Thursday, October 31, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Casper Award Winners!

It's the moment you've all been waiting for!

Happy Halloween! Adam here, hoping you had a wonderful Scary Movie Month. It really flew by this year. Hats off to all of you for your excellent comments and seven-word reviews. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them. Boy, I am already looking forward to October 2014!

To close out October and celebrate what has shaped out to be a great year in horror movies, here are the winners for the first annual Casper Awards, including some surprise awards not mentioned in last week’s nominations column. Thank you all for voting for our lifetime achievement award -- the Van Dien. You made a great first selection!

Surprise Awards

Best Fantasy Sequence: The Lords of Salem, for its batshit crazy radio show which could never exist.

Best Kill: You’re Next, for the dispatch by blender.
Best Original Music: The Lords of Salem single that’s so good it’s only on vinyl.

Best Scene in a Bad Movie: Evil Dead, for the final Jane Levy vs. demon/raining blood sequence.
Best Sequel: Hatchet III

Biggest Blue Balls: Curse of Chucky, for showing us the chili preparation and the chili dinner but not the dishes being cleaned.

The Chucky WHO?: The Conjuring, for the adorable Annabelle doll.
The Deflating Balloon: Mama, for starting out interesting and ending up about as good as Darkness Falls.

The ‘I Hate U2’: (TIE) The ABC’s of Death & Room 237
The Inexplicable: The Purge, because Ethan Hawke’s neighbors all hate him for profiting on the security systems that are the only thing that protect them from, I don’t know, BECOMING VICTIMS OF THE PURGE THEMSELVES.

Luckiest Character: (TIE) The kid who never gets haunted in Insidious: Chapter 2 or the chicken that Vera Farmiga plays with in The Conjuring.
The ‘My Mom is Cooler than Your Mom’: Elijah Wood’s bangin’ parental guardian in Maniac.

The OMG YES! Moment: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, for the first appearance of Edward the Troll.
The Pass Gas: The Lords of Salem, for the scene of a naked Sheri Moon Zombie butt-up in bed where it looks like she might fart but she doesn’t. (Insert Doug making a fart noise).

The Punch You in the Balls with Irony Award: Would You Rather, for its darker-than-dark conclusion.

Scariest Scene: Insidious: Chapter 2, for the scene where a shitload of ghosts swarms Dalton (Ty Simpkins) in bed.

The Stay Out of Our Genre: World War Z, for pussyfooting around and being a vanilla, yet somehow nihilistic, zombie movie.

The Uncanny Valley: Maniac, for the scene where Elijah Wood, who looks like the guy in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, is watching the guy who looks like Elijah Wood in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

And Now For Our Main Awards…

Best Supporting Actress

Barbara Crampton, You’re Next
Meg Foster, The Lords of Salem
Judy Geeson, The Lords of Salem
Nicole Kidman, Stoker
Lili Taylor, The Conjuring

How We Voted:

Adam: Meg Foster

Doug: Judy Geeson

Erich: Meg Foster. If I had to pick a pretentious-yet-accurate word to describe her performance it would be "transformative" (also, "dirterotigag").

Erika: Judy Geeson. Though all the ladies from TLOS are deserving...

Heath: Meg Foster. Meg Foster has made her career out of being the attractive woman with a hint of darkness in her eyes, which makes her appearance in The Lords of Salem even more shocking. She's either completely evil or has spent WAY too much time in the tanning booth.

Heather Wixson: Meg Foster. Holy hell, the only words that could possibly sum up Meg's performance adequately are totally fearless.

JB: (TIE) Barbara Crampton -- How good was Crampton? It took me ten minutes to realize it was her!
And a Write-In, Dee Wallace Stone in The Lords of Salem because I thought she was really funny in a movie that didn't necessarily need comic relief.

Mike: Barbara Crampton

Patrick: Nicole Kidman

And the Casper Goes To...
Meg Foster for The Lords of Salem

Best Supporting Actor

A.J. Bowen, You’re Next
Ansel Elgort, Carrie
Jeff Daniel Phillips, The Lords of Salem
Joe Swanberg, You’re Next

Nicholas Tucci, You’re Next

How We Voted:

Adam: Jeff Daniel Phillips

Doug: Jeff Daniel Phillips

Erich: Jeff Daniel Phillips. The Lords of Salem didn't use nearly enough of Phillips, but his sweet affection for Heidi grounded a movie with a loose grip on reality.

Erika: (TIE) A.J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg. I can't decide. Bowen plays the straight man so well, but Swanberg provides comic relief and later genuine shock in a way that makes you appreciate his character much more. Hmmm... Do I have to decide? Can't they share?

Heath: Jeff Daniel Phillips. It's hard to be a regular person in a horror movie when things are falling apart around you. Jeff Daniel Phillips feels like a real human being surrounded by extraordinary circumstances, and is all the more sympathetic for it.

Heather Wixson: A.J. Bowen. Hard to say why I loved Bowen's role without getting into spoilers, but he proves once again in YN that he's one of the best indie genre actors of his or any generation.

JB: (Write-In) Bruce Davison, The Lords of Salem. Maybe it is just because I have a lot of affection for this actor, having made the journey with him from Willard to the X-Men to Seinfeld, but Bruce Davison in a movie feels like a warm sweater. Plus, I thought he was really good in The Lords of Salem in an underwritten role.

Mike: Jeff Daniel Phillips

Patrick: Jeff Daniel Phillips

And the Casper Goes To...
Jeff Daniel Phillips for The Lords of Salem

Best Actress


Gemma Arterton, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Vera Farmiga, The Conjuring
Katherine Isabelle, American Mary
Jane Levy, Evil Dead
Sharni Vinson, You're Next

How We Voted:

Adam: Jane Levy just barely over Sharni Vinson.

Doug: Sharni Vinson

Erich: Sharni Vinson. You're Next is up there with my favorite movie-going experiences of 2013, and the surprising Vinson has everything to do with that.

Erika: Sharni Vinson. Nothing else compares! She had a great cast to work with and exciting direction, but still... she's a beast! And she's Australian. How are they all so pretty?

Heath: Sharni Vinson. The very first thing I did when I left the theater after seeing You're Next was to look up Sharni Vinson in IMDB and see just how many movies of hers I could find. She's the best thing to happen to movies since popcorn.

Heather Wixson: Sharni Vinson. There wasn't an ass that Sharni didn't kick in this movie. Breakout performances don't get any better than this.

JB: Vera Farmiga. For her convincing portrayal of…Vera Farmiga.

Mike: Sharni Vinson

Patrick: Jane Levy

And the Casper Goes To...
Sharni Vinson for You’re Next

Best Actor


Jeffrey Combs, Would You Rather
Ethan Hawke, The Purge
Jeremy Renner, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Patrick Wilson, The Conjuring
Elijah Wood, Maniac

How We Voted:

Adam: Patrick Wilson

Doug: (Write-In) Matthew Goode, Stoker

Erich: Patrick Wilson. Wilson's consistently good (and I've only seen one of the other nominated performances).

Erika: Patrick Wilson. It's the only performance I've seen in this category. Does this vote still count?

Heath: Jeremy Renner. Renner's leading man status makes his role in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters even more enjoyable. I love when actors take roles because they want to be in the movie, not just for a paycheck. It's a rare move these days.

Heather Wixson: Elijah Wood. I didn't think Wood could get any creepier than his role in Sin City. I was wrong.

JB: (Write-In) Rhys Wakefield in The Purge because he had a lot of screen time, was super creepy, and played a character named Polite Leader. Hee hee. Also, I think Wilson and Hawke both phoned it in.

Mike: Ethan Hawke

Patrick: Jeffrey Combs

And the Casper Goes To...
Patrick Wilson for The Conjuring

Best Director

Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahanto, V/H/S 2 ("Safe Haven" segment only)
James Wan, The Conjuring
Adam Wingard, You’re Next
Tommy Wirkola, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem

How We Voted:

Adam: James Wan

Doug: Tommy Wirkola

Erich: James Wan, for the same reasons The Conjuring is my favorite of the year. Wan chooses just the right sounds, shots, and moments to maximize the scares.

Erika: (TIE) Rob Zombie and Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahanto. Can I make this one a tie? I have to include Zombie because he directs films that actually scare me -- like, in that way where I'm convinced a country road trip will end in a Sid Haig-related nightmare. And I just saw "Safe Haven" last weekend and really liked it, again in that way where I'm convinced a trip to make a documentary will end in a cult-like leader... well, I can't really say anything else in fear of spoiling this for horror fans. Just see it! You'll know what I mean.

Heath: Rob Zombie. The Lords of Salem seems like a big departure for Zombie, who has carved out a reputation for making a particular kind of film. His latest is nothing like anything he's done before and shows a filmmaker with a lot of patience and understanding of the genre (and a lot of faith in his audience to follow him).

Heather Wixson: Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahanto. Gareth & Timo directed the HELL out of this segment. Easily one of the best anthology segments ever & probably one of the best things you'll see all year.

JB: Rob Zombie. I will admit though, that Adam Wingard directed the SHIT out of You're Next.

Mike: Adam Wingard

Patrick: Adam Wingard

And the Casper Goes To...
Rob Zombie for The Lords of Salem

Best Horror Movie


The Conjuring

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

The Lords of Salem


You’re Next

How We Voted:

Adam: You’re Next

Doug: You’re Next

Erich: The Conjuring. No horror movie I saw this year made me as nervous or jumpy. James Wan knows how to push my buttons.

Erika: You’re Next. I've only seen three of the five nominees, but I like all three! This one was tough.

Heath: The Lords of Salem. A horror movie has not upset me like The Lords of Salem upset me in years. It's a combination of the insane imagery and the overall sense of dread that builds as the film rolls toward its conclusion. It totally unnerved me.

Heather Wixson: You’re Next. You're Next embodied everything I love about the horror genre. It was smart, had a great story with fantastic characters/performances and somehow managed to make the home invasion subgenre feel fresh once again.

JB: The Lords of Salem. Yes, I know that You're Next was super entertaining, but given the twists and revelations at the movie's end, I am NOT even sure that it IS a horror movie. The Lords of Salem was its own thing. It took its time to establish its own funky atmosphere. I love its slowly mounting sense of dread. It was like David Lynch on cough syrup. This one got under my skin.

Mike: You’re Next

Patrick: You’re Next

And the Casper Goes To...
You’re Next

The Readers' Choice Selection for the Casper Van Dien Lifetime Achievement Award is...

Here's a little of what you all had to say:

Shannon Briggs – “John Carpenter for the Van Dien.”

Sol O. – “As for my vote for recipient of the Van Dien - gotta go with my man, John Carpenter. Though he wouldn't win any "What Have You Done for Me Lately" awards (though I really loved listening to his new Halloween commentary), no one else has a trifecta of horror movies I enjoy as much as Halloween, The Thing and They Live.”

Albert Muller – “John Carpenter for the Van Dien. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY (yes, even Hitch) knows how to shoot horror like the master.”

Congrats to everyone! You are all winners. It's just that some of you won more.

Thank you all for the best Scary Movie Month ever!! Only 364 days until we start up again!


  1. This clearly took a lot of time and effort, Adam. This is REALLY well done.

  2. Seconded. Great job Adam!

    I guessed all but two right. What do I win? Should I send you my address, or just post my Social Security Number on the website like I usually do?

  3. @Erich - You win red carpet duties for next year's Caspers.

    1. Does that mean I have to clean up after the demonic elephants again? Because if so, NO THANKS!

  4. Great job Adam - the surprise awards are hilarious. And unlike the Oscars, everyone who was nominated for the main awards was totally deserving so I don't think there's a contentious result to be had here, though I may have been disappointed if You're Next had'nt've won Best Horror Movie.

    Glad to see Johnny C get the Van Dien, though it did occur to me after I'd put in my vote that there may be no one more deserving for a lifetime contribution to horror movies award than Stephen King. I know his sole directorial outing was pretty poor, and the adaptations of his books are more miss than hit, but he probably deserves some credit for horror's popularity in general and he's undoubtedly influenced many of the people who work in the genre - I stand by my Carpenter vote, but was surprised to see he wasn't mentioned - just out of curiousity, would you have even considered him eligible for the Van Dien or was it more for actors/directors?

    1. King would be eligible since his impact on movie horror is so well-regarded and impactful. A good vote for next year's Caspers!

  5. Great job, guys! Excellent list.

    I would pick King above anybody anywhere ever for horror overall, but for cinema it's Carpenter all the way.

    Adam: honestly, I don't come into these things wanting to argue with you, but...comparing Mama to Darkness Falls? As in, their quality is roughly the same?

    (composes self)

    Sir, I feel you are very much incorrect in your assessment. It scared me and got me emotionally as well. Having it compared to tripe like Darkness Falls...I find myself taking an unscheduled visit to Anger Town. That said, it's not like I am psychotic and would actually physically fight you if you were in front of me, but I would more than likely throw something in your general direction.
    (you would call me an ass, I would tell you don't go talkin' bad about my Mama, we would hopefully laugh and then talk about stuff we both like)

    Also, it's pretty damn cool to see one of my favorite sites mentioning something I said about The Horror Master. Thanks, all!

    1. Albert,

      If you don't want to argue with me, then don't argue with me. I'm cool with your opinion. Be cool with mine.

    2. Adam,
      I DO completely respect your opinion as well as your right to have it differ from mine. I simply enjoy giving you a hard time about said differences. As I stated, I would like to believe that were we in a room together we would end up laughing about it. That said, I have no problem with letting you have your say no matter what I think about it, because that's the only fair way to see it. Happy movie watching -

      (the new layout looks good too, guys!)

    3. Brad L - you know I can't do that :-)

      Albert - I have to go to work now.

  6. Enjoyed reading this one! If you haven't already, check out THE BATTERY. I think it may have changed your list a bit. Not complaining, just sharing more horror goodness! Keep it up!

    1. That's one of several horror movies from this year that I can't wait to check out (We Are What We Are being another one). I'll be sure to see it soon! Thanks, Kyle!