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12 Days of Schlockmas: A 2014 Countdown

by on December 24, 2014
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12 Days of Schlockmas
‘Tis the season for making a list and checking it twice, and here in the Schlock Vault is no exception. 2014 was a particularly rich year for absurdly ridiculous cinema, and I’m here to countdown the top 12 schlockiest movies of the year. I’ve waded through a seemingly endless parade of theatrical bottom feeders to bring you the creme de la crap.

12. Nurse 3D

screenshot from Nurse 3D starring Paz de la Huerta
First and foremost comes one of the earliest 2014 releases: “Nurse 3D,” featuring the voluptuous Paz de la Huerta. Huerta plays a psychopathic nurse hellbent on enacting revenge on every male that crosses her. The superficiality of the whole concept doesn’t lend itself to a cohesive plot or likable characters, but is merely a scantily clad skin de force. de la Huerta’s overt sexuality, combined with her Patrick Bateman-esque performance provides the viewer with plenty of eye candy, but “Nurse 3D” falls short in nearly every other category. I included it at No. 12 on this list purely for aesthetic purposes. (2/5 Yaps)

11. Mr. Jones

screenshot from Mr. Jones
Clocking in at No. 11 is “Mr. Jones,” a mockumentary that starts off strong but ends up losing steam about halfway through. The titular character is not unlike a Banksy of sorts, an abstract artist shrouded in mystery whose pieces are highly coveted. Despite the popularity of his art, there is also a guise of voodoo mysticism involved. The fake documentary serves to try and track down the elusive artist and learn the details behind his somewhat sadistic-looking art. A brilliant concept is ultimately wasted as soon as the Mr. Jones character is tracked down. Still, “Mr. Jones” is worth checking out for the first 45 minutes alone. (2.5/5 Yaps)

10. Alien Abduction

screenshot from Alien Abduction
No. 10 is the directorial debut of Matty Beckerman. “Alien Abduction” is a found-footage film that plays out like an extended “X-Files” episode. The most intriguing point of interest is the perspective in which the film is shot, through the eyes of a young autistic boy. The boy is on a camping trip with his family and is documenting the entire affair when a series of natural disasters start occurring, eventually followed up by the actual alien abductions. The movie is a solid directorial debut and can be best described as a poor man’s “War of the Worlds.” Given the low budget, “Alien Abduction” does a great job of developing tension and building upon character interactions. (3/5 Yaps)

9. Willow Creek

screenshot from Willow Creek
“Willow Creek” comes from an unlikely source of inspiration — writer-comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who is no newbie to the directorial process. His found-footage couples retreat film is another entry in a long line of Bigfoot movies. The film itself follows a young couple on a camping trip with the hopes of finding the ever-elusive North American Sasquatch. What starts off as a lighthearted quirky little dip into cryptozoology quickly turns into “The Blair Witch Project.” The film is a little too short for my liking, but manages to capitalize upon atmosphere and twigs snapping off-screen just enough to keep me interested. Don’t expect the next best thing here, but “Willow Creek” is a short but sweet heart-pumper. (3/5 Yaps)

8. Zombeavers

screenshot from Zombeavers
With what stands to be the best title of the year, “Zombeavers” is this year’s “Piranha 3D.”  Unfortunately, whereas the latter is irreverent and fun, the former is stale and lacking the same comedic bite. Nonetheless, I still had fun watching “Zombeavers” and enjoyed the idea of feral beavers coming back from the dead to turn humans into living dead beavers as well. I only wish there was more Bill Burr, for his ad-lib performance alone. Ultimately, there’s sun-bathing babes, backstabbing lovers and beaver fur matted in blood. Therefore, “Zombeavers” is purely fun by proxy. (3/5 Yaps)

7. The Town That Dreaded Sundown

screenshot from The Sun That Dreaded Sundown remake
The 2014 remake of the 1976 film of the same name (which you can read my expert review of here) acts more as a sequel than a remake. What I admire most about the 2014 version of “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” is its desire to push the original story along when it would have been easier and more accessible to do a shot-by-shot remake, especially given the cult status of the original. It took a hefty pair of brass balls to continue a story that hasn’t been revisited in over three decades. The film does a great job of cluing in first-time viewers to the original plot while adding a much-needed 21st-century shot in the arm. (3/5 Yaps)

6. Afflicted

screenshot from Afflicted
“Afflicted” is not only the gross-out movie of the year, but also one of the more imaginative schlock entries of 2014. A found-footage film at it’s core, “Afflicted” can be best described as having a similar plot as “An American Werewolf in London,” the gross-out visuals of “The Fly,” and the aesthetics of “Cloverfield.” It’s a grandiose transformation epic on a budget with a twist towards the back half that keeps the viewer guessing throughout. It’s fun, disgusting and innovative. The only thing that holds it back at times is the haphazard acting, but overall, “Afflicted” is a thrilling horror romp.  (3.5/5 Yaps)

5. Tusk

screenshot from Tusk featuring Justin Long
Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” was easily the most highly anticipated schlocky release of the year. Yet, it’s due in part to such high expectations that “Tusk” falls short. Put aside the anticipation and the nature of the big-name director, and “Tusk” is actually a lovely piece of gut-wrenching disgusting cinema. I had a blast up to the introduction of Johnny Depp’s cameo, at which point the film takes a heavy dip. Overall, it’s still a fun ride. Smith has really gone off the deep end lately with 2011’s “Red State” and 2014’s “Tusk”, and it’s been a mean streak that I’ve quite enjoyed. “Tusk” is certainly not for everybody, but I assume if you’re reading this, you’re not looking to find this year’s “12 Years a Slave.” (3.5/5 Yaps)

4. Almost Human

screenshot from Almost Human
Clocking in at No. 4 is a movie very close to the heart of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Thing.” “Almost Human” is nowhere near the same caliber as its predecessors, but it’s a fine little indie film with a modern-day bite. This same premise has been done to death, but “Almost Human” manages to stay original and entertaining from start to finish. The movie is definitively brutal and doesn’t shy away from gross-out effects (all of which are top-notch). There’s not enough attention paid to character development, but that’s not nearly enough to derail such a bloody good romp. (3.5/5 Yaps)

3. Stage Fright

screenshot from Stage Fright starring Meatloaf
“Stage Fright” easily gets my vote for most innovative schlock of the year. A product of our neighbors to the north, the movie is like a twisted “High School Musical” equipped with choreographed singing galore and death sequences that would make Argento blush. Starring the ever-vibrant Meatloaf, “Stage Fright” takes everything I hate in a movie (singing) and combines it with everything I love (death by nail gun). I’ll even be the first to admit that the songs are legitimately catchy and help move the plot along rather than distract and annoy. The kabuki-masked killer was a nice touch as well. “Stage Fright” is as refreshingly original as it is gory. (4/5 Yaps)

2. The Sacrament

screenshot from The Sacrament
Ti West (“House of the Devil” and “The Innkeepers”) is one of my favorite up-and-coming directors, and once I again I was thoroughly impressed with his newest film, “The Sacrament.” The film is heavily inspired by the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, specifically the cult leader himself, who is a spitting image of Jim Jones. There is a modern twist added when a group from “Vice” decides to document the secluded cult, with the ulterior motive of retrieving a cameraman’s family member. “The Sacrament,” much like West’s previous two films, is a slow burn that ultimately rewards you at the end. I enjoyed the thrill ride thoroughly and can’t wait to see where West goes from here.  (4/5 Yaps)

1. Cheap Thrills

screenshot from Cheap Thrills
“Cheap Thrills” is far and away my personal favorite of the proverbial schlock heap. Funny, irreverent, painful to watch at times — the movie has everything I look for out of a schlock gem. Essentially the film plays out like a double-dog-dare gone horribly wrong when two friends run into a millionaire willing to throw money at them in exchange for “entertainment” in the form of brutalizing one another. The film is wickedly sharp and at no point did I find myself looking at my watch. The dares start off silly enough and just escalate into complete absurdity. “Cheap Thrills” is truly the bloody good time I’ve been yearning for this year.  (4.5/5 Yaps)



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