October is here which means Halloween is almost upon us, and what better excuse for a horror top 10? You can find last year’s list here.
10. Drag Me To Hell
I don’t own a copy of this one, but it seems I watch it every time it’s on TV, so I probably should just do it. I think it’s a pretty decent modern horror film.
Sam Raimi writes and directs this 99 minute long offering about loan officer, Christine, who is cursed by an old lady whose house she orders to be repossessed. Following the fateful meeting with the old lady, Christine suffers strange sightings and visitations, before finally seeking help from a local psychic who tries to help find a way to lift the curse.
Although this all feels quite familiar, the fine (by horror standards) performances from Alison Lohman as Christine, and Justin Long as her bewildered boyfriend really elevate this from the realms of the trashy, bottom draw horror dross we’re often treated to as fans of the genre.
There’s a bit too much CGI and not enough ‘real’ effects, which is a shame when you think what Raimi achieved all those years ago with Evil Dead. I suppose that’s progress and we must move on [sighs, stares wistfully out of the window].
Score: 7 worm-invested cakes out of 10
This is an example of all out classic 80s cheese! If you ever found a porcelain doll unnerving, or felt like their eyes followed you around the room, this one is for you… Find out more here.
Score: 7 killer porcelain dolls out of 108. Burning Bright
This is possibly the most ridiculous premise of any film I’ve ever seen, but it’s all the better for it. So what happens? A teenager and her autistic younger brother are trapped in their house with a hungry Bengal tiger, after their stepfather boards up all the doors and windows and let’s the cat loose.
Score: 7 laundry chutes out of 10
7. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil
It’s a tough genre to crack, the comedy-horror. How to get the balance between two such seemingly disparate genres without missing the mark on both counts? Look no further than Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, for it does a pretty good job. This one turns the teens-in-jeopardy/cabin-in-the-woods trope on its head with amusing consequences. Add to that a pair of lovable lead characters and this one gets a thumbs up from me.
Score: 8 misunderstood hill-billies out of 10
6. Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
If you can get past the terrible dubbing, this is a real gem. The production values are low and much of the dialogue is cheesier than a four cheese pizza with extra cheese and cheese on the side (although it’s often hilarious, too), but it’s great fun. Read all the other words I wrote about this film here.
Score: 8 1970s zombies out of 10
5. Dead of Night
A classic horror anthology that’s a must for any horror aficionado. The story starring Michael Redgrave is particularly chilling. You can see the full post for Dead of Night here.
Score: 8 devilish dummies out of 10
4. Eyes Without a face
I watched this recently for the first time and was blown away by how stylish and effective this film was, so many years after its original release. If you like horror, thrillers, chillers or just enjoy a good, well executed story, please seek this film out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ve already written about this one, so won’t go on about it. Feel free to have a look.
Score: 9 mad scientists out of 10
3. Peeping Tom
This is a truly startling and memorable film about a shy loner who, unable to connect on any meaningful level, resorts to murder. I’ve already covered this one, see what I thought, here.
Score: 9 deadly cameramen out of 10
2. Trick ‘r Treat
Trick ‘r Treat is an excellent example of a fun and clever horror anthology. Set on Halloween night, Trick ‘r Treat tells five interwoven stories: the school principal with a dark secret; the grouchy hermit who receives an unwelcome visitor; the kids who recount a local urban legend; the college girls getting ready for a Halloween party and the young couple who learn a lesson about an important Halloween tradition. I don’t want to say any more about the stories because that would spoil it should you decide to see it.
Trick ‘r Treat is very creepy at times and there are some mildly scary moments, that come more from the building tension, than cheap jump scares and sudden noises. It has decent production values, a decent script and the ensemble cast does a good job, particularly Dylan Baker as the principle. Even Anna Paquin isn’t terrible. Some elements of the story are quite predictable, but Trick ‘r Treat is, on the whole, so good that you don’t really mind.
Score: 9 poisoned chocolate bars out of 10
1. Who Can Kill a Child?
While in holiday in Spain, Tom and Evelyn decide to visit a nearby island. This is no ordinary island, though. When they arrive, they find the town eerily quiet, with nobody to be seen. No adults, anyway. Bizarrely, the island seems to be inhabited only by children. With one brutal act of violence, Tom and Evelyn begin to realise quite how strange the situation really is, and how much danger they are in.
Who Can Kill a Child is a smart, creepy and effective horror film which is made all the more interesting by the fact that our protagonists must defend themselves, not against a classic horror baddie, but against a hoard of homicidal children. This makes their predicament all the more futile, and as a viewer, all the more disturbing – it really is hard to cheer on our heroes to survival if it means the destruction of children,whom we’re hard-wired to want to protect.
Score: 9 murderous rugrats out of 10