I have been so excited to write my Best Horror Films of 2015 list this year!! I usually struggle to find eight films that I love (my lists are usually ten items long), but this year I increased my list to fifteen because I saw so many great ones in 2015. Due to a pesky, intruding personal life, I got slightly behind in writing up reviews. There are a few films on this list that don’t have accompanying reviews for yet, but I solve that by going into a little more detail about why I love them. Also, there are two or three films on this list that I link to Deggsy’s reviews. I only do this because I completely, wholeheartedly agree with what Deggsy wrote in his review. Let’s get to it!!
I’ve been following the career of indie horror filmmaker James Cullen Bressack for many years now, and there’s fewer things in life I enjoy more than watching a filmmaker grow and mature. Bressack has done just that. With every film he makes he learns something, and all his knowledge culminated in PERNICIOUS. What could have been a simple and standard ghost story becomes so much more. With great performances, a fantastic script, and many surprises along the way, PERNICIOUS was easily one of the best films of 2015. Don’t stop, James!!
This movie surprised the hell out of me. Going into AVENGED I was expecting an average to below-average rape-revenge flick. This is indeed a rape-revenge flick, but it is also so much more. Writer-director Michael S. Ojeda gives us a fantastic script that is executed brilliantly. What could have devolved into camp and exploitation was kept at a dramatic level rarely seen in this sub-genre. Add to this some great actors and extremely well-written characters, and AVENGED is a film not to be missed!!
SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
This is one of the films I saw in late December and just didn’t have time to write up the review for. This is a wonderfully funny and effective zombie movie that keeps the comedy and horror elements separate. The premise is simple. Three life-long friends have been in the boy scouts for years, and when the zombie apocalypse comes they utilize the skills they learned in the scouts to survive. The movies is full of great characters, beautiful, sexy women, plenty of well-written humor, and tons of deadly zombies. This movie can also boast having one of the sexiest topless zombies ever captured on film!! Don’t miss this one, it is hugely entertaining.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW (Deggsy’s review)
Released earlier this year, DIGGING UP THE MARROW is a horror film that can be placed in the “meta” category. Writer-director Adam Green bashes the found footage sub-genre while at the same time making a fantastic found footage film. The basic story has Green making a documentary on monster movies and runs in William Dekker (the fantastic Ray Wise), who claims to have solid proof that real monsters exist. Everything about this film is enjoyable and the ending has a huge payoff.
This is a film that many of my readers were surprised I enjoyed it so much–I was also surprised by how much I liked this film. This is a slow-burner about an American traveling through Italy who meets a mysterious girl who has a huge secret she’s been covering up for many years. With elements of HP Lovecraft as well as body horror, SPRING keeps you guessing as to what is really going on, and when we finally get the explanation, it is fantastic. But the strength of this film lies in the characters and how human the “monster” is. Besides having great actors and a great script, SPRING is beautifully shot and is absolutely hypnotizing.
Another zombie movie makes my Best of list!! This film is based on the video games, and one of the strengths of this film is that it captures the best parts of the games. Besides being action packed, DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER, has great characters, ferocious zombies, throws in lots of humor in the perfect places, and is wonderfully gory. I read that a sequel is on its way, and as long as they can make lightening strike twice, I say bring it on. This film is a lot of fun.
Wait wait wait. Anything Horror Scott has a ghost story on his Best of list?? You know it!! WE ARE STILL HERE is one of the best ghost stories I’ve seen in a really long time. Writer-director Ted Geoghegan doesn’t miss a detail and hits this one out of the park. The tone, the actors and characters, the backstory… everything is spot on. The film stars Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig as a couple who moves into an old farm house only to find out they have some extra tenants living there. Sounds pretty standard, doesn’t it? Trust me when I tell you that as standard as the set up is, the execution will leave you breathless. Take it from someone who generally does not enjoy ghost stories, WE ARE STILL HERE will leave you frightened and stunned. This film also has one helluva soundtrack.
I just watched STUNG on New Year’s Eve, that is why there is no review yet. Are you looking for a creature feature that feels like a throwback to the good old days but still has a modern feel to it? STUNG is the film for you. A catered wine party at a huge estate is crashed by some killer wasps. These, though, aren’t you’re standard wasps. These are mutated, seven-foot long aggressive wasps that have a thing for stinging and killing people. Great acting and characters top this film along with a fast-paced script and great writing. Best of all, we get some terrific practical effects. Gory, fun, and creepy. What more could you ask for? This is a great film.
No other horror movie this year divided audiences like THE GREEN INFERNO. This is writer-director Eli Roth’s love letter to the Italian-cannibal films of the 70s and early 80s. If you grew up, as I did, on those films then you are in for a treat. Roth nails the tone, atmosphere, and fun on those films. The characters are broadly written, the dialogue is cheesy, and the gore is tough to watch. I saw this in the theater with other Italian-cannibal fans and it was a huge party. The ending was set up for a possible sequel, but I say leave perfection alone!!
COOTIES (Deggsy’s review)
The third zombie film on my best of list?? Hell yes, and if you notice, all the zombie flicks on my list are not your standard, run-of-the-mill undead films. Deggsy and I saw this around the same time and Deggsy liked it so much that he wanted to write up the review (it is also on his Best of list). In COOTIES, tainted school chicken nuggets are the cause of the zombie outbreak and there’s only one thing that can protect people from the virus: You must be pre-pubescent. That’s right, as long as you haven’t hit puberty yet you are safe. As Deggsy points out, one of the strengths here is with the really well-written characters. This is yet another horror-comedy that hits all the right notes while still being gory and scary.
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO meets TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL meets CABIN IN THE WOODS in this fantastic horror film. A group of twenty-somethings get trapped inside the slasher film they are watching and must use their knowledge of horror films to try and survive. This is another film that could have easily drifted into camp and could have become gimmicky, but director Todd Strauss-Schulson keeps everything focused to deliver one of the best films of the year. This quote from my review summarizes this film perfectly:
What Wes Craven began in NEW NIGHTMARE and further explored in his SCREAM films is taken to a new level in THE FINAL GIRLS.
You are indeed reading this correctly. One of the 8 Films to Die For films made my Best of list. How in the world could a horror film that has pancakes as a major plot point be good? Just watch this one and find out for yourself. We get a pretty typical set up as a group of twenty-something counselors are heading into the woods to open a bible camp. Unfortunately for them the evil spirit of long dead lumberjack is back to exact his revenge. What is he pissed about? A colleague of his stole his flapjack recipe back in the 1800s. This has all the trappings of a “slasher-in-the-woods” film but due to some great writing, creative kills, and fun gore, LUMBERJACK MAN was hugely entertaining. Plus you get to see a really sexy girl covered in maple syrup. Bonus!!
Another creature flick/body horror movie I saw in mid-December, hence no review. I wouldn’t recommend eating while watching this one. A woman and her two friends go to the islands for her bachelorette party. While there, the bride-to-be gets bitten by a bug. Thinking nothing of it, that bite ends up causing a whole lot of trouble. BITE has a really fun vibe to it and is a great gross out movie. We see the lead slowly transform into something hideous and disgusting while she tries like hell to retain a bit of her humanity. This was a favorite on the festival circuit, and with the strong acting and direction, I see this being a hit in the rental market as well.
BONE TOMAHAWK (Deggsy’s review)
Another slow burner that hits all the right notes. This film works as both a horror film and as a western. In it, Kurt Russell and a group of others head out to track down a clan of savage-aboriginal-cannibal-Troglodytes. Deggsy says it perfectly in his review:
But if the movie has any major failing, it will be that it will be too horrific for Western fans, and too Westerny for horror films. But that’s the nature of hybrids.
But believe me that when the violence and gore begin, it is unflinching and very difficult to watch. This is a great film.
Even though this list is not in any particular order, I must say that HELL FIRE is easily in my top three films of 2015. I was so surprised by this one that I was practically jumping for joy as I was watching it. Writer-director Marc Fratto gives us a mash-up film that starts off as a heist gone wrong flick that transforms into one kick ass horror film full of demons and satan itself. In addition to some fantastic writing, great gore and violence, and a break-neck pace, HELL FIRE also has one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Actress Selene Beretta’s Rosetta is… she is just… Oh hell, here’s a quote from my review:
[Rosetta’s] got a mouth that would make a marine-biker-chef blush, ninety percent of the things she says is sarcasm, she’s brutal, and she’s hot. After Rosetta violently knocks out another character she looks at them on the floor and says, “That’s for kicking me in the vag … you know I need that for work!!” I absolutely fell in love with this character!!
What a fantastic year for horror films!! I know that I didn’t see every single horror film released in 2015, so please leave me your comments about what films I missed that belong on my list, and even the films on my list that you don’t think belong on it.
Stay Bloody in 2016!!!