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December 16, 2012

Horror Movies -- An All-Points Bulletin

I’ll get straight to the point: I don’t like horror movies.

I feel like it’s a genre that has a lot of faults by nature (though there are exceptions, I’d assume).  You know what I’m getting at -- the jump scares, the use of gore rather than actual horror, the almost-supernatural ability to include some bare breasts at any juncture, the situations predicated by stupidity…and most of all, how so much of so many horror movies is just a progression from one kill to the next.  It all turns into a slog; a nigh-invincible monster has his way with scores of mostly-attractive people, only to lose out at the very end…OR DOES HE OMGWTHLOL HE’S STILL ALIVE ROLL CREDITS!

As I’ve explained before, I don’t hate horror movies because they’re scary or gory; I hate them because they’re stupid.  But time and time again, I end up sitting in front of the TV with my brother and my buddy, sitting through what should ostensibly be a tense, paranoia-inducing creep show, only to realize how bored I am the whole way through.  And that’s assuming that I don’t go into Nitpick Mode -- something I’m more likely to do if I’m not being entertained, or there are some grievous gaps in logic, or it just drags on and on and on because, oh no guys, here comes the chainsaw-meister!

So after watching a pair of horror movies with my pals last night, I was about ready to swear off horror movies for the rest of my life.  If they found one on TV, I’d raise an objection and say, “Nope.  Change the channel; we’re not watching this.”  But that’s not fair.  Not fair at all.  I know -- I KNOW there are good horror movies out there.  I know there’s a reason people keep making these things.

And that’s where you come in, fair reader.

I’m issuing an APB -- a call to arms -- for some good horror movies.  Name one in the comments, give a little description of what makes it good, whatever you have to do; prove to me that there’s something worthwhile out there.  I know there is, but the fact that I’m consistently exposed to dreck has left me weary and jaded.  I need someone like you (a presumably-brilliant and beautiful young warrior noble) to guide me to something good.  Tell all, speak all, discuss all; give me something to look forward to, or check out on my own.  Give me a reason to believe in the genre, or to know the true meaning of fear and despair.  Show me that I’ve been missing out on the good stuff.

I’m in your hands now, guys.  Don’t let me down…and also, don’t run me through with a chainsaw or machete.  I assume that would be relatively unpleasant.


  1. Unfortuately, I haven't watched many horror movies.

  2. Fair enough. I haven't either -- but if my guess (or sweeping generalization, at least) is right, there are going to be a lot of recommendations for movies to AVOID rather than seek out.

  3. John Carpenter's The Thing:

    I'm talking about the John carepnter '86 remake, not the 2011 turd that dared call itself a prequel to this masterpiece. An unkillable, unfair shapeshifting alien, arctic isolation, death by burning and paranoia.


    Cigarette Burns:

    Again, John Carpenter. This isn't strictly a feature film, since it was included as a stand-alone part of Masters of Horror but GODDAMN is it good! A desperate bastard, an insane collector, a movie that kills you and the subtle merging of reality and fiction.


    28 Days later:

    Best. Zombie movie. Ever. This film ALONE could beat the entire run of the Walking dead in a fight. It's well-directed, solidly written and has some GREAT performances. Also features Christopher Eccleston, the second best Doctor ever.



    "I'm your biggest fan nyeeee-hahahah-haahhaaa!". Just fucking watch it, stat.


    Let me In (original Swedish Version):

    Best example of Visceral Horror I've found in a film so far. You american empirialists might be having a hard time dealing with subtitles, but you best shut the fuck up and bear with it. It's totally worth it.



    Whya haven't you seen this yet? It's the horror movie that made serial killer horror movies such a fad! Again: No, not the piece of shit remake. Stop making movies Rob Zombie.


    And now, for some of my own personal favorites: you might not like them, but that just means you're wrong!

    I saw the devil: i cannot stress enough how much everyone needs to see this awesome movie. It's like Korea keeps savian asian cinema and gives us one awesome horror flick for every ten power-range gore Police ripoffs!

    Brain Damage: Just...oh my God. I don't know if this was originally intended as a comedy, but goddamn!

    Cabin In the Wodds: Now, this is a solidly presented serious horror movie that makes fun and exploits the tropes of every other horror movie in a very intelligent way.

    John Carpenter's End of The World trilogy: i.e. In the mouth of Madness (Lovecraftian Mythos done right), They live (tinfoil hat conspiracy theory) and Prince of Darkness (this one isn't as solid but it's fun to watch)

    Imprint: i am having trouble suggesting Imprint, mostly because it is the best example of a blend of Occidental and oriental Horror, bringing out the best in both. That is, extreme oriental body horror and well-placed gore and westernized battle of good vs evil. it's horrifying, really and takes a strong stomach.

    Deer Woman: masters of Horror. Black comedy at its best. it's grim, it's dark and so goddamn funny.

  4. Ah, yes, excellent. Excellent!

    Unfortunately, I'm afraid a grave mistake was made; I saw the 2011 version of The Thing, and it had to be one of the worst movie experiences of my life. I went to the theater with my brother and a friend under the pretense that we were seeing Real Steel -- something I was less than excited to see, but tolerant nonetheless. But then they pulled a fast one on me, and the next thing I know I'm watching The Thing.

    That movie...that movie gave me a serious headache, man.

    But in any case, thanks for this list. I'll have to give these a look pretty soon...though I actually did see (most of) 28 Days Later. That's actually a really good one! Well, relative to my experience with horror movies, but I liked it a lot. And judging by your list, even at a cursory glance Misery looks pretty cool. But I guess that's a given, what with Stephen King lending a hand.

    ...Crap, where'd I put that book The Gunslinger? It's around here somewhere, I hope. Lee, express my gratitude and approval while I start digging for it.


  5. I have not watched that many horror movies, mostly because I scare easily. I agree that a lot of them aren't that scary. I've seen some of the Saw movies, and that wasn't scary, just a little gross with the limbs flying everywhere and whatnot. I saw Scream IV and that didn't do much scaring for me either. I saw one of the Final Destination movies... I think it was the second one? The only bits that made me cringe where things I already had fears or disagreements with: roller-coasters and solariums.

    However, I have been scared by movie trailers, namely for Chucky and it's sequels, because the idea of a possessed doll freaks me out, and Paranormal Activity and its sequels because I'm scared of the dark and every little noise I hear at night must be something or someone trying to kill me... the idea of possessed things just freaks me out if it's done somewhat well. Having said that, I've seen only the trailers of those movies.

    Horror movies that I actually liked were:

    The Uninvited - A story about a young girl who's returning home to her family after a horrific accident she caused, only to be haunted by her sister, who we don't find out was actually killed in that accident until the end. I wouldn't say it was scary, just that it wasn't completely and utterly boring... to me, anyway.

    Orphan - Again, not so much scary rather than not boring. Though I am a little more hesitant about the idea of adopting a child. Like in The Uninvited, there is an unexpected twist and turns out she's actually just a psychotic husband-stealing midget.

    I don't know if you could class this one has horror, but Donnie Darko is just... it's one of my favourites. About a schizophrenic kid who figures out a heap of crazy things about the world before realizing that he has to die in order to save other people.

    It's not really my genre and I find horror movies very formulaic and repetitive.I'm certainly not going to try converting you anyway.

  6. Hey, no worries. Just knowing that there's stuff out there that's even remotely good is enough to put me at ease...though there's still the question of what'll happen if I actually see them. It's very likely that my family thinks I'm still afraid of car washes, and I haven't done much to prove I'm much more courageous than the average toy poodle. Give me a break, people, I was five and --

    Ahem. Anyway, even if you're not exactly a fan, it's good to hear there's something you like. Or kinda-sorta like. I imagine that both of us could do a lot worse; I've seen more Final Destination movies than I'm comfortable admitting, and none of them have left me with anything more substantial than a few yawns and a blooming headache.

    In any case, thanks for sharing. I'll have to keep these in mind.

  7. Dont laugh, because in reality I agree that most of the time horror movie are stupid, but...

    I seriously get nightmares from them!!

    I know, super lame. but its true. Ive always had super vivid dreams, some good, some bad. but when i watch any kind of scary movie (whether horror, or psychological thriller, or whatever) I always get nightmares!

    So, anyways... that doesnt mean I havent watched some.

    Misery was super creepy! Thats a must see.

    the Shining (with Jack Nicholson) was freaky

    Signs with Mel Gibson was super scary, bec I could totally see aliens coming here at some point in time and we would be so screwed.

    the Ring totally freaked the crap out of me when I first saw it. It was pretty stupid, but it still freaked me out

    Those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head!!

  8. Whoa, Signs counts as a horror movie? Well, I guess it certainly isn't what one would call a comedy...jabs at M. Night Shyamalan aside. But that aside, I should probably get around to checking out The Ring one of these days. I envision it as "the one that started it all", in a sense, so I'd do well to give it a closer look.

    And I wouldn't dare laugh at getting nightmares from horror movies. Say what you will about them, but they're geared toward at least TRYING to be fearsome. Meanwhile, I spent most of third grade and part of fourth being afraid of a giant magical pig from a video game. I'd say you've got me beat in every respect.

    ...Huh. If ever there was a way to carpet-bomb one's credibility, I may have found it.

  9. Signs as a legitimate horror movie dealing with the contact of mankind with an alien race...

    take it away, crazy lady


  10. You can save yourself the trouble of watching any of the Friday the 13th / Nightmare on Elm street movies by watching Freddy vs. Jason. That movie rolled up every terrible aspect of the movies and lampshaded the hell out of it. Yes, they were horribly cheesy but to get things right you have to get them wrong sometimes.

    It basically plays like a best of reel for the two movie series. I'm pretty sure the DVD of it actually has a scorecard of who kills more horny teenagers.

    (Spoiler: Jason is a kill stealing D-bag)

    Worth watching for a laugh.

  11. Like I said, I didn't plan on using a solarium anyway... Final Destination just gave me another reason.
    Perhaps if you watch these movies, don't think of them as horror movies, because I honestly didn't find them scary, just interesting.

  12. I don't like horrors as well, especially slasher movies - for the same reasons as you have stated, I suspect. The anticipation of what kind of decapitation will happen next just always bored me. I do, however, like the psychological types of horror films like The Ring (Japanese Version), Paranormal Activity, and the Blair Witch Project especially at the time when it came out. I think what I like about these types of films is that they are plot driven instead of being gimmicky, and to me they are just more like "good thriller stories with paranormal stuff" instead of just aiming to be a "paranormal movie". Good luck on your journey and be safe, hope you join the dark side soon with the rest of us muahaha.

  13. Well, I was trying to put it a little more delicately, but...yeah, that sounds about right.

  14. Hmmm. An interesting perspective -- I'll have to keep that in mind if/when I start seeking them out.

  15. Friday the 13th...oh man, just hearing that name dredges up old memories of the 2009(ish?) remake. The only reason I saw it was because it was a birthday gift of sorts for my brother. The only reason I walked out of the theater without grievous bodily harm was because I was sitting in the relative middle of the theater, and therefore far away from any walls to bang my head against. With that said...

    "That movie rolled up every terrible aspect of the movies and lampshaded the hell out of it."

    Really now? Color me intrigued...along with a healthy shade of emerald.

  16. Yeah, from what I can gather psychological horror is the way to go -- I've busted up one too many aliens in video games to be impressed by any masked slashers or inhuman nasties. This past Saturday one of the horror movies I saw with my buddies had a more psychological nature to it, and while I wouldn't say it was perfect (or even good in retrospect), I preferred it and what it tried to do over the second one.

    So thanks for the heads-up...though I can't say I'll be joining the dark side any time soon. Light side of the Force 4 life.

    *tries to throw up gang sign but inadvertently uses Jedi mind trick on self*

    ...I have to go eat a mongoose.

  17. Not the biggest horror fan on the planet, but I am quite disenchanted by the predictability and stupidity of many subgenres of horror. As someone said below, psychological or mystery tend to have far more potential than slasher flicks. But maybe I'm a bit biased: my favorite horror experience was a two-season anime series based off a bunch of visual novels. Since Higurashi: When They Cry, I became very jaded about the horror genre.

    I don't have too many suggestions since several of the movies mentioned below are really, really good: Carpenter's 'The Thing' (to hell with the 2011 remake - only 'Prometheus' infuriated me more the that piece of ****), 'Let the Right One In' (Swedish version), 'The Cabin in the Woods' (I cried from laughing too hard), and 'The Uninvited'.

    Although, one horror film that actually surprised me was 'Insidious'. Since there are ghosts, technically the "monster can't be killed". The way the story was told, however, was very interesting. For a while it looked like it would take an exorcism angle, but it does something completely different. Heck, even the characters had personalities!


    p.s. - exorcism movies tend to be annoying as well. Once you see 'The Exorcist' or 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose', you've seen them all. Both are decent movies, but their schtick gets old very fast.

  18. "Since Higurashi: When They Cry"

    *immediately heads to YouTube to find a clip of 'uso da'*

    Ahem. Insidious and The Exorcist, eh? I'll have to keep both of those in mind. Especially the former; I'm a guy who likes characters that have a personality, as you've likely guessed. A strange taste, to be sure, but it's what makes me special.

  19. oops, it's just 'Higurashi: When They Cry' (or 'Higurashi no Naku Koro ni'). :)

    for some reason though, results show up on Youtube if you type out "higurashi no naku koro"... :/


    At least, I found the characters to not be too stupid in 'Insidious'. No one is particularly annoying.

  20. That's good enough for me! *backflips out of window*

  21. Yeah yeah, I know, I'm going back in time on your blog... But I like to answer questions... So, horror movies, huh ?

    [Rec], it's the first with actual budget horror movie where it's as if it was some real recording, like Project Blair Witch. Still by far the best of this kind. But don't expect any psychology or morale : it just stick to the action. Since [Rec], Spain use to do some good horror flicks.

    High Tension, a french slasher movie, but with a realistic setting which makes you feel that the same thing could happen to you. Kind of guy-next-door horror movie.

    Shaun of the Dead is a very good horror comedy. Not parodic, comedic.

    I've watched Evil Dead when I was very young and it definitively gave me nightmares. It's the kind of ultra-low budget but still scary movie. Evil Dead 2 and 3 are more a horror comedy. Their director is Sam Raini, later known for its Spiderman starring Tobey Maguire.

    I have a fondness for Japanese horror movies as they have a policy of "don't show, suggest". The best example, Ring, as already been mentioned.

    I saw the Devil is not a horror movie per se, more a thriller with extremely brutal sequences. It sometimes drifts toward the gorn, genre that I dispise (I hate Saw and the kind), but surprinsigly, the waiting/suspense sequences are the most unbearable. No jump scare, no, but waiting while knowing something is bound to happen is hard to withstand.

    Also, John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness (already mentioned) is a good psychological with horrible visions movie.

    Kubrick's The Shining is terrific, with some extremely horrifying sequences.

    I don't see much love for George Romero movies but they are quite good. The Night of The Living Dead (168) is a classic (and because of it, we are now invaded with zombies stuff).

    I remember I had a fondness for The Haunting (1963) as it would suggest, not show.

    But by far the most horrifying movie is not a horror one : Funny Games. Either the original austrian one or the american remake. I haven't watched the latter one, but as it's the same director for both movies (and as he doesn't do compromises), it should be on the same level than the original. Funny Games, or how violence can invade your oridnary life. A very disturbing movie because of the position it puts the viewer on.

  22. Aw, jeez...you know what? I've never really seen any Japanese horror films. Of course, it'd help if I actually tried...you know, LOOKING for some, but the thought's never really crossed my mind. How many years has The Ring been out, yet I've never even bothered to look at its Wikipedia page...?

    Eh, whatever. It's just remarkable how many movies (horror or otherwise) I haven't seen...and how many times I've had to sit through junk instead of the good stuff. Maybe it's time I take strides to change that. Come to think of it, my buddy's a movie buff -- and a noted Evil Dead fan -- so maybe I'll see if he's got any movies I can check out. If not, then I guess I'll have to shop around a bit. I could use a little inspiration every now and then.

    Oh, and don't worry about going back in time on my blog. Just be sure not to step on anything. You know how it goes; when a butterfly flaps its wings...