The Film Corner
TEN BEST HORROR FILMS OF 2013
(in ALPHABETICAL order)
Dir. Jacob VaughanAre you fond of scatological humour? Do you find farts, faecal matter and good old fashioned anal action of interest? Do you seek solace in globs of blood and excrement splashing across the screen? Well, hang onto your ass-hats. This is the most preposterously priceless gross-out laugh-riot I've seen this year. Furthermore, what is simply inarguable is that this exhilarating, almost rapturous comedy is replete with juicy slabs of exquisitely marbled prime-cut horror, featuring the most odious, stench-ridden, bloodthirsty, flesh-slurping and downright disgusting monster in recent cinema history. That the big-eyed, razor-toothed rectal-cavity-dwelling title creature is also E.T.-Mogwai-cute, is the veritable pièce de résistance of this putridly satisfying vat of raw, untreated sewage. Bad Milo is a glorious non-stop barrage of celluloid wet farts aimed directly at your olfactory senses and leading straight to your funny bone.
Dir. Blair EricksonOn a level of pure visceral horror, The Banshee Chapter could be the most terrifying movie of the past decade. This relentlessly intense first feature by writer-director Blair Erickson creeps about with a slow burn, mounting steadily with each passing scene until it begins tossing the tried and true shock cuts when you least expect them. After each and every wham-bam of a cinematic sledge hammer to the face, I found myself literally clutching my chest, gasping for breath and croaking out, repeatedly: "Jesus Christ!" There's absolutely no denying the sheer force and directorial skill on display, however, the shocks are earned by an utterly horrific backdrop involving something so creepy you should just experience it without knowing what it is. Great lead performances from the gorgeous Katia Winter and Ted Levine as a boozing, drug-infused Hunter S. Thompson-styled writer.
Dir. Michael and Shawn RasmussenA horror film is being shot in an ancient, dank and rotting Boston Lunatic Asylum that's been shuttered for years. The joint's full of gooey, black, viscous ectoplasm; built up from years of abusive weird-ass experiments upon the inmates by its psychotic head-doctor. Soon, our cast of characters will become possessed with the criminal madness of decades gone by. The impressive body-count in Dark Feed is matched only by the sickness that ratchets up to deliver a saturnalia of delectable barbarity. So seriously, Who in their right mind doesn't love asylums? Making their directorial debut here, the Rasmussen Brothers, having written the screenplay for John Carpenter's Looney-Bin-Scream-Fest The Ward, clearly understand this. And now, for their directorial debut, they've pulled out all the stops, the most important being PLENTY OF BABES. They also make sure the babes are a nice mix of looks and body types, but also, not all of the babes are victims. A couple of them are damn resourceful and kick-ass. This is a good thing. It proves the Rasmussens are feminists. As, it seems, am I. The movie is initially a slow burn, but the tension mounts steadily, giving us more than enough jolts and finally, the last half hour of the movie is so sick and scary it borders on the surreal.
Dir. Karen LamA young woman is victimized and exists in a supernatural state of purgatory wherein vengeance and atonement hang before her as heavily as the mists of the leafy Pacific Northwest forest she's been left for dead in. Angels and Demons cascade through her in equal measure as only one thing awaits those who dare harm the innocent. Canadian independent filmmaker Karen Lam doesn't offer easy answers to the actions detailed in her chilling, original horror fantasia and though the low budget, but well-crafted picture serves up its fair share of push-button tropes of the genre, these exist as mere surface details that force you to face the real horror in the film - the victimization of women that continues to permeate every fabric of society - especially in places one might least expect the kind of attitudes and behaviour displayed. In spite of narrative elements involving a shy young college student who is duped and abused by a rich frat boy, the overall effect of the film borders on the surreal as we morph from the real world into a purgatorial dream world. Victims blend with other victims - abusers blend into other abusers and the bucolic backdrop of college town dorms and rain-forest-like woods amidst the landscape of British Columbia eventually yield a kind of nightmare that never ends.
Dir. Scott SchirmerSometimes you see a movie, and no matter how much you enjoy it, no matter how good it is, no matter how much promise the filmmaker displays, you feel an overwhelming urge to draw a scalding hot bath and scrub yourself raw. Found is just such a film. Made for the princely sum of $8000, director Scott Schirmer's film adaptation of Todd Rigney's novel, dives into a septic tank of a truly rank viscous fluid that is as evocative of the societal blight plaguing its central characters as it is just plain, old stomach-churningly grotesque. Veering into territory that reminded me of the first time I ever saw the likes of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or, for that matter, Alan Ormsby's scum-bucket-o-rama Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile, Schirmer creates a coming of age movie unlike anything you could possibly imagine. Though aspects of the filmmaking are genuinely hampered by the lack of funds, it really doesn't matter - he accomplishes what ALL no-budget filmmakers need to do in order to stand out from the crowd of morons who think that, they too, have an inalienable right to make movies. He takes us to places that nobody in their right mind would want to ever visit. Visit, we do and visit, we must. Schirmer keeps us watching his jaw-droppingly relentless tale of brotherly love gone terribly wrong.
tied with . . .
Dir. Vincenzo NataliA house haunted by the evil spirit of a sexual psychopath with a predilection for young girls (played to perverse perfection by the inimitable Stephen McHattie) begins possessing the spirits of the fathers of families that move in. The house is full of families caught in a purgatory until one spirit, namely the plucky Abigail Breslin cottons on to what's happening and a standard haunted house film with overtones of both The Sixth Sense and The Others turns into something even more suspenseful and creepy. Though the screenplay by Brian Hunter feels a bit by-rote - so much so that I cottoned on to the aforementioned storyline within minutes of the creepy Groundhog Day-like setup - Natali's direction is so controlled, masterful and downright imaginative that I couldn't keep my eyes of the proceedings and kept whacking myself in the noggin every time I figured out where the story was going to go (which was quite a few times). So, in spite of the predictability factor, I still got creeped out, still jumped a few times and thoroughly enjoyed watching a first-rate cast delivering the goods. If anything, the movie reminded me of the sort of trailblazing horror and suspense films that were part of the 1970s ABC Movie of the Week which the eyeballs of my childhood were glued to. The difference here, though, is that the scope of the film comes far closer to such 70s theatrical offerings as Dan Curtis' House of Dark Shadows and Burnt Offerings as well as John Hough's The Legend of Hell House. With the great Splice and promising Cube notching his belt and now this fine, stylish scare-fest, it's safe to say Natali is one of the best genre directors out there. I just hope to God he never veers into the pretensions that his fellow Canuck David Cronenberg eventually sunk into.
Nothing Left To Fear
Dir. Anthony Leonardi IIIA family moves to a bucolic rural setting. The citizens of this leafy burgh seem to be the nicest, sweetest, friendliest folk one could ever imagine. That, of course, is because they aren't. We've seen a lot of horror films with this particular backdrop, but in recent years, none have been imbued with the good, old-fashioned, creepy-crawly chills that this one has. Produced by Slash of Guns n' Roses fame and intelligently directed by Anthony Leonardi III (one of Gore Verbinski's loyal go-to guys for first-rate storyboard art), this is one terrifying slow-burn that builds superbly to a horrifying conclusion. Blending 70s rural weirdness with the sort of atmosphere that the legendary Val Lewton brought to bear upon his groundbreaking 40s RKO horror classics, Nothing Left To Fear is one of this year's surprise horror delights.
Dir. Ti WestWhen Roger Corman let Peter Bogdanovich direct his first feature Targets, the young former film critic was faced with the requirement that he make a horror picture, to stay on budget, to use Boris Karloff for two shooting days and employ as much footage from an early Corman horror picture as humanly possible. He looked at the world around him and realized that the real world was the scariest thing of all and he turned to creating a mass murderer bred by a gun culture. Val Lewton knew that the real horror was the stuff of the modern world also and often used subjects such as childhood loneliness, marital strife and religious cults as the horrific backdrops for his horror movies. Director Ti West follows suit with this edge-of-the-seat thriller involving a Jim Jones-style cult leader. It's one chilling, scary-ass movie that grabs you very early in the proceedings and doesn't let up - steadily mounting in its intensity until a climax that will have you begging for mercy. There are no cheap shocks and the violence is always muted, roiling just below the surface. Infused with paranoia and a great villain played by the astounding character Gene Jones, West, whose previous effort, the fun and scary paranormal thriller The Innkeepers, is proving to be a potential master of finding chills, thrills and evil in dark, yet unlikely corners.
Dir. Jesse Thomas CookAny movie that opens with a weepy babe (Nicole G. Leier) taking a severely punishing crap replete with dulcet echoes of spurting, plopping and gaseous expulsions whilst said babe alternates twixt the release of putrid faecal matter with cum-shot-like geysers of stringy rancid vomit launching from within her maw, splattering triumphantly upon the grotesque tiles of a dimly lit toilet adorned top to bottom in slime, sludge, blown chunks and excrement, should be enough to alert viewers they're in for one mother-pounder of a wild ride into the deepest pits of scatological horror hell. The talented young Canadian horror auteur Jesse Thomas Cook (Monster Brawl) and the visionary independent production company Foresight Features takes the cake (of the urinal variety) for serving up one heaping, horrific platter o' genre representation of the real-life deadly water contamination that occurred several years ago in the bustling Southern Ontario burgh of Walkerton - known around the world for its inbreeding and, of course, the famous E-coli contamination of its drinking water. Excrement IS super scary!!!
We Are What We Are
Dir. Jim MickleThe patriarch of a small American family unit becomes unravelled when his wife dies. It now falls upon the eldest daughter to cook all the family meals, but she really has no stomach for the unconventional food and its strict ritualistic preparation. When the local doctor performs an autopsy on Mom, his findings suggest her death is consistent with that of those who also die from the steady consumption of human meat. It's only a matter of time before the family is discovered engaging in a centuries-old tradition rooted in abject generational poverty, superstition and Christian fundamentalism. Jim Mickle, director of Stake Land, is back with another intelligent, beautifully wrought and superbly acted shocker - this time, an American Gothic remake of Jorge Michel Grau's 2010 Mexican stomach churner of the same name. Mickle slowly, painstakingly builds both suspense and grotesque horror. He's a natural born filmmaker and there is seldom a frame or beat that's out of step. In fact there's something very peculiar at work here in just how rich his approach is since there's a genuine attempt to humanize its characters, allowing us to empathize with their situation even when they're engaging in utterly horrendous actions. UTTERLY horrendous!
Dir. Bobcat GoldthwaitBobcat Goldthwait is the real thing! He's effectively and intelligently used the "found footage" conceit to generate an honest-to-goodness modern masterwork of horror that focuses upon the Bigfoot legend. The movie barrels along with a perfect pace to allow you to get to know and love the protagonists, laugh with them, laugh with the locals (not at them) and finally to plunge you into the film's shuddering, shocking and horrific final third. The movie both creeps you out and forces you to jump out of your seat more than once. And I reiterate - it's funny. Not tongue-in-cheek funny, but rooted firmly in the characters and action. A terrific, original and genuinely horrifying experience.
Oh, in case you were wondering…
WORLD WAR Z is the WORST zombie movie ever made.
THE CONJURING was dour, pretentious, overrated and kind of dull.
CARRIE (remake) sucks my sweaty, unwashed bag.
EVIL DEAD (remake) licks my anus after the runs.
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 was as boring as Insidious, but not as good.
THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is soooo "Do you need to even ask?"
MAMA was, frankly, sickening in all the wrong ways.
THE PURGE is going to be a good movie when somebody does it properly.
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D was better than The Butler.
Though SHARKNADO received my lowest rating (1 PUBIC HAIR), I was forced to devise an even lower rating (TURD Found Behind Harry's Charbroil and Dining Lounge) for Ridley Scott's The Counsellor so as not to tarnish the reputation of Sharknado by putting it in the same category. Besides, I kind of liked Sharknado in spite of itself (and myself).