In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yep, Another Bloody List.

This meme of listing your favourite horror films by year has been rattling around the Interwebs for a while now, but this is the first opportunity that I’ve had to squeeze it in. This took some work, as the more rings around the middle you have, the more years you have to account for. For the sake of not dating myself too badly, I began at 1980, for that’s the year I really started watching horror with any regularity. Although anything involving ninjas or Jedis would have likely been tops for me during the early eighties, horror was clearly the genre I most gravitated towards in those formative years.

The rules are pretty loose here. Some of my picks were due to frequency of viewings around that time, some were ones I consider to be the best film-wise and some have special relevance to me. I’ve been a bit liberal with the term ‘horror’ in some parts, as well. A few could technically be considered thrillers, but hey, it’s MY list! There are a few titles that I didn’t see until much later, but put in them in their respective year anyway. You see what I mean? This thing was a lot more complicated than I originally thought. Anyhoo, let’s get this party started.


This is kind of a no-brainer. You will likely see all The Fearsome Fifteen (those that fall into the right time bracket at least) on here, at some point.


Again, this is pretty obvious. If you’ve spent anytime here at The Horror Section, you’ll know that I’m quite fond of this movie. And anything else The Renaissance Boys have birthed for that matter.
Honourable Mention: An American Werewolf In London


If only the whole list was this easy. The Thing is probably one of the (if not THE) greatest remakes of all time. Even twenty-five years plus later, the film still holds up beautifully.


This one is a bit of a shocker I would imagine. However, considering what else was out there and just how MANY times I watched this fucker, it deserved to be here. The funny thing was I didn’t actually see the 3-D version until I was well in my twenties. It was like watching it again for the first time!
Honourable Mention: Videodrome


Once again, this is a pretty easy call. Freddy Krueger was a badass back in the day. The first installment had plenty of imagery to keep you awake at night.


The bleakest of Romero’s zombie flicks and also the one with the most ambitious and difficult gore set pieces. It may be the weakest of the Dead trilogy, but in 1985, it ruled supreme.


Cronenberg comes out on top this year. This is another example that remakes aren’t all bad. Those were some crazy ass creature designs. Brundlefly vomiting on poor John Getz at the end was probably the closest I’ve come to upchucking myself during a flick – well, that and the porridge scene in Bad Taste.


The movie that made Bruce Campbell a legend! I still remember the first time I heard of it. We got a Buffalo TV station up here and the commercial started running during my pre-bedtime ritual of Benny Hill and Bizarre. I didn’t know what it was (I knew nothing of the original Evil Dead at that time), but I knew I wanted to see it. When it finally appeared in my local video store, it was a regular rent for me.
Honourable Mention: Hellraiser


The first Halloween movie I saw in the theatre. My brother took me and we had a blast. When Michael gets wheeled out of the asylum while the amped-up Halloween theme is booming, I was in freakin’ heaven. Unfortunately for the series, it was almost all downhill from here.


This is the first year pickings were a little slim. It’s not that there weren’t movies I liked released this year; it was just that none rose out of the pack. I went with Dead Calm mainly because this is where my love of Nicole Kidman began.
Honourable Mentions: Pet Sematary, Exorcist III


Jacob’s Ladder was a mind fuck that really encapsulated the beginning of the nineties. This was some dark shit. Many similar movies have diluted its effect over the years, but I messed up many a customer with this recommendation back at the video store.
Honourable Mention: Nightbreed


My second favourite movie of all time and one of only three films in history to sweep all major categories at the Oscars. This is a flawless piece of cinema. I got snuck into the Drive-In by my brother and his future wife to see this that year and it was magic.


Candyman made an impact in ’92. Combining the Bloody Mary myth (which had been scaring people for decades) with the imposing presence of Tony Todd made this actually scary. I couldn’t say it five times in the mirror and I had friends who couldn’t sleep after watching it. That poster is one of my favourites, as well.
Honourable Mention: Braindead aka Dead Alive


I LOOOVE this movie. The Julie zombie design – personified by the lovely Mindy Clarke – is one of my favourites in all of horror. Funny thing that I never realized I was watching the rated version until just a few years ago. The extra gore made it all that much better. Did I mention Mindy Clarke is a hottie? Killer tongue and all. Oh wait, that’s a different movie.
Honourable Mention: The Vanishing


I didn’t see Cemetery Man aka Dellamorte Dellamore until much later, but it’s definitely the best movie that came out that year. You will likely find this on most zombiephiles’ top ten lists. It combines the hilarious sensibilities of Jackson & Raimi’s early films with Italian art-house style.
Honourable Mention: Mute Witness


John Carpenter’s love letter to H.P. Lovecraft came out on top for what was frankly a pretty bad year. There were a few watchable flicks, but a LOT of shite, as well. This is probably why next year’s favourite was such a revelation.


Wes Craven & Kevin Williamson gave horror a much-needed shot in the arm in ’96. The genre was stale and Scream changed all that. Sure, it began a new era of self-aware copycats, but it was a small price to pay. The only way to revitalize the slasher was to break it down and build it back up again.
Honourable Mentions: From Dusk Till Dawn, The Frighteners


Event Horizon is a fantastic fusion of science fiction and horror with a great cast and production design. Paul W.S. Anderson has never been able to top this film, but here’s hoping his upcoming similar themed Pandorum will be a return to form.
Honourable Mention: Funny Games


I still remember the first time I watched Ringu. It was 2001 and I was really caught up in the Internet buzz circulating around it. After much searching, I bought a VHS bootleg off Ebay (along with the H6 Producer’s Cut). It was a shitty copy with sound that would cut in and out, but it didn’t diminish the power of it in the least. A friend happened to call me right at ‘that moment’ and I jumped five feet in the air. The Asian horror craze had begun.
Honourable Mention: Halloween H20


Wow, what a huge event this was for the horror genre. It also marked the first time the Internet was REALLY harnessed as a marketing tool. It was ridonkulous how many people thought this was real at the time. It is hard to believe it has been TEN years since I first saw this in the theatre.
Honourable Mention: The Sixth Sense


This was another year that was kind of a dud. Ginger Snaps was near and dear to me because it was Canadian. Not an American film shot in Canada, but an actual Canadian production SET in Canada. It also helped that it was the best tongue-in-cheek werewolf tale to come around since An American Werewolf In London.


This one was a real sleeper that found new life – as many horror flicks do these days – on DVD. If a movie has David Caruso in it and it STILL rocks, then you know it must be good.
Honourable Mentions: The Devil’s Backbone, The Others


This is probably my favourite Asian horror film. The scare set pieces are just so well executed and the narrative is so much more fluent than a lot of its contemporaries.
Honourable Mentions: 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever


For me, this film just gets better and better with age. I know a lot of people bitch about the ending, but I never had a problem with it. This was the beginning of the French new wave explosion that is still with us six years later. I love everything about this movie.
Honourable Mention: Ju-on: The Grudge


This was a tough year to rate because there were a lot of good ones, but nothing really head and shoulders above the rest. I picked Shaun Of The Dead because its self-proclaimed zom-rom-com format tried to do many things and Edgar Wright & company succeeded in pretty much delivering all of them.
Honourable Mention: Open Water


Likely the best horror film of the aughts, this was another that grew from word of mouth. People familiar with director Neil Marshall’s debut Dog Soldiers were looking forward to his sophomore effort, but NOBODY could have expected this intense tour-de-force. This film had seasoned horror fans watching through the cracks of their fingers.
Honourable Mention: Hostel


I was sold on this movie by the brilliant one-sheet alone that completely captures the cat-and-mouse-back-and-forth tone of the film. I could not believe how engaging this dialogue driven, two-character thriller was. It was abundantly clear that firecracker Ellen Page was on the fast track to stardom.
Honourable Mentions: Behind The Mask, The Hills Have Eyes


This one was probably the toughest to call. ’07 was an exceptional year for horror. I went with [REC] because it is just so tight, intense and infinitely watchable. Even though Quarantine (the American remake) is a good watch, I feel it isn't as technically adept as its predecessor.
Just As Good: The Orphanage, Ils, Alone


This Swedish vampire tale was miles above everything else last year. Even with all the hype that came with it, this movie still blew me away with its style and sincerity. I still haven’t been able to rewatch yet it on Blu-ray because of that whole subtitling debacle, but here’s hoping that gets rectified soon.

2009 (so far)

Even though I hope that it is Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell sitting here when all is said and done, the title so far must go to Tom Shankland’s The Children. I guess this is technically a 2008 film, but it hasn’t actually come to our shores from the UK yet, so I’m putting it here. The Children is slick, nasty and really gives the French a run for their money in terms of gore-soaked intensity.

Wow, that was a quite a trip. Now, I better post this sucker, before I change my mind and start shifting things around.


Anonymous said...

I've seen:
- Candyman
- The Blair Witch Project
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Descent
- Hard Candy
- The Children

...but none of the others! Good list BTW

- Zac

Jay Clarke said...

Man, you've got some catching up to do! ;)

Matt said...

Some great stuff on there. I agree with a lot of them - especially:

-Let The Right One In
-The Descent
-Ginger Snaps (the sequels are good too)
-Shaun of the Dead
-Event Horizon

I thought Hard Candy was overrated though and would have picked The Devil's Backbone over Session 9. I've never seen The Children. Gotta look that up.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Wow, great list there - not only a fantastic list of horror films but it also really show the progression and trends of horror in the past (gulp) almost 30 years. Fantastic.