Category Archives: Lists

How did the Upcoming Horror of 2017 turn out?

As I´ve already pointed out horror went down a storm in 2017 but back in January I wrote a preview of some of those films and more. So how did they turn out? Were our hopes and dreams realised, or just dashed across the tarmac with lower intestines dripping down the storm drain?

The Autopsy of Jane Doe – Soon!

a_jane

I SAID: As has been the case for the last few years one of the first films out of the block is one that has been getting a lot of buzz from the festival circuits. Following The Witch, It Follows and The Babadook before them, can The Autopsy of Jane Doe survive the over-hype to be a genuine horror classic? Certainly it has a good pedigree with Andre Ovredal of Trollhunter fame, and stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox bringing some class to the tale of a strangely perfect female corpse being brought into the father-and-son morticians, with one night to discover who she is and how she died. I can tell you now (as I’ve already seen it) it lives up to the hype… which might be me over-hyping it again, so now you will think its over rated… damn it!

AND? Yes it was truly great. What happened to it though is another matter. It never got much of a release and here in the UK finally ended up on Netflix where, hopefully, at least a lot of people can now watch it. Just do it late at night with the lights off okay?

Split – 20th January

b_splitposter

I SAID: M. Night Shyamalan has realised that instead of messing around with different genres he should just stick to what he is amazing at. So we get, hot on the heels of The Visit, another potential classic, this time involving split personalities, kidnapping and James McAvoy acting his socks off as 24 characters (in the same body obviously).

AND? It another winner, great for Shyamalan, Blum House Productions and us at large. Also if you liked Unbreakable then this will please you hugely too. When a film is mostly set in one small cellar and can still be epic in scope and scale then clearly the director knows what he is doing. Welcome back M. Night.

 

Don’t Knock Twice – 3rd February

c_dont-knock-twice-movie-poster

I SAID: There’s not lot of British horror this year (hello Hammer? Where are you when we need you?) but Don’t Knock Twice has some very strong imagery in the trailer and witches are all the rage at the moment, so let’s hope it can hold our flag up proudly this year and be less of an embarrassment than the people who voted for Brexit.

AND? Well its a solid, well made and fairly spooky little tale that deserves to be seen.. shame no one did. I know that unless you´re coming from Blum House you won´t get much of a release these days but surely there must be a way to let people know a decent scare-fest is coming out. This just limped onto Amazon for rental with little to no flurry at all which is a real pity. There´s not even Fangoria Magazine around any more to draw in the hardcore fans. Sad, as the horror in the Whitehouse would say.

A Cure For Wellness – 24th February

d_cure-for-wellness-poster

I SAID: Director Gore Verbinski may have tested his audience’s patience to the limit with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the bizarrely dull The Lone Ranger, but whatever you think of him you have to agree that he is a visual master of mainstream cinema. The trailers for A Cure for Wellness certainly backs this up and with Jason Isaacs and Dane DeHaan in the cast what could possibly go wrong? Okay IMDB says the running time is 146 minutes which seems to suggest Verbinski is still making over long, flabby stories and I’m not sure the tale of a mysterious spa can sustain such length. But hey! What do I know, this is just a preview list, let’s judge it when it comes out yeah?

AND? Well I have yet to see it, mostly because of that running time but word has it that its just what I feared: looks great, is too long and doesn´t have enough story to sustain that run time. Maybe I will try to watch it in three chunks and pretend its a mini series.

Kong: Skull Island – 10th March

e_kong-skull-island-poster-2

I SAID: King Kong is back and is ALWAYS welcome in my books even if he is clearly played by a man in a monkey suit. Sadly, those days have long since gone but this new version is setting up not only a new franchise but also will serve as a prequel to a grudge match between our giant furry friend and Godzilla. When did the studio system embrace B-movie silliness so fully? Next they’ll be making a big budget remake of… actually you know what? I was trying to think of a ludicrous cheap movie for a studio to remake but I think they’ve done them all now. Hey, I ain’t complaining!

AND? It delivers all the wild monster action you could be hope for. Samuel L. Jackson makes for a great villain and its nice to see Kong be a bit less soppy this time round and more into just beating eighteen types of shit out of various types of weird creatures. The film is maybe a bit too frantic in its pacing and is a bit more preoccupied with big action and big visual effects than anything else but then this is King Kong we´re talking about here. If we got to know all about the different characters before the mighty monkey pulled all their limbs off we´d end up with the snorefest that was Peter Jackson´s effort.

Get Out – 17th March

getout

I SAID: Directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele, Get Out stars the very likeable Daniel Kaluuya travelling to his white girlfriend’s parent’s house only to discover some nasty goings on. At a time when race relations are at a very low point in America, this horror version of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? couldn’t come at a better time.

AND? Well it wasn´t quite what anyone expected at all (unless you´ve seen The Skeleton Key) and was all the better for it. One of the most tense, funny and thought provoking films this year, the world is now Jordan Peele´s oyster. What will he give us next?

The Belko Experiment – 17th March

g_belko

I SAID: The poster says this is a cross between The Office and Battle Royale so that is the plot basically. I can’t say I’m that excited about such a premise but then it is written by James Gunn and is getting lots of whispers of greatness so we’ll find out soon enough whether its worth getting all worked up about or not.

AND? It was EXACLTY a cross between The Office and Battle Royale and whilst it was well made and relativity entertaining too watch it was maybe a bit too grim and downbeat for most people to embrace. Clearly that reflected in the box office takings as it was a rare financial misstep for the seemingly unstoppable Blumhouse. It had some great character actors being really horrible in it though, if that´s your kind of thing.

Raw – March

h_raw

I SAID: This French horror movie has a young vegetarian forced to eat meet during a hazing ritual, after which her taste for flesh gets somewhat out of control. Every few years a horror movie comes out which claims that people passed out during a screening or had to be carried out on a stretcher or even died. Raw is the latest in this fine tradition so I’m hoping to see it at an OAP or mother-and-baby screening to see what happens.

AND? Well I missed THAT screening so had to watch it by myself at home (well, with my dog sitting next to me, worryingly licking his lips). I guess its pretty grim here and there. I suppose for a non horror audience it must be pretty shocking but for us hardened gorehounds it barely touched the sides. Outside of the gore it is an EXCEPTIONALLY well made movie with the images of freshers being splattered with blood and paint bringing  these university days vividly to life. It is hard to fathom that director Julia Ducournau has never made a film before, so assured is she with scenes involving nightmares under the sheets and dark, chaotic parties in the faculty basement. The acting is also uniformly great and interesting especially Garance Marillier as the lead. However I found all of the characters completely obnoxious and repellent (and not just when they were eating each other) so whilst I appreciated how well Raw was made, I can´t say that I liked it in any way. Still, I´m in the minority here.

Alien: Covenant – 19th May

i_alien-covenant-poster-1

I SAID: Being one of maybe two people who had no problem with Prometheus I can’t wait for Alien: Covenant. Obviously 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott are making sure people know this is an Alien prequel rather than a Prometheus sequel and if they haven’t had a panic-stricken rewrite of the script a month before shooting then this shouldn’t have the problems that had so many folks up in arms last time round. Really people: characters doing stupid things in terrible situations is the bread-and-butter of horror movies, get over it. Also, judging by the poster and trailer this Alien movie is really getting back to it’s horror roots. I LOVE the Alien franchise when its at its best, let’s hope Scott, in his twilight years, can pull another classic out of the bag.

AND? Talking of being in the minority… I loved the new film, but it is certainly not the full-on Alien film people were hoping for. It is by all accounts Prometheus 2 right down to the continuing decent into monomaniacal madness of android David and the humans being incredibly stupid. But, despite moments of extreme stupidity, it is a film of great ambitions. Ridley Scott, hopefully nowhere near the end of his life despite being 80, is clearly contemplating the big questions of what is life and what is our role in the universe. The answer to that one, so far, seems to be to be fodder for greater intelligences to experiment on, so Scott is clearly off his rocker – in the best way imaginable.

The Mummy – 9th June

j_the-mummy-poster

I SAID: Although yet another big budget Mummy movie in theory isn’t that exciting, especially after the Brendan Fraser/sand particle years, Universal is trying to kick start a movie monsters shared universe franchise with this new version. What self respecting horror fan isn’t interested in that? Plus Tom Cruise rarely does bad films so there’s real hope here. There still seemed to be a lot of sand particles in the trailer though so I’m not getting my hopes up too much.

AND? Sadly this was a big budget disaster. It killed the monster universe stone cold dead so we will now (probably) never see Bill Condon´s labour of love version of The Bride of Frankenstein with Angelina Jolie as the Bride. It may be easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight but clearly Universal misread what people wanted from a monster movie by a country mile. We basically got a darker, modern version of those Brendan Fraser movies but with Tom Cruise instead – all action set pieces, big visual effects and big stars when what people actually would prefer would be, well, you know, a monster movie.

The Dark Tower – 28th July

k_dark

I SAID: The King revival starts here… this time with a massive budget, a franchise stretching over cinema and television, and some of the best Hollywood stars acting today. I’ve not read any of the horror fantasy western epics this is based on but I have only ever heard amazing things about them. Lots of fingers crossed here.

AND? Another total catastrophe from a studio spending a lot of money. Clearly things were awry when up until two months before the film came out there was STILL no trailer. When the trailer finally did arrive it was blah at best. Then news came that the film was only an hour and a half. Usually I´m all for less bloat but considering the size of the source material this was obviously a case of a lack of confidence and the studio hacking it to death trying to get it to work. The film itself shows this with too many flashbacks and exposition but in fact the bare bones of something half decent is there. Having never read any of the books I wasn´t invested in the fanboy anger and its not actually that bad considering. It does just about make sense, its just that it is a very slight horror western adventure.

 

Annabelle 2 – 11th August

l_annabelle-2-poster

I SAID: Another sequel to a film no one but me liked but you know… suck it. This time the director is David F. Sandberg who did a very solid job with Lights Out so things are looking up. Plus the setting is an orphanage and orphanages are ALWAYS creepy places. At least it isn’t a family being harassed by a demon which I have had enough of, and if it has one scene that is half as good as the basement sequence from the first movie then I’ll be happy.

AND? It had loads of scenes that were almost as good as the basement scene in the first movie. In fact this was a much better film than Annabelle 1 all round. The two main orphan sisters are terrific in it and indeed the orphanage setting is a total freak out. Plus for those that didn´t like the first film this one actually make that one much better by the end in a oddly clever way. Plus now the Conjuring universe is in full swing with The Nun (who cameos here) coming out next summer. We´re in horror heaven folks.

It – 8th September

n_it

I SAID: The novel It is probably Stephen King’s best work and turning it into a film has been a long and painful process. Folks have fond memories of the TV miniseries from 1990 but really, apart from an amazing turn from Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, it has not aged well. Things were looking very much up when True Detective‘s Cary Joji Fukunaga was attached to direct but a lot of hopes were dashed when he was replaced with Mama‘s Andres Muschetti. This seems a little unfair as Mama was very good entry in the haunted kid sub genre, and as long as the studio hasn’t interfered too much, this It could still turn out rather good. The story, characters and the town of Derry are so strong and well defined in King’s novel that it would take a real load of numpties to bugger this one up. Please let this be good.

AND? It wasn´t just good, it was great! It will probably go down in the annuls of cinema as a horror classic. Plus it made bundles of cash for the studio which is great for Warner Brothers and great news for horror in general as all the other studios will jump on the band wagon and try and make their own spooky successes.  Bill Skarsgard, whilst not wiping the memory of Tim Curry (nor should he), gives great Pennywise and the child cast is simply amazing. It makes my heart swell when I think how well Muschetti has done bringing the Loser Club to life. Roll on Part 2.

Friday The 13th – 13th October

n_friday13

I SAID: After a weird and unnecessary EIGHT year wait we are finally getting a new outing for Jason Voorhees. Little is known about the plot but hopefully they haven’t spent all this time over-thinking things: just give us Jason, some hot teenagers, some outrageous kills and a bit of a twist and we’ll be quite happy. If it turns out to be an origin story then that WILL be depressing (it didn’t work for Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader so why would it work for Jason?) On the positive side it is directed by Breck Eisner who has done solid work in the past so lets see how this latest entry turns out. I mean there have been so many of these films now, and so many terrible ones, that it can’t really be that bad, can it?

AND? In fact it was nothing at all… after the Rings reboot and some others flopped horribly at the box office, it was decided that horror revivals were clearly not wanted at the moment so it was cancelled, or delayed or who knows what. Come on guys, you can make these films for next to nothing. Even the name alone should at least be enough to break even. Sort your shit out. I guess when the Halloween sequel is a hit this October it will be green lit again. And the cycle will continue…

Before I Wake – One Day!

q_before

I SAID: Mike Flanagan’s career is going great and it has been since Oculus hit the screens. Immediately after that modest hit he set to work on the follow up, shooting Before I Wake at the end of 2013… and here it is four years later after various production and distribution companies have gone bust whilst handling it. Will the story of a boy who’s dreams and nightmares manifest themselves in real life be worth the wait? Well it has Kate Bosworth in it so… um… let’s see huh?

AND? Actually Kate Bosworth is great in this, as is everyone else. The film, finally arriving onto Netflix, is a solid little chiller. No great shakes in Flanagan´s library but a worthwhile watch all the same.

Gerald’s Game – When Netflix feel like it

p_geraldsgame

I SAID: Mike Flanagan is back, again, working with Netflix to make one of Stephen King’s least filmable novels. The plot centres on a woman tied to a bed after her husband drops dead in the middle of some rumpy pumpy. You couldn’t get much less cinematic than that. But then last year’s Hush was clearly a dry run for Flanagan’s attempt at horror experimentation. Plus with Netflix willing to take a few risks let’s hope this turns out to be the next Misery, rather than, say, the next Dreamcatcher.

AND? Who´d of thought it, you wait for ages for a decent Stephen King adaptation and then two come along at once. Along with It this is an out and out classic.

Sadako Vs Kayako (AKA Ring Vs Grudge) – Soon!

r_sadako-vs-kayako

I SAID: Okay, there is an American sequel to the remakes coming out at some point this year but who cares about that when you have a verses movie! Here you have the black haired ghost of the Ring movies having a fight with the black haired ghost of the Grudge movies. This is what trashy horror flicks are all about, and this as silly as you can get… in a good way.

AND? Its surprising how many of the films on this list actually delivered on their promise. And here is yet another one. Yes it is silly but its also a great bit of fun just like I hoped. Hurrah!

Suspiria – This Year

suspiria-poster

I SAID: Last year the remake no one wanted was Martyrs, and so it proved. Not only did no one watch it but no one even notice it quietly slop onto VOD like a dying fish. This year we have Suspiria. The original is one of Dario Argento’s finest and remaking it seems quite, quite pointless: the plot barely made a scrap of sense and the film’s main selling point was Argento’s magical set pieces and visuals. No one wants a new version of the story of a girl sent to a ballet school which turns out to be run by a coven of witches. Sure witches are in, and sure ballet was in the other year when Black Swan came out but… really? Okay so its got a good director in Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) and a solid cast… and lets face it we were all wrong about the Evil Dead remake so I’ll still probably see it, and maybe, with a bit of luck, even love it.

AND? Well still no sign but you know what? Fuck it. I´m super excited about this remake now. Guadagnino is super hot right now; his last two films have been terrific. So when it eventually does come out I will be first in line on opening day. Possibly wearing a tutu.

Advertisements

Upcoming Horror in 2018

Here we are at the start of the year and there’s plenty to look forward to. Some will be bollocks and some will probably not come out at all, but if its half as good as last year then we are in for some right tasty treats…

(I´ve put UK dates where I can, otherwise its the American release dates, which nowadays are often the same, yay)

Insidious 4: The Hidden Key – 12th January

I really love the first Insidious but feel the sequels have never recaptured that magic, getting less and less scary and more reliant on cheap jump scares. Still it is fantastic to have the wonderful Lin Shaye in the lead with her goofy side kicks. The trailer for the new film seems to be veering away from the same old story into a different territory which is good news, and director Adam Robitel did a great job on found footage alzheimer’s/possession flick The Taking of Deborah Logan. So there is hope that there is life in the franchise yet.

Winchester – 2nd February

Helen Mirren in a horror movie. Enough said. Okay… I’ll say some more. Mirren plays the heiress to a firearms company who believes she’s being haunted by the spirits of the victims of the weapons she’s sold. The setting of the bizarrely constructed house looks fascinating and its directed by the Spierig Brothers who usually do more fantastical, but pretty good, horror with Daybreakers and Undead. More importantly it stars Helen Mirren in a horror movie…

God Particle – 9th February (delayed?)

This is not only going to be delayed until April but will also have a name change. This is most likely because it is the third in the Cloverfield movies and they are all about mystery and what the hell is that dirty great big monster walking over my head?!?!!? Being set aboard a space station with astronauts mucking about with particles and science goddamit! it sounds like Life from last year. Let’s hope the monster doesn’t tun out to be a giant mass of seaman like that one did.

Mum and Dad – 19th February

Parents across America go insane and kill their kids. Nicolas Cage is in over the top mode. Its directed by one of the makers of the Crank movies. How can this not be good?

Annihilation – 23rd February

Alex Garland made a near perfect directorial debut with Ex Machina. Can he make it two for two with Annihilation? The trailer looks lush and mysterious, those who have worked on it say in hushed tones about the brilliance of the effects (which, to be fair, they did, so they’re really just blowing their own trumpets but we”ll let them have it) and its got a killer cast with Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The Meg – 2nd March

So I guess sooner or later someone had to put Jason Statham in a big budget movie. If you are going to do that then you need a worthwhile advesary – a giant prehistoric shark will do. This could be either rubbish or amazing, I’m going to go with amazingly rubbish – hopefully in a good way.

Strangers 2: Prey at Night – 9th March

Usually when a sequel comes out ten years after the original its a bad sign all round. I can’t say I feel super confident about this one. It has got Christina Hendricks who always gives it her all but I’m still slapping my head about directors Johannes Roberts ‘ last film 47 Meters Down‘s ending which was the dumbest thing ever. The first Strangers film was anything but dumb, so let’s keep an open mind eh?

A Quiet Place – 6th April

The trailer for this looks genuinely creepy – a family live silently in an overgrown house, if they make a noise then something terrible will come to kill them. This film all depends on how well the initial idea is exploited and what the mysterious thing turns out to be. John Krasinski directs himself and his wife Emily Blunt in what could turn out to be a surprisingly good post apocalyptic nightmare. Let’s hope he can stick to the title and keep the film near silent for a terrific atmosphere, at least until the action kicks in that is.

The New Mutants – 11th April

Fox, realising that they can never compete with Marvel on its terms with its X-Men movies, have been doing more interesting stuff for a while. Deadpool was rude comedy, Logan a western and now we have The New Mutants where superheroes meet fear in an mental asylum. Horror superstar Anya Taylor-Joy stars.

 

Truth or Dare – 3rd May

This is one of the few “a bunch of average teenagers find themselves in danger…” movies on this list which is actually really refreshing. So… a bunch of average teenagers find themselves in danger when they play a game of truth or dare where they die horribly if they don’t play the game properly. The trailer lifts the “passing it on” idea wholesale from It Follows. I always say if you’re going to nick an idea you might as well nick it from the best. Jeff Wadlow hasn’t made a horror movie since Cry Wolf but Blum House is producing this so despite the derivativeness it could still be entertaining.

Slender Man – 18th May

May and I watched the trailer for this and as she pointed out it looks like the trailer for a film that doesn’t exist. Lots of pretty images but it all adds up to nought as we have no idea what the story is. Maybe Sony have just made this to jump on the creepy pasta bandwagon. Prove me wrong Sony!

The Nun – 13th July

Annabelle 2 Creation was the announcement that The Conjuring is a shared universe of ghosts. The Nun is the first film to fully embrace this. Well sorta. It set during the Second World War, way before the events of the Warrens, Annabelle et al. and has scary killer ghosy nuns. I mean, nuns are scary enough as it is. Do they have to kill and be ghosts too? Is this series going to end up with all the different ghosts teaming up to kill the pope or something? Certainly having Lorraine Warren herself, Vera Farmiga’s sister Taissa in the lead can’t be a coincidence.

The Predator – 3rd August

Since the original Predator in 1987 the big guy has been in a sequel, two spin offs and a reboot. All have them have been terrible (okay Predator 2 has its moments) but considering this one is being directed by Shane Black and written by himself and Monster Squad legend Fred Dekker I am sure we will finally see the follow up all string-vested-alien-bounty-hunter lovers deserve. Sadly Arnie won’t be returning as cigar chomping, nuclear bomb dodging Dutch but them’s the breaks.

Something in the Dark – 15th October

After she is given weird revolutionary eyewear a blind woman has her sight restored but also, annoyingly, can see ghosts. Is that a bad thing? Well if they start hanging out in the loo when you’re trying to drop the kids off at the pool then I guess so. This could be something special from a smaller film in amongst all these bigger names. Bits are crossed.

Halloween – 19th October

All the old horror franchaises should really have been laid to rest a long time ago, but every few years a new one rears its lovely, rotten head. In theory this new Halloween is a terrible idea (much like all of the sequels) but this has Jamie Leigh Curtis back in her breakout role as Laurie Strode, even if she did already die several films ago. Actually she didn’t! The new film ignores all of the sequels and is in fact a direct sequel to the first film. Now we’ve heard all this before (remember Texas Chainsaw 3D?). David Gordon Green is an interesting director working with regular star and collaborator Danny MCBride on the script. The fact that they are both best known for stoner comedies (although he also directed the wonderful George Washington) would be worrying but then this is a Blum House production. The last time they worked with a known comedian the result was Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Also, more important than anything,  John Carpenter is scoring this.

The House With a Clock In Its Walls – 19th October

Weirdly coming out the same day as Halloween, so doomed to be lost in the hullaballoo, Eli Roth’s latest movie promises to be a more low key affair than his usual efforts. It might also be more of a children’s horror fantasy than a bloodbath. Whether its any good or not remains to be seen but a fine cast including Cate Blanchett and Kyle MacLaughlin gives me hope. It also has Jack Black.

Overlord – 26th October

Little is known about this world war two set horror involving two US soldiers behind enemy lines but… we’re not going to know until probably the last minute because, just like at the beginning of the year, it is another Cloverfield sequel! Or is it? the mystery never ends!

Suspiria – TBC

I spend a long, long time stomping about in fury about anyone even attempting to remake Dario Argento’s classic. But if you think about it, the 1977 film is all style and little substance (I choked typing that) and the basic story, of a ballet dancer uncovering a coven of witches at a dance school, is ripe for plundering. Add into that director Luca Guadagnino has done some amazing work with A Bigger Splash and the much loved Call Me By Your Name, and a great cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Mortez and Dakota Johnson and my fury has all but disappeared. Besides you know what? I’ve made peace with most remakes, we’ll always have the originals.

Nosferatu – TBC

Robert Eggers’s The Witch was a brilliant, brilliant film. We may have had two perfect version of Nosferatu before but that doesn’t mean I wont see a new one by Eggers. Plus Anya Taylor-Joy returns to work with him, presumably in the Lucy role. Who will play Count Orlack himself? Well we have to wait and see.

Patient Zero – NEVER

This is the third time this Matt Smith/Natalie Dormer zombie movie has been on the list for upcoming films. I don’t believe it will ever come out. I think I worked on it a long time ago with the hope that it would be something interesting. Its all lost into distribution hell now. People work hard on films, good or bad, they deserve to be seen! Ah well…

 

I’ll update this list this time next year (unless we’re in the middle of our own apocalypse by then) so we can see how they all turned out. Until then good luck.

 

 

Top Ten Horror Movies of 2017

2017 was a terrible year in many ways, but not in horror. There are a couple in this list which are out and out classics and there many other fine features worth a look. Beyond this lot and a few others I clearly missed (The Ritual maybe?) I´m not sure that this year has quite the depth and breadth of some previous years but its still obvious that audiences are as hungry for horror as they ever have been.

Stephen King´s It made over half a billion dollars which is incredible for a relatively low budget film about a killer clown. Get Out made half that but that is even more impressive, coming from neither a major studio nor a known director and with almost no budget at all. People complain about stuff like Rotten Tomatoes ruining various films box office chances but it is also helping audiences hone in on quality films that deserve to be seen. Get Out should hopefully even pick up a few Oscar nominations.

Its not just about box office take though. New forms of distribution mean people can see great films they just never would otherwise. Gerald´s Game is as good a Stephen King adaptation as ever there was, but if Netflix hadn´t stumped up a wad of cash to make a two hour film about a woman tied to a bed it would never have been seen by more than a few King nerds, let alone adored by so many of us.

On top that there is still plenty of great and weird independent movies being made, with new, interesting voices appearing like Alice Lowe and Julia Ducournau. The only real failures this year have been big budget studio horror which have been too desperate to try and start franchises and compete with Marvel to realise what they should be doing is making one good horror story, well told.

So talking of good horror stories, here is my top ten for the year. Please feel free to disagree, especially with number seven…

10. Happy Death Day

PG13 horror gets a lot of stick from hardcore horror fans and often rightly so but Happy Death Day proves that you can make a slasher for the masses if you a) rip off Groundhog Day with humour and style and b) you have characters you can root for. Jessica Rothe may start off as the classic college bitch who deserves to die (over and over again) but by the end she´s the final girl who you want to live. It may not be any great shakes, its light and frothy but Happy Death Day is the most fun and funniest horror you´ll see this year… well, bar maybe one.

9. Split

M. Night Shyamalan continues his return to form after The Visit with multiple personality kidnap thriller Split. Another great example of keeping a horror story down to one location with the minimum of characters, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to prove she is one of the best actresses around and James McAvoy is simply amazing in his role, sorry, all of his roles. Most women I know think he´s the bees knees and indeed he may well be but he sure isn´t sexy in a dress.

8. Prevenge

Alice Lowe´s small, crazy film about a woman loosing her mind through grief and the strain of being alone and pregnant is both tragic and strangely hilarious. And the fact that she wrote, directed and stared in it whilst eight months pregnant is almost certainly a first and definitely a marvel.

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/prevenge-2016/

7. Alien: Covenant

Yeah suck it. This is a great sequel to Prometheus so if you hated that one then you´ll hate this one too! Personally I love them both. Okay yeah people still do stupid things and there is a sex/shower/death scene straight out of a B-movie but then that´s what this is. Ridley Scott may talk up how this is about artificial intelligence, God and the origins of life (and there are some beautiful moments dealing with this) but it also has people fighting aliens whilst hanging off space ships and crazy android David wiping out an entire planet of spacemen like he´s flushing the toilet. And the stupid people doing stupid things? Its a staple of the genre. You might think this is not a good movie but you are all wrong and will one day worship Alien: Covenant the same way I do.

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/alien-covenant-2017/

6. Sadako Vs Kayako

The Ring Vs the Grudge movie was the battle royale we didn´t know we wanted and my goodness does it take a long time for the two of these Japanese horror icons to finally clash. But the slow build is totally worth it and there are many fun characters and ridiculous moments along the way. Highlights include a bullied boy having a grudge revenge only to also be murdered himself (child death yay?) and a bizarre blind kid with magic powers who has clearly stumbled straight out of a manga comic. The phantoms themselves are the best they´ve been in years, unlike the risible Rings that came out about the same time. Loved this big dumb movie.

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/sadako-vs-kayako-aka-the-ring-vs-the-grudge-2016/

5. The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Another single location movie with small, creepy ambitions that pay off in style. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch give it their all in what at times feels like a EC comics tale come to life. The set up is brilliant, and the odd little payoffs like the bells attached to the cadaver´s feet are beautifully chilling. Its a film to be watched late at night with the lights off, giving good old fashioned frights, the only one on this list that that  manages that this year.

4. Gerald´s Game

If 2017 was meant to be the year of Stephen King adaptations then it was also the year of single location horror. This was the best of them. Mike Flanagan directs the bejesus out of a supposedly unfilmable King novel and Carla Gugino finally gets a role she can really shine in. There are two mind bogglingly horrific scenes (for very different reasons) and the fact that this came straight to Netflix means that it was like an extra present for subscribers that makes the fee worth every penny (I do not work for Netflix but come on, they´ve done some fantastic content this year.1922, another king adaptation is also meant to be great).

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/geralds-game-2017/

3. It

Considering the original director was fired and everyone assumed that the Mama chap couldn´t possible fill the True Detective director´s shoes, Andy Muscietti really showed everyone how wrong they were. Maybe a lot of the actual scare scenes are a bit too loud and in your face to really frighten you, but by god the character work, acting, mood and feel of the book are brought perfectly to life.

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/it-2017/

2. Get Out

Blum House continue to be the best and most prolific makers of successful horror and Get Out is the pinnacle of their work so far. Jordan Peele writes and directs one of the most tense and at the same time hilarious movies in years. I´m sure for him it has been a long time coming but the subject matter feels so right now for America that it only makes it even better. Also, we in the UK have been wowed by Daniel Kaluuya for a long time (well I have anyway), so I´m glad the rest of the world is finally catching up to his talent.

1. The Devils Candy

BABYLON

Not since I was a kid with my dad´s old Betamax have I watched a film and then as soon as it´s finished start it all over again. The Devil´s Candy is such a perfect little movie that I had no choice but to do so. I knew the moment I saw it I wouldn´t see anything else that I loved as much as this. We´ve all seen a family move into a creepy house before but never has that family had such a great and believable father/child dynamic or has there been such a great use of a bright red arrow-shaped electric guitar. Also heavy metal is usually the Devil´s music, this time its his foil. Ethan Embry is both unrecognisable and the most awesome father ever and director Sean Byrne directs to perfection here. The only sad thing is that he takes so long between each movie, but then if its this good the wait is worth it.

https://myownpersonalhellblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/the-devils-candy-2015/

  

Honourable Mentions

There were a bunch of taboo busting international films which just missed out. Raw is a beautiful and tasty treat, We Are The Flesh is weirdly hilarious post apocalyptic sex fest and if you only see one alien tentacle sex movie this year make it The Untamed.

I´m still not sure if I love The Void yet (the blu ray has just arrived so am gonna watch it again) but as a homage to eighties gory and gloopy horror its a marvel. Another look back to the past Super Dark Days is also a terrific but sad character piece you should watch.

For the ultimate in retro movie making check out the terrific The Love Witch which just fell out of my ten but is one of the most unique films you´ll see this or any other year outside of the sixties.

Annabelle 2: Creation was another fine addition to what is now The Conjuring shared universe.

Talking of shared universes The Mummy didn´t make this list, obviously…

 

 

How Did The Upcoming Horror Films Of 2016 Turn Out?

At the beginning af 2016 there was much to look forward to. How wrong I was! Certainly in the real world. As for the horror movies?  Well here I’m having a look back at the films I was looking forward to last year. How did they all turn out? Let’s have a look shall we?

The Forest – 26th February 2016

fr

I SAID: Okay I take that back, there isn’t much hope for The Forest as it is already out in America and everyone hated it. On the positive side it has Natalie Dormer playing twins, a forest where people go to kill themselves and it’s set in Japan: Twins, suicide, Japan – three things I’m fascinated by. Let’s give it a go eh?

AND? It had it’s moments certainly and wasn’t the disaster that many of the reviews said but it relied to much on weak jump scares and didn’t build much atmosphere or genuine scares which shouldn’t have been too hard considering the premise and setting. I get the feeling the real mood of the piece was lost in the edit sadly. Dormer did her best though.

The Boy – 19th February 2016

image

I SAID: The trailer for The Boy was freaking the shit out of people a few weeks ago. I’m not so sure, I’ve been around enough devil dolls, haunted toys and living dummies to be more than a little jaded by the whole thing. On the one hand it stars The Walking Dead‘s delightful Lauren Cohan who hopefully will get to show some more range other than just crying and stabbing zombies in the brain. On the other hand it’s directed by the guy who made The Devil Inside which still makes the blood boil of anyone who has watched it – go to YouTube to find out what happens next!?!?!? YouTube!??!!!!!!!!!

AND? Goofy stuff and not scary at all, but it was also a lot of fun and fun is not a bad at all in horror. It kept me guessing until quite near the end and Cohan knocked it out the park, as they say across the pond.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – 11th February 2016

image

I SAID: Weirdly this is the first of two zombie movies starring Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith out this year. This has been trying to go before the cameras for a few years now, they struggled a lot trying to sign a decent cast, but now with Lily James they’ve got someone high profile enough that it should prove to be at least a minor hit. I have no idea if it’s going to be any good though, the trailer was exactly what you’d expect of it – all frocks, dancing and shooting the undead in slow motion.

AND? Okay well its on Netflix now, which is where it probably deserves to be. May and I started watching it and its not as bad as I thought but, as can often be the way with Netflix, I found something better to do. I’ll update when I do watch it.

The Witch – 11th March 2016

image

I SAID: Already touted as the one to beat, this looks like it could be a future classic, although they said that about The Babadook and they, whoever they are, were wrong. Mind, they also said it about It Follows and then they were right. So don’t trust them, let’s just go watch the film and make our own minds up.

AND? Yep, its a classic. Loved it.

The Green Inferno – 12th February 2016

green

I SAID: Here we are three years after it was finished, two years after it was shown in festivals and several months after it can out in the U.S. of A. and Eli Roth’s cannibal munch down still isn’t out over here. Some may say it’s not worth the wait and they may be right, although I do think Roth’s films get a bad wrap because he is allegedly a mind boggingly rude person. However I don’t know the guy and just like his films, plus there just aren’t enough cannibal movies kicking around nowadays so I’m queuing up with some spare ribs and bag of intestines whatever the case.

AND? Urgh. It was annoying. Well mainly the characters were annoying. I didn’t want them to be eaten alive by cannibals, I just wanted them to stop talking and go away. I guess eaten alive by cannibals was the next best thing. Not that there was enough gore which surprised me considering it was Roth directing. Also a weirdly snarky undertone about students who are trying to help those who can’t help themselves left a nasty taste in my mouth. And not of the human flesh variety.

Bone Tomahawk – 19th February 2016

bone-tomahawk

I SAID? Talking of cannibals, you wait for one and… but this is in the very small sub genre of the horror western. In fact its really in the even more obscure sub genre of the cannibal horror western which I think is populated with like three movies. More importantly its got Kurt Fucking Russell on a horse with a massive moustache… sold!

AND? Yes! Another good one. My friend Paul pointed out that the first hour was too slow and the cave set at the end looked like cardboard. I’ll give him the latter but the first hour was, for me, a great way to build up the characters and make us care for them… before it all goes horribly wrong.

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Ghost – 17th June 2016

image

I SAID: Well here we are, the sequel to one of the biggest horror hits in years and they’ve relocated to the glamour of Enfield in North London, in the 1970s. That alone makes me shiver. That must have been fun for the cast. Anyway, the story itself is pretty well known and might not break any new grounds  but then you could have said the same about the first film. The story is almost besides the point, what will make The Conjuring 2 good or not will be the quality of James Wan’s direction and the commitment of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren. Wan said he was done doing haunted house movies after Insidious 2 but maybe the experience of the last Fast and Furious film has stoked up his horror side again. The least we can hope for are some quality frights even if the film ends up being a retread of the last one. I hope not though.

AND? It was as good as one could hope for – ie really good. The Warren’s still ping off screen and Wan’s direction is faultless. Only The Crooked Man, a rather out of sorts CG character didn’t work. Also I weirdly loved the Enfield setting.

31 – TBC

image

I SAID: Say what you want about Rob Zombie but you’ve got to admire his dedication to the genre. Here a bunch of carnival workers are kidnapped by evil clowns and forced to survive some crazed game for twelve hours. You know this is going to be incredibly violent and most likely a bit upsetting. But it’s also going to unlike any other film makers work and that is a good thing. After this I think it’s time for Rob to sell out and make a zombie movie: Rob Zombie’s Zombies just works.

AND? Really sorry to say this but I found 31 completely unwatchable. Maybe it got better after the first half but I’ll never know, I stopped it and I won’t be going back. Ugly characters screaming at the screen, and that was the heroes. There was a nazi dwarf in it, he got on my nerves almost as much as the rest of them.

Visions – TBC

image

I SAID: Hmmm… Well Visions could be really good or it could be really ball sucky, it all comes down to two things – are the visions of the title super frikken scary and when the visions are finally revealed for what they are, will they blow our minds or will we chuck a half chewed hot dog at the screen? The trailer doesn’t give much away other than seeming to be a bog standard pregnant woman freaked out in a new town plot but Isla Fisher is an interesting choice as the lead and Jim Parsons plays a doctor. No not this one you fools, the other one!

AND? Its on Netflix, I’ll let you know.

The Neon Demon – TBC

image

I SAID: A cross between Valley of the Dolls and Starry Eyes, this could go any way. However, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (of Drive) it will at least be beautiful to look at and sound great. Add in Jenna Malone, Elle Fanning, Christine Hendricks and Keanu Reeves and it could be bloody brilliant.

AND? A beautiful struggle. I’m half way through it, and don’t want to give a judgement until I’ve watched it all. I’ll have to start again when its not midnight and haven’t had too much wine…

Leatherface  – TBC

Leatherface_2016_poster

I SAID: A prequel (sigh) about Leatherface’s teenage years is a TERRIBLE idea. It’s really awful, I mean they tried it with Hannibal Lector and everybody hated that, even the author, and he wrote it. I don’t see how this is going to work at all apart from its directed by the team who made Inside and the weird and wonderful French vampire movie (sorta) Livid a few years ago, so I’m still going to see it. I’m sad it’s not in 3D though, I want more chainsaws coming out of the screen type action. Oh well…

AND? Well apparently Leatherface is in the can but where is the release date? Who knows. Maybe they realised that the idea for a young Leatherface was never going to work and they’re desperately trying to polish the turd as we speak. I suspect it will slip out in some dreadfully quiet weekend eventually and be forgotten instantly.

Martyrs – TBC

martyrs-still-620x400

I SAID: More horror with a French flavour, the original Martyrs is a hands down classic and a gut-wrenching cinematic marvel to boot. I don’t know if a remake can add anything to the story without undermining it but it’s coming whether you like it or not. And worryingly at least the marketing team behind the film, if not the makers themselves, don’t seem to understand what they have here as the trailer gives away the main plot. What worked so well with the original was how you really had no idea where the story was going.

AND? Well the reviews have been shocking and I although I like to make up my own mind, sometimes life is just too short. Who really wants to watch a remake of a film that, although amazing, was a one-watch movie in the first place?

Patient Zero – 2nd September 2016

patientzero

I SAID: The second Matt Smith zombie movie of 2016 and I can’t say anything about it as I’ve just finished working on it and I don’t want to get fired. Oh I’ve just quit. I’m still not saying a word.

AND? This was finished a while back but has been moved around until this year now. It does feel similar to The Girl With All The Gifts but that was terrific. Can Patient Zero be as good?

Jeruzalem – TBC

jeruz

I SAID: This one looks interesting. It’s a found footage movie but after The Visit I have a little hope about these type of film again. Judging by the poster and the massive red Z in it I figured this was a zombie movie, however the trailer seems to suggest something a bit more biblical which obviously suits the location – a location that looks incredible in the footage by the way. We’ll see how this turns out, hopefully not just the usual ending with the camera hitting the floor as the lead is dragged off to their death.

AND? Okay not seen this yet. Give me a break, there are only so many found footage movies a guy can cope with.

Lights Out – TBC

lightout

I SAID: Lights Out was a brilliantly simple and effective (really) short film, above, that popped up a couple of years ago online. Now expanded to feature length with Teresa Palmer and some money who knows if the idea of a creature that haunts a woman when the lights go out can work for an hour and a half but I am going to be there on opening day, or in fact night, to find out. 

AND? Yeah it was very likeable. The story was much more focused on a dysfunctional family and mental illness than I thought it would be, and I really appreciated that. Palmer gave a great performance as did Maria Bello as her mother, unhinged and twitchy all the way. However I don’t think the actual conceit of the creature that can only be seen when the lights go out was that well exploited. Sure it was explained and given a backstory – too much of one I think so it lost its mystery. I was hoping for something really clever using light and shadows but we just didn’t get that. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a solid film, I just was hoping for more.

A Man In The Dark – 26th August 2016

I SAID: This is from the director of the remake of Evil Dead so you can already count me in. A blind man who is terrorised by a bunch on teens turns out to be not so helpless after all. Evil Dead‘s Jane Levy is here too.

AND? It became Don’t Breathe and was a very well made horror thriller with some great performances from actors playing characters I couldn’t care less about.

The Girl With All The Gifts – TBC

She-Who-Brings-Gifts-2

I SAID: This could also turn out to be one of the years best horrors. Based on Mike Carey’s excellent book, it is yet another zombie movie but this time the emphasis is on a small zombie girl who might hold the key to humanity’s future, at least that’s what her teacher thinks. Yeah, the kid zombies are slightly smarter than the adult zombies so they send them to school. Plus her teacher is Gemma Arterton in her first horror film since Byzantium which she was great in… although what wasn’t she great in? She’s fantastic in everything. Sigh…

AND? Well I might have written that I thought it could be one of the years best but I didn’t honestly think it WOULD be. And yet there it is at the top of my list for 2016.

So there you go. I wonder how things will turn out next year…

Upcoming Horror in 2017

Considering how little money is spent on the average horror movie it comes as a surprise that 2017 has a lot of big budget studio scary movies coming out. This is in part due to a renewed, and long overdue, interest in Stephen King’s novels but also long gestating projects have gone before the cameras to give us horror fans a treat. This list is far from complete and for all I know some of these might be a complete load of old nonsense but we can but hope for some classics to come this year, and with some serious studio cash behind them…

The Autopsy of Jane Doe – Soon!

a_jane

As has been the case for the last few years one of the first films out of the block is one that has been getting a lot of buzz from the festival circuits. Following The Witch, It Follows and The Babadook before them, can The Autopsy of Jane Doe survive the overhype to be a genuine horror classic? Certainly it has a good pedigree with Andre Ovredal of Trollhunter fame, and stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox bringing some class to the tale of a strangely perfect female corpse being brought into the father-and-son morticians with one night to discover who she is and how she died. I can tell you now (as I’ve already seen it) it lives up to the hype… which might be me overhyping it again, so now you will think its over rated… damn it!

Split – 20th January

b_splitposter

M. Night Shyamalan has realised that instead of messing around with different genres he should just stick to what he is amazing at. So we get, hot on the heels of The Visit, another potential classic, this time involving split personalities, kidnapping and James McAvoy acting his socks off as 24 characters (in the same body obviously).

Don’t Knock Twice – 3rd February

c_dont-knock-twice-movie-poster

There’s not lot of British horror this year (hello Hammer? Where are you when we need you?) but Don’t Knock Twice has some very strong imagery in the trailer and witches are all the rage at the moment, so let’s hope it can hold our flag up proudly this year and be less of an embarrassment than the people who voted for Brexit.

A Cure For Wellness – 24th February

d_cure-for-wellness-poster

Director Gore Verbinski may have tested his audience’s patience to the limit with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the bizarrely dull The Lone Ranger, but whatever you think of him you have to agree that he is a visual master of mainstream cinema. The trailers for A Cure for Wellness certainly back this up and with Jason Isaacs and Dane DeHaan in the cast what could possibly go wrong? Okay IMDB says the running time is 146 minutes which seems to suggest Verbinski is still making over long, flabby stories and I’m not sure the tale of a mysterious spa can sustain such length. But hey! What do I know, this is just a preview list, let’s judge it when it comes out yeah?

Kong: Skull Island – 10th March

e_kong-skull-island-poster-2

King Kong is back and is ALWAYS welcome in my books even if he is clearly played by a man in a monkey suit. Sadly, those days have long since gone but this new version is setting up not only a new franchise but also will serve as a prequel to a grudge match between our giant furry friend and Godzilla. When did the studio system embrace B-movie silliness so fully? Next they’ll be making a big budget remake of… actually you know what? I was trying to think of a ludicrous cheap movie for a studio to remake but I think they’ve done them all now. Hey, I ain’t complaining!

Get Out – 17th March

getout

Directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele, Get Out stars the very likeable Daniel Kaluuya travelling to his white girlfriend’s parent’s house only to discover some nasty goings on. At a time when race relations are at a very low point in America, this horror version of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? couldn’t come at a better time.

The Belko Experiment – 17th March

g_belko

The poster says this is a cross between The Office and Battle Royale so that is the plot basically. I can’t say I’m that excited about such a premise but then it is written by James Gunn and is getting lots of whispers of greatness so we’ll find out soon enough whether its worth getting all worked up about or not.

Raw – March

h_raw

This French horror movie has a young vegetarian forced to eat meet during a hazing ritual, after which her taste for flesh gets somewhat out of control. Every few years a horror movie comes out which claims that people passed out during a screening or had to be carried out on a stretcher or even died. Raw is the latest in this fine tradition so I’m hoping to see it at a OAP or mother-and-baby screening to see what happens.

Alien: Covenant – 19th May

i_alien-covenant-poster-1

Being one of two people who had no problem with Prometheus I can’t wait for Alien: Covenant. Obviously 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott are making sure people know this is an Alien prequel rather than a Prometheus sequel and if they haven’t had a panic-stricken rewrite of the script a month before shooting then this shouldn’t have the problems that had so many people up in arms last time round. Really people: characters doing stupid things in terrible situations is the bread-and-butter of horror movies, get over it. Also, judging by the poster and trailer this Alien movie is really getting back to it’s horror roots. I LOVE the Alien franchise when its at its best, let’s hope Scott, in his twilight years, can pull another classic out of the bag.

The Mummy – 9th June

j_the-mummy-poster

Although yet another big budget Mummy movie in theory isn’t that exciting, especially after the Brendan Fraser/sand particles years, Universal is trying to kick start a movie monsters shared universe franchise with this new version. What self respecting horror fan isn’t interested in that? Plus Tom Cruise rarely does bad films so there’s real hope here. There still seemed to be a lot of sand particles in the trailer though so I’m not getting my hopes up too much.

The Dark Tower – 28th July

k_dark

The King revival starts here… this time with a massive budget, a franchise stretching over cinema and television, and some of the best Hollywood stars acting today. I’ve not read any of the horror fantasy western epics this is based on but I have only ever heard amazing things about them. Lots of fingers crossed here.

Annabelle 2 – 11th August

l_annabelle-2-poster

Another sequel to a film no one but me liked but you know… suck it. This time the director is David F. Sandberg who did a very solid job with Lights Out so things are looking up. Plus the setting is an orphanage and orphanages are ALWAYS creepy places. At least it isn’t a family being harassed by a demon which I have had enough of, and if it has one scene that is half as good as the basement sequence from the first movie then I’ll be happy.

It – 8th September

n_it

The novel It is probably Stephen King’s best work and turning it into a film has been a long and painful process. Folks have fond memories of the TV miniseries from 1990 but really, apart from an amazing turn from Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown it has not aged well. Things were looking very much up when True Detective‘s Cary Joji Fukunaga was attached to direct but a lot of hopes were dashed when he was replaced with Mama‘s Andres Muschetti. This seems a little unfair as Mama was very good entry in the haunted kid sub genre, and as long as the studio hasn’t interfered too much, this It could still turn out rather good. The story, characters and the town of Derry are so strong and well defined in King’s novel that it would take a real load of numpties to bugger this one up. Please let this be good.

Friday The 13th – 13th October

n_friday13

After a weird and unnecessary EIGHT year wait we are finally getting a new outing for Jason Voorhees. Little is known about the plot but hopefully they haven’t spent all this time overthinking things – just give us Jason, some hot teenagers, some outrageous kills and a bit of a twist and we’ll be quite happy. If it turns out to be an origin story then that WILL be depressing (it didn’t work for Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader so why would it work for Jason?), but on the positive side it is directed by Breck Eisner who has done solid work in the past so lets see how this latest entry turns out. I mean there have been so many of these films now, and so many terrible ones, that it can’t really be that bad, can it?

Before I Wake – One Day!

q_before

Mike Flanagan’s career is going great and it has been since Oculus hit the screens. Immediately after that modest hit he set to work on the follow up, shooting Before I Wake at the end of 2013… and here it is four years later after various production and distribution companies have gone bust whilst handling it. Will the story of a boy who’s dreams and nightmares manifest themselves in real life be worth the wait? Well it has Kate Bosworth in it so… um… let’s see huh?

Gerald’s Game – When Netflix feel like it

p_geraldsgame

Mike Flanagan is back, again, working with Netflix to make one of Stephen King’s least filmable novels. The plot centres on a woman tied to a bed after her husband drops dead in the middle of some rumpy pumpy. You couldn’t get much less cinematic than that, but then last year’s Hush was clearly a dry run for Flanagan’s attempt at horror experimentation and with Netflix willing to take a few risks let’s hope this turns out to be the next Misery, rather than, say, the next Dreamcatcher.

Sadako Vs Kayako (AKA Ring Vs Grudge) – Soon!

r_sadako-vs-kayako

Okay, there is an American sequel to the remakes coming out at some point this year but who cares about that when you have a verses movie where you have the black haired ghost of the Ring movies having a fight with the black haired ghost of the Grudge movies. This is what trashy horror movies are all about, and this as silly as you can get… in a good way.

Suspiria – This Year

suspiria-poster

Last year the remake no one wanted was Martyrs, and so it proved as not only did no one watch it but no one even notice it quietly slop onto VOD like a dying fish. This year we have Suspiria. The original is one of Dario Argento’s finest and remaking it seems quite, quite pointless: the plot barely made a scrap of sense and the film’s main selling point was Argento’s magical set pieces and visuals. No one wants a new version of the story of a girl sent to a ballet school which turns out to be run by a coven of witches. Sure witches are in, and sure ballet was in the other year when Black Swan came out but… really? Okay so its got a good director in Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) and a solid cast… and lets face it we were all wrong about the Evil Dead remake so I’ll still probably see it, and maybe, with a bit of luck, even love it.

 

This, in fact, could be a bumper year for horror. As much as I have loved so many of the small independent features we have had of late, I am so excited for some of these big studio pictures. Maybe we will get another Carrie or The Exorcist, or at the very least another The Keep. Or if we’re really lucky a Lifeforce. We can but hope…

 

 

 

Top 10 Horror Movies of 2016

So as no one mourns the end of 2016, least of all me, we can at least take some comfort in the fact that it was another solid year for horror. Not that it was always easy to WATCH horror movies with all the awful things going on in the world. This last year has been my least prolific on My Own Personal Hell not for a lack of trying but between Trump, Brexit, celebrity and personal deaths and various atrocities throughout the world, sometimes the “joy and fun” of horror is too difficult to stomach. I’ve mostly been watching Rick and Morty on a loop to try and cheer myself up, and even that has a scene where the two protagonists have to bury their own corpses from an alternative reality and take their places.

I wouldn’t say that this last year was as good as 2015 – in fact where as then I had TOO many films to fit onto the list, this time round I struggled to fill the top ten. That’s not to say that there weren’t a lot of good films, or at least goodish, but top ten worthy? Well there were just about enough…

 

10. The Boy

theboy

Its weird how, despite Halloween being near the end of the year, it is the first few month which offers the best of the genre. Maybe the gap before the summer blockbusters leaves a suitable hole for horror, or maybe its just that the bleak mid winter is a natural time for such tales. Whatever the case The Boy is a perfect slice of hugely entertaining gothic horror silliness with a great central performance from The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan. The Boy is no great shakes story-wise but it is like a tin of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup, perfect comfort for the horror fan. Not sure why the boy in the picture above is the weird kid from M.A.D. magazine though.

9. Under The Shadow

undertheshadow-1600x900-c-default

If you want something a bit different then hop on over to Iran for your scares. A tight urban haunting set during the Iran-Iraq war in the early eighties, although the basics of the story have been seen many (too many some might say) times before, it is the setting of time and place which really make Under The Shadow feel fresh and original. Not only is there the back drop of the war to contend with but also the struggles of an educated woman after the Iranian revolution. Add in a genuinely creepy and different spirit and you have one of the most original feeling films of the year. Apart from the basic story that is.

8. Blair Witch

blair-witch-callie-hernandez

This surprised me. At the time I was kind of dismissive of Blair Witch as a slicker semi remake of the original, and indeed that is kind of what it is. Most of the new ideas seem like missed opportunities rather than good narrative or visual plot devices and the found footage genre continues its slow death. And yet not only was it one of the most intense films I’ve seen this year with genuine scares and strong atmosphere but its also one of the few I kept on thinking about for days after.

7. SiREN

siren-featured

SiREN takes the original short film Amateur Night (from VHS) and really runs with it, exploring the story in interesting and original ways. The film is obviously cheap as chips and its ambitions are frequently let down by the lack of budget, but you have to admire the film makers balls for trying something different and interesting here.

6. The Conjuring 2

the-conjuring-2-nun-the-true-story-of-the-demon

If there is one problem with the a lot of horror recently it is that it is really running the haunted/possessed family story into the ground. We’ve had so many films doing this of late, particularly since the critical smash that was The Babadook. Under The Shadow and The Other Side of The Door are just the top end of an almost never ending dirge of demons, devils, witches and ghostly murderers all trying to take the bodies of various family members. The Conjuring 2, like its prequel, once more stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. It helps that it is based on a “true” story and with a budget to realise its period setting and set pieces. What really makes The Conjuring 2 work though is its characters, cast and exceptional direction – not much to ask for really! It also has a killer nun which always helps.

5. Train to Busan

train-to-busan

South Korea continues to prove itself to be one of the best producers of mainstream films outside of America with Train to Busan being a deeply unoriginal zombie movie (aren’t they all nowadays?) which at the same time is a great slice of terror entertainment and full of dynamic action.

4. Bone Tomahawk

bone-tomahawk-008

Barely a horror film until the final, grisly act, Bone Tomahawk still has a pervading sense of dread throughout the whole film that few westerns ever touch on. The Wild West really WAS wild with mankind set free to do what the hell it wanted to its fellow man. Only the small gang of very flawed heroes led by Kurt Russell can stand up against such evil in what is essentially a cannibalistic version of The Searchers. Russell has never been better but the rest of the gang are all at the top of their game too – Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and especially Richard Jenkins as Russell’s foolish but also rather wonderful deputy and best friend.

3. Green Room

green-room

Green Room could not surely have been released at a better time in America than 2016. It shows the Alt-Right/Neo Nazis as the monsters they are at a time when the American people were just getting to know who they were. Sadly not enough people saw Green Room to be put off voting for the person these hateful people supported during the election. Whatever the case, it is still a terrifically tense movie which showcases the late Anton Yelchin in one of his coolest and most charismatic performances. He will be greatly missed.

2. The Witch

the-witch-goat_0

Okay, so The Witch is in a lot of people’s top tens for 2016 and with good reason. You can look elsewhere to read about the great performances, the cold, stark look of the film and a story that you have no idea where it is going, but really its at number two because it has a goat in it called Black Phillip.

1.The Girl With All The Gifts

the-girl-with-all-the-gifts-aimee-spinks00007-1024x683

So the film I most enjoyed this year totally contradicts what I was saying earlier about zombie films being unoriginal. The Girl With All Gifts surely follows and is influenced by such classics as Day of the Dead for its military bunker location and 28 Days Later for its British setting, but it has such a strong and different perspective on the genre that it comes across as totally unique. This is of course down to the girl of the title and her world view, and a great performance from Sennia Nunua. By keeping with her throughout the film we see the zombie apocalypse not only in all its chaos and violence but also how it can bring about something new and transcendent to humanity. This isn’t just an intelligent study on life and death though, it is also a rip roaring horror movie with great performances and terrific action.

 

 

 

 

 

12 Awful Human Monsters in Horror Movies

I’m not that keen on humanity as a whole at the moment. Certain groups keep on making really stupid decisions which ruins things for the rest of us who, weirdly are just trying to spend our lives being nice to each other. So where better to escape from reality than the comfort of a good old horror movie. However even then there are some villainous and evil people mucking about in the swamp of life. Here’s a dozen of them:

image

President Greg Stillson – The Dead Zone (Martin Sheen)

Let’s start with the obvious. Not only is this man a self serving narcissistic maniac who won’t listen to his advisers and almost sends the world into a nuclear apocalyptic oblivion but he also shields himself from would-be assassins with a baby. A baby! What a cunt.

 

image

Rhodes – Day of the dead (Joseph Pilato)

From the moment he steps on screen you know that Rhodes is a massive toss-pot. Having risen in the ranks of his squad due to his seniors being eaten, Rhodes is now in charge of a science and military base and is clearly out of his depth. He seems to have forgotten that his main duty is to protect the civilians not shoot them in the head to make a point. Thank god for the zombie horde. When they finally shuffle into the base Rhodes makes the best dinner a member of the undead could ask for. “Choke on them!” he screams as his intestines are pulled out of his stomach. But the zombies don’t choke on them. In fact Rhodes makes a very satisfying meal.

 

FRANKENHOOKER, James Lorinz, 1990, © Shapiro Glickenhaus

 

Jeffrey Franken – Frankenhooker (James Lorinz)

Look, I know that Jeffrey’s intentions are honourable. All he wants to do is bring back his dead girlfriend who died in bizarre gardening accident, but he’s clearly lost the plot with his methods. In order to get replacement parts he tempts prostitutes with what he feels are the only things that they could possibly be interested in – money and crack. And this isn’t just any old crack but super crack which makes people explode. So when he has a party which ends up with seven hookers exploding all over the hotel room, he could at least feel a little bit bad about what he’s done. But no: he may have made terrible assumptions about sex workers which resulted in all their deaths, but he only cares about how now he can use their breasts to make the perfect woman. Sometimes you’ve got to stop and think about what awful decisions you’re making in your life.

 

image

Evan – Knock Knock (Keanu Reeves)

Evan can scream “I’m a good person!” all he likes but if you’re going to have sex with two way too young women whilst your wife and kids are away then you deserve to be tied up, beaten, buried alive and have your dog stolen. Well maybe not the last one, no one deserves that.

 

image

Aunt Julia – Hellraiser (Clare Higgins)

Talking about following your base instincts, Aunt Julia’s sole driving force in Clive Barker’s classic is her desire to have lots and lots of steamy hot sex with Frank. It doesn’t seem to matter that Frank is a skinless corpse who’s escaped from hell, Julia will do anything do get back in the sack with him. This includes murdering her husband, her step-daughter and any passing businessman who’s unfortunate enough to be caught in her sights.

 

image

Pete –  Shaun of the dead (Peter Serafinowicz)

Pete is a terrible human being even before he’s turned into a zombie and tries to eat our heroes. He’s the worst kind of flat mate – bad tempered, self righteous,  patronizing and always trying to sleep. He also doesn’t know how to party or even how to enjoy himself in any way. The moment he enters a room he ruins what ever mood is happening. He’s an embarrassment really. And he’s an even more of an embarrassment as a zombie: stumbling about completely naked, his undead cock flapping about in the wind, making everyone feel awkward when they should be running for their lives.

 

image

Christine Brown – Drag Me To Hell (Alison Lohman)

I’m guessing we’re meant to have some sympathy for Christine as she’s cursed to be murdered and, indeed, dragged to hell by the demon Lamia. But come on… she deserves what she gets. Trying to prove to your boss how tough you are by throwing an old lady out of her home is not “just business” its downright immoral. Plus you killed your own cat. I’m more of a dog man myself but I wouldn’t kill my cat if I had one… although my dog would probably do it for me.

 

Prod DB © Lions Gate Films / DR THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (THE DEVIL'S REJECTS) de Rob Zombie 2005 USA / ALL avec Sid Haig, Bill Moseley et Sheri Moon horreur, gore, otage, prisonniers, attaches, torture

Otis, Baby and Captain Spalding – The Devil’s Rejects (Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig)

Having murdered every innocent person in their path, at the end of the film this gang is tied up by a revenge-crazed sheriff and tortured. Suddenly the music sores and… what? Are we meant to feel sorry for them? Excuse me, but as the victim of violent crime myself, and having just sat through the horrors of watching this bunch of asshole’s killing anyone they feel like, I don’t give a flying fuck about them and hope they all burn in hell. Maybe I’m taking this whole thing way too personally.

 

image

John Kramer – Saw films (Tobin Bell)

Okay I know he is meant to be the villain here but as above I think the film makers want us to feel some sympathy for him. Well not me. He is one of the most sanctimonious, self righteous pricks ever committed to a long running horror franchise. He’s so up on his high horse, making judgements about everyone from his stupid cancer-ridden death bed. And then he always has to add one final twist at the end of every film – ” It was all about you Gary! Always you!”” Oh Linda. YOU were the game after all! You!” What a massive wanker.

 


imageJimmy Mortimer – Friday the 13th: the Final Chapter (Crispin Glover)

There’s a plethora of annoying characters in the Friday the 13th films, and really Jimmy Mortimer isn’t much worse than the rest of them but none of the others are as preoccupied with proving what a great lover in bed as he is. Or at least not a “dead fuck” whatever the hell that is. And actually he is pretty awful in the sack judging by the look of horror the girl he is with gives when he rams his tongue down her throat. If only there was some crazed killer stalking nearby that could finish him off with a rogue kitchen utensil…

 

image

Margaret White – Carrie (Laurie Piper)

Margaret White ruins everything. In the name of religious purity she destroys a young girl’s life and sets the course for all the death and destruction that follows. As a parent you are meant to give your children the mental tools to grow up and become an adult in the world. Margaret White, however, gives Carrie nothing but a load of old fire and brimstone hogwash, to such an extent that the poor thing doesn’t even know how her own body works. To be fair to White she almost certainly is insane and probably got raped by the devil but still… learn some parenting skills for God’s sake or you’ll end up being killed with a potato peeler!

 

image

Mrs Carmody – The Mist (Marcia May Harden)

As religious nutters go Mrs Carmody trumps Margaret White by a country mile. She might act like she’s on the side of right when The Mist starts killing people but really she’s just exploiting America’s fears for her own gain. She uses religion to make herself the main power in the supermarket everyone is trapped in, but she clearly has no morals. The moment anyone disagrees with her or has alternative idea she suggests to her followers that they should think about killing them. Sound familiar? At least someone has the good sense to lob a tin of baked beans at her head to get her to shut the fuck up.