(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: 64959%
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: 62490%
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: 64644%
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: 65829%
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: 66498%
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: 66793%
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: 64121%
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: 64649%
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: 67275%
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: 67108%
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: 64620%
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: 65806%
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: 66058%
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: 65727%
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: 68357%
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: 52363%
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: 67391%
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: 73209%
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: 69530%
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)
70%

#58
Adjusted Score: 70710%
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: 70499%
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: 75479%
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: 77082%
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: 77700%
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: 79379%
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: 76849%
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: 71436%
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: 71479%
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: 72093%
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: 72238%
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: 74637%
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: 74596%
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: 72502%
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: 74185%
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: 76664%
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: 73727%
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: 80997%
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: 63757%
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: 77011%
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: 77442%
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: 80363%
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: 86374%
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: 82185%
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: 84278%
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: 80995%
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: 84456%
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: 91418%
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: 84725%
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: 86999%
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: 86397%
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: 88335%
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: 93860%
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: 88435%
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: 91717%
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: 94026%
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: 94189%
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: 89819%
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: 99788%
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: 98888%
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: 103288%
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: 98421%
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: 104442%
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

Since making his debut with Reservoir Dogs more than 20 years ago, Quentin Tarantino has enjoyed one of the most consistently critically lauded careers of any director in modern Hollywood, and he’s back this weekend with the grim ‘n’ gritty Western ensemble piece The Hateful Eight. Once again, early reviews are solid — which means now is the perfect time to dedicate a feature to taking a fond look back at his earlier efforts. Cover the kids’ ears and keep an eye on Marvin in the back seat, because this week, we’re serving up Total Recall, Tarantino style!


Four Rooms (1995) 14%

FourRooms

The appeal of anthology films — that audiences can see the work of multiple directors under one narrative umbrella — can also be one of their major drawbacks: The results, as in 1995’s Four Rooms, often strike some viewers as wildly, painfully uneven. As this particular outing proved, success isn’t guaranteed even if you bring together a handful of the industry’s most critically beloved and/or commercially ascendant filmmakers; although Four Rooms united Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders, and Alexandre Rockwell to tell the promise-rich tale of a beleaguered bellhop (Tim Roth) making his way through a series of progressively weirder hotel rooms on New Year’s Eve, only Rodriguez’s segment escaped heaps of withering critical scorn, and the film barely eked out $4 million at the box office. But a 14 percent Tomatometer rating means that a few critics liked it — such as Boxoffice Magazine’s Shlomo Schwartzberg, who shrugged and said, “As a whole, Four Rooms is only diverting, and pretty mindless, but at its best it’s a lot of fun.”

Watch Trailer


Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof (2007) 65%

DeathProof2

Forged by the bond of friendship between Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez — as well as their shared love of sloppy, bloody, low-budget exploitation flicks — 2007’s Grindhouse found the two directors splitting a three-hour double bill that took audiences from cheeky zombie terror (Rodriguez’s Planet Terror) to seethingly violent high-octane action (Tarantino’s Death Proof). At 67 percent, Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse got the short end of the Tomatometer stick, but plenty of critics still enjoyed his gleefully depraved look at a homicidal stuntman (Kurt Russell) with a fondness for murdering young ladies. “I’ve rarely seen a filmmaker, in current Hollywood at least, expose his sexual and sadistic kinks on screen with such shameless glee,” observed an admiring Kevin N. Laforest for the Montreal Film Journal.

Watch Trailer


The Hateful Eight (2015) 74%

Hateful8

What if Quentin Tarantino tried his hand at an Agatha Christie mystery? Filmgoers got their answer to that question — sort of — with 2015’s The Hateful Eight, in which a rogue’s gallery of typically Tarantino-esque characters find themselves bound up in lethally close quarters while a murder mystery inexorably tightens its way toward a gleefully violent conclusion. It’s a setup rich with possibilities for the director’s signature style of filmmaking, and in a fair number of respects, critics said Hateful didn’t disappoint: Tarantino assembled a stellar ensemble cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and fed them heaping servings of the sort of pungently knotty dialogue fans have come to expect. Yet while Tarantino’s films have often benefited from an approach to violence that could be charitably described as “enthusiastic,” some scribes admitted to a certain amount of discomfort with the particular brand of bloodshed he unleashed here, identifying a darker, meaner strain that explored racism and misogyny without necessarily offering illumination. “The Hateful Eight is a movie about the worst aspects of human nature, which is why the film can’t be quite described as ‘fun,’ at least in the traditional sense,” wrote the Miami Herald’s Rene Rodriguez. “But Tarantino isn’t glorifying the ugliness; he’s condemning it.”

Watch Trailer


Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) 84%

Kill Bill 2

Six months after kicking off his Kill Bill revenge saga with Volume 1, Tarantino returned to theaters with its conclusion. Part kung fu brawl, part origin story, Kill Bill: Volume 2 fills in the blanks of its katana-wielding protagonist’s (Uma Thurman) past while she slices and dices her way to whatever passes for redemption. Clocking in at over four hours between the two installments, it’s a pretty hefty cinematic experience for something that boils down to a fairly simple tale, but most critics didn’t mind at all — in fact, Volume 2 performed nearly as well as its predecessor on the Tomatometer. As Jeremy Heilman of MovieMartyr argued, “The massive combination of the first and second Kill Bill movies stands as a testament to both Tarantino’s exceptional skill as a filmmaker and the possibilities of pop cinema.”

Watch Trailer


Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) 85%

KillBillVol1

After a seemingly interminable six-year wait following Jackie Brown, Tarantino re-emerged with a blood-spattered martial arts epic so sprawling it needed to be chopped in half. Enter 2003’s Kill Bill: Volume 1, starring Uma Thurman as an assassin whose plans to leave the fold for a life of wedded bliss hit a snag when her mentor (David Carradine) decides he’d rather have her dead than retired, and sends her fellow killers-for-hire (played by Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, and Michael Madsen) to put a permanent stop to the nuptials. After watching Thurman’s take-no-prisoners performance, the New York Observer’s Andrew Sarris couldn’t help but say, “I would argue that, in a bizarre way, Mr. Tarantino empowers women as no action-genre director before him ever has.”

Watch Trailer


Jackie Brown (1997) 87%

JackieBrown

Three years after achieving “young Hollywood genius” status with Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino re-emerged with Jackie Brown, a 154-minute adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch that served as Tarantino’s homage to 1970s blaxploitation while resurrecting the career of one of the genre’s biggest stars: Pam Grier. Hitherto known for playing the title role in 1974’s Foxy Brown, Grier returned to the big screen in pretty good company, including Bridget Fonda, Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, Chris Tucker, Robert De Niro, and Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson. While it was ultimately a bit of a critical and commercial letdown after the raging success of Pulp Fiction, Jackie still proved a favorite for scribes like Chuck Rudolph of Matinee Magazine, who wrote that it “Achieves the soulful edge lacking from Tarantino’s previous efforts. Forster and Grier’s performances deserve to join the short-list of all-time greats.”

Watch Trailer


Django Unchained (2012) 86%

DjangoUnchained

Having entered the realm of social justice revenge fantasy with Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino basically remained there for Django Unchained, a pre-Civil War Western about a slave (Jamie Foxx) in an unorthodox partnership with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who needs his assistance to apprehend of a trio of outlaws — and is willing to not only grant his freedom in exchange, but help Django find and free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s the perfect setup for two hours and change of profane, gleefully violent action, and Tarantino more than delivers with a star-studded excoriation of systematic injustice that manages to treat its subject with something approaching the proper respect without sacrificing an ounce of momentum. The end result, wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, is “Wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery’s singular horrors.”

Watch Trailer


Inglourious Basterds (2009) 89%

InglouriousBasterds

Any film fan worth his or her salt has seen plenty of World War II movies, but Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds added a little something special to the mix — an eminently well-cast revenge fantasy, starring a motley crew of solid actors (including Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, and Michael Fassbender) as soldiers in a parallel reality where the evil of the Third Reich is met full force with an Allied squadron whose members are hungry for Nazi blood (and/or scalps). Boasting a uniquely cathartic flavor of Tarantino-brewed violence to go with its taut drama and dark wit, Basterds proved powerfully compelling for critics like Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek, who had to concede, “Quentin Tarantino seems to be hanging on to a lost world of moviemaking. He may be nuts. But he’s a nut who cares.”

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Reservoir Dogs (1992) 92%

ReservoirDogs

Debuts don’t come much more auspicious than Reservoir Dogs. Yes, it’s a profane, blood-splattered heist flick — and goodness knows we have more than enough of those — but this one’s noteworthy for a number of things, including its hyper-literate script, its killer soundtrack, and a cast stuffed with tremendously talented character actors (including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Madsen). While it didn’t exactly set the world on fire during its small theatrical run, it did offer cineastes an early look at one of modern filmmaking’s most exciting, fully formed talents — and it definitely drew the notice of critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, who wrote, “It’s unclear whether this macho thriller does anything to improve the state of the world or our understanding of it, but it certainly sets off enough rockets to hold and shake us for every one of its 99 minutes.”

Watch Trailer


Pulp Fiction (1994) 92%

PulpFiction

Some careers take a while to get going — and then there’s Quentin Tarantino, who drew almost universal critical praise for Reservoir Dogs before skyrocketing into the Hollywood stratosphere with his second film, 1994’s Pulp Fiction. A $214 million box office smash and seven-time Academy Award nominee (as well as Best Original Screenplay winner), Fiction offered a blend of pop culture smarts, laugh-out-loud humor, and shocking violence so potent (and massively influential) that it even managed to revitalize John Travolta’s long-moribund acting career — and left Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” blasting out of countless college dorm rooms along the way. It was also, as Janet Maslin of the New York Times noted, “A triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey through a demimonde that springs entirely from Mr. Tarantino’s ripe imagination, a landscape of danger, shock, hilarity and vibrant local color.”

Zoe Bell

Native New Zealander Zoe Bell spent years as an accomplished stunt double for Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess before doubling for Uma Thurman on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. After establishing a rapport with the auteur, Tarantino opened the doors to her acting career by casting her as one of the leads in Death Proof, his segment of 2007’s joint project with Robert Rodriguez, Grindhouse. With roles in this year’s upcoming films Gamer and Whip It!, Bell was on hand at Comic-Con to promote her actioner Angel of Death, out on DVD this week, and we were able to sit down with her for a lengthy chat. Read on to discover the Kiwi’s Five Favorite Films, what it was like working with Quentin Tarantino, and what it’s like to transition from stunt work to acting.

The Neverending Story (1984,
83% Tomatometer)



The Neverending Story

I’ll give it a shot. “Favorites” questions are my least liked questions because I’ve never been any good at favorites. But I’ll give it a shot. I’ll probably disappoint every fan out there. The ones that stick out as being my favorites, most of them are from when I was young, because movies just meant something different to me when I was a kid than what they mean to me now. They still mean a lot to me, but also it’s, once you start working in the film business, your appreciation shifts.

The Neverending Story, without a doubt. I loved that movie. I thought the girl in that was hot. I thought she was so cute. I was like, “I want to be her when I grow up.” Wear a necklace on my forehead and say, “Call my name, Sebastian. Call my name!” I remember, I was living on an island; we didn’t have a movie theater, we just had a town hall. Every now and then they would drop a big sheet and a projection thing. We’d sit on wooden chairs. So, The Neverending Story.

Labyrinth (1986,
58% Tomatometer)



Labyrinth

And Labyrinth. Labyrinth was sort of the same… Loved Labyrinth. I watched it again recently and had a total adult crush on David Bowie. I used to just think he was cool, and now I’m like, “Oh my God, he’s so hot in that movie.” So 80s and glam rock. And I think both of those movies are sort of, really so fancy, but there was something… I don’t know. To me, I didn’t feel like I was suspending reality. It just was like, “That’s the world this movie exists in, and I want to be in it,” you know what I mean? I just love both of those movies.

Stand by Me (1986,
94% Tomatometer)



Stand by Me

I know everyone’s expecting me to list off all these action movies, but Stand By Me. There’s something about the relationships and the performances in that movie that I found really inspirational. And this is before I was even considering being an actor. I just found it to be one of the more true, real, honest sort of movies that really had an effect on me. I watched it a week ago and got goose bumps. Especially with the whole River Phoenix thing and how he disappears at the end. How genius is he in the movie? There’s something about a movie like that that can be so effective with no gimmicks.

Lethal Weapon (1987,
90% Tomatometer)



Lethal Weapon

I’ve got two more to go, and the ones that popped into my head are the Lethal Weapon movies! I love the Lethal Weapon movies. I know I shouldn’t claim them all together but the combination of humor and action and the relationship between Glover and Gibson is just… That’s the kind of stuff that I watched and was like, “I want to do that!” It never occurred to me that that meant acting. Those are the kind of movies that I could watch over and over and over and know every line and it not be a problem that I know every line; I still enjoy the effect it has on me, you know what I mean?

Pulp Fiction (1994,
96% Tomatometer)



Pulp Fiction

This is going to sound ridiculous because it’s going to sound like I’m doing a bunch of ass-licking but Pulp Fiction. And I shouldn’t hesitate, because it’s good cinema, but… I remember watching Pulp Fiction — whatever age I was, teenage years somewhere — and really struck at the cleverness of it and loving that you can have something as violent, but as humorous and as… I could feel — you know, because I didn’t know him as a person at that point; he was just the director — but I could feel his brain working in the conversations in his head, and his opinions about stuff. The conversations that were like, “I’ve had conversations like that about why you call it a quarter pounder or a royale with cheese.” It was so clever and reachable by me. And I wasn’t a film buff, I wasn’t sort of like a fan about any of that stuff. It just really spoke to me, it was so clever. Then I went back and watched Reservoir Dogs. I think I’d seen it before but I went back and watched it again. But yes, Pulp Fiction was definitely… Actually, it’s cool that I get to say that; I’m happy to be able to say that.


Next, Bell talks about getting to know Quentin Tarantino and what being an actor means to her.

RT: What was it like, having had Pulp Fiction make such a big impact, and then meeting Quentin Tarantino?

Zoe Bell: Kind of unreal. And it wasn’t unreal like I felt faint and thought I was going to pass out or start vomiting out a bunch of dumb sh**, but he was sort of open and excited and I just felt the same way. It was like, “Nice to meet you!” and then cut to three days later, they’re like, “Okay, we need you to come to China, and you’ve got the job.” I’m like, “What, what? Wait, what? Really?” And then meeting Quentin and working with him was so… I was definitely in awe of him, certainly, but not in the way that implies “intimidated” or “scared” or “freaked out,” because he was so unfrightening to me. There were no pretenses; I didn’t feel like he was walking around with this, like, “You must bow to me”… Nothing like that.

And I think, also, my history was I worked in New Zealand for four years before Kill Bill, and I was working on Xena for most of it, and the lead, Lucy [Lawless], who’s a Kiwi, and Renee [O’Connor], who’s not a Kiwi, were two of the most grounded, open, relaxed, low-drama, low maintenance actresses ever, and so I was just accustomed to the New Zealand way of it. So it never occurred to me that I needed to feel less worthy than or put myself below in any way, shape, or form. So I think I came at [Tarantino] that way, and he came at me that way, and it wasn’t until I started writing home like, “Oh, bla bla bla Quentin” that people were like, “Ooh, first name basis.” And I’m like, honestly, after three months, what am I going to call him? “Quentin Tarantino?” Like, “Hi Quentin Tarantino, how’s your day?”

But it was pretty phenomenal watching him work and being a part of that. It’s really not until it’s finished and I’m talking to other people about it, like when I’m talking to you about it, that I go, “No, if I was on the other side, I’d be like, ‘Dude! What was that like?'”

RT: Ship’s Mast — that was so awesome.

ZB: Yeah, thank God he’s got the brain as f***ed up as he does, because that was cool! And that was all from his head. When he first came to me with the script, I was in a state of shock, you know, because we hadn’t had any discussions about it that I could recall that meant that he was expecting me to be one of the leads, and had forty pages that had me speaking in it. I was like, “Are you f***ing mental? What if I’m terrible at it? What if I hate it, or what if I’m bad at it?” That was the most important thing. I was like, I don’t want to be the girl who destroys a Tarantino movie, you know? And he was like, “Yeah, but that’s my choice. I’m choosing you, and I make good decisions.” And I can’t argue, you can’t argue with Tarantino, you know, about these things. He could see I was definitely in a bit of shock. I was honored and freaked out and a little bit like, “Did you think about checking in with me before you wrote this whole movie?” So he took me out for beers, because he knows me; clearly he knows me. And then he was like, “Let me tell you about the action sequence, because I think you’re going to be sold.” And he described it to me, and I was like, “Alright, I’m in! I’ll do it!” So much fun, so much fun working with him like that.

[rtimage]MapID=1159014&MapTypeID=2&photo=12&legacy=1[/rtimage]

I mean, I realize how fortunate I am. I know there are people out there that are like, “Screw you. She didn’t have to work for it. And bla bla bla.” There are people that want to know that I know how hard it is for other people, and that I was very fortunate. And the truth is, I know all that; I’m fully aware of it. And, I’ve worked hard as a stunt person; I just didn’t have the intention of doing what Quentin apparently had the intention of doing with me. And now I’m here, now I do have to work really hard to maintain it and keep going from here, because other people aren’t just going to give me stuff like he did. I mean, there are… Listen, Ed Brubaker wrote Angel of Death for me; what am I going on about? But, you know, it requires hard work, and I’m really willing to do that. I really enjoy where this career is going. To have it start off that way, I’m like, you gotta do something with it, you know what I mean? It’s ridiculous.

RT: At what moment did you consider yourself an actor?”

ZB: That was a really slow process. I think probably because there was part of me that struggled with whether I deserved to be able to call myself that, a little bit like on a subconscious level. Not like a “poor me” thing. And maybe no one thinks that, and maybe it’s just all in my head and I’m just projecting. But it was really, for me… You know, I worked on a couple of movies, Gamer and Whip It!, and then we did Angel of Death, and it was probably, to be honest, leading up to the audition for Angel of Death, it was like, when these guys said to me, “We want you — and we need you — to carry this whole f***ing movie.” And I was like, “Oh my God, if I say yes to this, I really have to pull finger. This is not me being myself; this is a character that’s not me, I am carrying the whole movie, and I need to be committed for real. And I need to put my ego and my shame and all of that sh** out the window.” And at that point it was like, I need to earn it. And once I felt like I’d earned it, then it was like, well, along with it comes the right to call myself an actor, you know? I didn’t call myself a stuntwoman until I was trained and working as one, and there was a point where I went, “Okay, I can earn this now.” It took me a little while with stunts, too. And, you know, I’ve been going to acting class, and I’ll be going to acting class until I’m not acting any more, and I think that’s all part of it. But it took me a little while to wrap my head around it. Probably shouldn’t be telling you that, but it really did.

RT: No, I appreciate the honesty.

ZB: My publicist is like, “Stop being honest with f***ing journalists!” and I’m like, “Sorry!”

RT: Angel of Death looks like a female Bourne Identity kind of action movie.

ZB: Yeah, it’s pretty much female Bourne with about an eightieth of the budget. [laughs] It’s really low budget, but for the budget we had, the outcome is amazing. We had such fantastic people working on it. And yeah, female Bourne is cool. I’ll take that. Look out, Matt Damon!

RT: Was it coincidence that you and Lucy Lawless were in the movie together?

ZB: No, that was definitely her doing a favor for me and Paul [Etheridge]. If I’m getting it correct, Paul wanted her to be in there, and the role was written for her, with her in mind. She came in, she was just in there for a day, kicked a**, rocked that character so hard, and left. Everyone was like,””F***, she’s the coolest thing ever.” She just came in with like this cool breath of fresh air, Kiwi whirlwind, knocked sh** about and gave it an awesome performance, then left, and everyone was like, “We love her.” And I said, “I know, I know.”

RT: Looking towards the future, are you considering roles that are outside of the action genre?

ZB: At this point, I just got hooked up with a new management company and we’re really excited. We’re sort of getting together a game plan. So, hopefully Angel of Death 2 goes, because I’m just like, this sounds cool, and we’re talking about what would happen in it, and Ed’s really excited to write it, and he’s told me what he wants, and I’m all excited about it. Basically, action is obviously something that I am really passionate about. I have talent lying in that arena… “I have talent lying in that arena.” What kind of English is that? [laughs] Me trying to be modest and just screwing up my English.

Anyway, that’s also where people are comfortable, because I really haven’t done a lot of acting, so if people are going to put money behind me, they want to feel confident and do something that they can be confident in me doing. And I love it, so we’re definitely looking at those kind of roles. And we’re looking at a TV series that we want to put together. So there’s a bunch of things in the developmental stages, but I’m really excited at the concept of… I love the idea of doing comedy. Even if it’s action comedy, but comedy really appeals to me. And I would love to do things that put me outside of my comfort zone, because basically — I know this sounds weird because I jump off buildings for a living, or I used to jump off buildings for a living — I got comfortable with that kind of discomfort. The acting is putting myself outside my comfort zone in a whole different way, and that’s part of what I find really intriguing and inspiring about it. So yeah, I definitely am open to the roles outside of the typical action role that you would assume I’d do. But, you know, if I have to build respect and a reputation before people are comfortable or willing to do that, then I’m willing to do that, but I’m definitely open to any.



Look for Angel of Death out on DVD this week, and for more Five Favorite Films, check our archive.

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Top Five Death Proof Exploitation Films: the films that wouldn't die.

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have long reigned as the Dark Princes of Schlock-Appreciation. They make movies for those who like it rough, sleazy and thrill-packed. Every dirty flicker in Death Proof and Planet Terror pays tribute to a thousand cheaply-produced fun-rides of perversion known as exploitation films. These often violent, and always sensational, flicks were pumped out for high-profits and thrills.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Trash appreciation is a fine tradition amongst film lovers, as witnessed by the large number of grindhouse gems that are repeatedly dug from their filthy graves. These resurrected zombies of the film-world still walk amongst us today and RT pays tribute.

Reefer Madness
1) Reefer Madness
50%

This little gem had an unlikely start in life. It was a Church-made morality tale about the evils

of cannabis. That is until exploitation director Dwain Esper got his grubby mitts

on it and with a bit of creative editing turned it into a camp, cult classic.

Now walks the earth as…
Not only is Reefer Madness still compulsive viewing in college dorms and share-houses the world over, it spawned its very own off-Broadway musical satire. Still not content to let it lie, Showtime turned that musical into a film, also called Reefer Madness, starring Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming.

Faster, 

Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
2) Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
74%

Ladies and Gentlemen — welcome to violence. This Russ Meyer flick is what happens when angry young go-go dances go wild and it has everything a good little exploitation film could want: speed, sex and violent women.

Now walks the earth as…
You can hardly walk past an art house retrospective without tripping over this one. It has made some reverberations in the rock world having been sampled and referenced by The Cramps, The Killers, White Zombie, and of course, metal band, Faster Pussycat. There have also been some rumours that Tarantino may have a crack at remaking it but this has not been confirmed.

Shaft
3) Shaft
90%

This is a blaxploitation film with some pretty good pedigree. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award in 1971 for “Theme from Shaft” and the film was box office lightning on release. It is the story of the coolest black detective in history on the search for the missing daughter of a

mobster.

Now walks the earth as…
It spawned two ’70s sequels and a series of made-for-television movies. In 2000, director John Singleton brought the character back to life with his sequel, also entitled Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. The original film has a place in the United States National Film Registry, preserved as a shining example of its genre.

Vanishing Point
4) Vanishing Point
75%

Vanishing Point paid tribute to the 1970 Dodge Challenger in one of the great road trip films of the era. Car chases, hitchhikers and blind DJs are all a film really needed to find its way into the drive-ins of the early ’70s. This one was a surprising box-office hit and captured an audience on the look-out for marginalised American anti-heroes cruising the highways at great

speed.

Now walks the earth as…
Its re-make appeared in 1997 and was a little less successful. It starred Viggo_Mortensen and Jason Priestly. The original is still a staple in the DVD collections of those who love a grizzled anti-hero and Tarantino has called it one of the major influences for Death Proof.

Dawn of the Dead
5) Dawn of the Dead
97%

George A. Romero’s sequel to Night of the Living Dead is violent, gory and worshipped by horror fans the world over. Not only does it pack a punch on the terror front but also carries powerful metaphors for human emotional and commercial behaviour. It was

critically acclaimed and a blow-away commercial success.

Now walks the earth as…
There are many cuts of Dawn of the Dead in existence, the most famous being Italian director, Dario Argento’s 118 minute version called Zombi. A Japanese version exists that is so violence-free that it is reviled by the purists and the extremely long German version, can inspire riots of hatred. A slightly sanitised American version appeared in 1983 to be shown along with Creepshow but the extraordinary backlash resulted in it being pulled from public viewing. Hong-Kong comedy spoof, Bio Zombie, appeared in 1998. Dawn of the Dead was remade (or re-imagined as many prefer due to its reworking of the original story) in 2004 by director, Zack Snyder. It also underwent another re-imagining two weeks later when Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg set their much loved Shaun of the Dead loose on the

world.

Cannibal Holocaust
6) Cannibal Holocaust
57%

Ruggero Deodato holds the dubious honour of making one of the most graphic and controversial films in the genre. When the film was released in Italy he was immediately arrested for obscenity and held on suspicion of having made a snuff film due to the extreme graphic nature of the footage. He was released only when he was able to produce each actor alive and well. While it appears that the actors survived, many animals were slaughtered for his art.

Now walks the earth as…
Deodato is helping himself to some flesh-snacking seconds with his remake scheduled for release in 2009. It will be interesting to see if the director will match his original splash of controversy. It is safe to assume that animal welfare groups will have kept a fairly watchful eye over this set.

Coffy
7) Coffy
72%

If Shaft was cool, Coffy was ice. Billed as the baddest one-chick-hit-squad on the block, this role of nurse turned vigilante catapulted Pam Grier to the position of Queen of the Blaxploitation pics.

Now walks the earth as…
Coffy was mirror-imaged three years after its release as The Sexy Killer (Du Hou Mi Shi) by Hong Kong director, Sun Chung. Chung loved it so much that he knocked it out again in 1977 as Lady Exterminator (A-Sir du hou lao hu qiang). 1981 saw the release of the whitest rendition of a blaxploitation film ever in Lovely But Deadly starring none other than our very own Mark Holden. Strong traces of Coffy can also be found in Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2

Foxy Brown
8) Foxy Brown
53%

This film started production as a sequel to Coffy but that idea was dropped and Pam Grier was reborn as brown sugar and spice, Foxy Brown. Foxy, like Coffy, is one sexy woman set on revenge and nothing will stand in her way. Despite following Coffy, Foxy Brown is often credited as the film that set the scene for strong, black women to rule the Blaxploitation screen.

Now walks the earth as…
Every time a strong woman appears on screen fighting for the power of good and her loved ones, there is a little bit of Foxy running through her motivation. Tarantino worships at her feet in the Grier vehicle, Jackie Brown, and like Coffy, Foxy’s influence can be seen throughout the Kill Bills.

Ilsa, She 

Wolf of the SS
9) Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS

30%

One of the more disturbing strands in the exploitation tail is the naziploitation film and Ilsa is the undisputed queen. Here she plays the warden of a Nazi death camp who performs horrendous and sexual experiments on her captors. One of the more intriguing elements of this movie is that it was filmed on the set of Hogan’s Heroes. Go figure.

Now walks the earth as…
Ilsa had her share of sequels: Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks and Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia. Ilsa, The Wicked Warden was also released under the titles Greta, The Mad Butcher and Wanda, the Wicked Warden. She has settled comfortably into the role of sadistic cult figure referenced in films, comics and videogames. Notably, she was an inspiration for video game, BloodRayne, and Rob Zombie’s Grindhouse trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS.

Beyond 

the Valley of the Dolls
10) Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

64%

This Ross Meyer / Roger Ebert collaboration is B-grade gold. It tells the story of all-girl rock band, The Kelly Affair, and their descent into the decadence of Hollywood. Not to be confused in any way with the Valley of the Dolls, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is hedonistic satire a-go-go.

Now walks the earth as…
Like many exploitation turned cult films, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls has grossed the lion share of its profits through DVD sales and the retro release circuit. This is one film that isn’t going anywhere fast. It is heavily referenced in the Austin Powers films and by rock acts with glam leanings the world over. The Village Voice included it in its 100 Greatest Films of the Century in 2001.


Honorable mention:
An honorable mention goes to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes which is about to be remade by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine.

If you want more schlock, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ definitive Grindhouse A to Z special. In this era of filmmaking when the remake is king, you can be guaranteed that many more of these little treats will come crawling back from the dead, so do your homework and be prepared.

Video Ezy is offering a two for the price of one special. Rent Death Proof today and rent Planet Terror free.

Zoe Bell - Avik Gilboa/WireImage.comZoe Bell is, by all accounts, something of a legend within the stunt community. One of the two subjects of 2004 documentary Double Dare, she doubled for Lucy Lawless on Xena, Sharon Stone on Catwoman and has performed stunts in movies like Poseidon and The Kingdom.

Her big-screen break came in 2003, when Quentin Tarantino bought Bell onto Kill Bill to double for Uma Thurman. Befriending the director lead to her first talking role as a self-named lead character in Death Proof, Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse and a film paying particular homage to the stunt community.

RT caught up with Bell in Edinburgh to find out more about her role and her experience as a bona-fide Tarantino character.

What was it like to have Quentin say, “Come and be in my movie”?

Zoe Bell: Shocking. Shocking good, but shocking. At first I thought he wanted me to play a little cameo role and I was kind-of excited. Just even to work with Quentin again, I was like, “Yay! Be on set with Quentin again, that’ll be fun! And he’s playing a little bit of homage to the stunt community, and that’s cool.” I was thinking I could get to do some cool action – that’d be choice – you know. But when he brought me the script I realised I was quite mistaken and that, in fact, there was a bunch of line learning I was going to have to do, not to mention dialogue delivery. I went from just being incredulous, like, “What were you thinking? Are you mental?” Because the truth was, I could have been terrible. For all I knew, I could have been really bad at it. Of course the second part after that, I was pretty touched. Not that he was doing it as a favour to me by any means, but it was a bit of an honour, really, not just that he wanted me to star in the movie but that he wanted me as a character in the movie. That’s cool; it means that I’m like a cool Quentin Tarantino character!

You’re a walking Tarantino creation, that’s unique!

ZB: Yeah, I know! And it took me a little while to get my head around that to be honest with you. And I think oftentimes I forget that Quentin is Quentin Tarantino, you know. I was definitely nervous about letting him down. More than just embarrassing myself in front of the masses, which occurred to me a little bit later, I was like, “God, I don’t want to be the person to fuck up a Tarantino movie.” I didn’t want to be anything less than what Tarantino’s standard is and I didn’t know if I had that.

He basically turned to me and was like, “Zoe, I’m Quentin Tarantino. I don’t make bad decisions and you’re my decision, so get over it.” Umm… Fair call. What are you going to do, fight Quentin Tarantino on moviemaking?

Zoe Bell

Had you ever delivered dialogue before?

ZB: No. Well, I did two lines on a TV show called Cleopatra 2525 really badly with an American accent; it was terrible! [laughs] I was maybe 20 or something.

To go from that to not only delivering dialogue, but delivering dialogue as a lead character, and then delivering Quentin Tarantino dialogue as a lead character… That’s got to fuck you up a bit!

ZB: I know! It’s like modern-day Shakespeare!

When you’re in Quentin’s hands and you’ve got three brilliant actresses with you, does that settle the nerves on set?

ZB: Definitely. I did so much line-reading with the girls beforehand that I just didn’t even think about my words when the camera was rolling, you know, I didn’t have to. And just being around Quentin again was so easy and normal for me because it had been that way before. As a team I felt really supported from all angles. And not just from a, “You can do it! High Five!” type stuff, but they just expected no less of me. There wasn’t that sense of, “Oh, I reckon you’ll be OK at it. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” It was more, “Well come on, let’s do it. Let’s act. Let’s go!” And I respond well to that. My, “Oh, fuck, OK,” instinct takes over!

And we had so much fun. It sounds really clichéd to say that but we had so much fun on and off that set. The whole crew was incredible.

And presumably you got to do all your own stunts.

ZB: Yes. Absolutely! That was like a stipulation! I never had to convince Quentin, he said, “That’s part of the reason I’m casting you. I want that.” I think there was a while there where it looked a little dodgy as to whether insurance companies would allow that to happen. I don’t think anyone told either me or Quentin about it in detail because there would have been uproar.

As far as I was concerned there was going no other way, and who knows about the future but as far as I’m concerned I would always like to do my own stunts because I love doing them. I think what’s so brilliant about having an actor who does her own stunts, or a stuntwoman who does her own acting – depending on which way you want to look at it – is there’s a genuineness to it that when you’re watching it there’s a gut reaction, a sense of reality. It’s beyond just being aware there’s a stunt double in the scene.

Plus, not to mention, one of the things that was so exciting to me was having that stunt sequence not be limited by the fact that you had to shoot around my face. You could shoot at whatever angle looked the fucking coolest. I think that’s priceless. Is it also a good thing for your career, going forward, that you can say you’ve done a lead acting role and can do your own stunts?

ZB: I hope so. I don’t want to jinx any potential forward movement but there’s a movie coming up next year – it’s an untitled project at this stage – and it’ll be starring me in a kind of action/adventure sort-of Indiana Jones type genre aimed at young girls for them to have an action hero, basically. Which sounds fucking cool to me. I think the brilliance there is even if there’s little roles that require a lot of action the community will be like, “Fuck, yeah, we’ll use Zoe, she can talk, she can flip.”

It’s interesting, though, balancing the two. I don’t want to give up stunts, I love doing stunts and I plan to keep doing them. Of course if you’re going to become an actor somewhere along the line there’s a balance you’ve got to keep. Because the thing is, if my face becomes familiar and I’m being seen as a featured extra as a stuntwoman, then people may recognise me. But who knows, I don’t know of any women, or men really, who’ve gone from being a stuntperson to being an actor and then mixed it up after that, so I’m kind-of chartering new territory! So fuck the rules, let’s just see what we can do with it!

Is there a concern that people are going to hesitate going to you because they think you’ll ask for more money than an all-out stuntwoman?

ZB: I have thought that. I would like to make it clear to those guys that I would love to do the work. Maybe it’s to do with the money, but I think it’ll probably be more about, “Oh, she’s an actor now, we can’t.” And it’s been interesting because the last couple of months I haven’t been in town – I’ve been away promoting the movie – and it really doesn’t take long to get out of the loop in LA, you know. I rang my friends before I left and said, “Oi, you guys; we’re going to hang out, and you’re going to hire me on that movie, and we’re going to do this…” I want to get back in the loop as soon as I get home just to keep it rolling. Especially if this movie doesn’t shoot until next year; I want to get busy. I get bored really easily. If my character is just doing action in whatever form… sweet.

Zoe Bell

Having spoken to stuntmen and women in the past it’s often surprising how safe everything is played; every stunt, major and minor, is planned to the last detail. So I’m guessing that Zoe the stuntwoman is not Zoe the character, because she seems decidedly more carefree than most stunt performers I’ve spoken to…

ZB: More mental? [laughs] Yeah. I’m certainly not a conservative person, and you know personality traits in what you see on screen is definitely me. Whether I would jump out of a car, ride on the bonnet and then chase down a serial killer, I think that’s probably the Quentin twist on Zoe Bell.

Life’s too short to be super conservative but it’s also too short to make it any shorter. I don’t plan on dying early, but at the same time I don’t plan on playing it so safe that I’ll live to ninety. I think when you do that stuff for a living, if I get too nailed, not just my livelihood financially but how I love spending my time is jeopardised. When I was injured after Kill Bill I had a year where I not just couldn’t make any money but I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t surf, I could hardly run, which is insane. I couldn’t do gymnastics, martial arts, I could barely crawl on all fours. That was devastating to me.

Suddenly you realise, shit, I’m not invincible, and suddenly you have to find a balance where you can keep doing the shit that you want to do without hindering the way you want to live. But, still avoid massive risk so you can keep doing what you want to do. It’s tricky.

What happened on Kill Bill?

ZB: A stunt went wrong, basically. It was one of those human errors that shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Basically, they told me that all the bones in my wrist dislocated except one. The ligament that was attaching all of them got bust so I had surgery to mend the ligament. I had pins to immobilise it for three months and so after three months everything had atrophied and it was fucked for a good year before I got Catwoman and even on Catwoman I still couldn’t crawl. I was battling with it for a long time; it was miserable.

It was really painful, but more than that it really fucked with my head. That was the hardest part; suddenly not knowing where I stood, or what my identity was, or what I was going to do with my life. All of those big mid-life-crisis things happening at 23 all at once. That was the scary part for me. Not to mention just being in pain all the time which made it worse. Is that where the excitement of the job sometimes comes in, though, that even with the most meticulous planning there’s always an element of risk?

ZB: There’s a bit of that and the fact that there’s always some kind of risk is kind of why we get hired and why we do a lot of stuff actors won’t do or can’t do or aren’t allowed to do or whatever. But, yeah, it’s also part of what keeps it fun and exciting. It’s like sports; you don’t play sports because it’s like taking a walk in the park, you play because it’s a game, you’re competing, you know, there’s something about it that’s a little bit addictive. I know for me too, there’s a lot of enjoyment in the execution. Just getting it right; nailing it. There’s always so many different things coming in to play if you’re doing a fight and battling six different guys you’ve got to remember where the camera is, sometimes you’ve got to hide your face. There’s a lot of piecing it all together and making it work that can be really satisfying. It can be really frustrating, but it can be really satisfying and I think that’s part of it too.

Is the innovation part of it? It seems there are always people coming up with more and more creative stunts to do.

ZB: Definitely, and it’s hard because people always ask what your ideal stunt would be. I feel like I need to think of a really good one, but there are just endless possibilities out there and really it just depends on what the situation is and what the boundaries are that you’re given.

I think that’s the exciting thing about being able to be the face and the action of a character because it just opens so many more doors when it comes to that sort of stuff. Your way is limitless.

Is there anything you wouldn’t do, stunt-wise?

ZB: Not that I know of. And I don’t mean I would do anything, but when it comes up that’s when I know how I’ll feel about it and ultimately I’d like to think I’d have the balls to say no to something if I thought it was going to kill me. For whatever reason, maybe I’m just not the person for the job or maybe the guy that I’m working for or the girl that I’m working for isn’t safe. And it often does take more balls to say no. I haven’t had to yet – knock wood – but I hope if it does come up I’d have the guts to say that.

How long did the chase sequence take in the movie?

ZB: It took six weeks.

Zoe Bell

That seems very fast considering how long and complex it is…

ZB: We got a hell of a lot of footage. The takes we were doing were so long, we would just drive from one end of that road to the other over and over. I know that road backwards with my eyes closed! We would pretty much shoot the whole way. I couldn’t hear anything once we started rolling because I’m strapped to the bonnet with wind and stuff. I would rehearse whole sequences and we would just go for three or five minutes straight. Fucking exhausting, mate!

Is it as exciting for Zoe the person as Zoe the character to play ship’s mast on the bonnet of the Vanishing Point challenger?

ZB: It’s pretty fucking cool out there. Especially where we were in Buellton, because it’s so beautiful. We were there while the seasons were changing so it went from really hot to fucking cold in the mornings, and the change in the colour of the fields and the trees, it was just beautiful scenery. When I did get to chill it was cool. It was exhausting – and there were times when it was so ridiculously hot that my tummy started burning on the engine and times when it was Baltic-ly cold that I’d have to get Rosario to push my sweater through the window – but it was just amazing. Aww, I’m getting all nostalgic! [laughs]

Can you tell us more about the Indiana Jones for girls movie?

ZB: I wish I had a title for you, but yeah. Senator Films, who are distributing Death Proof in Germany and who also produced a bunch a movies, they want to produce a movie starring me, at this stage, as a soldier returning from war, which is basically to set up the fact that the character’s a bit of a loner and has action abilities. She ends up being paired up with this young girl whose life she saves who she becomes responsible for. So she’s running from the bad guys trying to find the good guy who’s the girl’s dad. It’s like an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances trying to look after this young girl that she’s ended up with and what happens in the relationship between those two and what she learns from the experience.

I’m involved early enough that I’ll be working with them on the action sequences and all that stuff. I realise how fortunate I am to be in that position, but it’s indicative of the way I’m coming in, because that’s about the only way we can do it.

Quentin Tarantino has a penchant for reviving under-recognized genres. Reservoir Dogs put gangster films into the public eye again; Jackie Brown updated blaxploitation and his last film Death Proof made its associations as clear as possible as part of a collection called Grindhouse.

Next on his revivalist roster is Scandinavian Soft-Core. For those of us less familiar with Stockholm Sex Farces, these were usually comedies about married or single (s)experimenters living in (usually) posh apartments in the sexy capital of Sweden or Denmark or some other European nation where it snows. Scandinavian Softcore commonly involved politics by featuring class mixing and Swedish Softcore films were rather famous for their displays of luxurious or high fashion home interiors.

Tarantino reaffirmed that this project would be in the style of his previous efforts while talking to The London Daily Telegraph: “I came up with the idea of like a cool sex movie that would take place in Stockholm, with a couple of Americans visiting a couple of Swedish friends…Kind of like the girls in Death Proof, just going out drinking, having a good time, hooking up.”

Tarantino’s known for pushing the envelope. “If I actually do an erotic movie, I’m going to have to reveal what I find sexy, what turns me on. And when it comes to sex in movies, it’s got to be kind of kinky, because that’s what’s cinematic, that’s what’s fun.”

Seems like the fans will be getting to know even more about QT than they ever could have expected from Kill Bill.

Source: London Daily Telegraph

If you’ve been itching for a good rental, you’re in luck — even the gambles this week are near Fresh on the Tomatometer! Quentin Tarantino fans already know to look for his Death Proof on shelves today; you’re also in store for a wide variety of new discs, from a director-approved epic (Troy) to a critically-lauded Hong Kong gangster pic (Triad Election), with a British horror-comedy (Severance) and a landmark documentary box set (The Up Series ) to boot.


Death Proof


Tomatometer: 71%

The day has come! Quentin Tarantino‘s diesel-fueled half of Grindhouse is the first of the two to be released in extended versions (look for Robert Rodriguez‘s zombie outbreak film Planet Terror in October), making this our most anticipated DVD release of the week. Watch 25 additional minutes of the scarred and psychotic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalking two set of lovely ladies in his “death proof” muscle car; this extended version screened in competition at Cannes and includes more of QT’s signature snappy dialogue, plus Arlene’s (Vanessa Ferlito) full lapdance scene set to the smoky sounds of the Coasters’ “Down in Mexico.” Although we’ll have to wait for an inevitable super-duper Grindhouse DVD edition to peep all those awesome fake trailers, this one’s got a second disc full of behind-the-scenes featurettes (Stunts on Wheels, Finding Quentin’s Girls, Introducing Zoe Bell, and more).


Troy The Director’s Cut Unrated


Tomatometer: 55%

Wolfgang Peterson‘s $180 million epic aimed to bring Homer’s battle tome The Iliad to the big screen in grand measure, and it certainly did so with sweeping combat scenes and plenty of good old fashioned Trojan intrigue. But critics wanted more heart to go with the beautiful beefcake landscape of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana; accordingly, emotional resonance is one improvement that Peterson claims to have added to his unrated director’s cut. In a brief introduction to the new edition, the director also promises over 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage and hints at more sex and violence. While this does extend the original runtime of two hours and 43 minutes to a whopping 201-minute marathon, sword-and-sandal enthusiasts should appreciate the TLC Peterson’s shoved into the version of Troy that he’d “always envisioned.”


Severance


Tomatometer: 64%

A corporate team-building getaway turns into a deliciously funny nightmare when the Palisades Defense sales team starts getting killed one by one; critics call the Brit horror-comedy a mix between The Office and Hostel!


Triad Election

Tomatometer: 95%

Hong Kong director Johnnie To serves up Godfather-esque gangster drama with his continuation of 2005’s Election. This time, new Triad boss Lok is plotting his own sly re-election, but a new rival wants to set the family towards legit business; bloody double-crossings ensue. While many critics thoroughly enjoyed the film’s prequel, most praise Triad Election as an equal, if not better, film.


The Up Series (Seven Up/7 Plus Seven/21 Up/28 Up/35 Up/42 Up/49 Up


Tomatometer: N/A

Fans of Michael Apted‘s Up series should salivate at the chance to own all seven installments of the remarkable documentary series in one box set. What started in 1964 to track the socio-economic paths of young Britons (checking in on the same set of kids every seven years) has now taken viewers into the middle ages of its subjects. Special features include a 42 Up commentary track and an exclusive interview by Roger Ebert of Apted (who has continued to film the series between directing Hollywood flicks like Gorillas in the Mist, Nell, and the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).


Other Safe Bets This Week

The Boss of It All

Tomatometer: 76%

Controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) gets considerably more accessible with this comedy about a company owner who hires an actor to play his firm’s nonexistent boss. Also interesting is von Trier’s pioneering use of the “Automavision” system to film, in which he set only the camera position and then let a computer select framing settings (“tilt, pan, and zoom”) at random. Oh, that Lars!

Deliverance Deluxe Edition

Tomatometer: 93%

The 1972 cautionary camping classic is given the deluxe treatment with this new edition, rife with newly filmed cast and crew interviews, a “vintage” 1972 behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Dangerous World of Deliverance, and a new commentary by director John Boorman.


Commando Director’s Cut

Tomatometer: 69%

Beside being the first writing credit of Heroes co-exec producer Jeph Loeb, 1985’s Commando starred California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger the first of many gun-toting brawn-fests. As the improbably-named John Matrix, Ahnuld smells bad guys coming, wields circular saws like Frisbees, and delivers so-bad-its-good puns left and right. A thirteen-year-old Alyssa Milano stars as his feisty kidnapped daughter. Theme song by Power Station.


Beyond the Gates

Tomatometer: 82%

Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones (This Boy’s Life, Basic Instinct 2) shot on location to film this fictionalized account of an English teacher (Hugh Dancy) and a priest (John Hurt) trying to protect refugees during the Rwandan genocide.


Wall Street

Tomatometer: 83%

Besides giving you another look at Michael Douglas‘s Oscar-winning performance as the venomous, utterly quotable corporate raider Gordon Gekko, this 20th anniversary edition boasts a new commentary (and deleted scene commentaries) by director Oliver Stone and two featurettes (Greed is Good and Money Never Sleeps – The Making of Wall Street).

Mixed Picks


Gracie

Tomatometer: 59%

Loosely based on Elisabeth Shue‘s childhood (and directed by her husband, Davis Guggenheim), this girl soccer flick proved touching enough for some critics but also a tad predictable.


Zoo

Tomatometer: 56%

If you don’t already know what this experimental doc is about (or haven’t heard of the infamous real-life incident on which it is based), suffice to say this film gives a whole new meaning to being an animal lover…


We Are Marshall

Tomatometer: 19%

This feel-bad, then feel-good Matthew McConaughey football pic is fine, but can a little pigskin drama make the grief of tragedy go away?


Lucky You

Tomatometer: 28%

Don’t let the title mislead — at 28 percent, this oft-delayed poker drama, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, is probably more of a gamble than it’s worth.

Until next week, happy renting!

Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof hits DVD shelves this week as a stand-alone from Grindhouse, his two-for-the-price-of-one collaboration with Robert Rodriguez. The tale of a group of young women terrorized by an aging stuntman in a killer automobile, Death Proof is an homage to 1970s road movies like Vanishing Point, as well as Tarantino’s twisted take on the slasher genre.

By itself, Death Proof fared pretty well with the critics, notching a 71 percent on the Tomatometer (check out RT’s take here); still, it’s a cut below Grindhouse‘s 82 percent. At a press conference at Cannes, the Death Proof gang, which included Tarantino, stars Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Tracie Thoms, and Zoë Bell, as well as executive producer Harvey Weinstein, talked about the differences between the stand-alone version and the Grindhouse cut, as well as Tarantino’s influences, his ability to write for female characters, and what’s going on with his World War II flick, Inglorious Bastards.




Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Russell, and Rosario Dawson at Cannes.

The cinema of the 1970s is something of an artistic inspiration for you. You’ve done blaxploitation, action movies, and martial arts. What was your inspiration this time around?

Quentin Tarantino: Two things. My starting off point was that I wanted to do a slasher film. I thought that fit in really well with the whole idea, but when I started thinking about the slasher film, that genre is so rigid. I thought if I did that, it’d be too self-reflective and [the audience] would be too outside of the experience. But I still kind of liked that genre, so I tried to do a completely different thing and use the structure of a slasher. People are asking me, “Is this a revenge film?” or “Is this a feminist film? Because the film empowers women and that’s not like the exploitation movies you took this from.” And I say, “That’s not 100 percent correct.” Actually, exploitation movies dealt with female empowerment in violent genres in ways that Hollywood never did. You just brought up blaxsploitaiton and there was no A-list, white, Hollywood equivalent of Pam Grier in the 1970s. She stood alone. There was [an equivalent] in Japan, there was in Hong Kong, and there was in the last act of every slasher film. There’s always a final girl that stands up and has the moral fortitude to beat the boogeyman. That’s always been the staple of that genre and here there isn’t one final girl, its three, and they all play it chipperly but it still follows the basic rules of the genre.

About the girls: I had no idea they talk that way when they were among themselves, and especially not in a man’s presence. How did you girls work your dialogue and what made you allow him in?

Tracie Thoms: He listens to women. I can’t figure out how he knows how we talk to each other when men aren’t around.

Rose McGowan: We’re not quite as precious as most people.

TT: We’re not and he just listens. He observes people. I read the script and thought, “I have this conversation a lot. How’d he know!?” And we rehearsed the conversation a lot.

Rosario Dawson: Quentin definitely prides himself at being the lone guy when his girlfriends go out.

TT: No one else could write Quentin’s dialogue.

RD: So you just work on it.

You recently mentioned you are eager to make a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone. That would be the coolest film ever.

QT: Inglorious Bastards — I never said it was going to star Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. I don’t know who’s going to be in it at this point. I have to write it first. It always starts with me and the characters. Whenever I cast an actor and try to write the character around it I always end up regretting it, so I always try to write the character and cast the actor to fit the character. Whenever I’ve written the character like in the case of Zoë [Bell] or Vanessa [Ferlito], where I know they’re who I want to play, I write it about them. Vanessa is Vanessa and Zoë is Zoë. It’s not like I thought, “I like Kurt Russell for Mike, he’d be very good.” No, I wrote Zoë. And if I couldn’t get Zoë, I’d have to throw the script away because I couldn’t do it. Same with Uma [Thurman], but she said she could do it [Kill Bill] so we did.



What about the “missing scene” in the American version?

QT: For the American version, I wanted this perverse pleasure: I enjoyed the idea of building up to this scene and not giving it to you. (Laughs) I looked forward to hearing the audience go, “Awww!” and curse my name in unison. But one of the biggest things I put [back in] was the black and white reel in the second half of the movie where Kurt’s character spies his next victims. I put that in. Most of the stuff I put back in was stuff I took out of Grindhouse for the simple fact that – we made three movies. When we made Death Proof and Planet Terror we made Grindhouse; they are three separate movies. Death Proof and Planet Terror were meant to stand alone, but when we put them together for Grindhouse we had to make them work together as one evening experience. In the case of Death Proof, in the opening scene, you meet all the girls and they all talk and everything and you have to remember in the opening scene, that’s just five minutes into the movie and we can take time and let the dialogue play out. In the case of Grindhouse, that’s not five minutes into the movie, that’s 95 minutes into the movie, and you don’t have the patience to let the jokes play. Those were the biggest cuts I made, especially shortening dialogue.

In the first cut when Stuntman Mike doesn’t get his lap dance, you kind of feel sorry for him. But in the second cut when he does get his lap dance, he kind of comes off as a sonofab—-. Did you intend any of that or was that an accidental result of the editing?

QT: That was intended. I really enjoy the fact that if you count the minutes [runtime] actually hasn’t changed that much but it has changed things 180 degrees emotionally because something as simple as showing that Stuntman Mike is stalking the girls outside the restaurant — you actually see the pictures of the girls and you know he’s the villain, you know he’s stalking them and you know he’s been there and you still don’t believe…that’s what I love. The way the tone changes is the greatest difference between the two movies (Death Proof alone and as part of Grindhouse] and I’m very proud of what I was able to do that while changing very little.

How do you feel about that, Kurt?

Kurt Russell: I haven’t seen this version, so I can’t tell you —

QT: When I knew it was going to play Cannes, I didn’t want to let the actors see it before they see it [here] so they’ve all been verboten from seeing it.

KR: I’m disappointed for any audience who walks into Grindhouse this April. There will be no movie made in the next five years for the Grindhouse audience like this one. They [audiences] will be able to see Death Proof or Planet Terror as separate films but my prediction is that 20 years from now you will want “the Grindhouse experience,” You won’t watch the films separately. You will see them separately now and hopefully you’ll enjoy them but in the end of the day, if you want to have the full effect, the full experience is something bizarre. In that regard, I like the short version, I like how it is and I’m interested to see the film in its long version [and compare] to see how it stands on its own.

QT: Most grindhouse movies have risen to the top as cult films in the last 10 years because they’ve had an audience on DVD. I feel that part of my job is to be like the symphony conductor and the audience is the orchestra. And my job is to get them to “ooh” and “ahh” and scream and clap when I want them to. That is part of the almost revival tent, religious show experience I was trying to create in the audience. It can be experienced in a lot of different ways but a bunch of strangers who have this thing in front of them that can get them to respond audibly, is the reason I worked on this and the goal I had in the editing room every single day.

Harvey Weinstein might not want to put the film out together —

Harvey Weinstein: I had a great time talking with the British press about this, who thought it was a sacrilege I release these films separately. When you see the new Planet Terror and the new Death Proof, you’re seeing Robert Rodriguez making a Robert Rodriguez movie and Quentin Tarantino making a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s pure. The things these guys took out of their movie to save time and keep these movies together took out some of the essence of their films. Quentin talks about the scenes where Mike is introduced as a character; it’s a completely different scene in a completely different movie. It’s like cutting Kill Bill and Sin City to 70 minute versions — you’re taking some of the essence out of it. Yes, we had a fun time doing a Grindhouse for European audiences, and yes, they’ll have a great time seeing Grindhouse the way it was intended —

QT: I see what you’re saying, and I love them [the trailers] all, but it’d be wrong to try to put them in Death Proof or Planet Terror and Grindhouse isn’t going anywhere. You’ll be able to see it on DVD for the rest of your life. It would be cheapening them and prostituting them to some degree if I were to attach the trailers to the single films. It’s what makes Grindhouse special.



Your films have had such an influence. How do you define your style?

QT: I don’t define my style. I think that’s for you to do: Add the adjectives and tell me what I’ve done. I’m very proud of the influence I’ve had on filmmakers. I’m very proud when young filmmakers come up to me and say, “I know you’ve heard this a million times, but you’re the reason I’m in filmmaking.” I can’t hear that enough, and I know what I responded to before I was making movies. I actually thought to myself, “I want to make movies that when people like me see them, will make them want to make movies.” I didn’t know how I was going to do that or how I would be able to do that, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to direct a film but that it’s worked out that way is one of the things I’m the proudest of. I wanted to find a style. As a young man watching movies, I knew what I responded to and if I saw a film I really liked: Jim McBride‘s Breathless, Jonathan Demme‘s Something Wild, John Carpenter‘s The Thing. Once I saw that, I couldn’t see another movie, it was like I couldn’t live another day until I saw that movie again. And usually, especially in my early 20s, I had to see it four times before I could say, “Okay, I can see another movie. Okay, I can move on with my life.” It was like sticking my finger in a light socket and getting all that electricity. I can only hope I can do that for other people.

RD: I think it’s safe to say you do. When I was 16, I was in this film called Kids and after that I told my dad, “I’d like to get into acting.” And the first film my dad handed me was Reservoir Dogs and I watched it seven times. If you wanna talk about his style… he [Tarantino] put his actors in a room in all the same clothes, and put it on his actors to get something going and it gets you really sucked in. I mean he doesn’t use tricks. Zoë Bell is really on the hood of that car. The movie magic he’s doing is not made of tricks; he’s making you feel something about his characters. [To Tarantino] So you did do what you set out to. I had to see your movie again and again and again. And when I had to be in your film I auditioned again and again and again. I was like, “Damn, there’s eight chicks in this movie, I gotta get at least one of them!”

What kind of expectations do you have for the audience? Do you think you have to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy the film?

QT: No, not at all. If you had to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy it then the movie is probably pretty limited. I feel that way about any kind of cinema. If you grew up with these movies and you have a sense of history with them then you’ll enjoy the film one way. But if you don’t know about those kinds of movies. I’m not saying my movie is better than those movies, but I am trying to transcend it. I do have a definite agenda. As much as I love those films, if you do love those films then hopefully everything will seem brand new to you and you’ll appreciate those films more. I have my own agenda that I’m trying to get across with the film and that agenda is different than the agenda of most drive-in movies.

Quentin Tarantino‘s expanded version of "Death Proof" premieres at Cannes; does it top the "Grindhouse" version? Plus, Gus Van Sant‘s powerful "Paranoid Park" and the Guillermo del Toro-produced stunner, "The Orphanage."

For those who’ve seen "Grindhouse" (and, judging by its relatively poor box office, not many of you have), Quentin Tarantino‘s extended version of "Death Proof" will not come as a colossal revelation. Its narrative arc remains the same: Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) uses his souped-up stunt car to terrorize innocent young women before meeting his match. There are two scenes notably included in the longer version (there’s some amusing banter in a convenience store, and yes, we get to see Stuntman Mike get a lapdance). Freed from the conceptual trappings of "Grindhouse," "Death Proof" works better as a stand-alone movie, largely because Tarantino’s slower, talkier film isn’t following the horrifyingly wacky zombie-thon "Planet Terror."


"Death Proof"

Gus Van Sant‘s hypnotic "Paranoid Park" spans several particularly dark days in the life of Alex (Gabe Nevins), a teenage skater dealing with the divorce of his parents and the tenuous nature of his relationship with Jennifer (Taylor Momsen), who’s convinced he loves skating more than her. Alex is intrigued by the crowd down at Paranoid Park, a makeshift skate park where a motley crew of damaged runaways and burnouts practice their craft. He meets an older guy who says he can help Alex jump a train. But when the two actually make it on, they’re discovered by a security guard, with tragic results. Alex sinks into a pit of guilt and confusion, trying to find a way to come clean without getting in trouble. The story is told matter-of-factly; this isn’t one of those what’s-the matter- with-kids-these-days cautionary tales, but a clear-eyed depiction of a decent, relatively bright kid who’s made a very bad mistake. The film has an uncanny ear for the way teenagers really communicate with one another; nothing is done for effect, and there are no big speeches or moments. Rapturously shot by Christopher Doyle (Wong Kar-Wai‘s favorite cinematographer) and utilizing music by Nino Rota and Elliott Smith to evocative effect, "Paranoid Park" is a haunted, sublime tale of teen angst. It got a round of applause at the screening I attended, as well as a thumbs-up from the Hollywood Reporter.


Gus Van Sant’s "Paranoid Park."

One of the left-field surprises of the festival so far is "The Orphanage," a haunted-house tale that’s worlds deeper than your average horror flick (it’s an International Critics’ Week selection here at Cannes). Directed with verve by Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro, "The Orphanage" is a sort of companion piece with "Pan’s Labyrinth"; it’s a magic realist story about the intersection between a child’s imagination and the real world. Laura (Belén Rueda) and Carlos (Fernando Cayo) are the adoptive parents of Simon (Roger Príncep), an orphan suffering from HIV. They live in a house that was once the orphanage where Laura grew up. Simon has a host of imaginary friends, which is only a passing concern to Laura and Carlos — until some of the things he says about his friends start to sound increasingly vivid and sinister. Simon goes missing, and as Laura frantically searches for him, she learns more about the grievous history of the house, which includes the mysterious deaths of five orphans, she becomes convinced the only way to find her son is to tap into the orphanage’s paranormal aura. Oozing atmospheric dread, and featuring achingly real characters, "The Orphanage" is the best kind of psychological horror film — one that doesn’t telegraph its scares but maintains a bewitching mood of tension throughout. This is a movie for which the term "cult favorite" was coined. The film received a five-minute standing ovation, during which del Toro hoisted the diminutive Bayona on his shoulders.


"The Orphanage"

The other notable screening Monday was Michael Winterbottom‘s "A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, the wife of slain Wall Street Journal repoter Daniel Pearl, which got strong notices from the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Tomorrow, four films in competition for the Palme d’Or will be screening. Check back for more of RT’s coverage from the Cannes Film Festival.

Michael Moore‘s latest doc, "Sicko," has stirred up more controversy for the Michigan muckraker. Is he onto something with his evisceration of the US healthcare system? Plus, "The 11th Hour," a climate change doc featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, and "Boarding Gate," an unconvincing, sleazy thriller starring Asia Argento and Michael Madsen — all here at Cannes!

"Sicko," Michael Moore‘s latest polemic, contains many of the same problems as his previous works: it’s a manipulative oversimplification of a complex issue. And like Moore’s other films, it also contains more than a kernel of truth and not a little entertainment as well. Screening out of competition at Cannes, "Sicko" is a screed against health care insurers in the United States. Utilizing the same style as his previous docs (onscreen interviews, stock footage, a bemused voiceover), Moore contends that the health of Americans has been compromised because of the greed and insensitivity of an industry focused on profit. This argument has plenty of weight when he points out that Americans put themselves in the hands of the government for such services as schools and police; what’s wrong with health care? And Moore dredges up a number of horror stories, including poor people ejected from hospitals because they were unable to pay, to others denied lifesaving procedures while being mired in bureaucratic red tape.

Moore is on shakier ground when he travels to Canada, Great Britain, and France, each of which provides universal health care to its citizens. He posits that citizens in these nations are perfectly satisfied with their level of care. Unfortunately, some of Moore’s utopian extrapolations in this regard don’t hold water; it was reported that at a press conference after the screening, some Canadian journalists challenged Moore’s rosy assumptions, and Moore admitted that national health care in Canada, while free, is still under-funded.


Michael Moore has a point to make about healthcare in his latest, "Sicko."

"Sicko"’s biggest (and most controversial) stunt involves bringing a group of 9/11 rescue workers, who contracted various unrelenting ailments while working at Ground Zero, to Guantanamo, where the U.S. government claims detainees are receiving health care that’s equivalent to or better than the average American. After being ignored, Moore heads for Cuba, where the relief workers are able to purchase the drugs for which they’ve been paying hundreds of dollars for pennies. This segment is troubling on several levels. Regardless of one’s thoughts on the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Moore cannot seriously believe its healthcare system is ideal. On the other hand, what does it say about the U.S. that it cannot care for its heroes?

For those who have tired of Moore’s confrontational onscreen persona, he’s largely in the background in "Sicko." This may be Moore’s most quietly angry film to date. I won’t deny I was entertained while watching "Sicko," and I don’t disagree with Moore’s central premise. However, as with "Roger & Me" and "Bowling for Columbine," Moore may get the forest right, but the trees are a bit out of place.

Moore remains a darling of Cannes (he won the Palme d’Or for "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004), and "Sicko" received a long ovation at the screening I attended. It’s also received fresh reviews in Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and Salon.


Leonardo DiCaprio talks global warming in "11th Hour."

"The 11th Hour" is the latest in the growing sub-genre of global warming documentaries. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film features a number of talking heads, including Stephen Hawking, Mikhail Gorbachev, Andrew Weil, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Each makes a similar argument in different ways: The temperature of earth is increasing because of human behavior, and we don’t have much time to rectify the situation. But the film leavens its doomsday prophesies with optimism, advancing the notion that green-friendly business could maintain economic growth while diminishing the impact to the environment. "The 11th Hour" is reasonably well done, but it often feels like a film more suited to a science class than the big screen. It also lacks the focus and wit of "An Inconvenient Truth"; that film greatly benefited from Al Gore‘s straight-ahead argument, whereas "The 11th Hour" seems a bit disjointed by comparison. Still, even if this isn’t the most cinematically compelling take on the subject of global warming, "The 11th Hour" makes a timely and important argument that should be heeded.


There’s a lot going on here at Cannes; check out our blog here.

A necessary element of a successful thriller is the ability to empathize with characters in peril; on this, and many other levels, "Boarding Gate" fails. This exercise in sleazy globetrotting stars Asia Argento as ex-hooker Sandra and Michael Madsen as Miles, her washed-up businessman ex. The pair has a twisted relationship, which involves a lot of verbal challenges and lurid mind games. Sandra is also involved with Lester (Carl Ng), with whom she conspires to take down Miles. After completing her task, Sandra goes on the run, ending up in Hong Kong where she’s pursued by… well, somebody. Do we care about her? Not really. Argento and Madsen, who have been compelling elsewhere, are so fundamentally unlikable here that it’s hard to shake the feeling that these two deserve each other; though Sandra’s nominally the protagonist, she seems as amoral as Miles. "Boarding Gate" isn’t without visual interest, but it’s also confusing and lacks any real human element. "Boarding Gate" prompted more than a few walkouts and incredulous laughs at the press screening I attended, and it also received outright pans in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

In addition, here are some other notable films that have screened at Cannes in the past few days: "L’Avocat de la Terreur," Barbet Schroeder‘s doc about a French attorney famous for representing accused war criminals and terrorists, has received strong reviews from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter; on the other hand, "Les Chansons d’Amour," Christophe Honore‘s musical, has gotten mixed notices.


Screening tomorrow: "Death Proof!"

Tomorrow, we’ll be catching screenings of Quentin Tarantino‘s "Death Proof," "A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie, and Gus Van Sant‘s "Paranoid Park." Check back for more of RT’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival.

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