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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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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010, Finland / Norway / France / Sweden)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Sometimes during the holiday season, the same nine or ten Christmas movies that appear on television can get quite stale. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale has a very different take on a Santa Claus than your typical holiday film, VERY different. As the film’s young protagonist Pietari says, “The Coca-Cola Santa is just a hoax.” In this movie, being on Santa’s naughty list gets you a far more severe punishment than just a lump of coal in your stocking.

I watched this film on a whim and was pleasantly surprised.

“This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.”

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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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Humanoids from the Deep (1980, USA)

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Humanoids from the Deep, directed by Barbara Peeters (and an uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami), is an American science fiction monster movie produced by Roger Corman and New World Pictures.

Star Ann Turkel has stated that what began in pre-production as “an intelligent suspenseful science-fiction story” soon became an exploitative splatter movie. Roger Corman, disappointed with the rough cut, requested that further sex be shot and inserted into the final cut.

“They’re not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating.”

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Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Friday the 13th (1980, USA)

Today, when we refer to modern horror icons we still mention the now decades old Michael Myers from John Carpenter’s Halloween, Freddy Kruger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason Voorhees from Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th. This is testament to their popularity, that has arguably surpassed that of both Universal and Hammer’s horror creations. It is perhaps then surprising to horror newcomers that the character of Jason is notably absent for the majority of the original Friday the 13th.

“They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.”

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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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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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It Comes at Night (2017, USA)

It Comes at Night (2017)

Deceptively titled and oddly mis-marketed as a horror movie, Trey Edward Shults’s second feature It Comes at Night, might much more appropriately be viewed as a ‘post-apocalyptic psychological family drama’.

I’m often loath to place a movie under a genre classification, because certain movies might straddle several genres and don’t easily fit into pigeonholes.

However, if you go to see It Comes at Night expecting a conventional horror film, you will be disappointed… or perhaps you’ll be surprised.

“You can’t trust anyone but family.”

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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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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, UK / USA)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The concept of the ‘beautiful female corpse’ is by no means a new idea in the realm of gothic horror. In fact, it has been a stalwart of the genre since it began. Edgar Allan Poe was particularly partial to it and Bram Stoker took it to its natural conclusion when he hit upon the novel idea of having alluring dead ladies start walking about and seducing people.

Norwegian director André Øvredal follows up his found-footage indie sleeper Troll Hunter, with English-language debut The Autopsy of Jane Doe – a gory excursion through a dead woman’s innards.

“Every body has a secret.”

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