Best of 2014 - by T.C. McKeever
Behold. Another of The Children of Samhain's contributors presents her BEST OF 2014 list. T.C Mckeever lives in Los Angles, and splits her time between reading, writing, and struggling to stay away at her hideous day-job. Enjoy.
14. Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Let me preface this by saying, that Cabin Fever: Patient Zero is in no way a good movie. This movie is utterly ridiculous, the premise is completely moronic, and the acting is one step up from a daytime soap opera. That being said, this movie doesn’t skip on the gore. I love gore, the bloodier the better in my opinion, and this movie is nothing more than a splatter-hound’s wet dream. Wet chunks, glistening organs, and cringy-effects a plenty is what makes this movie at least worth a single viewing. Not to mention a cat fight between two buxom vixens in which they rip each other asunder? Not every horror movie has to be good to be enjoyed; Patient Zero is proof that good ole fashion campiness is more than enough to make a genre film enjoyable.
13. Big Bad Wolves
This movie was technically released in 2013, but it was released in the United States in early 2014, so I’m going to drop it on the list. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. After all, who doesn’t like a revenge flick? On top of the superb acting turned in by the leads in the film, this movie is absolutely stunning, deliciously dark, and incredibly twisted. This movie is a must-see for Tarantino and Miike fans. The only reason this film isn’t further down the list is that despite having a well-crafted and suspenseful story line, I found it to be a tad predictable.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kane Hodder at this year’s Days of the Dead—Los Angeles. After he complemented me, I took a picture with him in all of his muscled glory. He was glorious, and his friendly shoulder squeeze was enough to make this fan girl a bit gelatinous about the knees. Every girl has celebrity crushes; mine happen to center on horror movie villains, special effects artists, and horror writers. My inherent nerd-girl is why I enjoyed this film. Smothered, is a delightfully low-budget romp that playfully pokes fun at the quasi-celebrity our favorite villains enjoy. It’s funny, endearing, and an easy watch.
I’m a sucker for a creature feature and for a certain “je ne sais quoi” that Justin Long brings to the screen. Tusk combines everything I like about Kevin Smith and Justin Long, with my unholy love for the people-transforming-into-things cinematic genre. This is not the best of Smith’s films, but it damn sure is not his worst. Tusk is one of those rare films that just kinda is... What’s enjoyable about this film is that there is no deeper message, no hidden curriculum, just a relatively simple story that is told in an entertaining way. Often, directors feel the need to bludgeon audiences with purpose and meaning, and try to squeeze out every drop of symbolism from their storyline. Smith simply asks the audience to accept his ludicrous premise and hold on for the ride.
Dire Wit’s Mutantis is so much fun. Mutantis is a silly blend of 60’s monster movie tropes, blended with elements of America’s incessant need to punish young people in horror films for, well, being young. This movie is fully aware of what it is, and exemplifies the low-budget look to an extreme degree. The titular Mutantis looks like it would be better suited to fighting Godzilla than sexually harassing “teenagers.” Yes, those quotes belong there, watch the movie and see why. The entire movie is dubbed over purposely poorly, and the special effects are crafted to be as cheesy as possible. This movie reminds me of simpler time, when zippers were visible in costumes, everything could be blown up, and sets were repurposed so many times in a single film that the actors essentially stayed in the same place.
9. Time to Kill
I’m not entirely sure where to start with this one. I picked up Time to Kill at a recent horror convention and was in love three minutes in. This movie is sleazy, violent, and reminded me how much I love and miss seventies Grindhouse films. In the tradition of classics like Last House on the Left and Gator Bait (I Spit on Your Grave), Time to Kill offers audiences a high-energy slaughter party that’s laced with taboo, titties, and blood.
8. The Babadook
Although I didn’t particularly care for this film, I have to be honest and say that The Babadook is easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing horror films I’ve seen to date. This movie is gorgeous, the acting superb, and the mise-en-scene is the stuff of dreams. Not to mention the sound is mixed perfectly and heightens the drama and action of every scene. In my opinion, everything about this film is perfect other than the conclusion.
7. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead
Is it possible to sail “over the top” of “over the top?” Yes, yes it is. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead proves that a movie can double-up on gore, violence, and insanity and still be an excellent product. Like its predecessor, Red vs Dead is absolutely ridiculous. Zombie Nazis, possessed arms, nerdy Americans? There is so much to like about this film. If you’re looking for a serious movie, or even a storyline that isn’t completely irrelevant, you won’t find it here. This movie is 100 minutes of pure nonsense, and it couldn’t be sweeter.
New Zealand has certainly figured out the horror-comedy genre far better than America has. Housebound, is the tale of delinquent Kylie who, after a botched robbery, is placed on house arrest in her childhood home. She soon finds that her home is haunted much to her dismay, but to the delight of her eccentric family. Director Gerard Johnstone manages to seamlessly blend horror and suspense into a madcap comedy that is scary, hilarious, and completely entertaining. Fans of Black Sheep will enjoy this film.
I read Joe Hill’s Horns and enjoyed it very much. For those of you who don’t know, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, and has written four amazing novels and a host of other graphic novels and short stories. The film stays faithful enough to the novel but does omit a few key details. It’s funny and dark, and the visual effects were stunning. I almost wished I had watched the movie before reading the novel; this is one of the few novel-to-movie adaptations that can stand alone from the original work. Overall, this is a good movie, a little flawed but still enjoyable.
4. Starry Eyes
I had very low expectations for Starry Eyes. Very Low. After all how many times can the same “small town girl in Big Bad Hollywood” theme be played out on film? With Starry Eyes I was surprised and disturbed in the best kind of way. Essentially, audiences follow Sarah down the rabbit hole of Hollywood and her painful descent into darkness. The film is well-acted, pretty to look at, and has a great sound track.
3. Bag Boy Lover Boy
Bag Boy Lover Boy… I spent the majority of this film with my head quirked to the side. This movie is fantastically weird in the best way possible. There are so many small disturbing details in this film, and each one adds just a touch more absurdity and darkness to premise. That being said, Andres Torres’ Bag Boy Lover Boy is extremely well-done, and the movie’s weirdness doesn’t detract from the plot. The main character, a simple hot-dog chomping fry cook is recruited to work for a twisted photographer. He soon finds through a series of even weirder events that he enjoys being behind the camera and models are his victims. Bag Boy Lover Boy is easily one of my favorite films this year because it was literally unlike any other horror movie I’ve seen to date.
2. Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s demented love story, Only Lovers Left Alive is not just a great vampire movie, it’s a damn good love story. Detroit is an unlikely backdrop for such a sensual film, but the city’s grit and despair translates perfectly into Jarmusch’s vision, and is able to aptly symbolize the decline of human society. The entire cast turns in amazing performances. Tom Hiddleston plays Adam, a vampire bored of eternity, and his lover Eve, is played by Tilda Swinton. The movie follows the bedlam that ensues when the lovers are reunited and thrown into chaos when Eve’s little sister Eva (Mia Wasikowska) disturbs their quiet loathing and forces them out of their lackadaisical lives.
1. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
It was very hard to choose my favorite horror film of this year, but this Iranian horror film just barely slipped into the coveted number one spot. The movie is absolutely spectacular and is a seamless blend of so many elements and genre conventions it defies categorization. If I could describe this film, I would say that it’s a vampire-film-noir-romance-thriller with elements of the ever popular “coming of age” story. Director Ana Lily Amirpour’s vision is beautiful, shot in black and white and incorporates so many aesthetic elements that I could tell that this movie crafted with the finest of care. It’s a beautiful movie with a relatively simplistic storyline. The greatness is not in Amirpour’s fable of a lonely vampire descending on Bad City, but of the world crafted around this story, the people who dance in and out of metaphorical shadows, and as an homage of new wave culture. This film is wonderful.