Well, I don’t know about you but 2019, for me, just seemed to fly past and yet again it was a great year for horror. Even more exciting is that it was a pretty good year for zombie movies!! Not only has it been a success in the movie department but it certainly was the year for binge watching some fantastic series. Netflix gave us the fabulous Korean zombie show KINGDOM and the series version of the 1982 Jim Henson sci fi/fantasy THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE. We said a fond farewell to the short lived horror/comedy starring Drew Barrymore SANTA CLARITA DIET. Welcomed the hilarious mockumentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS to the BBC, and Shudder brought us the best treat of the year with the welcome return of CREEPSHOW in series form, I’m sure I’ve missed many more but it certainly has been glorious. With all these series around distracting me and cementing my arse to the sofa I have to admit to not getting out to see movies as much as I normally would have but I did manage to get to see a few so here goes, my top ten….
10: ELI (USA Dir: Ciaràn Foy)
A young boy suffering with extreme allergies is sent to a specialist doctors house who claim that they will cure him. During his stay he is visited by the ghosts of past patients and he begins to think that the experiments they are doing to him are not curing him at all. He tries to convince his parents that the place is bad but they still insist it will help him. When trying to escape he makes a huge discovery about himself. Not the best acting going on here in fact at some points it’s pretty shaky, with the younger actors doing the best job out of the cast. However it has a huge plot twist with some effective scares and an overall creepy feel. It’s one to check out.
After a nuclear strike turns most of the population into zombies and hideous mutated monsters, a small group of survivors consisting of an angry soldier, an average Joe, a man-made killing machine, someone with an arm coming out of his head and a giant lobster try to get to a safe place before the last bomb falls. Produced by Troma expect great practical effects, gore, absurdity, baby rats for hands, grossness, fantastic musical numbers, hilarity and just plain weirdness. It’s superb.
8: CRAWL (USA / Serbia / Canada Dir: Alexandre Aja)
Haley goes to visit her estranged father at their family home in Florida just as a category 5 hurricane hits. As their old house starts full up with water she finds her dad injured in the basement. He tries to explain that he had just been attacked by a crocodile when Haley herself is also attacked. Finding themselves trapped and hunted as the hurricane gets worse and more crocs appear. As the water level and body count rises can they make it to the roof and ride out the storm in one piece?? Done incredibly seriously this action packed monster movie is actually really quite ridiculous pretty much all the way through but it is fabulous fun. It’s very well acted and has a lot of blood and crazy kills but likeable characters and an unsuspecting canine superstar!
7: ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP (USA Dir: Ruben Fleischer)
Ten years on from the first movie this equally anticipated sequel dropped into cinemas at prime time of the year… October! I adore zombie movies but I’m not a huge fan of the first ZOMBIELAND (it’s okay but there are many more way better zombie movies) and to be honest with you I thought the trailers for DOUBLE TAP were pretentious and severely lacked zombie content so I wasn’t holding out much hope for this one. That being said there was no way I was going to miss it so I headed out to watch it on Halloween and I tell you what… I was very wrong about it. I really enjoyed it! I found it way more entertaining than I thought it would be perhaps more so than the first one. Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock have come a long way since 2009 and are now living in the White House. Little Rock wants to get out and see the world so runs off to join a peace loving community known as Babylon. The rest of the guys follow her to bring her back home. The introduction of some bold new characters brings some huge laughs. In the trailers the zombies are in short supply but they do not disappoint in the main feature. In fact the zombies are evolving so we have 3 different types to enjoy. It still is what it is, it’s not a ground breaking take on the genre but it’s massively entertaining and so much fun.
6: IT CHAPTER TWO (USA / Canada Dir: Andy Muschietti)
The second part of the recent adaptation of Stephen Kings novel IT. The first part was released in 2017 and was my no. 7 in that years top ten so now part two also makes the list. Very eagerly anticipated by many, again it was a huge success. I wasn’t too keen on the overly long very mushy ending mind you. It boasted a fabulous cast and a lot of thought was put into the appearance of the group as adults. It has some great laughs from Bill Hader and James Ransone. Bill Skarsgård is again fantastic as Pennywise even if he doesn’t quite have the same impact he did in pt. 1 he still has this knack of being scary, creepy, adorable and gosh darn sexy all at the same time (you know I’m right!)! Plus we have the added bonus of seeing him without the make up and clown costume. The SPFX are huge and over produced but they are still effective as well as impressive. As far as remakes go in recent years this one is a particular favourite of mine.
A baby from another planet crashes into the garden and lives of a childless couple desperately trying for a baby of their own. They raise Brandon as their own and aside from a few social issues he seems a fairly normal boy, that is until he hits puberty. Strange powers get stronger within him and he is unsure how to deal with them. Unfortunately for his family and the townsfolk of Brightburn, he begins to use his powers for his own gain and against the people who care about him. This anti hero movie is so well written and wonderfully shot. It has possibly of some of the greatest and most graphic gore of this year to hit major cinemas. It’s a big “fuck you” to feel good superhero movies and got a lot of bad reviews from people thinking it was a superhero movie. I thought it was fantastic and is a must see!
A dark tale about a group of children orphaned by the gang violence of the drug cartels in Mexico, trying to survive yet seeking revenge for the loss of their families. It has some great FX and wonderful dark fairy tale/fantasy type ghosts, monsters and just amazing imagination. Absolutely beautiful yet crushingly devastating, I defy you to watch this and not get teary. The children cast in this had no previous acting experience and apparently only took one improvisational workshop beforehand. They were also not shown the whole script to ensure authentic reactions. Some wonderful and some chilling visuals it really is a fantastic movie.
3: THE DEAD DON’T DIE (USA / Sweden Dir: Jim Jarmusch)
This absurd yet strangely calm zombie comedy with an impressive all star cast is the most bizarre movie of 2019 and it’s a brilliant breath of fresh air to a tried and tested format. Bill Murray and Adam Driver are cops in a small town when a zombie outbreak hits (or could it just be a spate of animal attacks?!!) or maybe something else entirely, who knows? One things for sure Murray and Driver are not the guys to figure this one out but they will try their best to protect the town. With appearances from Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Tilda Swinton and Iggy Pop it certainly doesn’t skimp on big names and they all have interesting characters. The zombies are great with a small quirk in that they talk but it’s just one word and different for every zombie. It is incredibly dead pan, self deprecating and doesn’t try to be more than it is. Anything can and does happen in this in an unsurprising way. Once again it was not met with much love from some zombie fans but I adored it, it’s something a bit different and provides some great giggles.
To get away from his overbearing wife Trevor locks himself away from the world in his shed on his allotment painting war figurines and fantasizing about being a hero. He has no interest in gardening and is starting to get hassled by the other allotment tenants. He gets into a physical fight with one tenant which goes gruesomely wrong. Whilst Trevor is trying to dispose of the body it reanimates and attacks him. Discovering the zombie apocalypse has arrived just as he is trying to bury a body comes as a welcome relief to him but now he has a purpose and a chance to prove himself to his wife, the question is will he take up the challenge? Brilliantly crude and absolutely hilarious this deserves way more credit then it got. Great characters and the zombies are fantastic. The main cast work so well together plus it has cameos from Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder and Michael Berryman. I would go so far as to say it’s the best British zombie comedy since Shaun!!
Åkerlunds adaptation of the book of the same name telling the story of Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem. Their intense live shows, the suicide of their first singer Dead, the ambition of guitarist Euronymous, numerous well publicized church burnings, the introduction of Varg Vikernes and ensuing rivalry between the two ending with Vikernes being convicted of Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseths murder in 1993. It boasts a young cast of familiar surnames including Rory Culkin, Jack Kilmer and Valter Skarsgård. Being based on a true story it has of course been sexed up a bit so with fake girlfriends and a whole host of over exaggeration this has not been met with favour from the die hard metal fans. I actually really enjoyed it, truth is no one really knows what happened apart from the people involved so if they want to jazz it up for a movie then I say go for it. It was by no means glammed up that’s for sure as it’s grim, gritty and down right uncomfortable a lot of the time with prolonged scenes of Euronymus studying Deads corpse after his suicide and quite a few stabbings. Many scenes have stuck with me since I first watched it and I am very keen to watch it again. Being a subject I am very interested in and it being a story I read about at the time I get the directors choices for telling this story and it will linger with me for a long time to come. Perhaps a slightly odd choice for no.1 on my list but I truly admire everyone involved with creating this movie and appreciate it for what it is.
With a total of 4 zombie movies in my top ten I take that to be a pretty awesome year. As with every year it was pretty difficult coming up with my final top ten and some didn’t quite make it so I have a couple that deserve an honourable mention.
THE FURIES (Tony D’Aquino) is a great modern slasher featuring 6 women, known as Beauties, who are dumped in the woods. What they don’t know is that there are also 6 masked and armed men, called Beasts hunting them. With some great twists and brilliant gore this is a great movie!
HAUNT (Scott Beck & Bryan Woods) is a fun take on the recent spate of escape room/haunted house type horrors and THE PALE FACED LADY (Jeff Payne) is a brilliant 10 minute short that requires several watches to truly see everything that hides within it.
However, LITTLE MONSTERS (Abe Forsythe) the story of a teacher that takes her class on a field trip to a petting zoo just as zombies escape from the neighbouring army base, has some funny moments and the zombies are pretty good but the annoying children and some questionable story arcs mean it’s just not that great.
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK was another one that could have been a lot better. The trailer showed a lot of promise and I was pretty creeped out by the scarecrow but with hardly any screen time in the actual movie meant it did not have enough impact. Instead they concentrated on lesser monsters with quite weak backstories which left it lacking in a number of ways in my opinion. That being said though visually all the monsters looked great.
In conclusion, even though 2019 passed me by very quickly I am incredibly grateful to have filled it with all the wonderful and interesting TV shows, independent and mainstream movies that I have been lucky enough to watch and review this time around. Roll on 2020!!!
Article written by Sarah Budd
See my list of ‘Top Ten Movies Of 2018‘ HERE