Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the Winners is... MMM Awards 2013 Winners

Welcome, Whores of Salem, to the First Annual Montana Mancave Massacre Excellence in Horror Awards!

I know all 22 of my readers have been waiting, huddled 'round their monitors for the suspense to be over. Fear not Cavecrawlers! The winners of the first annual MMMies are assembled below and just a'waitin' to receive their prizes. What prizes, you may ask? Each winner will receive, upon written request, a framed printout (from my very own shitty Kodak printer) of the MMMie statuette pictured above. But wait, that's not all. Additionally, each winner will also receive a no-expenses-paid trip to Helena, MT, where they can spend a magical evening watching a hand-picked selection of horror films with yours truly, in the legendary Mancave. That's right, imagine, if you will, the glamour of sitting on my paint-stained hand-me-down sofa and swilling micros from the Blackfoot River Brewery straight from the growler while screening Dawn of the Mummy on my 24-inch VHS/DVD combo TV. I can feel your genitals tingling just thinking about it. So without further to-do... The Winners!


The Best Actress Winner is...



Meg Foster for The Lords of Salem

Go ahead, call it a comeback. I was just too jazzed about Meg Foster's triumphant return to the silver screen that I couldn't help but give her the prize. She owns Lords of Salem. While on set, she had a daily habit of putting Rob Zombie into a headlock and demanding, "Who owns Lords of Salem?" When Rob would concede with a whimpered, "You do," she would only squeeze harder and say, "I do what?" Not until he answered with the appropriate, "You own Lords of Salem Ms. Foster," could that day's shooting begin. But don't feel sorry for the distinguished Mr. Zombie. He loved every minute of it.

The Best Novelization Winner is...



The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie and B.K. Evenson

Another reason not to feel sorry for the distinguished Mr. Zombie. He's been awarded an MMMie in a category that wasn't even announced. There was literally no competition in this category, because while there were some novels adapted for the screen this year, I'm pretty sure this was the only honest-to-gods novelization of a horror movie in 2013. It's a pretty fun read too. It was written by Brian Evenson based on Rob Zombie's original screenplay, meaning that it is Zombie's vision for the film before budget constraints and other realities of filmmaking came into play. There are a few scenes I really wish would have made it into the film.  For instance, when they first play the Lords record over the air, their phones start ringing off the hook with women begging for them to play it again, and men who violently hate the song. After each time they play it, a woman in Salem murders her husband or boyfriend in grisly, ritualistic fashion. But for every scene I wished had made it were about 3 things I'm glad he changed in the film. So, if you're obsessed with Lords of Salem like I am, pick this one up for sure.

The Best Actor Winner is...



Toby Jones for Berberian Sound Studio


When I first conceived these awards, I was convinced that Best Actor was going to A.J. Bowen for You're Next! Bowen is awesome in everything, and the subtle choices he makes in it add up to perfect, especially on the second viewing. But the more I thought about it, I became convinced that no other horror movie this year was as completely dependent on its lead's performance than Berberian Sound Studio. And honestly, I was a little disappointed with the film. But I was absolutely impressed with Mr. Jones, who finally gets to be the star of a movie after a career's worth of fantastic character acting.

The Year's Most Pleasant Surprise was...



Would You Rather?


I wasn't expecting much from this one. I love Jeffrey Combs, but his presence doesn't guarantee a movie won't suck. Other than him, the big names were Sasha Grey, who you might know from porn, and Britanny Snow, who starred in the infuriatingly bad Prom Night remake. Well, Ms. Snow completely redeems herself here, turning in a convincing and powerful performance. While there's darker places a movie with this premise could have gone, there was some pretty shocking violence and a banquet full of tension. This one came out under the IFC Midnight imprint, which should have been a tip-off that

The Best Screenplay Winner is...


Don Coscarelli for John Dies at the End

There was some stiff competition in this category, but Coscarelli gets the MMMie simply for writing the coolest dialogue since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While Simon Barrett and the Brothers Hayes get major points for their mastery of structure, John Dies at the End is a labyrinth of weird. Around every corner is a scene even stranger, funnier, and more imaginative than the last. And yes, David Wong gets major credit for penning the source material, but Coscarelli took that divine madness and turned it into a funhouse of a movie every bit as addictive as Soy Sauce.


The Year's Biggest Disappointment was...


Pretty much my expression during the whole movie.


The Last Exorcism Part II


Now I love a good slow-burn horror movie, but this one was more of a no-burn. And I'll admit I didn't make it to the end. The Last Exorcism Part 2 bears the distinction of being the only film that's ever made me walk out of the theater. So, I guess there's a chance it got really good in the last 15 minutes, but I can't imagine sitting through the first dismal 75 again just to get there.

The Best Director Winner is...


James Wan for The Conjuring

I'm just uber-impressed with how far James Wan has come as a filmmaker, and since this may be the last opportunity I'll have to give him an MMMie, I took it. Who knows, he might delve back into horror again someday, but I expect it will be a good long while. Cheers, Mr. Wan, I'm looking forward to subjecting you to Shriek of the Mutilated when you finally make it 'round to the old mancave to collect on your prize.

Special Achievement in Gore Award goes to...



If a picture's worth a thousand words, an animated gif is worth, like... more.

Evil Dead


While it didn't make the cut for my top 5 best horror films, I really enjoyed Fede Alvarez's gruesome remake of Evil Dead. I suppose the film was just too light on character to push it to the top of my list, but the special effects kicked every other film's proverbial ass. This one's really fun, and I'm glad most of the initial naysayers came around.

But now, it's the moment a couple of you might have been waiting for...

And Winner of the First Annual MMM Excellence in Horror Award for Best Picture is...


You're Next!

I've been firmly aboard the Adam Wingard bandwagon since I saw A Horrible Way to Die, and many of the same things I love about that film are the very reasons I'm so enamored of this one. The characters and dialogue are very natural, very believable. While I don't always like them, I always relate at some level, or at least recognize them in people I know (okay, except for the psychos). I think the newly-dubbed mumblegore subgenre does everything that found footage movies are trying and mostly failing to do: adding that level of realism that makes the film all the more frightening. At times, particularly during the dinner scene, if feels like it could be a documentary of a real family, and it does it without having to explain why one of the characters never puts the camera down. Khalfoun's Maniac also achieves this, and is certainly more disturbing than You're Next! In fact, it was originally going to win the Best Picture MMMie, but after rewatching them both, You're Next! had the edge. Maniac is a great horror film that's easier to appreciate than to love, but You're Next! is a perfumed love letter sealed with a big, wet smootch to horror nerds everywhere.

Bonus List: Top 5 Kills of 2013 
As the credits roll on the first annual MMMies, here's a list I wrote that originally appeared on the If We Made It Podcast. It's way better when you hear those guys read it aloud, but in case you prefer the written word, here 'tis:

Marvin the Macabre’s Top Five Movie Kills of 2013:

#5 – The Blender Kill from You’re Next

So, You’re Next is going balls-out, blowing everyone’s tiny minds with homicide after brutal homicide, and the next thing you know, it turns full-on ridiculous when Australia's sweetheart Sharni Vinson jams a broken blender into a dude’s skull and plugs it in. Now, I know the homeowner is a former defense contractor and can probably afford a top of the line blender, but the human skull is somewhat thick. I’m calling bullshit.

So why does it make my top kills list?  Because it’s the set-up to the year’s second greatest line of dialogue:

A.J. Bowen: “Where’s Felix?”

Sharni Vinson: “I stuck a blender in his head and killed him.”

It doesn’t look like much on paper, but it’s all in the delivery. (The year’s best line, by the way, is “That door cannot be opened!” Again, it doesn’t really work out of context.)

#4 – X is for XXL from The ABCs of Death

The ABCs of Death is a wildly uneven compilation of shorts that range from dumb to boring to hilarious to truly disturbing. The cumulative effect of 26 batshit horror stories delivered rapid-fire was to make me honest-to-god sick to my stomach. A lot of that had to do with Xavier Gens’s third-to-last segment, X is for XXL. In it, an obese girl who gets picked on for her weight takes matters into her own hands by carving herself into her ideal shape. It takes some effort not to gag during this one.

#3 – Opening Kill from The Thompsons

So there’s this couple about to get it on in the woods, then they stop because they see someone watching them. Then they start hearing these weird sing-songy chants coming from different directions. They decide to get the fuck out of there, but too late--they're already being chased by two masked men. The masks turn out to be severed human faces. When the murderers catch up to the couple, they force them to continue the show, making them strip down and have sex in front of them. Then, mid-coitus, one of the psychos starts stabbing the dude in the face. Blood pours out onto the screaming girl as her boyfriend’s face is removed. It’s times like these I really have trouble justifying my taste in movies.

#2 – RedLucie86 from Maniac

It was difficult choosing just one kill from the incredibly violent, incredibly awesome Maniac. But RedLucie’s death really packs a punch because as an audience, we experience the whole thing, from the intial online chat to the date, followed by the seduction and finally the murder, through the eyes of her killer. I don’t know about you, but I was charmed by her during the date, and I was seduced by her afterward. And there’s no surprise that she’s going to die—we knew that from the beginning. There’s just this growing dread as the date goes on, and the more we start to like Lucie, the greater the dread becomes.

The murder itself is a simple strangling, but the pain on Lucie’s face is almost unbearable. And to top the whole thing off, we are treated to a graphic scalping that I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to get through without looking away. That’s right, for a hardcore horror geek, I’m kinda squeamish.

#1 – Jane Levy Chainsaws her Deadite Doppelganger in Evil Dead

For pure, unadulterated, gleefully-rendered gore, 2013 saw no film that came close to Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead. This one turned the violence and viscera up to 11 within the first half hour, so how do you top that? With a climax that literally rains blood and features the most over-the-top kill in recent memory. Our heroine faces off with the deadite version of herself, and chainsaws her in half from the guts straight through to the top of her head. The cherry on top comes when we see the vanquished deadite on the ground, splayed out in two halves with her eyes still twitching. Just magnificent.

Honorable Mention: Marconi Meets the Meat Monster from John Dies at the End

I couldn’t let this list go without paying respect to the badassness that is Clancy Brown as Marconi. He manages to make a demonic manifestation explode with a phone call, proving that Clancy Brown is God’s favorite human and reminding us that he will always be cooler than us, even when he’s just phoning it in.