Robg.'s TOP 10 of 2006:

1. BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON – This is the best genre related movie I’ve seen in my adult life. Seriously, it explains in detail all the workings of a “slasher” movie and then puts us in the middle of one. I’ve never been more entertained for a solid 90 minutes by a flick, than I was by Behind The Mask. Please go see this when it’s in theaters! (*Behind The Mask will be released theatrically March 16th, 2007)

2. FEAST – I initially knew nothing about this movie because I never watched Project Greenlight. But once I saw a few clips at a Fango convention, I knew I was in for a treat, and this movie did NOT disappoint. I caught it at a Midnight screening for it’s limited release and then must’ve watched it 7 or 8 times the first week the DVD came out. Then I showed it to all my friends. The last movie I remember forcing ALL my friends to watch was Evil Dead 2 when we were younger, so that says a lot about how I feel about FEAST. (*Now available on DVD.)

3. THE DESCENT – I caught an import version of this, and then went to see it during it’s US theatrical release, and both times, it scared the shit out of me! The reveal of what lurks in the caves is one of my all time favorite movie scares and it gets EVERY audience I’d ever seen it with. We need more imports like this, rather then remaking foreign films. (*Now available on DVD.)

4. 2001 MANIACS – I waited a long time for Tim Sullivan’s remake of ‘2001 Maniacs’ and I was so happy when it was finally released on DVD. Here’s another one I got the whole gang together for. It’s really fun, gory and has some of the most inventive, cheer-inducing death sequences in recent memory. Plus, the babes were smokin’ hot and this movie had Robert Englund! (*Now available on DVD.)

5. SAW 3 – The SAW movies have yet to disappoint me. Every year I can count on a consistently good sequel full of suspense, some imaginative death traps and a few really good twists. I loved this one because it went back to things from the previous movies and showed them to us from a different angle, and I love that they’ve been able to really expand upon the Jigsaw mythology. The surgery scene had me cringing uncomfortably in my seat. And I can’t wait to do it again next year. (*Now available on DVD.)

6. HOSTEL – It took me a while to see Hostel, because for the first time in years, it was sold out practically every time I tried to see it! Finally I went by myself one afternoon during the week and was treated to one of my favorite films of the year. What people mistook for misogyny and plain cruelty was actually a brilliant statement on how desensitized we are to violence and more importantly how the rest of the world looks at us Americans. Hostel reminded me of early-DePalma stuff with a dab of the current crop of “vengeance” themed foreign flicks. And I’m all about the vengeance. (*Now available on DVD.)

7. SLITHER – This was literally a big budgeted Troma movie, which is something I never thought I’d get to witness in theaters with an audience. Between the clever story, creature FX, humor and killer cast, I’m sure this one will find it’s way to becoming a cult classic. (*Now available on DVD.)

8. JENIFER – Hands down my favorite episode/movie from the Masters Of Horror series. And also probably one of my favorite Argento films. I can’t explain it, but this made me cringe, smile and laugh out loud the way I did while discovering old horror classics as a kid. Hey, a little girl and a penis get eaten. Courtesy of Argento. Loved this one. (*Now available on DVD.)

9. THE WOODS – Not without it’s flaws (possibly because of studio interference?) but it’s difficult to deny Lucky McKee as the unique filmmaker that he is. This was daringly original compared to all the other horror titles being made as of late, and it has an odd, eerie sensitive feel to it that only Lucky can portray. (As he did with ‘May’) Also, it’s hard not to crush hardcore on lead Agnes Bruckner. Even Bruce Campbell (despite him being a curmudgeon lately) is really good in this. (*Now available on DVD.)

10. ABOMINABLE – I’m always nervous when it comes to a new creature feature or something that debuts on the Sci-Fi channel, but Ryan Schifrin’s debut Abominable was a pleasant surprise! It had a solid straight forward story, some hot babes, some cool gore FX, and a killer lookin’ Bigfoot monster. It’s hard not to get giddy during a film that features appearances with Jeffrey Combs, Lance Henriksen and Dee Wallace Stone. You also can’t go wrong with the foxy Tiffany Shepis, who has one of my fave deaths scenes of the year in this movie. (*Now available on DVD.)

Robg.'s TOP 10 Icons Of Fright interviews of 2006:

1. JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – Of all this years interviews, I have to say that Judah Friedlander was my favorite. Having been a big fan of his for a while, I was so pleased to get the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with him and the Icons crew for our interview. He was very funny and honest with his answers, gave us some great stories and I think his interview stands out as one of our most entertaining reads. In the age of You Tube and My Space, I’m so pleased we were able to incorporate video of the some of the movies we discussed.

2. ADAM GREEN – I hadn’t even seen Hatchet when we sat down for this interview with filmmaker Adam Green. But our interview with him felt like a casual, cool conversation amongst a fellow horror fan rather then an interview with a rising-director. In other words, he made us feel right at ease, and was totally one of us. In a few years when Adam’s got a couple of movies under his belt, I hope people will come back to our extensive chat with him.

3. STEVE NILES – An Icons first, we finally got to speak to a comic book writer/creator. And who better then one of my all time favorites, Steve Niles. I kept missing him at the Fango con where this took place, but finally by Sunday, we got to sit down and have this laid back, casual interview. I’ve had friends that don’t really read comic books tell me that they’ve read this interview and were inspired to go out and buy one of Steve’s books. That in itself is the greatest compliment I could ask for.

4. KEN SAGOES – I’ve spoken to established directors, writers, actors… but I’d never been more nervous then when I heard the voice of actor Ken Sagoes (known to me as Kincad since childhood) on the other line of my phone. He played one of the most beloved characters in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise and I’m proud that we got his first on line interview up. This brought me back to the 12 year old kid who’d rent and watch Freddy movies when his parents went to sleep. I hope it brought some of you readers to that frame of mind too.

5. NICK PALUMBO – I’m fairly neutral in how I feel about Nick Palumbo’s Murder Set Pieces. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The Icons crew and myself were more interested in the negative backlash we’d heard about that was personally directed at the filmmaker rather then his film. So, weather you believe the stories, or what he had to say or not, we at least were able to let the man speak for himself in regards to what people have said about him in the past. And for that, I find this to be one of our most fascinating, interesting reads.

6. GREG NICOTERO – Greg Nicotero is essentially how I always imagined Tom Savini would be growing up. Except I’ve met Tom numerous times, and he’s never been nice or pleasant. Greg however is as cool as he appears in any DVD interviews you may have seen him in. I loved being able to sit next to him at a convention and have him answer my questions. And sure, I may have annoyed him by the end by asking for odd requests (making phonies to Jsyn and signing multiple pictures for me), but I still consider this one of my favorite interviews. And I was honored to run it along side 2 of my other favorites of the year. (Adam Green & Steve Niles)

7. RYAN WARD – As soon as the performance of EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL I had seen was over, I knew that I wanted to speak to the new Ash. Not only because Ryan’s portrayal was solid and hilarious, but because he took away all the worries I had about anyone other then Bruce Campbell taking the mantle of the infamous loud-mouthed Deadite slayer. Ryan’s a great actor and I’m glad we were able to present his first ever on line interview to coincide with the first month run of Evil Dead: The Musical in New York.

8. GARY SHERMAN – The entire week around Gary Sherman’s interview was a unique experience for me. I was able to re-watch all the films Gary had done, speak to him about them extensively, and then I met the man in person at a screening of his latest film. So, for me, the fun of researching and rediscovering his work made for one of the most fulfilling Icons interviews I’ve ever done. I still enjoy reading this one. And hope that some of the tidbits he dropped us about his future projects come to fruition soon so you can say you heard it here first!

9. STEVE DANIELS – Steve Daniels made one of the best, freakiest short films on the Fangoria Blood Drive Volume 2 DVD. Right before I had read Adam’s interview with him, I had gotten a DVD that featured a dozen of Steve’s shorts, and I was not prepared for the hilarity that followed. While Steve has no problem creating an unsettling horror short such as ‘The Gibbering Horror Of Howard Ghormley’, I was surprised by how funny and visually inventive his films are. Most of them are in black & white and shot on Super 8 mm, but ALL of them are testaments to a great filmmaker. I hope more of you will discover Steve Daniels thru our site. And be prepared, because you’ll hear a lot more about him in the future.

10. MARK PAVIA – I was unfamiliar with filmmaker Mark Pavia when Adam submitted this interview, but yet again, it introduced me to the work of a genuine fellow life-long horror fan. And we can all appreciate a guy like this behind the camera. I enjoyed reading about his experiences with Stephen King and his takes on the Texas Chainsaw remake and Deadworld. And of course, this interview made me go out and rent The Night Flier. I hope that this is one of those interviews that people come back and credit as introducing them to yet another really great filmmaker.

Mike C.'s TOP 10 of 2006:
10: Silent Hill: I'd never played the video game, and I wasn't expecting much out of a movie based on a game. Not that I was particularly scared by it, it's not that kind of movie, but the first act of the film is extremely unsettling and atmospheric. The score is fantastic! I found myself intrigued, drawn into it. The striking mood reminded me a lot of Fulci's “City of the Living Dead”, one of my favorite films. That's something that rarely happens in horror movies today, especially big-budget productions which tend to be “bang-smash-crash” effects vehicles. “Silent Hill”almost turns into a different film in the final act when it becomes almost a “crazy cult” with a few fantastic twists and turns, and Alice Kreig giving a great over-the-top performance. (*Now available on DVD.)
9: 2001 Maniacs: Tim Sullivan's giddy, gory remake of the splatter classic is fantastic and very fun throwback to both 80's style horror and comedy. Robert Englund gives one of his best performances in years, really. I mean, the poor guy is a major horror talent, and it's this is the most perfect fit for him since the “Nightmare” cycle. “2001 Maniacs” is a departure from the gritty, realistic horror style we're seeing a lot of today, but it's cast and director realized there's still a lot of fun to be had with the genre.
8: Slither: Horror and comedy mixed rather well. I was a little shocked that more people didn't show up for this one while it was in theaters. The opening weekend audience I saw it with loved it, and so did I. I'm all for movies that ooze slime, pukey stuff, and laughs.
7: Saw III: You remember the part with the pigs? I don't think I've actually ever gagged at movie before, but that did it. I'm retching just thinking about. it. I haven't been disappointed by one of the “Saw” films yet. Like the previous “Saw” films, this one has a great puzzle-box punctuated by better traps than “Saw II”. Lots of suspense, and the most shocking ending yet (that really keeps you guessing at where they're going to go with Saw IV).
6: Feast: Forget you ever heard the words “Project Greenlight”, this is the genre bending ass-kicking monster movie you've been waiting your whole life for.
5: Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film: It's a documentary on the slasher film that premiered on cable. For the first time there's a look back on late 70's and early 80's horror that breaks down what was going on at the time and how those films reflected the era. (*Available on DVD 3/20/07)
4: Snakes on a Plane: It sounded awful, we were laughing at it for months, but hey, 'Snakes' actually ended up delivering the goods. Fun, goofy, lots of pussing snake bites, children in mortal danger. Like all my favorite bad disaster and monster movies rolled up into one big snaked-filled Hot Pocket. All that was missing was George Kennedy (there, I did it, another great George Kennedy reference by Mike. WOO! The fun never ends at Icons of Fright.) (*Now available on DVD.)
3: Hostel: Speaking of reflecting on the times there's “Hostel”. A lot of people seemed to be mixed on this one. Is it torture-porn, homophobic, not scary, too much? “Hostel” almost starts off as a rauncy sex-comedy about two dopes backpacking Europe, but it gets very dark, and for me, very intense. Roth really touched on that in-bred fear of being completely alone in a very scary, far away place. It's possibly the first horror film that truly reflects on what going on in the world today. That's not to say it's a political film, it's not really, but Roth comments a lot how the world sees Americans today, and pushes the anxiety and fears we might have being in a foreign land today. The way people look back at “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as a reflection of the post-Vietnam America, I think we will look back at “Hostel” as a reflection of the post-9/11 wartime America.
2: The Descent: Like “The Cave”, only...without the suck. Seriously, “The Descent” is so well made, that it didn't even need monsters to be scary. If the claustrophobic setting, and the suspense of being in an unexplored cave that could collapse on you and your best gal friends any moment doesn't get to you, then ,well, the creepy albino screechy things will. I give major kudos to any film that has moments that literally give me goosebumps like this film did when it you first see the creatures. Terrifying stuff.
1: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: At first, I thought, “What is this shot-on-video crap that Rob G. wants me to watch? Why? WHY?!” However, it's ends up being the best horror film of the year. One-half “mock” documentary/reality movie, and one-half real honest to god early slasher throwback. To say anymore would give away all the great surprises in this surprisingly intelligent film.

Mike's Top 5 Crap Cinema Finds of 2006:

From horror conventions to the DVD bargain bins I seek out new crap movies every chance I get. Quality crap is hard to come by these days, it just doesn't seem like any effort goes into making a bad movie nearly as entertaining as they used to be. This was a banner year in my search for crap classics as I finally found a decent (bootleg) DVD copy of “Death Ship”, and Rob G also lent another film starring my grandpa George, “Demonwarp”. None of these are new films, and a few I've written about already this year, but these are my top 5 favorite crap finds of 2006.

#5: Zombie 4: After Death: I bought the Shriek Show Zombie Pack at Best Buy well over a year ago. It comes with Zombie 3, 4, 5. Each one is an absolute golden turd. Zombie 3 is easily the most incompetent. It's got about 10 minutes of footage shot by Fulci, the rest done by Bruno Mattei, who makes Uwe Boll look like Bergman. “Zombie 5: Killing Birds” is certainly the most incomprehensible of the batch. I can't even sit through it and I specialize in this kind of garbage.

However, I'd never watched “Zombie 4”, it sat in my collection shrink wrapped until 3 days ago when I started to write this article (this spot was going to be reserved for “Zombie 3”). It's got tons of gore, stars a gay porn star, makes almost no sense, but moves along at extra fast pace: It's the bad movie jackpot.

In terms of “story” and “plot” a woman inexplicably returns to the island where her parents were killed by Philapeano zombies. The elements of the film are like a zombie movie greatest hits: there's little voodoo-ish witchcrafty-ness involved; the gate to hell has been opened; her father was searching for some kind of medical cure gone wrong; the zombies must face off against paramilitary operation; friends get bit/turn into zombies. The fun in Zombie 4 comes from several “new” zombies who retain a personality and actually take up arms to fight their former friends, and the fact that this one is much swifter paced than the other zombie films once the action and gore get going. Also watching gay porn star Jeff Stryker attempting to fight zombies and act at the same time is pretty damn funny.

#4: Demonwarp: Rob inducted this one into The Vault of the Forgotten and Obscure earlier this year, but it's worth mentioning again. I won't spend a lot of time on this, just know that it's the best movie I've ever seen that combines the legend of Bigfoot with aliens. Also, it has my now all-time favorite line ever uttered by Grandpa George Kennedy: “Go home, this place is dangerous...and so am I!”

#3: Visiting Hours: Michael Ironside is one of my all-time favorite “villain” actors. In one of his earliest performances and his first post “Scanners” role he plays a vicious violent slasher in this hospital set Canadian film. I love Canadian slashers films from the early 80's, stuff like “Curtains”, “Prom Night”, the original “Black Christmas”. This one must have got lost in the shuffle, because though I'd seen in it the video store since I was kid (love that box art) I only saw it after picking up the fantastic DVD in the Best Buy bargain bin. Ironside as a completely bat shit crazy killer and Bill Shatner is also in it? SOLD!

#2: Werewolves on Wheels: Bikers? Satanic ritual? Lycanthropy? Perfection!

#1: Death Ship: Go read my article on how long it took me to find a decent copy of this movie. It is total junk, but I love, love, love this movie, and nothing made my year more than when the guys at Plan 9 Video gave me a beautiful copy of this movie. Grandpa George is here again, this time as the captain of a cruise ship that is rammed by an old Nazi warship in the middle of the night Ok, to be specific, the Nazi war ship is in waning daylight, and the cruise ship is in the middle of the night in one of the films more famous continuity errors.

The opening disaster sequence of “Death Ship” is full of great stuff like reused special effects and stock footage taken from other films. For example, the radar showing the “warship” approaching is reused footage from '79's “King Kong”, which explains why the blip on the radar looks more like an island than a warship. Shots taking place in the belly of the ship after it's rammed are so obviously 20 something year old footage from some war movie, as is the footage of the cruise ship sinking. That's only in the first 15 minutes.

After that, the survivors board the seemingly empty ship that rammed them. Naturally, this isn't such a hot idea, which is apparently almost immediately when someone is knocked overboard and ground up by the ship's propellers. There's a whole world of fun aboard this ship for our passengers. Feeling worn out after a busy day playing shuffleboard? Then try our world-class blood-spewing showers. Looking for a light snack between meals? Have a piece of our Famous Face Melting candy. If the swimming pool is too crowded, why not take a dip in our luxurious vat of Nazi skeletons? In the end, the ship's mysterious PA system possesses Grandpa George and he squeezes himself into a Nazi uniform and spends the day chasing around Richard Crenna and his two rugrats with a luger.

Jsyn's TOP 15 of 2006:

1. PAN’S LABYRINTH – Simply the best movie of the year. Del Toro’s masterpiece. Part fantasy, part historical drama, this film does not sugar coat the horrors of wartime and the dark corruptive force of power and authority over man. Don’t buy into the whole “children’s movie for adults” logline. This is strong stuff that will challenge you emotionally. Del Toro’s idea of a “happy ending” is tragic, beautiful, heart wrenching and incredibly brave. I am not ashamed to say I wept a little at the end, and I haven’t cried in a movie since E.T. Bravo Senor! (*In theaters 12/29/06)

2. PERFUME: STORY OF A MURDERER – This was a close, close second. It should almost tie for first, but PAN’S LABYRINTH was a more emotional experience. PERFUME: STORY OF A MURDERER is one of the most beautiful, lyrical, and strikingly original movies (and not just genre movie, mind you) I’ve seen in quite some time. Any film that can accurately depict the sense of smell through actions and images should be commended. Just a gorgeous piece of cinema working with a completely different palette than most genre films out today. Gorgeous! (*In theaters 12/27/06)

3. THE HOST – Holy shit, the best asian monster movie since GOJIRA. This film will make you seriously question the argument that CGI is grossly overused and a pox on our beloved genre. See it! (*In theaters 3/9/07)

4. THE LOST – Uncomfortable to watch at times, but damn if you can’t look away. Ketchum was writing about the evil in men way before anyone else was doing it, and it seems the time is right for his work to be gently coaxed out into the light, where we can all get a good look at it’s ugliness. Actor Marc Senter really makes this one his bitch and fucking knocks it out of the park. And Great Ceasar's Ghost, actress Robin Sydney is so mind-numbingly hot, my IQ dropped three points whenever she was on screen. Loved it, but I needed a shower afterwards. (*No official release date set.)

5. FEAST – Praise be to Gulager! Best “People trapped somewhere with monsters trying to eat them” since EVIL DEAD 2. Funny and gross and ass-kickin. Loved it two times!

6. THE DESCENT – A no-brainer. This movie rocked!

7. HOSTEL – Eli Roth singlehandedly resuscitates the R-rated horror film with laughs, boobies, tension, boobies, graphic violence, boobies, and chunk-blowin’ gore. And boobies. Thank you Eli, but fuck you having a so-simple-it’s-brilliant idea that every hack film maker is going to copycat for the next few years just like the way they killed the slasher movie in the Eighties. Bring on HOSTEL: PART 2 you handsome devil, you!

8. MOH: IMPRINT – News Flash: Takashi Miike is seriously fucked up. Surprise!

9. MOH: JENIFER – More Breaking News: So is Argento. These were the only two worthwhile entries in the seriously disappointing “Masters” of Horror series. It’s obvious Hollywood has made all those other guys soft.

10. THE HILLS HAVE EYES – Guess what? I liked it better than the original. Yeah, I said it… big whoop wanna fight about it.

11. SILENT HILL – As a HUGE fan of the games, I can honestly say it captured the tone of the series perfectly. And yes, I totally understood the ending and all that, and I really liked it. That scene where Pyramid Head rips the skin off that naked chick was like a disgusting Tex Avery cartoon gag. Wonderful! And those nurses… I don’t quite know how to feel about them.

12. THE ROOST – Ti West makes the best horror film from the Eighties, today. And for like, $50 and a case of beer. Great flick, suspenseful as all hell and loads of fun. Good for you bro! (*Now available on DVD.)

13. 2001 MANIACS – Tim Sullivan wakes up one day a realizes horror movies were sometimes actually fun and not so serious. It also dawns on him that there is a real live actor underneath Freddy Kruger’s makeup and he’s actually like, good in other roles. Fun stuff.
14. THE WOODS – Lucky McKee’s love letter to Argento. I mean, who dosen't love artistic Italian guys? Heh. Atmospheric, lush, dreamlike and intellegent are all fitting adjectives for this one. THE WOODS also sports one of the best ensemble casts in a genre film this year, rivaled only by FEAST.
15. SEVERANCE – More funny shit from across the pond. Kind of like THE OFFICE meets DELIVERANCE. (*In theaters 4/9/07)


I caught these two at film festivals and they really stood out...

THE ENTRANCE - Really cool SAW meets SEVENTH SIGN-ish thriller from Canada. It's stark, deliberatley paced and showcases some excellent performances, namely from actor Micheal Eklund who in my humble opinion, will one day reach Walken-esque status. Way to go Mike!

UNREST - GRAY'S ANATOMY meets... a weird Mayan curse demon spirit thing possesing a cadaver or something? It was certainly original, well-acted and actress Corri English was cute as all get-out. I don't quite remember all the details, but I know I liked it and will see it again.

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