intro - best of 2005 - worst of 2005 - best dvds of 2005
BEST MOVIES OF 2005
Chris Hartley (Head Honcho)
Land Of The Dead
For the longest time George A. Romero was trying to get his fourth "Living Dead" movie off the ground so it's almost ironic that it look the success of 2004's Dawn Of The Dead remake to get this one made. The story of the class struggles in a heavily armored city while hordes of zombies littered the outside landscape, Land Of The Dead gets on this list because of it's attempts to be more than just a normal "zombie" movie and it also helps that there's tons of the red-stuff for us fans to chew on. Romero can't quite manage to match the first three in the trilogy, but he's still delivered a fine flick.
In one of the odd occurrences where the sequel is better than the original, Saw II delivers. I myself didn't buy into the hype of the first movie and it might've been the lowered expectations that made me enjoy this so much. Plus it had a mean-streak a mile wide, so it was almost funny listening to the people in the theatre around me gasping. This was my most enjoyable horror experience in a theatre this year.
Peter Jackson's love letter to the 1933 original isn't flawless and does have a few things that don't quite work, but you're not likely to find a movie from this past year that has as much spirit, adventure, and outright wonder. They've updated the effects, added a bit more to the story, and given Kong more personality than you'd think possible - making King Kong an enjoyable movie.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
While I'm sure a few horror fans were a bit miffed by the fact this one is more of a courtroom drama than an actual all-out horror movie, I for one found just that fact to be refreshing in a landscape of mindless clones. Managing to be both provocative and suspenseful, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose was a nice surprise this year (especially when you consider director Scott Derrickson's last efforts within the genre were a Hellraiser and Urban Legend sequel).
Trying to position themselves as the next Full Moon, The Asylum rushes out a movie a month so it was quite a treat to see Frankenstein Reborn as it was a decently written modernization of Mary Shelley's classic novel that not only had a fair amount of brains in the script, but also on the screen (literally).
Josh Pasnak (Staff Writer)
Easily the best horror film of the year, this British thriller pits Run Lola Run's Franka Potente against a killer when she is locked in a subway station for the night. Writer/director Christopher Smith makes great use of the maze of tunnels in London's Charing Cross station and gives us a rollercoaster of suspense, blood, and other surprises. Finally, a movie we will still remember ten years from now!
The Dark Hours
This was a great Canadian thriller that flew completely under the radar for some reason. Director Paul Fox weaves together a blend of psychosis and reality and delivers a gripping set of plot twists that succeeds where others have failed. Solid performances and a script that manages to not drop the ball in the final reel make this one of the better psychological thrillers in recent memory.
Land Of The Dead
George A. Romero reminds us all what a zombie film is supposed to be like. With all the rip-offs and remakes invading theatres, it is nice to see one of the pioneers of the modern horror film remind us how it's done. While not on the same level as the previous trilogy, it is still somewhat of a return to form for Romero and it is way better than the majority of the mainstream horror releases that came out in 2005.
Although I am getting a little tired of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired films that are playing lately, I can't really complain because at least they are trying to be frightening. This is one of the better of the lot and is based on true events that occurred in the Australian outback. Great locations, an unpredictable plot, and a killer that stays menacing make this stand out. This somewhat reminded me of Wrong Turn which I also really liked.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and include this film in my list. Some people liked it and a lot of people hated it but I have to say that for me it was one of the more satisfying genre films of the year. Usually when I walk out of theatre after watching a horror film, I am pissed off but I can't say this was the case after this movie. Be advised that this is a courtroom drama with the horror elements being told in flashbacks. Although it may be a strange combination of genres, I enjoy both and found it to be an interesting pairing that worked.
Vhs Caveman (Staff Writer)
The Devil's Rejects
Rob Zombie's ode to gritty exploitation, Rejects slapped me in the face and laughed while doing it. Of all the genre offerings I've seen this year, it was Rejects that felt the most fresh. As someone who wasn't alive until the eighties, I haven't seen the flicks that Rob tipped his hat to with this, but after watching Rejects I may very well have to. Many people hated House Of 1,000 Corpses but I really enjoyed it, and while this goes in a different direction, I was glad it did, as most sequels that stick too close to the original usually prove to be pointless. The main characters are murderers, while still being human. In most horror movies, bad guys are one sidedly bad and good guys are one sidedly good and everything is well defined and packaged, but not in this movie. This is horror outside of the box, messy, nasty, and just plain mean. I love it.
Land Of The Dead
It's been far too long since George Romero gave us his last entry in the Living Dead series, and lucky bastards that we are, we finally got to see the guy pull another rabbit out of his hat. This is Romero's slick, commercial zombie movie that entertains while firmly poking at our grey matter. I laughed a lot while watching it, while other moments had me thinking about foreign policy. It's fun, it's thought provoking, it's Romero. New Romero. How awesome is that?
Chris almost didn't let me use this one because technically the movie came out more than a year ago, but since it (finally) hit American theatres this year I think it's fair game. High Tension is a beautiful, simple horror thriller that pushes you onto the edge of your seat before knocking you onto the ground and kicking you in the stomach. The movie is primal horror, the most primal genre film I've seen this year. The movie is also probably the goriest film I've ever had the pleasure of watching in a theatre, and it's good gore, the kind that doesn't feel forced. Beautiful visuals, gore, Muse tunes, and lesbian angst... this film has it all. The ending's pretty lame, but that climax, wow! It's moments like that that keep me coming back for more.
House Of Wax
Many people have written this film off because it features "It Girl" Paris Hilton, but she really is nothing more than a side note in a satisfying meal of meat and potatoes. House Of Wax is a grand balance of creepy and thrilling, wonderful and mysterious, action packed and fantastic. An isolated town full of wax covered corpses is a fun idea, the kind of creepy fantasy that the teenager in me can't get enough of. The film has two likable protagonists, two scary villains, and a lot of memorable imagery. That scene in the movie theatre? Magic. (Note to self, remember to rent What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) So, yeah... a good movie. Paris who?
The Skeleton Key
This is not a great movie, but since I've run out of great movies to put on this list, I'll have to use a movie that is simply good instead. This film's mystery is certainly compelling, and the twist ending is of high caliber. This would have made a great episode of The Twilight Zone, but I'm happy to take it as a good stand alone movie. Kate Hudson is sexy.