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It's Better Than You Thought It Would Be: The 10 Most Surprising Movies I Viewed In 2011

Condering the amount of posts about 2011, I figured I'd add my own post to the mix. What follows are the ten films I had either low or average expectations, and they blew me away. I suppose I should have concentrated a little more on the horror films of the year (I still haven't seen a few of the ones I really want to!), but I decided this year was a good time to catch up on a few of the retro selections I've been misng out on. Now, this isn't for films only released in 2011; this is for all the films I've seen in this somewhat lackluster year. So here we go:

10. Rocktober Blood (1984) For some reason, '80s metal and cheesy horror go really well together, as there were a few really awesome movies that focused on these two elements, like Trick or Treat (1986) and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987). Rocktober Blood is one such film. Although I typically like the mix of horror (especially slasher, like this one) and rock/metal, I had been avoiding this for reasons I don't even know. However, I watched Good Bad Flicks's review of it, and I immediately tracked it down and watched. As it turns out, I really liked it! My one complaint is that the middle portion of the film is really boring. However, the great beginning and awesome ending (the best I've ever seen) more than make up for its shortcomings. The only reason it comes in at #10 was that my expectation level was high before I saw the movie, but condering how much I was avoiding it before watching the review, I had to put this on the list.

9. The Deadly Spawn (1983) I had heard of The Deadly Spawn for a while before I actually saw it, and most of the reviews on the 'net were potive. They said it was a great, gory, low-budget '50s monster movie throwback. So I decided I might as well rent it from Netflix and give it a spin. Well, I did, and this movie was (and still is) awesome! It's actually pretty realistic (the nerd isn't friends with a jock; he's friends with other nerds), the characters are three-dimenonal, the acting is great, the score sets the right mood, the creature effects are mply out of this world (pun not intended), the ending is awesome, and the gore is plentiful. The film is also pretty unpredictable, with some characters who you thought were going to live dying and the ones you knew were going to die living. There's also a great scene where the deadly spawn attack some old ladies at a vegetarian luncheon. You should really want to see this movie by now.

8. Killer Workout (1987) I was originally turned off of Killer Workout by the amount of negative reviews out there. However, I saw an unauthorized DVD of it at a horror convention I attended, and I couldn't rest, so I bought it. Well, my low expectations were given a major beatdown, nce this movie is one of the best cheesy slashers I have ever seen! Now, this isn't a good movie at all; it's just wildly entertaining. It has a whole lot of ridiculousness, like the killer's choice of weapon (a giant safety pin), the random kung-fu fights, and, of course, the multitude of cheesy '80s pop songs while sexy women participate in aerobic exercises in leotards and leg warmers. Oh, the cheese. While its slasher elements aren't that strong, the film's corniness alone will provide entertainment for multiple viewings. (Read my review here)

7. Island of Blood (1982) Like Killer Workout, I had heard a lot of negative reviews for this film, all calling it really boring. I don't know what film they were watching, but the Island of Blood I saw was a really fun movie! It's not really all that good, but I still love it for its cheese value, cool kills, the killer's awesome gimmick (killing according the lyrics of a song), acceptable acting, and the twist at the end was really cool. My one complaint is that the VHS quality is rather poor, with really dark scenes where it is nearly imposble to tell what is happening. I hope that someday, this lost gem gets the Humongous treatment with an awesome DVD release. (Read my review here)

6. Blood Rage (1987) I went into Blood Rage with low expectations, as I felt it was just another slasher that would try to take itself seriously and fall flat on its face. Well, I was surprised to find that this is a really fun movie! It lives up to its name in spades, with lots of gruesome deaths and really good gore effects. The acting is also pretty good, especially by Mark Soper. My one complaint is the downbeat ending. It seems really out of place with the fun nature of thje rest of the movie. I'd say, if you haven't seen Blood Rage, go into it with low expectations and you'll get a lot out of it; I know I did.

(Read my review here)

5. Superstition (1982) When I first read the plot description for Superstition, I thought it was going to be crap. Another movie about a witch? Count me out! Well, I was really bored one night, so I decided to watch it, nce I thought there was a chance it could be good. Well, I was most certainly wrong in thinking this would be bad! This is my third favorite witch movie, as most of the others are really, really boring. However, this movie uses the witch as the cover for what's actually a slasher film! Yes, this witch kills people off in gory and creative ways, much like a slasher film. I'd say this is the perfect witch movie for anyone that hates witch movie, because it's barely a witch movie! Seek it out. (Read my review here)

4. Final Destination 5 (2011) While I did enjoy 2009's The Final Destination, I had a feeling that the series was about to go downhill when I saw the trailer for the fifth film. Tacking "In 3-D!" at the end didn't raise my hopes, either. Well, I was really pleasantly surprised to find that this film is awesome! I saw it in 2-D, so I can't really say anything about the 3-D (the effects looked like they would have been awesome in 3-D, though), but there was only a few let-downs in the entire running time. The opening catastrophe might be the best in the series, and the ending is ealy the best twist ending I've seen in a while. But after this slice of greatness, I have that feeling again where the next one (if they do make it) will be crap. Hopefully, I'll be pleasantly surprised if it does come out. Read my review here)

3. Iced (1988) Out of all the films on this list, Iced is probably the most hated, and I can see why. It takes about an hour to get to the kills, and that hour is comprised of characters talking and skiing every so often. I decided to ignore the multiple warnings to stay away, and began watching it warily, as I was convinced this would be really bad. The concept was too intriguing to pass up, so I watched it, and really liked it! Like Killer Workout, I don't enjoy it for its slasher elements (although the little elements present are pretty good, despite some bloodless kills), IO enjoy it for its all-around cheese factor. And trust me; this movie is really cheesy. Don't go in expecting a slasher movie, and I think lovers of '80s nostalgia will get a kick out of it. (Read my review here)

2. The Keep (1983) The only reason I decided to watch The Keep was because I thought it would be some great background noise whilst I went on the computer. In fact, I had barely even heard of it before. Well, it started off slowly, yet strangely, I found myself looking more at the TV and less at the computer, until eventually my attention was completely on the film. Yeah, it's slow, but the film combines visual flair with a beautiful score to create a hauntingly beautiful chunk of celluloid. The rough cut for the film was around three-hours long (see stills of that cut here), but Paramount cut that down to the standard 90-minutes. This is a movie that leaves me wanting more, so I hope that one day we will see a (completed) veron of director Michael Mann's original vion. Read my review here)

1. Shark Night (2011) When I was going to see Shark Night, I expected what many others feel we got: complete crap. Everything in the cards was totally against this movie being good: the PG-13 rating, 3-D, bad CGI, stereotypical plot, etc., etc. However, in a manner milar to that of Rocky Balboa, it defied the odds and came out on top (well, #3 actually) of my favorite horror movies of 2011! Yes, the plot is stereotypical, and yes, the PG-13 rating does hold it back a little (more gore and this might have been my #1 favorite of the year), but the film manages to throw in a few twists I found really cool and have a lot of really cool moments. It's a popcorn movie through and through, with good acting, decent CGI (not at SyFy original movies level, though), a cool twist on the plot, and best of all, it's rarely boring (Sara Paxton's monologue was pushing it, though). I don't care how much other people hate this movie; I really dug it! Read my review here)

So those are my picks for the films I had low expectations for but managed to actual be decent flicks. What was the biggest surprise you had when you sat down to watch a movie you didn't have high expectations for?
ObscureCinema101 Thursday 12/29/2011 at 03:28 AM | 88728
Surpring enough there were two of them: Bonnie & Clyde vs. Dracula, and yes Apollo 18.

I had read all of the negative reviews for Apollo 18 so I rented it today and found that it really wasn't that bad of a movie.

I thought it was pretty cool.

Those and Killer Klowns from Outer Space!
JohnCarpenterfan Thursday 12/29/2011 at 11:52 PM | 88765
Yay! Rocktober Blood! I would love for this to get a DVD release at some point.

I haven't seen Final Destination 5 yet. I have enjoyed all of them to some degree, 1-3 being the best. I thought 4 was good but it felt like they were trying too hard. I was afraid 5 would continue down that path. I still want to check it out, I did feel the deaths in the series were some of the most creative put to film.

Waiting patiently to get Shark Night on Jan 3rd. I don't understand why they aren't releang the full R rated cut.
Cecil Friday 12/30/2011 at 07:45 AM | 88779
Well, in my opinion, ROCKOBER BLOOD is the visual equivalent of the burden tape.

So bad -- so lly, so badly acted, so poorly written -- that it is a wonderful experience.

I actually went to the theater to see ROCKTOBER BLOOD.

What the hey, I was young and impresonable, and the commercials looked so cool -- dark, scary atmosphere, rad muc, and a killer in a wicked deamon mask -- how could I rest?

And although it was obvious even to my impresonable mind that the movie was garbage, I also knew it was great.

So great that, as I left the theater, I was impatient for the movie's release to video, so I could own a copy of this glorious trash heap!
horrdonkey Saturday 12/31/2011 at 12:51 AM | 88799