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Joel's Top Ten (Mostly) Horror Releases of 2012

Written by Joel Harley

It's that time of year again, where I struggle to remember everything I watched in 2012. Were this not a list of horror movies, I would have just had Avengers Assemble ten times. Not The Dark Knight Rises though. That disappointing movie made this Batfan die a little bit inside. Also not included: Cabin in the Woods (which I found to be massively overrated) or Sinister (disappointing). Apart from that though, 2012 was a good year for movies. I know, I lost you at “Cabin in the Woods is massively overrated”, didn't I?


Fetish Dolls Die Laughing

The obligatory 'ironic' entry. However, I really did enjoy David Silvio's Fetish Dolls Die Laughing far more than any of the movies I excluded. It's certainly the Straight to DVD horror film I remember most vividly. It's about a serial killer who kidnaps women and then tickles them on the feet until they die. It's like one of those stupid tickle fetish videos you can find on YouTube (not that I would know anything about that), dragged out to feature length and with some death scenes included. In the days of Human Centipedes and Donkey Punching, it's only fair that the humble tickle fetish should have its moment to shine.

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The Dark Knight Returns (Part 1)

The best Batman film of 2012. Granted, it's not properly horror, but  superhero comics don't come much darker than Frank Miller's classic graphic novel (unless you count anything by Alan Moore and all that rape). This animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns gives you the first half of the book, with Batman investigating the return of Two-Face and fighting the teenage Mutant (not Ninja Turtle) army which plagues the city. It tells a similar sort of story to Christopher Nolan's trilogy topper, but does so properly, with logic, consistency and good storytelling. Kevin Conroy remains king of the Batmen, but one-time Robocop Peter Weller does a good job as the crusty retired vigilante. The film's “operating table” line sent genuine shivers down my spine.    



Ridley Scott's sort-of Alien prequel divided audiences upon its release, but I found it to be a solid sci-fi thriller. The story is interesting, the actors brilliant (particularly Fassbender, obviously) and the link to the Alien saga understated but nicely done. If nothing else, it's the most visually arresting movie of the year. Unless you really like soap operas, in which case The Hobbit in 48fps should be right up your street.

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Piranha 3DD

One of very few exceptions to my “I hate 3D” rule. If you're going to make me sit in a cinema with stupid glasses on my already quite stupid face, you had better put something on the screen that I actually want to see in 3D. Like boobs. And Gary Busey. And vomit. And dismembered uh, members. David Hasselhoff rounds (h)off an already entertaining cast, gamely sending up his screen persona while all sorts of fishy carnage ensues around him.

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The Grey

After his plane crashes in the wildernesses of Alaska, Liam Neeson duct tapes vodka bottles to his hands and punches wolves. The much-vaunted wolf punching incident is actually a very small part of The Grey, which undercuts its survivalist Bear Grylls shtick with a streak of existentialism and deep male misery. True story: the film is given its name by Liam Neeson's impressive face fuzz.



Wrong Turn
fanatic that I am, this place was reserved for the fifth entry in that series. But then along came Inbred – the best backwoods Hillbilly horror of the year. The premise is familiar but the execution is quite wonderful. Gory, stupid and a lot of fun, it's the most enjoyable cannibal horror of the year. And it stars cuddly vet Paddy from Emmerdale as a chainsaw wielding psychopath. Lovely.



TV comedian and panel show botherer Ross Noble is a murderous dead clown in this odd Irish cross between IT, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Inbetweeners. The intriguing casting aside, Stitches is a genuinely exciting comedy slasher film. It's crude, lewd and very violent, dispatching its unpleasant kids in a number of increasingly cruel ways. Crucially, it's also very funny, with Noble on top form as Stitches. The most enjoyable slasher movie in years.


Iron Sky

Nazis on the Moon. It's a movie designed to appeal to Dads everywhere. Mine loved it, and so did I. PC it is not, but if you want to see a movie about modern day Nazis wreaking havok upon the world and helping President Sarah Palin run her campaign, you can't go far wrong. Iron Sky is funny, sexy, exciting and more than a little kinky. Best of all, you can sense genuine passion behind the lens. The blockbuster makers of today could do well to take note.

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Weird West Midlanders (my kind of people) take a terrifying and hilarious caravan holiday in Ben Wheatley's follow up to the even weirder Kill List. It's like Natural Born Killers crossed with Little Britain. Despite some stiff competition (I really did find Stitches to be that bloody funny) Sightseers emerges as the funniest comedy of the year. In a year when the song seemed to be everywhere, it also happens to make the most evocative use of 'The Power of Love'. John Lewis and their stupid snowmen be damned, I haven't been so heartbroken by a piece of music in a story since the Jurassic Bark episode of Futurama.


Dredd 3D

The greatest comic book movie that no-one bothered to see. The Dark Knight may have been Rising and the Avengers Assembling, but it was Judge Joe Dredd's return to the big screen which I anticipated the most. It was botched by bad marketing and a non-existent 2D release, but Dredd did not disappoint one bit. Karl Urban is perfectly cast as the Lawman of the Future, Olivia Thirlby a little bit adorable as Judge Anderson. It's a no-holds barred 80s action movie throwback that deserved to be seen by a lot more people than those who actually did. The Raid (also excellent, but not starring Judge Dredd) may have beaten Dredd to the punch, but I adored this movie. Stallone who?


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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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