TTT- Top Ten Gameshows Which Need To Make A Return!

Big Break - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! It’s a strange time we find ourselves in, and the natural instinct is to withdraw into simpler times – when the skies were blue, when the music was better, when our only responsibility was deciding whether to roll out of bed at 10am or 11, and for some people, when you could be a racist dick and get away with it.

All your favourite distractions have been put on hold – movies have been pushed back due to Cinemas being shut down, and filming has stopped on even the most successful TV shows. Those shows lucky enough to have finished recording pre-Lockdown are being drip-fed to us in the UK, and one of these is Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow. It’s an hour long format which sees the annoying buck-toothed imp prance around and relay famous catchphrases from days of yore. Each week, Carr and his team bring back a classic ‘British’ gameshow which has been off our screens for years for a nice bit of nostalgia. It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and indeed many of the gameshows included have already seen multiple reboots over the decades, but each time it happens my wife always asks ‘why don’t they show gameshows like this anymore’ – to which I always reply ‘because you and all the other chumps killed them by watching Reality TV shite’. 

It’s something I’ve probably written about here before, and it’s definitely something I’ve misspent a lot of time thinking about – having my own TV channel and bringing back all of my favourite Game Shows. Game Shows were a big part of my youth – growing up in an era of four (count em) TV Channels where choice was extremely limited. While time has clearly moved on, and most Prime Time Game Shows now are an excuse to shove already famous people into nostalgic settings, the range of channels out there now surely allows for a few of these to be brought back. Sure, the prizes might not be as awe-inspiring as before due to limited audience figures but who knows, maybe the tide will turn and people will get sick of Reality TV shite such as I’m A Celebrity (No I’m Not), I’ll Sell My Own Baby To Be Famous, and Anal Island, and people will demand a return to 30 fun packed minutes of questions and games. If not, we can always dream. Here are ten Game Shows I’d love to see make a return (and there will be a part two coming soon).

Big Break

Big Break was a show which centered on the sport of Snooker, or as they call it in the USA, The Pointy Stick Coloured Orb Game. Like many Game Shows, our host was a trained stand-up Comedian, in this case Jim ‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this’ Davidson. He was the perfect man for the job, always ready with a quip, a pulled face, or a frantic grab at a contestant’s balls (snooker balls). Ably backed up by his sexy, glamourous assistant – John Virgo – sort of a less sexually threatening Paul Hollywood, Jim would invite three contestants each week to join up with a famous snooker player to compete for the top prize of… a holiday? Usually? I can’t remember.

The show was split into different rounds – the first finding the contestants answering questions so that their professional compatriot could try to pot as many balls as possible – each correct answer giving ten seconds at the table. Whoever scored lowest was booted off. Next up saw coloured ball co-ordinated questions – pink for sport, green for music etc. The player would attempt to pot as many balls as they could within a time limit (again), but if they missed a shot the contestant would have to answer a question on the missed ball’s colour and the player couldn’t continue until the contestant got the right answer. The winner would proceed to the final round where they had to answer five questions against the clock (90 seconds for the whole round) – each correct answer meant a red ball removed from the table, and once all questions are answered the player had to pot the remaining balls on the table within the remaining time. Each non-red ball corresponded to a prize, with the star prize coming only if the black was sunk.

Big Break seemed to drop at a time (it ran from 1991 to 2002) when Snooker was very popular and had a lot of famous personalities in the sport. It was always exciting to see which player the contestants would get – would you be lucky and hit a Stephen Hendry or Jimmy White, or fall on your arse and get a Willie Thorn? The show was spiced up by the humour and antics of Virgo and Davidson, with lots of prat falling and cheating if a player was struggling, and an addictive Virgo’s Trick Shot Round which saw the first contestant eliminated trying their hand at the table, and having to pot a Trick Shot – amusingly Virgo would explain the shot and sometimes miss himself, and Davidson would usually use his hands to pot the ball if it looked like the contestant was going to miss. Would the show work nowadays? Honestly, I don’t watch too much snooker anymore and don’t know a lot of the top names, but it’s a format which succeeded for over a decade and which always managed to keep me entertained. The unique format of having the contestant and player rely on each other was interesting – sometimes the professional would have an off day, or sometimes the contestant was an idiot -and I can imagine a variety of other sports which could follow the style of Big Break. I’m not sure if it would be much use now without a duo of Virgo and Davidson’s chemistry, but I’d love to see it return.

Theme Tune: ‘I’m gonna be snookering you tonight!’

Catchphrases: ‘Say Good Night JV/Good night JV’. ‘Pot as many balls as you can’.

Cyberzone

What the hell is Cyberzone you may ask. In truth, I barely remember it, and for years I wondered if it had been a dream, as no-one I explained it to ever seemed to think it existed. Once again though, I prove all you fools to be the fools you are, as Cyberzone did in fact exist outside of my barely functioning mind. Created by famed quiz creator dude Tim Child, Cyberzone was helmed by famed ‘always starring in weird futuristic shit dude’ Craig Charles and was one of the first examples of VR being used for TV entertainment. Naturally, this being the early 90s, the technology was terrible – yet still made an impact on little old me as I imagined a future of virtual exploration, adventure, and quite probably boobs.

The game featured two teams of contestants tackling virtual challenges by stamping on pads on the ground to walk, and shaking their arms to simulate shooting or completing some other challenge. Craig Charles dials it up to fifteen and brings much needed energy while he tries to explain computer speak for the ignorant masses while an all too white Colonial Cowboy Gamesmaster hybrid introduces the games, but unfortunately the games now look less early 90s Doom and more late 80s The Vindicator for Spectrum. Not heard of that one? Google it. Yes, the virtual world is blocky and barren, but again for a kid in an era of 2D sprites this was like chicken soup to a Measles sufferer, and I gobbled down every second, wishing I could take part.

VR has seen recent resurgences and it’s now sort of affordable to get much more innovative and immersive VR experiences in the comfort of your own’s momma’s basement. So why bother with a Virtual Gameshow? Well why not? A money rich studio could pump cash into this and make something which doesn’t hurt our tech-cultured 21st Century eyes, and games could be a lot more entertaining than ‘walk over there and pick that box up’. I’d recommend making this a kid centric show, upgrading the rather nifty set of the original, keeping the ludicrous hype of the original, but showcasing a technology that looks the part and doesn’t move at a single frame per second.

Theme Tune: I don’t remember the theme tune, so it must have been muck.

Catchphrases: Awooga! Cyber filth!

Fun House

Keeping things in the realm of Kids TV shows, for a moment, is there a more fondly related kids gameshow than Fun House? The show ran for ten years, was a staple of afterschool TV for multiple generations, and a source of wish fulfilment and escapism for people like me who wanted nothing more than to race down a slide into a coloured ball pit where a pair of gunge covered blonde twins waited to offer me their ‘prizes’

Pat ‘yes, this is a mullet’ Sharpe brought such much needed, barely veiled dry sarcasm to proceedings, proceedings which saw two teams (each made up of a boy and a girl) who represented a particular school tackling a variety of slimy, slippery games all for the opportunity to enter the Fun House and win some top top prizes. The games always led to people sliding on their arse and getting covered in foam, and eventually racing around in go-karts. I don’t know anyone who didn’t want to be in the show, and once similar giant indoor play parks started to pop up in Northern Ireland, we finally had the opportunity to recreate our fantasies.

There’s no good reason why Fun House wouldn’t work today – there have been several calls to bring it back and at the height of its popularity there was talk of an adult spin off. While that does sound fun, I don’t think it would work in practice – maybe the odd one-off special. One thing I didn’t like was the School representation – winning prizes for your School? Balls to that, you earn them, you keep them. A modern game would likely be watered down due to health and safety nonsense, but kids always want an opportunity to play in places like these – a new version with more entertaining games could be souped up to be more exciting than their local play park. My kids enjoy watching the original – no reason why they and others wouldn’t love a new one.

Theme Tune: ‘It’s wacky/it’s fun/it’s crazy/it’s outrageous’

Catchphrases: Lets re-run the fun.

Knightmare

Knightmare was a staple of my childhood after-school routine and, well, Nightmares. The show’s melding of mystery, puzzles, pantomime, mythology, real world contestants, and nifty special effects, all capped off by setting it in a swords’n’sandals world was perfect. I still watch any re-runs that are shown periodically. It was the show for nerds before nerdom became the all-encompassing bullshit it is now. You had to be intelligent, and lucky, to stand a chance on this gameshow, and if you weren’t the results were nasty.

This kids show featured a team of four friends entering a dungeon where they had to complete a quest, avoiding traps, monsters, giant spiders, wizards, witches, all to earn the lifelong respect of your peers and fellow humans. One poor sole donned a knapsack and helmet – blinding them – and set off into the dungeon, while the other three would sit hunched with notepads near a medieval fireplace under the watchful guidance of the Dungeon Master Treguard, and his cryptic clues.  I’ve talked about it before, you get the idea.

Kids TV, as mentioned, doesn’t have a lot of interesting gameshows like this anymore. In the Nineties there were a host of Virtual Reality themed gameshows with similar tasks, though none so atmospheric or brutal as Knightmare which could see contestants’ efforts spanning multiple episodes. With the improvements in Virtual Reality Technology, there’s no reason why something like this couldn’t be done again. The key would be to make it genuinely creepy, and difficult, and make those brave enough to step up to the challenge question their every decision.

Theme Tune: A classic

Catchphrases: Oooh, nasty.

Steal

I’m guessing none of you remember, or have heard of Steal. Like Catchphrase, Steal pits contestants against each other using a giant computerised board. Also like Catchphrase, it was hosted by a Walker – Mark Walker, son of Catchphrase legend Roy. It’s a show I loved at the time it was aired (1990-1992) and is one I spent years trying to find as I couldn’t remember its name. Thanks to various sites and the internet, I found it again. Now we should take the next step and bring it back to TV.

In truth, catching old episodes on Youtube reveals the show’s flaws. It was based on technology which didn’t really work even then, and was hampered by games which were a bit rubbish. Two teams would face off against each other to win both money and spot prizes by answering questions and then attempting to find a hidden symbol on the big TV board – Cash, Swag, or Jools (I used to think the show was called Swag). The 16 square grid would be shown to the contestants with the associated symbols, then hidden and rotated. The contestant would have to find the correct symbol by saying ‘top row, third from the left’, or ‘middle square’ etc. Its called Steal, because the other team can steal your squares/prizes if they get a Steal Square. The fun part was when they landed on the Jools square (the mascot of the show), and had to play a mini game. These were very basic computer games, played with a huge joystick, and involved digging up prizes or avoiding a dog etc. That’s where modern technology could come in, and spice the action up. Hell, you could even do some official game tie-ins and use the biggest blockbuster games challenges and make the whole format a mixture of Gamesmaster and prize-winning competition. It wasn’t the most exciting show looking back, but as a youngster into gaming at the time, it was fun tea-time viewing and made me want to play along.

Theme Tune: A fairly typical, jangly muzak type theme tune, nothing memorable.

Catchphrases: Take a bow, Jules. Our Feline Felon. Lets fill up the board. Remember what you saw and where you saw it.

Pets Win Prizes

As a kid, I spent a lot of my Summers at my a Caravan Park nestled between the sea and the mountains. Days were spent playing football, going on bike rides through country roads, evenings were spent wooing young ladies and eating gravy chips, and nights were spent camping and watching TV shows we probably wouldn’t normally watch given we were all sandwiched in the same space. Pets Win Prizes was one of these shows, always seeming to be on during those Summer Saturday Nights when I was filling my face with fart fuel (gravy chips). Obviously there’s nostalgia talking, but everyone still loves cute, furry pets, right? Look at recent Britain’s Got Talents, and look at all the rescue dog shows which are always on TV. Crufts still gets a huge audience, and it’s awful. A gameshow which sees talented pets, and their embarrassing owners being ridiculed by a quick witted host for the sake of some prizes should be simple TV gold. The series back then was hosted by Dale Winton, and before him Danny Baker, and saw pets being put through some often bizarre agility and skill based games, while their owners answered animal trivia questions. It wasn’t high art, but I’d say there’s still life in the old dog. So sorry. For anyone wondering why the hell I enjoyed this – I think I just enjoy anything with obstacle courses.

Theme Tune: Hardly a classic, but jaunty enough to be memorable. I was certain someone sang ‘Pets Win Prizes’ over the top of the music, but turns out that didn’t happen, and must have been my adding the words and singing myself.

Catchphrases: A succession of terrible animal based puns to go along with the badly behaved cats and dogs.

Takeshi’s Castle

There’s a solid argument to be made for Takeshi’s Castle being the greatest TV show of all time. The problem with it is… you have to be very careful with how it is presented and portrayed. For example – the original Japanese show is hilarious and bizarre, and the British Craig Charles presented clip type format is even better. HOWEVER, once the yanks got their hands on it and converted it to MXC or Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, it became almost unbearable due to a couple of dickhead co-presenters delivering the most hatefully unfunny commentary and complaining draining the show of its natural humour. Likewise, when the UK crafted Rebooted and brought in the normally amusing Dick and Dom instead of Craig Charles, it just wasn’t the same. Sure, the best clips had already been used, but the commentary and format simply wasn’t as strong.

So what is Takeshi’s Castle? It’s a Japanese show, the brainchild of the legendary Takeshi Kitano who wanted to make a live action Super Mario level. This quickly morphed into a gameshow/sketch show which saw Kitano and pals playing a range of strange characters who defended a Castle from intruders – the contestants. To storm the castle and defeat Takeshi for a fat cash prize, roughly 100 contestants had to complete a range of physical challenges which tested their limbs and skills, with dozens being eliminated each round until only a few survived. The final round, always a bit of an anti-climax, was a bumper car type water pistol battle. The best thing of course, aside from the characters and the contestants and their costumes, were the games – and the ever present chance of people being seriously injured.

I could list all my favourite games and moments, but I’d be here all day, but there was such a variety of challenges, even before factoring in the ‘Special Episodes’ that you always had something new balanced alongside personal favourites. Given the runaway success of, the frankly rubbish, WipeOut, and the vastly inferior modern versions of Ninja Warrior there is absolutely zero excuse to not bring back Takeshi’s Castle. It was a show which focused much less on the physical skill of the individual and instead highlighted to mayhem and creativity of the games and the mixture of luck and skill, as well as being one huge insane pantomime. Crucially, in today’s overly safety conscious world, shows like Ninja Warrior or The Floor Is Lava or Beastmaster – all those shows which copied Takeshi’s Castle – contain zero life or death threat. People gently flop into water with not even a scratched knee, while in the original potential snapped necks, twisted ankles, and new ribs were expected. For any new version to truly succeed, you’d need to leave yourselves open to potential law suits, health and safety concerns, leave shin guards and helmets aside, and just get stuck in.

In truth, I see a couple of formats for a true revival of the show. Much of the sketch side of things could be dispensed with but you could still have a cast of wacky characters following the general plot of ‘try to make it to the end without dying’. An hour long show could perhaps give a quick glimpse of every contestant and highlight the more quirky, more successful ones so that audiences can follow along with their endeavours, while a follow-up thirty minute show would be more like the Craig Charles version and feature just the best bits and smashes along with hilarious commentary. Naturally, you need to have Craig Charles doing it. Now that I think about it – think about the money pumped into shitty reality shows like Big Brother, X-Factor and the ilk, and the sheer amount of TV hours they take up, from auditions to live shows to backstage shows after each main show. I say have your main Takeshi show, follow it up with panel discussion and hidden clips with contestants and Takeshi guards as guests, then have your weekly 30 minute format too. If I was boss of the world, this would be top of my list. I could write an entire blog based on bringing back Takeshi’s Castle, so I’ll stop.

Theme Tune: The Craig Charles version is a beast.

Catchphrases: Too many to mention, again from the Craig Charles version.

Bullseye

A staple of Sunday night TV since the early 1980s, Bullseye always seemed old fashioned and a bit odd to my childhood eyes, yet there was something addictive about it. In fact, it was one of those rare TV shows which managed to break the Sunday curse of my childhood – 99% of TV shows which were shown on Sundays in my youth, I associate with how much I hated Sundays and therefore almost never like those shows. Nowadays, it’s all about making fun of the either naff, or strange top prizes – like speedboats, caravans, or a Mini Micro and they ignore how much fun the game was. Hosted for decades by the late Jim Bowen, it has been brought back a couple of times – in the aforementioned Alan Carr thing, and by Dave Spikey in the Noughties, as well as various celebrity one-off specials – it’s a simple gameshow based around darts. Three pairs of contestants, three rounds, darts and questions. It sounds rubbish, but it somehow works, and I see no reason why it couldn’t slot neatly in to regular Sunday night rotation in the Autumn or Winter when there’s feck all else on worth watching.

The great thing about the format is that you don’t need to change anything – you have your contestant pairs – one a darts player, the other there to answer questions – and at the end of each round the lowest scoring team is knocked out. In round one, each player tries to hit a category requested by the other player on the dartboard – they get bonus money for hitting the correct category and getting the question right. If they get it wrong, another contestant can buzz in for money. In Round 2, it was a case of each player getting three darts and the team with the highest score got to answer a question for more money. There would then be a charity round where a pro tried to earn as much money with 9 darts as possible, before moving into the final round where the winner tackled Bully’s Prize Board with the chance to win up to 9 prizes with 9 throws – both players in the team taking turns. Once their prizes were won, they could decide to go home with what they had, or gamble on the top prize – either winning or losing it all. This was a nice twist, because often the winning team would turn down the chance at the top prize, meaning the second, and then third place teams would be offered the same choice. If one of the teams did decide to go for it, they had to score more than 101 points with six throws – three for the darts dude, and three for the quiz person. More often than not, people would fail.

With this simple format, you could easily bring the show back – prizes need not be bank breakers, and you just need an affable host to run the show. Darts as a sport I feel has rarely been more popular, and surely a show like this would increase popularity and drive revenue towards some of the Sports Channels who host Darts Championships. There are plenty of near household name Darts players out there, at least for UK audiences, and of course you can still have your fancy pants celeb specials to grab more attention. I’m sure there are plenty of famous faces out there who grew up with the show and would want a chance to play on it while earning cash for charity.

Theme Tune: A nostalgic favourite, wouldn’t need much, if any updating.

Catchphrases: One hundred and eighty! It’s a bullseye! Keep out of the black and in the red – there’s nothing in this game for two in a bed’.

Full Swing

Keeping with the Sports theme, this was another one of those Summer time Caravan TV shows of my youth. Ostensibly a cash-in on Big Break, it never had anywhere near the same level of success and didn’t last long. Maybe it’s because my Caravan Park was opposite a Pitch’n’Putt and Driving Range which we played on at least once a week, maybe it was because Golf also always seemed to be on TV during the Summer hols, but I enjoyed Full Swing at the time.

Affable Scouse golf fan Jimmy Tarbuck hosted the show, often entering in a golf cart and telling his usual brand of family friendly jokes before introducing the guests. Like Big Break, three contestants would be paired with a celebrity – though typically not a golfer. Now, golf is a little more difficult to play within an enclosed space than snooker, meaning computer technology needed to be employed. Players would have to whack a real ball, which would translate to a virtual reality shot (think Wii Golf), and then contestants would answer questions for further shots. The second round saw contestant and celeb playing on a indoor mini golf course, complete with bunkers and water hazards, aiming to get as close to the hole as possible, with the final round being a beat the clock putting game. Again, like Big Break there was a consolation game for the first contestant to be knocked out, which involved a Mouse Trap esque Crazy Golf trick shot. This was probably my favourite part, because I used to love those Rube Goldberg type contraptions. And of course, it was a type of obstacle course.

This is one of the more unlikely shows to ever see a return, given how bad its ratings were. Honestly, I don’t think it was a bad attempt at porting the Big Break formula to sport which didn’t naturally suit it. Golf is still a highly popular sport and there are zero golf gameshows out there, so with a bit of tinkering a remake of this could be a minor hit. Once more, technology has improved to as to make the virtual golf better, more realistic, or alternatively you cold film the whole thing on location at a genuine golf course. I would maybe change up the first and second rounds, or even shake the whole thing up and have the whole thing (or one round) based around an indoor Crazy Golf course rather than the miniature pitch n putt style round. There’s plenty here to work with, and the fact that you would have celeb guests in each episode would keep things interesting for people not really invested in the sport. Perhaps a co-host or lively voiceover would improve entertainment and humour value.

Theme Tune: I remembered nothing of this and had to check Youtube to remind myself. It’s not great.

Catchphrases: More a host of Tarbuck specials and golf puns.

Small Talk

I loved Small Talk. It seemed like the perfect mixture of mirth, irreverent humour, and quiz fun and Ronnie Corbett was the perfect host. I believe the US had their own version too. Once more, three contestants faced off against each other, this time contending with a giant board filled with children. Yes. There were 9 squares, each with one child inside (though sometimes there would be a pair), and the kids had pre-recorded answers to questions which the contestants would be asked – the twist being that the contestants had to correctly guess if the particular child (or the majority) knew the correct answer. The children were amusing little characters themselves, often giving hilarious incorrect answers to the questions and nonsensical asides spurred on by Corbett. The final round would see Contestants trying to reach a score of 500 by picking five kids (each kids holding a particular points card from 50 to 500), and then guessing whether the kid would get a question correct or not. If the contestant and kid were in sync, the points were theirs. Sometimes things could be ruthless, with contestants not having a lot of faith in a particular child and expecting them to get everything wrong, but it was all done with the best intentions and was always light-hearted fun. One of my school teachers featured in an episode once – he didn’t win. I wonder if any of the kids are famous now. I bet one of them is Pixie Lott or some shite.

I see no reason why this wouldn’t work today. Sure, there would be some child safety protection bullshit going on, but kids will never not be funny. Look at all the memes and internet challenges which do the rounds each year – parents will know these – things like filming your child answering 20 random questions and then sharing their results, or leaving them alone with a chocolate biscuit for 1 minute and filming them to see if they can resist eating them – that was a big one in 2020. It’s the same idea, but less perverse. Who wouldn’t want to see their own kid on a show like this, and which mums and dads would not relate to the often bizarre responses to simple general knowledge questions? It’s the perfect show for early evening mid-week TV.

Theme Tune: A classic

Catchphrases: Oooh, nasty.

There you are – some random bloke’s list of TV shows he used to like and would like to see make a return. There is literally nothing omre important happening in the world right now. If you would like to see these make a comeback – please send me money and I’ll see what I can do.

Ranking The Manics Songs – Resistance Is Futile

This is more like it. The last album was a step beyond the one before, and this one takes things further again, delivering the melodies I’ve come to expect from the band that just keeps coming back. The band delivers a whopping six singles, though these mostly download only and therefore came with no B-Sides. Still, a few extras appeared due to the different editions of albums and singles though the higher overall quality of the album tracks mean it’s harder for me to switch anything out.

  1. Hold Me Like A Heaven
  2. People Give In
  3. Distant Colours
  4. In Eternity
  5. Liverpool Revisited
  6. International Blue
  7. Sequels Of Forgotten Wars
  8. Broken Algorithms
  9. A Song For The Sadness
  10. Vivian
  11. The Left Behind
  12. Dylan And Caitlin

There are a couple of very good extra songs which would have been superb if squeezed into a single whole – one has a fantastic verse, the other a great chorus. As they stand, I’d add those in and take out my bottom two:

  1. People Give In
  2. International Blue
  3. Distant Colours
  4. Vivian
  5. Holding Patterns
  6. Liverpool Revisited
  7. Sequels Of Forgotten Wars
  8. Hold Me Like A Heaven
  9. In Eternity
  10. Broken Algorithms
  11. A Song For The Sadness
  12. Mirror Gaze

And that’s us up to date. Will there be another Manics album? I sure hope so – the idea of a world without The Manic Street Preachers is almost unimaginable, especially as so many other greats have fallen by the wayside. Let us know your rankings in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2000!

It took me a longer time than it usually does to find a suitable list of movies to include for this post. Sometimes you get those years where very few films stink up the nose holes.

Kevin And Perry Go Large

More difficult than me finding ten movies I didn’t like this year, is finding a British sitcom which translates successfully to the big screen. In the case of Kevin And Perry – they came from more of a sketch show rather than a sitcom, though their particular sequences in the various Harry Enfield series essentially acted as a mini sitcom. Being in my early teens when the Harry Enfield series were prime time viewing, maybe I should have related more to Kevin and Perry, somehow, even though they were clearly mocking annoying teen culture and clueless parents. They weren’t my favourite sequences or characters though – I still liked them but I liked other parts more. Maybe what irked me most was the fact that these guys were held up as the ‘mascots’ of the series – everyone was doing impressions and one-liners of these guys to the point that it was clear they hadn’t watched any other part of the show. The movie itself sees the teenagers heading off to Ibiza for a steek-fest, in the hope of getting drunk and getting laid, and it sadly became a celebration of 90s Lad Culture instead of a satire. Plus, it isn’t funny, it’s badly directed, and the characters are too thin to sustain a feature.

What Lies Beneath

Big budget horror movies with big names, fully backed by a powerhouse studio? Honestly, these never work for me anymore – the recent attempts at classy horror like this, like The Others, lack the scares and don’t show me anything new. It wasn’t until A24 came along and pulled the same trick, but did it with authenticity and originality. What Lies Beneath sure looks the part – A-list cast, it’s pretty, it’s classy. But it has zero balls, it’s bland, it relies on a twist which is fairly obvious from the opening minutes, and it is painfully long.

Billy Elliot

It’s a British comedy about a boy who just wants to dance. Was there any way this wasn’t going to make my list? The only other question is why I ever watched it in the first place.

Book Of Shadows

As much of a divisive film as it is, I love The Blair Witch Project – not only for what it did and achieved, but because it was for me an extremely effective horror film with an ever increasing atmosphere, a crippling of characters’ mentality, just enough world-building to intrigue, and a wonderful finale. I fully understand those people it didn’t work for – different things scare different people. I fail to understand how anyone could enjoy Book Of Shadows, on anything more than a base level. It fails as a sequel, it fails as a standalone due to its general incoherence and amateur feel, and it fails as a horror film – we’ve seen it all before a thousand times better and worse. I only ever saw it once when it was released, so maybe my feelings will have changed if I saw it again now – doubt it.

Red Planet/Mission To Mars

Honestly, I can’t remember which one of these it was, or indeed if it was both. I think it had Val Kilmer in it, but then again Mission To Mars sounds like the film I remember him being in – which isn’t the case. All I remember is looking out the window more than at the TV. In truth, both weren’t great but one was particularly grueling.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I only saw this one during a recent Christmas break, as something festive to watch with the kids. A mistake on my part, and on everyone involved. This is the sort of monstrosity I assume that the Cats movie is, but I struggle to see how anything could be more painful than this. Now – like the previous entry, there’s every chance I’m confusing this or merging it with The Cat In The Hat movie with Mike Myers. In any case, both are abominations which should never be spoke of again, unless as part of some arcane incantation to invoke the undead holy power of Nzzgrprtkaghk.

Snatch

Guy Ritchie has yet to make a movie I’ve tolerated, never mind liked. This and Lock, Stock were all over ever twats’ walls in poster form when I went to University. I don’t get it. Of course, I can’t stand any of that Cockney shite that people seem to love – I can think of fewer things I like less than films set in London’s criminal underworld.

Ginger Snaps

This film angered me because it seemed to get a lot of plaudits and credit and acclaim when it immediately struck me as a try-hard Buffy clone. While nobody actually seemed to be talking about Buffy and how important it was, critics were fawning over the stuff that wouldn’t have existed without it. In the late 90s, a lot of Buffy clones made it on to our TVs – young, sexy, self-aware, smart teens quipping in school and juggling daily lives and some wider conspiracy or secret. Ginger Snaps is precisely this, but told in a more irritating way and without an ounce of the originality it is claimed to have.

Meet The Parents

Are any of these good? Actually, don’t answer that, I don’t care. The first was bad enough.

Let us know in the comments which films of 2000 you would slap onto the naughty list!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2000!

It’s 2000! Sure it took until 2020 for The Great Plague to come and strike us all down, but for a while in 2000 people were freaking out. Also – there were movies. Here are some of my favourites. Brother was Takeshi Kitano testing his toes again in the US – it’s fun, mainstream. American Psycho is all chainsaws and suits and nudity. Amores Perros is another classic of South American cinema which still feels fresh, while Baise Moi has nothing ‘fresh’ about – it’s scary, filthy, and unmissable. Erin Brockovich is one of the rare Oscar bait movies which I enjoy. In The Mood For Love is trippy, sexy goodness. Memento is trippy trippy goodness. MI 2 is probably my favourite in the series, though everyone else says it is the weakest.

10: Almost Famous. (USA) Cameron Crowe.

Almost Famous dropped at the right time for people like me, of my generation. I was 16/17, ready to set off in the world and make an impact,brimming with dreams and wonder and a desire for experience. Plus I was already a big fan of a lot of the rock music of the 1960s and 70s. Almost Famous has that hopeful, free vibe flowing through – a great cast, terrific soundtrack, and hits my personal sweet spot as a coming of age story too following a kid trying to break into a world of writing, music, heroes, and rock and roll excess.

9: Gladiator (USA/UK). Ridley Scott.

Regular readers will already know this, but it’s worth calling out here for those of you who only read the list posts. From a very early age, I had an obsession with Greek and Roman myths and legends which eventually became intertwined with the genuine history of those countries. I studied Latin in school for 7 years, and part of my University Studies was in ‘Classics’ – the literature, language, and philosophy of Greece and Rome. My Latin class in School (there only was eight of us) actually went on a School trip to see Gladiator after the rave reviews one of my classmates was giving it. Aside from finally getting a decent version of the Trojan Epics, this is the best film someone like me could have hoped for. It’s an epic without all the faff which came later to the ‘genre’, a story of personal grief, struggle, and justice, a remarkable depiction of Rome with bloody battles and at least a couple of great leading performances. Super soundtrack too.

8: Best In Show (USA). Christopher Guest.

Just a quick update since I originally wrote this post – after the great Fred Willard sadly passed away. What a massive loss to the comedy world it is.

I went through a Christopher Guest phase in the early 2000s, repeatedly watching this, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting For Guffman while laughing my ass off and gobbling down illegitimate muffins. This one is a large step up in laughs from Waiting For Guffman and is just as strong a movie as This Is Spinal Tap. Set in the, already laughable, world of Dog Shows it follows various hopeful Dog Owners as they prepare their pooches, in often surreal situations, for a chance at stardom at the prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. All of the usual Guest favourites are out in force – Eugene Levy (who literally has two left feet), Catherine O’Hara (whose promiscuous past keeps catching up with her), Fred Willard (as the scene stealing over exuberant co-host of the event), and John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean (as the bitchy gay couple).

Like the best mockumentaries, this has a fair level of understanding of the subject matter meaning the satire and detail hit the mark more often than not. The cast are all comedy veterans and are both at ease and having great fun with the material, so it makes for comfortable viewing – there are no try-hards and the jokes range from dialogue based to slapstick, from visual to surreal, all with a light-hearted sprinkle of vignette silliness.

7: Dancer in The Dark (Denmark). Lars Von Trier

There’s a strong case for Dancer In The Dark being Von Trier’s best movie. It works on a number of levels, but most crucially it doesn’t feel like either exploitation or experimentation – it works as a brutal and downbeat drama with less of a focus on the director’s quirks and ego, and more on the character and plot. Bjork is spellbinding, the soundtrack features a few great songs, and the rest of the cast give notable performances. Is it manipulative? Sure – it’s a Lars Von Trier movie so that is part of the package, but it asks a lot of questions of the viewer and wrenches its answers unflinchingly.

6: Unbreakable (USA). M Night Shyamalan

Unbreakable remains Shyamalan’s best work – The Sixth Sense continues to get the plaudits, namely because it was first and people were so taken in by the twist, but Unbreakble is more accomplished in almost every level – a gloomy take on the comic book genre which you don’t even realize is a comic book movie until the final scenes, unless you’ve been paying attention closely or reading these spoilers.

5: Pitch Black (USA). David Twohy

I’m probably remembering this wrong, but I’m almost certain I saw the trailer for this a solid year before it was actually released. I remember catching the trailer and thinking ‘what the hell was that, that looked epic’. But nobody else mentioned it afterwards and I began to think it was all a dream. Then a year later it returned and I grabbed a couple of people and raced to the Cinema shouting ‘this is that trailer I told you all about’! What was even better was that Aeryn from Farscape was in it – of course nobody in the screening knew what the hell Farscape was and told me to shut the hell up. Plus you have Keith David in a legit big screen outing! But the film is all about Vin Diesel and his Riddick character – one that would become less interesting with each sequel, but here he has just the right amount of mystery to make him an enigma. Oh yes, it’s also set on a planet filled with near-unstoppable monsters in near-unstoppable numbers which only come out in the dark, and it just so happens that the planet is entering it’s ‘Winter’ Season when all light is extinguished. It was the best pure alien creature feature since Aliens. 

4: X-Men (USA). Bryan Singer

The only reason I really wanted to watch X-Men was because I loved the 90s cartoon. I’vev never been a big comic book fan and the comic movies I’ve enjoyed are few and far between, given how many there have been. When I like them, I love them and X-Men seemed more interesting given the cast and director. It was better than I expected and while it lacks much of an emotional core, it is more clever and socially relevant than whatever passes for superhero entertainment these days. Plus there’s a tonne of kick-ass action and the cast are committed.

3: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China/HK/Taiwan/USA). Ang Lee

By 2000, I was already well versed in Asian Cinema, particularly Kung fu movies. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Wuxia type movies, preferring realism in my tales of revenge. Ang Lee brought a heightened sense of realism to the genre, removing much of the magic but keeping the romance and string-work, bringing the beauty of the best of Hong Kong and Chinese Cinema in a more palatable way to Western audiences – without the flag waving patriotism in other words. Established stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat give a sense of familiarity and credibility, while Zhang Ziyi became a household name thanks to her blend of teeth shattering beauty and baddassery.

2: Final Destination (USA). James Wong

It’s in my best of the decade, so check for more info there.

1: Battle Royale (Japan). Kinji Fukasaku

It’s my favourite film of the decade. It’s also the best film since 2000.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two (including the winner)

My Blog – May 2020

1993 Me, Flipping off 2020 You.

May The Fourth Be With You! How many posts will begin with that today? Four billion? Make that four billion and one, punk. Once again I’m not at all prepared for what I want to write today. When I did these monthly, more personal posts last year, I had it planned out in January at a high level what I should tippidy type about each month, but this year all fucks have gone fuckidy flying out the window.

So how are you? That’s what we’re all asking these days – how are you coping? It’s all very strange to me because before nobody ever asked me these things, or if they did I was too busy not listening. It’s nice though, isn’t it? Or is it? I don’t know, social stuff is weird for me. Anyway, Northern Ireland is still in quarantine, but you wouldn’t know it in my speck of the country – idiot farmers are still idling along in their tractors, phones clapped to their ears as they drag their 10-tonne crush machines blindly up the middle of the road, vacantly oblivious to the instant carnage they would bring if they were distracted and bumped a kerb. These are the demented thoughts of a parent, pushing a pram with a 10 week old bundle of helplessness down the middle of a country road where the chavs think it is their duty to drive at 60 rather than 30 and I take great delight and pinging their windees if there’s a suitable stone laying nearby. Why am I walking in the middle of the road, you shriek? Well there’s not a lot of choice when the dickheads with driveways large enough to house four cars, whose houses dot the edge of said road, decide to park their chavy little R Plates on the pavement, leaving barely enough room for a proto-anorexic like me to sidle by, never mind a mammoth buggy. Inconsiderate twats, everywhere you go.

Don’t worry, this isn’t isolation getting to me – I love isolation. In truth, essentially nothing has changed for me since Quarantine started, beyond taking and lifting the kids from School. Sure, home-schooling is an issue but it also goes to highlight just how shitty our School is – as near as can be estimated, the teachers are off work on full pay, and have barely lifted their finger since day one. Which is awesome for the rest of us who have to keep working as normal – I’ve always been able to work from home, it just means that now I absolutely don’t need to go into work at all. There are plenty of teachers going over and above – not in my School of course, but in the towns nearby – so to supplement the work we already have, our daughters are watching a teacher from nearby Portstewart who is making daily Youtube videos. This is also beneficial because when we home school, or even in the past when we have done the girls’ homework, we have no clue how they are being taught in school and revert back to how we were taught. It’s easier for everyone if we follow the teacher’s lead.

Ha. My wife just walked into the room to say she’s just received an email from the School to say that each week the teachers will be adding some additional online work for each class. Success! Now I bet if I go for a walk, the car which was blocking the pavement will be on fire. Nothing to do with me, of course. The main positive of all of this nonsense is that I’m getting to spend a lot more time with my son than I normally would have – an almost three hour commute when I’m travelling into work has been dissolved so now there is no rush to get out of bed or get home.

That aside, last month I was messing around with some DVDs which my parents had brought up a few months ago – conversions of our old VHS and camcorder memories. Hours of footage of me messing around as a kid – playing outside, Christmases, Birthdays, assorted family outings and weirdness. My old pal, Mr Biffo – creator of the old Teletext page Digitiser which I used to read on a daily basis before the days of the Internet, had asked on Twitter if anyone happened to have old VHS footage which he could use in some upcoming Youtbe vids. A few conversions to MP4 later and I sent him a batch. If you’re interested (and you should be), you can watch his madness here  – for someone with my sense of humour, it’s the best Youtube channel in the biz. Some of my footage has been used already, so it’s nice to be a minuscule part of something I love.

That’s really all I wanted to say. Okay, fine – I know I usually do one of those silly personal questionnaires when I write these posts, but they’re always terrible, bland or quirky – but I suppose that’s their nature. Here’s a quick Music survey I found – I’ve no idea what it’s about:

  1. What is your gender: Male
  2. What is your age: 35 and older (I guess once you reach this category music stops being important)
  3. Choose the top 3 genres of music you listen to most often (the survey provides a list): Classic Rock. Metal. Heavy Metal.
  4. What genre do you listen to most: Isn’t that the same question? For the sake of brevity I just lump it all under metal.
  5. How do you listen to music: CD, MP3, iPod, Youtube.
  6. How many hours a day do you spend listening to music: 1-2 hours.
  7. Where do you listen to music most: This of course depends on where I am – I’ll listen to music more at work on the days I go in, more at home in the day’s I’m wfh.
  8. List the last three songs I chose to listen to recently: Hmm, according to my calculations those would be ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ theme, ‘Ave Satani’, and ‘Lucille’.
  9. Of the three songs listed above, what musical aspect do you enjoy most: again there are options to choose from which are highly limited, but out of those I would say ‘the instruments being used’.
  10. On a scale of 1-5, how open are you to listening to new music: Well, what do you mean by ‘new’? Music which was recorded and released within the last 12 months? Or music which I’m only hearing for the first time which may have been recorded and released decades ago? In any case, I’m open to anything. It’s just that most ‘new’ chart music is terrible, I’m mostly out of the loop when it comes to new metal and I haven’t bothered keeping up to date recently. But music I haven’t heard before – take a look at any of my musical posts and you’ll see all the crap I’m hearing for the first time. 

That’s that, I guess. Till next time, stay away from coughing strangers and look after your sanity by visiting digitiser2000 on Youtube and browsing my plethora of junk at the links below.

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 2001!

In 2001 I started some genuine ‘study’ or ‘criticism’ with regards to Cinema, thanks to picking up a few Film modules in University. I say ‘genuine’, but what I really mean is ‘watched for more than mere entertainment’. This just happened to coincide with me fully branching out to watch everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately it meant I watched a tonne of crap and discussed those with an honest critical hat on. I have long abandoned any hope or desire to being any sort of critic – I just call it as I see it, and reserve in depth discussion for those films I love. Today’s list – I don’t love.

Valentine

A few years too late to both the post-Scream horror world and post ‘David Boreanez is hot’ landscape. This is a by the numbers, contrived 90s slasher with none of the smarts of the best of its genre, and few of the scares. I lay in bed watching this when it first aired on TV, and that was the absolute best place I could have been to view such a snoozer.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

It’s a British big screen comedy, so that’s one black mark. It’s a romantic comedy, so that’s another. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are doing their thing, so that’s two more. And there is nothing in the positive column.

Moulin Rouge

Your yearly musical, and really the first one to bring the Musical back to the big time. Perhaps its greatest travesty was ensuring that no matter where you went or what you did between 2001 and 2004, you were subjected to hearing that awful Lady Marmalade song – absolutely one of the most terrible creations in the history of music. The 70s version was bad enough, but throw in Aguilera’s uncomfortable gyrating and skin-tearing caterwauling and you have one of the purest torture instruments since the good old ‘grenade under foreskin’.

Jurassic Park III

The Lost World wasn’t amazing, but it still had ideas and felt like an adventure. Part 3 devolves into camp and converts a solid enough cast into a bunch of bumbling tools acting out an extended Scooby Doo episode, but without the sexual intrigue or fun.

Ghost World

It’s the movie that your annoying proto-hipster pseudo-friend wouldn’t stop harping on about because they thought it reflected them and their life (spoiler alert – it did; both are worthless). There’s one of these every year or so, and they’re never as good as what people claim they are. I probably got a couple of grins out of this, mainly because of Buscemi’s antics, but the whole ironic nerd-gazing anti-pity party tone in this sort of movie always irks me.

The Others

I wanted to like The Others as it claimed to be a throw-back to the good old atmospheric ghost stories of days of yore. And to a certain extent it is, except that you realize that that sort of movie with that sort of tone just doesn’t work anymore – we have progressed as a culture and as an audience to the point that films going for that tone and atmosphere need to bring something new to the table. Most of the movie hinges on a twist, which is glaringly obvious from round about the opening scene of the movie, and an atmosphere which always felt to me more detached and gloomy than foreboding and dread-inducing.

Zoolander

I have no clue why this was a hit at the time or why people still talk about it. Sure, I didn’t see it at the time and came to the party quite late (mainly because I’m not a big Ben Stiller fan), but when I did it confirmed everything I had anticipated – not funny, a chore to finish.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

I only watched this film for the first time last year, avoiding it and the novels all of these years. I had no desire to watch it upon release and then when my kids were born I thought it would be a great series to watch alongside them, given all the rave reviews and hype. So we watched it last year – wow, what a pile of crap. I appreciate the first in a series is all about creating a world and establishing characters – but the world depicting is bland and unimaginative, the characters are hackneyed and show no progress over those seen in something like The Worst Witch, and the central performances of the (then) child actors are uniformly terrible. I get that they’re child actors picking up this huge mantel, but man there is a monumental level of sucking here. The plot is very much ‘lonely boy realizes he’s special, and goes off to a new place to learn why he’s special’ but with no drama, no laughs, and no endgame. It has all but destroyed any desire I had of watching the others in the series, but more crucially, my kids have zero interest in pursuing it.

A Beautiful Mind

From Day One this looked and smelled like Oscar bait. From the late Seventies these Oscar Bait movies became increasingly prevalent. I almost never enjoy them, especially when they are Biographical in nature. Usually it’s because the biopics are based on people I don’t care about and whose life holds no great interest for me. It’s the same with  A Beautiful Mind – it’s by no means a bad film, it’s simply no different to me than a made for TV movie with a big name cast concerning a person and a story that I’m never going to care about.

Ocean’s Eleven

This one comes down to personal taste more than anything – though of course the same could be said for any entry. The fact is – I’m not a fan of the Rat Pack, at all; their movies, their music, the image – it’s all hateful to me. So when this was announced I was skeptical. It’s not the same as the 60’s outing, but it’s a similar enough exercise in style and dialogue and approach that this was never going to be for me. Credit to bringing together a cast like this, but the whole suit wearing, high life, wise-guy, shtick is to me what being hit in the face with a basketball is to toddlers.

I’m sure there are some favourites in there for any readers – feel free to tell me what I’m missing and add your picks of least favourite movies of 2001!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Futurology

Futurology continued the band’s latter day acclaimed run, with the album also racking up their best sales in a decade. It has more consistent highs for me than Rewind The Film, but its low points are very low. What is the most depressing thing to me is the reliance on other vocalists, as James continues to tire of singing. It’s a shame as Bradfield is one of the finest singers Britain has ever produced and the guests here are almost always terrible. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the singers were good… they’re just not. Replace the singers and I’d like the songs a lot more. Again, there isn’t a huge list of B-Sides to choose from, but some are good in spite of Nicky’s vocals. The difference is that the B-Sides have grown on me while the album tracks I’d replace them with have slipped in my estimation. Ranking time:

  1. Black Square
  2. Misguided Missile
  3. Futurology
  4. The View From Stow Hill
  5. Let’s Go To War
  6. Europa Geht Durch Mich
  7. Walk Me To The Bridge
  8. The Next Jet To Leave Moscow
  9. Mayakovsky
  10. Divine Youth
  11. Dreaming A City
  12. Sex Power Love And Money
  13. Between The Clock And The Bed

Really those bottom five songs I would happily cut. Mayakovsky is far from their worst instrumental, Divine Youth and Between would be marginally better with a different guest singer. Sex Power Love And Money is ill-advised all around and needed a different vocal approach from James.  The good thing about the B-Sides is that they all fit neat and sweet with the sound and tone of the album. Antisocialmanifesto is quite lovely in spite of Nicky’s lead and it takes a sharp left turn midway through into a bizarre funk breakdown which somehow works. Blistered Mirrors is a clattering jumble with a touch of The Beatles while Empty Motorcade starts out like the techno theme-tune to a creepy kids TV show – it may be the best of the bunch. The Last Time I Saw Paris has a mystery female vocalist – is it Nina Hoss again? It has a rambling verse but a decent chorus, while Caldey has a great chorus and decent verse.

  1. Futurology
  2. Walk Me To The Bridge
  3. Let’s Go To War
  4. The Next Jet To Leave Moscow
  5. Europa Geht Durch Mich
  6. Blistered Mirrors
  7. Empty Motorcade
  8. Caldey
  9. Black Square
  10. The Last Time I Saw Paris
  11. Misguided Missile
  12. The View From Stow Hill
  13. Mayakovsky

That was a tricky one, mainly because while I enjoy some of the B-Sides I get the feeling that I’d be less keen on them over time. Let us know in the comments how you would rank the songs and any you would replace with a particular B-Side!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2002!

So I thought I had written this post and was ready to submit before the Least Favourites Of 2002. But I had not, so I’m blasting this one out quickly. Dog Soldiers is one of those rare good Werewolf movies, one which is filled with action, humour, and plenty of bloody violence. It also established Neil Marshall as a new and exciting director. Bubba Ho-Tep reminded horror fans that yes, Bruce Campbell was still alive and yes, Don Coscarelli was still making movies, and yes both were still capable of making a hit. It has cult written all over it, what with its unique cast and story by Joe Lansdale – an ancient Mummy attacks an old peoples’ home and only a pair of residents, who claim to be Elvis and JFK, can save the world. It never quite reaches the heights I hoped it would, but it’s still a fun, silly, and sometimes poignant ride.

10: City Of God (Brazil) Fernando Meirelles

I didn’t know much about South American cinema but by the time 2002 had rolled around I had expanded into modern Spanish territory and was beginning to pick up the odd cheap South American DVD wherever I could. City Of God came with a tonne of acclaim and by the time I saw it I understood why – I’ve never been a fan of conventional crime or gang based movies – British stuff particularly winds me up, but when the film has a fresh setting or a take I’m unfamiliar with then it’s all the more likely to win me over. Add to the fact that this doubles as a coming of age story and it has a foot and leg over most films in this genre. Meirelles hasn’t been able to replicate this for me, even with his later critical darlings, and he doesn’t make a lot of movies – but this is still an early 2000s classic.

9: Equilibrium (US) Kurt Wimmer

Speaking of people who don’t make a lot of movies, Kurt Wimmer bowed out after the disaster that was Ultraviolet. It’s a shame, because Equilibrium is probably the best of the post Matrix action movies before superheroes came and blandly stomped all over everything else. It’s stylish and detached and has a more interesting visual approach and message than something more popular like V For Vendetta has. Plus there’s a  lot of guns and Christian Bale.

8: Hero (China) Zhang Yimou

I had been a fan of Zhang Yimou for a while, but it wasn’t until Hero that he became a more familiar name in the West. Hero ticks plenty of boxes for me, and for being a worldwide hit – but maybe the most important and long-lasting factor is simply how beautiful, stunning it all is. In a time when much of Hollywood’s output could be bland visually, Hero was a revelation, bursting with colour and creativity. On top of that there are wonderfully choreographed fight scenes and a rousing score.

7: Infernal Affairs (HK) Andrew Lau/Alan Mak

I mentioned crime thrillers at the top – Infernal Affairs isn’t exactly outlandish or particularly unique – but it does have a twisting narrative and focus on character and world building without relying on the usual quirks and beats police procedural movies do. It’s also a who’s who of Hong Kong/Chinese cinema with many familiar faces putting out stellar work – Andy Lau and Tony Leung, along with Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong are the most notable figures. Even if you’ve seen The Departed, it’s worth going back to catch this.

6: The Pianist (France/Germany/Poland/UK) Roman Polanski

Say what you will about Polanski the person, there’s no doubting the power and skill possessed in his movies. The Pianist sees Adrian Brody as the title character as WWII erupts in Warsaw – his transformation over the years as the city becomes increasingly devastated, and his part in various uprising and survival attempts. There’s no obvious, visual, big bad to get behind here, only a city becoming a ruin and the exterior sights and sounds of war, Brody gives a once in a lifetime performance, and Polanski relays perhaps parts of his own childhood into scenes of sadness, degradation, and hope.

5: Dark Water (Japan) Hideo Nakata

I didn’t immediately love Dark Water – at least not in the same way I did Ringu. Although it feels inaccurate to use the term action packed when it comes to Dark Water, it definitely moves a notch or two faster than Nakata’s breakout masterpiece. It still has a greater focus on introspection and atmosphere than noisy jump-scares and it still has an abundance of creepy long-haired shenanigans, and it’s another movie based on a Koji Suziki piece – it should feel familiar to Ringu fans. Overall it’s a story of motherhood, guilt, protection, wrapped up in a supernatural mystery as a young mother and her child in the midst of a divorce move into a low rent apartment block with various… plumbing issues. It’s an unexpectedly moving story with a drip drip drip of scares before a brief flood towards the end. See, I can do cheap metaphors too!

4: The Eye (HK/Singapore) The Pang Brothers

The Pang Brothers, for a while, were among the most exciting filmmakers on the planet. I loved everything they did and this early foray into horror took the influence of Ringu and added(literal) explosive elements to make a more rollercoaster type horror movie. Scares come from any and all directions here, and the use of audio is second to none in setting up many of the film’s most tense moments. The film has some of my favourite scares to date and retains a creepy power even after all these years and viewings. For anyone not in the know – it’s a film about a young woman who has an eye operation to regain her sight. This being a horror movie, it’s more of an eye transplant.. and oh the things the previous owner must have seen. Blind from an early age, the operation is apparently successful as she begins to pick up shapes and objects -even if some are a little odd and disorienting. Dismissing these as a natural side effect, her sight soon returns, along with the bonus gift of being able to see ghosts. And the ghosts know she can see them. It’s a fun, B-movie idea explored before, but to the film’s credit it doubles down in the first half on the scares before delving into an interesting quest for the second half – it never feels boring or routine.

3: The Twilight Samurai (Japan) Yoji Yamada

I’ll be honest – in 2002 I was picking up any old Asian film which sounded like it might be interesting (which of course led to me seeing plenty of rubbish). I didn’t know who Yoji Yamada was back then, and I got this because it starred Hiroyuki Sanada and had a cool name. The Twilight Samurai may be ‘the best’ movie released in 2002. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and absolutely should have won. Sanada is a poor Samurai working in a small town in, basically, an office job. Times are tough and the world seems to be moving ahead without him and his skills, yet his honour and family give him a sort of contentment. The opening of the movie sees the death of his wife, leaving him as the patriarch and matriarch of his household, much to the dismay of the townspeople. He does not have time for frivolities with his co-workers, instead spending his time looking after his daughters and elderly mother. It’s a very – pro traditional Japanese values type of film, one which honours the sacrifices made by the main character and treats him as the everyday hero he is. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of sword swinging too. Sanada deserved an Oscar nod here too.

2: 28 Days Later (UK) Danny Boyle

It’s 28 Days Later – of course it’s going to be here. It’s also in my Favourite movies of the decade post, so go read that.

1: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

This brutal, gut-wrenching classic also made my Favourite movies of the decade post – so go read that.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (The Winner)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

TTT – The Shock Waves 100!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time for another overlong list – yay! I’ve been listening to the Shock Waves podcast for a while now – for a anyone who doesn’t know it features four horror fans (who also work in the industry) chatting about their love of horror, which movies they have seen recently, and then in the second half they bring in a guest – typically a horror legend/actor/director/effects guy/distributor etc. It’s a great listen. Anyway, I recently listened to their 100th episode (which is actually a couple of years old now), which sees the team of four picking 100 movies which they all agree upon, that they feel every horror fan, and every film fan, needs to see. Naturally, I wanted to give my thoughts, which absolutely no-one asked for.

So below I’m going to list the films below and give a couple of one-liners on each. I’ll give some semblance of form by splitting each movie into three parts – have I seen it, is it in my top movies of the release year, and a brief sentence explaining my high level thoughts. As always, stick your thoughts in the comments!

28 Days Later

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Brought the zombie genre running and screaming into the new Millennium.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y (Favourite Horror Movie Of All Time)

My Thoughts: Yes, it’s my favourite Horror Movies Of All Time. That about covers it.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: One of the earliest and still finest examples of merging Horror and Comedy, and a great gateway film for younger viewers to be introduced to the world of Monsters.

Alien

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the critical pick for best Sci-Fi horror. It’s deceptively simple – unstoppable killer in space stalks ill prepared crew. It’s basically another Slasher movie, but with one of Cinema’s best Monsters doing the killing.

Angel Heart

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A stylish mix of noir and horror and boobs. It’s good, though I don’t love it as much as the Shockers.

Angst

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

An American Werewolf In London

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I’d agree it’s the best example of horror comedy out there. It’s also a fairly downbeat movie, even with the laughs. Jenny Agutter is gorgeous, the creature work is superb, and it has some classic jump-scares.

Asylum

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: For the longest time it has been my favourite anthology (outside of Creepshow). The wraparound actually makes sense, and each of the stories is strong. I saw this one young, probably why it has stayed with me.

Audition

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Classy, confusing, creepy.  Stylish, scary, soul-scarring.

Basket Case

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like the first one, but my more or less dislike of the series brings down my enjoyment of the first – something about the creature effects and camp sounds in the later movies once I saw them took away from how I view the first.

The Battery

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Beyond

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s Fulci doing what Fulci does, but dialled up to 69, with just enough Lovecraft to nudge the WTFery into the next realm.

Black Christmas

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A fine slasher, but one I came to later than most so it had a lesser impact.

Black Sabbath

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Blob

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s better than the original and it has some yummy 80s effects. I must revisit it as it’s been too long.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I loved this when it was first released, a big budget sumptuous, serious vampire movie with a legitimate cast and director – and that rare example of such a thing being done correctly.

The Bride Of Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: Probably James Whale’s best movie. He has a few classics.

The Brood

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Mehhh, I always classed it as a lesser Cronenberg movie, but it’s been probably 20 years since I’ve seen it so I suppose I should go back again.

Cabin In The Woods

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s basically a Whedon movie with lots of Buffy related shenanigans, so of course I was going to love it. It’s also very funny and clever too.

Candyman

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s funny how life imitates art. Or is it the other way around. The film itself became something of an Urban Legend when I was young, when it was released. Older siblings would explain the Bloody Mary-esque plot to creep out the younger kids, and I was somewhere in the middle, intrigued by the vision of a hooked man hunting down, well, anyone.

Cannibal Holocaust

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:

My Thoughts: It’s not for the faint of heart, not really because it’s overly bloody or obscene, but because of how grimy and docu-real it feels. It’s cheap and nasty like an Abel Ferrara movie, and it gets under your skin. Plus there’s the animal torture stuff. Plus an all time great main theme.

Carrie

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: King’s first book and King’s first movie – it does come across as dated and cheesy now, but it still features two great lead performances and De Palma sense of style brings the most out of the shocks.

Cat People

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:  N/A (but probably)

My Thoughts:

Cemetery Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One in a long line of bizarre zombie movies which tries to do its own thing, this one blends comedy, horror, romance (of sorts) and introspection as one man’s malaise deepens.

The Changling

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s another I came to late – I saw it in pieces when I was young – but it never had the effect on me that it seems to have on everyone else. It’s certainly moody and downbeat, but others love it a lot more than I do.

Child’s Play

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some good performances and effects, and the whole series is entertaining, but at the end of the day – it’s still a fucking doll; punt that shit.

Christine

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lesser Carpenter, and lesser King for me, this tale of obsession has some good performances, some great effects, but the soundtrack and the scares aren’t as impressive as most of Carpenter’s work and it’s one I rarely revisit.

Creepshow

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s probably my most loved anthology – Romero, King, ideas, comic, gore, laughs – what else do you want?

The Conjuring

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: Of all the modern series, The Conjuring manages to be the best melding of classic scares and atmosphere, newer sensibilities and fresh ideas, and a good cast attempting to make something legitimate.

Dawn Of The Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the greatest Zombie movie ever made. It’s one of the best horror movies ever made. It passes from being merely a great movie, to an all time movie, to one which is rarely far from my thoughts.

Braindead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s a top 5 all time horror comedy for me, one of the bloodiest movies you’ll ever see, and one which will unquestionably make you laugh your ass off.

Deathdream

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Demon Knight

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a long time since I saw this – I think I’ve only seen it once, in my early teens. I remember enjoying it well enough at the time.

Demons

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a fun time in its own right, but I truly do think this one would benefit from a remake – or maybe the time it would have had a decent remake has since passed. It’s the premise I love more than the execution.

The Descent

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I must say I didn’t care about, or remotely think about, the fact the cast is all women/any feminist issues, until several watches later. All I cared about was that it was a kick-ass movie. It’s not as flawless as some – I think too many of the characters are similar and similar looking, but as far as claustrophobic horror goes, there aren’t many better/

Don’t Look Now

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s heartbreaking, stylish, unique, haunting. I know a lot of people won’t appreciate the approach but it’s a lyrical, layered movie.

Drag Me To Hell

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: From lyrical and layered, to cats, gypsies, and saliva. This is pure entertainment which delivers precisely what it promises – scares, laughs, and fun.

Event Horizon

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve personally found it overrated, but I’m not going to moan at the people who love it. I think there’s a better movie in here than what we got, but it’s still okay.

Evil Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Evil Dead – no brainer.

Evil Dead 2

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above

The Exorcist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above – but adding that it’s one of a very short list of horror movies which garnered critical acclaim from those outside the horror community.

The Exorcist III

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, but it’s a fun movie which is better than it has any right to be, and tops it off with some impressive, memorable scares.

Eyes Without A Face

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of those foreign horror movies which horror fans quickly find when they start branching out. It’s best to see this early in your Odyssey, but it’s still shocking and surprising after all these years.

The Fly

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Possibly Cronenberg’s most accessible and well-known body horror movie, it made stars of Goldblum and Davies, and features some of the best make-up and effects ever put on screen.

The Fog

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s one of the great ghost movies and one which doesn’t get as much praise as some of Carpenter’s works. It’s an exercise in atmosphere which every budding filmmaker should see.

Friday The 13th 4

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lets be clear; in terms of the great trilogy of horror franchises, Friday The 13th is dead last in terms of quality. The original is clearly the best, but it’s barely on terms with the mid tier Elm Street and Halloween sequels. Part 2 is okay, three is a laugh-fest, Part 4 is the Corey Feldman one, 5 is trash, 6 is marginally better… you get the idea.

Fright Night

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like it, I saw it young, it just didn’t have the profound impact on me of say, The Lost Boys. It’s one I revisit less than others so it’s probably due another watch.

The Funhouse

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’m not sure what this is doing on the list, beyond the fact that it’s Tobe Hooper. It’s fun, but it never feels more than just another 80s Slasher. Again, it’s the premise I love more than the film we got.

Get Out

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: I like it. Is it the greatest horror movie ever, or of the year it was released – no. But credit for making people who don’t usually watch or care about our dirty little movies sit up and take notice.

Habit

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Halloween

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Nuff said.

The Haunting

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Any number of films on this list I can call out as being must sees for aspiring film-makers, but The Haunting should be one of the first. Atmosphere, tension, sound, and how to make a terrifying film without a lick of gore or obvious scares.

Hellraiser

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: There’s something seductive about Hellraiser, which is apt. It’s bloody, grim, imaginative, and has a style which I don’t believe has been coined yet – neo-gothic? Gothic Noir? Post-gore? Sado-masochistic appreciation?

The Hitcher

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I don’t remember when I first saw The Hitcher. I was pre-teen in any case. It blew my mind. It still does.

House Of The Devil

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: It’s a great love-letter, like several Ti West movies are, but it’s more than that as he seeks to and successfully makes a film which is more than a series of nods and winks.

Insidious

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A dry run for The Conjuring, but it’s more twisted cousin. The first one is great, the rest are increasingly silly and convoluted, but this one has scares never seen before.

Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A film with an idea and a twist so good that I used to tell school friends and kids about it, have them hanging on every word, and have them shocked by my retelling of it. Which, looking back now kind of spoiled the movie for them, but still made them all go off and watch it.

Jacob’s Ladder

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a very odd movie, there isn’t a lot like it, and it make me question why there aren’t more war/PTSD related horror movies. With lizards and chiropractors.

Jaws

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Perhaps the greatest gateway horror movie of them all.

Just Before Dawn

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some of the make-up is cool, but it’s a very silly film. It’s impressive thatit ever got made, with its premise, with how amateurish it all is, and it’s definitely worth seeing, but I wouldn’t have it anywhere near any sort of Top 100 list.

Let The Right One In

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe the first of the new wave of classy horror (as opposed to elevated horror), it’s a chilling, thought-provoking, beautifully shot and acted film with doses of grisly action.

Lets Scare Jessica To Death

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A disturbing, atmospheric film which builds upon Repulsion and The Haunting, but is more visceral.

The Lost Boys

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A rites of passage classic – one which remains fresh even though it’s deeply entrenched in the 80s.

Malevolence

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Martin

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Romero proving he wasn’t just a zombie, gore guy.

Martyrs

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of the French Extremism New Wave, brutal and unforgettable.

Messiah Of Evil

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Monster Squad

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Another one of those movies with a poster which drew me in as a kid on the video store, but one which actually live up to the promise of the poster.

Near Dark

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe my favourite Vampire movie.

Night Breed

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, it always felt messy when I was young, and a let down after Hellraiser. 

Night Of The Creeps

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun. Funny. Never impacted me as much as it did others.

Night Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A near flawless exercise and example of how to do low budget horror.

The Omen

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Great kills, iconic scenes, wonderful score, stellar cast.

Peeping Tom

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Pushed under the rug after Psycho, but just as notable.

Pet Sematary

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: King’s scariest book goes heavy on the shlock, but still packs a few potent punches.

Phantasm

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I never grew up with these movies like others did, but the first is fun and innovative.

Pieces

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Poltergeist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another rites of passage movie for when kids are getting into horror.

Possession

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Psycho

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Hitchcock, and the daddy (Mummy?) of modern horror.

Pumpkinhead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve only seen it once, can’t remember a whole lot about it.

Re-Animator

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Gory 80s fun, the likes of which you don’t see anymore.

REC

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of hand-held horror.

Return Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of the premier mixtures of horror and comedy.

Rosemary’s Baby

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: While dated, and while it relies a little too heavily now on the ending, it’s a masterclass of paranoia with some great performances.

Scream

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another Wes Craven classic which remains clever and funny decades on.

The Shining

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Kubrick. King. Nicholson. Overlook. Saggy bewbs.

Slumber Party Massacre

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Society

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A front runner for title of goriest movie ever, it’s a funny, often John Waters-esque satire, with added fisting.

Sole Survivor

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Suspiria

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Argento’s best, and one of the most visually stunning horror movies you’ll ever see, with a typically bewildering plot, inventive kills, and terrific score.

Tenebrae

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Argento again, maybe the finest Giallo movie with plenty of up close and nasty violence and memorable moments.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A clear contender for best of all time, while it’s rough around the edges in places, their’s no doubting the emotional, visceral, and cinematic impact.

The Thing

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: When it comes to best Sci-Fi Horror film of all time – it’s this or Alien, right? Aliens is more all out action. The Thing is my favourite of the two, and it’s a Top 5 all time favourite Horror movie for me.

The Tingler

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun – we need more interactivity in our Cinemas.

Tourist Trap

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Trick R Treat

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It still hasn’t really found an audience outside of dedicated horror fans – if TV channels would show this every Halloween like they do with Christmas movies in December, this would be much bigger – it deserves it.

The Wicker Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of folk horror, British horror, and not a bee or bear suit in sight.

There you have it – The Shock Waves approved 100! Which films have you seen, which ones are you yet to see, and which films would make your list. Remember, this isn’t necessarily the best 100, or your favourite 100, more of a ‘100 we can all agree should be seen by horror fans’. Let us know down below!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2003!

As always, the not quites: Big Fish is that increasingly rare Tim Burton film where he seems to be free of studio influence to do whatever he wants and tell a sweet, offbeat story. Freddy Vs Jason takes one great horror franchise, and one pretty crap franchise, and smashes them together in a funny, bloody fan’s dream. House Of 1000 Corpses is probably Rob Zombie’s best movie to date, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to recapture what makes it so fun again. Dogville is Lars Von Trier doing what he does best – pissing people off, experimenting with Cinema, and creating something unique. It’s bizarrely engaging and while it shouldn’t work, it really really does. The Last Samurai dropped at jsut the right time, as my love for Japanese cinema was at its peak. Ignoring all the White Guy Saviour stuff, and all of the wonderful hair, it’s a gorgeous movie and features a couple of great performances in Cruise and Watanabe. School Of Rock is quotable, fun, and reminds me of a lot of my the favourite movies of my youth – Bill And Ted, Kindergarten Cop, Wayne’s World etc. Jack Black is at his best, and it’s one of those movies you get sucked into watching every time it’s on.

10: The Dreamers (UK/US/France/Italy) Bernardo Bertolucci

Bertolucci should be enough to grab any movie fan’s attention, but through in Michael Pitt and Eva Green, and this seemed like it was made just for me. Naturally there’s a lot of nudity and sex here which may put some off and likewise invite a lot of idiots to watch it for the wrong reasons. There’s a lot of callbacks – to classic New Wave Cinema, to cultural shifts in the 60s, to Bertolucci’s life and career, but in essence it’s a captivating story with a great central trio.

9: Underworld (US/UK/Hungary/Germany) Len Wiseman

As Buffy was ending I needed a new sexy vampire heroine. Kate Beckinsale steps in, all leathered up and guns firing to save the world from a deadly vampire/Lycan war. It’s all very silly and serious, it’s all very stylish, but in terms of post-Matrix action movies it’s one of the best.

8: Kill Bill Vol 1 (US) Quentin Tarantino

This was the first Tarantino movie I ever saw on the big screen, and it felt like a big event. It had been half a decade since his previous film and it was a packed screening. Most of those there didn’t seem to ‘get’ the movie, but I enjoyed every second, spotting a myriad of Easter Eggs and enjoying the onslaught of violence and visuals. It might be his most straightforward, enjoyable movie.

7: A Mighty Wind (US) Christopher Guest

It honestly took me a while to come around to This Is Spinal Tap. I’d always liked it, but it took me longer to love it than most. A Mighty Wind I loved immediately – perhaps because I was more used to the format, perhaps because it wasn’t lampooning anything I cared about. There are some great songs and performances here from Guest regulars, and it’s an easy going movie which continues to unwrap subtle jokes with each viewing – sometimes a visual gag, sometimes a single line or word of dialogue you missed before, or sometimes an actor’s reaction. All of Guest’s movies are gold.

6: The Curse of The Black Pearl (US) Gore Verbinski

Is there a better example of a Theme Park attraction being turned into a movie than this? Depp should have received his Oscar, and it’s the closest we’ve come to a rip-roaring Indiana Jones style romp since The Mummy. It’s funny, rattling along like raft cutting through the waves, and everyone involved seems to be having the times of their lives. It’s such a shame the sequels are trash.

5: Zatoichi (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

Kitano had been steadily pumping out underrated film after underrated film – an amazing accomplishment for the quirky funny man best known in the west for Takeshi’s Castle. While many of his films dealt with common themes – masculinity, violence, inner turmoil, they were typically set in a modern, Yakuza setting. With Zatoichi he goes back to the legend of the blind Samurai to make the best film version of the character, starring as the title character himself. He does things with sound and editing in this film I’d never seen before, and uses the story to showcase those common themes with a keener eye for detail while not letting up on humour and action. Like many Asian movies of this era, it’s a travesty this saw zero interest by The Academy.

5. Oldboy (SK) Chan Wook Park

Each of the remaining films on my list are covered in more detail in my favourite films of the 2000s post. Check it. Suffice it to say, this is essential viewing.

4: A Tale Of Two Sisters (SK) Kim Jee Woon

Gorgeous. Haunting. Should have had a Best Actress Oscar nod.

3: Ju On (Japan) Takashi Shimizu

Wonderfully creepy J-Horror classic

2: The Return Of The King (NZ/US) Peter Jackson

The excellent climax to maybe Cinema’s greatest trilogy.

1: X2 (US) Bryan Singer

Probably the greatest comic book sequel of all time.

Let us know in the comments which films of 2003 make your list!