I watched a lot of movies this year. Some of them were really shitty. These were not.
1. Excision (Anchor Bay Films)- Oh, c’mon! You’re not at all surprised this is my #1 with a bullet! This year’s winner for me, hands down. I’ve found myself quite smitten with Excision since the very first glimpse I got at the poster. The trailer only furthered that intense compulsion to see the movie. I’m on repeat viewings and I have yet to tire of it. Richard Bates Jr. is an immensely talented writer and director who has catapulted himself into the favor of many-a horror fan’s hearts. I am definitely one of those fans. This movie continuously puts a smile on my face…it’ll do the same for you.
2. Dear God No! (Big World Pictures)-The indie horror circuit was dealt a hand of awesome when these Georgia based lunatics decided to bring their fucked up ideas to life. Dear God No! is every insane concept the drive-in universe ever birthed into existence. The movie is made better knowing that these fellas live and breathe it. James Bickert and his gang are the real deal. DGN! had our staff tight in the pants and I suspect they will continue to do so with the rest of the sleaze lovers the world over.
3. Beyond The Black Rainbow (Magnet Releasing)-I was so enamored with this movie that I had no feasible words to properly review it with. Literally…I didn’t know which angle to take in order to review it! It’s this fascinating visual pig-out that just sort of left me spellbound and dumbfounded. Writer/Director Panos Cosmatos constructed a freakish, otherworldly drug dream that calls to mind early Cronenberg, fucked up cartoons, primitive video games and just when you think it’s going to zig, it zags long enough to cut your throat. Combining the best visuals I’d seen all year with Jeremy Schmidt’s (of Canadian rockers Black Mountain) FLAWLESS score, BTBR transcends genre definitions and fast tracks itself to cult legacy. I reckon this one will be playing at the Alamo Drafthouses of the world for years to come.
4. The Theatre Bizarre (Severin Films)-While I would’ve been best-suited to view this anthology in the most objective manner possible, my fanboy bias interfered. I love all parties involved with this project. Loads of transgressive film outlaws pooling their morbid ideas into a big fat batch of evil-plain & simple. Everyone from Richard Stanley to Douglas Buck offers up a sacrifice to the horror gods for this one. As each piece unfolds, things get more and more gruesome AND as a result, more entertaining to watch. Our host for the events is the always weird Udo Kier who enacts this odd Grande Guignol-styled performance that is classically his own. I saw several lukewarm reviews of this one that had me scratching my head. Horror is a vast landscape and the contributors to this one are some the standouts in their field.
5. Lovely Molly (Image Entertainment)-If Eduardo Sanchez had followed up Blair Witch Project with Lovely Molly, he very well would be atop the horror mountain today. But no matter what lackluster films have come between his explosive debut and present day, he still constructed a truly creepy movie. In a fashion that appears to be his “thing”, Sanchez constructs a story of historical evil that seeks out a weakened soul and it exploits its every fiber. This film intersects at Winter’s Bone and Session 9 to deliver an out & out scary movie. It turns down roads one wouldn’t expect, balances character development evenly with fright, and ends up accomplishing the rare feat of appealing to both the casual horror fan and seasoned horror lovers alike.
6. Last Days Here ( Sundance Selects)-as we often discover, the horrors of reality are far worse than anything one’s imagination could ever dream of conjuring up. Last Days Here is a documentary revealing the life of Pentagram frontman and founder, Bobby Liebling. As a quick explanation for those of you not familiar with Bobby or his musical career, Pentagram’s influence on the heavy music underground is unmatched. As Black Sabbath is to heavy metal, Pentagram is to doom metal/stoner rock/occult rock. The main difference? Sabbath made it…Pentagram always fell short. Riddled by an alarming amount of bad luck, coupled with Bobby’s crippling heroin addiction, the band never once hit the potential success it most certainly would’ve had. As time has gone on, Bobby’s reputation as a drug addict held greater notoriety than the band itself. The documentary catches Bobby in a near- death state with his only shot at surviving being Pentagram. His friend and manager sinks every last dime and minute he has into trying to save Bobby. If you’re at all familiar with the last few years for Pentagram, you know it worked. Still, the long road there is documented in all it’s painful glory. As a person who has endless amounts of affection for Pentagram, this documentary plucked some very personal strings for me. I shed some honest tears for Bobby watching Last Days Here. I’m glad he made out it out the other side. Fuck the Rolling Stones…fear Pentagram.
7. God Bless America (Magnet Releasing)-It’d be fair to say that this year, of all years, was the perfect time for a movie like this to be made available to the public. Living here in what was called “The battleground state to end all battleground states”, I can safely say that God Bless America spoke to the sentiments of its people. We’re fed up. Fed up with celebrity culture, fed up with phony religious idealism, fed up with snide elitists disguised as post-modern hipsters, fed up carbon copy answers, hell, we’re just fed the fuck up!! Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait is too. So, he made a movie that spells out the “what if” dream scenario in which we, the fed up realists, go on a goddamned killing spree. Make right the wrongs in this world, so to speak. In the process of doing so, he not only (I assume) exorcised some personal demons but handed us a viciously funny, violent, poignant movie that will soon carry the same sort of cult status that Office Space has. God Bless America says what so many wish to and it does it whilst wagging its middle finger in the air.
8. The Cabin In The Woods (Lionsgate)-Very shortly after its release, The Cabin In The Woods was getting it’s balls gently handled by every horror fan I know. It proved to be with very good reason. Lining horror conventionalism up in your crosshairs and exposing its irony has been done before, but NEVER in the way TCITW dealt with it. Things were so simple at times, you knew there had to be some complexity we weren’t grasping…and that would be the case. The idea that drove this movie is so preposterously awesome, I left the theatre shaking my head thinking “How has this concept eluded the mind of so many brilliant filmmakers?!” It’s scary at all the right times, sexy when necessary, and funny when funny is acceptable. It’s a perfectly executed horror film that doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience, but rather applauds their faith in the monsters under the bed. Multiple viewings have yet to find me tired of The Cabin In The Woods. I suspect we can add this to the list (along with Trick R’ Treat) of movies we’ll see our children watching at sleepovers…kids still do that shit, right?
9. Kill List (IFC Midnight)-Jesus Christ, what a movie! I will admit, the first act nearly lost me upon viewing. It was a minimalistic, almost drab character driven flick with no horror in site. But if you hold on for it to hit (and trust me when I say it hits!), you’re going to receive a hammer to the face! Kill List is a film you have to be very careful when describing because the third act gets to be so bonkers, you’ll give away everything if you try to explain yourself. Just know this: Kill List delivered on all fronts and then leaves its stink to linger in your home. I’d liken it to the the opening 30 minutes of Irreversible in the sense that it builds up, then hurts you, and hurts you badly. A very unconventional direction to tackle a genre film from, but IFC Midnight delivers once again. Do not plan on feeling good afterwards. You weren’t meant to.
10. Father’s Day (Astro- 6/Troma)-Setting all personal feelings aside about what has gone down between the film’s makers and its distributor, I can say with a great deal of confidence that this is a quintessential sleaze film. Every boneheaded thing that you could possibly think of gets tossed into the mixing bowl, but only after it’s doused in a healthy amount of blood. Expect to laugh your ass off at the notion that the events taking place were even dreamt up, let alone made into a movie! The folks at Astron-6 have only one thing in mind and that’s to keep you as entertained as is humanly possible. Nothing’s sacred and nothing’s spared…it’s all here, ladies and germs. Lots of obnoxious characters living like assholes-just the way we like our exploitation! The Blu-ray package of this is outstanding and worth every penny. You’ll thank me for it.
*Honorable mentions: The Raid, V/H/S, Para-Norman, The Innkeepers, The Tall Man, The Weird World Of Blowfly, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises*
This wasn’t just a year for flicks. No, sir! There was plenty going on on the weirdo side of the tracks. Here’s a few other notable things to bring a smile to your face:
1. Horror Television FINALLY doing it right-That’s right, folks. Horror is the current TV cash cow. American Horror Story, True Blood, Dexter and the juggernaut known as The Walking Dead were killing in ratings and impress the pop culture impresarios worldwide. You can’t go anywhere without spotting something Walking Dead related. It’s a wildly popular show that has both fans and detractors lighting up social media every Sunday. Not to be outdone, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk took season 2 of American Horror Story into so many obnoxious directions, it’s impossible to not have a soft spot in your heart for this lovable perversion of decency. And of course, Sookie…
Point being, Television is finally getting this whole scare thing right. Love or hate these shows, there’s no denying the impact they’re having on how television shows are both made and presented to the public. There unafraid to take scenarios to the furthest reaches of acceptability. That in and of itself is worthy of our respect. With any luck, it’ll continue. Sidenote: Before you email me or comment on this article that I left shows out, I already know that. This was just to give some solid examples of the shows that are wider in reach, culturally speaking. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil, Death Valley, Holliston, and the like are all great shows. All definitely worth your time and all great examples of horror’s place in mainstream media.
2.The new generation of Occult Rock-Oddly enough, one of heavy music’s bastard children emerged from it’s evil shadows this year in a big way. Occult Rock is in a full-on resurgence and I couldn’t be happier!! Building upon the foundation laid by Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Roky Erickson, Coven, Black Widow, these bands (mostly European) have taken up the flag of the Dark One and set it to some of 2012’s best records. Witchcraft, Graveyard, Horisont, Troubled Horse, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, The Devil’s Blood, Jess And The Ancient Ones, Blood Ceremony, Hexvessel, Year Of The Goat, Orchid, Bloody Hammers all proudly invert their crosses and rock in the name of (some figuratively, other’s literally…maybe?). Whether or not any of it’s real, one thing is certain: The music is great. These bands put on amazing live shows (I can attest to this firsthand!) and are making waves here in the states as a result. Previously, labels like Rise Above Record and Svart Records were doing their damndest to distribute the music of the bands in their stables, but now with new distribution deals inked via Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast, the European Evil Invasion is easier to get your hands on. Oh, and for all you vinyl snobs, these bands were MEANT to be heard on wax. For proof, pick up the latest Graveyard and Witchcraft releases at your local record shop and you’ll see what I mean. These hardworking bands create without compromise and they’re finally seeing the results. As a long time fan, I’m glad to see them getting some well-deserved respect in America.
It’s been a fantastic year for horror. It’s been a fantastic year for The Blood Sprayer family. Friends and alumni of this site have gone on to make their own flicks that are turning out brilliantly. Filmmakers who’ve become friend of the site, like Chris LaMartina & Jimmy George, hosted brilliant Kickstarter campaigns which in turn will become awesome movies. We feel blessed to be a part of this whole community. And speaking of our community, I want to personally thank all of you for allowing us to be a part of it. I feel blessed that I get to not only see a great movie like Excision, but I also get to cover it and share my feelings with all of you. I love that horror movies still shake us up and that’s what leads me to close with this thought: The holiday season was dealt a sobering blow when the shootings in Connecticut hit the news wire. Like all of you, my heart aches for the victims and their loved ones who are left with no real answers. Instead of co-opting the pain of others by grandstanding bullshit, I’m just going to encourage you to rise above the fray. Movie, music, video games…they all bring us joy. They do NOT kill people. They are NOT to blame for the atrocities that are committed throughout the world. If anything, they’re the escape. They’re the thing we turn to to bring a smile to our face, to inspire us. Now would be a good time to keep that going. So make sure to laugh a little harder this holiday. Hug your loved ones with more intensity than you ever have in the past. Listen to your favorite records, watch your favorite horror movies, eat, drink, and be merrier than you’ve ever been!!
From my family, from our Blood Sprayer family, I wish you all a happy holiday and hope for another new year filled with kick ass horror movies!!! So long, 2012…thanks for the filth!!!