Indisputable: Best Horror Movies of the 2010’s

A couple years ago I did a 30 horror movies for 30 days of October in celebration of my favourite “holiday” – Can you guess it? – Of course it’s Halloween. Part of being an individual with eclectic tastes involves constantly changing your mind, so in lieu of making an entirely revised “top-10”, “top-30”, “top-whateverthefuck”, I’ve decided to instead try and narrow down my list. I’m also attempting to celebrate the plethora of new voices and visions emerging in this dynamic genre while not feeling bad for excluding my favourites and classics.

Note: This list came at no easy lengths, as I watch the purposefully bad, downright terrible and truly disgusting. As any great horror fan knows, a true gem is a rare find indeed, the right combination of scares, tropes, music and atmosphere – among other criteria. For every one of these films there are at least 5 crap-tacular films which isn’t to discredit those that were so very close, the ones that could have been but just failed to ultimately deliver the goods.

In no definitive order, here follows the (indisputable) best horror films the last 5 years has to offer:

Evil Dead (2013) – Fede Alvarez


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A great tip of the hat to the original



My expectations were as high as any other die-hard Evil Dead fan. In fact, when this was announced I almost decided to boycott the film entirely. After all, why try and improve upon perfection? But this film really surprised me – It had great scares, great over-the-top gore, and just enough homage to the original that it was a delight for any fan of the original. This film managed to straddle the line between delightful pastiche to the original, while keeping it fresh and unique unto itself. It also managed to expand upon the Evil Dead Necronomicon mythology without stepping on too many shoes.

The Sacrament (2013) – Ti West

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Most film buffs have giant boners for Ti West and I’ve never ever been one of them. I hated House of the Devil and despised The Innkeepers possibly even more. Now that being said, this film is characteristically Ti West. I guess the format of his films finally seemed to fit for me in this project, rather than in the pseudo-throwback used previously. This often just came off gimmicky and cheap to me. West’s characteristic slow-buildup worked perfectly in this film, which follows a film-crew as they enter an unnamed country attempting to research an elusive cult. It’s also quite masterful in the telling how such little outside influence managed to destroy the foundations of the entire congregation. The slow buildup of course, implodes into an exciting and violent buildup – I say this was West’s best work to date, taking his “signatures” and signing a work that is original instead of his usual throw-back to a decade of film long ceased.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Drew Goddard

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Possibly the most paused scene in the film

This movie speaks for itself. Joss Whedon broke everyone’s brain when this was released and horror-nuts rejoiced. Actually, even non-horror fans rejoiced. This movie is just great. It subverts a genre while simultaneously embracing and celebrating everything and anything horror. Just the right mix of horror-comedy without being campy or bridging on lame, this movie had it all : hot babes, stoner comedy, zombies, the unicorn, secret societies, gore, violence and the end of the world (?). This tops almost everyone’s list of Top horror films of the 2010’s let alone top horror of the last decade, and some even arguing top horror EVER. There are tons of pages out there dedicated to spotting the tiniest of nerdy detail from the mise-en-scene, and as such this film instantly garnered a massive cult following.

V/H/S 2 (2013) – Assorted

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Just…watch it.

While there was the first V/H/S and the newer V/H/S: Viral which both have some notable submissions, V/H/S 2 really throws it out of the park. Following the faux-snuff anthology format from the first film this one went into hyperdrive. It’s like the first one going down the highway 200KM/ph and nailing a sudden turn in the road – while viral stopped short, for example. Of course the entire thing came to a jaw-dropping climax during Gareth Evan’s “Safe Haven” – which perhaps is my one complaint during the entire thing, because they should have ended with this beaut. I feel sorry for the poor bastard that came after because I barely remember it. I doubt it was a weak spot or anything, it’s just… how can you compare to the balls-to-the-wall ridiculousness that just went down? The best anthology film of the early decade, but not the biggest, 2012 had The ABCs of Death which had some great contributions but as a whole failed to deliver.

Sinister (2012) – Scott Derrickson

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The opening sequence.

While not terribly original necessarily, a very admirable and well done additional to any ghost/demon themed horror movie. It’s got all the usual tropes – a mystery to solve, faux-leads, twist ending, jump scares, etc. – but nails them all perfectly. My favourite of all these was the jump-scares which definitely had me tensing pretty hard, and even had my boyfriend asking me to walk him down the hall to the bathroom afterwards. A nerd’s note: the sound design was also very interesting in this film, as displayed most strongly when Ethan Hawke’s character is watching the old tapes but also in that freaky scene where the children’s ghosts are running around silently in the dark, bounding in and out of shadows. The sound design in itself was responsible for some of those jump scares I mentioned earlier, while simultaneously it was the lack of sound in some of the murders which made them all the more disturbing to watch. Apparently there is a sequel coming out soon, but I doubt it could be as good, as it has minimal involvement with the original crew, which is never a good sign. I’ll still watch it though.

You’re Next (2011) – Adam Wingard

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Same-same… or is it?

Any favourite horror movie of mine will either nail a genre right on the head, or else subvert it – playing off your expectations, literally using your expectations to gain a certain explorative power over you as a viewer. This film is the latter. It uses your expectations for a typical “home-invasion” type horror thriller to pull off it’s twists. While I normally derive this genre of horror film, such as, infamously, The Strangers (2008), this film excelled by subverting viewer expectations, taking a new, powerful approach to the genre altogether. I would consider that a success.

The Conjuring (2013) – James Wan

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A movie so good it sparked it’s own – albeit crappy – spinoff, Annabelle (2014). I chose this one versus Insidious (2010) and the sequel because, although James Wan really kills it in both (literally and figuratively, natch), The Conjuring managed to take everything that makes James Wan an excellent horror director and roll with it even harder and without remorse. My favourite thing about Wan as a director would have to be his use of pace – there’s no slowing down in this film, no unnecessary leads, and no time wasted at all. There’s a problem – okay let’s deal with it – instead of going through the typical motions of denial and doubt. Wan also manages to artfully employ just the right amount of comedic relief at just the right time, almost exclusively to keep you from having a heart-attack from the tension. His biggest success is my favorite in the jump-scares though, as the most frightening moments happen when you most expect it but almost always from a direction you are least suspecting it – think it’s coming from in front of you? It’s above you. Behind? Below. Beside? Infront. This never fails to give me a huge jump. Can’t wait for the sequel of this bad-boy to come out either.

Kill List (2011) – Ben Wheatley

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No surprises here: I wrote a post a few years back about this being one of the best horror movies of 2011, it still is and clearly extends to the 2010’s.  I’m not sure what’s left to be said about this movie that is at times relentlessly violent, disturbing and at times even humorous. A new take on an old classic: cults, this film will leave you deeply troubled as the ending comes to a cataclysmic, disturbing conclusion. Although somewhat depressing, there are many small details that are worth entailing a second viewing, and memorable moments seared into your mind whether you want them to or not. Powerful visuals and strong story telling come together to make this an exceptional horror film.

The Skin I Live In (2011) – Pedro Almodovar

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A ceaseless, unrelenting, non-stop thrill ride that somehow ends on a more disturbing note than it began. This is a film you cannot look away from – the storytelling is masterfully woven together in a non-linear fashion and Banderas plays a perfect psychopath, who is twisted, cruel and at times even sympathetic. This was the Antichrist (2009) of 2011, in that everyone had something to say about it. Mixed with artful cinematography and a touch of science fiction, this is a truly unique film – something that has never come before, and I would employ anyone to try and come afterwards.

The Babadook (2014) – Jennifer Kent 

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Quite arguably the most talked about horror movie of the year, The Babadook came out with a big splash. Things seemed to have quieted around the film recently, but if you’ve seen the film, the shadows surely haven’t. This film is deeply psychological and extremely sympathetic – a great testament to loss, grief and melancholy as a mother and her son try and cope in the wake of a terrible catastrophe. The main protagonist comes in my favourite form of power – the acousmatic: that which we never truly see the figure, we are only given hints to it’s appearance, and can hear only through what can be described as a disturbing guttural groan. As far as I know, it’s never been done before but I have a feeling children’s storybooks may become a new trope in horror.

Oculus (2013) – Mike Flanagan

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One of my personal favourites, Oculus is a wonderful mix of surreal, absurdity and hallucinogenic realism that you never truly know what is happening to our protagonists until the very end. The film literally keeps you on your toes, and starts to make you feel very near well mad by the end. I’ve never seen a horror movie with such a great pace, diving into the action only to give you some backstory interspersed throughout the action, all climaxing simultaneously. This movie was a wonderful combination of all that I love in a horror movie: mystery, a bit of blood, jump scares, and madness.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Disagree?

General horror movie drinking game rules

There are 5 general rules for horror movies, and drinking. I’ve tried with many other movie genres but there are 5 general rules that work for every horror movie, and I hope you enjoy following them and getting subsequently drunk.

1) drink for death
2) drink for excessive blood
3) drink for horror movie cliches (faux-scares and other fare)
4) drink for anytime you laugh
5) drink for sex (or heavy making out and petting also counts)

Follow these 5 rules and a guaranteed drunk you will be!

In review: Mama

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So I went and saw Mama directed by Andres Mucshietti, the newest production by Guillermo Del Toro. Based on the other films I’ve seen in this kind of relationship, for example The Orphanage or Julia’s Eyes I was expecting creepy creepy creepy! And yes that’s what I got.

However, that being said, I also didn’t expect this film to be so cheesy in parts. The audience was laughing in multiple scenes. As was I. My friend who I saw it with even pointed out that there were several parts where he fully expected “Thriller” to come on and for the actors to break out into Michael Jackson dancing. That would actually make a great rule to the whole drinking game thing I love to do in horror movies, so add that to the general list of rules for this particular film.

The film has no gore, so to speak, and lots of creepy “ahhhh!” moments, which I am happy about as, although I love gore, we all know its not particularly frightening.

I also appreciated the fact that this film didn’t strive for a 100% happy ending, but I wont say anything other than that as that would give away too many spoilers.

My only problem with this film is that there was no REAL mystery. We see the “ghost” straight off the bat, so we basically know her deal before it even begins. There’s no contest that this is a ghost we are dealing with. The whole exploration and delving into old files, that are obligatory, with any horror movie seems forced and unnecessary. The entire back-story was forced and definitely nothing new. And to be real for a moment the ghosts “portal” into our world looked like a bloody vagina on the wall. Not scary, just funny.

To be honest, the trailer for this film was more terrifying than the film itself.

In conclusion, while this film brought some good spooks it was still dealing with an old genre, a tired one that has been played out now. I think it’s time for something fresh and new, outside of children and ghosts. I don’t know what that is, but when I see it we’ll all know from a stellar review. Although it may be a while yet as it seems we are still dealing with the 3D craze and old genres. 2o12 was a seriously disappointing year for horror, if this is a glimpse of things to come in 2013, then I’m not hopeful. Oh well, if we all play by my drinking games it will be a drunk year at the very least.

2013 Horror Movies: To Watch List

I was going to write a review of the newest installment in the Texas Chainsaw Franchise, this time in 3D Yeegads! But it was so terrible I don’t think even I can review it. Plus I was pretty drunk so I don’t remember any of the details anyways. Probably a good thing.

Instead, I’d like to list the horror movies I’m really looking forward to! The first and second are the only ones I’m really likely to see in theaters, the others are just a general mumble of interesting titles both possibly good and probably terrible.

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1) Mama – I have high hopes for this one and hopefully it delivers. I’ve generally enjoyed most of the horrors Guillermo Del Toro produces, so at the very least I’m expecting to be thoroughly creeped out.

2) John Dies at the End – This looks seriously awesome. I think it will be a lot of fun. Drugs, traveling through space and time, non-humans…directed by the guy who did Bubba Ho-Tep what more do you need people!?

3) Carrie – I actually think this will be an awesome remake. I really like Chloe Moretz, and Julianne Moore is always good, I can see them making a really twisted mother-daughter team. At the very least it will hopefully be better than that sequel they made in the 90’s, I was only 10 when that shit came out and I still knew it was garbage.

4) The Call – Looks like more of a thriller than anything else, but still creepy and disturbing. Plus I’m a total sucker for some Halle Berry in a horror movie.

5) Dark Skies – Looks like the usual  Insidious-esque plot line. Formulaic but bound to have some creepy moments and maybe a few “eeeeks!”

6) The Last Exorcism Part II – I really thought I’d hate the first film when I originally went to see it, but you know what? I didn’t. I didn’t mind it, and I liked the “twist” ending which left me feeling seriously gross. Part II looks ridiculous and at the very least probably has some great jumpy moments.

7) The Green Inferno – Not even finished yet, but an Eli Roth film about travelers in Peru with Cannibals. Can’t wait! Seems like this is his kick these days, Aftershock is also coming out soon, but for some reason it failed to really grab my interest.

In Review: Silent Hill Revelation

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The Events: I got to see this movie on Thursday thanks to a pair of free tickets scored from a friend for an advanced screening. However, if I had actually paid money for this movie I would be pissed.

Which is not to say that its that bad however… but actually it is. I’m at a total loss of words actually, as I’m stuck between thinking that maybe the makers knew how bad this movie was and it’s just a big joke, or else it was a serious attempt which is much worse.

Evidence for the Jury: The usual scares are there, pyramid head, the nurses, Dahlia – whose botox face is actually more horrifying than any of the monsters. And some new friends: a mannequin head monster, Carrie-Ann Moss as an albino witch lady, Malcolm McDowell as a crazy old guy. Oh and a new death for Sean Bean (maybe, maybe not? Third movie?)

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(She’s never looked worse, not even as Trinity in the Second and Third Matrix movies…That’s dedication to her art though.)

What I will say in its defense, is that filmed in style of a video-game was quite a successful tactic. I kept picturing myself in certain situations and thinking about how I would tackle the threat. A good method for a video-game inspired movie if you want to sell more of the video game…

In closing, the final verdict: This movie was little more than a high-budget, cheap thrills cash grab that was not very frightening at all and riddled with plot holes. As one of my friends said as we were leaving the theatre, they had such a high budget but “they forgot to hire a writer”. The sets are a good backdrop for Halloween though, and if you honestly want a laugh on the 31st go and see this for lack of any other good horrors, or else just wait to stream…

Grabbers: Junk Cinema, Cult Following

Vancouver International Film Festival 2012 Review:

The little Irish film with a genre-blending combination of horror, science fiction, and comedy, Grabbers (2012), is an engaging cinematic experience. Directed by Jon Wright, the plot is reminiscent of any great B-movie, beginning with an alien ship that crash-lands onto a small island off the coast of Ireland. The aliens, a grotesque octopus-squid type hybrid, are vampiritic and feed off human blood. An unusual twist pervades, however, in that the protagonists soon discover an interesting factor, crucial to their own survival: the aliens are allergic to alcohol. Drinking the blood of an intoxicated person can seriously harm or even kill them. We then watch in joy as the cast enjoys party-therapy for survival against the aliens.

While “Cinema of Attractions” is a film term generally reserved for the earliest moments of film, as explained by Tom Gunning, B-movies can also arguably be considered a cinema of attractions. They are meant to be outrageous spectacles: they have quixotic plots, exceed genre expectations, include tropes like monsters, beautiful women, fast cars, etc. Truly, these are films that, rather than trying to delve into deep social or emotional subjects, aim primarily to achieve their effects through physicality and audience participation. In Grabbers, the attraction first comes from the B-movie expectations, then from specific genre expectations linked to science fiction, horror, and comedy. The audience is intrigued, or “attracted” to the genre blending, which, combined with group viewing pulls spectatorship into new territories.

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The film ties into another movement in cinema related to the trope of alien invasions. Prior alien films were more often than not a grand and overwhelming scenario in which the invaders were determined to achieve global domination or extinction of the human race. For example, The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), The Thing (1982), Independence Day (1996), and Cloverfield (2008) are just a few titles from a plethora of films that follow the formula. With Grabbers, however, the focus has moved from the global towards the parochial and domestic. The alien has moved into the role that ghost figures have traditionally played in films, often invading our homes and our favorite locale in town. It takes a community to work together to take the intrusive figure down.

We can look at Grabbers as a perfect example of this shifting trend, along with contemporary films like Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) from England, and The Watch (Akiva Schaffer, 2012) from the U.S.A. Each film follows a certain formula, in that they all deal with alien encounters, however, each film also inserts their own cultural twist. Attack the Block revolves around a group of young ruffians who band together to save their block from the aliens. Here they are playing off the “Angry Young Men” convention that has been prevalent throughout English Literature and film for the better half of a century, but turns it on its head: instead of remaining angry and causing trouble, they put their collective energies together to defeat the invaders. The Watch is similar to Grabbers, however, in that it blends comedy into the equation. The Watch takes the same theme of neighborhood invasion, but instead centers the film around a giant Costco super-market. This points to the great importance that consumerism holds in American culture, especially as the final showdown occurs within the store walls. Grabbers, on the other hand plays on the stereotypical inebriated Irish image, but uses it in an unusual way, in that it comes to be a crucial part of the community’s survival. What all these films share in common is a need to use and comment upon cultural stereotypes. While not always perceived in a positive sense, it is these stereotypical elements that come to be exactly what the community needs to stay alive and defeat the invasive threat. In using these cultural tropes the films are re-appropriating negative cultural aspects and making them positive. For example, in Grabbers, the entire town bands together in strength against the aliens, by barricading themselves inside the local pub and getting completely inebriated. These films use alien invasions as a medium to defend and re-evaluate social stereotypes.

Through the use of B-movies, genre blending, and audience participation, Grabbers has built the foundations to be a movie with a cult following. The film drew in a large crowd, and did not disappoint in its use of horror, science fiction and comedy. All of these elements came together to kindle physical interactions with the film. The eccentric plot drew in a crowd that largely enjoyed physically interacting with the film in a sociable environment. Part of the enjoyment came from reacting to the spooks and uncanny elements of the horror and science fiction genres, but it also came from the comedy of re-appropriating social stereotypes. The invasion genre is advocating a cultural need for communities to work together against adversity whether interstellar or other.

31 Days of Horror, 31 Horror Movies.

In lieu of my favorite month, October, my top 31 horror movies. Some obvious, some classic, but I hope there’s something in here you haven’t seen before and love! To all my creepy, disturbing, funny, grotesque and spooky movies out there, I salute you! (I have a feeling I’ve left out a few things worth mentioning, but alas, another list for another day)

Top 31 Horror Movies:

31)      The Ring – 2002 – Gore Verbinski  – Okay so not the best movie, but when I was 12 and saw this in theatres in scared the hell out of me!

30)      Gothika – 2003 – Mathieu Kassovitz – Again, not the best, but I great mix of ghost, mystery and disturbing.

29)      Absentia – 2011 – Mike Flanagan – A very well done horror film, I wrote a review about it which you can check out, but it’s so far up on the list because it’s not very jump-out-of-your-seat “spooky”

28)      Carrie – 1976 – Brian De Palma – One of those essentials, I mean how many horror movies have been made about the revenge of the high school student who was bullied since?

27)      The Stepford Wives  – 1975 – Bryan Forbes – A feminist classic, although the pace may destroy our modern audiences with ADD, this movie was very disturbing to me as a child.

26)      Drag me to Hell – 2009 – Sam Raimi – Not the only movie by Raimi on this list, this film was panned by some critics who couldn’t see the humor behind it. A fun, disgusting, creepy film.

25)      The Fourth Kind – 2009 – Olatunde Osunsanmi – This movie was very creepy to me. I don’t so much care about the whole “based on true events” thing, besides the fact it is still really jumpy!

24)      In the Mouth of Madness – 1994 – John Carpenter – Certainly not the only film by the master Carpenter, this film has everything: psychological horror, blood, guts, twisted human creatures, and so on!

23)      Videodrome – 1983 – David Cronenberg – Never one to be afraid of being disturbing, Cronenberg weaves a terrible tale that will leave you feeling dirty yourself.

22)   Saw Franchise – 2004 to 2011 – Various directors – Of course the first is the best, but that can be said of almost every horror franchise. I know many will disagree, but I’ve always loved these movies, and making fun of the gaping plot holes is always entertaining.

21)   Cabin Fever – 2002 – Eli Roth – I also enjoyed the sequel, but Eli Roth deserves a shout out. This is one of those gag-inducing, bodily fluids filled gore fests that will make you squirm!

20)   Halloween – 1978 – John Carpenter – Carpenter is a master in his own right. This film is so creepy! Most of the remakes are just terrible, however.

19)   Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1974 – Tobe Hooper – A classic, leatherface has inspired many other people… to wear other people’s faces. I won’t lie, I also enjoyed the gory remakes.

18)   Friday the 13th – 1980 – Sean S. Cunningham – A wonderful film, and arguably one of the best introductions to the character of Jason, or any supernatural murderer ever. Also the 2009 remake is pure stoner genius as well.

17)   Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984 – Wes Craven – My favorite Craven film and the best in the franchise by a long shot. Johnny Depp smoothie anyone?

16)   I Saw the Devil – 2010 – Jee-woon Kim – A great horror movie, thriller combo, which blurs the lines of evil and makes you question your own morals.

15)   The Shining – 1980 – Stanley Kubrick – Such a classic, and of course extremely well made. What makes this movie so creepy is the fact that is seems so plausible. What if your Dad went crazy from isolation (and ghosts) and tried to murder you? *shudder*

14)   Rec and Rec 2 – 2007 and 2009 – Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza – these films are really some of the best that POV camera movies have to offer. Especially the second one which gets really creative about how they continue the genre (and kill people)

13)   The Mist – 2007 – Frank Darabont – the classic, community grouped together for survival story but with a great and tragic twist.

12)   Suspiria – 1977 – Dario Argento – It’s hard to narrow down at least one Dario film to use, but this one is a classic. Watch all of his works if you’re into classic horror though!

11)   Cube – 1997 – Vincenzo Natali – Woo Canadians! This is a creepy but smart horror film which follows the anguish of the prisoners. What is not explained remains the creepiest aspect of the film.

10)   The Thing – 1982 – John Carpenter – My favorite film by Carpenter. The isolation, what the alien does to your body, not knowing who the alien is? All come together for a terrifying and disgusting combination.

9)   Kill List – 2011 – Ben Wheatley – There is something about this film which really struck me – I wrote and entire review about it before – the gruesomeness, the disturbing-ness… none of these will disappoint you.

8)   Planet terror – 2007 – Robert Rodriguez – Just pure fun and madness. Typical gore and splatter-fest activities, I’ve always enjoyed a horror with a sense of humor.

7)   Sleepy Hollow – 1999 – Tim Burton – This is just head-chopping good fun. Creepy, twisted and a disturbing take on the light-hearted classic.

6)   Session 9 – 2001 – Brad Anderson – This is one of those serious horror films, with a great mystery and a great twist. Who doesn’t love abandoned mental hospitals?

5)   Tale of Two Sisters – 2003 – Jee-woon Kim – A beautiful,  disturbing, and tragic tale of a family gone wrong. The twists are wonderful and artfully revealed. A masterpiece!

4)   Return of the Living Dead – 1985 – Dan O’Bannon – Just far too much fun. Punks and zombies. A hilarious zombie film not a dull moment.

3)   28 Days Later – 2002 – Danny Boyle – A stunning work, the shots of an abandoned London are enough to place it here alone… That and the Zombies can run…fast!

2)   The Evil Dead – 1981 – Sam Raimi – My favorite cult horror movie, hands down, ever made. It’s just too much ridiculous fun. Is it serious? Is it a joke? Who knows, who cares!

1)   The Signal – 2007 – David Bruckner et al. – My personal favorite. This film blends humor and disturbing elements so well it leaves you laughing and gasping at the same time. In a way I didn’t even think possible! The best take on people-gone-crazy genre I’ve ever seen. A surprising little independent film.