Penny Dread­ful

SFX's high priest­ess of hor­ror A look back at the event­ful year in hor­ror that was 2015

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

Nineties are the New ’80s

If this year is any­thing to go by it looks as if the wheels on the re­make ma­chine might be be­gin­ning to slow, with the Pol­ter­geist re­make fail­ing to do the num­bers and the It re­make stalling. Eight­ies nostal­gia has been re­placed by ’90s nostal­gia, with the Scream and Scream Queens TV shows hit­ting the small screen, and the ex­cel­lent and un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated The Fi­nal Girls go­ing com­pletely meta in a film that’s steeped in ’90s nostal­gia for ’80s nostal­gia. 2013 and 2014 were all about ’70s nostal­gia of course, with de­cent The Con­jur­ing and then the ter­ri­ble Annabelle prov­ing big hit­ters – they’ll be back next year, with The Con­jur­ing 2 on its way.

a-list is the New e-list

Could it be hor­ror cred­i­bil­ity stakes are on the up? In 2015 we saw plenty of proper su­per­stars get­ting their hor­ror on. Jes­sica Chas­tain and Tom Hid­dle­ston in Crim­son Peak, James McAvoy and Daniel Rad­cliffe in Vic­tor Franken­stein, Ja­son Bate­man and Re­becca Hall in The Gift, Ben Kings­ley in Stone­hearst Asy­lum, Arnold freak­ing Sch­warzeneg­ger in Mag­gie… Oh and Ni­co­las Cage in some­thing called Pay The Ghost. Or “pay off the tax bill” as you might want to call it.

three is Not the charm

It was a year of atro­cious third parts! Sharknado (Oh Hell No!) got a three­quel, as did The Hu­man Cen­tipede, tak­ing that fran­chise to new lev­els of dis­gust­ing­ness – a feat few thought pos­si­ble. Then there was In­sid­i­ous 3 which wasn’t as bad as In­sid­i­ous 2, but that’s hardly some­thing to as­tral project home about, while the need for a third round of rape-re­venge in I Spit On Your Grave 3 is highly ques­tion­able. Twos weren’t as bad, with Mon­sters 2 be­ing a kind of ac­tion up­date of the road movie love story orig­i­nal, and Sin­is­ter 2 be­ing a sort of not quite as good, not en­tirely log­i­cal re­tread.

we lost some true greats

Sad times in the world of hor­ror in 2015, which marked the pass­ing of some true leg­ends. The mag­nif­i­cent Christopher Lee, em­bod­i­ment of the orig­i­nal sexy vam­pire and the ter­ri­fy­ing Lord Sum­merisle, passed, as did one of my favourite hor­ror direc­tors, the mighty Wes Craven, a man who could lay claim to reinventing hor­ror in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Surely all the nostal­gia is just us miss­ing Wes? We also lost the orig­i­nal Leather­face, Gun­nar Hansen, un­for­get­table star of the great­est hor­ror movie ever made; Betsy Palmer, who kicked off the slaugh­ter in en­dur­ing fran­chise Fri­day The 13th as Mrs Voorhees; and for­mer wrestler and star of John Car­pen­ter’s They Live Roddy Piper. We’ll stay rowdy for you, Roddy.

Indies rule

Un­sur­pris­ingly though, my five favourite hor­rors of the year are all in­de­pen­dent, all orig­i­nal sto­ries and two of them aren’t even in English. In at num­ber five: White God – Hun­gar­ian post apoc­a­lyp­tic night­mare with a sub­text about op­pres­sion where a mistreated mutt leads a ca­nine revo­lu­tion to ri­val those pesky apes. Four: Spring – a beau­ti­ful low-fi Euro ro­mance which also hap­pens to be a mon­ster movie. Mum­blecore male wish ful­fil­ment at its peak but nonethe­less lovely. Three: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ira­nian vam­pire movie with a wicked sense of hu­mour that should be manda­tory view­ing for any­one who thinks Twi­light a) is good or b) ru­ined vam­pires. Two: The Hal­low – prop­erly scary Ir­ish crea­ture fea­ture with a myth­i­cal bent. One: It Fol­lows – orig­i­nal, clever, fright­en­ing tale of a “sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted ghost” whose vic­tims are stalked to death by a re­lent­less but dif­fi­cult-to-iden­tify shapeshift­ing pres­ence. Freaky. Roll on 2016!

House guests turn ugly in The Gift. Penny’s pick for hor­ror film of the year: It Fol­lows. The Hal­low takes you down to the woods for an un­pleas­ant sur­prise.

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