Jonathan’s Favorites of 2018

2019/01/02 22:50:49 +00:00 | Jonathan James

Happy 2019, Daily Dead readers! Every year has its share of highs and lows, but 2018 will go down as one of the best years in horror. We’re in a golden age of genre entertainment, where we’re seeing a steady outpouring of incredible talent on display in movies, TV, video games, comic books, and more.

As I’ve mentioned on our Corpse Club podcast, we’re getting to a point where more genre content is being produced than a single person can consume, so it’s going to get increasingly difficult for an individual to catch every horror TV or movie release. That’s why we have always handled our year-end lists differently on Daily Dead, highlighting an individual writer’s annual horror journey.

Rather than just covering films, our lists can extend to TV, games, collectibles, events, and anything else genre-related. In short, we’re sharing with you a list of our favorite horror experiences from 2018. Check back every day this week to find out what made the cut for the rest of the Daily Dead team.

Hereditary: Ever since it premiered last January, this has been the frontrunner for 2018’s best horror movie and my opinion of it has only gotten better over time. Ari Aster comes in on his first full feature like he’s been directing horror movies for decades, creating something that invokes the feeling of familiar horror classics, but it’s the character development, dialogue, and acting that truly sets Hereditary apart. Toni Collette further demonstrates why she’s one of the best actresses working today, and Alex Wolff’s acting is so good that it’s mostly been overlooked how well he’s able to hold his own against Collette’s powerhouse performance.

Joe Bob Briggs: TNT’s MonsterVision and Joe Bob Briggs were a huge influence on my love of genre entertainment. I have very fond memories watching classic horror and sci-fi movies with my mother every weekend, sometimes until 6:00 in the morning. With Joe Bob being one of the first genre critics, his influence on us all is immeasurable. It’s safe to say that without Joe Bob Briggs, there wouldn’t be a Daily Dead, and I was thrilled when it was announced that Shudder gave him a “Last Drive-In.” What no one expected is that it would bring horror fans together on a scale we haven’t really seen for other online events, and that Joe Bob would be back for two other marathons in 2018 (and more content to come this year!).

Halloween: It’s no surprise that I love the original Halloween, and I do enjoy watching the first two sequels, but I’ve never really been into the other sequels. I also feel like Michael Myers is the most difficult “slasher” story to continue, since it relies so heavily on character, which is why I was completely on board for this alternate timeline that abandoned the sequels. Bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back for the 40th anniversary of the series was the best way to introduce a new generation of horror fans to Michael Myers and Laurie Strode.

This movie isn’t flawless, but you can see the love that everyone had for the franchise while making this movie, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ take on the new Laurie Strode is a great way to tackle grief, trauma, and redefine the concept of the “final girl.” And, I could watch an entire movie starring Jibrail Nantambu as Julian, so if Blumhouse is planning any spinoffs, that should be on the top of the list…

Terrified (Aterrados): Just when you thought you’d seen it all from paranormal activity stories set in someone’s home, Argentinean writer/director Demián Rugna mixes everything up in Terrified, coming up with a unique concept for a haunting which makes its way through an unsuspecting neighborhood. There’s a quasi-anthology aspect to this, which allows Rugna to mix up the timeline, pacing, and scares in a way that keeps everything fresh and, er… terrifying! Largely overlooked by North American audiences, this is currently streaming on Shudder and is definitely worth your time.

Flashback Weekend: As I mentioned above, this list follows my horror journey in 2018 and one of my favorite memories is meeting up with most of the Corpse Club team at Flashback Weekend in Chicago. Heather Wixson is a yearly co-host at the event, which saw guests in 2018 that included Tom Holland, Brad Dourif, and many more.

It was exciting for me because Heather had her first table for her new book Monster Squad: Celebrating the Artists Behind Cinema's Most Memorable Creatures. But, it was also the first time that Heather, Scott, Derek, Patrick, and I had all been together in person. From our live episode, to playing cards, grabbing pizza, watching movies, and a six-minute staring contest with Scott, it was a weekend that I’ll never forget.

Mandy: This is an interesting one because I really enjoyed Mandy, but I didn’t fall in love with it to the degree that others have. That said, this is one of my favorites because I’ve enjoyed seeing how much others, especially those close to me, have embraced it. We hear “cult movie” tossed around quite a bit, but Mandy is the first one in a while that achieved cult status in a matter of months, with Mandy viewing parties, fan art, figures, games, Halloween contests, and an obsessive love of the Cheddar Goblin. Even without all of that, Mandy is a superb and entrancing piece of art that overloads the senses and stays with you long after you watch it.

Salem Horror Fest: I’ve been to Salem before, but not in October, and I had to cancel a trip that my wife and I originally had planned in October 2017. Thankfully, the stars aligned and we were able to head to Massachusetts for this past year’s Salem Horror Fest. It’s the best place you could ask to hold a horror festival at the best time of the year, and it most definitely lived up to my high expectations. My wife and I walked dozens of miles as we toured Salem and the surrounding area, got to meet up with Ryan Turek for the East Coast Halloween premiere and his keynote speech, saw Elvira, Mistress of the Dark with Cassandra Peterson in attendance, hung out with Freddie and Merrijoy from the Mixtape Massacre team, and hosted a panel featuring George C. Romero.

Severin / Scream Factory / Kino Lorber / Arrow Video: Kudos to Severin, Scream Factory, Kino Lorber, and Arrow (and distributors) for not just not slowing down, but digging even deeper to produce high quality releases in 2018. From Severin, my highlights include The Blood Island Collection, Shocking Dark, Zombie 3, and The Changeling. Scream Factory has now started releasing titles from the Hammer catalogue, I can’t believe they teamed up with NECA for a Night of the Demons Angela figure, and we finally got the Critters movie collection! From Kino, we saw the excellent releases of The Trilogy of Terror and The Night Stalker, and Arrow continues to impress with a varied catalogue that saw releases like Horror Express, The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch: This is why I’m glad we waited until the end of the year to lock in our lists. Bandersnatch has been a divisive Black Mirror release from Netflix and for good reason. This “choose your own adventure”-style presentation isn’t easy to define. Is it a game? Is it a movie? Does it really matter? Even though the idea of an interactive movie has been done before, this release is a game changer: the transitions are smoother, the acting and production quality are higher, and it’s been experienced by millions of people around the world. I see this as a very successful “proof of concept” and expect this to be the kickoff of this style of entertainment being more widely used on Netflix and beyond.

The Haunting of Hill House: We don’t list our “favorites” in any order, but if we did, it would be hard for me to not put this at the top. I’ve gone back and forth, with whether or not I preferred Haunting of Hill House or Hereditary (please don’t make me choose!), but (of course) Mike Flanagan and Ari Aster are playing two different games here. I guess I compare them because of the fact that these two directors were able to masterfully execute on such a terrifying, character-driven vision. With Hill House, Flanagan takes on the daunting task of adapting (and updating) Shirley Jackson’s novel, which was already done so well in 1963's The Haunting.

It's hard to keep anyone's attention over 10 episodes that are mainly character-focused over action and continue to ramp up scares, but Flanagan is able to balance everything perfectly. As expected, Carla Gugino, Kate Siegel, Timothy Hutton, and the other adult cast members deliver, but the younger actors' performances are equally impressive. Flanagan delivers on not only a scaring us with the supernatural (and those ghost cameos are so well executed!), but he also dives deep into the very real effect of loss and us being haunted by our own personal “ghosts.” This isn’t just one of the best releases of 2018; this is one of the best ghost stories ever told.


Honorable Mentions

There were so many great releases in 2018 and too many to give individual attention to above, but (in no particular order), here are some of my other genre favorites:

  • Suspiria
  • A Quiet Place
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • The Overlook Film Festival
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Annihilation
  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3
  • Bird Box
  • Heavy Trip


Want to know what other members of the Daily Dead team enjoyed in 2018? Catch up on all of our favorites coverage here.