Yes, True Believers, it’s that time of year again! It’s getting closer and closer to New Years, as is your limits to the amount of leftover Christmas food you can stomach, not to mention all those review shows and articles, discussing the best and worst and the whatever of the past twelve months. Don’t you hate them?
Anyway, lookee here – it’s Deggsy’s list of the Ten Best Horror films of 2013!
(In his own opinion, of course. I’m no Absolute Arbiter of what’s good, bad or ugly in this world. That’s too much responsibility for a guy whose last cat ran away in disgust at the lack of attention it got (true story).
So don’t you put that curse on me.
DON’T YOU PUT THAT EVIL ON ME!)
What follows is my list, in no particular order, of what I considered the best of this year that I’ve seen, along with links to the more detailed reviews Scott or I have done for them, if applicable. I do have one regret, that I haven’t had the chance of seeing the remake of CARRIE yet, because I’ve heard some decent buzz from that, and it might be one to add to this list. In the meantime, read, and I invite you to comment, offer your own choices and/or opinions about my choices:
1. THE EVIL DEAD (reviewed by Scott here): Wow, now here was a movie that you never in a million years thought would be anything other than an abortion! A remake of a genuine classic, and written by Diablo Cody of JUNO fame? Early reports painted it as a piece of crap, and let’s face it, remakes don’t have a great reputation, do they? But the new EVIL DEAD proves to have bite, blood, and an oft-unflinching tone. No rude trees graphically violating women like they’d been watching too much Japanese ultraviolent porn, but you can’t have everything, can you?
2. CURSE OF CHUCKY (reviewed by me here): Another surprise (and yes, it’ll be a running thing with me, where movies I had little expectations for turn out to be much better), where I’d lost track of the CHILD’S PLAY franchise after the second one, never got around to seeing him bump uglies with Jennifer Tilly in either human or doll form, but really, I was waiting for the sequel where Chucky ended up in space killing actors pretending to be Space Marines from ALIENS. Instead, creator Don Mancini gave us a reboot, throwing aside the jokey, campy aspects of previous offerings to take Chucky back to his more terrifying roots, and apart from a coda giving us more endings than the last LORD OF THE RINGS movie, it was a very decent offering.
3. THE CONJURING: A supernatural thriller from James Wan (SAW, INSIDIOUS), this was based on a true story (okay, based on something people claim to have happened. It’s not like it’s a movie about the Hindenburg Disaster or something) of famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, ghostbusters called in to help a family terrorised by a dark, murderous presence in a secluded farmhouse. Wan continues to follow in his success from INSIDIOUS that you don’t need massive CGI to provide scares (though it helps to have a creepy doll, which gets to be creepy without having to move or talk in Brad Dourif’s voice).
4. MAMA (Reviewed by Scott here): A Spanish-Canadian film co-written and directed by Andres Muschietti based on a 2008 short film of the same name, this told the tale of two young sisters, abandoned in the woods after their father abducted him and got himself wasted by a mysterious entity the girls call ‘Mama’. Years later, when they are discovered and taken in by their uncle and his reluctant partner, they find that the possessive and obsessive Mama might have followed them… the spirit of Val Lewton and his shadows and jumps was invoked here, and though it went a little overboard at the end with the CGI, it still delivered chills galore.
5. TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (reviewed by me here): 2013 might be the Year of the Successful Reboot, as this will be the third in the list so far that surprised me (though technically this is a sequel to the original 1974 movie, ignoring the five – five? – movies that have been made inbetween), where a woman learns of an inheritance, a mansion deep in the heart of Texas, and of the huge ugly guy living in the cellar, and it’s not Sloth from THE GOONIES, either… While perhaps not as bloodthirsty as it could have been (notice how they dropped the word MASSACRE from the title?), Leatherface remains a potent horror icon, and I hope he gets revitalised.
6. NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES (Reviewed by me here): A late entry, thrown in because I’m still quite amazed by what filmmaker Dustin Mills brought to the table with a budget that wouldn’t pay for one back, sack and crack waxing session for Shia LaBeouf. It’s a Faustian tale where a nebbish guy sells his soul for a healthier heart, only to discover that his new heart is a telepathic, tentacle-wielding carnivore. There’s blood, guts, tendrils, romance, humour, tragedy, and a demon offering epoctrophilic assistance to masturbation. What more could you want for a movie made for less than $1500?
7. AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN (Reviewd by me here): I loves me a good monster movie, all giant creatures terrorising helpless teenagers. So when I watch this story, about a ragtag bunch of “juvenile” delinquents in the woods for boot camp, only to find a ten metre tall disfigured Paul Bunyan chopping them in half, I break out the beer and pizza and say, “Gracias, mothergrubbers!” It’s a slow starter but soon picks up momentum, and while the premise is dopey, at least it’s original, and we get disembowelments and dismemberments left, right and centre. A bit like an American redneck version of TROLL HUNTER, but definitely not to be taken seriously.
8. LORDS OF SALEM (Reviewed by guest contributor Sezin Koehler here and Scott here): Holy Halloween, what a movie! Rob Zombie movies seem to be a love/hate thing, but for me, I find them intricate, multilayered, ambiguous, mature, gritty, disturbing, and immensely watchable, and LORDS OF SALEM represents Zombie’s best work. His wife Sherri Moon Zombie plays Heidi, a radio DJ in modern-day Salem, who receives some mysterious albums from an unknown band called the Lords, and when she plays them on the air… I’m not saying any more, but will impress upon you all to see this, if you haven’t already. Zombie isn’t interested in spoon feeding you, or telling you in broad terms THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING. He’s there to give you an experience, and LORDS OF SALEM is certainly a viewing experience. See it.
9. MANIAC (Reviewed by me here): Back in the day, when the Boogeyman Du Jour for the bourgeois was Video Nasties, those sleazy slasher and exploitation movies that were finding their way into the burgeoning videotape market, one of the ones I would rent from my local shop was MANIAC, a grubby 1980 offering about a guy who went around killing and scalping women to put their hair on the mannequins in his apartment. When I heard that Elijah Wood was starring in a remake, I baulked. But the effort proved quite worthy, partly because they went for real, non-CGI gore (and lots of it too!), partly because Wood surprisingly did deliver the goods, and partly because director Frank Khalfoun invokes the spirit of Abel Ferrara, offering an 80s-style nocturnal cityscape full of shadow and neon, and also because he shot it entirely from the point of view of the title character, an audacious and successful move.
10. SHARKNADO (Reviewed by Scott here) What? You exclaim, spitting out your beer in dumbfounded astonishment. SHARKNADO, Deggsy? Have you had too much egg nog? Really, SHARKNADO, that shitty little SyFy/ Asylum flick about a hurricane lifting up and dropping CGI sharks here, there and everywhere, one of the best horror movies of the year? Well, I say Yes, and this is why: in a slew of forgettable found footage films, disappointing big-budget monstrosities, dull vanity projects, and movies that take potentially fascinating concepts and pisses on them, SHARKNADO delivers what it promises: a fast-paced beer-and-pizza movie where no expense was spent in giving us multiple scenes of crappy-looking sharks breaking the laws of physics, biology and probably decency too as they chomp into nobodies. And I predict that this one will be remembered long after the likes of WORLD WAR Z and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY PART 9 are forgotten.
And there you have it, my ten best horror films of the year! Tell me if you agree, disagree, and tell me why!