Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dan's 2008 Year in Review Horror Movie Postmortem Extravaganza Part III

Funny Games

Teeth - The cutest and most charming movie you will ever see where several penises are graphically sliced-off by a girl with teeth in her vagina. Not funny or provocative enough to fully recommend, but worth seeing if it ever comes on TV or anything. Definitely a novel idea, but I'd prefer it as less of a teen comedy, and more of a franchise Freddy/Chucky thing we're the girl goes around biting dicks off on purpose and then saying funny catch phrases. "Looks like you'll never get a-HEAD in life" etc etc.

Dance of the Dead - A sort of John Hughes meets Dawn of the Dead thing going on here. Much like teeth, it's cute and somewhat funny, but not enough so to get a strong recommendation from me. This kind of Evil Dead 2-style horror comedy needs to build a sense of lunacy to work, being affable doesn't quite cut it. Still, it's not the worst way to waste your time.

Jack Brooks Monster Slayer - And again, cute and amusing but just not enough. Come on, guys!

The Signal - I don't think I'm going to bother trying to rank my favorite horror movies from 2008, but know that The Signal would be near the top of the list if I did, possibly #1. What this movie lacks in budget it makes up for in cleverness and skill. It is by turns tense, paranoid, funny, disturbing, satirical, surreal, intense, cerebral. It's essentially a Crazies - style set up, with a weird TV transmission turning everyone who watches it into a homicidal maniac. But instead of playing up the action, the movie plays up the paranoia... who is crazy, and who isn't? And if you're crazy, would you know it or would you think you're one of the sane people? It's an uncommonly well-written and especially well-acted horror film, and I think a must-watch for any serious horror fan.

Stuck - Stuart Gordon's been shitting them out for 25 years now, and I swear in a lot of ways the guy just gets better. He's had a bit of a renaissance in the past few years, with King of the Ants, Edmond and now this one. Stephen Rea plays a homeless man who is hit by a drunk Mena Suvari with her car, and gets lodged in the windshield. Only instead of going to get help, she locks him in her garage and waits for him to die. It's both an effectively tense thriller and a hilarious pitch-black dark comedy. And it makes up, at least somewhat, for the fact that Suvari was also in that shitty Day of the Dead remake this year. Fans of old-school thrillers and Gordon's transgressively violent style are highly encouraged to partake in Stuck.

The Happening - Sure, maybe it wasn't intended as a comedy, but you'll laugh nearly as much as you did at the last Judd Apatow movie. But heck, why do I need to dump any more shit on this movie than has already been dumped? And I'd even argue that it was less fucking terrible than The Village. Then again, it also features a scene where Mark Wahlberg talks to a plastic tree, so I dunno.

Thrillas and Chillas

The Strangers - This is a horror movie in the same spirit as Halloween, a horror movie that takes it's time to create atmosphere, present likable characters and works hard to build suspense. I was glad to see that this did pretty strong business, because I'd like to see the studios release more horror films like this, horror films that are aimed at adults and are actually scary and aren't PG-13ified to draw in the idiot teen and pre-teen audience. Yeah, okay, so the movie does lose some tension in the last 20 minutes or so. But that still means there is a great 50 minutes preceding it, and even better the unrated version out on DVD now has some additional scenes in the later part of the film that reintroduce some creepiness into the finale.

Red - This is a movie by Warren Beatty where he plays a reporter in the 1920s who travels to Russia to... no, wait. That's not right. This is a great little slow-burn thriller about an old man who wants revenge for the death of his dog. I had been excited for this one for a long time because it was Lucky McKee's newest movie, and I think his film May is one of the best horror films of this decade. But then it turns out that he quit or was fired part way through shooting and some other guy was brought on board, so I can't really say how much of this movie represents his vision. Either way, I enjoy this one greatly and still look forward to the day when McKee makes a new movie for real.

The Ruins - Another top notch horror movie that knew how to pile on the dread and tension. It's about killer plants, which sounds like the plot to a bad 50's B-movie, but somehow the filmmakers strike exactly the right note and turned it into a minor classic. Also, I would like to credit the film for having some of the most effective gore sequences of the year. There is an amputation scene that will make you squirm, and I would like to make those directors of all those shitty European horror films I bitched about watch it to show them how it's done.

Unclassifiably Weird

Return to Sleepaway Camp - Only 25 years after the original, here comes the true sequel, a slasher movie so inexplicably oddball and funny that I'm not exactly sure why I don't own a copy yet. I could spend all day telling you about Alan, the film's one-of-a-kind protagonist (who hangs out with frogs and screams "your ass stinks!" at everyone who pisses him off), but instead I would like to mention to you that there is a scene where a man's genitals are tied to a jeep with fishing line, and the killer scares the driver into driving away. That scene alone is worth watching the movie for, but pretty much the entire thing is that good. See it now.

Midnight Meat Train - Besides the fact that it's title sounds like a description for a giant cock, there's plenty of other weird things to enjoy about this one. Like the fact that it's a slasher movie where the killer turns out to be the servant of a race of human-eating monsters that live underground and somehow rule our society. Oops, spoilers.

Well, this motherfucking series of posts really dragged out a lot longer than I meant it too. Oh well, if one good thing came of it, it's that I saw Mr. Brooks in the meantime and can talk about it here. Like some of the other movies mentioned, it might almost be fucking terrible if it wasn't also so awesome. It's about a serial killer played by Kevin Costner who has an imaginary friend played by William Hurt and they like to break into people's houses and shoot them and then Kevin Costner cums in his pants or something and then he poses the bodies and takes pictures, and then Dane Cook tries to blackmail him into teaching him how to kill and meanwhile Costner's daughter may also be a serial killer. There is a part where Costner slits a man's throat with a shovel, and somehow they work in another serial killer into the plot and a shoot out and a car chase action scene when Demi Moore is kicked out of a moving vehicle. I don't know how Costner and Hurt got cast in this movie, it seems like some sort of clerical error where they were accidentally inserted into some weird late night Showtime movie but they are amazing in this. And kudos to the casting director who thought to cast Dane Cook... normally I can't stand the guy, but he's pretty much spot on as a perverted creep. Almost makes up for all those jokes he stole from Louis CK. This movie came out in 2007 so I couldn't really include it in the writeup, but I thought it was worth mentioning any way.

And that's it, 2008 horror movies in review. I was going to write some sort of conclusion, but I'm fucking sick of this so draw your own conclusions. Peace out.

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