Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1999
This is the final top ten horror list of the decade!! Other than my announcement of the winner of the Criterion contest on Friday, this will also be the last post I will be doing for this feature!! I am completely 90s horror’d out! And speaking of the Criterion contest I want to remind you that the contest ends this Thursday, February 28th at noon (Pacific Time – West Coast of Canada yo). If you entered, poke your head in on Friday, March 1 to find out if you were the lucky winner! The last year of the decade was an entertaining one and heavy with Japanese titles with four picks from the country. Film number one I rated 5/5, Films two through nine I rated 4/5 and film number ten was rated 3.5/5. I also rated the following three films 3.5/5; Los Sin Nombre, Top of the Food Chain and Hellblock 13.
#10 IDLE HANDS
Directed By: Rodman Flender
No one is more surprised I like this film than me. As I have mentioned in previous posts I have felt really spurned by the volume of North American made horror films with a high school theme. I did rather like the idea of a possessed hand-ala-Evil Dead 2 and throwing in two mates coming back from the dead was a nifty twist. There is a little mockery of the genre and some good laughs in this silly horror-comedy with a significant body count, creative deaths and decent effects. It is not without some problems but Idle Hands was pretty fun!
#9 TERROR FIRMER
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman
Terror Firmer is one of Troma’s funniest and most outrageous films since the 80s! Cheap, sleazy and gory fun with lots of Troma regulars and appearances from Ron Jeremy, Lemmy, Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Eli Roth and of course the face of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman playing himself! It is a Troma film about making a Troma film and as you would expect it is ridiculously schlocky, tasteless, full of boobs, bodily fluids and tons of over-the-top violence. Troma’s trailer really says it all…
#8 SLEEPY HOLLOW
Directed By: Tim Burton
Ichabod crane is sent to the tiny town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a trio of murders by decapitation that may be the work of a malevolent spirit known as the Headless Horseman. Johnny Depp was all over the place in the 90s and here he plays the eccentric and eager Ichabod Crane; one of the first of many Tim Burton films he would star in. The film screams Burton with its lovely gothic sensibility and a touch of playful menace. While I certainly would not call the film scary, it does have its suspenseful and mysterious moments. It also has Christopher Walken as the horseman and you can’t go wrong with that! Walken is quite creepy in the role and I really dug the makeup on his character! I still have the special orange popcorn bucket from when I went to see this in the theatre! Sleepy Hollow is classic Burton entertainment!
#7 THE 13TH WARRIOR
Directed By: John McTiernan
This is one of many films from the 90s I seen in the theatre and haven’t revisited until now. When this showed up on the IMDB horror list I thought what the hell? This is a horror film? This is a big flashy Norse legend kind of thingy and it does in fact have ancient mythical creatures that come from within the mist and eat human flesh! How could I forget such a detail? The film looks like a million bucks and so does Antonio Banderas; the man is not hard on the eyes. The 13th Warrior is jammed-packed with giant battling big sweaty men on horseback with literal names (Hyglak the Quarrelsome, Ragnar the Dour etc), elaborate costuming, impressive set pieces and cinematography and a surprising amount of blood.
Directed By: Masayuki Ochiai
Three suicides that occur on a single night may actually be murder and could be related to a popular television hypnotist and his muse Yuka. The strange suicide-murders continue to leave the police department mystified. A well-seasoned cop and a young psychoanalyst team up to attempt to solve the puzzle. I picked this film up in Chinatown for $2! As much as I love these finds, I have been burned by Chinatown cheapies. The subtitles in this film are unbelievably bad! Spelling mistakes and some seriously questionable phrasing. I am going to blame this on my cheap copy because otherwise I quite dug this film. The characters were a bit of an odd lot! There are a whole lot of cranky middle-aged cops that are awfully shouty! The young psychoanalyst and lovely Yuka the hypnotist’s muse are definitely the highlights here. Poor Yuka is one messed up little gal! Hypnosis has kooky psychedelic hypno-visuals, creative deaths and an interesting premise with a few twists I did not see coming. Hypnosis was a first time watch and was a great surprise.
#5 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
The Blair Witch Project is the made on the cheap film that started the shaky hand held camera and found footage craze. When this was out in the theatre I went to see this with a huge group of friends and we all loved it but these days I can nigh find a comrade who even likes this movie. Oh well, I still think this film is great!! It is so simple, subtle, scary, well-paced and if I had not known better I could easily have mistaken it for a documentary. The three central characters never seemed like they were acting to me and they don’t look beautiful or glamorous at any point in the film. The scene where Heather Donahue is staring into the camera crying and shaking, she literally has snot coming out of her nose, like you would if you were lost and weeping in the cold night! I am not exactly an outdoorsy camping sort of girl; I prefer the comfort of the cottage and the idea of being lost in the woods is actually quite frightening to me. Never mind finding freaking creepy trinkets that look like they were made by bent cult members. Despite it being seemingly unpopular to do so, I really dig The Blair Witch Project.
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Yukio, a well to do doctor has his life turned upside down when his identical twin brother, abandoned for a disfiguring birthmark, returns for revenge. This film is all about contrast. Yukio and his family are very reserved and the scenes featured in their home are done so with muted tones. The scenes shot in the slum are the polar opposite. The actions are exaggerated and the colors are loud. The costumes were fantastic! The traditional garb is amazing and the Cirque du Soliel-esque slum wear was an extreme contrast that worked beautifully. The music was bizarre but perfect and the performances are absolutely top notch across the board! Gemini is an extremely effective story about revenge, love, betrayal and class war.
#3 WILD ZERO
Directed By: Tetsuro Takeuchi
The action revolves around the Japanese garage punk band Guitar Wolf. A trio of coiffed, leather-bound super cool rockers. Ace, our main character is a wannabe rocker and number one fan of Guitar Wolf. One fateful night he finds himself in the middle of a gunfight between Guitar Wolf and an evil hot pant wearing wigged club owner. Guitar Wolf recognizes the lad as having a heart dedicated to the true spirit of rock and roll and makes him a blood brother and furnishes him with a “wolf whistle” to blow if he is ever in trouble. Trouble comes quickly in the form of UFO’s and the living dead. Along the way we meet an adorable transsexual desperate for love and a bad ass female weapons dealer. Wild Zero Features guitar picks used like ninja throwing stars, a naked woman blasting zombies in the shower, a UFO sliced in half with a samurai sword, more exploding zombie heads then you can shake a stick at, and of course, plenty of rock and roll, guitar punk sensibility. Wild Zero is way too much fun…I love it!
#2 THE NINTH GATE
Directed By: Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is one of my favourite directors; I ranked him #14! A rare books expert is hired by a well-known collector to retrieve the two remaining copies of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows allegedly written by the Devil himself, needless to say shit happens. First and foremost The Ninth Gate has one of the best scores from the 90s; one I must add to my collection soon! It also has an outstanding cast that includes Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin and Emmanuelle Seigner. The Ninth Gate despite all the Satan shtick is very much a suspense thriller with an exciting build-up, beautiful sets and an intriguing story. One of Polanski’s best in years.
Directed By: Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike rocks! Sure, a few of his films are a miss but how can you not appreciate the man’s literally unclassifiable array of films? I am a big fan of Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer, Gozu and The Happiness of the Katakuris. I also loved his more recent entry; a real departure from the aforementioned bit of craziness; 13 Assassins. Audition was my introduction to this incredible film maker and it still remains as one of his only straight-up horror features. A widower arranges a fake audition for a film role with a friend in hopes of meeting his future bride. He finds the perfect woman in Asami Yamazaki, but the seemingly sweet young woman is not what she seems. Hahaha!! That is the understatement of the decade! The movie definitely has a slow start but personally I think it adds a lot to the impact of the seriously insane twist in the film’s final section. Audition has a truly gruesome and surprising ending that was such a spectacular shocker the first time around! I love the subtlety of the first half of the film and the way Miike uses sound and off-camera events to pique the viewer. Audition is not only one of my favourite films of the decade but of all time!