Thursday, January 9, 2014

Phil's Top Ten Horror Films of 2013- January 1, 2014

Since I am a horror fanatic, I decided that I would also give you, my fellow horror hounds, my list of my favorite horror films that I saw last year. Now this was really a daunting task, due to the fact that there were some truly incredible and remarkable films that I saw both in theaters and on DVD/Blu-Ray. So boils and ghouls, here are my Top Ten Horror Films of 2013!

1) THE CONJURING: Based on true events, the film's about married couple and paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson from THE WATCHMEN and INSIDIOUS) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga from ORPHAN and SOURCE CODE), who must help a family in Harrisville, Rhode Island from being haunted by a demonic spirit. Director James Wan (SAW, DEAD SILENCE) employs some of the old traits of filmmaking that were used back in the 1970's the make the film look and feel like it was made in that decade. With it's smart script and outstanding acting, THE CONJURING is, without a doubt, THE best horror film of 2013!! If you're sick and tired with the recent bombardments of crappy remakes, re-imagines, and reboots, then you're gonna love this film!

2) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2: Another James Wan film! The haunted family Lambert have moved into the home of dad Josh's (Patrick Wilson) mother Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey), after he plunged into the eerie netherworld The Further to pluck back his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) from the clutches of the infernal Mother Crane. But wife Renai (Rose Byrne) believes that her husband did come back and thinks something else has possessed Josh. Wan has done his homework, lifting the good ol' thrills and chills from classic horror films from the past. The movie continues to showcase his ability to really creep the audience out with simple things such as eerie sounds, long pauses of silence, and scares that will get under your skin.

3) MAMA: Sisters Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse), abandoned in the woods after losing both parents in tragic circumstances, are found after 5 years in horrible conditions, but when their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and aunt Annabel (Jessica Chastain), helped by a shady psychiatrist, take them in, the frightening truth comes out. This is one of those rare horror films that feature character development all throughout the film. Jessica Chastain performance is fantastic, and both Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse turn in outstanding performances as well. With Guillermo del Toro as executive producer, director Andy Muschietti does a tremendous job with creating some genuine chills, scares, and screams.

4) AMERICAN MARY: Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a medical student, who dreams of becoming a surgeon once she's done with school. However things are not going well, but her life gets turned upside down when she gets sucked into the underground world of surgeries that she dubs "Body Modifications," which proves to be very lucrative trade for the former starving med student. The film shows off the maturity of Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka the Twisted Twins) which is far and away a major step forward in their evolution as writers and directors. Isabelle's acting is simply captivating! Overall the film ranks as one of the best modern horror films of the past 20 years and a fine example of independent filmmaking!

5) YOU'RE NEXT: The Davison family heads out to a beautiful remote home near the woods for a wedding anniversary/family reunion. But when they come under attack by a vicious gang of masked killers, it's up to an unlikely family guest to take them all down. Originally filmed in 2011, it toured on the festival circuit and received numerous praises until it was finally picked up for distribution by Lionsgate. The film is basically a slasher film disguised as a crime thriller. But let me just state that, in my humble opinion, the movie doesn't try to be scary at all. Rather, it's very reminiscent of the old 80's slasher films I used to love to watch. Overall it's a fun, cool, gory, and entertaining flick!

6) EVIL DEAD: Producers Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Robert Tapert revisit their horror roots by remaking their original EVIL DEAD. This time they turn the directing reigns over to newcomer Fede Alvarez as he just paints the silver screen blood red! Young Mia (Jane Levy), is a recovering drug addict who, along with her brother and friends, heads to the old remote family cabin in the woods. While there the kids discover the Book of the Dead in the basement, read some of the passages, and summon the dormant demons that live in the woods. One by one the kids are picked off until there's only Mia left to fight off the evil dead spirits. The film is a fun-filled gorefest ride of death that will please fans of the original.

7) HATCHET III: Victor Crowley returns one last time in this, the final installment of the series! Creator and director Adam Green turns the directing duties over to BJ McDonnell, who was his cinematographer for the first two films. Danielle Harris reprises her role as Marybeth Dunston, who must travel back to the Honey Island Swamp with an armed SWAT team to take down Victor Crowley (once again portrayed by the icon Kane Hodder). The action comes fast and so does the bloodshed! The climatic ending is one that fans of the series will go crazy over! Harris once again turns in a excellent performance, and to see Kane Hodder take on Derek Mears, the new Jason Voorhees from the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake, you've got yourself one awesome horror movie!

8) ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE: Originally this fright flick was filmed in 2006 and it premiered at several film festivals shortly thereafter. The movie was going to be released in 2007 by the Weistein Company, but because of the failure of GRINDHOUSE at the boxoffice, they sold the film to Senator Entertainment US. However, that company went out of business and the film was stuck in limbo. Thanks to the blockbuster success of director Jonathan Levin's recent film WARM BODIES, the film was finally released to theaters. The entire cast turns in a fantastic, but it's Amber Heard who really shins in the film, who was only 20 years old at the time! She's gone on to act in films like THE RUM DIARY, DRIVE ANGRY and THE WARD.

9) THE LORDS OF SALEM: Rob Zombie goes witchcraft. After taking Michael Myers as far as he could go in his HALLOWEEN remake series, Zombie switches gears in this eerie, surreal and disturbing film. Sheri Moon Zombie portrays Heidi Hawthorne, a local radio station DJ who receives mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record. She plays it and then experiences a flashback to a past trauma. Then things really start getting weird! Sheri really goes for it as Heidi, and Zombie changes his style of directing and goes for a more dramatic, art house look and feel. But remember, this is a Rob Zombie film so expect the unexpected. A really underrated horror gem of a flick.

10) THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING: I had the privileged of seeing the film last year at Miss Misery's Days of Terror Convention. With the release of the film on the home market, I was so excited to watch it again and again. The film's about a young woman named Holly Jenson (Devanny Pinn) who's investigating the murder of her father by her blind younger brother Tyler (Noah Dahl). During her investigation, she accidentally awakens the spirit of Elizabeth Short (Alexis Iacono), better known as the infamous Black Dahlia. Soon Tyler's physician Dr. Brian Owen (Britt Griffith) begins to suspect something different about Holly, which triggers a deadly secret from his past. Written and directed by Brandon Slagle, the movie is a great indie horror gem that all of you should definitely see!

And that, my fellow children of the night, is a wrap! I sincerely hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Horror Film list and I really hope this encourages you all to check out these incredible fright flicks! Remember, if you get scared from watching these cinematic nightmares, keep repeating yourself: It's only a movie...only a movie...only a movie...only a movie....BOO!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming. 

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