It’s that time of year again when people like me (namely, any idiot with a computer and the ability to count to ten) sit down and decide for the benefit of anyone who will listen what were the best and worst movies of the last 12 months.
This year didn’t feature a particularly large bounty of horror fare, but what it did offer wasn’t at all a bad bunch with a few standouts that may become classics. We had some remakes and sequels, of course, but some weren’t half-bad (The Final Destination, Friday the 13th) and a few were pretty damn good (Sorority Row, Last House on the Left, My Bloody Valentine 3-D).
And really – aside from the annual Saw installment and a few bad apples, the year offered a nice variety of solid genre movies that spanned budgets, styles and areas of interest.
And so, without further ado…
CampBlood.org’s Top Ten (and Bottom Three) Horror Movies of 2009
Larry Fessenden and Dominic Monaghan Sell the Dead
10. I Sell the Dead
This quirky, utterly unique period horror comedy starring Lost’s Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman was a real charmer, thanks to its old-timey setting and a healthy dose of humor. Never before have graverobbing and zombie survival been so adorably quaint. Check out my full reviewlet.
Cleanup in My Bloody Valentine 3-D
9. My Bloody Valentine 3-D
The only straight-up slasher on the list (*sniff*), MBV3D did the impossible: it took a beloved ’80s horror title and managed to not only not destroy its good name in the remake, but actually improve on a few of the original’s shortcomings.
But more than that, the flick was just plain fun by making full advantage of its 3-D gimmick and not trying to be anything other than a popcorn jumpfest.
Eleven more listings, after the jump!
Antichrist‘s fantastically fucked-up Mr. Fox
Lars Von Trier‘s insanely misogynistic horror flick is a beautiful, shocking, awe-inspiring display of both bravura filmmaking and the staggering neuroses of the filmmaker himself. Enormously offensive to both women and wildlife, Antichrist is also utterly uncompromising and undeniably gorgeous horror filmmaking, and features amazing, fearless performances from both Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe. Check out a clip over here.
Zombies get the comic treatment a bit further down the list, but in this quiet little Canadian flick the undead received a considerably brainier treatment. Based on the idea that a plague can be spread via words, this fascinating and claustrophobic little flick caught me off-guard and left me thinking for days after.
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in Zombieland
Hollywood gambled on a big-budget horror comedy this year and actually succeeded with the enjoyable and surprisingly gooey Zombieland. While more a straight comedy than a horror movie (there’s very little to be scared of), the movie was nonetheless wonderfully gory and had a zippy visual style that elevated it to must-see status. Bonus points for a great celebrity cameo and the best use of the word “Garfield” in cinema history. Check out my full review.
A dark star is born
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I’m gonna go ahead and call the latest Harry Potter installment a horror movie, because, let’s face it – it was. What could have been a throwaway film series for kids and their action-figure-purchasing parents has over the last few installments become a dark, moving and wonderfully scary epic that puts many straight horror movies to shame when it comes to scares, atmosphere and shocks.
This installment featured one of the most wonderfully horrific images of the entire franchise (as Harry fought his way back from the depths in the zombie-infested cave) and proved that kids’ movies don’t have to just be for kids.
Worst. Babysitting. Job. Ever.
4. The House of the Devil
Another indie horror flick to knock my socks off this year was Ti West‘s awesomely retro The House of the Devil, which took horror back to the basics: A babysitter, a strange old house and a total eclipse. Thanks to attention to period detail, an even directorial hand and a mounting sense of dread, House was one of my favorites of the year. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s available On Demand in some markets.
There may be something wrong with Esther, but Orphan was pitch-perfect
A great cast, a somewhat sick premise and a delicious twist combined to make this Bad Seed 2.0 thriller one of the best times I had at the theater this year. Shamelessly trashy without being sloppy, Orphan played to our own uneasiness about children and child-rearing beautifully. Thanks to the casting of actual actors (the splendid Vera Farmiga and hot daddy Peter Sarsgaard) as the parents and the incredible find Isabelle Fuhrman in the lead role, what could have been an enjoyable campfest was elevated to a genre gem. Check out my full review.
How about tricks AND treats?
2. Trick ‘r Treat
Folks who check the site regularly won’t be surprised to see the long-buried Halloween frightfest Trick ‘r Treat near the top of the list, as I sang its praises for nearly a month in the fall. A ghoulish assemblage of intertwining storylines that take place on one street on Halloween night, Trick ‘r Treat captured the thrill, the joy and the terror of being a kid on the spookiest night of the year like few films can. Bloody, bizarre and wonderfully sick, Trick ‘r Treat will be seasonal viewing in my house for years to come. Here’s my full review.
Alison Lohman gets Dragged to the top of the list
1. Drag Me to Hell
I guest I’m officially a Drag queen, because Sam Raimi‘s lean, mean demon-spewing machine Drag Me to Hell tops my list of the best horror films of 2009. Drag wasn’t just a return to form for the beloved horror director; it was a return to form for uncompromising horror storytelling that pulls no punches.
A cautionary tale for our economic times, Drag managed to teach a lesson without getting preachy and while having a hell of a lot of fun. Loud, rambunctious, gooey and hilarious, it was the most fun I had going to the movies this year … or being slapped on the wrist. You can read my full, gushing review over here.
Special Mention: District 9 does not technically qualify as a horror movie, but if it did I would place it at number one for the year.
Aaaaaaand here are my picks for the three worst horror flicks of the year:
The Collector was all dressed up with nowhere to go
3. The Collector
I didn’t even bother reviewing this poop because I think it only opened on about 20 screens, several of which were actually the sides of cows. A bizarre coupling of the Saw movies and The Money Pit, this mess of a movie about a killer who sets up ridiculously elaborate (and impossible) booby-traps in his victims’ houses was all recycled style and no substance (or logic). At least it was bloody (and had the poor taste to kill off several pets), or it would have been both incompetent AND completely forgettable.
Scout Taylor-Compton should have done the Time Warp right out of this movie
2. Halloween II
I know, I know – I guess I just don’t get Rob Zombie and his movies, sorry. But even by comparison to House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects (or even the first Halloween remake), this was just aaaaaaaawwwwwful. My full bitchfest is over here.
Milla Jovovich actually watches The Fourth Kind
1. The Fourth Kind
Ugh. Easily the stupidest concept for a film I saw this year and one of the most befuddling and agonizing moviegoing experiences of my life. Hated it.
So those are my picks. Agree? Disagree? Share your own thoughts in the comments!
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