Though the Unimonster is known far and wide as a connoisseur of classic horror, I do not limit myself only to those films produced before 1990. In fact, I love all horror films, from the earliest Georges Méliès silents to the latest remake of a sequel to a rip-off of a horror blockbuster. But horror films are like family; I love them all, but liking them is another matter. It is very difficult to like many of the recent releases in the genre. It’s not that they’re bad movies; they simply aren’t very good, or in the least bit original.
But there are always exceptions, and the eight years since 2010 have not been totally bleak for horror fans. There have been bright points in the darkness, made more significant by their relative scarcity. Here are the ten movies that have shone brightest for me over the past eight years, in no particular order. One note to the reader, if I may … circumstances have drastically limited my ability to view new horror films over the past two years, thus this list may seem weighted towards the first half of the decade. This is not to say that there is a lack of worthwhile offerings of more recent vintage, it’s just that I haven’t seen many new movies lately.
1.) V/H/S (2012)—Though I generally detest found footage movies, as they more often denote laziness on the part of the filmmaker, rather than a tool used to impart a cinema verite feel to the film, here the story incorporates the found footage in a way that is natural and logical. Using the premise of a collection of cursed videotapes, Brad Miska, who conceived the idea, and Bloody Disgusting, the Horror web-site that produced the film, wove the footage on the videotapes into an effectively frightening, compelling Horror Anthology. It spawned a pair of sequels, good, but not equal to the first.
2.) Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)—Horror and Comedy have been closely associated genres since Abbott and Costello were perfecting their shtick in the early 1940s, and they continue to be so today. One of the best Horror-Comedies of the past decade, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil was the brainchild of Eli Craig, the son of actress Sally Field and her first husband, Steve Craig. Starring Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, the movie is a combination of Cabin Fever and Hee Haw … Gory when it needs to be, funny when it should be, with a country-fried charm all its own.
3.) Trolljegeren —aka— Trollhunter (2010)—Horror truly has gone global when there are two films on this list from Norway, of all places … and it missed having a third by one year. The first is Trollhunter, released in 2010. A ‘found footage’ mockumentary, it purports to show footage shot by three Norwegian university students as they tag along with an official government troll hunter, a member of a secret government agency, the Troll Security Service. His job is to hunt down and exterminate trolls who’ve wandered outside of their hidden preserves. The premise may be laughable, but the good acting, combined with excellent effects, make it work. This is a fantastic movie, once the viewer has bought into the central assertion that trolls are real, and roam the Norwegian countryside. Speaking of which, the movie certainly isn’t hurt by the beautiful Norwegian landscapes, which are splendidly photographed.
4.) The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014)—Not really a sequel to the 1976 film of the same name, neither is it a remake. It is most properly described as a reimagining, it keeps the historical events, but treats the earlier movie as just that, a movie about those events. In fact, the original film becomes an important plot point for this movie. I don’t find it as good as the original movie, which is one of my favorite 1970s proto-Slasher films, but this one is still enjoyable, and watching them back-to-back makes a great double-feature.
5.) Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012)—For whatever reason, Great Britain has, over the past decade and a half, seen a renaissance in Horror filmmaking. Coming from the land that gave us Hammer and Amicus, Cushing and Lee, as well as Monty Python and Benny Hill, perhaps it’s natural that this resurgence of Horror has a comedic bent. Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) began this trend, and Matthias Hoene’s Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012) just might be the best Zom-Com movie since then. I consider Shaun… to be the best horror film released since the year 2000, and I must say that this movie pleased me nearly as much.
6.) The Cabin in the Woods (2012)—One of the most original concepts in Horror over the past decade, The Cabin in the Woods is that rare breed of film that manages break new ground by paying homage to the past. It does this in a self-referential manner that could’ve failed miserably if poorly executed, but with a script by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and excellent direction from Goddard, the movie succeeded beyond all expectation.
7.) Død Snø 2—aka—Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (2014)—I said earlier that there were going to be two films on this list hailing from the land of the Vikings (Norway, not Minnesota), and Tommy Wirkola’s follow-up to his surprise 2009 Nazi Zombie cult hit Død Snø, (Dead Snow), is the second. Almost as good as the first film in the series, which would’ve made this list had it been released one year later, this movie has everything you could ask from a zombie movie—plus undead Nazis.
8.) Tales of Halloween (2015)—I love Anthology films. From Dead of Night to Trick ‘r’ Treat, anthologies have something to offer for everyone. Though the individual segments can vary in quality, the good usually outweighs the bad by a healthy margin. This is the case with Tales of Halloween, whose ten short stories all center on our favorite holiday. One or two may be weak, but most are very good, with Adrienne Barbeau, recreating her DJ character from John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), tying all the segments together.
9.) It (2017)—I dare you to name a Horror movie released last year that was hyped to a greater extent than this, the long-awaited (by some, though not by the Unimonster) remake of Stephen King’s It, produced as a made-for-TV miniseries which aired on NBC-TV in 1990. I love that version, I still do, and I still think that Tim Curry was hands-down a much better Pennywise than was Bill Skarsgård. However, I must admit how surprised, and pleased, I was by this movie. Normally, my enjoyment of a movie is inversely proportional to the amount of hype it receives, but in this case, this movie deserved the level of attention it got. I can’t wait to see the conclusion in 2019.
10.) Piranha 3D (2010)—Occasionally, one wants to turn off the brain and just veg out with some mindless entertainment. Cheesy monsters, gratuitous blood and gore, naked women … and maybe a pizza. It’s hard to imagine a movie that better fits that description than Alexandre Aja’s 2010 remake of Joe Dante’s 1978 classic about mutated piranha that attack a lakeside resort. Make mine extra pepperoni, please!
Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2018
Dick Dyszel - Voice Actor