(Photo by Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Collection)

The 80 Best 2000s Horror Movies

Welcome to the new millennium. The decade horror came home to America. The decade horror went global. Welcome to the 80 Best Horror Movies of the 2000s.

If horror movies reflect the fears and concerns of a people, it’s notable that America claimed torture-porn as their de rigueur subgenre. Something in Saw and its ilk’s slow-roasted dismantling of human flesh appealed to a nation consumed by post-9/11 paranoia and a bombardment of wartime images and atrocity. But while torture-porn movies made a killing at the box office, none were ever particularly well-reviewed; only Hostel arrives here. Recovering from the ’90s doldrums, the best horror movies came from overseas, as digital cameras lowered the cost to film and the rise of the internet made knowledge and dissemination of these movies as simple as a mouse click. In fact, of the top 10 movies here (which includes the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Host), only two were shot in America. Other trends seen during this decade: Asian originals and occasional remakes (The Ring, Thirst), found footage (Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield), the return of the living dead (Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later), and nostalgic throwbacks (Slither, Death Proof). The only stipulation for a movie to be considered for this list was a Fresh rating from at least 20 reviews.

Time to add some scary MIDIs to your MySpace and set AIM status to away (FOREVER), because here comes the best scary 2000s movies!

90 Best ’70s Horror Movies | 80 Best ’80s Horror Movies
40 Best ’90s Horror Movies| 140 Best 2010s Horror Movies
200 Best Horror Movies of All Time | Best Horror Movies of 2021

#80
#80
Adjusted Score: 65786%
Critics Consensus: This gory, senses-assaulting slasher film is an unpretentious, effective mix of old-school horror stylings and modern 3D technology.
Synopsis: Ten years ago, an inexperienced coal miner named Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) caused an accident that killed five men and... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Lussier

#79

Them (2006)
62%

#79
Adjusted Score: 62488%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and tense from start to finish, the French horror film Them proves that a lack of gore doesn't mean a dearth of scares.
Synopsis: Lucas (Michaël Cohen) and Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) live in an isolated house near Bucharest. On one rainy night in their... [More]
Directed By: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

#78

Day Watch (2006)
62%

#78
Adjusted Score: 64781%
Critics Consensus: Day Watch is frequently cheesy but it offers enough twists, surprises, and inventive action sequences to maintain viewer interest.
Synopsis: Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), a member of a group of supernatural guardians who monitor the forces of the Dark, discovers that... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#77
#77
Adjusted Score: 65825%
Critics Consensus: As Diary of the Dead proves, time hasn't subdued George A. Romero's affection for mixing politics with gore, nor has it given him cinematic grace or subtlety.
Synopsis: The dead are returning to life to feast on the flesh of the living. As civilization dissolves in this nightmare... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#76

Cabin Fever (2002)
62%

#76
Adjusted Score: 66898%
Critics Consensus: More gory than scary, Cabin Fever is satisfied with paying homage to genre conventions rather than reinventing them.
Synopsis: Bert (James DeBello), a college student vacationing with friends in the mountains, mistakenly shoots a local man (Arie Verveen) with... [More]
Directed By: Eli Roth

#75

Identity (2003)
62%

#75
Adjusted Score: 66796%
Critics Consensus: Identity is a film that will divide audiences -- the twists of its plot will either impress or exasperate you.
Synopsis: When a vicious storm breaks out in the Nevada desert, 10 people seek refuge in an isolated motel. At the... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#74
Adjusted Score: 64120%
Critics Consensus: Poultrygeist may be relentlessly tasteless and juvenile, but it's also a lively slice of schlocky fun.
Synopsis: Some fast-food workers discover the restaurant they work in is built on an ancient burial ground, and the chickens they... [More]
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

#73

Martyrs (2008)
64%

#73
Adjusted Score: 64775%
Critics Consensus: A real polarising movie, this Gallic torture-porn is graphic, brutal, nasty and gruesome and not to everyone's taste.
Synopsis: A young woman's quest for revenge leads her down a path of depravity.... [More]
Directed By: Pascal Laugier

#72

In My Skin (2002)
64%

#72
Adjusted Score: 64650%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Parisian marketing professional, Esther (Marina de Van) has a gruesome secret. She's been obsessed with the damage she can... [More]
Directed By: Marina de Van

#71

Session 9 (2001)
66%

#71
Adjusted Score: 67716%
Critics Consensus: Relying more on atmosphere than gore, Session 9 is effectively creepy.
Synopsis: A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers start work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson

#70

The Eye (2002)
64%

#70
Adjusted Score: 66943%
Critics Consensus: Conventional ghost tale with a few genuine scares.
Synopsis: After 18 years of blindness, 20-year-old violinist Wong Kar Mun (Lee Sin-Je) regains her vision when she undergoes a corneal... [More]

#69

Willard (2003)
64%

#69
Adjusted Score: 67105%
Critics Consensus: In this creepy story of a man and his rodents, Glover seems born to play the oddball title character.
Synopsis: Desperate for companionship, the repressed Willard (Crispin Glover) befriends a group of rats that inhabit his late father's deteriorating mansion.... [More]
Directed By: Glen Morgan

#68

Lunacy (2005)
65%

#68
Adjusted Score: 64755%
Critics Consensus: A Svankmajer movie is not for everyone, but he displays his usual creative flair for surreal imagery.
Synopsis: In 19th-century France a young man (Pavel Liska) meets a nobleman (Jan Tríska) who invites him to spend the night... [More]
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer

#67

Ichi the Killer (2001)
65%

#67
Adjusted Score: 65794%
Critics Consensus: Ichi The Killer is a thoroughly shocking gorefest that will surely entertain those with strong stomachs and a penchant for brutal violence.
Synopsis: A bloodthirsty hoodlum (Tadanobu Asano) sparks a series of violent reprisals after his boss is apparently taken by a mysterious... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#66
Adjusted Score: 66057%
Critics Consensus: Death Proof may feel somewhat minor in the context of Tarantino's larger filmography, but on its own merits, it packs just enough of a wallop to deliver sufficiently high-octane grindhouse goods.
Synopsis: Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is a professional body double who likes to take unsuspecting women for deadly drives in his... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#65

Carriers (2009)
66%

#65
Adjusted Score: 65729%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a virus threatens to wipe out humanity, Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), his brother Brian (Chris Pine), and their friends... [More]
Directed By: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor

#64

Severance (2006)
66%

#64
Adjusted Score: 68354%
Critics Consensus: A twisted and bloody spoof on office life, Severance nicely balances comedy and nasty horror.
Synopsis: Members (Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny) of the Palisades Defense Corp. sales group arrive in Europe for a team-building... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Smith

#63

My Little Eye (2002)
67%

#63
Adjusted Score: 53991%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As part of an Internet reality show, five people sign up to spend six months in a mansion while cameras... [More]
Directed By: Marc Evans

#62
Adjusted Score: 67468%
Critics Consensus: If nothing else, Happiness of the Katakuris scores points for its delirious, over-the-top originality.
Synopsis: Fearing bad publicity, an innkeeper and his family bury the bodies of their ill-fated guests themselves.... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#61

Red Dragon (2002)
68%

#61
Adjusted Score: 74953%
Critics Consensus: Competently made, but everything is a bit too familiar.
Synopsis: Ex-FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) is an expert investigator who quit the Bureau after almost losing his life in... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 68430%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Members of Charles Manson's cult tell their story.... [More]
Directed By: Jim Van Bebber

#59

Tormented (2009)
69%

#59
Adjusted Score: 69528%
Critics Consensus: It relies too heavily on American slasher cliches, but Tormented is a timely, funny, and even somewhat touching entry in the high school horror genre.
Synopsis: Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean) doesn't have it easy. He's overweight, uses an inhaler and is constantly bullied by his spoiled... [More]
Directed By: Jon Wright

#58

May (2002)
69%

#58
Adjusted Score: 70868%
Critics Consensus: Above average slasher flick.
Synopsis: Young misfit May (Angela Bettis) endured a difficult childhood because of her lazy eye. And though contact lenses have helped... [More]
Directed By: Lucky McKee

#57

Dead Snow (2009)
69%

#57
Adjusted Score: 70504%
Critics Consensus: Though it doesn't cover new ground, Dead Snow is an entertaining mix of camp, scares, and blood and guts.
Synopsis: A party of eight Norwegian medical students travel to a remote Arctic mountain for an Easter weekend filled with skiing... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Wirkola

#56

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#56
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 76187%
Critics Consensus: Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn't perfect, but then again, it doesn't need to be.
Synopsis: FBI agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) boards a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles, escorting a witness to trial.... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

#54

The Mist (2007)
72%

#54
Adjusted Score: 77699%
Critics Consensus: Frank Darabont's impressive camerawork and politically incisive script make The Mist a truly frightening experience.
Synopsis: After a powerful storm damages their Maine home, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head into town to... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#53

Open Water (2003)
71%

#53
Adjusted Score: 77696%
Critics Consensus: A low budget thriller with some intense moments.
Synopsis: Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) embark on a tropical vacation with their scuba-diving certifications in tow. During a... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis

#52

28 Weeks Later (2007)
71%

#52
Adjusted Score: 80004%
Critics Consensus: While 28 Weeks Later lacks the humanism that made 28 Days Later a classic, it's made up with fantastic atmosphere and punchy direction.
Synopsis: Six months after the original epidemic, the rage virus has all but annihilated the population of the British Isles. Nevertheless... [More]

#51

The Ring (2002)
71%

#51
Adjusted Score: 76848%
Critics Consensus: With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski's haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.
Synopsis: It sounds like just another urban legend -- a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling... [More]
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

#50

Grace (2009)
72%

#50
Adjusted Score: 71456%
Critics Consensus: Though not entirely effective as a conventional horror flick, Grace is still a graphic, disturbing, and artful exploration of twisted maternal instinct.
Synopsis: In the wake of a horrific car accident that kills her husband, Michael (Stephen Park), expectant mother Madeline Matheson (Jordan... [More]
Directed By: Paul Solet

#49

Vampire Hunter D (2000)
72%

#49
Adjusted Score: 71607%
Critics Consensus: Vampire Hunter D's gothic charms may be lost on those unfamiliar with the anime series that spawned it, but the crisp action and nightmarish style will satiate horror aficionados' bloodlust.
Synopsis: In a dark and distant future, when the undead have arisen from apocalyptic ashes, an original story unfolds. Ten thousand... [More]
Directed By: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

#48

Dahmer (2002)
72%

#48
Adjusted Score: 71641%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fictionalized, fragmented biopic of one of America's most notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer (Jeremy Renner) contemplates his latest... [More]
Directed By: David Jacobson

#47

I Sell the Dead (2008)
72%

#47
Adjusted Score: 72094%
Critics Consensus: A horror comedy that's almost as chilling as it is funny, I Sell the Dead relies on its dark humor and offbeat charm to overcome its low budget shortcomings.
Synopsis: Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is about to be executed by guillotine for the crime of grave robbing. But before he... [More]
Directed By: Glenn McQuaid

#46

Gozu (2003)
72%

#46
Adjusted Score: 72239%
Critics Consensus: Miike continues his run of compellingly bizarre flicks.
Synopsis: Chaos ensues when a yakuza boss orders a young gangster (Hideki Sone) to kill an insane colleague (Shô Aikawa).... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#45

Fido (2007)
72%

#45
Adjusted Score: 74636%
Critics Consensus: Making the most of its thin premise, Fido is an occasionally touching satire that provides big laughs and enough blood and guts to please gorehounds.
Synopsis: When a cloud of space dust causes the dead to rise as ravenous zombies, the ZomCon Corp. emerges to conquer... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Currie

#44

Black Sheep (2006)
72%

#44
Adjusted Score: 75001%
Critics Consensus: With an outrageous premise played completely straight, Black Sheep is a violent, grotesque, and very funny movie that takes B-movie lunacy to a delirious extreme.
Synopsis: Sheep-fearing Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to his brother's (Peter Feeney) New Zealand farm, hoping his sibling will buy out his... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan King

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 72646%
Critics Consensus: A creative and energetic adaptation of a Clive Barker short story, with enough scares and thrills to be a potential cult classic.
Synopsis: When struggling photographer Leon Kaufman (Bradley Cooper) meets the owner of a prominent art gallery, he sees a chance for... [More]
Directed By: Ryûhei Kitamura

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 74186%
Critics Consensus: This French animated horror portmanteau is monochrome and minimalist, visually stunning, but light on scares.
Synopsis: Animated sequences explore people's fear of darkness.... [More]

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 76663%
Critics Consensus: Brotherhood of the Wolf mixes its genres with little logic, but the end result is wildly entertaining.
Synopsis: In a rural province of France, a mysterious creature is laying waste to the countryside, savagely killing scores of women... [More]
Directed By: Christophe Gans

#40

Splinter (2008)
74%

#40
Adjusted Score: 73729%
Critics Consensus: Never taking itself too seriously, Splinter scores as a fast-paced, fun thriller with more than enough scares.
Synopsis: When their plans for a nature trip go awry, Polly Watt (Jill Wagner) and boyfriend Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) decide... [More]
Directed By: Toby Wilkins

#39

Frailty (2002)
75%

#39
Adjusted Score: 78839%
Critics Consensus: Creepy and disturbing, Frailty is well-crafted, low-key horror.
Synopsis: Set in present day Texas, "Frailty" centers on the FBI's search for a serial killer who calls himself "God's Hands."... [More]
Directed By: Bill Paxton

#38

Land of the Dead (2005)
74%

#38
Adjusted Score: 82338%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's latest entry in his much-vaunted Dead series is not as fresh as his genre-inventing original, Night of the Living Dead. But Land of the Dead does deliver on the gore and zombies-feasting-on-flesh action.
Synopsis: In a world where zombies form the majority of the population, the remaining humans build a feudal society away from... [More]
Directed By: George Romero

#37

Hair High (2004)
75%

#37
Adjusted Score: 63671%
Critics Consensus: Hair High isn't first-tier Plympton, but like the rest of the animator's work, this is an assuredly odd tale that should resonate with fans of strange cinema.
Synopsis: As the prom approaches, the head cheerleader (Sarah Silverman) of Echo Lake High dumps her quarterback boyfriend (Dermot Mulroney) in... [More]
Directed By: Bill Plympton

#36

Planet Terror (2007)
76%

#36
Adjusted Score: 75388%
Critics Consensus: A cool and hip grindhouse throwback, Planet Terror is an unpredictable zombie thrillride.
Synopsis: An ordinary evening in a small Texas town becomes a grisly nightmare when a horde of flesh-eating zombies goes on... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#35
Adjusted Score: 77010%
Critics Consensus: A smart mockumentary that presents a gory, funny, and obviously affectionate skewering of the slasher genre.
Synopsis: Nice, normal-looking Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) has an obsession with movie-style slashers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Glosserman

#34

The Last Winter (2006)
76%

#34
Adjusted Score: 77735%
Critics Consensus: The Last Winter creatively and effectively uses horror tactics -- fear, tension, anticipation, and just enough gore -- to shock, but never repulse, its audience.
Synopsis: Sent to evaluate the environmental impact of oil drilling in the Arctic, James Hoffman (James Le Gros) clashes with the... [More]
Directed By: Larry Fessenden

#33

Dawn of the Dead (2004)
76%

#33
Adjusted Score: 82020%
Critics Consensus: A kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy remake of George Romero's horror classic that pays homage to the original while working on its own terms.
Synopsis: When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#32

Cloverfield (2008)
78%

#32
Adjusted Score: 85550%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
Synopsis: As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know... [More]
Directed By: Matt Reeves

#31

Eden Lake (2008)
80%

#31
Adjusted Score: 80640%
Critics Consensus: A brutal and effective British hoodie-horror that, despite the clichés, stays on the right side of scary.
Synopsis: During a romantic weekend getaway, a young couple confronts a gang of youths, and suffers brutal consequences.... [More]
Directed By: James Watkins

#30

Dog Soldiers (2002)
79%

#30
Adjusted Score: 78819%
Critics Consensus: Frightening, funny, and packed with action, Dog Soldiers is well worth checking out for genre fans -- and marks writer-director Neil Marshall as a talent to keep an eye on.
Synopsis: During a routine nighttime training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#29

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
79%

#29
Adjusted Score: 81981%
Critics Consensus: The best movie to star both the King and JFK.
Synopsis: After falling into a lengthy coma following a freak accident involving hip gyration, a now aged Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell)... [More]
Directed By: Don Coscarelli

#28

1408 (2007)
79%

#28
Adjusted Score: 87058%
Critics Consensus: Relying on psychological tension rather than overt violence and gore, 1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack.
Synopsis: Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a successful author who enjoys worldwide acclaim debunking supernatural phenomena -- before he checks into... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom

#27

Wake Wood (2011)
80%

#27
Adjusted Score: 80077%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The parents of a deceased girl are given three days with their dead daughter.... [More]
Directed By: David Keating

#26

Teeth (2007)
80%

#26
Adjusted Score: 82826%
Critics Consensus: Smart, original, and horrifically funny, Teeth puts a fresh feminist spin on horror movie tropes.
Synopsis: Dawn (Jess Weixler) is an active member of her high-school chastity club but, when she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), nature... [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Lichtenstein

#25

Thirst (2009)
80%

#25
Adjusted Score: 85295%
Critics Consensus: The stylish Thirst packs plenty of bloody thrills to satisfy fans of both vampire films and director Chan Wook Park.
Synopsis: Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), a respected priest, volunteers for an experimental procedure that may lead to a cure for a deadly... [More]
Directed By: Park Chan-wook

#24

Taxidermia (2006)
81%

#24
Adjusted Score: 81401%
Critics Consensus: Surreal and visually striking, Taxidermia is, at times, graphic and difficult to watch, but creatively touches on disturbing subjects with imagination and wit.
Synopsis: Set over three generations and beginning with Morosgoványi Vendel, a sexually frustrated orderly during the war who relieves his tensions... [More]
Directed By: Gyorgy Palfi

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 86070%
Critics Consensus: Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.
Synopsis: F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is struggling to create his silent classic "Nosferatu" on location in Eastern Europe. The director... [More]
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

#22

Trick 'r Treat (2007)
84%

#22
Adjusted Score: 84750%
Critics Consensus: A deftly crafted tribute to Halloween legends, Trick 'r' Treat hits all the genre marks with gusto and old fashioned suspense.
Synopsis: Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

#21

The Others (2001)
83%

#21
Adjusted Score: 89447%
Critics Consensus: The Others is a spooky thriller that reminds us that a movie doesn't need expensive special effects to be creepy.
Synopsis: Grace (Nicole Kidman), the devoutly religious mother of Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), moves her family to the... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 91421%
Critics Consensus: Using its low-budget effects and mockumentary method to great result, Paranormal Activity turns a simple haunted house story into 90 minutes of relentless suspense.
Synopsis: Soon after moving into a suburban tract home, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) become increasingly disturbed by what... [More]
Directed By: Oren Peli

#19
Adjusted Score: 84871%
Critics Consensus: This anthology contains brutal, powerful horror stories by three of Asia's top directors.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#18

Pontypool (2008)
84%

#18
Adjusted Score: 87345%
Critics Consensus: Witty and restrained but still taut and funny, this Pontypool is a different breed of low-budget zombie film.
Synopsis: When disc jockey Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) reports to his basement radio station in the Canadian town of Pontypool, he... [More]
Directed By: Bruce McDonald

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 86665%
Critics Consensus: Restrained but disturbing, A Tale of Two Sisters is a creepily effective, if at times confusing, horror movie.
Synopsis: After being institutionalized in a mental hospital, Korean teen Su-mi (Yum Jung-ah) reunites with her beloved sister, Su-yeon (Im Soo-jung),... [More]
Directed By: Kim Jee-woon

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 88602%
Critics Consensus: Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes... [More]
Directed By: Ti West

#15

Requiem (2006)
86%

#15
Adjusted Score: 86715%
Critics Consensus: This harrowing, naturalistic drama holds you in its grip through Huller's intense performance.
Synopsis: Michaela, an epileptic, enrolls in college to study education. She goes off her medication and soon begins hearing voices and... [More]
Directed By: Hans-Christian Schmid

#14

The Descent (2005)
86%

#14
Adjusted Score: 93915%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#13
Adjusted Score: 88434%
Critics Consensus: Guy Maddin's film is a richly sensuous and dreamy interpretation of Dracula that reinvigorates the genre.
Synopsis: In this ballet version of Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale, Dracula (Zhang Wei-Qiang) arrives in London and performs a dance... [More]
Directed By: Guy Maddin

#12

Slither (2006)
87%

#12
Adjusted Score: 91719%
Critics Consensus: A slimy, B-movie homage oozing with affection for low-budget horror films, Slither is creepy and funny -- if you've got the stomach for it.
Synopsis: Wheelsy is a small town where not much happens and everyone minds his own business. No one notices when evil... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#11

The Orphanage (2007)
87%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95246%
Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood.
Synopsis: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona

#10

28 Days Later (2002)
87%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94188%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Synopsis: A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus from a medical research... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#9

Rec (2007)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90031%
Critics Consensus: Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec] proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.
Synopsis: A reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals.... [More]

#8

Zombieland (2009)
89%

#8
Adjusted Score: 101827%
Critics Consensus: Wickedly funny and featuring plenty of gore, Zombieland is proof that the zombie subgenre is far from dead.
Synopsis: After a virus turns most people into zombies, the world's surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the... [More]
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

#7

Ginger Snaps (2000)
90%

#7
Adjusted Score: 90570%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie -- or teen flick.
Synopsis: The story of two outcast sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), in the mindless suburban town of Bailey... [More]
Directed By: John Fawcett

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 96338%
Critics Consensus: Creepily atmospheric and haunting, The Devil's Backbone is both a potent ghost story and an intelligent political allegory.
Synopsis: After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 100666%
Critics Consensus: Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit.
Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 30-something loser with a dull, easy existence. When he's not working at the electronics store,... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#4

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 104000%
Critics Consensus: Sam Raimi returns to top form with Drag Me to Hell, a frightening, hilarious, delightfully campy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank. But... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#3

The Host (2006)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98416%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
Synopsis: Careless American military personnel dump chemicals into South Korea's Han River. Several years later, a creature emerges from the tainted... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#2

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105720%
Critics Consensus: Pan's Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
Synopsis: In 1944 Spain young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother's... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104738%
Critics Consensus: Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Synopsis: When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor,... [More]
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

Slither and Super

(Photo by ©Universal, ©IFC Films courtesy Everett Collection)

In late 2012, when it was announced that James Gunn was going to write and direct the Marvel superhero movie Guardians of the Galaxy, the immediate response from a lot of folks was either “What?” or “Who?” The people who exclaimed the former were hardcore Troma fans who passed around copies of Tromeo and Juliet on VHS, who showed up to watch Slither on its opening weekend in 2006, and who drove to one of the mere 39 theaters that played Super in 2011. The people who thought “Who?” were likely already familiar with Gunn’s work — as the writer of movies like Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, or Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead — even if they didn’t recognize his name.

Disney and Marvel displayed creative, outside-the-box thinking by hiring Gunn, and the decision has since proved lucrative, as the two Guardians of the Galaxy films have grossed over $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office. But if you’ve seen Super, a film about a short-order cook with a short temper who bludgeons criminals with a pipe wrench, it’s easy to wonder how Gunn’s profane, violent streak would gel with a PG-13 Marvel blockbuster. In the end, Gunn mustered up all of the pelvic sorcery (for Groot’s dance moves) he built up during 20-plus years in the industry to create an awesome mix of comedy, action, and protagonists who claim their sexual exploits aboard a filthy ship have left the walls/floors/ceilings(?) looking like a Jackson Pollock painting when inspected with a black light.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Slither (March 31st, 2006) and the 10th anniversary of Super (April 1st, 2011), we look back at how Gunn’s pre-Marvel films helped prepare him for big-budget success.


1. Super And Slither Allowed Gunn to Explore the Beautiful Side of Ugly Things

Michael Rooker in Slither

(Photo by (c) Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

What’s refreshing about James Gunn is that he’s always been open about his directorial style and how he tells his stories. In an interview for the release of the Slither DVD in 2006, Gunn said, “I think that all of my movies have sort of a contrast between ugly and beautiful in them.” Then in 2011, while doing press for Super, Gunn gave another interview during which he said, “I can’t be told life is beautiful through a normal positive thinking book or a Hallmark movie; that language doesn’t work for me. The language that works for me is the language of f—ed up cinema and comics and things like that. To find the beauty, I really need to go through a darker channel than most people.”

Looking through his filmography, these statements make a lot of sense; he has consistently crafted movies about broken characters finding their way with the aid of music, crass humor, and ultra-violence. For example, there’s an “ugly and beautiful” moment in Slither that cuts between a dance party to celebrate the opening of deer-hunting season and a woman being attacked by tentacles that will turn her into a vessel for alien leech babies. In Super, Gunn treats us to a murderous rampage scored by the peppy Monsters song “God Knows My Name” that features brightly-lit animated segments and a concrete block falling 20-feet onto an unsuspecting drug dealer’s head.

These contrasting scenes are nothing compared to the “ugly and beautiful” mayhem that would appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. During one scene early in the film, three protagonists absolutely murder the living daylights out of hundreds of space pirates who were dumb enough to stage a mutiny. Fueled by the Jay & the Americans song “Come a Little Bit Closer,” the rampage depicts the heroes, led by Michael Rooker, smiling like maniacs while they blow holes through their victims’ chests. Sure, blockbuster cinema has seen plenty of murder; it’s just rare to see the murderers enjoying themselves so much.

Of course, things don’t pan out so well for Rooker’s Yondu in GotG2, but his heroic death is celebrated in bittersweet fashion with a brilliant fireworks display at the end of the film. Gunn may take his characters through dark times, but he finds beauty in those moments. In Super, it takes the form of a second chance for Sarah (Liv Tyler), Franks ex-wife and a former addict, who moves on to make an actual difference in other people’s lives (don’t worry, she doesn’t become a murderous superhero). Gunn wants his characters to have emotional catharsis; they just have to get dirty first.


2. Slither Revealed His Passion for Subversion

Slither

(Photo by (c) Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

Back in 2006, Gunn referred to Slither as “the weird kid in the back of the class that is putting his boogers underneath the desk.” Slither was an oddity at the time, in that it wasn’t a remake, it didn’t feature any popular “teen” actors, and it was loaded with unexpected amounts of over-the-top midnight movie gore. At the end of its theatrical run, the $15 million-budgeted, R-rated film only made $12 million at the box office, as audiences were hesitant to spend money on something so loaded with “boogers.” However, critics and a new group of loyal Gunn-lovers appreciated the “weird kid” film that was able to sprinkle charming profanities into any line of dialogue.

The film revolves around a man named Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) who is infected by an extraterrestrial parasite that transforms him into a monster capable of scalping the hairlines off of people with a flick of a tentacle. The million-year-old parasite wants to destroy the Earth, but it meets its match in Grant’s wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks), the foul-mouthed Mayor Jack MacRready (Gregg Henry and a nice The Thing reference), teenager Kylie (Tania Saulnier), and police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion).

While the creature effects and slime look excellent, it’s the human characters who steal the show. Fillion in particular feels like he was born to read Gunn’s dialogue, and he has zero issues being the “dude in distress.” In a refreshing twist, Starla and Kylie are the true heroes who battle gross slugs, finish off Grant, and put up with a plethora of profane, annoying men.

Slither wears its “weird kid” badge proudly, and the singular vision and script likely hurt its box office chances. That said, the same thing happened to The Thing, Tremors, From Dusk Till Dawn, In the Mouth of Madness, and You’re Next — movies, in other words, that went hard on humor, gore, or tentacles and found their audiences on VHS or DVD.


3. Super Pushed the Label “Dark Comedy” to Its Limits

While some of the dialogue in 2011’s Super sounds a bit like fingernails on a chalkboard nowadays, it’s hard to hate on the $3 million-budgeted dark superhero satire about a man named Frank (Rainn Wilson) who really just wants crime to “shut up.” It’s a grim and grimy experience whose protagonist is a 30-something loner who thinks happy people are arrogant because happiness is overrated, and who fights “crime” by waiting behind dumpsters for it to happen in front of him. He’s the kind of wet noodle that doesn’t stick to a wall, and mostly does what others tell him to do – he even cooks eggs for Jacques (Kevin Bacon), the drug dealer who stole his wife away from him.

Frank’s origin story, as it were, is appropriately loony. One day, while watching television and lamenting the loss of his wife, he receives a message from God in the guise of the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion). Fueled by delusions of grandeur, Frank becomes The Crimson Bolt, a pipe wrench–wielding vigilante who makes even The Punisher look sane.

For added superhero insanity, Frank is compelled to team up with a young psychopath named Libby (Elliot Page), who has to be reminded not to murder people when she’s fighting crime. The pair fuel the worst impulses in each other, which produces alternately uncomfortable and violent encounters and ultimately results in Libby’s gruesome, untimely death, which comes so unexpectedly it’s played both for shock value and for laughs.

Super is the rare superhero film that shows how ugly real violence can be. You won’t see Captain America striking a pose as he mows down pseudo-Nazis or Thor looking svelte during a rain-drenched fistfight. What you get is Rainn Wilson breathing heavily as he bludgeons someone with a wrench. Once again, Gunn plumbs the dark channels of his psyche to tell a story about a man who murders criminals so that one woman can right her ship, beat her addictions, and do something good for the world.


4. Gunn Experimented – Wildly – With Balancing Humor, Horror, and Violence

“I’m tryin’ to get a buzz on, but I can’t. I’m too buff, got too much muscle mass.” With these immortal words, the audience grew to love Slither’s Police Chief Bill Pardy, who is terrible with grenades but great with one-liners. Throughout Slither, Pardy keeps things lighthearted even as hundreds of people die and he’s attacked by animatronic deer. When bodies explode, Pardy is there to do something dumb to mitigate the disgust with a dose of levity. It’s an effective tool that Gunn would use with great success in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies — think lines like “I’m Marry Poppins, y’all” or “I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.”

Balancing comedy with horror is a delicate job; you want to provide a release from the tension, but you don’t want the horror to be watered down with too many jokes. The same goes for PG-13 Marvel properties. Gunn couldn’t afford to alienate the mainstream with over-the-top provocative dialogue, but he was able to infuse some Gunn-isms into a very mainstream movie.

Gunn has two mainstream R-rated screenplays that have earned Rotten Tomatometer scores, namely Super (49%) and The Belko Experiment (54%). Both films lean heavily into mean territory, and their scripts have difficulty finding a balanced tone. The Belko Experiment largely eschewed humor altogether as director Greg McClean (RogueWolf Creek) chose instead to focus on the darker, more violent aspects of Gunn’s script. Super does play up its extreme violence with comedy, but the coarse humor and dialogue feel like an extra weight on the audience’s shoulders as they watch a 100-minute violent meltdown. Even so, Gunn’s experimentation with tonal shifts is evident in both scripts, and his ability to harness his wildest instincts since then have helped make him a unique filmmaker.


5. On Slither, Super, and More, Gunn Perfected Offbeat Group Dynamics and Camaraderie

Looking back, it’s clear how James Gunn’s career trajectory led him to success with edgy comic book adaptations like Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming The Suicide Squad.

Gunn has thrived when adapting or re-imagining properties for the modern age. The two PG-rated Scooby-Doo movies he wrote pulled in $360 million Scooby snacks domestically (adjusted for inflation); his screenplay for Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead in 2004 helped launch Snyder’s career and proved horror remakes don’t have to be Rotten; and while Slither and Super weren’t instant hits upon release, they’ve become cult classics that helped Gunn refine his skills and gave him insight into eclectic superheroes, visual effects, and time-consuming makeup and prosthetic applications.

When it comes to his characters, his past adaptations and scripts share a similar theme, too. The Scooby-Doo films are about a gang of total opposites (and a talking dog) who team up to investigate ghosts and occasionally eat a cotton candy monster alive while it screams in pain. The Specials is about the seventh-best superhero squad on the planet. Dawn of the Dead is about a group of strangers who hide out in a shopping mall during a zombie apocalypse. Slither features a mismatched crew defending the world, and Super is about A-hole “Superheroes” who form an alliance against Kevin Bacon. Heck, even Tromeo and Juliet is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy about two families at war.

James Gunn

(Photo by Jay Maidment/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

In other words, Gunn clearly has a thing for unlikely makeshift families and mismatched strangers thrown together by circumstance — themes that echo strongly in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and that will likely play a big role in The Suicide Squad. Gunn has found a way to combine his style with Marvel’s — and soon, DC’s — mainstream sensibilities, and he’s become one of the most well-respected names in the industry. His experiences on both Slither and Super helped him evolve as a director, and you can see their DNA clearly in the blockbuster fare that planted his name squarely on the lips of comic book geeks and superhero movie fans across the world.


Slither was released on March 31, 2006. Super was released on April 1, 2011.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is fast approaching but did you know that its cast members have previously acted in other movies outside the franchise? And that some of them were good? We take the 10 biggest stars of Marvel’s intergalactic, planetary adventure and give you some Fresh and Certified Fresh movies of theirs that you may have missed. Put these on the mixtape!


Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star-Lord)

Film: Wanted (2008, 71%). This adaptation of the Mark Millar comic stars James McAvoy as an underachieving, over-medicated corporate drone who’s enlisted by the mysterious Angelina Jolie to join a secret fraternity of assassins, hone his hidden superhuman strength, and avenge his father’s murder.

Role: A movie starring Angelina that made $350 million worldwide isn’t your normal “hidden gem,” but amidst the bullet curving and car chases it’s easy to forget Pratt’s role. He plays McAvoy’s delightful douchebag co-worker and memorably takes a keyboard to the face. Pratt essentially played the same dude in the first season of Parks & Recreation before the character was re-written, turning him into a TV fan favorite and eventual legendary space outlaw.

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Zoe Saldana (Gamora)

Film: Infinitely Polar Bear (2015, 82%). Sometimes when Mark Ruffalo gets mad, he turns into the green smashing Hulk. And sometimes he goes to the hospital and has his kids taken away from him, as in this bipolar disorder-addressing drama from Maya Forbes.

Role: Saldana plays Ruffalo’s long-suffering wife, who moves herself and the kids into an apartment as her estranged husband gets help to get it together. Ruffalo puts in another of those highly-tuned sensitive performances, which Saldana matches scene for scene.

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Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon)

Film: The Midnight Meat Train (2008, 73%). The movie biz carves up another Clive Barker adaptation, this time telling the drenched tale of people getting butchered on a subway and the amateur photographer who makes it his quest to expose the truth.

Role: Cooper plays the photographer, who becomes intensely obsessed with figuring out why the murders are taking place, at great risk to his health and relationship with his girlfriend. Studio politics effectively reduced this movie to being dumped directly to video, though it’s grown a small cult due to its unflinching gore and its mega-black ending.

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Michael Rooker (Yondu)

Film: Slither (2006, 87%). Guardians director James Gunn’s feature debut is a nasty little horror-comedy about a small town overcome by an alien parasite that begins its colonization of Earth by possessing a philandering car dealer. Before long, everyone’s pets are missing, the local livestock are turning up mutilated, and neighbor-on-neighbor violence is at an all-time high.

Role: Rooker stars in Slither as Grant Grant, aka patient zero himself, the car dealer who becomes infected by an extraterrestrial slug and, in turn, whose mistress becomes the hive queen. The problem is, Grant still retains some of his human memories, and all of them lead back to his not-so-doting wife (Elizabeth Banks), who’s understandably less than thrilled to come home to a horribly disfigured man slowly transforming into a tentacled monster. It all amounts to a raucous mix of uncomfortable laughs and the ridiculous kind body horror that would make David Cronenberg proud.

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Kurt Russell (Ego)

Film: Bone Tomahawk (2015, 91%). This surprisingly confident debut by writer/director S. Craig Zahler seamlessly introduces elements of horror into a deliberately paced Western about a local sheriff who leads a small party of gunslingers to face off against a tribe of ruthless cannibals after some of his townspeople are abducted.

Role: Russell’s filmography is vast and varied, but this underseen thriller (and Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, both from 2015) arguably makes the best use of his late-period gruffness and magnificent facial hair, and he is terrific as the sheriff who sacrifices everything for his town. The whole thing is a tightly wound slow build to a grisly, violent climax, and there are a few things in there you won’t be able to unsee.

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Benicio Del Toro (The Collector)

Film: Inherent Vice (2015, 73%). After the gold rush of the hippie era, reality and hard living sets in as 1970 rolls on in California. Perpetually stoned private dick Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is hired to solve a beguiling case while avoiding the LAPD and a life of responsibility.

Role: Del Toro plays Doc’s attorney and occasional informant Sauncho. He gives a classically mumbly Benicio performance, but attach that to the film’s outsized characters and byzantine plot and it all weaves into a piquant psychedelic tapestry.

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Nathan Fillion (Simon Williams)

Film: Waitress (2007, 89%). Adrienne Shelly’s smart and heartfelt romantic comedy centers on an unhappily married waitress (Keri Russell) who dreams of opening her own bakery and finds something akin to hope when her unwanted pregnancy leads to an affair with her equally married new physician.

Role: Having done some space swashbuckling of his own (on FOX’s TV series Firefly and its follow-up feature film Serenity), as well as co-starring in another gem on this list (Slither), Nathan Fillion brings his effortless charisma to this decidedly understated charmer as the aforementioned doctor, striking up such a natural chemistry with Keri Russell that, maybe just for a little while, infidelity doesn’t seem like such a bad thing after all.

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Glenn Close (Nova Prime)

Film: Reversal of Fortune (1990, 92%). In the famous murder case of 1990, Claus von Bulow stands on trial, accused of sending his wife into a diabetic coma after pumping her with an overdose of insulin.

Role: Close plays Claus’ wife Sunny and spends the entire movie with her eyes closed and her tongue hanging out of her mouth. Just kidding, reverse that: there’s plenty of Close and Jeremy Irons going at it in a dramatic exploration of this tense marriage.

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Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha)

TV Series: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015, 68%). Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play American and Russian secret agents who begrudgingly join forces during the Cold War-era ’60s to track down a nuclear weapon in this Guy Ritchie adaptation of the classic TV series.

Role: Debicki wears killer dresses and assembles even deadlier bombs as one of the two major villains in this movie, which is celebrated for its action scenes and quirky humor (at least for a movie with this many explosions), though it struggled at the box office.

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Sylvester Stallone (???)

Film: Nighthawks (1981, 70%). Originally conceived as a third French Connection, the film deals with urban terrorism in New York as Rutger Hauer, in his first English role and one year before the legendary Blade Runner, runs New York through the wringer.

Role: Stallone is an NYPD detective named Deke DaSilva, tasked with taking down the sadistic Hauer in a city still at the height of its grime and grit. The film was plagued with production problems and multi-hyphenate Stallone took over directing duties briefly.

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It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to sign up for a sci-fi action thriller in which you’ll pursue something called a Zeo Crystal while wearing a form-fitting green shell — which is exactly what Elizabeth Banks is up to in this weekend’s Power Rangers movie. In honor of Banks’ bravery, we decided to dedicate this week’s feature to a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from her filmography, and you know what that means…it’s time for Total Recall!


10. Lovely, Still (2008) 73%

Elizabeth Banks is no stranger to big-budget filmmaking, but even after breaking through to the A list, she’s continued to seek out parts in smaller-scale productions. Case in point: 2010’s Lovely, Still, in which she plays a woman whose neighbor (Martin Landau) pursues a relationship with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) — thanks in part to some encouragement from his boss (Adam Scott). It’s the type of setup that often leads to overly aggressive tugs at the heartstrings, but critics credited debuting writer-director Nik Fackler with largely resisting cheap sentiment while imparting poignant observations on aging and the human condition. As Prairie Miller wrote for NewsBlaze, “It was Bette Davis who said ‘growing old ain’t for sissies.’ And this film reiterates that notion from which no human being lucky enough to survive that long is exempt, framing old age as perhaps the greatest superhero screen manifestation of all.”

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9. Invincible (2006) 72%

He isn’t a household name, but Vince Papale is a legend among hardcore football fans — particularly in Philadelphia, where he overcame the odds to earn a spot on the Eagles’ roster and became one of the oldest rookies in the history of the NFL — as well as a living embodiment of the team’s scrappy, blue-collar image. That legend was brought to life in 2006’s Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg as Papale, Banks as his eventual wife Janet, and Greg Kinnear as Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. The movie’s fairly boilerplate arc — fully embraced by the Disney execs bankrolling the film — might have prompted a few eyerolls from more cynical critics, but the end result still enjoyed a sweaty leg up on the many inspirational sports dramas in theaters at the time. “There’s a sugar coating to the way Papale’s story unfolds,” admitted the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, “but not so much that you’ll spoil your dinner.”

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8. Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

A romantic comedy with a twist, Definitely, Maybe finds its protagonist looking back on the love affair that led to marriage and a child — by telling the story to his young daughter, with some names changed and facts adjusted, while in the midst of a divorce. Thanks in part to those narrative curveballs, most critics applauded Maybe — and even if it still ultimately traced a rather familiar arc, it was difficult to find too much fault with a resolutely charming production that made smart use of a likable ensemble cast that included Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. “As the movie is about a character’s growing into his own truth rather than discovering some preordained truth, Definitely, Maybe is hard to outguess,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “For once in a romantic comedy, you won’t be able to tell after five minutes who will end up together.”

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7. Seabiscuit (2003) 77%

The horse took top billing, but Banks played a pivotal role in Gary Ross’ Oscar-nominated biopic about the Depression-era thoroughbred racing sensation, appearing as Marcela Zabala, whose wedding to Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges) turns Howard’s life around before he enters the horse-racing world. Part of an ensemble that also included Chris Cooper as expert trainer Tom Smith and Tobey Maguire as scrappy jockey Red Pollard, Banks helped round out the cast responsible for one of the year’s bigger critical and commercial successes, and an inspirational drama that managed to transcend its easily predictable (albeit fact-based) arc. “[It] may be too airbrushed for its own good,” wrote David Ansen for Newsweek, “but in the end nothing can stop this story from putting a lump in your throat.”

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6. Role Models (2008) 77%

Strictly speaking, the world probably didn’t need yet another comedy about grown men acting like children when Role Models came along — yet there’s no denying Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott made the most of this 2008 comedy’s fairly standard story about a couple of knuckleheads sentenced to community service. Along those lines, there’s certainly been no shortage of disapproving girlfriend roles in these movies over the years, and it’s a part that doesn’t necessarily call for someone with Banks’ estimable talent — but her presence brought a little extra depth to the movie, not to mention added dimension to what could have been a shrewish one-note character. “A formulaic movie can be lifted out of its built-in rut by making it look like it invented the formula,” argued Dave White for Movies.com. “Almost everything works here.”

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5. Pitch Perfect (2012) 81%

Loosely inspired by author Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction look at the collegiate a cappella circuit, 2012’s Pitch Perfect raked in more than $115 million — and Banks, who co-produced and played a small part as competition commentator Gail Abernathy-McKadden, took on an even more impactful role for the sequel, making her feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2. Critics weren’t quite as entranced by the second installment, which reunited much of the original cast (including Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson) while adding new arrivals like Hailee Steinfeld, but it made even more money, guaranteeing a Pitch Perfect 3 — and earning the praise of critics like Tony Hicks of the San Jose Mercury News, who wrote, “Pitch Perfect 2 actually is more enjoyable than the original. First-time director Elizabeth Banks manages to move the story forward and wrap it up nicely without killing the concept.”

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4. The Hunger Games (2012) 84%

The blockbuster adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games books arrived at a moment in which a flood of YA novels were being made into movies, but this saga differentiated itself on a number of key fronts — including acting, thanks to a powerfully talented cast that included Jennifer Lawrence in the central role and a supporting ensemble that included Banks (as the outlandishly garbed Effie Trinket), Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, and Stanley Tucci. Acting under garish makeup and a series of distracting wigs, Banks acquitted herself admirably — and saw her character take on an expanded role in the penultimate film, Mockingjay Part 1. “Book’s good. Movie’s better,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr after the second installment, Catching Fire. “Wait, what?”

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3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) 85%

Technically, Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin didn’t feature every comedy star to come out of the woodwork over the next decade — but watching the Steve Carell-led hit now, it can definitely feel that way. Banks shows up here in a supporting role as Beth, the bookstore employee whose flirty banter with Carell’s sexually inexperienced protagonist leads to some unexpectedly raunchy shenanigans — and making her mark in the midst of an expertly assembled ensemble that also included Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, and Kevin Hart. “If you’re looking for a successor to There’s Something About Mary and American Pie, look no further. It has arrived,” decreed James Berardinelli for ReelViews. “And, if I may be so bold, this is more enjoyable than either of them.”

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2. Slither (2006) 87%

There’s nothing like a good creature feature — at least partly because solidly entertaining entries in the genre can seem like they’re so few and far between. Years before his work on Guardians of the Galaxy gave him name recognition with mainstream audiences, writer-director James Gunn wowed genre fans with Slither, a smartly written thriller about a car salesman (Michael Rooker) who becomes infected with a sluglike alien and passes it along to his mistress (Brenda James) before beginning his final transformation — and setting his sights on his wife (Banks), who’s turned to the local sheriff (Nathan Fillion) for help. If this sort of thing is your bag, you’ll find Slither hard to resist — and even if it isn’t, you may be compelled to agree with the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum, who wrote, “Gross-out horror comedy is my least favorite genre, but this movie’s so skillful I have to take my hat off to it.”

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1. Love & Mercy (2014) 89%

The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy tells the story of the mercurial Beach Boys co-founder’s often tortured journey, but it’s also a love story — one poised on the fulcrum of Wilson’s relationship with Melinda Ledbetter, who entered his life in 1986 and was part of the lengthy process of getting Wilson away from controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. And although director Bill Pohlad’s film earned a lot of attention for the way it divided Wilson’s life into two discrete arcs — one in which he’s played by Paul Dano, and another starring John Cusack — Banks shouldered a lot of responsibility with her performance as Ledbetter; for the movie to work as more than a standard redemption story, the people on screen needed to feel more like their real-life counterparts than characters. “Love & Mercy might not go as deep, or as dark, as it could,” admitted the AP’s Lindsey Bahr, “but it’s a commanding and artful film, that’s full of excellent and worthy performances whether you’re a student of Brian Wilson or just a curious tourist.”

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Bryan Singer’s "Superman Returns" cleaned house at the Saturn Awards over the weekend. (Hey, don’t laugh. The Saturn Awards have been around for over 30 years and they pay some fine attention to the genre films we all love so much.)

Check out these winners and then tell me the Saturn folks don’t have pretty good taste:

Best Science Fiction Film: "Children of Men"
Best Fantasy Film: "Superman Returns"
Best Horror Film: "The Descent"
Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film: "Casino Royale"
Best Animated Film: "Cars"
Best International Film: "Pan’s Labyrinth"
Best Actor: Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns")
Best Actress: Natalie Portman ("V for Vendetta")
Best Supporting Actor: Ben Affleck ("Hollywoodland")
Best Supporting Actress: Famke Janssen ("X-Men: The Last Stand")
Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Ivana Baquero ("Pan’s Labyrinth")
Best Director: Bryan Singer ("Superman Returns")
Best Writing: Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris ("Superman Returns")
Best Music: John Ottman ("Superman Returns")
Best Costume: Yee Chung-Man ("Curse of the Golden Flower")
Best Makeup: Todd Masters and Dan Rebert ("Slither")
Best Special Effects: John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest")

Best DVD Release: "The Sci-Fi Boys"
Best DVD Special Edition Release: "Superman II"
Best DVD Classic Film Release: "Gojira"
Best DVD Collection: James Bond Ultimate Edition
Best DVD Television Series: "Masters of Horror"
Best Retro Television Series on DVD: "Adventures of Superman"

They also gave out some TV awards, which you can check out at Sci-Fi.com. (There’s also a full list of nominees so you can see which flicks got beat up by Superman.) I think they might be just a bit too much drooling over "Superman Returns," but hey, I’m not on the voting committee.

Two promising new comedies target different age groups and look to close off a red hot March box office with strong opening weekend sales.

Paramount offers the Will Ferrell pic "Blades of Glory" while Disney goes after the kids with the animated flick "Meet the Robinsons." Together, the pictures should help the marketplace surge and allow the top ten to cross the $100M mark for the fifth consecutive frame. The box office has not seen this kind of streak since last summer. Smaller films entering the multiplexes include the action pic "The Lookout" from Miramax and Universal’s uplifting drama "Peaceful Warrior."

Comedy king Will Ferrell skates into theaters everywhere looking for another gold medal with his newest laugher "Blades of Glory." The PG-13 film finds the funnyman and Jon Heder playing rival figure skaters who must team up as a pair in order to compete again. Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Jenna Fischer, and Craig T. Nelson co-star. "Blades" boasts the two main ingredients to a successful comedy hit – a bankable star and a unique concept. Add in the very funny commercials and trailers and Paramount is well-positioned to score its second number one hit of the year joining fellow star-driven comedy "Norbit." Both pics were produced by DreamWorks.

Ferrell left the competition in the dust last summer with "Talladega Nights" which bowed to a robust $47M on its way to a $148M final. "Blades" doesn’t have as big of a marketing push or the prime summer play period so its opening will not soar as high. But the former "Saturday Night Live" star will again prove that he is a reliable draw. The industry had some doubts in 2005 when both "Bewitched" and "Kicking and Screaming" failed to reach $65M. Ferrell’s 2004 hit "Anchorman" debuted to $28.4M and "Blades" should play out like that one, only bigger. Teens and young adults will be the driving force plus there is plenty of cross-gender appeal. Though the marketplace is crowded with many options, there aren’t too many direct threats. "Wild Hogs," the only major comedy, is getting old as is "300" which most high school and college students have already seen. Spinning into over 3,000 theaters, "Blades of Glory" should finish in first place and win about $37M over the weekend.


Ferrell and Heder in "Blades of Glory."

Disney uses its patented moves to go after the family audience with its latest animated offering "Meet the Robinsons." With most digital toons these days being of the PG variety, "Robinsons" carries a G rating which it hopes will help convince parents to buy tickets for even the youngest of their children. The story follows an orphan boy who befriends a kind family and features the voices of Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck, and Adam West. In the cartoon world, films sell best when they are comedies and feature popular comedians in central roles. "Robinsons" at least has the first factor working for it.

The marketing has been strong and trailers have been funny. But unlike the studio’s last film for kids, "Bridge to Terabithia," this time competition will be a force. "TMNT" and "The Last Mimzy" will only be in their second weekends and are set to steal away about $20M worth of business from the same target audience. Luckily, the weekend’s two other new films will attract different segments of the moviegoing crowd. "Meet the Robinsons" does not have the firepower to reach the heights of Pixar pics. Rather, it may bring out the same size audience as last fall’s "Open Season" which bowed to $23.2M from an ultrawide 3,833 locations. "Meet the Robinsons" bows in roughly 3,200 sites but could exploit its studio’s brand name to deliver a similar gross of about $23M.


Let’s "Meet the Robinsons."

Years after leaving the sitcom world of NBC’s "3rd Rock From the Sun," Joseph Gordon-Levitt anchors the heist thriller "The Lookout." The R-rated Miramax release comes from writer-turned-rookie-director Scott Frank and co-stars Jeff Daniels. Starpower is seriously lacking here and that will hurt its box office prospects. Reviews have been good, but the target audience of young adults have "Blades of Glory," "300," and "Shooter" to choose from and all of them offer more for the money. With only so much marketing and distribution strength behind it, the film will have a tough time just getting an invite to the top ten. "The Lookout" debuts in about 1,000 theaters on Friday and could collect about $4M over three days.


Jeff Daniels and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "The Lookout."

In an unorthodox approach, Universal will be releasing the inspirational drama "Peaceful Warrior" in 615 theaters this weekend but most moviegoers will actually be getting free tickets through a promotion with Best Buy. The PG-13 film starring Nick Nolte was given a limited release last summer and grossed more than $1M from just over 40 theaters. Universal will report box office grosses that include regular paid sales plus full ticket prices for each free admission. With $15M worth of free tickets allocated for opening weekend, it will be unlikely that the paid portion will make up a sizable amount. Film fans who visit the promotional web site can get up to ten complimentary tickets each. However, the studio should get some extra buzz that it could benefit from when the DVD is released a few months down the road.


Nick Nolte and Scott Mechlowicz in "Peaceful Warrior."

The Ninja Turtles ruled the box office last weekend in "TMNT," but will face a formidable foe in Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" which will play to the same audience. A 40% drop would give the animated actioner $14M for the frame and $43M after ten days. Warner Bros has also been raking in the dough with its stylish war epic 300 which has been holding up surprisingly well. Another 40% fall will put the R-rated battle pic at $12M boosting the cume to $180M after 24 days. Mark Wahlberg‘s "Shooter" could decline by 45% to $8M giving Paramount a ten-day total of $27M.

LAST YEAR: Smashing the March opening weekend record set four years earlier by its predecessor, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" shot straight to number one with a colossal $68M debut. The Fox juggernaut went on to gross $195.3M domestically and a towering $657M worldwide giving the "Ice Age" duo over $1 billion in global grosses. Dropping to second was "Inside Man" with $15.4M. Warner Bros. launched its urban drama "ATL" in third with $11.6M on its way to $21.2M. Rounding out the top five were "Failure to Launch" with $6.5M and "V for Vendetta" with $6.3M. The horror flick "Slither" creeped into eighth place with a $3.9M opening leading to a $7.8M final. Sony claimed the year’s most notorious flop with "Basic Instinct 2" which bowed to $3.2M on its way to a pathetic $5.9M before sweeping the Razzie Awards.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies brings us the profound discoveries of a great Kazak journalist ("Borat," starring Sacha Baron Cohen), a battle between Santa and Jack Frost ("The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," starring Tim Allen), and a tale of rats in the sewer ("Flushed Away," featuring the voice work of Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman). What do the critics have to say?

Jagshemash! Here in U.S and A., what do critic say about "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan?" They like! In fact, the scribes are almost universally pleased with the film, and some are going as far as calling it one of the funniest comedies ever. Part satire, part shockumentary, "Borat" follows the gleefully sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic title character (Cohen) on a cross-country trek to learn more about our strange nation; along the way he dredges up the seamy underbelly of American prejudice and ignorance. At 95 percent on the Tomatometer, "Borat" is not only Certified Fresh, it’s the best reviewed wide release of the year, topping such acclaimed movies as "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party," "The Departed," and "United 93." That’s a good thing, since Borat himself has said if the movie doesn’t do well, he will be execute.


Borat loves the U.S. and A.

It doesn’t sound like the most auspicious subject for a film: mice and rats are flushed down a toilet, where they find a bustling municipality in the sewer. However, in the hands of Aardman Productions, the endlessly imaginative company responsible for "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit," anything is possible. And so it is with "Flushed Away," which tells the upstairs-downstairs tale of a coddled mouse who finds action and adventure after a trip through the plumbing. Critics say that while "Flushed Away" may not achieve the dizzying heights of "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (which scored 95 percent on the Tomatometer), it’s an eccentric, inventive family film with plenty of laughs. At 76 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flushed Away" is critically sanitized for your viewing pleasure.


Dive in! It’s fresh!

"The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," was barely screened for critics, much like star Tim Allen‘s last flick, "Zoom." The big difference is that "Clause" at least has a couple good reviews, whereas "Zoom" had none. The story of Santa’s duel with Jack Frost for control over Christmas, "Clause" hasn’t exactly enchanted the critics who have seen it; they say the movie is labored and mostly mirthless. It’s currently at 29 percent on the Tomatometer.


Yes, Virginia, there is a "Santa Clause 3."

Also opening this week in limited release: "Commune," a documentary about the Black Bear Ranch in California, is at 100 percent; "Romantico," a heartbreaking documentary about a musician working illegally in the U.S., is at 100 percent; Pedro Almodovar‘s "Volver," starring Penelope Cruz in a complex tale of womanhood, is Certified Fresh at 90 percent; "Wondrous Oblivion," the story of a boy and his neighbor who bond over the game of cricket, is at 60 percent; "Death & Texas," a death penalty satire, is at 60 percent; the twisty thriller "Unknown," starring Greg Kinnear, is at 29 percent; "Shottas," a based-on-true-events Jamaican crime flick, is at 20 percent; and "Zerophilia," a gender-bending rom-com, is at 18 percent.


Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz take a spectral walk down memory lane with "Volver." Check out our retrospective of the Spanish director’s work here.

Finally, we’d like to bestow props upon the whimsically monikered killthemall4444, who correctly predicted that the equally whimsical "Saw III" would wind up with a Tomatometer of 28 percent. Congrats, ktm4444.

Best Reviewed Wide Releases of 2006:
————————————————
95% — Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
93% — Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
93% — The Departed
90% — United 93
88% — Inside Man
84%– Akeelah and the Bee
83% — Slither
83% — The Descent
80% — A Prairie Home Companion
79% — Catch a Fire

Recent Tim Allen Movies:
——————————–
0% — Zoom (2006)
28% — The Shaggy Dog (2006)
4% — Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
55% — The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
22% — Who Is Cletis Tout? (2002)

Recent Sacha Baron Cohen Movies:
———————————————
72% — Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
55% — Ali G Indahouse: The Movie (2002)

Only a day to go in our countdown of the Top 20 Halloween movies on RT — do you know which scary movies broke the top 10 of our best-reviewed horror/suspense flicks?

Author: Christina Troup

We searched the site for the top 20 horror/suspense movies to reveal the numero uno cinematic scare just in time for a frightful Halloween film fest.**

Remember, check in every day ’til October 31 as we serve up the best reviewed frightening flicks for your Halloween viewing pleasure!

Oh, and be afraid. Be very afraid.


Top Horror/Suspense Films by Tomatometer, #10-6


10) Slither (2006) 83%

Ever wonder what would happen if a Troma film was allotted more dough to improve upon special effects and a lackluster script? Well, thanks to "Slither," a deliciously disgusting schlock fest, there’s no need to think about it any further. Director James Gunn of "Tromeo and Juliet" fame shows just what can happen with the help of some mainstream moo-lah. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. "Slither" isn’t some refined horror masterpiece: It retains low-budget camp and plenty of supreme gross out moments to satisfy even the most lowbrow of tastes.

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion
Directed by: James Gunn

9) The Shadow of the Vampire (2000) 83%

A real life vampire, or just an odd duck? That’s the question in "Shadow of Vampire," which asks whether or not German director F. W. Murnau hired a real life creature of the night to play the role of Graf Orlok in "Nosferatu." It’s an inviting premise, and the film takes the vampire flick to a whole new level with moments of genuine macabre humor. Of course, it helps that there’s plenty of bite from both Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich in this highly original and smart take on the genre.

Starring: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe
Directed by: E. Elias Merhige

8) The Sixth Sense (1999) 83%

The one-two punch at the end of "The Sixth Sense" ensures that M. Night Shyamalan’s tale of a boy who can see dead people will be remembered as a classic. The scares induce shivers, but not without good reason. The quiet intensity and chilling mood of "The Sixth Sense" is what makes it such a memorable ghost story even after multiple viewings.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

7) The Blair Witch Project (1999) 84%

There’s something to be said about a monster that never manifests on screen. It leaves an audience to their own devices and what the mind is capable of conjuring is often far more frightening than what any special effects team can create. "The Blair Witch Project" is a perfect illustration that less is indeed more. The ambiguously abrupt ending, the lack of explanation, and the confusion between fact and fiction result in a barrage of questions that do a number on the psyche.

Starring: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams
Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

6) The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen (2000) 88%

The upside-down spider crawl may last a mere five seconds, but it’s perhaps the creepiest of segments added to the revamped version of the demonic classic "The Exorcist." Director William Friedkin initially omitted the scene because it was "too much" and, well, don’t be surprised if the disturbingly memorable spider walk induces night terrors. With or without the addition of unreleased footage, "The Exorcist" stands the test of time as one of the scariest movies ever. And, lest we forget, it forever changed the way folks looked at a cup of creamy pea soup.

Starring: Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn
Directed by: William Friedkin

Tune in on Tuesday — Halloween! — for the last installment of our four-day countdown to Halloween’s #1 rated horror flick!

Click here for Part One of the Countdown (#20-16)
Click here for Part Two of the Countdown (#15-11)

**These are our top-Tomatometer picks with at least 40 reviews counted, which is why some of the classics of spooky cinema aren’t included.""

This week at the movies, we’ve got cops and robbers in Boston ("The Departed," starring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon), chainsaw massacres in Texas ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," starring Jordana Brewster), and retail employees in New Mexico ("Employee of the Month," starring Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook). What do the critics have to say?

Is Martin Scorsese America’s greatest living filmmaker? He’s certainly bolstering his case with "The Departed." The film, which is a loose remake of the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs," tells the story of two moles, one of whom (DiCaprio) a cop undercover within a Boston crime family led by Jack Nicholson, and the other (Damon) a hood who has infiltrated the police department. Critics say Scorsese has created a crime drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that infused such past triumphs as "GoodFellas," with outstanding work from an excellent cast. At 96 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Departed" may signify a new arrival for the master director; Scorsese’s best reviewed wide release since "GoodFellas." And it’s not only Certified Fresh, but it’s also the best reviewed wide release of the year.


"Wait a minute… you’re telling me I ripped that ‘how do you like them apples’ line off from you?"

The lives of wage slaves are often grist for the cinema’s mill, whether comic ("Clerks"), dramatic ("One Hour Photo") or both ("The Good Girl"). Now comes "Employee of the Month," starring Cook as a slacker at a Costco-like box store who whips himself into shape when attractive new hire (Simpson) comes on board. Critics say the movie has a few good laughs, but Cook and Simpson lack chemistry, and the film doesn’t do much beyond showing employee antics. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, audiences may want to hire a different "Employee."


"And these are called ‘numbers.’ I know, it’s confusing."

For horror fans who are interested in the origin of Leatherface, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" provides some back story on the Lone Star State’s scariest resident. It also provides oodles of gore, and a style reminiscent of the original. Unfortunately, the critics say it doesn’t provide enough scares to make the experience worthwhile. The plot involves a group of young adults headed to Mexico for a good time before two brothers go to fight in Vietnam; naturally, Leatherface curtails their enjoyment in a hurry. The scribes say the film is a little too rote, and at 14 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Chainsaw" doesn’t cut very deep. (Read RT’s interview with director Jonathan Liebesman here.)


"The unsuspecting teenagers wail/ along the trail/ deep in the heart of Texas"

Also opening this week in limited release: "Blood Tea and Red String," a handmade stop-motion fairy tale 13 years in the making, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; "So Goes the Nation," a documentary about the 2004 election season in Ohio, is at 100 percent; "49 Up," the latest in Michael Apted‘s remarkable documentary series about growing and changing in England, is at 94 percent; "Black Gold," a documentary about the global effects of the coffee trade, is at 88 percent; "Little Children," a tale of suburban angst starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly, is at 79 percent; "Shortbus," John Cameron Mitchell‘s warmhearted exploration of unconventional sexuality, is at 68 percent; and "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner," a documentary about the eponymous Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning scribe, is at 55 percent. And "The Queen," which is expanding this week, is at 98 percent, making it the third best reviewed limited release of the year.


"Blood Tea and Red String":"The King of Cartoons!"

Recent Martin Scorsese Movies:
—————————————
92% — No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)
89% — The Aviator (2004)
77% — Gangs of New York (2002)
100% — My Voyage to Italy (2001)
72% — Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Texas Chainsaw Massacres:
———————————-
86% — The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
50% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
23% — Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1989)
16% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
37% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Best Reviewed Wide Releases Of 2006
————————————-
(Releases with at least 40 reviews)
96% — The Departed
93% — Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
93% — Little Miss Sunshine
90% — United 93
88% — Inside Man
84% — Akeelah and the Bee
83% — Slither
83% — The Descent
80% — A Prairie Home Companion
78% — The Devil Wears Prada

Best Reviewed Limited Releases Of 2006
—————————————
(Releases with at least 40 reviews)
98% — Kekexeli: Mountain Patrol
98% — The War Tapes
98% — The Queen
96% — Army of Shadows
95% — Wordplay
93% — Fateless
93% — Little Miss Sunshine
92% — The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
92% — An Inconvenient Truth
92% — Lassie

In this week’s Ketchup, The "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was eulogized by RT users, and the Bruce Willis-as-Hannibal-in-the-"A-Team" rumors swirled as well.

Also, the title of the next "Pirates" movie has been confirmed, pictures from the next "Harry Potter" movie have been making the rounds, and to the delight of moviegoers everywhere, Uwe Boll may have found a new hobby to distract him from making movies (if only German tax loopholes could be found for taking on movie critics in the boxing ring). Read on for more!

This Week’s Most Popular News:

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin Dead at 44

Activist, conservationist and animal-lover Steve Irwin was killed over the weekend when he was stung in the chest by a stingray. The 44-year-old leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Bruce Willis in "The A-Team"?

TV producer Stephen J. Cannell has been trying to get an "A-Team" movie off the ground for a little while now, and here comes word that he wants Bruce Willis to play the leader of the team…

"Pirates 3" Title Confirmed

There was some speculation that Disney might go in another direction, but it looks like "Pirates 3" will definitely arrive with its screenwriters’ choice of titles: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End." (No apostrophe.)

More Pics from the Set of "Harry Potter 5"

I know how much you guys love that Harry Potter kid, which is why we keep sharing all these on-set photos with you … even when the snapshots aren’t all that fascinating! Click on through for the next batch of pictures from the production of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

Uwe Boll Creams Critic in Match; "BloodRayne" Still At 5%

Notorious German director Uwe Boll has taken on his first critic in the boxing ring, as promised – and you can view the video online!

Loves it when a plan comes together?


In Other News:

  • Brendan Fraser is signed to reprise role in the third installment of "The Mummy," set to begin shooting early next year. There is no confirmation, however, that co-stars Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo, and Oded Fehr have also signed on.
  • Dennis Quaid, Rachel Weisz, and Thomas Haden Church will star in "Smart People," about a professor (Quaid) who turns into a recluse after his wife’s death, until he falls for a former student.
  • Strike Entertainment, the production company behind "Slither" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, is combing Hollywood for a writer (or writers) to tackle a theatrical prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter sci-fi classic "The Thing."
  • Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman will star in "The Bucket List," to be directed by Rob Reiner. They will play two cancer patients who escape a cancer ward in order to make one last road trip before they die.
  • National Geographic Films, which distributed last year’s documentary "March of the Penguins," has reached an agreement to distribute "God Grew Tired of Us," the documentary about Sudanese refugees which won this year’s Sundance Festival grand jury prize. It is expected to reach North American theaters in early 2007.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures and Bryan Singer are set to produce "Trick or Treat", a new horror film from "X2" and "Superman Returns" co-writer Michael Dougherty. Dougherty will direct the film which has been described as "’Pulp Fiction’ on Halloween night."
  • Meg Ryan has replaced Annette Bening in the mystery-thriller "Homeland Security." George Gallo is serving as writer-director and Antonio Banderas will co-star.
  • David Strathairn will star in "Hereafter," about a clothing designer who is separated from his family after the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. Filming will begin on location next year.
  • MGM Studios announced it’s developing a raft of direct to video and TV sequels. Amongst the titles are "Legally Blonde 3", "The Cutting Edge 3", "Into the Blue 2", "War Games 2" and "Species 4." (How could I have missed "Species 3?")

To be followed by another straight-to-vid classic!

Our "White Noise 2" set coverage wraps up with not one, but many delights: a sit down with Nathan Fillion, plus the first ever photos from the spooky set to grace the internet!

If you know Sci-Fi, you know Nathan Fillion. The erstwhile space cowboy Malcolm Reynolds, Fillion rose to idol status in the realm of Sci-Fi/Fantasy geekdom last year with the triumphant big screen bow of the "Firefly" crew in "Serenity," and recently grossed out gleeful gore-hounds in the critically acclaimed "Slither." Now Fillion stars in "White Noise 2: The Light," which is sure to make audiences think twice about dismissing the EVP/supernatural sequel. RT’s Senh Duong and Phu Bui-Quang sat down with the dashing jokester between scenes on the Vancouver set of "White Noise 2" to learn more about his character, his upcoming rom-com, and what he expects from his fans.

Rotten Tomatoes: The first "White Noise" dealt with Electronic Voice Phenomenon. In "White Noise 2: The Light," you kind of become the medium.

Nathan Fillion: In the first one, Michael Keaton was listening to TV’s and radios to hear messages from his deceased wife. In this one, I have become a de-tuned receiver…I’ll just be walking down a street and I’ll see something happening that grants me the ability to see in a crowd of people and tell which one is gonna die. And the movie becomes about if you had this ability, what would you do? What could you do?

RT: Can you give us any background about your character in the movie?

NF: He’s a normal, everyday, average guy. I’ve played some characters in the past that have experienced loss; Malcolm Reynolds took loss not very well, but it kind of turned him hard, into a rock. [In "White Noise 2"] Abe — Abraham Dale is his name — doesn’t take his loss as well. He’s on this path of destruction. It destroys him and pulls him apart in a way; he’s far more fragile. And then confronted with this ability, what would you do if someone was gonna die?

He’s an ordinary guy with extraordinary circumstances. This is what I think all movies are about, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.


Nathan Fillion and Katee Sackhoff evade the supernatural in "White Noise 2: The Light"

RT: So he’s faced with his ability to use his power for good?

NF: Or awesome. Good or awesome, those are his choices.

RT: How is it working with Katee [Sackhoff] in the film?

NF: She’s awesome. I think there are people who are cut out to play certain roles and Katee’s character, this kind of bubbly, gleeful, certainly not shy nurse, she’s just all out there for you. Her interest is in enjoying life. Katee fits the bill. Perfect. Typecast her right there. She’s exactly like that, she’s not even working that hard.

RT: Since both of you come from sci-fi backgrounds — you were in "Firefly," and she plays Starbuck on "Battlestar Galactica," — do you guys ever compare notes, like who would win between your characters?

NF: We trade trading cards. I’ll give you a Jane for two Number 6’s.
That kind of stuff.



Katee Sackhoff and RT’s Phu Bui-Quang, on the "White Noise 2" set


RT: You’ve worked on a soap opera, as well as a sci-fi series, and a horror film ("Slither," and now "White Noise 2")…one of our readers pointed out that it looks like you’re tending toward genres with specific target audiences in mind, as opposed to more mainstream roles, such as a romantic comedy.

NF: I can completely see how it would look that way, but the fact is I don’t sit down with five scripts in front of me and say, "you know what, I’m gonna do this one because of the audience it’s reaching or I’m gonna do this one because of the genre." I go out for jobs, or jobs come my way, and I want to be a working actor; I want to do jobs that excite me and challenge me, and I want to something fun.

The process is I’ll try out for 30 jobs, maybe five of them will call me back to try out again, maybe one of them will hit, maybe, maybe not. Then you’ve gotta wait for the next 30, you know what I mean. It’s a game of numbers, and I’m just plucking along. What I get is what I get.

"Firefly" was a lucky get, I’m really glad that that happened. "Serenity" happened because of "Firefly." It wasn’t a choice I made; I was just able to have the opportunity. I did "Slither," I was very, very excited about that (horror genre). It was new, fun and exciting. It was funny. "White Noise 2" was a little bit different; it came along because of "Slither." It’s not the choices that I’m making — it’s just the opportunities that are opening up for me.

I’m hoping I get more different opportunities. And I actually do have a romantic comedy coming up call "Waitress." So tell you reader to put that in his pipe and smoke it.


The beautiful Katee Sackhoff delights RT’s Senh Duong with a photo op

RT: In a lot of your previous projects you had a comedic role ("Firefly," for instance). "White Noise 2" seems like more of a serious role. How does that change your approach to the character?

NF: You know, my job changes very little because I’ve found that the more you try to be funny, the less funny you become. When I watch TV I can tell when someone is punching the joke and telling me when to laugh (I’ll decide when to laugh, thank you very much), or I can tell when someone is just being in a situation or being under some circumstances that make me laugh, like I’m glad that that’s not me. I think that the secret to comedy is not playing the comedy, but actually playing the situation, playing the drama of it.

So playing the drama of a drama is no stretch. What I did love is that they actually put in something very funny in "White Noise 2." I can’t even tell you what it is.

I can tell you that they put in a little nod to "Firefly." That was really nice to do, but it might get cut out. They didn’t film any options, so almost the whole scene is out, which I don’t think it will be. There’s a little nod in there to "Firefly," which I’m really happy about, it really honors me.

There’s that stuff coming up. That’s my niche. Six foot tall and funny, can make you laugh. My manager always likes to say that, "you can do the drama and you can do the comedy." I’ve found my niche.


RT’s Phu Bui-Quang and Senh Duong make a Nathan Fillion sandwich

RT: So do you think a lot of fans of "Serenity" and "Slither" will like you in this role?

NF: I’m counting on it. I am counting on every "Serenity" fan, and every "Firefly" fan, and every "Buffy" fan, and every "Slither" fan, I am counting on them to see this movie. If this movie fails it is their fault. I’m glad you let me get that clear. I finally had a voice.

RT: We’ve been reading through the forums and a lot of people weren’t too fond of the first "White Noise," but they saw that you were in the cast of "White Noise 2" and have decided to watch it because of you.

NF: This movie is not about the first movie. They’ve taken it a step further. It’s gone beyond; they’re not recycling a story or an idea, they’re taking it somewhere else. But it shares a theme, certainly, what with ‘white noise’ in the title.

RT: Did you watch the first "White Noise?"

NF: Yes, I did. I watched the first "White Noise" actually while I was shooting "Slither." And in the hotel I was staying in I was lying in bed watching it, and every time I moved I would catch my reflection moving in the mirrored doors that looked like glass — it looked like a French door but it was a mirror, so I would see something moving and it would just give me such a start. Those conventions that work to build our tension and to release it, to scare you in movies, that stuff works on me.

"Jaws" changed my life. I will not go near the ocean, I have to be between the shore, me, whoever else is swimming with me has to be on the outside. I’m always on the inside. My diving instructor said, "Nathan, if you ever are with somebody and you see a shark, all you do is you take your dive knife out, and you stab your dive buddy."

I’ve always kept that with me.

RT’s "White Noise 2" set coverage, Part Three: producer Shawn Williamson, whose 50+ credits include "Slither," "White Noise," and many of Uwe Boll‘s thrillers, talks about the popularity of the horror remake, movie-hoppers, and "Dungeon Siege."

Shawn Williamson says was looking for the next hot Canuck horror director when Patrick Lussier came on board to "White Noise 2," and strangely, the term "Canadian horror" indeed seems to be increasingly relevant as more and more fright fests come from our friends to the north. Read on to hear what the Vancouver native thinks of the remake subgenre, shooting for a PG-13 audience, and working with Uwe Boll.

Rotten Tomatoes: How did you guys get Nathan Fillion and Katee Sackhoff involved in the project?

Shawn Williamson: Nathan we knew because we were all fans of "Serenity," but we also worked with him on "Slither," and found him to be an incredible actor, so it just seemed a natural fit for him in this role. Katee has a good following in "Battlestar" and we’ve loved her in the series. Her role is a quirky, cool, hip nurse and she seemed just perfect for it, so we were lucky to get both.

RT: Was there a conscious decision to get two actors from big sci-fi series with large followings?

SW: That was a bonus. The first priority was to get good actors. Secondarily, the fact that they both happen to work in the genre that our audience hopefully will respond to, that’s a big benefit.

RT: "Slither" was extremely well reviewed. What kind of reception are you expecting for "White Noise 2?"

SW: We hope we get reviewed in a similar manner to "Slither." We have a great script, a great cast, and a great director, but now we have to create something that the audience and the critics like, and frankly primarily what the audience likes. We need something that captures the audience and intrigues them, and does two things: makes something that a distributor can market well, but secondly that pleases the audience and makes them want to return or tell their friends to come see it.

It’s not a set formula; it’s a magical thing that happens. It’s an unquantifiable element that hopefully comes together in post, which combines the music with what we do in editing, with what Patrick does to it later. Hopefully that combination is successful commercially and critically.

RT: There has been a recent trend in horror films to show a lot of blood and gore, yet with "White Noise 2" you seem to be staying away from that and going a more realistic route.

SW: Personally, I find those films difficult to handle. The psychological horror we have here is done for a combination of reasons. That graphic element isn’t necessarily in this kind of film, and so there are some graphic moments. There’s a very brutal opening to the film, and some amazing prosthetics that are going to be shocking and graphic. But we aren’t relying on blood and guts to draw an audience; we’re relying on old-fashioned traditional "scare" moments. So we’re putting our energy primarily into scaring the audience when they’re not expecting it, and we’re going to do it without massive amounts of gore.

You can get a hard R-rating and limit your audience to a degree. When I went to the opening weekend of "White Noise," half of the audience was filled with teenage girls who went out looking to get scared, and if you make this an R-rated film, you can’t capture that audience.

They’ll probably go see the film, but they’ll buy a ticket for another film and sneak in to this one, so that doesn’t help our box-office, and that’s a lot of who our market is.

RT: So you guys are definitely shooting for a PG-13?

SW: We’re shooting multiple takes of different scenes, so we have an ability to test it different ways, but more than likely we’ll end up without an R-rating.

RT: A lot of horror remakes have been successful. What do you think of the current state of horror films?

SW: I think the remakes now are spectacular. "The Hills Have Eyes" and these films are recapturing why a lot of us grew up petrified of those sorts of films. They were made on a very tiny budget, but were classic horror. And now they’re being remade with a larger budget and perhaps a bit slicker. "Texas Chainsaw" is a perfect example, or "Dawn of the Dead" — great remakes of original classics, but they put a new spin on them that works well. I think it’s an opportunity to recognize a new class of horror fans that are kids that weren’t around when these films originally opened, but the concepts of the original films were so strong that it translates to a good film now.

RT: How do you think the Japanese horror films influence the horror films in the U.S.?

SW: Japanese and Korean films, they have such great visuals. And they’ve got a totally different style in how they shoot films. "Ringu" and the remake, "The Ring," are very different in some ways but very similar in style to a degree, but they also break tradition. They don’t follow standard mechanisms that we might use to create a horror film.

There are no rules in a lot of them. They create their own rules. The preconceptions of horror changed a lot with the Asian films coming in and really gained an audience in North America.

RT: How did you guys come across Patrick [Lussier] to direct?

SW: It was a combination of Universal and us looking for the next hot Canadian feature director in this genre. Patrick we’d probably want in any genre, but because this is a horror piece it’s something that we think with his background…as we did our searches for the right person to direct Canadian horror, he was the guy.

RT: Is it hard to adapt video games to films?

SW: It depends on the package. I think some films are done very well, and others are a challenge. The ones that are done haven’t met with huge critical success, but they have all met with financial success. I think "Silent Hill" is going to be a marvelous adaptation, because it’s a video game that lends itself well to adapt.

"House of the Dead" was a challenging one, because it’s a first-person shooting game, similar to "Doom." It didn’t get great reviews but it’s a good, solid first-person shooting game with a cast, a good video game adaptation that worked.

The problem with a lot of video games is that they are video games first, purely interactive for the gamer. Taking that process and adapting it to the screen is a very difficult transition.

"Mortal Kombat" I don’t think met with great critical success, but I think it was the first large one. Most haven’t met with huge critical success.

And the gaming community is incredibly critical, and they should be, because they’re coming from games that they love and are passionate about. Translating that from their passion and their vision of the game to what you can actually create on film is a very difficult process.
Sometimes it can end very well, and sometimes not as well.

RT: Given that you’ve done these video game adaptations, do you play video games yourself?

SW: Yes. It’s so busy that I don’t get to play as often as I can. I have a nine-year-old, so I play with him quite a bit. When I need to zone out, I’ll sit and lose myself in Halo like anyone might.

The video game adaptations that I’ve worked on typically are not horror films at all. They’re pretty much all action films, and they were never contrived as horror. Creating horror is very specific. It’s like comedy. They’re two of the hardest things to do.

It’s very much about shock composition and timing, and music combined. It’s very difficult to make a good horror film, a good classic horror. So the adaptations in the video game world that I’ve done were not horror at all, but pretty much straight action, and all Uwe Boll creations.

RT: How did you come to work with Uwe Boll?

SW: I met Uwe years ago when he was making smaller budget thrillers, and Uwe runs his own German financing fund. He is the only director I’ve ever worked with who finds the product he wants to adapt and pays for it from beginning to end. He self-finances his own movies. So Uwe is the ultimate creative decision maker on all of these films, and our job is to try to make the best film we can given all those parameters.

RT: Speaking of Uwe Boll, can you tell us about his latest movie that you’re producing, "Dungeon Siege?"

SW: There were two elements that were great. We had a great cast: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Leelee Sobieski, Claire Forlani, and Burt Reynolds. It was an amazing cast we managed to put together, combined with Tony Ching doing our action — Tony did "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," so the action in the film is absolutely amazing.

It’s a "Lord of the Rings" genre in essence, a medieval style mythical genre, but with some spectacular action. Tony brought a stunt team with him from China, and they coordinated an amazing action unit that shot here for three or four months, so the action in the battles is quite spectacular. Jason Statham is a natural acrobat and martial artist, so he wanted to do all of his own stunts and all of his own fighting and it works very, very well in the film. The action in that film is just marvelous.

Silly Scrat and his "Ice Age" buddies have returned to the multiplexes … and the result was an absolutely mammoth opening weekend frame. Fox’s CG-animated sequel squeezed about $70.5 million from the first-weekend moviegoers, making "Ice Age: The Meltdown" the year’s first bona-fide box office bonanza. (By comparison, the original "Ice Age" made just over $46 million during its own opening weekend.)

Hanging on in second place was Spike Lee‘s bank heist thriller "Inside Man," which added an additional $15.7 million to its $52.8 million grand total. Debuting in third place was WB’s urban skating drama "ATL," which rolled to the tune of $12.5 million from 1,600 theaters.

Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of old pals: Paramount’s "Failure to Launch" exhibited some staying power, netting an additional $6.6 million ($73.2m total), and WB’s "V for Vendetta" commanded another $6.5 million ($56.8m total).

Two other newcomers fared … not as well. Universal’s strongly-reviewed "Slither" was able to scare up only $3.7 million from 1,900 theaters, while Sony’s "Basic Instinct 2" netted an anemic $3.2 million from 1,400.

Next weekend sees the release of four new wide titles: Sony’s sports slob-com "The Benchwarmers," MGM’s gangster flick "Lucky Number Slevin," Fox Searchlight’s "Phat Girlz," and New Line’s dance drama "Take the Lead."

For a closer look at the weekend numbers, head on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page!

This week at the movies, we’ve got a pair of sequels that will appeal to widely disparate demographics ("Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," "Basic Instinct 2"), a slimy mix of comedy and horror ("Slither"), and a tale of young ATL-liens coming of age ("ATL"). What do the critics say?

For those of you who like a healthy dose of laughs between scares, there’s a gleefully nasty little piece of business in theaters this week. "Slither," a tale of creepy crawly little beasts that invade Smalltown, USA, is a B-movie through and through. But critics say it’s one of the most enjoyable of its type in years — if you’ve got the stomach for this sort of thing. At 86 percent on the Tomatometer, the Certified Fresh "Slither" may make you squirm — when you’re not busting a gut laughing. And it’s the third best-reviewed film of the year, behind only Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (at 93 percent) and last week’s Inside Man (at 88 percent).

The first "Ice Age" was warmly received. The second? It’s getting a chillier reception. In "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and the cross-species wiseguy Scrat are back, and they confront two major issues: The end of the ice age, and mating. The critics say while "Ice Age 2" may not be red-hot, it’s moderately entertaining. It’s at 59 percent on the Tomatometer, a bit behind its predecessor (78 percent and Certified Fresh).

"ATL" is a movie about the last summer before a group of African American high school students go off into the real world and attempt to navigate potential pratfalls. And critics say the film is at its most involving when it sticks to a smart, laid-back vibe and affectionate portrayals of its young leads; the scribes say that the film is less successful when it starts follow the mechanics of its plot. It’s currently at 61 percent on the Tomatometer.

"Basic Instinct" is something of a recent cinematic touchstone – albeit one many are a bit embarrassed to say they actually enjoy. According to critics, moviegoers may be in an even deeper quandary with the sequel. In "Basic Instinct 2," Sharon Stone is back to play deadly games of cat-and-mouse with spellbound guys. The scribes note that while the original was subversively trashy (and, at 63 percent on the Tomatometer, fresh), this sequel is more in the so-bad-it’s-good category — or perhaps, so-bad-it’s-bad. At 6 percent on the Tomatometer, trust your instincts on this one.

Also, props to lovelykeira, who correctly guessed that the Tomatometer for "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" would be 4 percent, and to mizzoucritic, who came the closest to "Stay Alive"’s 6 percent.

Top Five Best-Reviewed Wide Releases of 2006 (So Far):
——————————————————
93% — Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
89% — Inside Man
86% — Slither
75% — Nanny McPhee
75% — V For Vendetta

Recent Sharon Stone Movies
———————————–
86% — Broken Flowers (2005)
9% — Catwoman (2004)
12% — Cold Creek Manor (2003)
50% — Beautiful Joe (2000)
53% — The Muse (1999)

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