Friday, November 05, 2010

The Top 10 of the Scariest Movies Of The Decade

The Eye, 2002

Forget the terrible US remake starring Jessica Alba. The original Chinese/Thai version of The Eye is one of the most chilling ghost stories in years. A blind woman has her corneas replaced in an operation only to find that the previous owner had horrific visions of dead people, and these visions are part of the package. Big deal you may say; we’ve seen a hundred movies with an “I see dead people” storyline. But you haven’t seen them like this.

Directors ‘The Pang Brothers’ create some of the most frightening ghost scares ever seen in film. A scene where our heroine is trapped in an elevator with the creepy, floating ghost an old man is as eerie as anything you’ll ever see committed to screen.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2003

When the remake of the seminal 1970’s horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was first announced, fans were upset to say the least. How dare they remake such an icon of horror cinema? Luckily under the slick direction of Marcus Nispel, the film turned out to be an incredibly intense and visual film that kicked modern horror back to what it should be -- hardcore and very, very disturbing. And why not bring back Leatherface? Remakes of horror characters only serve to keep these icons alive, just like the numerous incarnations of Dracula over the years.

With a sick and twisted performance by the great R. Lee Ermey (even more frightening than Leatherface), and incredible cinematography by Daniel Pearl (who also filmed the original film), this is the kind of remake that pays respect to the original while also being awesomely entertaining in its own right. And Jessica Biel isn’t hard on the eyes, either.

The Devil's Rejects, 2005

Rob Zombie gets a lot of crap for inserting his white-trash aesthetic into every film he makes (and deservedly so for what he did to his Halloween remakes), but never has his style fit more perfectly into a film than in The Devil’s Rejects.

Following directly from his fantastical horror film House of 1000 Corpses, the sequel takes the characters out of their LSD-laced world and into the stark reality of daylight. Feeling like an old road movie, the film is one part Bonnie & Clyde, one part The Wild Bunch and one part Natural Born Killers. The film's fans include horror-maestro Stephen King and directing-powerhouse P.T. Anderson. We can only hope that Rob Zombie will come back down to earth and deliver on the directorial-promise that he showed with this film.

Drag Me To Hell, 2009

Sometimes relentless brutality can be a little overwhelming. In these situations, a horror movie like Drag Me to Hell can be exactly what one needs to cleanse their blood-soaked palette. Fresh off the success of his Spider-Man trilogy, director Sam Raimi felt he needed to take a break from helming £200 Million studio tent-poles, instead deciding to go back to his roots by making a down and dirty little horror film in the vein of his much-loved Evil Dead series.

No torture in this one, just straight-up gross-out horror and crazy jump-scares to pump up your heart-rate. It’s exactly the kind of popcorn-horror that will leave people smiling when it’s all said and done. It also helps that the film is extremely funny.

REC, 2007

Remade in the US as the film Quarantine (only nowhere near as effectively), REC is a film from Spain in the handheld camera tradition of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield.

Directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza cleverly start the film as if it were a fluffy news piece, following a night in the life of the local Fire Department. The news crew and firemen take a routine call to an apartment building only to find that all hell has broken loose. An outbreak has occurred, turning the building’s inhabitants into ravenous psychopaths, and now everyone has been quarantined inside. Some surviving members set out on a quest to find out what’s going on. Needless to say, everyone gets more than they bargained for. REC is one of the most intense and jump-scare inducing movies in years, and if you can make it through the incredibly creepy, night-vision-enhanced ending without flinching, you are a stronger person than I.

The Descent, 2005

Neil Marshall’s nightmarish spelunking-meets-monsters film, The Descent, brings about some of the most atmospheric and intense scares since the original Alien. A group of women set out on a caving expedition only to find that their stupid friend lead them all into an uncharted cave 3kms below the surface. They become trapped, but this is only the beginning of their troubles, as they just happen to be stuck in complete darkness, with some terrifying subterranean creatures who want nothing more than to rip them apart.

Featuring some of the most claustrophobic moments in any horror movie ever -- the ladies must crawl their way through the smallest holes and crevices to try and get out -- the film also employs the genius tactic of keeping the whole thing in total darkness, using only available light (such as flares or flashlights) to light up the screen.

28 Days Later, 2002

Along with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later brought upon the zombie-renaissance that we are still witnessing today. Filmed on video camcorders for a gritty and immediate look (and presumably to keep the budget low), Boyle and writer Alex Garland devised their own twist to the zombie genre, choosing to make rage-infected humans the unstoppable menace of the film.

Filled with relentlessly intense moments, the film also features some excellent performances from Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Eccleston, and career-making performances from Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris. The film’s signature moment, in which Murphy wanders the completely empty streets of London is an amazing sight to behold.

Hostel, 2005

It’s every twenty-something male’s fantasy to travel across Europe, sleeping with every hot chick he can manage to ensnare. This is the ultimate goal of the lead characters in Eli Roth’s torture-shocker Hostel and it is also the reason for their undoing. Finding that they’re striking out a lot with the ladies in Amsterdam, the guys are told tales of war-torn Slovakia, and how gorgeous and easy the women are there. So off the boys go, only to discover that they’ve been suckered into an international ‘torture and murder for money’ business, and they’re the product.

The genius in Eli Roth’s script is the way that the movie turns the tables and allows the victims to get back at their captors, making what was at first an incredibly gruelling movie into one where you want to stand-up and cheer for the lead character. The only downside is it will probably make you want to cancel that Euro-trip you’ve been planning.

Wolf Creek, 2005

The horror film that single-handedly brought Aussie horror back to life, director Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek became an international sensation upon its release. The Weinstein brothers purchased the film a month prior to its Sundance premiere for 3 and a half times its budget, and the film's many admirers include Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

Loosely inspired by the Ivan Milat back-packer murders and the Bradley John Murdoch murder of English tourist Peter Falconio, the film involves an Aussie and two British tourists visiting the outback crater site of Wolf Creek, and finding themselves in need of help after their car bites the bullet. Who better to help than Jeff Jarrat’s ‘Mick Taylor’? Well, anyone really, as Mick is one of the most sadistic characters in the history of cinema.

Martyrs, 2008

You have got to hand it to the French. They’ve been leading the way with smart and original horror films over the last few years. Films such as Inside, Frontier(s) and Haute Tension all ratcheted the gore and unflinching brutality up to almost unendurable levels, but it was director Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs that had the biggest impact, leaving viewers speechless and quivering for days after it ended.

While it’s better to know as little about Martyrs as possible, we can say that the film ultimately deals with the lengths that people will go to in order to find answers in the world, and the reprehensible acts they will perform to get there... such as the complete disintegration of the bodies and minds of many people, including children. But before you think this is just too disgusting and heavy a subject to watch, the film still works incredibly well as a thriller. Show it to your friends if you want to blow them all away with the most hardcore horror they’re likely to ever see.

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