THE GRAVEDIGGERS'S TEN BEST HORROR FILMS OF 2011!
Just when you thought 2011 was gone for good and you had bid good riddens to it... along comes The Gravedigger to put in his 2 cents about the best in horror for the past year. While all of us may not totally agree with the order of this list, we do agree that 2011 was a pretty good year for horror, and a pretty bad year for everything else. Put the past year to bed and get a load of what The Gravedigger thought was the best in horror of 2011!
10 BEST HORROR MOVIES OF 2011
A couple, Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrn) and their two sons are being haunted in their new house. When this continues they move but the spirits are still following them. Their oldest son goes into a coma and months go by. They find out, with the help of a medium, Elise (Lin Shaye), that the boy is haunted. He has out-of-body experiences at night, when he sleeping, and had just thought them dreams. But he went to far and now his mind is lost in the other realm, "the further". Now, the spirits are drawn to his comatose form, wanting to take over the boy's body. The most malevolent creature is this spirit that looks like Darth Maul from the STAR WARS movies. It's up to the parents to somehow get their son back, which is a bit like a sequence in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And, of course, there's this whole nod to the ghost investigators in POLTERGEIST.
This is one of the creepiest horror flicks of the decade, with some truly frightening scenes. This is taken down a notch by some inane dialogue and stupid things the characters do but doesn't detract too much from enjoying the movie. INSIDIOUS also, features a brief role by Ruben Pla as a doctor (interviewed a while back on buried.com), as well as screenwriter Leigh Whannel as one of the ghost investigators.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
In the near future, in San Francisco, a scientist, Will Rodman (James Franco) invents a drug that enables the brain to repair itself. His motivation is that his father (John Lithgow) has Alzheimers and he wants to cure it. One of the chimps he tests, a female named Bright Eyes, quickly becomes intelligent and can do any puzzle thrown at her. But during a fundraising meeting she escapes and has to be gunned down. Rodman discovers she was just being protective of her newborn son. Rather than have him destroyed, Rodman secretly takes the green-eyed chimp home and raises him. This is Caesar. He has him for eight years, during which time he insists he's his father and treats him like a son. But this all ends when Caesar tries to protect Rodman's father, who he sees is being threatened by a neighbor. After this incident Caesar has to be kept at a chimp refuge, which is basically set up like a prison. The Dodge Landon, the son of the guy who runs it, taunts the apes and treats them like prison inmates. Caesar knows he's more intelligent than the other apes and wants to help them. What's cool is that he knows sign language and is able to communicate with a former circus orangutang. Then he plans an escape--and a way to make all the apes more intelligent by exposing them to the drug that had made him smarter. However, this same virus has an adverse affect on humans-- it kills them. There's a climactic confrontation on the San Francisco bridge as the simians try to make it for safety. Basically, the entire more is a "re-emagining" of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Throughout the film there are references to a manned Mars mission that has gone awry--and the astronauts have disappeared, which I'm sure is a hint as to what will happen in the next APES movie, when these astronauts will return to an ape-ruled planet Earth sometime in the future. Maybe the next film will be an update of BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES...
Unlike the Tim Burton re-imagining of 2001, the Apes here are not made more intelligent by human DNA-- they are their own creature. And instead of actors in ape-makeup they are all rendered via computer animation by Weta Workshop, who had done such an amazing job on KING KONG. The effects are impressive. There are some "in-jokes", such as the Orangutan having the name Maurice (Maurice Evans portrayed the original Dr. Zaius) and a scene in which a zoo keeper, "Dodge Landon" (named after the two astronauts from the original PLANET OF THE APES movie), exclaims "Get your damn dirty hands off me" when Caesar attacks him. If you've never seen any of the original Apes movies this is a great introduction. If you're a fan of the classic series this will not be a disappointment. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is far better than I ever expected it to be. Highly recommended.
I loved the original 1985 Tom Holland film. It was fun and scary and survived multiple viewings. So I was somewhat hesitant about this big-budgeted Dreamworks remake.
The updated version relocates to Las Vegas, where Charley Brewster (Anton Yeltchin of STAR TREK) and his mom (Toni Collette of THE SIXTH SENSE) live in a cookie cooker subdivision. Charlie is in high school and only recently hangs out with the "cool people" and has a cute girlfriend, Amy, that loves him. But his ex-best friend "Evil" Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) insists on meeting with him. If he doesn't agree he says he'll email embarrassing video (of them playing superhero games) to his new "cool" friends.
So Charley meets his nerdy friend who explains that people are missing in the neighborhood and that it's because of the new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell). Jerry is a vampire. Of course, Charley doesn't believe him at first. But when he sees a beautiful next door neighbor go to Jerry's and hears screaming, he calls the police. The police dismiss it as a crank call. Charley investigates and even breaks into Jerry's house, where he finds the woman locked in a hidden room. All the while Jerry is aware that Charley is there--and watches him try to rescue the damsel in distress. What happens next is a surprise--and utterly convinces Charley that Jerry is indeed one of the undead.
It's at this point that Charley goes to find a vampire-killing expert. This is Las Vegas performer Peter Vincent (David Tennant of DOCTOR WHO) who turns out to be a drunken douche-bag.
The first hour of the film follows the original movie closely. Then, halfway through, when Charley's house is set aflame and his family is sent running , it becomes much more of its own movie, which I thought was a smart thing to do. It's also ingenious having Peter Vincent as a Vegas act. Best of all, actor Colin Farrell fits the part of the vampire well, creepy and sinister. There's also a cameo by Chris Sarandon, who portrayed the original Jerry. The original FRIGHT NIGHT, along with LOST BOYS, started that trend in the mid-80's with vampires' faces morphing into a ferocious bat-like-animal face, which had been seen in everything up until BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Here, the end transformation is a computer generated effect, portraying a creature with an all too wide mouth bursting with fangs
This redux of FRIGHT NIGHT, as with the recent re-imagining of PLANET OF THE APES, is exactly what a remake should be, an homage to the original while standing on its own feet. Highly recommended.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE
Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) is a retired surgeon who specialized in separating conjoined twins. Now he's insane and wants to go in the other direction-- splicing people together.
The beginning of the movie introduces American college girls Lindsay and Jenny, who are taking a trip across Europe. Their car breaks down and so they go for help, stumbling upon Dr. Heiter's secluded house/laboratory. He drugs them and they awaken to find themselves strapped to surgical tables. On a nearby table is also a Japanese guy who is pissed. The crazy doctor explains, with a powerpoint presentation, how he will perform surgery on them, stringing them together mouth-to-ass, so that they'll be like a human centipede. Of course, they are terrified.
This is an unsettling movie, up there with the original versions of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. The movie's strength is that it doesn't get too overly graphic--we don't see the surgery itself, just the aftermath with the trio bandaged together. The power of the movie is the sick idea and feeling sorry for the victims. Recommended.
In 1348 Europe a group of Knights, led by Ulric (Sean Bean of LORD OF THE RINGS, LOST FUTURE), are sent by the Church to investigate an isolated town that's rumored to be immune to the bubonic plague that is sweeping the land. They think it's because of a demon, primarily because everyone thinks that God is punishing his people and if they aren't being punished it must be the devil's doing. On the way, the group picks up a young Monk in training, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), who has an ulterior motive to going to that part of the country. He's in love with a beautiful woman and she fled to the woods to escape the disease. He's to meet her there in a week. Yet when the group gets there he finds only her bloody clothes and it appears she has met her end. This brings the attention of some nearby bandits, there's a fight, one of the knights is killed and their horses are stolen. Afterwards, they make it to that village they are seeking.
They tell the leader of the village that they are travelers and just want a place to stay for the night, yet they are suspicious. Yes, the village has not been stricken by the plague and this bothers the knights to no end. Ulric believes the woman healer, Langiva, to be an evil witch and wants to prove this. It turns out that the villagers are not devil worshippers at all--they simply don't believe in ANY type of god. Of course, this is one in the same to Ulric and his men, who want to kill them all.
This isn't a typical movie about the Middle Ages. I thought it really interesting that none of the characters are likable, except for glimmers of the main character, the monk who is distraught over his girlfriend and what he ends up discovering about her. Yet, what happens to him in the movie transforms him into something terrible and this ends the movie on a definitive--and effective--down note. This is the best movie about the Middle Ages I've seen since Paul Verhoeven's FLESH & BLOOD. Recommended.
This is one of the better and more disturbing stalker movies I've seen. Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) is a NYC doctor who has recently broken up with her boyfriend who had cheated on her. So she answers an ad for an apartment and the owner of the building, Max, calls her back. She takes a look at it and he immediately says she has the place, which is a little weird. Also in the building is his creepy grandfather, August (Christopher Lee), who alludes that something is up with his grandson.
As the movie progresses we realize that Max has really been stalking her and is obsessed. They become friendly at one point and make out but she realizes it's a mistake. But he wants it to continue. Then she begins waking up late for her work, feeling as if she were drugged. Well, yes, she was drugged. She installs hidden cameras in her apartment and finds out what the guy has been up to--and it's terrible.
This is a very intense, creepy character study. In a side-note, Swank and Morgan were in the romantic comedy, P.S. I LOVE YOU several years ago. Least to say, the relationship in this movie is very different.
Frank (Rainn Wilson) is an average Joe who works at a diner. When his wife Libby (Liv Tyler) leaves him he's understandably upset, so he goes to the police and reports it. They can't help him because she left him of her own free will. He simply doesn't understand this. So he decides to take things into his own hands to get her back, which culminates in him assuming the superhero persona of The Crimson Bolt. What prompts him to do this is a horrible Christian TV show called The Holy Avenger. In these TV clips director James Gunn portrays a tongue wagging Satan. which is utterly hilarious.
Frank believes that his hallucinations are real and God is telling him what to do. Since he doesn't have any super powers he uses a big wrench to literally clobber people. Many local drug dealers are put into the hospital, though he also beats someone who cuts in line at a movie theater. No bad-doer is safe! Along the way he picks up a sidekick, Bolty (a hilarious Ellen Page), who takes this all too seriously and even wants to kill people without a second thought. She's also sexually interested in The Crimson Bolt but Frank keeps on putting her off since he's still married and in love with his wife.
In the end there's a big showdown with the villain, Jacques (Kevin Bacon), the drug dealer who has Libby. In a series of flashbacks we see that Libby was a drug addict going to meetings and had met Frank when she was not using. Frank comes prepared, though, to take down Jacque's henchmen with everything from pipe bombs to projectile daggers. He even makes up a pair of Wolverine-like claws for Bolty.
SUPER is one of the best "realistic Superhero" movies out there. I liked it far more than I enjoyed the movie of KICK-ASS, primarily because there's much more heart to it.
In the opening scene we see a group of Priests, special warriors who fight vampires, invade a vampire hive. They realize it's a trap and one of them is dragged off by the vampires. Then, during the animated title sequence, it's explained how mankind and vampires have always been at war--and that the last war almost destroyed the world. Now, the majority of humans live in huge, gated cities, and the vampires are believed to be on reservations.
When the Priest (Paul Bettany) learns that his brother's family was attached out in the fringes and his niece kidnapped he decides to go against the Church and rescue her. And, of course, kill lots of vampires. These vampires a different than in most movies, pretty much their own creature. They are gray, hairless, animalistic and eyeless. Their mouths are more like that of lamprey eels than anything else. There are humans called "familiars", who are partially contaminated by the vampires, and they all look like Nosferatu, with the yellow eyes, white skin and bald heads.
The Priest learns that these vampires are now being led by a new type of creature, "Black Hat". He's the first human vampire, ever, created by the vampire queen. After he was captured in that first scene she forced him to drink her blood. Now, he's more powerful than any vampire or Priest. He had kidnapped the niece because he wants his old friend to join him in taking over the world. A new vampire army has been born and they've taken over a high speed train that connects the cities. The humans will not know what hit them.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this flick. From the previews I thought I'd be watching a "video game" like SUCKER PUNCH. Instead, I got a highly entertaining, fast-paced vampire futuristic western. Think "THE ROAD WARRIOR crossed with RESIDENT EVIL and you'll get the idea. Recommended.
Soon after an outbreak, in which vampires overrun the world, a teenager named Martin is rescued by a mysterious man, Mister, who seems to take extra satisfaction in slaying the bloodsuckers. These aren't the poofy Vamps of the TWILIGHT movies. These are vicious animals, intent on only one thing-- feeding on blood. The movie follows them as they travel across the apocalyptic landscape as they make their way up to Canada. The rumor is that it's too cold for them to survive there. Along the way they pick up some fellow travelers, including Sister, a nun (Kelly McGillis) and Belle (Danielle Harris of HATCHET II), who is pregnant. And there's a group of bad guys, who belong to a cult that sacrifices strangers to the vampires. They're led by Jebedia Loven (FRINGE's Michael Cerveris), who turns into a formidable enemy.
STAKELAND is highly recommended. One of the best horror movies released to dvd in 2011. Directed by Jim Mickle
This film takes place six years after a satellite has crashed and brought back a lifeform that's taken over half of Mexico. A journalist, Andrew, is hired to get a rich american tourist, Samantha, out of this infected zone. Basically, he's just doing this for the money but the more time they spend together the more he develops a connection with this "poor rich girl". They pay thousands of dollars to take a ferry out of the zone but that's cancelled because it's too dangerous. The monsters are acting up. And the Americans continue to bomb them in fighter jets so they will not make it past the Mexico/US Border. So Andrew and Samantha must trek through a dangerous part of the infected zone and are led by a ragtag team of hired guards. It's here we learn more about the monsters, how their life begins in the trees and how they eventually make their way to the water where they grow huge. The creatures resembled big octopi. There are some dangers along the way, such as when the group is attacked by a few of them and their vehicles are flipped over. Now alone, the couple has to get to safety by themselves. When they do come to the wall, which was constructed to keep the beasts out, we see that it's massive. And seemingly abandoned. They cross the border into Texas and discover that America has been invaded. They also witness something no one has witnessed before, which totally changes their view about the monsters.
Very laid back giant Monster movie, brings to mind Stephen King's THE MIST more than it does a Godzilla movie. Think of it as the flip side of CLOVERFIELD.
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