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Halloween 2016 Countdown : 31 Years Of Horror – 2003

Halloween Countdown 2016 - Day 19. 2003.

31 days. 31 years. 5 movies per year!

That’s the challenge a good friend presented me with recently, and I NEVER back down from a challenge! (well, nearly never!)

Every day through October I will be pondering and revealing my 5 favorite horror and monster movies from 1985 right up to 2016. When I was told I get to pick FIVE movies per year I initially thought this would be a fairly comfortable task. I’m one of those people who likes lots of movies but I only truly LOVE a select few. That did NOT make things any easier. This has been incredibly difficult, and there have been so many years where I could have happily selected 10+ films.

Until you attempt something like this you simply don’t realize just how many horror movies you have a passion for in different ways!

I’ll keep my reasons for selecting each movie brief, simply because I have to produce this every day for a month. The challenge starts with 1985, when I was 9 years old, and that’s pretty much exactly when I moved on from cartoons and family movies and began exploring the good stuff! Going back 31 years turned out to be the PERFECT place for me to start a journey into my movie watching past, and that made taking on this challenge a fascinating and rewarding experience.

I WANT feedback, and I would love to read your choices if you feel like getting involved.

Fond farewells and new beginnings … It’s 2003.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The first of the Platinum Dunes horror remakes, and PROBABLY still the best. It lacks the dark humour and uncontrollable energy that made the original so magical, but makes up for it with plenty of raw aggression and some polished set pieces. Jason and Freddy didn’t have much luck with their shitty remakes, but Leatherface did ok.

Freddy vs. Jason.

I remember I actively avoided following the production of this movie in the months before release, simply because I refused to get too excited and hopeful about something I’d dreamed of since I was a kid. Having these icons fight each other is a PERFECT concept on paper and in the pages of comic books, but in reality it’s VERY easy to fuck up. So I just tried to stay calm and waited until the big day arrived.

When it was all over I distinctly remember feeling RELIEF more than anything else. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t total crap either. That’s pretty much how I still feel all these years later. I do think they fucked up Jason badly, turning him into a lumbering giant who looked like Frankenstein’s monster in a hockey mask. But Krueger was great, the story was solid, and it at least attempted to be a big epic showdown, even if it didn’t quite happen.

If this is indeed the last time we will see these two horror legends in their original forms, then it’s not a bad way to say goodbye. Jason got to emerge from Crystal Lake one more time. And the sound of Freddy’s laughter echoed as the end credits started to roll.

High Tension.

I have to admit I hadn’t really heard about this movie until about two years ago, then it was feverishly recommended to me twice in one week, so I decided to see what the fuss was all about. I wasn’t left disappointed. High Tension is so good because it’s a rare example of a horror film that successfully blends some seriously gory and gross content with some emotional and tragic aspects. You get a little bit of everything, and it all stitches together nicely. The BIG twist is a bit predictable of you’re an experienced movie addict, but it doesn’t make the climax any less shocking. Brutal and brilliant.

The Last Horror Movie.

A VERY low budget found footage flick with a difference. The killer is basically making a documentary about his life as a murderer, and constantly breaks the fourth wall by talking to us directly through the camera. There is plenty of dark humour to be enjoyed, and despite some amateurish acting it’s quite a chilling experience. Worth watching if the opportunity comes your way.

House of 1000 Corpses.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Rob Zombie can make a seriously entertaining and insane movie when he whats to, and this is especially true when you look back at his early film work. Corpses is a bit of a mess at times, dragging you through a weak story at an uneven pace, but it was the beginning of the road that would eventually lead to Zombie’s finest moment – The Devil’s Rejects. Some legendary characters were born here, and it’s their little moments of dialogue and death-dealing that make this worth remembering.

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I love horror, art, toys, comics, monsters and ANYTHING that came from the 1980s. You can contact me via martyn@halloweenlove.com ... Share our stuff and thank you for reading, we do it all for you!
  • AxelPalmer

    Love it. 2003 was a sort of resurgence for my interest in horror. I guess I kinda got bored with the genre and dropped out around ’98 (the year of H20 and Bride of Chucky, which I loved to various degrees).

    Sometime later I discovered the internet and suddenly a whole new world opened up. I found out about the Italian horror boom of the 70’s and 80’s- Cannibal Holocaust and Fulci; learning what the Asian market was up to-Battle Royale, Ringu and the CAT III films from Hong Kong; and of course “lost” classics from here at home-Night Tide, Carnival of Souls and Spider Baby. These “discoveries” rekindled my love for horror. So in late 2002 (or even earlier in Rob Zombie’s case) when news items started trickling out, featuring an intriguing slate of upcoming horror films.

    I remeber being excited in early 2003 that I was finally going to be able to go view House of 1000 Corpses in a real theatre, and have an experience not unlike the grindhouse aesthetic Zombie was trying to recreate. I actually bought the soundtrack CD the week before. I was pumped for the film. Unfortunately, the night before I was due to see it, I stayed up drinking a case of beer and watched DeadAlive. Thankfully the showing wasn’t untill 1pm or so, but I was hung the fuck over. I don’t know if that tainted my initial viewing, but I was not impressed. Oh well.

    In late June, I was able to catch the Lionsgate’s import High Tension. The promotion really sold this for me: an old school, video nasty slasher. Man, I was there. A nice balmy night, a few drinks (memories of Blood Rage), I was set for some reto grade gore. I loved it.

    As the year went on I caught up with Freddy vs Jason (which your thoughts eloquate mine precisely) and in September I saw the debut of Eli Roth, Cabin Fever. I so wanted to love that movie (come on, he got KNB to do the F/X and actually put in a couple of David Hess songs), but after several viewings I realize the movie is not all that memorable. I actally like Spring Fever better (oy, if this has been successful, how different would Ti West’s career be…well maybe not that different, but perhaps we’d get more “fun” films from him.)

    Well, sorry about the bloat (I’d actually add Wrong Turn, but I didn’t catch that one untill much later on video), but I guess it’s all your fault for reminding me how much 2003 resparked my interest in horror :)

    Thanks for these articles…

    Also…KILL BILL VOL 1

  • Sounds like you went through a similar “discovery” period as me. Great articulate comment too. You should consider submitting a guest post to the site. :)