The year 2000 kicked off with the “Y2K Bug” hysteria that promptly fizzled out much to the chagrin of conspiracy theorist everywhere. The horror genre was coming off a year that gave us The Blair Witch Project, Audition, and Sleepy Hollow as well as clunkers like The Rage: Carrie 2, Retro Puppet Master, and End of Days. Sadly, the stink of the millennium and sequels carried on into the new decade with Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Dracula 2000, and Scream 3, but all was not lost and these are the top nine films of the year 2000.
Crap on this franchise all you want, and believe me I’ve done it myself, but Final Destination was a blast of originality that the horror genre desperately needed. Taking what is essentially the standard slasher set up of pretty teenagers being picked off one by one; Final Destination took an old trope and turned it on its head as the killer chasing our group of TV stars is Death himself, and leading to some of the most over the top and creative death scenes in the genre. Sure, the series eventually stumbled down the Saw road of focusing on the death scenes and less on the story but the original still holds up today as its own film.
Confession: I’m not a big fan of werewolf movies. I can name three werewolf films off the top of my head that I would consider worth watching more than once. The Wolfman with Lon Chaney Jr, An American Werewolf in London, and Ginger Snaps. Ginger Snaps isn’t just about werewolves, it’s about the bond between the Fitzgerald sisters and while it draws heavily from Carrie and its “menstruation leads to horror” angle, Ginger Snaps flows (no pun intended) with believable characters, awesome make-up and animatronics and a genuine heart at its core.
Battle Royale(Batoru rowaiaru)
A film that could only come out of Japan, Battle Royale is brilliant. Blending hyper violence, social satire and a harsh premise (a group of high school freshman are forced to kill each other) the film never feels exploitative, and all the characters, even the ones that only get brief screen time feel genuine. The soundtrack is amazing and fits the film perfectly. Unfortunately this film has never gotten an official US DVD release, it can be found online and in some larger DVD retailers in different formats from a number of DVD companies. If you haven’t seen this film yet, find the 122 minute directors cut.
I love Hellraiser. I can tolerate some of the sequels, and Hellraiser: Inferno is one of those few. Inferno is the first of the sequels to take the series into a new direction that actually works, instead of trying to shoehorn Pinhead and the Cenobites into a slasher film (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth), Inferno takes the series into the psychological thriller genre and while there are some flaws in the acting and effects, the story presents an interesting idea that plays well within Hellraiser mythos. This film also gave birth to one of my favorite phrases from one of my early reviews (“Creepy Torso Guy”)
Jennifer Lopez is a child psychologist who gets drawn into the nightmarish world of a killers mind. Yes the story isn’t the greatest, and Jennifer Lopez is barely believable, but The Cell is a visual masterpiece. The CG is a bit shakey now, but most it still holds up, especially the scene with the horse. Despite the clichés and Vincent D’Onofrio’s sometimes over acting, the film is still entertaining and is a nice distraction when you want something to watch on a Saturday night.
I almost didn’t include this on my list of best horror films because in all honesty, this is a jet black comedy with horror elements. American Psycho is a scathing satire of the 1980’s yuppie culture, seen through the eyes of Patrick Bateman, played to perfection by Christian Bale. Bateman is the epitome of the soulless, hollow business man we envision when hear about the monsters who run wall street, with the added twist of being completely mad. American Psycho isn’t a film that gives answers easily, and it takes multiple viewings before you can begin to piece the thing together.
Shadow of the Vampire
If you’ve never seen Nosferatu, I highly recommend seeing it, then watching this film. Shadow of the Vampire takes a fictional approach to the making of Nosferatu and playing with the idea that Max Schreck (Willem Defoe), who’s only film credit is Nosferatu, could actually be a vampire. Defoe plays off John Malcovich’s F.W Murnau perfectly, and like Copolla’s Dracula, this film draws on old movie tricks to amazing effect.
I’m fascinated by serial killers, and Ed Gein is one of those killers that captures the imagination, inspiring the films Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Deranged. Ed Gein takes more of a “True Crime” direction with the tale of Gein and his madness. The acting isn’t amazing, and the film drags at times, but Steve Railsback’s Gein is believably creepy and unnerving.
Zombies and The Yakuza, what’s not to love? Junk plays out as a typical heist movie, until the zombies show up and all hell breaks loose. Yes, it’s Japanese and it’s subtitled, but Junk is such a gory, action packed romp that you can put the film on in the background at a party and no one will complain about the subtitles.