I always try to go into my top ten list with a strategy of some sort. I seem to think you all will care whether or not my picks are 'predictable Dave ones', a la Return of the Living Dead Part II, and as such I agonize for days (if not weeks, as was the case this year) over what I'm going to pick. This is, after all, what I'm recommending to the readers I always try to go into my top ten list with a strategy of some sort. I seem to think you all will care whether or not my picks are 'predictable Dave ones', a la Return of the Living Dead Part II, and as such I agonize for days (if not weeks, as was the case this year) over what I'm going to pick. This is, after all, what I'm recommending to the readers as essential Halloween viewing material. Should I capitalize on such an opportunity and simply list Return of the Living Dead Part II ten times? Not this year, but I'm going to file that away in my mental 'to remember' bin. Truly it is an opportunity for me to get on my soapbox and recommend some of my favorites. I usually do just that, often including a controversial pick here and there - a movie I love that most hate. It happens, believe it or not. Alright, I'm done referencing lists from years prior. This is 2009, after all. We've seen the return of Jason and supposedly of Michael Myers too, as well as quick detour by Sam Raimi back to the horror genre. There's new, there's old, and then there's the same old: fans are still split amongst their likes and dislikes. Nothing receives universal praise. So to each his own. With that, lets take a look at my own top ten list for 2009. 10. Dawn of the Dead (1978) It's been a long road for Dawn of the Dead to work its way onto my top 10 list, but here it is. It's definitely been a love / hate type of relationship for me and Dawn. Growing up I was never a big fan of the flick, yet it started to grow on me ever since Anchor Bay released their Ultimate Edition set back in 2004. I've only scratched the surface of that set, which excites me. What better time to start digging back into it then our favorite month of the year? Dawn is really the swiss army knife of zombie flicks. It has a bit of everything you could possibly want - social commentary, lots of zombies, good character development, action and adventure, plus a kick-ass score. Day was my previous favorite of the series, but Dawn has bumped it into the #2 spot over the past year. I picked up the blu-ray last year and am now starting to get the itch to start picking up the various laserdisc box sets, too. Yeah, I'm becoming that much of a fan. 9. The Mist (2007) Stephen King makes an appearance in my top ten for the second year in a row. Last year it was The Stand miniseries, this year it’s The Mist. First released in 1980 as a novella, The Mist was adapted to the big screen in 2007 by Frank Darabont. Darabont is no stranger to King; he’s the man responsible for two of King's greatest big screen adaptations – The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. What some may not know is that Darabont is also no stranger to horror. His writing credits include work on Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Blob, and The Fly II. Some may argue that Darabont can do no wrong. That’s officially a fact now that its been announced Darabont is working on adapting the horror comic The Walking Dead into a TV series for A&E. The planets have aligned! The Mist is simple and straight forward horror in delivering the scares. The monsters are out there and it pulls no punches in delivering a dark tale. A must see for all horror fans. 8. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) Last year I wrote how I had hoped the Friday the 13th remake would make it onto my top 10 list for 2009. Since the remake was dreadful and there's no chance of that happening, what better way to wash the bad taste out then by revisiting one of the better sequels. Coming in as my third favorite Friday sequel (behind VI and IV), Part 3 manages to have gimmicky 3-D and still deliver all the goods we have come to expect in a Friday flick. Jason grows up a bit in part 3, ditching the visions of Mom and discovering his trademark hockey mask. Lots of creative kills to be had and ample amounts of T&A makes Part 3 classic Friday the 13th. Paramount did justice by putting out nice special editions on both DVD and blu-ray this year, so get spinning! 7. Night of the Creeps (1986) Fred Dekker pretty much has a reserved spot in my top 10 each year. While he didn’t make the list last year, that took some willpower on my part. The guy is responsible for two of my childhood favorites – The Monster Squad and House. While I didn’t discover Night of the Creeps until just a few years ago, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable than the other two. With genre favorite Tom Atkins present, Dekker mixes all the right ingredients for classic 80s horror that pays proper homage to the creature flicks of the 50s. With Night not only hitting DVD, but also blu-ray, for the first time ever this year, fans have more than enough reason to give it a spin. 6. My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009) I’m a sucker for remakes when done right. When not done right - see Friday the 13th and Halloween remakes for two great examples - I end up hating them. Maybe it’s the 80s blood flowing through my veins, though it’s more likely the fact they were just plain bad movies. MBV 3-D breaks the trend, however, and earned a spot on my top ten for doing so. It’s still relatively mindless horror, but it at least provides a fun ride by delivering the goods – gore and lots of it, enhanced by the 3-D effect that we all know and love. I have yet to revisit the flick since seeing it in the theater. I fear doing so as I question whether the goods are still there outside of the big screen 3-D experience. 5. Dog Soldiers (8002) It seems I just can't write a top ten list without including a werewolf movie of some sort. The selection of good werewolf movies is small, but the pickings grew slightly in 2002 with the release of Dog Soldiers. Once again Hollywood is shown that a big budget isn't needed to make a good horror movie, or a good werewolf movie. The story itself is pretty simple - a group of Scottish soldiers are attacked by several werewolves and take refuge in a nearby farmhouse. With night approaching, chances of survival look slim as the werewolves move in for the kill. The effects work, there's plenty of gore, it's fast-paced, and that atmosphere of isolation works wonders in the movie. Highly recommended for werewolf fans like myself. 4. The X-Files (1993-2008) If there was ever a modern day Twilight Zone, it’s Chris Carter’s The X-Files. It’s certainly leans more towards science fiction, but for a series known for its “Monster of the Week” theme, more than enough horror is provided. I recently completed a viewing of the entire series – complete with both theatrical releases – and there’s simply no doubt the show is pure magic. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s bad. When it’s great, it’s great. The show had its ups and downs but it was riding the highs a lot more than the lows. The magic started slowly seeping from the seams in later seasons and was completely gone by the time ended its run after Season Nine. Still, what a ride it was. I'm looking forward to the second time around. 3. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) I’m not one of those that hopped on the anti Blair Witch bandwagon. I enjoyed the original Blair Witch and while I do find it doesn’t hold well to repeat viewings, I maintain it’s a classic horror movie that deserves a lot more respect for what it accomplished. Having said all that, the sequel, Book of Shadows, suffers from the backlash against the original and is often overlooked in the horror community. It took me a few years to watch it but once I did, I realized it was a great little horror movie, albeit with some flaws. There’s a decent story to it and some genuinely creepy moments. While I personally wouldn’t rate it above the original, it certainly has a lot more replay value for me. If you have yet to see it, give it a chance. You might just be surprised. 2. DellaMorte DellaMore (1994) Euro horror snuck its way into my number one spot the past two years, but this year it’s relegated to number two. Don’t let that sway you from missing out on Michele Soavi’s classic DellaMorte DellaMore, also known as Cemetery Man here in the states. I first discovered it in 1998 thanks to Image Entertainment’s domestic laserdisc release. If ever there was a zombie flick with brains (pun intended), this is it. It’s a tale of love, anguish, and sorrow – with zombies! If that’s not enough to sell you, the breathtaking Anna Falchi should serve nicely to seal the deal. 1. The Stand (1978) Read a book! There is nothing scarier than what one can cook up in their own noggin with some help from a good author. You can say Stephen King has jumped the shark, and I might be inclined to agree, but there's no arguing the guy had a damn good run. This was single-handedly the most difficult number one pick I have ever had. I was a King nut growing up and there are simply so many of his books I would want to recommend to people out there. The Dark Tower series for its epic nature and wonderful mix of western and science fiction; Bag of Bones as a chilling yet touching ghost story that make you realize just how good King is at writing characters and making you care about them, yet how heartless he can be with those characters; or Dreamcatcher simply for the fact that is an excellent novel that is often overlooked due to a dreadful movie. There are countless others, of course, and I'm cheating a bit by talking about some of his works that I didn't choose for the number one slot. In the end I had to decide what King novel stuck with me the most over the years, and which one scared me the most. That novel is The Stand. It has its flaws, yet remains one of his finest works. I'll never forget reading when Larry Underwood entered the Lincoln Tunnel in an effort to escape the city. I was a kid, mind you, but when I read that sequence, I was terrified. The sheer horror I felt as Larry crawled over decaying corpses in pure darkness, and the horror from his own imagination; that will always stay with me. One moment isn't enough to recommend an 1100 page novel. Thankfully The Stand is full of memorable moments. It's an epic tale of good versus evil in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out 90% of the human population. It's full of great characters, action, adventure, romance, and, of course, a good amount of scares. It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. That's it for 2009, folks! See ya next year!