Dread Central's Best & Worst of 2008

Morgan Elektra's Picks

This year brought a lot of changes, both on the global scale (yay President-elect Obama and a return to low gas prices, boo recession and big business bail-outs) and on a smaller individual scale (I moved back to the glorious and at the moment very snowy state of N.Y.). But some things never change ... Like the fact that every year we get some genre fare that’s a cut above the rest and some that is decidedly further down on that particular totem pole. Here are my personal picks for this year’s best and worst (in no particular order):

The Best and Worst of 2008

"Dexter": I have to mention everyone’s favorite serial killer again this year. While the show itself has its ups and downs, the characters are rock solid and the acting superb. And while this last season may not have been quite as satisfying as the first, I can’t deny how refreshing and wonderful it is to have a smart genre show. Too often when a network puts out a "horror show", they shy away from really taking on that mantle and end up with weak fare. But the creators involved in "Dexter" seem to genuinely embrace the darkness and have fun with it, and I for one am very thankful for it.

Dance of the Dead DVDDance of the Dead: It seems like lately you can’t spit without hitting a zombie movie, indie or otherwise. Not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I love zombies. I’m the kind of girl who likes to nibble on my fellow humans now and again myself. And if they were all as quality as Gregg Bishop’s Dance of the Dead, I would be a happy girl. While the story is really nothing at all new – the dead rise from the grave to munch on the living and a small group of tenacious survivors have to blah, blah, blah – it’s executed with skill and aplomb. The cast, lead by the adorable Jared Kusnitz (who also played the brother in Otis, and whom I hope to see in many more genre outings), are all really wonderful. Especially Justin Welborn (you'll remember him from The Signal), who is absolutely superb as bully redneck Kyle Grubbin.

The Strangers: This movie had flaws. There were things I felt could have been better done. I was not, upon watching it, overwhelmed by its greatness. But there was one thing that, for me, it did so well I felt I couldn’t NOT include it. So few horror movies for the last very many years have really excelled at building tension. We most often get jump scares or major events foreshadowed by loud music cues. Also, while we’re supposed to identify with the victim, most horror movies give us an omniscient view – we can see where the killer is and what they’ve done before the victims can, and when they go in that room or get in the car or whatever, their actions seem stupid. The killer’s in there, duh! But The Strangers kept the audience as much in the dark to the motivations and movements of the aggressors as the victims were – and kept us on our toes and the edge of our seats.

The last 10 minutes of Quarantine: I have not yet managed to see REC, the foreign film of which this is the remake, reimagining, revamping ... whatever the hell we’re calling it these days ... so I have no way of knowing what that one was like. But for the first seventy-odd minutes of this version, I spent most of my time going “Wait ... what just happened?” I was not scared, or enthralled, by the chaos of both noise and movement on screen. I was mostly perplexed and aggravated. I spent most of the movie calling people "that fireman – no, the other one", or "the doctor guy". So… after all that, why are the last ten minutes on my best list? Simply because once Jennifer Carpenter and her cameraman (see, I can’t even remember either character’s name without cheating and looking it up) get into the attic apartment, things get infinitely better. There’s only the two of them now, so things quiet down. The lights are off completely, which makes Camera Guy switch to night vision, so you can actually see some things. And as they are in the dark and therefore unable to run around like a virgin with ADD at a whorehouse, things also slow down. Those last ten minutes are tense and really pretty powerful. Jennifer Carpenter looks and acts genuinely terrified. If only the rest of the movie could have been that good.

The Dark Knight: I think, based on the reception this film has gotten since its release, that I don’t need to explain too much why it is on my best list. Most of you have seen it and feel the way I do. This movie was just… wow. Not just Ledger’s wonderfully disturbing Joker, or Nolan’s strong script and good looking cinematography, or Bale’s tortured Batman (despite the sometimes funny voice), or Eckhart’s powerful Harvey Dent, or even Maggie Gylenhaal’s Thank-God-She’s-Not-Katie-Holmes turn as Rachel Dawes. This was a film with some whopping good parts, and still the whole was more than just their sum.

Honorable Mentions:

The Cottage, Otis, all but the end of The Ruins (see, Joe?), "Fringe", The Signal.

The Best and Worst of 2008

Mirrors: I love me some Kiefer Sutherland. That voice? Mmmmmmm ... My vagina is quite opinionated on the subject of sexy voices, and it says you can leave it alone with that voice and a nice glass of wine and it’d be just fine. Oh, and he’s a pretty good actor too. And I think Alexandre Aja has talent. So, what went wrong with Mirrors and why is it on my worst list? Mostly BECAUSE Kiefer Sutherland is a good actor and Aja is a talented director. Let me explain ... You know that phrase ‘"the bigger they are, the harder they fall"? Well, it’s kind of like that. There were some really lame, bad movies out this year that overall were much less entertaining than the good parts of Mirrors. (Some of them will turn up later). But most of them were obviously going to be terrible. In most of those cases, it was clear from the get-go that all they were was flaccid studio fare meant to cash in on the teenie-bopper market. But when you have a film like Mirrors that has talent behind it and wastes it in a weak, convoluted and pointless story ... well, it has a harder fall. And in my book that makes it worse than some of the more overall bad movies we saw this year.

The Happening (click here for larger image!)The Happening: I’ve stuck by M. Night Shmalamala (yes, I’m aware that’s not the correct spelling, I just like saying it). Apart from The Village, when I figured the nature of the BIG SECRET from the trailer, I haven’t had any overly bad experiences with his work. I even mildly enjoyed Signs and Lady in the Water. But this latest movie ... Ugh. You know what’s more entertaining than this silly snoozefest of a movie? Just about anything. I was once aggressively groped by a piss drunk frat boy with a cast on his arm while trying to drive down a snowy road in the dark. That was much more fun than The Happening. I once drank so much at a party in Germany that I was unable to walk on my own and crawled around the house or was carried by a handsome German boy named Simon who spoke very little. That was WAY more fun than this movie. Even the massive and debilitating hangover I had the next morning was more entertaining than The Happening.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe: Bad, terrible writing. That’s the biggest problem with the newest "X-Files" movie. From the very first second, the writing is painfully bad and continues to get worse as the movie progresses. Apparently, Scully has spent the intervening years becoming a brain surgeon. And Mulder has holed himself up in a house out in the middle of nowhere and grown an impressive fake-looking beard. Apparently they’re still in contact, but only in a very distant way. Except that the minute they’re in the same room, they’re sleeping together ... and then talking about how they have a “home” together. And then talking about how they can never be together. And then talking about how they should get away together. There’s a little boy, too, that Scully is trying to save. And there’s a whole subplot involving that which really only serves to provide her with the key to the big “mystery” – which isn’t all that mysterious – and is then completely abandoned. It’s all just a big, sad mess. You know what I want to believe? That I never saw this movie.

Pathology: Once upon a time, when I was just young girl, I got very high marks in science and my teacher recommended me for a special medical program. I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. I once got to hold a severed and rotting human hand. The skin of the fingertips had been sliced off so the police could try and get fingerprints. It was pretty amazing. I might have stuck with it too, except… that’s a LOT of school. So I was intrigued by the idea of a movie about a bunch of medical students who attempt to use their knowledge of forensics to try and commit the perfect crime. Except that the whole committing the perfect crime thing is sort of sidebar to the whole once-respectable-up-and-coming-doctor-decides-to-do-crack-and-bang-some-chick-doctor-in-order-to-fit-in storyline. All they do is kill some people and then try and have their classmates guess how they did it. In fact, the crimes they DO commit are often sloppy and would in reality leave behind tons of forensic evidence at the crime scenes of people they have a connection to. And of course, no one at this fancy hospital realizes that some of these corpses have autopsies performed on them in the dead of night with no record of it being done. Lame. Although if you’re into the idea of seeing a fake corpse that vaguely resembles a naked Alyssa Milano, you’re in for a treat.

Twilight: I contemplated having this movie occupy all 5 slots on my worst list ... but I know you guys already know the depths of my dislike for the movie, so I thought one would be sufficient. I’ve said everything I can coherently say about how bad this movie is and how much it takes what is good about the book and shits all over it. Bella and Edward don’t suck face like sloppy teenagers in the book. They kiss and caress like passionate lovers, overwhelmed by lust, unable to satisfy their deepest want and needs and trying to slake their desires somehow. It can get quite steamy… in fact, there are even reports of women getting so heated they seduce their menfolk and name the resulting babies Bella or Edward. But more than just titillating, the characters are interesting and their story is compelling. But Summit ... or Catherine Hardwicke ... or someone ... decided it would be much better to just stick a bunch of good-looking emo kids on screen and make everything dreary and full of angst and, like, totally serious. What a fucking waste. In the wake of the news that Hardwicke has walked away (or was sent away) from the sequel, I can only hope that my hex works completely, and the production is continually plagued by problems and has to shut down permanently. Now the thought of THAT turns me on.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds, Prom Night, the end of The Ruins, Shutter, The Attic.

So that’s it for 2008 ... the good and the bad. Here’s to a bloody good 2009!

[Andrew Kasch]

[The Foywonder]


[The Buz]

[Morgan Elektra]

[Debi "The Woman in Black" Moore]

[Johnny Butane]

[Uncle Creepy]



Iäm just stunned over the fact that almost all of you, if not everyone, have Saw V as one of the worst movies this year. I think it was one of the top horror movies this year, really brilliant. Sure it wasn't as horrifying as the others, but it was still very good!

To [Andrew Kasch]:
Well, looks like I can agree on most parts...
BUT, if you are going to give credit you have to look up some facts.. Let the right one in (or "Låt den rätte komma in") is a SWEDISH movie, not a Norwegian.
And belive me when I say this, we don't want to be compared to norwegians.

Submitted by ekneb on Sun, 01/04/2009 - 8:00am.
Doc Block's picture

I got to see Let The Right One In and Repo! yesterday. Both of them live up to their hype. Out of the two though, I absolutely LOVED Repo!. That is my number one horror flick of the year. Let The Right One In was a deep and emotional film, but I loved it too. Repo! was simply awesome though!

Submitted by Doc Block on Sat, 01/03/2009 - 11:36pm.
Blockbuster's picture

Me thinks that Franco has a thing for tranny porn. Or just trannies...I'm just sayin'. ;-)

Submitted by Blockbuster on Sat, 01/03/2009 - 11:17pm.
Ultimo Franco's picture

Did I miss something? Where is Value's list? Don't tell me he spent another year watching nothing but tranny porn.

Also, while I'm on the topic, why are both Value AND Jon Condit listed as mods in the forums? Is this some kind of split-personality, Dark Half, Raising Cain, tranny porn kind of thing?

Submitted by Ultimo Franco on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 7:53pm.
Ultimo Franco's picture

Was Funny Games really the most divisive film ever discussed at Dread Central? Well let me tell you the story of another divisive film from 2008...


Yeah, I plugged. Don't cost nuthin.

Submitted by Ultimo Franco on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 7:12pm.
Blockbuster's picture

That's a lotta dirt.

Submitted by Blockbuster on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 1:14am.
Mr. Dark's picture

Oh, and PS: the fact that The Strangers didn't make it onto anyone's 'worst' list is a crying shame. Just sayin'. :)

Mr. Dark
Part-Time Dread Central Gaming Guy
Full-Time Freelance Smartass

Submitted by Mr. Dark on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:56am.
Johnny Butane's picture

First of all, speak for yourself; I ain't ugly by any stretch of the imagination. I'd fucke me in a second.

Second, The Strangers was on the first draft of my "Worst" list but was replaced by Seed when that wormed it's way back into my consciousness.

Submitted by Johnny Butane on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:17pm.
The Buz's picture

Yeah I'd fuck the sense out of me too.

Submitted by The Buz on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:01pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

Sexiest male horror staff on the interwebs, by far. Why else would I work here?

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 10:52pm.
Johnny Butane's picture

And THAT, folks, is how you keep your job! :D

Submitted by Johnny Butane on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 11:44pm.
Cash Bailey's picture

Fuck it all... LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is, quite simply, one of the greatest movies of all time.

If you disagree you are wrong.

Submitted by Cash Bailey on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 10:40pm.
Mr. Dark's picture

See, now my confusion is this: have you met the DC crew? With the exception of the very few lovely ladies, this is one seriously motley crew of -fugly- fellas. Dick sucking by any of us would be a minus, not a plus.

It'd be more correct to say that so far, Bousman has not been subjected to the horror of a DC-crew dick sucking due to our enjoyment of his latest project. You should be demanding that we -do- inflict said sucking on the man due to your hatred of his film.

Mr. Dark
Part-Time Dread Central Gaming Guy
Full-Time Freelance Smartass

Submitted by Mr. Dark on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:12pm.
RingoJ's picture

How many dicks was that?

Submitted by RingoJ on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:08pm.
The Buz's picture

Like a virgin.

Submitted by The Buz on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:29pm.
Nomad's picture

46. approximately. maybe. I'm gonna go brush my teeth.

Submitted by Nomad on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:56pm.

I will make sure my cock stays unwashed... Got a lot of smegma to get me cleaned up down there boy!

Submitted by PelusaMG on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 2:32pm.
Nomad's picture

ug..you had to make this dirty.

Submitted by Nomad on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:17pm.

I'm dirtier than a dirt truck full of dirt, trundling up a dirt road with a cabin full of dirtbags!!!

Submitted by PelusaMG on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:30pm.

Dead Set was a lot of fun. I feel like it was too long by about a half hour or so (of course, I watched the whole thing in one sitting and it may have worked better episodically), but the first hour and last half hour were phenomenal. I'd love to see it come back for another limited run.

Submitted by G.D. on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:19am.
Moonworks's picture

I missed Dead Set the first time, but watching it at the mo on Channel 4.

Seems pretty good.


Submitted by Moonworks on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 5:07pm.

Cool lists, guys. Makes me wish I saw more horror films this year. I'm still kicking myself for missing "Let the Right One In" when it played by me. I did see a few horror films, but mostly disappointments. The only one I sort of enjoyed was "Cloverfield."

Submitted by What The Cat Dr... on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:07am.
shaneg's picture

Sadly I haven't seen much new horror this year, and most of what I did see was just OK. Diary of the Dead while disappointing was still OK to me. I enjoyed Cloverfield. Was it great? Not really, but I was entertained for $4.00 at a 10am showing. The Happening was garbage. I enjoyed The Strangers. I just watched Hellboy II for the first time and I liked that. Hell, what do I know? I enjoyed Zombie Strippers! It sounds like a lot of the better sounding movies weren't even released anywhere near me. Guess I'll have to wait to netflix most of them.

Submitted by shaneg on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:41pm.

So when everyone stops sucking Darren Lynn Bousman's dick.. can we get an honest horror review.

I don't believe that so many people on one site would list this utter piece of shit as a top horror movie of the year.

I guess you'll be the only 9 people buying the dvd I see.

Submitted by FataleNoir on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 7:21pm.
moderator Considering just about
Debi Moore's picture

Considering just about everyone also listed Let the Right One In, I suppose that means we're sucking Tomas Alfredson's dick as well. Man, is my mouth tired!

Submitted by Debi Moore on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:59pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

You really should stretch first... You don't want to hurt yourself. ;)

I wish I had remembered to put Let the Right One In on my best list. For some reason, my brain relegated it to 2007. I also meant to include Saw V to my honorable mentions for my worst, but my brain just will NOT remember it. I saw a couple other movies the same night I saw that, and not three hours later when I was talking about what movies I watched, I couldn't remember it for the life of me!!

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:58pm.
Sirand's picture

I love the people who piss and moan for an "honest" review when all they really want is to see a movie they didn't like trashed.

Submitted by Sirand on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 10:16pm.
Nomad's picture

Quite a few more than 9 people.

Submitted by Nomad on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 8:39pm.

Hopefully more than the number who actually saw it :)

Submitted by FataleNoir on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 8:52pm.
Nomad's picture

Do you know ANYTHING about this movie???

Submitted by Nomad on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 11:25pm.

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