Quantcast THE YEAR THAT WAS 2007 - ICONS OF FRIGHT TOP LISTS

Below are the TOP PICKS for Icons Of Fright staff writers Mike C, Robg, Adam Barnick, JSYN, Danny Price and Beth.

Mike C.'s TOP 6 PICKS of 2007!

1 - BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! - Many genre fans probably haven't heard of this film, and even fewer would have likely had the chance to see it as intended by the director.

Guy Maddins' film is an expressionistic experiment with silent-era film techniques, and bringing a grandeur and theatricality back to the cinematic experience. Those who have been lucky enough to see this film during the initial screenings were treated to both live guest narration (from immense talent such as Crispin Glover, Isabella Rossalini, Eli Wallach, Lou Reed, and Udo Kier to name only a few) and a troupe of foley artists, in costume, performing sound effects. Surely those lucky viewers had not witnessed anything quite like it.


The story is a bizarre mash-up of science-fiction, horror, and children's stories. A man returns to the island where he grew up, as his mothers dying wish was that he repaint the lighthouse they lived in. As he begins to repaint it, horrifying memories flow back to him and he remembers how his parents held orphans hostage, and conducted strange medical and mind-controlling experiments on them. The film is black and white, silent, with a narrator and title cards taking us through the strange, beautiful, and very creepy tale.

Even though it is not being screened with the live performances now, it is still a unique and breathtaking film. As screened in theaters it is accompanied by sound effects and narration by Isabella Rossalini. “Brand Upon The Brain!” is still far from a DVD release, so keep your eyes open for it, or better yet request it be shown at your local art house theater. Trust me, you'll have never seen anything like it.

2 - THE SIGNAL - The film isn't actually releasing until February 22nd of 2008, but Rob G and myself caught two screenings of this amazing film early last spring. It's the best movie you didn't get to see this year.

“The Signal” is a film made in three acts, called “transmissions”, that tell a single story about what happens in the fictional city of Terminus as strange pattern of color and noise starts appearing on all the televisions, radios, and phones. This “signal” drives the people who see or hear it insane, and make them kill indiscriminately.

I'll admit, this all does sound familiar, like another zombie film of some kind, but the execution of this film is unlike anything you've ever seen. It is NOT another zombie film (is that the sound of wild applause I hear?).


Talk about your film experiments: “The Signals”'s three “transmissions” feature the same three main characters and actors, but each act has been shot by a different director in a completely different style. The first act of the film, which takes place as chaos begins to erupt in the city, is intense and pure horror. My God, is it intense and suspenseful. One of the most nail biting, sweat inducing 20 minutes in horror that I've seen in years. The second act goes off in a totally different direction, and the film changes pace and mood and becomes something of an “Evil Dead” inspired horror-comedy. It's insanely violent and hilarious. The third and final act is an experimental piece that, while less enjoyable than the previous two chapters, ties the story up.

You know what, this is a movie that could have ended up a terrible failure, and an embarassing mess. Three directors, three different looks in three different acts. How the hell do you make that work? How do you even get a cast of actors who can handle such a schizoid concept of a movie? I wish I knew how they did it, but they did it almost perfectly, and the result is one of the most satisfying movies I saw all year. Believe us, on February 22nd, this movie is going to take you by surprise. You'll be hearing a lot about “The Signal” in the next two months here on Icons of Fright. This is one film I'm totally ramped up to stand behind and get excited about.

3 - VAMPIRA: THE MOVIE - A great documentary about the original horror host from director Kevin Sean Michaels. Isn't it amazing that nobody decided to make a documentary about Maila Nurmi (“Vampira”) before? Michael's documentary features some of the biggest names in horror today, and gets extensive and in-depth interviews with Nurmi herself. It's a fascinating person whose influence in horror and goth culture still resonates strongly, even if the reason for her impact had mainly been forgotten.

4 - SPIRAL - From Adam Green, who directed "Hatchet", which also released this year. Green is likely to heed fans of "Hatchet" that this is a very different kind of film, but don't take the directors cautious words as warning. "Spiral" is as disquieting and squirm inducing as they come. With "Spiral" Green shows that he can play quite well with another kind of monster: the very strange and dangerous Mason, painter, collector of rare jazz records, and possibly...something much worse.

Playing Mason, and also co-directing with Green is actor Joel David Moore (who also co-wrote the script with Jeremy Boreing). Moore is best known for his comedic roles in films like “Dodgeball” and “Grandma's Boy”, and his role in “Hatchet”, all of which are a far cry from the intense performance he gives here.


In “Spiral”, Mason is an obsessive who apparently is working though some very heavy depression, and seemingly working his way toward either a suicide or a bloodbath. His performance made me so uncomfortable it was almost hard to watch certain scenes in the film. Green and Moore's work in “Hatchet” was fun, but with “Spiral” they are taking a step in a different, challenging, and far more mature direction. That makes “Spiral” the real showcase from 2007 for both their growing talent.

5 - GRINDHOUSE - Not any particular film from “Grindhouse”, I enjoyed them both. I enjoyed “Death Proof” a little bit more, but I'm a huge fan of car chases done with real stunt people, and real cars that don't look like they're going to give you a seizure (I'm looking right at you, Mr. “Speed Racer” trailer). I liked the experience of “Grindhouse” more than anything. Saw it with a bunch of movie geeks in a full house, and between the trailers, and the goofy feel of the whole thing I couldn't have foreseen that the movie would be a huge box office flop. Damn it, and then when it performed poorly here in the US we went and ruined the entire experience for the rest of the world. Sorry, UK!

So...If you were thinking-- of picking--these two movies up--separately--on DVD. DON'T!

6 - THE MIST - One of my favorite Stephen King adaptations was a audio/radio-drama style version of “The Mist” that I used to borrow from my local library. It was taped using an advanced stereo process that really made you feel like you were in the middle of the supermarket when you listened to it with headphones. So, I was always kind of worried about the long awaited film adaptation of this one.

Stephen King stories are very hit-or-miss when it comes to cinematic adaptations. For every “Cujo” and “Stand By Me”, there's nearly a dozen like “Graveyard Shift”(Ok, ok, you know me too well. You're right, I do love “Graveyard Shift”, but it is a shitty movie). However, director Frank Darabont has a long relationship with King, and his versions of “The Green Mile” and “Shawshank Redemption” are outstanding. But, they're not horror movies, so the anxiety over how this would turn out remained. I was so pleased to see that “The Mist” is an excellent version of the story, and yet another great film from Darabont.


Yea, there are those who will complain about some CGI monsters (what are you doing to do, you're not going to get an entirely practical movie these days when it comes to monsters) but the heart of the movie isn't the creatures. This one is all about the people stuck in the supermarket whose capacity for rational thought is slowly deteriorating. I think what happens in “The Mist” is a not-so-subtle commentary on the state of religious fanaticism in our country, and I appreciate a movie that doesn't pull any punches when it comes to pointing the finger at the insanity of the modern American evangelical Christian movement.

“The Mist” is a “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” for 2007 America. You will also not see a more anti-Hollywood ending in any movie this year, either independently or studio produced. Want to know what it feels like when a movie drags you out of the bar and nails you one right in the face? Watch “The Mist”.


Robg.'s TOP 10 PICKS of 2007!
1 - THE SIGNAL - While THE SIGNAL technically didn't play theatrically in 2007 (it opens February 22nd of 2008), I was lucky enough to catch it for two advance screenings and it was easily the best, most unique and original genre film I'd seen all year. 3 filmmakers, each tackling 3 different segments from the movie, and each of them being completely different in style and execution. It sounds like it shouldn't work. But it does work, and it works beautifully, which is only a testament to the craft of all the people involved in this films' creation. Most people credit the tense first act as their favorite, but I personally loved the black humor of the second transmission (helmed by Jacob Gentry). Forget those ridiculous comparisions to Stephen King's THE CELL, this is far better. And AJ Bowen's portrayal of Lewis will be the most memorable psycho you see in any film of 2008. Mark my words!
2 - ZODIAC - I had such a tough time deciding weather to put this or THE SIGNAL in my number one slot, but I opted to give the indie flick the edge. ZODIAC was my favorite theatrical studio picture released in 2007 and in my opinion is up there as one of David Fincher's best films. (If not the best!) To tell a story this intricate and complicated with such graphic detail takes a master craftsman, and Fincher is obviously the type of filmmaker who can always pull that off. I found any scene where the Zodiac murders to be terribly upsetting to the point that they literally had me squirming in my seat. (Mainly because this was all based on fact!) Aside from the great storytelling and direction, you'll find no other movie from 2007 that boasts such an incredible cast from top to bottom, all of whom deliver some of their best work. Mark Ruffalo? Robert Downey Jr? Brian Cox? Hell, the interrogation scene with Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas and John Lynch is as good as it gets, acting-wise. Some people can't handle movies that exceed the 2 hour mark? Well, I was intrigued by this movie from start to finish, and still find new things on repeat viewings. (Oh, and I have watched it repeatedly.) Can't wait for the "Director's Cut" DVD!
3 - SPIRAL - Even tougher was deciding which of the two Adam Green flicks to put here first! I loved them both for different reasons, but SPIRAL is just a straight out great film and really showcases the talents of everyone involved. From Green as a director, to Joel Moore as an actor (and a writer/co-director), to the beautiful cinematography by Will Barratt. While HATCHET is an absolute blast of a movie, this is the film that will stay with you long after the credits are done. Definitely check this one out once it hits DVD in February of 2008!
4 - HATCHET - When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember FRIDAY THE 13th PART 7 coming out in theaters. I was so freakin' enthusiastic about it that by the opening night, I not only convinced 12 of my fellow students to join me for this event, but I convinced our guidance counselor to get us IN to the movie. (After all, we were underage.) I will never forget the thrill I got that night, watching a Jason movie with a packed audience and a bunch of fellow high school classmates whom I helped get excited for the movie in the first place. Thank you, Team Hatchet for giving me a chance to re-live the experience I had back then. Funny, gory, loaded with hot babes - HATCHET was the flick this year that reverted me back to a 15 year old and reminded me why I loved these movies in the first place.
5 - GRINDHOUSE - My number 5 choice is the entire GRINDHOUSE experience, which consisted of both movies and the trailers, which I saw on 42nd Street with a huge group of the ICONS crew. While I love them both, as separate movies, they're just OK. But nothing topped the thrill of the missing reels, the loud group laughs, the cheers of approval and the trailers for movies I wished actually existed like THANKSGIVING and DON'T. How the hell did people not get this?! (We witnessed people start to leave after Planet Terror not realizing there was a whole other movie coming.) I pray the US will get a DVD release eventually of the full GRINDHOUSE experience. My apologizes to the rest of the world that America fucked this up for you. Hey, I was at the theater to support!
6 - THE MIST - Honestly, this would've been my number one, or at least even higher on the list if it weren't for that God awful CGI attack 30 minutes into the movie. I seriously thought the CGI in THE MIST was almost unforgivable. But then, the 2nd half reminded me why Stephen King's stories are always so darned good and timeless. (Wasn't this pretty freakin' relevant?!) There's no scarier monster then a religious fanatic and the things she gets people to do in the Lord's name. Top it off with an ending that literally left me shaken and you've got one hell of a horror movie. Now, you can probably just see the ending and think "Ugh, ok." But the reason it's so effective is because of the 2 hours that lead up to it. And the fact that Thomas Jane sells the 2nd half of this movie like you wouldn't believe. Looking forward to the DVD, as I plan to skip that tentacle attack from future viewings which I'm sure will enhance the overall picture.
7 - HALLOWEEN: UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT - Oh boy, I'll probably hear it for this one. But I already explained why I enjoyed this movie in my extensive DVD review HERE. And let the record show that I'm picking the Director's Cut as one of my top movies. (Probably won't matter to some of you, but sue me. I liked it.) If I went to my DVD collection to put on a HALLOWEEN movie right now, I'd probably go for this one on instinct.
8 - DRIFTWOOD - I love writer/director Tim Sullivan and I think this film is such a step up for him. That's not to say I didn't LOVE 2001 MANIACS, I totally did, but I love this film because it's so different from his other work and shows that there's a lot more to him as a filmmaker then meets the eye. (Again, it applies to why I love both HATCHET and SPIRAL) This feels like such a personal film, and again focuses on the monsters that lie within human beings. If you haven't seen this yet, pick it up. I'm sure you'll relate to something that transpires during the course of this film. And if not, well then... at least you have a creepy looking ghost and Diamond Dallas Page.
9 - WRONG TURN 2 - I enjoyed the first WRONG TURN. I remember it coming out shortly after HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and wishing it was the movie Rob Zombie made. I didn't think much of a sequel when it was announced, but then I saw some clips and heard the director behind the movie talk about it's creation. What could have easily been a cash-in DVD sequel turned into the type of movie I'd rent at the local video store when I was younger. Inventive, over-the-top kills, a few sexy babes, and Henry Rollins kicking mutant ass! That all makes for a good time in my book. Here's another flick that instantly made me revert to the 12 year old who was desperate to discover this type of horror movie. And oddly enough, when I first watched it, it was with two 12 year olds (my friend's younger brother and his friend) and they loved it with an enthusiasm that reminded me of my younger self. Well done, Lynch. Well done.
10 - ALONE WITH HER - Don't judge this independent flick by that DVD cover. This is one of the most impressive film debuts I've seen this past year. Told completely from the perspective of surveillance cameras, this movie forces us to be the voyeur and stalk the vulnerable, sweet Amy. Colin Hanks delivers a creepy performance and this film's ending (and overall general atmosphere) stayed with me long after it was over. If you missed this one, check it out. It was definitely one of the best that I caught in 2007!

Best Television Series of 2007
DEXTER - This has become my all time favorite cable network show EVER. Michael C Hall plays Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter analyst for the Miami police department, who also happens to be a serial killer by night who hunts and kills other serial killers and (generally) bad people. Always in the gray area of morality, yet offering witty outlooks on people and Dexter's view on life, DEXTER is one of the most entertaining guilty pleasures on TV. And this year's Second Season was easily the best sophomore season for ANY show. God only knows how they're going to top it with Season Three in 2008, but I'll be there! Pick up the DVD and catch up with America's Favorite Serial Killer asap.

And now, Adam Barnick - I would have put my #1 or 2 as Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon- but I have been campaigning loudly for this brilliant film since Spring 2006!! I hope it continues to garner fans throughout ’08 and beyond. There’s a reason Icons of Fright has been talking it up nonstop for over a year!

Top 10 Favorite Horror for 2007- The Evil Barnick

10) 1408 - While a significant reworking of its source material, 1408 manages to feature a great performance from John Cusack and effective sound design, and manages to put you right in his falling-apart shoes. The subtle techniques Mikael Hofstrom and his crew use to disorient Cusack’s character does the same to the viewer…a nice change of pace from the recent trend of scare pictures relying on excess.

9) HOSTEL PART II - Who on earth thought it was a good idea to release this in THE biggest week of the Hollywood summer? Probably the same folk who thought Grindhouse and The Mist would benefit by a release timed to a family holiday. Unfortunately lost in the summer blockbuster shuffle, Eli Roth crafts a sequel that’s on par with the original while effectively fleshing out the world he began in part one.. I would have found the ending more shocking had every morning paper that week not spoiled the surprises, but it’s still a blast watching teen girls in the audience high-five each other and men double over in pain when the villain gets what’s coming to him… and we get a nice dose of Cabin Fever-esque black comedy right at the end to walk out with.

8) 28 WEEKS LATER - Speaking of decent sequels, 28 Weeks Later has its nightmarish heart in the right place, offering a scale the original could only afford to suggest while contributing several scenes as heart-stopping as part one. It starts grim and stays there, continuing and darkening the nihilistic streak that this series does so well. While the leads are effective, the influx of nameless soldiers who aren’t as fleshed out is unfortunate considering how heartbreaking it was to lose cast members in the original. Very few deaths move you in this one..And it relies on a few too many genre clichés and conveniences during its third act chase..still, if you want a freaky, shot on beautifully grainy 16mm ode to the end of the world, it’s a good bet.

7) GRINDHOUSE: PLANET TERROR/DEATH PROOF - This loving tribute to exploitation films of yore is unmatched..possibly my favorite theatrical cinema-going experience this year (3 times in theaters!)- though I hesitate to call them horror films outright. Still, they’re both bloody, sexy slices of geek Heaven. Shame on all of you who blew this and all the other worthwhile genre films off in ’07..

6) HATCHET/WRONG TURN 2 - I have both of these films paired for several reasons. They are the debut films of each director; loving tributes to 80’s mayhem, the kind that helped start Fangoria subscriptions and trips to the store to buy the Dick Smith makeup book; Each film relies on little to no CGI for its gruesomely funny gags..both have their entertainment value ratcheted way up and are perfect for midnight movie going, or to watch at home with rowdy friends..neither take themselves too seriously or claim to be the next Shining.. And both film’s directors are two of the most passionate, hardworking, giving and friendly filmmaker geeks I’ve met. Douchy auteurs and trash talkers, take note of Adam Green and Joe Lynch when you’re wondering how to conduct yourself and cultivate a following.

5) THE ORPHANAGE - While more of a bittersweet supernatural drama than a terrorfest, this film still had three of the biggest honest jump-scares I’ve ever experienced, as well as a lot of what’s sorely needed in this genre- emotion. Debut director and screenwriter J.A. Bayona and Sergio Sanchez craft a simple yet layered tale of a woman who can’t let go of her past nor her determination to discover the reasons for her son’s apparently supernatural disappearance. Presented by Guillermo Del Toro, it’s easy to see how he could get behind this exquisite story; the restraint in the filmmaking is admirable considering how young the first-time filmmakers are. There’s a reason it’s up for 14 Spanish Oscars… Go, and don’t be scared off by the subtitles!

4) THE ABANDONED - Little seen in theaters, Nacho Cerda’s debut feature is an unsettling, mature horror. A ghost story where two people (adults! In a horror film!)are haunted by their past and literally by themselves, Cerda kept me on edge from the start… very intelligent, layered, surreal. One of my faves and worth it if you have the patience for it. Watch it in a room wired for great sound.

3) THE MIST - Stephen King’s lauded short story turns into his best genre film adaptation; and actually has even more cojones than the original tale. Kudos to Frank Darabont for his incredible skill with actors, and making the catastrophe personal; rarely do I get to see an apocalyptic film that has me scared thinking of what would happen to my loved ones if this situation really occurred…and the film is even more riveting when the monsters are the ones trapped in the store BY the mist. The ending has haunted me since the day I saw it. I still can’t believe it’s in the film. Not that we’ll get anything this dark again for a while- Thanks a lot, horror fans, for not giving a shit about supporting this theatrically, and thanks Dimension for not giving a shit about its release(how else to explain this coming out a month after the best month to release it?)..

2) THE LAST WINTER - Larry Fessenden has always blended heartfelt social commentary and intelligence with genre trappings and makes his best film, finally getting the production value I’d hoped to see his stories receive. A requiem for Earth, and man as we bring about our own end, it’s an excellent balance between plot, scares, fleshed out characters(possibly Ron Perlman’s best non-makeup role), and the points it wants to make(never becoming preachy). Smart and touching, it stays with you- it isn’t structured or paced anything like an average studio horror picture and relies on subtlety…both are welcome techniques.

1) BUG - One of the most jaw-dropping depictions of madness and shared delusions I’ve ever seen, Friedkin returns to his horror roots in his adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play of the same name. The type of film that could have been up for Oscar buzz in a more risk-taking 70’s, or been banned entirely, Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon(a terrific find from the play) raise the bar for performances in a horror (yes, it’s horror) piece. If you like a genre tale with brains that’s surprising and gets ballsier by the minute, give it a whirl…this picture will rape your mind, while contributing very little onscreen violence. Maybe I’m sick, but I want to see it again sometime. I still feel dirty from the theatrical viewing.

Again, another effective bar-raising movie released at a terrible time of year…


Honorable mentions:

DRIFTWOOD - Apparently nothing is scarier to a modern (lazy and fearful) parent than your son being ‘different.’ No worries, you can ship him off to a virtual prison where he’ll be hurt and restrained until “morale improves!” I’m surprised the subject of these attitude correction centers and how wrong-minded they are hasn’t been tackled in a film before, and like Rod Serling, Tim Sullivan knows that a message, even a vital one, goes down smoother with a coat of genre paint on it. Inspired casting and smart scenes (“What color are my eyes, Dad?”) make it a welcome transition from the splatstick world of 2001 Maniacs. Nothing’s a worse prison than not being allowed to be who you know you are.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT - While I was less than crazy about the story tweaks nor a lot of the second act’s decisions, this film does make vampires scary again. Yikes! Relentlessly dark and brutal as well; I’m surprised some of the scenes made it intact. And it’s worth it to see Danny Huston’s turn as the monstrous lead beastie.

SAW IV - You either like them or you don’t. It’s fun seeing them wriggle their way out of the narrative puzzles they seem to plan several films in advance!

DEAD SILENCE - James Wan visually knocks it out of the park when it comes to old-school (as in 40’s-old) atmosphere with an absolutely scary ghost character, Mary Shaw. Only thing that held it back for me was a mild interest in the two leads…but Mr. Wan and Whannell managed to create a lurid, beautiful world that tips its hat to Mario Bava and every Universal Classic.

Must see for 2008 = THE SIGNAL - This film is a scruffy, exciting, sickly hilarious film and will need your support- trust me, you’ll be rewarded!


JSYN'S PICKS FOR 2007 - Hey Jerks, 2007 was certainly a polarized year for horror films. Sure, some of them were profitable but frankly most of 'em just weren't good. We had a few over hyped bombs, a couple of under hyped gems, and a certain reviled remake that made serious bank. Even films that I enjoyed at first viewing did not necessarily make the cut because upon repeated viewing, I felt that they just weren't strong enough to what I considered “best of the year” in comparison. I am not sure something referred to as a "good party flick" or something that "works great with an audience" or even a movie that had a successful box-office run and/or DVD sales should be considered for a list of great films of the year. There are plenty of revered horror films that are truly great films, whether they were genre films or not, which have stood the test of time and sometimes even considered failures, initially. I reject the notion that anything but the question “But, was it really a good film?” should factor into these year-end lists.

Horror fans, as we enter a new year, I propose this credo: We Deserve Better.

Say it loud and proud, because it’s true. I don’t think anyone wants to sift through another pile of horseshit just to find a few nuggets of goodness this time next year. These best-of-the-year lists should be long and we should be torn as to what film deserves the top spot because there should be so many to good ones to choose from! Where did all the real film makers go? Time to step up, fellas! And I’m sick of all these lame excuses… I just don’t want to hear ‘em anymore! It’s a sad fact that ninety percent of the time, we know something is going to be shit before we even see it, but most go anyway. Why? Are most horror fans morons? Those studios seem to think so because they have our money! Our wallets have the power to change the game. Stop supporting crap and they’ll be forced to stop making it. Got suckered by a “looks cool” red-band trailer to pay money to see AVP-R? Tell everyone you know exactly how you felt about it. Send out a MySpace bulletin. Better yet, write to Fox and tell them to enjoy their first-week earnings because the cat is out of the bag. The old “Bait and Switch” will not be tolerated any longer. If that’s their business model, well then they shouldn’t bitch about bit torrents and downloading and all that because it’s just as wrong as swindling the public. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but at least I’ll be able to spend my fifteen bucks on something worthwhile. Rant over, for now. I hope you all get my drift.

As to what I felt warranted TOP HORROR FILMS OF 2007, well let's see...

Please keep in mind these were the films that I saw this year. I know there were others that folks have been talking about but I just haven’t seen ‘em yet.

1) 30 DAYS OF NIGHT - I fucking loved this film. I loved it so much I saw it twice in the same day. It was damn near perfect. Ben Foster's performance quite simply blew me away. Even Josh Hartnett dug deep and showed real, human emotion and depth in a role that he could have easily phoned in. Those vampires were truly iconic, horrific creatures. The gorgeous cinematography of a bleak, lifeless landscape perfectly captured the beauty and isolation of Alaska. And I must say, though I am sure it's an unpopular opinion, I thought the film played out better than the graphic novel it was based on. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is an excellent example of a really great artist-owned property being adapted by a real film maker who understands and respects the material and genre. I feel that this film wasn't nearly as talked about or championed as it should have been, compared to much lesser quality hype-jobs doled out by ding dongs over the course of the year. I can only hope we get a fully-loaded DVD release to savor.

2) THE LAST WINTER - Coming in a very close second was indie maverick Larry Fessenden's THE LAST WINTER. This man has become one of my film making heroes. He does what the fuck he wants, they way he wants, and challenges his audience to experience film on a deeper level. THE LAST WINTER is like a cousin to a film like THE THING, very much like the way 30 DAYS OF NIGHT had a slight reverberation of Hitchcock. Isolation, greed, madness, disconnection with nature and the scary fact that we’re all simply guests on this planet who have overstayed their welcome made THE LAST WINTER absolutely compelling. That’s the kind of thing I find really terrifying… the fear of inevitability. There is a line in the film about how people are essentially “grave robbers” that made my hair stand on end and gave me the chills. I didn’t realize just how hungry I was for a film like this until I left the theater. Absolutely recommended!

3) THE ORPHANAGE - Even though this one came out at the ass-end of the year, my God is it GREAT! It’s beautiful, tender, scary and atmospheric all at once. THE ORPHANAGE is a perfect example of high quality genre film making across the board. Everything from script to performances to sound and production design and cinematography was graced with such care and attention it absolutely shined onscreen. No one should be surprised at any of this with Guillermo Del Toro’s name above the title (as a presenter/producer). Did I mention it’s a Spanish-language film with subtitles? I shouldn’t have to because we grownups can read.

4) GRINDHOUSE - What a fucking great idea that was screwed by lame promotion. Ok, promo dept. at Weinstein or Dimension Films or whoever the fucks job it was: It’s clear you didn't do your job correctly when HALF of the fucking theater gets up after the first movie. Not that they didn't like it, not that they wouldn't sit through another movie, but because they thought the whole film was OVER. Way to have your finger on the pulse of the movie going public, ya jerks. It may not be Tarantino's or Rodriguez's best films, but the good clearly outweighed the not-so-good. These flicks are like Manwiches and those trailers were a side of disco fries. Tasty, messy mouthfuls of ground beef with just the right seasoning, served up on a sesame seed bun, deep fried wedges of potato dripping with cheese and bacon. Dee-licious!

I’ve already spun the DVD’s quite a few times, and I’m reeeally looking forward to those Region 2 and inevitable triple-dip editions. As far as the homage thing goes, there’s the "homage" that means "blatant rip-off" and there's the "homage" that means “they got it right". For the most part, GRINDHOUSE is a proper homage of the second variety and I am glad I caught it in a packed (in the beginning anyway) theater. On opening night. With a bunch of friends. On 42 nd Street fuckers!

5) 28 WEEKS LATER - Great movie. Better than the original. Yes, it really was. Every time I watch 28 DAYS LATER, it always loses me as soon as those military jerks show up. Danny Boyle is a fine director and the first film was definitely a brick in the foundation of modern genre film making. But for 28 WEEKS LATER, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and company took the established formula, upped the ante and really knocked it out of the park. The sheer physical and emotional brutality of Robert Carlyle’s infected character literally tearing apart his wife was like a punch to the gut. Also, I loved the uneasy rebuilding process amidst the completely fucked decimation of most of London. Excellent film, great film making, and quite frankly (humbly recanting a statement I made about another horror sequel earlier this year) one of the best horror sequels ever.

6) THE MIST - Again, another great one nobody went to see. Seriously people, what the fuck? What makes THE MIST even more important this year is the against-the-grain way Frank Darabont got the film made the way he wanted, with the cast and crew he wanted, and absolutely demanded (and received) an R rating. That ending was like a fist up the ass in all the wrong and right ways. Brutal! Someone get Thom Jane a hug!

7) ZODIAC - Top of the line horror-thriller, right up there with SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. What makes it even scarier is that this shit was real! Do I really need to praise director David Fincher and the entire cast again? Yes I do. Straight A’s for everyone. Bravo all!

8) SUNSHINE - Thanks Danny Boyle, for making the Sun absolutely terrifying. Truly great Sci-Fi horror here. That EVENT HORIZON Special Edition may be pretty good, but SUNSHINE hits a certain nerve in a way I can’t quite articulate. The whole thought process of the film stuck in my craw for a while, and to me, that’s a tell-tale sign of something worthwhile. Catch it on DVD people, and see for yourself.

9) BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON - This one was given probably the worst theatrical release in recent history and it's a damn shame. What really stood out for BEHIND THE MASK was a razor-sharp script and excellent performances from their mostly unknown cast, especially Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon. It was funny in a smart way, scary when it needed to be, clever in a way that didn't rely upon clichéd bullshit and entertaining in a way that you really don't see much of in genre films today. The faux-documentary style worked well and I really liked the way the film morphed into a “real” slasher film for the third act. Clever is the word for this one. The one thing that works against this movie is honestly, there are only so many times you can watch it before the magic fades. I watched it three times on DVD and I think it was one time too many. That being said, it really made an impression on me the first time I saw it, and there is some great material there, it’s just not something I would view repeatedly. Regardless, it deserved more attention from genre fans.


THE 5/5 OH SO VERY BEST AND MOTHERFUNKING WORST MOVIES OF 2007 …as selected by Daniel ‘Danny’ Price

THE HITS…

5. HOSTEL: PART II - Hostel: Part II is the very definition of a love it or hate it movie, it’s damn near impossible to find someone who thinks it’s so-so. After all the bad responses I had been hearing about it I wasn’t expecting very much but was pleasantly surprised with what I got, a dark humored, extremely cringe worthy and strangely beautiful piece of work.

For what it is, Hostel: Part II was a finely crafted movie which managed to kick my ass and make me simultaneously laugh and cringe along the way.

4. 28 WEEKS LATER - It’s not often that I’m wrong but 28 Weeks Later is one of the few exceptions to this proud tradition of mine.

28 Days was and still is one of my favorite movies in recent years so I was glad that 28 Weeks could live up to it, I might even go so far as to say it surpassed the first, not just in action and the liberal use of the red stuff but in tension and the feeling of apocalyptism (look I just made up a new word).

The only question that remains is whether or not there’ll be a 28 Months Later.

3. 1408 - Though not the most fear instilling haunted house/ghost movie of all time, 1408 has a special claustrophobic quality to it that left me feeling unsure about myself and my surroundings after I left the cinema.

Based on a Stephan King (one of my favorite writers) short story, 1408 is a highly detailed and pretty damn creepy movie which lives up too and quite possibly surpasses the original short story, which needless to say is not a commonality in Stephan King adaptations.

2. EL FAUNO DEL LABYRINTHO (aka PAN’S LABYRINTH) - “Wow” , that was all I could say after watching Guillermo Del Toro’s unique and undeniably brilliant take on the world of fantasy and fairy tales.

I can’t explain it, I saw the DVD for Pan’s Labyrinth at my local K-Mart without even the slightest inkling about what it was about but for some reason I knew that I had to see it. And thank God I did, Del Toro has crafted an astonishingly beautiful and genuinely emotional twisted fairy tale about a little girl and her imagination in a warring Spain.

The best, and ONLY, real way to describe this movie is that it is indeed an adult fairy tale.

1. DEATH PROOF - It was a long assed wait, but worth every second as I finally got a taste of the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature, sure it was only one half but what a half it was. Tarantino’s vision of a slasher movie on wheels was one hell of a ride (no pun intended), despite the long action low during the middle part of the movie, which I actually liked. The movie has some of, if not, the best, car chase action scenes ever captured on film. I don’t give a damn what people say about Death Proof it’s sheer, unadulterated badass in the form of high octane, balls to the wall kick ass chick flick.

Bring on Planet Terror.


…AND THE MISSES

5. SAW IV - Saw IV didn’t make it to this list because it was a bad movie per say (that’s not to say it’s a good one either), the reason it found it’s way to my No.5 Worst was because it was such a fucking let down.

I am a massive fan of the Saw franchise and after Saw III I was one of the many hungry fan boys salivating over what could be, the problem is that Saw IV just didn’t live up to the hype, that and the fact that all the promises that Darren Lynn Bousman gave he never came through with, stir in a stale plot plus a reused, predictable and unbelievably lame twist and what you get is SAW IV, aka My No.5 Worst movie.

4. HALLOWEEN (2007) - Oh boy, it’s no surprise that Halloween made it to my list, remakes in themselves rarely work, let alone one of a worshipped and revered classic such as Halloween.

With a combination of shody acting, terrible characters, laughable dialogue and the worlds worst inclusion of various sound (I mean seriously, Love Hurts shouldn’t come anywhere near a Halloween movie), Rob Zombie’s so called ‘re-envisioning’ of said horror classic falls far short of it’s promises and leaves us with one more failed horror remake to add to the ever growing list.

3. I KNOW WHO KILLED ME - I’m reaching the end of my Worst list and things are getting shittier and shittier, I Know who Killed Me is one of those movies which left me wondering if maybe I had gone too far in my attempt to find the shittiest movie ever made.

In addition to a I Know What You Did Last Summer title rip off, I Know Who Killed Me has an absurd plot which attempts to force feed us false logic, a killer whose weapons array reflect his unmentioned love for online RPG’s and a coked up scream queen wannabe tramp (Lindsay, just because you’ve worked with Jamie-Lee Curtis it doesn’t make you her!).

2. CAPTIVITY - Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the death knell of the ‘torture porn’ horror subgenre. I personally thought that the dubbing of movies as ‘torture porn’ was this generations Video Nasties.

Captivity is just plain stupid, its attempt to cash in on the gross out factor that has been slapped on recent ultra-violent movies like Hostel and Saw, is almost embarrassing to the point of disbelief, I mean seriously guys, a body part smoothie?

1. THE HITCHER - Just when movies couldn’t get any worse, there comes The Hitcher. Well will you look at that, not one but two horror remakes have made their way to my top worst movie list, never saw that coming *end sarcasm*.

The Hitcher substitutes genuine terror with an endless stream of jump scares, stupid situations and a badly placed song, I can’t help but wonder if Platinum Dunes is intentionally trying to fuck with each and ever good horror movie ever made because that’s the way it seems from this side of the fence.


Beth's TOP 10 PICKS of 2007
10. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DORKS - This movie is the German, Zombie version of American Pie. I can finally like a movie about teenagers and sex without feeling guilty...because they're flesh eating zombies! Even though the story line was totally cliche', this movie has an originality for being a horror comedy that appeals to the teenage dork in all of us. And now they're re-making an American version! But do yourself a favor and see the original first.
9. FIDO - I love this film for how original it is! Matter of fact, at first I wasn't even going to put it on my list but I think more people need to see this movie so, I'm unleashing it on all of you as my # 9! The 1950's style of it is so silly. The thought of owning a poodle skirt AND a zombie just...makes me smile. And when problems arise that involve a young boy, a pet zombie named Fido and a national security company well, lets just say it won't be easy keeping the peace in this perfect little town!
8. VACANCY - What happens to the two people in this movie would never happen to me...know why? Because after seeing this film, I'M NEVER STAYING IN A MOTEL EVER AGAIN! I loved how it wasn't over done and it was believable! I was actually saying to myself "Man, what would you do if you were in this situation?" Stranded in a tiny mountain town with not a single human being around except for snuff hustling psycho's, hellbent on killing me on film. I know it was really mainstream but I enjoyed it!
7. PERFUME - Ugh, man, SEXY!...not a normal reaction humans should have from watching a movie about a serial killer but...I can't help myself! Based off of a book written by Patrick Suskind, Perfume totally intrigued me with it's allure and indulgence for something that seems so innocent. The sense of smell. Although it seems unbelievable, I have actually read books about people with crazy neurological disorders like this, some effecting ones sense of smell, enhancing it. The main character in this film becomes obsessed with the scent of his victims and captures them, turning them into...Perfume.
6. SAW IV - I was surprised that I liked this film, actually I loved it! Not being a huge fan of the first three I figured "Why even give 4 a chance? After all, with as fast as they kick these out you wonder, "how good can this really be?" AWESOME! Wow, I mean the story came together perfectly, the autopsy scene in the beginning was some of the best special effects I've ever seen, matter of fact I think perhaps they really did cut someone up for that! It was more focused on what was going on with the characters rather than just straight crazy death traps people were trying to get out of...Not only did jigsaw leave a legacy behind, he mastered continuing it even after death! This one was by far my favorite of the four.
5. THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 - Sometimes, all you want out of a movie is senseless killing! Well, in this sequel...that's exactly what you get. Perhaps my favorite part about it was that it didn't have much of a story line...it was just one disgusting scene after another...and for those of you that have seen it, you know what I mean. Porter Potty, that's all I gotta say. Once again this was a sequel to a movie that I didn't like but I'm beginning to think that a lot more horror today is just getting better with it's sequels instead of worse. In any-case...you put deformed, homicidal, humans in a film, I'll be there with bells on!
4. 28 WEEKS LATER - After the whole opening sequence in this film...which lasted about ten minutes...my jaw was on the theater floor! "Holy Shit" was about the only thing I could say after seeing how easily everything can fall apart even when you attempt to take every precaution. There's just no escaping the infected! However, after watching it a second and third time it's shock value dropped and I found a few mistakes which is what pushed this movie back to the #4 spot for me.
3. 300 - Normally I'd think that this much CG in a movie would be tacky and unrealistic, but this film used it perfectly. Beautiful cinematography, colorful deaths and the kind of inspiration I wish was actually present in modern day leadership. This movie was everything Lord of the Rings couldn't be because in Sparta, a magic ring wouldn't do shit to protect you against these guys. A brilliant war film that included one of the best be-headings I've ever seen!
2. WRONG TURN 2 - YES! How can you not love a film that embraces gore like this movie does!! Not only did Joe Lynch bring back the inbreeding hill dwellers, but he amped up the gore, split an idol in two (which, by the way, was done so well it made me love the film immediately)  and he got Henry Rollins to run around as a crazy ass marine! I had non-stop fun with this film, making it, in my opinion, better than it's predecessor. Everyone should see this movie, whether or not you liked the first one if you like gore you'll like this movie!
1. SEVERANCE - I have watched this film about 15 times now, and it never gets old. The completely original storyline compiles just the right amount of humor and violence. Stranded in the mountains of eastern Europe, a group of co-workers struggle to put up with poor conditions, the company of each-other, and now, specially trained war criminals. My favorite parts include a bad trip on mushrooms, a bear trap, a meat pie and a silent movie scene! The UK has produced another funny horror flick that I'm proud to say is MY #1 pick this year!


Read 2006's TOP PICKS:

- by Robg., Mike C., Jsyn


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