Well, 2006 has come and gone, and looking back, we can safely say it was a pretty good year for us genre fans. As well as the various monsters, vampires, serial killers, and pale men featured in our final Top Ten Films of 2006 list, there are a fair few flicks that unfortunately didn’t quite make the cut, such as Tony Jaa’s hard-hitting Warrior King, Thailand’s Art of the Devil 2 and Fruit Chan’s gruesome bowl of Dumplings.
Then there was Vincent Cassell’s demented Sheitan, Gela Babluani’s astonishing debut 13 (Tzameti), the other Emily Rose film, Requiem, the well-crafted 'Death smells' teen movie Reeker, Chris Gorak’s small-scale LA bombing nightmare Right At Your Door, the tabloid headline (and ball) grabbing Hard Candy, and Eli Roth’s gory backpacking slasher, Hostel
So who did make it on to the illustrious EMB Top Ten Films of 2006? Well, why not read on and see…
10 .Frostbite (2005)
Restoring zest and wit into the vampire genre, Anders Banke's funny, silly Scandinavian fang fest was one of the surprises of the year. The setting is the bitter cold of Northern Lapland, submerged in permanent semi-darkness for over a month. When a gauche new arrival uncovers the town's dark secret - and fanged denizens - the result is a month-long vampire party to which everyone is invited, whether they like it or not. More silly than scary, Banke's film benefits hugely from what must be the most perfect setting for a vampire movie ever - a place where it's cold, dark and lonely, all the time. - David Hall
9 .The Host (2006)
I'd barely settled into my seat when The Host's mutated beast emerged from the depths and began its rampage of terror along the banks of the Han river, and in the process created the most thrilling scene of the year. Its an audacious start, eschewing the gradual reveal of the film's monster, but then The Host is an altogether unconventional picture, fusing blockbuster action to a Korean soap opera, with a liberal dose of global-political overtones. A huge hit in its native country, if not internationally, The Host was THE monster movie of 2006 and is required viewing before the inevitable Hollywood remake comes along to spoil the party. - Soulmining
8 .Slither (2006)
Being the directorial debut from the guy who wrote the Dawn of the Dead remake, and starring Michael Rooker (from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and, um, Mallrats) and Nathan Fillion (TVs Firefly and the silver screen's Serenity), we all had high hopes for this year's favourite killer alien slug movie. Thankfully it delivered on all fronts, turning out not only to be a great action flick with some quite stomach turning gore, but also for having some of the juicest horror comedy gags this side of Evil Dead II. Pay close attention to the Mayor played by Gregg Henry, nearly all his lines are classic foul mouthed tirades... - Jim
7 .Hatchet (2006)
It takes a special kind of slasher to stand out from the rest of the pack, but under the direction of debut filmmaker Adam Green, a self-confessed horror-geek, Hatchet did just that. It’s all back to basics 80’s Burning territory, but what basics; an iconic new slasher king in the guise of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder!), some terrifically gory non-CGI splatter, cult cameos (Freddie! Candyman!) and lots of humour and obligatory nudity. Filmed with a gleeful and energetic vibrancy, Hatchet springs along merrily through its New Orleans swamp land setting with plenty of dashes of splat, wit and ample tit. - Rawshark
6 .The Lost (2005)
From its opening ‘Walking Tall’ opening scene that ends with a naked girl emerging from a toilet in the woods, The Lost barely lets go for a second, taking you on the journey of Ray Pye, a psychotic teen with a predilection for getting his own way, even if that means murder. Based on a Jack Ketchum novel, Chris Siverston’s dead-cert cult-hit features an ear-pounding soundtrack, superbly crafted violence and great performances from its whole cast, including Marc Senter as Ray, Ed Lauter as an ageing cop with a very young girlfriend and Michael Bowen as the sheriff intent on bringing Ray down. Stunningly bleak cinema with a stomach-churning ending.- Rawshark
5 .The Living and the Dead (2006)
Those films described as “challenging” are usually the kind you never want to see more than once. While Simon Rumley’s The Living and the Dead may not be something to watch on a regular basis, it provokes a response that simply demands a revisit, either to marvel at Leo Bill’s mesmerising central performance or to become lost in the emotionally grinding and frequently disturbing subject matter focusing on a mentally disturbed young man trying to provide medical care to his terminally ill mother. Horrific without being a horror film, TLATD spirals itself into complete madness and will hopefully, by the time the credits roll, help you realise that your own life could be a lot worse. - Zomblee
4 .Severance (2006)
Christopher Smith really raised his game with this, his sophomore film. The key to the film's success is twofold; the casting of Danny Dyer who perfectly embodies the wisecracking pothead and our unlikely hero, Steve, and its sharp script from debut writer James Moran which finely balances the gasps with the chuckles. Severance is that rare breed, a horror comedy than manages to be both scary and funny, none more evident than in the movie's standout scene when Gordon's leg falls foul of a bear trap. Repeatedly. Hugely enjoyable, it's a modern British horror film, which is considerably greater than the sum of its (body) parts. - Soulmining
3 .United 93 (2006)
Two films appeared this year about that event. But whereas Stone's World Trade Center relied on earnest, old fashioned movie dynamics, United 93 opts instead for quiet devastation; unfolding the desperate, awful events in almost unwatchably intense 'real time' while we grip our seats and endure a nerve shredding 90 odd minutes before the inevitable conclusion. A troubling, visceral experience that obliterates the perceived wisdom that one has to be unaware of what's going to happen next in order to feel shock or - indeed - awe, Greengrass' pitch perfect piece of cinematic conjecture manages to be both respectful and horribly exciting. Chilling, unique cinema. - David Hall
2 .Children of Men (2006)
The year 2027, and although it looks like the same shit, different day, the world is in fact infertile. No child has been born for 18 years, so when Kee, a young immigrant woman is found to be pregnant, a resistance group tries to use her as a weapon to fight for a better future. Enter begrudging hero Clive Owen (in flip-flops for most of the film) and we have perhaps the most realistic pessimistic vision of a futuristic UK that cinema has ever seen. Superbly directed (including at least two long-take sequences that will make your jaw drop), Children of Men is grim, but not without hope - a stark reminder of the world we currently hold in our hands. - Rawshark
1 .Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Even in a strong year del Toro's adult fable would be knocking on the top spot. In a lesser one it simply obliterates the competition. Finally making good on years of promising but flawed works (all of which contained glimpses of his burgeoning genius) the big man stepped up and delivered the first fantasy masterpiece of the new millennium. Matching his undoubted visual mastery to a powerful symbolic narrative, del Toro seamlessly fuses a story of personal, moral and political struggle with an ageless, spooky fairytale that feels like it's been around forever.
In Pan's Labyrinth he has delivered his most heartfelt and personal film - its images will haunt you, and the performance of Ivana Baquero will linger long in the memory. It's the final moments of the film though, that will resonate most strongly - offering both a perfect resolution of everything that has gone before and delivering a devastating emotional knockout punch. There will be tears. Absolutely essential viewing. - David Hall
18th Apr 05 This scene is fantastic and it made what was already a cool-as-fuck film even cooler. Charlie sees the giant spawn (huge, slimy toothsome puppet-beast) and he works out that the spawns’ primary sense is based on what they hear.
Top Ten Jump / Scare Moments 16th Aug 05 From creepy ghosts, to monster attacks to the good old fashioned dream sequences and severed heads. Scared? You will be. NB spoilers.