Saturday, October 28, 2017

31 Days of Horror Lists by the Losman- Great Foreign Horror Movies

For the month of October I will put out a list of Top 10’s on a number of subjects each day, this should be fun as I would enjoy feedback and discussion on my list and will welcome feedback on how to improve the list as I plan on featuring them on my website. 

Great Foreign Horror Movies

Dir- Dario Argento

One of the biggest outrages in the horror genre is that the genius of Dario Argento has gone mostly unnoticed in this country, what a shame. Dario Argento injects a unique style into his movies, using great camera angles and some very extreme elements to create films that are very scary and cool too. Set in Switzerland at an exclusive ballet academy, Suspiria is the story of a newly arrived American student who comes and discovers a series of brutal murders falling on to her fellow students. With a little investigation, she learns that the school is the haven for a witches coven, led by the Black Queen. As with most Argento movies, Suspiria is not so much a horror movie but an exercise in style. The unique Argento touch is highlighted with a great rock and roll score by his favorite band The Goblins. What we expect from Argento is very graphic violence, incredible camera works, stylish settings and titles that are meaningless. This movie delivers all of this from the intense double murder in the opening scene to the fiery showdown we have what has to be Argento's masterpiece. I highly recommend this film as well as many others by the Italian Hitchcock; you will not be disappointed

Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Dir- Georges Franju

Georges Franju directed this classic about a distraught physician who kidnaps young women and removes their faces in the hope of restoring the lost beauty of his daughter who wears a china mask that covers a facial disfigurement. The movie features a picturesque setting and is beautifully photographed, and it is best viewed in its original French dialogue. With its subtle blend of horror and poetry, the film carries with it an aura similar to Psycho and boasts one of the earliest gore scenes on record.

Les Diabolique (1955)
Dir- Henri-Georges Clouzot

One of the most influential horror/thrillers of its day, Diabolique pretty much set all the standards by which most thrillers often imitate. The movie is set in France at a boarding school where the tyrannical Headmaster maintains an iron grip on both his students and employees. His battered wife and his former mistress both conspire to murder him and get rid of his body during a student holiday. The events that follow will lead the pair down a dark path as they try to avoid a determined police inspector and the discovery that the body is missing. The finale is both shocking and well worth the wait. Over the many years since its release, many films have imitated and ripped off the style of Diabolique. The style and overall technique are very reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film, so much so that Hitchcock tried unsuccessfully to remake Diabolique. One of the most influential thrillers of the period, Diabolique remains a great film that would inspire so many movies and directors for years to come.   

Ringu (1998)
Dir- Hideo Nakata

A reporter discovers that her niece has died along with a group of friends after watching a mysterious videotape. As she begins to investigate the details with her ex-husband she makes the mistake of watching the tape and gettings a phone call that tells her she has a week to live. Ringu was one of the biggest hits in Japan when it was released and found wide praise when it premiered in Hong Kong. Ringu played off the fears we had with technology and made use of folklore along with the fear we see in urban legends. The movie was remade in the US and was very popular with American fans and critics alike. Most importantly Ringo helped usher a renaissance for the Japanese Horror film industry with the release of Ju On and Dark Water. 


The Descent (2006)
Dir- Neil Marshall

Six women go cave exploring and find their journey beneath stalled when a cave-in traps them. The trouble worsens when they learn that not only are they in an unexplored cave but there may something else to fear.  Neil Marshall wrote and directed this intense and tension-filled thriller that terrified its audience with its claustrophobic setting and dynamic mostly female cast.   

REC (2007)
Dir- Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

A Spanish news crew follows a team of firefighters on a routine call only to discover that the apartment building they enter is quarantined, and they are now trapped.  One of many films that use found footage style, this one stands apart with its terrifying plot and efficient use of confusion and fear brought about by the reactions caught on camera. Followed by many sequels and, an American remake titled Quarantine that had its follow-up sequels.

Let the Right One In (2008)
Dir- Tomas Alfredson

A young preteen boy who is bullied by his classmates befriends a young girl who has a secret she shares when they bond as friends. This new friendship gives him the confidence to face his bullies and to learn what love can mean despite her secret. Based on a novel, the film would be remade in the US and is one of the few remakes that stands on its own.

Black Sunday (1961)
Dir- Mario Bava

A witch is burned at stake wearing a painful looking mask and then returns a hundred years later to exact revenge. The witch is now a vampire and with her servant bid the devils wishes and takes the form of a princess who happens to resemble her. This film was the first and best of Italian maestro Mario Bava and with his excellent cinematography and hauntingly shot in black and white, Black Sunday was both a cult and critical hit. The film was subsequently retitled for the international market and was picked up by the American International Picture Company (AIP). They would ruin it slightly with some revisions but more or less left a brilliant film. An outstanding first film from one of the great Italian horror masters who would deliver some other horror classics.

The Host (2006)
Dir- Bong Joon-ho

On the banks of the Han River, a simple-minded food vendor watches in horror as a monster emerges from the river and takes his daughter. Fearing that he has lost her, he gets a message showing she may be alive and in the sewers. As he begins his quest to rescue her, he finds that outside parties are working against him to hide the secret about the creatures and its true origins. The Host was one of the biggest films to open in South Korea, this success along with excellent review helped the film to gain a following outside of the Asian market. Critics praised the movie for its efficient blending of various genres, by mixing family struggles, distrust of the government and of course the amphibious monster that was not as large as many other monsters in other movies but shown in great detail. The Host is one of the best monster movies in recent years and is recommended viewing for fans of Godzilla films. 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) 
Dir- Robert Wiene 

Long considered to be the first real horror movie; Dr. Caligari is the archetype mad scientist out to do evil deeds with the aid of a sleepwalker named Cesare. Cesare murders those whom the Doctor feels are too close to his evil deeds. The setting is both nightmarish and expressionistic in its use of exaggerated sets and weird angles. The shock ending is only the icing in a movie that invents a whole genre of horror devices- the mad scientist, the zombie, the helpless heroine carried onto the roofs.

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