Posted by Nick Ondras on October 27, 2010 at 2:30 am
It’s hypocritical of me to write about low-budget horror movies when my all-time favorite is a huge notable, The Shining. But you generally can’t go wrong looking in the other direction for new ideas when movies start to get boring. Where better to scope out opportunity than in small places? Indie flicks as a medium are, let’s face it, hit or miss. But when one’s a hit it’s really a hit, and worth celebrating despite your initial thoughts, or if time being your movie was vastly pressured to go home.
This isn’t a new-age thing – take a gander toward American Graffiti, Rocky or, more relative to this writing, Halloween and The Evil Dead. I guess what recently kicked another wave of no-budget flicks that swing low would be The Blair Witch Project, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s notorious “found footage” that boasted unsettling premonition over counting bodies. And sure, this point that lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice was further proven with the less-than-stellar reports which tagged Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, though it was yet again disproven just last weekend when Paranormal Activity 2 saw to over $41 million.
The aforementioned movie’s chill factor will always be up for debate, and there’s no arguing it’s a much better film than Blair Witch 2. Still, Hollywood has made bank on stockpiling sequel after sequel to low-budget fundamentals, most of the embryonic cast and crew then stepping away. Nonetheless, here are five movies of the past decade that continue to rock the crap out us –
1. 28 Days Later (2003) -
Danny Boyle’s first worthy release after 1996’s Trainspotting re-teamed the director with screenwriter Alex Garland for the best “zombie-movie-that-isn’t-really-a-zombie-movie” since George Romero’s The Crazies. 28 Days Later was bled for $8 million and grossed over ten times that by the end of its theatrical run, even causing means for a dynamic sequel 28 Weeks Later in 2007 (though only produced by Garland and Boyle.) It may be a loose horror movie, but it’s one that doesn’t stop fighting to keep multiple types of grit simultaneously unfolding.
It may have spawned an ashamedly throwaway American remake (2008’s Quarantine), but [REC.] remains the scariest movie I’ve seen in recent memory. About a Spanish TV journalist who finds herself trapped inside a sickly apartment building, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s horror captures reliable suspense leading into a worthy (and quite unsettling) finale, using a single night’s setting for a haunted house event with tricks at every loose floorboard and shut door.
Yeah, it spawned a few unnecessary sequels…all right, many unnecessary sequels up to but not discrediting this Friday’s Saw 3D. Still, on a budget of just over a million bucks the foremost Saw used a quiet location and made it alive with fear. Also one to not only re-define “torture porn”, but grant it a certain arc.
There’s not a movie more fun I’ve yet seen this year than writer-director Adam Green’s NC-17 cult hit. It’s like The Elephant Man if the guy were to follow up on what was in our heads at the time and actually act on the cruelness of his tormenters. The movie, about a creeper foundation named Victor Crowley who settles in a New Orleans swamp waiting for his next soiree of tits-and-liquor-loving prey, is dumb, cheesy, and oof, is it bloody. Hatchet doesn’t flinch even for a second – and reaps rewards for that. While Green’s sequel Hatchet II was pulled from theaters this past month after a single weekend, his first campy homage is at the moment available through Netflix and other rental sites, in all of its violent glory. It’s a screaming good time.
Ti West’s film is a haunted one full of subtle creeps and moans. It’s not for everyone – I wasn’t even too hot on it at first sight. The House of the Devil spins a yarn through the eyes and ears of an elderly man, later revealed in the film, who hires a young woman to babysit an empty house in the middle of nowhere. There’s more, and though the title suggests a certain demonic growl we won’t have it here. An added kick? It takes place in the 1980s. It requires much patience; take it upon yourself to mix it up with your own atmospheric darkness. The movie fills out the rest.
What are your top five favorite Halloween movies?