Horror in 2009, Oh How I Miss Thee

A Look Back at the Year in Horror That Was 2009

You know how everyone says how bad horror has been in the last few years? I always respond the same way. The good horror is out there, but you have to dig deep to find it. People poo-poo that statement all of the time because they find it hard to believe that there is any good horror out there. Plus, it seems to be the cool thing to say these days. This idea of great horror applies more to movies than other means of entertainment. Horror novels always seem to be pretty strong, and with the advent of so many methods of publishing these days, more and more great horror novels and novellas see the light of day. Horror on television could very well be the strongest than it has ever been. Of course, there are so many more channels available to us than ever.

The one thing that I will say about the last few years in regards to horror movies is that they pale in comparison to 2009, which is the last really great year for horror. Everyone decade or so, we get a special year, and if we are lucky, two special years. These special years remind us how great horror can be. While we have classic films that we can always look back to, there is nothing like a new movie that we watch for the first time that we just know will become a classic to us. The thrill of seeing a new movie and having no idea of what is to happen is why we watch horror movies. There is no thrill like the thrill of seeing something amazing for the first time. After having watched an ending like “The Blair Witch Project” the first time, it will never affect us the same way. While I still get chills every time I see it, that “oh shit” moment only happens the first time around because it is truly unexpected.

Now, what made 2009 such a great year for horror movies? We had it all. We had the low-budget surprises, the foreign hits, the reincarnation of some of our horror icons, some decent horror remakes and reboots and the big-budget movies that, for better or worse, opened the eyes of the more casual fans. And, as much as people hate when I say it, the casual horror fans are the ones that spend the majority of the money at the theater. It is simply a fact. The die-hards are the ones that care the most, but a lot of the die-hards will not spend the money to see a new horror movie by Rob Zombie or the next Saw sequel. These are the same people that always say “do we really need another (list any horror sequel here)?”

Inside

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Let’s start with the films that had the biggest impact on horror in 2009 by looking at two films that we need released in 2009, but were actually not made available worldwide until then. In 2007, there was a little Italian horror movie called “Inside” by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Béatrice Dalle plays an amazing role in a truly horrifying tale. In an equally horrifying tale in 2008, Pascal Laugier became a household name with the release of “Martyrs,” which ramped up the violence to showing some scenes that you simply cannot unsee.

Speaking of violence, one of the best shot films of 2009 was Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. We got too see much more of Dafoe than we ever wanted to, but the visually striking film was something that you had to see.

Let’s talk about some of the bigger names in horror in 2009. As far as horror goes, names do not get much bigger than Sam Raimi, and when we heard about his return to horror with “Drag Me to Hell,” we were all excited. Raimi did not disappoint with his return, and much to the shigrin to the naysayers, it is possible to make an effective PG-13 horror movie.

There is another rather large name in horror that released a horror film in 2009. You might have heard of this guy named George A. Romero. Not only did Romero release a horror movie in 2009, he released a movie that was part of the “Dead” series with “Survival of the Dead.” Most people were not fans of the film because they expected another “Dawn of the Dead” or “Day of the Dead.” Face it, he is not going to make a film that will exceed the quality of those two movies. John Landis also brought us “Some Guy Who Kills People,” which went largely under the radar, but well worth watching.

As far as big names go, there are more than just big name directors. “Saw VI” was released, and as much as people want to hate on the Saw films, the fact of the matter is that they were great for horror in general and they were all good films, although VI was a somewhat lesser film. How about some big actors? Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are all big names and were all-stars in Ruben Fleischer’s “Zombieland.” Rob Zombie is a big name in horror and most people hate to admit it, but it is true. The director that everyone loves to hate had one of his biggest films with the sequel to his re-visioning of the John Carpenter classic “Halloween.” Most people were not fond of his remake of the classic Michael Myers tale, but I am not sure why they hated it. Was it the inclusion of his wife? Was it the way that Michael Myers was a real boy with real problems? This vision of Michael made a ton of sense, and as far as having Sherri Moon Zombie in all of his films, I would do the same thing with my spouse if she was a half-decent actress. So would you. As far as “Halloween II” goes, you have a giant of a man who it an absolute ruthless killer. Isn’t that what we want out of a slasher movie? Yet, the biggest complaint that people had was how Sam Loomis became a bad guy of sorts and took advantage of his celebrity status. That sounds a little more realistic that someone who dedicates his life to stopping an ex-patient of his who he knows cannot die. Just saying.

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From Michael Myers to Jason Voorhees and the reboot of “Friday the 13th” by Marcus Nispel. At that time, the majority of the people that watched the film had no idea who Jared Padalecki was at the time, but “Supernatural” was quite a big deal, so they quickly recognized the face shortly thereafter.

While not a reboot, “The Final Destination” is part of a big horror franchise and the film did quite well in the theaters. This “Final” film was not the final film in the franchise, but was the weakest. Another huge franchise that had a sequel as well with “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,” but the franchise went a different route by using Rhona Mitra as Simone. How did that work out? Not so good. While the film was marginal, this was also the weakest of the series.

The horror world was hit with a few remakes that worked out pretty well. Patrick Lussier, now a household name in the horror world, hit us with a remake of a classic Canadian slasher movie with “My Bloody Valentine 3D” hopping on the 3D bandwagon. The kills were absolutely brutal. Charles Guard’s “The Uninvited” was another fun film that many people have forgotten about since then. Another classic 80’s horror movie had a remake with “Sorority Row,” which was not nearly as good as the original, but not a half bad movie with some hot women. Of course, if you are looking for hor women, look no further than the remake of another 80’s classic with Adam Gierasch’s “Night of the Demons,” This mediocre remake had plenty of T&A to keep every male fan happy. Shannon Elizabeth and Diora Baird were only two of the major hotties in this one. There was even a remake of “The Last House on the Left.”

If you want big theatrical releases, there were a few in 2009. “Orphan” was an excellent film with an amazing marketing plan behind it. “The Haunting in Connecticut” was another horror movie that did well in the theaters and had a masterful marketing plan. On the other side of the coin, there was the mediocre “The Unborn,” which everyone wanted to see, but most agreed that it disappointed. “The Collector” was a film directed by Marcus Dunstan of “Saw” fame, which did not disappoint while pedestrian films like Vincenzo Natali’s “Splice” and “The Fourth Kind” starring Milla Jovovich were letdowns. Christian Alvart’s “Pandorum” was a film that did fairly well and was average at best. He also released “Case 39,” which starred Renée Zellweger and was delayed forever. Of course, one of the biggest theatrical releases in 2009 was “Jennifer’s Body” starring two luscious ladies in Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Megan Fox was never more popular than when this film was released, and let’s be honest, I would watch her bruch her teeth for 90 minutes and be happy with it.

Pontypool

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Everything up to this point sounds pretty good, right? Well, that it not even half of the story. The meat of 2009 were the films that we never saw coming. Bruce McDonald’s “Pontypool” was a horror tale that we never saw coming. It was a different kind of zombie movie that turned the zombie story on its head. Stephen McHattie’s brilliant performance was second to none. Speaking of films that turned horror upside down, how about Tom Six’s “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)?” We were all left with a vision that we never wanted to see. Another film that was a brutal tale that we all loved watching was “The Loved Ones.” A film with some great visuals and an amazing story was Paul Solet’s “Grace” starring Jordan Ladd in an amazing role. If you want a great story with some tough decisions having to be made by the characters, look no further than “Carriers” or “Someone’s Knocking at the Door.” Both films are emotional roller coasters during their entire length. Another amazing tale was the mind bending “Triangle” starring Melissa George. And, if you want a great story, look no further than Michael Dougherty’s “Trick ‘r Treat,” which was worth the wait and the hype that came with it. Other films with great stories that flew in under the radar were “Heartless” and “YellowBrickRoad.”

Of course, no discussion about horror would be complete without talking about foreign horror. I know that we have already touched on it early on with “Inside” and “Martyrs,” but we had more than just those two. Park Chan-wook told us a different type of vampire tale with “Thirst,” while “La horde” told us a tale of the infected. If you want something way different, take a look at “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl.” If you want an amazing film that a little more tame, but an amazing display of gore in a nice slasher, “Sweatshop” is the film that you want to see.

Also, if you want domestic slasher movies, you got to meet Chromeskull with “Laid to Rest.” In case you were wondering, Bobbi Sue Luther is smoking hot. Another hot little number is Sophie Monk, who starred in another fun slasher in “The Hills Run Red.” Speaking of fun slashers, “Midnight Movie” was a good one too.

Along with the good, there was also the bad. For as much hype as Ti West gets, you would think that “The House of the Devil” was the film of the year. What actually happened is that the film was shot really well as a nice throwback film, but was boring as hell. Another film that I just did not get was Simon Rumley’s “Red White & Blue,” which landed at the top of many people’s films of 2009, but was a less than stellar movie. Other letdowns included “The Shrine” and “Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead.”

If you made it this far, then you are a special person, or at least are as crazy about horror as I am. What other years in horror did you love?

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  • James DePaolo

    I am as crazy as you are. 2009 was a great year, but 2010 for me was the year the world met A Serbian Film. When I got to start blogging and talking about films like Bunny Game, Wound, El Monstro Del Mar, The Reef, Necromentia, Human Centipede, Rec 2, Piranha 3D, I spit on your grave remake, Saw 3D. Last Exorcism and The Crazies remake among many others. 2011-Emobodiment of Evil…this could go for every year. To me, there is not a bad year for horror, well this year is kind of barren but it has had some decent films just not enough and sure as hell nothing that could dent anything from 2009 or 2010