Even though this year had plenty of downer moments, there were quite a few highlights that I think are worth mentioning. I know it is easy to remember the bad stuff that happens in our daily lives that I think we tend to forget all the good things, no matter how simple or small they might be. I think these are the moments that we need to focus on throughout lives, instead of the negative stuff. I think we’ll all find there are more of these high points than we realize. Here are a few of those moments that I’d like to revisit with you.
The Real Picture of Dorian Gray
I’m not sure why it took me so long to actually do this, but I finally made it out the Chicago Art Institute and got to see Ivan Albright’s painting that was used in the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was taking my wife into the city for a little break from reality, knowing that she is a fan of the museum, even though it has been decades since she’d been there. My appreciation of artwork has grown considerably over the last decade or so, which might have something to do with the fact that I have several friends that are professional artists, who always blow my mind with their talent. So I knew this was going to be an interesting tour. Plus, I knew that Albright’s piece from one of my favorite films is on display there, and I’d really like to see it in person.
Wandering through the huge maze that is the Art Institute, we eventually came around the corner and there it was. This piece was just huge, standing just over seven feet tall. This massive painting is just stunning to look at in person. The colors, the details, the darkness to the painting as well as the subject matter, was all just mind blowing. Standing before this masterpiece, it is kind of like standing in the Evans City cemetery, where the opening to the original Night of the Living Dead was filmed. You’re not just looking at movie history through your TV screen, but you’re standing right in front of it. I now know how people can just stand in front of a painting, gazing into it, getting lost in the colors and the brushstrokes. Almost like stepping into an emotion.
I know it is a bit expensive, but if you’re in Chicago and have the chance to go to the Art Institute, I would highly recommend it. I’d say if only to see this painting, but there are some other amazing pieces there as well.
For those who might not know (meaning this must be your first time at the site since I’m always going on about it), but I have a lot of reference books on the horror genre and those that have worked in it. While I try to read as much as I can, with everything else going on, it is so easy to slip by and not get any reading done. So last year I set a goal for myself to get through at least 12 books during the year, figuring a book a month on average would be a good start. At the end of that first year, I think I was one title away from hitting that goal. But this year, I blew by that goal, actually hit a grand total of 14 different titles.
They were: Spanish Horror Film by Antonio Lazaro-Reboll, Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu, Cult Horror Films by Welch Everman, The Unholy Three by John Hamilton, Father of The Blob by Jack H. Harris, Katzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future by Mark Thomas McGee, I Cannot, Yet I Must By Anders Runestad, The Supernatural Cinema of Guillermo del Toro Edited by John W. Morehead, Sex, Sadism, Spain, and Cinema by Nicholas G. Schlegel, Giallo Cinema and Its Folktale Roots by Michael Sevastakis, It Came from the 80s by Francesco Borseti, Little Horrors by T.S. Kord, Growing up with Manos by Jackey Neyman Jones, and When Animals Attack edited by Vanessa Morgan.
Out of all of those titles, I have picked my favorite 3 from those.
Now for the other side. I usually try to stay away from negative reviews because I would like to stay positive and push that element of the genre. There is already enough negativity on the internet. But…there are those films that I think are simply an embarrassment to the genre, and more importantly, to the fans themselves. Because these producers think they can churn out such low quality drivel and that the fans will just eat it up. Or that they themselves think this is a well made product that hasn’t already been done to death. I do think that constructive criticism is good for the filmmakers to hear. Hearing negative things about a movie could just help someone see a different angle to it. Same goes with a positive review. Yes, these are just my opinions and there might be fans out there that really enjoyed some of the below movies. Great. I’m thrilled that they were able to speak to you. Unfortunately for me, they did not. And here is why.
Now as usual, my list are of films that I’ve seen for the first time this last year. Sorry, but I just don’t have the time and money to keep up with all the new ones that come out during the year. Mainly just the lack of time. But strangely enough, four out of this year’s list is actually from this year. As for the other six, two are from 2014 and the rest from 2015. I think this is a real first of having mainly all new movies. Could it be that the studios are finally getting around to producing well made horror films? One can only hope. Of course, once you get to our Worst of, then you’ll see that isn’t completely true. So let’s get to them.
For our Best Viewed Movies of 2016, here they are, listed in alphabetical order.
One thing is for sure about 2016, we have lost way too many genre favorites. From actors to directors to artists to cinematographers and everyone else in between….just way too many. There were some that I consider icons, such as Herchell Gordon Lewis, who paved the way for thousands of young filmmakers. Actor Don Calfa appeared in so many sitcoms and movies but was still able to come up with so many wonderful characters. Then we have Angus Scrimm, who really only appeared in a handful of features, but it only took one role for him to forever be remembered in the hearts of us horror fans. And while actor/writer Gene Wilder was mainly known for his comedic side, along with Mel Brooks, he gave us one of the best tributes to the classic Frankenstein pictures.
They Will Be Missed, But Never Forgotten
I want to take a minute to remember the names and faces of those who left us throughout this last year. One of the things that I really love and admire about movie fans is that we are the ones that keep the memories alive of all of these people that have passed on over the years. We collect their movies, we watch them repeatedly over the years, and even pass the pleasure we get from them onto others. I guess it is our little way of keeping them alive. Because of the VHS, DVD, bluray, etc., their performances will be around for us, and many other future fans, to enjoy for many years to come, so they will be missed, but never forgotten.
Once again, my list of movies are ones that I have seen for the first time during this year, not necessarily ones that were released this year. But most of these films are only a year old and while they officially came out 2014, they didn’t get nationally available until this year. The other interesting thing to note is that most of these films, all but one in fact, are low budget independent films. Which is even more interesting since I tend to really dislike indie films because of lack of good acting, talent, or creativeness. But these showed me how wrong I was. Most of them didn’t really have any big name stars attached to it, or anybody famous for that matter. But that didn’t stop them from really making a strong impact on me.
So let’s get to them!