[Editor's Note: We want to wish Daily Dead readers a Happy 2016! Continuing our Favorites of 2015, Monte shares his list, which includes movies, vinyl releases, and more.]
Bone Tomahawk: An absolutely impressive film from S. Craig Zahler, “Bone Tomahawk” is the western film I always wanted. It’s a mix of unusual humor with touches of thoroughly effective and satisfying horror and beautifully rendered western era compositions. Add some rather stunning performances from an impressive cast, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, and especially Richard Jenkins, and you have one of the most unique horror, western, drama mash-ups you’ll experience.
Turbo Kid: Some call it a guilty pleasure while others, like myself, wholeheartedly defend the action, science fiction, and horror films of the 1980’s. “Turbo Kid” is a loving homage to all the era specific qualities you’d see from these guilty pleasure films combined into one. The fact that it gets nearly everything in tune with the 80’s is remarkable; the fact that it is also has an earnest and humorous story is an unexpected plus. The elements are satirized so precisely, like the over-the-top gore, 80’s arena rock songs perfectly emulated by composer Le Matos, and deliberate editing style that pulls and pushes with attention grabbing ferocity.
What We Do In The Shadows: The horror subgenre of the vampire gets a genuinely funny and creatively innovative punch from the creative team behind “Flight of the Conchords”. Nearly every aspect and angle of the vampire mythology is given proper treatment and respect is shown to the horror community because the film rarely feels like it is mocking the genre. The film also utilizes the overdone documentary perspective cleverly to its advantage. Who would have thought that following a bunch of vampire roommates around would have been this entertaining?
Deathgasm: Director Jason Lei Howden made one of 2015’s most wild and fun horror films. If you grew up with a denim jacket that had heavy metal band patches all over it, this film is for you. If you grew up loving your horror films filled from top to bottom with blood and gore, this film is for you. “Deathgasm” tackles the teen comedy, mixes in raunchy humor, adds a little metal music culture, and delivers buckets of blood for your horror hearts delight. It’s a horror film worthy of repeat viewings.
Ex Machina: Science fiction cinema didn’t get much better than “Ex Machina”, a methodically structured film with an intelligent narrative directed by Alex Garland. While many of the films that deal with science fiction are cluttered with special effects, Mr. Garland utilizes these tools to build an impressive, beautiful, and emotional artificial being known as Ava, played impeccably by actor Alicia Vikander. “Ex Machina” focuses on relationships between men and women, the advancing world and how it connects with progressing technology, and the trappings and limitations of science. It is an exceptional film that asks difficult questions and allows the viewer to interpret the answers however they choose.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Director George Miller drove this pulsing, bursting, no-holds-barred vehicle into the summer blockbuster scramble and completely destroyed all competitors. Mr. Miller builds an expansive world, without much dialogue, with the assistance of Tom Hardy who plays Max Rockatansky. But don’t be fooled, this film belongs to Charlize Theron. As Imperator Furiosa, Ms. Theron confidently controls the film with stunning screen presence. Mr. Miller executes the film with exceptional style and skill, making “Mad Max: Fury Road” feel more suited for the arthouse than the grindhouse.
Killer POV: Heard about this podcast when it started, didn’t start actively listening until episode 84 when I heard that actor Dick Miller was a guest. The past year has been dedicated to getting caught up. The passion and love for horror is evident from the three hosts Rebekah McKendry, Rob Galluzzo, and Elric Kane, who each bring a fresh and unique perspective about the genre. To make things even better, the specials guests are exceptional. This weekly podcast is a must listen for horror fans.
“Army of Darkness” Vinyl Release: Mondo’s release of the “Army of Darkness” score is a collector approved 180-gram pressing with beautifully composed artwork on the sleeve as well as a vortex vinyl design. The Joseph LoDuca, and Danny Elfman assisted, score has never sounded better.
“It Follows” Vinyl Release: Part of the reason why the film “It Follows” is so effective is because the score works so successfully in building the tension and anticipation within the film. Composed by “Disasterpiece” the soundtrack found a wonderful vinyl release from Milan Records. This is a standout composition, one of the best film soundtracks of 2015.
10 to Midnight (Twilight Time): Director J. Lee Thompson made one of my favorite exploitation thrillers of the 80’s. Twilight Time released this film in a limited run and the results are a clean, more-gorgeous-than-it-should-be transfer with an equally clean loseless DTS-HD master audio mono mix. Should this film be given this short of attention? Probably not, but I’m sure there are few genre fans who will agree with my admiration of this Blu-ray transfer.
Society (Arrow Video): Brian Yuzna’s body horror film “Society” was given the Arrow treatment, which means nearly everything about this release was given the care and quality it deserved. Mr. Yuzna’s film has always been a guilty pleasure from the VHS days for me, so seeing it look as good as it does was a very welcome surprise. Arrow Video continues to impress.
Kwaidan (Criterion): If you haven’t seen “Kwaidan”, a Japanese ghost story collection made in 1964, remedy this immediately. Director Masaki Kobayashi’s film is given the Blu-ray upgrade from the Criterion Collection and the results are exquisite. 22 minutes of additional film footage is added here, a reason explained in a great discussion in the supplemental material within. “Kwaidan” is a beautiful work of horror art.
Webshow: “Every Frame a Painting” (Tony Zhou): Tony Zhou has been making short educational films about film form since 2014. In 2015 the talented Mr. Zhou continued his film analysis, composing well-edited and informative shorts about Buster Keaton, Chuck Jones, and Akira Kurosawa. Mr. Zhou examined the quadrant framing system and the use of production design in filmmaking. While it may not directly talk about horror, many of the topics discussed relate to many of the film aspects utilized to compose effective genre films. “Every Frame a Painting” is an abbreviated film school, a must watch for film fans and filmmakers.