Monthly Archives: December 2014

Crash Discussions: The Horror of Self-Censorship

The Last KnockIn the wake of Sony’s bungling over CyberVandalism, we look at how their idiotic move may affect independent horror, and what silver lining might be found in the censorship cloud. We also talk about Eli Roth’s THE GREEN INFERNO, and the still absent THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES. Want more?

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Crash Analysis Support Team: The 1990s: Horror’s Lost Decade – Guest Post from Paul J. Williams

JacobsLadderBRtopPart 1: 1990 to 1995

Please allow me to preface this article with a warning and a statement: Beware! Dozens of movies are discussed in this article and spoilers may exist, so please keep that in mind as you read. And I’m not a movie historian or expert; I’m just a cinephile, probably like you, who enjoys horror movies.

I love the 1990s. I turned thirteen in 1990 (please don’t do the math) and feel the person I’ve become today, for better or worse, is because these formative years of my life were lived between 1990 and 2000.

Now that we’re halfway through the 2010s, enough time has passed that I realize the 2000s were an awesome decade for horror movies. The re-haunting of ghost stories, the French and Asian invasion, zombies coming back to life with vigor, the found-footage frenzy, torture-porn, it goes on and on.

We all know now what 1980’s horror was mostly about: the teenage slasher craze, which, much like the hair/glam metal music of the same decade, holds more of a special spot in my heart than my brain. I love it, but then the thought came to me…

What the hell happened in the ‘90s with horror?

I asked my friend, horror expert, and founder of Crash Palace Productions, Bill Prystauk, this question and in short order, he compiled his “best-of” list for ‘90s horror. My suspicions were confirmed: It was overall a lame decade for the genre. And if you do a quick Google search, you’ll discover I’m not the only one who’s pointed this out.

Okay, so why? That should be easy enough to answer!

The World of the 1990s: A Tale of Two Decades

The Early ‘90s: The Worst of Times?

Taking a broad view of the decade shows us it began at the close of the Cold War and ended right before 9/11. Despite a rise (or at least a perception of an increase) in mass shootings and school massacres, culminating in the most infamous at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, and intermittent occurrences of attacks from homegrown and foreign terrorists, that, tragically, pale in comparison in today’s world, I think the decade is looked upon as one of relative peace and prosperity.

However, starting in the 1980s and climaxing in the early 1990s, was an economic recession, which either resulted in or was compounded by, skyrocketing incidents of violence and crime throughout cities of the United States. This was punctuated by the First Gulf War and the fight against our new boogeyman, Sadam Hussein, who needed to replace the old boogeyman, the USSR, which collapsed a year prior. Though the conflict was short-lived, Americans still lost their lives in this new, twentieth-century warfare, which was captured on television for the world to see.

The early 1990s introduced us to two foes: the modern introduction to Islamic fundamentalist-based terrorism, which came in the form of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and home-grown horror involving that of the far-right (Waco, Unabomber, Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing), and school shootings, the latter which still haunts us today.

So, how were these times reflected in our movies?

Cinema of the Early ‘90s: Post-Mortem

1990’s movies certainly weren’t all fun, feel-good affairs. Quite the opposite. Mature, serious themes were tackled in such films as THE CRYING GAME, PHILADELPHIA, and, most notably, SCHINDLER’S LIST.

More adult-oriented, erotic thrillers and dramas such as BASIC INSTINCT, SHOWGIRLS, and HENRY AND JUNE played in theaters, much more it seems than the young adult flicks we have today. Political and legal-themed movies were popular, many adapted from John Grisham and Tom Clancy novels.

Hyper-violent films from Martin Scorsese and other “mafia”-related movies of the time were huge, and a new guy on-the-scene, Quentin Tarantino, put new twists on the crime drama. This time period also gave rise to a sub-genre of crime dramas, dismissively called, though perhaps unintentionally, “hood films.” Acclaimed examples of these important and expositive, yet depressing and sometimes nihilistic films, are 1991’s BOYZ N THE HOOD (the most recognized of the list, written and directed by John Singleton (who, unfortunately, never came close to capturing this type of magic again), and showed us, despite the safe, friendly movie paychecks Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson) cashes now, the dude can act; Mario Van Peebles’ NEW JACK CITY (1991), the Hughes Brothers’ MENCACE II SOCIETY (1993), and perhaps the lesser known, but still as powerful, SOUTH CENTRAL (1992), adapted by Stephen Milburn Anderson from a novel by Donald Bakeer.

Perhaps over-shadowing all this was the Disney renaissance. Starting with THE LITTLE MERMAID in 1989, Walt Disney Animations Studio produced some of the most iconic movies of the decade: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING, and POCAHONTAS. These family-oriented films became very popular, collectively grossing billions of dollars.

Side note: A five-month-long Writer’s Guild strike in 1988 led to a spec-script boom in the ‘90s. Looking to buy these screenplays were producers seeking to capitalize on the home video rental and sales market, which had proven to be a money tree that began growing in the ‘80s. This leads to one of the biggest paradoxes: If horror films have the tenets we’ve always heard about: built-in audience, particularly the youth demographic, were “cheap” to make, can spawn sequels, and more, why weren’t horror specs, which I’m sure were floating around at the time, getting produced?

Early 90’s Horror: Dead on Arrival

Well, labeling it D.O.A. might be unfair.

So, as all the aforementioned trials and tribulations of the early 1990s would find its way into genres of other movies, this would seem to be the perfect climate for horror movies to emerge, right?

Not quite. Instead, we got inferior and unneeded sequels to once successful horror films from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and were subjected to low-budget, straight-to-video productions, that I suppose have always haunted the genre.

What was horror’s contribution to those gripping urban, crime films? 1991’s THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and 1995’s VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN (you can thank Wes Craven for both of those winners); TALES FROM THE HOOD (1995; directed by Rusty Cundieff), and finishing out the decade, though a little late, is 2001’s BONES (directed by Ernest Dickerson, starring Snoop Doog)…’Nough said…

Honorable Mentions:

To be fair, the early ‘90s gave us a couple of gems: Barely making it into the decade was 1990’s JACOB’S LADDER (directed by Adrian Lyne from a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin), and although the movie’s set in the 1970s, it’s an early look at what we’ve all now become familiar with: soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and contains an ending later made more famous by M. Night Shamalyan.

Another urban-based horror that appealed to many was 1992’s CANDYMAN, written and directed by Bernard Rose from Clive Barker’s short story, “The Forbidden”. This would be one of the better “urban legend” themed stories of the decade.

IT and MISERY appeared on the small screen and big screen, respectively. These mostly faithful adaptations of Stephen King novels represent the best of the many, many movies based on the author’s books during this time.

Case Study: SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and SEVEN: Identity Crises

It’s understandable why many horror fans lay claim to these two films. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991; directed by Jonathan Demme; adapted by screenwriter Ted Tally from the novel by Thomas Harris) was not only nominated, but won Oscars for (get ready for it): Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Jodie Foster) and Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) for his iconic twenty-something minute portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. His performance of the intelligent, articulate, and cold, yet weirdly moral, cannibalistic sociopath, paved the way for many cinematic copycats for years to come.

A movie this critically and financially successful could legitimize the horror genre, something that some, but certainly not all, horror fans want, and solidify the genre as a worthy opponent in cinema.

1995 gave us SEVEN (or SE7EN if you’re hip enough), directed by the wonderful David Fincher from an original screenplay written by Andrew Kevin Walker. Another quintessential mid-90s spec-script story, this perfectly casted and finely acted movie tells the story of a serial killer whose victims have egregiously violated one of the seven deadly sins. This gives us an episodic police procedural filled with unforgettable scenes, smart and brave detectives, a unique killer, and a shocking ending that goes down in movie history.

Though not recognized by the Academy Awards, the film was a hit with critics and audiences, eventually grossing $327+ million worldwide. A (ridiculous) sequel titled EI8HT (swear to God) was in the works as late as 2002, but thankfully, it was eventually dropped.

So, here’s it comes: Are they horrors?

Of course, labeling art can oftentimes be arbitrary, is ultimately pointless, and, frankly, counter-productive, but play along with me, please.

  1. Both films, essentially, play as police procedurals. Not necessarily “who-dun-its” as in each movie the killer’s identity is revealed earlier than most other films of this nature.
  2. The movies’ points-of-view, for the most part, are from that of law enforcement, and not of the victims or killers.
  3. Neither film contains elements of the supernatural.
  4. While each film certainly contains “horrific” scenes, this would open up movies like SALO or SCHINDLER’S LIST as potential horror movies, as these films contain some of the most disturbing, visceral movie scenes to date.

Ultimately, if these movies were released in the 2000s instead of the 1990s, I don’t even think this would be up for debate. They would be categorized as thrillers and crime-dramas.

So, would the latter half of the decade scare the bejesus out of us? Not really, but certainly more than the former half.

To be continued…

Paul J. Williams is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer. Also a decorated law enforcement officer of eighteen years, he currently serves as a police officer in Morris County, New Jersey. Paul previously served with the U.S. Department of Justice as a federal officer and the Newark Police Department, where he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award, and responded to Ground Zero in New York City after the 9/11 attacks. CASE #5930, the short film he wrote and produced, will be released in early 2015.

(JACOB’S LADDER photo from Joblo.)

Crash Discussions: Director of the Damned: Takashi Miike

The Last Knock
With our very special guest, David Koenig, we take a look at the career of the prolific and enigmatic director Takashi Miike, from AUDITION and ICHI THE KILLER, to VISITOR Q and the banned “Imprint” episode. But we go deeper into the Miike’s non-horror films, and try to focus on what makes his work distinct, riveting, and apprehensive.

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Crash Discussions: Deadly Dolls

The Last KnockPuppets, mannequins, and dolls bring terror in a special psychological package called pediophobia. We explain where this unwarranted fear comes from and how producers have used it to plague audiences with these deadly dolls from MAGIC and POLTERGEIST, to LOVE OBJECT, DEAD SILENCE, and the entire PUPPETMASTER series.

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Crash Analysis Support Team: A Little Bit of Horror in Paris… Guest Post from Emilie Flory

Visuel1Pifff

With the explosion of a genre stunner that’s going to trigger some serious shock waves: Starry Eyes

A little bit of horror in Paris with the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival that just wound up its fourth year!

A little bit of horror… But too little, far too little in the end! If it’s true that globalization pushes creative movie products and works to the sidelines, French distributors’ heroic blinkered attitude toward genre films, which are constantly growing, makes you wonder! Showing hastily subtitled copies of John Dies at the End and All Cheerleaders Die was, from this standpoint, an unbelievable challenge for PIFFF during its previous years. The possibility of offering us stock cinema horror in 2014 has been reduced even more. Yet the audience is there, always in greater numbers, eager, loyal… Cult screenings, X-rated, out of competition or in competition, evening or afternoon, genre film fans filled the Gaumont Opéra movie theater, just a few minutes from the Paris Opera house.

Out of the eighteen movies shown, only eight were in competition. The festival’s highlight was the fantastic “Alien Invasion” night from 11PM to 7AM with: Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Philip Kaufman, The Blob by Chuck Russell, They Live by John Carpenter and Killer Klowns from Outer Space by Stephen Chiodo. Great movies all, but nothing very new. Whether it was French rigidity or this still young festival’s poor visibility, no world-wide premiere found its way into the selections.

Two fun nightmares, a delirious pseudo S&M tale, a trashy trip in the everyday life of a video journalist and the appalling transformation of an aspiring actress into a star without a soul, here is a brief summary of what we could have seen during these horrific Parisian screenings…

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

The Cult Screenings:

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) Wes Craven – 91 min

Re-released in theaters and presented at PIFFF with a perfect copy for its thirtieth anniversary, A Nightmare on Elm Street was certainly one of the best moments festivalgoers experienced. This top-notch horror film, winner of the Critic Award at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in 1985, still surprises by the tension it establishes from one end of the movie to the other and by the imaginative insanity it displays. Right from the tense and biting first scene with opening credits, shivers thrill through us… The movie’s impact on the big screen is phenomenal and Wes Craven’s genius fantastically powerful. Craven is never better than when he films our nightmares as being the sole and unique reality: We are awestruck by Tina’s disembowelment and levitation, we are staggered by Nancy’s fall into the bottomless pit that her bathtub has become and, most of all, we are petrified by the horrendous carnage committed in the bedroom of Nancy’s boyfriend where a young Johnny Depp, playing her immature lover, turns into a geyser of blood before changing into a torrent, then into a swimming pool full of gore. These mind-blowing scenes are pure moments of madness and filmmaking genius, of rare visual and emotional beauty. A Nightmare On Elm Street still remains today just as surprising, terrifying and exhilarating. In the same style, one has seldom done as well since.

WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971) Ted Kotcheff – 108 min

Shown in the festival with a restored copy after long years in limbo (there were no VHS or DVD releases or TV airings, nothing that would have made it possible to build up this fierce, exceptional movie’s reputation), Wake in Fright has been released in theaters and finally shines forth in all of its voracious, nihilistic and frightening splendor.

The director of First Blood puts us alongside John Grant, a polished “Rambo” who takes on the appearance of a young teacher on his way to Sydney to find his fiancée in an arid Australia where the feeling of isolation and insecurity rival with stupidity, idleness and cruelty. After stopping at Bundanyabba, a small town where he’s going to get bogged down in a gambling addiction, forced alcoholism, sexual brutality, the slaughter of kangaroos and self disgust, Grant is going to return to his home, back to square one, without managing to make it to Sydney…

By showing us the tragic path taken by his sleek, conformist hero, Ted Kotcheff reveals the fine line that separates humanity from animality, and the point where loss of morality and survival merge: An arduous and intimate trip in the revolting lands of human disgust.

The X-Rated Screening:

R100 (2013) Hitoshi Matsumoto – 100 min

R100, whose title refers to the Japanese system of movie classification (understand here that this movie is off limits to any moviegoers under the age of 100), is an “X-rated” comedy, half-absurd, half-cartoonesque with parallel plots and scenes of people in the audience commenting on the movie, apparently to muddle the story. The film is about an ordinary man who signs a one-year contract (with no breach possible) to get roughed up by delectable creatures. Frightened by the painful and dangerous onslaughts these eccentric dominatrixes inflict on him every day, the man ends up breaching his contract at the risk of his life.

The inclusion of short sequences, revealing possible questions the audience might have about the show it’s watching, confirms the idea of a movie by staging the fantasized reality of a hero who’s suffering. All these women, torrid and cruel, are in fact the fruit of his imagination. Through them, the hero gives his tormented mind the punishment it deserves, and gets him closer to the woman he loves – who now lives hooked up to an artificial respirator. The movie ends with the idea that a maximum threshold of suffering would explode all rationality, making this man even capable of giving birth…

Is R100 screwy? Oh, yeah, big time! Yet we remain outside of what is happening on the screen. There are a few striking moments in the movie, like its superb introduction with this fascinating creature who is primping in front of a mirror, or the grotesque dance of the “queen of spit” who inadvertently kills herself plus the irresistible whip attack by the amazing Lindsay Kay Hayward, the movie’s real revelation. But the lack of pace, suspense, provocation and outrage (no scandalous scenes interrupt the comfort the story settles into), when coupled with the movie’s complex meaning, make R100 a lovely objet, somewhat cold and unconventional, but rather boring.

Out of Competition:

NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) Dan Gilroy – 117 min

Released as Night Call in France, Nightcrawler, screenwriter Dan Gilroy’s first feature film, is a tour de force. It’s a thriller where day scenes were shot in 35mm and night scenes in digital. Scope was added in a lab.

The action takes place in Los Angeles. The hero, Lou Bloom, is a petty thief who finds his calling by selling shock video footage to local TV stations. His ambition, supported by a successful beginning and questionable methods, gradually turns into an obsession…

Nightcrawler is a hypnotic movie totally driven by an impressive Jake Gyllenhaal. The actor, who also produced the film, gives 200% of himself in a role of chilling ambiguity. Less charming and rougher than Tom Cruise’s Vincent in Collateral (the two movies are somewhat related particularly in the atmosphere they generate), Jake Gyllenhaal’s character hides behind his good-natured smile as a predatory being that’s purely sadistic. Since Gyllenhaal is very likable, we accept Lou’s true face and his flaws.

In the movie, we follow the path of Lou, a sorry ass loser who struggles to find a job and is forced to steal to survive, up until the day he happens upon an accident. He sees two reporter-scavengers specialized in shooting shock footage that, once sold, will be shown on local TV stations’ major shows. Driven by an evident thirst for revenge, by a definite liking for risk and a remarkable sense of initiative, Lou sees his chance, seizes it, and builds the future he wants as a video journalist. Quicker and smarter than the average person, Lou learns and calculates everything in a flash. He’s out of place, he surprises, he even manages to reach his goal, but once all his efforts are rewarded, he knowingly proves unworthy of what he receives and sets out to enslave all those who helped him on his way up. To make her his “thing,” he humiliates the woman he desires (René Russo’s magnificent) and sacrifices his only friend, hastening his death. He becomes monstrous and bluntly reveals his true nature: “And what if I didn’t have communication problems with people… In fact, what if I didn’t even like them!” he concludes as his “best” friend dies in front of him.

Besides Lou’s fantastic character and Gilroy’s brilliant directing, one of the movie’s most interesting aspects lies in this unbelievable feeling we have of living through certain events as though they were real news items, which suddenly invite themselves into the story without having been asked. In this regard, the murders perpetrated in the villa, the shootout in the fast food restaurant, and the amazing chase through the streets of Los Angeles, are impressive in their realism and efficiency.

One of the other fascinating things about the movie is the vision it portrays of our cannibalistic society – of the alarming insecurity in which individuals struggle and the callousness the hero displays to get ahead (which he succeeds in doing very well). If Lou’s character has no empathy, doesn’t the system as it exists today contribute to the emergence of this kind of person?

In Competition:

STARRY EYES (2014) Kevin Kolsch/Dennis Widmyer – 96 min

Starry Eyes is the second feature film by the duo Kolsch–Widmyer, who also directed Absence, released in 2009.

Starry Eyes showcases the descent into hell of Sarah Walker, an aspiring actress who is ready to do whatever it takes to get her name on the top of the bill. Sarah lands an audition likely to open the doors to glory, but to get the part she covets, she has to pay a high price by submitting to the wishes of a strange sect that holds the keys to power in Hollywood.

Shot with a Red Camera in Los Angeles over a period of 18 days, the movie benefits from a solid screenplay, directing that is spot on and incisive, cinematography more than well-crafted, and fabulous actors including the brilliant Alexandra Essoe in the title role of Sarah, and the extraordinary Maria Olsen as the casting director, the pawn of a libidinous producer.

Alexandra Essoe, literally bares all in the role of this fragile beauty suffering from trichotillomania (the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair), and who is determined to sell her soul. She becomes just as disgusting outside as inside after having inflicted the worst upon herself and having accepted the unacceptable. Very Faustian, the character undergoes multiple physical transformations according to her psychological malaise and her mentality and body suffer. Sarah is pushed in her descent to Hell by a woman who could be her mother and whose character, played by Maria Olsen, has a central place in the story. In fact, this woman is going to catch Sarah pulling out her hair in a ladies restroom and decides to let her pass another audition so she can make her dreams come true. She’s the one who is going to warn her about what she will bring upon herself if she refuses to follow the rules, and she is also going to encourage Sarah to prostitute herself. This severe-looking woman, who sees everything and knows everything, is her true catalyst. She represents the maternal authority that Sarah is deprived of. She is the one who could positively guide the heroine and would almost be tempted to do so, as a certain gleam in her eyes suggests when Sarah sees the producer for the second time. A sententious mother, a possible protector, a rival, a confidante? The character is all those things and Maria Olsen recreates them fantastically. When Sarah chooses glory and the sale of her soul by joining the sect, the character of this fictitious “mother” disappears…

Sublime, radical and atrocious, Sarah’s metamorphoses captivate and repel. The movie’s high point takes place in the last half hour when Sarah takes control of the story by becoming the story, and by giving herself what she wants more than anything else: to be a star, even if that means being responsible for an unprecedented massacre. The communicative elation with which the heroine gets revenge on her entourage (especially her oblivious and futile roomie friends) and the memorable, endless carnage she delights us with, offers one of those intense movie moments that remain etched in our memories for a long time.

With the theme of the actor who dreams of glory and gets tangled up in her fantasy world, Starry Eyes is somewhat related to Black Swan (which deals more with the performer’s schizophrenia) and especially Mulholland Drive (more oriented toward rivalries, the quest for recognition and absolute love). Just like the latter film, Starry Eyes attacks the Hollywood star system and the monstrosities it engenders. But even though its criticism of Hollywood is admittedly heavy-handed, the movie is more satirical and the presentation of the cheap group that constrains Sarah to prostitute herself (the sect represents temptation and the base instincts that lie dormant in Sarah) is resolutely symbolic. As for horror, it’s well rooted in reality, both brutal and straightforward. The directors confide having been more influenced by the French trash horror wave (Frontier, Martyrs) and Polanski rather than Lynch or Cronenbeg.

Starry Eyes is therefore a real little cluster bomb that has already had a lot of press since being shown in festivals. I would bet that the shock wave effect it produces isn’t about to stop.

Emilie Flory.

English translation by Cameron Watson.

 

Emilie Flory is a screenwriter/filmmaker.

She has, among other things, written and directed Processus5, a 10-minute futuristic short movie shot in 35mm that was critically acclaimed and screened at HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is currently writing a sci-fi feature movie and looking for producers and investors for her horror feature film project Trauma Dolls.

Trauma Dolls was a semi-finalist at the Shriekfest Screenplay Competition in 2013, and finalist at the Fright Night Film Fest in 2014.

In 2014, the Trauma Dolls’ trailer was an official selection at the HollyShorts Film Festival: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi2091035673

Find Out More Here:

Interview with Billy Crash on THE LAST KNOCK:

http://crashpalaceproductions.com/2014/08/10/crash-discussions-interview-trauma-dolls-director-emilie-flory-cinematographer-tariel-meliava-dialogue-coach-cameron-watson/ …

 

Interview with Dean Sills for UK HORROR SCENE:

http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/an-interview-with-emilie-flory-by-dean-sills/

 

Interview with Emory Slone for MALEVOLENT (16-19):

http://joom.ag/1aTb?page=18#.VDKVHcLrPxU.mailto

 

http://www.iconelabelpictures.com/

https://twitter.com/EmilieFlory

https://www.facebook.com/ilp.iconelabelpictures

 

Paris International Fantastic Film Festival Trailer: http://youtu.be/3KHxMjMXcOA 

(Photos from Emilie Flory.)

 

Crash Discussions: Atomic Terror

The Last KnockThere’s a reason why GODZILLA and THEM! spread fear across the screen in 1954, as well as CHUD and CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH in the 80s. We swim through pools of nuclear waste to discover why radioactive mutation scares the hell out of us – even beyond the fears of the Cold War. Atomic terror…don’t miss this show.

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Crash Reports: 1,000 Foreign Horror Films

A-Tale-of-Two-Sisters-posterOkay, that title is a lie. Although I’ve hit the magical number of 1,000 foreign horror films, the end result is tremendously skewed. After all, many are co-productions, and some even have four nations involved.

I love foreign horror because it brings insight into what haunts other cultures. For instance, Asian horror cinema is loaded with revenge ghost stories that say much about their collective concerns for those who have passed on. Yet, many American fans of the genre fail to indulge in foreign terror tales because they hate to “read a movie.” Get over it. Dubbing is abysmal because the voice actors can’t capture the emotion the original actors brought to the narrative. In addition, native tongues bring a beauty and resonance lost in flat and usually emotion free dubbing. For instance, the fabulous vampire tale LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is amazing in its native Swedish, but the dub is horrendous and completely detracts from the viewing experience. (I think I threw up a little when I heard the lifeless voiceover.) Plus, the more subtitle based films you indulge in, the easier it gets to read and watch at the same time.

Here are the nations that serve as my top ten for horror, including how many films I’ve engaged in from that country:

  • UK                                206
  • Canada                        134
  • Japan                           119
  • Italy                               85
  • France                           75
  • Germany                       66
  • Spain                             55
  • South Korea                  38
  • Australia                        37
  • Hong Kong                    19

Most notably, if you avoid foreign horror because of subtitles, you are missing out on some amazing work from non-English speaking countries. Here are my top 33 favorite foreign horror films (the list excludes any co-production with the United States):

 

The Legend of Hell House (UK, 1973): A haunted house with a murderous attitude.

The Last Wave (Australia, 1977): The great Peter Weir brings more suspense and introspection.

The Changeling (Canada, 1980): One of the creepiest haunted house movies of all time.

Possession (UK, 1981): The most gut wrenching breakup every captured on screen.

Videodrome (Canada, 1983): Amazing thematic body horror from master David Cronenberg.

Cemetery Man (Italy, 1994): Quirky zombie horror comedy fantasy that mesmerizes.

Cube (Canada, 1997): Low budget character study with ramped up intrigue.

The Ninth Gate (France/Spain, 1999): Roman Polanski’s under-appreciate horror book hunt.

Audition (Japan, 1999): Takashi Miike “be careful what you wish for” freak out.

Blood: The Last Vampire (Japan, 2000): Mind blowing vampiric brilliance anime.

Ginger Snaps (Canada, 2000): Coming of age in grand lycanthropic fashion.

Dog Soldiers (UK, 2002): Pack versus pack! A stellar action horror from Neil Marshall.

A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea, 2003): Mind-bending suspense with punch.

Grimm Love (Germany, 2006): Gut twisting true tale of consensual murder and cannibalism.

The Orphanage (Spain, 2007): Amazing, dramatic horror for people who hate the genre.

Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008): The greatest vampire film of all time?

Martyrs (France/Canada, 2008): Brilliant, disturbing film with one of cinema’s best final lines.

Pontypool (Canada, 2008): Horror’s most unique premise with the great Stephen McHattie.

Triangle (UK, 2009): After each viewing, more is learned from this stellar mind trip.

Antiviral (Canada, 2012): Celebrity obsession in the extreme.

 

What are your favorite non-American horrors? 

(Photo from Thoughts on Film.)