a live half-hour special in which one of their investigative reporters enters a local haunted house, all of which goes comically and horrifically awry, complete with commercial breaks filled with brilliantly accurate-to-the-era phony ads. WNUF is definitely a niche film that won’t appeal to everyone, especially those looking to be scared, and even I have to admit they drag things out a bit too long, going overboard with the commercial breaks. I still loved this movie and intend to make it staple of my annual Halloween movie rotation for years to come..

V/H/S/2 – Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans’ “Safe Haven” segment is the best 20 minutes of horror this whole year. The rest of this anthology movie ain’t half bad either. Admittedly, I found the wraparounds fairly unengaging and the opening segment about the robotic eye was skippable. Things pick up in a big way with Eduardo Sanchez’s fairly ingenious Go-Pro perspective chronicling the short lifespan of a zombie and Jason Eisener’s visceral alien abduction home movie climax. In between is a short film that hits all the right notes of foreboding dread, surreal eeriness, subtle humor, and adrenalized WTF-ness. For the “Safe Haven” segment alone I have to put V/H/S/2 at the top of my list of the best horror movies of 2013. Sorry, Rex Reed.

Honorable Mentions: You’re Next, John Dies at the End, Maniac, Pacific Rim, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Conjuring

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

On the flip side of the coin, here comes the crappola! In no particular order, unless we’re tossing the master prints in a shredder like they deserve:

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D – I could easily dismiss this movie as yet another forgettable crummy horror sequel, the likes of which we should already be used to by now. Heck, it’s not even the worst sequel in this particular franchise. Shrugging it off like so many Children of the Corn sequels would be easy if it were not for one utterly unforgivable mathematical insult I cannot ignore. A girl born in 1974 is still a 20-year-old in 2013. This failure of first-grade arithmetic displays a level of contempt for the viewer made all the more aggravating knowing so many of you out there were okay with it so long as “cuz” did his thing. I’ve often said there’s a fine line between suspension of disbelief and insulting the audience’s intelligence. This was neither. This was a great big middle finger by someone behind the scenes who assumes the average horror fan isn’t smart enough or doesn’t care enough to count.

StrandedSTRANDED – From the director of Battlefield Earth comes a film that’s even worse. If nothing else, Battlefield Earth had some real camp value. Stranded has no value. Boring, unimaginative, idiotic characters, 1970’s model kit effects, a plot only slightly longer than a logline, long stretches of tedium, jargon-heavy perfunctory dialogue, and did I mention that every character is such a complete frakkin’ idiot they’re written to not even comprehend how the concept of quarantine works? You can make a drinking game out of how many times Christian Slater orders someone to quarantine even after he and others repeatedly break that quarantine. I don’t recommend playing that drinking game because it would still require you to squander 90 minutes of your life watching Stranded.

NO ONE LIVES – What a stupid, stupid movie - stupid and ugly. The usually reliable Ryûhei Kitamura delivered a horror movie hate-fuck that makes, amongst its many critical errors, the fatal mistake of thinking it's smarter, slicker, and edgier than it actually is. Between Luke Evans’ poseur of an all-knowing, all-powerful, unstoppable, too-cool-for-school serial killer, the cavalcade of slow-witted crooks and killers he terrorizes, and the absolutely ninny of a female protagonist he’s after, nary a single likable, sympathetic person or entertaining character is to be found. Nor a brain cell among any of them. I went from being disinterested to outright hating No One Lives the moment Evans pulled a Dr. Giggles, emerging naked and covered in blood from the hollowed out torso of an overweight victim he’d been hiding inside of for no logical reason whatsoever other than someone clearly thought this was a cool visual. There would still be another hour of this crap to follow. Yet another screwjob from WWE Studios.

R.I.P.D. – Nothing works on any level. Not as comedy. Not as action. Not as fantasy. Not as horror. Not as anything. Rushing through every bit of plot and character development like a hyperactive kid cranked up on sugar and loaded with performances equally one-note, this Men in Black rip-off by way of “The Real Ghostbusters” Saturday morning cartoon is as exhausting as it is unfunny. Ryan Reynolds appears completely lost (and very tired) trying to play straight man to Jeff Bridges’ Wild West Captain Jack Sparrow (amusing for the first five minutes, grating for the next 80). That Hollywood may have finally figured out that Ryan Reynolds and comic book movie adaptations don’t mix is about the only positive to come out of this stinkbomb. That and now Mill Creek Entertainment finally has the much-needed fourth film to round out a future four-film disc with Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Jonah Hex, and Man-Thing.

GALLOWWALKER – Not just the worst horror movie of 2013; also the worst movie from the five or six years ago when it was originally filmed. Wesley Snipes may have been released from prison this year, but Gallowwalker really should have stayed locked up. Either this “The Good, The Blade, and The Ugly” was an unfinished film ultimately Frankensteined together using a lot of b-roll or the product of a filmmaker failing miserably to make a Jodorowsky-esque comic book movie. All I can say for certain is that around the 25-minute mark when a character asks Snipes’ gunslinger to explain what in the hell is going on, I felt like this person was speaking on behalf of myself and most anyone else that hadn’t already shut off the movie due to being so bored, confused, and fed up with this shit. What is going on most of the time, including why characters are saying and doing most of what they do, is predominantly a mystery to the audience, and I don’t mean the sort of mystery you’re intrigued by and can’t wait to see unfold. I mean mystery in the sense that there’s barely any plot to begin with and basic elements simply explaining the set-up don’t even get revealed until well into the movie. The best thing that could have ever happened to Gallowwalker would have been for it to remain unreleased forever and have its legend grow. Instead they went and released it so I could proclaim it the absolute worst horror movie of 2013.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Frankenstein Theory, Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft, I Spit on Your Grave 2, The Bell Witch Haunting, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection

[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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