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Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Mexico / USA)

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Sam Peckinpah achieved prominence as a director and writer by showing us the savagery and the effect violence had upon human beings. The Wild Bunch, a revisionist, neo-western epic. The movie shocked critics and audiences alike with an opera of bodies torn apart by various weapons and the wholesale killing of women and children. The Wild Bunch thus became the essence of a Peckinpah film, one against all his other movies were judged.

“Why is his head worth one million dollars and the lives of 21 people?”

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The Green Inferno (2013, USA / Chile)

The Green Inferno (2013)

The Green Inferno is the horror director’s homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 1970s and 1980s. Those films, such as Cannibal Holocaust, Make Them Die Slowly and Eaten Alive were in turn influenced by the sub-genre of Mondo films. These films showed actual executions, animal slaughter and other graphic scenes of barbarity. While these movies portrayed indigenous and primitive peoples in an unflattering light, the invading Western protagonists also committed unspeakable acts of violence, leading the audience to wonder who the real savages were.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

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Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979, Japan)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter is considered one of the best films in the Japanese sub-genre of roman-pinku films. The term roughly translates to romantic-sexploitation, as opposed to the pinku eiga films which focused on sex frequently combined with violence.

The film was made by one of the bigger studios in Japan, and it shows in the production values and acting. However, the term “romantic” is used in a far different manner than Western audiences will recognize.

“I’m getting rid of you. You’re in the way.”

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Trick ‘r Treat (2007, USA)

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology is a Halloween classic that no fan should miss. The film is an anthology composed of four interconnected tales that are all brilliantly shot and suitably scary.

The fact that this film is not derivative in any manner is a near miracle. Each story has a life of its own and fits together seamlessly with the next. The scares, dark comedy and bloody violence are well balanced and I can see watching Trick ‘r Treat each Halloween…

“If you don’t follow the rules tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.”

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In Memory of Tobe Hooper: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, USA)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper was one of the most influential horror directors of all time. His vision and intelligence can be seen in almost every slasher and splatter film over the last forty years and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Hooper’s masterpiece.

Originally conceived as a faux film “based on true events”, Hooper did draw inspiration from the story of Ed Gein, a murderer, grave robber who had a predilection for a number of other unsavory character traits.

“What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real. Once you stop screaming, then you’ll start talking about it.”

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Dard Divorce (2007, Germany)

Dard Divorce (2007)

Olaf Ittenbach is a German auteur who is a combination of Tom Savini and Takashi Miike. Originally a dental technician, Ittenbach then became a top notch SFX artist, his most notable credit being for BloodRayne by Uwe Boll.

Along with Boll, he is part of the German new wave bringing media attention to their underground films specializing in rape, necrophilia and extreme violence. Ittenbach’s films focus on pain, body destruction and gore, preferably as much that can be jammed into a two hour film.

“Breaking up is so very hard to do…”

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The Blair Witch Project (1999, USA)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is ‘The Cardiff Giant’ of modern horror films. The film employed the now common trope of “found footage” to give an authentic and haunting atmosphere to the story. The movie was also one of the first to use the internet to reinforce the found footage concept, going so far as to hire actors to pose as policemen for interviews and post pictures of artifacts found at the crime scene.

“In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary… A year later their footage was found.”

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Ulzana’s Raid (1972, USA)

Ulzana's Raid (1972)

The Western is the most American film genre of them all, encompassing a variety of themes and time periods. The 1970s were a fertile period for films that questioned traditional beliefs about our country’s march towards the Pacific, the interests of big business versus individual rights, its treatment of the indigenous peoples and notions of heroism.

Ulzana’s Raid can be viewed as a horror movie that takes place in the West or a Western with all the trappings of a horror film.

“One man alone understood the savagery of the early American west from both sides.”

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Split (2016, USA)

Split (2016)

Split is a grindhouse film in disguise, particularly repulsive for the cavalier way it blames women for the degeneracy of McAvoy’s character.

What makes Split so frustrating is that it could have been Shyalaman’s best film. Visually the film is perfect and the sound strikes the right balance between serene and scary, much like a Hitchcock film. The tension is palpable in the psychiatrist’s scenes, and the gripping terror of the girls is captured perfectly as their predicament grows worse.

“An individual with multiple personalities can change their body chemistry with their thoughts.”

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The Return of the Living Dead (1985, USA)

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The attempt to combine humor and horror is a dicey proposition at best, which makes this film all the more extraordinary. The Return of the Living Dead weaves the two genre together seamlessly, each one complimenting the other. The screenplay and cast are perfect, with the always reliable Clu Gallagher holding the action together. A group of attractive young people plays their roles with a combination of believable finesse, terror and hormonal fever interspersed with slapstick style hysteria. Any movie with Linnea Quigley as part of the cast certainly is headed in the right direction.

“They’re back from the grave and ready to party!”

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Truck Stop Women (1974, USA)

Truck Stop Women (1974)

This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.

“No rig was too big for them to handle!”

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014, New Zealand / USA)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

There have been hundreds of vampire films made worldwide and dozens of vampire comedies produced as well. However, none of them comes close to combining horror and humor effectively as What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do in the Shadows has been highly praised by the mainstream press, and rightly so. Although not a cinematic masterpiece, this New Zealand gem has everything a fan could ask for- blood, guts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and more laughs than any so-called comedy of the last decade.

“Some interviews with some Vampires.”

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