intro - best of 2006 - worst of 2006 - best dvds of 2006
BEST MOVIES OF 2006
Chris Hartley (Head Honcho)
While technically this came out over in Europe last year, it didn't actually get North American release from Lionsgate until the Fall. Director Neil Marshall's follow-up to the cult favourite Dog Soldiers, The Descent is everything a horror movie should be. It's a scary, claustrophobic, and gory ride that grabs you early and never lets go. Plus, they restored the original, depressing, ending from the European version.
The Hills Have Eyes
A rarity in that it's better than its source material, Alexandre Aja's remake of the 1977 Wes Craven film took the simple premise (a group of mutants hiding in the mountains preying on an all-American family) and made it into one of the more tense times I had in a theatre in the past few years. Unrelenting in its violence, and taking its "revenge" angle to all-new viciousness, this upset more than a few people in the crowd I saw it with - in fact, a few even walked out.
If you would've told me that writer-director Eli Roth would make this list, I probably would've laughed at you. If anyone asks me, I'll bluntly tell you just how much I hated his debut feature, Cabin Fever. I despised it. But thankfully, Roth's affection for the genre that I noticed in that film meshed well with this supposedly "true story" of American tourists being kidnapped and tortured by well-to-do businessmen. It was a pleasant surprise when it came out in February and it delivered the goods us horror fans so crave.
In the 80's I gobbled-up as many monster movies as I could. Critters, Night of the Creeps, Ghoulies - you name it, I watched it. Obviously, so did writer-director James Gunn. A loving homage to the horror-comedy monster madness of that decade (and starring the underrated Michael Rooker), Slither certainly didn't deserve its small box-office take. It's one funny, effects-filled romp that was almost perfect in emulating those movies I watched countless times on cable TV in my early teens.
The Saw movies are quickly becoming a ridiculous yearly tradition from Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures, so it's probably a good thing it's become one of the better genre series currently on the go. It's more creative torture device mayhem and while this isn't quite as lean a movie as the second one, it still delivered everything you'd expect from a Saw movie - but please, even though it's been announced, not another one in 2007.
Josh Pasnak (Staff Writer)
Hands down the best horror film of the year. Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall's tale about a group of women who go caving only to find some flesh-eating monsters brought us old-school creature effects and a plot that was full of suspense and tension even before the monsters appeared. Once the girls hit the cave, this movie had me on the edge of my seat and never stopped. This is the second year a British movie has been my top pick of the year.
I avoided this for most of the year because I thought it was going to be just another 'torture fest' that is so popular these days. Although this movie did contain these elements as its central theme, it did not dwell on the gore and Eli Roth delivered a disturbing yet interesting take on what people with too much time on their hands will do for kicks. With the state of some Eastern European countries these days, the premise doesn't seem that far fetched. I was really happy with the way this one turned out and I hope Roth doesn't screw it all up with the sequel.
One of my biggest mistakes of the year was not seeing this flick on the big screen. I avoided it as the trailer made it look like it was going to be another CG-atrocity but I should have known better as writer/director James Gunn came from the Lloyd Kaufman school of filmmaking. The end result was like a big budget Troma movie with gore and goo gloriously splashing across the screen. If you are a fan of the 'nature gone wild' sub-genre that features movies like Squirm and Slugs, you will love this one.
While not big monster thrill-ride or unsettling thriller like some of my other choices, this is more of a slow-burn drama with a number of horrific elements such as pedophilia and torture. The psychological horror film is a tough genre to perfect but director David Slade had no problems in dealing with some heavy subject matter and keeping it engaging throughout even with two characters in a single location. Young star Ellen Page was fantastic and it shocked me how much of a firm grip she had on a complex character.
This is one franchise that I thought has improved as it went along. I didn't like the first movie at all, thought the second one was much better, and loved this one. The thing that really made me enjoy this flick the most was the way that it tied together the entire trilogy rather than simply being a retread of itself. I felt like this movie was trying to deliver a clever finale to the saga and it succeeded and all loose ends were tied up. There were also the gore sequences that had me staring in disbelief, as I could not figure out how they possibly got this past the MPAA.