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A Decade of Horrors
Image by KamuiX

By: Infini Staff & Contributors

Hard to believe another decade of horror films is coming to a close, but that’s exactly the point that we’re at right now. Most horror fans that grew up in the 80’s consider the decade to be pretty bad, and it’s hard to argue that point when looking at the gross amount of remakes that have saturated the genre as well as the dawning of “Torture Porn” as a mainstream attraction and the countless films that have spawned from it with little else to offer than gore and shocks. But we here at Infini-Tropolis don’t chalk the 00’s up as a total failure, and below you can find some of the site’s staff and contributors thoughts on what the top 10 horror films from the first decade of the new millennium were.

Click the images on the right to jump to a specific list!

KamuiX's Top 10

Going into this, I was certain it wouldn’t be super difficult to come up with 10 horror flicks, but I didn’t imagine I’d actually struggle over the decision on just which 10 to include. While wracking my brain, I realized the decade was a bit better than I had given it credit for, I just had to dig a bit deeper than the garbage that always seems to hog the spotlight. As always, shit floats. Films like Let the Right One In, [REC], The Decent, Uzumaki, The Machine Girl, Haze, The Orphanage, Kairo and a handful of others all deserve a shout-out for being awesome (I know, this is cheating, but I do a lot of heavy lifting for this place so I can indulge!), but there could be only ten, and at least they got bumped for the cream of the crop, in my humble (but generally rock solid!) opinion.

10. Strange Circus (2005)
Sion Sono, Japan

In a decade where there were basically no directors you could depend on to deliver consistently worthy horror flicks, Sion Sono is on an island by his lonesome. You’ll find another of his films later on my list, and he made a fantastic tongue-in-cheek spoof of how tired and redundant J-Horror has become in the form of EXTE: Hair Extensions as well, even if not everyone “got it” (although how anyone could take a film about killer hair extensions seriously is beyond me.) Strange Circus is arguably one of the most aptly titled films of the decade as well, as its carnivalesque, bizarre, and just downright mind-melting. Yep, just how I like ‘em.

09. Ginger Snaps (2000)
John Fawcett, Canada

I’m sure even the most hardened of horror fans will admit that a good werewolf film is hard to come by, so Ginger Snaps is pretty remarkable on two levels: it’s a damn good werewolf flick and it’s about two depressed gothic chicks yet it manages to dodge that angsty teen horror pitfall that pretty much any other film similar to it topples into. It’s so good that it really is a shame it’s become one of those badge-of-honor obsessions that gothic and emo Hot Topic kids have embraced, as that gives it a stigma that just shouldn’t be attached to it. If you’ve ignored it for that reason, I hope you look past it, as it deserves your attention.

08. Marebito (2004)
Takashi Shimizu, Japan

Ah, Takashi Shimizu…unlike Ginger Snaps, which is undeserving of being pigeonholed with that aforementioned taint, Shimizu has no one to blame but himself for the bad reputation he’s gotten of late. He only made basically the same film three times in a row, resting on his laurels and raking in the cash. I guess that’s smart in a way; when you’re good at something and people are willing to pay for it, why not cash in? But after seeing Marebito, it’s a real shame that he doesn’t direct more things like it. It shows just how talented he actually is, and that he has far more tools at his disposal than ghosts with black hair walking down steps like spiders. It’s a disturbing and disorienting experience, but then again that’s exactly why I was drawn to horror in the first place. It evokes a sense of dread that really is undeniable, even if it is a tough egg to crack.

07. The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont, USA

When it comes to Stephen King film adaptations, there’s no one better than Frank Darabont (as great a film as The Shining may be, it isn’t a great King adaptation), and his first foray into King’s horror material did not disappoint. There are a couple of very small hiccups, like some questionable CGI and Thomas Jane’s usual hokey delivery, but upon revisiting it, it’s a monster flick and it sort of works in the films favor if you get yourself in the right frame of mind (i.e., watch the black and white version). And then there’s the little fact that Darabont was able to take a story that was open-ended and create an ending that completely works and is utterly devastating, just like horror is supposed to be.

06. Gozu (2003)
Takashi Miike, Japan

It’s no secret that Takashi Miike can churn out some seriously screwed-up cinema. While his cult status may have dipped a bit in the last few years (although his films are still wacky and entertaining, just in a more mainstream way), he was still in his anarchist prime in 2003, and Gozu is truly the culmination of every ridiculous and insane aspect of his directorial arsenal jam-packed into one cranium-exploding experience. To be honest, if he hadn’t directed Izo the following year, I’d have said he totally blew his “I dare you to make sense of this” load with Gozu and he was spent for the foreseeable future. Cow heads, yakuza dogs, transvestites, and ladle usage you have to see to believe, Gozu may not exactly be terrifying, but it is a hell of a lot of horrific fun for those open to twisted, senses-shattering movies.

05. Session 9 (2001)
Brad Anderson, USA

By 2001 and over 10 years of horror obsession under my belt, there was very little left that gave me the creeps. So I must say it was surprising indeed when my first viewing of Session 9 seriously freaked me out, and I think it says even more that it still does after having seen it a handful of times. One of the most subtly creepy horror flicks not just of the decade but of all time, a film that’s more Silent Hill than the Silent Hill film. Its sad Brad Anderson has failed to recreate the magic, but we’ll always have this, the best abandoned hospital horror ever.

04. Suicide Circle (2001)
Sion Sono, Japan

The second Sion Sono film to appear on the list, and unquestionably his masterpiece, Suicide Circle is one of those rare horror films that reveals something new to you upon every viewing; if David Lynch ever directed a pure horror film (even though Eraserhead is pretty damn close), I’m pretty confident it would look a lot like this. Sono, unlike Miike who is arguably losing a bit of that “what will he do next?!” mystique, still has it going for him and is one of, if not the most intriguing director currently working in Japan.

03. Haute Tension (2003)
Alexandre Aja, France

Hate it all you want, for not delivering on the unbelievable hype before it was officially released in the US (I hate Lionsgate for dragging it out for so long) or the genre of hardcore French horror that it’s spawned, but as far as I’m concerned, Haute Tension is the only true cult horror sensation to emerge from the decade. It’s a film that will undoubtedly be remembered for years alongside all of the other horror films from decades past that are held in high regard and brought up on a consistent basis. I originally saw the film in December of 2003, without subtitles and before the hype (I’d like to think I helped with some of that hype), and it blew me away then and my affection for it hasn’t waned one bit. It’s the visceral shot in the arm horror needed at the time, and even though many have zeroed in on it as the catalyst for the type of horror film that’s so prevalent currently, you really shouldn’t shoot the messenger.

02. May (2002)
Lucky McKee, USA

While I was growing up, there was something magic about discovering a film based solely on a title or a VHS cover; one you just picked up on a whim and it was so awesome you got all your friends interested in it. It’s just neat to find a diamond in the rough with no previous knowledge of it, and with the internet these days, that’s pretty much impossible. And while the net may have been around in 2002, I wasn’t particularly active on message boards or many movies sites then, so May was an absolute shocker for me, something I picked up by sheer chance because the wrong film was in my Blockbuster rental case (what I was trying to rent I can’t remember, but I’m sure I lucked out in any case). It’s not your average horror flick, but that’s probably what makes it so damn appealing not only to me, but pretty much everyone I know that’s seen it. McKee is another guy, like Anderson and John Fawcett, who hasn’t lived up to his initial potential, but one great film to your name is way more than most can say, and May, dare I say, is not only great, but a modern classic.

01. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Ji-woon Kim, South Korea

It may have been hard to decide on which films I had to leave off of this list and which to include, but there was never any doubt which film would be at the top of my list. A Tale of Two Sisters would, unashamedly, be among my top 10 list of the best horror films ever…period. Just like with Session 9, by the time ATOTS came along, I had seen The Ring, Ju-On: The Curse, Kairo, and so on, and thought I had become immune to the type of scares Asian horror offered. But there are a number of scenes in the film that chill to the bone, especially a certain lurking ghost under a sink that still makes me want to close my eyes every time I see it, even if I know it’s about to happen. And then there’s the twist, which not only works, but enhances the film and makes you want to watch it again and again to unlock all of the clues and mysteries throughout. M. Night Shyamalan only wishes he could concoct something this good. If you haven’t seen this, you have no right to grab a pitchfork and join the rabble rousers that scream this decade of horror sucked.

Mr. Bishop's Top 10

This was a tough list to make up. This is the decade that just about made me swear off horror because most of it sucked. Well, most of it from my home country of the US-and-Fucking A. Remakes and cheap 'Torture Porn' flicks completely over saturated everything else. Most of all the decent horror was thankfully made over the pond and my list reflects it. These are the films I found myself watching over and over again.

10. Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
Takashi Shimizu, Japan

Sure it ended up being turned out more times than a 2 dollar whore, but the first time I saw this film I was seriously creeped out. When viewed in the right setting, which is a dark room with the surround completely cranked, this film is great.

09. The Signal (2007)
David Bruckner, Dan Bush & Jacob Gentry, USA

3 directors, 3 fairly different takes on the same story, 1 incredibly entertaining and hard-hitting film. Gore through the roof, laughs, great soundtrack, subtext...blah blah blah. Completely underrated film.

08. The Orphanage (2007)
Juan Antonio Bayona, Spain

Most of the films I got into this decade were more haunted house/ghost stories, and other than A Tale of Two Sisters, The Orphanage ranks up there as one of the most atmospheric and emotionally draining to come out. Sort of the reverse story of Peter Pan from the parents perspective, The Orphanage is an amazingly haunting piece of cinema.

07. Let the Right One In (2008)
Tomas Alfredson, Sweden

Sure it can be said that it isn't a horror film, but most of my favorite horror films don't necessarily stay strictly within the rules and tropes of the genre. The story pulls you in and doesn't let go. More than likely the only vampire movie in this pathetically overdone decade that didn't make me roll my eyes. This is one that will live on for a long time.

06. Wolf Creek (2005)
Greg Mclean, Australia

I know many won't agree with me, and I told myself I wouldn't put films on here that were remakes or overtly similar to other films, but I really liked this Aussie flick that hearkened back to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre's intensity on a smaller scale. One of the only films of the type that didn't completely ape the original.

05. May (2002)
Lucky McKee, USA

Lucky McKee's Martinesque retelling of Frankenstein with a timid female vet assistant as the doctor is so good that it makes me scratch my head as to why it is so vastly overlooked.

04. Session 9 (2001)
Brad Anderson, USA

If you're looking for a slow burn haunted house film, Session 9 delivers in spades. I love films that can make you feel so much without trying very hard. Session 9 will linger with you well past the end.

03. Martyrs (2008)
Pascal Laugier, France

The overwhelming winner of the French splattathon contest goes to this dark, mean spirited, and philosophically dense film about an abused woman seeking revenge. The first hour just about destroys any horror to come out this decade hands down, then it takes the viewer into a place that one could call pure nihilism but that would be understating it. Horror fans owe it to themselves to seek this one out.

02. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright, UK

Upon first viewing I wasn't really sold on this loving homage to George Romero, but upon subsequent viewings I fell in love with this film. It's funny, violent, and entertaining. The 80's had Evil Dead, 90's Brain Damage, the 00's has Shaun of the Dead as it's horror RomCom.

01. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Ji-woon Kim, South Korea

Of all the Asian horror to come out this decade, this was by far the best. Amazing cinematography along with a surreal sense of dread and logic culminated into one of the more memorable psychological horrors in a while. Some may not like the twist, but it definitely fits much better than some other films I know...namely a French one...

Mr. Bishop's Essentials

10. Embodiment of Evil (2008)
José Mojica Marins, Brazil

It’s not often that a cult filmmaker comes back from the dead to make a film that equals, or even surpasses the films they made their name with, but that’s exactly what director José Mojica Marins has managed to do here. You can’t really take Coffin Joe as a serious threat now that he’s in his 70s, but Marins is obviously having so much fun feeding girls their own asscheeks that you have fun watching him do it. The series has been modernised, and it is jarring to see Zé do Caixão in such a contemporary setting initially, but all the trademarks of Mojica’s work are left intact. It’s not perfect, but who goes to Mojica films expecting perfection? You watch a Marins movie to be bombarded with sexy women, sleaze, surrealism, and angry rants about society and religion, and that’s exactly what you get here. This is the kind of continuation that Mother of Tears should have been.

09. May (2002)
Lucky McKee, USA

In a decade rife with absolutely abysmal independent horror films May was the shining gem that we so desperately needed more of. Whilst the wannabe John Carpenters and George Romeros of the world were off producing mind numbingly shitty slasher and zombie films, Lucky Mckee went and did the remarkable... he created a horror film that was driven by its story.

08. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi, USA

Whilst half of the horror community was sat at their PC’s whining about PG-13 ratings the other half were off enjoying the best rollercoaster horror movie of the decade. Sam Raimi broke up the monotony of tryhard R-rated horror films and made a movie that the audience could laugh along with.

07. The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont, USA

A good solid creature feature in which Darabont’s love for older horror shines through without ever becoming too nostalgic. It falters in places due to often contrived character confrontations but it never lessens the fun.

06. Planet Terror (2007)
Robert Rodriguez, USA

Planet Terror is impressive to me as it was the first film to completely sell me on the idea of shooting on digital. It wasn’t the fake scratches or the gate weaving that impressed me, but the way the colors looked, the way light reacted and how through filters Rodriguez made digital every bit as viable a medium as film . Nerd awe aside, the film is just straight-up fun. It’s not at all representative of 70's exploitation but this film was never supposed to be, it was Tarantino’s constant blabbering about Death Proof that set up that expectation. It’s a love letter to the 80's action film and zombie movies, and at that it’s completely successful.

05. The Black Cat (2007)
Stuart Gordon, USA

Some may claim that I’m cheating by including a short film in my list, but it’s partly due to the length that this film works. Successfully channelling Roger Corman, Stuart Gordon delivers his best film since From Beyond. Jefferey Combs is great as Poe, and for an hour or so you can pretend that gothic horror was never killed off in favour of the awful slasher formula that trashes up 95% of horror these days.

04. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright, UK

The only reason Shaun of the Dead is not number one on my list is that it places emphasis on its comedy more than the horror.

03. Three...Extremes (2004)
Takashi Miike, Fruit Chan & Chan-wook Park; Japan, Hong Kong & South Korea

Three doses of weirdness from three masters of the extreme. Three...Extremes is one of the few anthology films that maintains a solid standard of quality in each story.

02. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Tim Burton, USA

Unfairly ravaged by horror ‘critics’ fearing that liking a musical would damage their brootalz web cred, Sweeney Todd was a brilliant horror film in the tradition of grand guignol. The film demonstrates Tim Burton as a real master of gothic horror, it’s just a shame he’s not willing to get his hands dirty with darker films like this more often.

01. Let the Right One In (2008)
Tomas Alfredson, Sweden

I’m sure that whatever I want to say about this movie has been said by one of the others already, so I’ll just say that this is the film that Thirst should have been. It’s interesting that it took a non-horror filmmaker to create the best horror film of the decade.

Ferg's Essentials

10. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi, USA

A hilariously gruesome return to form from the king of nutty horror flicks. Filled with excellent performances, from Alison Lohman and Justin Long especially, Raimi crafted something scary, gross, suspensful and ultimately something that's a blast to watch.

09. American Psycho (2000)
Mary Harron, USA

The role of Patrick Bateman was not an easy one for any actor to take on, but Christian Bale takes it and just fucking runs. He's superb as the materialistic, psychopath/wealthy, boy next door business man. Since it's release, it's often been imitated, but never matched. It's quick witted, intense, violent and awkwardly hilarious. A must see!

08. Let the Right One In (2008)
Tomas Alfredson, Sweden

A film that I think will be on everyone's list, Let The Right One In is a masterpiece in modern filmmaking. Told in the perspective of a troubled young boy who befriends a vampire, Tomas Alfredson's chiller is really evocative stuff. Dealing with issue's like abuse, isolation, love and friendship, Let The Right One In is an exceptional example of genre cinema.

07. Slither (2006)
James Gunn, Canada

This one is just a riot from beginning to end. James Gunn's (scribe of Tromeo & Juliet) directorial debut, Slither is fast, furious and gloriously disgusting. It has the excellent Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker, as well as a hilarious turn from Gregg Henry as a loud-mouth, hick politician. If you're a fan of Troma's style, you should have seen this by now!

06. Eden Lake (2008)
James Watkins, UK

I hadn't heard much about Eden Lake before I watched it, but needless to say I was blown away. Director James Watkins' film centers on a young couple being harrassed by an increasingly violent group of youths. What struck me most about the film is its bleak tone. Eden Lake packs a vicious punch and offers no relief throughout the entire running time. If you like your horror straight-edged with a real sense of dread, then this is for you.

05. Grindhouse (2007)
Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, USA

If you were one of the lucky few that caught this in one piece in theatres, then you know what I'm talking about. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino brought exploitation back with a fucking vengeance, slapping together two violent, sexy and sleaze-filled flicks for the big screen. An unfortunate bomb at the box-office, Grindhouse has been split in two and will more than likely never see the light of day on Region 1 or 2 DVD/Blu-Ray, but the seperated films are available everywhere.

04. 1408 (2007)
Mikael Håfström, USA

Now this is a film that I can't imagine being on many other lists, but hear me out. Based on a short story by legendary horror novelist Stephen King, 1408 tells the story of a troubled writer whose only goal is to debunk the supernatural, having lost his faith many years previous. John Cusack (High Fidelity, 2012) turns in a career performance and Mikael Håfström directs with style and flair. Combined, what we get is an unsettling ghost story, with some genuine frights and great visuals. It also has to be noted that Samuel L. Jackson's five minute cameo is a real show stealer.

03. Hostel (2005)
Eli Roth, USA

Now, I know Eli Roth's second film doesn't exactly have that many fans, but for me, it's just a great example of American horror cinema. Ripe with extreme atmosphere and content, Hostel is a pleasure to watch if you're a horror fan. With enough sex and violence for 5 movies, mainstream America had never been exposed to this kind of brutality before, thus making a big splash upon it's initial release. Now that all the hype/hate for the movie has died down, if you haven't caught this yet, I recommend doing so.

02. The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont, USA

One of the best films I've ever seen, out of any genre! I truly loved this awesome, modern creature feature. Offering up bloody, nasty scenes with some great EFX work and one of cinema's craziest bitches, The Mist is another great example of American horror. Some people say Frank Darabont's best film is The Shawshank Redemption, but i've got to say, The Mist is ten times the better film.

01. Thirst (2009)
Chan-wook Park, South Korea

While Thirst joined the ranks of one of 2009's many vampire movies, it is a different beast altogether. Chan-wook Park's first venture into horror cinema is a mindblowingly beautiful tale of morality, sex, lust and violence. My own personal film of the year, I can't recommend this movie enough. Also, if you're a fan of Ho-song Kang (The Host, The Good, The Bad, The Weird), definitely catch this, as it's possibly his best performance yet.

Please feel free to post your own "Best of the Decade" lists (horror or otherwise) here, in our forums!

KamuiX's Top 10
Mr. Bishop's Top 10
Sergei Kowalski's Top 10
Ferg's Top 10

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