Thursday, 30 December 2010

The 10 Worst Horror Films of 2010

Bad Movies We Love1 was a column in Movieline2 magazine that celebrated the atrocious with a double vodka. There are bad movies that can be laughed at because they are so inept – like Showgirls 1995. It was supposed to be erotic but now it’s viewed as a comedy – which is funny because it killed of Elisabeth Berkeley’s career.

Then there is the other type of bad film. Films that were cynical at conception. Many of them masquerade as remakes and sequels. Many of them exploit the subgenres of slasher or torture. They are without entertainment value. They are beyond redemption. These films usually head straight-to-DVD like a disease that cannot be cured. Some of them are released theatrically.

Bad movies are made for first weekend box office returns. The HorrorFolk are as voracious as zombies and we will consume first and vomit later. We are marks. Ergo the criterion for this list is theatrical release (bar one exception – a DVD sequel with high expectations). Yep. Fooled again.

2010 was a fallow year for quality horror. In 2011 if you’re looking to Blockbusters or Netflix for a quiet night in then beware the following titles.

You have been warned.

10 Cherry Tree Lane UK
Perhaps the most famous propaganda film is the Nazi Triumph of the Will 1934. Cherry Tree Lane is not so grandiose. It is however a testament to the return of European fascism and overt cinemascope of the racism that never went away. It is biased, facile and deceitful with the narrative arc of a Madrasah graduate turned suicide bomber who knows he’s going to heaven.

70 million people died in the second war Europe gave the world. 65 years later and these people have learnt nothing.

9 Legion US
The first scene in the trailer is a premise. It is a showpiece lifted from the greatest horror film of all time The Exorcist III 1990. The end scene is foreboding. The between scenes feature guns – lots of guns – and angels. The trailer is a promise of perhaps The Prophecy 1995 meets Resident Evil 2002.

Dennis Quaid, Charles S Dutton, Paul Bettany and Tyrese Gibson should be enough manpower for a thriller, neo-noir or horror. However writer-director Scott Stewart does his best impression of Goldman Sachs and throws in the towel as soon as patrons have paid for their tickets.

He commits the cinematic sin of stealing from The Terminator 1984 then has his angels drive ice-cream vans. The resulting story defies logic and mental stability. How Paul Bettany could recite his lines with a straight face deserves some sort of recognition.

He used to be a prospect. What a fall from grace.

8 Frozen US
A certain type attends the Sundance Film Festival. While others go about the business of film these hipsters ski schmooze and party. They return with wild tales of fantastic movies mere mortals will have to pay to see in perhaps a year’s time. They were responsible for starting that American phenomenon The Blair Witch Project 1999. They are also responsible for this nonsense.

The concept is cigarette paper thin. The acting is bad, the dialogue is hackneyed the tension is contrived. Just because a bunch of yuppies on frozen yoghurt and crystal meth decide a film is good doesn’t mean it is.

It was Utah in January. Perhaps they could relate.

7 Night of the Demons US
Edward Furlong was 14 when he starred in Terminator 2 1991. That was a long time ago. The dude is still a capable actor with a perennial baby face and in this film he plays a young adult. It’s that type of film: young ladies with heaving bosoms doing stupid things to get them killed. It is tongue in cheek bordering on camp but that doesn’t make it excusable.

There’s no rhyme or reason to the motivation of the characters. They’re all stereotypes. There’s no one to root for. The special effects look like they were made on my computer. The net result is a low rent Hatchet 2007.

Sorry Hatchet.

6 The Descent 2 UK
Or as I like to call it Crimes of Exploitation.
This sequel went straight to video in the US – another example of the Americans getting special treatment. The original is well regarded by critics with a politically correct agenda. The Descent 2006 is a gimmick movie. Its gimmick is an all female cast engaging in the macho and moronic pursuit of caving. There are two versions in existence. In the British edit all the totty died. In the American 2007 release there was a final girl.

Alfred Hitchcock promoted Psycho 1960 with the mantra “it’s only a movie”. The Descent 2 is only a movie but I’m only human.

No spoilers but this film sucks.

5 Splice US
The creature-feature was a staple for our parents in a more gullible unenlightened time. Not like today. Us 21st century sophisticates are still arguing about the safety of vaccines not to mention genetic modification.

HG Wells wrote The Island of Dr Moreau in 1896. It’s been filmed three times. All versions treated the subject seriously and all had stellar casts – as does Splice. However the latter has more in common with the B-movie Species 1995.

There are acts so grotesque they shouldn’t pass the censor whether Sarah Polley is in the film or not.

4 My Soul to Take US
Scream 4 may well be the most anticipated horror film of 2011 (for me it’s The Thing) but do not be deceived. Scream 2 1997 was bad. Scream 3 2000 was worse.

My Soul to Take shows just how bad Wes Craven can be. He’s the writer as well so he bears all blame. The title is trite. The setup is appalling. The monster is ridiculous. The concept – multiple personalities – is as intriguing as it is medically controversial. Clearly there was something there. 

Alas what came out the other end is a cliché riddled yawn. It’s a waste of everybody’s time but even the great have their bad days.

Perhaps it’s time for this Master to stop writing.

3 Survival of the Dead US
How the mighty have fallen. First John Carpenter now George A Romero.

Click the poster for the full review.

2 The Wolfman US
Fellow Horrorfolk you are in the presence of history. This film has a mega budget of $150million3. What? All that money spent just to entertain me?
Oh hang on. The film was originally due out in November 20084. It was pushed back four times over 16 months5 to its release date in February. That tells its own story.

The story The Wolfman wants us to swallow is even worse. The first problem is the cast. How to explain Latino Benicio del Toro as son of white Anthony Hopkins? Well seeing that it’s only a movie perhaps the viewer should ignore that. Ignore too the conflicting accents because plenty of people grow up in a different locale to their parents. What can’t be ignored is the diction. Why is everyone talking like the Brontë sisters?

Too much attention was paid to wardrobe and set design and not enough to the script. This movie certainly has a look but look closer and you’ll see nothing. It is portentous self aware self absorbed and fails to entertain on every level. As for the money shot transformation from man into beast – big deal.

Watch An American Werewolf in London 1981. It’s still the yardstick.

1 A Nightmare on Elm Street US
The most anticipated horror film of the year.
The worst horror film of the year.

Click the poster for the full review.

The good news is that I’m writing a spec sequel. It’ll be online in 2011.

I promise.

Those were the 10 worst theatrical released/high profile films. There were plenty more. The likes of which I’m not going to mention because you’ve seen them yourself; the straight to DVD, the low budget, the micro budget, the foreign tosh, the art house muck, the internet darlings, the torture porn.

This is proof positive of the contempt Hollywood holds the Horrorfolk in. I hate you too Hollywood. This is my indictment to be used as evidence against you. Carry on like this and the audience will go on strike.

TFi: The only reason why The Walking Dead is not on this list is because the hordes who like it get their welfare cheques on a Monday. They’re spent up by Monday night.

What a load of zombies.

2 Movieline magazine
3 The Wolfman budget Box Office Mojo
4 The Wolfman Wikipedia
5 The Wolfman Wikipedia
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