Well hello there child! Yep, it’s part 2 already. Being spread over 2 posts allows for a little bit more of an explanation for the films included, so hopefully it’s benefited you when reading. Of course this is where the list gets a little more divisive, so if you have any more inclusions feel free to drop by and let us know! So with not further rambling on my part:
5.A Nightmare on Elm Street (Dir. Wes Craven)
Oh Freddy Krueger, back before the onslaught of sequels and remakes which increasingly diminished the character’s scariness (With the exception of Dream Warriors and New Nightmare, both of which were actually good films) there was the original, and best, Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven tapped into a fantastically original idea, that of a boogeyman who killed you inside your dreams, and with a surrealistic bent managed to pour the film with iconic imagery that actually still has the power to shock. Freddy was a malevolent and violent creature, with a disturbing backstory, something that later films seemed to forget. An iconic villain, coupled with some inventive, horrifically violent kills (nobody every forgets the image of the geyser of blood spewing from the bed) and taut direction from Craven, lead to the creation of the best slasher since Halloween, and arguably the best horror of the 1980s.
4.Don’t Look Now (Dir. Nicolas Roeg)
Don’t Look Now is a strange beast, moving effortlessly between genres, from out and out drama to supernatural drama, before unveiling possibly the most disturbingly unexpected endings of all time, yes you know the one. Roeg gets great work out of his Venice locations in this drama about a couple (played by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) who are recovering from the death of their child, deciding to move to Venice in order to escape and lose themselves in work. The infamous sex scene may be the black cloud hovering over the film’s reputation, but there is much to admire in the strong work done by all involved. From the elegantly handled drama, to the terrifying finale, there is no shortage of iconic imagery and superb storytelling. A classic.
3.Suspiria (Dir. Dario Argento)
My love of Suspiria knows no bounds, with many, myself included, believing it to be Argento’s top work, Suspiria is the best of the Italian Giallo genre and a masterclass in excessive terror. From the superb soundtrack by Italian band Goblin, to the glorious technicolour cinematography, Suspiria is arguably the best looking horror of all time, with a simply astounding opening which sets the bar high for the rest of the film. The tale of a dancer who inadvertently ends up in a danceschool run by witches is filled with horrific imagery, from the room of barbed wire to the attack upon the blind pianist, Suspiria is the high point of Argento’s career and a downright exciting, scream inducingly entertaining time. Watch it now, you’ll be grateful you did.
2.Martyrs (Dir. Pascal Laugier)
The French extreme cinema which has been released into the world as of late is a divisive movement which has hailed the entrance of some of the most exciting directors of the current horror generation. From the home invasion of Ils, the potential baby killer of Inside, and the outright bonkers Haute Tension, there are so many good ones you could arguably fill this list with example of the subgenre. Martyrs however is the best. The story of a girl who escaped from captivity as a child, seeking revenge on those who imprisoned her, Martyrs is so much more than a horror film. Effortlessly moving between home invasion film, supernatural creature feature, torture porn, and eventually settling into something altogether new and unique. Pascal Laugier dares to go big, asking questions of the audience which may be hard to answer but demands thought, this is the most intelligent of horrors and transcends the genre to become as important a piece of cinema as any of the Potters, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars films. A strange, horrific, extreme, envelope pushing film that may not succeed in all its endeavours but should be applauded for its attempts.
1.The Witches (Dir. Nicolas Roeg)
Yes, the children’s film. Yes, based on the book by Roald Dahl. There is nothing about this film that plays safe or panders to the audience. The work by Jim Henson’s Workshop is second to none, creating iconic and terrifying figures such as the Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston), who still haunts my dreams with every recollection of her face. Whilst the finale presents a much softer conclusion than many wanted, it is needed. In the previous 90+ minutes the audience are subject to the disappearance of young girls, their eventual imprisonment and death inside a portrait, and the introduction of terrifying witches who plan on turning all the children in the world into mice. There is no way in hell this is a film for kids. The horror to end all horrors, there is nothing more terrifying than attempting to sit through The Witches with the lights off. I still can’t do it.