It's that time of year, when everyone and their brother are making their top 10 lists for the year. Since I spend most of my time trying to be like all the other cool kids, I put a little something something together just like everyone else.
Like last year, I didn't limit it to just movies or books, but rather a mixture of things that I liked this year more than other. Books weigh in more than anything else, but it feels like I've read more this year than many of the prior ones, so there you go.
This is not in any order, but instead of the first 10 things that came to mind when doing this list. I figure if I have to struggle to think of something, then it probably doesn't belong on this list. Ironically, there is something I picked that should have been on last year's top 10, so maybe I should eventually rethink that “first 10 things that come to mind” part.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, here is my top 10 for 2012:
I have a strong feeling that this one will be on many top 10 horror lists this year, and deservedly so. Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (who also directed), Cabin in the Woods didn't give the genre a breath of fresh air, it flipped it on its ass. What starts out as a seemingly typical slasher flick turns into one of the smartest horror films I've seen in years. I was fortunate of staying away from virtually every discussion about this movie until I was finally able to catch it when it was released on Blu-ray and I couldn't have been more pleased about my decision. Simply brilliant.
The first of three Delirium / DarkFuse novellas on this list, The Rain Dancers was my introduction to author Greg Gifune. Creepy, suspenseful and atmospheric, after finishing it I quickly ordered two more of Gifune's work. He's that good.
Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide (Second Edition)
First seen on my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide (Second Edition) also finds a place in my top 10 of 2012, and deservedly so. As mentioned in my review, I thought I was done with the zombie genre (with few exceptions) until I read this. Covering zombie films from the beginning until just about now, this mammoth tome was an absolute pleasure to read the first time around and I have no doubt I will be referring it to it often in the years to come.
The Walking Dead: Season 3
While I wasn't one of the people angry with this amazing series because of the lack of undead in its second season, I certainly found it hard to defend. But season three has effectively silenced the naysayers and the first half has found a terrific balance between great drama and better gore. Here's to hoping that it continues on this path for the remainder of this season and beyond. Oh, and that “with few exceptions” part I mentioned above? The Walking Dead is obviously one of those.
Another title from Delirium / DarkFuse, this one, quite simply, beat the hell out of me. Not just horrific in a supernatural sense, author Lee Thompson takes you on one man's painful journey in his quest for revenge. This one left me feeling bruised for days.
It may seem like cheating that I'm picking a catalog as opposed to a title, but Scream Factory (a branch of Shout! Factory) delivered some great titles in 2012. This year saw the release of They Live, The Funhouse, Halloween II, Halloween III, Terror Train, The Island and Death Valley on Blu-ray – at least three of those I didn't think would see DVD, much less Blu.
And have you seen what they have planned for 2013? Yeah, props to the folks over at Scream Factory for raining the bloody love on us fans.
Part Magic, a sprinkle of Child's Play and a whole bag of you're losing sleep tonight, Tim Curran's Puppet Graveyard is one of those reads that just gets to you. You're fully aware that a puppet isn't capable of doing the very terrible things found in this creepfest, but why won't the back of your brain stop telling you, “well, anything is possible, so sleep tight”?
I first caught Absentia in 2011 via a screener copy. Having being a huge fan of director Mike Flanagan's 2006 short Oculus (which is finally in post as a feature film), to say I was excited to see what he had up his sleeve next was an understatement. Admittedly, I was also a bit nervous due to the high expectations I had for this offering, but that was for naught. Flanagan expertly delivered a well-written and beautifully shot horror film that masterfully brings the fear in that special way that allows for your imagination to do just as much creeping as the movie itself.
This is the film that should have been on my 2011 list, but since it officially came out on DVD in 2012, I get to fix that mistake. Loophole or not, I don't give a damn. When you have a chance to right a wrong, you take it.
Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era
As both a horror and documentary fan, it's rare to find a good one in the sea of mediocrity of horror documentaries. Sure, there are tons of TV specials covering the best onscreen kills, scariest villains or creepiest kids, but you don't get a lot that really go much deeper than 'the best slasher movie', and when you do, it's hit or miss.
Screaming in High Heels was such a pleasant surprise this year because not only was this a documentary that was directed at horror fans in particular, and not only was it not a just a standard “best of”, but it also paid a massive amount of respect for (and brought attention to) the original scream queens: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer.
What made this doc so memorable is it wasn't a fluff piece (which, admittedly, part of me expected). Everyone interviewed, from the subjects to those they worked with and those they influenced, is brutally honest, dishing out both the good and the bad of indie filmmaking and the good and bad of being a scream queen. Its only major downside is there aren't more like it.
Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories
Written by John Edgar Browning
Packed with over 190 pages of horror posters, promotional pictures and lobby cards, Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories appears to be just another run of the mill coffee-table book at first glance, but it's so much more. Because accompanying each picture is a memory from those who have made their mark in the genre like Tony Timpone, Ramsey Campbell, Donald Glut, F. Paul Wilson and more, describing the film's impact on them the first time they saw it. Starting with the 1920s and working its way up all the way to the 2000s, each page is a full-color blast of photographs, memories and sometimes interesting trivia. I honestly can't say what I dug more, the photos or the impact the movies had on these people.
So there you have it, my top 10 of 2012. You may agree with some, you may agree with none, you may think I'm out of my mind. What was your top 10 of 2012? Let us know in the comments below!
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He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.