Foreign horror is essential for ALL film lovers, not just horror. It’s a great way to see what is going on in other markets of the world, what is current and relevant in their culture. I can’t speak for how these branches look at American or western films/horror but I have garnered a huge love and appreciation ever since I started this journey of watching horror and educating myself on horror, foreign horror has become a great mainstay to constantly check out.
So I’ll be suggesting some of my favorite watches from 2020 so far and also classics that you need to check out yourself! Let’s get started!
I know some can’t think of foreign horror films and then there are some who kind of know of a period of time where the western interpretation came into place: the 2000s. Ringu, Ju-On, One Missed Call, Pulse and if you want to add it in, Audition (1999) were becoming quite popular to where they were remade for a newer audience. Japanese horror focuses on supernatural, ghosts, psychology and building up the tension, something that gets lost in translation more often. On the opposite end, let’s look at… Italian horror aka giallo.
Giallo means “yellow” in Italian, less supernatural and more psychological, thriller, crime, mystery, other subgenres that influence western, specifically slashers. Now, I have not explored ALL Italian horror films but I keep encountering the main three grand poobahs of the genre. These are the ones who have sent the genre into the forefront. We are talking about Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava and Dario Argento. You might not know these names but you most likely know a film of theirs. This year has been a bit lackluster of watching Italian horror because I watched a lot of them last year. The entire Gates of Hell Trilogy (City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery), Deep Red, Inferno, Wax Mask, Demons 2, Blood and Black Lace, Zombi 2, Shock, Suspiria, these are just the ones off the top of my head that I have seen overall yet there’s so much more.
And of course there’s Spanish, German, Swedish, Dutch, the list goes on and on and Google can help provide some answers.
This year, I’ve seen quite a few films that are the topic of today’s post so here are my 5 recommendations that I think you need to watch. I believe most of these are on Shudder and Prime.
The Mimic, 2017 – Korean
Blue My Mind, 2017 – Swedish
Tetsuo I: The Iron Man, 1989 – Japanese
Tigers are not Afraid, 2017 – Spanish
(Dario Argento) Opera, 1987 – Italian
So why these five? Opera continues the filmmaker’s technique and doing something different outside of his core Mother of Tears trilogy but getting towards the end of the decade where according to a lot of fans and critics, the 70s and 80s are Argento’s heydays. Opera is about a woman who is tormented through an opera house. All I have to say is “eye torture porn”. It has the Argento quirks present.
Are Not Afraid is more of a fantasy/supernatural/tragedy film that is set around a young girl who is granted three wishes with chalk after her school (and surrounding areas) are filled with gunfire, in the middle of a Mexican drug war; Blue My Mind is a new coming of age story but instead of turning into some horrific creature, our protagonist is turning into a mermaid. Tetsuo I is a wild ride from the opening scene to the last, an exploration of fetish and metal/iron fetish around a man literally turning into iron. And The Mimic, watched a week after Tigers Are Not Afraid, this film is deeply rooted with family, loss and the past still haunting in the form of the supernatural.
What are some of your favorite foreign horror movies? New or older? Share them in the comments!