My Year in Horror – 2008 Retrospect

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The passing of another year can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The optimists feel like it’s an annual clean slate. Take all the missteps of the previous 365 days, learn from them and move on to the dawn of a new day. The grumpier of us may feel more like “Hey look…this just means I’m one year closer to being an old fart. It’s the dead of winter and I effing HATE shoveling snow so BITE ME”. 

While a third group just feels like “I want to be piss drunk and puke on my BFFs living room floor after getting rufeed at a rave. That’s all. Spare me the deep thoughts and get me another 7&7.” Normally I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle of these three extremes. 

To me it’s all a bit bittersweet. It’s a chance to remember the good things, while painfully being reminded of my own mortality. A time to examine the bad judgment calls of the past, with the hope of redeeming them in the future. Oh…and if possible to guzzle a few 40’s.

2008, however, was no ordinary year for me Lord Loren. 2008 was the year that I became a dad. 

My wife and I created a new human named Jackson and he entered the world on April 8th 2008 . He took his first sh*t within hours of being born and I knew he was mine. This alone gives 2008 the label of ‘life changing’. Pretty much every possible cliché about becoming a parent is actually true. My new role as dad re-shifted my priorities in some amazing and unexpected ways. “I” no longer was the focal point, and my son got first dibs on any activity I may consider.

So with all the goings on in my personal life it may surprise you when I tell you that my horror movie watching levels were at an all time high in 2008. One well known by-product of become a parent is sleep deprivation and with all this time awake came a lot of extra hours in the day to watch some sweet films. In my case those films involve people getting thrashed. As the year came to a close I decided to try a different kind of reflection and figure out exactly how many horror films I actually had watched. 

I looked through my Netflix account, some old horror blogs, and performed some general brain squeezing. In total I figured out that I watched 107 horror films in 2008. (This doesn’t include all the non-horror films I watched which were considerable and makes that number all the more impressive.) 

Now…I know there’s a lot of fellow horror freaks reading this who watch a ton of movies too and for all I know you guys are watching like 250 movies a year, but I gotta think that 107 is a pretty badass number to tout. So…I’m gonna tout it. With that I have included the complete list of my 08 movie exploits for your delight/education. Bear in mind that these are all movies I watched, but not necessarily for the first time. (If you think I’d never seen things like “Halloween” before you’d be delusional) They were, however, all viewed during the calendar year:

28 Weeks Later
30 Days of Night
Abominable
Alien Vs. Hunter
April Fools Day
Bad Taste
Beneath
Black Christmas
Blade 2
Burial Grounds: Nights of Terror
Cannibal Halocoust
Carnival of Souls
Chopping Mall
Chud
Cloverfield
Cronos
Curse of Frankenstein
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead (Remake)
Dead and Breakfast
Dead/Alive
Deadly Friend
Deep Red
Demons 2
Diary of the Dead
Don’t Look Now
Don’t Go in the Basement
Don’t Go in the House
Don’t Go in the Woods Alone
Doom
Driller Killer
Drive In Massacre
Evil Dead
Feast
Fido
Flesheater
Flight of the Living Dead
Freddy Vs. Jason
Ghoulies 4
Halloween 1
Halloween 2
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Halloween 6
Halloween H20
Halloween Night
Halloween Ressurrection
Hatchet
Horror Express
House of the Dead
I spit on your grave
Inferno
Jason X
Jeepers Creepers 2
John Carpenters Pro Life
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Mammoth
Maniac Cop
Mother of Tears
Night of the Creeps
Night of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
One Missed Call (Japanese Version)
Opera
Phantasm
Phantasm 2
Phenomena
Prom Night
Quarantine
Resident Evil Apocolypse
Return of the Living Dead 2
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis
Return to Horror High
Room 6
Saw V
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Stephen King’s The Dreamcatcher
Stephen King’s Thinner
Susperia
Teeth
Tenebrae
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
The Brood
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (remake)
The Demons of Ludlow
The Devils Backbone
The GingerDEAD Man
The House By the Cemetary
The Howling 4
The Last Man on Earth
The Omen 1
The Omen 2
The Omen 3
Track of the Moonbeast
Undead
Vampire Wars
Werewolf Hunter
Werewolf in a Girls Dormatory
Wishmaster
Wishmaster 2
Wishmaster 3
Zombi
Zombi 3
Zombi 4
Zombie Halocaust
Zombie Honeymoon

Pretty sweet eh?

For me to try and summarize all these movies would be mostly impossible without exploding the horrornews.net server so instead I’m going to give you just some of the things that stand out from my year in horror:

Italians know horror.
So check out this knowledge. It is my opinion that American horror has mostly sucked for roughly 15 years now. THAT’S RIGHT! CONTROVERSY! Think about it for a second. Think about how much fun American horror in the 80’s was. You had Jason in Manhattan , Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, Killer Klowns, Freddy Freakin’ Kruger, and even Ma Frattelli from “The Goonies” get her head EXPLODED by a basketball.

The list is an endless parade of over the top brilliance and if you want some legit scares you could get f*cked by the early work of John Carpenter, play with Pinhead, or even get your stomach exploded by an Alien. NOW. Think about the movies from the late-90s through today. 

What are the great franchises?
 What were the great American non-sequel horror masterpieces? What? “I Know What You Did Last Summer”?? Eff that. “The Faculty”? “Urban Legend”?? Sure there are exceptions (The Leprechaun Movies for sillyness, or “The Blair Witch Project” for some innovative scares) but pretty much after “Scream” came out and took shot at every horror cliché in the book it was a spiraling staircase of horror remakes, self aware sh*t and torture-horror movies and the overall quantity of quality sank dramatically. Please don’t talk to me about Rob Zombie or the “Saw” movies. Is the “Saw” saga the best we have to offer?? 

This is an argument for another article BUT the point is that this very lack quality in the American horror has forced me to set my sights overseas. As fashionable as it may be to say I got into Asian horror, early in 2008 I discovered the joys of Italian horror of the late 1970’s and early 80’s. 

If you haven’t yet discovered this period of brilliance I highly recommend jumping into it. From camp, to quality, to the flat out bizarre it’s all there. There’s the brilliance of Dario Argento’s “Susperia”, or the camp spectacular of a Zombie fighting a SHARK in Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi”. There’s the over the top gore-fest in Lomberto Bava’s “Demons”. There’s the seemingly silly, yet some how ultra creepy tone to “Zombie Holocaust”. All in all it’s a goldmine people. 

The Omen Saga – The most overrated franchise in all of horror 

THERE I SAID IT! What? You wanna come TO BLOWS? Let me give you some background by telling you that religious horror is about the only kind of horror that is guaranteed to scare me sh*tless 90% of the time. This all stems from when I was in KINDERGARTEN and my older brother FORCED me to watch “The Exorcist”. 

The experience scarred me for life, and certainly caused a series of INTENSE nightmares over the subsequent years up to and including present day. It is partially for this reason that I had never seen “The Omen” until 2008. Yeah SO WHAT? I’ve seen “Night of the Lepus”, have YOU?…Flash-forward to a few months back when I was listening to “The Petros and Money Show” on AM radio out here in sunny Los Angeles . The boys were laying out their “Wednesday Night Film Fight”. 

Simple concept: Each one of them picks a movie to defend. They state their case for why their movie rules, and callers vote in and pick the winning argument. This particular week’s fight? “The Exorcist” vs. “The Omen”. Cutting to the chase here much to my SHOCK “The Omen” WON this fight and both Petros and Money agreed that “The Omen” was just as scary if not scarier then “The Exorcist”. Could it be? Could I have missed this? I am a horror completist and this was obviously a HUGE gap in my film catalogue. 

I was COMPELLED to see it, fear of divine retribution or not. Before you flip entirely let me tell you that “The Omen” is a very good movie. Obviously well made, tense, and containing some amazing performances, BUT for my money it is NOT a horror film. SURE I get that it’s about the spawn of Satan yada yada, but by my estimation it’s really more of a mystery thriller then anything else. 

So as good as it was, and as much as I did enjoy it I still had a hard time calling it a horror film and I wasn’t scared in the least. As a completist I STILL felt compelled to watch the two sequels. That’s were things get really dicey. “Damien: The Omen 2” is not necessarily crappy, but it is boring and for the most part useless. It’s basically a retread of the first one except Damien is a little older. I will say though: One thing that O2 DID feature was the guy from “Designing Women” getting sliced in half by an elevator gone out of control. That was pretty dang sweet. Maybe a little more of that and I may have been swayed. “The Omen 3” is a freakin’ disaster. 

There are so many things wrong with O3 I don’t even know where to start. The movie begins with Damien all grow’d up now and looking a lot like Sam Neil. We learn that his reign as anti-christ coming to an end. This alone is mind boggling. THAT was his reign?

THAT’S all he did? Cause a little famine…mess with peoples finances and run a corporation?? Oh yeah. He’s WAY worse then HITLER! The final scene of O3 is so unbelievable ludicrous I am even annoyed to describe what happened. Damien spends the whole movie killing babies to prevent the resurrection of Jesus who will apparently kill him. Ok…fair enough. That is until he is stabbed by some B ROAD and then to have a big JESUS ghost effect fall out of the sky to “get him”. As this happened I stood up and exclaimed “FUCK this movie. 

FUCK IT!” Shortly after seeing O3 I learned there was an OMEN 4! I’m going to wait till that magical night that I’m on PCP to watch that one. SO…I stick with my earlier statement. The saga DOES have some redeeming qualities (Mostly found in Omen 1) but it get’s WAY more credit then it deserves in the eyes of horror fans. I’ll take the “Puppet Master” Saga over the Omen movies any day of the week.

Don ’t Bury The Classics

You know how when you’re cruising Blockbuster, Netflix or Best Buy seeking some sweet horror and there are certain movies that you always glance at thinking “Man, maybe it’s high time I watched that. Nahhhh…I think I’m going to get M. Night Shymalan’s “The Lady in the Water”. HOW BAD COULD IT BE?” Well…my new rule of thumb: Stop second guessing yourself and go with the classics. Your gut is pleading with you to witness this sh*t due to a some serious greatness. 

In my case I checked out several titles that had been nagging at me for YEARS: “Silent Night, Deadly Night”, “Wishmaster” Movies, “Maniac Cop”, and (believe it or not) “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” were all some STANDARDS that I viewed for the first time in 2008. I remember seeing the box for “Silent Night, Deadly Night” in Blockbuster since HIG H SCHOOL yet never got it. 

Meanwhile as I sat there watching the Santa clad killer hang a naked girl from a set of MOOSE ANTLERS while exclaiming “NAUGHTY! NAUGHTY” I knew I had really tapped into something special. As if I didn’t stir up enough controversy with my “Omen” rant I will tell you that I was pretty disappointed by Maniac Cop. This movie had BOTH Bruce Campbell AND Tom Atkins. That’s about as A-List as they come for my money. It should have knocked me out of my seat! Don’t get me wrong, it was great….just a bit of a let down. 

Meanwhile “Wishmaster” 1 and 2 are two of the sweetest gems of 90’s. That dude who played the Djinn demon should be handed the freaking Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for being an absolute mastermind.

Every thing he does/sense in the first two movies are near comic genius in a remarkably subtle way. Almost as if he’s peaking through the camera and saying “Dude…can you believe the sh*t you are watching?” all while being creepy. Needless to say I will NEVER leave classics like this in limbo again. Up next? “Slumber Party Massacre”.

2008 Quick Facts:

- I tasked myself with watching a horror movie every day for all of October 2008 in honor of Halloween. I got close. In total I ended up watching 27 horror films in October alone

- I came to the realization that Zombie films were my favorite horror sub-genre. I watched a movie called “Flight of the Living Dead” and felt quite fulfilled. There was a stretch where I realized I had watched literally about 10 zombie films back to back and was totally unphased. Hey, what can I say? I like the living dead? SO WHAT??

- “Quarantine” was the only decent major horror release of 2008 and don’t give me that “Rec was better” speil..I ain’t listening and DEFINITELY don’t bother with “What about ‘Saw V’?”

- I saw a movie called “The Last Man on Earth” starring Vincent Price and it’s based on the same book as “The Omega Man” and “I am Legend”. “Last Man on Earth” is by FAR the best of the three. Discover this lost gem.

- As much as I really thought it was funny to rent movies like “Alien Vs Hunter” simply for the title….the movie itself is unwatchable. I actually watched 60% of it in fast forward. This is ME. I enjoy movies like “Troll 2” and “Leeches”. Sometimes crap is just crap.

- The “Resident Evil” movies may be mediocre, but dang that Mila Jovavich is hot as hellfire.

- There is a movie that exists called “Track of the Moonbeast”. It’s true I’ve seen it. It rules based on it’s title alone. The film itself is irrelevant.

- Sometimes Indie horror really pisses me off. “Fido”, “Dead and Breakfast”, and “teeth” all tried to be the “thinking mans” horror film. In attempting this misfired and condescended to the genre. 

- I ended up becoming friends with Tamara Feldman from “Hatchet” in 2008. Also realized I’m already friends with the writer of “Beneath” and one of the leads in “Transmorphers”

- Guielmo Del Toro is freakin brilliant.

- The 80’s was a golden age of b-grade outrageous horror. Try “Chopping Mall” if you havne’t seen it already. It may be my favorite horror era but I am not willing to go there officially yet.

- Loren watches a lot or Horror films. He also loves you.

That’s all I got folks. May 2009 bring you happiness, good health, and tons of ghouls.

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