Best Genre Films of 2011: Part 1

By: Heather Seebach

2011 brought a variety of interesting genre films - from horror to thriller to sci-fi. Some were fantastic, others were pretty good, and a few are downright bizarre. I have put together my favorite genre films from the past year and ranked them. Below is part one - numbers 20 through 16. A longer list than usual for me but I really want to highlight a large variety of films. And since I have been slacking on critic duties, consider these mini-reviews. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and tell me your favorites! 

20. Machete Maidens Unleashed 

The follow-up to Mark Hartley’s Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood, this doc covers the surge of Filipino-made grindhouse films in the 1960s and 70s. Some of these films starred present-day genre legends like Sid Haig and Pam Grier, who appear in Machete Maidens for interviews along with many others. This fun doc explores the crazy world of ass-kicking women prisoners, amputee martial arts, and the 2’9 action star, Weng Weng. It does not quite live up to its Aussie predecessor but it is guaranteed fun for any fan of grindhouse cinema. 

19. Rubber

This is one of the more debatable films on this list. It truly falls into the love-it-or-hate-it category. In this bizarre horror film, a car tire goes on a killing spree. How, you ask? It can telekinetically make heads combust - duh. Meanwhile, a group of people watches the tire’s rampage from afar in the desert as the spectacle unfolds like a movie to them. The fourth wall is repeatedly broken as the main character, a sheriff, addresses the audience. Rubber can be a tedious watch for some – it is a B-movie made in a high-brow way. It’s not as clever as it thinks it is but for the open-minded, the film can be quirky fun.

18. The Thing

This is easily the most widely-loathed film on this list. 99% of horror fans I know hated it. I am in the rare minority who enjoyed it and defends it still. As a HUGE fan of John Carpenter’s film and Rob Bottin’s work, I had every reason to hate this prequel (yes, it’s a prequel, folks). But it satisfied what I wanted - to see what happened to the Norwegians. Much detail was put into the film, and I only found one inconsistency between the 1982 film and this one. Everything right down to the ax is explained, which showed a lot of love for Carpenter’s film. And while there are CG enhancements, there are still practical FX (c/o the legendary Tom Woodruff Jr). Unfortunately, Bottin retired and nobody can do what he did – 100% practical creatures are rare anymore, especially ones this complex and shifting. This is a film by Thing fans for Thing fans – so long as they can unbunch their panties long enough to give it a fair chance. 

17. Contagion

Here is one of the scariest horror films of the year because it is uncomfortably realistic and holds a mirror up to us. Pandemics are certainly not a thing of fiction. From the Bubonic plague to swine flu, they have devastated human populations in the past. Contagion shows what may be the deadliest outbreak yet, and how easily it can be unleashed on the world. The implications of this film are terrifying and far more likely to happen in our lifetimes than an ax murderer or zombies. The film also boasts a stellar cast and Steven Soderbergh’s fine directing skills. 

16. Kill List

This one is slow to build at first but the performances are good and the mysteries intriguing. It begins with a strained marriage between a killer-for-hire and his wife. After a botched hit eight months ago, he has been unemployed. But then a new job arrives and he receives the list of targets. Each person he visits brings new mysteries that suggest his involvement was no coincidence. The final act takes a turn familiar to a classic horror film – I won’t say which, so not to spoil it, but you will know it when you get there. Just don’t expect this film to answer more questions than it asks. The ending can be loved or hated, but its ambiguity will definitely leave you thinking (or arguing with the nearest friend).

Bookmark and Share
Like the post? Share with your friends!

Also find us here: