Saturday, October 27, 2012

Horror Movies You May not Have Seen....But Totally Should

Horror movies are a staple of Halloween. Everyone knows the classics, the younger kids watch Halloween Town and The Great Pumpkin while the older ones scare themselves with classic horror films or new and scary hack and slash thrillers. I wanted to share with you a few of my own recommendations that you might not have seen or even heard of yet.

Funny Games

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Two men take a family hostage "betting" the whole family will die by the next morning. Though this is a thriller/horror movie it is like none I have ever seen before. The director has the actors break down the fourth wall and draw you into their evil schemes, thus torturing the audience as well as the family trapped in the movie. It is not just an exercise in sadistic manipulation or another torture porn flick, but rather a commentary on the ways we are inevitably manipulated by the medium of film. In fact, you could call it an anti-horror movie...but don't think that means it isn't horrific.

The original (in German) is superior to the American version in that the Germans allow for more realistically long pauses, avoid the more explicit forms of titillation (no full nudity or gory death blows are actually shown), and keep the antagonists more stoic, leaner, and meaner. The American version keeps things moving at a faster pace for those with shorter attention spans, but I think when something truly horrific happens it calls for a pause, you need to let it sink in. The plots are identical though, and of course the German version is subtitled, so just pick the version you think you would enjoy most. Either way, prepare to be horrified. This movie is sick, twisted, and leaves most speechless. I would not recommend this movie to children or young teens.

Ginger Snaps


This is a horror film which uses werewolfism as a metaphor for puberty. That idea isn't a new one, there are plenty of natural parallels between lycanthropy and puberty. During puberty, the human body changes dramatically. These changes can seem foreign, and they're definitely beyond a young person's control. In Ginger Snaps we meet two sisters, Ginger and  Brigitte who see themselves as outsiders, it is them against the world. While sneaking out of the house, the elder of the two (Ginger), is attacked by something in the woods, thus beginning her transformation.

As Brigitte watches Ginger slowly turn into an unrecognizable monster she desperately attempts to get her sister back, no matter how cruel Ginger becomes. This is especially touching because in many ways Ginger’s behavior is just an exaggeration of normal puberty and growing up. I feel that this movie is sort of an allegory of the unique and ever changing relationship between two sisters...that also happens to include lots of gore, death, and destruction. Though not rated I would still advise to treat it as a PG 13 movie not suitable for young children.

Black Sheep

No, I do not mean the Chris Farley movie, though Black Sheep IS a comedy...a horrific one! This New Zeland movie explores the dangerous consequences of genetically altering sheep. Though the sheep are not actually zombies, most of my friends call this "the zombie sheep movie". It has the classic elements of a zombie movie with all the gore and guts, and interesting things do happen to those bitten by the genetically mutated sheep, but not eaten. They do a great job with make-up and special effects and I really appreciate that none of it is CGI. The best part however, is the story itself. Even through the terrors of being surrounded by a flock of angry man-eating sheep, everything manages to have an air of light-hearted fun about it. The key is that this movie does not take itself too seriously and allows the viewers to just enjoy the ridiculousness without feeling ridiculous for enjoying it. With a tag line of  "There are forty million sheep in New Zealand...and they're pissed off!" how could it NOT be hilariously awesome? Be warned however, that there is some bestiality and plenty of gore, so it isn't really suitable for young children.


Dario Argento is a horror legend and this movie is legendary. Rotton Tomatoes calls it a "candy-colored nightmare" and they hit it right on the nose. Dario Argento uses such creativity when it comes to color, lighting, and music that it has a very dream like quality. It was the last European film to be shot in technicolor, a process hailed for its saturated levels of color, and Argento made sure the process went out with a bang.


Based on essays in Thomas DeQuincey's Suspiria de Profundis, this film deals with one of the "Three Mothers" who are ancient and powerful witches living in various places around the world in an effort to spread their evil. Mater Suspiriorum (the mother of sighs)  lives in Germany and occupies the Freiburg Academy of ballet which is the focus of Suspiria.

 The Village Voice ranked Suspiria number 100 on their list of the 100 greatest films made in the 20th century. Entertainment Weekly ranked Suspiria number 18 on their list of the 25 scariest films ever and a poll of critics of Total Film ranked it number 3 on their list of the 50 greatest horror films ever. It is well worth the watch if you aren't too squeamish about evil killers plunging their knives into exposed beating hearts and trapping young ballet dancers in rooms of barbed wire.

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