The Best and Worst of 2007

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 Sinns's picture

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!

Submitted by Tristan Sinns on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:03pm.
DW Bostaph Jr's picture

Let me know what you think when u see them. Completely different films, but both as cerebral as you can get.

Submitted by DW Bostaph Jr on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 1:00pm.

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.

Submitted by plagiarize on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 9:48am.
admin moderator Cinematic Socialism? You
Jon Condit's picture

Cinematic Socialism? You can be a film commie if you want to, leave me out.

Submitted by Jon Condit on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 12:25am.

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!

Submitted by PelusaMG on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:33pm.
Terminal's picture

I mist was Johnny was talking about, I was very mistifyed by his misterious anger toward miscussing the mist.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:15pm.
Terminal's picture

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.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:13pm.
Melissa Bostaph's picture

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.

Submitted by Melissa Bostaph on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:54pm.
DW Bostaph Jr's picture

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.

Submitted by DW Bostaph Jr on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:49pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

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

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:33pm.

Mist? Mist, Mist, Mist, Mist, Mistity Mist!

Submitted by Kryten Syxx on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:19pm.
Johnny Butane's picture

Oh my God, stop talking about The Mist.

Submitted by Johnny Butane on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 3:05pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

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.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:54pm.

"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.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:45pm.

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?

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:39pm.
moderator For me, just not liking
Debi Moore's picture

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 . . .

Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:28pm.
Blockbuster's picture

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.

Submitted by Blockbuster on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:05pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

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.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:55pm.

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.

Submitted by PelusaMG on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:38pm.

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.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:32pm.
Morgan Elektra's picture

"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.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:18pm.
Sirand's picture

I can understand people falling into the hype about Hatchet and being underwhelmed...but WORST OF THE YEAR? C'mon...

Submitted by Sirand on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 12:01pm.

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.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 11:58am.
moderator Here's my thing ... I know
Steve Barton's picture

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.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 11:51am.

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.

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:29am.

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...

Submitted by G.D. on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:09am.
Morgan Elektra's picture

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.

Submitted by Morgan Elektra on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 9:27am.

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.

Submitted by plagiarize on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:30am.
Terminal's picture

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.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:57am.

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