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Special Post: Top 10 Horror Movies of 2013


I know I say this every year, but this was a great year for horror.  James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence) returned with another classic, as did Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy I & II, Mimic), and the Irish left their mark with three films on this list.  Remakes/re-imagings are still a fad and this year produced a few good ones, but I had no idea that 2013 would be as great as it was, forcing me to expand the number of honorable mentions.  So here you have it, the top 10 horror movies of 2013, and 10 honorable mentions.

10. V/H/S2

– Horror anthologies have been revived thanks to today’s up and coming directors taking part in V/H/S and The ABCs of Death, and the films continue to improve with V/H/S2. Containing some of the most horrific footage to hit the genre in 2013, namely Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans’ segment “Safe Haven”, this effort improves on its predecessor and gives us 5 solid tales for the viewer to enjoy. Ranging from experimental medical procedures to alien abductions, with a side of zombies and Satanic “cults”, V/H/S2 will leave you smiling.  Read my full review for this film here: V/H/S2

9. Maniac

– Along with Evil Dead, Maniac was the “other” overly-hyped horror re-imaging hitting the genre, and much like Evil Dead this was a damn good experience worthy of the wait. From the filmmakers behind High Tension, Maniac brings an intense psycho-sexual story to life with crafty cinematography that gives us a literal front-row view of the insanity and the gory kills that come with it. Elijah Wood gives us a character I never thought I’d see him portray, and he does it so well it’s as if he is portraying his true self.  Read my full review for this film here: Maniac

8. Evil Dead

Evil Dead was supposed to be THE remake of the year, and then we learned first-hand that it is not a remake but in fact a sequel to one of the genre’s most terrifying stories. Using gore as its forte, Fede Alvarez’s debut effort literally leaves the ground soaked in blood and unlike most wide release horror films these days, the gore live action and very little CGI is used. This film is hard to watch at times, and I mean that in the best way possible.  Read my full review for this film here:  Evil Dead

7. The Battery

– This is the film that left viewers in awe. Filmed on $6,000, The Battery gives us one of the greatest film experiences of the year, regardless of genre, and offers so much more than the usual zombie effort. Focusing heavily on the dynamic contrast between its two main protagonists, we are given a character-study that follows two former baseball players and their quest for survival in a post-apocalyptic New England countryside. From great laughs to utter despair, The Battery has it all and does not forget it is a zombie film either.  Read my full review for this film here:  The Battery

6. John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End (what an awesome title) is another one of the year’s most hyped films because it marked famed horror director Don Coscarelli’s return after this awesome Bubba Ho-tep. Adapted from Jason Pargin’s novel (under the pseudonym David Wong) of the same name, this story gives us a cleverly zany experience heavy in good laughs and awesome horror. You really need to pay attention with this flick, and that is usually a good thing.  Read my full review for this film here:  John Dies at the End

5. The World’s End

– If there is a “cool” film on this list, it has to be the climax to Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End. At its core the film is about reliving good times with old friends, but by the end credits you will be left with so much more than that. Coming off as Beerfest meets “The Twilight Zone” with a hint of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The World’s End is definitely one of the most fun horror films on this list. With superb writing and expert direction, The World’s End blows away another apocalyptic horror/comedy from a comedic group, This Is the End.  Read my full review for this film here:  The World’s End

4. Stitches

– No matter the year, decade, or even millennium, killer clowns will always be scary and always have a home in the horror genre. Stitches is not only one of the best horror films of the year but one of the best killer clown films of all time. Heavy in hilariously gory kills that come from a truly creepy clown, this revenge tale brought the seldom-used horror sub-genre back to light.  Read my full review for this film here:  Stitches

3. You’re Next

– As far as the horror genre goes You’re Next was 2013’s most hyped flick. After amazing responses from festival showings, Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, V/H/S, V/H/S2, The ABCs of Death)’s sophomore effort was foolishly placed on the shelf and denied to wide audiences for two years. Giving us an expertly executed slasher experience where the killers don cheap and utterly creepy animal masks, the horror provided made for a film very much worth the hype. An independent and fairly low budget experience from an up-and-coming (at the time) director, You’re Next is a film the genre needed to succeed, and it did.  Read my full review for this film here:  You’re Next

2. Pacific Rim

– Famed horror director Guillermo del Toro returns to the genre to give us the most colossal horror film of the year with Pacific Rim. Pitting giant monsters against mankind’s last hope, equally giant robots controlled by a human source, this idea (loosely based on the Japanese Manga) gives us one of the coolest films of the year regardless of genre. While not heavy in scares, the action is expertly executed and the look of the creatures is so horrifying that only a monster guru like del Toro could dream them up. This is not the best horror film of the year, but it is my personal favorite for 2013.  Read my full review for this film here:  Pacific Rim

1. The Conjuring

– After giving us one of the best films of 2011 with Insidious, James Wan secured himself as a modern day horror legend with the best horror film of 2013, The Conjuring. This time James Wan directs a highly engaging story based on the true events surrounding one of the most haunting paranormal investigations in US history. The story is moving, exhilarating, scary, and James Wan executes it to perfection. His atmosphere is fantastic, the scares jolt the viewer, and…there’s Annabelle…  Read my full review for this film here:  The Conjuring

Honorable Mentions

(close but not good enough)

Byzantium

– After almost 20 years away from the genre, Neil Jordan returns with another take on the vampire sub-genre with Byzantium. Equal parts drama, fantasy, and horror, this is a story-driven piece that also comes with the expert direction you should expect from Jordan. While this is much more than the usual vampire film the horror is still very much prevalent and makes for maybe the best vampire flick since Let The Right One In / Let Me In.  Read my full review for this film here:  Byzantium

American Mary

American Mary holds a special place in my heart because it stars my longtime crush Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, Freddy vs. Jason). Medicine and horror have a long history together, and this awesome story from the Soska sisters blends medicne and body modification in the most awesome way possible: horror. The Soska sisters (Dead Hooker in a Trunk) make great improvements as directors and this is one of those films that would have made the top 10 had this not been such a competitive year.  Read my full review for this film here:  American Mary

Under the Bed

Under the Bed is a film I waited anxiously to see after really enjoying Stephen C. Miller’s The Aggression Scale. Much like The Gate and Joe Dante’s The Hole, Under the Bed brings back that childhood fear of being scared of what we consider to be “childish” things. We have all been told not to fear monsters under the bed, and Miller brings that statement to life in such awesome fashion.  Read my full review for this film here:  Under the Bed

Game of Werewolves

– I never thought I’d say this but Game of Werewolves is the lone Spanish film on this year’s list. For a while Spain had a stronghold on the genre, but thankfully they are still putting out quality material. Werewolf flicks are one of the oldest sub-genres but somehow director Juan Martinez Moreno found a way to deliver a fresh experience that is equally horrific as it is hilarious.  Read my full review for this film here:  Game of Werewolves

Here Comes the Devil

– I liked Here Comes the Devil, but this was definitely the most over-hyped horror film of 2013. It does an OK job of giving us a pseudo 70s psychological horror feel, but its story keeps it from greatness. While the overall story is a terrifying one, pacing and plot hole faults held back an otherwise great horror experience from one of the genre’s constantly improving directors, Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Penumbra, Cold Sweat).  Read my full review for this film here:  Here Comes the Devil

Grabbers

– Boy was this a year for the Irish! Grabbers is one of three Irish films to make this year’s list and this flick does so by mixing good horror with every major Irish stereotype…especially drunkenness. When a small coastal town is attacked by a giant squid-like alien race, the surviving townsfolk must use whatever makeshift weapons they can to fight off the invasion, only to realize that alcohol is truly their strongest ally. Of the three Irish flicks on the list this was the most “fun”.  Read my full review for this film here:  Grabbers

Citadel

Citadel is the third Irish film to make the list and it is the most gut-wrenching as well. Writer/director Ciaran Foy gives us a dark tale that is as much about overcoming weakness as it is about what hides in the dark. This story and its excellent execution ensure that the viewer feels the same daunting pain as the film’s lead, and when we see what hides in the dark we are left maybe the scariest Irish horror film since The Eclipse.  Read my full review for this film here:  Citadel

Bad Milo

– The first time I read the storyline to Bad Milo all I could think of was Basket Case, and sure enough this film about a man with an evil demon living in his anus is very much like the 1980 Frank Henenlotter cult classic. The genre needed a film like this and it is sure to please those who enjoy zany stories heavy in brutal kills and good laughs, plus stars Ken Marino and Peter Stormare work very well together.  Read my full review for this film here:  Bad Milo

Father’s Day

– It has been a long time since a Troma produced film has made one of my top 10 lists – the last was 2006’s Poultrygeist – and Father’s Day is definitely worthy of inclusion. Following a serial rapist who only rapes fathers, this story is as outlandish as you can expect…but you know the zaniness does not stop there. With full-frontal gratuitous kills thanks to in your face direction, Father’s Day is a film you will never forget. Period.  Read my full review for this film here:  Father’s Day

Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio was nowhere near as good as I expected / wanted it to be, but it did something no other film has done before in the genre: give us a inside view of the sound engineering for a giallo film. Giallo flicks were in their glory days in from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, and fans of these films will surely enjoy what this film set out to accomplish. Expertly directed, this story gives us a perspective that envelops the viewer into the ever-important emphasis of one of horror’s most important elements: sound.  Read my full review for this film here:  Berberian Sound Studio

Check Out My Other Top 10 Horror Lists

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 1980

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 1981

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 2005

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 2006

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 2007

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 2008

– Top 10 Horror Movies of 2009

Top 10 Horror Movies of 2010

Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011

Thank you for reading.

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  1. February 21, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Thank you soooooo much for the great review of 2013. Reminded how versatile and high quality this year was. Bummer I couldn’t enjoy Evil dead as much as others (somehow didn’t click w/ me) but You’re Next, VHS2, Maniac and Stitches alone made for a great year; add Sharknado on the Big Screen (fantastic location in Berlin, my 1st Asylum movie in a Cinema)
    and my personal horror year too was a good to awesome one.

    Rock on and one more thanks for the reviews (all of them)

    • March 3, 2014 at 12:39 am

      Sharknado on the big screen? That is incredible! Haha I wish I could experience that. Honestly I was not too big on the Evil Dead film this past year and feel it is far from the quality of the first three, but as far as horror goes it had plenty of it. I really want to see The Sacrament, Ti West’s upcoming film. Hopefully 2014 gives us plenty to enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading and especially for your input Traeghy.

  2. March 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Hi John (Of The Dead), I wasn’t sure where best to do this, but I’m presuming you get updates when someone comments so this seemed as sensible a place to say this as any.

    Have you seen the film “Escape” (known in Norway as “Flukt”)? It’s from the director of “Cold Prey” and it’s absolutely amazing. I really think you should check it out.

    • March 12, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      WOW. I just looked it up and the film looks really good. I’m not sure how I can find it at the moment but I will start looking.

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