We’re back with another fun list of horror films to seek out this Halloween season with Retro Girl! Jeannie has been a friend for a long time and I’m glad to be able to share some of her tastes around here.
I’ve chosen 5 Unknown/Underrated films, most imports. Most modern American horror sticks too closely to a formula. They target a teen audience, so that narrows their story telling and limits the possibilities of a interesting story. I think a good horror/monster film features a cast that you are interested in hanging out with even if something doesn’t happen. Good enough to be a drama on it’s own. So the monsters and jump scares are just gravy. We can’t care about the peril of the characters if we don’t care about the characters.
1. “Train to Busan”
“Train to Busan” is a South Korean apocalyptic zombie film directed by Yeon Sang-ho. It’s a Zombie film, but more of a action thriller movie with some very touching and emotional moments. In a world of zombies this one stands out. Kind of like “Snow Piercer” with Zombies. At it’s core, it’s a family picture. Just a Father and his Daughter on the train to see her Mother for her Birthday with a ton of fast moving zombies on board. The action scenes in this take me be back to films like “Die Hard” and “Speed”. The action keeps the viewer engaged and part of it. If you can’t focus on the action, you can’t appreciate it fully. YOU are on the ride. You feel every tense moment. Yes, take the “Train to Busan”.
2. “The Girl with All the Gifts”
“The Girl with All the Gifts” is adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Mike Carey. Also known to write comics for DC, Vertigo and Marvel.
Films about kids are great if the kids are good actors. This girl is talented and natural. Sennia Nanua holds your attention and never lets it go. Glenn Close plays a Very strong woman in this. She must have been impressed with this little movie and wonderful script to want to get involved. Glad she did. Like any Zombie film you need to put your own spin on it and this one does. They way it is spread makes it even more dangerous. Strong cast and concept. Interesting Zombie repellent used to keep them from getting too ‘bitey’.
3. “Blood Glacier”
A Glacier in the Austrian Alps is covered in a strange Red liquid that has weird effects on the local wildlife. It pays homage to John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, but very much it’s own movie. It must be watched with the English subtitles so you hear the voices of the actors. One actress in particular is hilarious and a American dub would never replicate the sound of her voice with her accent. Something is pounding the doors trying to get in as one lady hold up there is eating a banana while crying in fear. My favorite part is the other lady yells at her, “Stop eating that banana while you’re crying!” Love these odd moments in horror/sci fi films. It’s like that nervous laugh when something really bad is happening and they give us ‘carte blanche’ to crack up.
4. “The Pack”
“The Pack” is a Australian horror film about a pack of wild dogs that terrorize a family. I think some of the best horror is coming from other countries. They let a scene breath, let the camera run on a random moment. Not cut up like a music video. They let the surroundings reflect the film. A crow just walks up to a lamb and kicks it. Random and wonderful. That would be cut out of most American horror, and that’s too bad. These moments give it charm. Of the moment, but maybe gives a feeling that it is a tough country side, even the crows are badass! So yes, it’s just rabid wild dogs, not werewolves. The sound of those sharp claws walking on that family’s floor in their house is terrifying. I love a good werewolf movie, but when you see the creature still wearing torn pants it takes me out of it a bit. These dogs are not wearing pants.
5. “The Burrowers”
“The Burrowers” is unique just being a horror/western, and it just gets more interesting from there. It would be good enough to just be a great Western, that it is. It is also a very Unique Monster Movie. Creepy as it crawls along in the high grasses. The high plains grass hides a hideous creature and before you know it, it’s too late. It paralyzes, buries you in shallow ground and comes back for you when you are decaying and easier to eat. Gross!! This monster knows it’s strengths and uses it surroundings. I have Loved watching Clancy Brown since he was Viking in “Bad Boys”. Who doesn’t love Clancy? He makes a perfect cowboy.
Jeannie Schwartz a.k.a. Retro Girl, friend to Drunken Zombie and Geek Nerdery. I’ve loved Monster movies since I was a kid. I read and collect comics and toys. I’ve written movie trivia for Midway Games and have done movie and wrestling reviews on the local radio station. I moderated a panel on Women in Comics. I like Butterscotch way more than I should. Sing in a band and I still get up early on Saturday (& Sunday) morning to watch cartoons!