As a companion piece to the article on Gorepress, I’ve decided to reprint my list here and go into a bit more detail (mainly because they were printed out of order on the site).
I remember the year 2000 like it was yesterday, I was 16 and fresh outta high school and straight into fucking around doing nothing of worth. In the intervening years I’ve accomplished myself as a writer (sort of), as a lover, and as an internet addict. I’ve started and abandoned at least 20 movie projects, only two of which I am in the midst of rekindling for draft 487. I’ve attended festivals, met genre luminaries and contributed to horror themed websites. I also discovered new and interesting sub genres that have worked their way into heavy rotation in my viewing cycle. Basically, its been a fucking important decade for me. I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve watched a fuck-tonne of movies.
Here is my top ten of the oozie’s in descending order, and before you think about chiming in with all your little snarko remarks about how shitty and mainstream some of these are, spare a thought for the kiddies in countries who don’t even have a platform to preach about how much they loved White Chicks or whatever the fuck the kids love this minute.
10. The Strangers
I saw this a FrightFest in 2008, and some people snickered. It actually shit me right up and as soon as I got home, I arranged another trip to the flicks so Hannah could get equally fucking terrified. Sure the marketing campaign came and blew the attacker’s collective wads before the cinemagoers had a chance to get horrorfied. The sound design was so integral in creating not only a hefty succession of jumpy-scares but also atmosphere and mood aplenty.
9. Wrong Turn 2
Straight-to-DVD sequels are a tough nut to crack, but Joe Lynch came at this sucker with a sledgehammer. While the first movie was a decent enough back-woods slasher, this sequel was a balls-out gore-a-thon with its tongue pressed so firmly in it’s cheek that it was starting to make a path through to the outside of its face. It was clearly so fun to shoot, which shines through like a bat-beacon calling Joe Lynch to get to Gotham Police HQ and make more fucking movies.
8. The Descent
What can be said about Neil Marshall’s “chicks with picks” creature feature that hasn’t been said before? I saw it for the first time on a fairly small (well, 28″) telly, on a sunny Saturday afternoon and it still managed to creep me the fuck out with its claustro-setting and anatomically incorrect freaky lizard men dude things. The direction is so subtle in places, that you almost forget the relative predictability that comes along with these creature flicks. People complain about the lack of strong leading women in horror, but this makes up for it in spades with its depiction of at least three of the principles as almost superhuman, if flawed.
7. Shaun Of The Dead
Ah Shaun, we barely knew ye. Not true, I think we all knew Shaun a little too well, I know I did. I saw so many shades of myself in Simon Pegg’s character it was almost like watching a thinner, blonder Jamie weaving in between the undead on that busy London street. With belly laughs this full and scenes that beckon those tiny, weepy tears out (something in my eye, I swear!), its easy to understand why this has made so many of these lists.
6. 28 Days Later
When 28 Days Later came out, it was a revelation. Despite all the is it/isn’t it a zombie movie conversations, you cannot deny that it brought mainstream zombie flicks back from the dead as well as giving them a new sense of urgency, and speed to boot. A message movie disguised as a gore romp, with note-perfect script and direction, it consistently fires on all bases. Its rare that a genre piece unites the mainstream and the horror community, but this did it with panache.
5. Switchblade Romance
What can you say about Haute Romance/Switchbalde Tension/whatever that hasn’t been said a thousand times? This movie effectively re-introduced the world to the movies of the French for the first time since Truffaut. Bloody fantastic characterisation, a wholly awesome premise and the ample smattering of red stuff effectively rescue this movie from its utterly dogshit ending. It launched the career of Alexandre Aja, who has gone on to disappoint me time (The Hills Have Eyes) and time again (Mirrors).
Some people didn’t like Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson’s Autopsy, some people thought it was crap. I didn’t think that though, hence it being on this list. I thought it was an inspired piece of comedy gore time. No matter what you think of Tobe Hooper’s remake of The Toolbox Murders (I thought it was shit) or the Argento flick Mother Of Tears (Really, really shit), visit this with an open mind and you will see some wonderfully absurd pieces of Cronenberg inspired lunacy interspersed with some mediocre acting talent and the T1000 chewing scenery to pulpy bits of mush as Doctor Benway (more Cronenberg nods there too, yeah?). Its a bloody rollercoaster of a flick and bags of rewatchable (again and again!) fun!
Seeing this in a fairly tiny screening room in London was a riot. The other films we saw that day included Saw Something (possibly IV), the dreadful Pink/Shannyn Sossamon vehicle Catacombs (which I enjoyed for manly, Sahnnyny reasons), and other stuff so tepid I don’t even remember the names. Bug stood out a mile, maybe ever two. Based on a stage play and directed by William Friedkin, it is a close-to-the-knuckle psychological body horror with little no effects and shot in, predominantly, one location. Its insular feel made me itchy all over. The performances are top notch, particularly Michael Shannon channeling Steven Wright’s vocal cords. I bloody loved it.
Hannah absolutely hated this movie. She doesn’t like torture, you see, and this film has it in spades. It starts off as a fairly straight forward gory revenge flick, akin to many other but with loads of really effective visuals. It switches gears just before half way and turns into a meditation on torture and what that means to the victim. Its a difficult film to watch, and sometimes it is a little too easy to identify with the victim. Which makes things a bit too uncomfortable to some people. It’s a stayer, it’ll linger in your brain for any number of days, or even weeks, after that initial watch.
1. Cabin Fever
CABIN FEVER IS MY FAVOURITE FILM OF THE DECADE? Yeah, you heard right. I fucking love it, I do. Better than Martyrs? You’re darn skippy. I picked up Cabin Fever for £2.50 at the Nottingham branch of CEX in 2006, much to the dismay of my girlfriend at the time. I don’t know what she had against it, I assumed, both then and now, that she had heard some adverse comments about Mr. Eli Roth and decided to form her opinion around them*. I bought it anyway, and I loved it. Never have I enjoyed being so grossed out, the scene with the leg shaving! Woah mama! It is such a playful movie, walking the tight rope between balls out grossness and interesting character study. In the words of Mark Kermode (who was not talking about Cabin Fever) “Its a comedy that replaces custard pies with blood and gore” (I’m paraphrasing, of course). Cabin Fever has so much rewatchability, I must have seen it 15 or 16 times since that day. It is a fantastic film, and Eli Roth should be (and probably is) bloody proud.
So there is my list, deal with it, accept it, put it in a basket, but don’t you dare dispute it. It is mine!
*I later found out that she was utterly disgusted by female nudity in movies, despite at one time being a Suicide Girl, and pretending to love Troma in her quest to ensnare me, the catch that I am. I used to have to wait until she was asleep before delving into my Jess Franco movies. I’m so glad that is over with!