Posted on January 4, 2011 by Jason Thorson
Another year’s in the books, one spent on the permanent and exhausting search through the horror movie scrap heap looking for the elusive hidden treasures. Unfortunately, this past year was a weak one. There wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about. Despite all the bad flicks, a few managed to rise above the fray, giving me hope for 2011.
As is usually the case, there were several remakes to take with a grain of salt. Some of them furthered the atrophying of the horror genre as it relates to studio backed filmmaking, others were much more horrible than horrifying, and all of them were unnecessary.
The worst of these include “A nightmare on Elm St” and “The Wolfman” both of which are bad, but for different reasons. “The Wolfman” actually warranted remaking, but was a mess before the cameras even began to roll. Fraught with one production disaster after another the movie came out a disjointed mess. “A Nightmare on Elm St” didn’t need to be done again as the original is still incredible and isn’t particularly old. Moreover, its iconic boogieman, Freddy Krueger has become an indelible part of pop culture. Just ask Robert England, the actor who literally is Freddy, but wasn’t this year. More details are available in my “A Nightmare on Elm St” review from earlier in the year.
The remakes of both “Piranha” and “The Crazies” each have redeeming factors. Neither film is life-changing, but then again, neither were the originals on which they’re based. “Piranha” is actually quite a gory romp, while “The Crazies” has the budget and the technology this time around to represent the large scope that Romero originally intended, but couldn’t achieve due to a lack of resources.
Finally, we have “Let Me In”, an American remake of the Swedish vampire masterpiece, “Let the Right One In”. The remake is a decent movie. However, the original is absolutely brilliant and it’s only two years old. It’s unfortunate that non-English Language films don’t get the same support that their English counterparts do, because “Let the Right One In” is horror at its finest and deserves to be seen by the masses, while “Let me In” is merely a worthy attempt at representing that same story.
There were sequels galore in 2010. Some of these, such as “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” could have never existed and the universe would remain as is. It’s silly and low brow, but that’s the intent, so take it or leave it. There were the expected additions to already bloated franchises, including “Saw 3-D” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, both of which probably detracted from their respective canons, if anything.
Some sequels this year were hotly anticipated. These include “Paranormal Activity 2”, which amped up and repeated the original’s successes, and “Slime City Massacre”, a follow up to the underground cult favorite, “Slime City” from 1988. More details are available in my interview with “Slime City Massacre star”, Brooke Lewis.
The most talked about sequel this past year was Adam Green’s highly anticipated and ultimately controversial “Hatchet II”. This movie follows up one of the biggest favorites of 2006, “Hatchet”, and continues to follow the murderous exploits of swamp ghost Victor Crowley. “Hatchet II” split horror fans into two camps. People either loved this movie or they hated it. But what made “Hatchet II” unique is that it got a distribution deal with AMC theatres, despite being unrated. This is quite remarkable in the modern era and so the theatrical release of “Hatchet II” was viewed as a significant step in the right direction by the horror community at large. However, after one weekend, AMC inexplicably pulled the movie from its chains, creating a controversy that continues to remain unexplained.
Original horror movies were a bit of a mixed bag in 2010. Not surprisingly, the larger the film’s budget, the worse the film is. For example, “Devil” was backed by major marketing muscle as M. Night Shyamalan’s latest abomination, despite that it is merely based on a story he’d written. Despite its high concept, its execution leaves a lot to be desired. And of course you’d have to have been in a cave not to have seen an ad for “The Last Exorcism”, a derivative, PG-13 mash up of every film that’s ripped off “The Exorcist” over the last three plus decades, only this time there’s the added element of the “found footage” conceit.
Once again, foreign horror swung a mighty big axe in 2010 with “A Serbian Film” and “The Troll Hunter”. The former is a depraved and disturbing tale of an aging porn star tricked into making a pedophilia/necrophilia themed snuff film. This movie will challenge everyone. “The Troll Hunter” is a Norwegian tale about a group of students who film a documentary as they follow a man they think is a bear hunter, but it turns out, he’s not after bear, but rather trolls – big ones at that. This movie was a huge hit at festivals and will be distributed in 2011 to a global audience by Magnolia Pictures’ genre outfit, Magnet.
My pick for best horror movie of the year goes to “Monsters”. It’s not the scariest horror movie, mind you, but it’s a remarkable movie regardless of genre. Moreover, it was made for very little money by a first time filmmaker, Gareth Edwards, who had very little in the way of resources in general. The results are stunning as “Monsters” delivers an emotional and subtle relationship story against a backdrop of epic proportions involving giant monsters, mayhem, and destruction. An in depth analysis is available in my “Monsters” review.
Although 2010 was a relatively disappointing year in horror movies, there are some horror films on the horizon that look promising. Here’s to hoping 2011 brings the terror to the big screen in a big way. As always, I’ll be looking for the bloody best of the bunch.
Jason Thorson – 2010