Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Horror Films of the Last 20 Years Have Been Pretty Ho-Hum..

...if you agree with EW's 20 Top Horror Films of the Past 20 Years.

As if you cared in the least, here's my take on EW's list from start to finish.

20. Dead Alive. Never saw it.

19. Darkman. As much as Liam Neeson is the man, I have to say, this is a so-so revenge flick that has faded into utter obscurity. A decent movie, worth a watch, but it won't stay with you and you won't feel the need to see it again when you're done.

18. Event Horizon. Okay, this film is admittedly one of those "love it or hate it" flicks. I happen to love it. It did poorly at the box office, and the critics bashed it upon its release, but it has since grown a cult following. Now, we all know that cults are bad, but when it comes to movies, sometimes they're right. Don't believe me? If it weren't for cults, chances are you would have never heard of The Big Lebowski or Office Space, two incredible movies.

17. The Kingdom. Never saw it.

16. The Descent. This is an excellent, excellent, excellent movie. Neil Marshall, who also directed the great horror flick Dog Soldiers (which should be on this list too), wrote and directed this movie about a team of female spelunkers exploring caves in the Appalachians. Yes, it's a very scary movie, but it's so much more than that, as (oh my god) there is character development and a very interesting exploration of insanity. Make sure to check out the UK ending and compare it to the US ending. See which you like better.

15. Shaun of the Dead. Thank God for this movie, which brought some respectability back to the zombie genre (as did the remake of Dawn of the Dead). This one is both a spoof and an homage to the zombie movie, and it's also a clever rom-com, so it has something for everybody. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright teamed up again to make Hot Fuzz, the same concept applied to action movies, and it worked beautifully. I hear they're going to make a third movie in the sci-fi genre, to complete what could be one of the best trilogies ever made.

14. Hostel 2. Didn't see it. Hostel was basically just torture porn, and I heard this was more of the same.

13. Misery. Good flick.

12. From Hell. Didn't see it.

11. Planet Terror. To say this was the better film of the Grindhouse experience really isn't saying much. There were a couple of laughs, one or two okay scares, but overall, this one was disappointing.

10. Ringu. I only saw the American remake - which I loved - of this flick starring Naomi Watts, so I can only assume its source material was just as good and probably better.

9. Alien 3. Okay. It pains me to say this, because David Fincher is one of my favorite directors working today (Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club, Benjamin Button), but Alien 3 was a huge letdown after the terrifying brilliance of Alien and the sheer visceral awesomeness that was Aliens. Alien 3 was basically a rehash of the first movie, and way, way, WAY too dark. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil you with the particulars, but I will metaphorize the first ten minutes of the movie - Imagine you've just been through another chemotherapy treatment. On your way to your car, leaving the hospital, you trip on a crack in the sidewalk, breaking your leg. As you look up, you see a random stranger hovering over you. You think this stranger is going to help you up, but no, HE'S JUST THERE TO KICK YOU IN THE NARDS and steal your money. Yes, my friends, that is what the first ten minutes of Alien 3 feel like. The universe is a terrible, terrible place that will kick you every way it can while you're down. (In all fairness to Fincher, I've heard there was a lot of studio interference, so I don't know who's to blame.)

8. Drag Me To Hell. I've heard good things but haven't seen it.

7. The Sixth Sense. Great movie with great acting and a great twist. It's a shame Shyamalan hasn't gotten better than this, but that's like complaining that Orson Welles's first movie was Citizen Kane. Cinema is better with these movies than without them.

6. What Lies Beneath. Ehhhh. An okay movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis of Back to the Future fame.

5. 28 Weeks Later. Really? This movie made the list, but 28 Days Later, which is vastly superior in just about every way, didn't? There were some major internal logic problems with this film that I couldn't get over, the biggest one being that the zombies were suddenly both intelligent and could hold grudges against certain individuals. No such thing existed in the universe of 28 Days Later.

4. Scream. Okay, this is another great movie. It works on so many different levels: as meta horror, as horror, as comedy, and as a mystery. Very clever, very funny, and very scary.

3. The Blair Witch Project. I fell prey to this movie's clever viral marketing strategy and went in thinking it had been edited from real footage. Yes, I was actually that stupid, but it worked.

2. The Silence of the Lambs. A dark horse that won big at the Oscars. Good flick, but having seen it a couple of times, I don't think I'll ever need to see it again.

1. Audition. Haven't seen it.

So there you have it. Aside from The Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense, none of these movies were nominated by the Academy in any major categories. Now, the Academy doesn't always get it right, and usually doesn't (Gran Torino, anyone?), but the lack of nominations is pretty telling.

Oh, and time for a shameless plug. My better half wrote a post about how Bill & Ted should have visited libraries on their excellent adventure.

Come back in a few days for my Top 5 Sodas of All Time List. You think I'm kidding...


adrian mckinty said...

When you mean The Kingdom are you talking about the Danish mini-series set in the hospital?

Because thats good. Very good.

Alien 3 was an enormous disappointment. They kill Newt and Hicks before the opening titles? Come on!!!!!

Brian O'Rourke said...


Yeah, I was being lazy and providing no description whatsoever. The Kingdom on this list is in fact the Danish mini-series. I'll have to check it out. You and I seem to have similar tastes in movies, excluding The Dark Knight of course.

Don't get me started on killing off Newt and Hicks before the opening titles of Alien 3. Bad move on their part. It A) renders the journey taken by the characters in Aliens pointless and B) leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth for the entire third film. The universe isn't THAT awful a place.

For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, check out this review in The Guardian.

Jenna said...

OK, thanks for the Alien 3 spoilers! I kid, as I had already decided not to see it based on reputation alone.

I did like The Descent, but it was rather disturbing. Just thought I should put that warning out there for anyone considering checking it out, who might be faint of heart.

Lisa Lane said...

What a weak list!!! Alien 3, but not Alien? What about The Shining, the Exorcist, Poltergeist, and Pumkinhead?! Hell....

Brian O'Rourke said...


I think this list only went back to '89, which would explain those exclusions. But still, yes, it was disappointing.

Speaking of horror, I'm tempted to go see Pandorum when it comes out.

Brian O'Rourke said...


Good warning re: The Descent. But I swear I already spoiled Alien 3 for you before...