ByBen Hurry, writer at
Ben Hurry

With the worlds attention on Scotland these past weeks I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect back on the terror that the Scottish landscape and filmmakers have instilled in us over the years, with a look back on some of the scariest films to come out of the country.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

I admit, when Dog Soldiers first came out I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Werewolf movies in the past had either been poorly made or gore-focused, with the obvious exception of the modern classics (The Howling, etc).

However when I finally decided to watch Neil Marshall's take on the Werewolf genre I was treated to an action-packed, often funny and always engaging monster movie. To be honest, it now sits in my top 5 favourite werewolf movies.

With plenty of twists and turn Dog Soldiers makes for an exciting - if not terrifying start to this list.

Lord of Tears (2013)

This absolutely chilling film marks the directorial debut of filmmaker Lawrie Brewster. It focuses on a school-teacher who finds himself plagued by mysterious and horrifying visions of the "Owl Man" - a dark, almost Lovecraftian figure he was obsessed with as a child.

This film really has it all. Creepy mansion on the Scottish Highlands? Check! Terrifying monster slowly sending the protagonist insane? Check!
Creepy sequences that will make you sleep with your lights on? Double check!

What makes this film even more chilling is the fact that the monster in question, the legendary Owlman has a basis in reality - appearing both in ancient Scottish pagan mythology and also having been sighted numerous times in 20th Century Cornwall. Throw in a dash of modern day mythology (Owlman shares some similarities with Slenderman) and you have one hell of a scary ride.

Outcast (2010)

This supernatural thriller by Colm McCarthy certainly caught the interest of horror-lovers when it premiered at the South by Southwest Festival and a follow-up screening at Cannes in 2010.

While ostensibly a film about the doomed love of the two protagonists on the run from two mysterious Irish travellers on a "blood-hunt", it quickly descends into a tale of blood and horror as an unknown beast begins killing locals - raising the question of "who set it loose?"

The film won praise from many occultists for it's solid depiction of magic rituals as each side fights to get the upper hand on the other. The film won praise from traditionalists as well - with CGI and effects being used sparingly.

X The Unknown (1956)

X The Unknown is probably one of the more important films on this list, as opposed to one of the best. A Hammer Films Production, it was the film which firmly marked the transition from pure B-Movie thrillers to Sci-Fi and Horror.

A monster movie at heart, the film focuses on a radioactive, cobalt eating monster who terrorizes the countryside around Glasgow. This movie really is a must see for fans of The Blob and similar films, or any fan of Hammer Horror for that matter.

The film is now included alongside 1955's The Quartermass Xperiment and 1957's Quartermass II as a trilogy of films which allegorically explore cold war tension and diminishing national identity in the UK.

The Dead Outside (2008)

On the surface The Dead Outside is just another zombie flick - a woman who is immune to the neurological disease devastating the world hides on an isolated farm in Scotland. It is here that a man fleeing the pandemic takes refuge - leading to a tense standoff among the two as they fight over whether she should find a medical team, as her blood may hold the key to a cure.

However while this may be a zombie film, it contains very few actual zombies - choosing instead to focus on the psychological tension among the lead characters as they battle each other and their own minds.

The film makes great use of bleak, unforgiving Scottish landscapes which just adds to the sense of despair felt by the characters.

Urban Ghost Story (1998)

This little known Scottish ghost flick comes from the creepy mind of Geneviève Jolliffe who both wrote and directed it.

Set in a high-rise apartment complex in Glasgow, it follows the story of 12 year old Lizzie who is involved in a tragic car accident and almost dies - being pulled into the light only to be dragged back once paramedics arrive on the scene and revive her.

However nightmares and visions plague her recovery, and she begins to fear that during the 3 minutes she was technically dead, something latched onto her spirit and came back with her when she was revived.

This truly is a competently filmed and often creepy modern ghost tale which won Best Actress and Best Film at the Fantafestival (an annual Italian sci-fi, horror and fantasy film festival).

The Wicker Man (1973)

No list of great horror would be complete without the chilling 1973 thriller The Wicker Man (not the be confused with the inadvertently comical, 2006 version).

Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward blow the audience away in what has become one of the most revered horror films of the 20th Century - with Cinemafantastique calling it the "Citizen Kane of horror movies".

When a devout Christian police officer is sent to the bizarre and remote town of Summerisle to find a missing girl, he is horrified to find the townsfolk still practice weird rites and pagan rituals.

He is hampered on all sides by unhelpful and distrustful townsfolk which just hardens his determination to get to the bottom of the mystery - which ultimately leads to one of the most chilling and horrifying endings in cinematic history.

Director Robin Hardy would later go on to make The Wicker Tree - a sequel to this film which was met with mixed reviews. He also announced a third and final film - The Wrath of the Gods which will conclude what has been dubbed his "Wicker Man Trilogy".

Your Say!

So what do YOU think, dear reader? Which Scottish horror films would you recommend? Have your say in the comments below!


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