As 2011 winds its way down, we can all agree that this certainly wasn’t a stellar year for horror. This should not suggest, however, that it didn’t have a few note worthy genre entries on the whole. As everyone seems intent on doing a “Year of Review” we thought we might add our own picks for our favorite horror/sci-fi films of 2011.
TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – This film didn’t get a huge run in the theaters but was certainly worth a gander. Director Eli Craig takes one of horror’s most common themes (renegade hillbillies torturing and murdering college aged vacationers), and turns it square on its ears! Maligned audiences located south of The Mason Dixon Line can stand up and cheer while all demographics are guaranteed laughs. We featured a review of the film not long ago (which you can catch HERE) and if you haven’t watched this hilarious horror/comedy you can take this as your cue to immediately go and do so!
FRIGHT NIGHT – If you want to illicit shudders from a group of horror fans these days, there is no surer way than to mention one of their favorite vintage films and then follow that with the word “remake.” Recently at the 2011 Rock n Shock convention, Robert Englund (busy deflecting questions regarding his thoughts on the disastrous 2009 remake of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) cut all criticisms short by stating that Hollywood will end up remaking “everything” and there is just no use getting upset about it. There certainly was no cause for alarm regarding this year’s remake of FRIGHT NIGHT (which we covered more in depth HERE). The film cleverly updated the 80’s cult classic with a wicked villain who, after yet another year featuring a tween romance TWILIGHT film, kindly gave the vampire back his “bite.” It wasn’t perfect and, in my opinion, in no danger of upstaging the original, but was entertaining and clever none the less. If nothing else, it proves, yet again, that a “remake” is okay as long as its more of a “re-imagining.”
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – The apes have been given there fair share of both sequels and re-imaginings since the first classic PLANET OF THE APES mesmerized audiences back in 1968. The newest film was more of a “prequel” which, despite some CGI issues, proved to be very effective. Although the film depicts the fall of mankind, viewers will be hard pressed not to root for the apes by the film’s end. Clever and eerily relevant in today’s world, I thought the climactic battle on The Golden Gate Bridge was nothing short of spectacular!
INSIDIOUS – This film proved popular amongst horror fans and with good reason. In terms of creepiness it was probably the year’s best and also contained some of the most amazing imagery that was as terrifying as it was artful. Director James Wan weaves a grotesque netherworld that lies somewhere between Hell and Earth – with a strong lean towards the former. It ain’t the feel good movie of the year and the less-than-happy ending, while clever, might leave a few disgruntled viewers but, then again, this is horror folks!
THE WARD – 2011 saw the long-awaited return of John Carpenter in the big screen director’s chair. THE WARD suffered from poor marketing and a “now you see it, now you don’t” run in select theaters. While shot as an original, the film also got upstaged by the similarly themed SHUTTER ISLAND (which we compared and contrasted HERE). Carpenter was quick to diss the film during his recent appearance at The Fright Night Film Fest (his Q&A session covered HERE) but I found this self-depreciating stance to be unnecessary. While there is little doubt that it is much like the big budget Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle, this one is executed much more like a horror film and Carpenter proved he still has some scary tricks up his sleeve.
TROLLHUNTER – This European P.O.V. horror film entry took a seemingly ridiculous concept (that trolls are not only real but are wreaking havoc in their native Norway) and manages to execute it with a straight face. The same may not be said of its audience as, in my opinion, it breaks the number one rule of P.O.V. films by showing a little too much. Despite this issue, it is very entertaining and absolutely worth checking out! We also covered this film HERE.
THE THING (2011) – Like RISE OF THE PLANET OF APES, this film was a prequel and not a remake (technically it was actually a prequel OF a remake). The film does its best to stay consistent with the early 80’s (when the last version of THE THING took place) but often gets marred with too much modern CGI. Fans can be forgiven for missing this one in the theaters (which we covered at the time HERE) but should absolutely check it out when its released on blu-ray/DVD (slated for January 31, 2012). If for no other reason so you can find out exactly what did happen in that Norwegian camp 28 years ago!
SUPER 8 – I can’t believe I left this out of my original posting. Special thanks to reader, Doug Hopkins, for reminding me. SUPER 8 is another 2011 winner and a highly entertaining film! In many ways it reminded me of Spielberg’s 80’s films with fleshed out characters and his amazing attention to details (monster fans will easily identify with the main character while ogling his collection of models and posters). Like his mega-hit, E.T., this film also deals with an alien that just wants to get back home, only this one is far more dangerous. Despite its ferocious appearance, the Government serves as the real villain of this film. Personal lives are healed even as the town gets ripped apart showing that Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams are a cinematic force to be reckoned with.
And on that note….we Daves would like to wish everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!