Dread Central's Best & Worst of 2008

Debi "The Woman In Black" Moore's Picks

I saw close to 100 movies over the past 12 months so when it came time to compile this list, I was quite thankful for my trusty spreadsheet with ratings and comments about them all. Despite some very dismal lows (and oh, how low they go!), there are so many bright spots that limiting myself to just five is impossible. As a result, with apologies to the sticklers in the group, here are my picks for the Best of 2008, starting with a quick Top Five:

The Best and Worst of 2008

5. Midnight Meat Train: Certainly the finest looking, most stylish film of 2008 was screenwriter Jeff Buhler and director Ryûhei Kitamura's adaptation of Clive Barker's The Midnight Meat Train. When we got home from our journey to find a theatre even showing the damn thing, I wrote "makes the top five", and now, four months later, I can't disagree. It has terrific tension and the badass bad guy of the year. The few lapses in judgment by the characters only serve to make it more of a fantasy situation, which ties in nicely with the reveal of the train's ultimate destination and purpose. The ending could have been fleshed out a bit better, but again, since it's such a fantasy, it allows the viewers to imagine it however they choose. Not a perfect film by far but certainly deserving of mention and a round of applause.

4. Cloverfield: Aside from Punisher: War Zone (which, I dare say, was a good deal more magnificently bloody and brutal than any other flick that debuted this past year), the only film I saw twice in the theatre was Cloverfield. Its portrayal of our post-9/11 ADD-afflicted, instant gratification-demanding world was dead on. I couldn't be more different from them, but I connected with the characters and found the whole Cloverfield experience nothing but stellar. And the monster attacks were none too shabby either. Sure, it would have been nice to see more of the beasts, but all in all, it was the best time I've had at the movies in years -- even more so the second time around.

Repo! The Genetic Opera (click for larger image)3. Repo! The Genetic Opera: Meat Train's fellow Lionsgate cast-off Repo! The Genetic Opera is next on my list. We've told you guys almost everything there is to know about it. It is the hands down winner of the 2008 Blown Opportunity Award. But I'm confident it will find its audience and attain its rightful position in filmdom's hierarchy. Nothing comes close to matching its visionary sweep and visual stimulation. Or its originality and creativity. Everyone involved does such a great job; it's imaginative, funny, clever, and touching -- in a word, operatic!

2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Imaginations must have been running utterly rampant on the set of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II. It came close to being my #1 pick, but a few things kept it back, especially Selma Blair's performance, which I found to be a bit of a weak link with some badly delivered lines. But otherwise it was beautiful -- inside and out. His hero may not have a human soul, but Del Toro sure does, and he knows how to use it to its best advantage. Hellboy II is stunning with its deep emotions and poignant moments between the characters with just a touch of comic relief. It's everything you could want -- plus a bunch of truly remarkable monsters and creatures. Even the villain is very three-dimensional and sympathetic. But all empathy belongs to Red -- and Perlman. He IS Hellboy!

1. The Signal: You want complex, interesting characters? Look no further than this intense, thought-provoking three-way from David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry. The idea of breaking up a film into segments and having different directors shoot each one isn't new, but these guys execute it quite brilliantly with just enough overlap to keep things real and moving forward. When I saw it way back in February, I wrote this "scary and extremely violent sci-fi Pulp Fiction plus Affair to Remember [is] probably one of the year's best." Indeed, when all was said and done, it was THE best!

And so, what else merits special consideration? My "Best of the Rest" include indie sensations Dance of the Dead, Netherbeast Incorporated, and Teeth. Theatrical releases Quarantine, Doomsday, and The Incredible Hulk easily earned a 4 out of 5 rating so I'd say that makes them worthy of an end-of-year commendation. On the tube we were treated to HBO's delightful "True Blood" and E4's ingenious "Dead Set". Rounding things out are the headsy and arresting Gabriel and Spiral as well as a trio of offerings from Sweden, France, and the UK, respectively: Let the Right One In, Inside, and The Cottage. Any and all of these are outstanding reminders of the superior parts of 2008.

The Best and Worst of 2008

Unfortunately, along with the good comes the bad. Being a firm believer in the old adage If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all, I'll keep it short and sweet:

5. The Happening: The worst script of the year had to be The Happening. Not to insult teenagers, but it honestly could have been written by one. I don't know when I've been more talked down to by a film. Between this and the equally god-awful Max Payne, Marky Mark ought to be counting his blessings he's got "Entourage" around to pay his bills.

Shrooms DVD (click for larger image4. Shrooms: Even a ridiculous twist that Shyamalan himself would have seen coming a mile away couldn't save Shrooms. It wins the award for biggest letdown and most untapped potential. The worst part? I just know there was a decent movie somewhere in that mess!

3. Saw V: On the other hand -- trust me -- there is nothing remotely decent about Saw V. It is simply a slap in the face to the franchise's fans with its over-simplifications and explanations. But Julie Benz's wig is a real hoot!

2. The Eye: There were plenty of direct-to-DVD movies that I rated lower than The Eye remake, but nothing that hit the multiplex was worse in my opinion. The jump scares are abundant, the climax downright silly, and the chemistry between Alba and love interest Nivola non-existent. In short, the prepubescent girls sitting by us LOVED it!

1. April Fool's Day (2008): Not even the 12-year-olds, however, could muster much affection for April Fool's Day, the disappointingly substandard follow-up to The Hamiltons from the formerly promising Butcher Brothers. Considering how few critics have included the AFD remake on their end-of-year worst of lists, I'm convinced Creepy, Buz, and I are the only people on the planet who willfully subjected ourselves to it. It's abysmally dull and boring with awful acting and below average filming techniques. No other project from 2008 came close to matching its level of bad.

But plenty tried. The runners-up include Mother of Tears (oh, Dario, how far the mighty have fallen!), Mirrors (Kiefer, don't quit your day job), and Pulse 2: Afterlife (on the bright side, Pulse 3 is an improvement). Rounding out the bottom of the barrel, we have Women's Studies (which I had quite high hopes for), While She Was Out, and Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead. Do yourselves a favor and just keep moving along; there's nothing to see here.

Thanks for the memories, 2008! One can only hope 2009 will be even more impressive.

[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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