Welcome back to my series of effectively a massive list of horror films to watch. Last time out I wisely started with the letter A, so it makes all the sense that today B would be next. Funny how that works! Without further ado, here are 13 horror films to watch beginning with the letter B part 1.
For some, this is a mixed bag of a film mostly due in my opinion to the hyper the film received. The same thing has happened to Hereditary, It Follows and Midsommar but for different reasons. After countless films with a multitude of jumpscares, we were finally given a film with good pacing that didn’t just want to waste a scare when it wasn’t required. It felt old school whereas a film like The Conjuring looked old school but was in fact quite modern with its constant scares. Some horrors would allow the audience to settle and get used to these characters and in turn, learn to care for them. A critique of some modern horror films is that patience is gone and there needs to be a hook right away. I saw modern, but that concept has been utilised since the ’80s (sorry not going to research that statement…) Regardless, The Babadook builds terrific tension for such a small budgeted film and the performances are incredibly strong and memorable.
Battle Royale (2000)
The film that most young Hunger Games fans have heard about since the first film or book was made. Battle Royale is a spectacle and it is still a wonder that they were able to pull off this adaptation of the novel as well as they did. While the acting is a little over the top, so is the entire film. It is utter mayhem from start to finish that becomes more astonishing when you realise that then 70-year-old Kinji Fukasaku directed it. Very few countries do a dystopian future that feels as if it could actually happen like Japan, yes I said that Battle Royale could happen, if things hit the fan then with the way reality shows are, something like it is possible. Grim. Battle Royale remains a cornerstone in J horror and is a joy to watch. However, the less said about Battle Royale 2 the better…
The Bay (2012)
Found footage has its detractors, but when done right it can be a great watch. Enter The Bay which comes in the pretence of a found footage mock documentary about the horrific events of the small town Claridge in 2009. Finding a strong topic such as environmentalism and showing the horror (eco-horror as it has been coined) of when we abuse it as poorly as we have The Bay is gruesome yet riveting. Excellent use of the genre.
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
As much a love letter to sound editors as it is a horror film, Berberian Sound Studio is fabulous. Telling the story of a sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art. What helps stand Berberian Sound Studio out from other films is that it is genuinely a funny picture. The humour of the on the nose concepts of the genre it is in. Toby Jones excels as he almost always does and brings some terrific tension to the overall piece.
The Birds (1963)
An absolute classic and a film that is so important to the genre of horror. A film that from a technical viewpoint is a constant masterclass. Today it would be an easy computer-animated job, but in the 60s no such technology existed and films like this lived and died on the actions of its characters. If they don’t commit to it then the “birds” flying around them become obviously false. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to see The Birds in the cinema upon its original release. A treasure of a film.
Black Christmas (1974)
Possibly the original slasher film to bring proper success to the genre, Black Christmas is one of those films that is often imitated but never repeated, the recent 2019 film was not a great film and that is a testament to how good the 1974 version is. A great film that leaves an open ending to the fate of the “final girl” in question. This was soon switched in future horrors to have the fate of the villain left open for interpretation and I like that we focused more on the horror of what Jess goes through. What is scarier than an unknown presence in your own home?
Black Sunday (1960)
While being burnt at the stake, the witch Asa vows to enact revenge on her descendants. Hundreds of years later Asa returns to life, ready to keep her promise. Italian Gothic horror at its finest and possibly one of Mario Bava’s best films, Bloody Sunday is visually brilliant and well worth the watch for those who want to see how one of the Italian masters began his career.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The film that truly started the found footage genre (sorry The Last Broadcast, but you just were not as popular). We all know the story of its production by now. Micro-budget, just plot points, so ad-libbing was the way. A massive box office, but most important of all, a great film. Sure the marketing really pushed it on you to think the three students were real, that is just good guerrilla marketing, to be honest. The build-up of seeing the team fall apart the more they get lost in the forest (instead of just following the river) is storytelling 101. You feel connected to this motley crew and their spiral is only more devastating come to the third act.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
As good as a genre blend as you can get Bone Tomahawk surprises and horrifies you when you don’t expect it. Starting off as what seems like a simple search and find western ala The Searchers, our heroes soon find out that they may be no match for the sadistic nature of their enemy. If anyone saw that last act coming then they are a bold-faced liar. Nothing more, nothing less. That one scene makes Bone Tomahawk one of 2015s least appreciated horror films.
In a time when Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh were not known for their love of Middle Earth Braindead is as close as you can get to a New Zealand Zombie Evil Dead. Shaun of the Dead owes a hell of a lot to Braindead if truth be told. It really is often forgotten how much love Peter Jackson has for horror and how the tensest and horror jibed scenes in his 6 Middle Earth films are so well done. It is a genre he should return to.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
It has barely aged a day. 85 years old and it is still more audacious than half of the horror films you will see this year (hello The Grudge) It is as close to a perfect horror film as one can get and all the more devastating when the Monster and the Bride meet. James Whale created something special, but of course, so many plaudits need to be sent Karloff and Lanchester’s performances.
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.