Below are the TOP PICKS for Icons Of Fright staff writers Robg, Mike C., Adam Barnick, JSYN, Danny Price and Beth.

ROB G.'S TOP 10 PICKS of 2008!
1 - LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - I didn't know what to expect when I sat down to watch LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. But what I got turned out to be not only one of the most unique vampire tales I'd ever experienced, but easily one of the best movies (of any genre) that I've seen in the last decade. The beauty of this film lines within the relationship between Oskar & Eli, two 12 year old kids falling in love with each other, only... one happens to be a vampire. And while that sounds like the makings for a horror film, the true horror comes from the human monsters of the movie - the bullies that torment Oskar. I've seen this movie about 6 times already and every single time, I catch something new. I've heard that a lot of the backstory for all the characters is detailed in the original novel (by John Ajvide Lindqvist) but the movie is so well crafted that all the details are there for you to discover on repeat viewings. The more I see this, the more I fall in love with it. And I'm sure you will too. Seek this one out!
2 - TRICK 'R TREAT - Everything you've read on-line is true. Writer/Director Michael Dougherty has crafted the best Halloween themed movie since John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. And while it was very difficult to decide between this and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN for my top spot this year, I can already sense that TRICK 'R TREAT will inevitably end up being one of my all time favorite horror movies. The film takes multiple perspectives of Halloween (from child to teenager to adult to senior) and interconnects those separate perspectives into one grand Halloween tale. Think of it as a horror version of PULP FICTION. I'd imagine that most of you like me make sure that John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is playing on one of the TV's somewhere in your house on October 31st. But it's time to retire that yearly tradition, because starting next year, TRICK 'R TREAT will most definitely be in my DVD player from every Halloween here on out!
3 - [REC] - Let's face it. The "found footage" gimmick wore itself out almost immediately. So if you're going to try it, it'd better be a great original premise intended to set itself apart from the countless other recent attempts at "cinema verite". Well, all it took was seeing the teaser trailer to the Spanish flick [REC] to realize that filmmakers Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza were going to deliver something totally unique and special. I own a multi-regional player (something I strongly recommend investing in to all of you fine readers out there), got myself a copy of the import DVD and was treated to easily one of the scariest "zombie" films I'd ever seen! And quite frankly, this is one of the best movies made using the "cinema verite" approach. Forget QUARANTINE. I haven't seen it yet but the slight tweak to the ending I've heard about (something I found terrifying in the original) has already turned me off to it. Plus, this version probably won't be as effective to you if you watch the practically shot-for-shot American remake. As much as I love Dexter's little sister, films like this work for me so much better when there's not a bunch of familiar faces in the leads. Hence, the foreign version gets the upper hand. Seek it out. It's worth it.
4 - CLOVERFIELD - Another one I truly didn't know what to expect, but was blown away by. Look - your ever-loyal ICONS staff got to see this one in Times Square in Manhattan, and quite frankly, it was unsettling and scary! Especially walking out into the very streets we'd seen destroyed on the big screen moments earlier. Multiple kudos to director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard for figuring out a way to let this story tell itself using the limitation of the duration of one Mini-DV tape. It's seriously brilliant & impressive filmmaking. Plus, the creature rocked! It reminded me of the 1st time I saw the original ALIEN as a kid. Anytime you'd get a glimpse of the monster, you couldn't help but think "What exactly am I looking at?!" I rewatched this recently on DVD just to make sure I still felt as strongly about it, and sure enough, I love it just as much as when I first saw it in January of this year.
5 - THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN - Not a perfect film, but easily one of the best movies to bare the name Clive Barker on it in over a decade! Who wouldn't get excited at the prospect of a BOOKS OF BLOOD adaptation?! Let alone one coming from a stylish director such as Ryuhei Kitamura. Writer Jeff Buhler did a kick-ass job expanding upon Barker's original story, and Kitamura gave us some fantastic gore & visual set pieces. While the last 20 minutes gets a little iffy, Bradley Cooper still delivers a great little performance, as does the ever-scary Vinnie Jones as the menacing Mahogany. Add a Ted Raimi cameo and you've got my bonus kudos. And thankfully, they kept the original stories ending in tact for the movie version. This one got a raw deal from Lionsgate when it obviously deserved so much better. Thankfully, you guys can discover it on DVD in February 2009!
6 - THE WIZARD OF GORE - As soon as I heard the first notes of the beautiful song "The Old Kind Of Summer" by The Black Heart Procession playing over the "bloody" opening of THE WIZARD OF GORE, I knew I was watching something special. Add onto that the stellar casting of Crispin Glover (whom if you've seen his "performance shows" makes the perfect Montag The Magnificant), as well as Kip Pardue, Bijou Phillips, Brad Dourif, a welcome appearance by Joshua Miller and the Suicide Girls (?!) and you've got one of the most bizarre films of the year that if anything, you should check out just for curiosity's sake. The ever-reliable Jeffrey Combs also gives us an unrecognizable performance in this flick. Multiple kudos to director Jeremy Kasten for envisioning Herschell Gordon Lewis through a punk-rock, noir Los Angeles. I'll be keeping a close eye on all of his films from here on out.
7 - STUCK - Oh Uncle Stu! Not exactly a horror film, but definitely a film loosely based on a true story that just happens to be horrifying! Stuart Gordon gives us this deliciously twisted black comedy. Poor Stephen Rea is having the worst day of his life. His job interview didn't go well, he get's kicked out of his apartment and can't even comfortably sleep on the street without a cop telling him to move. Eventually his bad day comes crashing into him (literally) in the form of Mena Suvari. Rea's character becomes embedded in Suvari's windshield, and although her character is a nurse that cares for people on a daily basis, she (for whatever reason) leaves him stuck to the front of the car to die in her garage. What follows is a series of gasp worthy incidences that truly made you feel sorry for this poor S.O.B. Be glad your day isn't this bad! Maybe I shouldn't have laughed as much as I did during this movie, but I found it darkly hysterical and the ending was utterly satisfying. Way to go Uncle Stu!
8 - THE STRANGERS - Believe it or not, I actually just rented and watched this one for the first time last night! I'd heard mixed reviews all over the place. Some of my friends hated it, some liked it. My cousin and I share similar tastes in movies and assured me I would love this one. While I didn't exactly love it (nor do I think it's a perfect film), I did think it was a solid and genuinely scary debut effort from writer/director Bryan Bertino. One of my biggest fears (next to drowning) is home invasion. So to have a movie really turn up the tension on that basic concept, and then add creepy, spooky masked stalkers to the mix, just really got to me. I'm still totally bummed out by the downbeat grim ending, but hell, that's what makes for an effective horror movie, so for me this one totally worked. I personally like a little vengeance in my horror flicks, so hopefully that is the direction they will take the planned sequel!
9 - TIMECRIMES - Another one I just watched for the first time this week. TIMECRIMES is a Spanish movie by Nacho Vigalondo. And while it's not exactly a "horror" film, this is one that stuck with me for a long time after the credits stopped. There's a good tension filled build up in the first 20 minutes as our main character Hector is being stalked by a mysterious man wearing bandages across his face and chasing him with a scissor, but then... the idea of time travel is introduced. To go any further into the plot would just give away all the fun. But the great thing about the movie is, once you get further and further into the time travel angle, it starts to become somewhat frustrating for the viewer, just because it's hard to wrap your head around the continuity. BUT, rest assured that all of the details will fit by the film's conclusion and you'll be left with plenty of satisfying afterthoughts. Hence, it becomes obvious that Vigalondo put a lot of advance thought and effort into exactly how this story should unfold and it totally works! It's impressive storytelling, and easily one of this year's best!
10 - INSIDE - At one point during INSIDE's many gory sequences, Mike C. turned to me and said, "Robg... When did the French get so Italian?" And that's the main reason I love this movie as much as I do. Now, to be fair, it disturbed me enough that I haven't had the nerve to watch it a 2nd time, but any horror film that effects me that deeply definitely earns itself a slot on my "best of the year" list. It's no surprise that lead Beatrice Dalle has a tendency to physically attack meter maids and is in fact kinda crazy in real life, because she's fantastic in the film. It has it's over the top moments (sheesh, how much blood did they use in this flick?!), but that makes it one you definitely have to see to believe. Oh and the ending! I've seen a LOT of horror films in my time, but the ending to this one is genuinely one of the most shocking you're bound to witness.

POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD - While I'm not as big a Troma fan as our resident "Bad Kid" John Torrani, I've always enjoyed and appreciated the depravity represented in any one of the Troma productions. Hell, as a kid THE TOXIC AVENGER was (and still is) one of my favorite horror/comedies. So after finally watching POULTRYGEIST, I can say that this is by far director Lloyd Kaufman's best (and most polished) film since the original TOXIC AVENGER. It's everything you'd expect from a Troma film... times 10! Plenty of laughs, over-the-top gore, boobs (a few recognizable), sarcastic witty commentary as only Mr. Kaufman can deliver and... musical numbers? Also, Lloyd's in the movie as well, and I don't think he realizes what a wonderful actor he truly is. (I mean that sincerely!) Any movie that opens with dry humping & a zombie finger up the butt, to Jared (from the Subway commercials) shitting himself thin, to having a protesting organization named C.L.A.M. (Collegiate Lesbians Against Mega-conglomerations) is a quality good time in my book. Kudos Lloyd!
DEXTER: THE SECOND SEASON & DEXTER: SEASON 3. The 2nd season of DEXTER was arguably the best sophomore season of any television show ever. Unlike the 1st season which stretched the "Ice Truck Killer" case through-out the 13 episode run, by the end of the debut episode of Season 2, the shit officially hit the fan & the stakes were already incredibly high for every single episode that followed. That made it all the more fun to re-visit the 2nd Season when it was released on DVD this past August. But more importantly, it prepped me for the wonderful 3rd season. It'd be impossible to top what the show's writers accomplished with Season 2, but adding Jimmy Smits to the mix as District Attorney Miguel Prado was a great start. And unlike the first 2 seasons, the overall story arc for Season 3 didn't become apparent until the mid-way point. (Which already makes it something you'd want to re-visit from the start on DVD.) And even once you got a grasp of what was going to happen, the show veered into a completely different direction. It's rare that you can reach the 3rd season of any show and still find each episode completely unpredictable. Multiple kudos to Michael C. Hall for delivering one of the greatest character performances ever as Dexter Morgan. As well as to his supporting cast ( I love Angel & Masuka!) And well, who doesn't have the hots for Julie Benz?! With 2 more seasons in queue, I can't wait to see more DEXTER!

MIKE C.'S TOP 5 OF 2008

1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - It seems we've all fallen for this dreamlike Swedish flick. “Let the Right One In” is beautiful, you'll hear that repeated from critic to critic, even on our site. I remember when Rob insisted that I watch this I really wasn't in the mood for a quiet, deliberately paced film, but I was almost immediately captivated. A love story between two 12 year old kids, one of whom has been 12 for a very, very long time, seems creepy in a very taboo way. However, this isn't a film that's challenging in a sordid way. I love the way this movie handles the subject of vampirism. A must-see, and hands down the best film in the current vampire trend, if not the best horror movie of the year, and just one of the best movies of the year period.

2. [REC] - While watching this Spanish film, which was remade for American audiences as “Quarantine”, was the first time in years I can remember being completely, totally creeped out. Hair standing on the back of my neck creeped out. By now you know the premise which, yes I agree, sounds completely hackneyed in the year that brought us “Diary of the Dead” and every schmoe with a camcorder, $20 and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts shooting a zombie movie in their backyard. Well, the hell with those, because this is the one that works, this is the one that's scary, and in the last act when you think they couldn't possibly turn this movie around on you again it goes out with one of the scariest final 10 minutes in recent memory.

3. INSIDE - Let 2008 stand as the year in which the newly emerging and ignoble art of womb snatching got the “home invasion thriller” treatment. “When did the French get so Italian?” was my reaction halfway through this very bloody movie. A movie that showcases damage to parts of the human anatomy I, as a card carrying member of the male sex, will never have and makes me react viscerally, wincing in agony for what seemed hours? To that end I say well done, even if I'm not sure it's exactly scary. While much of the proceedings in this movie are impossibly over the top, including the ending, I certainly will never forget it (and I will never watch it again).

4. THE STRANGERS - Despite any glaring amateurish flaws (like a knife that makes the “schnink” sound when picked up off the carpet) this was a very impressive directorial debut. When it is in full swing it is a truly scary, jumpy, fun house horror movie. I may not have liked the characters in it (either the victims or the attackers) but it delivered. Marred only by an extremely grim ending where I was hoping for vengeance. Extra kudos for the inclusion of Joanna Newsome on the soundtrack.

5. BABY BLUES - Never heard of it? Came out on DVD in August. Find it. Writer/director Lars E. Jacobson delivered a powerfully taboo breaking horror movie about a mother on the verge of a total mental breakdown and the unfortunate young children in her way. I was shocked, appalled, unnerved. If there's a movie I saw this year that truly horrified me, this is it. If you have kids, please, you're probably best to avoid this one altogether, it will be tough. The title left me with the impression that I might be getting ready to watch an inappropriately campy movie on the subject of a mother murdering her children. There's nothing funny about that, or the incidents in recent years when it's happened. But this is not a campy movie, it's dead serious, and while it may seem like borderline (or from your perspective obvious) exploitation filmmaking, the subject is handled with extreme care.


TRUE BLOOD - I love this show. Absolutely love it. Obviously I can't name it as one of my top favorite movies of the year but I need to call it out. Alan Ball has taken some very silly books and made a fine supernatural television series out of them. The show is sexy, engaging, and just raunchy enough to be made for HBO. I kind of also dig the idea that when it first aired “Twilight” fans might have tuned in out of curiosity. I love the idea that Alan Ball's TV show about vampires maybe have introduced some 13 year old tween to the concept of erotic asphyxiation. That tickles my soul a little. “Mommy, that vampire is definitely NOT sparkling!” But seriously, it's a damn fine show. Call me up for Team Sookie.


1. SAW V - Let's get this out of the way: I didn't really like “Saw IV” and “Saw III” had one good scene in it. So yea, I'm not really a fan. I'm just getting tired of these grimy, rusty, nasty, unpleasant, and getting-to-be awfully episodic films. God, I thought it was bad when “Saw IV: The Heretic” tried to play itself off as a twist-filled, puzzlebox-type movie. I still have no idea what I watched. I went into this one, reading the tagline “You won't believe how it ends” thinking, well christ, I just hope I understand how it ends. With fan reaction to “Saw IV” ranging from “huh?” to “wha...what just happened?” this year we're just given an oversimplified version of “Saw II” featuring the most painfully annoying cast of characters in the entire series. With a plot and pacing resembling your average episode of “CSI”. One room full of bombs, the next room full of bombs. Come on, now! Really? Bombs? And the traps in this movie...where are the Jigsaw killers getting their supplies these days, because I know an animated coyote they should talk too. Oh well, the hits keep coming. Next year instead of featuring a cast of characters as annoying as reality show contestants “Saw VI” is going to up the authenticity and feature actual reality show contestants. Can't we just put Jigsaw in space already?

2. DIARY OF THE DEAD - Yea, I didn't like it. I know, I know big surprise, not many people did. However...I've been reading a lot of negative reviews that pontificate on how it's too “in your face” and “preachy” or how it's lacks the subtly of Romero's earlier work. I'm sorry, I outright reject your argument. I reject the notion that you like Romero's other movies and don't recognize the politics in his films have always been in-your-face and preachy. Subtle? Romero has never been subtle. You fools, he goddamn gave us the premise that if we should return from the dead as zombies the first place we're going is the goddamn shopping mall. You get that? I'm dead, need Cinnabon. That's. Not. Subtle. (Neither is this review. Whoa, easy there Mike.) Think this one was preachy? You've never seen “Day of the Dead”.

So...can we just agree that “Diary” is awful and nearly unwatchable because the characters suck? Look we've got a “professor” character in it that at any moment I was certain was going to light up a pipe, start quoting George Bernard Shaw, and make a radio out of a coconut. Romero's zombies customarily eat flesh, in this movie they were only left with cardboard.

3. ZOMBIE STRIPPERS - Yeah, I get it, I get it, you read Ionesco. Fan-freaking-tastic. Keep reading, kiddo.

4. FEAST 2: SLOPPY SECONDS - Oh it hurts to do this...because I loved “Feast”, a lot, and John Gulagher is a really great guy, but man, sloppy seconds indeed, heavy on the sloppy. It couldn't hold my interest, even with a few real nasty shocks along the way. Far too chaotic and way too overloaded with characters. Perhaps a case of too much, with too little money, and too little time. Kindly said: It's overambitious. But hey man, I'm still down for “Feast 3”. Gimme some sweet dessert, John!

5. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - This came highly recommended. I threw it highly across the room after watching. Another shot-on-camcorder “reality” horror movie. You know what this really is? It's like that video your friends send you in an email that looks like this “FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: RE: RE: FW: OMG So Scary!”. For 90 minutes. It's “Your Shitty YouTube Video: The Movie”. Not scary. Unoriginal story elements. Annoying, inexperienced actors. I called it when I saw it, “The only way this movie can work is if they remade the whole thing.” I was right.

Ok, here's a fun little “Top Movies” list. It's no secret I like a good piece of junk movie. I am the young man who searched for months for a DVD of “Death Ship” and who, of his own accord, spend 2 months making an unauthorized re-edit of “Exorcist II” because I'm just convinced I can show there's a good movie in there somewhere. (Or at least one of you can understand...)

My “Bottom 5”, those are movies I just really didn't like. Found no enjoyment in them. These movies here, they're not so good. I'll be right up front and honest with you. They're not good but I couldn't help enjoying something about them. So...be warned, watch these at your own risk, and don't hate me because I enjoyed “Pulse 2” more than “Diary of the Dead”.

1. PULSE 2: AFTERLIFE - Allow me to explain. I really didn't hate the first one. I kind of dug the premise and I actually liked the whole “shot through a blue filter look”. Yes, I am the only one. Completely aware of that. Totally cool with it. So I was mildly interested in “Pulse 2”. Oh...my goodness. Ok, what you have heard is almost totally true. The entire movie was shot in front of a green screen. And it shows. In fact, I'm pretty sure even the interiors were shot with a green screen background. A number of sequences take place in a cabin and it all looks awfully fake. I just couldn't believe what I was watching. A naked John Gulagher (director of “Feast”) appears in an uncredited cameo, and throws himself off an overpass. A woman turns to black corn flakes in front of her 6 year old daughter. Come on, how I can completely hate a movie like this? It's late-night cable gold.

2. MY NAME IS BRUCE - I so wanted so much to believe this was going to be a good movie. It's really not. It's really, really cheap. The monster looks like complete garbage, and every time it decapitates someone I'm pretty sure it's just the same camera set up. But, it was funny where it needed to be, even if it looks like it was filmed during the off season at some low-rent tourist trap wild west theme park. If you come to this movie expecting nothing more than Bruce Campbell making fun of himself, and us his fans, then you will go away happy.

3. JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER - Look, I want to talk about this one again because I didn't give it an entirely favorable review. It's not a good movie, it's far from a must-own DVD. Still, the guys behind this put a great effort in, and for all the faults and flaws of the movie, the practical monster scenes are excellent. If and when they find a story they are capable of sustaining at feature length I know we're all going to be in for a hell of a good time.

4. RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP - A lot of bad reviews on this one, but I think the shots against "Return" were largely based on this strange notion that the original "Sleepaway Camp" was some kind of cinematic masterpiece. It's a piece of crap, people. A gloriously vile, angry, profanity laced piece of cinematic junk. So is this movie. And I loved it.


10 - THE STRANGERS - It's tough to claim a fear more deeply effective than home invasion, and this little chiller knows it. Rookie director Bryan Bertino truly understands the power behind the mystery of a masked figure as well as an apparently motiveless crime.. and extra kudos for knowing when to really let a shot linger to keep suspense going instead of trying to generate it through frenetic editing. It's a nice touch to have a couple we're to root for on the outs instead of deeply in love, though it's the trio of iconic assailants that one leaves with the strongest impression of.

9 - CLOVERFIELD - I admit I didn't think it was going to work as well as it did but there's a good 20 minute early stretch in this film where I was truly scared, post 9/11 flashbacks aside. This clever kaiju update for the surveillance generation was paced, unsettling and way darker than I figured it would be. Wonderful to see a truly horrific and original monster once again. The 'monster snuck up behind you!' contrivances towards the end and the fact that they can tape all night with one battery (and get tremendous picture and sound out of a consumer unit) kill its power a bit, but I have to say it's pretty solid even if the characters didn't stay with me (other than the hilarious cameraman Hud). Still, any disaster film that makes me worry about what I'd do in a situation or how I'd save those I care about deserves a squeeze. And fantastic marketing, guys. Talk about a teaser! And it was hilarious seeing all the websites running "official leaked production art" that wasn't even close to the creature design. Now where's that giant evil toy they were making of it?

8 - REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA - Love it or hate it. Probably no middle of the road here. If you don't like the first song, you get 60 others to choose from!

For me, even though it's not horror, it's great to see something like this get out there and resonate with the 'different' folk. Far more than tailor made for a "goth crowd" Repo! features some terrific pipes (Anthony Steward Head and Sarah Brightman, I'll listen to you all day.) and the coolest production design I've seen this year. Not too often I want to walk around in a film's world, but this one I'd get an apartment in (once they fix that whole organ decay issue) posthaste. Proud to be beautifully weird, it's unveven at times but a carnival ride for the artistic and those into 'dark culture.' And Paris doesn't ruin the film, if that's what you were about to ask. If you still can find it in a theater or on its road tour, see it that way and you'll truly get its energy. I'm not sure what kind of impact this will have at home on your own… but I'm gonna thank Darren Lynn Bousman if I ever meet him for reminding people it's cool to be different (and for the most 'what the fuck' casting session this year).

7 - SPIRAL - Adam Green and Joel David Moore immediately kill any pigeonholing they could have gotten on Hatchet or with their comedy work with this tiny, somber study about three fucked up characters wracked by (seemingly) similar pains but with wildly different reactions. Making 600 grand look like 3 million, Green/Moore's team (largely the encoring crew from Hatchet) take a grey, damp Portland, lace it with old school jazz and let some troubled, interesting people walk through Joel Moore's brainspace. Awesome sound design and twists I didn't call ahead of time coming make it a cool little tale to take in on a rainy winter night.

6 - THE RUINS - This one was a nice nasty surprise. Particularly effective are the performances and characters, moreso than most of the genre efforts this year. Truly disturbing violence, often self-inflicted, and a simple, quietly effective story kept me on a nice, sharp edge. While you'll run with the premise of what the villain is or you won't (the 'cellphone ring' gag was truly weird and eerie, to me), director Carter Smith has a great way with actors and the chops to keep an audience tense.

5 - [REC] - Me, from 15 minutes in until the last minute: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH!!! I haven't seen Quarantine yet, but the original scores in spades. Great performances, truly intense 'monster' attacks and the most disturbing ending I made it through in 2008 make [REC] one to watch from behind the sofa.

4 - DOOMSDAY - A quick rundown of its plot elements sounds like a film geek kid on a sugar rush describing a dream he had- "there's a virus attack and nasty gore and the cannibal punks show up and roast and eat a guy and then they run into the woods and find a castle and fight knights and have an awesome fucking car chase!" There's more to it than that, but this geek-tribute actually merits the coveted two words; Fucking Awesome. Buy the DVD and you'll agree. How can you not fall for this film which tips its hat to some of the best sci-fi/horror/action from the 80's to the point of using the font from Escape From New York?! Neil Marshall can do no wrong and makes this film his own. Criminally neglected in the States by its studio, this is a gory, intense, rockin' gem.

3 - THE SIGNAL - Three different Atlanta directors collaborate to give you the best apocalypse film in years, without a budget or name actors. It's sick, sunny, disturbing, socially conscious and heartfelt, sometimes all in the span of the same five minutes. Icons has had much to say about this over the past 2 years thanks for advance screenings and a healthy festival run; the hype is worth it. (AJ Bowen's multifacted villain/jealous husband steals the show, though his beard is a close second). I expect him, the supporting cast, and the directing trio to be major forces in film soon… whatever's next, guys, we're psyched for it.

2 - TRICK 'R TREAT - The best Halloween-related film after Carpenter's 1978 classic. In fact it might be the best Halloween related film ever only because it's ABOUT Halloween rather than simply taking place on it. Several interlocking stories on the same October night will entrance you, depicting how Halloween's experienced as a kid, teenager, adult and senior citizen… all while embracing the rituals and touchstones of the holiday. From the event's origins to its commercialization to the traditions involved (past and present) and the welcome feeling that spirits and monsters may be walking among us as we mimic them and go out to play...all are embraced in a big, wicked bear hug. A welcome nasty sense of humor (14 kids die!!) and a mood you can swim in help this add up to INCREDIBLE I can't remember the last time I thought "they made a film just for me" and realized everyone around me was feeling the same. This is how I remember feeling about Halloween as a kid and this will become a mainstay in DVD players or whatever we're using in years to come; I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes Halloween's A CHRISTMAS STORY. That is, if Warner Brothers ever fucking releases it. Come on, guys. We promise we won't kill any kids after seeing it. I'll even double dip the disc!

And I must have a little Sam figure on my writing desk soon. You'll want one too when you meet him. I hope this eventually does well enough on DVD that I get to see him again.

1 - LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - Two elements I always yearn for in my genre entertainment are to experience true emotion from the film besides just disgust/fear, and for people to shoot their horror films in ways that abandon the current trend of most modern genre(fast cuts and ripping off the look of Se7en). This film does both. A love story between two kids that just happens to embrace a supernatural element, drenched in the wintry despair of 1982 Sweden, I can't find a better film, horror or otherwise, yet this year. It's got the two best child performances I've seen in years, and has so much on its mind while still remembering to be scary and intense. It's a horror film that is beautiful, and that makes it even more effective. A must see.


"Something's here. I feel it breathing on me..."

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - the only reason this isn't in my top 10 is because aside from a few festival screenings, this no-budget chiller isn't out yet. A young woman, revealed to have been 'followed' by supernatural activity in her childhood, is concerned the visitations have begun again. Unfortunately her brash, solve-problems-with brawn and-disbelief-boyfriend decides not only to document what is going on in their house while they sleep, but to provoke it. The result is one of the scariest films I've ever seen, a la Blair Witch (this is a 'found footage' film as well)...but the performances are even better than that film and we immediately fall for the couple (or at least sweetheart Katie Featherston). I know people who are exactly like both of these characters (save the haunting element), and just might have slept with the lights on afterwards. Speaking of sleep, that's one area I just don't see touched on often in films; just how truly vulnerable we are when we're asleep, and just what could be going on around us WHILE we're asleep... You'll definitely be startled by even a simple floorboard creak after this one.

JSYN'S TOP 10 PICKS of 2008!

1) LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - For those who have seen it, the general consensus is that it’s the clear frontrunner. Simply put, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is a sublime, dark and beautiful film. Probably the most fascinating and unique portrayal of vampirism since Larry Fessenden’s HABIT. An absolute must-see.

2) [REC] - In a very close second, another foreign offering. (REC) starts disarmingly ho-hum but winds up ending on such a truly scary note it really just blew me away. No, I didn't see QUARANTINE and frankly, I'm not going to bother because this one is that good.

3) ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE - Here’s one that many people didn’t get to see and it’s a shame. Of all the modern genre films that claim to be an "homage" to the slasher movies of the Eighties, this is the only one that actually nails it completely. See it ASAP!

4) THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN - An enjoyable, well-made horror film that did not deserve the shoddy theatrical release it got. It had a very “circa Nineties” vibe to it, which I really liked. I felt the last fifteen minutes could have been a bit more epic in scope, but otherwise MMT was one of the better Clive Barker adaptations. Look forward to it on DVD.

5) DIARY OF THE DEAD - This film ignites fierce debates by those who love it and those who hate it. Even my fellow IOF staffers are divided on it. Without reiterating too much, I stand by my opinion that it’s one of Romero’s best; a scathing commentary of the internet generation that just happens to have zombies in it.

6) MIRRORS - Director Alex Aja delivered an interesting, supernatural scare flick that seemed to be unjustly slammed without any real provocation. I really don’t know what some people were expecting, but it was a hell of a lot better than whatever roman-numeral franchise sequel is being passed off as a genre movie these days.

7) SPLINTER - Indie monster movie goodness!

8) THE WIZARD OF GORE - In my opinion, the most underrated genre film of the year. Writer/director Jeremy Kasten somehow reinterprets Herschell Gordon Lewis while channeling David Lynch and Chanwook Park.

9) MOTHER OF TEARS - Another entry by a legendary horror film maker that was met with mixed reviews. I’ve seen it a few times already and I really enjoy it. While there definitely were a few elements that are kind of cheeky, on the whole I can’t find anything about it that’s a total deal-breaker

10) SHIVER (ESKALFRIO) - Another genre-bending foreign film that leans more toward thriller than horror, with a very unique premise. I knew almost nothing about this before I watched it, and I think that’s the way to approach it.

FEAR(S) OF THE DARK: A really cool black and white animated horror anthology from France!

TIMECRIMES: More sci-fi thriller than horror (don’t let the marketing fool you), but a GREAT time travel film nonetheless. This one is definitely on my Top Films of 2008 list.
FRINGE: Only ten episodes in, and it's one of the best sci-fi thriller TV series I've ever watched.

DEAD SPACE (PS3, XBOX360): Talking about the game folks, totally awesome 3rd person survival horror!
MY NAME IS BRUCE: Really funny self-deprecating comedy from our favorite curmudgeon. Thanks, Bruce!

HELLBOY 2: It's not straight-up horror, but it needed to be mentioned thanks to the awesome creature FX work.


Well kiddos 2008 is about to go flying out the window and what a year it's been, a majority shitty one that is! Let's face it 08' hasn't been all that positive on the horror aspect of cinema, why is it that anything of value had to have been sort out? *cough* Repo! *cough*, I mean we've been bombarded with such crap fests as Mirrors, The Happening, and Mother of Tears, not to mention the usual serving of vomit inducing remakes; Prom Night, One Missed Call, Day of the Dead, but all was not lost because we were indeed blessed with a slew of such awesomely kickass flicks as; [REC*], Let the Right One In, and Inside (A L'interieur).

So here it is, the 5 absolute best and rock bottom worst flicks of 2008 as picked by moi, sit back and enjoy my opinions dammit! - Danny Price


1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - What the hell is this!? A vampire movie that isn't Twilight? Shock horror! In an age of sparkling vampires and anti-climactic happenings it's nice to see that originality and genius still exist out there...it may be hidden deep in the heart of Sweden but hey it's better than locked up in "Michael Bays Chest of Love and JoyTM", a place where originality hasn't shone in many a century. This is a movie quite literally made of pure gold (not an actual guarantee), Let the Right One In hit's the mark in every conceivable way, the emotional aspect not least of all. Thomas Alfredson has created a finely crafted relationship between the two main characters that it puts all other vampire relationship movies (ah, I wonder which one I'm talking about here) to shame. This boys and ghouls is the best flick of 2008, guaran-damn-teed (and that is an actual one).

2. THE MIST - Stephen King movies, as a rule, suck until proven otherwise! I'm a massive King fan but let's face it, the chances that an adaptation of the mans work will be anything more than mediocre are rather low, The Mangler isn't about to win any awards and Thinner even less so. But wait, what's that? Is it...could it be...an exception? Why yes it is! And what be thy name? Why if it ain't god old Saint Darabont. I am convince that the man can do no wrong when handling Kings material, not that I wasn't convinced at The Shawshank Redemption, but more so now then ever before because few movies can evoke strong emotions from me, fewer can leave me speechless, The Mist did all that and so much more. The Mist is not a monster movie in the conventional sense, it's a pressure cooker character study on our inability to co-exist when the shit hits the fan. This movie divides people, there's no skirting around that fact, it's one of those rare movies that by the end will have people with conflicting opinions at each others throats in debate. There is only one way to describe this movie...perfect.

3. BUG - Okay so maybe it was released a whole 2 years ago for most who'll be reading this but dammit it's only just hit the Australian shores. Bug is the very definition of a bat shit crazy, mess you up, mind fuck movie, a genre of which I am rather fond of, sadly the mostly likely place to find it is at the very bottom of the bargain bin for $9.95 (if you ever see such a sight buy it immediately or be forever damned), it's just one of 'those' movies like Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon or Spiral that will never be appreciated or embraced by the mainstream, but who gives a fuck about them right? It doesn't help that it was so poorly advertised, if you didn't do some research on it you'd think it was a monster movie! Just look at the fucking poster. So what makes Bug so spectacular? What the fuck doesn't make it so spectacular!? The acting alone makes Bug a must see, just to be witness to some of the most bat shit crazy acting you will ever see, I kid you not it's as if Freidkin had picked two people he'd met in an insane asylum and tossed them on screen (and god bless the bastard). Bug is one of those movies, you know the ones, the ones you need to fucking see!

4. REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA - Well it's about fucking time! As we all know by now Repo! has become this years Grindhouse, but I did get to see it, and thank fuck I did because I love Repo! I really, really do. Having seen it I now know exactly why Repo! got the shaft by the general public, for the same reason Sweeney Todd got raped in the box office, it's why nobody got to see Grindhouse, not to mention why I will be 50 before I get to see Paranormal Activity (I will not die happy until I see that one). I really hate to echo every internet troll out there but fuck it the general public just wouldn't 'get it' dammit. Whilst there is some discrepancies where the music was concerned (the majority of which I loved mind you) it's the entire glorious look of the film that got me, Repo! The Genetic Opera looks fuckable! It's a visual orgasm on par with Sin City. If I were wearing a hat I'd take it off to Darren Lynn Bousman for proving that he's more than a Saw-hit-wonder.

5. DR. INFERNO (DR. INFIERNO) - Ooooooookay...how do I describe Dr. Inferno in a coherent and readable manner?...sorry, I can't! That would take literary mastery I'm not in possession of, because Dr. Inferno (please excuse the fact that I don't remember it's proper foreign name but if that's all I don't remember consider yourself well informed) is one crazy ass random movie the likes of which not seen before and likely never again. This was one of the selections at the A Night of Horror Film Festival I attended in April, which is of no surprise because the day mainstream cinemas start showing films like this is the day Uwe Boll wins an Academy Award, or an Asylum film gets described as 'original'. Let's see, there's this big ass muscular nurse who gets into a tussle with a hitman, and some guy who unknowingly winds up screwing his dead girlfriend, the three cross paths with Dr. Inferno, a scientist who on his days off of Nazi like experimentation has created the cure for all the worlds disease and is now demanding control of the world. At points between the beginning and the end there's boulder sized testicular growth, zombie's, half human half animal like creatures, an actual man/bear/pig, the muscular nurse mentioned earlier becomes the hulk, and after all of that it gets weirder! Chances are this movie will never see the light of day (though it should), for hours afterward the only thing I would think was; "What, the fuck, did I just witness!?". See it, even if you have to de-limb a granny or three.


KIRKDALE - A short film shown at the A Night of Horror Film Festival, Kirkdale is a little piece of glory about a small town cop who's trying to get his freak on with a rather nonreciprocating gal when an escaped mental patient crashes their back seat party, being the good man that he is, Mr. Lawman takes her back to the local nuthouse, what following 15 minutes is violent as fuck and gory as hell. I physically reacted to a moment in the film (and you'll know it if you ever see it) by leaping out and almost over my fucking seat.

THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN - Okay so it wasn't as faithful to Barker's story as one might hope but what can you do when the resulting movie is still a bad ass little thrill ride drenched in glorious gore!?

TEETH - After a gander at the banned poster for this one I knew I had to see it come hell or high water. A vagina that can eat you back! (lame I know but it had to he said! Ha).

MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO - I laughed so hard I almost lost all bowel control whilst watching this, never have I laughed so much in movie as I did in Murder Loves Killers Too. It's a campy little slasher flick that's aware of it's own existence and plays within it's boundaries blah blah blah, we know how it all goes by now. But seriously (or not so seriously as the case may be) Big Stevie (the killer) has a special place in my heart for his shining moment towards the end.

ZOMBIE STRIPPERS - I expected nothing more than zombies stripping and guess what! I got zombie stripping AND Robert Englund.


5. DEATH RACE - I hate Paul W.S. Anderson, I really do hate the man, I hate him as much as I hate Michael "fuck up this movie" Bay. With Death Race 2000 set solidly in his sights, Anderson wanted to make an homage to the good old days of 70's car chase movies, he wanted to make something that kicked ass, he wanted to make a good movie, did he? Do I really need to answer that!? Fuck no he did not, what he made was a painful piece of plop, it was boring as batshit and as dumb as can be, which is terrible thing as is but even worse when you realize that dammit a Death Race remake could have been fucking cool. Instead we get another Paul W.S. Anderson victim, mind you I was never that big a fan of the original but it was a fuck-sight better than this. It's not quite as fuck you-able as AVP but then again Death Race 2000 was no Alien or Predator. I have no problem with Statham, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is one of my favorite movies of all time, Crank rocked my world and I actually like some things about the Transporter movies (but I'll wait for the third one to come to DVD before I see it) but the man can only act one way, and it's describable thus wise; "GRRR". Then there's the shitty editing, and the shitty cinematography and the shitty everything for that matter.


4. THE EYE - I'm going to be unoriginal, just like this movie (ha), and join the ranks of about 99% of horror fans out there and say: "yes, I do hate remakes!", in general they suck, remakes such as The Thing and The Blob are a thing of a past, instead be get pretty teen actors and formulaic bullshit, the only thing you can wonder going into one nowadays is just how much worse could it possibly get? The original The Eye was no stroke of genius but once again the remake makes it look like Citizen Kane by comparison, at least there were moments in it that could be considered marginally creepy, not here though, no instead we get the stupid dialogue and even worse acting.

I'm sure Jessica Alba is a nice person, this is no personal attack but she can't act her way out of a wet paper bag, she's cardboard with an expression. And I know why she got cast, it's as obvious as Monica Lewinsky chin dribble stain, she hot! I get it, I'm not against tits and ass in a horror movie, fuck it's one of our genres biggest assets (pun intended) but not in a movie that's meant to be creepy and atmospheric, that's what we have slashers for!


3. TWILIGHT - *sigh*, just *sigh*. The best thing I can say about Twilight is that now that it's out I don't have to put up with seeing all the fucking advertising this sucky little fan-girl marketed piece of nutered crud had going for it! Where do I even begin? Fan-girls all around the world united to gush over the sigh-fest that was Twilight, originally a mushy excuse for a romance/horror novel (horror only in it's vampiric subject matter and NOTHING else) adapted into its own mushy romance/horror flick, too bad it sucked right, I managed to finish reading the first novel before I saw it and honestly it wasn't the worst book I've ever read, it was by no means an edge of you seat ass kicker or as emotionally enthralling as I was promised, if anything I was wondering just how little a feminist Stephanie Myer is! I mean the characters life seems devoted Edward! Nothing's changed with the movie either, she's just as predatory and stalkerish as her literary counterpart, which was oddly enough one of the few faithful film/novel connections I could make out, a lot of the character development was left out and plenty of necessary dialogue was missing, characters which should have been seen were kept out or held back, the acting was uniformly horrendous, this is meant to be a love story so why did the pair look so fucking awkward around each other!? There was no chemistry between them. And for the last time, VAMPIRES DO NOT FUCKING SPARKLE!!! [Insert angry smiley] Skip this and go see Let the Right One In (a.k.a. A vampire movie that doesn't suck) or at the very least re-watch Lost Boys.


2. THE HAPPENING - I sensed it. I saw the signs. And yes, it did suck.

I don't hate M. Night Shyamalamadonicus, he's not on my list of most hated directors, I mean I even liked some of his movies. The Sixth Sense scared me a little (when I myself were little that is) and there were things in Signs that gave me the creeps (it goes without saying that the ending wasn't one of them though). And in the wake of Lady in the Water I didn't think things could get any worse for the poor guys film making career. But then...it happened. The Happening is a universally abysmal excuse for a movie, it's riddled with gaping plot holes such as the characters boarding up a house to keep the killer gas from getting in (dumb enough as is) but then they decide to leave holes uncovered so they can shoot through.........right. Then there's the hideous dialogue, it'd make even the most literary inept redneck shout aloud: "Haw haw haw, dat man sounded stoopid!" and that man would more than likely be Marky Marky. My friend has a theory that I tend to agree with, it's that the less known brother is always the better actor, if this is the case then my god is Mark Whalberg doing wonders for Donnie career. It's too bad M. Night doesn't have a famous brother of his own.


1. SAW V - Dear fucking god, what hath thou wrought? I'll tell you what, yet another sequel to the already rock bottom franchise that all spawned from a genuinely good first flick. It's sad to think of it like that but it's true, SAW was a good movie, ending and all, but then it all degenerated to a moment last year when I was thinking that it couldn't get much worse than SAW IV (which was an obscenely bad movie) but of course the celluloidic gods worked hand in hand with cosmic irony to craft a film spun from from only the finest material of pure suckage, and thus SAW V was allowed to come into existance. I would watch SAW IV a thousand times before I lay eyes on V ever again, I do honestly mean that, if anything I have discovered a new appreciation for SAW IV, it at least had action in some way shape or form. SAW V had NONE, it was boring as hell fuck it could have passed for a TV movie it was that freaking dull. The characters were little more than cardboard cut outs, Costas Mandylor had one face throughout the entire movie, and the film main character existed for the sole purpose of spelling out the film none existent plot, he was the super exposition man with psychic powers (that's sort of true actually) the only thing he did the entire movie was go from evidence piece to evidence piece and flashback, which brings me to the fact that 90% of this thing was constructed of flashbacks much like its predecessor. If there's any one thing you could expect from the SAW movies it's interesting traps. Nope, none of them were even the least bit interesting, the final trap sucked most of all if only for its shear absurdity (much like the rest of the movie). Not surprisingly the only passable aspect of the film were the scenes with Tobin Bell, but even those left something to be desired. There was nothing redeeming about SAW V. Nothing.


DIARY OF THE DEAD - What a sad set of affairs, I love zombies and I love George Romero, I don't love Diary of the Dead. I wanted to like it but could get over the extended periods of boring. I understand what Romero was trying to say but it felt like he fell way short. Still my hopes aren't crushed for his follow up ...of the Dead.

Lack of care or expectations prevented this from being that big of a disappointment, it was gory but it still sucked something terrible.

MIRRORS (a.k.a. 24/every ghost movie ever made crossover) - Now this was a disappointment, leading up until I saw it I was expecting good things from Aja's new flick, the previews looked good but sadly the resulting movie was a massive dissapointment. Could have been something but became nothing.



5. THE HAPPENING - The trailer looked amazing! It was written and directed by the great M. Night Shyamalan. It even had Markie Mark!...But even with all these things, this film left me wanting to do what the characters in the movie were doing...kill myself. You would think that since it was an M. Night Syhamalan film it'd have this amazing twist right!? WRONG! Aside from waiting for things to get really interesting (which never happened) all I wanted to do was Knock Mark Whalburg out for being such a douche bag, bad actor and get my money back for wasting my time at the theatre! The best part about going to see this was the popcorn…and the guys jumping off the roof in the film cause that was gory as hell, but that’s it!
4. MAX PAYNE - Markie, Markie, Mark...our agent didn't do his job this year did he? You told him to pick GOOD roles! The only reason this film made it onto this horror site is because there’s creepy dark things flying around throughout this whole movie! Otherwise it's a complete waste of time to even mention! The story line made no sense; the direction was some of the worst I've ever seen! For fuck sake, when have you EVER seen a security guard with an AK47 and access to C4!? The script seemed to have been written by a five year old that never actually PLAYED Max Payne the game! And the worst thing about it...It cost 35 Million dollars to make the piece of shit! That could have been spent on more important things like...finding a new BFF for Paris Hilton!
3. TRILOQUIST - Well, if you read my movie review you'd know...There is not a single gore shot in this film and it's about a homicidal doll! The editing was obviously terrible because they set up a flashback that took place in 1991 and filled it with cars from 2007! The story didn't actually make any real sense; which seemed to be a trend this year! The script was so poorly written that they didn't even bother to give one of the three main characters any lines!! And no, sorry guys, but the hot chick never even gets naked! Life just isn't fair! The creators of Leprechaun need to go back to the drawing board and make ANOTHER sequel…I promise if you do I’ll say it was better than Triloquist!
2. THE STRANGERS - Shit! Give me a mask and let me takea stab at it too! No pun intended. Needless to say, I didn't like the main characters. The story line was very predictable, a couple in a log cabin, house phone, cell phone, plenty of chances to call for help and they blew it! So they deserve to die! The murderers were no better! They were nowhere near as scary as the masters who came before them in a film that is similar in a handful of ways yet, much better...Funny Games. I didn't meet a single person that liked this film and it's for all the obvious reasons...it's supposed to be a slasher and I'd let my six year old nephew watch it to put him to sleep! And once again it was done with a big budget!
1. MOTHER OF TEARS - Yeah, more like Piece of Shit! This movie makes the horror ledged, Dario Argento, look like a novice! What the hell was he thinking when he wrote it!? Asia Argento won't be getting too many movie offers after taking on this role and I don't care if her dad is the director she should have said " No, dad! This film makes absolutely no sense at all! I mean look at my lines! For god sakes the audience won't even be able to fallow it!" Because we couldn't! My head was spinning with confusion...You mean to tell me the fate of the Vatican rests on the survival of a t-shirt!? Yeah, see, now your heads spinning too! Although the deceased mother of Asia is rather hilarious in her CG ghost form flying around the streets of Italy it wasn't enough to convince me that this film wasn't compiled by a complete (lets be politically correct here) Handicapped person! It was a sad day in the horror world the moment they started filming this movie!


5. MACHINE GIRL - Basically if you're a fan of Kill Bill you'd like this movie. I give huge props to the creators of the film for being edgy and (even though it was greatly influenced by Kill Bill) what a great movie to barrow from! I never get sick of revenge stories! The CG gore was some of the most interesting I've ever seen! I felt "splash happy" while watching the scenes of bloody mutilation and couldn't stop smiling at the relentless killing! FINALLY a Japanese horror that’s not about ghosts, dead sisters, curses, black cats or things crawling out of water wells! AND it was filmed in Japanese! I loved it!

4. QUARANTINE - I so, so badly want to see the original REC! But have not been able to get a hold of it! However THIS version did by me just fine! I was terrified while in the theatre! Sinking into my chair like a 10 year old! The story, if it were to ever actually happen, sunk into me and chilled me to the bone! Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, Exorcism of Emily Rose) did an awesome job as portraying an inexperienced reporter who reflected my fear in the film like a mirror! Locked up, forgotten by the world and left to vend for your self in a vast building filled with blood hungry monsters...wow.

3. FRONTIER(S) - FINALLY, one of the 8 films to die for that truly impresses! It's like Texas Chainsaw Massacre but...in France! A country that keeps releasing more and more horror that is unbelievably impressive! Frontiers, Inside, High Tension and City of Lost Children are just a few. Mostly what I loved so much about Frontiers though, was that it had this ability to show you torture and death in a way where it wasn't just shock value (which it had) but to make you feel...truly disturbed! The kills were amazing! The story made sense, it was poignant and scary, the characters were relatable. Dark, dreary, gory and scary...just the way a horror should be!

2. THE SIGNAL - Released in February of 2008 and on some of my fellow ICONS writers lists from last year, I didn't get around to seeing this film until this past summer...and wow! More people should really look into underground films because of movies like this! A signal being broadcast from an unknown source is driving everyone it reaches mad causing them to go on a murdering rampage. Once again the violent killings are what set this movie apart from your low grade horror, rising above all others as a comedy, blood fest, tale of love conquering, and survival story. It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end!

1. SPIRAL - Ah, the twisted world that is Spiral! I had the opportunity to first view this film at the Texas Frightmare weekend 08’, courtesy of Anchor Bay! Believe it or not ladies and gentlemen, this movie is rated PG13! From Adam Green, the director of Hatchet, this story is about a lonely young painter and his infatuations with the unfortunate women that walk into his life. Throughout the entire film you’re not sure if the main character is a homicidal maniac, or just plain strange. The beauty of the story is that you fall in love with the character, you want to trust him, you want to get to the bottom of his thoughts…but this is a mistake! This movie will make you jump, wonder, and wait patiently in suspense. It is my number one film of 08’ because it was written so well and executed with great direction!

- by Mike C, Robg, Adam Barnick, Jsyn, Danny Price & Beth 1/08

- by Robg., Mike C., Jsyn 1/07

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