This year, it's all about economy. Short-winded, powerful films (and some joyously revisited schlock.) Disturbing is the keyword. And if you can't say it in under 102 minutes, you're a chump and your camera should be taken away.
All titles (in films and music) are 2009 releases unless otherwise noted.
Bug - On the insistent recommendation of a close friend, I checked out this film from 2006, the latest feature by great director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, Sorcerer.) I'd poo-poohed it for a few years because of the high positioning of mainstream talent; I have a lot on my viewing plate, and Harry Connick, Jr. does not draw me into a theater seat necessarily. Ashley Judd, however, proves her mettle as a beaten-down cigarette hag who's sucked into a world of psychological terror by a mysterious drifter. Gloriously claustrophobic, but also punchy and colorful, Bug is a masterpiece. I'm not even sure it's a horror film in strict genre terms, but who cares.
Splinter (2008) - Wow. A shocking and super-inventive gore/body-horror film, that does for now what Cronenberg did for the 70s/80s. As with most of the titles on this list, Splinter hits the ground running and never stops. Ewwww Ewwww EWWWW but I am so hopelessly compelled.
Werewolf Woman (1976) - Just when you're sure you've seen every weird-ass cult holy grail that exists, a movie like Werewolf Woman comes along. Right around the time that I was graduating elementary school, some sick-minded, exploitation-film-making fuckers were tearing their hair out over this, their ART. Werewolf Woman is super-special, kids. See my previous BoTB post.
Killer's Moon - A cheerfully weird escaped-mental-prisoners scenario from the UK 1978. You have to have a certain love of poorly made films from this era to truly appreciate Killer's Moon; there's a lot to laugh at, amidst the almost banal scenes of murder and rape. Chilling and ridiculous in one breath. It's all about tone, and you either get it, or you think films like Killer's Moon are a waste of time....
Deadgirl - Since political correctness has fallen hard from fashion, I guess it's okay to praise a movie like Deadgirl. WB-style boys coming of age, and wrestling with the tough questions, like whether or not to rape a found, bound, female zombie. See my expanded notions over at the My Castle of Quiet blog.
Shuttle - I didn't want to like Shuttle. Parts of it were downright annoying, but ultimately it resonated with me for its impersonal, ice-cold brutality. The ending left me gap-jawed. Again, see the MCoQ blog for my thoughts when this one was fresh in my mind.
Fiend (1980) - I waxed ecstatic over Don Dohler's Fiend right here earlier this year. For fans of bent, highly original, shoestring-budget American cinema, Fiend is a must see.
Morgue Story: Sangue, Baiacu e Quadrinhos - Again, this BoTB post from June relates my freshest thoughts about Morgue Story. It's a wonderful film, that could, given wider release, introduce necrophiliac comedy as an acceptable subgenre. People cheered this movie; by far my favorite of the 2009 SF Indie Another Hole in the Head Film Festival.
House of the Devil - AJ Bowen, star of The Signal, returns to creep me out again in this very well made love-letter to early 80s American horror. Also starring freaky-film legends Mary Woronov and Tom Noonan, who both gleefully devour their roles. See the McoQ blog post.
Pontypool (2008) - Someone really loved zombie/plague scenarios, and the Burroughsian concept of "the word as virus" (though in this case, infectious words are spoken, rather than written.) Stephen McHattie resonates as a DJ trapped on the air, trying to figure out the ascending chaos outside. The image of an intern banging her head repeatedly against soundproof double glass has special meaning to all of us here at WFMU.
Telecult Powers - assorted releases (2008-9) | Grasshopper - Kindertotenlieder | Slasher Risk - assorted releases (2007-9) | Raspberry Bulbs - Finally Burst...With Fluid | Vordr - MLP | Spite Extreme Wing - Vltra (2008) | Jabladav - Atta Vinter | Liturgy - Renihilation | Crazy Dreams Band - Separate Ways | Ritualistic School of Errors - Sweat Stained Fancy Heaps for First-Rate Ladies | Nuit Noire - Fantomatic Plenitude (2007) | Cotton Museum - Pus Pustules LP | Circle of Ouroborus - Tree of Knowledge | Absu - Absu | Coil / TNB / Vortex Campaign - The Melancholy Mad Tenant (LP reissue) | Yellow Tears - The Pissmop (2008) | Arckanum - Antikosmos & ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ (2008-9) | Bee Mask - Hyperborean Trenchtown | Beherit - Engram | Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Baer - assorted releases | Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix | Spill - Where You Aren't | The Decapitated Hed - Subversive Club Processes | Aluk Todolo - Finsternis | Diamatregon - Crossroad (2008) | Caldera Lakes - assorted releases (2008-9) | Sword Heaven - assorted releases | Enslaved by Owls - I & IV | Krisiun - Southern Storm | Talk Normal - Sugarland | Chaos*CM*Majik - Cry of the 12th Aethyr | Physical Demon - Pulse Maggot | Umberto - From the Grave... | Incapacitants - Tight & Burning Orange (2008-9) | Jed Hershon - The Nine Rings of Hell | Explosive Improvised Device - Kunlangeta (2010) | Josh Lay - True Mask | Infernal Stronghold - Godless Noise
To see other WFMU staffers' year-end lists, click here.