So, I did my year end list for The Blood Sprayer, and it bugged me that I scaled it back so much. Granted, I was told it could be as long as I wanted, but I just didn’t want to ramble on for ions. Well, I decided to kill two birds with one axe. This can act as both an addendum to my year end list for The Blood Sprayer, as well as a separate year end list for The Liberal Dead. Thankfully, there were enough films I didn’t mention in my previous list, so I didn’t have to have any duplicates. Some of these may be classified as 2009, but they either weren’t released in the states till 2010, or have still yet to find distribution. In any event, these were some of my favorite films that I watched this year.
Rammbock A.K.A. Siege of the Dead
The year 2010 was littered with people’s mostly failed attempts at tackling the zombie genre. For every 20 zombie films released, there were perhaps 2 that would even be considered watchable. Rammbock was one of the big surprises of the year, because not only was it a competent entry into the world of zombies, but it also had the balls to try something different. The zombies were furious, and brutal, but we’re not treated to the traditional montage of headshot after headshot. Though it doesn’t kill them, a different way to combat the walking dead is discovered, and implemented quite nicely. One of the finest aspects of the film is the fact that for most of it’s short, 60 minute runtime, it takes place in a cramped apartment building, creating quite the claustrophobic romp. Rammbock will probably not play well to the popcorn crowd, but if you’re tired of the same old shit, and are looking for something different, this just may hit the spot.
Zombies were everhwhere this year, huh? First Germany, and now France throwing their two cents in on the genre. Unlike Rammbock, La Horde probably would play well to the popcorn crowd, if they can bring themselves to deal with the subtitles, that is. La Horde is absolute insanity. It starts as some sort of revenge fueled home invasion goes very wrong, and as the undead appear, two feuding groups of people must work together in order to survive. La Horde is straight up survival action. There is no deeper meaning other than to just eviscerate anything and anyone in your path. La Horde doesn’t focus on the struggle on the human psyche in an event like the zombie apocalypse, it focuses on putting bullets into heads. One scene in particular puts the zombies in a bottle-necked hallway, and a very large man on the other end of it with a belt fed light machinegun. The sheer number of zombies in this film create most of the fun. “La Horde” delivers what it’s name promises, a horde of the undead, thirsty for your flesh.
Let Me In
Like most people who would even bother reading this list, I had pretty low expectations for this one. I’m of the sound mind that the original, “Let The Right One In” is an exercise in cinematic perfection. From the looks of it, Matt Reaves remake had nowhere to go but down. My interest levels grew, after seeing the amazing young actress Chloe Moretz tear the screen apart in “Kick-Ass”. The thought of her playing the young vampire in this story instantly garnered this project a few extra credibility points. Reeves turns in a final project that’s not only faithful to the original film, and the novel, but manages to somehow make the experience feel fresh, even if you’re already a fan of the “Let The Right One In”. I do have a minor complaint, and that is the weird CGI moments of Abby as a vampire, scurrying up into trees and quickly across the screen. It wasn’t nearly enough to detract from what was one of the most awesome experiences I had at the movie theater in 2010, though. Chloe Moretz has become a force to be reckoned with, and I have a feeling she’ll lead a career full of high points. If you’re still on the fence on this one due to the fact that it’s a remake, just get over it, it’s a great film.
Some people, it seems, can’t stomach the Hatchet franchise. It’s true, that it’s over-hyped beyond belief, but that doesn’t take anything away from the experience, just so long as you possess the capability to keep your own hype in check. Hatchet II is a fun-as-hell homage to all that made the slasher genre great in the ’80s. It doesn’t take it’s self seriously, and even though people are being torn limb from limb, it unfolds with such a level of lighthearted camp that you can’t help but crack a smile. One of the things that makes these films so fun is the special effects. Though the rest of the world seem to have moved on to the inferior CG method of displaying on-screen violence, Adam Green stubbornly refuses to do so, utilizing nothing but practical gore effects, with buckets of fake blood, and Kane Hodder tromping through the swamp in all his latex glory. This film is not for you if you’re of the stick-up-the-ass nitpicky crowd, but if you’re just looking to have 90 minutes worth of oldschool fun, you’re in for a treat.
I expected this little low budget affair to garner a little more praise than it did after my first viewing. Granted, it’s a little different, but I think it’s one of the most solid straight-to-disc efforts of the year. The trailer had me concerned that this would turn out to be just another low budget creature feature, which is fine, but we have enough of those, don’t you think? Thankfully, “Altitude” turned out to be more atmosphere than anything. Almost the entirety of the terror that is thrust upon the audience is done so by the sense of claustrophobia that is achieved through an amazing little prop plane that all of our characters are crammed into. The tension is thick as hell before the first hint that something sinister is afoot. It’s surprising to me, that more people didn’t appreciate this solid little indie thriller. Yes, there are a few scenes involving some kind of squid looking monster that appears to be terrorizing this plane, but appearances can be deceiving. That is all I will say. Give this one a shot if you haven’t caught it yet, you may have the same reaction as myself.
Cherry Tree Lane
Wow, what a film. I had absolutely no knowledge of this one going in, and it totally took me by surprise. Once I realized that it was a home invasion type of film, I was a bit worried. Don’t get me wrong, there are some totally solid entries into this sub-genre of film, but the market is becoming a bit saturated, to say the least. Cherry Tree Lane manages not only to become one of the better films that fits this category, but it becomes one of the best. The best thing about this film is that it’s not out to show insane, disturbing gore to get the reaction from the audience that it desires, it focuses, instead, on the human emotion involved in such a scenario. When things are happening that are clearly tragic, and brutal, instead of focusing the camera on that event, we focus on closeups of people’s faces, as they listen in horror to what is happening to their loved ones off-screen. One scene in particular has stuck with me long after the film ended, in which the father in this story breaks free, and is creeping up the stairs to help his son. As he makes his way up the stairs, you can hear the invaders in the distance, describing the events that are occurring in the room. It’s heart wrenching. See this film if you haven’t.
Ok, so apparently director Adam Green will be gracing my list with his presence twice. It was a hell of a year for the man, after all. Frozen is nothing like Adam’s slasher darling “Hatchet”. Frozen is a tale of survival, and asks of the audience to decide what they would do in this situation. One of the things that impressed me most about Frozen, is that there is no green screen work done to accomplish this effect. The actors are actually dangling from a ski-lift for most of the film. Leave it to Green to show the world that things like this can be accomplished without interference from the world of technology. Frozen is heartbreaking at moments, and terrifying at others. One thing it is not, though, is boring. Even during moments where nothing is happening, the sense of dread is so thick that it’s almost unbearable. Green really proved something to me with this one, and that is that he is not a one-trick pony, and that we can expect things from him in the future, beyond what the Hatchet franchise has to offer. Green proves that he’s a filmmaker to compete with, so people who doubted him after his first couple of films better recognize.
Blood on the Highway
I’m not going to lie, this is a pretty low budget affair, and it shows. Since the success of Shaun of the Dead, people have furiously attempted to recapture the magic of the strange blend of horror, with comedy. Some have been successful, most have not. Blood on the Highway remembers what some of those filmmakers seem to have forgotten, a comedy should be fun to watch. “BOTH” doesn’t have sophisticated special effects, or exciting big name actors, it’s actually quite primitive in it’s appearance, but it delivers 90 minutes worth of laugh out loud moments. Vampires have taken over a small town, and three unfortunate people who have ran out of gas on the way to a music festival have happened across said town. The film blends well, physical comedy, with straight up jokes. It’s a perfect midnight movie to show to a group of drunken and or stoned friends.
I looked forward to this film for a long wile. Inexcusably, on my part though, I did so for all the wrong reasons. When I learned that Christina Ricci was naked for almost the entirety of the film, I didn’t care about anything else. That was enough to warrant the purchase of a ticket for me. It turns out though, that she’s romping around butt ass naked through the duration of a solid film. After.Life starts as a comfortable supernatural tale, in which a funeral home director has the ability to communicate with the corpses he’s responsible for. It then, rips that safety net out from under you, and makes you question whether or not that’s actually what you’re watching. The best thing about the film is that it never explicitly states which direction the film actually took, and it leaves it up for you to decide if this is a lighthearted ghost tale, or a macabre tale of a prolific serial killer. Both Christina Ricci, and Liam Neeson put in rock solid performances, and After.Life ends up being much better than originally anticipated.
Dread is the screen adaptation of a Clive Barker short story of the same title. The film was picked up by After Dark Films for their annual horror fest that occurs all across the country each year. Dread is not only one of the best ADHF film, it’s also one of the best Clive Barker adaptations to date. The film follows 3 college students as they study the effects of fear for their college thesis. All three of the characters experienced some form of overly traumatic event as children, but Quaid had the worst of them, having seen his parents butchered to death by a man with an axe. Dread is a fantastic film, and features some of the best camera work I’ve seen all year. It’s also unique in that it’s not a subject matter that’s often tackled. The film is brutal, and unnerving, and gory as hell. It’s shocking to me, that this one isn’t turning up on more year end lists than it has, because it was probably one of the better films of the year. It was certainly much better than the previous Barker adaptation, “Book of Blood”. “Dread” may be the best take on a Clive Barker tale since Hellraiser.
The Killer Inside Me
Casey Affleck, after “Gone Baby Gone” has become one of my favorite actors. His performance in “The Killer Inside Of Me” makes the entire film. The story is sort of a western noir murder mystery. Affleck plays The story follows Lou Ford, hauntingly portrayed by Casey Affleck. Lou is a deputy sheriff in a small west Texas town. He is sent by Chester Conway, the town big-shot played by Ned Beatty, to run a whore out of town(Jessica Alba) with whom his son has fallen in love with. When Lou falls for the whore himself, the tangled web of sex and murder begins. “The Killer Inside Me” is the perfect slow burn. It weaves a tangled web of sex and violence, and is at times, absolutely haunting. Don’t go in thinking it’s a horror film, because it’s not. It is, however, a dark enough thriller for the horror crowd, with amazing performances, and the spectacular directing from Michael Winterbottom(24 Hour Party People) This film has it all.
I was a bit worried about the sequel to the amazing Spanish zombie film [REC]. I was worried that the filmmakers would be influenced by the American remake, and we’d be treated with a rehash of that flavor. I was also worried, that as plentiful the “found footage” movies have become, that much of what made the first film great would have lost it’s impact. Amazingly, neither of these fears materialized. “[REC] 2” is the perfect example of how to handle a sequel. It’s directly tied to the first film, but it’s unique enough of an experience to work as a stand alone film. It also takes zombie lore, and twists it on it’s head. The twist is hinted at, at the end of the first film, but take it from me, it’s easily misinterpreted. This sequel is exciting as hell, and never once feels recycled. It’s one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen, and frankly, it might even be better than the first film. The gore is plentiful, and beautifully executed, the the overall tone of the film is genuinely creepy.
Christ, a lot of zombie films were released this year. Amazingly there were several good ones, and “Mutants” is one of the best. The film opens with a furious, and bloody escape in an ambulance already in progress. We’re introduced to our 2 main characters, Sonia, and Marco, and a french military woman whom I don’t believe we are ever given a name for. Sonia, and Marco are paramedics(hence the ambulance) who are somehow put in the position to be on the run from a horde of zombies. Low on gas, and injured, our main characters hold up in what appears to be an abandoned hospital. “Mutants” mixes elements of the Romero’esque style of zombie filmmaking, with their own little flavor. Some may argue that this isn’t a zombie film, as the “zombies” are technically mutants, but you watch this motherfucker and tell me that it’s not only a zombie film, but one of the best you’ve seen for years. It’s gory, it’s dramatic, it’s interesting and unique. There’s nothing not to love about this film, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people mention it.
The sad thing? There are still more films I could list. As far as I’m concerned, 2010 was a hell of a year for horror. This will suffice, I feel as if I’ve at least mentioned most of the films that deserved it. See you again next year, hopefully it’s as amazing as this year was. Thanks for a year of your amazing support, from all of us here at The Liberal Dead. Have a fun, and safe new years eve, and don’t do anything we wouldn’t do…. whatever that might be.