So we all have our favorite movies and we all have our personal reasons as to why they are our favorites. We all also have movies that we can just watch over and over again, never tiring of them. That is what this list is all about. What is interesting about this list, is that some of my all time favorite films do not even fall on it. Even though a movie may be a favorite of mine, it doesn’t mean that I can watch it repeatedly and still enjoy it as much as I did the first time I watched…this aspect is actually rare in a film for me. As much as I love DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979), THE FOG (1980), THE THING (1982) and HALLOWEEN (1978), I cannot watch these movies repeatedly and usually limit them to one viewing a year. This list comprises those movies that I watch multiple times a year, sometimes more than once a month…they are THAT good to me! I have listed them in alphabetical order since I do not necessarily prefer one over another.
1. AVATAR (2009)
There is a reason that this movie is the top grossing movie of all time…to put it simply, it’s great! To truly appreciate a film like this it must be seen in the theater and it must be seen in 3-D. This is by far the most visually stunning film ever made to date. The planet of Pandora, where this movie takes place, is breathtaking to say the very least and the fact that it was created entirely in a computer makes it all the more amazing. I found the story to be entertaining and the characters, to me, were very relatable. The relationship that develops between Jack and Neytiri is also a lot of fun to watch and there are some great action sequences. There were a lot of critics that panned this film (many of which were the ignorant who won’t watch it simply because it is popular, which I never understood. Get your head out of your ass already). I was pleased to find that this movie held up very well on Blu-ray and was still visually stunning (though nothing compares to the depth of the landscapes created by the 3-D). I have not seen this in 3-D on Blu-ray and really hope it is as good as it was in the theater. Though this movie is 3 hours long, it goes by fast.
2. CLOVERFIELD (2008)
My response after seeing this movie initially in the theater was “Holy shit!” I have always been a kaiju fan and grew up on Godzilla and Gamera. When the trailers for this film first started showing, the rumor ran rampant that it was a new American Godzilla film. Thankfully it wasn’t. It was a completely believable and realistic portrayal of a giant monster on the loose in New York though (and to date it is the best film portraying this type of attack). Again, this film was panned by many critics, with the biggest complaint being the technique used to film it. A group of friends, filming a farewell party, capture the event on their hand-held camera. I certainly understand and can appreciate that there are those that get dizzy and nauseous from the camera shake, and this is unfortunate. Thankfully the camera shake does not bother me so I can fully enjoy movies like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) and QUARANTINE (2008). The characters here are very likeable and the special effects are just amazing to witness. The creature design is original and scary and there is plenty of suspense throughout, especially the scenes underground shown in night vision through the camera lens. If you haven’t seen this film…what are you waiting for?
3. DEAD & BREAKFAST (2004)
This movie for me was an impulse buy at Wal-Mart one Saturday afternoon. I had never heard of it and had no idea what to expect. The box included some quotes saying how great the film was, but then again, how many times have you seen these quotes from people you have never heard of, only to find out the movie was actually horrible? To be honest I went into this movie with low expectations and boy was I surprised! This movie is awesome! It is a horror/comedy/musical and I can certainly see why certain horror fans would not like this! People think, “How can a movie like this actually work?” Well, let me tell you, it does. The characters are fun and quirky and the plot, though simple, is entertaining. The gore effects are great (and there is a lot of them) and the musical numbers, performed between scenes to further explain the story, are well done and catchy. This is one of those direct-to-dvd titles that I really wish I could’ve seen in the theater!
4. DEATH PROOF (2007)
This movie, by Quentin Tarantino, is one of those films you either love or you hate (and thankfully most people do love it and those that don’t really do not know what they are talking about). Unfortunately, when this was released as a double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s film PLANET TERROR (2007) it was panned by the critics and a lot of people just didn’t understand the magic that these two geniuses created. Not only did they put together an awesome double feature but they created two films that stand fine on their own. People complained that this movie was too “talky” and that there wasn’t enough blood and guts. If the only thing that draws you to a movie is the amount of blood and guts then there really is something wrong with you. This film centers on two groups of attractive women and how they relate and interact with each other, just like in real life. The conversations are authentic and you truly believe that these girls are best friends. This is where the magic is…these women are real and not one-dimensional characters just put into a movie to look good and then get butchered. Yes, the first group of women do get butchered, in graphic detail, at the hands of Kurt Russell’s character Stuntman Mike, but this is done for a reason. You spend the first 50 minutes of the movie getting to know these women, to care about them as they are established as main characters and then they are all killed in an instant. When this happens your only thought is “What can happen next?” This is where the second group of women come in.
I will use any excuse to show off this picture of me with Zoe Bell!
The 2nd group of women all work in the film industry, and two are actually stunt women. One thing Tarantino likes to create is strong female characters and none of them are as strong as Zoe Bell (who plays herself in this film). What she does in this film is nothing short of phenomenal and has to be seen to be believed. YES it is actually her on the hood of the car going at high speeds and many of these scenes will have you on the edge of your seat! I have seen this movie well over a dozen times and my heart still races during the last 3rd of the movie as Stuntman Mike is pursuing this new groups of victims, only to have them turn the whole thing around, making him the actual victim!
5. GAMERA, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1995)
What can I say? I am a sucker for Japanese monster movies…always have been, always will. For those of you, like me, who grew up on these films you know there were two super monsters…Godzilla and Gamera. The Gamera films of the 60’s and 70’s never gained the popularity that the Godzilla movies of the same period garnered due to their cheesier effects and stories that catered to children. Yes, Gamera was the friend of all children and because of this I always prefered the Godzilla films. This changed though in the 90’s when this film was released. Even though Godzilla movies were still being made, their quality varied greatly from movie to movie, both in storyline and special effects. What this film did was do what the Godzilla movies had not been doing…it provided a good storyline, likeable characters (with no annoying kids) and beautifully shot miniature effects. The director, Shusuke Kaneko, perfected in one film what had been sorely missed in kaiju films. Yes, the idea of a giant, fire-breathing turtle is ludicrous but if you can suspend belief, it really works in this film and the sequels GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION (1996) and GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS (1999). On the plus side, after the release of these films, Toho (the company that brings us Godzilla) started making better quality Godzilla films.
6. HATCHET (2006)
I know some people are anti horror/comedies but when done right, they can make for a fun evening. HATCHET, written and directed by Adam Green, takes the horror/comedy to a whole new level. I found all of the characters in this film to be very likeable and feel they all have a great chemistry. The comedy timing is perfect and the movie is genuinely scary at times. Victor Crowley, the killer in this movie, is a great creation and could hold his own against Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers and he is very brutal in his attacks. The gore effects are extreme, funny and they are really well done. I have never been a fan of John Carl Buechler and his special makeup effects but he does shine in this film. If you are a fan of Adam Green you will recognize a lot of the actors in this film as they are regulars in his cinematic world.
7. JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)
I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and not being sure what to make of it. I figured it was just one of the many teen-horror films being made at the time, most of which were horrible. I waited until this came out on DVD before I actually saw it and I was not disappointed. What I found to be interesting is that this film was written by Diablo Cody, the same person who wrote JUNO (another movie that I really enjoyed). Believe it or not, one of the reasons I was hesitant about seeing this movie is because I am not a fan of Megan Fox. She may be attractive but she is not one of the best actresses out there. Amanda Seyfried on the other hand, who I am a huge fan of, is a good actress and she has great chemistry with all of her co-stars, elevating them. This was true in this movie as well and the friendship between Jennifer and Needy in my opinion is genuine and sincere. Needy’s relationship with her boyfriend Chip is also realistic which is why this movie rises above the normal slice-and-dice film. The characters are real and you do care about what happens to them. Fox’s performance is a step above what she did in the TRANSFORMERS movies so it is nice to see she does have some range, albeit limited. It’s nice to see a female director (Karyn Kusama) making such a fun and interesting horror film!
8. LAKE PLACID (1999)
I have always been a fan of those nature running rampant films and LAKE PLACID is a gem. This is another film that I regret not seeing in the theaters. It is a fun movie with a great cast (including Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman and Oliver Platt). The cast has great chemistry (especially between Oliver Platt’s character of Hector Cyr and Brendan Gleeson’s character of Sheriff Hank Keough). I have never been a fan of CGI monster effects but they are almost flawless in this film and work beautifully. Though many scenes are played for laughs there is also a fair degree of tension and many “jump out at you” scares. Betty White is also here, in a surprise role, with the mouth of a trucker. This movie is a great example of why Betty White is such an amazing person! Since I am not a fan of sequels I have not seen any of the other LAKE PLACID films but if you are looking for a fun, monster on the loose flick, then I highly recommended this one!
9. PLANET TERROR (2007)
Like Tarantino, I have always been a huge fan of Robert Rodriguez. Face it guys, these two know how to make fun films! I love SIN CITY (2005), MACHETE (2010) and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996) and when I saw the previews for the GRINDHOUSE double feature, I knew that PLANET TERROR was going to be cool. Whether you watch it as the double feature (available only on Blu-ray) or as a film by itself, this is a fun zombie film (though keep in mind that the single movie releases of this film and DEATH PROOF do feature footage cut from the double feature release). This movie has all of the ingredients of a great horror film: hot girls, great looking zombies, awesome special makeup effects, explosions, great cameos and a girl with a machine gun for a leg! This film really captures the feel of the old grindhouse movies too with the extensive scratches on the film and missing scenes. As I mentioned before, some people just didn’t get the concept of this film and I actually feel sorry for them.
10. SERENITY (2005)
I was a johnny-come-lately when it came to Joss Whedon’s series FIREFLY. When I saw the previews for the Fox show, I wasn’t sure how a western in outer space actually would be. This series was cancelled after one season and I found the series on DVD on sale so I figured I would give it a try. What I saw greatly surprised me. This was a fun series, with great characters and great special effects! I loved it and was so disappointed that it had been cancelled. I attribute this to Fox themselves…they do not know how to market shows and are rarely willing to give anything a chance, even though overall reaction to this series was very positive. I was thrilled when the movie SERENITY came out and even more excited that it got great reviews from the critics. One thing I will always regret is not seeing this on the big screen…yes, I waited for the DVD release. I think one of the reasons this film was so well received is because you didn’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy it (but you will enjoy it more if you did watch the series). The characters are a lot of fun and Nathan Fillion is perfect as the captain. The chemistry is genuine between the characters and in true Whedon fashion, the writing is clever and witty. Summer Glau, as River, is amazing to watch in her fight scenes…she is graceful, beautiful and she kicks all kinds of ass! The visual effects are stunning and the aerial battle near the end, in my opinion, blows away anything ever seen in a STAR WARS movie. This movie was definitely a great way to end a great series!
11. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
This is another one of those films that you either love or you hate (and to be honest, I am shocked that anyone hates this film). This is one of the best zombie films to come along since the original DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979). It is very well written, with great special effects and a great cast (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are one of the best comedy duos to come along in a while also). This film is in no way a parody of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or DAWN OF THE DEAD…it is actually a tastefully done tribute to them, with many references throughout. This is another one of those direct-to-dvd releases that you really wish had actual theatrical play here in the United States. One of the reasons that this movie stands up to repeated viewings is because of the references and the background details…the more you watch, the more you see or hear!
12. SLITHER (2006)
What can I say other than I love this movie?!? Sure I am a huge fan of both Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks, but this movie also has a great story and great special effects! I have always been a fan on the alien invasion films of the 50’s and this is a loving tribute to those films, with a lot more slime. In fact, it is reported that more slime was used in this movie than any other movie made…now that is saying something! The chemistry between the characters is believable and some of the exchanges between them are hysterical. The slug creatures, though simple in design, are creepy and at times very gross. The gore effects are over the top and very gruesome and yet at the end of the movie, you feel good about things. Go figure!
13. TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
To me, besides John Carpenter’s original HALLOWEEN (1978), this is THE BEST film to watch for the Halloween season. I cannot believe all of the bureaucracy that occurred that prevented this amazing film to ever be released in a theater. Not only does this movie introduce us to a new character to fear at Halloween, in the form of a childlike menace called Sam, it also reminds us that some traditions and myths should not be taken lightly. There are four stories that are interwoven beautifully to create this holiday classic. The cast is top-notch (including TRUE BLOOD’s Anna Paquin) and the special effects are great. It is nice to see a new take on werewolf transformations and I found the character of Sam to be genuinely creepy. Check this movie out…it just may become your favorite Halloween treat!
14. ZOMBIELAND (2009)
This is one of those movies that I watch almost twice a month…I enjoy it that much. The story is great, the cast is perfect and has great chemistry, and even though it is hilarious at points it is genuinely scary at others. I can’t tell you how many people said to me that they refuse to watch this because Woody Harrelson is in it! How lame of an excuse is that? What’s wrong with just seeing a movie because it is fun? You don’t even have to be a fan of horror movies, or even zombie movies, to enjoy this film. Four strangers, through no choice of their own, are thrust together in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. What starts out basically as a tale of boys vs. girls vs. zombies ends in a tale of humans vs. zombies. Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock all have their own ideas on how best to survive, but in the end it is them staying together, as a new family, that ultimately works. Woody Harrelson shines in this film and Emma Stone proves once again why she is the break out star to watch (plus she’s pretty damn cute).
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully you feel the same way I do with at least some of these amazing, and fun, films. If you have movies like this not on my list, please feel free to share them in the comment space below!