Was 2004 One of the Best Years for Horror?


Every year, we’re good for at least a couple of memorable horror movies. Whether they’re out-of-nowhere stunners or big blockbuster slashers, we can count on freaking out in theaters. In rare cases, we get fixated for 12-straight months on a non-stop horror fest, which brings us to 2004.

When fans looked at the horror slate for 2004, a few movies jumped off the page. We had a remake of a classic and a prequel to another, new installments to long-running franchises and M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film. It was the lesser known movies though that really grabbed our attention in ’04. Let’s start with a pair of horror-comedy blenders.

Jay Chandrasekhar’s Club Dread (February 27th)

When people think of February, they probably think of Valentine’s Day right? Well we got a pleasant surprise late in the month when the Broken Lizard gang put out their third picture: Club Dread. What made Dread so great was that they made it just as much about horror as they did comedy. A lot of these blender movies, like Scary Movie, put more emphasis on the comedic beats (not a knock at Scary Movie, I freaking love it). They captured and executed traditional horror tropes that even made you jump at times instead of just mocking the scary movie stereotypes. When you combine this with the hilarious characters, it’s no wonder the famed crew calls this their funniest movie.

Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (September 24th)

Fast forward to September, and probably the best horror-comedy blender of all time Shaun of the Dead rolls out. This was one of those previously referred to movies that was almost entirely satire and poked fun at horror movies. It’s a big risk to do this type of movie because if you get it wrong, you look like pompous assholes. No surprise Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright absolutely nailed it, encompassing all zombie movies for their material. Not to mention this movie had some heart to it as well. How can you not get choked up during Shaun and Ed’s final goodbye?

Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge (October 22nd)

Over in Japan, thousands were terrified from Ju-on: The Grudge ever since 2002. Mid-October in 2004 featured the American remake simply titled, The Grudge. Remember, this is 12 years ago and pirating movies was non-existent. So people started spreading the word that one of Japan’s scariest movies ever was getting an American version, and that’s all the marketing this picture needed. Everyone wanted to test their wits, and as a result, The Grudge opened to nearly $40M it its first weekend. It may not be considered the scariest movie of ’04, but with it’s unique imagery and that iconic low moan that became so often used to scare your friends, The Grudge made your skin crawl.

James Wan’s Saw (October 29th)

More from Horror Movies

Probably the most unforgettable movie of the year (and my personal favorite) was released just a week later. Saw was on no one’s radar due to its lack of star power and shoestring budget, but those reasons are what helped make this movie so damn interesting. Just like the shocking box office success, the twist ending had us spiraling and we had to re-watch it just to make some sense of what happened. The conclusion masterfully answered all of our questions yet left us begging for more. Be careful what you wish for. Six movies later and I think we’ve all had our fix. Even still, I’ll never forget my initial reaction when Jigsaw rose from the middle of that rundown bathroom.

Next: Horror Movies: The Best Before The Millennium (1999)

But wait!…There’s more! The year also included these honorable mentions: Dawn of the Dead (remake), The VillageResident Evil: ApocalypseSeed of Chucky and Exorcist: The Beginning. Not all of these movies were home runs but you can’t deny their clout or popularity.

What are your thoughts on the movies mentioned above? Is there anything from 2004 that we missed? Drop a comment below and join in on the conversation. You can also read our year in review for 1999 on 1428 Elm.