Is it just me, or are horror films in foreign languages scarier than the rest?
Since the dawn of storytelling, horror has been a fascination among humans. The draw of the thrill, the scare, and the sleepless nights never goes away. Each culture has a different way of telling these frightening tales, and different fixations in the genre. For America, the Horror-slasher film is always a money maker, Americans, for whatever reason, flock to watch people fight for their lives against a knife.
For Asian cultures, we see a lot of horror films focused around spirits and ghosts. This is why every horror film should have a healthy foreign film repertoire. It's mind-bending to see all the unique and terrifying stories that come from around the world, and it gives us a feeling that maybe these tall takes from far far away may have some scary merit to them.
So, if you are feeling a night in to watch some terrifying flicks you probably haven't seen that made waves in the horror genre, look no further.
Here are 10 Foreign Horror Films every horror fan must see.
1. Let The Right One In (Sweden, 2008)
Creep factor: 1 million! You'll find yourself questioning a few things about murders and the underworld, and walking alone at night.
What it's about: The film follows a lonely and bullied young boy, Oskar, who befriends the strange girl living next door who only comes out at night. Her father is a serial killer, and when Oskar finds out the truth about his new friend, Eli, and what she is, he is torn for his love for the girl who has become his only friend, and fear of what she is.
2. Black Sunday (Italy, 1960)
Twisted Factor: A Solid 11 out of 10. This film is one of the pillars of foreign horror film-making, and for its time, was unprecedented in its scare factor. For horror fans, it's a must watch.
What It's about: A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way. (Wiki)
3. Nosferatu (Germany, 1922)
Frighting Fact: Nosferatu was an unauthorized adaption of Bram Stoker's Dracula. the studio had to change character names and such because they could not gain the rights to adapt the novel. Also, it's a silent film!
What it's about: The mysterious Count Orlok summons Thomas Hutter to his remote Transylvanian castle in the mountains. The eerie Orlok seeks to buy a house near Hutter and his wife, Ellen. After Orlok reveals his vampire nature, Hutter struggles to escape the castle, knowing that Ellen is in grave danger. Meanwhile Orlok's servant, Knock, prepares for his master to arrive at his new home. (Wiki)
4. The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, 2001)
Frightning Fact: This film was written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and he spent 16 years developing it. Also, it's described as the brother film to Pan's Labyrinth.
What it's about: After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen, and the kindly professor, Casares. Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto. Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds. (IMDB)
5. Julia's Eyes (Spain, 2010)
Suicide Sisters: This thriller was actually, in part, produced by Guillermo Del Toro, and is touted as one of the most original foreign horror films ever made. It doesn't lean on all your classic horror film moves, so it keeps your attention and mind spinning.
What it's about: Two sisters, Julia and Sara, both have a medical condition that slowly makes them blind. Sara supposedly commits suicide, but Julia doesn’t buy it. Julia begins investigating her sister’s death and uncovers clues that suggest her sister was murdered by the invisible man… and she’s next. As she unravels the mystery she realizes no one involved is above reproach for what happened to her sister.
6. Ringu (Japan, 1998)
Original Sin: This one sounds familiar right? That's because it is the original version of the American horror film, The Ring. If you didn't care for that one, you will for this one, it's 10 times scarier and you won't sleep for days.
What it's about: When her niece is found dead along with three friends after viewing a supposedly cursed videotape, reporter Reiko Asakawa sets out to investigate. Along with her ex-husband, Ryuji, Reiko finds the tape, watches it -- and promptly receives a phone call informing her that she'll die in a week. Determined to get to the bottom of the curse, Reiko and Ryuji discover the video's origin and attempt to solve an old murder that could break the spell.
7. Eyes Without A Face (France, 1962)
Twisted Factor: Breaks the scale. This 1962 French-Italian horor film will make your skin crawl, and puts Silence of the Lambs to shame. You can't miss this classic in your horror film collection.
What it's about: Dr. Génessier is riddled with guilt after an accident that he caused disfigures the face of his daughter, the once beautiful Christiane, who outsiders believe is dead. Dr. Génessier, along with accomplice and laboratory assistant Louise, kidnaps young women and brings them to the Génessier mansion. After rendering his victims unconscious, Dr. Génessier removes their faces and attempts to graft them on to Christiane's.
8. [Rec] (Spain, 2007)
Blair Witch: Zombie Edition: Whenever you have films shot as if they are happening in real time and in real life, the scare factor escalates, because you feel like you are living it. SO if you have ever wanted to experience a Zombie apocalypse, this is your chance. Things get nasty.
What it's about: A reporter and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals. So basically, it's a zombie apocalypse shot from your home video camera.
9. Hour of the Wolf (Sweden, 1968)
Frightening Fact: This is the ONLY horror film to come from famed Swedish filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, and it went down as one of his best ( and most disturbing) works! It would be a mistake to not have this film in your horror repetition.
What it's about: On a remote island, a troubled artist feels his mind slipping away from him. Troubled by disturbing visions and paranoid delusions, he and his wife begin to suspect that the haunting memories are the machinations of a bizarre, perverted cult that reside on the other side of the island. The leader of this group may hold the key to the artist's delusions
10. The Host (South Korea, 2006)
Monsters and Mayhem: There is nothing like getting back to the good old scary creatures under-your-bed-horror, and that is exactly what the host does. With some laughs, this film is why you don't fall asleep with your feet hanging over the bed.
What it's about: Careless American military personnel dump chemicals into South Korea's Han River. Several years later, a creature emerges from the tainted waters and sinks its ravenous jaws into local residents. When the creature abducts their daughter, a vendor and his family decide that they are the only ones who can save her.
You can find most of these films on Amazon to rent, or even some on Netflix and YouTube. None of them are ones you should skip, as each made their own little stamp on the horror genre, and even were the inspirations for some of your favorite American horror films! So get cozy, get a buddy, and check them out. When your done, post a review, the horror community is one of the largest, and always looking for fresh meat;-)