2001 has an elephant in the room that must be addressed. September 11th 2001 was a day that changed the course of American and World history, and the shock waves from this day are still being felt to this day, and while most of the films released this year don’t show it, as these lists progress, it becomes clear that the events of 9/11 had an effect on the horror films released throughout the rest of the decade.
Jack the Ripper is one of the most notorious serial killers in the history of the world, and over the course of five years (1991-1996) author Alan Moore and artist Eddie Campbell published the graphic novel From Hell, dealing with the Ripper crimes. In 2001 a film adaptation was released starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. When compared to its source material, the film is a failure, but on its own, From Hell is an entertaining Ripper film, despite Heather Graham’s less than believable accent.
1999 gave us the first remake of one of William Castle’s films in House on Haunted Hill, a creepy reworking of a Vincent Price classic. Next up was the poorly titled Thir13en Ghosts, taking a more serious approach to the less than stellar (and quite gimmicky) original Castle production. Despite the silly title (I’ve never been a fan of film titles using numbers in the spellings of titles) the film brought together a fantastic cast including Tony Shaloub, Shannon Elizabeth, Matthew Lillard and F. Murray Abraham as the evil Cyrus Kriticos. The film gave a nod to its source material by using the classic “Ghost Viewer” gimmick as a part of the story, giving the characters on-screen special glasses so that they could see the ghosts. Taking the same cues from the House on Haunted Hill remake, Ghosts brought the gore and scares with the titular thirteen ghosts, each one unique and creepy in their own way. This is one film that the DVD extras enhance the story, with a feature highlighting the thirteen artifacts associated with the ghosts as well as giving a more full back story of the spirits, all of which is narrated by Abraham.
This is one of those films that I feel tends to get overlooked in the grand scheme of the genre, but it ranks as one of my absolute favorite ghost films. Set in an abandoned mental institution (Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts) the film is a slow burn of striking and creepy imagery, as a crew of asbestos removers work through the weekend to clean up the hospital and the tensions that arise among them. I can’t say much else about the film without giving away too much, but if you haven’t seen this film you owe it to yourself to check it out, and David Caruso gives one of the greatest deliveries of the phrase “Fuck You” ever seen in a film.
Suicide Club(Jisatsu sâkuru)
One of many Asian films that will be popping up on these lists, Suicide Club is one of those films that could only come out of Japan. Gory, bizarre and genuinely creepy at times, this is a film that touches on the alienation of Japanese youth, while still managing to be relevant to an American audience. If you are disturbed by suicide or rape in films, this is one to avoid.
Forget the terrible American remake with Kristen Bell, and go find the original. Pulse was the first Japanese horror film I saw that both scared the living hell out of me, and made me want to continue exploring the Asian horror scene. Yes, it’s a film about ghosts coming through computers, but where the American remake faltered in making the focus about “Technology is evil”, the original focused more on how despite our interconnectedness through the internet and technology, we are more alone than ever. Creepy, depressing and a true classic that needs to be seen.
Snoop Dogg plays Jimmy Bones, a numbers runner in 1979 who protects his neighborhood until he’s double crossed by a crooked cop and a drug dealer. Jump forward to the present and his home is a dilapidated ruin and his neighborhood is a ghetto. A throwback to 70’s blaxsploitation films, Snoop Dogg’s Jimmy Bones is a sympathetic villain, like Prince Mamuwalde in Blacula, and despite the CGI not aging well at all, the film as a whole holds up.
Cradle of Fear
This movie is terrible. I know you’re wondering why I put it on the list if I came right out and said this film is terrible, and quite simply, despite how bad this film is, it’s fun. It’s chock full of gore, nudity and absurd special effects, and for fans of the band Cradle of Filth, the band circa 2001 make appearances throughout the film as well as lead singer Dani Filth playing the lead killer. Don’t expect a good movie if you sit down to watch this film, but if you enjoy splatter films, this one will be right up your alley.
Jason Voorhese in space. It’s a long running joke among horror fans that when a series makes the jump to space, the series has officially jumped the shark (Hellraiser 4 and Leperchaun 4 come to mind) but Jason X isn’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be. It’s better than Jason takes Manhattan (which isn’t hard to top honestly) and considering this is the tenth film in a series of now twelve films about a monster in a hockey mask killing people, what do you honestly expect from the Friday the 13th series? Jason X is silly, but the film seems to delight in its own silliness as if the director is winking at the audience the entire time, saying “Wasn’t that cool?!” and given the choice of watching this or Freddy vs. Jason or the remake of Friday the 13th on a loop for eight hours, I’d go with Jason X.
Yet another foreign film to hit my list, Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Insmouth transplants the tale from New England to Spain, and while some of the specifics of the original story differ from the film, Dagon succeeds in being one of the better adaptations of Lovecraft’s work, and includes some truly impressive special effects to create the half men, half-fish creatures described in the original story.