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Are these the 25 best horror films of the Aughts?

Are these the 25 best horror films of the Aughts? (photo)

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It’s the last week of October which means one thing: Halloween-related movie features! The fine folks at Slant Magazine posted a big’un yesterday, “The 25 Best Horror Films of the Aughts.” You’ve got to go to to their site to see the whole list, obviously, but here’s their Top 5.

1. “Pulse” (2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

2. “Inland Empire” (2006, David Lynch)

3. “Inside” (2007, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury)

4. “Audition” (2001, Takashi Miike)

5. “Martyrs” (2008, Pascal Laugier)

It’s a very interesting list with some very strong writing, a welcome and all-too-rare sight in this sort of article. I haven’t seen every movie that made the cut, including two in the top five (numbers five and three, if you’re curious), so I can’t knock all of Slant’s choices. And even if I had and therefore I could, this sort of thing is totally subjective. And, really, that’s what you want from this sort of list. You want to see what a site like Slant thinks are the best horror films of the aughts. Another site might (and probably would) have a very different list. Which is great. But you know there’s a but coming, right?

(Hold on, it’s coming.)

BUT!!! As a film nerd, I can’t resist the urge to gripe and nitpick. And why would you want me to? If all I had to say was “Boy, this is a perfect list, I can’t complain with anything, kudos to you and yours Slant!” this wouldn’t be much of a blog post, now would it?

Though I’m all for an expansive definition of horror — and I’m very glad Slant’s list has plenty of international representation — they may have cast too wide a net with their picks. Is “A History of Violence” (#20) a horror film? More like a mystery/thrillery to me. Is “Inland Empire” (#2) a horror film? Yeah, I guess, sort of. But despite “Inland Empire”‘s awesomeness as a film, is it really the second best pure, make-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-straight-up horror film of the last eleven years? Mrm, not so much. If you’re going to open up the genre that far, there’s other, better, scarier movies that also qualify. What about “Dogtooth?” Or “Snow Angels?” Or “I Saw the Devil?” Or, for that matter, a whole mess of amazing (and amazingly disturbing) Korean revenge movies?

There are some other quibbles I have that boil down to matters of taste. “28 Weeks Later” (#15) makes the cut but “28 Days Later” doesn’t? “Halloween II” (#6) makes the top ten ahead of Zombie’s own (and in my mind vastly superior film) “The Devil’s Rejects” (#9)? And there are plenty of deserving movies that didn’t make the cut. As a sort of counter-list, here’s what I consider five worst omissions:

5. “Slither” (2006, James Gunn)
One of the ooiest-gooiest horror movies of the Aughts, with an appropriately jaundiced view of small-town America and an amazingly emotive monster, played by the great character actor Michael Rooker. You will feel for him, you will be revolted by him.

4. “Paranormal Activity” (2007, Oren Peli)
Popular? Sure, but rightfully so. It’s found footage horror — a subgenre that’s glutted the horror market this decade — done perfectly. “Paranormal Activity” is a very scary movie and I suspect it’s one of the handful of movies from the Aughts that people are still going to be watching in the 2050s.

3. “Shaun of the Dead” (2004, Edgar Wright)
If Slant has room for horror comedies — and they obviously do, since they included Sam Raimi’s wonderful 2009 film “Drag Me to Hell” at #24 — then they should have found room for the single most iconic horror comedy of the last decade, Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead.” Legitimately funny, but even more legitimately scary in the late scenes where the gang is holed up in the pub surrounded by zombies.

2. “The Host” (2006, Bong Joon-ho)
Can’t figure out how this one slipped through this list. Slant’s (and occasionally our own) Nick Schager gave the film three and a half out of four stars when the movie opened back in 2006. I haven’t seen it in five years, so it’s not the freshest film in my mind but what’s stuck with me is the intensity of the connection Bong creates between the characters and the audience, and the way he milks that bond for white-knuckle suspense and scream-loosening scares. Maybe the guys in charge thought it was too sci-fi.

1. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006, Guillermo del Toro)
Weird that Slant went out of its way to credit del Toro for the success of their #25 film, “The Orphanage” — which is, don’t get me wrong, a reasonably spooky haunted house movie — and didn’t find a spot for del Toro’s millennial masterpiece of fantasy horror, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It’s a far more beautiful and far more unsettling representation of del Toro’s favorite themes.

What’s the best horror movie of the aughts? What great movie got left off Slant’s list? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.