Andy Deen’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

Andy Deen’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

Well it is that time of the year when I look back over 2014 and give a few thoughts on what I consider to be the best films that came out in 2014. Now when I say came out I mean either were shown in the cinema or had a DVD, BluRay or VOD release in 2014. There are no re-releases or re-issues , but that said 2014 has been full of wonderful releases thanks to people such as Arrow Video, 88 Films, Masters of Cinema, BFI and many more.

WerewolfRising10) Werewolf Rising (BC Furtney) Now the first of three Werewolf films in my Top 10 , Werewolf Rising has been widely slated across horror circles (with the exception of James Simpson). It currently has a rating of 2.5 on IMDB. But I found so much to love in BC Furtney’s feature. Melissa Carnell is a great lead and Bill Oberst Jr is at his best. A film I went into with no expectations that really made me sit up and take notice. Well worth a watch and don’t believe the haters.

9) Wolfcop (Lowell Dean) Wolfcop has featured on UKHS a few times through 2014. From it’s really well run Kickstarter to it’s superb artwork and posters. So when I caught it in October I was expecting a lot , and Wolfcop delivered! Making a horror comedy is difficult, there are just so many ways to slip up but Wolfcop pulled it off with aplomb . From the name of the lead Lou Garou ( a play on loup-garou which is French for Werewolf) to the amazing transformation scenes and hilarious love scene, Wolfcop hits the spot and brings a fresh , face-ripping horror with wonderfully well structured comedy moments and a lovely 1970s vibe. I cannot wait for Wolfcop 2 !!

Late_Phases_poster.18) Late Phases (Adrian Garcia Bogliano) Well the final werewolf film in the Top 10. Late Phases is the story of a blind American war veteran who moves into a retirement village where people are dying from mysterious monthly animal attacks. Lead actor Nick Damici is superb as the bitter, cantankerous and sarcastic Ambrose who just holds everything together throughout and gives one of THE performances of the year. The Werewolves are well done and also Ambrose’s lack of vision really adds to the tension which kicks in with a super brutal attack on his first night. Keep a look out for director Adrian Bogliano !

7) Big Bad Wolves (Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado) Released on DVD in 2014 Big Bad Wolves (but I may add NOT a Werewolf film) is more thriller than pure horror although some of the areas the film enters are truly horrific. It is difficult to discuss BBW without giving away huge spoilers, so I tread carefully. A brutal child killer is terrorising Israel and maverick cop Miki is convinced of the killers identity. A harsh, violent and at times brutal film BBW is just edge of seat stuff that had me completely gripped and left me almost breathless. A dark tale that at times is infused with some wicked humour , BBW is a must see although I will add I did find it a little predictable and easy to read!

raze16) Raze (Josh C Waller) Well out of all my Top 10 Raze is probably the one that came from nowhere. It dropped on my mat with no fanfare and I had to be honest not even registered it was being released. Raze is the story of Sabrina (Zoe Bell – Kill Bill) who wakes in a compound with 50 other women and they must fight to the death until just one remains. If they refuse to fight they are told their loved ones will be killed. The compound is run by the incomparable Doug Jones & Sherilyn Fenn. Raze is at times utterly brutal and the 19 fight sequences are fantastic. Zoe Bell makes the film her own with a performance that brought brutality yet compassion . A bloody violent film that blew me away. Proper low budget exploitation filmmaking at it’s best. No frills, no weapons , it is just survival of the strongest & most brutal.

5) The Babadook (Jennifer Kent) . I was lucky to get to an early screening of The Babadook before all the media attention had really kicked in, and I went in almost knowing nothing of the storyline. And what an absolute joy it was (especially on the big screen). The story of a single mother coming to terms with her husbands death (on the way to take her to hospital to give birth) and struggling with her son who has severe behavioural problems, but she also has the added problem that after reading what looked like a child’s book there may be a monster lurking in her house. The Babadook is a tremendous debut for Jennifer Kent and the acting from the two mains Essie Davis and the phenomenal Noah Wiseman is at times jaw-dropping. A pure horror film that has so many layers. Brilliant.

4) You’re Next (Adam Wingard) Although released in 2011, You’re Next didn’t get a UK DVD release until January 2014 which is why it is on my list as I didn’t see it until then. There probably isn’t much left to say about Adam Wingard’s home invasion belter, but if you have not seen it then you have missed out on a dark, violent, funny and very clever film. Sharni Vinson is superb as Erin and this is the film when Adam Wingard stood up and shouted “LOOK AT ME” and everyone in the horror community (and from much further afield) were stopped dead in their tracks by a piece of genre cinema that could in 30 years time be looked back on like TCM is now . You’re Next could well be the defining film for a generation of horror fans.

Housebound3) Housebound (Gerard Johnstone) Now Housebound may well be unfamiliar to many people as it has not had a UK release. I saw it at the Grimmfest festival in Manchester and some of the Grimmfest crew had already mentioned that this was a winner. Hailing from New Zealand , Housebound is the directorial debut for Gerard Johnstone . The story of Kylie Bucknell (played by the stunning Morgana O’Reilly who is better known from Aussie soap Neighbours) who is caught by police after a bungled cash machine robbery. She is sentenced to house arrest and has to move back into her childhood home , which she must share with her mother who she cannot stand. Her mother is a well meaning gossip who is convinced the house is haunted. And after a series of late night bumps and whispers Kylie slowly starts to believe that her mother may well be onto something. Housebound is just wonderful, it is a hilarious well crafted piece of cinema that has a story, script and actors to put it on the top of most horror films around. It takes the conventional haunted house tropes and turns them 180 degrees and adds a huge dose of comedy that just had me in stitches throughout. The pace of Housebound is spot on and from the first minute to the very last I was totally glued to the screen. An absolute triumph that should be picked up very soon and NEEDS to be seen by as many people as possible.

BATTERY 0012) The Battery (Jeremy Gardner) I picked up The Battery after reading a review on UKHS from our writer Dave Wain (HERE). It was another film that received very little fanfare for it’s UK DVD release. All I can say is that The Battery is one of the greatest zombie films ever made. Just when I thought I had seen everything in the zombie genre then this beautiful little film came along and completely turned me inside out. The Battery is the story of two former baseball players as they travel through New England which is littered with the undead. A gorgeous zombie buddy movie that had me screaming with laughter , jumping with fright, almost crying and just sitting utterly mesmerized by the skill of director/actor/writer Jeremy Gardner who packs so fucking much into 100 minutes . The Battery could have failed so easily due to the fact it is predominately just 2 characters , relatively slow paced and it is up to the viewer to empathise with them. But The Battery is just pure gold and is so very highly recommended and for multiple viewings.

What_We_Do_in_the_Shadows_poster1) What We Do In The Shadows (Jermaine Clement & Taika Waititi) Now through 2014 I kept a very close eye on WWDITS. I read the synopsis, saw the promo pictures and, as I love Flight of The Conchords , I was very excited. WWDITS is a documentary about four vampires who share a flat in Wellington , New Zealand . We follow Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and Petyr (Ben Fransham) through their day to day trials and turmoil that comes with being immortal blood suckers. From the moment we see Viago rise from his coffin to wake his flatmates we are drawn into the hilarious world of the vampires. The reason it works so well is that we see the vampires doing all the day to day boring things that us mere mortals do. So they argue about who does the housework, how to keep newspapers and towels ready for when they feed (so the blood won’t stain the furniture) and much more. There are hilarious scenes when they go for a night on the town but can’t enter the nightclubs as they need to be invited in, and the werewolves of Wellington are just brilliant. I could talk all night about just how perfect WWDITS is. Clement and Waititi have taken a genre that is so revered and they have just made an absolutely spot-on comedy that never once takes the piss but lovingly sees the comedy in a vampire faced with the monotony of everyday life. And I haven’t even mentioned Nick, Stuart or THE BEAST!!

If there is a funnier horror comedy then I haven’t seen it! You MUST SEE What We Do In The Shadows (if you can on the big screen) and just enjoy one of the best films from this millennia.

So for me 2014 eventually ended up as a good year for horror. The first six months were pretty poor but a few stormers in October pulled it out of the mud. Definitely a year for more independent horror and there was a lot more horror blogs, sites and podcasts new to the arena. As for 2015 well let’s see, but there are a few very good films (hopefully) on the horizon and there are still many films from this year I have yet to see.

Finally as editor of UKHS I would like to thanks all our readers, our Twitter followers and Facebook likers. A huge thanks to all the writers who have contributed throughout 2014. And after a few problems of late due to domain problems and database issues, I am happy to announce it is all sorted and UKHS will be running as normal with lots more news, reviews and interviews . Have a very happy and horroriffic 2015 , and thanks again for reading and everyone’s continued support.

Andy Deen

Oli Ryder’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

Oli Ryder’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2014

theden10) The Den: The initial idea of a constant filming through the POV of a webcam on a Chat Roulette-type website, seemed a tad gimmicky. Surprisingly, however this film was masterful in how it maintained both credibility and a tight pace. There was a great and unnerving sense of voyeurism that made the film a decidedly uncomfortable watch and with than the odd well crafted jump scare. A watch through your fingers denouement and the lingering worry of being watched through your laptop for weeks afterwards.

9) Wolfcop: It’s been far too long since there was a genuinely great werewolf film and Wolfcop ended such a drought in spectacular fashion. A real labour of love that worshiped all the ridiculous tropes of the genre and celebrated them in delightfully gruey style. The special effects and transformation sequences were fantastic as well as liberal lashings of OTT gore. With a wickedly sharp script and an incredibly game cast, Wolfcop is destined for cult status, a perfect party horror film.

olla8) Only Lovers Left Alive: Naval-gazing pretentious rubbish to some, intoxicating gothic romance to others. The endless loving bond between the impossibly attractive Tom Hiddlestone and Tilda Swinton is the key hook to a film in which, admittedly, very little happens but it serves as an immaculately presented character piece. They both cannot bear to live forever without one another and director, Jim Jarmusch makes you feel like a part of their romance. Typical vampiric behaviour is restricted and set in a world where they are very much the norm, Hiddlestone’s Adam is even an elusive rock star. Full of incredibly dry moments of humour, such as blood popsicles and set to a gorgeously brooding soundtrack, it’s a classic vampire film.

7) We Are What We Are: Decent English-language remakes are becoming much less of a rare beast these days and WAWWA is the prime example of how a remake can be its own beast. A sublime piece of understatement, where the word ‘Cannibal’ doesn’t even appear until half-way into the film and the atmosphere of looming dread is allowed to permeate deeply into your consciousness. When the violence hits, it hits hard and it made that much more intense for lulling you into a false sense of security beforehand. With a superb turn from Bill Sage as the Father and a subtle hint of an anti-organised religion message, it can be argued to be even better than its predecessor.

dersamurai6) Der Samurai: A Lynch-ian, erotic thrill-ride quite unlike anything else released this year. The image of a man with lipstick, in a dress and a samurai sword sounds ridiculous but thanks to the intimidating performance of Pit Bukowski, it becomes an icon of fear. With the small European town where everyone knows everyone bathed in a hazy blood red, there is a haunting fable-like quality that adds an extra layer to what is a profoundly intriguing film. Dealing both with the beast that dwells within us all and small town fear of the strange and unknown, the film’s strongly sexual charge combines extreme violence with horrifying beauty. The two-hander of Michel Diercks and Bukowski essentially playing two sides of the same person is incredible to watch and you don’t dare take your attention off it for a second. Pure cinematic marmite.

5) Starry Eyes: A pitch-black exploration of the vicious film studio system and the perilous desire for fame are mixed together with cults and body horror to create a deliciously dark cocktail of fear. Alex Essoe delivers a stunningly assured performance that sees her squeezed painfully through an emotional wringer. The unflinchingly stark and cruel audition scenes show her being humiliated, throwing frighteningly intense fits and yanking out huge clumps of her hair with some truly wince-inducing sound effects. It is a brave choice to not have her be a completely sympathetic lead and yet it is impossible not to be horrified as one scene shows her undergoing a sickening metamorphosis. With a gorgeously hazy soundtrack and filmed in a classic almost VHS style, Starry Eyes does a brilliant job of getting well and truly under your skin.

oculusp4) Oculus: An unexpected hit that delivered intelligent scares with a real knack for putting ice down your back. Karren Gillan’s performance is a total knock-out, presenting a wonderfully bold, brash and independent female character in the vein of a Nancy, Laurie or Sydney. Gillan is determined to fight the evil head on and wouldn’t be caught dead running away in skimpy clothing. Ingeniously, much of the violence is only hinted at, which makes a particularly nasty scene involving a light bulb, a genuine shock. It is both wonderful and unnerving that, much like the characters, you often forget about the mirror being the antagonist and as with the constant twisting time-shifts, you too become victim to the Lasser Glass cruelly twisting your perception of reality. A true breath of fresh air, a fun frightener that stands head and shoulders above its mainstream contemporaries.

3) The Guest: More of a thriller than director, Adam Winguard’s previously brilliant effort in You’re Next but certainly no less fun or inventive. Making more than the odd homage to classic 80s films (Halloween III in particular), The Guest is a gleeful romp with its tongue at times very firmly in cheek and at others, a surprising level of menace. A star-making performance from Dan Stevens sees him combining an effortless charm with a cold blooded, steely and dangerous veneer. From the word go, it is clear there is something not quite right about him as he prays on an emotionally vulnerable small town family, mourning the death of their military son. An equally brilliant and feisty performance comes from newcomer, Maika Monroe, who, much like Sarah Conner, has the responsibility of taking down a lethal killing machine in Steven’s seemingly nice guy, David. With its painfully funny gallows humour and some intense action sequences, especially in the film’s last act, ‘The Guest’ is a gleefully demented delight.

babadookp2) The Babadook: Mercifully, the hype this film managed to rapidly accumulate was more than justified. The Babadook is a classic horror film in the making, that should be held up as the bench-mark as to what horror filmmakers should be aspiring to create. The cold and almost German expressionism film style is sharpened like a deadly weapon by director, Jennifer Kent, to ramp up the fear factor to white-knuckle armrest gripping heights. An organically fraught relationship between single mother and son is pitch perfectly portrayed by Essie Davis and the young Noah Wiseman.

We see both characters in an intense struggle with a supernatural force and yet, like so many classic stories, the real meaning to the film is a mother learning how to love her son Crucially, we care about the characters and do not want to see them come to harm and this is what makes the scares here truly blood chilling. The world’s freakiest pop-up book is matched only by the wise decision to obscure the Babadook as much as possible. Kent hits the nail directly on the head that making the audience use their imagination is infinitely more frightening than just showing them. A beautifully dark and twisted fairytale, the monster’s onomatopoeic croak is a call that is sure to haunt audiences for many years to come.

dmarrow1) Digging Up The Marrow: With almost every possible detail shrouded in mystery, Adam Green’s latest effort was able to achieve almost the impossible in presenting something genuinely unseen before. Almost indefinable in its style and thusly, very difficult to talk about without spoiling too many juicy surprises. Whenever you think you get a grasp on where the film is going, it violently turns your expectations inside out and creates a perfect capture of the pure essence of fear of the unknown.

To give as broad a picture as possible, the film concerns the real life existence of monsters and the attempt to find and document them where they live, in The Marrow. Shot in documentary style and with all cast members, including Green himself playing themselves, the first deftly clever trick Green plays is to have the incredible Ray Wise as the only actor playing a part. To say anymore about the plot would sadly ruin what is a film full of dark secrets and layers, like a twisted Russian doll. It is a film that demands to be experienced rather than read about as this would lessen the effect of what can be called one of the scariest films of the past two decades.

Whilst there is still a tremendous sense of fun about the film, Green and his friends make for a loveable bunch with much goofy behaviour, there are several moments of pure, undiluted terror. The scariest part of all, however, is the film’s insidious ability to get inside your head. It may sound laughable, but this film makes you believe by constantly blurring the lines of reality with such finesse you don’t realise it’s happening. Maybe there really are monsters out there and maybe this film will make you a believer too…A masterpiece that will hopefully one day get the recognition it truly deserves.

James Pemberton’s The Best of 2014

James Pemberton’s THE BEST OF 2014

So 2014, where has it gone? It only seems like yesterday since I wrote up my own list of 2013 and where back once again with a rundown on the best of 2014, which has been an exceptionally good year and along with some exceptionally good films that I caught at this year’s Grimmfest (as well as an amazing live performance of Goblin performing the soundtrack to SUSPIRIA), and other releases throughout the year, I’ve managed to whittle down my list to the 10 best of 2014. Along with a smaller list of films that narrowly missed the final cut but were exceptionally brilliant in their own right. So enough talk here’s the list, in no particular order…….

utsUNDER THE SKIN (Dir- Jonathan Glazer, 2014, UK)
Glazer’s superb, haunting and visually stunning adaption of Michael Faber’s novel, went slightly away from the source material, but still kept the basis of the story with Scarlett Johansson’s alien character in human form, stalking the streets of Glasgow for male prey, but slowly or possibly developing a human consciousness. It’s a bewildering, bizarre and disturbing combination of realism, and stunning technical visual detail that is unlike anything I’ve seen on the big screen this year, with some lingering images that are both beautiful and startling at the same time. The fact that the scenes in the van, when Johannsen’s character picks up men on the street, where actually shot using real people (aside from a few trained actors) whilst Glazer and his crew watched on monitors in the back of the van, obviously obtaining the consent for the participant to be used in the final film, is one of the many interesting facets of this otherwise amazing film that perfectly captures the world as seen through an alien’s eyes.

THE RAID 2: BERANDAL (Dir- Gareth Evans, INDONESIA, 2014)
When Welsh director Evans screened THE RAID in 2011 at Toronto’s prestigious Midnight Madness Section of their annual September film festival, word spread around that this was one of the most stunning and high octane, unbelievable action films to appear. On originally seeing the film at Glasgow Fright Fest in 2012, it lived up to that expectation and was on my favourite list of that year. With a sequel, expectations where inevitably high, and whilst it did disappoint a few, it was going to be hard not to live up to the previous film. Yet I feel THE RAID 2 was still an exceptionally brilliant action film, with a larger scope and more impressive and brutal fight sequences. Picking up straight from the last film our central character and one of the survivors of the first films bloodbath, Rama (Iko Uwais) is tasked with infiltrating a mob gang related to the tower block from previously, and help bring them down along with exposing widespread corruption in Jakarta’s police force.

No easy feat as he has to go into prison to befriend the head mob boss’s son and be apart from his wife and their newly born baby for a lengthy period. Rather than go into any more detail about the plot, the film carry’s a bigger scope than the first, almost like an epic family crime drama with some superb action and fight scenes thrown in, that rival the original. Uwais is again superb, showing his physical martial artistry, and even delivering some emotional weight as Rama adjusts to undercover life, which carry’s the slight chance of death at any given moment with it. THE RAID 2 is a rip roaring and grandiose action film and certainly shows the intense brutality of the pencak silat (the form of martial arts used) that if ever remade in America, would lose most if not all of this intensity, and in all honesty stands head and shoulders above most action films around for sheer thrill and the bloody, violent intensity of the set pieces.

oculus1OCULUS (Dir- Mike Flanagan, USA, 2013)
Going back 8 years ago, and I saw Mike Flanagan’s impressive short film OCULUS: THE MAN WITH THE PLAN at Dead by Dawn horror festival. Flash forward to 2014 and when this film was set for release and I was eagerly waiting for it. OCULUS is a fantastic supernatural horror, with a central conceit of two siblings (played by Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) attempting to expose the dangerous supernatural power that a historical antique mirror holds and which previously caused the death of their parents. The film perfectly captures some scares and jumps but smartly holds your attention through its twisting narrative that flirts between past and present, and expertly breaks the narrative through the mirror’s supposed power breaking up the two siblings minds and fracturing there space to eventual deadly effect, adding a sharp psychological effect to the film. An excellent horror thriller which after his superb debut, ABSENTIA, confirms Flanagan as a filmmaker to watch.

BLUE RUIN (Dir- Jeremy Saulnier, USA, 2013)
Admittedly at first not a horror film, but Jeremy Saulnier’s excellent and dark revenge movie is a superb and tense crime drama, that perfectly captures the never ending cycle of revenge and violence that ensues when central character, Dwight (Macon Blair) a homeless drifter, ends up going back to his home town to carry out an act of revenge on the man who killed his father. A story that doesn’t sound original on paper, is given expert handling by Saulnier, who enthuses the story with a strong visual sense and handles the ensuing action with a breath of fresh air. Also helped by his central star, Blair, who gives an excellent performance as the amateur assassin who gets in way over his head when, his act of vengeance threatens his own family.

THE BABADOOK (Dir- Jennifer Kent, AUS, 2014)
When your film is hailed as the scariest he has ever seen by none other than William Freidkin, then you know your onto something good, and Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK, is certainly being placed in many ‘best of 2014’ lists and deservedly so. A chilling and dark tale of parental angst and anxiety, the story concerns a single mother, whose husband died in a car crash when she was driven by him to the hospital to give birth to her son. Said kid, who is pretty unstable, finds a mysterious storybook about the legend of the Babadook and a seemingly innocent story has a dark twist, leading to unexplained supernatural events happening to the mother and the son in there house. Is the Babadook real or is it a figment of the mother’s imagination who is slowly feeling the stress and mental strain of looking after her son on her own and holding down a job. An expertly handled and often chilling film, its scares come through the psychological fabric of its characters and how the babadook could be seen as more of a mental breakdown of the mother rather than a supernatural entity, or is it, as Kent doesn’t fully show the Babadook, rather showing it in expressionist shadows, that lends to the films uneasy edge. Also credit should be given to Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman as the mother and son, who are superb in their roles. An excellent film that fully deserves the critical praise it has been receiving.

nightcrawler-2014-film-posterNIGHTCRAWLER (Dir- Dan Gilroy, USA, 2014)
Again another entry into my best of list, that isn’t entirely horror but NIGHTCRAWLER carry’s enough dark weight to rival any horror flick with its murky look at the underworld of freelance crime journalism. Jake Gyllenhall is superb as Lou Bloom, a creepy loner who after witnessing cameramen filming the aftermath of a car crash on the freeway discovers the world of freelance crime journalism, which seems intent on showing bloody crime and crash scenes to sell to news. Seeing this as a way to make a living and by his own obsessive nature, an attempt to become a success in a field that he can develop in, Bloom sets about setting up his own freelance company and slowly starts to become more ruthless and lose his moral compass in the quest for the perfect shot and perfect footage. A dark and fantastic film that feels like the style of many 70’s US cinema with its emphasis on character and the moral bankrupt nature of television news. Bloom is almost a cross between Travis Bickle and Rupert Pupkin, from TAXI DRIVER and THE KING OF COMEDY (both played by Robert DeNiro and films both directed by Martin Scorsese), with his obsessive and ruthless nature and ignorance that what he is doing is dragging those down around him. There’s also able and excellent support from Rene Russo, as the TV news producer who starts to be influenced and corrupted herself by Bloom, and Riz Ahmed as his hapless assistant.

HOUSEBOUND (Dir- Gerard Johnstone, NZ, 2014)
Since Peter Jackson has been dealing with Hobbit’s for most of his recent output, not much genre cinema has come out from the island next to Australia. Thank heavens for HOUSEBOUND a superb, funny and excellent horror flick. Having been put under house arrest for petty crimes, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is sent back to her parent’s house to serve our sentence. Kylie certainly has an attitude problem and her situation is made more annoying when she has to live under the same roof as her mother, who is convinced that the house is haunted. Yet it’s not long till Kylie starts to experience strange occurrences and bumps in the night which slowly reveal an unexplained mystery and murder which has not been solved, leading to her to become investigator. HOUSEBOUND has a nice strain of dark humour, and nice comic touches, along with some superb characters that lend the film an immense likeability. It also carries a nice twist, of which I won’t reveal that, turns the film around but to very good effect and overall is a hugely entertaining film that hopefully will garner more recognition beyond the festival circuit.

DEAD SNOW 2 (Dir- Tommy Wirkola, NORWAY, 2014)
The second sequel to make my list, and a damn fine one as well. DEAD SNOW 2 is a superb, fun, gory, bigger sequel where taste is thrown out of the window to great effect and somehow manages to surpass the original. Following straight on after the original, the film carry’s on with the story of recently resurrected colonel Herzog and his undead Nazi army as they set their sights on carrying on their conquering Norway for their Fuhrer. Only the last remaining survivor from the first film, Martin, and a group of nerdy American kids, nicknamed the zombie squad stand in their way. Thoroughly entertaining, over the top, bloody, and bloody great fun, the film expands on the superb idea of the original for a bigger scope, but still not forgetting the fun element of the first film and producing a highly enjoyable follow up. It might not be the most subtle film, but it sure as hell is one of the best sequels that’s out there.

wwditsposterWHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Dirs- Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, NZ, 2014)
Admittedly I will have to take back what I said before about New Zealand being a bit thin on the ground with genre cinema, as another entry in my list comes from the same country and from the guys behind the cult comedy hit, Flight of the Concords. Admittedly I have only seen a bit of Flight, and was a bit hesitant at first as I couldn’t get into that particular series, but to my surprise WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS was one of the funniest and most well received films that went down a storm at its Grimm fest screening. A mockumentary following a group of vampires who share a flat together, and there trials and tribulations in fitting in to modern society, getting along with each other particularly deciding whose going to do the five years worth of washing up and also the ever present hunger for blood, and on top of that having to deal with regular confrontations and stand off’s with werewolves and the upcoming vampires ball. Full of funny quotable lines (“Listen we’re not swearwolves, we’re werewolves!”), some fantastic scenes that downplays the allure of immortality, Waititi and Clement have made a superb instantly likeable film which will certainly be a future cult classic.

ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS (Dir- Mark Hartley, AUS, 2014)
My final film in the best of, is another entry from Australia, and was my most recent review, so I will not say that much about it apart from following on from his two previous docs on genre cinema (NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD and MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED) Mark Hartley has again made another lovingly crafted, fast paced, laugh out loud funny, and exhilarating look at the Cannon film company, prolific in the 80’s for producing trash and also classy films as well, often over looked, but certainly leaving a mark on popular cinema, Hartley’s film is a loving tribute to the two men behind the company, cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, and their quest to take on the machine of Hollywood. A superb documentary, highly, highly recommend it.

FILMS THAT DIDN’T QUITE MAKE THE LIST-

SUBURBAN GOTHIC (Dir- Richard Bates Jr., USA, 2014)
After making an impressive debut with EXCISION, Bates new film is a brilliantly funny supernatural comedy, that is slightly lighter hearted than his debut and even though his previous film was excellent SUBURBAN GOTHIC is fantastic, fast paced and entertaining second feature featuring a superb turn by the ever reliable Ray Wise.

sacramentdvdTHE SACRAMENT (Dir Ti West, USA, 2014)
King of the slow burn horror film West turns his attention to the found footage genre, with two documentary filmmakers from vice magazine going abroad to help a guy seek out his sister who has joined a cult. Naturally it doesn’t bode well for those involved. Admittedly faster than his previous films, and probably not as good as THE INNKEEPERS (which I recently re-watched and rethought my opinion of) this is still solid stuff and the use of the found footage lends a frenetic pace to the horrific events that unfold.

THE GUEST (Dir- Adam Wingard, USA, 2014)
After their superb YOUR’E NEXT, Wingard and his regular co-writer, Simon Barrett, craft this entertaining 80’s style action flick about a rogue, mysterious soldier helping out a family of a former fallen comrade that he served with. Much hyped cause of its use of former DOWNTON ABBEY star Dan Stevens in the lead role, who is excellent none the less, but this is again another well crafted genre entry from Wingard.

ALMOST HUMAN (Dir- Joe Begos, USA, 2013)
I loved this neat, nice and fast paced 80’s style sci-fi horror throwback that relied on more prosthetic special effects and fake blood and gore rather than succumbing to CGI blood, monsters etc. On top of that it was a great tale of nasty aliens carving and taking over humans in small town. It’s the sort of film that you would find on your video shelf in the late 80’s, and would rent on looking at the cover alone.

TRUTH OR DARE (Dir- Jessica Cameron, USA, 2014)
Jessica Cameron’s debut was certainly one of the strongest and graphic films screening at Grimmfest but confirms that even female directors can deliver full on brutality, and in many respects in the case of this film even more so. A nasty gruelling tale of a group of internet pranksters being forced to take part in a vicious game of truth or dare at the hands of a crazed fan, it delivers on the blood and gore but also carries a sly dig at internet instant fame and the portrayal of violence online, adding some depth to the bloody carnage.

Also quick shout out to other contenders such as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, BAD MILO, ZOMBEAVERS and THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME

Also not forgetting……
BEST DVD and DVD LABEL OF THE YEAR.

draconianBest DVD release would have to go to Nucleus films splendid release of Jake West’s follow up to his video nasties documentary, DRACONIAN DAYS. As well as a superb and insightful film looking at the years of censorship after the 1984 video recording acts, there are another two discs chock full of features and trailers from all the films featured and some superb lobby cards. A great release especially in the 30th anniversary of the recordings act.

Whilst best DVD label of the year goes to ARROW VIDEO, which is not hard, but still well deserved as they continue to release some superb versions of cult classics. I still need to get there release of NEKROMANTICK, which looks fantastic, but it’s great to see them give the five star treatment to INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, THE BEAST, CLASS OF NUKE EM HIGH and most wonderful of all, a featured packed release of Donald Cammell’s underrated and rarely seen serial killer film WHITE OF THE EYE. Here’s looking forward for what they will bring in the New Year.

AND FINALLY…..

WORST FILM OF THE YEAR
I was originally going to choose SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL FOR, but that was more of a disappointment than anything else, a sequel that has come 9 years too late. Instead I will go for SPANISH CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which I reviewed and gave one star. Nuff said!

I’m done and finished waffling on, have a great Christmas and even better New Year!