Were there any recent, stand-out horror or sci-fi movies? I think there were, but let's extend "recent" a ways back. More like "in recent memory", okay? Widens the field a bit. I'm only going to speak in general terms; you won't find spoilers here.
30 Days of Night is a terrific addition to the classic vampire genre (as opposed to the insipid kids-flying-in-the-sky genre of "vampire" movies). I love the setting of an isolated Alaskan town that, as the movie opens, is about to fall into a long night that will last 30 days -- and a tribe of vampires is waiting for darkess to fall so they can storm the town and eat everyone. Claustrophobic "pure" settings like this thrill me. It's so black and white, good and evil, snow and darkness. And the premise is marvelously oppressive. The characters will be trapped for a month in the dark with these monsters. The movie is stylish, unlike anything I've ever seen. And if you haven't seen the way these vampires move, you're in for a treat. They're so disgusting.
I loved this movie. It takes a great turn at the end, doing something fresh and new with the traditional vampire idea. The savagery, speed, look and sound of the vampires is startling. It is a whole new thing. Yes, the movie nods to tradition but in many ways it moves the genre forward. Fair warning: if you can't watch brutality, skip this one.
I see this one got a 5.1 out of 10 rating at rottentomatoes. You know how it works: if the public doesn't like it, it's probably great. And in this case, it is.
Next up: Solaris. I know it's been a while; the movie came out in 2002. But this was the best sci-fi movie since Alien, though in a very different way. There are no monsters in Solaris -- at least, no obvious monsters. I've watched my DVD of this movie about seven or eight times, and each time I see something new. It's so nuanced, so . . . magical. What a marvelous idea.
Not only is this remake of the movie incredibly gorgeous to look at and accompanied by a cosmic soundtrack, it also stars two of the nicest-looking humans who ever lived: George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. You can't take your eyes off them and they do a hell of an acting job. The movie is very much a sci-fi but it's also, and essentially, a love story. And the ending is so hopeful. It literally presents a new form of existence.
The public only gave this excellent movie a 6.5 out of 10 -- so you know it's good. It's like the NY Times Book Review: if they say it's good, toss your copy out the window. But if they hate it, you may have a great book in your hands.
Lastly, Donny Darko, which is neither a horror nor a sci-fi movie, is one of my favorite movies of all time. And waddaya know -- the folks at the Big Tomater finally like one of my picks! Sort of. They didn't actually recognize the movie's greatness (phew!) -- they gave it a 7.5 out of 10 -- but at least they didn't love it, which would have been the kiss of death.
If you've seen the movie, and I'll bet you have, you know it's almost indescribable. It is a strange brew of schizophrenia, visions, time distortions, fear, hope, shock and death. Drew Barrymore did a stellar job directing the movie, melding those disparate qualities with a simple story about youth and its dealings with the wall of stupidity that we call adults. It's a thinkers' movie with thrills, and it's also endearing.
That's my three movies for today. What horror or sci-fi movies did you love?