Monday, January 21, 2013

Top 10 Horror Movies of 2012

Well here it always in the middle of January my Top Horror Movies of 2012! Sorry for taking so long to get this posted but I had to catch up on some of the movies I missed this year (yet again) I usually look at other bloggers and horror site's lists and watch the movies that I missed.

This year, there is no #11-20 list. I just didn't see that many movies this year. It was one of those years I just lacked on the horror movie watching as well as the blogging. My apologies for the low number of posts this year. I know many people use what I post here to see movies I recommend and what they missed. I promise I'll try to be better this year.

My list has few movies that have appeared on others but I do put a spin on the order. I had a different take on what was considered "the best" this  year and my picks are totally abnormal from everybody else. I'm just quirky that way.

First some fun facts and sidenotes!
  • Though some of these movies came out in 2011, I label any movie that got  wide releases or DVD releases in 2012 as coming out in 2012.

  • It's a mix of indie horror and theatrical releases but mostly indies.

  • I missed seeing some theatrical and indie horror movies but you have to rank what you saw so that's what I'm doing.

  • The top 10 films broken down by country: USA = 5, UK=2, Canada=1, Australia=1, Spain=1, 

  • The 10 films broken down by spinkick rating: 4 spinkicks=3, 3 and 1/2 spinkicks= 3, 3 spinkicks=4
  • There are a record 4 spinkick movies on this list!

  • A movie that had 4 spinkicks doesn't necessarily mean it was better.

  • To read the entire review of the film click on the title.

So what did 2012 offer us in the world of horror?

  • This list is dominated by independent horror films (again)

  • In a twist, there are no movies from the Pacific
  • Sequels and remakes dominated Hollywood yet again...and I'm fuckin bored of it.

  • Everybody has Cabin in the Woods on their lists.

  • The number one movie on my list is from the USA for the second straight year!!! (can you believe it???)

I take it some of picks will lead to WTF faces and "you're fuckin crazy". Isn't that the fun of these year end Top 10s? Let's get to the list! Here are some honorable mentions.

The Walking Dead (Season 3): Loved the first half of S3.
The Dead: Great African zombie film.
I missed a lot of great mainstream and indie horror films this year. I hope to get caught up soon.

OK now on to the list!

10.) V/H/S (3 spinkicks)

VHS somehow pulls off what amounts to a mega punch in the stomach. 5 segments, each directed by a film veteran are wrapped around a plot of a group of kids looking for a mysterious VHS tape in a seemingly creepy house. Though not all the shorts are great, each one is solid and creative enough to put you on the edge of your seat. The shaky cam will get you reaching for the Dramamine and the acting is highly questionable. Think Troma stiffboardines.
But aside from it's drawbacks (another being which short would anchor the ending) it delivers on a promise of being a "back to the roots" kind of underground horror. Splashes of monsters, home invasion, Paranormal Activity phenomenon are just a few of the things you'll see. But the overall theme seemed to be douchebags getting their comeuppance. We all like seeing drunk, horny, misogynistic miscreant fuck ups getting slaughtered by the obvious vixen in the bottle and VHS delivers just that.

VHS is a feel good throwback to an 80s style grindhouse. Gore and nudity, the staples of any horror breakfast are plentiful and wrapped around in stories that will make every horror fan smirk and applause with delight.

9.) [Rec] 3 Genesis (3 spinkicks)

Rec 3 is clearly the lull before the storm. I'm hoping  Jaume Balaguero will go all out crazy with Rec Apocalypse to end this series on a good note. Most horror fans, bloggers and critics are caught in the middle with Rec 3 as it pulls into a totally different direction than the first 2. But you have to admit, from the traditional filmmaking and the POV mixed in and a wedding day that you won't soon forget it really does pack some line dancing hilarity and oozes kegs of blood.

I think the fun in Rec 3 is mixing those two together and somehow the series feels Rec-ish but has something new to offer. At 120 minutes, it's not like we had scenes of drawn out nothingness. Everything in Rec 3 is paced with some scares and funions, the acting is delightful and the gore and splatter are plentiful.

What's not to like? Thank goodness they didn't start dancing Gangnam Style. I would have just shut the movie off right then and there.

8.) Maniac (Remake 2012) (3 spinkicks)

 Maniac is a far departure of the normal horror movies in the indie circuit. It's a brutal and relentless 90 minute first person point of view of a slasher doing slasher things. With it's POV gimmick, it clearly forces you to LOOK directly at the horrific kills without a cutaway. It's this forced perspective that during the course of the movie makes you in every way live the life of Frank, our intrepid killer. The horror he creates is far from playing a Call of Duty game. It's realistically sickening and oddly sympathetic as Elijah Wood's performance transcends the Joe Spinnell one in an American Psycho sorta way.

Once you get over the fact it's a remake that follows the originals story, the POV hitch, and that it takes place in Los Angeles (say what?) it is a unique piece of horror cinema. I was shocked by how it made me care about this misogynistic motherfucker, his past and his longing for companionship. From it's shocking opening  to it's WTF ending, you can't ignore Maniac's rawness of bring a serial killer movie into a whole new level.

7.) Kill List (3 spinkicks)

On the surface, Kill List looks to be your standard five and dime crime thriller. Underworld goons doing their trade eliminating threats for $$. But as I thought about the film after watching it, you start seeing the layers underneath Kill List that enable you to see a movie that has more than meets the eye.

Kill List is a film that slowly burns you into a look into the life of a retired hit man and scopes out a world where his past, his present and his future all collide into an orgy of madness. It's an interesting journey seeing a drama, gore soaked slaughter and a Wicker Man-ish horror flick all blended into one. Sure there is a twist at the end and numerous unanswered questions which make you go WTF but it stills hit you harder than a hail of bullets.

What you'll get from Kill List is a character study of a soldier turned assassin who elects to try to live as a normal but it seems PTSD and pure conditioning to kill are not as easy to shut down when you get home. There is pure hell to pay for the sins of your past and it seems mysterious forces want have molded our hit man's world into their own.

Kill List is a solid flick that may seem like Pulp Fiction without the glitz and glamour. And for that it gets high marks for showing me a touch of all the genres I love from the UK.

6.) Excision (3 spinkicks)

In Excision, Richard Bates debut film based on his short, a coming of age story on a volcano of WTF. Delusional and dreamlike, Excision is suburban America macabre, weirdness with a smile and a bloody mouth. It feels American Mary-ish but less grown up. Which isn't really a bad thing. I would say it would be this years The Woman, where we see the suburban darkness in a Tim Burton like universe.

Excision is that little film that questions our American values and whether or not we can find happiness in who we are and whether or not we can do it while were a little bit crazy.

Underneath the prototypical family is a world we don't necessarily see. Everybody is a bit crazy, has dreams that would make the most alpha male cringe but we hide those feelings and those thoughts deep into the trenches of our brain.

Some people let it all out and show the world who they really are. So who's really normal huh?

5.)  I Am A Ghost (4 spinkicks)

 Mendoza's I Am a Ghost is a slow burn ghost story that channels all the suspense of Kubrick film and releases it's madness Ti West style. You have to admire a film that throwsback to a cinematic style of vintaginess and still delivers. Add the fact the entire movie is centrally focused on one character, Emily (Anna Ishida) and in one setting, an old Victorian house and it's a bit risky endeavor. But that's why indie horror is a frontier. You'll never know if it will work if you don't try right?

I Am a Ghost plays with the viewer, forcing a WTF in every brief but cryptic scene until it slowly lets you in on the secrets that plague our dear Emily. Like a non linear jigsaw puzzle, all the pieces begin to make sense as the picture progresses (the eggs!!!) and once you see the entirety of the film, it's quite a sight to behold. It's full of chilling moments, superb acting and a twizzer twist on the ghost genre.

Mendoza's story could easily draw comparisons to The Sixth Sense, The Others and The Innkeepers but that would be a disservice. What this film does is create a sense of dread, hopelessness and mystery and reveals a young woman's disturbing secret has not been eliminated in death. It's a journey through a photographic album of a life that was full of hardship and pain, where our instinctive nature to see a happy ending won't be answered. The very nature of the ghost story is that it is suppose to scare you. But here we are in a comforting role though the scares do come in a frenetic ending.

4.)  John Dies at the End (3 spinkicks)

John Dies at the End is all that is great with indie horror cinema. It's full of wacky and memorable characters and every scene oozes more WTF from the last. It is Bill and Ted but for horror fans. The premise is so kooky, it's like you're seeing a mental patients wet dream. What JDATE does is really smack you with 80s horror ingenuity, spew out comedic literature a mile a minute while making sure you have no idea what's going to happen next.

It's really a fun horror comedy that is this year's Tucker and Dale. Dave and John (our main protagonists) are a dynamic duo who tackle apocalyptic evil in a most hilarious way possible. I had a feeling John Dies would be on my Top 10 list of 2012.

Once I finished seeing it, I knew exactly where to put it. 

It's one of the best movies of 2012 as it hits all the right notes on how effective indie horror can be when you can take the source material and be faithful to the essence of why it's a cult classic. Yes John Dies will be the strangest horror movie you will see this year. But it's the drug you need to take.

3.) The Loved Ones (4 spinkicks)

The Loved Ones is the perfect combination of sour and sweet. One moment your seeing all  hell break bloody loose and the next you're watching the nostalgia of prom night. It's the two perspectives on a special night, one that is awkwardly normal and the other straight out of a bizarro horror world. Our protagonist Brent gets the latter and it's been a while since I openly rooted for our final guy to get his revenge served cold.

This is the movie horror fans will call a cult classic and the ones horror fans will recommend to their causal movie fan friends. Prom has always had hijinky and quirky moments. That pesky virginity has to be lost. But you also grow up on that special night. In horror terms, you survive and that's all that counts.

Whatever you may think, The Loved Ones cements what I love about horror movies. Sometimes watching over an hour of hardcore horror is way too much. Intersperse it with scenes of juvenile American Pie jokes and it lessens the eye strain. The way the Loved Ones completes its plot and story arc make it feel like you watched a damn good stand alone episode of Carrie but Australian.

We'll get our prom gone all fucked up this year when Carrie goes all telekinetic, but if you want your fix now, I highly recommend you watch The Loved Ones as soon as you can. It's as good as getting a hole in your head.

2.) American Mary (4 spinkicks)

American Mary is without a doubt one of the best movies of 2012. It is a dissection into the world of body modification that takes a wrong, dreadful turn for the worst. Full of long lasting scenes of female empowerment taken to the limits, it is by far the most powerful, stylized and slickest look into one woman's journey from hopeful optimism to a revenge served cold despotism. The Soska Sisters have created a horror film that is light years ahead of their previous effort. With American Mary, they give us a Joss Whedon like character study into Mary (Katharine Isabelle), who we will see grow up and find her place in the world after experiencing severe trauma.

Never have I seen a movie that delves into this subculture, treats it respectfully and slices in a perfect horror movie inside. I guarantee American Mary will etch it's way into cult status. It's perfect blend of sly black humor, absurd and eerie characters and torturous scenes of pain and agony that equal a milkshake of cult awesomeness.

Horror movies have just grown up in a big way thanks to American Mary.

And the #1 Horror Movie of 2012 is...........

1.) The Cabin in the Woods (4 spinkicks)

The Cabin in the Woods is the best horror movie of 2012. To go even further, it probably is the best horror comedy of the last 10 years. My fellow jaded viewers, CITW is better than Scream (sorry Wes) and all its bastard children. Tucker and Dale vs Evil hinted towards a meta aware horror comedy but CITW goes lights years beyond that. Simply and concisely summarized, Cabin is a meta self aware revolutionary horror comedy that takes those structured horror cliches, be it the stereotypical characters, the irrational choices, the set direction and the mythos and goes all man behind the curtain on it.

Joss and Drew go all Wizard of Oz-ing on the horror genre and it's so brilliant, so awesome and so fucking clever you will leave the theater in a state of pure happy happy joy joy bliss and understand why #CabinintheWoodsisEPIC was trending on Twitter. It's a horror reference machine, sending you cameos, trends and cliches a mile a minute and it asks you to get it. Do you get it? Do you understand the parody of what you're seeing? You don't? Then go ask somebody. Go watch the Universal classics, the slasher franchises, the Kubrick masterpiece. Then you'll understand why Cabin is going to spawn it's own genre and some bastard children of it's own.

The Cabin in the Woods will be remembered as a game changer in the world of horror. It's a horror movie within the making of a horror movie. The Whedon elements are pure mythological magic, where he introduces something new to an audience that has long forgotten or chosen to forget why we all love the horror genre.

Goddard and Whedon break down into the slasher formula and ask the questions we've all asked before, during and after the movie. We've always questioned character motivations, absurd coincidences, elaborate backstory and heroic save the day moments but never has it been put in a movie so brilliantly and with such style and and LOL zingers.

A new generation of millennials has now been introduced us to the topsy turvy world of Hellmouth 101.

OK, I know you fellow jaded viewers have your opinions and your own lists. So go ahead and let me know what your top 10 is and what other flicks I may have excluded. Chime in and let me know what you think.

This list of the Top 20 Horror Movies of 2012 also is an opportunity to see the movies you may have missed that made many of the best of 2012 within the horror community. We all missed a few flicks here and there. I hope you all give all of these movies a chance and then come back and let me know what's the what.

The Jaded Viewer Related Linkage


  1. Being another Whedon fan, I totally agree with Cabin in the Woods in the first place. Best horror movie-which-is-also-a-making-of since Rise of Leslie Vernon! Maniac, American Mary and I Am The Ghost are on my list-of-movies-to-see-ASAP. I hated Rec 3, couldn't care less for its characters.

    The other ones on your list are pretty awesome, like Excision (which I read about it for the first time right here in this very blog - please post more reviews of new or old movies for us horror-noobs), Loved Ones and the marvelous John Dies at the End.

    Are you going to post "The Best of 2012 (Compilation from the Interweb)"?

  2. Great list!
    I'm waiting for the "Best/Top Horror Movies of 2012 (Compilation from the Internet)"

  3. Cabin in the Woods. Ugh. Not funny, not scary, I really disliked it. Otherwise great list.

  4. Absolutely agree with Cabin in the Woods at the number one spot. One of the best films of any genre this year. Great list overall.

  5. Hmm...I think it is a very good list. Fairly similar to my own. Only film I cant really see on a top list is American Mary. To me its a failure. Its trying to play on the same level as a torture horror movie...except it doesnt show anything. So there are no goodies to be seen. Secondly it is very hard to understand Mary's motives. Somehow...I never found what she was put through as THAT horrible. I mean its horrible, but not to the extent that you take out your revenge like she did. Then we have the horrible editing that basically ruins the film. Motive or not, I was looking forward to seeing her take out her revenge...only to find that the whole scene is basically cut. And that was basically the only "evil" stuff she was up to...the other things were basically like watching a more bizarre version of ink-master with Mary obliging peoples needs. Where is the horror in that?

  6. Amazing list of movies, i have been searching for suggestions about horror movies for 2012 and finally i found something interesting to watch free movies online, thank you for sharing, i liked the way you have wroten this and the way you said it.

  7. Cabin in the Woods is good and I loved American Mary. The best horror movie of the last 10 years is The Descent.

  8. Cabin in the Woods is good and I loved American Mary. The best horror movie of the last 10 years is The Descent.

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