I love a good horror film and thought that it would be a great idea to make a horror film list, but not just any horror film a list how about an ABC list? Granted this has become a lot more daunting than I imagined, but I think I have chosen some great films to fill the letters. This will be an ongoing series every Wednesday and Sunday. Please note these lists will not be in favourite order, just alphabetical! So, let’s start off with A and see what we have…
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015)
Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film made waves 5 years ago for easily finding ways to mesh so many different genres into one. The utter confidence shown in every aspect of the film is astonishing, the choice of going black and white, the overall style and swagger just oozes from the screen. One look at the trailer would have you under the impression it is a Western taken straight from the Sergio Leone school of filmmaking. But it is so much more and again shows the confidence in Amirpour, that she is able to take these elements and very much make it her own. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an intimate and personal film and it will resonate and stay with you. A must watch.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven brought a lot of new ideas to the horror genre with A Nightmare on Elm Street, the style of deaths were as original as you could ever wish to see, the strong use of wit within the cast and other than an actual terrifying villain it had a cast that you wanted to root for. This is something that was lost with a few of the other instalments of the franchise (one or two fixed this issue and thus we will see them in later weeks). Jaws made people afraid of going into the ocean, A Nightmare on Elm Street made audiences in the 80’s afraid of the mere idea of having a nap. A cornerstone of the horror genre and always rewatchable.
A Quiet Place (2018)
If we are all honest with ourselves, who really knew John Krasinski had this in him? If you had said to someone 5 years ago that Jordan Peele and John Krasinski would make some of the best horror films of the decade they would have thought you were crazy. Much like Ana Lily Amirpour, the confidence is there from the first shot of the film. Krasinski knows what he wanted and the brilliant use of atmosphere (much needed with you have characters who are trying not to talk) and emotion throughout make it compelling viewing. A fantastic film that should have had some more nominations to its name and one that has audiences eager for the upcoming sequel.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Our first and not last foray into foreign horror sees us come to Kim Jee-Woon’s A Tale of Two Sisters. Atmospheric and slow-burning this tale turns so many screws that the viewer is left in a twitchingly uncomfortable mess by the film’s end. This is due to the constant dream-like nature of the film, what portions of it are we seeing are in fact real? Who is the victim in this story? So many questions are asked and few are answered. It is mostly left open to interpretation and surprisingly this works like a charm. A Tale of Two Sisters was unsuccessfully remade in the USA as The Uninvited, the original remains superior in every conceivable way and should be the only one to garner your attention.
I don’t care what anyone says, yes this is set in space and it has aliens, but Alien is a horror film and one of the very best there has ever been. Helmed by Ridley Scott, the film is gorgeous for a story about truckers in space. Everything is stunning, from the performances of a very strong group of actors who were cast because of their strengths, so Scott could focus on the technical side, to the cinematography and of course Oscar-winning visual effects of H.R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Denys Ayling. Over 40 years after it’s release it holds up better today than a lot of it’s oft-imitated predecessors.
You can’t really include one and not the other can you? Following on and beefing up Scott’s Alien, James Cameron, brought in the big guns (and many of them) here. Deciding he is not a fan of the less is more idea, Cameron brings us everything he can think of in this action horror. The classic lines always stick with you and even though he altered how the xenomorphs look (a decision that I never got honestly other than make them his own creatures), this is a great watch. Weaver continues to shine and deservedly got a Best Actress nomination for her role. Perhaps the franchise should have stopped here?
Alien 3 (Assembly Cut)
Bold choice? Maybe, but damn it I love the assembly cut as it makes Alien 3 into an actual film, plot points make sense and everything works, whether or not you enjoy the grim nature of the film. The low angles work tremendously to give us a film that not only looks different from what came before, but feels different. The foreboding atmosphere is prevalent throughout and you can argue against the deaths at the beginning of Alien 3, but as Weaver herself has said, this franchise is all about Ripley, she doesn’t need other characters to carry on throughout each film with her. She is a character who no matter how hard she tries, loses everyone around her, so for her to do what she does at the end of the film makes thematic sense. So, yes, Alien 3 is here as no matter your opinion on the film and believe me people have many about it, this is a memorable entry to the Alien franchise and with the Assembly Cut one that should be seen, for better or worse. A suggestion for Fox/Disney however, spend a little bit of money and fix the CGI and rotoscoping. Do a George Lucas and fix those scenes, it would be worth it.
American Mary (2012)
I think it is safe to say that American Mary was a unique film. Katherine Isabelle of course owns the film and in fact when she is not present, you feel her absence a great deal. It could have gone as full throttle with its finale as it did for the majority of the running time, but that is a minor gripe. There is a good reason why American Mary has a strong cult following 8 years after it’s release. One that won’t disappoint if you catch it.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
A not overly used premise was enough to interest me when The Autopsy of Jane Doe was released. With two great performances from the father and son duo, we have led a merry dance of paranoia and an unsettling atmosphere. The first half is far superior to the second half, but do not allow that to distract you from what is a solid little horror film. This is a great throwback that works far better than in truth, it has any right to do.
An underseen gem in our eyes, this is quite the unsettling ghost story that takes full advantage of its slow burn to leave you as uncomfortable as you can get. Made for a measly $70,000. This could have been a real stand out film if it had a greater budget. A well-written horror is always going to go down well with us and with a protagonist that you care for (not just because she is pregnant), this is a great choice.
The first anime on the list and probably one of the most famous. A film that has multiple genres such as cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic science fiction, but I will always know it as body horror. A dystopian masterpiece that is so densely packed with plot and creative ideas that it like Tetsuo can barely be contained into just one film. Nowadays I would imagine that Akira would be at least a trilogy of films. Akira tells the tale of friends Kaneda and Tetsuo when Tetsuo is captured and used for a secret government project Kaneda attempts to save his friend, not knowing how different poor Tetsuo has now become. Based on the 1982 manga of the same name and seen by many as the reason why the Western world become invested in anime, Akira is nothing short of a masterpiece.
American Psycho (2000)
Adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’s novel of the same name American Psycho we follow investment Banker Patrick Bateman around his rather… novel life in New York. Thanks to its excellent script by Mary Harron American Psycho is as funny as it is horrific. The final act is gloriously ambiguous and leaves a multitude of questions for the audience. Christian Bale shines and it is evident how much of a push the film gave his career, a real star turn from the future Oscar winner. In the end, we are left with a film that needs to be seen to be believed as a simple synopsis never does it justice.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
A classic for fans of the werewolf sub-genre, the first transformation scene alone is worth the watch. It is sometimes still a marvel at the level of skill it took to make it happen. The script lent towards the comedic side often which completely and purposely disarms the viewer into what they are witnessing. A must watch for fans of special effects.
This one is up for interpretation, as it is indeed a science fiction film, the concept and what happens to the characters within the film can be seen as horror. Plus I love the film and I am writing the list so… Anyway. This science horror is a film that was thrown to the bear theatrically as it was a mix of theatrical and Netflix and boy would it have been best to have seen it in a cinema. The visuals are stunning, Alex Garland’s script is sharp and the film is lead by its powerful female cast (and Oscar Isaac). Other than the beautiful fungal horror that you could really gaze at for an age, the bear scene is the edge of your seat cinema. A must watch for those who have not had the chance.
You either love Antichrist or you hate it. There is no middle ground with it or any Lars von Trier films if we are honest. Antichrist is about a couple who lose their child (in quite the graphic opening scene) and escape to their cabin to repair their marriage and themselves. But von Trier being von Trier, it isn’t as simple as that and what we get is a bold and harrowing film about coming (or not in this case) to terms with the loss of a child. Dafoe and Gainsbourg are incredible and heartbreaking in their roles. This is not one that you will rewatch soon, but it is still well worth your time.
Army of Darkness (1992)
Now for something completely different in the grooviest of ways. Army of Darkness for those who do not know is effectively Evil Dead 3. Detailing that back in 1992 would have probably helped the film with its box office, but no matter. Our hero from Evil Dead 2, Ash has awoken thanks to the Necronomicon back to the 14th century in the Medieval era. Leave all your questions at the door regarding how and why he was transported to that time and to a different continent as we have no times for such queries. Army of Darkness is as fun and hammy as it could possibly be.
A film that obviously had eyes on a bigger budget due to its ambitions, but none the less one that brings a lot of the similar comedy seen in the previous films. It is very much a film to sit down and just enjoy, a terrific horror-comedy. Just make sure to watch the Directors cut with the better ending…
A rare (for us) Thai horror on the list and from the makers of Shutter, you had to know this was going to at worst, be half way decent. Luckily for us, it is far more than that and while the truly horrific sequences come sparingly, they are truly effective. A film that utilises the slow burn well with a great cast and the standout of course being Masha Wattanapanich. Alone is an Asian horror that will pleasantly surprise you.
Somehow Arachnophobia is 30 years old and in my eyes when I first saw it did to me for spiders what Jaws did for other people for sharks. I almost have an inkling that most people in their 30’s afraid of spiders could directly link this film to that phobia. Luckily I got past that, and even though it is more family centred than others on this list does not mean it isn’t effective. Without a doubt this is enjoyable fun and maybe a harmless one to introduce younger audiences to the genre…
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Yes, this might seem like blasphemy but screw it. I enjoyed the remake far more than I did the original and there is nothing you can do to change my mind. It is meaner and more sinister, with a far better cast. They take liberty with the book and original sure. It would have been better if it was just a film not under the Amityville name, but if you had no idea of the 1979 version or the book then you would need to worry, and if you have seen the original and not this yet, pretend the original didn’t happen and try not to compare.
We finish with Audition a film that is as unsettling as it is brilliant. Takashi Miike has made a fair few feature films (only 60 in 29 years… Yes you read that right), but not many will top Audition. Probably the pinnacle of J-horror and one that does not simply rely on its horror elements to carry the film. Miike is a smart director and he utilises drama very well and in this case family drama. The film eases by, building tension and curiosity into the secretive life of the bride to be Asami until that phone rings. There could not have been many people who expected it and what follows. A film that for a horror fan, is unavoidable.
Well, that is all for today! What did you make of the list? Did we miss anything out? Should a film not be on this list? Let us know below, until next time.
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