We can’t honestly say that this year was a total wash for our little corner of the world. Hell, the indie scene produced some of the best films I’ve seen over the last few years. As always, with the exception of a few, most widely released horror films were bland and wasted their time with cheap jump scares and pandering to a generation who’s attention spans are measured in nanoseconds. Admittedly, while the big box horror sites and magazines are headed to the multiplex the majority of The Blood Sprayer’s writers have their blinds closed watching whatever sleazeball release came creeping out of their mailbox that day. This isn’t meant to sound as if we’re a bunch of snobs-it simply means our hearts are in darker, wetter places. And with that mindset, I approached my choices for what I dug about 2010…
If there was ever a year that horror film lover’s could have their faith restored in indie cinema, this would’ve been it. Plenty of filmmaker’s visions were met with a resounding “YES” from The Blood Sprayer. We saw enough hope to keep us invigorated/hopeful for the coming crop of releases for 2011. One constant in horror is knowing filmmaker’s will make their own way somehow. For those that did in 2010, we offer our big, bloody thank you.
Favorite Films of 2010
Long Pigs (Big Bite Entertainment)-This became a film that I told everyone about. It’s got all the brains of a Christopher Guest movie, while making you feel as uncomfortable as “Man Bites Dog”. These Canadians sent chills down my spine and I look forward to their next outing. Using a format that’s been done before but outsmarting it, these fellows turned A LOT of heads in the horror world. Easily my favorite release of the year.
Graphic Sexual Horror (Synapse Films)-My favorite company never ceases to amaze me. Synapse went a little left of center in securing the distribution rights to this one, but are better for having done so. Barbara Bell and Anna Lorentzon’s documentary on Insex.com was as brutal as anything you’re going to see the French make. It’s obviously made that much harder to watch by being real. If you’re a boring fuck, then you’ll only cry. If you got a darker side to your sexuality, then this is one to seek out.
Enter The Void (Fidelite’ Films/Wild Bunch)-Okay, I’ll admit it: If Gaspar Noe’ touches something, I will bite. He’s one of my heroes in the pantheon of extreme film. All artists wish they were fearless, but Noe’ actually is. Enter the Void is another whirlwind mindfuck that leaves you feeling completely drained by it’s onslaught. Once again, Noe’ delves into the underbelly of human emotion and blurs the lines between, sex, love, and extreme violence. Beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, Enter The Void will be a DVD release you must pick up in January!
The Good Sisters (Forbidden Pictures)-JimmyO Burril’s sick world is one I love living in. The Good Sisters is an extension of the perverse world he and wife April M. Burril (Chainsaw Sally) have concocted. They brought along the queen of indie horror, Debbie Rochon, to tell a tale of witchcraft. These sisters are beautiful, bashful, and got a world of secrets. Those folks nosey enough to meddle pay a nasty, nasty price. JimmyO out did himself on this one. It’s a dark, sexual horror film that has a lot of legs on it.
A Serbian Film (Contra Film)-After much deliberation, I couldn’t deny this film a spot on my list. It caused quite a bit of controversy not only in my household, but worldwide. Is it absurdly cartoonish at times? Yes. Is it exploitative to the point of being unnecessary? On occasion. But the film’s a strong message being sent to the world by it’s makers as a metaphor for what’s going on in their homeland. With it’s tip of the cap to Irreversible and easily locking down the most brutal third act I’ve seen in 5 years, A Serbian Film’s audacity cannot be denied.
The Crazies (Overture Films)-Man, I wanted to hate this film. But man, it would not allow me. Remaking Romero seems to be par for the course anymore. On this outing, the filmmakers were able to take the premise of the original and breath new life into it. The smartest decision was keeping the cast small and the set pieces few. It created a greater tension and made the violence all the more potent. If a remake had to be made, this one was the direction to go.
Geek War (Low Budget Pictures)-Chris Seaver and Co. have made the most commercially accessible film in the company’s history with Geek War. It’s heartfelt, funny, and still as strange and perverse as LBP is known to be. Strong performances by Shawn Phillips, Kurt Indovina, Josh Suire, and Raine Brown bump this one to the top of the microbudget heap. This is a loveletter to geek culture that only Chris Seaver’s mind could create.
Machete (20th Century Fox/Troublemaker Studios)-I am intrigued by the idea of studios dumping millions of dollars into a film that is meant to look like the filth of 42nd Street. Machete was one of the faux trailers from the Rodriguez/Tarantino (seriously misunderstood) double feature “Grindhouse”. It’s chock full of outrageous scenes, and moves about like a textbook grindhouse flick. It has its flaws but all in all, it was a deliberately made cult film. Sex, violence, and excess-all the things that make this country great!
Bad Biology (Fever Dreams)-Frank Hennenlotter is responsible for some of the sleaziest films of the last 30 years. In fact, his filmography is one of the bricks that The Blood Sprayer is built upon. So, when he releases a film, you bet your ass we pay attention. Bad Biology (which got its actual European release in 2008) landed in the pervy laps of American consumers this year and it solidified one thing-Mr. Hennenlotter still has it! It’s got that dank New York feel you expect and is beautifully shot on 35 mm. It’s a love story of genitals gone awry that isn’t safe for mom, but perfect for us dirtbags.
Dead Hooker In A Trunk (Twisted Twins Productions)-I was the last one to the party on this flick, but my late arrival was well worth it. The Soska sisters are favorites amongst The Blood Sprayer family. They are our Great White Hope from The Great White North. There work represents everything we hold dear. They aren’t great women filmmakers…they’re great filmmakers, period. Dead Hooker In A Trunk is exploitation for the post-modern world. It’s rapidly growing fanbase is well deserved. The future of horror lies in the hands of these twin sisters and it’s safe right there amongst them.
Frozen (Anchor Bay Entertainment)-Adam Green is force to be reckoned with. While we we sit around with our thumbs in our asses waiting for Eli Roth to make something, Mr. Green is actually working. Frozen focuses on the fears we have of encountering the worst nature has to offer. It’s not about urban legends or folklore, it’s about real terror. It’s a strong film that makes snow skiing as scary as JAWS made swimming.
*NOTE: This list WAS made before seeing Black Swan…my guess is that I will love it as much as I think I will. We’ll find out next week.*
–The Human Centipede (IFC Films)-qualifies as a comedy…
–Suck (E1 Entertainment)-kind of is a comedy…
–I Sell The Dead (IFC Films)-same…
–Smash Cut (Shriek Show)-noticing a pattern…
And of course, this wouldn’t be a best of list without doing a bit of breaking down of categories, now would it…
Behold (Mourningside Productions)–Need a lesson on no budget filmmaking? Look no further than these Maryland based folks. Sparse dialogue and a shitload of atmosphere were the key to being truly frightening. If giving the right opportunity, this team of auteurs could be one of fright’s freshest faces.
Best Non-Horror Films (i.e., films for non-lunatics):
-The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Music Box Films)
-Toy Story 3 (Pixar Studios/Disney)
-Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Universal)
-Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Warner Bros.)
-Youth in Revolt (The Weinstein Co./Sony Pictures)
See? Not so bad, I guess. Is there hope for the future? Sure. Jovanka Vuckovic will unleash the highly anticipated “The Captured Bird”, while the Soska Sisters’ “American Mary” will undoubtedly move them from cult status to a major force. “Hobo With a Shotgun” will unleash itself onto a confused public (and we Blood Sprayer’s will be sitting behind said public, giggling…) and once again, exploitation will have another day in the sun. “The Walking Dead”, “Dexter”, and “Black Swan” are all nominated for Golden Globes. “True Blood” has become a bonafide pop culture phenomenon. Synapse Films has made the jump into Blu-ray which should prove to be a successful venture for this fantastic company. There’s plenty to hate about 2010 (Nightmare on Elm St. and I Spit on Your Grave, anyone?) but at the same time, isn’t it still a celebration that horror films are still being made? With all of the financial issues studios are having, horror fans still support the genre (through good AND bad) and remain the most loyal filmgoers on the planet. This bit of hope is the wave we’ll ride into 2011 and hope for the genre’s best to shine brightly.
Tags: A Serbian Film, Adam Green, Bad Biology, Barbara Bell, Behold, Chris Seaver, Dead Hooker In A Trunk, Enter the Void, Frank Hennenlotter, Frozen, Gaspar Noe, Geek War, Graphic Sexual Horror, Grindhouse, I Sell The Dead, Irreversible, JimmyO Burril, Long Pigs, Machete, Rodriguez/Tarantino, Romero, Smash Cut, Soska Sisters, Suck, Synapse Films, The Crazies, The Good Sisters, The human Centipede