I Watched These 2000s Horror Movies So You Don't Have To
…but don’t let that stop you because what is a horror movie if not an excuse to indulge in a little bit of distastefulness? People often talk about the 80’s as the golden age of schlock, and they’re 100% right about that… which doesn’t mean other eras aren’t worth exploring, either. I always look back at the 2000s as a time when my interest in cinema hit an all-time low. Video stores were closing up shop, and Geocities was still a thing so that should tell you all you need to know about the state of the internet in those days. Thanks to services like Letterboxd, though, it’s real easy to see what video stores had to offer back then. And you know what I’ve found out? Exactly as terrible as I remember it! Which isn’t to say there isn’t any fun to be had in revisiting. Here are some picks I subjected myself to that you might just want to read about and save yourself 80 minutes of toil.
Dracula 3000 (2004) Dir. Darrell James Roodt
An Alien rip-off slash half-assed update to one of the oldest horror franchises in history starring Coolio and Tiny Lister? What can go wrong?!
What you’ve got here feels very much like an 80-minute PlayStation full-motion video cutscene that you should probably only watch if you're into other space garbage xlassix such as Leprechaun 4 and Jason X. The energy really dips because it's festering with extreme close-ups of people's faces and the sound levels are fucked–but every time you think you're gonna get bored, vampire Coolio breaks out a Freddy Krueger-style rhyme about sexual assault, or does the worst amount of mugging since Nic Cage in Vampire's Kiss. Coolio and Tiny Lister also can't seem to wrap their minds around the concept of crucifixes (or regular crosses for that matter), as they keep referring to them as "plus signs."
The ending reveals all to have been one big set-up to a porno as Erika Eleniak divulges to Tiny Lister after having set a course to fly directly into the sun to stop the vampire epidemic from spreading, that she used to be a "PB,” which we find out does not in fact stand for peanut butter, but "pleasure bot" 👀💦
Faust: Love of the Damned (2000, dir. Brian Yuzna)
In the early 2000s Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator) said “Fuck it, I’m gonna make me some modestly budgeted horror movies in Spain!” And so “Fantastic Factory” was born and existed for about 5 years, producing classics such as… hmm… Stuart Gordon’s Dagon, a third Re-Animator movie no one remembers and whatever this is?
Not directly based on the legend of Faust, instead it’s adapted from an R-rated comic of the same name–and good fuckin’ job I guess because this shit sure is comic-al. Do you get some kinda morbid enjoyment out of movies that hinge everything on fleeting ideas of what is cool and edgy? Have you always wanted to see a Rik Mayall-lookalike get turned into a combination of Freddy Krueger, Daredevil and Wishmaster? How about witnessing him get rutty in a shower to death metal? If your answer to all of these questions is “yes,” then it’s time to embrace your bad self and revel in everything that this movie is.
There's some expository dialogue in this movie that sums up the entire tone of Faust: Love of the Danged, where shortly after doing the dirty with Mister Faust, the female lead talks about an incident in which she was assaulted by someone without a face who she refers to as the "smooth man."
Black Christmas (2006, dir. Glen Morgan)
I’m sure I’m gonna catch flack for this from everyone else here at Back Row, but contrary to them I am very much into this remake of Bob Clark’s all-time classic Black Christmas.
Is it a remake, though, or a sequel? It’s a little bit of both and a little bit of neither, and all the better for it. Especially considering the fact it’s a shlocky horror movie that came out in an age of playing it safe. This one doesn’t really seem to be catering to anyone–not fans of the original, nor the post-Scream slasher crowd–and that defiance to adhere to expectations is probably part of why I like it as much as I do. What you’ve got here is the will and skill to carve out a path of its own, and I am calling “grinch” on the fact that it isn’t more widely accepted as a cult favorite. Maybe the cast is a bit of an annoyance (pre-fame Mary Elizabeth Winstead aside), but the way they’re disposed of is pretty darn unrelenting–backed up by razor sharp editing, a reliance on practical over computer effects, and a perfectly concise runtime of 77 minutes. It even manages a pretty neat Christmas mood by inserting classic songs at key moments, and submerging everything in red and green hues.
Or maybe it is plain trash and I like it because there’s a killer with jaundice living in the attic who may or may not live on a strict diet of fish heads? Hmmm, no, it’s definitely the children who are wrong.
Simon Says (2006, dir. William Dear)
“What if Crispin Glover owed a favor to a secret society of immortal 19th century prospectors?”
Which isn’t really what this movie is about, it’s just a straightforward backwoods slasher with a twin-aspect, but I don't know how else to explain its existence and why it is the way it is.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of teenagers heads off into the woods in a Scooby-Doo van to… mine for gold? Y'know, like kids do. After that a whole lot of nothing happens for a while until Crispin Glover enters the stage again and from there on out this movie just turns into an onslaught of flying pickaxes and limbs. For some reason it is obsessed with pickaxes, like they're trying to make them a thing again. Remember pickaxes? They're back. In this shit.
Glover (no relation) also pronounces the word "here" more like "hya," so his choice to channel Hyper-Chicken from Futurama in a dimwitted slasher movie that isn’t for anyone but the ADD generation further feeds my suspicions that there were dark forces behind this production. There is a character whose main trait is smoking weed and gets killed because Glover makes him smoke an outrageously large "fattie,” as he calls it, so I’m more inclined to believe that William Dear, the 60-year old director who gave us Harry & The Hendersons, ghost-directed this for his son Oliver–who seems to be credited for just about everything other than directing.
Anyway this movie is garbage but is saved by some weird ass decisions and picks up steam as soon as Crispy Gloves gets more screen time in the second 40 minutes.
Bones (2001, dir. Ernest Dickerson)
Well, if you’ve made it this far then congratulations because here’s a movie I will legitimately go to bat for. The existence of Bones just makes me glad that Ernest Dickerson got to let his horror freak flag fly. But I’m also disappointed that people still have trouble appreciating that, because this has just about everything I want out of a horror movie and I would've gladly ingested six more of these.
Bones is about this hustler called Jimmy Bones who got “got” in the 70’s and comes back as a vengeful spirit to enact revenge on the people who did him dirty. It’s drawing a lot of inspiration from other horror classics such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Candyman, and stylistically even from Dario Argento movies. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this kills it with the cinematography considering Dickerson's background. There's some real legit stuff happening on a practical FX level as well, especially for a movie to come out of the cesspit that was 2000s horror. I'm trying to highlight a favorite part but there's so much to choose between either a dog projectile-barfing maggots, a guy just Rear Window-ing everything, or this other-dimensional Screaming Mad George-style wall where Jimmy Bones collects souls.
I couldn't stop thinking this is what shit like Leprechaun in the Hood was trying to do in terms of reviving blaxploitation horror, except I didn't actively have to lower my standards to enjoy it.
For more “hard-to-recommend-but-fun” 2000s horror check out my list on Letterboxd.