Hello again, you sexy f**kers! (You ugly bastards keep scrolling, I’m not talking to you) and here we are, at the end of yet another year! And life just seems to keep throwing things at us like we’re sitting on some wall waiting to get knocked down. Sometimes they’re nice things being thrown, like new jobs that pay your bills even if they make you work unearthly hours. Other times, it’s things like DVDs of GROWN UPS 2, which go down as well as Jello from Bill Cosby.
We lost a few people this year, names in and out of the horror business: Sir Christopher Lee. Wes Craven. Gunnar Hansen. Lemmy. Yvonne Craig. James Horner. Chris Squire. Terry Pratchett. Leonard Nimoy. Rod Taylor. And think of all those who sadly didn’t die: Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler…
Looking back on what I considered the Best and Worst THAT I’VE WATCHED IN 2015 (Get that, folks? I will surely have missed a few gems and turds along the way given the way real life works – I definitely want the chance to see CIRCUS OF THE DEAD, for instance – but maybe you can offer some other suggestions and/or warnings for me), it’s a small but strange bunch, some of them maybe not even being classed strictly as horror. there’s a few Westerns in there, too, strangely enough. Typical: you wait years for a Western-themed horror, and then three come along at once…
And because I’m told to always end things on an upswing (as the hangman said), I’ll start with my list of the Worst Horror Movies of 2015, some with links to the earlier, more detailed reviews:
FANT4STIC FOUR: First of all, you’ve got that idiotic thing where a number is substituted for a letter or letters in the title, because it looks cool and hip, but in reality looks as dated and embarrassing like your grandfather trying to be cool as fuck (unless your grandfather is David Bowie, in which case he *is* cool as fuck). You’d think the premise would be fairly easy to pull off – they’re superheroes who are like a family – but somehow gets botched and muddled up. It’s not helped when you hand your multi-million dollar franchise to a man who only made one low-budget movie beforehand. When a shitty Roger Corman version ends up being more faithful to the source material, you know you’re fucked.
EXTINCTION JURASSIC PREDATORS: Wow, this really annoyed me. I mean, like having to sit next to Fran Dreschler on a transatlantic flight annoying. If this was a Bingo Card listing all the tired cliches of the Found Footage genre, PLUS the inclusion of one of the most annoying central characters since Jar Jar Binks, then you’d be taking home the top prize before killing yourself when you realise this is the best your life is gonna get. Enjoy the DVD cover, because it’s better than anything you’re gonna see in the actual movie, where a film crew consisting of a couple of assholes with backpacks allegedly go into the Amazon (which looks suspiciously like Wales) and get attacked, the film footage was found later on with no trace of the crew, yadda yadda…)
THE WALKING DECEASED: Comedy is a fickle thing, like one of those inbred monarchs – so easy to get things wrong, and then you find yourself in a dungeon getting fingered by a hunchback (or is that just me?). Someone should tell these filmmakers that there’s more to making spoofs or satires of the genres than throwing in identifiable references to sources such as THE WALKING DEAD, ZOMBIELAND, WARM BODIES, SHAUN OF THE DEAD and probably others. The secret is to tap into what makes these sources worth spoofing or satirising. Oh, and maybe you can have some jokes in your comedy, too? Or am I being overly demanding, like some beefy, very handsome version of Verucca Salt?
THE HATEFUL EIGHT: Not necessarily horror, but Tarantino gets a pass for his genre credentials, and because I reviewed his last movie DJANGO UNCHAINED here, and while I enjoyed that, this movie was everything that could have gone wrong with DJANGO: overlong, boring, repetitious in dialogue and action, this tale of eight nasty characters stuck in a cabin in a blizzard could have been cut in half. Tarantino’s taken the fanboys’ love of his long monologues too much to heart and gave us a self-indulgent home movie of his favourite character actors playing Cowboys Who Talk Alot; the few instances of gore are hardly worth it.
THE VATICAN TAPES: Everything you expect a PG-13 horror to be. I’ve seen scarier demons on Scooby Doo.
What, you want more? No. Screw you. Instead, I’ll tell you a story about going off this Christmas to Whitby, on the east coast of England, where the English parts of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was set. We spent the evening in a dog-friendly pub where our border terrier Edna feasted on bacon treats and lots of attention. I eventually brought her back to the cottage where we were staying, but the little scamp ran out when the wind blew open the front door, and she raced directly back to the pub to the delight of all the customers. What a happy little pup she was that night!
Trust me, that little anecdote was more entertaining than this movie.
THE SAND: This one falls into the More Disappointing Than Bad. Okay, it was bad in places too. But it had the core of a decent idea: a group of partygoers wake up on an isolated beach finding themselves surrounded by something that is buried beneath the surface, something which shoots up tendrils that devour flesh. All flesh. Alone and bereft of contact with the outside world. It could have worked.
Instead, we get a collection of unpleasant shrill characters cursing and screaming at each other – seriously, is it that complicated a thing for screenwriters to remember that suspense is generated by caring for the characters in peril? – and by not staying with the subtle-but-effective effects they used for most of the movie, and ending with a garish, shitty monster for the finale, a display of animation that makes the worst of the Asylum look like the best of Christopher Nolan.
So there are my worst. But what of my best? Stay tuned…