Black Death

It seems like every year I find myself disappointed in the horror offerings of the preceding twelve months. Especially if you think of widely released theatrical flicks, few of which ever make the lists. If it weren’t for DVDs and VODs, I don’t even know if I could in good conscience pretend that 10 (or 11) horror films were good. That said, I did manage to find some enjoyment in theaters and at home this year, but it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. In a good year, it’ll be hard to eliminate films from the list, but when it comes to horror most years, its scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a full list. Quickly, in terms of eligibility, I write my lists a little differently than many others – for me, a film has to be widely available in this year, either in theaters or DVD or VOD. So films that only show at festivals generally aren’t eligible for my lists until they’re released on DVD. For example, Ti West’s The Innkeepers has made several lists, but it’s not widely available until 12/30 so most people won’t see it until 2012, so that’s that.

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The Holiday Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray

Merry Christmas movie/TV/goat-cheese lovers! As part of our week-long gift guide extravaganza thingamajig we’ve put together a list of Blu-rays, DVD and a few other ideas for you to use when shopping for others or for putting on your own Christmas list. Or both. Some of the films below are from years past, but they all hit Blu-ray and/or DVD this year so they totally count for this gift guide. Click on the links to be magically transported to Amazon, AmazonUK and other places where lovely things can be found.

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s been a long time since the world has held gaze upon This Week in Blu-ray, that much is true. But it’s back for a Saturday run in a big way — tons of Blu-rays, many of which are worth a rent or better, and a guest appearance by Rob Hunter. Since we’ve been away for the last two weeks, I’m including a few of the notable releases from both weeks. So prepare yourself (and your wallet) for an onslaught of awesome. Get through it this week, as next week appears to be just as good. And that’s where we’ll meet again, but on Tuesday this time. I Saw the Devil A South Korean government agent (Lee Byung-hun) is devastated when his fiance is murdered and dismembered by a madman (Choi Min-sik), but after a brief mourning period he sets out for a twisted and very unorthodox revenge. As in he catches the killer, hurts him severely, then lets him go… only to repeat the cycle over and over again. It’s a brutal game that sees the supposed hero bypass catharsis in favor of the dangerously unthinkable. Director Kim Jee-woon’s latest is easily the darkest, saddest, and most violent of his career but still every bit as fantastic as The Good the Bad the Weird and A Tale Of Two Sisters. Scenes of heart-pumping thrills exist side by side with stretches of excruciating dread. Magnet’s Blu-ray offers a crisp and beautiful transfer as well as an audio track that does […]

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This Week in DVD

This week doesn’t feature much in the way of high profile releases, but there are two genre titles hitting shelves that are worth a blind buy for fans of quality international cinema. And violence. Lots and lots of fantastically gruesome and bloody violence. One’s even in English for those of you unwilling (or unable) to read. I Saw the Devil and Black Death may be the best titles hitting shelves today, but they’re not alone. Other new releases include Blue Valentine, No Strings Attached, Dahmer vs Gacy, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Black Death The black plague works its way across Europe, but when word comes of a village that has rescinded God’s favors and is free of death the bishop sends his best men to bring back the lead heretic for punishment. Sean Bean heads up the mission and recruits a young monk to help guide their way, and the group is soon waist-deep in mystery, madness, and dead bodies. Director Christopher Smith has delivered a dark exploration of faith, both what it means to retain it as well as what it takes to let it go. The action is a well-choreographed mix of metal on metal when it’s not slicing its way through flesh, and the ending packs a solid punch as well.

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There are no morally sound characters in Black Death, Christopher Smith‘s followup film to Triangle. Nearly every character is a pure bastard. No one in this universe, which is a solid mix of a genre filmmaking and period piece, could be deemed a good person. Oddly enough, though, the most charming character is who some will claim to be the villain: Carice Van Houten‘s charming and intimidating witch. The British director is interested in playing in gray areas and raising questions. If you have seen Triangle, then you should know by now Smith isn’t all about the answers. Black Death may not end on the complete mind-boggling question mark that Triangle does, which Smith himself jokes about, but there are definitely some open ends to be discussed. Here’s what director Christopher Smith had to say about his atmospheric horror film:

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The Reject Report

That’s right. It’s a battle in here sometimes. Two or three or maybe even four films enter. One film leaves. Which film is it going to be this weekend? The science fiction endorsement for the Marines? The Twilight-esque take on a werewolf classic? The Disney computer animated film from the guy who directed 2002’s The Time Machine. Hint: it’s not gonna be that last one. They’re all in here, and they’ve taken their corners. It’s time to see who’s going to knock some aliens out of the sky and who’s going to be wearing a hood of shame.

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Coroner

After a pretty dismal 2010 in terms of horror films, I decided to look into my crystal ball and peer into the future. By the future I mean 2011. While gazing deep into my crystal ball laptop monitor, I feel fairly confidant that 2011 will be approximately 78% better in terms of horror than the previous year. Why do I feel more confident in this year’s horror slate? Because in trying to find just 11 titles to bring attention to, I had to whittle it down from sixteen. Why not give you all sixteen? Because it’s 20-eleven, not 20-sixteen, duh. Anyway, here are the 11 horror films to keep on your radar this year.

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Black Death has flown under the radar much in the same way the original bubonic plague didn’t. The coming of this trailer was not heralded by clouds of ash descending onto towns like snow, or the nightmarish ululations of disease-blind peasants crawling toward your pant leg. But it arrived nonetheless. The Dark Age action drama stars Sean Bean as the leader of a group of fighters investigating why one village has been unharmed by the tiny thing killing whole populations. They venture out to fight back the demons causing the destruction. The synopsis hints at something supernatural, but the trailer doesn’t. It is stark, hopeless, and meant for mature audiences:

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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