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

Raze (2013) DVD Review

raze1Raze (2013)

Directed – Josh C Waller

Starring – Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thoms, Sherilyn Fenn, Doug Jones, Bruce Thomas.

 

Released in the UK by Koch Media – 16th June 2014.

 

After a night out a young woman awakes and finds herself locked up in some sort of cell, the doors open and she meets another woman who tells her they must fight and only the winner will survive.

 

In the compound there are 50 women, all of them must fight to the death until there is just one remaining. If anyone refuses to fight then the powers that be have a member of their family who will be shot and killed. There are a married couple who are running this underground fatal fight club, and they are Joseph played by the wonderful Doug Jones (Pans Labyrinth, Hellboy) and Elizabeth played by my teenage crush Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Boxing Helena) . They are also ably assisted by a group of seemingly ex-military types who guard the woman and they are led by Kurtz (Bruce Thomas – Army of Darkness) .

 

raze3The women fight in a circular stonewalled pit, and the bouts are viewed by an unknown audience via CCTV cameras positioned on the walls of the pit, and after each match you can hear clapping in the distance.

 

The main story focuses on Sabrina played by Zoe Bell (Kill Bill) who does not want to kill anyone but also does not want her daughter to be killed either. So she is very much caught up in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. The women also get to know each other and form small alliances and friendships which helps them survive the situation in the short-term but when they are pitted against each other then emotions really are tested.

 

Raze is a very tough watch at times. It is hugely violent, very brutal and at times pulsing with raw emotion. Zoe Bell is a revelation here, she holds the whole thing together and physically she really did look like she has been to hell and back by the end of the film.

 

Is is great to see Zoe finally take a films lead and go with it. She is as many people know a massively gifted and hardworking stunt woman from such films as Kill Bill 1 & 2 (Uma Thurmans double) and she started her career in Zena , but here she really comes into her own with a powerful and emotionally driven performance that just carries the entire film.

 

raze2But that aside there are some fine performances from a host of other actors including Tracie Thoms (Looper, Deathproof), Bailey Anne Borders (Coldwater), Rebecca Marshall (Saw 3D, Repo the Genetic Opera), Adrienne Wilkinson and Allene Quincy. And I mustn’t forget Doug Jones & Sherilyn Fenn who just rock-it as the crazy married couple running the show, and who act like (and I read this somewhere and totally agreed) they just stepped off a John Waters set. They give a little light relief in what is a really brutal assault of a film.

 

Imagine Bloodsport but with a female cast, more blood, more violence and less hope and you get a little of what Raze is about. There are (no pun intended) no punches pulled here, when two women enter the pit you know only one will survive. There are no escape options, you win or die and from a viewers perspective it is a really nihilistic and uncomfortable watch.

 

raze4Raze pushes the limits with it’s violence, and I expect it will be seen by a few as ‘too much’ due to the fact that all the fighters are female. But I think it got it bang on, there are no weapons and no tactics (other than mind-games) , it just literally is survival of the strongest. And I know there will be questions over the ending but I loved it!

 

Raze is a film that should have you thinking long after the credits, it is a very brave film that through the strength of the performances and a strong direction comes across as a true modern genre classic. One of THE best films released in 2014 so far and definitely worth a watch when it arrives in the UK on DVD in June.

 

8.5/10