Saturday, January 9, 2010

The 5 Best and Worst Remakes of the Decade

So, in the last two weeks I have:

Gotten so sick I stayed home from work a couple of days. And...

Broken a toe. So I am just now getting back to my blog. It's been interesting.

We are currently living in the time of endless remakes, not just in the horror genre. It seems that Hollywood is running out of original ideas. Sure, some directors wanted to see their dreams now that special effects and technology has caught up, but mostly I think it's because people are just not coming up with anything themselves. And as it becomes harder to produce original movies, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more. But, I have compiled the 5 best and 5 worst horror remakes of the decade for your view (dis)pleasure. So, beginning with the 5 worst:

5. Halloween 2
You know, I didn't mind the first Halloween remake by Rob Zombie. If you could wade through the first few minutes of terrible dialog, the rest of the movie was an interesting, gritty experiment. The second, well, gahhh. I couldn't really get behind it and it felt like Rob was just doing a paycheck movie. Oh well, it could have been worse. It could have been...

4. The Hills Have Eyes 2
If Wes Craven were dead, he would be rolling in his grave. Instead, he's just rolling his eyes and taking his royalty check to the bank. The characters were boring and uninspired, the acting was stilted and awful, and the mutants were dull. It was trying to be like the first, but it failed on being in the realm as the first. I didn't have terribly high hopes considering the source material, but it could have been better.

3. The Eye
Americans need to stop remaking Asian horror flicks. It rarely works out as well as the original. And stop putting Jessica Alba in speaking roles. I mean, she's fine to look at, but (much like Megan Fox) so irritating to listen to I find myself trying to go deaf when she is speaking onscreen. And such a great original movie deserves more.

2. Day of the Dead
I once said this movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. That being said, it was still pretty terrible. The dead are not only fast zombies, but they are also Spider-Man zombies that can climb up walls and leap from 4th story windows and hit the ground running. Nick Cannon starred in it. NICK. CANNON. *throws up into bucket*

1. The Omen
This movie was pretty bad, but the real atrocity is that the original is one of the best horror movies of all time. There were unnecessary dream sequences, quick camera cuts to reveal demons (demons, really?), and one of the worst make up jobs I've ever seen in recent memory. It didn't even attempt to look real. I was appalled by this movie.

And now, for the best:

5. The Amityville Horror
I think this remake was highly underrated. Ryan Reynolds in a more serious role? And it actually worked pretty well? The horror was pretty toned down (aside from the scene in the basement with the torture) and was a good, creepy atmosphere. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

4. Dawn of the Dead
Yeah, the slick, Zack Snyder-directed remake of Dawn was good. I didn't like the faster zombies at first, but they worked with this version. The characters were well acted and sympathetic and the movie took a little time to set them up, something not enough horror movies do. It was a good mix of violence and story and that's not always easy.

3. The Ring
As I mentioned before, Asian horror movies being remade rarely works out. This, is an exception. I think The Ring is better than the original Ringu and is one of the few movies that actually scared me initially. I loved the look, the acting, and the special effects. Basically, the whole movie worked for me. The well scene is very creepy and I loved the horse scene on the boat. I couldn't look away the entire film.

2. The Hills Have Eyes
Alexandre Aja made his English speaking film debut a bang. This movie, for me, surpasses the original classic (blasphemy, I know). The family is a bunch of people you don't want to see bad things happen to and the mutants are so vile you just want them to die. The revenge Doug seeks on the villains is so very gratifying and graphic, I was almost cheering the first time I watched it. Again, a good balance of gore and story and a gritty, realistic feel to the cinematography lends to a very enjoyable movie. Go see it.

1. Quarantine
After watching [rec], I desperately wanted to see how the American studios could screw a remake of a good film like that up. So, I went to the theater and eagerly awaited disappointment. Well, I got an annoying lead girl, but the disappointment never came. The movie is equal to [rec] (if not a bit better) in my mind. The terror feels real and the suspense is palpable for most of the film. And while the monster at the end isn't as good as [rec], it's still a scary scene nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top 10 Horror Comedies of the Decade

Continuing my list off for the next few days, I have my top ten Horror Comedies since 2000. I did this list because I was purposely not including the movies on any of my considerations for best horror. I love horror comedies, it's just hard to compare them to straight horror. I enjoy horror comedies too much to not mention them though, so they get their own list. So, with out further ado, the list!

10. Undead
This is kind of a fun, goofy little Australian zombie flick. There are aliens, a guy with a triple shotgun, and a scene in a hardware store that uses all kinds of strange implements for kills. It's pretty light on story, but it's pretty heavy on gore and other things, so in the end, it's a pretty entertaining ride.

9. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Though towards the end of the movie it turns a bit more serious, this faux-documentary produces some good laughs in the beginning. The scene where he talks about all the cardio you have to do as a relentless killer. "There's that whole thing where you look like you're walking, and everyone else is running their asses off!" Pretty damn funny if you think about it.

8. Planet Terror
Yeah, it's not necessarily a comedy per se, but I'll be damned if it took itself seriously. The better half of Grindhouse is downright hilarious at parts and just plain gross for most of the movie. I can't believe more people didn't like it, but I guess some people thought it was actually trying to be serious. Missing the point of Grindhouse, if you ask me.

7. Fido
Another zomedy? This one flew under the radar and clocked in straight to DVD, but it is still quite redeeming. With a great cast and lines like "Help, help! Grandpa's fallen and he's getting back up!", it was hard for me not to like this flick. The shots and scenery are pretty stellar too!

6. Black Sheep
This time New Zealand steps up to the plate and delivers the goods. Watching mutant sheep attack humans with blood and gore everywhere may not be for everyone, but dammit, it was for me! I really loved watching the ridiculous makeup effects for people being eaten and change into were-sheep (yeah, you read that correctly). If you haven't seen this movie, watch it just to watch the slaughter that happens at a genetic unveiling.

5. Dead Snow
Those crazy Norwegians! Nazi zombies? References to Evil Dead? A self inflicted castration by chainsaw? What's not to love? I had a blast with this movie and all the ridiculousness housed within. I can't stress enough how much fun it was to see another movie that actually used traditional effects instead of CGI. And just seeing some of the things that happened in this movie made me realize that a little comedy never hurts when dealing with zombies.

4. Night of the Living Dorks
I had the joy of seeing this German film on the big screen here at the Wisconsin Film Festival a few years ago and couldn't stop laughing the entire time. As three high schoolers try to raise the dead, they end up dying in a car accident... and coming back to life themselves! It's pretty juvenile humor (not that there's anything wrong with that), but you can't help but laugh as body parts start to fall of and get stapled back on. And yes, one of "those" falls off and gets put back on in a terrifically done scene.

3. Slither
Nathan Fillion is a goddamn genius. Everything about this movie is amazing. Aliens? Check. Zombies? Check. Pointless banter about flight speed of birds? Check. Really gross death scenes? Double check. Watching a woman that has been inflated to the point of bursting with worms is so much fun, I can't even begin to describe it. Well, actually, in the words of Mr. Fillion from this very movie: "Well now that is some fucked up shit."

2. Zombieland
Yeah, I had to include it. What list is complete without it? I had a blast watching this in the theaters. Bill Murray? How do you not love that? Woody Harrelson is great and the entire movie is shot well. I love the rules that kept popping up whenever they were relevant. I couldn't help but see the joy that was put into this movie and think that it was made with someone who really likes zombie/horror movies. That's rare to find and this movie did it. Actually, all of the top 3 movies on this list exhibited that. Which brings me to the number one Horror Comedy of the last decade...

1. Shaun of the Dead
I really liked Zombieland, but it can't hold a candle to Shaun of the Dead. For all the love shown in Slither and Zombieland, Shaun has more than both of them combined. References to The Evil Dead, Lucio Fulci, Night of the Living Dead, and a ton more, Shaun of the Dead is done by people that truly loved and believed in what they were making. It brought in so many memories and produced so many more for me that I include it in my top 5 movies of all time, let alone horror comedies of the last decade. I will watch it whenever it is on TV and have to put it in my DVD player about 3 times a year, minimum. I have a hard time believing any movie will reproduce such feelings in me for a very long time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Lists Coming At You!

I've decided to dedicate the next few days to some lists I have been cooking up. Some will be best of the decade, some are best of the last year, some are worst lists, and some I don't know if I have ideas for yet. But, in any event, I am going to start you off with a nice little smattering of what I thought was the best of the last decade in Horror. Here are some of my "Best of"s for the last decade:

Best Vampire Movie: Let The Right One In

Sure, Twilight may have dominated the box office numbers, but for sheer beauty, nothing could touch LTROI. The movie is nearly perfectly shot, written, and acted, making it one of my favorite movies of all time, let alone horror movies. I have run into very few people that have seen this movie and not liked it. Hell, almost everyone I know loved it. It's just such a wonderful movie, I can't say enough good things. This one was a no-brainer.

Others in contention: Honestly, there were none. This just won, hands down.

Best Zombie Movie: 28 Days Later

Sure, I know I have said in the past that it isn't a "true" zombie movie (the rage doesn't kill people and bring them back), but for all intents and purposes, I'm willing to accept it as such. Danny Boyle (pre-Oscar win) is in great form with this movie and Cillian Murphy leads a wonderful cast in acting in this movie. It's got brains (pun intended), action, drama, heart, and lots of blood vomiting, so what's not to like? Also, people get hacked apart with machetes. That's a win in my book!

Others in contention: Dawn of the Dead, Quarantine, [rec], 28 Weeks Later. I didn't consider comedies like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, or Dead Snow.

Best Werewolf Movie: Dog Soldiers

Neil Marshall is one of my favorite new directors and his freshman effort was a lot of fun for me. It's not too serious, but it definitely delivers on action. Dog Soldiers had just the right amount of blood and gore without sacrificing story that I couldn't help but enjoy it. If you haven't seen this movie or happen to pass it up because of the horrific box art on some of the DVD cases, go see it now. It's also interesting to note that Neil Marshall said he liked werewolf movies except for transformation scenes because they generally fell flat. Thus, he set out to make a werewolf movie with no transformation scenes and this movie was born!

Others in contention: Ginger Snaps

Best Monster Movie: The Host

Yes, it was a little off-the-wall, but I liked the movie and thought it was enough horror and not comedy to include it on the list. I loved the way the movie was shot and really enjoyed the monster effects for this flick. It was great to see the bow-and-arrow being used as a weapon in a modern movie again and the story with the family behind it was very well done. It was creepy at parts, zany in others, and always enjoyable. It is one of my favorite horror movies of the last 10 years!

Others in contention: Cloverfield, Rogue

Best Slasher Movie: Wolf Creek

Slow to build and a low body count, yet it's my top slasher film? Yes, it's pretty well documented that I don't really like slasher flicks all that much, but this movie blew me away. It did a great job of setting up characters you cared about instead of giving you fodder people to be killed off. It gave a terrifying killer that actually had a face to connect to (making him scarier than a masked killer, in my mind) and victims you legitimately didn't want to die. Greg McClean did a great job with this and Rogue, his underrated giant killer crocodile feature. Seek this one out.

Others in contention: Cold Prey, The Cottage, The Midnight Meat Train

Best Haunted House Movie: The Orphanage

Haunting, chillingly beautiful, and absolutely terrifying in parts. This is was one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade (obviously) and a great story. I can't talk enough about the set pieces, from the cavernous orphanage the main characters reside in to the cave that is, well, cavernous. Throw in some creepy ghost kids and a weird game where the woman knocks on the wall, and you have a wonderfully macabre movie.

Others in contention: Session 9, Silent Hill, Paranormal Activity, The Devil's Backbone

That's my first list, keep coming back every day until Friday for more lists of the decade!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Psycho Bathroom

Here are (as promised) some higher quality pictures of what has become one of my favorite Christmas presents of all time: the Psycho bathroom!

(Click on the images for a higher quality version)

What do you all think?

Also, I have compiled a "Best of 09" list. Shortly thereafter, I will have a best of the decade list! All to be put up very soon! Let's hope for some good horror this year!