Another year, another bucket of guts, another pile of severed limbs, another rack of bloodied knives…you get the picture. Now, while I will admit it was a hell of a lot easier coming up with a Bottom 10 for the horror genre in 2012, this year saw for some exceptionally memorable films as well, some transcending heights further than I could have imagined. For all the mainstream movies still alive and kicking today though, my list sees more entries from foreign and independent sources, a trend witnessed since starting these yearly recaps on my old blog a few years back. For every Paranormal Activity 4 or Resident Evil: Retribution, there’s a director out there willing to take a chance on something unique and never before seen, truly going where no horror director has. Not to say mainstream horror can’t be good, just look at last year’s Insidious, but again, Wan’s film was still an original idea, something not always chased after when so many ideas can be rehashed and so many old franchises can be remade or rebooted!
Alright though, no reason to get all grouchy, because that’s what bottom of the barrel lists are for! Instead, let’s celebrate some horror which crawled under our skin and brought our deepest fears out, or made us laugh through morbidly dark comedy, or swung for the fences with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, knocking that twine ball 700 feet straight out of its casing for an unquestionable game winner.
So sit back, relax, and take a ride down memory lane with me as I knock off my favorite horror films of the year one by one. Just remember, this is one single horror writer’s opinion, and in no way should be considered the bottom line. These are the films I sat through and could enjoy the most for a multitude of reasons, each film really reaching to a different part of my pleasure lobe – that exists, right? Variety is the spice of life, and I cover my horror with a shit ton of variety, like cayenne pepper on my pizza, so be sure to expect a true assortment of winners this year. I’m here to help you broaden your horizons, as well as cater each blurb to whom I envision enjoying each film the most. Trust me, I understand not every type of fan will enjoy every type of movie, so I’ll warn target groups if I know you’ll be completely off base with my love.
In any case, here’s my Top 10 Horror Films Of 2012, and I hope you’ll enjoy them all! I’ve linked all movies to their reviews on We Got This Covered, but some have been written by different authors, so I hope that doesn’t confuse anyone. My list is as written, but other authors may have disagreed with my critical analysis. Scouts honor I’ve seen every single title!Next
Director: David Bruckner/Glenn McQuaid/Radio Silence/Joe Swanberg/Ti West/Adam Wingard
Producer Brad Miska, Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of my go-to horror site for news and reviews, Bloody-Disgusting, is obviously a man who loves his horror. So hearing he gathered some of the best and brightest up and coming genre directors together for an old-school anthology type collaboration was an attention-grabbing headline to say the least, and I can now say V/H/S does a pretty bang-up job accomplishing what goals Miska set out to achieve. It’s different tastes of horror mashed together in pretty enjoyable fashion, even if at times our directors seem to just be looking for reasons to insert a boob shot or two.
The idea for V/H/S revolves around our filmmakers only being able to shoot using non-traditional camera methods like a webcam or iPhone, obviously along with a VHS camcorder. You’re not getting crystal clear resolution or your digital 3D display, trading picture quality for a nostalgic throwback to horror films of yesteryear, also admittedly providing a good amount of character, and more importantly something different among the found footage horror genre.
Sadly, not all the shorts are on par, Glenn McQuaid’s Tuesday The 17th being the worst. Something about a glitchy killer you can’t see and tired writing doesn’t translate into entertaining horror, but I have to say the rest were each engagingly enticing. I’m going to go against the grain on this one and say Radio Silence’s 10/31/98 is my favorite short of the bunch. What can I say, creepy haunted house work really strikes my fancy.
9) The Devil’s Carnival
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
As the tag-line suggests, I couldn’t help but fall for Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich’s musical horror The Devil’s Carnival. Full disclosure, I also love the two collaborator’s first rock-opera effort Repo: The Genetic Opera, so I already had an inkling of what I could expect this time around.
There are obvious differences between the two, from a more classically musical tone used in The Devil’s Carnival and a more musician populated cast this time around, but all are welcomed with open arms. How could you not be excited with talented artists such as Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch) and Emile Autumn partaking in the fiendish festivities?
Running at a brisk 56 minutes, loads of vibrant creativity bring us a hellish carnival scene in the brightest of fashions. From clowns to performers to workers, each “player” wonderfully embodies the helpless soul mentality of Hell’s population, looking to Moody’s Hobo Clown as a perfectly animated character to fit Zdunich’s zany world of Gothic carnies and entertaining headliners. Bravo Ivan, as the Hobo Clown’s main number is both an intoxicating watch and listen, giving us Five Finger Death Punch fans a completely new voice to applaud.
The Devil’s Carnival is a wonderful take on correcting the wrongs in one’s life, and in this case the ones that brought you to hell, asking its audience “What would you do with a second chance?” Would you waste it? Act on it?
I can promise Bousman’s second musically charged horror film is anything but the same old song and dance. Now if he can just stop wasting his time with films like 11-11-11…Previous Next
Director: John Geddes
Looks like Bloody-Disgusting influenced another selection on my list, as John Geddes’ Civil War zombie film Exit Humanity was distributed this year by Bloody Disgusting Selects, the site’s newly started production company. Not all films have been winners thus far, as you can see in my analysis of the first ten releases, but Exit Humanity made a great impression for artistic reasons instead of my typical love for over-the-top B-Movie horror. In short, here’s the movie on my Top 10 that will insight the most comments about me being a pretentious prick who is out of touch with the horror genre and how I have no idea what I’m talking about. Sigh.
Like I said, you have to understand Exit Humanity isn’t about zombies disrupting the Civil War, as awesome as that sounds, but instead about one soldier’s descent into hell as he traverses a land now ravaged by zombies, while simultaneously trying to cope with the damage zombies have done to our humanity. Geddes’ film is very much a slow-burn character piece, displaying a hearty performance by lead actor Mark Gibson, also featuring genre legend Bill Moseley and the iconic voice of Brian Cox as our narrator. For me, Exit Humanity spoke volumes for the moral decay and twisted mentality one has to accept now that the dead roam free, abandoning all notions of “doing what’s right.” Do you foolishly help the girl with a bite mark on her arm like a humanitarian? Or put a bullet between her eyes to hasten the inevitable and bring forward a swift and painless death. New world, new life, new rules.
Director: Alejandro Brugués
The first horror movie out of Cuba? Not sure if I buy it, but that’s how Juan Of The Dead was cleverly marketed, but I can tell you for sure, even if that statement isn’t true, Alejandro Brugués easily could have gone with “The first horror movie out of Cuba you absolutely have to see!” In this silly yet undeniably entertaining zombie flick, Cuba is overrun by the undead, but government officials try to blame the horrific invasion on dissidents. Yes, dissidents more focused on eating people’s brains instead of overthrowing corrupt government rulers.
While one can pick up the undertones of governmental satire and Cuba’s socialist nature, Juan Of The Dead is a riotous horror comedy through and through. Director Alejandro Brugués has created a Cubano equivalent to the UK’s Shaun Of The Dead, which still remains more iconic, but between Juan and his nitwit band of zombie slayers, there’s plenty of poverty stricken carnage to go around – even if there’s no Winchester to kick back in.
If this is the quality product being shipped out, it’s about damn time Cuba got involved in the horror game!Previous Next
Director: Marcus Dunstan
While you won’t find the newest Paranormal Activity or Resident Evil on my Top 10 countdown, there is one sequel that floored me this year – The Collection. Yes, Marcus Dunstand and Patrick Melton’s putrid smelling, corpse ridden follow up to The Collector is a bit of torture porn beauty, putting to shame the numerous Saw sequels scripted by the duo. While The Collector definitely has a distinctively independent horror feel, The Collection multiplies every working part of their first film by a bazillion, amassing record body count numbers solely in the opening scene. Talk about starting with a bang?
Around every twist and turn in The Collector’s hellish house of horrors, Dunstan and Melton construct increasingly devilishness contraptions of pain, dispatching of characters in the goriest of fashion. This follows one of the golden rules for horror sequels, building a bigger and better movie instead of just repeating a tired “torture porn” formula. “Go big or go home” mentalities create grotesque death executions and heart-racing terror strong enough to distract from some wishy washy scripting, creating a captivating watch for the most extreme horror fans.
Director: Scott Derrickson
A horror movie starring Ethan Hawke, directed by the man who brought us The Day The Earth Stood Still‘s remake? I’ll admit I had my reservations, but have since been rendered insult-less towards Derrickson’s creepy homage to bumps in the night. This mainstream scare-fest definitely deserves my Insidious Award (copyrighted) for outstanding original achievement in mainstream horror, although not as overtaking as Insidious itself.
Telling the story of an ancient demon named Bughuul, Scott Derrickson mixes extremely atmospheric horror around main character Ellison Oswalt’s hauntingly terrifying house with surprisingly brutal film reels from past dates depicting one grisly murder after another. I couldn’t help but think how easily a major studio could have snatched this beast up and edited it to a PG-13 rating to capitalize on sales, but I’m forever grateful Derrickson was able to find backers who gave him full creative freedoms and make the movie HE ultimately wanted to – brutal and unforgiving.
A major shout out to all the child actors in the film as well! I never want to have children because of you. Thanks.Previous Next
4) The Revenant
Director: Kerry Prior
So what if the Boondock Saints were undead, one was ex-military, and they decided to clean the streets of scumbags? That’s exactly what The Revenant is about, as best friends Joey (Chris Wylde) and Bart (David Anders) deal with the latter’s zombification after he’s killed in Iraq. Joey acts as any best friend should, trying by any means to keep his undead friend “alive,” but soon realizes human blood will be the only way to slay Bart’s ravenous hunger. Well, hell, if you’re going to eat people, why not at least eat the bad ones?
But besides the whole Bart is a Revenant thing, only reanimating at night to drink blood, Kerry Prior’s script is rather funny and commanding, going far beyond the boundaries of a “buddy flick.” This isn’t just two unique friends getting in zany situations together. There are wonderful bouts of true friendship and awesomely comedic horror writing which rivals some of the funniest genre films in recent years, helped by fantastic chemistry between Anders and Wylde. My review tackles many other beautiful details about the film, so feel free to check it out if you’re interested!
Director: Sean Byrne
I was fortunate enough to catch this little doozie back in 2010 and have known of Sean Byrne’s magnificent take on the “torture porn” genre for quite some time now, but 2012 finally saw a mainstream release here in the states for a deservedly wider audience. I mean, OK, prom is a horrifying enough ordeal for some teenagers as it is, but The Loved Ones takes awkward teen romance and turns it into dastardly horror provided by an obsessive love that consumes a young girl and drives her into a psychotic madness.
The term stalker is a dangerous understatement when describing main character Lola, as Robin McLeavy gives us a hypnotically unsettling performance while kidnapping her crush Brent (Xavier Samuel) right before prom. Waking up in captivity, Brent has to struggle for his life while being tormented by Lola and her protective father. There’s a wonderfully incestuous dynamic hinted at between Lola and her father to make the situation even more dark, but the true horror festers in McLeavy’s performance as an incredibly jaded schoolgirl who goes leaps and bounds farther than we’d like to imagine, enjoying every minute of it.
This is one of those underrated gems that if you’ve missed until now becomes a must see. Seriously horror fans, get on The Loved Ones if you somehow haven’t already!Previous Next
Director: Joseph Kahn
Alright, another pick I’ll catch a lot of flak for, but you’re either going to love Joseph Kahn’s comedy/horror/sci-fi 90′s decade trashing artistic wonder, or hate a convoluted mess of hyper-ADD inspired filmmaking with the power of 1,000 suns. Since this is my Top 10 horror list, I think you know where I stand with Detention and Joseph Kahn, despite remembering he was the man responsible for Torque.
Welcome to Grizzly Lake High School, your typical clique ridden battleground with jocks, punks, goths, nerds, and a slasher named Cinderhella? Yup, as if high school wasn’t hard enough for slacker extraordinaire Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) and the invisible Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell), a horror movie killer comes to life and starts axing students off at random. What follows is a mind-melt of insanely chaotic yet enjoyable editing, time travel, horror kills, quick-fire pun usage, a hilarious take on teen life, and a very unique grizzly bear. There’s a ton to process and it holds more gravity for younger viewers, but there’s no denying Kahn created something strangely entertaining with unmatched ambition. But, yes, even Cabin In The Woods made more sense than Detention.
Director: Drew Goddard
Bow down to your master, recent horror films.
We’ve seen numerous amazing horror entries over the last ten years or so, movies like The Descent, blah blah blah, you’ve heard the list before. But no film, and I mean NO film, has intelligently roasted my favorite genre while simultaneously delivering one of the greatest, incredibly climatic, instantly iconic, and absolutely show-stopping endings a fan could ask for.
Now, I know a lot of horror fans are saying Whedon and Goddard’s brainchild shouldn’t be categorized in the genre because it’s not particularly scary, but how do you NOT consider a film “horror” when it deconstructs every facet and quirk of the entire genre, both satirically and brilliantly playing with clichès? But on a more basic sense, how do you not consider a film horror with multiple death scenes, zombies, copious amounts of gore, and monsters galore?
The Cabin In The Woods stands as a crowning achievement in horror considering its horror writing is equivalent in quality to a Shakespearian epic, and deserves a tremendous amount more recognition than it already has. I know a horror film will never get recognized at the Oscars in this way, but how about a nomination for Best Screenplay? I’d make an argument any day for that push. Just look at Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford alone. Their two characters are scripted masterfully and both actors thrive in such a silly scenario, but perfection is achieved easily because of ingenious writing. Then you open up this debate to the entire script, pointing out every nuance and reference, and boy, there’s just too much awesome to swallow.
The Cabin In The Woods made going to the movies fun in 2012, easily beating the competition for my number one spot. You can argue you weren’t scared, but you can’t deny Goddard’s beautiful homage to horror…making it a horror film.Previous Next
Close But No Cigar…Films That Almost Made The Cut
Mother’s Day (Director: Darren Lynn Bousman) - Apparently this was the year of long shelved projects (Cabin In The Woods), because Bousman’s Troma inspired “remake” is a gleefully gory way for horror fans to celebrate Mother’s Day – although I’m not sure Mama would agree. Bousman is cleverly able to capture what grindhouse fun Troma films stake their reputation on, but delivers with Hollywood style in a way Troma films lacked. In other words, he keeps the brutal violence and sick characters with Scott Milam’s screenplay, but also injects a little respectability into otherwise deviant filmmaking. Oh yea, Rebecca De Mornay delivers a motherly performance you just have to love, otherwise she’ll punish the hell out of you. (Review courtesy of my personal blog before I became a staff writer here!)
Excision (Director: Richard Bates Jr.) – Richard Bates Jr. gave us a very bloody and eccentric body horror called Excision this year, focusing on a very interesting character named Pauline (Annalynne McCord), her obsession with becoming a surgeon, and her sick sister Grace (Ariel Winter). Traci Lords and Roger Bart play her out of touch parents who round out a slick cast of clashing personalities, but the focus here is on Pauline’s sexualization of body horror in sick fantasies and her monologue type prayers to God as she struggles with faith. A very weird, entertaining, and slightly disturbing look into some strange issues, but a very interesting watch to say the least.
Silent Night (Director: Steven C. Miller) – Holiday horror done right, damn right I might add. Steven C. Miller spins his take on Christmas slasher “classic” Silent Night, Deadly Night with a spiffy new pseudo-remake which is wrapped up nicely with a pretty green bow on top…then charred with a flamethrower and covered in blood. Miller’s grotesque take on holiday cheer delivers some of the best festively themed kills imaginable, turning innocent Christmas staples into tools of seasonal torture. You’ll definitely reconsider inviting jolly old Saint Nick in your house for milk and cookies after you’ve seen Silent Night, an unlikely horror film that breaks any curse remakes usually follow.Previous Next
Favorite Poster Work Of 2012
The horror genre remains one of the last genres to utilize creative poster design, while others simply crank out Vanity Fair type photo shoots generically repeated month after month. While I don’t agree with all of these movies, I’ve chosen some of my favorite horror movie posters from this year for your enjoyment!
Favorite Trailer Of 2012
For me, a perfect trailer melds enough hype-creating material with catchy tunage, bringing a truly teaser-tastic short marketing device which makes us want to see the film in question. This year, no trailer has done that like Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake, mainly because this is the first time I’ve been giddy and excited for a Hollywood remake in years! Not only are Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell closely involved as producers to ensure their property is in the best of hands, but their best trailer depicts everything us horror fans love and need to see in an Evil Dead remake – gore, guts, satanic demons, curses, and Raimi’s tree rape. Check out the red-band trailer and you’ll understand.
As for my most anticipated horror films of 2013, I haven’t listed them here, but instead offer a double-loaded list of upcoming horror lore worth getting excited over, which my weekly partner in crime Remy Carreiro helped me out with. Sure, you have to click a link to get there, but who can argue with two for the price of one? We’ll make sure the right films are blips on your radar come 2013.
Be sure to check back for my Bottom 10 Horror Films Of 2012, which I’ll be releasing in the days to come. Can’t have a “Best of” without a “Worst of,” right people?
So horror fans, how did I do? Which films do you think I unfairly snubbed from top film contention, and which films on my list would you remove them for? Opinions are opinions, and I’d love to hear yours as well! Feel free to let me know your favorite horror films of the year in the Comments section!Previous