Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its second year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers in search of worthwhile horror, I decided to compile a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. Theaters aren’t where the horror is at these days, I’m afraid. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video on Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay. I’ve also compiled quite a few films I’ve seen advance screenings of at festivals and other outlets, and I’ll try to update you when you can see these films.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year after October 1st (which happens to be the birthday of this little column two years ago!) and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween toward my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion for those who can’t get enough horror that has something to do with the film I chose that day.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am, and come up with your own list…let’s go!
Though it was the talk of the festival circuit last year, my favorite movie reviewed this year on AICN HORROR is by far Lucky McKee’s adaptation of Jack Kethum’s THE WOMAN, a harrowing, quirky, and altogether unique horror film that is fathomous subtexually and still retains its entertainment value throughout. With standout performances by PollyAnna McIntosh and Sean Bridges and McKee go-to Angela Bettis, this film was supremely acted as well. I flipped when I reviewed this back in November and for me, nothing even came close to the horrors that THE WOMAN thows at its audience. I’d love to hear your picks for the best of the best in the last year, but mine’s THE WOMAN!
THE WOMAN (2011)Directed by Lucky McKee
Written by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee (based on a book by Jack Ketchum)
Starring Sean Bridges, Pollyanna McIntosh, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter, Carlee Baker, Zach Rand, Shyla Molhusen
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Having seen Lucky McKee’s THE WOMAN twice now, I feel like I’ve wrapped my head around it all. It is a fantastic film and had I seen it before the deadline of my Best of the Last Year of AICN HORROR, it definitely would have been high on the list. As is, there would have to be some pretty amazing horror films to knock it off next year’s list. This is a story that will disgust. It will cause debate. It will shock you. Having seen it with someone who isn’t really a horror fan, I have to say it does make for an interesting discussion afterwards, especially if that person is a female. In many ways, Lucky McKee continues to explore womanhood, a concept he touches upon in the film that made his name, MAY. But in this film, the director shows he is bolder, more experienced, and more skilled in the presentation. If I were to comparer this film to anything, I’d shy away from the torture porn some might think it to be and compare it more to films like DONNIE DARKO, HEATHERS and AMERICAN BEAUTY: films that that, at their heart, are twisted comedies about the complexity of the concept of family while offering a warped view of what the American ideal of family is all about. It is also a film which most definitely takes a stance on women’s roles, using the various female characters in the cast to represent the complex roles a woman plays. From abused housewife to angsty teen to bright eyed window into the future, even before exploring the role of the title character the story of THE WOMAN is rich with metaphor and ripe for a varied interpretation.
There will be those who pan this film as misogynistic and I understand why folks may misinterpret that. The Woman, played by the mesmerizing Pollyanna McIntosh, spends the bulk of her screentime chained to a wall in the cellar of a farmhouse. Female characters are abused, sexually molested, degraded, and viewed as objects rather than humans. If that’s not misogynistic, I don’t know what is. But in the hands of director Lucky McKee, he uses these uncomfortable scenes for a reason. His Woman is the harbinger of wrath for all of the abusers, the users, the takers, and those who sit idly by and watch it all happen. Though some could argue that the bulk of the film depicts an uncomfortable degree of abuse towards women, the dramatic and bloody finale rings as the point McKee is trying to bring across. If anything, this is a cautionary tale to respect the power of women.
On top of all of those heavy themes, McKee has made a fantastically entertaining film. His use of music in this is genius, twistedly juxtaposing Sean Spillane’s often poppy and folksy soundtrack with the dark secrets going on in the entire cast’s heads. The songs are quite catchy too, especially Spillane’s Cobain-esque “Distracted” which plays just before all of the shit goes down in the film. Immediately after finishing the film I downloaded the soundtrack into my iPhone.
This is not a comfortable film to watch. It’s gory. It’s demented. It’s perverse. It shows a part of America that folks are not willing to admit exists and are definitely not proud of. I’ve always said that films that cause unease may not be the favorites of most folks, but they are the most effective horror films. McKee has achieved both. Using Jack Ketchum’s fantastic screenplay and book as the backbone, THE WOMAN is a brain twisting, moral churning, hypnotizing film experience.
As our final alternate pick of the month is one of my all time faves, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN which, like THE WOMAN, has a lot going on thematically underneath all of the monster make up and scares. Though compared to the torture porn and found footage inundation that all the rage today, some of the scares might seem tame, there’s something sinisterly beautiful about the whole film about a lost soul in search of love, albeit a dead lost soul.
Thanks so much for joining me for this countdown of my favorite horror’s I’ve covered this year on AICN HORROR. Again, if THE WOMAN was not to your liking, I invite you to list your Top 31 or Top 10 or even Top 2. Look for more horror interviews and reviews focusing on all forms of spooky cinema mainstream, indie, past, present, and future every Friday and throughout the week.
The Countdown…#1: THE WOMAN
#3: LOVELY MOLLY
#4: HAROLD’S GOING STIFF
#5: THE BUTTERFLY ROOM
#6: THE SKIN I LIVE IN
#10: CABIN IN THE WOODS
#11: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
#12: JUAN OF THE DEAD
#13: MIDNIGHT SON
#14: BLOOD JUNKIE
#16: THE DIVIDE
#17: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
#18: LITTLE DEATHS
#19: THE TALL MAN
#20: KILL LIST
#21: MOTHER’S DAY
#22: THE INNKEEPERS
#23: THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS
#24: THE PACT
#25: THE WRONG HOUSE
#26: SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
#27: SPIRIT STALKERS
#28: THE MOTH DIARIES
#29: THE SLEEPER
#30: THE AGGRESSION SCALE
#31: SICK BOY
See ya tomorrow, folks, with a special post-Halloween review!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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