And here we are, halfway through the decade and what have learned so far? Sequels and Remakes were the order of the day for the decade (and there are more of both to come) and Asia has begun to make its presence known in the US thanks to the American remake of The Ring. As I said in the intro for 2001, the shadow of 9/11 can be felt in some of the horror films that came out after ’01, and from here until 2009 is when we’ll begin to see that shadow more predominantly.
Do yourself a favor, and go find the unrated cut of this film with the original English ending, because the American ending is fucking horrible and stupid and completely ruins the film. The Descent follows a group of women who go cave diving, only to find out that they aren’t alone. Claustrophobic and gory, The Descent is one of those horror films that proves that women in the genre can be much more than screaming victims, and I applaud director Neil Marshall for that.
The Devils Rejects
I have a love/hate relationship with Rob Zombie as a director. I hated House of 1000 Corpses, and while I liked both Halloween and H2, his unrated directors cut have ruined both films (H2’s ending is completely nonsensical in the director’s cut). So how did Devil’s Rejects make it onto my list? Simply put, it’s exactly the type of film I was expecting Rob to make when I first read about House of a 1000 Corpses, dark and gritty, unrelenting in its violence, and very 70’s. Devil’s Rejects is what House should have been, a cohesive story with real pacing and interesting cinematography instead of an hour-long music video.
The Amityville Horror
I confess, I’ve never seen the original Amityville Horror, and prior to seeing the remake I had only a passing knowledge of the story, but like the other remakes I’ve mentioned on these lists, Amityville brings together a good cast with a well written script to produce a good scary movie. Ryan Reynolds gets to flex his dramatic muscle to great effect as George Lutz, and comes off as genuinely scary in several scenes.
I first saw this film in the theater, not knowing anything about it prior to my planting my ass in the seat. And for 99 minutes, I was completely absorbed by the events taking place on the screen. What starts out as your typical horror set up (a group of pretty young people going out on a road trip) soon enough turns viciously brutal when Mick (John Jarret), one of the most realistic psychopaths committed to celluloid shows up on-screen. Often compared to Hostel, Wolf Creek shares a similar “Young adults in the wrong place at the wrong time” theme, but where Hostel’s cast is a group of unlikeable frat-boy douche bags, the Wolf Creek victims are likeable and come across as genuine human beings that you actually care about.
After the success of the original Saw, it seemed inevitable that a sequel would be made, and only a year later, we got Saw II. Expanding on the world of Jigsaw, and even giving us a chance to get to know the man himself, Saw II upped the ante with the traps and the gore, including the most uncomfortable scene of the entire series (the needle pit). True to the original, Saw II gave us a twist ending and the hints of the convoluted continuity that would become a hallmark of the series as it progressed.
Masters of Horror: Jennifer
I’m a fan of Dario Argento, but his later films have been rather hit or miss, however in his first Masters of Horror episode, entitled Jennifer, he knocks it out of the park. Jennifer is the tale of a man who saves a disfigured woman (the titular character) from being murdered, only to be swallowed up by the madness and death that seems to trail Jennifer. One of the few good films of the Masters of Horror series, Jennifer is Argento’s return to form, as the hour timeframe of the film seems to be a challenge the director conquered head on, without the ending feeling rushed or unnatural.
Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns
John Carpenter’s first entry into the MoH series is easily one of the best of the entire series run. Cigarette Burns suffers slightly because of the forced hour run time, and the ending feels a bit rushed, not to mention the less than stellar reveal of the film within a film, Le Fin Absolue du Monde, but the story itself is what drives this film, and it’s a little disappointing that Carpenter didn’t try to expand Cigarette Burns into a feature-length film. Following theater owner Kirby Sweetman, Cigarette Burns is a tale of desire and the power of film as Kirby is thrust into a nightmare as he searches for the most rare film ever made, Le Fin Absolue Du Monde.
A fairly standard revenge story, Tamara is one of those films that for some reason I genuinely love, despite there really being nothing stellar about it. The titular character is an “unattractive” outcast who returns from the grave to exact revenge on the group of teens who killed her. Written by the creator of Final Destination, I wish I could make a grand pronouncement about why you should see this film, but I honestly can’t. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but I love it for what it is.
I confess it’s been about six or so years since I watched this film, but I remember really enjoying when I saw it. Creepy, bizarre and a little unnerving, The Toybox is a film that I plan to track down and give a proper review for as soon as I can lay hands on it.