Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Lucky 13 – The Best of 2010

Posted: January 3, 2011 by StayFrosty in Editorial, Film, Lists

Hello again, readers!¬†It’s the beginning of the New Year and many of us take this time to reflect on the past year. For us, that doesn’t mean resolutions. It means taking a look at the horror films of 2010. Having a Top Ten is so boring. Here at FGSG, we decided to highlight The Lucky 13. Our thirteen favorite horror films of the year!

Here’s an explanation of what films qualified for our Lucky 13:¬†Our selection is limited to the films we were able to gain access to in our area. This includes 2010 release dates in the United States for foreign films and straight-to-video fare created/released in previous years and unreleased festival films we had a the good fortune to see. This also means films we KNOW belong on this list are absent due to limited availability. (Buried, I’m looking at you.) We also needed to stay within the horror genre. (Inception doesn’t count!) Maybe a few films on our list are on the fence, but we think they have enough of a foot in the genre to qualify.

Enough disclaimers. Here’s our list, in alphabetical order, including notes on personal favorites and comments from our crew. You may not agree with our choices. We didn’t always agree with each other during the voting. However, we think horror fans looking for new films will find some valuable recommendations here.

The Lucky 13:

1. AntiChrist

Available in the States in March via Netflix Watch Instantly. Released on DVD and Blu-Ray in November.

Crowbait: Marvelous atmosphere and gut wrenching genital violence. What more could you want from an art/horror film?

Jenny Dreadful: It’s difficult for me to pick a best horror film of the year, but this film is in my top 3. I already wrote a bit about my feelings for this film when it was released to DVD, but I think it’s a genuinely horrific and beautiful film. I can’t really say I’m confident in recommending AntiChrist to ANYONE. A viewer should expect unflinching shots of violence and sex, nightmare imagery of wounded animals, exploration of misogyny and Art-house sensibilities. It’s not for everyone. If you’re the rare sort looking for a film that’s going to give you an experience… that will disturb you… this could be the one.

StayFrosty:¬† This film is tough to define, and even tougher to recommend.¬† But the visuals are truly beautiful, and the film is definitely thought-provoking.¬† If you think you can handle the difficult subject matter JennyDreadful listed above, it’s well worth your time.¬† Just be ready to be a little uncomfortable.

AntiChrist on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

2. Black Swan

December theater release. Read our review here.

StayFrosty: I already wrote an entire review about this one, so I’ll keep it brief here. ¬†A mesmerizing downward spiral of sexual repression, art and insanity.¬†Beautiful and near perfect. This one is not to be missed.¬† My top of the year.

Crowbait: This was a good year for horror films with an artistic bent.¬†The attention to detail and refusal to balk at any subject is what I value in Aronofsky’s work. Discomforting dysfunction, brutal self harm and explicit sex are in,¬† but always in perfect service to the story and never for crass shock value.

Jenny Dreadful: Like AntiChrist, Black Swan is a contender for my best film of the year. We said it all already. Tense. Incredible.

Black Swan on IMDB, Netflix and Wikipedia

3. Don’t Look Back

November DVD release in the States.

StayFrosty: I only saw this one a few days ago, but I was impressed by the surreal, disturbing quality of it. ¬†Marina de Van (director of the body horror flick “In My Skin”) directs Monica Belluci and Sophie Marceau to two excellent performances of a character who is never exactly what she seems in a constantly shifting reality. ¬†This is one you have to keep your eyes on at all times, because the screen is never still.

Cowbait: Seriously, don’t ever think you can look away from the screen because you’ll miss something.

Jenny Dreadful: This French production is one of the last horror films I had a chance to see in 2010 and I was very impressed. Because it was so recently experienced and the memory was so fresh in comparison to our other films, I was a bit hesitant to include it in our list. It stays with you though. The changes to environment and body are unsettling. Yes. Don’t blink.

Don’t Look Back on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

4.  Frozen

February theater release. DVD and Blu-Ray release in September.

Crowbait: This is always going to be one of those films that has people questioning: How would I react in this situation? Are wolves really that dangerous? It’s this realism, this ability of the audience to insert themselves that makes it horrifying.

Jenny Dreadful: Essentially Open Water on a ski lift. Characters accidentally abandoned and left to die struggling to survive. Although some viewers struggle with the plausibility of the film’s situations (I still like the wolves. I’m not sorry), I was thoroughly engaged by the story and the increasingly desperate predicaments faced by the protagonists. Early in the year, it was a pleasant reminder that original American horror isn’t dead.

StayFrosty:¬† An original take on a classic premise.¬† Well done all around, especially for a director more well known for 80s throwback horror (Adam Green of “Hatchet” and “Hatchet 2”).¬† He clearly has it in him to make unsettling and atmospheric horror, and I hope he continues to explore this side of his directing.

Frozen on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

5.  Hausu

Despite being a film made in the 70’s, “Hausu” was largely unknown to the States until a film festival run throughout 2010 and the DVD/Blu-Ray release in October.

Crowbait: What? The? Hell? Even if you hate this film, you owe it to yourself to see it. I guarantee you’ll walk away with at least one scene that was the funniest, most unexpected, or most unsettling thing you’ve seen in a long time.

Jenny Dreadful: Hilarious Japanese film from the 70’s. ¬†I’ve heard it described as Scooby Doo meets Dario Argento or Mario Bava. That’s disturbingly accurate. See it.

StayFrosty:¬† It’s what going mad must feel like, only in celluloid form.¬† See it – as Crowbait said, you might hate it, but there really is nothing else like it.

Hausu on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

6.¬† Lake Mungo –

January theater release and March DVD release via After Dark Horrorfest. (aka 8 Films to Die For)

StayFrosty: It’s never what you expect it to be, and that alone earns it a place on this list. High on atmosphere and building fear rather than jump scares.¬† One scene won’t leave your mind for a while after – or at least, it sure as hell stayed with me.

Crowbait: Too easily overlooked. This is a film that works with dread rather than scares and I always respect a film that can make subtlety pay off.

Jenny Dreadful: My third contender for best horror film of the year. An amazing faux-documentary ghost story from Australia with twists and turns that surprise, sadden and unsettle the viewer. The only film in 2010 that came back to haunt me at night.

Lake Mungo on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

7.  Last Circus (aka Sad Trumpet Ballad, Balada triste de trompeta)

Unreleased in the United States. Seen via the Philadelphia Film Fest in October.

StayFrosty: This is one film where I can truly say I had no idea where it was going from one minute to the next, but while this would make most films seem disjointed, director Alex de la Iglesia keeps the flow smooth and somehow makes all the madness into one cohesive (though very odd) story.  I feel I can safely say that you will not see another film like this pretty much ever.  Keep your fingers crossed for an American release.

Crowbait: Is it really a horror story? It’s just as much a history, a drama and a superhero’s tale but I¬†guess self-mutilation pushes it into the horror category.

Jenny Dreadful: Crowbait is right that this film rides the fence of the horror genre, but I think the film was dark enough and horrific often enough to be included here. There is at least one scene guaranteed to make you squirm as a relatively innocent character painfully transforms his body to reflect a new darker persona. Beautifully designed, smart, brutal and funny. It defies expectation. Did I mention there are clowns with machetes and machine guns?

The Last Circus on IMDB, Netflix and Wikipedia

8.  Last Exorcism

August theater release.¬†Read our somewhat conflicting reviews here and here. (Although I’d say we agree 100% months later)¬†The Last Exorcism is available on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow.

Crowbait: This one had to be here because of the fabulous beginning and Patrick Fabian deserves acclaim for his work. If only they didn’t stumble at the finish line.

Jenny Dreadful: This is a very good film with some fatal flaws. Strong performances and creepy mood are done injustice by inconsistent choices in presentation and a weak ending. What a great film this could have been!

StayFrosty: We’re all in agreement about the end of this film – if it had been handled with more finesse (or any finesse at all), it would have been a home run.¬† However, even with a troubled ending, Patrick Fabian and some intense disturbing imagery keep this one on our list.¬† Exorcism films are rare (and great ones are even more rare), and this is a very interesting take on the subgenre.

The Last Exorcism on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

9.  Let Me In

October theater release. Read our review here. Coming to DVD and Blu-Ray February 1st.

Crowbait: Great remake of a better film. Chloe Moretz is great. The jerk who stole her iPad should be beaten.

Jenny Dreadful: Our review is very thorough and there isn’t much to add. Let Me In is clearly one of the best ¬†films of the year. So, why am I not very excited about it? I’ve seen this film already. It’s haunting and well-crafted, but I’d like to see this team’s level of excellence applied to an original concept.

StayFrosty:¬† Like they said, I would have loved this film SO MUCH if I hadn’t already seen a better version.¬† Give this director and team some original material!

Let Me In on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

10.  Monsters

September On Demand release and October limited release in theaters. Coming to DVD and Blu-Ray February 1st.

Crowbait: It really isn’t what you’ve been told. This is the anti-Godzilla in which the monsters aren’t a metaphor for some human force but rather, they are a part of nature like any flower, elephant or hurricane.

Jenny Dreadful: An art-house relationship drama taking place within the setting of an extraterrestrial invasion. Don’t go in looking for a sci-fi action movie with rampaging monsters. It’s a slower, thoughtful and surprisingly realistic portrayal of a post-invasion landscape. It’s also worth noting that we found ourselves rewinding this one to review previous scenes more closely. Can’t say that very often.

StayFrosty: The title is almost misleading – there are monsters in this film, but it’s not what you think.¬† It’s probably not even the second thing that you think.¬† But if you can get over your expectations and just go with it, this movie will not disappoint.

Monsters on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

11.  Mutants

Available in the States on DVD in October.

Crowbait: The first half of this film had me really impressed. The character relationships were already in full swing and the story wasn’t bogged down in unnecessary background. There are zombies. Run from them. Though it becomes a more typical zombie story as it goes on, with the group of self serving survivors and the struggle to hide an infected loved one, it’s still a quality typical zombie movie.

StayFrosty: While the concepts aren’t anything new, it does bring an intimacy that isn’t often found in the zombie film.

Mutants on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

12.  Shutter Island

February theater release. June DVD and Blu-Ray release.

StayFrosty: Who would have ever thought that Martin Scorcese would decide to do a horror film? ¬†And for those of you who are going to say ‘no no, this is a deep mental drama’, I say take another look at the imagery. ¬†There sure is mental drama, but when all is said and done, it’s horror all the way, suckers! ¬†It’s not Scorcese’s best film, but Scorcese’s second best is way better than the top work of most directors.

Jenny Dreadful: Even if you know where the film is going, the journey there is a beautifully executed nightmare. And there is enough subtlety in the story-telling to lead to a valuable second watch.

Shutter Island on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

13.  Splice

June theater release. October DVD and Blu-Ray release.

Crowbait: Genetic engineering leads to one of the great sources of horror films: Mother issues. The monsters created by bad parenting and the monsters they create.

StayFrosty:¬† Let’s skip for the moment the acting, imagery, sets and effects (all of which are excellent) and take a minute to think on this concept – parenting is its own special brand of horror.¬† “Splice” takes the trope of¬† science gone wrong and turns it on its head.¬† Instead of uncaring scientists cruelly inflicting their creation on the world, we have young people who try to be a parent to their creation, and who fail spectacularly.¬† This film addresses fear on several levels:¬† the fear of being a parent – the characters in this film make wrong choices, but what parents don’t? – as well as the fear of how parental choices, bad or good, can affect offspring.¬† Of course, when your offspring is a fast growing monster lady made in a lab with wings and killer instincts (to say more would involve spoilers), this can change the scale of things a bit.¬† It’s really a fascinating study, one I am looking forward to watching again.¬† Also, great casting choices.

Splice on IMDB, Netflix, Amazon and Wikipedia

Honorable Mentions:

Pontypool (CB: Cool concept, fabulous lead, doesn’t live up to its potential.) (SF: I loved this and really wanted it on the top list, but in light of the other films I had to let it go.¬† Unique concept, amazing lead performance) (JD: Loved the beginning and the unique “audio apocalypse” angle. Wanted to love the whole film, but thought it fell apart in the last act.)

Devil (CB: Better than I expected. A¬†closed room whodunit takes a supernatural twist.) (SF: Lately I shudder when Shyamalan’s name comes up on a film, but he didn’t direct this one, and the absence of his heavy hand helps this film.¬† A lean, fun ride through devil country.¬† Or devil elevator.¬† You know what I mean.) (JD: A solid 80 minute thrill ride with a brisk pace that keeps you guessing and doesn’t disappoint.)

[REC] 2 (CB: The original was too good for this sequel.) (SF: Agreed.¬† It’s good but doesn’t have the same punch as the original.) (JD: Considering the fact that most sequels are terrible, this is a pretty good second entry in the series. I have my complaints, but the tonal shift toward the established religious elements makes for some chaotic action and creepy scares.)

Piranha 3D (CB: Blood. Guts. Titties. Is this really the same director who wowed me with High Tension? Maybe he killed him and is wearing his skin.) (SF:¬† Superb gore.¬† The rest is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a remake based off of an admitted ripoff of “Jaws”.) (JD: Masterpiece of gore with a good sense of humor. Doesn’t really acknowledge the presence of a female audience and that’s irksome, but the gore is superb.)

 

In the end, this was a great year for horror. ¬†It’s not often that so many excellent genre films are released in the same year, and even less often that one of them will likely be a strong contender for Best Picture at the Oscars. ¬†We will be making a post of our own awards for this year very soon (like the Oscars. ¬†But way cooler). ¬†Happy New Year, and we look forward to what carnage 2011 holds in store for all of us!

Aliens: The Gateway Drug

Posted: September 13, 2010 by crowbait in Editorial

While we were at the Monster-Mania convention in Cherry Hill New Jersey, waiting for John Carpenter to step up to the podium and be awesome, the movie buff friend next to me asked how I came to enjoy horror films. I had to think about it, and then blurted out something about liking goth films like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, so it seemed logical for me to progress into darker and spookier stuff as I got old enough to enter an R-rated theater.¬†Later, after the terrific Mr. Carpenter had left the stage, I gave the question some more thought and realized that it wasn’t Tim Burton who lead me to genre films. It was James Cameron, by way of George Lucas.

We’re all big fans of Aliens around here. It’s one of those films that seemed to hit every mark it aimed for and despite numerous pretenders, most of which were made for the SyFy channel, it has never been unseated from the throne of best military sci-fi action flick. And this film was the bridge for me between sci-fi and horror.

Star Wars is the first film I remember seeing in the theater. I was floored by Darth Vader and all the robots and psychic powers and so on. I bought the toys, I insisted my friends shoot each other with fake laser guns, after Return I draped a blanket over my shoulders and pretended it was my Jedi robe, all that proto-fanboy stuff. Lucas broke my heart and we had a falling out later, but my childhood belonged to those films.

Once there were no new Star Wars films to see I began trawling through other sci-fi options. One day my friend John said that we should watch Aliens. This totally awesome space movie. We had a VHS cassette of the film, taped off the television so all the truly gruesome stuff was edited down. (What I later learned was that the TV version had included the automated gun turrets, cut from the theatrical release, so it was cool in its own way.) I think we wore out a VCR on that tape alone. ¬†Now, instead of shooting lasers at each other, we were firing pulse rifles and flamers and making whoever was the alien say “ping” when the guy holding the cardboard box “motion tracker” stood near him.

I’ll leave off praising that film for another day, but what came of it was that after seeing the rip-roaring action film of blasting aliens, it seemed to make sense that we track down and watch the prequel:¬†Alien.

Now this movie.¬†Whoa. This was a whole ‘nother kettle ‘o fish here. After seeing the now archetypal space marines take on an army of the xenomorphs, it was shocking to see how just one single creature could inflict so much damage and inspired such fear. For some people it would have been disappointing to move from the action film to the slower-paced creeping horror of a ship’s crew trying and failing to find a way to cope with a superior predatory monster. I however was completely drawn in.

Soon after seeing the film I went to the library and began reading about it. ¬†I found books and magazine articles that I poured over, trying to understand why this film was so good. ¬†It’s funny; I could tell you who directed Alien years before I could have told you who directed Aliens. What happened behind the scenes of Ridley Scott’s film was much more important to me than what went in to making its sequel. (And yes, I am totally stoked for the new prequel films by Scott, as we all should be.)

After that, I began looking for more films like Alien. The space-based horror film. I also looked for the horror films that were cited as references to and from Alien in what I had read about the film. It was a combination of my first love of sci-fi with my growing interest in the power of fear in film. I was kind of a sheltered kid, so I couldn’t see most of these films on video or in the theaters but I read novelizations and other horror authors and my imagination filled in the gaps in what I couldn’t see in the pared down edited-for-television versions.

And there you have it. Though I’ll watch just about anything for some scares, if there’s a spaceship or robot or bug-monster on the cover, I’ll probably move that one to the front of the pack.

On the Feminist Nature of this Blog

Posted: September 10, 2010 by Jenny Dreadful in About Us, Editorial

There’s a common misconception about feminists that we’re just looking for something to be angry about. We’re just really uptight really. And we love outrage. Outrage! Believe it or not, we don’t actually want to be angry. The ladies of this group aren’t going to make every post about being women or gender issues. We are, in fact, just here to have fun and discover new horror media.¬†We want you to follow along with us and participate in our discussions.

We, the hardcore ladies of horror, are not going anywhere anytime soon. We are committed. However, it should be known that we put up with a lot of shit in this genre. We do it happily, with a sense of humor even, because the results of finding something truly good are so rewarding. With this in mind, we ask you to listen when we do address feminist issues and to try to understand our perspective.

We attended the Monster Mania 15 convention in New Jersey in late August. We had a fantastic time and anxiously await the next one. Looking around, though, we noted that there were women everywhere. I mean it. Close to a 50/50 gender split. And we’re not talking about bored girlfriends and booth babes. Real female horror fans rooting around for good dvds, meeting guests, selling their wares, etc… So this leads us to an interesting question.

Why is the horror community such a boy’s club?

Have all of these guys just not caught on yet? Many of my favorite sources of horror news and reviews address a straight male audience exclusively. How we’re going to love all the boobs and seeing a particular actress naked and so on. Regardless of how we feel about the boobs… and we might like them just fine… it’s an assumption that excludes us. Likewise; Vendors of horror apparel rarely stock female sizes, male horror fans are often dismissive of women interested in the genre and the films and marketing are almost always targeted to men. And wait a minute… now that I’m on the subject, how often do we see male nudity in these flicks anyway?* I could go on if I wanted to, but that’s more than enough. Listing transgressions isn’t the point.

We’re not angry. We just want you to think about it. We’re out here and we’ve seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre as many times as you have. Probably more times than you have. Don’t be shocked when we know what we’re talking about and don’t freak out.¬†Let’s watch some horror flicks. What have you seen lately?

*And stop complaining so much when we do see it, boys. Fair’s fair.

Yours truly,

Jenny Dreadful and StayFrosty

Hardcore Horror Ladies