Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Films from After Dark’s ‘8 Films To Die For’ Series!Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
When After Dark Films launched their 8 Films To Die For Series nearly a decade ago, it was definitely a new experience for a majority of fright fans. For lovers of the lurid, After Dark brought the horror film festival experience to major multiplexes, often to theaters and towns that were nowhere near the horror hubs of the world. Yet even more surprising was that After Dark didn’t rely on the cheapest and the most homogenous films they could find, but took gambles on ambitious, eerie scare fare. And with 8 Films To Die For returning after a five year absence, FANGORIA has amassed our ten favorite After Dark titles for your Halloween viewing consideration…
- DARK RIDE
While contemporary slashers had largely been out of style by 2006, DARK RIDE was a refreshing offering in the subgenre with an old school charm. And with the carnival ride setting of the film, DARK RIDE mined much macabre material from minimalist dread before turning towards the bloodier payoffs.
- THE ABANDONED
One of the more publicly lauded of the After Dark films, Nacho Cerda’s THE ABANDONED is an effortlessly spooky ghost story with an intense and intelligent script behind it. And while the film does go over well-trodden material in that subgenre, the unique twist on display makes for a spine-chilling exercise in tension and subversion.
- TOOTH AND NAIL
Half horror movie, half action movie, this apocalyptic cannibal tale apes the style of a western with the modern madness of a low-rent MAD MAX movie. However, don’t let its budget fool you: TOOTH AND NAIL is a fun and occasionally frightening flick that sports memorable turns from Michael Kelly, Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, Rachel Miner and Rider Strong.
Gory, freaky and out-of-control, AUTOPSY was one of the more shocking titles in After Dark’s cinematic canon. Yet the film also introduced filmmaker Adam Gierasch to a wider audience than ever before, positing his uniquely twisted sensibilities onto the minds and memories of many otherwise unfamiliar horror hounds.
Xavier Gens’ exploitative exercise in the extreme, FRONTIER(S) never gets quite as much credit as its more provocative counterparts in the New French Extremism movement. However, the film is impressively depraved, and most After Dark audiences found themselves watching this installment through their fingers.
An adaptation of the Clive Barker story of the same name, Anthony DiBlasi’s twisted film is one of those nasty fright films that is undeniably impressive, but one most fright fans would hesitate to return to. For those seeking a more unsettling horror story to rattle their fragile brains, DREAD will do the job!
- THE HAMILTONS
One of the bonafide hits of the 8 Films To Die For, THE HAMILTONS proved itself to a clever and chilling twist on the vampire film, creating a compelling moral crisis at the center of a brutal genre tale. THE HAMILTONS also holds the distinction of being the only After Dark Horrorfest selection to receive a sequel, entitled THE THOMPSONS.
- THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE
Ambitious, creepy and absolutely captivating, THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE mixes a high concept execution with top notch performances and effects. Furthermore, the amount of world-building that is fit into the bloody narrative is incredibly impressive in its own right.
- THE GRAVEDANCERS
Mike Mendez’s nightmarish tale contains the director’s signature fun atmosphere, but definitely is a much creepier endeavor for the filmmaker than one might expect. With stellar performances and a truly sinister concept, THE GRAVEDANCERS remains a frightening and unnerving affair even nearly a decade later.
- LAKE MUNGO
Visceral, cerebral and effective at getting under your skin, LAKE MUNGO remains among the most universally embraced of the 8 Films To Die For series. And with the fake documentary format, there’s an eerie and believable realism that grounds the film in truly terrifying territory.
And now, here are some honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the cut…
WICKED LITTLE THINGS
For fans of creepy kid films, WICKED LITTLE THINGS isn’t the most original but does pack in some solid scares.
Although rough around the edges, Jim Mickle’s debut feature offers enough ambitious monster movie action and clever character dynamics to make it one worth watching.
While not the strongest After Dark entry, a stunning performance by Lena Headey elevates THE BROKEN over your standard scare flick.
One of After Dark Films’ two original productions, PERKINS ‘14 was much smarter and more experimental than any viewer could have expected.
While THE TRIPPER wasn’t an official member of the 8 Films To Die For, it’s inclusion into the festival as one of two “bonus films” leaves it heavily associated with After Dark, who was willing to offer David Arquette’s insane slasher comedy onto the world.