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My, the past 10 years have flown by. Circa 2000 I was just entering middle school, and now I’m about to graduate college (!) and head out into the real world. Things certainly changed in the horror genre as well, and this past decade produced a lot of defining gems as well as mountains of trash. Seeing as how I haven’t been tending to my blog recently, I decided to put together my own personal list of the best horror movies of the decade to get back in the swing of things. Note: This is purely my own opinion, and does not represent that of the entire Fango staff. I’m making this list merely to start a conversation on what people think the best horror flicks of the 2000s were.
So with that introduction, read on and tell me what picks you agree with and what movies you want to rip my head off over not including. NOTE: This is a list of straight horror films, so while some horror comedies like SHAUN OF THE DEAD were absolutely fantastic, they are exempt from the list.
10. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
I’m getting this pick out of the way early. Very few major horror releases have divided fans this much, and while it’s truly a love-it-or-hate-it film, I’m firmly in the love camp. Watching this in theaters was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date with a horror movie. Yes, it can be a bit slow and some of the character moves are dumb (damnit, Micah!), but it’s well-acted, tense, with a great build-up and a startling climax. Not only did it thoroughly freak the hell out of both myself and most other moviegoers, it also helped to kill off SAW’s box-office reign. In the end, both the quality of the film and the phenomenon of its wake help earn it this spot among the top 10 of the decade.
9. FREDDY VS. JASON
Some of you will probably roll your eyes at this pick, but I don’t care—FREDDY VS. JASON was an absolute blast. Sure, it’s far from highbrow and most people outside the horror community would look at the film and wonder what the big deal was, but to me (and to a lot of people) this was the jamboree I’d been waiting for. After a decade of failed scripts and productions, could the finished film actually be good, and bring these horror icons together for one last madcap movie?
Hell yes. FREDDY VS JASON grabbed me with it’s vicious opening, gleefully recapping each villain’s history while setting up the big brawl to come, and then dispensed with the carnage. The movie has a ludicrously high bodycount (something like 23 die in a runtime below 90 minutes), and that’s not including the vicious mano-a-mano fight that encompasses the last block of the movie. Unending mayhem, stellar directing by Ronny Yu (why has this man not gotten better scripts?), and the joy of seeing Robert Englund (the REAL Freddy) in top form again made this one of my favorite horror experiences of the decade.
8. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
Sometimes I think Rob Zombie needs to be hugged. There’s no greater explanation I can give for the creation of this brutal film other than being raised on a steady stream of ’70s grindhouse flicks and a lack of parental affection. Billed as a sequel to HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (though better in every way), the flick stands on its own as the sickest, bleakest, most nihilistic road trip movie ever filmed, chronicling the serial-killing Firefly family and their quest to escape the clutches of a justified (if near insane) sheriff.
To this day, I’m still amazed that this film got a full theatrical release. The main characters are absolutely repulsive, and plot chainsaws straight through good taste and genre conventions (honestly, how many films make you root for the demise of the main characters?). It’s a tour-de-force that will make you feel like you need a shower by the time it’s over, but it’s part of the reason it makes my list. That, and it has the best use of Lynard Skynard’s “Freebird” ever.
7. ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
I may be cheating a bit with this since it has never technically been released in the U.S., but I don’t care—ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE was to me, the best slasher movie of the decade (and yes, I’ve seen HIGH TENSION, INSIDE and all the other movies people are probably going to say were better). Sadly, no distributor in America seems to want to touch the film, which is understandable considering the plot is essentially LORD OF THE FLIES over a woman.
Long story short: Mandy Lane is the high school hottie everyone is trying to get with. After being invited out to a cabin for the weekend by a bunch of teens with sex on the brain, someone decides to start bumping off the competition in an effort to get closer to her.
Seems like standard slasher fare, but ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE is anything but. The opening 10 minutes are haunting, the plot is highly unorthodox (going so far as to reveal the killer halfway into the film), and the violence is among the most brutal and mean-spirited I’ve seen in a while (wait until the killer’s first appearance). Lastly, the ending, while not ringing entirely true (what was the motivation exactly?), acts as both an indictment of the genre and a strong feminist message against treating women like objects. You don’t see that everyday.
6. 28 DAYS LATER
Possibly the most well known film on this list after PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, 28 DAYS LATER was a breath of fresh air the year (2002) it was released, with a new take on the decomposing zombie genre (in my opinion, the “infected” count) and catapulting the career of actor Cillian Murphy.
What needs to be said about this flick? It’s a taught, suspenseful, exciting journey with a good script, good performances and some great “zombie” attacks. While the ending leaves a little bit to be desired, the overall film is so strong and important there was no way I couldn’t put it on my list.
TO BE CONTINUED
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