Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween Movie Help 2011

If you're like me, you've been thinking about Halloween for many weeks now (ok...months).  Unlike me, you probably haven't turned your front yard into a decrepit graveyard complete with zombies, skeletons, and a machete-wielding Jason.  Nevertheless, in keeping with a tradition I started last year, I am providing you with a list of horror films sure to make you scream, gag, or pee a little. 

So without further a-boo (sorry...couldn't resist), here are the best horror flicks I've seen in the past year. 


The Horde (2009):  One of the best zombie flicks ever made, and it's from France!  Cops and a gang of seriously bad bad guys are forced to team up to battle the encroaching, um, horde.  It's a gritty, gory, adrenaline rush that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go.  And in my opinion, has the greatest shoot 'em up scene...ever (that's it there on the poster).  It.  Is.  Awesome.

Mutants (2009):  Also French, this one's more subtle than The Horde but no less gripping.  During a virus-induced zombie apocalypse, a couple flee to the mountains and take refuge in an abandoned hospital.  One is infected, one is immune, but the transformation is so slow that we're treated to the grisly and heartbreaking process.  There's also a group of survivalists that cause some grief... not to mention masses of undead brain-munchers.

Evil (2005):  Unique horror from Greece.  Here, transformation is instantaneous, which makes things interesting.  Also interesting is the use of split-screen and weird music.  Come on, it's Greek zombies.  How do you say no to that?

Dead Meat (2004):  This Irish offering is short, cheap, and so good it's scary.  Survivors group together and try to reach an army base, fighting off the undead the whole way.  And good news for those of you who don't like to subtitles! 

Doghouse (2009):  Off-the-wall, dark British humor highlights this tale of six misogynistic guys who travel to a small village to get away from their respective spouses and party.  Too bad they didn't know about the military experiment that turned town's women into flesh-eating zombies!

Subject Two (2006):  A very different kind of zombie film, this story revolves around a scientist and a "volunteer" who experiment with reanimation in a cabin on a snow-swept mountain.  It's odd and unsettling.  And you'll think you know what's really going on.  Not a chance. 


The Changeling (1980):  Arguably the greatest haunted house film ever made, The Changeling has a grieving George C. Scott moving into a large house with a secret past.  Eschewing "gotcha" shots in favor of genuine chilling tension will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The scene with the bouncing ball may knock you out of your seat.  This is a must-see for all horror fans.

Fragile (2007):  A deteriorating children's hospital is closing, but something is terrorizing the remaining kids.  Finding out what that something is will be the most fun you've had watching a movie in a long time.  This is a big budget Hollywood flick so it looks great and has A-list acting.  It's a blast!

The Locals (2003):  He's a safety tip...if girls in a car pop up in the middle of nowhere and ask if you want to come to a party, you say "hell no" and keep driving.  Otherwise, you could be sucked into a world of local paranormal drama from which you can't escape.  You'll have fun trying to figure out what the hell's going on. 

They're Watching Us (2002):  Spanish horror that's a bit trippy.  A cop's sister vanished when they were kids and now he's obsessed with the idea that ghosts took her and had wanted him as well.  When they take his daughter, will he make the ultimate sacrifice to save her? 

Hidden (2009):  A boy escapes his evil, abusive mother, but when he returns home for her funeral as an adult, he discovers that someone else paid the price for his freedom.  Disturbing horror from Norway, this one will creep you out and make you appreciate your own childhood, no matter how messed up you think it was.


Night of the Demons (2009):  Silly plot, hammy actors, great F/X and a kick-ass soundtrack make this one a hoot.  Give a few thousand brain cells the night off and watch it.  You won't be sorry.  The scene with the face being pulled off is worth the price of admission all by itself.  What?  You want a plot synopsis?  Look at the title.'s a remake.  You should already know.  So there.

Devil (2010):  Hitchcock-esque shocker that goes like a rocket-powered roller coaster.  Strangers trapped in an office building's elevator.  One is the devil.  Cops and security watch helplessly via closed circuit video as they're bumped off (of course the lights go out each time).  You'll think you know who it is.  You won't.  Not so much scary as an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter, but it IS the devil so, you know...horror.

The Rite (2011):  Anthony Hopkins is a Welsh exorcist living in Rome who is tasked with showing a young and skeptical American priest the ropes.  The kid ends up with more than he bargained for when the exorcist gets possessed by a powerful demon.  This movie looks great and the acting will mesmerize.  Hopkins is simply a master.  If you're looking for breathless action or buckets of gore, though, look elsewhere.  At the risk of sounding like a pretentious ass, consider this one a thinking man's horror film.  (Yeah, that was pretentious ass-ness, wasn't it?)

Suspiria (1977):  What can I say?  It's in the same league as The Exorcist, Psycho, and The Changeling.  And pardon the cussing, but Suspiria will spook the shit out of you in the first ten minutes and keep you well and truly spooked.  It's stylish Italian horror at its best and should not be missed.  (Don't worry, they all speak English.)

Predators (2010):  More than worthy sequel with buff Adrian Brody leading the fight against the alien hunters.  Breathless action and knife-edge tension make this one a hell of a good time.


Night of the Living Dorks (2004):  German flick (dubbed, not subtitled) with three high school friends accidentally getting turned into zombies.  Hilarity ensues.  Lots of butts and marijuana in this one (don't ask me why).  Not on par with Shaun of the Dead by any means, but still well worth a look. 

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009):  Classic horror author H.P. Lovecraft wrote about terrible monsters and ancient evil.  But what if he wasn't writing fiction?  What if he was part of a secret society to keep that evil contained?  And what if it fell to his slacker heir to battle the monsters when the containment begins to fail?  These questions are answered with a wink and a nod and tongues in cheeks.  Turn off the logic section in your brain and just roll with it. 

Blood and Donuts (1995):  There's quirky and then there's Blood and Donuts.  This film came out before vampires became sickeningly popular so it's ok to watch and like it.  I'll warn is weird.  The lives of a donut waitress, a cab driver, and a vampire intertwine in the seedy part of the city.  Toss in the mob and an ex-girlfriend hell-bent on revenge and you've got yourself a movie. 

So there you go.  Take your pick and enjoy.  You can thank me later (I like those snack-size Twix and Kit Kats, by the way).  If I'm able, I'll put together another list of horror films soon but instead of the best, I'll let you know which ones were the worst.  I'm afraid that might be a much longer list...

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