2018 Year End Review by The Headless Critic
2018 was another excellent year for horror movies. From a horror icon Michael Myers returning for the first time this decade, to a new horror icon putting on his terrifying clown makeup, 2018 had it all. Watching Movies Without Your Head countdowns some of our favorite and least favorite horror films of 2018 in this year-end review as seen by the Headless Critic of Without Your Head.
One of Stephen King's least favorite film adaptation of his books is Stanley Kubrick's iconic version of The Shining. Not every movie can tickle your horror funny bone and these films didn't tickle ours. These may not be to our personal tastes but maybe they are yours. The great thing about the wide world of horror is there's something for everyone.
Horror may be the genre that produces the most amount of bad movies each year because their fan base is loyal and widespread. For us here at Watching Movies, it's one thing to make a bad horror movie when you're working without experience or a budget, it's another to waste millions on something we'd just rather not see. There are also some movie making sins you just don't commit. While there may have been worse movies made in 2018, these films excelled at pissing us off by doing things no movie should do or wasting big budgets on the worst movies.
Since the over hyped release of the biggest budget, found footage movie of all time Cloverfield in 2008, busy producer JJ Abrams has been finding independently made films and modyfying them just enough to attach them to the growing Cloverfield universe. I loved Cloverfield Ln, Cloverfield Paradox was a dialogue driven space bore. Besides a good detached arm scene the real paradox here is what J.J. Abrams saw in this film to label it another Cloverfield. The attached Syfy movie of the week level CGI monster ending is ultimately what sealed the fate of this Cloverfield addition making it our fifth worst film of the year. We expected more.
Full Review: The Cloverfield Paradox
French director Gaspar Noés' films are usually condemned by critics. His latest film Climax that he calls an "unapologetic French" film seems to be loved for the same reasons his other movies are hated. A twenty minute interview session with the immense cast of characters is followed by a fifteen minute dance sequence. When we think we're done dancing we get a ten minute conversation about anal penetration before we dance again. The viewer has little chance to get to know these characters and less dialogue to make you care. There are too many characters, not enough story and not much to like about this movie.
Full Review: Climax
There are some movie making sins you just don't commit regardless of experience or budget and low-budget, sci-fi, thriller Astro just about committed them all. Unrealistic dialogue kills performances and your movie. With characters saying each others names in every other line, there's no way to take this film seriously. An excess of dialogue leads to no progression of the story but the ultimate killer for Astro is the highly unrealistic CGI used in this space epic I'm sure was intended to start a series. CGI Blobs in Space is a title I would actually try but not amidst an otherwise attempt at a serious feature.
Full Review: Astro
With several familiar faces playing characters that feel more like the commandos of the original Predator than this years reincarnation The Predator, City of Gold is an action horror movie with good production values that was almost a lot of fun. Why does this low-budget film make our worst of list? The lead character Jack Davenport's name is said no less than 112 times in a 97 minute runtime. A lot of filmmakers have a problem on how to introduce their characters names. It's a thing writers and directors actually think about, because you don't want dialogue to seem unrealistic and if two characters know each other they probably aren't calling each other by name that often. Saying a characters name once every 52 seconds of your film is absurd and anyone trying to make a movie should have known better. It kills what otherwise might have been an enjoyable film and it literally ruined the performances of some actors I enjoy it was so comical.
Full Review: City of Gold
I waited for over a year. The names attached were a thing of horror legend. I was willing to drive hours just to see it. Every time I found a screening near me, it got cancelled. Then I finally saw Death House and I realized why. "The Expendables of Horror" had all the promise to be one of the most enjoyable horror films of year, it just doesn't have any of the story to deliver. I think I enjoy everyone involved with Death House from the late Gunnar Hansen who originally came up with the concept to Harrison Smith who finished the work after Gunnar's passing. There are countless cameos, most are fun with performances I enjoy. Just like a cameo, which usually seems out of place to the rest of the movie by having an actor in it who has a bigger name than anyone else in the film playing a small role, all the cameo's in Death House just didn't fit together. It's a convoluted mess of horror stars troped onto screen without a proper story. I'm sorry to say it but this isn't even a movie. There's not enough story to hold these random scenes together.
Full Review: Death House
Narrowing down the best horror of 2018 is nearly impossible. 2017 was one of the best years for horror we've ever seen and 2018 topped it. With the rise of horror streaming sight Shudder, rivals Netflix and Hulu have stepped up their horror streaming game to include Hulu's horror holiday films and acclaimed Netflix titles like Cargo. There was so much going on this year we know we didn’t see it all here at Watching Movies Without Your Head. Movies slipped by us and we know some slipped by the horror faithful out there. Did you know that Michael Myers wasn't the only horror icon to return this year? From Pinhead to Day of the Dead, Graboids to Tales from the Hood, several horror icons returned in 2018 including the last horror host, Joe Bob Briggs and Jason Voorhees, Chucky and Godzilla in the family friendly, Spielberg directed Ready Player One. We're not even going to go into Charles Bronson's resurrection because that's a whole other level of scary.
There’s so much that happened in horror in 2018 we can’t mention it all. Without Your Head's own Andre Vanpoelvorde had one of the coolest movie covers of 2018 created in Hell. Cult followed Unearthed Films released there best movie to date in The Song of Solomon while horror magazine Girls and Corpses impressed with their first film Cynthia. Speaking of comedies, the President made at least two appearances in horror films this year in Clickbait and President Evil. Our Greasiest horror film of the year goes to Soft Matter for being the most off the wall, Greasy Strangler like film we found. Two of the creepiest films of the year that just missed our honorable mentions list both hinted at pedophilia in Look Away and Seeds. One of our honorable mentions from last year, Who's Watching Oliver was made available to the public in 2018. There’s so many terrifying things in horror in 2018, I don’t dare try to cover them all. However we’d be remiss if we didn’t give these handful of honorable mentions.
The Cleanse – Winning a retreat to cleanse his soul, a man unleashes the creature that's been living inside him.
Full Review: The Cleanse
Primal Rage – Bigfoot gets Primal Rage in the best Bigfoot horror movie I've ever seen. The detail on the costume is almost as amazing as the brutality of the beast.
Full Review: Primal Rage
Ravenous – They hoped the infected were contained to their small community. As this group of survivors search for safety, they find the terror is far more scary than they ever realized.
Full Review: Ravenous
Cam – An erotic webcam model just woke up to find herself live streaming, only that's not her on camera. Or is it?
Full Review: Cam
Revenge – A beautiful young mistress is raped, pushed over a cliff and left for dead but there's more to this girl than just sex appeal.
Full Review: Revenge
From creature features to psychological slashers, 2018 had it all. Now it’s time for the movies that got us through 2018. These are our favorite horror movies of the year here at Watching Movies Without Your Head. When you’ve reviewed well over 250 movies in a year it really makes you appreciate finding a good one. You may agree or disagree but there’s no right and wrong in the realm of opinion. In a sea of Hollywood horror movies it’s about getting the word out about those films others might enjoy.
Now it’s time for the main event. Here’s the Top 10 movies Reviewed by Watching Movies Without Your Head that were predominately released in 2018.
A holiday horror classic has arrived! Finally Thanksgiving gets a good horror film. In his first feature film, writer and director Brett Cameron Glassberg makes what I think will be an instant horror classic. When horror fans get their eyes on Derelicts, they will fall in love. Excellent performances and a fun premise makes this Derelict family slide somewhere between the brutality of the original A Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the comical insanity of A Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Did I mention it was filmed in Texas?
Full Review: Derelicts
Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 Freaks was bought by a distributor two days later. I was enthralled from the get go. Freaks came out of nowhere quickly impressing me feeling like an early day M. Night Shyamalan film. This is another film that could be a hit at the box office if it just gets wide enough distribution. Production values are excellent, the film is captivating. The story doesn't go where you'd expect which makes the ending a little off-putting from where you start but it's a fun adventure finding out.
Full Review: Freaks
Not to be confused with the wide theatrically released Hell Fest (2018) or last year's best of winner Blood Feast (2017) or the original Blood Feast (1963), Blood Fest is a self-aware horror comedy set in the styling of Cabin in the Woods. With excellent dialogue and fun kills, don't go to the widely distributed Hell Fest, have a Blood Fest instead. All I can say is the wrong movie of similar names and set-ups, got wide distribution.
Full Review: Blood Fest
An unrealistic build of bright vibrant lighting, eccentric dialogue and a surreal reality made the first half of Mandy unbearable to watch in its overuse of artistic expression. It also quietly told an endearing love story that would end up tearing you apart. In the second half Nick Cage is unleashed to be the outlandish actor he is and the two halves couldn't have played better off each other. I'm not sure if second generation director Panos Cosmatos is a genius or if you struck gold in his second film by saving grace Nicolas Cage but Mandy is certainly one of the best of the year.
Full Review: Mandy
I think every horror fan has watched and weighed in on it by now. I know some people don't like there being another 80's horror movie about a group of kids. I couldn't care less if they make a thousand of them as long as they're good. I heard about Summer of 84 long before I watched it. With IT and Stranger Things being out already I didn't expect another group of kids out of the 80's to capture me but they did. Stephen King is a world renowned horror writer but he's so much better when he writes about kids. Summer of 84 reminds me of a King story when he's writing about a group of children and that's as great a compliment as I can give them because they captured that in an hour and a half movie. Some of the films based on King's own works haven't been able to do that. The guys who made Turbo Kid made this one and they're two for two in my opinion. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Full Review: Summer of 84
I expect big things from this film once it finds distribution. Chuck Steel is an 80's action-comedy, claymation movie. The only reason it makes my horror list is because it has Trampires, which are basically alcoholic Vampires that feast on the blood of the intoxicated. Part tramp all vamp. It's claymation taken out of the hands of Tim Burton, made for adults and it's outstanding. The dialogue is the best part with quick one-liners basically filling the script. I'll be very surprised if it's not widely distributed across theaters nationwide.
Full Review: Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Coming out of Mexico in 2017 and not getting to the states until 2018, is a horror fantasy about homeless children living on the street of Mexico. There's a hint of magic in the presentation like a dark Steven Spielberg or Guillermo del Toro movie. I naturally love movies involving kids and Tigers Are Not Afraid is simultaneously a fantasy film while being brutally realistic. I don't know that this one has found distribution in the states yet but it will and horror fans will fall in love.
Full Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid
With no budget, an actress and an apartment setting Cody Clark delivers dialogue and story that make this simple possession by a ramekin baking dish one of my favorite films of the year. The best way I can describe why this movie made my top three is to compare to Clerks. It has wonderful offbeat dialogue with quirky characters you'll love. It's not traditional horror but just like dialogue master Kevin Smith did in Clerks, Cody Clarke and actress Jamie Saunders make it work.
Full Review: Ramekin
Both slasher and psychological horror this under the radar film may have missed most fans in theaters but I'm certain with a wide release horror fans would have fell in love. I don't want to give anything away about the incident in this Ghostland but after starting off a violent slasher film, at one point the film offers up two possible realities. As the audience you have no way to know which reality they're going to go with. Luckily they went the way I wanted them too solidifying this one as my second favorite horror film of the year.
Full Review: Incident in a Ghostland
I don't think I've seen a monster movie I've liked this much since The Thing. It's definitely up there for me with classics like John Carpenter's The Thing and Alien for the best monster movies of all time. Intense from the opening, I know a lot of people had a problem with the ending and it was corny but nothing that ruined the movie for me. I'm a big John Krasinski fan from The Office. He's a great writer and director. He's only dabbled in feature films. I never expected him to do horror but no one expected Jordan Peele to do horror last year either and Get Out was a phenomenon that's changed Hollywood. I think it's because they're both just good storytellers who aren't so far gone in Hollywood they're out of touch. Krasinsky really came out of the box swinging with this one. I rarely see a five star horror film and this one was it.
Full Review: A Quiet Place
Didn’t see your favorite horror film of 2018 listed? If your favorite wasn't Terrifier or Bird Box then maybe we didn’t see it. Feel free to comment below and tell us what you loved about horror in 2018!