Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Obesely Huge 2012 List...

Just let me clear this up… Not all films on here are films that where released in 2012, but this was the year that I saw them, or they had their big breakthrough, hence their presence on the list. I’m presenting them in alphabetical order up to the top five, then we start the count down. 

Films that I’ve written on previously are best read though the links in the titles. This is merely quickly scrawled motivations from the titles I’ve jotted down in the sides of my film note books.

I’m still very much in love with Alyce. This is a really emotional film that may be one of the best uses of the Alice in Wonderland mythos. There’s something about a movie when it’s cast perfectly, and you get that feeling that it would never have worked with another actor or actress in their place. I totally fell in love with Jade Dornfield as Alyce and learned a valuable lesson with this film – again. Ignore what came before, and look at work independently. I’d probably never given Alyce a shot if I’d known that Jay Lee previously made Strippers vs. Zombies. But Ignorant to that fact I was blown away by an amazing film, brilliant performances and excellent storytelling. [Full review Here]

Brandon Cronenberg doing what his father once mastered – Body Horror. Set in the future where designer diseases are the latest fad, Syd March [Caleb Landry Jones] get’s caught up in a classic “Cronenbergian” world of paranoia, despair and Kafkaesque nightmare. Putting his life on the line to setetle his curiositu into what really killed superstar Hannah Geist – who’s diseases are the most popular – Anitviral is a cool movie, very much in the vein of the early seventies Cronenberg Snr., and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Brandon Cronenberg.

I first discovered François Gaillard’s splendid independent Giallo homages Blackaria and Last Caress this year. (And seen them several times since then, and on the big screen too) Both films are stylish, violent and beautifully shot films with so many nod’s to the good stuff that it’s a wet dream of references. A definitive testament to how independent filmmaking, vision, pumping soundtracks and a passion for making movies all come together in one erotic and blood drenched climax. Gaillard is an energetic and great guy and I got to interview him at the Weekend of Horror’s in Bottrop, Germany, where we spent much time talking about our shared passion for Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Anita Strindberg. I can’t wait to see where Gaillard’s career takes him and what he will come up with in his next film. Undoubtedly he’s a guy to keep an eye open for, because I’m dead certain that suddenly there will be a bang, and he’ll be the next big thing out of France. [Full review Here]

Doing well on the festival circuit, Chris Alexander’s Blood For Irina is a wonderful little film which gently rolls forth in its narrative, slowly building to insight and climax. Interesting, mesmerizing, meditative and honestly impressive considering that it was shot on a shoestring budget in just a handful of days. A feverish love letter to the works of Jean Rollin, Jess Franco and EuroGoth – need I say more? Blood for Irina makes it on the list as it’s a very well crafted movie, ambitious and a testament to how far passion can take a low budget production. I can’t wait to see it in a proper release with audio mix and color correction because I feel this one could be destined to become a cult favorite. [Full review Here]

I got to see this at an advance screening and didn’t really know much about it apart from the fact that it was supposed to be “one of the best horror films in a long time… “ OK, Cabin in Woods, horror? It doesn’t take a genius to have an idea of what film this one was trying to rip off. But when the flick starts and establishes that it isn’t your average horror flick, but a one that will fuck around with genre and actually make fans of the genre have a good laugh – it fucking rips! Cabin in the Woods was a guilty pleasure and a whole lot of fun. (Although I still stand by my argument that the movie would have been so much better if the “Elders” had been tentacle Lovecraftian things instead of a giant hand. [Full review Here]

Documentaries are the shit. Not only do they tell fascinating stories, they teach you stuff. Even though George Méliès is the backbone of the horror and fantasy genre, and despite thinking that I knew his story I knew jack. Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange's The Extraordinary Voyage is a fascinating tale that tells Méliès story and shows how being obsessed with things can give great rewards. A heartbreaking and heartwarming documentary about the original innovator of genre cinema that you all should take the time to watch!

Canadian enfant terrible Ryan Nicholson, yeah I’m giving him the Enfant Terrible crown that Cronenberg lost somewhere after Existence,  is true to his genre, and he’s passionate about it. The quirk I really like in his stuff, is that he’s successfully blending dark comedy and violent horror in a great mix. At the same time he dares to push the envelope and one can almost hear him snigger as things get wilder and wilder for each film. Famine takes the generic slasher formula and sticks it inside a locked down high school where a predator is stalking the corridors checking off the pupils one by one. Gore, hot chicks, seedy guys and a great twist which makes the ending open up a whole bag of alternative possibilities. Nicholson is a force to rely on and I love waiting for his next movie to arrive as one never can predict where he will take us, or what depravity he will think up next! [Full review Here]

I hated the first one. It felt as I was being ripped off, as it was nowhere near as provocative or disturbing as the hype made it out to be. But, just as I feel that Eli Roth went into Hostel II making made amends for the things that where wring with Hostel, I feel that Tom Six went back into Centipede and twisted the knobs up to eleven with Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). It’s grimmer, viler, more sinister and definitely darker than the original. Not to mention the great performance that Laurence R. Harvey gives as Martin the obsessive fan that goes about creating his own amateur centipede in the most fiendish way. A pleasant surprise and definitely all that the first one was made out to be. [Full review Here]

Albeit not really being anything new in its self, Alexandre Courtès The Incident came as a complete surprise. A bunch of friends who work in an asylum are trapped there as the power goes out, and the movie becomes all about staying alive and getting out of there. A story it tells in a great intense way. I watched it thinking that it was going to be a completely different film and was drawn into a dark gloomy nightmare instead. The Incident is a delightfully moody little flick, high on tension and full of atmosphere, that for some reason hit me in all the right ways, not to mention Baxter’s flawless editing. [Full review Here]

Andrey Iskanov is quite possibly one of the greatest guys I’ve had the privilege of talking to during 2012. He’s working out of some terribly tough conditions, making films that his government would rather never reach the light of day and staying true to his own visions. Andrey Iskanov's Ingression is the booked finale to the HalluCinoGeNnN trilogy and is by far the best part of the series. A study of one mans journey into hell and despair, with some really haunting moments and a fantastic tentacle monster too. This past year Iskanov has been through some immense reshoots and resulted large parts of the film since it played festivals a few years back, and it looks amazing. I cant wait until this film is unleashed on audiences and Iskanov can let us see this latest nightmare vision.  [Full review Here]

I have to put Iron Sky on here. Yes, I really enjoyed it and it was a blast – sometimes, big dumb movies are only big dumb movies and they are only there to entertain us. Sure, it looses some of its umpf in the middle, but picks t back up at the finale. One can’t underestimate the dedication Timo Vuorensola and crew have put into this film. From the early promos to having the huge success that it had, it’s almost a independent fairy tale come true. I was one of the first to write about the film here in Sweden and for that I ended up becoming something of a poster boy for the sales material when my quote ended up first on small, small ads and sticking in there all the way up through theatrical art where my quote finally ended up being printed larger than the movie title itself. So naturally Iron Sky will always be a highpoint of my career as an online movie critic! (And leave a bitter after taste as every bigger distributor then ignored the fuck out of me after they exploited my tagline, which probably did more for this movie than anything else over here! I’ve not been to a pre-screening since…)

This is a really cute film with some effective shocks and smart metaphorical monsters. Bradley Rust Grey's Jack and Diane is a coming of age movie, but told through the eyes of two young women who discover love, pain, happiness, hurt as they explore their sexual preferences. It's frail at times, rough at times but at the core the crown jewel of Storytelling is a vibrating tool : Guilt! It does go on for just a short while to long but it draws its audience in and delicately keeps them on edge. The two leading ladies, Juno Temple (Daughter of legendary Julien Temple) and Riley Keough really hit it out of the ballpark, and there's an interesting cameo by Kylie Minogue. This is another one of those movies that I saw and didn't really know where to place it, but it stuck with me and God knows that genre, with all it's stereotypes, really needs more gay themed films.

I love how UK horror solidly uses its inheritance of social realism to tell disturbing genre stories. Ben Wheatley's Kill List does this, and from this setting tells it's haunting tale. Creepy, slow build, a study of the deterioration of a hit man who get’s snared up in a mission against – or is it for – an ominous cult who push his buttons, pull his strings and lead him right into a devastating climax. Fascinating stuff! [Full review Here]

Two men who personify dedication, enthusiasm and passion for making films are Lars and Marc Rohnstock! Their fantastic splatter flick, Necronos : Tower of Doom - a two hour plus gore fest, filled to the brim with everything that makes German Gore such a blast - is a great film. It is fun, it's gory, it's amazing, and it proves that you really should have fun when making and watching films, even if they are gory epics. 2012 saw two releases of their film, one by Swedish distributor Dark Entertainment and the other by the legendary Troma! I cant wait for them to complete their next film “The Curse of Dr. Wolfenstein”, as the promo and few shots I’ve seen so far, look amazing. [Full review Here]

The first of two movies that didn't make the first cut and shouldn't be on here, but make it on due to a last minute change of heart. Aja and Khalfoun remake of Maniac didn’t really make much change to the original Lustig/Spinel classic, but there’s something in there that I keep going back to in my head. Elijah Wood gives a grand performance and the more I think about it, the more I liked the subjective camera approach. If nothing else, it made me re-watch the original, and that’s what I hope this remake will do too. BUT the main reason I stick it on here is because I really like the fact that we have European genre directors making films in America and bringing European crews and filmmakers with them on the trip. It’s much the same as Guillermo Del Toro has been doing with Spanish and Mexican filmmakers, and that’s a noble thing indeed! [Full review Here]

I really enjoyed Sinister, which possibly was one of the creepiest films of the year. Ethan Hawke and Juliet Rylance bring so much credibility to the characters and the way the investigation plot works as the family is slowly torn apart was grand. I could totally see this being my family and I in the way I get caught up in projects, work and grand illusions of things to come. Without the violent death and demons that is. Suspenseful, honest and freaky, Sinister left a delightful impression. Ok so it’s looses it with the generic ending, but then again, this is horror and it’s supposed to go unexpected places, even if the unexpected is a familiar setting.

The second film that really shouldn’t be on here, as I found it to be a disappointment the first time I watched it. Obviously it’s going to be hard to match Martyrs, and I think that I was expecting that Pascal Laugier's The Tall Man would be something in the same vain. I have some issues with Jessica Biel, I find her to be a pretty bad actress, which was a problem for me. But after an intelligent discussion with a fellow film reviewer who runs a little site called NinjaDixon, he made me go back and re-watch it. So I did and going back a second time I discovered the same kind of traits that I found in Martyrs – once again Laugier messes around with his audience and makes us think outside the frame of convention. This movie is all about polarizing good and evil and making us THINK about stuff. Just like Martyrs made us questions why we watch horror, forcing us to become antagonists and make a “martyr” out of Anna so that we can get our answers, The Tall Man makes us think about what is wrong, bad, evil, good and why we pigeonhole people so easily. That’s what makes it a movie I can get behind, as this is smart filmmaking.     

Scandinavian horror is on a rise. There’s some cool stuff getting made, and when the spotlight turns to Sweden we Scandinavians unfortunately have a tendency to frown and reject the few offerings we are given. But this is all part of our culture and we really shouldn’t, as there’s definitely stuff being made that is exciting and gives promise of great things in the future. Wither is a generic horror film, it has poor acting, it has no real surprises, but it’s an impressive movie, undoubtedly some of the best gore scenes ever put on Swedish film, and I really enjoyed it. Sometimes a generic slasher movie is only a generic slasher movie, and even the simplest slasher film can be an enjoyable one if it’s done in the right way with the right ambition. [Full review Here]

OK, so now the countdown begins... 5 to 1...

Errors of the Human Body it is an awesome film, and it’s a film I’ve thought about a lot. Which means that it left an impression on me, despite some of the problems it has. It tells the tale of Geoff [Micheal Eklund], a scientist going to work in Germany after tragedy has torn his family apart. He’s a top scientist and when he starts working at Samuel Mead’s genetic engineering facility the film shifts into dark territory when it’s revealed that theirs is some seriously unethical experiments taking place. Part thriller, part monster flick, part bodyhorror. The only thing that kind of harms the film is a somewhat sappy love story that lingers on to long and some illogic moves during the final act. But I still find it to be one of this years best movies and I will go back to this one when it’s released officially. Oh and Rik Mayal gives a great performance as the sinister Mead, and there’s a lot of Axolotls in the film…

Loved it, every minute of it. Richard Bates Jr.’s Excision with it's generic coming of age story with a harrowing twist and some of the most artistic dream sequences I’ve seen in ages. I think we all can identify with Pauline’s [AnnaLynne McCord] struggle to fit in, we’ve all been kids in those vulnerable teenagers. The cast are fantastic, the story is morbidly layered with darkness and haunts which slowly is peeled off as the movie progresses. Traci Lords gives a performance of a lifetime as the tormented mother, and the biggest balls in the room hang from Bates Jr. who dared take the movie where he takes it in that last act. [Full review Here]

To be completely honest it’s something of a mess as there’s so many different styles and approaches to the subject matter – but I’m fine with that. I like mess when its like this, because it's in the mix that the volatility of the film arises, and you can’t stick 26 different directors into one movie and expect them to all be the same – because that would suck! Being of a mixtape of death, the eclectic mess of The ABC’s of Death is magnificent. There’s fun, there’s gore, there shocks, there’s frights, and there’s animation and there’s Lee Hardcastle’s T is for Toilet! I’ve been following Hardcastle for a few years, love his work. There’s a lot of chapters that I really enjoyed, but if I where to pick one, I ‘d say it was Marcel Sarmiento’s D is for Dogfight, as it brings everything to the table. In its short form it goes through so many emotions, generates emotion for characters, has a twist and puts a smile on your face at the end of the four minute play time.

I’m a total spaz for work prints and alternative versions; yes I’m one of those nerds that film companies lure too much money off as I dip into extended versions, directors cuts and deleted scenes… So finally getting to see Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, after reading about a mythical lost Directors Cut's for years, and then following the story through as footage was found - various edits on VHS tapes found at Seraphim Films offices  - was something of a dream come true! I’ve always liked the movie, and despite its studio edited Dekker slasher storyline, the monsters are what always drew me to it. So finally seeing a workprintish composite of various sources was a delight as it brings loads of new footage to the story and reclaims not only the love story of the original source – Barker's CABAL book, but also the world of the monsters. It flips the tables, gives them new dimension and depth and is an overall better movie – instead of that so-so slasher that they recut the film into back in 1990. The one fear I have for this movie is that they stick solidly to the shooting script and don’t take time to feel the flow of the film. Sometimes there’s a very good reason that stuff shot never makes it into the final film, and despite being on the sencond place on this list, the movie has a few moments that need trimming and sorting out. In no way is the Cabal Cut a final product, it is still very much a workprint composite, and there is a lot of work to be done with it. Just redubbing parts of the film will not be enough to find that all important flow. Although the dedicated work of Russel Cherington (and crew) is not to be underrated and hopefully the movie will have an official release during 2013, and I hope to revisit again in all its glory.

Undoubtedly the movie that scared me, engaged me and moved me most this year was Alexandre Bustillio and Julien Maury’s Livide. A spellbinding tale of horror and fantasy which certainly deserves this spot on my top movie 2012. This is a masterpiece and despite it totally polarizing audiences, I’m sure that it will be rediscovered in years to come. Have YOU spotted the smart Suspiria references yet?Many genre films lacks the originally and innovation that this film brings, and that sadly lost on a lot of genre fans, who seem to want the same formula over and over again. Livide is unquestionably the greatest film I saw this year, and I urge you all to watch it as it is a superbly crafted tale unlike anything else that came to our screens this year. [Full review Here]

Thanks for a great year and hope to see more great stuff in 2013!


Paul WJM said...

Interesting list, you certainly keep more up to date with the modern horror stuff than I do. I'm definitely going to pick up Sinister, as you and quite a few others have got good words for it. And after not having seen Nightbreed for years and years (in its theatrical version) I'm certainly enticed by your comments on this Cabal cut that will hopefully see a Blu-ray in 2013 as you suggest. Have a good un!

CiNEZiLLA said...

Thanks Paul.
Have a great one too!


Phantom of Pulp said...

Great round-up, CiNEZiLLA. Terrific to see LIVIDE getting your top choice. All excellent choices.

CiNEZiLLA said...

Thanks Phantom.


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