Maybe it was because it was my first full year blogging, but I have to say that 2008 was a pretty solid year for scary entertainment. Certainly a lot better than 2007, at least in my experience. And when it comes down to it, this is all about personal experience. It's all subjective, people, and I can only write based upon what I actually experienced over the course of the past 12 months in horror. There are a lot of great flicks and shows that I need to get to, most notably Let the Right One In, which I will watch via vaguely illegal means sometime in the next few days.
That said, I feel it's with good reason that I claim 2008 to have been a highly satisfying year for terror. For one thing, we kicked off the year with Cloverfield, a bona fide mainstream American giant monster movie that opened in the midst of an earth-shattering multimedia marketing campaign. And while it may not have been the life-changing experience many apparently were led to believe it would be, it was an enjoyable flick, and it was a pleasure seeing a kind-of-horror movie grip the imagination of the entire nation like it did.
And speaking of the nation, if 2008 was anything, it was the year that domestic horror took a trip to the woodshed, courtesy of foreign horror. Yes, fans, our fear-loving brethren from across the seas put America to shame this year.
Apart from Let the Right One In, which I haven't even seen yet, you had Juan Antonio Bayona's The Orphanage reaching U.S. shores--a sublime film which rightfully received the blessing of Guillermo del Toro. Frenchmen Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury shocked the holy hell out of us with Inside, the first knockout French gore flick since the days of Jean Rollin. And J-horror took a backseat to K-horror thanks to Black House, a DVD releases from South Korea which it was my pleasure to review some months ago. Of course, there was also the god-awful The Wig from the very same country, but who's keeping score?
But the granddaddy of 'em all was the flick that was, for this blogger's money, the best horror movie of the decade thus far--Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's [Rec]. Although criminally withheld from U.S. theaters this year so as not to steal the thunder of the American remake Quarantine (no, I haven't seen it), that couldn't stop those curious and industrious enough to get their hands on it and discover that a horror movie can still have the power to terrify even the most jaded veteran fans.
I'm thankful that starting up the VoH has helped me gain access to a greater world of horror out there, beyond the beaten path. Without the Vault, I might never have had the pleasure of catching Ryan Spindell's Kirksdale, a festival-favorite short that yielded some of the highest quality 20 minutes of horror you'd be likely to find all year.
I also had the privilege of catching George Romero's Diary of the Dead during its extremely limited and brief theatrical release. And yes, I am a defender of that film, and I will continue to be as long as I have breath to pontificate. It was a joy to see Romero's zombie saga continue this year, with an installment I found much more fresh, innovative and powerful than 2005's Land of the Dead.
I can't really say the same for Steve Miner's pitiful Day of the Dead direct-to-DVD remake/fiasco. I was really convinced that that would be the lowest I'd sink all year. And then I saw M. Night Shyamalan's latest stop on the painful descent to oblivion, The Happening. I can honestly say I can't recall the last time I saw a movie that bad. For real.
What else? Oh yeah, well, I guess there was another Saw movie that got wheeled out in time for Halloween. Watched it. Not bad. Not great. Slightly better than the last one. Whatever. Next.
On the small screen, I was treated to a third season of Dexter that maintained the same level of excellence that the first and second season set in place. And HBO rolled out True Blood, a very good, if not quite great, vampire series that restored TV horror to a place of respectability after the lameness that was NBC's sad anthology series Fear Itself.
In the realm of fine literature, Marvel Comics went old school with the extremely well-done EC-style Dead of Night miniseries, starring one of my all-time favorite underused characters, the Man-Thing. Dark Horse gave it a go with a new, painted Evil Dead series that, despite attempting to do something interesting with the narrative of the original film, failed to make much of an impression on yours truly.
A year of foreign language triumphs, American kaiju, Romero controversy, M. Night's latest debacle and horror on premium cable. Nothing if not interesting, 2008 was a great year to begin this little Vault of Horror adventure, if I do say so myself...
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