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  • Top Ten's of 2016

    Well it's time once again to take a retrospective look back at the year via the ever comforting top ten list. It was a tough one. We lost Prince and Bowie. We said goodbye to Gene Wilder and Glenn Frey, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Merle Haggard, George Michael and Lemmy no longer walk the Earth with us. I sure will miss all of them and I hope they're okay wherever they are now. 

    Politically, I share a great deal of concern with many of my fellow Americans about the coming years of our country and the future we're carving out for our children. I think of the state of the world, of our lives folding and unfolding and I'm scared. Like we're all holding hands but losing our grip. 

    As usual the most consistent medicine for me this year has been my family and the art I consume. This year I watched nearly 300 films (I'm doing an entirely separate post about that), I gobbled up records and songs like water in a desert. I read as few books that may have actually changed my life, as rare as that seems here ar the ripe old age of 33. 

    When I wasn't consuming art I did my goddamn best to create it. I wrote over 150 songs this year. Many of them can be found on my soundcloud page and many more are finding their ways onto various records and television shows. I'm grateful for every one of them. As usual I spent much of the year on planes and in buses, traveling the country playing music. I can't tell you how many strange hotel hallways I've walked through or how hard it gets to remmeber what room you're in when they're all a great big blur. I recognize gas stations in Iowa that I've been in before. I see a tree near an exit sign in Michigan and realize I know that exit. It's all wonderful and exhausting and beautiful and terrible and everything in between. 

    Anyway. Here are some things I liked a lot this year. Maybe you'll like them too. Cheers and happy new year pizza confetti explosion moonbeam pineapple dream.


    1. Reality Hunger by David Shields
    2. The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael
    3. Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner
    4. Enter Night by Mick Wall
    5. The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead by David Shields
    6. Face The Music: A Life Exposed by Paul Stanley
    7. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
    8. Kiss and Sell: The Making of a Supergroup by C.K. Lendt
    9. At Home: Essays by Gore Vidal
    10. Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica by Joel McIver

    1. Nocturnal Animals
    2. King Cobra
    3. Everybody Wants Some
    4. Manchester By The Sea
    5. Hell Or High Water
    6. Cafe Society
    7. Arrival
    8. Tale of Tales
    9. Elle
    10. American Honey
    1. OJ: Made In America
    2. Author: The JT Leroy Story
    3. DePalma
    4. Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words
    5. Lo and Behold
    6. Holy Hell
    7. Weiner
    8. Tickled
    9. Supersonic
    10. Man Vs. Snake
    1. The Witch
    2. In A Valley of Violence
    3. Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla
    4. The Greasy Strangler
    5. The Eyes of My Mother
    6. The Invitation
    7. Baskin
    8. The Neon Demon
    9. I Am Not A Serial Killer
    10. Green Room

    1. Radiohead - A Moon shaped Pool
    2. Bazan - Blanco
    3. Metallica - Hardwired To Self Destruct
    4. Grey Watson - Ruins
    5. Elise Davis - The Token
    6. Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life
    7. David Bowie - Backstar
    8. Matthew Mayfield - Recoil
    9. Lucinda Williams - The ghosts of highway 20
    10. Jim James - Eternally Even
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  • Elise Davis - The Token

    Elise and I wrote this song in my living room a year ago. I'm so excited and proud to see it out in the great big world. Added bonus that my daughter and I got to be in a music video together. Check out my pal, Elise Davis, and her upcoming record The Token, which has seven songs I co-wrote. Pants!

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  • Sean McConnell - Holy Days

    Hey, folks. CMT is featuring the new music video for my pal Sean McConnell's rad new song Holy Days. Me and the boys went down to Layfayette, LA where we ate and drank and laughed too much and they got it all on camera! This was super fun to make. Check out Sean's new self titled record here and get that shit on vinyl!

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  • Pedal Python

    Hey, buds. While I was on tour this winter with Escondido/The Lone Bellow I took some time at soundcheck to briefly talk about my Pedal Python. This is a super affordable, customizable snake to clean up all of your cables. Check them out and tell them I sent you and they will literally give a bag of 1 million golden coins redeemable ONLY at your local Chuck E. Cheese. 

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  • Favorite Books, Films and Music of 2015

    Holy shit, a lot happened this year. As usual, lots of touring with lots of different bands and artists. Waking up in California, going to sleep in Manhattan. Taking ambien and watching films on airplanes all the way to Milan and back. Some really cool records I played on got released this year. The two I'm most proud of are Matthew Mayfield's Coquette and Bob Schneider's King Kong. I played guitars and wrote songs for so many cool projects coming out in 2016. I scored my first film and produced my first record. I even started working on my very own solo record (due out summer of 2016). It was a lovely, heartbreaking year. Though I won't forget it, I'm relieved it's all over. Here is some of the art I consumed this year that kept me alive and humming when the world felt impossible and strange. Maybe it can do the same for you. Happy new year whoever and whever you are.

    1. The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski
    2. Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica by Mick Wall
    3. Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame by Charles Bukowski
    4. The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski
    5. Sound Man by Glyn Johns
    6. The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
    7. Love Is A Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski
    8. Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
    9. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
    10. KISS and Makeup by Gene Simmons

    1. Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)
    2. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
    3. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman)
    4. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
    5. Trumbo (Jay Roach)
    6. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)
    7. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
    8. The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt)
    9. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
    10. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

    1. Listen To Me Marlon (Stevan Riley)
    2. Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon)
    3. An Honest Liar (Tyler Measom)
    4. Going Clear (Alex Gibney)
    5. Happy Valley (Amir Bar-Lev)
    6. The Jinx (Andrew Jarecki)
    7. I am Chris Farley (Brent Hodge)
    8. Lost Soul (David Gregory)
    9. Cobain: Montage of Heck (Brett Morgen)
    10. Back In Time (Jason Aron)

    1. Spring (Justin Benson/Aaron Moorhead)
    2. Deathgasm (Jason Lei Howden)
    3. Goodnight, Mommy (Severin Fiala)
    4. Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler)
    5. Faults (Riley Stearns)
    6. The Green Inferno (Eli Roth)
    7. We Are Still Here (Ted Geogeghan)
    8. The Final Girls (Todd Strauss-Schulson)
    9. The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan)
    10. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)

    1. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
    2. Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool
    3. Butch Walker - Afraid Of Ghosts
    4. The Damnwells - The Damnwells
    5. Phoebe Bridgers - Killer
    6. Slayer - Repentless
    7. Puscifer - Money Shot
    8. Jessie Baylin - Dark Place
    9. The Neighbourhood - Wiped Out
    10. Kristin Diable - Create Your Own Mythology

    You can hear a curated playlist of my favorite songs of 2015 by following this Spotify link. enjoy!

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  • Clint's Totally Flawless Oscar Predictions 2015

    Hi, folks! It's the most exciting time of the year! No, not when we celebrate the birth of the Christian Savior by pretending a fat white man delivers presents to the entire planet. Not the warm glow of New Years Day when we all make perennially unkept vows of improvement and prosperity. Nope. It's Oscar time! A time where we let the Academy arbitrarily decide which art is better than other art largely based on the unscrupulous and politically corrupt campaign trail of filmdom! Oh shucks, let's just get Jesus, Rudolph and Harvey Weinstein together and sing "Auld Lang Syne" already!

    Just kidding! Well, mostly.

    The truth is that this is my favorite award show of the year. Most people know me as a long-haired, Beatles-loving guitar player from Nashville, TN. What most folks don't know is that I am a total cinema nerd and spend a lot of my time watching and thinking about films, both classic and contemporary (see my favorite films of last year and my epic 40 Favorite Horror Films).

    So, here we are. The big day is tomorrow (I'll be drunkenly live-tweeting) and it's been one of the best years of film in recent memory. Being a new father and always on the road, I wasn't able to see every film up for an Oscar. But I came pretty damn close. Below are my predictions for the 2015 Oscars. I have submitted both what I believe should win and what I think will win, based on a number of different factors. In some cases I elaborate and in others I don't say a GD thing. Isn't that wonderful? Okay, here we go:

    Best Picture

    The nominees are: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash.

    What Should Win: Birdman

    What Will Win: Boyhood

    There's a small possibility that The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, or The Grand Budapest Hotel could upset these two predictions. But let's face it, everyone is going apeshit over Richard Linklater's admittedly brave and fascinating 12 year epic. But in my opinion, if you take away the gimmick all you have is a touching yet overlong and ultimately plotless existential film with some decent commentary on life and some pretty great acting. Birdman literally left me speechless. For months I could not get that film out of my head. It hits on every level. It's smart, funny, charming, tragic, beautiful, achey, etc. It gets my vote, hands down.

    Best Actor

    The nominees are: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game:), Michael Keaton (Birdman), and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything).

    Who Should Win: Michael Keaton

    Who Will Win: Michael Keaton

    Okay, first of all I just have to say what complete bullshit it is that Jake Gyllenhaal was not nominated for Nightcrawler. It was easily one of the best performances of the year and should have been above Bradley Cooper (who was actually really incredible in American Sniper, an otherwise so-so film). But even if Gyllenhaal had been nominated there is no question that this award belongs to Michael Keaton for a career performance that actually made me glad to be a human being. Trust me, I want to throw up at that last sentence too, but it's fucking true. Steve Carell was incredible in Foxcatcher but honestly both his co-stars, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, out-performed him and without dramatic prosthetics.

    Best Actress

    The nominees are: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). 

    Who Should Win: Julianne Moore

    Who Will Win: Julianne Moore

    It's nice to see Gone Girl getting at least some love from the Academy. There is no doubt that Rosamund Pike gave an Oscar worthy performance but in a year like this she was bound lose to more worthy peers.  Reese Witherspoon could pull off an upset although I don't think this performance was better than Walk The Line, which she already won an Oscar for in 2006. This is Julianne Moore's 5th nomination without a single win. In my opinion she's the best actress working right now second only to Meryl Streep. It's time she was given proper credit and this is arguably her most moving performance in an already stellar career. 

    Best Supporting Actor

    The nominees are: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash). 

    Who Should Win: Ethan Hawke or Mark Ruffalo

    Who Will Win: J.K. Simmons

    Another round of incredible nominations. Frankly, I think Channing Tatum should have been nominated over Mark Ruffalo. I never, ever thought I would say anything like that but he was that goddamn good in Foxcatcher. Ethan Hawke's portrait of fatherhood in Boyhood is so touching and emotionally seamless, particularly when considering it was filmed over 12 years. He was easily my favorite character in Boyhood. But the award will unfortunately go to J.K. Simmons for playing a truly unbelievable lunatic drum teacher. Don't get me wrong, his performance is worthy of an Oscar nod. But his character has nothing on the ones built and and portrayed by the aforementioned actors. 

    Best Supporting Actress

    The nominees are: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightly (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman) and Meryl Streep (Into the Woods). 

    Who Should Win: Patricia Arquette

    Who Will Win: Patricia Arquette

    Although Meryl Streep was easily the best thing about Into The Woods, Patricia Arquette is the clear winner here for her wonderful performance of a struggling, flawed mother trying her best to make good decisions and often failing. If Julianne Moore had been nominated for Maps to the Stars she would have given Patricia a run for her money. As incredible as Laura Dern is, I don't think her role was worthy of the Oscar. 

    Best Cinematography

    The nominees are: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman), Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski (Ida), Dick Pope (Mr. Turner) Roger Deakins (Unbroken). 

    Who Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)

    Who Will Win: Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

    Okay, um why wasn't Interstellar nominated in this category? What the hell, Academy? Easily the most visually beautiful film of the year. Good grief. Birdman is the clear winner for me because of the beautiful, seamless "one take" effect and the juxtaposition of the gritty, surreal/whimsical look of the entire film. The Grand Budapest Hotel will win because of how unique and singular it looks (and it is beautiful) but I would argue that this is what all of Wes Anderson's films look like and, in a sense, is purely a gimmick of his.

    Best Director

    The nominees are: Alejandro Inarittu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennet Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).

    Who Should Win: Alejandro Inarittu (Birdman)

    Who Will Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

    Tough one! As much as I loved Foxcatcher and Bennet Miller's work in general (Moneyball, Capote) it really does come down to these two. I think the Academy will give the award to Linklater because this movie truly was visionary filmmaking and the dude likely really does deserve it. BUT - Alejandro Inarittu has made a film that people will watch forever. It is an instant classic AND he directed several of these actors and actresses to Oscar nominations while telling a beautiful original story with masterful craftsmanship as a filmmaker. Any other year and both of these directors would have been standouts. But man, this one is close.

    Best Original Screenplay

    In my opinion this is the most important award but, then again, I'm a writer. The nominees are: Alejandra Inarittu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alex Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

    What Should Win: Birdman or Nightcrawler

    What Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel or Birdman

    Is Nightcrawler really the best original screenplay of the year? No. I'm only pulling for it because it is somehow, impossibly, the only nomination it received. Birdman is so unique and beautiful, it clearly wins over Boyhood (essentially a story about nothing - no, seriously, it's a story about how nothing really happens in people's lives other than minuscule emotional changes...honest and maybe even profound...but boring). Wes Anderson is likely to win though for once again taking us on an incredible journey through another one of his truly imaginative worlds. 

    Best Adapted Screenplay

    The nominees are: Jason Hall (American Sniper), Graham Moore (The Imitation Game), Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).

    Who Should Win: Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)

    Who Will Win: Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)

    This will likely be the category where we reward our British friends for their incredible film contributions this year.

    Best Costume Design

    The nominees are: Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice), Colleen Atwood (Into The Woods), Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent), and Jaqueline Durran (Mr. Turner). 

    Who Should Win: Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

    Who Will Win: Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

    There's a slight chance that Into The Woods will upset these predictions.  

    Best Visual Effects

    The nominees are: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

    What Should Win: Interstellar

    What Will Win: Interstellar

    Three of these films are comic book films for crying out loud. They undoubtedly look great and have great effects. But Interstellar is a visual masterpiece that cannot go overlooked. Unless the Academy is full of super dummies.

    Okay, the rest of the categories I'm going to list briefly because I either don't know enough about them technically (Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing) or didn't get around to seeing them (Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short, etc.) Pretty reasonable, right?

    Best Animated Feature

    What Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

    What Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

    Best Foreign Language Feature

    What Should Win: Leviathan

    What Will Win: Ida

    Best Editing

    What Should Win: Birdman

    What Will Win: Whiplash

    Best Documentary Feature

    What Should Win: Citizen Four

    What Will Win: The Salt of the Earth

    Best Production Design

    What Should Win: Interstellar

    What Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

    Best Sound Editing

    What Should Win: Birdman (come one, that drum shit is INCREDIBLE).

    What Will Win: Birdman or Interstellar

    Best Sound Mixing

    What Should Win: Birdman

    What Will Win: Whiplash

    Best Original Score

    What Should Win: Hanz Zimmer (Interstellar)

    What Will Win: Johan Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)

    Best Original Song

    What Should Win: Selma's "Glory" by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

    What Will Win: Selma's "Glory" by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

    Best Makeup and Hairstyling

    What Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

    What Will Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

    Best Animated Short

    What Should Win: A Single Life

    What Will Win: The Bigger Picture

    Best Live Action Short

    What Should Win: Aya

    What Will Win: Parvaneh

    Were there snubs this year? You betcha! What were they? I'm glad you asked!

    1. St. Vincent

    Bill Murray ABSOLUTELY should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance. I think he was better than Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch. Also, best original screenplay.

    2. Nightcrawler

    At the very least Jake Gyllenhaal should have been nominated for best actor. I would also argue that Renee Russo should have been considered for best supporting actress. But after passing over End of Watch, Prisoners and now Nightcrawler, it is clear that the Academy tried to drunkenly kiss Jake Gyllenhaal at a party and are punishing him for declining the invitation and driving them home even though they puked in his car.

    3. Interstellar

    Should have been nominated for best picture, best director (Christopher Nolan), cinematography, best actor (Matthew McConaughey) and best supporting actress (Anne Hathoway). What the hell happened there?

    4. Gone Girl

    Should have been nominated for best original score at least.

    5. Chef

    Should have been nominated for best original screenplay.

    Okay, folks. There are my 2015 Oscar predictions. Let me know if you agree, disagree, hate me, hate your parents. Whatever! Peace!

    CW

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  • Top Books, Films, and Music of 2014

    Hi, everyone. I hope 2014 was as good for you as it was for me. In August Isbelle and I gave birth to our beautiful little girl, Nova. Every day we're discovering how to be a growing family as I continue living the dream of being a professional musician here in Nashville. Being a new dad is more time consuming than I ever thought it would be. But I still try and consume new art as much as I possibly can. Below are my favorites of the year. I hope this list will inspire you to discover something new and beautiful. A peaceful and productive New Year to you all.

    1. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
    2. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
    3. Night Shift by Stephen King
    4. Easy Riders and Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
    5. Death On the Installment Plan by Celine  
    6. The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka
    7. Parenting Beyond Belief edited by Dale McGowan
    8. Violent Screen by Stephen Hunter
    9. A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
    10. The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
    11. Books of Blood by Clive Barker
    12. Woody Allen: A Life In Film by Richard Schickel
    13. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
    14. Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island by Greil Marcus
    15. Blood Curdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft
    16. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris
    17. A Saucerful of Secrets by Nicholas Shaffner
    18. Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Sexuality by Joseph Campbell
    19. Lying by Sam Harris
    20. Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski
    21. Alone Together by Sherry Turtke

    1. Birdman directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
    2. Nightcrawler directed by Dan Gilroy
    3. St. Vincent directed by Theodore Melfi
    4. Blue Ruin directed by Jeremy Saulnier
    5. Enemy directed by Dennis Villeneuve
    6. Gone Girl directed by David Finch
    7. Foxcatcher directed by Bennett Miller
    8. The One I Love directed by Charlie McDowell
    9. Chef directed by Jon Favreau
    10. Under the Skin directed by Jonathan Glazer

    1. Starry Eyes directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
    2. The Babadook directed by Jennifer Kent
    3. Tusk directed by Kevin Smith
    4. The Guest directed by Adam Wingard
    5. The Taking of Deborah Logan directed by Adam Robitel
    6. Cheap Thrills directed by E.L. Katz
    7. 13 Sins directed by Daniel Stamm
    8. Witching and Bitching directed by Alex de la Iglesia
    9. Horns directed by Alexandre Aja
    10. V/H/S Viral directed by Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Aaron Moorhead

    1. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams
    2. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
    3. The Wind and the Wave - From the Wreckage
    4. Elliphant - One More
    5. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
    6. Demon Hunter - Extremist
    7. Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
    8. Lucinda Williams - Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
    9. Pink Floyd - The Endless River
    10. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

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  • "How Did I Get Here?" Interview On The Johnny Goudie Podcast

    "How Did I Get Here?" Interview On The Johnny Goudie Podcast

    Hi, folks. I had the pleasure of chatting with Johnny Goudie for his super cool, Austin-based music podcast a few weeks ago before leaving for the fall Bob Schneider Tour. We talked about how I got started playing music as a kid and my journey to becoming a professional musician/songwriter in Nashville, TN. Other fun topics include:

    Kiss, The Beatles, Slash, being lovelorn, Panter'a stripclub, guitar players, touring, Norweigian death metal, what it means to be a craftsman, Gwar, Lars Ulrich, the best Metallica records, and much more.

    Give it a listen. Or don't. I don't know. 

    Love and hugs,

    CW

    http://howdidigethere.podbean.com/e/episode-331-clint-wells/

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  • Clint Gets Nerdy And Talks Horror Films

    Hi, everyone.

    I'm taking a short break from writing about music to talk about something else I love deeply: horror films. Ever since I was a boy I've loved scary movies. In fact, one of my first memories is sitting in front of the television completely engrossed by A Nightmare on Elm Street at my grandparent's house. To this day, I'm still not quite sure what the attraction is. Maybe because it's cathartic to experience fear in a safe, controlled environment? Maybe it's that horror movies seem more free to explore the darker aspects of life, imagination and social taboo? I honestly don't know.

    Horror isn't so different from other genres in the sense that most of what gets put out into the world is not very good. But one of the unique and exciting distinctions of the horror genre is that even campy (read: shitty) films can be a lot of fun to watch. Look no further than the cult following of Troll II, widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, and yet a film thousands of people gather together and watch each year precisely because of how awful it is. Annual horror conventions draw tens of thousands of fans to celebrate the monsters and stories that scared them as children and still keep them up at night. In what other part of cinema do you find kinship like this?

    Horror films can be artful as well. It's tempting to just list both David Lynch and David Cronenberg's early filmographies in support of that statement. The four lists below are my humble attempt to gather and categorize what I consider to be the best of horror films. Of course my opinions are subjective and, as a child of the late eighties/early nineties, tend to reflect the culture of horror I was most impressed by. I still have many films to see and it's my hope that these lists will evolve with me. I also don't consider myself an accomplished film critic or writer. It was actually pretty hard to review forty films without sounding boring and repetitive. This is why I happily classify myself as a horror nerd rather than an expert. 

    If any of you have any thoughts about the lists or suggestions for films I should see don't hesitate to let me know. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

    Top 10 Horror Films Of All Time:

    1. The Exorcist (1973) Directed by: William Friedkin

    The Story: Regan, the teenage daughter of a famous actress, is possessed by an evil spirit after playing with a Ouija board. Her mother enlists the help of two priests to perform an exorcism.

    Why I Love It:  Of all the horror movies I've seen throughout the years this is the only one that still frightens me as much as it did when I was a kid. The special effects hold up well and the cloud of despair that hangs over the entire film still fills me with dread. 

    2. The Fly (1986) Directed by: David Cronenberg

    The Story: A remake of the 1958 classic, The Fly tells the story of Seth Brundle, a scientist who invents the world's first teleportation pod. After successfully transporting a chimp, Brundle teleports himself. All seems well until Brundle slowly begins changing into something monstrous. 

    Why I Love It: This is the perfect horror film. Great story, great acting, great photography and Oscar winning special effects. And underneath all the horror lies a touching, though tragic, love story.

    3. The Thing (1982) Directed by: John Carpenter

    The Story: While doing research in Antarctica a group of scientists discover a shape shifting alien that assumes the form of the creatures it kills. 

    Why I Love It: Aside from the mind-blowing special effects (all pre-CGI) and the wonderful performance by Kurt Russell, the true horror of this film is the slow paranoia infecting the crew as everyone increasingly suspects their fellow man might be the monster in disguise. 

    4. The Shining (1980) Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

    The Story:  A family looks after an empty hotel for the winter where an evil presence slowly drives the father insane. The son, Danny, has a psychic ability (called "The Shining") that allows him to see horrific visions of both the past and future as they all struggle to survive.

    Why I Love It: It's hard not to love any Kubrick film, but this one goes down as one of the greatest because of the story itself (Stephen King is the shit), the top notch acting and the eerie attention to detail that has now become a Kubrick hallmark.

    5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Directed by: Roman Polanski

    The Story: A young couple move into a new apartment where the neighbors become increasingly strange and imposing. After Rosemary becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia sets in as she fears for the safety of her unborn child.

    Why I Love It: I've always been fascinated by depictions of high society dabbling in the occult. Another horror trope I've always loved (and one featured heavily on these lists) is the slow unfolding of paranoia and how it dissolves reason. Rosemary's Baby achieves both masterfully.  

    6. Psycho (1960) Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

    The Story: After stealing $40,000 from her employer, a woman splits town to rendezvous with her lover. On the way she stops at a remote motel owned and run by Norman Bates, an odd but charming person with fairly deep-seated mother issues. 

    Why I Love It: This is arguably the greatest psychological horror film of all time. It still holds up today. Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates perfectly and the slow, morbid unfolding of the story is classic Hitchcock.

    7. The Silence of the Lambs (1990) Directed by: Jonathan Demme

    The Story: Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, this is the story of detective Clarice Starling's investigation into a serial killer who kidnaps women and takes their skin. In order to solve the case she seeks the help of psychotically brilliant inmate Dr. Hannibal Lector, a notorious killer himself with a knack for cannibalism.

    Why I Love It: Brilliant acting (both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar), brilliant directing (Demme won the Oscar) and a brilliant screenplay (Ted Tally also won the Oscar). The dialogue is mesmerizing. Buffalo Bill is a fascinating villain and the way Lector emotionally dissects Clarice is incredible. Any time Anthony Hopkins is on the screen he steals the show. And as good as the film is, the book is even better. 

    8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Directed by: Tobe Hooper

    The Story: A group of teenagers on a road trip to visit one of their grandfather's old houses is met by a demented, cannibalistic family with a son who has a particular penchant for chainsaws and wearing skin masks. 

    Why I Love It: Another great example of a horror film that has as much bite today as it did in 1974. The violent scenes are plain and surreal. The kills and screams are not written or acted through the lens of Hollywood sensationalism. Everything has a realness to it that is pleasantly nauseating.

    9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Directed by: Wes Craven

    The Story: The kids of Elm Street are plagued by similar nightmares of Freddy Krueger, a burned man with knives for fingers. If Freddy kills you in your dreams you die in real life. The morbid past of this killer and the kids' parents unfold as one brave girl takes the monster on in the dream world.

    Why I Love It: One of the most creative horror premises of the last several decades, the idea that someone can haunt your nightmares using your greatest fears to kill you is incredibly frightening. Over the years the NOES films got sillier but there are several moments in this original that still scare the shit out of me.

    10. Hellraiser (1987) Directed by: Clive Barker

    The Story: Based on Clive Barker's novella, The Hellbound Heart, this film tells the story of Frank, a world-traveled hedonist in search of ultimate pleasure. After solving a mysterious puzzle box he is reborn into a strange world ruled by bizarre demons and their leader, Pinhead. Bound to a room in an old house, Frank enlists an ex-lover to help him satisfy his hunger for blood. 

    Why I Love It: Pinhead has been the one horror villain who consistently scares me and for this reason I will always love him. I'm a big fan of all of Clive Barker's work but his earlier stories are my favorite. If you like Hellraiser you must also check out his incredible collection of short stories, Books of Blood.

    Top 10 Obscure Horror Films:

    1. Eraserhead (1977) Directed by: David Lynch

    The Story: A man in a bleak, industrial town finds out a woman he was seeing is pregnant with his child. This is the story of him coming to terms with fatherhood amidst increasing existential madness against the backdrop of a gray, indifferent world.

    Why I Love It: One of my favorite films of all time, I discover something new with each viewing. There are layers of relational atrophy, fear of fatherhood, isolation, communication, sexual taboo, ambivalence, etc.  The imagery is poignantly disturbing and the soundtrack of ominous, ambient noise is a brilliant thread throughout. I can't recommend this one highly enough. 

    2. Freaks (1932) Directed by: Tod Browning

    The Story: In a traveling circus the beautiful trapeze artist Cleo marries Hans the dwarf in order to steal his money. A tale of deceit and revenge set against the backdrop of struggle between the "normals" and the "freaks."

    Why I Love It: Freaks is a touching and often humorous unfolding of life as an oddity and a film that ultimately asks: Who are the real freaks of society? Those born with physical defects or those who pay money to stare at them and treat them cruelly?

    3. American Psycho (2000) Directed by: Mary Harron

    The Story: Patrick Bateman is a young, privileged businessman navigating career and romance in late 80's Manhattan. Oh, and he's utterly insane. 

    Why I Love It: I love everything about this movie. It's sense of humor. It's unabashed brutality. It's soundtrack. Based on one of my favorite novels by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is a character study masterpiece, delving deep into the bizarre mind of a seemingly normal psychopath. 

    4. Suspiria (1976) Directed by: Dario Argento

    The Story: A young dance student joins an esteemed ballet academy but soon learns that the school is a front for something far more sinister in the wake of mysterious murders.

    Why I Love It: I love Suspira for it's cinematography, beautiful colors and for it's wonderfully understated eeriness. 

    5. The Wicker Man (1973) Directed by: Robin Hardy

    The Story: A detective visits a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a 12 year old girl. He quickly senses not all is right with the inhabitants of this small island town as he learns they are all dedicated members of an ancient pagan cult.

    Why I Love It: This movie is wonderfully shot and acted with super eerie music and scenery. It has a masterful performance by Christopher Lee and an unforgettable ending.

    6. The People Under The Stairs (1991) Directed by: Wes Craven

    The Story: A team of desperate burglars break into the home of a wealthy couple only to find themselves trapped inside a house of horrors.

    Why I Love It: Another brilliant Wes Craven offer, this movie has a great blend of horror and dark humor. It's a lot of fun watching our anti-heroes as they encounter the bizarre couple who own the house and the horrifying things that lie beneath it.

    7. In The Mouth of Madness (1994) Directed by: John Carpenter

    The Story: Sutter Cane is a best-selling horror novelist who disappears after publishing his latest book. The film follows investigator John Trent as he travels to Cane's hometown to unravel the link between Cane's latest novel and the pandemic insanity it is inflicting on it's readers. 

    Why I Love It: Not only is this John Carpenter's best film since The Thing, it is also the last great film he has made. The premise is original and inspired. The visuals are well executed and creepy. There is an atmosphere of foreboding that permeates the entire film and Sam Neil's performance is top notch.

    8. The Cell (2000) Directed by: Tarsem Singh

    The Story: An FBI agent enlists the help of Catherine Deane, a social worker who virtually analyzes children's minds, to go into the mind of a comatose serial killer in the hopes of locating his last victim.

    Why I Love It: SO GOOD!. Jennifer Lopez is great in this trippy, surreal film. The premise of peeking inside the mind of a psychopath is so interesting and the filmmakers execute his inner thoughts with horrifying, imaginative beauty. If I could take all of you on dates we would go to this move. And then we would probably never speak again because you would think I was insane and you'd probably be right.

    9. Society (1989) Directed by: Brian Yuzna

    The Story: A teenager suspects he is very different from his wealthy family. In fact, the whole town seems a bit strange. After overhearing an incestual sex ritual involving his sister and father, he sets out to discover the truth but things only get more bizarre as he begins to see what the town's high society is really up to behind closed doors.

    Why I Love It: This movie has one of the most incredible and disturbing intros I've seen from 80's horror. Oddly, the rest of the first act seems as if it's going to be another cheesy teen movie with bad dialogue, bad hair and bad music. But once we start to learn about the sinister things happening below the surface of this town it becomes enthralling. I won't spoil the ending other than to say I was completely unprepared for it. Not for the faint of heart.

    10. Frailty (2001) Directed by: Bill Paxton

    The Story: A man confesses to police the bizarre story of how his religious fundamentalist father committed a series of gruesome murders to "rid the world of demons."

    Why I Love It: Who would have ever thought Bill Paxton was a great horror director? Certainly not me, but man, this film is incredible. It's a slow burn but so worth it and there's a really interesting twist at the end. A truly overlooked gem in the last few decades of horror movies.

    Top 10 Mindfuck Films:

    1. Martyrs (2008) Directed by: Pascal Laugier

    The Story: After escaping being kidnapped and tortured as a young girl, a woman is psychologically tormented in her adult life. After seeking revenge she calls her best friend for support. Let's just say her friend had no clue what she would be signing up for. The second half of this film is so bizarre and horrifying. It's really best to see it knowing as little as possible.

    Why I Love It: This film absolutely blew me away. While it does technically fall into the category of torture porn (a sub-genre I utterly loathe) it is only one of a few I've seen that deals with gore tastefully. Ultimately, the philosophical implications of the film justify the brutality. The imagery of this one will stick with you long after the credits roll.

    2. Cold Fish (2010) Directed by: Shion Sono

    The Story: A teenage girl is caught shoplifting at a fish store. To her father's relief the owners, a husband and wife, do not press charges but instead arrange for her to work off the debt by working for them. They soon realize the shop owners are more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Horror ensues, etc.

    Why I Love It: I love this film for it's interesting story, cinematography, characters and acting. But mostly I'm in awe of it's relentless commitment to brutality. 

    3. The Skin I Live In (2011) Directed by: Pedro Almodovar

    The Story: A celebrated plastic surgeon seeks revenge by kidnapping the man who raped and permanently traumatized his daughter. Unfortunately for his victim, the surgeon has a lot more on his mind than murder.

    Why I Love It: I've always been a fan of body-horror and this film is an excellent new submission in that sub-genre. Antonio Banderas lends both a great performance and legitimacy to horror in general as a serious artistic platform.

    4. Haute Tension (2003) Directed by: Alexandra Aja

    The Story: Two college students go to the country to visit one of their parents but are soon attacked by a ruthless murderer.

    Why I Love It: I like all of the New French Extremity films (there are several on these lists). The cinematography is great for a slasher flick. The action is good and the kills are creatively morbid. The plot sounds cliche but I assure you things get very interesting in this one, especially as we learn the identity and motive of the killer.

    5. Cannibal Holocaust (1979) Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

    The Story: A group of sensationalist documentarians travel to a remote Amazonian island in order to capture the daily lives of a cannibalistic tribe. To manufacture drama for their film they torment the tribe with cruelty and violence but are met with gruesome revenge.

    Why I Love It: Before the oughts this would likely have been the candidate for most disturbing horror film of all time. In fact, some of the scenes in this faux documentary were so realistic that the filmmakers were arrested for allegedly murdering their actors on camera. As a comment on conventional conceptions of primal violence this film succeeds in asking: Who are the real savages? The tribe of uncivilized cannibals or the film crew who traded their humanity for a shot at success?

    6. Excision (2012) Directed by: Richard Bates Jr.

    The Story: A highly disturbed high school student with hopes of becoming a doctor begins to blur the lines between reality and her blood-filled fantasies. 

    Why I Love It: There are a lot things to love about Excision but the standout moments are definitely the heightened reality dream sequences. It's nice to see a refreshing plot come alive with great acting and a great screenplay. And for the gore freaks there's plenty to love here as well.

    7. Frontier(s) (2007) Directed by: Xavier Gens

    The Story: A group of fugitives flee Paris during political upheaval. Outside of town they stop at a remote inn run by insane neo-Nazi's with a penchant for torture.

    Why I Love It: I love survivor movies especially when they involve strong female characters. As with the other French Extremity films, this one is hard to watch at times. However, like Martyrs, there is more to this one than senseless brutality. At the end of your viewing you may feel exhausted, but you'll also feel rewarded. 

    8. The Human Centipede (2009) Directed by: Tom Six

    The Story: A brilliant surgeon comes out of retirement to capture three unsuspecting victims in the hopes of turning them into his favorite pet, a human centipede. 

    Why I Love It: I love this one because it's easily one of the more unique plot lines in recent horror history. Contrary to common perception, The Human Centipede is not over-the-top gory nor is it pornographic. Much of the visual element is left to our imagination and the true terror lies precisely where it always should in a great horror film: the mind. Both the minds of the unfortunate victims and ours as empathetic onlookers.

    9. Father’s Day (2011) Directed by: Adam Brooks

    The Story: Ahab is an ex-convict seeking revenge for the death of his father by hunting down the Father's Day Killer, a serial killer who specializes in murdering and raping dads. 

    Why I Love It: From start to finish this movie is so bizarrely wacky that it's impossible not to stick with you for a while. Combining absurdity with humor and horror is not easily done well and I guess it's reasonable to question if this film even pulls it off. But as a total mindfuck, Father's Day absolutely belongs on this list. 

    10. Salo (1975) Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini

    The Story: Based on Marquis de Sade's disturbing novel, 120 Days of Sodom, this film tells the story of four fascist libertines who, having lived full lives of hedonism and the deranged gratification of their every perverse sexual desire, have decided to band together to have the ultimate soiree. They capture a group of young men and women, taking them out to a secluded castle where they perform unimaginable horrors.

    Why I Love It: Well, I wouldn't say I love this film. I cringed through most of it. It is a bleak, pessimistic movie and while watching it one feels a sense of dread and doom. Salo is definitely not for everyone but should be required viewing for any serious horror fan.

    Top 10 Horror Films Of The Last 10 Years:

    1. The House of the Devil (2009) Directed by: Ti West

    The Story: Samantha, a struggling college student, answers an ad for a babysitter. After a series of bizarre phone calls and a very strange meeting with the man who placed the ad, she has second thoughts but decides to take the job anyway. Samantha soon finds herself the target of sinister occultists.

    Why I Love It: Ti West does an excellent job building suspense and playing on the mind of the viewer for most of the horror in this movie. It's also a fitting tribute to the best aspects of 80's horror nostalgia. The last act is well worth the wait and yet I never feel bored or impatient with the rest of the film. 

    2. Kill List (2011) Directed by: Ben Wheatley

    The Story: A retired hit man agrees to take a final job that promises a large payday for three kills. Things become strange when his victims not only willingly surrender but even thank him for killing them. He finds himself tangled in a bizarre mystery as both his humanity and sanity unravel.

    Why I Love It: I loved all of the plot twists. I had to watch this film twice to fully understand what was happening. The mystery is intriguing and the violence is absolutely brutal. 

    3. You’re Next (2011) Directed by: Adam Wingard

    The Story: A family reunion at a secluded country house is interrupted by a group of murders lurking in the woods. As the family struggles to survive we begin to see the killers' twisted motives unfold.

    Why I Love It: I am super bored by home invasion films. They are always predictable and rarely scary. This was not the case at all with You're Next. The setup is great and the protagonists are super creepy with a lot of creative kills. The plot twists are original and I LOVE the homage to the strong female survivor trope. I enjoyed this one enough to see it twice in theaters.

    4. Paranormal Activity (2007) Directed by: Oren Peli

    The Story: A young couple attempts to capture the evil presence haunting them on home video.

    Why I Love It: Seeing this in the theater was one of the creepiest movie experiences I've ever had. The horror world is now saturated with mostly sub-par found footage movies (largely due to the massive influence of this film) but this one (like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project) will go down as one of the greatest because of it's subtlety, realness and ability to scare years after it's initial release. 

    5. American Mary (2012) Directed by: Soska Twins

    The Story: Mary is a brilliant but disillusioned surgical student who begins working underground for criminals and the socially ostracized in order to pay for medical school. As her new job begins to entangle her in a dark drama, Mary slowly loses her mind.

    Why I Love It: This is a refreshingly unique story with a great performance by Katherine Isabelle. Plenty of gore with interesting supporting characters and some surprising twists and turns. What's not to love?

    6. Lovely Molly (2011) Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez

    The Story: Molly and her new husband move into her deceased father's house out in the country where repressed memories begin to haunt her.

    Why I Love It: As with most of the films on this list, Lovely Molly features psychological unraveling that has it's main character blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Some people hated the ending but I thought it made the movie memorable and list worthy. 

    7. The Loved Ones (2009) Directed by: Sean Byrne

    The Story: Lola is a mentally deranged teenager who will stop at nothing to get a date to prom.

    Why I Love It: Kudos to my Australian fellow horror nerds for making a super fun (and super fucked up) teenage horror film! Great performances by these young actors, especially Robin McLeavy, who make the terror dreadfully believable.

    8. The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Directed by: Drew Goddard

    The Story: A group of teenagers vacation at a remote cabin in the woods. After unknowingly waking up an evil force, they struggle to survive and find out the bizarre truth not only about the nature of the cabin, but of the very world itself.

    Why I Love It: This one was so much fun! A wonderful love letter to the entire genre of horror and Evil Dead in particular. Like other films in this list, the plot sounds traditional but it is definitely a modern spin on an old story. The characters are intentional archetypes but played with well-written irony and a super aware sense of humor. This one is a blast without compromising the horror.

    9. I Saw The Devil (2010) Directed by: Kim Jee-woon

    The Story: A secret agent's pregnant wife is the next victim of a serial killer. On the quest for personal revenge he begins to blur the lines of good and evil.

    Why I Love It: One of the best revenge films since Oldboy

    10. The Battery (2012) Directed by: Jeremy Gardner

    The Story: In a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies, two former baseball players struggle to survive and find meaning in their strange new lives.

    Why I Love It: I'm not being dramatic or hyperbolic when I say that I HATE zombie films. I fucking hate them. The zombie film is easily the most boring sub-genre in all of horror. In my opinion, no one has improved upon George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead, including Romero himself with all of his shitty sequels. So for me to get excited about a zombie film it has to be pretty remarkable. Enter The Battery. The best thing about this zombie movie? So few zombies! Rather than lazily cash in on this nauseatingly overused gimmick, the filmmakers decided to focus on the psychological struggle of two lost survivors, thus making The Battery not only one of the more interesting and original horror films of the last decade, but also of the entire zombie sub-genre. Bravo!

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