Now That’s What I Call Films – 2013!

Well, there goes another year. I rarely blog these days, but like to do a top ten film list at the end of the year as it’s a good way of reflecting and can be a handy reminder in the future of what I liked!

This year was a bit of a challenge if I’m honest. I keep a list going throughout the year, writing down the title when I see something I really enjoy then trimming it down at the end to make the top ten. This year, when it came to writing this post, I realised that it was a relatively sparse list.

That’s not to say I haven’t seen some crackers (see below), but a top ten would have included some filler, and that’s just not on.

So, welcome to my top seven list of 2013. In no particular order:

 

Ghost Graduation (Promocion fantasma)

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Even in death, Michael Hutchence retained a suave dress sense

I’ve been able to rely on the Abertoir festival to fill at least a couple of the slots on this list for the last four years, and once again it delivered.

This is one of those “it’s not really a horror film” horror films, in that it’s essentially a (grown up) comedy with ghosts, but rather than get into a massive debate about what constitutes horror, let’s just accept that ghosts count, and move on.

Ghost Graduation is highly entertaining from start to finish. It undoubtedly helped that I saw it with a festival crowd, as whilst I’m sure I would have liked it on my own, I expect it works better with an audience.

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Hit me baby one more time

So, if you like the lighter side of horror and don’t demand blood and guts, track this down when you get a chance and have a laugh (with Spanish ghosts).

 

The Station (Blutgletscher)

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“Did you put a red sock in the wash with that glacier?”

Everyone likes a good old fashioned monster movie, right? It is and will always be difficult to top the likes of Carpenter’s The Thing, and alarm bells rang when The Station was compared to that masterpiece in the publicity, but it’s an understandable comparison for a couple of reasons:

1)     It takes place in a snowy / icy location.

2)     It has fun mutations!

This was one of the most entertaining horror films of the year for me, with plenty of (good natured) gore and splatteryness (it’s a word!) onscreen. The cast combine well, aided by a script that delivers both emotional and humorous moments throughout. There’s even an environmental message, but don’t worry, it’s not heavy handed and dull like in the documentaries you get told to watch unless you want everyone to think you’re an evil oil baron.

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This is not a drill. Oh, wait….

I was lucky enough to see this one at a festival (Abertoir again) as I don’t think it has an official release date yet, but as with Ghost Graduation if you get the chance to see this with an audience then take it, sit back, and enjoy the mutations 🙂

 

The Conjuring

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Every house needs an Emergency Frank Sidebottom

There have been a few “big name” cinema horror releases in the last few years – Insidious, The Pact, Sinister et al – and the natural state for many horror fans is to be a bit sniffy and suspicious.

“What do these fly by night horror fans who only see big cinema release horror films know about it, how can we rely on them to tell us what’s good?”

Well, don’t be a dick. It’s like the “I was into them before they were famous, look at me, it’s all about me!!!” factor that some successful bands get, and it’s just as childish and cringeworthy.

Anyway, minor rant over – The Conjuring is one of those films. It got a wide cinema release, lots of people watched and liked it, and so did I. (of course, I watched it at home as I didn’t want to be in a cinema with loads of non-horror fans who don’t understand what horror really is)

*slaps self on wrists*

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“There were originally ten dwarves, but Disney had to cut three for timing”

It hits many familiar beats – a scary house, evil dolls, spooky noises – but it does them all well. It’s not 90 minutes of slow build followed by a 10 minute barrage of garish demons either, but instead is well paced, thoughtful, well acted, and bloody scary!

And if that’s not enough for you, then are you really a horror fan? 😉

 

Frankenstein’s Army

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“You may have been in Def Leppard, but we demand more from our drummers in Slipknot”

More monsters! Hooray! And what monsters!

Ok, so technically maybe they’re not monsters but instead “improved” humans, but damn do they look good. The thought and craft that has gone into creating the denizens of Frankenstein’s Army made this film a stand out for me. Yes it’s “found footage / shakycam”, which can be offputting to many, but I think the main reason people are pissed off with this as a medium is the raft of crappy found footage films that followed Paranormal Activity.

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“Now, if I just jam a fork in here you’ll be able to enjoy Downton Abbey”

Anyway, when done well it’s a factor but not the be all and end all of a film. I found myself wondering if it was necessary during FA i.e. I’d have equally liked to see it as a straight narrative, but don’t be put off by it. This is a highly entertaining and bloody picture, with fantastic onscreen creations. It’s clear that the (small) budget was spent well – no gimmicky cast, no flashy locations – and it pays off.

 

Spring Breakers

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Remember kids: Crime doesn’t pa….hmmmm

This took me by surprise in that I’ve never really been drawn to Harmony Korine’s films, but the concept intrigued me so I stuck it on my rental list and forgot about it until it arrived.

I can’t really pin down why it’s on this list i.e. exactly what it was that I liked so much about it, but it was undoubtedly one of my favourites of the year. I’ve given it some thought to try to enlighten myself (and you) but always end up coming back to the same thing:

“Everytime” by Britney Spears.

Even now while writing this I’ve got it in my head, which is something of a clash as I’ve got Slayer playing on my iPod, but music is a broad church. Anyway, if you’ve seen the film you’ll know where I’m coming from with the song, and if you haven’t then I recommend you give it a try. Some of you will probably hate it, hopefully some of you will really enjoy it like I did and come away pleasantly surprised.

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This image is central to the plot and essential for this post *cough*

P.S. There is violence and nudity.

 

The World’s End

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I knew Google Glass would end up going all SkyNet…

This was one of the most satisfying films of the year, in that it had a lot to “live up to” with the previous two in the Cornetto trilogy having been so good, and did just that.

I think the grammar in the above sentence may be awful, but it’s the morning after Boxing Day so excuse me for not being in “professional” mode.

Anyway, TWE confirmed to me just how good a director Edgar Wright is. Yes the cast are all excellent throughout (no surprise there) but more impressive is the way everything is brought together, with room for the visual quirks that form part of Wright’s style. The fight scenes are superbly choreographed and edited, and would put some “straight” action films to shame.

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One for Viz’s “Up The Arse Corner”

Equally importantly, it’s funny as hell, moving at times, and has some great drunken swearing.

 

Grabbers

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“Stay still, I think it just wants to play!”

This just about sneaks onto the list, in that I think it was technically a 2012 film, but only released late in the year and I saw it in 2013.

I guess it’s a horror/comedy, in that it contains slimy alien monsters and is bloody funny! If you prefer your horror straight up and hard edged then this may not be the film for you. Similarly if you like your comedy to revolve around fart gags or Hollywood scripted romance, then this probably won’t make your list.

However, if you want to laugh and occasionally go “Ewww!” then this should be right up your alley. It’s a great concept – alien beasties invade a small Irish village but are intolerant of alcohol and so best repelled by the human inhabitants getting and staying drunk – and is delivered with a lot of heart.

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Feck off, aliens!

I guess it’s in essence a feelgood movie, but one with swearing and monsters. Seek it out and watch it, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Honourable mentions go to Hitchcock, Killer Joe, Man of Steel, Dark Skies, and Stoker, all of which I liked but not enough to come up with a few paragraphs about without going back to IMDB.

…and I probably forgot to write some down, so please remember that other lists are available.

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