The Grit of Horror (in movies)

It’s been a week, I’ve been waiting to do part two since last week!

If you missed it, I did a post about some of the more aesthetically appealing horror movies and we got some pretty decent movies out of that. And I did promise that I wanted to do a “second part” which is more on the opposite end. Gritter, grimier horror is kinda also a vibe too. And as much as the full on photogenic like aesthetics can create a “fantasy” or “surrealism”, I look at gritty horror as “realistic” even if the plot itself isn’t grounded in reality. And like last time, I wrote down quite a few options to then limit to 13.

So what are the lucky 13? And what puts them in this category? If a horror movie makes you feel dirty, sweaty, itchy or just needing a shower after watching it, this is THAT kind of listing. So let’s get started!


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This is the first movie that came to mind when I wanted to do this version. It was filmed in the heat of Texas and it shows on screen. But the film itself has a gritty underground visual as well. basketcase_3

Basket Case (1981) – Low budget as we can go but it’s a fun movie. There are so many weird substances hidden in the gates of the movie or in the actual roll of film. Not the best lighting or too much lighting at one point… claymation, special effects, there’s much to take note of.

X (2022) – This was almost going into last week’s post but I decided it fits more of this realm. It is a 70s slash inspired movie (Texas Chainsaw). There is cool cinematography and use of colors but considering when the movie is to take place, I like that it looks more like a gritty 70s horror than a 2022 look.

Skinamarink (2022, yes again) – This was also another one that can fit in either category. It’s the analog horror look. And even when you include human-like features or silhouettes, it’s even more itchy and scary. That ending… that face filtered with scratches, fuzz and dust textures.

Possession (1981) – A marriage breaking apart, both parties psychosis breaking apart yet both parties are covered in sweat, tears, blood, other substances that could be eggs?

Frankenstein (1931) – Maybe because it’s just an older film is why it’s here but also when I compared it to Dracula’s look, which is very similar, there’s a “cleaner” aesthetic to Dracula. And we’re talking about a mad scientist + dark and grungy laboratory and graveyard environments.

Cloverfield (2008) – Hand held camera, most of which takes place at night but you also feel the dust and debris, blood, sweat and other bodily fluids while a kaiju monster destroys NYC.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – We are watching this movie through the lens of literal filming equipment and cameras. It’s also based in the universe of a student film and so this isn’t going to be a high budget student film documentary either from the mind of Heather.

A Quiet Place (2018) – It’s already an awful environment to live in with you know, creatures that hunt you by sound and it’s apocalyptic but the body sweat, the rawness and realism of what could be is why it’s on this list. thebeyond_8

The Beyond (1981 but the entire Gates of Hell Trilogy) – As much as I do enjoy House by the Cemetery and City of the Living Dead and they are just as gritty in their own right but head explosion by a gunshot, the scene with the tarantulas, the opening sequence with the whipping, eye porn, there’s so much to just shudder about.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – Is this the only silent movie on this list? IT IS. I would give this movie the award for most uncomfortable background set pieces.

28 Days Later (2002) – This was also a movie I thought of initially for this idea. It boils down to cameras used, the lower quality, it’s the end of the world. I don’t think there’s a need for gloss or gloss details when the rage virus is well…raging.

Near Dark (1987) – All I think of is Bill Paxton, waltzing in that bar, blood all over him, wearing those cowboy boots and just thinking, I know that blood and makeup is awful on the skin. But it is a western vampire movie and that

V/H/S (2012) – Analog horror. I think this movie does it really well when it comes to using the filters and techniques to make it look like it is older than what it really is. I don’t think I’ve seen all the sequels yet either. Again, it’s the right amount of “low quality”. alicesweetalice2

Hellraiser (1987) – Everything about this movie is sticky and sweaty and disgusting but I think we like relishing in it a bit… on point for a movie about pleasure and pain.

Duel (1971) – An underrated and underappreciated Spielberg film that to me is a bit more terrifying than Jaws. I don’t want to be followed, harassed, stalked and “attempted murder-y” by a mysterious truck driver. It’s hot and miserable on the road, desolate in some areas and you feel the constant anxiety and fear increasing.

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) – Another underrated slasher from the 70s which stars a very young Brooke Shields (first role I believe) and again, it’s that 70s gritty grindhouse aesthetic with bold colors like the yellow raincoat.

SO what movies would add to a list like this? Or take away? I guess The Evil Dead could be included in this, kinda surprised that didn’t come up until now. Wow. I’ve been so distracted and overwhelmed and hit like 13 movies writing them down that Evil Dead was not thought of.

Leave a comment below or share the post to keep the conversation going! I just cannot believe I forgot The Evil Dead but you know what, having Duel or Caligari or even Near Dark being on the list is a bonus!

I’ll see you guys next week!

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