Just watched my 700th foreign horror. Foreign for me means anything outside of the United States. I indulged in Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s ALUCARDA (1975) from Mexico.
Other than the constant screaming, ALUCARDA had a lot to offer visually. The set was organic, and the colors seemed straight out of a Bava film. Additionally, the costumes were pretty wild. One critic stated the nuns seemed to look like mummies, but they reminded me of something bloodied and discharged. I loved the quirkiness of the tale, two young women captivated by evil (and I’m sure the lesbian vampirism probably made Jess Franco froth at the mouth). Though entertaining, some of the acting had much to be desired, and oftentimes, the editing was lackluster. Even so, I’ll give it 2.5 out of five stars.
It’s a decent way to hit 700.
Granted, this number, especially out of having watched 1,427 horror films as of this writing, does not mean 700 separate movies. Many are co-productions, even with the United States, so the actual number is smaller. And no, I’m not going to count every film on the list.
I love foreign cinema for many reasons. All languages seem to have a rhythm that English can’t quite attain. Better still, I enjoy the differences in pace, lighting, color, and the usual lack of sterile commercialism. There are so many great horrors from many countries, choosing a particular film as “the best of the best” is uncalled for as well as extremely difficult.
As for the top countries, whose horrors I have indulged in the most: UK (143), Japan (101), Canada (79), France (54), Italy (51), Germany (43), Korea (35), Spain (34), Australia (28), Hong Kong (16). None of these numbers came out by design. I’m simply looking for the best possible horror films from any and every nation.
Regardless, there are a multitude of standouts, and the ones listed below have earned anywhere from a 4.5 or greater out of 5 stars. If you haven’t seen these, please do so – and remember to listen to the native tongues instead of a godawful dub that could easily undermine and destroy the entire experience. By engaging the film in the original language, you’ll better embrace the emotion of the actors. Even good, modern dubbings pale in comparison.
Best foreign horrors:
Peeping Tom (UK, 1960)
An unsettling character study of a serial killer akin to Hitchcock’s Norman Bates – but better.
The Haunting (UK/USA, 1963)
Shirley Jackson’s novel brought to life with a ton of thematic firepower.
The Legend of Hell House (UK, 1973)
An atmospheric haunted house tale that takes few prisoners.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Australia, 1975)
Unnerving in its subtlety and ambiguity, which creates a grand mystery.
The Last Wave (Australia, 1977)
A dramatic story that rises to an Apocalyptic crescendo.
Alien (UK/USA, 1979)
The greatest science-fiction/horror ever made.
The Changeling (Canada, 1980)
One of the best ghost stories with one hell of a creep factor.
The Shining (UK/USA, 1980)
A maze of a haunted hotel with an atmosphere like no other.
Possession (UK, 1981)
The intense performances alone will send you to therapy as a couple’s life collapses.
Videodrome (Canada, 1983)
It’s one wild mind-trip with a lot to say about modern life in a world of over-stimulation.
Lifeforce (UK/USA, 1985)
A wild B-movie twist on the vampiric theme.
Hellraiser (UK, 1987)
A bloody, action-packed demonic extravaganza.
Lair of the White Worm (UK, 1988)
This is a crazy and freakish romp on Bram Stoker’s less famous novel.
Naked Lunch (Canada/Japan/USA, 1991)
William S. Burroughs’s mind-blowing tale about his drug enhanced lifestyle.
Dust Devil (UK, 1992)
A thematic as well as dramatic ride through the desert.
Cemetery Man (Italy, 1994)
Action, romance, comedy and theme mark this intelligent zombie film.
Cube (Canada, 1997)
A cerebral and interesting movie for the conspiracy ridden claustrophobic.
The Devil’s Advocate (Germany/USA, 1997)
A fantastic narrative with one devilish master plan.
Perfect Blue (Japan, 1998)
An animated feature to rock your world on many psychological levels.
eXistenZ (UK/Canada, 1999)
If this is the future of video games, hold onto your quarters.
The Ninth Gate (France/Spain, 1999)
A grand mystery and thriller for bibliophiles of the devilish kind.
Ôdishon (Audition) (Japan, 1999)
A quirky, freaky mystery and a third act to completely unravel your mind.
Blood: The Last Vampire (Japan, 2000)
Stunning animation for an action-packed vampire tale.
Ginger Snaps (Canada, 2000)
A quirky coming-of-age werewolf tale like no other.
Bijita Q (Visitor Q) (Japan, 2001)
This disturbing quirkfest will rattle your mind – and you may never drink milk again.
Dog Soldiers (UK, 2002)
A rocking werewolf tale in bloody Scotland – very bloody.
The Ring (Japan/USA, 2002)
This dramatic mystery puts the original to shame.
A Tale of Two Sisters (Korea, 2003)
A real mind-bender of a drama with astonishing cinematography.
Gozu (Japan, 2003)
Miike does Lynch proud with one outlandish yakuza adventure.
Shutter (Thailand, 2004)
Revenge ghost tale with stellar creepiness.
The Uninvited Guest (Spain, 2004)
A sordid tale with riveting suspense that never lets the audience take a breath.
Yogen (Premonition) (Japan, 2004)
A newspaper of horror and death you’ll never want to read.
Isolation (Ireland, 2005)
One farm, several cows and an experiment. What could go wrong?
Grimm Love (Germany, 2006)
This dramatic and sad tale of actual cannibalism will leave you numb.
The Orphanage (Spain, 2007)
Brilliant, ghostly drama that may have you in tears.
Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008)
This may be the strongest vampire tale ever told.
Martyrs (France/Canada, 2008)
The most disturbing film ever made? Torture porn with a philosophy.
Pontypool (Canada, 2008)
A riveting and a unique twist on the zombie genre.
Suck (Canada, 2009)
Rock and roll, comedy/horror awesomeness.
Triangle (UK, 2009)
A wild trip of terror you’ll have to watch more than once.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil (Canada/USA, 2010)
An intelligent comedy/horror of great irony, and much satisfaction.
If you have any foreign horror recommendations, and think I’ve missed something, please let me know.