Who had the genius idea of counting down the best siege movies in horror? Why, it was our friend Dustin Meadows – filmmaker, actor, composer, comic and all around awesome dude. So awesome that he brought filmmaker Alison Locke (The Apology) to the club and we ranked the best bloody sieges in horror.
5. 30 Days of Night (2007)
A horde of very nasty vampires descend upon an arctic town cut off from civilization and facing 30 solid days of night. A pod of survivors hides in an attic, careful not to make any noise or draw any attention to themselves. One old man has dementia, which generates a lot of tension in the group, since he’s hard to contain and keep quiet.
There’s no knowing whether the town has any other survivors, and some of these guys are getting itchy. Then they hear a small voice outside.
Walking and sobbing down the main drag is a little girl, crying for help. It’s as pathetic a scene as any in such a film, and it may be the first moment in the picture where you identify with the trapped, who must do the unthinkable. Because, what would you do?
As the would-be heroes in the attic begin to understand this ploy, the camera on the street pulls back to show Danny Huston and crew perched atop the nearby buildings. The sobbing tot amounts to the worm on their reel.
4. From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
This one represents a kind of backwards siege. Our heroes (though most of them are hardly heroic) are trapped inside the villain’s lair already and have to fight them off from there. But they only have to keep these vampires at bay until dawn.
You have everything you need for a good siege movie. A horde of baddies, a trapped group of characters whose true character will be revealed, scrappy weapons making, traitors in the midst, and the desperate hope to make it til morning.
Robert Rodiguez impresses with Tarantino’s south of the border tale with an outrageous and thoroughly entertaining mixture of sex, blood and bad intentions.
3. Dog Soldiers (2002)
Wry humor, impenetrable accents, a true sense of isolation and blood by the gallon help separate Neil Marshall’s (The Descent) Dog Soldiers from legions of other wolfmen tales.
Marshall creates a familiarly tense feeling, brilliantly straddling monster movie and war movie. A platoon is dropped into an enormous forest for a military exercise. There’s a surprise attack. The remaining soldiers hunker down in an isolated cabin to mend, figure out WTF, and strategize for survival.
This is like any good genre pic where a battalion is trapped behind enemy lines – just as vivid, bloody and intense. Who’s gone soft? Who will risk what to save a buddy? How to outsmart the enemy?
But the enemies this time are giant, hairy, hungry monsters. Woo hoo!
2. Green Room (2015)
Young punk band the Ain’t Rights is in desperate need of a paying gig, even if it is at a rough private club for the “boots and braces” crowd (i.e. white power skinheads). Bass guitarist Pat (Anton Yelchin) eschews social media promotion for the “time and aggression” of live shows, and when he accidentally witnesses a murder in the club’s makeshift green room, Pat and his band find plenty of both.
As he did with Blue Ruin, Saulnier plunges unprepared characters into a world of casual savagery, finding out just what they have to offer in a nasty backwoods standoff. It’s a path worn by Straw Dogs, Deliverance, and plenty more, but Saulnier again shows a knack for establishing his own thoughtful thumbprint.
1. Aliens (1986)
“Game over, man! Game over!”
That was the moment. The Marines believed they were in for a bug hunt. Ripley knew better. And now they were trapped. Surrounded.
The scene where the Marines and company see that they are outnumbered and out maneuvered by their xenomorph opponents is a jumping off moment for James Cameron. More action film than horror, Aliens still terrifies with sound design, production design, and the realization that these beasties are organized.