Friday, 30 December 2011

The Top 10 Box Office Horror Films of 2011

Hollywood is a business of trends. The 90s was serial killers and the 2000s had J-Horror remakes. Greenlights are made on what the studios think will sell. They're decisions are based on what sold before.

The following 10 films are what sold in 2011.

Movies will be made based on the numbers of this list. It will affect the future of Hollywood horror. In the best case scenario a film can take three years to gestate from pitch to picturehouse. 2012 is in the can and 2013 is in production. It means 2014 will be the casualty of 2011.

This years has seen a tent pole sequel, reboot and remake flop. The word ‘casualty’ is sarcasm.
1 Paranormal Activity 3 $103.8million1 Paramount
2 Insidious $54m FilmDistrict
3 Final Destination 5 $42.6m Warner Bros
4 Scream 4 $38.1m The Weinstein Company
5 The Roommate $37.3m Screen Gems (Sony/Colombia)
6 The Rite $33m Warner Bros
7 Priest $29m Screen Gems (Sony/Colombia)
8 Don’t be Afraid of the Dark $24m FilmDistrict
9 Dream House $21.3m Universal
10 Shark Night 3D $18.8m Relativity Media
It was a good year for the independents but Relativity’s Shark Night 3D has no business doing business. Despite the addition of Priest the 3D gimmick is well and truly dead in horror. Only the studios can afford it and they will now abort it. Good riddance.

The only remake on the list is Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. That star vehicle didn’t even earn its production budget of $25m back. The notable remake absentee is the banner genre film of the year: The Thing. Why? It made $16.9m (it cost $38m). Remakes will always be a possibility but after this year less of a probability.

What should have been box office bonanza turned into box office humiliation. Where the Final Destination franchise may have no shame Scream should. The expected take of a sequel is 75% of its predecessor. The Final Destination 2009 earned $66.4m domestic. Anything less than $50m would have be a disappointment for Final Destination 5.

Scream 4 fared worse. Wes Craven is revered as an auteur and horrormeister. As Scream 3 2000 scored $89.1m in North America the target for the reboot was $87m (factoring inflation). Scream 4 earned less than half that. There won’t be a Scream 5.

The Paranormal Activity series has run its narrative course but it was a good year for creator Oren Peli. Insidious was made for $1.5m making it the most profitable movie of the year2. Its worldwide take is a current $97m. It is more profitable than the top grossing Harry Potter and whatever subtitle was attached to it.

Horror saves Hollywood again. The bad news is the low budget demonic-possesion subgenre has at least another three years.
All things should be taken into consideration. The US box office was down 5% this year. Ticket sales were down by 6%. That was bound to affect the genre dollar but the biggest factor is the quality of the films. Three of the top 10 grossing horror films of 2011 made it onto this site’s 10 Worst Horror Films of the Year.

Only one of them will make the Top 10.

Thrill Fiction looks forward to the New Year and new horrors. I will publish A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return in 2012. Not only is it worth the wait it’s worth the read. It’s a better script than any of the tosh on this list.

I’d like to thank all visitors to this site for your support. I’d especially like to thank all who leave comments for their time and insight. That means you Filip. You’re in this as well Nisar. To Dr Blood and Lee Hougly I am always honoured. Shout out to the Girl from the Ghetto – you are queen of blogs. Wharrup Steupz? John Cozzoli is a genius. Ricky Sprague is a super genius. He published his second novel Whimsical Doctor Shoe this year.If I didn't mention you by name - there's always next year.

Happy New Year.

Faith in fiction.

Read more Thrill Fiction: John Carpenter’s The Ward
1 All numbers from Box Office Mojo
2 Insidious most profitable movie of the year Hollywood Reporter
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Thursday, 29 December 2011

The 10 Worst Horror Films of 2011

2011 was a bad year for Kim Jong-il. The ‘Dear Leader’ died of a heart attack on 17th December1. Aged 69 he had ruled North Korea for 17 despotic years. Despite the diplomatic commiserations (from China2) he will be missed by no one.

Except South Park.
2011 was even worse for Muammar Kaddafi. He was 69 too but had ruled Libya for over 40 years. The erstwhile dictator was tortured to death3 by British backed rebels. That’ll teach him to have oil reserves.

While Rome burned the emperor Nero played the fiddle. When the empire crumbled around him he distracted the citizens with circus acts at the coliseum; chariot races, gladiator fights and lion eating Christians. Cue two thousand years later and we’re witnessing the end of Western civilisation. Our dear leaders (celebrities, sports and entertainment) can’t be bothered to produce decent horror films. Cheek.
bad but not as bad as the listed 10
For every good horror movie in 2011 there were ten bad ones to wade through. It was like being married to Kim Kardashian for 72 days just to kiss Kourtney. As per usual Hollywood is to blame – but with the proliferation of camcorder cinema the independents are blame too. Don’t get me started on them bloody foreigners (and in cinema terms that includes us Brits).

The criteria for the following 10 crap films is wide theatrical release in the US and/or UK, critical acknowledgement and buzz/advertising/marketing. That lets a lot of dross of the hook.

Readers – avoid these movies the way you avoided Lindsay Lohan’s playboy spread4. There’s no fire crotch but it’s still Lindsay. Likewise there’s no horror in these films – but they’re still scary.

10 The Rite US
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was published in 1971. The bestseller became a blockbuster in 1973. It has since grossed over $1billion5 (inflation adjusted) at the worldwide box office. It is the highest grossing horror film of all time6. Warner Bros thought they could do it all over again so they sourced another demonic possession book and hired a movie star.
phoning it in since 1991
The first rule of horror films is don’t hire movie stars. The second rule of horror films is don’t hire Anthony Hopkins. That old fart can chew more scenery than a genetically modified cow. That’s exactly what he did in last year’s mega ($150million) budget mega-turkey The Wolf Man.

Liz granted him The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his performance in The Silence of the Lambs 1991 (that’s Sir Anthony to you). She should have him deported for The Rite.

To the Valley.

The Wesh valleys.
9 Wake Wood UK
Hammer Films used to be a British institution. Now it’s owned by a Dutch reality TV company. Perhaps to placate the natives John de Mol7 commissioned Wake Wood.

The critics8 loved this piffle. The critics hate horror films so that tells its own story. It’s not a good story. It is a ripoff of The Wicker Man 1973.
Note to Hammer: if the dead walk in a horror film it’s because they’re zombies. Not because they’re oirish tinkers.

8 Amer FRA
This is an example of art house cinema at its best. It is experimental, self absorbed, self indulgent, unwelcoming, up its own arse, and redundant.

More fool me for watching it.

No spoilers because there is no plot. There is a cavalcade of shots, angles, colours and loud sound. It is unwatchable as entertainment. It’ll play like a porno to the film school crew and to those pretentious Sight & Sound readers. They can hop down the pub and bore their friends – invariably named Archibald and Cecile – over a dab of port.
7 Paranormal Activity 3 US
The most notable aspect of this series is regression. Paranormal Activity 2 2010 was a prequel. Paranormal Activity 3 is a prequel to a prequel. Prequels rarely work in cinema (Hannibal Rising 2001) because they dispel the myth the original created.  Ringu O 2000 is prime example of that.

So is Paranormal Activity 3 .
Been there done that. James Bond can get away with it. So did Saw. Or maybe not. In any case the Paranormal Activity  films take themselves camcorder seriously. They ask the audience to do the same.
This tedium is as serious as Ghostbusters 1984 – but that was a good film.

6 Faces in the Crowd US
Milla Jovovich has elasticity as a movie star. She played opposite the then white hot Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element 1997 and headlined Resident Evil 2002. She appeals to genre fans and the mainstream.

Faces in the Crowd appealed to no one. It went Straight-to-DVD in the US (the acronym STD is apropos). The plot is about a woman who partially loses her sight. Her condition is called face blindness. The affliction impairs the ability to recognise faces whereas all other objects remain intact. It is a real condition called prosopagnosia.

Imagine if your ex-girlfriend had it.

Now imagine sitting through a movie that doesn’t recognise horror, thriller, mystery or excitement.
Give that ex-girlfriend a call. She might not have prosopagnosia but her cursing and threats will be more entertaining than this drivel.

5 Priest US
Oh dear.
Regular readers of this site will remember The 10 Worst Horror Films of 2010. I’ve already mentioned Anthony Hopkins as a two time loser two years in a row. He’s not the only Brit on this list. Paul Bettany starred in last years Legion. Oh Paul. A Beautiful Mind 2001 was such a long time ago.

Priest – or Legion part 2 – is an action-horror in the subgenre of the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises. Of the 9 films cited in that last sentence only one of them is any good.
Go on. Have a guess.

4 Evil Things US
A great title does not bequest a great movie. This low rent found footage finds this list because of the noise it made. All the big blogs covered it: JoBlo, Twitch,, Final Girl. Such a shame director Dominic Perez didn’t use such effort to make the film.

A group of city kids drive into the boonies a la The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974. These kids are wimpy boys and mouthy bitches. It’s the 21st century don’t you know and women are equal don’t you know? Not like those hapless wenches of yesteryears. The likes of Mary Seacole, Amina of Zaria, Boudica, Amelia Earhart, Winnie Mandela.

I’m sick of this trash.
3 Blooded UK
England as opposed to the UK is suffering from an identity crisis. It suffers with low self-esteem. The empire is gone and the jig is up. Britannia has been exposed for what it is: an American client state.
The scurrying response to this national malaise is films like Blooded. It desperately wants to be uniquely English and desperately wants to be right-on. It wants to be horror film with a message.

The equally low budget Dawn of the Dead 1978 is a horror film. Take whatever message you want from that flick. As many times as you like.

In contrast Blooded couldn’t compete with a home video of a primary school nativity play. It purports to be about hunting and animal rights but the protagonists are toffs on a weekend jolly at a chum’s country estate.

Who on earth could feel sympathy for land owners?
2 Wrong Turn 4 US
In 2003 actress Eliza Dushku had traction. 20th Century Fox released Wrong Turn to capitalize – or to shut her agent up. Cut to eight years later and Dushku is traction-less. There have been two sequels. Both are relatively entertaining films that were released straight-to-DVD. This third sequel has no relatively. It is absolute garbage.

It’s not camp. It’s not ‘so bad it’s good’. It borrows from the Fritt Vilt franchise. Everything is bad about this film – from the dialogue to the acting, the stunts, story and actors. I’m sure one of those chicks has cement boobs.

It’s Wrong Turn 4 people. You know the plot going in. Well actually no you don’t.

Neither do the writers.
1 YellowBrickRoad US
An intriguing title does not beget an intriguing… Oh sod it.

YellowBrickRoad is a production from the website Bloody Disgusting. Yup they make movies too. They don’t know it yet but I’m looking to them to help promote my spec screenplay A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return later in the year. Thus this positioning/burial may be viewed as brave or principled or moronic.

I don’t go through life based on my good looks.

In my defence another Bloody Disgusting Selects film makes my Top 10 Horror Films of 2011. No coincidence.

The mystery here is how a couple of horror fans who formed a website in 2002 could release such a monstrosity. Bloody Disgusting was purchased in 2007 by a management company called The Collective. I guess their hands are tied.

Welcome to the movie business Bloody Disgusting.
With horror films like these who needs Fox News? It wasn’t just the movies that sucked. Television, that four foot widescreen babysitter, harbours American Horror Story. And Sean Hannity.

If you are a horror fan you must read this:

Do not watch any of the above cited films under any or all circumstances. Do not watch if you are bedridden with the next phantom SARS pandemic. Do not watch in your homemade bunker during the impending zombie apocalypse. Do not watch at the invitation of a girl even if she promises nookie afterwards; for this is a sure sign of women-who-kill. Do not watch if you are part of the Occupy Movement and someone hands you a copy of one of these flickers; he’s probably working for the Man.

The biggest casualty of this year’s onslaught of filmic tomfoolery is Dr Blood’s Video Vault.
Sidebar: I’m going to write to the good doctor and see if I can get him to divert his traffic to Thrill Fiction.

Back to main topic: Hollywood you suck!

Read more Thrill Fiction: Attack the Block
1 Kim Jong-il dead BBC
2 profile of the ‘Dear Leader’ The Telegragh
3 Kaddafi tortured Businessday
4 Lindsay Lohan Playboy sales Daily Mail
5 The Exorcist The Numbers
6 The highest grossing horror film Box Office Mojo
7 John de Mol owns Endemol
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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

[REC]3 trailer

George A Romero’s Dead trilogy will live forever as the greatest in horror movies if not in film entirely. Zombie fiction as written or filmed by others does not come close. There is Romero – there is everything else.

At the top of everything else are films such as Zombie Flesh Eaters 1979, Return of the Living Dead 1985 and [REC] 2007. The latter spawned a sequel. A third film is incoming.

[REC]2 2009 had a narrative flaw that was unforgiveable to some (but not to me). If [REC]3 2012 surpasses its predecessor then horror fans will fan another zombie trilogy to treasure ad infinitum.

This will be one of the films of the year.

Read more Thrill Fiction: The Caller
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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods [trailer]

Joss Wheldon has to take ownership of The Cabin in the Woods 2012 the way Guillermo del Toro takes ownership of the movies he’s produced. This film is being marketed on Whedon’s name alone. It has been filmed in secrecy, delayed and reshot. A Martin Scorcese film wouldn’t survive that trauma.

Here’s the trailer:
Josh Whedon say what?

The Cabin in the Woods is released 13th April in the US and UK.

Read more Thrill Fiction: Attack the Block
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