(Photo by Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Collection)
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!
The zombie: Without remorse and pity, driven by a single hunger, and damn near impossible to put down permanently. There have been times since their introduction into movies in the 1930s where it felt like we’d never see a zombie movie again. Then there are eras of the opposite, where you couldn’t stick your arm out in a multiplex without a shambling ghoul nearby, ready to chomp. And since we’ve been in feast mode over the last decade-plus, we’re taking a big bite with our guide to the 30 Essential Zombie Movies that you need to watch!
While zombie movies have been for more than 80 years (in 1932 we got White Zombie, in 1943 I Walked With a Zombie), it’s commonly accepted the subgenre as we know it today didn’t rise until 1968, when George A. Romero unleashed Night of the Living Dead. An independent film with a budget barely above six figures, Night enthralled audiences with its mysterious plot, shocking gore, progressive casting and social commentary, and, natch, the unforgettable hordes of the gaunt, hungry undead. Crowned the godfather of zombies, Romero made five more Dead movies, the best of which are featured in this guide, including Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.
Despite Romero’s efforts, it would still be a long shuffle into the early 2000s before zombies would break out of horror niche and crawl all over pop culture. Highlights from the pre-2000 era include splatter comedies like Return of the Living Dead and Dead Alive, Lucio Fulci’s eye-splitting and shark-wrestling Zombi 2, and H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator.
The success of the Resident Evil video games revealed an audience appetite hitherto untapped, inspiring a gushing fount of zombie movies released between 2000 and 2005. Now we got to see the true versatility of the zombie movie. There was the loving spoofery of Shaun of the Dead. The blockbuster theatrics of the Resident Evil adaptation. Cutting-edge, gritty filmmaking with 28 Days Later. Japanese kinetic action in Versus, and most recently the creative, micro-budget One Cut of the Dead.
Ever since, zombies have shown no sign of slowing down. (Some have even figured out how to run.) TV show The Walking Dead is an obvious behemoth to point towards, but in the film world, zombies have made their way into found footage ([REC]), rom-com (Warm Bodies), and grindhouse throwbacks (Planet Terror).
And with this guide, we sought to capture those many moods, the various sensitivities that make up the zombie movie. Most featured here are Fresh and Certified Fresh, and of course we’re including a few Rotten movies. They may not have gotten the highest critical marks, but offer just as much color, life, and odor to this list. With that, it’s time to use your braaaaains and dig deep into the best zombie movies to watch!
(Photo by Warner Bros./ courtesy Everett Collection)
Director Zack Snyder was among the frontlines in the battle to bring back the zombie, his 2004 Certified Fresh remake of Dawn of the Dead nestling in snugly with the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Land of the Dead. But it was with his second feature that he developed a signature style: 300, combining a comic-book palette with unflinching machismo and fetishistic style. The adaptation of the Frank Miller comic was a pop-culture phenomenon, and helped establish the gritty Warner Bros. look on comic-book movies that started with V for Vendetta and was furthered by The Dark Knight.
There was no stopping Snyder now, as he next tackled Watchmen, once thought a graphic novel too dense and troubling for film. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and Sucker Punch were stepping stones into the world most know Snyder for: As the creative guide behind Superman movies, and the DC Extended Universe beyond. Man of Steel was a big enough box office hit for the studio, and if audiences had some qualms about the direction of the character, their curiosity was nonetheless piqued for the next movie.
That would, of course, end up being the biggest title bout of comicdom: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ben Affleck put on the suit, the first to do so after Christian Bale in his Dark Knight trilogy run, and went mano-a-mano with Henry Cavill. A single word may have put this quarrel between two mama’s boys to bed, which opened the path to the next movie referred to in BvS‘s subtitle. Justice League arrived, pulling in Gal Gadot, who would go on to make the Certified Fresh Wonder Woman, and introducing the new movie versions of The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Justice League‘s disappointing Tomatometer and box office have made “Release the Snyder cut!” a clarion call for the online hordes, referring to the supposed three-hour version of the movie that existed before studio executives and meddling forced it down to its current 120-minute runtime.
Snyder has since lessened his presence within the DCEU (he’s still a producer on Wonder Woman 1984), and is returning to where it all began with Army of the Dead, an upcoming Netflix movie starring Dave Bautista about mercenaries who pull off a heist in Vegas during a zombie outbreak. And now, we’re pulling a heist ourselves as we sneak into the past and bringing up every Zack Snyder movie ranked by Tomatometer!
(Photo by © Universal, © Warner Bros., © Paramount, © Dimension Films)
Those who saw John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place earlier this year surprised to hear that the director and his co-star and wife, Emily Blunt, recently told Rotten Tomatoes that Jaws is their favorite movie. Their new creature feature opens with a scene that shocks audiences in ways that echo the Spielberg film’s famous first scene, and even goes one step further, breaking one of the biggest rules of horror (and nope, we’re not saying which).
The scene was not in the original screenplay, say co-writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods; it was something Krasinski added himself in the rewrite phase. “I’ve got to give props to John for just being a crazy person,” says Beck. “I think he just really wanted, like, the opening of Jaws — let’s establish this monster right out the gate, and get really, really dark.” Woods adds: “You pull that on an audience and you instill this instinctual fear: These characters are fair game, so watch around every corner.”
Is it one of the scariest openings, ever, though? Time will tell — we need a few years and a lot of perspective to make those kinds of calls. For now, we at Rotten Tomatoes have voted on our favorite scary opening scenes up to now, and ranked them according to just how pinned-back-in-our seats we were the first time we saw them.
(Photo by © Paramount)
This is Quentin Tarantino’s favorite slasher flick and it’s not hard to see why: It’s gruesome as hell. It’s set in a mining town, and the slasher wears a mining get-up and uses mining tools, which means a lot of inventive swinging pickaxes and nail-gun use (so much so that the MPAA had the filmmakers slice out 9 minutes of gore from the original cut). The opening is basic, over in barely two minutes, and may have suffered a touch because of those cuts. But its simplicity and directness is kind of the point: This film isn’t wasting any time, and it didn’t come to play.
How did director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson choose to up the ante on awesome openings in this sequel, which is actually slightly higher on the Tomatometer than the original? They showed us that original opening again, this time as a movie-within-the-movie (Stab!), starring Heather Graham as Casey Becker, who had been played in the original by Drew Barrymore. Confused? So is Jada Pinkett Smith’s Maureen, the actual victim of this super-meta opening. She just came out to see a dumb scary movie, and has no idea why her boyfriend has just stabbed her and the audience is doing absolutely nothing about it. Seriously, worst movie theater audience ever.
(Photo by (c) New Line)
Movie rule #96: When a flight steward says it’s going to be fine, you can bet that it really, really isn’t. This opening set the standard for the rest of the Final Destination franchise, and was believed at the time to be inspired by the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. Like the flight shown in the movie, that real-life 747 was on its way to Paris and carrying high school kids when it blew up shortly after takeoff.
(Photo by (c) New Line)
It’s hard to pick the best of the Final Destination openings — replace plane with car with roller coaster and so on and they’re essentially the same — but the Rotten Tomatoes staff votes have the third installment, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, nudging out the others. This time we’re at an amusement park, and the latest set of unlucky teenagers is killed (or not) on a roller coaster. It’s brilliantly staged, zeroing in on virtually every “could it happen?” thought that runs through your mind when strapping into a fast-moving ride: Will the wheels come loose? What if my seat lock comes undone? The film’s Devil’s Flight roller coaster was actually a ride called the Corkscrew in Playland in Vancouver, which was made to look higher — and much deadlier — in post-production.
Nothing really happens in the opening few minutes of Tobe Hooper’s infamous low-budget 1974 horror flick, and yet rarely has a movie evoked so much dread so quickly. There’s that (rather long) text scroll, laying out the movie’s “maybe-based-on-a-true-story” credentials, and then those camera flashes, shocking us to life with grisly images of decomposing eyes and other bits and bobs. Finally, Hooper pans out to reveal a ghastly, barely-human sculpture sat upon a grave marker. Fun fact: The Narrator is none other than John Larroquette, who has said he was paid for his efforts with a marijuana joint.
While 28 Days Later opens in an empty London, its sequel begins in a packed house somewhere in the countryside. We’re quickly introduced to the occupants, a sweet-seeming family and a Walking Dead-style crew of likable survivors. And then all hell breaks loose. It’s not just that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo throws everything at the scene — “name” actors bite it, Scream-style, and kids are in no way off limits — that makes it such a gut punch. It’s the way the filmmakers upend expectations, particularly when it comes to our “hero”, played by Robert Carlyle. With each choice he makes, he reveals himself to be anything but a Rick Grimes. And frankly, when the dust settles, we’re leaning #TeamZombie.
Did you know Victor Salva’s monster flick is based on a true story? Well, the opening scene, in which the Creeper gets into his truck to tail two kids who catch him dumping a victim, was inspired by one. In 1990, Ray and Marie Thornton were driving on a Michigan road when they spotted Dennis DePue dumping what looked like a body behind an abandoned schoolhouse (it turned out to be his wife). In their court testimony, the Thorntons said that DePue proceeded to follow them in his van for miles.
(Photo by (c)Warner Bros.)
Scream and When A Stranger Calls may have horror-dom’s most famous problem callers, but Black Christmas’s pervy “moaner” is a close runner-up. The film’s opening sequence meanders a little, lurching from one cliché (stalker cam!) to another (hiding in the closet!), with detours into calls with mom and a bit of bathroom boozing. But when the sorority sisters circle around the phone to listen to the stalker — who goes from static-y groans to screechy vulgarities that we won’t repeat here — it’s as transfixing as it is disturbing.
(Photo by ©New Century Vista Film)
Sometimes seeing the aftermath of a horrible act can be even more terrifying than witnessing the act itself. The opening sequence of The Stepfather is a case in point. With each shot we’re given an awful little breadcrumb clue to what has just happened in this bland-looking suburban home. There’s the blood on Terry O’Quinn’s face. An out-of-place toy boat. A dial tone. And then… We won’t give it away. Director Joseph Ruben would go on to make more chillers in this vein — including Sleeping with the Enemy and The Good Son — but none would come close to creating moments as chilling as The Stepfather’s (very) cold open.
(Photo by ©New Century Vista Film)
A couple decides to go skinny dipping at night and it ends badly thanks to something bite-y in the water. Sound familiar? There is a lot that sounds and looks familiar about this Roger Corman-produced answer to Spielberg’s Jaws. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun in its own right — and memorable. A bunch of the Rotten Tomatoes staff saw this one when they were kids, and the opening scene left a mark.
(Photo by (c) Warner Bros.)
What’s worse than an iceberg — right ahead? A wire, right onboard. In the best part of this pretty mediocre movie, almost an entire ship’s worth of passengers is wiped out in one fell swoop when a wire snaps and slices across a dance floor packed with revelers. It takes the well-dressed folk a few seconds to realize they’ve all been cut in halves and quarters and thirds (depending on height), and when they do, the makeup department goes to work. Side note: The little girl who survives (she was just short enough to escape) is Emily Browning.
Robert Eggers’ unnerving opening plays on every parent’s — or babysitter’s — greatest fear: A child that vanishes the second you look away. Here, a game of peak-a-boo takes a dark turn when Thomasin’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) baby brother disappears and is then seen in the clutches of a witch. Said witch is then doing something to the baby that we can’t quite make out until… wait, is that a knife?
How exactly did Danny Boyle film in a completely empty — and completely eerie — central London? He had some help from his then teenage daughter, it turns out. Boyle has explained that in lieu of traffic marshals and police, which he couldn’t afford, his daughter and her friends tried to hold back traffic during the seven early mornings over which they shot the sequence.
High school is terrifying, and rarely has it been as terrifying as in the opening sequence of Brian De Palma’s Carrie. The film is no conventional horror flick, and the scene is no conventional horror opening, but its mark is indelible: Just try to wipe the image of a screaming Sissy Spacek begging for help from your memory.
Online snarks have said that Dawn of the Dead’s opening seven minutes were the peak of director Zack Snyder’s career. Frankly, they’d be the peak of most directors’ careers as far as we’re concerned. In the absolutely brutal sequence, Sarah Polley’s Ana wakes to discover her neighbor’s daughter is a ravenous zombie (the fast-moving 28 Days Later kind) who isn’t making any sort of distinctions between family and food. Eyes out for the “Here’s Johnny!” nod and ears out for the excellent use of Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around” over the killer credit sequence. [Editor’s note: This story originally said that Ana woke to find her own daughter was a zombie — we have corrected, and regret, the error.]
It Follows opens with an almost two-minute tracking shot that coldly observes a young girl running for her life on an idyllic suburban street. We eventually join her as she gets in her car and later find her next alone on a beach. Cut to… well, just watch it. There are no big scares or jumps or monsters in these few minutes. The key horror here is mystery: Why is she running? What is she running from? And what the hell did that to her?
(Photo by © Compass International Pictures)
John Carpenter told Rotten Tomatoes recently that you have two options for opening a horror film: “You can slow things down, lull people into a false sense of security, and then smack them in the face with it,” or “kick it into gear straight away — let’s go!” For 1978’s Halloween, he went with the latter approach, opening with a stalker-cam single shot that took him and his crew some eight hours to execute. Carpenter says he was inspired by long tracking shots in films like Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.
Director Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1990 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s It doesn’t open with Georgie and Pennywise’s drain-side chat — it begins instead with the disappearance of a little girl and a memorably abandoned tricycle — but it does get to the scene eventually. When the moment does come, Wallace plays it TV safe: We see Tim Curry’s clown bearing his teeth and advancing on his victim before we cut to the next scene. Andy Muschietti takes the road less traveled in his treatment of the scene, which opens 2017’s It, showing Pennywise’s attack on poor Georgie in all of its gory glory. Yes, that’s a child getting his arm chomped off — and Muschietti isn’t letting us look away.
Wes Craven’s big comeback film kicked off a slasher revival and gave the horror genre one of its most famous lines (“What’s your favorite scary movie?”). Most of that was thanks to the opening scene, penned by horror fanatic Kevin Williamson, which plays out like a mashup of Jeopardy and the last half hour of Halloween. It was always going to be a nerve-shattering ten minutes; what made it more than that was the casting of Ghostface’s first big target, Casey Becker. Craven said he wanted to have the film’s biggest star die straight out the gate, and had considered offering the role to Alicia Silverstone. But when Drew Barrymore, who was set to take the lead role, said she wanted to do the opening scene, the plan changed and Craven had his “No they didn’t!” moment.
It took a lot of innovating to pull what is arguably cinema’s most famous opening together: Actress and stuntwoman Susan Blacklinie had hooks attached to her Levi’s so that drivers could pull her to and fro to get that jerked-by-a-Great-White effect; Spielberg employed a devastatingly effective predator’s-eye view to put us inside the hungry mind of the shark; and John Williams’ score did the rest of the work. The scene was a direct lift from the opening pages of Peter Benchley’s bestselling book. In those pages, the reader — like Spielberg’s camera — mostly inhabits the perspective of the beast (the opening line reads, “The great fish moves silently through the night.”). On page, the opening scene is as brutal and mysterious an attack as on screen. “At first, the woman thought she had snagged her leg on a rock or a piece of floating wood,” writes Benchley. “There was no initial pain, only one violent tug on her right leg. She reached down to touch her foot, treading water with her left leg to keep her head up, feeling in the blackness with her left hand.” Then comes the kicker: “She could not find her foot.”
Which scary opening scene is your favorite? Don’t see it on the list? Are you about to write us an angry letter asking how in Samara’s name we could leave out The Ring? Save the postage, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Need some last minute programming to fill out a Halloween watching marathon? Then you’ve come to the fright place: 24 Certified Fresh horror movies and TV shows from the last 24 years.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is out in theaters this week, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a visual bloody guide to the history of zombies in film and on your television. Brrraaaaaiinnsss….
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.
There have been so many horror remakes that there’s no way we could cover them all at once. We did, however, decide to collect a sampling list, making room for some of the best, worst, and most puzzlingly misguided examples from the genre. Let’s get started, shall we?
Like many of the movies on this week’s list, the latter-day Amityville Horror was produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes — and like more than a few of them, it suffered in comparison to the original. Which is a shame, because Amityville‘s central story — about a young family moving into a horrifically haunted house — is both devilishly simple and allegedly fact-based, which has helped the franchise retain its aura even through a series of sometimes-silly sequels and spinoffs. Unfortunately, despite a talented cast that included Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, and a young(er) Chloe Grace Moretz, this Horror was mainly scary for the studio execs who had to account for its $64 million domestic gross, which sentenced the franchise to years of direct-to-DVD purgatory.
Inspired by the way David Cronenberg used modern special effects and less-campy storytelling to amp up the horror in The Fly, Hollywood spent a portion of the late 1980s rushing to the vaults and searching for other long-dormant properties that might benefit from the remake treatment. Hence 1988’s The Blob, in which an alien goo plops down in a small town and starts gorging on its unsuspecting residents. It was just as fantastically cheesy a premise as it had been in 1958, when Steve McQueen starred in the original — but thanks to a solid screenplay from future Shawshank Redemption director/adapter Frank Darabont, as well as a (slightly) more believable Blob, it managed to just about reach the rather low bar set by its predecessor, which is about all one can hope for when making a film about hungry interstellar plasma.
The original Cat People, produced on the cheap by Val Lewton in 1942, emphasized suggestion over explicit horror; four decades later, director Paul Schrader used the movie’s central idea — about people whose sexual desires trigger a sometimes-deadly feline transformation — as the basis for a steamy softcore flick that made up for its lack of genuine scares with an abundance of Natassja Kinski and a cool soundtrack featuring David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder. While it may not be the most terrifying movie on this list, it’s probably one of the hardest to turn away from if you happen across it on the cable dial during a bout of late-night viewing.
“WHY ARE THE GOOD PEOPLE DYING?” screamed the poster for George A. Romero’s paranoid The Crazies about the side effects of a military accident that resulted in a small American town being poisoned with a biological weapon that turns people into violent lunatics. Sadly, the tagline for Romero’s 1973 effort might as well have been “WHY WON’T MOST THEATERS SHOW THE CRAZIES?,” because the picture died with a whimper at the box office — but a good idea always turns up again in the horror genre, and in 2010, director Breck Eisner repurposed Romero’s original to create a sleek, gleefully nasty update that managed a surprisingly robust 71 percent on the Tomatometer. Alas, while Eisner’s Crazies at least made it to wide release, they didn’t fare a whole lot better at the box office, managing to slash together ony $54 million worldwide. The result of a military-industrial conspiracy, perhaps?
Did George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead really need a remake? Perhaps not. But if we were going to get one, it might as well have been one that blended the the visual wizardry of director Zack Snyder with a screenplay from future Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn, and that’s just what we got with this 2004 “re-envisioning” of the zombie classic. Using the original’s basic framework as an effective delivery mechanism for a fresh round of gruesome gore and heart-pumping action, the new Dawn proved surprisingly bright for most critics, including Aisle Seat’s Mike McGranaghan, who wrote, “Dawn of the Dead is ultra-violent, excessively bloody, and extremely gory — all in a good way. I left the theater feeling pumped full of adrenaline.”
It might seem a little odd to base a horror remake on a TV movie from the 1970s, but the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark — starring Kim Darby as a housewife whose new home comes with some nasty little tenants lurking in the basement — is a cult classic for aficionados of the genre, so a theatrical version was probably inevitable. Given that the 2011 edition was co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, fans had reason to be hopeful that the remade Dark would be even scarier than the first; alas, after being trapped in studio limbo for months due to Miramax’s shuttering, director Troy Nixey’s update on the story — which focused on an eight-year-old (Bailee Madison) and her father’s girlfriend (Katie Holmes) — was greeted with lukewarm indifference by audiences and critics alike. Perhaps some things are just more frightening on the boob tube.
How in the world do you put together a remake of one of the most beloved horror-comedy cult classics of the last 40 years? If you’re director Fede Alvarez, you film a new version of Evil Dead with production input from creator Sam Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell, a much bigger budget, and a far more serious take on the story of young campers who unwittingly unleash a demon plague while goofing around with the Book of the Dead. The amped-up gore in Alvarez’s Evil Dead certainly wasn’t for everyone, but it arguably made more sense, given the film’s narrative outline — and the resultant uptick in attention to the franchise helped lead to the subsequent TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
The original version of The Fly, released in 1958, was a Vincent Price classic that didn’t really need to be remade, but that didn’t stop producer Stuart Cornfield (working with an uncredited Mel Brooks) from getting the ball rolling on a new version. After several years in development, plenty of studio struggle, and some turnover at the screenwriter and director positions, Cornfield had his movie: David Cronenberg’s gorier, more suspenseful take on The Fly, which went back to George Langelaan’s 1957 short story and emerged with one of the more delightfully suspenseful horror/sci-fi movies of the 1980s. Unfortunately, Cronenberg’s Fly — starring Jeff Goldblum as the ill-fated scientist whose experiments leave his DNA accidentally intertwined with the titular pest, and Geena Davis as the woman who loves him — was too successful to prevent a sequel: 1989’s rather uninspired The Fly II. Rumors of another remake (and a quasi-sequel penned by Cronenberg) have popped up over the years, but it’s all been for naught. So far, anyway.
Featuring a “star” hidden behind a hockey mask and a brilliantly low-budget conceit that needed nothing more than anonymous young actors capable of screaming in various states of undress, the Friday the 13th series was one of the most reliably profitable horror franchises of the 1980s — and ripe for the reboot treatment in the 21st century. Platinum Dunes did the honors in 2009, reimagining the murderous Jason Voorhees as more of a lethal maniac and less of a lumbering dolt, with cooler special effects and plenty of T&A; once again, the formula worked, producing plenty of pure profit for the studio and signaling that perhaps a new slew of sequels was on the horizon. Alas, Jason slumbered for the next several years, although he’s currently set to terrorize a fresh batch of Crystal Lake campers on May 13, 2016.
If director Craig Gillespie had polled horror fans in 2011 and asked them if he really needed to remake 1985’s Fright Night, the answer probably would have been a resounding “no”; after all, the original was not only a surprise hit, it had matured into a solid favorite among scary movie lovers, and little seemed to be gained by updating the story of a horror-loving teen (William Ragsdale) who makes the awful discovery that his new neighbor (Chris Sarandon) is secretly a vampire. While it may not have been strictly necessary, the new Fright Night — starring Anton Yelchin as young Charley Brewster and Colin Farrell as the undead addition to the neighborhood — proved surprisingly potent, with Farrell’s charismatic performance matching Gillespie’s confident lens. While box office returns were fairly weak, the remake brought the Fright Night franchise back to life, with a direct-to-video sequel arriving in 2013.
By the 2000s, producer Moustapha Akkad’s once-proud Halloween franchise had fallen on hard times, with deathless serial killer Michael Myers resurfacing in a series of low-budget sequels that bore little resemblance to John Carpenter’s classic 1978 original. All that was left was to start over from the beginning — and that’s what director Rob Zombie did with 2007’s Halloween, which retold Myers’ gruesome origin story and returned him to poor, unfortunate Haddonfield, Illinois for a gorier version of his first grown-up killing spree. While Zombie had previously flirted with critical respectability with 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects, his Halloween mustered a mere 25 percent on the Tomatometer — not as high as 1982’s much-maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but still better than the sixth installment in the series, 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, and good enough to greenlight a sequel (dubbed H2) in 2009. A planned 3D follow-up eventually fell off the schedule, but the next sequel, reportedly titled Halloween Returns, is currently in development.
If Gus Van Sant’s Psycho serves as an argument against remakes, then the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers an equally persuasive rebuttal. While the 1956 original is one of the most highly regarded sci-fi/horror movies of its era, director Philip Kaufman’s update matched it with a thrillingly gritty, ensemble-driven look at what might happen if alien spores landed on Earth and started sprouting eerily emotionless replicas of our friends and loved ones. Sharpening up the special effects without overly relying on them, the new-look Body Snatchers featured solid performances from a stellar cast that included Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum — and although it definitely made its share of money at the box office in 1978, if anything it’s even more highly regarded today. Here’s hoping Kaufman’s Snatchers continues to stand as the most recent version of the movie for many more years to come.
If you’re looking for fright value, bad guys don’t come much more elegantly brutal than a bloodthirsty lunatic with a pickaxe, which might be why the low-budget 1981 Canadian slasher flick My Bloody Valentine — about a miner who survives a collapse by dining on his fellow crew members, goes crazy before being rescued, and wages murderous revenge — proved even more potent when its 3D remake surfaced in 2009. And although it may not have generated blockbuster numbers at the box office, it fared surprisingly well with critics; it can’t be long before we’re treated to yet another Bloody Valentine.
Given how much money the Nightmare on Elm Street movies made for New Line during the 1980s and early 1990s, remakes and/or reboots were probably always a matter of course; problem was, the series was just as memorable for Robert Englund’s outstanding performance in the role of series killer Freddy Krueger as it was for its scores of inventive on-screen murders. Faced with the unsolvable problem of replacing Englund, the folks at Platinum Dunes hired Jackie Earle Haley to take over the part for their 2010 reboot — and although Haley is certainly a talented actor, and more than capable of exuding a sinister aura, he isn’t as physically imposing as Englund. Add that to a story that hit many of the same beats as the original, and the end result was a movie that, while certainly profitable, failed to land with as much impact as it had the first (eight) time(s) around.
Werner Herzog’s filmography offers more than a few case studies in audaciousness, not the least of which is 1979’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. Occasionally referred to by its less cool English title, Nosferatu the Vampyre, this remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic 1922 silent film finds Klaus Kinski stepping into the bloodsucking role so memorably inhabited by Max Schreck, with all parties involved acquitting themselves admirably. No less a cinematic authority than Roger Ebert agreed, writing that “To say of someone that they were born to play a vampire is a strange compliment, but if you will compare the two versions of Nosferatu you might agree with me that only Kinski could have equaled or rivaled Max Schreck’s performance.”
Of all the remakes on our list, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho embraces the concept more eagerly than most, delivering a somewhat bafflingly precise update on the 1960 Hitchcock classic with a shot-for-shot replication that, while assembled and acted by talented creative types, exhibited no real creativity of its own. But while Van Sant’s Psycho wound up bottoming out at a rather miserable 37 percent on the Tomatometer, he dodged a few bullets in at least one sense — unlike a lot of remakes of classic films, his attempt to re-Hitchcock Hitchcock inspired more critical bafflement than anger or derision. Ultimately, the 1998 Psycho serves as a perfectly persuasive (albeit most likely unintentional) argument against remakes in general.
A man, a plan, a chainsaw. Oh, and a facemask made out of human skin. It may not sound like much, but from the moment 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre terrified its first audiences, it’s served as the basis for one of the horror genre’s more surprisingly durable franchises — in spite of the mostly miserable track record suffered by its spate of periodic prequels, sequels, and spinoffs. The horror remake enthusiasts at Platinum Dunes tried to take things back to the beginning (again) with their 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and although most critics claimed time had dulled Leatherface’s blade, audiences still turned out to the tune of more than $100 million in box office grosses. Yet another prequel followed in 2006, followed by a 3D sequel to the original in 2013, and the origin story Leatherface is currently scheduled for 2016. Confused? Don’t think too hard; in the end, it all goes back to those first simple ingredients.
There are worse (and far, far better) horror remakes than Neil LaBute’s update on The Wicker Man, but we absolutely had to include it here, because no other film provides its particular brand of sheer, cackling lunacy. While it’s misguided on just about every level, the 2006 Wicker is chiefly noteworthy thanks to Nicolas Cage’s presence as police detective Edward Malus, whose journey to a secluded island in search of his abducted daughter ends very badly for all concerned — including any audience members not prepared for the unforgettable sight of Cage punching a woman in the face while wearing a bear suit, or the equally memorable sound of Cage screaming “Oh God! Not the bees!” Avoid it if you’re looking for truly scary viewing, but it still needs to be seen in order to be believed.
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.
We’ve already seen the remakes of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, plus there’s another pair of Romero remakes (Day of the Dead and The Crazies) on the horizon… So what’s left from the filmmaker’s back catalog?
Apparently the legendary horror-maker wants to mount a remake of his 1972 thriller Season of the Witch (aka Hungry Wives). He told IGN Movies that he thinks the story could easily make sense these days: "I think it could be pertinent in a different way … There are still women’s issues and there are still jerky guys like [Joan Mitchell’s] husband, still brutal – to say nothing of being insensitive, but actually brutal – so I’d like to remake it."
The director explains that his original movie isn’t precisely what he’d hoped for, what with the tiny budget and all, but with horror remakes all the rage this decade, why not take Season of the Witch out for another spin?
In addition to the director’s upcoming Diary of the Dead, Romero also has some hush-hush plans for a zombie-related comedy. Yep, a comedy.
Source: IGN Movies
Expect to see a whole lot of Watchmen updates over the next several months. And here’s one: Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, and Malin Akerman have signed deals to appear in Zack Snyder’s Alan Moore adaptation.
(Obviously you don’t need me reminding you that Snyder gave us the kick-ass Dawn of the Dead remake — as well as that mega-wild 300 flick.)
Haley, who made a big impact (years ago) with The Bad News Bears and Breaking Away, and made a huge comeback last year with Little Children and All the King’s Men, has been cast as “Rorschach.” Latino Review also seems absolutely positive that the lovely Malin Akerman has been locked to play a character called Silk Spectre. (And also that Billy Crudup will be playing Dr. Manhattan.)
Although best known (so far) for her work in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Ms. Akerman has a whole bunch of high-profile projects on the way. Including this one.
Also, IESB.net informs us that Matthew Goode (as “Oxymandias”) and Patrick Wilson (as “Night Owl”) have been confirmed by their sources. Whew.
As all our source point out, we can probably expect a lot of the Watchmen casting to be shared / confirmed at this week’s mega-geek-tastic Comic Con event. Looking forward to it.
After months of news droplets regarding Rob Zombie‘s new rendition of John Carpenter‘s "Halloween," we now have our very first look at some footage, and guess what? It looks a whole heck of a lot like … John Carpenter’s "Halloween."
In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, here’s where you can check out the (kinda) all-new for Rob Zombie’s "Halloween" redo. Looks like a full-on remake all the way, not unlike what you’d find in a trailer for "Dawn of the Dead," "The Amityville Horror," or (god help us if it’s as bad as) "The Fog."
Even the skeptics (like me) are pretty curious to see how the gore-lovin’ Mr. Zombie will approach the violence in his version. The original, as you’ll no doubt remember, has next to no blood whatsoever. I’m pretty curious to see a lot of things in this remake, truth be told.
August 31st is when "Halloween" hits — probably because Jigsaw owns October these days. Stars include Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, and (of course) Sheri Moon-Zombie. (She’s Rebecca Pidgeon to Zombie’s David Mamet, don’t forget.) Expect a full-court press push on "Halloween" as the big summer flicks fade into the distance.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
Fanboys already excited about Zack Snyder‘s upcoming "Watchmen" adaptation have a whole new reason to "heart" the "300" helmer: another zombie movie!!
Although we’re still in the eye of the "300" boxoffice storm, and he already has the next most anticipated Alan Moore graphic novel adaptation on his to-do list, Snyder‘s going for broke and adding a heaping pile of zombie goodness to his plate. It’s name? "Army of the Dead."
Variety reports the project, to be scripted by Joby Harold, is a "zombie action thriller" based on Snyder’s original story: "Set in a quarantined Las Vegas in the not-too-distant future, "Army" revolves around a father who tries to save his daughter from imminent death in a zombie-infested world."
Those savvy sleuths at Variety also asked Snyder if, given his success shooting "300" on green screen, "Army" would go a similar route; too early to say, he implied that it is "likely to borrow some of the same techniques."
It is not known if Snyder will direct the film himself, though one may suspect he’ll be quite busy over the next few years. "Watchmen," based on Alan Moore’s uber-popular anti-superhero graphic novel, is set to begin production this summer for a 2008 opening.
Snyder, of course, is no stranger to the undead, having directed 2004’s successful zombie remake, "Dawn of the Dead."
On a semi-related note, it appears that zombie flicks are all the rage in Hollywood; Variety also reports that actor-director Corbin Bernsen — yes, Roger Dorn from "Major League" — is making his own walking undead movie, entitled "Dead Air," about radio djs trying to alert their listeners to a zombie-creating plague in Los Angeles.
For the first time in nearly a month, North America’s most popular movie won’t be about motorcycles. Warner Bros. goes back in time 2,500 years for the epic war saga "300" which aims to conquer the box office with ease.
Other studios have conceded the frame to the effects-driven actioner as the only other film opening wide is the family drama "The Ultimate Gift" which will cater to a non-violent crowd that prefers to keep decapitations to a minimum in their weekend entertainment.
Two and a half years after running the historical epic genre into the ground with "Alexander," Warner Bros. is back to breathe new life into the industry with "300." The R-rated war film stars Gerard Butler as the Greek king who in 480 B.C. led his small battalion of brave soldiers in battle against the mighty Persian army. Directed by Zack Snyder ("Dawn of the Dead"), "300" is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and features stylized action sequences and a visual look unlike the endless line of epics that hit multiplexes a few years ago.
Warner Bros. got the ball rolling early last fall with exciting trailers that really energized the target audience of male action fans who now will be very satisfied by the amount of blood, gore, and female nudity in the picture. Momentum has been building ever since and today, "300" is an event film for many. The film lacks a marquee star but that should not matter much. The unique look and feel should compensate for that as moviegoers will find the film to be worth paying top dollar for to see on the big screen. This is not one to wait for on DVD. And unlike other epics, this one keeps it just under two hours which will allow theaters to offer enough showtimes per day. The marketplace is ready for "300." Aside from "Ghost Rider" which is going into its fourth lap, there will be little direct competition for "300" to face so King Leonidas and his men should prevail in this battle.
Other effects-driven R-rated action films have found success recently in the spring months. In 2005, Keanu Reeves‘ "Constantine" bowed to $29.8M and "Sin City" opened to $29.1M while last March "V for Vendetta" debuted with $25.6M. All three films ended in the $70-76M range. "300" looks like it has the strength to go higher. The marketing has been brilliant, competition is weak, and excitement is high. Warner Bros. will score its first number one opener of the year with "300" which invades 3,103 theaters, including Imax venues which will add a few extra bucks. A Friday-to-Sunday gross of about $38M could result.
Fox Faith, the new wing of Twentieth Century Fox dedicated to films with uplifting religious themes, rolls out its family drama "The Ultimate Gift" starring James Garner, Brian Dennehy, and Abigail Breslin who comes straight from her high profile Oscar nomination for "Little Miss Sunshine." Based on the best-selling book, the PG-rated film tells the story of a young man who instead of getting his expected inheritance after the death of his wealthy grandfather, is given a series of challenges to help him build character and learn what is truly important in life. Grassroots marketing is being used to court the faith-based audience and a dollar from every ticket sold will be donated to one of a number of different charities. Still, the film is not being given a marketing blitz so large numbers are not expected. Opening in over 800 theaters, "The Ultimate Gift" may gross about $3M this weekend.
After opening almost everywhere else in the world, the hit Korean horror film "The Host" makes its ways to American shores through Magnolia Pictures this weekend. The R-rated creature feature debuts in about 70 theaters and has been garnering impressive reviews since its premiere last May at the Cannes Film Festival. Fox Searchlight platforms its family saga "The Namesake" from director Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding," "Vanity Fair") in six theaters in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto. Starring Kal Penn, the PG-13 film about the struggles of an Indian-American family will expand weekly throughout the rest of the month.
After three weeks of motorcycle flicks ruling the box office, a stylized trip back in time with "300" will come as a welcome change of pace. "Wild Hogs," which powered its way to a surprisingly potent $39.7M bow last weekend, will drop out of pole position. With little direct competition, look for a reasonable dip in sales. The Buena Vista release has been a crowdpleaser and will remain the top choice for moviegoers in the mood for a laugh or anything with big Hollywood stars. A 35% decline could result giving "Hogs" a weekend tally of around $26M and a ten-day cume of $74M.
Paramount’s serial killer pic "Zodiac" got off to a moderate start last weekend and will have another R-rated film aimed at adults to deal with. A drop of 40% may occur putting the murder mystery at $8M for a total of only $25M after ten days. Sony’s "Ghost Rider" will become the first member of the 2007 century club and should fall 45% to $6M for a $103M cume. The Nicolas Cage pic is set to take a serious hit thanks to 300.
LAST YEAR: The Matthew McConaughey–Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy "Failure to Launch" debuted at number one leading a new crop of films with $24.4M. The Paramount release found its way to $88.7M. Opening in second place was the Tim Allen kidpic "The Shaggy Dog" with $16.3M followed closely by the new horror flick "The Hills Have Eyes" with $15.7M. Final grosses reached $61.1M and $41.8M, respectively. The Bruce Willis actioner "16 Blocks" dropped to fourth with $7.4M. After two weeks at the top of the charts, the Tyler Perry comedy "Madea’s Family Reunion" tumbled from first to fifth with $5.7M.
Source: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
After months of talking and waiting, Zack Snyder‘s "300" finally arrives this Friday. And here’s a little treat: 300 pretty cool seconds of the movie for free! (That’s gotta equal at least five minutes of footage, right?)
I can’t wait to see the darn flick already, but here’s a question: When will CGI technology allow filmmakers to create a blood spurt that looks, y’know, real?
(And yes, the "300" Tomatometer still holds steady at 100%.)