Friday, August 5, 2011

Ten Best Horror Movies of the Past Ten Years - The First 3 and 7-10ths Lists

I came up with the idea for this Liststravaganza when I first started this blog and personally asked three of my friends to guest blog. I didn't get any responses right away, so I shelved the idea for a little while. Then, earlier this week I was finally getting around to clearing out my inbox and found that I'd actually gotten the first list back in February, but it had been buried in a deluge of junk emails. Then I felt like an ass, so I vowed to post it ASAP, which for me means several days later.

So without further ado, I present the first list by Tucker of This Coleslaw Makes Me Sick and the If We Made It Podcast.

Tucker's Top Ten of the Last Ten:

This list would be different if I compiled the damn thing tomorrow or yesterday or next week. I feel sick leaving off Grindhouse, The House of the Devil, The Last Exorcism, 28 Days Later, Slither and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. On other days not only would those films make the list, some of them may find themselves perched on top. I also feel that the order is almost arbitrary. I really love all these movies in different ways. Unfortunately, the parameters of the list allow only ten to represent ten years. I hope I have chosen well. Here goes…

10.  Wrong Turn (2003)

Not exactly a film classic, but endlessly watchable and re-watchable. Lifts many elements directly from the brilliant unproduced screenplay Grossface. Kids get stranded in the backwoods of West Virginia and proceed to be hunted by cannibalistic inbred retards. Y’know, West Virginians. Take that, West Virginia.

9.  The Strangers (2008)

It’s a rarity for a movie to unsettle a jaded horror fan like myself, but this tale of senseless brutality and home invasion did the trick. It is also a rarity in today’s horror films to build to the terror, but this film takes its time establishing an emotional connection with the characters before they are terrorized and murdered by a Manson-inspired team of killers.

8.  The Orphanage aka El Orfanato (2007)

This film sets a great mood and builds incredible tension without a whole lot of bells and whistles. I’m a sucker for creepy kids so this tale of a haunted orphanage for handicapped children really hit the spot.

7.  Let the Right One In (2008)
This is a beautiful horror/love story about a bullied kid and his relationship with a young (in appearance at least) vampire girl. A great film that emphasizes character and emotion over cheap thrills.

6.  May (2002)
May is a character study about a damaged woman struggling with her inability to find a human connection and the lengths to which she will go to create a companion. In a landscape populated with remakes and sequels director Lucky McKee brings a strikingly original vision to the genre.

5.  Hostel II (2007)
Eli Roth’s Hostel films do what great horror always does: projects society’s fears back to us. I chose this film over the original because it truly continues where the first left off and delves even deeper into the ideas set up by the first film. The original relied on our xenophobia to produce terror, but in the sequel Roth deepens the discussion by placing more emphasis on another horror: privileged Americans on the hunt for new thrills.

4.  Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
Jason won. This is a no-brainer for me. Hilarious and gory, and booby, and it almost got me and Levi killed by an African-American weightlifter which is always the mark of a good film. And I don’t care that Freddy still had some twitching nerves after Jason ripped his fucking head off. Jason won. Don’t tell my wife.

3.  The Descent (2005)
This movie had me claustrophobic and terrified before it even introduced the cave-dwelling nasties. Had I seen the American version with the stupid-fuck ending originally I may have a slightly different view on this one, but I didn’t.

2.  The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Rob Zombie nailed the sleazy mood of 70s horror with this quasi-sequel to his less successful House of 1000 Corpses. It’s funny and more original than the original, oddly enough. Seeing this on opening night in L.A. with a house full of raving lunatics really added to the experience. I suddenly realized I may be in one of those news stories you hear about where someone gets stabbed at a movie theatre. Great ambiance.

1.  Drag Me To Hell (2008)
I’ve revisited this film several times in the last couple years. It never disappoints. Fun, silly, gross without being gory, and most importantly it remembers that a fucking goat demon with hooves and horns can still be frightening. And it has that talking sheep. This is the only talking animal movie I will allow my child to see. Other films on my list are arguably more impressive, but none were quite this much fun.

Thank you Uncle Tucker. All solid picks (though they would have been more solid had Freddy won - I can't argue that he didn't lose, just that he should have won). BTW, Tucker and BROWN!'s most recent podcast discusses the original Fright Night, so check it on out. And BROWN!, I'll expect your list forthwith.

Next up is the inimitable Liam Underwood of All Films Considered, who was the first online responder and whose list I won't post here because it's on his blog, and y'all need to give it some hits. 

Liam Underwood's Top 10 of the Past 10:

Here's the link:

I'm seeing lots of my picks on these lists so far, plus some surprises. The only movie I haven't seen on Liam's list is Wolf Creek, which has been sitting on my shelf for about a year now, silently hating me for passing it over night after night. Soon, Wolf Creek, soon. I promise. And thanks to Liam for the excellent list.
Batting third is an old high school friend of mine who I hadn't heard from in years. Alas, the call of horror is too strong to ignore. Plus she had some time to kill on a train. Since she's shy about using her real name online, we'll call this formidable contributor "She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's Top 10 of the Past 10:
In order by year:

1. Land of the Dead (Romero, 2005)

It’s no (original) Dawn of the Dead, but how can you have eyes and a soul and any familiarity at all with Pittsburgh and not love George Romero? In true form, there is wonderfully overt political allegory with Dennis Hopper as a decadent gazillionaire looking down on the other, entrapped, 99..9%. And the zombies have a nascent consciousness and a revolutionary one at that. Viva the Dead! Isn’t it incredible how Romero keeps inventing the genre?

2. Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006)

Fascists are indeed much scarier than monsters with eyes on their hands that eat people. But those monsters are scary as hell too. And, while it may be more fantasy or something, the horrific elements of this movie are what make it compelling and meaningful.

3. The Orphanage (Bayona, 2007)

In the end, I will admit that this movie is much more sad than scary, but up to that point it’s pretty damn scary and it uses things that are admittedly obvious—crawl spaces and whatnot—with jitter-inducing effect.

4. Funny Games (Haneke, 2007)

OK, so this is actually a mean-spirited slasher movie that Michael Haneke made to assault his bourgeois audience who, as my fiancé recently astutely pointed out, probably all have lake houses like the victims in the film.. It is almost totally unlikeable and irredeemable, and, unfortunately, brilliant. In order to play the same joke again, Haneke remade it from German into English pretty much exactly the same way. Just because it’s “art house” doesn’t mean it isn’t a slasher film, and probably one of the most intelligently, and purposefully, immoral ones at that.

5. The Strangers (Bertino, 2008)

This slasher film is wonderfully austere and carefully paced. It also deftly switches genres—from drama to horror—about 20 minutes in without being stupid or assuming its audience is stupid. It’s smart, and has been woefully ignored.

6. Let the Right One In (Alfredsen, 2008)

A smart reinterpretation of the tired vampire trope featuring the hellishness of adolescence, the hellishness of love, the drab beauty of a cold climate in a state with an adequate social safety net, and the hellishness of both aging and staying young forever.

7. Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009)

One of the best, if not the best, American movies of all genres in 2009. The ending particularly defied expectation.

8. Antichrist (Von Trier, 2009)

Admittedly totally ridiculous, but nevertheless scary: An animatronic fox, eating its own entrails, turning to the screen and saying in a death metal guttural, “Chaos reigns!” And as for body horror, I had to keep my eyes closed through about half an hour of it. Lars von Trier is an asshole, but I grudgingly admire this film as a somewhat sociopathic horror-comedy.

9. Splice (Natali, 2009)

Arguably more science fiction that horror (but the same argument would discount The Fly and Alien from the genre) and actually not very scary, but this movie nevertheless blew my mind.

10. We Are What We Are (Grau, 2010)

Probably the best cannibal film, especially one with incestuous overtones, ever made. Discounting Texas Chainsaw Massacre, of course.

Oh She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, why don't you have your own horror blog? Excellent list and insightful commentary. Embarrassingly, I've only seen about half the films on her list. What are you trying to do, make me look bad on my own blog?

This just in: my little sis just contributed a list in the comments section of the original post. In case you missed it, I'll repost it here:

Anntastic's Top 7 of the Last 11:

OK, I didn't come up with ten but here is my list:

Although it was made in 2000 I had to add it, American Psycho: This movie didn't actually scare me but I thought it was fracking hilarious! Mainly when Christian Bale is screwing the two women and he's really making love to himself in the mirror ~ Anntastic!

The Descent: After I found out about creepers on Ghost Adventures this movie has scared me! Creepers are the spirits that crawl on all fours and move up walls and on ceilings.

The Hills Have Eyes: I don't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of inbred Jed's EVER!

Planet Terror: I would actually say this is my husbands pick, he loved the blood.

Shaun of the Dead: OK, this is supposed to be a funny movie but the zombies actually freak me out, I think this is probably my favorite on the list.

Trick R Treat: The whole school bus thing freaked me the f*ck out! Other than that it was good fun.

Paranormal Activity: Nobody else mentions this movie but I had problems sleeping after I watched this movie so it made it on the list.

I have a lot of funny movies on my list because there aren't very many scary movies that really get to me anymore. I will admit I do not watch as many scary movies as my brother, Marvin the Macabre, or my sister so maybe I shouldn't even be making a list, but there it is.

Funny thing about Paranormal Activity - I only thought it was miderately scary while I was watching it, but I couldn't get to sleep for hours that night. It was almost like the movie had conditioned me to be afraid of sleeping - a sort of post-traumatic stress. With Anntastic's list, I've seen nearly every movie on my own list represented. People's got some taste!

That's it for the first installment of Top 10 of the Past 10. Keep those lists coming and I'll keep patting myself on the back for coming up with an audience participation gimmick that actually worked. Oh and my list will follow shortly.


  1. Some good choices so far! I'm pleased to see this idea is successful.

    Can't really argue with the choices people have picked thus far, and it's a nice reminder that the past ten years haven't been quite as bad for horror as may first appear with the mass amount of direct-to-DVD nonsense and sequels and remakes.

    However, what I find most interesting is how few American films are being chosen. Seems European horror is leading the way at the moment!

  2. I figured people's lists might lean foreign, as the remake/sequel phenomenon seems to be the result of the Hollywood system, which makes products rather than art.

  3. Here's the link to my contribution Marvin. Thanks for the great idea.


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