Horror might have had a bit of a rocky history in the eyes of critics; it’s only the recent uptick in director-driven horror films that has really changed the perception of horror from novelty to something with a bit more substance. To celebrate this new rise of great horror films, I thought it’d be fun to run through some of my favourites from this, the bloodiest of genres.
Don’t Look Now – Don’t Look Nowfirst snuck out on a double bill with The Wicker Man in 1973, which makes it 45 years old, but it remains the greatest British film ever made – yes, even scarier than Lesbian Vampire Killers. Don’t Look Now is a much classier act, an icy study of grief and paranoia, with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie trying to recover from the death of their daughter with some art restoration work in Venice. When they meet two mediums who claim to be able to see her spirit, their hopes are raised, leading them into a labyrinth of fragile hopes and real terror.
The Thing – John Carpenter’s The Thing is now rightly regarded as a horror classic, but back in the day, critics hated it, and thought it an inferior remake of its nearly forgotten original version. Before you scream, “You gotta be f***ing kidding”, here’s a quote from the cover of Cinefantastique –“Is this the most hated film of all time?” Perhaps Time came closest to the dark heart of the film by describing it as an “exercise in abstract art” – however, they didn’t mean that as a compliment. Some films are just ahead of their times, and The Thing’s blackly comic mix of paranoia and gore has long outlived the Reagan era.
Get Out – 50 years ago, George Romero found the best way to discuss racism in the USA was through the prism of horror – in Night of the Living Dead. Last year, Jordan Peele came to the same conclusion with Get Out. As depressing as that fact may be, Get Outis a sinisterly satirical blast of fresh air, as Daniel Kaluuya meets his white girlfriend’s parents – something he’ll come to regret.
I’ll be back soon enough, to recommend even more of my favourite horror films for you to watch. In the meantime, I think it might be a good idea for you to sleep with the light on.