A Constantly Updated List of All The Horror/Thriller/Suspense and Other Films of that Ilk That I Have Watched Since July 25th, 2014: From Worst To Best
This is the very reason I joined this website: To keep track and maintain my watch list. I hope to keep this updated often, too.Reviews and ratings (Out of 10, in 0.5 increments, with 5.0/10 being an average film) are directly below:
I reserve the right to modify my film ratings at anytime. After all, opinions may change in life. Also, keep in mind I have a very broad opinion of what constitutes this sort of film. All ratings/reiews are purley my opinion of the film the last time I watched it.PS: Films are grouped by rating first up to a 0.5 increment, than alphabetical after that. As I can only pick my favorites up to a certain point, since I believe films can work on multiple emotional levels even if they are the same quality, and therefore, should not be pitted against one another if they are more-or-less of same quality.
2nd PS. Thanks to the Mubi User Bitė for the initial interest and for finally getting me to do this.
And finally, while all the below is listed on Mubi, some of them can’t connect to this list when searched for through their ‘find a film’ search box. The reviews are listed below, but the film is not in the pictured list. These include:
- Beneath (2013, Larry Fessenden)- 7.0/10 - Beneath (2013, Ben Ketai)- 4.0/10 - Dracula (1974, Dan Curtis)— 5.0 /10 - Mercy (2014, Peter Cornwell)- 5.0/10 - Face (2004, YOO SANG-GON)- 5.5/10 - Saint (2010, Dick Maas)- 6.5/10 - Found (2012. Scott Schirmer)- 7.0/10
On with the List:
Lord of Tears—2013 United Kingdom Horror-Drama—0.0/10
Despite the scenic photography, the flashy ‘modern’ editing kills the patient, contemplative mood immensely. As this slow crawl recalls films of yesteryear, but the narrative can use chopping to get to points quicker. The stilted acting by the entire cast doesn’t help, either. Moreover, the sight (alike Michele Soavi’s Stagefright) of the Owl Man is indeed quite scary. So scary that it belongs in a better movie.
Deadly Inheritance—1968 Italy Giallo— 1.5/10
Early giallo that predates both Bay of Blood and all of Argento’s work. However, it doesn’t have much to offer. As it only has a complicated plot— since there is no actual story to speak of— and it never adds depth to its characters apart from using them as plot devices. Deadly Inheritance also lacks much suspense or tension, making it not entertaining. It may, however, sport an OK final 20 minutes, but that’s it.
The German Chainsaw Massacre— 1990 Germany Horror— 2.0/10
Shows newly reformed Germany’s debate on accepting Westernized values at this difficult time. The grindhouse aesthetic is proof that when filmmakers work on the unfettered principle of so-called ‘bad-taste’ it’s equivocal to freedom. Its extremely unfocused, childish nature mars it, though. The half-baked metaphor and outrageous nature is there, however. Not enjoyable, but historical and politically meditative.
Cold Prey—2006 Norway Horror—2.5/10
Very run-of-the-mill slasher film that may sport a unique setting— but so what— and a likable cast, yet the viewer doesn’t know much about the character’s other then they seem cool to hang around with. The filmmakers obviously wanted to make a straight, no-nonsense slasher film, but Cold Prey is a knockoff of the type, rather than a trendsetting film of its own.
The Hallow— 2015 Horror United Kingdom— 2.5/10
Great creature f/x and design as well as beautiful sets, locations and photography. Yet, this 92 minute film feels much longer due to its repetitive nature that features the same characters going through the same running/searching/ fighting motions for a good hour of the run time. Its recycled nature is undercooked and generic. Could have been better with more story meat on it.
Reversal— 2015 Horror-Thriller USA— 2.5/10
The quality of this film is akin to a nighttime cable film. As despite the good lightning and photography, the film feels campy and corny, and not in the good way. The acting is forced, the dialogue is ludicrous, and the narrative is non-emotional, because the characters and dramatic buildup is non-existent. While the concept is decent, Reversal is schlocky due to its non-empathetic portrayal so that it’s only vile.
The Bloody Pit of Horror— 1965 Italy Horror— 3.0 / 10
Hilarious, so-bad-it’s-good B-flick that is terrible in every aspect—aside from some well done color photography that recalls Roger Corman films of the era— but is fun to watch due to just that. Feels like a Italian horror film by way of Scooby-Doo in its mystery and lameness. Awful as a film, but would make a good drunken party movie.The Canal— 2014 Horror Ireland— 3.0/10
Psychological/ghost horror stories that rely on final-act twists, and not how the metaphysical connects to the earthbound are doomed to fail. The Canal is one such film, forsaking the connection of the deterioration of its character’s sanity and unacknowledged metaphorical trappings of ghost stories for generic twists in this rote blend of 2 well-worn sub genres.
The Dead 2: India— 2013 Horror United Kingdom— 3.0/10
In this lesser retread of the average-at-best first film, imagination is at a nadir. To even a lesser degree than its predecessor, despite also featuring an intriguing location, it doesn’t do much with the locale to give it a social-global insight. It’s more concerned with repetitive zombie killing, and it’s telling that this action is not creative, either.
Hellions— 2015 Horror Canada—3.0/10
A nightmarish take on The Wizard of Oz. Its technique and set design is highly commendable, yet the story is paper thin, never becoming more than simplistic sentiments of accepting parenthood. The acting is wooden, the dialogue stale, and the character depth of the lead is nothing more than cliches of teenage adolescence. The final shot conveys some strong emotional sentiment, but takes forever to say very little.
The Living and the Dead—2006 United Kingdom Horror-Drama—3.0/10
This starts out so well— with grand acting and a tone alike the early films of Roman Polanski—yet sadly descends into trendy gimmicks and tactics. Despite the roaming photography that’s so superb it’s pure auteurism, the editing resolving around its middle and end turn renders it only a twist movie, when it should have taken from the films of lore to be properly disturbing, tragic, and emotional. What a pity.
Stoker—2013 United Kingdom Thriller—3.0/10
Park’s style is even more meaningless here than usual because of a thin screenplay containing simplified themes as an excuse for static characterization. Stoker feels pretty one-note because the portrayals are bland and uninteresting, much like the emotion and dialogue. Good style and the twists could have been the stuff of a classic, but the film is unmoving and empty, making it a passive, uninviting melodrama.
The Witch— 2015 Horror USA— 3.0/10
With its lush photography and excellent period detail, many will want to love The Witch, yet some instead may find it awfully lifeless. This is a film that straddles the line between arthouse family drama and a horror film, but the scares are tame and lack urgency, while the drama also prefers to be sleepy instead of punching in the gut. Good climax and final shot, but The Witch doesn’t know what it wants to be.
Contagion— 2011 USA Sci-fi— 3.5 / 10
The Matt Damon storyline is the only part of the film with emotional attachment, respect for characterization, and care about humanity in an otherwise connect-the-dots, fear-baiting flick that feels soulless due to its lack of linger on any of its many plot points, of which, it refuses to dissect and approach it in an inventive, interesting or dimensional way. As mind numbing as the virus that it depicts.
Dark Touch— 2013 France Horror— 3.5 / 10
Despite the high social commentary about child abuse and a good concept, the slack pacing and monochromatic direction really hurts this film as it feels both heavy handed in tone and uninviting in emotion despite being chock-full of dramatic scenes. Something here feels too obtuse in method that makes it feel distant instead of involving. De Van’s In My Skin was a masterpiece, this film feels uncertain.
Killers—2014 Indonesia Crime-Thriller—3.5/10
Should have either been purely arthouse or solely a gritty grindhouse film to work. Killers is too shallow and repetitive to be an analysis of the criminal mind, and much too patient to be energetic. The dual storylines plod along without a sense of surprise. Many of the action scenes are more bloody than terrifying or unsettling due to there thirst for entertainment rather than emotion or horror.
Septic Man— 2013 Horror Canada— 3.5/10
Despite the cult concept and raw and yucky (in a good way) style and photography, the initially invoking characters become muddled and repetitive by the halfway point. The should-be-great cult character just sits around and the narrative becomes a bore without anything important to say. More emotion is also needed for empathy and investment as the minutes run by. Ultimately, Septic Man traded it in for dullness.
All Cheerleaders Die— 2013 USA Horror-Comedy— 4.0/10
Schlocky, campy and not entirely in the good way, All Cheerleaders Die may obviously not take itself seriously and certainly sends up the male gaze both in pop culture and the genre, but comes off limp in pure entertainment. Its use of shallow characters and simplexes in emotion don’t do it any favors. Worse, the comedy is off. While the visual eye and style is quite good, and it’s oddly watchable, it’s very vapid.
Beneath— 2013 Horror USA, (Directed by: Ben Ketai)— 4.0/10
I always thought the film The Descent didn’t need the monsters, as being caved in is scary enough. Beneath takes that sentiment, yet wastes the potential quickly in its refusal to push the characterization past stock stereotypes. It never garners true emotion because of this, thus the horror and tension is cold and passive. Some good ideas are there (such as a psychological angle,) but it should’ve been much more.
Deadly Blessing— 1981 Horror USA—- 4.0/10
Rather schlocky in conceit and often dull, Deadly Blessing is saved by the genre-savvy cast that often brings a sense of credence to their hammy, melodramatic characters. Never quite gets into a fever pitch or becomes intriguing, as it often feels like a TV film in its low flair approach, yet is worth a watch for this adequate emotional core. The final 20 minutes is action-packed, but doesn’t gel together storywise.
Godzilla— 2014 Sci-Fi USA— 4.0/10
Despite a strong opening that starts to build a durable emotional center based around loss and survivor guilt in its first portion, Godzilla loses its ability to emote in its well-photographed, but non-suspenseful, nor engaging action scenes that take up the entirety of the final 2/3 of the picture, obviously meant to appeal to American-mainstream, fanboy audiences. Therefore, it becomes soulless in the process.
Knock Knock— 2015 Comedy-Thriller/Horror Chile— 4.0/10
Eli Roth described this film at the Sundance Festival as “Fatal Attraction for the I-Phone generation.” Is that accurate? Yes. Is that a good thing? Probably not. Knock Knock is much less serious and certainly less dark— as expected from Roth— and has more humor. The thing is, most of the time the viewer is laughing at it, not with it. The only sentiments it has to say is: guys be scum, girls be crazy.
Resolution— 2011 USA Horror— 4.0 / 10
About how storytelling and creativity can make one’s life.. or can destroy it. The two actors bring a great amount of buddie-buddie humanity to their roles, while the dialogue is sharply witty and feels genuine. The jokes lighten up its dark tone, so its scatterbrained in emotion and its meaning is not quite cohesive. Yet it remains unique and intriguing, making it an odd case of many unshaped ideas.
Street Trash— 1987 Horror/Comedy USA— 4.0/10
Inept in everything but its exquisite photography and stellar grue, Street Trash is only memorable when it melts humans in gruesome detail and for its outrageousness. The storytelling is fragmented, the plot is random, and the comedy garners more nervous giggles than belly laughs. One-note and overlong, with much of it forgettable until the final 1/3. The alike films, The Stuff & Body Melt are better, if flawed too.
Wolf Creek 2— 2013 Australia Horror— 4.0 / 10
Tone-changing sequel that trades in disturbing nihilism for mainstream action-thrills and a lighter tone. McLean is good at creating a narrative that plays on conventions in the first 2/3, akin to Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher. Main problems are while a German couple is properly fleshed out, Ryan Corr is a non-dimensional hero and the last act is the terrible, Saw-esque crap the 1st film wisely avoided.
The Witch’s Mirror—1962 Mexico Horror— 4.5/10
Everything but the kitchen sink in terns of plotting: it starts out a witch movie, then turns into Eyes Without a Face, before having a scenario akin to Mad Love. While it can be applauded for working all these elements into the story without feeling disjointed or scatterbrained, since it doesn’t have a focal point on a single threat or story thread, it’s not as captivating as it should be. Rushed ending, too.
The Babadook— 2014 Horror Australia— 5.0/10
Properly congeals its lead character’s psychological state with the supernatural, yet is short on imagination and shortchanges when it comes to scares. The Babadook’s story arc is obvious and routine, its emotion is bland, and the metaphor doesn’t amount to anything more interesting than a ‘stare your fears right in the face’ sentiment. It takes a hour and a half to get to a point that says or does very little.
Christmas Evil—1980 Horror USA—5.0/10
A good idea— a psychological character study of a deranged man who thinks he is Santa Claus— does not reach its full potential because Harry’s psychosis is not convincing, nor is his murderous breaking point properly analyzed. We don’t understand the character, therefore the study in this character study is quite ineffective. Has some good scenes and darkly-humorous one-liners, but ultimately misses the mark.
Dance of the Dead— 2008 USA Horror/Comedy— 5.0 / 10
Enjoyable despite its flaws. The high school movie stereotypes makes it feel like a send-up of John Hughes flicks…with zombies. The comedy is hit and miss, the action is not suspenseful nor thrilling, and at times it feels cheap. Yet it moves at a great clip and has a confident energy, making it stand out in the sub-genre despite it only reinventing the horror/comedy/high school sub-genres at mixing level.
Dracula— 1974 Horror United Kingdom— 5.0/10
Palance is a creepy looking Dracula, yet this version lacks emotion, otherwise. Director Dan Curtis may invoke atmospheric unease with his photography, but his direction of the action and horror lacks creative punch and tense bite. The pacing slacks too, and this adaptation lacks momentum and flow, failing to get into a groove. A tepid film.
Evil Dead— 2013 Horror USA— 5.0/10
An onslaught of gore does not an intense horror film make. The original was very comicbook-ish, yet delivered in atmosphere, tension, and suspense. Alvarez injects good ideas into the narrative (drug addiction, a rain of blood, and an ending twist,) but lacks the creative style and horror showmanship of Raimi. Moreover, he doesn’t follow through on many of his ideas, delivering gore only more often than not.
It’s in the Blood—2012 Horror-Drama USA—5.0/10
Weak narrative quasi held together by its two strong actors. It’s in the Blood tries to make its story unique with a creative structure that withholds important information, but keeps its cards to close far too long, denying emotion and understanding. Plot elements seem a bit too overblown—like a rapist-murdering police officer— when they should be grounded. Awkward editing and too flashy directing at times, too.
Jug Face— 2013 USA Horror— 5.0/10
Jug Face is about sacrifice and duty for the greater good of society. This socialistic downer has an intriguing premise that works a great performance out of Lauren Ashley Carter who fortifies the emotional and social-political center. Lacks suspense, anticipation, and doesn’t often hit emotional notes— which is its biggest problem— making the film meaningful but uninviting.
Mercy— 2014 Horror USA— 5.0/10
The stellar photography and pitch-perfect lighting contains a well-realized diabolical atmosphere that enhances the devilish-themes. At 79-minutes, the plot moves at a brisk pace and not a scene is wasted, nor feels repetitive. While more films can learn from this just-the-facts-ma’am style, since the story is minimalist it lacks an emotional core. This is especially evident in the climax.
Poison for the Fairies—1984 Mexico Drama-Fantasy-Horror—5.0/10
Despite admiring the realistic and understated tone of the narrative, even at a mere 90 minutes, this film feels padded out in plot and boring because it keeps reiterating its story elements. The ending may have a good emotional punch, but that’s because the entire movie is only about the buildup to an obvious downbeat final note. And, dare I say that it’s not very tragic because the victim’s not sympathetic.
The Sacrament— 2013 USA Horror— 5.0/10
Grand, high-concept and mature direction marred by a script that too closely resembles the Jonestown Massacre to garner anything but anticipation, as the suspense that should be mustered by its telling is bled out by the lack of characterization. Film is all exposition about a well known historical event and doesn’t have anything else to add. The not-needed musical score makes it feel too cinematic in spots, too.
Starry Eyes— 2014 Horror USA— 5.0/10
A good performance by Alex Essoe gives it needed emotional heft with fine support by a few modern horror regulars (Marc Senter, Pat Healy, Maria Olsen) but this still can’t save this clichéd effort. Starry Eyes doesn’t really get into a groove rhythmically either, seeming a bit too naive and simple-tuned for creative surprises. Ultimately, the climax proves it’s more of an excuse for some yucks more than anything.
Vital— 2004 Drama Japan— 5.0/10
Positive themes are marred by the film’s abstract, elusive handling of some of the character detail elements. Vital’s also non-engaging due to its clinical nature, feeling more like a dull lecture on the subject of loss, rather than a story about it. It may have intellect, yet despite the original premise, it feels too drab in its telling, failing to spark interest to be properly heart wrenching.
We Are What We Are— 2013 USA Horror— 5.0/10
More dramatic than the original, but certainly not superior as it’s more conceited than the first film’s tongue-in-cheek metaphor. This remake may have many half-mastered good ideas and a suspenseful ending, but seems sluggish and suffers from concealing the nature of the family that comes off more like a half-baked twist than a serious analysis on poverty breeding traditional values and religious zealotry.
Zombeavers—2014 USA Comedy-Horror— 5.0/10
With this concept and its director having written for The Man Show and from the producers of American Pie and Cabin Fever, you get what you would think. It’s a bonkers n’ dumb midnight movie that’s not any form of high art, yet provides in frat boy humor and intentionally corny, unrefined f/x work. This is meant to be a party film, nothing more. It may be trying too hard to be a cult film, but it works alright.
Afflicted— 2013 Horror Canada— 5.5/10
The first half of the film proves to be engaging as we become attached to the Lee and Prowse characters through their chemistry with one another. While the change of perspective in the second half, as well as the uniqueness of its action-horror scenes with its inventive photography, can be applauded, it also has a downside: it loses the emotion when the horror, action, and drama feels akin to a video game.
The Body—2012 Spain Mystery-Thriller—5.5/10
The Body is all about its ‘out-there’ climax. It works on the first viewing in terms of outlandish audacity, making it a twisty-turning and gripping mystery. Its acting is superb, as is the sleek and sharp directing style. However, since it is a film that relies on a revelation and the final act twists— alike other films that are all about them — it feels like a wolf in a smart film’s clothing.
Borgman—2013 Netherlands Comedy-Thriller—5.5/10
A film conundrum. Is it a morality-bent fable? Or about the horrors that lurk under suburbia? Does it have a supernatural, folklore bent? Is it about the subverting of capitalist greed, materialism, and modernity? One of my favorite reviews on imdb.com says it is actually about social upset and hysteria in Europe surrounding terrorism. But it’s too subjective to be properly deep and provoking, or emotionally moving.
Cold Prey 2—2008 Norway Horror—5.5/10
It’s much better than the first film. As with the exception of cliched jump scares and too much half-step suspense, Cold Prey 2 does flesh out its characters and their relationship enough so that the viewer cares about even the traditional victims. It also has a memorable scene that creates perhaps the best reason for a resurrected villain ever shown in the sub-genre, even if the villain is too superhuman otherwise.
Face— 2004 Drama-Horror South Korea— 5.5/10
More a meditative drama with supernatural elements than a full-blown fear show, Face shows the no bounds of the horror genre. Despite the supernatural aspects being rote, the film is well acted and can be touching at times, like its dazzling, tear-jerking final twist. Is it undercooked? Yes. Could it have been a gripping classic? Yes, the components are there…but Face is still creative and well done enough.
Bad Milo!— 2013 Horror-comedy USA— 6.0/10
Creative and sometimes fun, other times too forced and cartoony in its punchlines to be funny, Bad Milo is best when the comedy comes naturally out of the story. Moreover, the concept may be something out of a classic Frank Henenlotter film, yet that cult director was wise enough to use dark-humor along with pure horror. Bad Milo is often bloated in its juvenile desire to make one giggle, and hits and misses at it.
The Brainiac— 1962 Horror Mexico— 6.0/10
A satire of 1950’s from space-flicks and Black Sunday. Handles the story in a quasi-serious way, yet the absurdity of the creature/plot shows it’s fun and campy, not meant to be scary. Urueta had a straight horror film that also homaged past films in The Witch’s Mirror the same year, while Salazar’s other mex-horrors are very gothic, so it’s best taken as a repetitive and nonsensical, if misunderstood, satire.
Kiss of the Damned—2012 USA Romance-Horror—6.0/10
The modern vampire equivalent of what Drive was to action movies: its handsome European ‘cool’ sensibility is going strong, despite the simplistic screenplay, and thin characterization. Yet, with the lack of nudity, it needed more eroticism to truly capture the sexy, Euro-vampire films of the past. The sex scenes that almost always have all the casts’ clothes on seems like a contractual obligation rather than steamy.
Attack The Block— 2011 Sci-fi-Action Untied Kingdom— 6.5/10
All the character’s are underdeveloped, yet Attack the Block is a wild and entertaining party film that recalls Super 8 and early-Spielberg films that feature fresh blends of genre conventions with a youthful perspective. It’s also only funny half the time that it tries to be, due to the forced 1980’s-style one-liners, yet the glee that Cornish presents his images and the action-horror scenes give it a lust of life.
Basket Case— 1983 USA Horror—6.5/10
Schlocky n’ trashy, but fun as hell late grindhouse-era film that may be pretty repetitive and unrefined, but is quite charming. Taking cues from H.G. Lewis and containing a grungy New York City atmosphere, the film often tells its narrative quite confidently— such as the ease of the flashback scene around the hour mark— and if it may not emote very well, it’s quite a nifty late-night flick.
Cold in July— 2014 USA Crime-Thriller— 6.5 / 10
The components of this polished B-film may be cliche, but together they prove to be a fun mash-up. The beginning half feels more like a typical thriller and starts moving into some good twists, yet the comedy feels out-of-place in the 2nd half and it’s not very dramatic or emotional, aside from the thrills at the end. With that said, the climatic shootout is well realized and exciting, if over too quick.
Don’t Open Till Christmas— 1984 Horror United Kingdom— 6.5/10
Trashy and entertaining film that balances gallows humor and slasher-horror. The characters and story is not quite developed more than a simple sketch, yet it’s a very quirky time. A 40 minute-point stalk scene of one of the Santa’s reminds one of the opening scene of Dario Argento’s Tenebre in its build-up to the actual kill, yet most of the slash scenes lack suspense. All in all, this flick is a good merry prank.
Rogue— 2008 Australia Horror— 6.5 / 10
Despite a tone-changing, generic ending in the crocodile’s lair, the first 1 1/4 hours is a tension filled time with great suspense augmented with above-average characterization of its bigger-than-usual cast. McLean is a breathtaking visual director and respects his B-movie formula greatly more-often-than not. However, like most nature-amok films, it can’t always balance maturity and cheesiness well.
Saint— 2010 Horror Norway— 6.5/10
Just what you expect it to be, nothing more, nothing less. Highly watchable and entertaining film that may not be any better than its B-movie concept, but it’s a hoot. The ‘true’ scares are obviously minimal, although Maas uses jump scares effectively building up suspense and anticipation well, thus making this an anti-holiday horror flick that is a very entertaining and fun time.
Beneath—2013 Horror USA, (Directed by Larry Fessenden)— 7.0/10
I will never get why Fessenden’s films are so underrated. He features entertaining B-movie concepts and transforms them into social-political parables with high artistic design and pathos, often adding literate moments of drama, and grand scenes of tension. Beneath is one of his such works, featuring thoughtful questions on the oppressive nature of capitalism presented in an outer shell of a creature feature.
The Black Pit of Dr. M— 1959 Horror Mexico— 7.0/10
Its classic Gothic style augments its high-concept plot, making it a film that feels both in the Golden Age as much as it does in the modern. The character development more serves the plot than the story, but at only 82 minutes, Mendez keeps the story simple (too simple, to be honest) and the plot twisting and turning. The emotion and thematic/metaphorical elements are thin, but it remains inventive, atmospheric fun.
Blood and Black Lace—1964 Giallo Italy—7.0/10
One of the most beautiful Italian horror films in lighting and color photography, this is Mario Bava’s statement of film less as something literary than it is a visual medium, akin to Michelangelo Antonioni’s films that challenged notions of narrative in cinema. The shots look akin to a motion painting, yet it’s intentionally absent of story and dramatic emotion. The top-heavy plot still drags often, though.
Found—2012 USA Drama-Horror—7.0/10
Found is both a touching coming-of-age drama and a horror flick that gets under your skin. It does this through its morbid ideas and bleak outlook on humanity— like the racially motivated murders— that questions what turns one into a human monster. It may be laggy and not get the tension going high until the climax, but it’s one of those films that is hard to shake afterwards.
It Follows—2014 USA Horror—7.0/10
Alot to get behind here: a simple, albeit innovative concept, stellar photography, and a pulsating score. Some scenes— most notably the striking opening and the pool scene— are suspenseful and utterly terrifying. Props that this concept also gives us notable shivers in the daylight scenes, as well. However, character’s are not well defined, nor is there much of a dramatic arc, which makes it not as affective.
Silent Night, Bloody Night— 1972 Horror USA— 7.0/10
One of the earliest slasher trendsetters, besides Psycho and Bay of Blood. It’s quite rough and unpolished in directing, with some awkward moments in acting, but its playful plot, creepy villain, and brutal murders, make it an underrated creepshow. Its main fault is the sepia-toned revaluation’s elongation zaps the story of its otherwise breakneck pace. The actual twist, however, is bonkers and wonderfully deranged.
All the Colors of the Dark—1972 Italy Horror—7.5/10
Probably the best of the Sergio Martino horror films. This is a psychedelic fright show that came out in the giallo cycle, but doesn’t really fall into that mold. However, it’s a handsomely shot and atmospheric picture with a well developed story, and fine acting by Edwige Fenech and George Hilton. No real problems, but could have been better if it was a more uncomfortable watch, as the scares feel a bit safe.
The Guest— 2014 Action-Thriller USA— 7.5/10
Much like Wingard’s You’re Next was to horror, The Guest is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the action flicks of yesteryear. While it feels disposable in the way that’s it’s fun and nothing more, one can say it’s recyclable by taking many of the good components of the 1980’s aesthetic and creating a stylized, non-trashy homage. Dan Stevens dialogue delivery and charm is also one of the film’s strengths.
Blue Ruin— 2013 USA Revenge-Thriller— 8.0/10
Hated this film the first time, now I love it. I guess I now ‘get’ it. As the typical revenge flick is preachy in its violence-begets-violence pathos, yet Blue Ruin wisely avoids any sense of half-assed didactic evaluation and feels like the most economic and tersely told lark of retribution storytelling of modern times. It’s a film that lacks any pretense and sends up the macho-fantasy conventions of the sub genre.
Horror Express—1972 Spain Horror—8.0/10
Good mix of old-school class in steady build-up and elegant acting and 1970’s horror campiness in purpose and action. It’s more fun and enjoyable than scary or literate, yet is bursting with creativity in plot and enjoyable action-horror sequences that are overblown, if grin inducing. Don’t expect to think much here, but that’s precisely the fun. Charming pulp-art, indeed.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale— 2010 Comedy-Horror-Fantasy Finland— 8.0/10
A dark film given its seasonal subject matter, this is a Christmas movie for those that don’t like the often corny, overtly-sentimental sentiments crammed down our throats every year. However, it still has some of the uplifting and warm feelings that these holiday films offer. Moreover, Rare Exports is a clever and fun, if shallow and simplistic, film that has the soul of early Spielberg and Joe Dante going strong.
The Stanford Prison Experiments— 2015 Drama-Thriller USA— 8.0/10
Despite the happenings, the themes here are humanistic, as it analyzes how humans are often given a random status ascribed to them from birth, much like the random coin flip of getting selected as a prisoner or a guard. The film— perhaps thankfully— lightens the shocking tone up with some dark humor, but it’s still a harsh, if fascinating, study of how humans can feel superior to others to exploit them.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man— 1989 Japan Horror- 8.0/10
One of the few highfalutin and bombastic, abstract and nonsensical experiments that still manages to be artistic due to its sheer roller-coaster kinematics, surreal imagery, unhinged black & white photography, and frantic editing. I can’t say it moved me emotionally in a profound way, but it challenged how I viewed cinema.
What We Do In the Shadows—2014 New Zealand Comedy-Horror—8.0/10
An amusing mockumentary, like our generations This Is Spinal Tap. It takes a worn sub-genre and merges it in cultural references for hilarious, if often dark, humor. It’s like a series of skits, or a reality television episode because there isn’t much narrative nor dramatic emotion here, but it’s still funny and clever
The Deadly Tower—1975 USA Thriller-Drama—8.5/10
A film that makes an actor like Kurt Russell— playing Charles Whitman— terrifying is a true accomplishment. In fact, good acting
- especially by Richard Yniguez- all around. Restrained in on-screen violence— yet disturbingly effective because of the directing choices that are often matter-of-factually realistic— this is true crime greatness that may seem clinical in parts, but is quite furious and engaging.
Exit Humanity— 2011 Horror Canada— 8.5/10
Alike The Battery, Exit Humanity is an ambitious zombie picture with literary ambitions rather than the typical traits of many horror films. Geddes has a poetic directing style and the acting by Mark Gibson is one of the better performances in the genre of recent times. With a sweeping, epic scope accentuating Exit Humanity’s sincere analysis of ‘hope’, it’s more profound and heartfelt than many give it credit for.
Alice, Sweet Alice— 1976 Horror USA— 9.5/10
One of the best unsung horror films of the time. Taking the well-worn organized religion context to an unnerving extreme, it makes faith-based beliefs the motivator for the evil deeds and omnipresent judge of its characters. Subversive in its religious-attack literacy, effectively morbid, and taboo breaking, only the sometimes overplayed drama hurts it minimally. Ace, especially for the often-wretched slasher genre.
The Battery—- 2012 Horror USA— 10/10
Smartly focuses on its characters and emotion for a fully-realized, three-dimensional, and literate take on the genre. I agree it’s a zombie film for the iPod hipster generation, but that’s the point of the film: the modern and industrialized lifestyle vs the nomadic. Does a simpler way of life dictate a life worth living? How about if you give up your freedom? Most relevant zombie film of the modern age, indeed.
Black Christmas— 1974 Horror Canada— 10/10
Has my distinction of being one of the better horror films for pure scares, as well as perhaps the best slasher film ever, and is one of the better horror-comedies. It’s a terrifying and nerve-shredding film that is even better than its seminal predecessor, Halloween. Scary killer, great atmosphere, good dark humor, very stylistic, and a great downbeat ending make it a masterpiece of terror.
The Changeling— 1980 Horror Canada— 10.0/10
Its anti-aristocratic message—how power wielded for authoritarian and lineage-preserving purposes effects the honor of future generations—properly congeals with Scott ’s portrayal of redemptive grief after loss. A debatable fault is that the scares and mystery are archetypal, yet these genre-trappings are generic only because this film set the cliches. Yet, unlike its kin, they are used in an artistic manner.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night— 2014 Horror USA— 10/10
Transcendental genre mash-up in the burgeoning new wave of ‘arthouse’ horror films. A beautiful, poetic film in its allure, emotional in its drama, and grandly acted, often just with body language and expressions. The film’s themes of self-actualization and taking personal control over your own life nicely balance with the obvious one’s of social-economic divisions, feminist empowerment, and emotional connection.
Intruders—- 2011 Horror-Thriller Spain— 10/10
Less a horror film about the bogeyman than a scary, psychological character study about what creates it. Intruders is so lyrical in both its stunning use of montage and the carefully rendered metaphor of fear and loss that it’s like a tone poem, akin to the work of Guillermo del Toro. As an evaluation of what lies and truths one chooses to tell their kids, it’s as insightful as it’s haunting. A very underrated film.Read less