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Before we get scary, let’s start with some horror laughs, if that is such a thing. A film that is a send up of cabin-in-the-woods slasher movies, it is itself a terrific cabin-in-the-woods slasher movie that is as scary as it is funny, and funny it really is. As a group of attractive teens head to the mountains for some camping fun, they come upon a pair of horrifying hillbilly types on a murderous rampage … except, well, no they don’t. You have to see it to understand it. Hilarious misunderstandings and some diabolical killings make this a standout in the parody genre with plenty of gore but even more laugh out loud moments. Don’t hesitate. Queue this today.
So this is a controversial one, a film that some might say isn’t a horror movie at all but rather one that pretends to be, though there’s no denying the incredible sense of atmosphere and tension director Oz Perkins squeezes from the script. Following the story of a young woman named Lily (Ruth Wilson), who moves into a dark and creepy home to take care of an elderly woman, she soon finds the place to be haunted, and if you are one to be shaken by harrowing, long moments of stillness that gnaw on your frazzled nerves, this one will have you sleeping with the lights on for nights afterward.
They say words can kill, but who knew it was entirely true? In the small Canadian town of the eponymous Pontypool, radio host Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) starts his day strangely, but it gets even worse when one of his reporters calls in describing scenes of ghastly rioting with people tearing each other to bloody pieces. Turns out the English language itself has become infected, with certain words sending certain people into murderous frenzies, and now … they are coming for the radio station. An entirely unconventional horror film, one where most of the traditional action is only heard not seen, this is a riveting experience unlike anything you’ve ever watched before. It’ll make you want to learn a second language. Kill means kiss.
Scoring points for ingenuity, Ravenous is certainly a far cry from standard horror fare, set in a snowy remote military outpost in the 19th Century, shifting perceptions about what could and should be scary. Honestly, it looks more like a historical drama when it kicks off, even if it’s a gory one. But oh boy does it take a turn as we follow the story of a man named Boyd (Guy Pearce) who turns cowardice into bravery, of which he’ll need plenty when he is sent to the far reaches of the Sierra Nevadas and comes face-to-face with tales of a Wendigo, a demon consumed by a passion for eating flesh. While it has its flaws, this earns high marks for sheer creativity and some fantastic moments of authenticity in the wilds of winter. Hope you have a strong stomach. These guys do.
While werewolf movies have, unfortunately, shifted to more teen-angst-driven fare with hunky boys and confused girls, back in the day, they were all about the horror, and one of the best ever made is this gripping bit of carnage from John Landis about a pair of young Americans traveling in the moors of England who encounter, well, you know. Featuring still the grand-daddy of all werewolf transformation scenes (in glorious practical effects), this is more than just a horror movie, but rather a story with lots more to say than you might expect. Click the link below to learn why.
So another older one, yes, and one any fan of the genre most assuredly has seen, but for the uninitiated, this is a film that may seem out of date or even tame by today’s standards but trust us, is mind-bendingly good and for reasons you won’t even see the first time through. It follows a man who is resurrected after opening a portal to another dimension and ripped apart by demons on the other side. Now he needs his former lover to piece him back together with the blood of other men. Gruesome and creepy, this is a monumental work in the genre and remains great fun to watch decades on. You are no fan of horror if you don’t know what a Cenobite is.
Here’s a bit of insanity that is so off the rails crazy, it’s like an adrenaline shot to the heart with a ten-inch needle. After a zombie apocalypse breaks out, Barry (Jay Gallagher), a mechanic, hits the road in search of his kidnapped sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey) taken by a psychotic doctor conducting bizarro experiments. Just when you think there is nothing new that could possibly be wrung from the zombie genre, here comes this bloody gem of indie gold. We spoke with the writer and director of the film about what it took to make the movie, and it sold us even more. Watch this now.
You only think you’ve been scared by movies before. Just wait ’til you’ve sat in the dark with this ridiculously chilling psychological thriller about a frail young mother trying to overcome the death of her husband. Essie Davis is an unnerving marvel as Amelia in a shattering performance that is easily one of the best ever in the genre (or otherwise), as is Noah Wiseman playing her young son. Directed by Jennifer Kent, nearly every single frame of this masterpiece is dripping with atmosphere, and while its packed to the rafters with well-earned and almost caustic frights, it is also a powerful story about the crippling effects of depression. An absolute must-see, even if you aren’t a fan of horror.