2013 has been an interesting year for films.
Creatures Features became a social media phenomenon thanks to The Asylum’s Sharknado which became a major talking point following it’s SyFy Channel première. Sharks were very popular this year as we also saw the release of Avalanche Sharks, Ghost Shark and Sharkzilla whilst Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark was pushed back to 2014. Announcements for 2014 included Sharknado getting a sequel entitled The Second One, Sharktopus getting two vs sequels and a crossover of the Lake Placid and Anaconda franchises!
Meanwhile the two parent genres of Creature Features, Sci Fi and Horror, equally performed far above expectations. The ‘Avengers Effect’ was finally proved as the box office gross for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World sky-rocketed from their last respective outings whilst James Wan hit a one-two punch with the super profitable Insidious: Chapter Two and mega hit The Conjuring.
But enough of that, on to my Best of 2013…
|THE FORGOTTEN REVIEW|
|Pegasus vs Chimera|
|Okay, so technically this one was released in 2012 but there is no other opportunity that I would get to talk about it so I’m going to include it here…
Maybe it’s the fact that I love Greek Mythology. Maybe it’s the fact that I had no idea that Carlo Rota from Saw V is in it. Maybe it’s the fact that it was on Netflix and I had nothing better to do. I watched Pegasus vs Chimera and I really enjoyed it. It is by no means spectacular but the creativity and originality overcame the obvious budgetary and quality issues. As on the one hand the costumes are great, the acting is enjoyably hammy and the creature designs are awesome but the storyline is needlessly convoluted, the sword-fighting is horribly unconvincing and the overuse of repeated locations are laughably bad at times (seriously, there is only one stretch of beach that features in five separate scenes). However much of it is as expected from a super low budget SyFy Channel movie though and although the titular Pegasus and Chimera barely fight each other, at least a period piece with funky weapons, costumes and horse riding makes a nice difference from the usual person of authority teams up with eccentric hunter/expert to save bikini babes from giant, man-eating, geographically displaced creature X.
When giant monsters called Kaiju start attacking the planet, Earth’s only hope is a fleet of giant robots called Jaegers. Now a disenfranchised pilot is forced out of retirement to team up with a complete rookie in order to lead Earth’s final assault on the Kaiju threat.
Is it a creature feature or a giant robot movie or a kaiju movie? Aside from introducing the term ‘Kaiju’ into the mainstream and reminding us all that being awesome in a nerd way doesn’t equal commercial or critical success, Guillermo Del Toro’s pet project was the most expensive movie that will ever feature on this site. I think Pacific Rim counts as a creature feature as all the Kaiju monsters are at least inspired by creatures from Earth like the Hammerhead Shark Kaiju or the Pterodactyl Kaiju so that’s why it wins the award. The film is by no means perfect, the main characters are so supressed that they are boring but are thankfully pushed aside so that the last half of the film can focus can on Idris Elba, the fight scenes are gloriously choreographed but occasionally difficult to see when awash with neon and rain and the story is dumbed down to the point where everything is painfully explained in long exposition. But the film is just as awesome as it is dumb and Ron Perlman seals the deal for me as the fantastic kaiju dealer, Hannibal Chau.
When a freak monsoon floods California, beach bar owner Fin Shepherd must work together with his friends to travel inland and rescue his ex-wife and children before a deadly shark swirling tornado wipes LA off the map. Will he be able to outrun the Sharknado?
Surprise, surprise… the biggest social media phenomenon in the history of creature features is also my number #2 for 2013. Sharknado had no right to be any good, coming from the vapid production house of The Asylum and featuring a cast whose biggest name is Tara Reid getting chased around town by a tornado flinging texture-less CGI sharks. But like I said in my September review, Sharknado is so damn enjoyable. From the solid story to the decent acting to the fantastic attitude of ‘anything goes’, Sharknado is worth every second and that worth doubles when the titular Sharknado turns up and all hell breaks loose – with chainsaws!
Whilst researching the effects of climate change in the German Alps, a team of scientists are shocked when a glacier starts leaking a blood red liquid. When the local wildlife begins mutating, the team believe that they are onto the scientific discovery of the century. However, they soon realise that the mutation is spreading at an alarming rate and with the wildlife minister on her way to examine their findings; things do not look good for their research station.
Okay so I covered The Station pretty thoroughly in my review but I still stand by everything I said. Blood Glacier (as it is now being called) hits every beat that makes me happy: the characters are interesting, the story is well-paced, the cinematography is beautiful, the action scenes are tense and the gore is never once shied away from. Not available on home media until late January 2014, I highly recommend that this is one to keep an eye on especially if you can’t catch it on the festival rounds like I did. Marvin Kren crafted a masterpiece of creature feature cinema that is without doubt my favourite creature feature of 2013.
Finally I would like to give an honourable mention to my favourite Horror movies of the year including Stitches, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Warm Bodies, Stoker, The Conjuring, Insidious Chapter 2, The Purge and the remakes of Evil Dead and Carrie.