#5 Jeeper Creepers 2
Why see the sequel to a mediocre movie? Because it’s surprisingly good. A bus full of basketball players and cheerleaders “blow a tire” on a remote back road in farm country and are attacked by what appears to be a monstrous superhuman scarecrow. The father of a former victim (Ray Wise) arrives with some heavy weaponry and tries to kill the creature – but will he succeed? The worse thing about many bad horror movies is the stupid and lethal choices made by the characters. Example from the 1st Jeepers Creepers: would you turn around and drive back if you saw some huge thing with wings dragging someone into a hole? Here, everyone does the smart thing to escape but sometimes smart is not enough.
#4 The Cottage
Andy Serkis is getting a lot of well-deserved acclaim for his amazing performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Here he is one of a pair of not-so-swift small time criminals who try to pull off a kidnapping for ransom. It goes badly, then horribly, then it veers off into insanity. This great riff on slasher movies, kidnapping stories, and gangster movies is fresh and inventive, chock full of great performances, and zigs when you think it will zag.
A mysterious entity gets under the skin of a motorist, who makes it to a remote Oklahoma gas station before “dying.” The victim/creature traps a young couple and an escaped criminal, who must team up to escape. They say there are no new monsters but this one is pretty close. Kudos to whatever performance artist they got to portray the “infected” – the herky-jerky broken-limbed movement is unnerving!
#2 The Descent
Six adventerous women descend into a cave in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. This is one of the scariest films of the decade, delivering top notch performances, a clever and logical script, and a slow and inexorable build-up leading to a frenzied and bloody climax. This film could have dispensed with the monster altogether and still had an excellent film depicting the women’s battle against the cave itself.
#1 Return of the Living Dead
One of the best kept secrets of the Zombie-crazy 21st Century. Written and directed by Dan O’Bannon, writer of Alien, this low-budget horror comedy perfectly straddles the line between horror and comedy. It’s scary and funny with a driving plot line that never loses speed, and a series of harsh comedic bits that keep the film dark and spicy. “Send more paramedics!”