Well here it is...ironically on the scariest day of the year Friday the 13th. My Top Horror Movies of 2011! Sorry for taking so long to get this posted but I had to catch up on some of the movies I missed this year. I usually look at other bloggers and horror site's lists and watch the movies that I missed.
Like last year, I've extended this to 20 films but numbers 20 to 11 are listed briefly as honorable mentions. My list has few movies that have appeared on others but I do put a spin on the order. I had a different take on what was considered "the best" this year and my picks are totally abnormal from everybody else. I'm just quirky that way.
First some fun facts and sidenotes!
- Though some of these movies came out in 2010, I label any movie that got wide releases or DVD releases in 2011 as coming out in 2011.
- It's a mix of indie horror and theatrical releases but mostly indies
- I missed seeing some theatrical and indie horror movies but you have to rank what you saw so that's what I'm doing.
- The top 10 films broken down by country: USA = 3, Canada=1, UK=2, Korea =1, Hong Kong=1, Norway=1, France =1
- The 10 films broken down by spinkick rating: 4 spinkicks=3, 3 and 1/2 spinkicks= 3, 3 spinkicks=4
- A movie that had 4 spinkicks doesn't necesarilly mean it was better.
- To read the entire review of the film click on the title.
- This list is dominated by independent horror films
- Korean revenge reemerges and reinvents itself
- 3D Horror and remakes were everywhere and sucked yet again in most cases
- The haunted house story likes getting retold
- Everybody has Insidious in their Top 10 (it's not on mine)
- The number one movie on my list is from the USA!!! (can you believe it???)
20.) Cropsey (2 spinkicks): Real life serial killer documentary examines the Staten Island Boogeyman.
19.) Paranormal Activity 3 (2 spinkicks): I didn't review this film but found it as good as the original but it brought nothing to the lore. Good scares for a prequel.
18.) The Walking Dead Season 2 (3 spinkicks): Sure it turned all soap opera bubble bath but it still had its killer moments of zombie craziness and WTF. Plus Glenn got some!
17.) Insidious (2 spinkicks): Everybody loved Insidious. Insidious is definitely a mixed bag for me but it definitely is slightly above average. With Insidious, James Wan amps up the traditional haunted house, flips it inside out, inserts twizzler twists and creates a genuine mythos based on extrasensory perception.
16.) The Human Centipede 2 (2 spinkicks): The Human Centipede 2 is not a good film by any means but its like a newborn's dirty diaper....you get a hell of a surprise. Devoid of any decent plot, a psychopath that is a couple of deadly sins incarnate (think sloth) and 100% medically inaccurate, its a film that is a big "FUCK YOU" by Tom Six for anybody who claimed the original didn't go over the edge.
15.) Kidnapped (2 spinkicks): Kidnapped will shock the shit out of you (that ending will stick in your mind like a splinter) but says nothing of why violence fascinates us. Kidnapped is awesome style, but little substance and stands on the lower ladder of the home invasion genre. It's also why I disliked The Strangers so much. I need more than "Because you were home"
14.) Machete Maidens Unleashed (4 spinkicks): I was salivating to see the history of Filipino exploitation films as I was too young to know what these films were and how they were made. Machete Maidens Unleashed is an awesome in depth look into a period of filmmaking history where anything went, labor was cheap, the blood poured and the boobs, well they were real and they were spectacular.
13.) Rage (3 spinkicks): Rage plays with it's audience so well, I even got duped by its overall simplicity. It's a mix of Hitchcockian slickness, Twilight Zone twistiness and Spielberg terror magic. Sure it's hindered by its low budget and some odd flashback placement but overall it's an entertaining movie that plays out like a long riddle of emotion. Rage tricked me big time and it's why it was so much fun.
12.) Stakeland (3 spinkicks): Stake Land draws a world of post apocalyptic America filled with non sparkly vampires and religious extremism taken to it's most extreme. Comparisons to The Road meets the Walking Dead meets Red State have to be made. And these are all good things in an above average flick.
11.) Bedevilled (3 and 1/2 spinkicks): Bedevilled is revenge cinema that will drive you nuts, pull at your emotions and above all make you think that all could have turned out differently if one only helped in a time of need.
The Top 10
10.) The Troll Hunter (3 spinkicks)
Thanks to Andre Ovredal's latest flick The Troll Hunter, my views of lovable trolls has now been smashed to smithereens. The Troll Hunter gives a unique spin in that now tired shaky cam/found footage subgenre. You've all seen ghosts, zombies, cannibals and other found footage flicks. What makes this one any different? Honestly, I gotta say it's trolls.
Somehow the subject of this college film crew discovering real life trolls makes the fantasy fun to watch. I actually didn't know much about the fairy tale and the folklore of trolls but as I watched the film it started educating me just like a documentary would. Add in some gratuitous running shaky cam, a glimpse of a real life Paul Bunyan troll hunter and some solid trolls FX and you have a great film that lives up to it's tagline.
9.) Attack the Block (3 spinkicks)
Attack the Block is a mix of a thugged up Goonies meets Gremlins and it's all freakin awesome. Blending a mix of comedy, monster mayhem, action-palooza and some class warfare "MESSAGE!!" it's a slice of fun fun fun. The unlikely criminal tykes we bloody fuckin hate somehow grow up, learn a lesson and gain respect the hard way.
Throw in some neato sci-fi monsters, a few splatter and gore and quick witted pop culture references rapid firing at a mile a minute and it's all the fun you'll have in 90 minutes.
8.) Black Death (3 and 1/2 spinkicks)
Black Death is a medieval throwback that stabs and slices with intense battle scenes and also challenges your cerebral with religious themes and the quest for power. It's an unbelievably constructed film that stays true to being a 14th century story without going into the ridiculous of being Monty Python. Director Christopher Smith takes the setting of the times of the bubonic plague and spins a story that you'll think about weeks after you've seen the film while balancing it out with characters that you empathize with. Only a master storyteller can keep you interested in such a tale and Smith just does that.
Black Death is a conflict waiting for you to see. A conflict of the body vs disease, man vs man and belief vs non belief. The contradictions man has to endure are as brutal as the battles and Black Death makes you experience all of these. There is no twist in Black Death. The only curveball is that it's brutally honest right up to the very end about the plight of humanity during one of the worst periods in history.
7.) Dream Home (3 and 1/2 spinkicks)
Dream Home is an uber slasher exploitation film that not only will make inner gorehounds FAP but make the intellectual cinephile think and FAP as well. Rarely does a Cat 3 make you think. Usually you think you're gonna watch some vicious kills and see some boobies. But with a stellar performance by Josie Ho and director Ho-Cheung Pang satirizing the desire for the have nots to have at any costs, it's a tour de kill slasher film of 2011.
Dream Home is intelligently designed to be an effective satire and an uber bloody and gory slasher which is to say, not an easy thing to do. Ho drives the movie, her performance yings to a woman who has lived harshly than yangs to her being a vicious, cold blooded motherfuckin killer.
I have not seen a HK Cat 3 movie that's left an impact this much like Dream Home. I think I've grown as a horror fan in that I'm not easily glamoured by wicked gore or spectacular splatter anymore. I expect my wickedly gory and spectacular splatter slasher flicks to say something about the world I live in.
Dream Home does just that.
6.) Rubber (4 spinkicks)
There is a lot of "no reason" in movies Quentin Dupieux through the character Lt Chad likes to tell us in the opening of Rubber. I'd never really given it great thought. Filmmakers slip in a deux ex machinas and you rarely question it. Maybe even a twist that makes no sense. But rarely does a movie go full frontal no reason like Rubber does. If the movie is trying to either make a statement about no reason in films or exists for no reason, you be the judge. All I can say is that it's an absurd motion picture that I thoroughly enjoyed. And I'm here to give you the reasons why I think it's one of the best of 2011.
Rubber is a throwback to all that is awesome about independent film like Linklater, Jarmusch and Kelly. Dupieux may not be on par with those names yet but he's brought back that vibe that percolated in the early 90s. Rubber is a genre film that somehow breaks all genres. I can't even generalize what it exactly is. It's a surreal-meta-weird horror comedy. It made me laugh countless times and made me think the rest of the time. Not a lot of movies can do that.
But the question you want to know is should you watch Rubber? I say yes and for one reason.
5.) Hobo with a Shotgun (4 spinkicks)
Don't fuck with the homeless.
That's the lesson I learned after watching Hobo with a Shotgun, the infamous grindhouse trailer turned full frontal feature from director Jason Eisener. If this was the 3rd film in a triple feature with Planet Terror and Death Proof, I'd have to say it was the best of the three by far.
Hobo with a Shotgun punched me in the face with it's witty humor, clever cleverisms and pure blood drenched awesomeness. It's a time travel throwback to 80s Troma mixed in with Street Trash and would be a banned video nasty if this were 1985. Each scene is like a mini trailer in itself, which you could cut up and edit and make 10 more trailers out of the film.
But even though it's hilariously ridiculous and you start scratching your head with one WTF after the other, it still never loses it's power to make you laugh, make you scream and make you applaud like a pimp at a whore convention.
Hobo with a Shotgun hits harder than a cop during a riot. You're not going to get a better throwback grindhouse movie this year. And for the first time in a long time, I'm giving it the highest rating the jaded viewer can bestow.
4.) The Innkeepers (3 spinkicks)
The Innkeepers is smart enough to know it's audience and by doing so gives us an old fashioned spooky throwback ghost story that balances the line between being cute and scary. The characters are drones, the guests are odd and the ghosts are cliched visual jump scares. With all the said, I still had a few problems with West's lack of a firepower ending and his overabundance to drag the movie into zzzzzzzzzzz territory but some things can be overlooked when I'm having fun.
But I'm all for the nostalgia for my vintage Poltergeists for the new millennium. The Innkeepers could be Generation X's's answer to that 80s classic.
The Innkeepers is damn fuckin smart. Characters react as I thought I would react, they get nervous, stammer and crack jokes like I would. Call me a horror hipster too. I'm not ashamed. The Innkeepers is a Generation X ode to the horror ghost story that younglings will like but keep us hardcore aged horror fanatics on our toes.
3.) Tucker and Dale vs Evil (3 spinkicks)
Sometimes looks can be deceiving and that's never been more evident in Eli Craig's Tucker and Dale vs Evil.
The fun in Tucker and Dale is that it takes the redneck/hillbilly slasher and turns it upside down. What if the hillbillies were just regular Joe Schmoes and the douchebaggy college kids were the dumb schmucks that caused 'da killin.
If you ever saw Wrong Turn, Friday the 13th. Texas Chainsaw and Hills Have Eyes films, you can grasp where this is going. It's been a while since I've seen a horror comedy that knows the genre its making fun of. All the stereotypical elements are dropped in from the music to the scary general store owner to Dale's maniacal laughter. But all are misunderstood elements that twist the hillbilly horror genre into a world of strange coincidences and full of LOLs.
It's a film that definitely holds its own in the Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland horror comedy pantheon of films. Tudyk and Labine are a comedic duo of devilish funnies. I'll say it right now. It may be the best horror comedy this year. It hits all the right banjo notes, is awesomely quick witted and a very clever parody of redneck slashers.
2.) I Saw the Devil (4 spinkicks)
It wouldn't be the same if Korea didn't release an awesome revenge flick this year. But surprisingly they released 2 stellar revenge movies with Bedevilled being the other. I Saw the Devil is on lots and lots of Best of 2011 lists and deservedly so. It's a top notch, blood soaked crime thriller that echoes the pantheon of awesome Korean revenge but takes a step into a whole new frontier. You're not just given a rinse and repeat formula, oh no. In this dark and dreary tale, Jee-woon Kim serves up a curveball that will befuddle all your senses, pull your emotions and have your jaw completely on the floor.
What separates I Saw the Devil from its American counterparts is a sense of humanity that gets loss at our most vulnerable. The white knight becomes dark. And the level of grey is maximized to give the audience a decision to evaluate who is exactly the "devil" in this film.
I haven't questioned my loyalties in a while but I Saw the Devil is like a personality test for all those involved. Revenge is a dish best served on a heaping pile of decapitated heads and blood splattered walls and floors. I wouldn't want it any other way.
1.) The Woman (3 and 1/2 spinkicks)
Oddly enough, I think I was one of the few who watched Andrew van den Houten's The Offpsring, the original movie The Woman is a sequel to. I gave it a "C" which is the equivalent of 2 spinkicks.
With The Woman....the shock value is amped up to give you a fuckin punch in the nuts. What you get is a film that clearly satires the -ism it puts front and center and spews a vicious gore appetite, the squeamish may just walk out of the theater (which is what happened in Sundance).
Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum with The Woman challenge your perceptions of civility by sending you scene after scene of what misogyny and sexism looks like on gamma radiated steroids. It's disgustingly violent and atrociously hard to watch but in this disturbed suburban nightmare, father demands he knows best and some may actually may agree. I was truly mesmerized by this tale of satire-sploitation. It's a film with exploitation characteristics but has so much to say as well.
The Woman will clearly be a "love it" or "hate it" film. It's a satire of the cookie cutter American family and the values they teach to their children. Even in this odd set up of a feral woman being "civilized", there is black humor and a few chuckles. The movie attacks traditional gender roles and the woman in The Woman maybe not be who we think she is. I have to say, it's a masterpiece of Americana horror satire, a film you have to respect because it hints at a truth that we all want to deny is real.
The Woman shows America's contradiction in a bloody gory horror movie. When you remove the blood and gore, what you get is an examination of how mentally savage we might be. That's almost as sickening as seeing our Woman slaughter her captors.
This list of the Top 20 Horror Movies of 2011 also is an opportunity to see the movies you may have missed that made many of the best of 2011 within the horror community. We all missed a few flicks here and there. I hope you all give all of these movies a chance and then come back and let me know what's the what.
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