[Editor's Note: With this past year being another great one in the horror genre across multiple mediums, Monte Yazzie continues Daily Dead's "Favorites of 2018" features by reflecting on his favorite viewing, listening, and collecting experiences from 2018.]
Hereditary: Horror films have utilized the family dynamic, mostly broken beyond repair, to build visions of invasive family structure terror. Think of films like The Omen, The Shining, or even more recently, The Conjuring. What makes director Ari Aster’s first feature film different from most is the structure concerning the family, specifically the historical structure and the ongoing trauma and despair that has permeated the foundation of this family’s ancestry. Hereditary takes the viewer into horrific aspects concerning grief, trauma, and ultimately despair before unleashing the supernatural threat—it’s why the film is so effective. It’s this journey into emotion that ultimately makes the visions of horror resonate so strongly.
Suspiria: Nothing is sacred in today’s remake-obsessed film world, yet it still sounds absolutely foolish when you think of someone remaking Dario Argento’s cinematic masterpiece Suspiria. Director Luca Guadagnino, who last helmed the critically acclaimed Call Me by Your Name, crafts one of the best witch horror films ever made with his re-envisioned version of Suspiria. With rich details, meticulous structure, and brilliant performances from Tilda Swinton, this version stands confidently and boldly on its own designs.
Revenge: The “rape-revenge” sub-genre of horror is hard to watch and oversaturated with an abundance of bad films. These assumptions were present when the trailer for Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge dropped. Instead of clichéd narratives, one-dimensional characters, and exploitive sexual elements, Ms. Fargeat’s brilliant Revenge offers a view of this often-grotesque sub-genre with a powerful grasp on narrative structure, particularly the aspect of feminism and point of view of exploitation, but also on cinematic tone, which is handled with biting humor and buckets of blood.
Mandy: If there is one thing that can said of director Panos Cosmatos, it’s that he has uncompromising command of his style. Mandy will undoubtedly be remembered for the surprisingly restrained, yet also wildly unhinged, performance from actor Nicolas Cage. However, the film is an experience of complete and captivating horror, a dream about love and peace that turns into a nightmare about hatred and destruction. Mr. Cosmatos pulls the viewer into the nightmare with beautiful images and stunning atmosphere. This is the film experience of 2018.
The House That Jack Built: Lars von Trier. Love him or hate him, the line is firmly established with his catalog, as the director is undeniably one of the most interesting filmmakers of the 21st century. Von Trier takes another step into the realm of horror with the personal, exploitive, disturbing film The House That Jack Built. Filmmakers have many times utilized the film screen as a canvas for working through personal concerns, and Von Trier does the same; in one moment the auteur demonstrates his meticulous and obsessive compulsions for the craft through a humorous murder cleanup, and in numerous other moments he trolls the critics that have demeaned his artistic endeavors by straightforwardly pushing the limits of his storytelling. Lars von Trier paints the grotesque with elegant strokes.
All the Creatures Were Stirring: Directors David Ian and Rebekah McKendry tackle the holiday horror anthology with a playful mix of tales in All the Creatures Were Stirring. The stories vary in genre style, which is a welcome element throughout, and the narrative wraparound is an amusing trip into the strangest performance art theater with a young couple played by Ashley Clements and the always interesting Graham Skipper. This holiday anthology is sure to be a revisit during the Christmas season. I’m interested to see what this directing team comes up with next.
Extremity: Director Anthony DiBlasi, who helmed the exceptional Last Shift in 2014, targets the subject of extreme haunts with Extremity. This fast-paced, tightly directed psychological horror film does a great job of establishing atmosphere, one that heightens the thrills and weaves a nice mystery. The “Dread Central Presents” brand is a label to watch, as their collection continues to display a nice diversity of content with each film getting better and better.
David Cronenberg at Beyond Fest: For those who were able to make the journey to Los Angeles and secure a ticket, the festival event of 2018 had to be the three days dedicated to the works of David Cronenberg at Beyond Fest, with the director in attendance on numerous nights. Experiencing a marathon of Cronenberg’s early works on brilliant 35mm in the beautiful Egyptian Theatre provided a new appreciation of the filmmaker’s progression as an artist. The team at Beyond Fest continue to outdo themselves every single year.
The Haunting of Hill House: The Haunting of Hill House is emotional and frightening, a completely captivating work from start to finish. Mike Flanagan currently sits on the throne as the master of horror. Watch this brilliant series immediately.
Guillermo del Toro Action Figure: If you keep your Movie Maniacs in the plastic, if you only take your Sideshow Collectibles figures out on special occasions, or if you encase your limited edition Funko Pop! vinyl figures in reinforced boxes, then you should have made room on your shelves for NECA’s amazing Guillermo del Toro action figure. Limited to 2000 copies, this figure is a must have for genre collectors.
Pure Cinema Podcast: Hosts Elric Kane and Brian Saur are the video movie store clerks that told you about Samuel Fuller, they are the cool kids who wore Lucio Fulci “Zombie” shirts underneath their uniforms at the movie theater, they are the neighborhood filmmakers who told you about Alejandro Jodorowsky. This podcast will provide you with a wealth of movie recommendations, thought-provoking commentaries about silent cinema, banter about bonkers cinema, and so much more movie mayhem.
Candyman on Blu-ray: Scream Factory and Arrow Video both released very impressive Blu-rays of the best horror film of the ’90s, Candyman. Each release has wonderful transfers of the film, a theatrical cut, an unrated cut, a UK theatrical cut, with a wealth of extra features featuring Tony Todd, Bernard Rose, and Clive Barker. Horror fans have waited so long for this release, it was such a nice surprise that in 2018, so much attention was provided to this classic horror film from the ’90s.
Want to know what other members of the Daily Dead team enjoyed in 2018? Catch up on all of our favorites coverage here.