(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 Well GO USA/ courtesy Everett Collection)
If you’re looking for more movies like Train to Busan, the South Korean zombie classic that sunk its teeth into savvy filmgoers and hasn’t let go since its 2016 release, why not first punch your ticket for something in the shared universe? Check out Seoul Station, an animated prequel to Busan, directed by the same guy, Yeon Sang-ho. He was primarily an animation director before Busan (that was his live-action debut), and he followed that up with 2018’s Psychokinesis, his take on the superhero genre which also had a father-and-daughter relationship driving the plot. Yeon will be back in 2020 with Peninsula, another story set in the world of Train to Busan.
For more from South Korean, consider checking out Rampant, a period piece action epic about – true to history, we’re sure – a zombie outbreak. Deranged and The Wailing are also about illness and outbreak in contemporary SK. (For more quality choices from the region, see our list of 30 Certified Fresh South Korean movies.)
If you’re really into the whole train setting, seek out Snowpiercer, directed by Parasite‘s Bong Joon-ho, The Cassandra Crossing, about a biological weapon that may have been set loose in the caboose, and Howl, wherein a passenger train and its riders have to deal with an outbreak…of werewolves.
Zombie godfather George A. Romero spent his career exploring the different stages of undead chaos: from infection, to pandemic, to normalization. His last great film, Land of the Dead, explored the latter, depicting society that had tenuously adapted to a new, dark way of living. Carriers, The Road, and The Crazies (a remake of a Romero movie) are further entertaining, credible looks at society-destroying diseases in America.
Of course, if you consider yourself a Train to Busan fan, you might also think of yourself an adventurous movie-watcher, ready for pandemic and outbreak movies beyond the borders of America. To that, we’ve assembled suggestions from the UK (28 Weeks Later, Children of Men, The Girl With All The Gifts), Japan (I Am a Hero), France (Ravenous, The Night Eats the World), Germany (Rammbock: Berlin Undead), and Spain ([REC]).
Insidious fans have had to wait a few years for the franchise’s fourth installment, but with this weekend’s The Last Key, the story of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) finally has its next chapter. In honor of this long-awaited arrival, we decided to dedicate this week’s feature to a look back at some of the (many) other fourth chapters in the horror genre, with an emphasis on the better-reviewed in the bunch. Buckle up for a slew of final chapters and spine-tingling returns, because it’s time for Total Recall!
Look, we know that it’s the time of year when everyone and their sister has a list of the best horror movies of all time. This time out, we at Rotten Tomatoes decided to take a slightly different tack. Using our weighted formula, we compiled a list of the best-reviewed fright fests from each year since 1920 — the year The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which created the template for horror cinema, was released. This wasn’t an easy assignment — there were several years, like 1932 and 1960, that boasted a slate of classic films (and a few others, like 1937 and 1938, in which we had trouble finding any solid contenders). What was the best horror flick the year you were born? Check out our list — if you dare.
After a blockbuster detour with Furious 7, director James Wan returns to his horror roots for like the fifth time in his career with The Conjuring 2, which follows Conju-Uno‘s Ed and Lorraine Warren into their next really true scary case. The original 2013 film was a Certified Fresh smash for Wan and company, notable because it’s rare for horror movies to get Fresh Tomatometer scores, and even rarer for their franchise sequels. So the fact Conjuring 2 is drawing sorta the same praise as its predecessor…well, that inspires this week’s gallery: 24 best-reviewed horror sequels!
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.
So, you don’t make a zombie film in the 90s, and now it’s two in three years. Are you making up for lost time?
George A. Romero: [laughs] No! I missed the 90s because I was swallowed up in development hell there. I had development deals, made a lot of dough, never made any movies. And basically, I fled and did a little film called Bruiser. I’ve just scrammed and that’s why I missed it.
I had had the idea for Land Of The Dead back then, but I reworked it. Actually, it was — I think — probably thankful that that’s the way it worked out. Post-9/11, it was a much stronger film, I think. That’s what happened with that. When I finished that film, I took a look at it. I was happy with the way it turned out. There was a lot of talk about a sequel and I thought, where the hell am I going to go from here? First of all, I didn’t have an idea and I didn’t want to get involved. I had completely lost touch with the origins of this thing. I wanted to see if I had the chops and the stamina to go back and do a little guerrilla film. Initially I wanted to do something about this emerging media, and I had a little sketch of the script. I was basically ready to go and take a vacation and do it at a film school where I had taught a couple of classes, just to have some control and to do something small.
And Diary is very small — much smaller than Land, which had a $15 million budget.
GR: Yeah, the people at Artfire read the script and said, “We’ll let you have the control if you can make it under four.” I had the idea, and it did grow. I wanted to go back to the beginning. There are a lot of other elements involved here. We lost the copyright on Night of the Living Dead. That’s basically a public domain film and all the other films are owned by somebody else and you have no action in it. So that was also a motivating factor.
I’m glad you mentioned Night, because I thought that Diary was much closer in tone to that movie, and Day Of The Dead, whereas Land and Dawn were poppier. Was that deliberate?
GR: I agree with you. I was trying to do that. I had a conversation early this morning about, “Well, what if they want to make a sequel to this?” Well, this is closer to Night, so maybe we need to do something that’s closer to Dawn. A pure comic book thing.
Are you going to do a sequel to this?
GR: I don’t know what to do. If I had to do a sequel right now, I’d finish the story and start it with the same characters, which is also something I’ve never done. I’m hoping that it’ll all blow away. I’m hoping that if Barack Obama gets elected, I’ll have something to talk about. More importantly, if he gets shot!
I’m intrigued that you and Brian De Palma have made similar films at the same time, with this and…
GR: Redacted. I haven’t seen that and I haven’t seen Cloverfield. I guess there’s a collective subconscious. I don’t know because I haven’t seen those films but I don’t know that they’re exactly about the same kind of thing. I think it’s an influence and where does it come from? It seems to me that this is more of a response to reality television, than it is to this age of New Media. I don’t know if any of these films really speak to that. Redacted, I guess, is helmet cameras, right?
Yeah, and CCTV footage. But it’s interesting that two old stagers-
GR: We’re New Yorkers! [laughs]
OK… New Yorkers, would be drawn to this new form of expression. Were you attracted by the immediacy?
GR: It’s not so much the immediacy but the danger of it. Right in the middle of Super Tuesday in the America election process, they interrupt the election results to say, “We have reports of a tornado touching down in Arkansas. Anyone out there, if you can get a good picture, send it in, we’ll put it on the air and we’ll send you a mug! Be careful!” And people are out there waiting for something to happen. Everyone has a camera phone. The shootings at Virginia Tech, all the footage we had was footage from camera phones. It strikes me as quite dangerous. If Hitler was around, he would never even have to go into the town square. He could throw up a blog and forget about it.
You’ve got a no-name cast this time around, but I detected a few famous voices playing newscasters, including Simon Pegg and Guillermo del Toro.
GR: What happened was, we shot the film in 20 days and then we went back and we had enough money to shoot three more days and that was it. All we could afford was to get the principal footage in the can. We knew we could come back and do the narration portions and the news stuff. There was some of that in the script but we said we can refine it later because it’s all just audio. We shot the film and we came back and we kept writing things and we kept writing dialogue and we would try it on for size. We were all recording – it was me, my editor and my girlfriend and we were sitting there with a finished film but it was all our own voices. So first I called Stephen King and he said, “Sure man, I’ll do it,” and I called some of my other buddies and I’m very grateful that they all said yes and were all willing and able. It’s a vote of confidence.
How did you decide who to single out?
GR: I called people whose work I respect and who I’ve been able to hang out with without having any altercations! [laughs] I tried to call Dario but I couldn’t reach him. [laughs] I don’t know… I guess with subtitles, but he may not have been distinguishable. Tom Savini is one of the voices. I wish that Tom would get back into the biz, so to speak. I think he’s more concerned about being an actor. He wants to be an actor now. He should get back into it.
George Romero has found a way to reinvent his zombie movies for every age. The original Night of the Living Dead was a simple story of survivors holed up in a house. Dawn of the Dead gave them a bigger space, an entire mall. In Day of the Dead, scientists began studying and trying to train the undead. In Land of the Dead, the zombie society began to overpower the humans.
Now Romero has gone back to the beginning. Diary of the Dead stars a cast of unknowns as film students shooting footage the night of the first outbreak. Their chronicle paints a portrait of how different factions of our culture handle a disaster of supernatural proportions.
Despite his graying beard and pony tail, Romero still knows how to do zombies in the modern world. He’s still quite the showman too. His answers to each question have a beginning, middle and end, classic story structure, and he peppers in casual profanity to “keep it real.” Most importantly, he puts on his spooky voice for key words like “blogosphere” and “production value.”
You used to do one of these films every decade. How did you end up doing two within two years?
George A. Romero: I loved the idea that I could wait for something to happen out in the world and then talk about it. It seemed to need to be years apart in order for the culture to change a little bit, for it to look a little different and all that. But, when we were shooting Land, I suddenly was taken with the idea that God, this is so big and I don’t know where to go. I don’t know if I want to follow that line. There were those four films that were sort of going in a certain direction. I said, “Where do you go next? Beyond Thunderdome?” I didn’t want to do that.
At the same time, before we even shot Land of the Dead, I had this idea that I wanted to do something about the blogosphere, about this new media. I thought I’ve got to do this quick. I also wanted to leave. After Land, I said, “Outta here, I want to go back to my roots. I want to do something small and see if I have the chops or the stamina to do it.” I had this idea and I had it actually sketched out in a rough draft of the script. The moment we finished Land, I sort of refined the script a little bit. I was going to run away, literally run away. I wanted to do it at a film school where I taught a couple of classes way under the radar for a couple hundred grand. Do it with students. The guys at Artfire saw the script and said, “No, no, let’s go theatrical with it. How little can you do it for?” Peter and I sat down and did the lowest budget that we could conceive. In order to do it union and legitimately, all of a sudden it’s not 200 anymore, it’s two million because of all of that. So we came in under four and the guys at Artfire said okay, and they gave me the controls, so I said sure. That’s where it came from. I also felt that I needed to do it quickly because somebody was sure going to do something about it soon. God damn, who knew that Brian [De Palma] was shooting Redacted and Cloverfield was happening? We didn’t know. We thought we were going to be the first guys. Didn’t work out that way.
Is it good to know that Cloverfield made it cool to do the first person perspective, handheld camera sort of document style?
GR: I don’t know. I can’t think of it that way. Is it good to know? I don’t know if it’s good or not. I don’t know. I think there’s a collective subconscious and I think that that’s where these films are coming from. All the world’s a camera now and it seems like it’s a reasonable way to do things. Maybe reality TV has turned into reality movies. I don’t know. It seems an obvious way to go now, even though I thought when we first started to work on this and I first did the script, I thought it was a clever way to go, never seeing that there’s probably going to be a lot of people thinking the same way. It happens so often. There is a collective subconscious out there. So I’m happy with my film. I haven’t seen Cloverfield. I know what it’s about of course but I almost don’t care. I’m happy with what we did.
The big difference is that the characters in your film are filmmakers, so it’s a filmmaker’s aesthetic. The point of Cloverfield was it was untrained people doing the best they could.
GR: Well, there is [a filmmaker’s aesthetic] and we were sort of aware of that. We left the film alone. We said, “We’ll shoot the principal action and then we can finish it later. Then we can throw anything in there, because these kids are going to finish this film and do a presentation, the best presentation that they can.” So we said we can do the same thing and we did. We left all the narration, all the newscaster voices, all that shit came later in post. That was the great thing about having control over it because we could just sit around and bulls**t and try things on for size, until we finally came up with what we thought was a good, appropriate set of tracks for it. It was great to just have the freedom and not have somebody breathing over your shoulder.
How did you get Jason’s reflection in the monitors?
GR: He had to shoot it. Obviously he had to shoot it himself, but it was like a Madden football play. The DP was shooting it up to a point and right before Joshua Close went in front of the mirror, sort of handed off the camera and Joshua took it and shot that shot.
How did you find the cast of unknowns?
GR: Auditions. Completely auditions. One of them I knew from Stratford, a Shakespeare company in Ontario. One of them was actually in a film that we had done. Shawn Roberts is in Land of the Dead in a very small role, the first guy that dies in Land. I just loved him, he was great to work with and we said, “Let’s go with Shawn.” We talked about giving him the same name but then we thought, “Well, maybe that’s too much of a connection.” He’s there. Other than that, it was all auditions. Lots of auditions.
Now that you’ve done these quickly, can we expect another one quickly? Will we have to wait 20 years?
GR: It beats the s**t out of me. 20 years, I won’t be around, so you don’t have to worry about that. Maybe I’ll come back. No, man, I don’t know. There’s a hell of a lot of talk about a sequel and shooting quickly, maybe this coming summer even. You just never know. Maybe that’ll be a reality. If it happens, it’ll be the first time I’ve ever done a direct sequel: take the same characters, take the same situation and move it on from there, move it to the next square. There’s a lot more that I’d like to say about this emerging media. We’ll see.
Do you think they might run into the mall or the science lab?
GR: No, I don’t think so. No. It’s simultaneous, so they could, but that’s not the way I would want to go with it. The biggest thing that we didn’t touch on was the idea that somebody, anybody, any lunatic could throw up a blog and all of a sudden he’s got 50 people following him. We didn’t really touch on that so much and that’s a direction that I’d like to go with, the idea of people developing tribes just by preaching to the converted. People that tune into Rush Limbaugh know what he’s going to say and already agree. That’s what happens I think with these columnists.
It’s interesting, the blogs and videos they find in Diary are actually helpful. People who have fought zombies share the information about how to destroy their brains.
GR: Not so much the blogs. They get that information from police radio broadcasts. That’s really where that info comes from. Mainstream media is sort of denying it, and then when it comes down to the blogs, that’s what I mean. We haven’t gone into that because they’re the ones who are sending it out without a lot of information. There’s also something there. All they know is what happened to them and yet they’re trying to put out this film and the main character, Jason, is so obsessed with doing it that he loses sight of reality, loses sight of his own survival and winds up perishing because of that. I don’t think they get a lot of accurate information, certainly not off the net.
Was the scene where electrocuting the zombie doesn’t work an answer to the Return of the Living Dead spinoff franchise, that claimed electricity would kill them for good?
GR: No. Not at all. It was an idea that came to me in the shower. Wouldn’t that be cool if she tries this and it oughta’ fry her but it doesn’t, so she comes back.
You start to explore how other cultures are responding to this. We see video from Japan and they even go through Amish country. What other cultures would you like to explore in this scenario?
GR: I don’t know but it’s a good idea. I really haven’t thought much about that. We were just trying to show that it’s worldwide. That’s all.
Since each film takes a different approach, what are the must-have elements in one of your zombie movies?
GR: Zombies! No, in fact, I could do away with the zombies. I don’t give a s**t. The stories have nothing to do with the zombies. The zombies might be a hurricane. They might be any disaster that comes along, but zombies are my ticket to ride in a certain way.
But all the films have scenes where they barricade, where they gather supplies, where they start in-fighting.
GR: That recurs because it’s human argument, right? It’s people not knowing exactly what to do and just getting caught up in arguing about ridiculous stuff instead of trying to really directly address the problem. I don’t think it’s so much that. The zombies are the ticket to ride. These are zombie movies so you have to have zombies. You have to figure out a cool way to get rid of the zombies, to kill them off, lose the brain somehow. That’s really the only element. The rest of it is they’re stories. They’re stories about people.
Does Diary even focus more on the human story and less on the zombie element than the other films?
GR: I don’t know that it necessarily does. Probably certainly not less than Night, but the story’s more obvious and the zombie sequences, particularly the gore sequences, go by very quickly because they’re shot subjectively by these people that are sort of standing back a little bit. Whereas the tendency when you’re doing it objectively is to go in for close up and do product shots on the gore. That just tends to stretch it out. I think pound for pound, it’s equal at least to, maybe not all of the films. Maybe Dawn and Day went a little further but it’s just that it goes by so quickly I think, because we’re just looking at it from over here. We’re not going in and studying it and taking five minutes to kill that zombie off.
How do you come up with new ways to dispose of the brain?
GR: You take a shower. I don’t know, man, it just comes to you.
You don’t sing. You think of zombie kills.
GR: I do. Of course I do. I’m already just faced with the idea of possibly having to do another sequel, and knowing that someday I probably will do another zombie movie, already the first thing you start to do is figure out new ways to dispose of these guys. It’s tough to come up with stuff.
It’s always been interesting to me that the first film was Night of the LIVING Dead, but then it was always â€¦of the Dead. Aren’t they still living dead?
GR: Yes, they are. It’s not my fault. Don’t ask me. I don’t make up the titles. The funny thing is, my partner at the time when I made Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead didn’t want to get involved with any sort of litigation, so he shortened it to “of the dead.” Now anybody that wants to hire me to make a movie, it has to be “of the dead,” Something of the Dead.
You said you didn’t know where to go with the Land of the Dead thread, but Land suggested there might be uncontaminated areas he was heading off to. Wouldn’t that be a place to explore?
GR: That’s actually the way I’m sort of going. You want to just get somewhere where there’s at least less turmoil, someplace a little less civilized where at least if there is a conflict, it’s going to be smaller and maybe more controlled. But yeah, that’s obviously the way I was going and that’s what I was doing with Land because there was a hell of a lot of talk while we were shooting Land that we’ll do a sequel to this right away too. It’s the obvious thing to do. If I was one of those guys, I’d say, “Let’s go to the Yukon, man.”
Would you eventually revisit that timeline?
GR: I don’t think so. I don’t know where to go with it. I don’t know what to do with the zombies. I don’t want to do Beyond the Planet of the Apes. I don’t want a zombie society. I don’t want to go that far. I’ve had ideas in that direction but it’s not really what I want to do. I’m now happy that I’ve started over and I have a whole other thing that I can probably milk until I die and I never have to get to that point. I never have to end it because I don’t know exactly how to end it.
Could they maybe intersect at some point?
GR: Maybe, they could, and I’ve thought about that too but I doubt it. I think I just want to have this new line now and I’ll stick with that and not worry about what happens at the end. It’s so hard to end. What happens? Either the zombies take over or the humans win. I don’t like either of those and I don’t like some kind of d’etant. The end of Land is that sort of “let ’em be.” So I came close enough I guess to that idea of live and let live.
Would you ever explain the cause of this phenomenon, or always leave it a mystery?
GR: I hope not. I don’t care what the cause is. I’ve forever been trying to live down, in Night of the Living Dead, we shot actually three explanations. We wound up having to cut six minutes out of the film in order for the distributor to want to distribute it. We cut out a radio thing and a TV thing because we thought it’s just boring, we’re sitting in the house, same old thing. We left in the one that we shot in Washington, D.C. because we thought, “Production value, man. We actually went to D.C. and shot it with the capitol in the background.” So we left that in. Next thing you know, even every TV Guide blurb said, “A returning Venus probe causes the dead to come back to life.” Starting with the second film, I went with that sort of voodoo explanation, “When there’s no more room in hellâ€¦” I don’t care. I don’t give a f**k why it happened. That’s part of the whole thing to me is that there’s this change. The world has changed. Somebody has changed some kind of a rule and it’s different. The stories are about how people respond to it, don’t respond, respond incorrectly, stupidly, whatever. That’s really all that matters to me.
What zombie films from other filmmakers do you enjoy?
Have you seen Flight of the Living Dead?
GR: I haven’t, no. I haven’t seen it.
Those are all still recent. Are there any classic zombie movies besides yours?
GR: Oh, classic? Different zombies, man. That’s the Caribbean boys. Classic films, I don’t know. Carnival of Souls. Is that a zombie movie? I don’t know if it is.
How about the Italian ones?
GR: I love a couple of Fulci things. I just had a gas watching them. It’s not what I would do but I loved watching them. They were fun. And the oldies, man, I Walk With a Zombie, White Zombie and that stuff. Different zombies. They’re not the neighborhood zombies.
Which of your non-zombie films would you love for fans to rediscover?
GR: My two favorite films of mine are sort of semi-vampire; it’s not a vampire, it’s called Martin. And a film I made called Knightriders which is probably my most personal or autobiographical film in a way. So those two.
George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead is out in limited release today.
Just what does Rotten Tomatoes deem the all-time scariest horror flick? Is it a gruesome slasher that results in heightened anxiety and sudden spine-tingling jolts and jumps? Or, is it a psychological thriller that plagues the subconscious for weeks to come?
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.**
Today’s installment kicks off the countdown; 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, #20-16
20) Open Water (2004) 72%
It might as well be space because in the Caribbean Sea no one can hear you scream. Well, save for the circling sharks below. In the slow-paced psychological thriller "Open Water," married couple Susan and Daniel embark upon a deep sea adventure to rest, relax and reconnect. Unfortunately for the twosome, they are accidentally left behind by their diving team, smack dab in the middle of the deep blue. The pair struggle to survive amid tumultuous elements and inhospitable oceanic critters. Oh, and get this, it’s based on a true story, so you may want to rethink that next seaside getaway.
19) Joy Ride (2001) 73%
Breaker, breaker 1-9. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the horror meets the highway jaunt "Joy Ride," it’s that one should never mess with a guy who goes by the name "Rusty Nail." Tetanus, people. Tetanus. Of course, on-screen bros Paul Walker and Steve Zahn didn’t get the memo and end up messing with a mentally unstable truck driver via CB radio. Essentially, a mean-spirited joke goes awry and the two brothers, along with potential love interest Leelee Sobieski, find themselves in the path of a madman’s quest for revenge.
18) George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005) 74%
After a lengthy hiatus, horror master George A. Romero returned in 2005 with yet another unsettling tale of life among zombies in "Land of the Dead." This time around, the living dead and humans co-exist, but not without a structured caste system in place. Romero’s societal commentary tackles the issue of the "haves" and "have-nots," where the wealthy live in luxury, safe behind walls of protection while the not-so fortunate are relegated to life in streets. Regardless, no amount of money can keep the ever-evolving lineage of zombies at bay for too long.
17) Signs (2002) 75%
Honestly, which is scarier: the little girl that asks for a glass of water or the bobble-headed aliens lurking about in M. Night Shyamalan‘s "Signs?" Beyond the suspense of who, or perhaps what, is behind the crop circles in the cornfield, "Signs" digs a little deeper and brings up issues of faith and religion. The tale of the Hess family and the series of peculiar events that have lately befallen them is a perfectly chilling romp for the whole family to enjoy.
16) Audition (1999) 76%
The first half of "Audition" is slow-moving, like a glob of peanut butter lodged in the back of your throat. But by the latter half, chances are you’d prefer that things had kept at their leisurely pace. Not for the faint of heart, Takashi Miike‘s disturbing tale of courtship is a perfect example that it’s never wise to mislead a woman. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone severs a limb.
Tune in tomorrow for the next five titles, in our four-day countdown to Halloween’s #1 rated horror flick!
**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.
Fresh off the success of his "Land of the Dead," zombie-master George A. Romero has decided to "go indie" on his next "Dead" sequel, which will be called "Diary of the Dead" and goes into production this October.
From The Hollywood Reporter: "George A. Romero has signed on to write and direct "George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead," following in the tradition of his 1968 cult classic "Night of the Living Dead." With a story mixing elements of "The Blair Witch Project" and the long-running "Dead" series, the film will follow a group of college students shooting a horror movie in the woods who stumble upon a real zombie uprising. When the onslaught begins, they seize the moment as any good film students would, capturing the undead in a "cinema verite" style that causes more than the usual production headaches. After going more than two decades without making an independently financed zombie film, Romero told his production partner Peter Grunwald he was frustrated working within the system. "I was trying to convince Peter we could just run off and do it ourselves," he said."
Although Father’s Day has passed, Hollywood brings out two very different stories about dads and their wacky adventures this weekend with Adam Sandler‘s comedy Click and Tyrese Gibson‘s actioner Waist Deep, both opening in theaters on Friday. Comedy has been ruling the box office throughout the month of June and that trend should continue until the Man of Steel arrives next week.
Looking for his seventh trip across the $100M mark, Adam Sandler returns to the big screen with his latest comedy Click. Released by his favorite studio Sony, the PG-13 pic tells the story of a man who comes across a magical remote control that gives him the power to manipulate his whole world, from his family at home to his boss at work. Frank Coraci follows up The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy by directing the funnyman for a third time while Christopher Walken, David Hasselhoff, Kate Beckinsale, and Henry Winkler co-star. Sandler, who turns forty this year, is moving on from his slacker roles playing a husband and father. This makes sense as his fan base is aging too.
The comedian typically picks films with unique concepts and Click is no different. The story is not run-of-the-mill, but an interesting what-if scenario that will make audiences curious. Trailers and commercials have been funny so another blockbuster that satisfies moviegoers is in the works. Over the last eight years, Sandler has seen his bigger hits like Waterboy, Big Daddy, Anger Management, Mr. Deeds, and 50 First Dates all open in the $37-42M range with opening weekend averages of more than $11,000 each time. His most recent film The Longest Yard scored a bit better last summer opening to $47.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. The guy comes out with about one movie per year so audiences don’t get too much of him.
Young men make up the actor’s bread and butter, however you don’t open north of $40M by just appealing to this group. Female appeal is also solid with his films and Click should click with chicks too. Still, Nacho Libre and The Fast and the Furious sequel will be in their second weekends and even though both are expected to drop hard, the duo will still provide some competition for Sandler. However, since Waist Deep is looking to be a relatively small pic in the marketplace, this weekend shapes up to be one where Click is the only major new wide release. That should make frequent moviegoers like teens and twentysomethings look at it as the only new game in town.
Sony has invested heavily in the marketing push and summer is a time when people want to laugh so the returns should be healthy. Opinions of critics should not matter much. One of the most reliable box office draws around, Adam Sandler will see the widest opening of his career with a launch in 3,748 theaters this weekend. That could push Click to around $43M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.
Tyrese Gibson plays an ex-con on a fast and furious hunt to get back his kidnapped son in the new action drama Waist Deep from Focus Features’ Rogue Pictures division. Directed by Vondie Curtis Hall (Glitter, Gridlock’d), the R-rated film also stars Meagan Good, Larenz Tate and hip hop star The Game. Gibson jumped from the modeling world into movies and has become a player although his roles have always been opposite other established box office draws. This time, he anchors solo as none of his co-stars have a track record of opening films on their own.
Waist Deep will play primarily to an urban audience with African Americans making up the largest component. Whites are not likely to show much interest. This same audience powered ATL to a stellar $11.6M bow from 1,602 theaters this past spring. However, Waist does not seem to have the same level of hype plus it will debut in fewer theaters. Most of the film’s competition will come from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which is likely to fall sharply this weekend. The marketing push has been targeted and is trying to appeal to fans of The Game who in recent years has developed a large fan base. Opening in 1,004 theaters, Waist Deep might shoot up about $6M this weekend.
Opening in limited release this weekend, Roadside Attractions offers the controversial film The Road to Guantanamo which tells the story of a group of Pakistani men from England who are detained while traveling to Afghanistan and imprisoned and tortured by the U.S. military. Told through a mix of interviews with survivors and re-enactments of the events, the R-rated pic won the best director prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and hits 15 theaters in North America before expanding.
After two laps as box office champ, the Disney/Pixar animated hit Cars looks to decelerate some more this weekend for a second place finish. The film’s 43% second weekend decline was the biggest for any Pixar toon since 1999’s Toy Story 2 which was coming off of a Thanksgiving holiday launch. Cars should see its drop stabilize since this weekend’s offerings should not pull away too many young children. A decline of 40% to about $20M could result giving the Lightning McQueen pic $152M in 17 days.
Jack Black flexed some amazing muscles last weekend with the debut of Nacho Libre. Adam Sandler will provide some stiff competition for young males so a sizable drop of 50% could occur giving Paramount a weekend take of around $14M. That would still give the wrestling comedy a solid $54M in ten days.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift also debuted impressively last weekend tapping into a similar audience, but a steep sophomore crash is imminent. The last film in the franchise, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, tumbled 63% in its second race. This latest Universal sequel has also burned through its upfront crowd plus will face competition for young guys from Click and for the urban audience from Waist Deep. A hefty 60% fall would leave Tokyo Drift with $9M for the weekend and $42M in ten days.
Keanu and Sandra snuggled up to a decent, but not spectacular, opening for their romance The Lake House. Adult women will not be too distracted by the new options so a moderate 40% drop could result. That would give the Warner Bros. release $8M for the frame and a ten-day tally of $29M.
LAST YEAR: Topping the charts for a second straight weekend, Batman Begins grossed $27.6M dropping 43% from its opening giving Warner Bros. an encouraging hold. Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell powered their new comedy Bewitched into the number two slot opening with $20.1M. The Sony release found its way to $62.3M. Fox’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith placed third with $16.8M in its third fight. Two new releases rounded out the top ten. Disney’s Lindsay Lohan film Herbie: Fully Loaded opened to $12.7M and $17.7M over five days, while Universal’s zombie flick Land of the Dead bowed to $10.2M. Final grosses reached $66M and $20.5M, respectively. In limited release, the inner city dancing documentary Rize opened to $1.6M from 352 theaters for a $4,474 average putting it in 12th place. Lions Gate collected $3.3M by the end of its short run.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Rotten Tomatoes, the trusted online source for gauging the critical reaction to movies, has announced the 2005 recipients of the Golden Tomato Awards, the site’s annual awards given to recognize the year’s best-reviewed films.
The awards are not based solely on just the Tomatometer score. We use a weighted formula (Bayesian) to account for variation in the number of reviews per movie. The winners are determined by the rankings after applying said formula. This means between two films with similar Tomatometer scores, the one with more reviews will have a higher ranking.
The Golden Tomato for Best Limited Release Film goes to Warner Independent Pictures and director George Clooney for their McCarthy-era drama, "Good Night, And Good Luck," based on a tally of 167 reviews of the country’s top print, broadcast and online film critics.
The Golden Tomato for Best Wide Release Film is awarded to DreamWorks and Aardman Studio’s lovable duo of a cheese-obsessed inventor and his faithful companion, the titular heroes of "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," based on the reviews of 148 critics across the nation.
Other big winners include Universal Pictures’ "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" for Best Comedy, Warner Independent Pictures’ "March of the Penquins" for Best Documentary and Sony Pictures Classics’ "Kung-Fu Hustle" for Best Foreign Film. A complete list of winners follows.
2005 Winners Complete List:
BEST-REVIEWED WIDE RELEASE:
"Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"
BEST-REVIEWED LIMITED RELEASE:
"Good Night, And Good Luck"
"Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"
"The 40 Year-Old Virgin"
"Good Night, And Good Luck"
"George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead"
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
"March of the Penquins"
BEST-REVIEWED FOREIGN FILM:
"Kung Fu Hustle"
"A History of Violence"