I think 2011 was the year where I realized I’m becoming a bit of a grumpy curmudgeon when it comes to horror movies. “Slow burners” piss me off, they’re like being served your dinner in stages; here are your peas. Finished? Now carrots. And so on, until you finally get to enjoy the meat at the end. I want it all on my plate right now with no messing about. I’m getting older and life’s too short to wait for a disappointing payoff. That’s why you’ll find this list mostly populated by lighter and fast-paced affairs. So here’s my top 10 horror thingies of 2011, not limited to movies, or even horror for that matter, in entirely non-preferential order. If it made the list, it made a grumpy old man very happy – well done. Except for the first one, it made me spit blood.
Absence of Light Perhaps it’s an odd choice to add possibly the worst film I have ever seen to a top ten list, but it earns its place just through the sheer audacity it displays by simply existing. Not only did the film-makers manage to snag a ‘who’s who’ of horror iconography (Michael Berryman, Tom Savini, Caroline Munro, David Hess and Tony Todd), they also thought the end result was worthy of being released onto an unsuspecting world. This film is so bad, we had to create a new rating (the steaming turd) as zero stars wasn’t enough. Everyone should see it once, just to marvel at how indescribably terrible it is, but be warned: you may find your brain leaking from your ears.
Eaters: Rise of the Dead Two Italian men took a digital still camera, some very good practical effects and wisely-used CGI to create this entertaining post-apocalyptic zombie adventure. Mistaken by many as something to do with Uwe Boll (it isn’t, he simply distributed it for directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori), this melting-pot of zombie set-pieces is quite possibly the only film of 2011 to feature a midget Nazi paedophile with a Hitler moustache. Boni and Ristori are currently in the process of shooting Zombie Massacre, based on a Nintendo Wii game, this time produced by Mr. Boll. Early signs look good, but time will tell.
Frightfest 2011 Quite simply, if you’re a fan of horror in the UK, you shouldn’t be doing anything other than booking tickets to the number one genre event of the year. Taking place at the massive Empire Cinema in London’s Leicester Square, it brought together over a thousand horror fans to watch some great movies (Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, Saint), some disappointing ones (The Theatre Bizarre, The Divide) and some monstrously over-hyped ones (The Woman, Kill List). Alongside the movies were guests, Q&A sessions, give-aways and a whole lot more. An essential date for any horror fan’s diary.
Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil This is the embodiment of everything a good ‘festival movie’ should be: maximum crowd-pleasing entertainment that the assembled audience can laugh and cheer at throughout. Seeing it at Frightfest 2011 just made it all the more special as the party-atmosphere spread throughout the 1100-strong crowd of horror fans.
How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else I don’t read books. Having kids at home means that there is precious little opportunity to take time out and bury my nose in some reading material. I don’t have one of those fancy magic lanterns that you put those new-fangled electro-books on either, just Stanza for iPhone. I also avoid doing interviews for HorrorTalk wherever possible because I suck at it. So goodness knows why I went and purchased this e-book, but I’m so glad I did. Jason Arnopp (Screenwriter, author and prolific Twitterer) imparts his 20-odd years of interviewing experience in this concise bible on the subject. Interspersed with anecdotes from his career history, it’s chock-full of rock-solid advice about all kinds of interview situations, interviewees and techniques to smooth the process from beginning to end. Even better, it’s available for a slack handful of pocket-change or if you buy direct from the author’s site, you get a bundle of different formats to suit any magic lantern. Anyone looking to improve their interview technique would benefit enormously from purchasing this book.
True Blood Season 3 Yeah, I know season four has aired in the US, but in the UK we’ve just finished number three. HBO’s TV series about a world where vampires live alongside humans in a somewhat strained love/hate relationship rarely fails to deliver. And season three ramps up the mythical beast count, adding werewolves, werepanthers, a necromancer and fairies to the already present shape-shifters and vamps. Best line of this season? Sookie Stackhouse to the memory-blanked Eric Northman: “You just ate my Fairy Godmother!”
Saint Hey, it’s Christmas and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a decent festive-themed horror (I still haven’t caught last year’s Rare Exports). Dick Maas’ Dutch-language Saint kicks off big-style from the start and rattles along at a fair old pace with a murderous Santa slicing up people on the European festival of St. Nicholas. And they put my quote from Frightfest on the DVD cover making it doubly-awesome.
Stormhouse I like indie movies and I like British movies, so this under-recognised film from earlier this year ticks at least two boxes straight away. Add the fact that it’s a nicely tense and eerie ghost tale with some new ideas and real kicker of an ending and you get a recipe for top-ten goodness. While many were decrying the cuts in the British film industry, Dan Turner and his people grabbed a handful of cash and put it together with a bucket-load of potential. As Nike suggests, “Just do it”, so they did.
Deadheads Nothing like a zomedy bromance to lighten the mood and this first-time project from brothers Drew and Brett Pierce hits the spot perfectly. Two slackers wake to find themselves on the non-human side of a zombie apocalypse, but despite this they set off on a road-trip to find the girl that one of them loves. Funny, touching and gory in equal measure, it’s a brilliant debut and I’ve got my fingers crossed for more good things to come from the brothers Pierce. Deadheads is released in the UK in January and you can pre-order it now.
Read the HorrorTalk review: HERE and interview: HERE
I Spit on Your Grave Yeah, I hate remakes as much as the next guy, but when the original film flat-out sucked, the bar for success isn’t set very high. Despite the UK version having 17 cuts totaling 43 seconds, the rape scene is still a difficult viewing experience. Like any revenge flick, retribution comes tenfold to the perpetrators and is nastier than one could imagine.
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.