If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
In my 2011 best-of list, I discussed how it had not been a
banner year for horror; I was especially critical of the studio releases. That
year, I sought solace in TV shows to feed my genre lust, and my list was
peppered with horror titles like DEXTER, THE WALKING DEAD, AMERICAN HORROR
STORY, GRIMM and UGLY AMERICANS. This year, however, I was happy to find some
stellar titles lurking in the feature world, a big improvement over 2011.
A few major-studio titles even made their way onto my list.
So long, 2012! Here is the horror I plan to take with me from this past year:
JOHN DIES AT THE END (pictured above): This one starting
making the festival rounds in 2012 and just made it to VOD, with theatrical
play coming in early 2013. From the renowned book comes the tale of David Wong
and his interdimensional experiences with the drug “Soy Sauce.” This is quite
possibly one of Don Coscarelli’s best films!
THE LOVED ONES: This one is a bit strange to add to my list,
because it was made years ago and then became stuck in distribution hell. But
2012 finally saw the limited theatrical/DVD release of this comedic torture
flick focusing on a prom night from hell.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (pictured right): I actually didn’t
love this movie the first time I saw it. I felt like it was poking fun at how
simplistic the horror genre can sometimes be. CABIN had to sit on my palate for
a day or two before I wanted to check it out a second time. After that follow-up
viewing, I was quick to declare this not only one of the best films of the
year, but also one of the smartest horror films I have seen in a long time. It
is not at all poking fun; it is a group of horror fans giving a loving nod and
hug to the genre we all adore.
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW: This movie is a slow burn, but
you’ll never notice the snail-like pacing amidst the stellar visuals and vivid
color palette. It not only renewed my faith in creativity within the horror
world, it reinvigorated my own love of filmmaking, reminding me that horror and
art can create a beautifully disturbing dance of fearful perfection.
ABSENTIA: This quiet indie film packs quite a horrific
punch. It’s a great example of microbudget filmmaking at its best. As a woman
and her sister begin to trace disappearances to a local tunnel, a disturbing
story of underground dwellers develops. ABSENTIA lacks gore, but more than
makes up for it in mood and subtle terror. I now show this one to my film
students as an example of how to make a topnotch film on a shoestring budget.
THE AMERICAN SCREAM: I seriously cried during this
documentary (just out on self-distributed DVD). I know that may not be the best
endorsement I could give a film, but this one is truly moving for horror fans.
It focuses on “home haunters,” and the subjects’ energy and passion for
spookery and Halloween oozes off the screen. It is also hilarious and
remarkably well-constructed, but again—it’s the passion. Let me put it this
way: I saw THE AMERICAN SCREAM in a screening at a Los Angeles horror festival.
All the people in the audience were genre fans, many of them from the horror
industry, and I was one of many who were misty-eyed and remembering the joy and
magic we collectively experience on the scariest night of the year.
PROMETHEUS: This ALIEN prequel reinvigorated my love of
sci-fi/horror genre blends. Full of gorgeous visuals in epic 3D, PROMETHEUS was
one of the highlights of my year, and the “C-section” scene will haunt me for
quite a while. I know much of the populace hated this one, but I’m still
mesmerized by it!
AMERICAN HORROR STORY (pictured left): I know, this isn’t a
feature film—but as I said last year, my list focuses on the most brilliant of
the year’s scary stuff, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY is about as brilliant as it
gets! This second season brought nuns, Nazis, demonic possession and aliens,
and yet somehow effectively meshed this strange amalgam of terrors with racial
and gender issues.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK: This movie did have some flaws, but
ultimately I found it to be a classic old-school Gothic haunted-house film.
Daniel Radcliffe packs a great post-Potter performance, and the ghostly chills
are unnerving and well-executed.
THE BAY: This was my fave film of 2012, which is rather
shocking because 1) the film received a very limited release and limited press,
and 2) I usually hate found-footage films. Yet for some reason, this movie was
exactly what I was looking for. It was directed by veteran Barry Levinson, who
breathed new life into the overdone approach with inventive camera and story
tactics. Additionally, this tale of flesheating parasites is jam-packed with
some of the goriest and most disturbing FX I saw this year. This one will give
even the hardest horror fan the shivers!
My 2012 runner-ups:
EXCISION: This bloody tale is ultimately a smart teen
coming-of-age story with a dark twist. Hopefully we will be seeing more from
director Richard Bates Jr.
HERE COMES THE DEVIL: This Mexican horror film (another
festival fave hitting theaters in ’13) is full of atmosphere and inventive
storytelling. This flick is spooky as hell!
BAIT: I’m a sucker for shark films, and this has sharks…in
3D…in a grocery store. This was my sugary candy of horror films for the year:
no real substance, but who cares when it tastes so good!
My 2012 titles to avoid:
CHERNOBYL DIARIES (pictured right): While THE BAY was found
footage at its best, this one was handheld horror at its worst. I left
frustrated by the plot and suffering from a terrible motion-sickness headache.
THE APPARITION: Teenybopper fodder in the form of a horror
film. Plus, it was full of more overt product placement than I could keep track
of. Costco? What the hell?
THE DEVIL INSIDE: Another found-footage flick that left me
unfulfilled—which is sad, because I love evil-nun movies. The film lacked
pizzazz; it was just a boring mess wrapped in a very clever marketing campaign.
LOVELY MOLLY: Most of the FANGORIA staff disagree with me on
this one, but I was bored to tears by this dark tale. And I don’t mean dark just
to describe the tone; the lighting was just plain dark. I had no idea what I
was looking at or what was going on for much of the film. Maybe I just saw a
bad screening with a crap projectionist, but what I did see didn’t leave me
intrigued enough to try this one for a second time.
So what am I looking forward to in 2013? MAMA looks epically
creepy, and CARRIE will hopefully bring some exciting gender issues to the
genre. On the other end of my enjoyment spectrum, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT
2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA already has me geographically confused.
So what stellar films of 2012 did I miss? Any bad ones I
should have mentioned as well?
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment