Tag Archives: Decade in Horror

A Decade In Horror: Halloween Special – The Noughties

It’s October! The leaves on the trees are turning brown, it’s getting darker earlier in the evening and folks are rummaging through their DVD collections, looking for their favourite horror films to watch in time for Halloween. As such, every week this month has seen us expand on our Decade In Film series with a spin off article focussing on five horror films from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and the noughties! The format is much the same as our regular series, but with a slight twist.

We’ve made it! Today is officially the spookiest day of the year, Halloween! It also sees us publish our final entry to the Decade In Horror series. Andrew, Liam, MikeOwen and Paul are back together for one last time to reveal what exactly is their favourite horror film of the noughties.

Following the technological apocalypse that occurred after Y2K, as predicted would happen by crazy sane people with ready access to billboards in the 1990s, only a few of the human race survived. Those of us who were smart enough to build shelters and hide in underground bunkers emerged in early 2000 to find a desolate landscape, occupied only by gruesome, fierce mutants and rogue machines hell-bent on destruction. It was up to us to rebuild humanity. And we did, one step at a time. First we tamed the machines, then we wiped out the mutants, leaving only a few of them to run our football clubs or become politicians (satire) leaving no trace of the worst fate to befall our kind in human history. Once we’d tidied up a bit, we got on with what we do best; i.e. making horror films. We created a whole new subgenre known today as “torture porn”, mainly thanks to the splat-pack; a group of directors who were raised on a diet of exploitation films and grotesque horrors. Films like Saw, Hostel and Wolf Creek defined the 00s’. Saw particularly so by really bringing the torture porn concept into the mainstream. Who didn’t at least know of Jigsaw and the infamous “I want to play a game” quote? But that wasn’t all that our new millennium had to offer. What actually were our favourites of this brand new era? First up picking his favourite is Liam, with something a bit different…


Ferpect Crime (2004)

ferpect crimeDon Antonio, this is not right at all. You are dead, you can’t chat with me.

This Spanish black comedy may appear an odd addition to a Halloween list but when you have a plot that contains; murder, dismemberment, psychotic obsession, arson, several attempted murders, blackmail and a belligerent ghost it’s pretty safe to say it belongs here. The title is a play on the Hitchcock classic Dial M For Murder released in Spain as “Perfect Crime”.

A revoltingly slick Super Salesman type has his perfect life smashed to pieces when he is left completely beholden to a woman he can’t stand the sight of.

There are a couple of problems with it. The first fifteen minutes are a bit worrying. It’s horribly mid 80s style American cheesiness. It even has Yello’s “Oh Yeah” playing in the background. But it does successfully show the man as a total moral vacuum and a sleazy, womanising jerk. The last fifteen minutes seem as though they were written by someone else, they don’t really fit and leave you wondering if he simply didn’t know how to end it. The middle hour makes it all worthwhile. His realisation that he is totally trapped, by this demented woman and her deranged family, starts a decline which only increases as he plots to find a way out. His paranoia and visions of a ghost are not helping.

This is an Oreo type of film. Don’t worry too much about the top & bottom, just enjoy the great middle bit.

by Liam (@ElmoreLTM)


The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

TDRBoy, the next word that comes out of your mouth better be some brilliant fuckin’ Mark Twain shit. ‘Cause it’s definitely getting chiselled on your tombstone.

Choosing a film for this decade was tough. There wasn’t much in the way of traditional horror to choose from. Rather, my favourites from the 00’s all kind of boiled down to ultra gory slasher style films or the newly founded “Torture Porn” sub-genre. With that in mind, my final choice is less a horror movie and more an ultra-violent thriller in the guise of a horror film.

The Devil’s Rejects is the sequel to Rob Zombie’s cult horror House of 1000 Corpses. But it’s a sequel with a twist, of sorts. The remaining members of the Firefly Clan (Sid Haig, Bill Mosely and Sherri Moon Zombie) are on the run from a maniacal sheriff hell bent on avenging the death of his brother in the first film. More of a road movie than a horror, the chase is on to bring the crazy hillbillies to justice.

The twist is that you aren’t siding with the cops in this film. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to end up rooting for the Rejects and you’re going to want them to come out on top. As they tear-arse their way across the county leaving an insane amount of carnage behind them, you still want them to get the better of William Forsythe’s sheriff.

The hillbilly horror has been around since a certain massacre in Texas shocked the world. But with brilliantly written characters; one of the scariest clowns in film history and some of the goriest deaths in quite some time, Rob Zombie’s darkly funny horror sequel stands as one of my favourites. Not just of the noughties, but of all time.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

trick r treatWhat in God’s name are you doing down there Wilkins? Hiding Bodies?

One of the hardest decisions of this project was the 00’s; so many great horror films to pick from! It helps that I’ve attended FrightFest for most of this decade. I’ve witnessed films on the big screen that many never have or will ever see again. It’s from FrightFest that my choice comes and one I was extremely excited to see when it was announced. Since that year, Trick ‘r Treat has become my Halloween film of choice.

I do like a good anthology film and horrors tend to work extremely well in this format. It’s rare to come across one where all the stories are rubbish as most work on some level. This one works on every level for me.

Trick ‘r Treat is a true Halloween horror; it’s not scary, it’s quite funny but it epitomises everything about the infamous holiday. The fun of dressing up, carving jack-o-lanterns, eating candy, urban legends and of course the real legends of that day. Then there is Sam, the spirit of Halloween, and the force of this film, taking his own story at the end, but always present as each of the previous stories unfold. Whilst his origins are never really explained, it’s fair to say that he maintains some sort of balance between the forces of evil and the human world. Those who disrespect Halloween – the dead and even the living – will feel the true force of Sam; and it very rarely ends well.

There are four main stories; The Principal, The School Bus Massacre Revisited, Surprise Party and Sam. It’s hard for me to choose a favourite, but pushed I would say it is Sam. It’s his look, dressed in an orange pyjama suit, wearing a burlap sack over his head and dragging his sack of candy and other feline treats behind him. He is one of my all-time favourite horror monsters. The way he appears through each story is rather creepy and retaining his mystery until his actual story just adds to his appeal.

Michael Dougherty has crafted a wonderful homage to Halloween. He has a great “monster” in the form of Sam, four excellent stories and the intelligence to interlink each story either by visuals or characters, giving a nice flow to the film’s timeline. Dylan Baker in The Principal and Brian Cox in Sam provide the stand out performances, whilst Anna Pacquin also has a decent role in Surprise Party. The rest of the supporting cast are fine, the script is great and the look of the film is outstanding due to Glen MacPherson’s brilliant cinematography. It never fails to entertain me and I really do look forward to watching it each year on Halloween.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)


The House of the Devil (2009)

house of the devil titlesDuring the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults… Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups… The following is based on true unexplained events…

The 2000’s was the first decade that I was actually old enough to go to the cinema and watch horror films. Of course, like a lot of people, I grew up watching them regardless of their recommended age certificates. However, the thrill of being allowed in to see films such as Thir13en Ghosts or Jeepers Creepers made up for the guff quality of a few of them. These were gory, horrible films that I could no longer be turned away from by uppity cinema staff.

Nevertheless, my personal relationship with horror films did dwindle slightly through the 00’s. My wife (then girlfriend) had no interest in them whatsoever, so we hardly ever watched them together. Arguably, it was Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake that, watching on DVD sometime around 2006, rekindled my love for horror. If I dug deep enough, I could probably name 10 or so horrors from this decade alone that would be in my all time favourites for this genre.

Perhaps none more so than Ti West’s occult movie, The House of the Devil. Released in the US in 2009, it’s actually set in the 1980’s. Student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is desperate for cash and applies for a job as a babysitter on the night of a lunar eclipse. It’s revealed the work is not exactly as described in the flyer, and against the better judgement of her friend (Greta Gerwig), takes on the job anyway. Far from the torture porn movies of earlier in the decade, or even some of  the absurd goofy comedy horrors of the 80’s, this is actually an incredibly atmospheric movie, rich in tension, mystery and psychological drama. It builds itself steadily towards an unforgettable final few scenes with an almighty killer blow for a finale. It established West as one of the directors I get most excited about whenever I hear he’s making a new movie and holds up well on every rewatch. A staple for my annual Halloween diet!

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)


The Last House on the Left (2009)

last house on the leftJustin, you gotta start putting other people’s needs ahead of your own. You knew not to bring anybody back here, but you did it anyway, didn’t you?

The Last House on the Left is a notorious 70’s offering, that still shocks today, the BBFC shit bricks and banned it. This remake passed me by at first, but kept seeing it on ‘under-appreciated’ lists and decided to give it a poke. .John Murphy’s instantly recognisable score makes you realise this isn’t just another horror movie made by film company accountants and shit out like a hundred Lionsgate turds.

In this version the deranged escapees are led by Garret Dillahunt, and his performance is eerie, brutal and chilling and the utterly deranged Sadie is admirably portrayed by Riki Lindhome. Even Aaron Paul puts in his only decent turn outside of Breaking Bad.

It’s a simple premise, two girls fall into the clutches of the dangerous gang. They’re then subjected to a horrific and sustained attack and ultimately end up facing a final and brutal assault near their remote home. Their attackers end up staying in the home of one of the girl’s parents…

Then shit gets real. Cold, realistic, horrifying and emotionless. This is nasty film, but it all pans out in a way that just about keeps you in the realm of, ‘this could happen…..’, and that’s why it’s so terrifying. This is the film to see on Halloween for proper chills.

by Paul Field (@pafster)


…and that just about wraps up our Decade In Horror series! Thanks to everyone for reading and who knows, maybe we’ll be back in six years time to do the same thing again? You can find the rest of our Decade In Horror series (or even our main Decade In Film articles) by clicking the respective hyperlinks.

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A Decade In Horror: Halloween Special – The Nineties

It’s October! The leaves on the trees are turning brown, it’s getting darker earlier in the evening and folks are rummaging through their DVD collections, looking for their favourite horror films to watch in time for Halloween. As such, every week this month will see us expand on our Decade In Film series with a spin off article focussing on five horror films from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and the noughties! The format will be much the same as our regular series, but with a slight twist.

Hey, dudes! It’s time for our 90’s article. It’s sooo going to suck…….. NOT! Radical dudes Andrew, Liam, MikeOwen and Paul are back to, like, give us a run-down of their totally awesome favourite horror movies of the bitchin’ 1990’s, man! Super sweet. If you have a problem with that, well I guess you better talk to the hand ’cause the face ain’t listenin’!

The nineties is the decade that took a leaf out of the previous 10 years’ book and decided to adopt the motto: if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again with endless, repetitive, increasingly lame, decreasingly budgeted slashers. But it wasn’t all bad; there are at least five great films released and nothing Michael Haneke has to say about them will make us change our minds!

Towards the beginning of the decade, there was a commercial boom in the genre. The success of Joe Dante’s horror-comedy Gremlins meant a sequel went into production. Disney rode the wave with Arachnophobia released in the same year. Meanwhile, Tim Curry in Stephen King’s IT would become responsible for more cases of coulrophobia than John Wayne Gacy. Of course, The Silence of the Lambs was also a huge success; one of only three films to ever win five Oscars (sorry, it’s impossible to mention Jonathan Demme’s film without including that little bit of trivia at the end).

Despite the moderate success of a few cult movies like Cube, Cemetary Man and Event Horizon in the middle of the decade (and the success of one particular game-changer that we’ll come onto later), it wasn’t until later on in the 90s that horror films collectively upped their calibre. Part of this is down to the international market – and I don’t mean Peter Jackson! Despite the likes of Argento and Fulci in the 70’s and 80’s, world cinema had never truly penetrated the relatively mainstream horror conscious. However, J-horror (as it affectionately became known towards the end of the decade) did with such titles as Ringu (actually released primarily on VHS back then, would you believe), Ju-on (aka The Grudge) and Takeshi Mike’s Audition – not to mention one or two others, ahem. They forced the US market to change tact leading into the new millennium. Well, that and to remake as many of them as possible into the English language. Audiences woke up to what could be achieved and demanded more. But we’ll come onto that next week. Let’s start our reviews in chronological order, as always, and go back at the beginning of the decade with…


Candyman (1992)

candymanThey will say that I have shed innocent blood. What’s blood for, if not for shedding?

The 90’s was a strange decade for horror; trying to get away from the slash and dice of the 80’s, horror film makers looked for a more intelligent premise to their films, rather than some mad man running round cutting everyone to pieces. That said, one of my favourite films from this period is Candyman, a film with a resounding 80’s slasher feel to it, though with a much more adult tone, there are no teenagers getting sliced and diced in this film.

An urban legend shrouding the Cabrini-Green housing development in fear. Candyman is a supernatural killer summoned if you say his name five times into the mirror. He takes the lives of his victims by slicing them open with a hook, which has replaced his hand taken when he was murdered. Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is researching the legend and bringing the killer back to life, when she says his name… five times. Candyman (Tony Todd) returns to continue his reign of terror and predicts Helen will continue his legend once he is dead.
Bernard Rose directs his own screenplay from the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, with Barker attached as a Producer on the film. There is a constant feel of despair and dread as Rose delivers a screenplay which is dark and sinister. With some wonderful cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond adding a visual bleakness to the story, as he gives the housing estate a real nightmare feel. Candyman really does has some impressive production values. Phillip Glass provides a great score, while the gore effects and the scene with the “real” bees are all excellent.

Add to that an impressive cast as well; Virginia Madsen is superb, with solid support from Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons and Vanessa Williams. Yet it is Tony Todd with his truly frightening and brilliant portrayal of the Candyman which must put him up there with the likes of Freddy, Jason or Pinhead as one of our greatest horror icons. With Todd’s performance and the films great production values it makes this one of the finest horror films of the 90’s; definitely one of my favourites.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)


Body Snatchers (1993)

body snatchersWe’ll give ’em hell, Malone! We’ll show ’em what the human race is really made of!

Ah the 90’s. I thought this would be really tricky and so it was. A smorgasbord of mediocrity, spewed out across the decade. My DVD shelf confirming my fear as the few horror tiles I did buy, skulking and cowering in the shadows, fearing a trip to a boot fair. I was going to choose The Faculty, but that’s basically just Body Snatchers — wait… Body Snatchers…!

1956 version, that was great, loved it as a kid, 1978 was good too (but it’s really slow and Sutherland doing the scary scream only arrives at the end), 1993 and Abel Ferrara serves up a glossier, faster, louder and smarter version. You’ll remember it for Gabrielle Anwar falling asleep in the bath but that’s not why we’re here. Meg Tilly, she’s creepy. I mean really creepy. In all the versions of this story, her performance is the most unsettling. “Where you gonna go? Where you gonna run? Where you gonna hide? Nowhere…….cause there’s no one like you left!”

by Paul Field (@pafster)


Scream (1996)

screamNow you’ve gotta die. Those are the rules!

“The 90’s sucked!” – Randy “The Ram” Robinson
And they really did. A flurry of b-movie guff and untold cash-in sequels diluted the waters so well populated back in the 80’s. Great horror movies were so few and far between that finding my favourite was less of a choice and more of a “there is only one answer” kind of decision.

Luckily, I don’t have to waste words on Scream‘s story and plot. It’s a satirised, high school slasher flick. Simple as that. A killer with a fondness for horror trivia decides that his time is better spent killing teenagers than, I don’t know, being the movie guy on a pub quiz team or taking his knowledge and hoping for a good subject on Pointless.

What makes Scream stand out, instead of its story, is its brains. Wrapped up in this generic looking slasher is a tremendously clever film. With Wes Craven at the helm, we got a movie that doesn’t shy away from satirising the genre that made its director famous. Written by rookie scribe Kevin Williamson, who expertly assembled a script with Naked Gun levels of self-awareness minus the silliness. Together they made a film who’s every scene is not only packed full of the genre’s tropes, but actively points them out to the audience.

Scream is a masterclass in horror from one of the best in the business. In the space of 111 minutes, Craven manages to introduce another icon to the horror movie Rogues Gallery in the form of Ghostface; he deconstructs, explains and then proceeds to break every horror movie rule that he helped create; and he revitalised the slasher film. All while wearing a Freddy Kruger jumper and without insulting the audience’s intelligence.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


Cure (1997)

cureThis Japanese psychological thriller is one of the most engrossing and deeply chilling films of the entire genre.
A string of murders all share the same strange traits, a distinctive mark left on the body and the murderer is still nearby but unable explain their actions.

The story follows Detective Takabe as he tries to understand why these crimes are happening and just how a young drifter named Mamiya is connected to them. Police know that he has something to do with it but nobody is able to remember speaking to him. Neither medical nor psychological specialists are able to get through to him. He never raises his voice, he never displays any violent tendencies, he simply repeats a stock reply to each question posed.

A masterpiece of mystery and suspense, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and adapted from his novel, it builds a deeply unsettling tension layer by layer, revealing a little more detail with each crime. For every detail revealed another two puzzles are created and the mystery deepens. This is most certainly not for those who like things tied up in a neat little package but, for those who enjoy being left to do some thinking of their own, this confusing gem comes with the highest possible recommendation.

by Liam (@ElmoreLTM)


The Blair Witch Project (1999)

blair witchI am so sorry. What is that? I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them! We’re gonna die out here!

Come now. You didn’t think we’d do an entire article dedicated to 1990’s horror films and not mention the scariest movie of the decade, did you?

The most obvious place to start with here is how minuscule a budget this film was made for compared to how much marketing it received. I first came across The Blair Witch Project quite by accident. Staying up a bit late one school night, I was watching Sky One on Telewest with my mum when this documentary about the three missing members of some other documentary came on. For one brief night, until I spoke to the other kids at school the next day and found it was all just marketing for a movie, this naive 13 year old was honestly willing to accept that perhaps there was the possibility that such a thing as ghosts could potentially exist… maybe.

Even when my playground chatter was dashed by my mates, I still fell hook line and sinker for the marketing ploy. Despite knowing it was all fake, despite then watching it on a pirated VHS, despite all of that, I don’t think a film has scared me more than this found-footage horror. You could argue it was the birth of the modern sub-genre. Going back to 1960 with Peeping Tom, or Cannibal Holocaust in the 80’s, or even Man Bites Dog in the same decade, The Blair Witch Project is the film most often associated with these indie shaky-camcorder, low-quality, bunch of idiots wandering around in the dark bumping into stuff and scaring the crap out of each other type films.

I used to think that perhaps it was a case of nostalgia behind why I still love this movie so much. However, I revisited it a couple of years ago (two years ago exactly tomorrow, as it happens) when introducing it to my youngest brother. It scared the living daylights out of him; the ending even still creeps me out! Even with every third film being found-footage these days, perhaps diluting the terror it can induce (if not the influence), it still holds as much weight today as it did 15 years ago. And I’ll never, ever, ever open a handkerchief left outside my tent when I go camping again. Ever.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)


Thanks for reading! We’ll be back on Friday (Halloween!) with our final entry in this spin-off series as we dissect the noughties.

A Decade In Horror: Halloween Special – The Eighties

It’s October! The leaves on the trees are turning brown, it’s getting darker earlier in the evening and folks are rummaging through their DVD collections, looking for their favourite horror films to watch in time for Halloween. As such, every week this month will see us expand on our Decade In Film series with a spin off article focussing on five horror films from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and the noughties! The format will be much the same as our regular series, but with a slight twist.

They’re heeeeeeerrrrreeeeeee. OwenMikeAndrewPaul and Liam that is, who are back with yet another Decade In Horror! This time, the gory splatter-filled eighties is under the microscope.

Yuppies, wealth, greed, Thatcherism, consumerism, social realism, neoliberalism, capitalism and many other isms. All words and phrases synonymous with the 1980’s. Money and politics defined the era in the UK, whilst across the pond horror films had grown more popular than ever before. From the camp and ethereal horrors of the sixties, to the mainstream success of films such as Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw MassacreThe Exorcist and Alien in the seventies, horror only had one avenue left to turn to. It became fun. A self awareness of the excesses of the decade seeped through to the genre as it began to poke fun at itself. Over the top levels of gore, grotesque melting rubber prosthetics and lift-fulls of blood were everywhere you turned. Whilst the dreaded word “franchise” reared its ugly mutated head, there was still space for the more intelligent horror. Although, Kubrick’s The Shining was but a mere distraction amongst the picnic hampers of evil twins, voodoo practising murderous children’s dolls and head-exploding psychic wars. First up on our list of favourites is this film from 1982…


Poltergeist (1982)

poltergeistCross over children. All are welcome. All welcome. Go into the Light. There is peace and serenity in the Light.

No list of 1980s horror would be complete without Poltergeist. It’s up there with The Shining for permeating modern culture and having the most recognisable, commonly used references. How many times have we heard “They’re Hee-re” parodied in other works?

It introduced a generation to the word and the concept of a Poltergeist as a spirit attaching itself to an individual person and, although it has its faults and technical shortcomings, there’s still an awful lot to like about it.

An ordinary family have their lives turned upside down when strange things start happening around the house. At first they seem fairly benign but they soon turn extremely sinister.

The sheer normalness of the targeted family gives the “It could happen to you” element and the fact that person most in peril throughout the entire ordeal is a young child adds another level of emotional reaction.

Zelda Rubenstein, as Tangina the psychic is extremely good. The best performance of the film aside from the children. The main fault, in my opinion, is JoBeth Williams as the mother of the imperilled youngster. Her acting during the early part of the film seems worse with each viewing. Thankfully, she does get better as the film warms up and the pressure mounts on her character.

Poltergeist is certainly worth seeing and revisiting once in a while.

by Liam (@ElmoreLTM)


The Thing (1982)

betamaxWhether we make it or not, we can’t let that Thing freeze again. Maybe we’ll just warm things up a little around here. We’re not gettin’ outta here alive. But neither is that Thing.

More nostalgia as we reach the 80’s, as after Jaws the next most notable scare from my childhood was on a babysitting trip in 1983 with my mum. This family friend had something I craved, I wanted, I adored but surely would never be able to afford. Adjusted for inflation, these things would run to several thousand pounds today. A (Betamax) Video Cassette Player… with a copy of John Carpenter’s The Thing!

Rewatched many times, and again this week, it still holds up. The practical effects are simply brilliant for a film that is over 30 years old. The cast are all capable actors, the setting is utterly genius. Claustrophobia, tension, jump scares and effects driven gory mayhem, the dogs writhing and squirming in slime covered deformity, the head sprouting legs and being both horrific and funny… and that scene…

I can’t look at a defibrillator being used today without expecting the recipients chest to open up and bite off the arms to the elbows and fountains of blood to gush forth. I have never been or will ever be so terrified as I was that night as a just-turned 13 year old. Well played, Carpenter. Well played.

by Paul Field (@pafster)


Day of the Dead (1985)

day of the dead 2I’m runnin’ this monkey farm now, Frankenstein, and I wanna know what the fuck you’re doin’ with my time! ’cause if we’re just jerkin’ off here, I’m gonna have my men blow the piss out of those precious specimens of yours, and we’re gonna get the hell out of here, and leave you and your highfalutin asshole friends to rot in this stinkin’ sewer! Is that food enough for ya?

When deciding on my choice for this list, I was torn between two films. Both of which are semi-sequels to George A Romero’s previous zombie film, Dawn of the Dead, as chosen in our seventies Decade In Horror article. It came down to either Fulci’s magnificent Zombie Flesh Eaters, or this. In the end, I thought about which I’d rather didn’t make the cut as opposed to which I love more, and thus Day of the Dead won.

I absolutely adore this final piece in Romero’s original Dead Trilogy. In my opinion, it has the best soundtrack from any horror film, something I’m listening to right now as I write this! But it’s probably Romero’s most intelligent movie. It switches things around as the humans become less humane and the zombies start to learn morality. Or, at the very least, instead of them simply being terrifying mindless hungry ghouls (as per Night of the Living Dead), or a snide joke (as per Dawn of the Dead), you’re meant to feel sorry for them. Given a chance, they could learn to be integrated back into society. They can learn. Or…. not. They might just choke as they chow down on your internal organs.

It has great characters and performances, perhaps none more so than Joe Pilato as the hot headed sergeant Rhodes. Romero also keeps up a tradition of having a black heroic central male character (Terry Alexander) and strong female lead. Lori Cardille as Sarah, struggling to stay sane between working on her research and coping with her PTSD suffering soldier-boyfriend, carries the film brilliantly. I also can’t talk about performances without mentioning Sherman Howard’s role as Bub, the saluting, pistol whipping, walkman wearing zombie. An iconic character in the genre; he even pops up as a cameo in The Walking Dead! Everything about this movie is fantastic. Everything.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)


Evil Dead II (1987)

TED2 - 1987It lives, out in those woods, in the dark. Something, something that’s come back from the dead.

The first Evil Dead is a masterpiece. An ultra-violent horror filmed on an ultra-low budget. Branded a “Video Nasty” and achieving near instant cult status, it is a film that should stand proud in any film lover’s collection. But The Evil Dead isn’t my favourite horror film from the 80’s. No, it’s Sam Raimi’s half sequel, half remake that gets my nod.

In the 80’s, when everyone was going for more blood and more gore, Raimi brought something interesting to the table. Something to cut through the tension and the scares, something to soften the shovel blows. Comedy. Real laugh out loud humour.

Evil Dead II sees our returning hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) back in the woods. A new girlfriend but the same old cabin with the same old demonic fiendishness outside just waiting for someone to stumble across the, now infamous, Necronomicon. As luck (?) would have it, the cabin’s previous occupant was an archaeology professor who handily recorded translations for Ash to play, releasing the demons to possess his girlfriend. Chaos and hilarity ensues as Ash is forced to decapitate her to survive. Joining forces with a research team led by the professor’s daughter, Ash and his new found friends spend the night trying to fight off the demons and get out of the woods alive.

The 1980’s is my favourite decade for horror. So many directors made their mark. Craven had Elm Street, Barker had Hellraiser and Carpenter remade The Thing. Friday the 13th, American Werewolf, Maniac and The Shining all shaped my love of film. But Evil Dead II, with its possessed hands, chainsaws and time portals is hands down my favourite from this particular melting pot.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


The Lost Boys (1987)

the lost boysNow you know what we are, now you know what you are. You’ll never grow old, Michael, and you’ll never die. But you must feed!

Without doubt one of the most iconic vampire films from this decade. The Lost Boys stands the test of time, with its endlessly quotable lines, cool looking vampires and its awesome soundtrack. Joel Schumacher’s skilful direction allows the tone of the film to shift from horror to humour effortlessly, never feeling forced or out of place; Schumacher gets the balance just right.

The cast give some strong performances on the back of an excellent screenplay. Corey Haim and Jason Patric have a decent chemistry as brothers, mothered by the always dependable Dianne Wiest. Barnard Hughes as Grandpa adds some great comic relief along with the Frog Brothers; Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander. Yet it’s Keifer Sutherland that steals the show, his David is superb; his ice cold look, the constant menace in his voice; David is one of the great on screen vampires of this decade. Well, any decade really!

A film which came out of the shadows for me in the 80’s. I just wasn’t expecting it all to be this good. Amid all the slasher frenzy, this easily beat down the rest and emerged as my all-time favourite 80’s horror film.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)


Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, picking our top five horror films of the nineties, the decade that thought it was smarter than it actually was.

A Decade In Horror: Halloween Special – The Seventies

It’s October! The leaves on the trees are turning brown, it’s getting darker earlier in the evening and folks are rummaging through their DVD collections, looking for their favourite horror films to watch in time for Halloween. As such, every week this month will see us expand on our Decade In Film series with a spin off article focussing on five horror films from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and the noughties! The format will be much the same as our regular series, but with a slight twist.

Back again this week after successfully tackling the sixties (even if we do say so ourselves), our regular contributors to the series come up with a list of five-of-the-best for the nineteen-seventies. Owen and Mike are back along with our talented guest writers AndrewPaul and Liam, generously imparting their experience on us to tell us what are their favourite horrors of the 1970’s.

After the counterculture movement that occurred in the nineteen-sixties, what emerged in its place in the seventies (particularly with regards to the world of film) was something more artistic and radical. Directors were riskier, braver and perhaps even less subtle in their political motivations. There was no room for John Wayne to glamorise The Green Berets any more. Instead, the harsh reality of the toll the Vietnam War took was the topic of many films, from The Deer Hunter to Apocalypse Now. Director’s like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Wes Craven, John Carpenter etc etc emerged out of their shells and produced some of the greatest and most challenging works ever. Horror films became edgier, darker and more popular with a mainstream audience than they had ever been before. Halloween, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, these movies terrified audiences and inspired film makers; and the best thing is, to this day they still continue to do so. We begin by looking at our particular favourites of this revolutionary decade, starting with…


 Jaws (1975)

jaws

Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity; not a bad record for this vicinity.

January 1976 and a visit to the Classic in Hastings to see Jaws. A stupidly excited 6 year old going to an evening showing of, “that film with the big shark in”. Circle seats (as was a birthday treat) secured, would’ve been a kia-ora and a choc-ice too. That music….even now sends shivers down your spine. Cinemas were pitch black during films in the 70’s, latecomers had to be shown to their seats by a torch wielding usherette. Booming audio, an enormous screen, total darkness.

Being transported to Amity, the terrifying opening scene, the respite as the sun drenched community springs into holiday mode. But always that sense of something unpleasant about to happen…..and when the underwater scene arrived. To this day, it’s still crystal clear, the heart stopping, terrifying moment that severed head bobs out. It’s just as effective now, as my daughter who was a similar age when I watched it with her, nearly jumped out of her skin. There are more horrific films from the era, and more frightening I’m sure, but to have been frightened by Jaws in its original cinema run was a real privilege that’s stayed with me forever.

by Paul Field (@pafster)


The Omen (1976)

the omenHere is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.”

I always remember liking The Omen as a kid; the dogs, the great music and of course quite literally the child from hell; the name Damien now etched in the folklore of horror films. Yet it’s only recently that I’ve come to see just how good The Omen actually is.

Richard Donner’s slick direction, his stunning use of wide shots coupled with some beautiful cinematography gives the film a fantastic look. Whilst it’s a little dated now, it still looks better than most films from that time. Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar winning score is breath-taking, adding to the film’s constant dread, you cannot but think of this film when you hear “Ava Satani”.

Like Hitchcock’s Psycho, Donner doesn’t rely on gore or cheap scares as he allows the story to build to a frightful climax between father and son and one of the best endings in modern horror. Yet Donner still manages to shock with a number of well-crafted deaths throughout the film.

The screenplay is fine, but it’s the cast that truly makes this film work; there are strong performances all round. Harvey Stephens ‘Damien’ is evil personified; such a fantastic performance and pivotal to the film’s success. Peck and Remick as Damien’s parents are both excellent, while the supporting cast of Whitelaw, Troughton and Warner are all outstanding. Whitlelaw delivers one of the creepiest Nanny’s I’ve see in any film; a suitable ally for the evil Damien.

I liked The Omen, I like it more now I’ve grown up, my favourite horror film from the 70’s.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)


Dawn of the Dead (1978)

dawn of the deadSomething my granddad used to tell us. You know Macumba? Vodou. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, ‘When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.’

If George A Romero defined what a zombie film actually is with his 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead (as chosen by Andrew in our last article), then it is with Dawn of the Dead that he reclaimed the mantle of master of horror from a succession of pretenders to the throne throughout the early part of the decade.

Wry and satirical, pre-empting the capitalist self-serving boom in the eighties by setting the majority of the movie inside a brand new shopping mall – “they’re after the place. They don’t know why; they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here” – it is as biting in its message as the brain-munching zombies themselves.

From its explosive beginning as Kevin Foree and Scott H. Reiniger raid an apartment building infested with the undead, to the aggressive invasion of the fortified mall by a motorbike gang led by Tom Savini, when there’s no more room for zombies, the humans shall tear shit up instead. As friction rises between helicopter pilot Stephen (David Emge) and his TV Exec wife Francine (Gaylen Ross), it impacts on the trapped foursome as a whole, forcing them to confront the horrors inside as well as outside of their confines.

Throw in a memorable soundtrack by Goblin, a sophisticated and darkly comical story (written by Romero) and a marauding horde of blood thirsty corpses and you’re left with not only one of the best horrors of the seventies, but possibly one of the best movies of all time.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)


Alien (1979)

AlienCrew. Expendable.

Towards the end of the 70’s, most horror sub-genres had their rules and tropes set in stone. But Sci-Fi horror didn’t quite find its feet until 1979, when Ridley Scott scared an entire generation into sleeping with the lights on with Alien.

Until then, the only real Science Fiction in “Sci-Fi Horror” came on the form of dodgy body snatching pods and the “Thing from Outer Space”. Writers Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon would change that by introducing arguably the most terrifying monster in horror movies. The “Xenomorph”.

Ordered to investigate a distress call on a strange planet, Tom Skerritt and his misfit blue-collar crew (including Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm and John Hurt) find nothing but an arachnid with a desire to attach itself to John Hurt’s face. A quarantine and a few experiments later and the thing seems to fall off like an old scab, appearing to leave Mr Hurt unharmed. You know, until he decides to give birth in the scariest, bloodiest way possible at the breakfast table!

What follows is possibly the scariest hour in film history. A dark, claustrophobic hunt for a seven foot bio-mechanical looking tower of teeth and more teeth while it, in turn, is hunting for Dallas (Skerritt) and his crew. Alien’s genius is in its simplicity. There is no complicated reason the creature kills. It just does. It’s not angry at its mum or its school councillor. It’s a killing machine, plain and terrifyingly simple and it’s coming for the unarmed, unprepared crew.

Alien solidified so much on its release. It made Sigourney Weaver a household name. It gave Ridley Scott his first massive success. But most importantly, it gave film lovers everywhere a reason to be fearful of heartburn more than three decades later.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


Nosferatu – Phantom Der Nacht (1979)

nosferatuThe absence of love is the most abject pain.

This version of the oft told vampire legend has many highs and lows, yet still manages to come out head and shoulders above any other version I’ve seen.

It’s beautifully shot in some wonderful locations, the lighting, tension building, long and lingering scenes stay in the memory. Klaus Kinski’s performance in the lead role is one of his finest. He brings an agonised, almost pitiful quality to the Count, without losing the base nature of the creature.

Isabelle Adjani’s portrayal of Lucy is extremely good. Her appearance in this is why Alison Brie looked so familiar to me, the likeness is very strong. This version of Lucy is brave (once she stops fainting) clever and cunning in her attempts to save her husband, Jonathan.

It’s Jonathan that brings the main low point. Bruno Ganz just isn’t very good in this. Guilty of terrible overacting in parts, both facial & body movements seem farcical in some scenes.

A hugely enjoyable film, even its faults are oddly entertaining. I’ve used the German title deliberately, see the German language version rather than the English. It’s far better, the English one really accentuates the faults and dulls the brilliance.

by Liam (@ElmoreLTM)


Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, picking our top five horror films of the eighties, where things will undoubtedly be louder, cruder and cooler.

A Decade In Horror: Halloween Special – The Sixties

It’s October! The leaves on the trees are turning brown, it’s getting darker earlier in the evening and folks are rummaging through their DVD collections, looking for their favourite horror films to watch in time for Halloween. As such, every week this month will see us expand on our Decade In Film series with a spin off article focussing on five horror films from the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and the noughties! The format will be much the same as our regular series, but with a slight twist.

Contributing to this series will be some names our readers will find familiar – and some not-so-familiar. Regular writer and podcaster Owen will be providing his thoughts, and we couldn’t very well go and make a horror related series without our resident expert Mike, now could we? Previous guest writers Andrew and Paul have been welcomed back with open arms and completing the line-up is newcomer Liam, sharing his eclectic taste with our humble little team. We five will each in turn pick our favourite horror film from the specified decade, in this case, the 1960’s.

The sixties gave horror a new edge. Young and ambitious directors like Roger Corman were able to make a name for themselves whilst Hammer Horror capitalised on their success in the late 50’s. Well established directors such as Michael Powell and Alfred Hitchcock could turn their hand to something more sinister. We even saw the rise of a new wave of film maker (Roman Polanski, George A Romero, etc) who would push the boundaries further than it had ever gone before. So, let’s begin with arguably the most iconic film of the decade and one of its earliest releases.


Psycho (1960)

psychoIt’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?

I first watched Psycho when I was nine years old with the babysitter. I hid behind the sofa for most of it. I’ve only just come back to it this year, such was the effect it had on me.

Hitchcock has crafted one of the greatest horror thrillers ever put on film. From a perfect cast through to the nerve shredding music, Psycho delivers on every level. Hitchcock doesn’t follow normal film conventions either. With a twist in the middle that is both as shocking as it is pure genius; Hitchcock unsettles the viewer from this point on. We are never sure what’s going to happen next and that’s just genius. Hitchcock’s direction is outstanding – near enough flawless – his ability to frighten the viewer without resorting to cheap scare tactics or gore is a master lesson in film making and makes Psycho one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen.

Along with the great direction is the superb cast, which is backed up by an outstanding screenplay from Joseph Stefano. Janet Leigh is excellent, but it’s Anthony Perkins portrayal of Norman Bates which is truly outstanding. One of the finest pieces of casting and acting I’ve seen in any film. Perkins’ ice cold delivery and dangerous glint in his eye is perfect; his Norman Bates is one of the most chilling characters ever put on film and that’s what makes Psycho my favourite horror film from the 60’s.

by Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)


The Innocents (1961)

the innocentsIt was only the wind, my dear.

The Innocents is chilling, psychologically disturbing adaptation of Henry James’ novel The Turn Of The Screw.

Starring, the always wonderful, Deborah Kerr as an eager new governess, Miss Giddens, employed by a wealthy but entirely selfish businessman to take over sole responsibility for the upbringing of his orphaned and unwanted niece and nephew.

Set on a country estate, run by a housekeeper and a few domestic servants, all seems idyllic, with the housekeeper, staff and governess getting along extremely well. The little boy, Miles, is away at school meaning the entire household revolves around the seemingly angelic girl, Flora. Things soon start to tumble out of control when Miles is dismissed from school for frightening classmates.

What follows is an increasingly rapid descent into chaos with Miss Giddens becoming convinced evil spirits are at work and a story of the children witnessing violent, sexually abusive former employees is built.

This is a superb, unforgettable film where all the terror is derived from the building of intense, suffocating atmosphere through clever direction, lighting and sound rather than any visual brutality. Kerr is at the very top of her game and it leaves you befuddled as to what was real, what was imagined, who was mad and who was bad.

by Liam (@ElmoreLTM)


Carry on Screaming! (1966)

carry on screamingThey would have to come tonight, just when I’m feeling half dead!

In true Failed Critics tradition, even in spin-off articles, we reveal just how much of an omni-shambles we can be. For example, this is the first article in a brand new series and we’ve started in a week where one of the writers is insanely busy.

However, we did manage to catch Paul for five seconds and squeeze a few words out of him as to why exactly this Carry On comedy about Dr Watt, stealing women and making them into mannequins, is his favourite horror of the 1960’s.

Making fun of Hammer, it’s the original horror comedy. Odd-job, Fennela Fielding and the famous….. “Frying Tonight” line from the wonderful Kenneth Williams. It was actually creepy too, the people taken and turned into mannequins.

So there you have it. We promise to plan ahead a bit better for next week’s article!

 by Paul Field (@pafster)


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

rosemarys babyThey use blood in their rituals, and the blood with the most power is baby’s blood!

Rosemary’s Baby is a marvellous exploration of the psychological horror-come-thriller genre. Classier than a lot of its contemporaries and imitators have often tried to replicate the feeling of dread that Roman Polanski instilled without coming close. Especially not the appalling TV movie Whatever Happened To Rosemary’s Baby?.

Rosemary and her husband, Guy, an out-of-work-actor, move into an apartment in New York. Soon after, Guy gets close to an over-friendly elderly couple next door and mysteriously his career begins to turn around conspicuously as his rival suffers a tragic accident. With Guy’s ascent, he becomes increasingly aloof leaving Rosemary feeling alone in her big and empty apartment. She’s convinced that this is the perfect time to have a baby and after a bit of Satanic rape, Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt and Lucifer’s your.. relative.

If you’ve ever had that sudden feeling that everybody is out to get you, then Roman Polanski’s horror will truly resonate. Moving to a new place can be a stressful time for anyone, but when your new neighbours force chocolate mousse on you, well that’s just not cricket. Even worse when it seems like they want to steal your unborn baby.

There isn’t a single bad performance from any of the cast. Not least of all Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer as the unnervingly pushy couple next door. Mia Farrow is utterly fantastic, portraying a woman teetering on the edge of insanity, not knowing if she’s paranoid or if they really are out to get her.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)


Night of the Living Dead (1968)

NOTLDThey’re coming to get you, Barbara.

Before Shaun fought the dead, Zombieland had its rules and the Pet Sematary was zombifying cats, there was George A. Romero. The man who, with this walking dead frightener from 1968, invented the zombie film.

OK, so maybe “invented” is kind of a strong word for a genre that had been around decades before this. But what Romero did, was redefine zombies. Before Night of the Dead, the undead weren’t the undead. Being a zombie usually meant to be under the influence of a voodoo curse, with 1932’s “White Zombie” being the genre’s defining film up to this point and the shift to the walking dead was George’s key to success.

On the outskirts of Everytown, Pennsylvania, Barbara and her brother are attacked in a graveyard by a walking corpse. Rescuing his sister, Johnny doesn’t make it and Barbara flees for her life.

Forced to take refuge in a nearby farmhouse where she meets fellow survivor Ben and forms an uneasy alliance with a handful of survivors hiding in the basement. The group fight to survive the cannibalistic horde outside and the insanity inside.

Not without its flaws, “Night of the Living Dead” is far from perfect. But no-one can say that this gory scarer isn’t deserving of its cult classic status. It’s inspired generations of film makers and is the foundation for its own sub-genre of horror film. Spawning four sequels, two remakes and countless imitations. George A. Romero is indeed the father of the modern zombie film. And while this may not be the best of them, it’s certainly the most important.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)


Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment below if you agree or disagree with our choices and we’ll be back soon with a look at our top five horror films of the seventies!