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

#56

American Psycho (2000)
69%

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

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 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: 86378%
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

After a blockbuster detour with Furious 7, director James Wan returns to his horror roots for like the fifth time in his career with The Conjuring 2, which follows Conju-Uno‘s Ed and Lorraine Warren into their next really true scary case. The original 2013 film was a Certified Fresh smash for Wan and company, notable because it’s rare for horror movies to get Fresh Tomatometer scores, and even rarer for their franchise sequels. So the fact Conjuring 2 is drawing sorta the same praise as its predecessor…well, that inspires this week’s gallery: 24 best-reviewed horror sequels!

Exciting announcements abound this week (Fearless Director’s Cut! A new Little Mermaid movie! Gossip Girl on DVD!) while Nicolas Cage’s treasure-hunting adventure sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, tops new releases.


Jet Li’s Extended Fearless Comes to Region 1!

Jet Li‘s “final” wu-shu epic — not to be confused with regular old action films and Hollywood fluff like The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he continues to star — was a modest success with American audiences when it opened in 2006. But the original cut, which featured an additional 35 minutes of footage and an entire subplot starring Michelle Yeoh, was never released in the U.S. ….until now! Universal has announced the July debut of Jet Li’s Fearless: The Director’s Cut, which will include the original theatrical, unrated, and 141-minute director’s cuts along with deleted scenes and a featurette. Look for the two-disc release this July 8.

More dirty hidden images headed our way…

Similarly exciting news, different demographic: they’re making a new Little Mermaid movie! Prequel tale The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning will hit shelves August 26 and tell the story of how Ariel — redhead, ocean princess, collector of whose-its and whatz-its galore — became the girl she was, before she turned into a dissatisfied, soul-trading teenager who longed to become human, get legs, find love, etc.

OMG, kids!

The best show you won’t admit to watching (unless you’re a fourteen-year-old girl, in which case it’s mandatory viewing) is coming to DVD this August! See what’s got the Facebook generation abuzz by checking out the soapy goings-on among the posh Manhattan private school crowd. Extra features slated for the 5-disc package include unaired scenes, a gag reel, featurettes, and a download of the first source novel, as read by Christina Ricci. Like we said, OMG!

OMFG, nerds!

Lastly, earning the exclamation “OMFG” is news that Criterion has moved forward with their long-awaited release of the most notorious film not currently available on DVD: Salo. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s anti-Fascist tale of moral and physical degradation was told in such graphic detail that the film was banned in many countries; out of print for years, DVDs of Salo had been going for hundreds of dollars in recent years. Criterion now shares details of the two-disc August release, which will include a documentary about the film, a documentary about the final scene, new interviews, and more.

Click for this week’s new releases!

National Treasure: Book of Secrets


Tomatometer: 32%

Audiences just can’t get enough of globe-hopping treasure hunters, can they? Nicolas Cage‘s sequel to 2004’s Indiana Jones-ripping National Treasure eclipsed the success of its predecessor and is set to continue the trend as it comes to DVD this week. Cage reprises his role as Ben Gates, who now must defend his great-great-grandfather’s reputation, kidnap the President, find a city of gold, and uncover the titular tome.

Bonus Features:

The two-disc release includes commentary by director Jon Turtletaub and John Voight, deleted scenes, and tons of featurettes. Perhaps one of them explains why Oscar-winner Helen Mirren signed on for a part as Mama Gates, Ben’s historian mother.

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead



Tomatometer: 60%

Horror master George A. Romero gambled on his own storied zombie franchise in his most recent horror film, shot largely with handheld cameras in a cinema verite style — which could have been called “The Blair Witch Zombie Project.” Shot documentary-style by a gaggle of college kids who find themselves documenting a zombie outbreak, Diary provides expected levels of gore and suspense, heavily tempered by Romero’s own political bent.

Bonus Features:

Bonus menu highlights are five user-submitted short films that won a place on the DVD.


Night of the Living Dead


Tomatometer: 95%

Romero’s first cult hit is also returning to DVD this week in an all-new restored and remastered cut. The 40th Anniversary release features cast and crew commentaries, the “Last Interview with Duane Jones,” a gallery of stills, a DVD-ROM screenplay, and more.


Strange Wilderness

Tomatometer: 00%

Giving the miserable thriller One Missed Call a run for its money as the worst-reviewed film of 2008 is this “comedy”; it’s got fewer reviews in and made far less money, but the Tomatometer remains the same: double zeroes! When the hosts of a nature show become desperate for ratings, they go into the wild in search of Bigfoot.

Bonus Features:

Will a full menu of deleted scenes and featurettes make this worth your while? We doubt it.


The Flock

Tomatometer: N/A

This Richard Gere starrer was slated for theatrical release once upon a time — and really, haven’t we seen plenty of terrible thrillers come and go already this year? (Deception, we’re looking at you.) Director Andrew Lau, whose Infernal Affairs inspired Marty Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed, makes his English language debut with this sex crime suspense flick, which makes its way straight to DVD this week.

Bonus Features:

Nothing says “bonus” like a supporting performance by Avril Lavigne, right?


The Muppet Show – Season Three

Tomatometer: N/A

“It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight!” Season Three of The Muppet Show is available this week in a splendid four-disc collection, a must-own for any fan of Kermit and co.

Bonus Features:

Featuring the likes of Gilda Radner, Cheryl Ladd, Raquel Welch, and Sylvester Stallone, the expansive release has bonus material like the 1968 documentary “Muppets on Puppets,” vintage Muppet commercials, and an all new featurette in which key players reminisce on the origins of characters like Miss Piggy (watch a clip below).


‘Til next week, happy viewing!

George A Romero
Hey, Man! Its Not Just a Horror Movie...

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How George A. Romero covered capitalism, consumer culture, human nature, politics and blogging through the eyes of thousands of zombies…

WORDS: Chris Hewitt PORTRAIT: Larry Busacca DESIGN: Joe Utichi

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Night of the Living Dead

The Story...

When the dead start returning to life with a hunger for human flesh, a disparate band of survivors hole up in a Pittsburgh farmhouse, bicker amongst themselves, and try to stop themselves from winding up on an undead menu as a unique three-course set meal. Coffee not included.

Hey, Man! It's Not Just a Horror Movie...

Far from it. The zombies in Night of the Living Dead, according to film historian Robin Wood, represent capitalists, feasting on the flesh of society’s outsiders. But as would rapidly become the pattern in Romero‘s films, the zombies aren’t really the villains. Instead humans are, with Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman) openly fighting with the film’s black hero, Ben (Duane Jones), and even trying to kill him. At the end, Ben is the sole survivor, but is shot in the head by a patrol crew who ‘mistake’ him for a zombie. The subtle implication is that, had Ben been white, he would still have been alive.

Night of the Living Dead
The Black Guy is...

The hero. By making his hero an African-American, particularly one who’s reasoned and intelligent, Romero was overtly addressing the racial politics that were engulfing America at the time. It would become a trend in his movies.

The Female Lead is...

Barbara, played by Judith O’Dea. A far cry from the ass-kickers of later Romero episodes, Barbara spends most of the movie in a catatonic trance, traumatised by the fate she’s just seen befall her brother.

Night of the Living Dead
Gore Factor...

Minimal in this movie, although scenes of ghouls feasting on flesh and Karen Cooper trowelling her mom to death are dripping with black goo that, legend has it, was actually chocolate sauce. At this point in time, Romero hadn’t yet met a young man named Tom Savini and the gore is surprisingly restrained.

Best Line

It’s hard to top “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”, spoken by Barbara’s brother, Johnny. Referenced in the likes of Shaun of the Dead, it’s also a paranoid classic to rival Kevin McCarthy‘s “They’re here!” in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, itself a cracking political allegory.

Night of the Living Dead

Did You Know?

The movie was originally called Night Of The Flesh Eaters.

According to Romero...

“I was brought up on Tales Of Hoffman and movies like Othello and Macbeth. Those were the visual influences — hard shadow, hard light, obvious sources. I tried to make it look like newsreel. I used a handheld Arriflex and I felt so free!”

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Dawn of the Dead

The Story...

The zombie epidemic is threatening to engulf the world, forcing a disparate band of survivors to hole up in a Pittsburgh shopping mall, which they turn into their own private paradise. But, with zombies and roving biker gangs trying to get in, their idyll may not remain uninterrupted for long.

Hey, Man! It's Not Just a Horror Movie...

Dawn of the Dead is an overt attack on American consumer culture — not only do the zombies return to a shopping mall, which is described as the place that made them happiest, but it turns our four protagonists into zombies, deadening their souls. In fact, so gripped with avarice are two of the group — Steven and Roger — that they perish while trying to protect what they’ve built, as if material goods are worth a tinker’s cuss in Romero’s apocalyptic world. Once again, as when a biker gang invades the group’s little world and starts pulling it down around them, destroying stores for no good reason, you’re reminded that Romero is, more often than not, on the side of the zombies. Traitor.

Dawn of the Dead
The Black Guy is...

The hero. Ken Foree‘s effortlessly cool, iconic Peter is perhaps the most memorable character in each of the five Dead films. A big bear of a man, Peter’s a born action hero, but he’s not without his compassionate moments, and his genuine affection for his compadre, Roger, hits home in the film’s most affecting sequence, when he is forced to blow his newly-zombified buddy’s brains out.

The Female Lead is...

Gaylen Ross‘s Fran, and she’s several steps up from the appallingly one-dimensional Barbara, showing Romero’s marked dedication to fleshing out his female protagonists. Initially, she seems to be very much the token girlfriend as Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), Steven (David Emge) and Peter run around the mall, but gradually she becomes more assertive. In the end, it’s her determination to learn to pilot the group’s helicopter that saves her and Peter from a fate worse than death. OK, scratch that — just death. But as fates go, it’s still pretty nasty.

Dawn of the Dead
Gore Factor...

High, and in bright Technicolor red, too. By this point, Romero had hooked up with Tom Savini (who also plays the leader of the biker gang), and the special effects guru runs wild here, splattering the place with bright red blood and some of the best headshots in movie history. Check out the impromptu Jackson Pollock that explodes onto a wall near the movie’s end – or, of course, the infamous helicopter gag when rotor blades (actually animated and hand-drawn onto the frame) whip off the top of a zombie’s brain. Interestingly, Greg Nicotero, Romero’s go-to guy for FX these days, was inspired to get into the business by a flesh-biting gag in the first 20 minutes of the movie.

Best Line

Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause, please, for the iconic, “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” In early drafts, this line actually read, “When there’s no more room in the last carriage, please wait. A new train will arrive in two minutes.”

Dawn of the Dead

Did You Know?

This is the first Romero zombie film in which the Z-word is actually uttered.

According to Romero...

“When I made the first film I was always concerned about this idea, the reason to do this stuff is to upset the applecart and what everyone seems to do is restore the order at the end of these things, which is what I never want to do. At the end of Dawn in the script, I had everybody die and I realised that I was doing it because it was a sequel. I realised I could save a couple of these individuals without restoring the world!”

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Day of the Dead

The Story...

OK, everything’s fucked, to put it mildly. With zombies now outnumbering humans by 400,000 to 1, mankind is at the bottom of the food chain and things are looking bleaker than a Scottish winter. Needless to say, a disparate band of survivors hole up in an underground military complex and bicker, argue and generally fight amongst themselves in Romero’s bleakest vision yet.

Hey, Man! It's Not Just a Horror Movie...

Day of the Dead, Romero’s ’80s entry in his Dead franchise is the most overt attack on human nature yet. Save for a handful of sympathetic characters, Romero populates his film with appalling villains, from leering and mocking grunts, to the utterly black-hearted Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato, who appears briefly as a different character in Dawn of the Dead), who is already unhinged when we meet him and rapidly heads south from there into gibberdom. In this, when the zombies attack, it’s generally a relief, while famously Romero works hard to humanise, for the first time, a major zombie character, in the shape of Howard Sherman‘s sympathetic and likeable Bub.

Day of the Dead
The Black Guy is...

The secondary protagonist, with Terry Alexander’s John a laidback Haitian helicopter pilot who is content to sit out the simmering civil war tearing the group apart, until fate — and zombies — force his hand. It’s a departure from the ass-kicking Peter of Dawn, but Terry is a more cerebral character.

The Female Lead is...

The hero – and the strongest female character in Romero’s canon. Sarah (Lori Cardille) is a scientist trying to keep it together in the face of extreme provocation: her colleagues, particularly Richard Liberty‘s demented Dr. Logan, are ineffective fruitcakes. Her army ‘protectors’ either want to kill her or rape her. And her boyfriend, Miguel, is a soldier who makes Captain Rhodes look sane. Sympathetic and three-dimensional, Sarah isn’t a saint by any means, but she’s more proactive than any of Romero’s previous heroines.

Day of the Dead
Gore Factor...

Off the chart, with Savini coming up with grotesque new gags that forced Romero to reduce his vision for the film, after his financiers offered him a larger budget in return for an R-rating. Refusing to compromise, Romero rewrote his massive script for Day, plumping for a smaller budget but more gore. And boy, are we glad, particularly in the iconic moment when Pilato is ripped apart by zombies, yelling “choke on ’emmmmmm!” as zombies drag his entrails across the floor.

Best Line

The aforementioned “Choke on ’emmmmmm!”

Day of the Dead

Did You Know?

Damon Albarn’s cartoon band, Gorillaz, sampled John Harrison‘s theme for M1 A1, a song on their debut album.

According to Romero...

“I love Howard Sherman in that movie. Some of the stuff he did, I was just in awe. The moment when he picks up Salem’s Lot — wow!”

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Land of the Dead

The Story...

Those pesky zombies are still stumbling around and biting anything they can get their manky hands on. However, small pockets of survivors have finally got their shit together, and built well-protected enclaves, boasting some semblance of a social hierarchy. No prizes, though, for guessing that, at some point, zombies are going to get in and get their chomp on…

Hey, Man! It's Not Just a Horror Movie...

No, indeed. Romero waited over a decade to make a fourth zombie movie and, when Land of the Dead came, it was loaded with political and social comment, from the thinly-disguised pokes at the Bush administration (Dennis Hopper‘s character might as well be called Rumsfeld) to jabs at the War on Terror (largely fought here, it’s suggested, by just ignoring the problem and hoping it’ll go away) to digs at the class structure of American society, where the rich white man prospers and everyone else can go hang.

Land of the Dead
The Black Guy is...

A zombie! But it’s ok, it’s a hero zombie. Continuing the evolution of the zombies from shambling ghouls to sympathetic characters, Romero gives us Big Daddy, a giant ex-mechanic (played by Eugene Clark) who galvanises his zombie hordes into an army that storms the enclave and reclaims the land for themselves. A land… of the dead. Hey – just like the title! Although not as likeable as Bub, it’s clear that we’re still meant to cheer when Big Daddy – even more terrifying than the fat British wrestler with whom he shares a name – blows Hopper to kingdom come.

The Female Lead is...

In another departure from tradition, not the female lead. Instead, Asia Argento‘s Slack — a hooker with a heart of gold, as they say — turns up about a third of the way in and doesn’t get to do much more than exchange quips with the film’s human hero, Riley (Simon Baker) and fire a gun now and again. Still, it’s nice to renew the Argento-Romero connection.

Land of the Dead
Gore Factor...

Although the film merely garnered a 15 certificate in the UK, the effects, by Greg Nicotero’s KNB, are startling, icky and often hilarious. Nicotero, in fact, was the film’s second unit director, with his team known as The Splatter Unit on set. Our personal favourite? The belly button gag — gets an ‘ooh!’ every time. Remember, kids – piercing just gives zombies more stuff to grab.

Best Line

“I always wanted to see how the other half lives.” — John Leguizamo‘s social climbing mercenary, Cholo, after being bitten.

Land of the Dead

Did You Know?

Not only do Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright — the Shaun Of The Dead creative team — appear as zombies (which you probably did know), but they’re up front on the poster as well, flanking Big Daddy.

According to Romero...

“Big Daddy’s much more severe than Bub. He has to be a leader. And what happens in this film is that others imitate him. And yeah, I think people did say, ‘There’s something more to this movie.’ Well, I’ve been trying to tell you that, guys, for the last 30 years!”

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Diary of the Dead

And so we’re up to date as Diary of the Dead arrives in cinemas. In addition to telling RT about his movies past, we sat down with George A. Romero to learn about Diary and the future of the Dead franchise…

So, you don’t make a zombie film in the 90s, and now it’s two in three years. Are you making up for lost time?

George A. Romero: [laughs] No! I missed the 90s because I was swallowed up in development hell there. I had development deals, made a lot of dough, never made any movies. And basically, I fled and did a little film called Bruiser. I’ve just scrammed and that’s why I missed it.

I had had the idea for Land Of The Dead back then, but I reworked it. Actually, it was — I think — probably thankful that that’s the way it worked out. Post-9/11, it was a much stronger film, I think. That’s what happened with that. When I finished that film, I took a look at it. I was happy with the way it turned out. There was a lot of talk about a sequel and I thought, where the hell am I going to go from here? First of all, I didn’t have an idea and I didn’t want to get involved. I had completely lost touch with the origins of this thing. I wanted to see if I had the chops and the stamina to go back and do a little guerrilla film. Initially I wanted to do something about this emerging media, and I had a little sketch of the script. I was basically ready to go and take a vacation and do it at a film school where I had taught a couple of classes, just to have some control and to do something small.

Diary of the Dead

And Diary is very small — much smaller than Land, which had a $15 million budget.

GR: Yeah, the people at Artfire read the script and said, “We’ll let you have the control if you can make it under four.” I had the idea, and it did grow. I wanted to go back to the beginning. There are a lot of other elements involved here. We lost the copyright on Night of the Living Dead. That’s basically a public domain film and all the other films are owned by somebody else and you have no action in it. So that was also a motivating factor.

I’m glad you mentioned Night, because I thought that Diary was much closer in tone to that movie, and Day Of The Dead, whereas Land and Dawn were poppier. Was that deliberate?

GR: I agree with you. I was trying to do that. I had a conversation early this morning about, “Well, what if they want to make a sequel to this?” Well, this is closer to Night, so maybe we need to do something that’s closer to Dawn. A pure comic book thing.

Are you going to do a sequel to this?

GR: I don’t know what to do. If I had to do a sequel right now, I’d finish the story and start it with the same characters, which is also something I’ve never done. I’m hoping that it’ll all blow away. I’m hoping that if Barack Obama gets elected, I’ll have something to talk about. More importantly, if he gets shot!

Diary of the Dead

I’m intrigued that you and Brian De Palma have made similar films at the same time, with this and…

GR: Redacted. I haven’t seen that and I haven’t seen Cloverfield. I guess there’s a collective subconscious. I don’t know because I haven’t seen those films but I don’t know that they’re exactly about the same kind of thing. I think it’s an influence and where does it come from? It seems to me that this is more of a response to reality television, than it is to this age of New Media. I don’t know if any of these films really speak to that. Redacted, I guess, is helmet cameras, right?

Yeah, and CCTV footage. But it’s interesting that two old stagers-

GR: We’re New Yorkers! [laughs]

OK… New Yorkers, would be drawn to this new form of expression. Were you attracted by the immediacy?

GR: It’s not so much the immediacy but the danger of it. Right in the middle of Super Tuesday in the America election process, they interrupt the election results to say, “We have reports of a tornado touching down in Arkansas. Anyone out there, if you can get a good picture, send it in, we’ll put it on the air and we’ll send you a mug! Be careful!” And people are out there waiting for something to happen. Everyone has a camera phone. The shootings at Virginia Tech, all the footage we had was footage from camera phones. It strikes me as quite dangerous. If Hitler was around, he would never even have to go into the town square. He could throw up a blog and forget about it.

Diary of the Dead

You’ve got a no-name cast this time around, but I detected a few famous voices playing newscasters, including Simon Pegg and Guillermo del Toro.

GR: What happened was, we shot the film in 20 days and then we went back and we had enough money to shoot three more days and that was it. All we could afford was to get the principal footage in the can. We knew we could come back and do the narration portions and the news stuff. There was some of that in the script but we said we can refine it later because it’s all just audio. We shot the film and we came back and we kept writing things and we kept writing dialogue and we would try it on for size. We were all recording – it was me, my editor and my girlfriend and we were sitting there with a finished film but it was all our own voices. So first I called Stephen King and he said, “Sure man, I’ll do it,” and I called some of my other buddies and I’m very grateful that they all said yes and were all willing and able. It’s a vote of confidence.

How did you decide who to single out?

GR: I called people whose work I respect and who I’ve been able to hang out with without having any altercations! [laughs] I tried to call Dario but I couldn’t reach him. [laughs] I don’t know… I guess with subtitles, but he may not have been distinguishable. Tom Savini is one of the voices. I wish that Tom would get back into the biz, so to speak. I think he’s more concerned about being an actor. He wants to be an actor now. He should get back into it.

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George Romero has found a way to reinvent his zombie movies for every age. The original Night of the Living Dead was a simple story of survivors holed up in a house. Dawn of the Dead gave them a bigger space, an entire mall. In Day of the Dead, scientists began studying and trying to train the undead. In Land of the Dead, the zombie society began to overpower the humans.

Now Romero has gone back to the beginning. Diary of the Dead stars a cast of unknowns as film students shooting footage the night of the first outbreak. Their chronicle paints a portrait of how different factions of our culture handle a disaster of supernatural proportions.

Despite his graying beard and pony tail, Romero still knows how to do zombies in the modern world. He’s still quite the showman too. His answers to each question have a beginning, middle and end, classic story structure, and he peppers in casual profanity to “keep it real.” Most importantly, he puts on his spooky voice for key words like “blogosphere” and “production value.”

You used to do one of these films every decade. How did you end up doing two within two years?

George A. Romero: I loved the idea that I could wait for something to happen out in the world and then talk about it. It seemed to need to be years apart in order for the culture to change a little bit, for it to look a little different and all that. But, when we were shooting Land, I suddenly was taken with the idea that God, this is so big and I don’t know where to go. I don’t know if I want to follow that line. There were those four films that were sort of going in a certain direction. I said, “Where do you go next? Beyond Thunderdome?” I didn’t want to do that.

At the same time, before we even shot Land of the Dead, I had this idea that I wanted to do something about the blogosphere, about this new media. I thought I’ve got to do this quick. I also wanted to leave. After Land, I said, “Outta here, I want to go back to my roots. I want to do something small and see if I have the chops or the stamina to do it.” I had this idea and I had it actually sketched out in a rough draft of the script. The moment we finished Land, I sort of refined the script a little bit. I was going to run away, literally run away. I wanted to do it at a film school where I taught a couple of classes way under the radar for a couple hundred grand. Do it with students. The guys at Artfire saw the script and said, “No, no, let’s go theatrical with it. How little can you do it for?” Peter and I sat down and did the lowest budget that we could conceive. In order to do it union and legitimately, all of a sudden it’s not 200 anymore, it’s two million because of all of that. So we came in under four and the guys at Artfire said okay, and they gave me the controls, so I said sure. That’s where it came from. I also felt that I needed to do it quickly because somebody was sure going to do something about it soon. God damn, who knew that Brian [De Palma] was shooting Redacted and Cloverfield was happening? We didn’t know. We thought we were going to be the first guys. Didn’t work out that way.

Is it good to know that Cloverfield made it cool to do the first person perspective, handheld camera sort of document style?

GR: I don’t know. I can’t think of it that way. Is it good to know? I don’t know if it’s good or not. I don’t know. I think there’s a collective subconscious and I think that that’s where these films are coming from. All the world’s a camera now and it seems like it’s a reasonable way to do things. Maybe reality TV has turned into reality movies. I don’t know. It seems an obvious way to go now, even though I thought when we first started to work on this and I first did the script, I thought it was a clever way to go, never seeing that there’s probably going to be a lot of people thinking the same way. It happens so often. There is a collective subconscious out there. So I’m happy with my film. I haven’t seen Cloverfield. I know what it’s about of course but I almost don’t care. I’m happy with what we did.





George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

The big difference is that the characters in your film are filmmakers, so it’s a filmmaker’s aesthetic. The point of Cloverfield was it was untrained people doing the best they could.

GR: Well, there is [a filmmaker’s aesthetic] and we were sort of aware of that. We left the film alone. We said, “We’ll shoot the principal action and then we can finish it later. Then we can throw anything in there, because these kids are going to finish this film and do a presentation, the best presentation that they can.” So we said we can do the same thing and we did. We left all the narration, all the newscaster voices, all that shit came later in post. That was the great thing about having control over it because we could just sit around and bulls**t and try things on for size, until we finally came up with what we thought was a good, appropriate set of tracks for it. It was great to just have the freedom and not have somebody breathing over your shoulder.

How did you get Jason’s reflection in the monitors?

GR: He had to shoot it. Obviously he had to shoot it himself, but it was like a Madden football play. The DP was shooting it up to a point and right before Joshua Close went in front of the mirror, sort of handed off the camera and Joshua took it and shot that shot.

How did you find the cast of unknowns?

GR: Auditions. Completely auditions. One of them I knew from Stratford, a Shakespeare company in Ontario. One of them was actually in a film that we had done. Shawn Roberts is in Land of the Dead in a very small role, the first guy that dies in Land. I just loved him, he was great to work with and we said, “Let’s go with Shawn.” We talked about giving him the same name but then we thought, “Well, maybe that’s too much of a connection.” He’s there. Other than that, it was all auditions. Lots of auditions.

Now that you’ve done these quickly, can we expect another one quickly? Will we have to wait 20 years?

GR: It beats the s**t out of me. 20 years, I won’t be around, so you don’t have to worry about that. Maybe I’ll come back. No, man, I don’t know. There’s a hell of a lot of talk about a sequel and shooting quickly, maybe this coming summer even. You just never know. Maybe that’ll be a reality. If it happens, it’ll be the first time I’ve ever done a direct sequel: take the same characters, take the same situation and move it on from there, move it to the next square. There’s a lot more that I’d like to say about this emerging media. We’ll see.

Do you think they might run into the mall or the science lab?

GR: No, I don’t think so. No. It’s simultaneous, so they could, but that’s not the way I would want to go with it. The biggest thing that we didn’t touch on was the idea that somebody, anybody, any lunatic could throw up a blog and all of a sudden he’s got 50 people following him. We didn’t really touch on that so much and that’s a direction that I’d like to go with, the idea of people developing tribes just by preaching to the converted. People that tune into Rush Limbaugh know what he’s going to say and already agree. That’s what happens I think with these columnists.

It’s interesting, the blogs and videos they find in Diary are actually helpful. People who have fought zombies share the information about how to destroy their brains.

GR: Not so much the blogs. They get that information from police radio broadcasts. That’s really where that info comes from. Mainstream media is sort of denying it, and then when it comes down to the blogs, that’s what I mean. We haven’t gone into that because they’re the ones who are sending it out without a lot of information. There’s also something there. All they know is what happened to them and yet they’re trying to put out this film and the main character, Jason, is so obsessed with doing it that he loses sight of reality, loses sight of his own survival and winds up perishing because of that. I don’t think they get a lot of accurate information, certainly not off the net.





George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

Was the scene where electrocuting the zombie doesn’t work an answer to the Return of the Living Dead spinoff franchise, that claimed electricity would kill them for good?

GR: No. Not at all. It was an idea that came to me in the shower. Wouldn’t that be cool if she tries this and it oughta’ fry her but it doesn’t, so she comes back.

You start to explore how other cultures are responding to this. We see video from Japan and they even go through Amish country. What other cultures would you like to explore in this scenario?

GR: I don’t know but it’s a good idea. I really haven’t thought much about that. We were just trying to show that it’s worldwide. That’s all.

Since each film takes a different approach, what are the must-have elements in one of your zombie movies?

GR: Zombies! No, in fact, I could do away with the zombies. I don’t give a s**t. The stories have nothing to do with the zombies. The zombies might be a hurricane. They might be any disaster that comes along, but zombies are my ticket to ride in a certain way.

But all the films have scenes where they barricade, where they gather supplies, where they start in-fighting.

GR: That recurs because it’s human argument, right? It’s people not knowing exactly what to do and just getting caught up in arguing about ridiculous stuff instead of trying to really directly address the problem. I don’t think it’s so much that. The zombies are the ticket to ride. These are zombie movies so you have to have zombies. You have to figure out a cool way to get rid of the zombies, to kill them off, lose the brain somehow. That’s really the only element. The rest of it is they’re stories. They’re stories about people.





George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

Does Diary even focus more on the human story and less on the zombie element than the other films?

GR: I don’t know that it necessarily does. Probably certainly not less than Night, but the story’s more obvious and the zombie sequences, particularly the gore sequences, go by very quickly because they’re shot subjectively by these people that are sort of standing back a little bit. Whereas the tendency when you’re doing it objectively is to go in for close up and do product shots on the gore. That just tends to stretch it out. I think pound for pound, it’s equal at least to, maybe not all of the films. Maybe Dawn and Day went a little further but it’s just that it goes by so quickly I think, because we’re just looking at it from over here. We’re not going in and studying it and taking five minutes to kill that zombie off.

How do you come up with new ways to dispose of the brain?

GR: You take a shower. I don’t know, man, it just comes to you.

You don’t sing. You think of zombie kills.

GR: I do. Of course I do. I’m already just faced with the idea of possibly having to do another sequel, and knowing that someday I probably will do another zombie movie, already the first thing you start to do is figure out new ways to dispose of these guys. It’s tough to come up with stuff.

It’s always been interesting to me that the first film was Night of the LIVING Dead, but then it was always …of the Dead. Aren’t they still living dead?

GR: Yes, they are. It’s not my fault. Don’t ask me. I don’t make up the titles. The funny thing is, my partner at the time when I made Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead didn’t want to get involved with any sort of litigation, so he shortened it to “of the dead.” Now anybody that wants to hire me to make a movie, it has to be “of the dead,” Something of the Dead.

You said you didn’t know where to go with the Land of the Dead thread, but Land suggested there might be uncontaminated areas he was heading off to. Wouldn’t that be a place to explore?

GR: That’s actually the way I’m sort of going. You want to just get somewhere where there’s at least less turmoil, someplace a little less civilized where at least if there is a conflict, it’s going to be smaller and maybe more controlled. But yeah, that’s obviously the way I was going and that’s what I was doing with Land because there was a hell of a lot of talk while we were shooting Land that we’ll do a sequel to this right away too. It’s the obvious thing to do. If I was one of those guys, I’d say, “Let’s go to the Yukon, man.”

Would you eventually revisit that timeline?

GR: I don’t think so. I don’t know where to go with it. I don’t know what to do with the zombies. I don’t want to do Beyond the Planet of the Apes. I don’t want a zombie society. I don’t want to go that far. I’ve had ideas in that direction but it’s not really what I want to do. I’m now happy that I’ve started over and I have a whole other thing that I can probably milk until I die and I never have to get to that point. I never have to end it because I don’t know exactly how to end it.

Could they maybe intersect at some point?

GR: Maybe, they could, and I’ve thought about that too but I doubt it. I think I just want to have this new line now and I’ll stick with that and not worry about what happens at the end. It’s so hard to end. What happens? Either the zombies take over or the humans win. I don’t like either of those and I don’t like some kind of d’etant. The end of Land is that sort of “let ’em be.” So I came close enough I guess to that idea of live and let live.

Would you ever explain the cause of this phenomenon, or always leave it a mystery?

GR: I hope not. I don’t care what the cause is. I’ve forever been trying to live down, in Night of the Living Dead, we shot actually three explanations. We wound up having to cut six minutes out of the film in order for the distributor to want to distribute it. We cut out a radio thing and a TV thing because we thought it’s just boring, we’re sitting in the house, same old thing. We left in the one that we shot in Washington, D.C. because we thought, “Production value, man. We actually went to D.C. and shot it with the capitol in the background.” So we left that in. Next thing you know, even every TV Guide blurb said, “A returning Venus probe causes the dead to come back to life.” Starting with the second film, I went with that sort of voodoo explanation, “When there’s no more room in hell…” I don’t care. I don’t give a f**k why it happened. That’s part of the whole thing to me is that there’s this change. The world has changed. Somebody has changed some kind of a rule and it’s different. The stories are about how people respond to it, don’t respond, respond incorrectly, stupidly, whatever. That’s really all that matters to me.





George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

What zombie films from other filmmakers do you enjoy?

GR: I love Shaun. Love it. I like a movie called Fido. Great, Billy Connolly, great. I just thought it was gas.

Have you seen Flight of the Living Dead?

GR: I haven’t, no. I haven’t seen it.

Those are all still recent. Are there any classic zombie movies besides yours?

GR: Oh, classic? Different zombies, man. That’s the Caribbean boys. Classic films, I don’t know. Carnival of Souls. Is that a zombie movie? I don’t know if it is.

How about the Italian ones?

GR: I love a couple of Fulci things. I just had a gas watching them. It’s not what I would do but I loved watching them. They were fun. And the oldies, man, I Walk With a Zombie, White Zombie and that stuff. Different zombies. They’re not the neighborhood zombies.

Which of your non-zombie films would you love for fans to rediscover?

GR: My two favorite films of mine are sort of semi-vampire; it’s not a vampire, it’s called Martin. And a film I made called Knightriders which is probably my most personal or autobiographical film in a way. So those two.

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead is out in limited release today.

This week at the movies, we’ve got supernatural dwellers (The Spiderwick
Chronicles
, starring
Freddie Highmore and
Mary-Louise Parker), teleporters (Jumper,
starring Hayden Christensen and
Samuel L. Jackson), a dance dance revolution (Step
Up 2 the Streets
,
starring
Briana Evigan), and uncertain love (Definitely,
Maybe
, starring
Ryan Reynolds and
Rachel Weisz). What do the critics have to
say?

For smart family fare, critics say you could do a lot worse than
The Spiderwick
Chronicles
. Condensing five books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly
Black, Spiderwick stars
Freddie Highmore as a kid who’s upset about
relocating from New York City to an old Gothic mansion with his mom and
siblings. A series of mischevious pranks are blamed on the boy, but it soon
becomes apparent the house is loaded with supernatural guests, some kind, some
malicious. The pundits say Spiderwick may be a cut below the
Harry
Potters
and
Narnias
of the world, but it still delivers a solid
fantasy/adventure, maintaining a sense of wonderment while addressing the
growing pains inherent in the lives of young people. At 76 percent on the
Tomatometer, Spiderwick is truly one for the whole family.




"I didn’t know there were nude beaches in New England."

Even science fiction films must play by a certain set of rules. Unfortunately,
the critics say Jumper is all over the map. Based upon Steven Gould’s novel,
Jumper stars
Hayden Christensen as a young man who finds he can teleport
through space and time before discovering that another "jumper" (Jamie Bell) is
hot on his trail. Pundits say the film has slick visuals, but betrays its own
internal logic and features bland characters and weak dialogue. At 14 percent on
the Tomatometer, Jumper isn’t making the critics jump for joy. It’s also
the worst-reviewed film of director
Doug Liman‘s career.




Just another service provided by your friendly neighborhood
Spider-Man!

Despite its shopworn plot,
Step Up
was a surprise hit. So what do they do
for an encore? In the case of
Step
Up 2 the Streets
, pretty much the same
thing, say critics. As with the previous installment, 2 combines
culture-clash drama with loads of dance moves. The pundits say Step Up
has some nice dance sequences and a decent amount of energy, but watch out for
the scenes where people are talking to each other, because the characters are
blander than the foxtrot. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, word on the Street
is this isn’t all that hot. (Check out our feature on notable dance
movies here.)




"Anybody got a cure for the rickets?"

With Definitely,
Maybe
,
Ryan Reynolds seems to have finally ditched the frat boy
image that’s dogged him since his 2 Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place days.
He stars as Will Hayes, a soon-to-be divorcee regaling his daughter (Abigail Breslin) with the story of three women, one of which would eventually become his
wife. Critics say the movie is anchored by the affable chemistry between
Reynolds and Breslin, and while it’s typically cute and sappy, writer-director
Adam Brooks gives the movie just enough wit and light cynicism to keep it from
being cloying. At 69 percent, couples will Definitely want to catch Maybe. (Catch our interview with Reynolds here.)




"I’m drunk and I feel like doing something stupid. Want to vote
Green?"

Also opening this week in limited release.




"My dream is to be as useless as the guy in Cloverfield."

Recent Ryan Reynolds Movies
—————————————-
69% — The Nines (2007)
26% — Smokin’ Aces (2007)
43% — Just Friends (2005)
31% — Waiting… (2005)
24% — The Amityville Horror (2005)

Our own Alex Vo didn’t think much of it, but that hasn’t stopped The Weinstein Company from purchasing the domestic rights to George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead.

In a post at The Hollywood Reporter yesterday, it was announced that the Weinsteins have paid between $2 and $2.5 million for the North American and Mexican rights to Diary, the fourth sequel to Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead. The deal includes a theatrical commitment, so moviegoers can expect to see the director’s latest zombie-fest on the big screen before long.

What’s next for Romero? According to Bloody-Disgusting, he’s been told that if Diary of the Dead is a success, the Weinsteins will — surprise, surprise — commission a sequel. Given that the studio has invested a relatively small amount of money in the film, it probably won’t have to gross a whole lot to be considered a success; odds are, we’ll see a sixth Dead out of Romero in the next few years. Diary‘s synopsis, according to the article, is as follows:

With a story mixing elements of “The Blair Witch Project” and the long-running “Dead” series, the film will follow a group of college students shooting a horror movie in the woods who stumble upon a real zombie uprising. When the onslaught begins, they seize the moment as any good film students would, capturing the undead in a “cinema verite” style that causes more than the usual production headaches.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Source: Bloody-Disgusting

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