Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favourite Films of the Decade

2009 is almost over, and since I just posted my Best of 2009, how about the Best of the Decade? Except I wouldn't really call these the best of the decade because it's my own opinion which I doubt anyone else will share... so I will just call this My Favourite Films of the Decade. I couldn't decide on just 10, so I chose 11.

11. 28 Days Later

I know not everyone likes fast zombies, but I like both. Slow zombies are creepy and classic, but fast zombies are freaky too. Imagine if a zombie was running full speed toward you... I would probably die because I can't run very fast. Anyway, this was an entertaining zombie flick.

10. Reeker

I love slashers and I'm always looking for ones with an interesting twist. And Reeker has one: the killer is some sort of decaying monster and the characters can tell when its coming near by its horrible stench.

9. May

This film has three of my favourite actors: Angela Bettis (Toolbox Murders, Carrie remake), Anna Faris (Scary Movie franchise) and Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn, Dead & Breakfast). And they all give fantastic performances in this odd film. I love the ending, it is creepy and original.

8. House of 1000 Corpses

I know everyone thinks The Devil's Rejects is better, and while I enjoyed that film (but can't watch it anymore because my roommate lent it out to someone and I never got it back), I love this film even more. It just has so many creepy scenes and is so messed up.

7. Dead End

This is another DVD which my roommate lent out and I never got back, which is unfortunate because I love this film. The hitchhiking woman ghost urban legend gets a creepy film treatment in Dead End. This is another film with a great twist ending.

6. High Tension

As I previously mentioned in this post, I love slashers, especially ones with twists. And High Tension is a well done slasher with a surprising twist ending.

5. Cabin Fever

Eli Roth's first film was one of the first DVDs I ever bought (it was all about the VHS before that) and I really enjoyed it. I even watched all the special features on it. I love Eli Roth's Rotten Fruit animated shorts. Cabin Fever has tons of gore, a bit of humour and Rider Strong!

4. 2001 Maniacs

Backwoods/cannibal/inbred hick movies are my favourite horror subgenre, and this film was a great addition to it. Featuring inventive and gory deaths, horror cameos (Eli Roth and Robert Englund) and hilarious dialogue, this was a fun flick and I really enjoyed it.

3. Wrong Turn

The same goes for this film as with 2001 Maniacs. I just can't get enough inbred hicks. And these ones were deformed and looked like monsters; like Deliverance x 10. And it also features my favourite scream king, Jeremy Sisto. The sequel is every bit as good as the original, with even more gore. I have yet to see the third film.

2. Ginger Snaps
I love werewolf movies and this one is my favourite. Katherine Isabelle (Freddy vs. Jason, Carrie remake) and Emily Perkins (It, Supernatural) are great actresses and two of my favourite scream queens. I loved the outcast/goth main characters and how becoming a werewolf was linked to Ginger getting her period. This film makes me proud to be a Canadian.

1. The Descent

Having watched horror movies my whole life, I have become desensitized to them and rarely get scared. But this is one film that actually scared me. I had a hard time breathing while watching the claustrophobic scenes, jumped when I saw the monsters and had nightmares afterward. Neil Marshall's previous contribution to the horror genre, Dog Soldiers, was a great movie also.

The Best of 2009

2009 has finally come to an end and I say good riddance! It was a pretty lousy year for me and I'm ready to start over fresh with 2010. But it was a pretty good year for horror films. Here are my top five favourites from 2009.

5. Night of the Creeps

Okay, I know I'm cheating here, but this is one of my favourite horror movies of all time and it FINALLY was released on DVD this year. No more having to fast forward through commercials on my crappy taped-from-TV VHS version. Night of the Creeps is a humorous flick that encompasses several different B movie genres; it has aliens, slugs that turn people into zombies and an axe wielding maniac. The DVD has loads of special features, which includes lots of deleted scenes.

4. My Bloody Valentine 3D

I know that this film doesn't have many fans, but I really enjoyed it. It was the first movie I've ever seen in 3D and I had so much fun, even though I ducked when the pickaxes got thrown at me and felt like an idiot. I thought this remake was just as good as the original, especially since it had an interesting plot instead of the usual teens partying and getting killed.

3. The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

I loved the first Butterfly Effect and thought this one was even better (you can skip the second one though, it sucked). It's similar to the first one, but it adds horror elements to the time travel plot. A young man uses his ability to time travel to solve gruesome murders, but ends up becoming implicated in the crimes. This film had one of the most original twist I've ever seen. My jaw literally dropped and I could not believe what I was seeing. The ending was depressing, but not as much as the alternate ending to the first film (strangling himself while in the womb so that he's never born? really?).

2. Orphan

Killer kids is one of my favourite horror subgenres. So I set my expectations high when I watched it and Orphan exceeded them. It was a very creepy and atmospheric horror film and although it was slow at times, it gradually built to a great conclusion and had a shocking twist. This film reminded me of one of the best books I read last year, The Godsend by Bernard Taylor. At times I just wanted to shake the parents for being so oblivious, especially the father.

1. Drag Me to Hell

What a shocker, Drag me to Hell is at the top of my list. It's been near the top of all the lists I've read and although I wanted my list to be different from the others, Drag Me to Hell is just a damn good movie.

Honourable Mentions

Zombieland - Pretty funny film but it didn't feature enough zombies for this horror fan. But it still has the best cameo I've ever seen.

Trick 'r Treat - After all the hype, I wasn't amazed by this film, but it's still a solid anthology film.

Monday, December 21, 2009

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy

One of my favourite actresses passed away yesterday. Brittany Murphy, only 32, died from cardiac arrest. I'm shocked and upset. She no doubt would have gone on to make more great films and have an amazing career because she was such a terrific actress. But she will be remembered through the awesome movies and T.V. shows she has starred in including: Clueless, Girl, Interrupted, Cherry Falls, Spun, Riding in Cars With Boys and King of the Hill. And her fans will never forget her.

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy :(

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Yesterday, I reviewed Silent Night, Deadly Night and I mentioned how I had seen this sequel before it, which is mostly comprised of clips from the first film. I didn't mind the first time I watched it because I had yet to watch the original, but when you watch them back to back it's pretty irritating. But that just seems to add to the fact that this may be one of the best bad movies I've ever seen.

Ricky (little brother of Billy from the first film) is being interviewed by his new psychiatrist on Christmas Eve. He tells him the story of how his brother went crazy and how witnessing his parents being killed by Santa drove him mad as well, even though he was just a baby when it happened (when "Doc" questions how he remembers this, Ricky replies, "Because. I was there."). And of course Ricky escapes from the mental hospital to punish the naughty.

Everything about Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is horrible: the plot, the acting, the dialogue, etc. And that is what makes it one of the best horror films I have ever seen.

Eric Freeman (Ricky) is possibly the worst (therefore best) actor ever. He raises his eyebrows every time he utters a word and has the craziest, funniest facial expressions.

The dialogue is hilarious, just look at these gems:

"You tend to get paranoid when everyone around you gets dead."

"What do you dream about, Ricky?"
"I. Don't. Sleep."

"You are being very very naughty."
"Naughty this!"

And of course there's the infamous "Garbage Day!" scene.

All the death scenes from the first film are featured, so you can pretty much just skip that one, unless you want to see the hilarious montage which I posted in yesterday's review. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is hilarious and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves cheesy 80's horror movies. Sometimes the bad movies are better than the good movies.

Rating: 5/5

Garbage Daaaay!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Silent Night, Deadly Night

I had already seen Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 before I watched this, therefore I had already seen half of this film since the sequel is mostly made up of flashbacks from it. But it was still entertaining to watch.

It's Christmas Eve and Billy and his family are visiting Billy's catatonic grandfather. When the two are left alone together, Grandpa snaps out of it to tell little Billy that if you were naughty Santa won't just skip the presents, he will punish you. This terrifies Billy and on the way home when they see a man on the side of the road dressed as Santa, he begs his parents not to pull over. But of course they don't listen and it results in their deaths while Billy watches. This, along with abuse from a sadistic nun at the orphanage, drives Billy crazy. At age 18, he reaches his breaking point on Christmas Eve when he has to dress as Santa at the toy store he works at and goes on a killing spree.

Like its sequel, most of this film falls under the "So bad it's good" category, with several scenes making me laugh out loud. Such as the montage with Billy working at the toy store; showing him punching his time card, his boss nodding in approval when he puts something back in its place and when being offered booze, shaking his head and holding up his carton of milk. But I found the opening scene to be genuinely disturbing. And although there wasn't much blood or gore, the deaths were unique and there were a lot of them.

The character development was good when it came to Billy, showing all the traumatic events he endured to gradually turn him into a psycho. But you never really get to know the other characters.

The only thing I didn't like about this movie was all the things the characters did that made absolutely no sense. Why did Billy rip off a guy's shirt before tossing him out the window? Why would a woman open the door topless and stand there for five minutes?

Even though sometimes the characters were stupid and irritating (what horror movie doesn't feature characters like that?), Silent Night, Deadly Night is funny and, in a few scenes, creepy with unique murders. Definitely one to watch this holiday season.

Rating: 4/5

And now for your viewing pleasure, the hilarious montage:

Monday, December 14, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Christmas Evil

I finally watched Christmas Evil, which seems to be on everyone's Christmas horror list, for the first time today. It wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be, but it got me into the Christmas spirit.

A young boy, Harry, sees his mommy with Santa Claus - and they're not just kissing. Naturally, he is traumatized by this (who wouldn't be traumatized by seeing their parents...doing stuff together...except the only thing Santa does is run his hands up mommy's thighs...). I suppose he's just traumatized by finding out that Santa isn't real. Anyway, this scars him for life and years later he works in a toy factory and is gradually going crazy. And on Christmas Eve, he reaches his breaking point and transforms himself into Santa, delivering presents to good children and has something very special for the naughty adults.

The pace of this film was pretty slow. Nothing really happens until halfway through the movie, except for Harry's descent into madness, shown by lots of crazy laughter and other odd behaviour. And when the murders happen, there are only a few of them, shown in two brief scenes, with very little gore.

Harry is portrayed as a good guy for most of the movie (albeit a bit whacko), stealing toys from the toy factory where he works to give to sick kids in the hospital and always being nice to the neighbourhood kids (except the naughty ones), etc. And I ended up really liking him, even though he's a psycho, and feeling sorry for him. Brandon Maggart (father of Fiona Apple!) does an amazing job as Harry, making me feel empathy for him and playing a believable psycho at the same time.

Christmas Evil was Christmas-y in a different way than the previous Christmas movies I've reviewed. It's about the true spirit of Christmas - giving. Harry steals from the greedy toy factory to give to children who will be in the hospital for Christmas. Even the people he kills are selfish, greedy jerks.

Although it was slow and didn't have many kills or any gore, Christmas Evil gets you in the Christmas spirit and makes you want to give, which is pretty good for a horror movie.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, December 13, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Santa's Slay

I mentioned buying this DVD from the Keady Market in the summer. I've been saving it to watch just before Christmas.

16-year-old Nick (Douglas Smith) hates Christmas because he has never had a good one. And this one isn't going to be any different because Santa (Bill Goldberg) is killing everyone in sight - not just the naughty. When Nick tries to figure out how to stop him, his crazy grandpa (Robert Culp) gives him The Book of Claus. The book explains that Santa is the son of Satan and was conceived through immaculate conception, just like Jesus. And that Christmas was known as "The Day of Slaying" until 1005 AD, when Santa lost a curling match to an angel and was sentenced to deliver presents for 1000 years. Now, in 2005, Santa is free to kill again and it's up to Nick, his friend/coworker/potential girlfriend Mary (Emilie de Ravin) and Nick's grandpa to stop him.

The plot was original compared to other killer Santa films. Instead of having some psycho dressed up as Santa killing people, we have the real Santa - who is Satan's son - slaughtering people.

Both the best and worst part of Santa's Slay was the humour. At times the dialogue was hilarious and at others the jokes just fell flat. But it was funny more often than not. My favourite scene was the opening featuring James Caan, Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan and Rebecca Gayheart, where Santa comes down the chimney and kills the whole family.

This film wasn't quite as Christmas-y as the last film I watched (Black X-mas), seeing as how the main character hated Christmas, but there were a lot of holiday-related objects used to kill including a candy cane, exploding presents, a menorah and Santa's "hell-deer". And it has a soundtrack filled with Christmas music.

Santa's Slay is a fun and unique take on a killer Santa that will have you laughing - most of the time.

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I don't understand why classic horror films are constantly being remade. If a movie is already scary and everyone loves it, why make a new, crappier version? But what I really don't understand is why I keep watching them....

Actually, Black X-mas isn't the worst remake I've ever seen. It's pretty entertaining.

It's Christmas Eve and many of the girls in the Delta Alpha Kappa sorority will be spending Christmas there. While exchanging Christmas gifts, they begin receiving prank phone calls and when Kelli's (Katie Cassidy) boyfriend, Kyle (Oliver Hudson), suddenly shows up, all the girls believe he's the one behind them. But when he tells them the story of Billy - the boy who used to live there and went crazy after his mother kept him locked up in the attic and killed his family - they start to believe that maybe he has come home for Christmas.

The plot is similar to the original Black Christmas, but has many differences. There is a lot of back story on the killer, Billy, whereas there was virtually none in the original. The problem between the main character and her boyfriend gets a 00's update with her watching an x-rated home movie of him and one of her sorority sisters on the internet.

Another major difference between the two films is the characters. The girl who is supposed to play Margot Kidder's part ends up being an irritating pukey drunk who isn't half as funny as Kidder was in the original. The main character, Kelli, is very bland compared to Olivia Hussey. And although it features Andrea Martin (Phyllis in the orignal) as the housemother, she doesn't compare to Mrs. Mac. All the girls in the sorority are uninteresting, cookie-cutter stereotypes.

But the acting is great and showcases a lot of young talent: Katie Cassidy (the new Melrose Place, When a Stranger Calls), Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement, The Breed), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, The Ring Two), Lacey Chabert (Party of Five, Mean Girls), Crystal Lowe (Wrong Turn 2, Final Destiantion 3) and Kristin Cloke (Final Destination, Willard).

Although it doesn't live up to the original, it does have some creepy moments. My favourite scene is when Billy makes Christmas cookies from his mother's flesh.

And if you're looking for a very Christmas-y horror film you've found it. With the house decked out - tinsel everywhere, a wreath on every door, a huge Christmas tree and tons of lights on the outside of the house. Christmas-related objects are used for murder - a sharpened candy cane, an icicle, Christmas lights, etc. And lots of talk of Christmas traditions and a soundtrack with many Christmas songs.

The DVD has a lot of Special Features - an entire second DVD devoted to them. Including four alternate endings, deleted scenes and a featurette titled What Have You Done? The Remaking of Black Christmas, where I learned that the director of the original, Bob Clark, was a producer of this movie.

Overall, the Black Christmas remake has its moments and gets you in the Christmas spirit without resorting to watching something like It's a Wonderful Life.

Rating: 3/5

12 Days of Christmas Horror

Today I am starting 12 Days of Christmas Horror. From today until December 23, I will review a Christmas-themed horror movie everyday. Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 11, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan

In the Preface of Audrey's Door, Sarah Langan acknowledges that "Modern haunted house stories build on a rich tradition." And that she was inspired by The Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant. Her novel pays homage to these haunted house stories.

After Audrey Lucas breaks up with her fiance, Saraub Ramesh, she needs to find a new place to live in Manhattan, but can't seem to find one she can afford. Then she comes across The Breviary, a gorgeous building with a dark history and cheap rent. Being an architect, Audrey jumps at the chance to live in a beautifully designed building, despite its sinister past. But once she moves in she suffers horrible nightmares, which include sleepwalking. And not just sleepwalking...building a door while sleeping....

The prose is amazing, with descriptions of The Breviary that make you feel like you are living there yourself. And Langan has written two of the most realistically flawed characters I have ever read with Audrey and Saraub. Although Audrey has a trailer trash background with a bipolar mother and has OCD herself, she has made something of herself and is well on her way to becoming a respected architect. Saraub is Indian and his mother doesn't approve of his and Audrey's relationship, but he wants to be with her despite this fact. Definitely some of the most interesting characters I've encountered lately.

The pace is fairly slow, with not much happening until halfway through the book, but it was still engrossing because of the characters and chilling atmosphere.

The plot isn't anything new - as I mentioned earlier it's an homage to several other haunted house novels - but Langan adds a few original twists. I was incredibly creeped out by the crazy other tenants living in the building.

The one aspect of the book I didn't like was Audrey's nightmares. I realize that her nightmares added to the creepy atmosphere, but I dislike dream sequences because they add nothing to the story. When someone wakes from a nightmare, nothing happens except for being mildly creeped out. And there are a lot of long, vividly described nightmares in the novel. I wish Langan focused more on Audrey's crazy neighbours instead.

Audrey's Door is an absorbing read, but may not be your thing if you value a fast-pace and gore over atmosphere, character development and descriptive writing in your horror novels.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe

I felt a bit embarrassed to be looking at books in the Young Adult section of my local library, but I had heard that Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe was hilarious. It was pretty funny and I even laughed out loud a few times while reading - something I rarely do.

Margot Johnson is the typical teenage outcast: a chubby brunette with a skinny blonde enemy and dreams of being popular. In middle school, along with her best friend Sybil, she devised a manifesto for high school, setting goals to become the most popular girl in school and to have a boyfriend. When the student body turns into zombies - with the exception of Margot, Sybil, the principal and the gym teacher- Margot uses it to her advantage, achieving her goals. With no other girls around, she becomes the "queen bee" of the high school and lures popular zombie jock Dirk into being her boyfriend. Coexisting with zombies goes great until Margot and Sybil realize that someone is trying to turn them into zombies.

From the first page of this novel, I was transported back to high school. Being an outcast myself, I too had a crush on a popular jock, hated (some of) the snooty popular girls, but still dreamed of being popular. I'm shocked that this book was written by a man because he gets into the head of a teenage girl so well.

The main character, Margo, was well-written and I could see myself (or at least me when I was in high school) in her. But her selfishness and her tendency to whine got on my nerves. And the book was told from her point of view, making some of the characters seem flat since we are only given her one-sided opinion.

The zombies didn't make an appearance until about 1/4 into the novel. Up until that point, the book is just about Margot trying to score a date with Dirk. But once you get through that part, the novel becomes hilarious with the zombie interactions and the principal's "Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising".

Overall, this was a pretty funny read, but probably more enjoyable if you're a teenage girl.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My 100th Post!

Today I have reached my 100th post! Only 100 posts in over a year isn't very impressive, but whatever, I'm going to celebrate anyway. So today I'm going to take a look back at the best of the last 100 posts.


Number of movie reviews: 39
Number of book reviews: 13
Number of 5/5 ratings: 10
Number of 4/5 ratings: 19
Number of 3/5 ratings: 15
Number of 2/5 ratings: 1
Number of 1/5 ratings: 7
Number of movies purchased: 84

Judging by that I guess I should read more. And I'm lucky to watch more movies that I think are pretty good than movies that are awful. And I'm surprised that I only gave one movie a 2/5 rating. I guess I either think a movie is horrible or feel meh about it. I probably bought even more than 84 movies, but I only counted the ones I documented here.

Here are some random favourites of mine over the past 100 posts:

Best Death: Using someone's mouth to make a milkshake in The Toxic Avenger

Actually all the deaths in the kitchen scene in The Toxic Avenger are great. Deep fried hands and baked in a pizza oven!

Weirdest Thing I Learned: Freddy's 1-900 number

I had no idea that Freddy Krueger had a 1-900 number, or a number of other strange endorsements for that matter (including a Greatest Hits CD), which I learned from Charles Black's Five Favourite Nightmare on Elm Street Tie-In Products, a list featured in the book The Book of Lists: Horror. Check out the commercial:

Favourite Purchase(s): Clownhouse on DVD for $4 and Night of the Creeps on DVD

I was actually a bit disappointed by Clownhouse after all the hype, but at least if I decide I don't want it anymore I could sell it on eBay for $100. And one of my favourite horror movies of all time, Night of the Creeps, was released on DVD this past October.

Sexiest Psycho: Tom Hanniger a.k.a Jensen Ackles in My Bloody Valentine 3D

And this was in 3D so Jensen's face was only inches from mine!

Most Addictive T.V. Show: Scream Queens

In this reality show actresses competed for the chance to star in Saw VI, enduring horror movie themed acting challenges. My favourite won for once. I can't wait for the next season, which premieres in 2010.

Most Gruesome Passage in a Novel: "Under the intense light of the lamp, the inside of this chamber was still dark - mainly because every square inch of its walls were coated in blood so old and congealed it has long since turned to black. Covering the entire floor and creeping halfway up the walls in the sports directly below several disposal chutes, mounds of soggy red meat and pasty-yellow bones lay heaped in various stages of decay. Arms, legs, feet, hands, torsos and even a few bloated heads lay scattered around my feet. The level of carnage was astonishing, almost indescribable. It was as if someone detonated a bomb inside a room crowded with people, and then just walked away." From The Jigsaw Man by Gord Rollo.

Things to look forward to in the next 100 posts:

- Strange Magic by Gord Rollo
- New season of Scream Queens
- The Descent Part 2

Sunday, December 6, 2009

R.I.P. DVD Player 2008-2009

I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile. There is a reason though: my DVD player broke about a month ago. Whenever I watch a DVD it will freeze halfway through. Hopefully Santa will bring me a new one. I can't believe my DVD player broke after having it for only a year. And this was my third DVD player! I've had my VCR for almost 10 years and it still works perfectly. Well at least I can still watch movies on VHS....