Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time: Top 10 Horror Films Of 2006

April 14, 2016 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Last week, you guys decided that Japan was a lot better than America in terms of giant monster movies. WIth 109 votes, Japan won with 86.24%! That’s a staggering landslide, but it goes to show that Godzilla, along with Toho’s other creations and Gamera, are what people think of when they think of these movies. Sorry Kong, maybe next time.

When October rolls around, I will have completed my ninth year writing A Bloody Good Time. In 2007, I started my annual list of the best horror movies of the year (which will get a redo in the future, as my tastes have changed and I have way more access to movies now). While 2007 was fun, 2006 was a really interesting year. We had remakes, sequels to remakes, the middle of the torture horror movement and the usual oddities we’ve come to expect from the genre. So the next two weeks of ABGT is about 2006. You know the drill. This week I’ll look at the best the year had to offer and next week I’ll trash the worst.

As always, I go by release date. While some places have Behind The Mask and Fido listed as 2006 films, they got theatrical releases in 2007. So let’s do this!

#10: Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is essentially one long build to a jump scare, but man, what a jump scare. The movie also uses its low-budget in its favor by limiting things to one location. A woman traumatized by a car accident gets trapped in one with a psychotic killer roaming around outside. This is the kind of movie I really enjoy, as it has to get smart and focus mainly on the tension and suspense. For the most part, I think it succeeds with what it’s trying to do.

Rachel Miner plays Penny, the young woman with the PTSD. She’s quite good in the role and manages to carry the film. The same could be said for Liz Davies, who plays the hitchhiker. She plays it over the top, but it still kind of works. No need to be subtle when you’re trying to get to someone and murder them. This was part of the After Dark Horrorfest and was one of the only good films of that run. If you plan to watch it, don’t read anything about it or you’ll run the big scare.

#9: Cold Prey

This film comes to us from Norway, the same place that gave us the awesome Dead Snow movies. It’s also a Norwegian film set in a snowy location. This one is a slasher though, about some skiers that are stranded when one of their friends breaks his leg. This leads to shacking up in an abandoned area with no cell phone coverage (as pointed out in the obligatory scene) and no way to get to anywhere else because of their crippled buddy. But there is a killer out there.

This movie has all of your typical slasher conventions, dark shadows, a plot convenience to get everyone stranded, etc. However, it plays them up perfectly. There’s nothing wrong with a slasher that uses the same trends if it uses them effectively. This one does. If you want a good slasher from recent years that isn’t self-referential and is a lot of fun, I recommend this one. The only thing I say is that you should try to get one with subtitles, because the dubbed version is really, really bad.

#8: Hatchet

Speaking of fun conventional slashers, here’s Hatchet. While the movie isn’t nearly as good, in my opinion, as it was hyped prior to release, it’s still a gory, over-the-top slasher. I can’t dislike a movie that features a large killer just ripping people apart in unrealistic ways. Kane Hodder decided that if he couldn’t play Jason anymore, he’d create his own franchise killer to let him get that aggression out. So he teamed up with Adam Green and the two worked together to make Victor Crowley, a murderous specter haunting the backwoods of Louisiana.

The Hatchet series is basically a series of grotesque deaths with some occasionally funny beats and a handful of likable characters. This one is the least of the series (again, my opinion) but if you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s still a good time. It’s like a Friday the 13th movie if they were allowed to really, really cut loose. Jason’s inhumanly strong, he probably should be ripping people in half with his bare hands.

#7: The Hamiltons

I don’t know if I completely “got” The Hamiltons when I first saw it. I went into it expecting one thing, got something completely different and angry at the movie for not conforming to my expectations. I watched it later on and liked it a lot more. It follows the titular family as they move into a suburb and have a very dark secret: they’re keeping a young woman trapped in a cage. The youngest soon discovers this and tries to help her.

The movie is quite creepy and while I initially hated the twist, all the signs were there. It’s a movie that disguised itself as a generic horror movie but it has a lot more to it. I don’t want to give too much away because this is one of those under-the-radar movies that not everyone has seen. There was a sequel released six years later that I have yet to see. As for as The Hamiltons goes, it’s a solid horror film that you should definitely give a shot.

#6: Saw III

Depending on who you talk to, this movie is either the best or the second best of the entire Saw series. It’s definitely the best of the sequels, as it manages to not only up the ante from the last two films but bring everything full circle for (what should have been) the end. If you didn’t know about the other films, you probably would assume that it was the end given how many things are wrapped up.

Jigsaw dies. Amanda dies. The traps are the biggest and nastiest they’ve ever been. The villains get some much needed character development. It has everything that a conclusion to a series like this -would need. This movie is also very mean-spirited, perhaps more than any other film in an already cruel series. One of the main characters is killed in one of the more violent ways and we see how each death affects our protagonist as he tries to play Jigsaw’s game. Plus there’s that whole brain surgery scene, which still bothers me. I’ve seen worse before and since, but that was just disgusting.

#5: Silent Hill

I love the Silent Hill game series, and was looking forward to this movie from the second it was announced. Considering the track record of video game movies past and present, I knew the chances of it being good were low. However, I was pleased once I left. Does it get everything right? No. It’s not a perfect adaptation at all. However, if you just take it as something that was inspired by the games, you can get a lot more out of it.

What really matters is whether or not it’s a good movie. It was. The special effects are tremendous, the acting is pretty good (especially Alice Krige) and the movie is just oozing atmosphere. If there’s anything the movie got 100% right from the games, it’s how the town looks and feels. When Silent Hill is “normal”, it’s completely covered in fog and feels ominous. When we’re in the nightmare version, it looks like the Hellraiser version of Hell. As a fan of the games, I had some issues, but as a fan of horror movies, Silent Hill is a pretty fun watch.

#4: The Host

While this poster makes it look like some gritty crime drama, this is definitely a horror film. To be more specific, it’s a monster movie from South Korea. This monster is completely CG, but for the time (and even now), the creature looks impressive. The movie does a lot to make the viewer believe that this creature exists in this world, which helps quite a bit. It terrorizes a group of people in the memorable opening before hiding out in the dark sewers, occasionally grabbing more people to eat.

The movie is also good for two reasons. One is the government interfering because the monster spreads a mysterious illness. The other is the leads, a family who escapes quarantine to search for a little girl that the monster grabbed. I like the family working together, in spite of their differences, to find this monster to save one of their own. They didn’t always get along, but they’re a family and if there’s a chance this girl can be saved, they’re going to do it or die trying. It’s the family that really pulls this movie together and makes it better than your average monster movie. The horror isn’t as prevalent as other movies on this list, but it’s just a really great movie with some fun monster sequences and a good story.

#3: The Hills Have Eyes

This movie is still one of the best remakes ever. I’ve never exactly been quiet for my dislike of the original, which feels like a prototype for a much better movie. This is that movie. It takes the concepts from the first film, tightens the story, ups the scares and gore and really feels like what that movie should have been. There’s a few people who don’t like director Alexandre Aja, but this is definitely one of his best efforts.

The mutants are all uniquely designed and the nasty kills make them something to be feared. Michael Berryman is great, but he’s the only memorable thing from the first film. Here, we have a variety of deformed creatures killing people in various ways just because they can. We see the family get picked off one by one when they only thing they did wrong was take a wrong turn. It’s tends to get forgotten, especially during a time when remakes were everywhere (2006 had seven, and that was just in the horror genre).

#2: Them (Ils)

This was part of the New French Extremity movement, which also gave us modern classics like Martyrs and Inside. This movie follows a young teacher and her boyfriend who move out to the country only to be terrorized by a group of intruders that try to kill them. This yet another one of those movies that features a twist I don’t want to spoil. It really sells the brutality of the events preceding it.

Them isn’t as harsh as the other movies of its time, which may make it a disappointment if you want to watch it back to back with something like Frontier(s). Instead of relies more on suspense, saving the extreme violence for later after building the tension. It runs at a brisk 74 minutes, which is just enough time to get going and reach the climax before leaving things on a chilling note.

#1: Slither

Here’s a fun fact about me: I was really upset in 2006 when Slither was a box office failure but the remake for When A Stranger Calls made quite a bit of money. It’s still irritating, but my priorities were skewed ten years ago. Slither remains one of my favorite horror comedies. It’s not only a bigger budget version of Night of the Creeps but it also contains Troma sensibilities. Makes sense, considering that’s where James Gunn got his start.

Every aspect of this movie is fun for me. The creature effects are great and the gore effects are even better. The movie is really weird and over-the-top, which really adds to the comedy. Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and Gregg Henry make up the cast and every one of them nails their performance. This is more or less an unofficial remake of Night of the Creeps but it’s definitely just as fun, if not more so. I wish it would get a blu-ray release, already.

Ending Notes:

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook.

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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See you next week!