12/16/08

Terrifying Tuesday: The Horror Top 10 Since 1990 (or You Got Your Comedy in My Horror)

Hey everyone and welcome to another Terrifying Tuesday. I've had modern horror on my mind a bit lately. You remember back a couple of weeks ago I told you about the Horror Top 50 list I was involved in, well, B-Sol from Vault of Horror is back at it again. This time it's the best horror flicks for the last 18 years. I struggled a bit with what to put on the list, and I wanted to take a moment here in lieu of your regularly scheduled review to talk a bit about my choices: 

1. The Decent(2005) This is a flick I really had low expectations going into. However the film conveyed such a believable degree of horror and claustrophobia that I caught me right up in its storytelling. It's a film I've watched numerous times and it's yet to lose it's impact on me. 

2. House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Who would have thought that Rob Zombie would have been a good film maker? Sure I went in on the name recognition on it's own and was greeted to such a wild, weird, and ultimately horrific world. Sure he did more with Captain Spalding and crew in The Devil's Rejects, but that film feels more like a road trip to hell. House instead had that insular and frightening feel that puts it up there with the classic unholy family slashers. 

3. Thirteen Ghosts (2001) Remakes seldom do anything for me, but this retelling of the William Castle classic does the job nicely. With Tony Shaloub anchoring the cast and excellent performances by Matthew Lillard and Rah Digga, the acting alone in this film makes it stand out. Add in the visions of some truly nightmarish ghosts and one of the best bisecting of a human ever, and you've got a film that for me has endless rewatchability. 

4. Cabin Fever (2002) There are many reasons I'm glad that I'll never have to shave my legs. This film is paramount among them. Sure Eli Roth has gone on to make two more very disappointing films, but his first is a revelation. It brought the creepy cabin in the woods into a new era and stood convention on its ear. This film embodies the potential that Roth has if only he would apply himself to worthwhile material.

5. Shawn of the Dead (2004) The first horror comedy in years to strike just the perfect balance. A film that demands multiple viewings just to take it all in, and it's coupled with a script that makes those repeat watches a joy each time.

6. Brain Dead a.k.a Dead Alive (1992) Just like Peter Jackson's other horror film, Bad Taste, this film is chock full of totally original ideas. Sure it barely hinted at the type of director Jackson would become, but it proved that right from the start that this was a man with big ideas.

7. Army of Darkness (1992) I've professed my love for this film back over the Halloween holiday so there's no reason to go back into it now. This is one of those crossover films that can delight even the non horror fan, so how could it not deserve a spot. 

8. From Dusk Til Dawn (1996) Sure it didn't turn into a horror film until over halfway through, but then again Quentin Tarantino's portrayal of Richard Gecko is pretty scary. When the film finally takes it's horror turn, it becomes a very interesting vampire tale. I really like the whole nest idea and the battles against the swarming bloodsuckers. Plus it's got Tom Savini as Sex Machine. 

9. Jeepers Creepers (2001) The first in this series is a pretty chilling supernatural slasher. It's the kind of film that improves as you watch it and the film builds layers on layers. Sure it spawned a crappy sequel, but the ending to the first film almost made it deserve a higher spot all on it's own. 

10, Candyman (1992) Well I love Clive, Tony Todd has never been more menacing, and this was the right way to do an urban legend movie. By taking the film to the projects, it gives it something extra that your typical old house or haunted woods film will never have. The film reeks of the desperation all around it, and the dilapidated nature of the surroundings made the supernatural elements seem firmly grounded in real life.  

These are just a few that caught my mind that day.
There are quite a number since I've kicked myself for leaving off (Cube) and a few that I wish I had seen to include them (Let the Right One In). Soon as the lists were starting to come in debate struck. Did movies like Army of Darkness or Shawn of the Dead qualify as horror movies or where they comedies with horror themes. There was quite a bit of e-mailing back and forth, and eventually they were let in on the basis that horror is defined on a personal level.

Having put my two cents in there I wanted to take a quick moment before I got into tonight's film to get me opinion out there. Well, obviously from my inclusion on my list, I feel they both qualify as horror flicks in their own way. Both involve themes of the supernatural, both include moments of death, and both are funny as hell. I'm not sure how the two are meant to be mutually exclusive. 

This past year saw the release of Otis which did arguably the best job of anything I've seen of skewering the torture porn gristmill that horror has devolved into and Fido which looked at zombies in a whole new light. Both of these films almost made the cut to get on my list, and both had enough horror overtones for me to consider them in the genre. There are of course some movies that wouldn't make the cut. The Scary Movie franchise comes instantly to mind as a good example of a comedy with horror themes. See nothing in Scary Movie  is ever played for anything but laughs, but I defy anyone to tell me that when Shawn has to shoot his mom in Shawn of the Dead that is looking into one man's very real dealings with horror.

Comedy has been used to varying degrees of success in film reaching as far back as the genre goes. Sure many of those attempts at light heartedness in old films such as the Universal Monsters series may seem wedged in and cliched, but these are the films that the genre built on. To me there are no films more deserving of the horror mantle, and those early films are surely not horrific to a modern audience.

I'm really interested in how this list comes out, and hopefully in a week or two, I'll have the final version up here to discuss. The thing I like about these lists, and with the horror community on-line is that there are no wrong answers. These kind of lists and sites that people are running are what makes genre films even more fascinating. The films get a second life in a community that revels in them, and from reading what people have to say about these flicks, you get to see different reflections of what they are to them. That enriches the experience for everyone. 

So what do you folks think of my list? What did I miss and where did it hit? Hit that little comment button down there and let me know what you folks think, and come on back here for a fresh review from the Ladies of the Lair when Ladies Night strikes again on Thursday. Then starting Friday with Christmas coming I've got a whole week of X-mas goods for all you Moonies out there. 


4 comments:

  1. Well, that's some list you've got there. Most of it I agree with, some, not exactly. The Decent I really liked, but I'm not sure I like it at #1. Also, I would have to include "Feast" on my list. But hey, I'm watching "Sheena" right now, and that's pretty scary in its own right. I mean just look at that plot!

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  2. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobDecember 16, 2008 at 7:55 PM

    mr. lightning bug, heres my list of top 10 horror films since 1990, 1, "BRAIN DEAD", 2, "FEAST 2: SLOPPY SECONDS", 3, "RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: PART 3", 4, "DAY OF THE DEAD", 5, "HOUSE OF WAX", 6, "GHOST SHIP", 7, "13 GHOSTS", 8, "ARMY OF DARKNESS", 9, "30 DAYS OF NIGHT", 10, "THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING". So as you see there are 3 out of the 10 that we agree on, now heres my opinion on the seven we didn`t agree on, "THE DESCENT" Laughably over-rated british made rubbish, "HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES" the only good thing about rob zombie is that he thinks george a. romero is god, nuff said, "SHAUN OF THE DEAD", totally unwatchable british made crap (you really should be ashamed of yourself for including this one on your list, its an insult to mr. romero and all the greatness that he represents), "FROM DUSK TILL DAWN", yeah, i will admit the last 40 minutes of this film is quite magnificent, but i still remember salma hayek more than anything else, she was stunning, "JEEPERS CREEPERS", very over-rated, where-as i thought the sequel was very under-rated, "CABIN FEVER" not a bad little film but i`m not sure it deserves to be on the top 10 list, "CANDYMAN" again very over-rated, i thought the sequels were much better, and by the way, i fully understand when you say the top 10 can change on any given day, that would apply to my top 10 as well. Now, just a few final thoughts with regards to my top 10 list that i wondered whether you agreed with, in "RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: PART 3" mindy clarke has to be one of the hottest most breathtaking babes of all time, (zombie or otherwise), and i cant believe that neither "FEAST 2: SLOPPY SECONDS" nor steve miner`s truly magnificent remake of "DAY OF THE DEAD" got cinema release`s in north america, (especially when you consider the fact that they are both much better than so many of the hollywood blockbusters that routinely open on 3000 or more screens every week, to me that is very strange), and i`ve just thought of 3 more horror movies that might`ve made the list, "CARVER", (torture porn admittedly, but still quite superb), peter jacksons ludicrously under-rated 1996 masterwork "THE FRIGHTENERS", and "INSIDE" with beatrice dalle, the film is a hideous abomination but one of the best horror films of recent years.

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  3. Wow SHPS thats an interesting list. I have to be frank with you I don't like many of those films at all. Ghost Ship, Return 3, and House of Wax especially stick out to me as very bad films.

    As far as your objections to my list. Well, I don't have the problems with British productions that you have previously expressed. In fact, I really love British film and TV. So We'll have to agree to disagree on that.

    As far as your other suggestions. I've never even heard of Carver, The Frighteners is one of my favorite films and nearly made the cut, and Inside I have not seen yet but heard nothing but positive things about.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion as always.

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  4. "Lists" always spark debate, don't they?

    I like your list, mine would be slightly different, I would have probably had more non-American made films on there, but kudos for having HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES on there and so high. I'm a big fan of that film and I don't care who knows it.

    I like all the films on your list, with the exception of 13 GHOSTS, which I didn't care for, JEEPERS CREEPS was just so-so for me, but otherwise...

    Good idea for a top 10 though.

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