– I stumbled on this movie by accident and it honestly makes up for all the other times that I’ve been burned by randomly selecting a horror film. There’s so much to love about Penumbra: the tone, the constantly tightening frustration, a fantastic lead performance by the beautiful Cristina Brondo, and – most importantly – a completely batshit insane ending. This film is like Scorsese’s After Hours smashed together with Rosemary’s Baby. I can’t sing its praises enough.
– Friedkin’s vastly underrated film is one that I watched again and again over the course of Ritual’s production. There is something so dirty and claustrophobic in this stripped-down horror tale. The paranoia, uncertainty, and back and forth between the unreliable protagonists is something that truly is unmatched.
– I worship this movie (and pretty much everything Haneke makes) with every fiber of my being. This charismatic home-invasion film is like a patient retelling of the “Singing In The Rain” scene in A Clockwork Orange. It’s wonderfully frustrating, terrifyingly funny, and really quite scary at times. Funny Games is one of the few films that makes me jealous because somebody else got to make it.
– I think the immediate negative adjectives associated with this film almost always overshadow the positive ones. It’s depraved, filthy, brutal, and nauseating. It’s also completely genius on every level. The amazing performances, audacious of the camerawork, and brilliant sound design, all help to take Irreversible far above ordinary shock film status. It planted itself in my brain and refused to budge from its spot somewhere in between Taxi Driver, Hardcore, and Cruising. It’s pure 70’s pulp bliss told by a new-generation auteur. I’ll forever remain unapologetic in my love for this movie.
Dead Man’s Shoes
– Speaking of pulpy, violent horror films that definitely pray at the altar of Taxi Driver, Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes is one you need to see to believe. It’s a slasher film told from the killer’s perspective, it’s a disturbing, gritty, revenge film without a morally uplifting character in sight. Paddy Considine totally rocks every scene he’s in and who doesn’t love a good killer in a gas mask flick?
The Slumber Party Massacre
– Carol Clover championed this film as a prime example of gender behavior in horror films, which adds a whole new level of complexity to this wonderful 80’s slasher flick. But, at its core though, The Slumber Party Massacre is the most fun to watch with a bunch of friends and beer.
Bay of Blood
– Mario Bava’s messy masterpiece earns its spot on this list because of the tremendous impact it has had on the horror genre. The wacky camera zooms, awesome score, and before-it’s-time gore make this movie a pleasure to watch. It’s also not currently available for DVD rental so cherish this while you can!
– JT Petty’s kind-of-but-not-really documentary is difficult to explain and possibly the most unsettling film on this list. Like Schrader’s Hardcore, this one takes on the increasingly seedy and dangerous world of underground filmmaking. It gets really dark, really quickly and it’s certainly not for everyone. But, for those who can stomach a film like this, it’s definitely a gem on Instant Play.
– Kill List is an astounding example of a film that plays completely by its own rules. It blindsides you with its violence and horror when it wants to and that’s probably what makes it so effective. Ben Wheatley’s talent as a filmmaker shines in every scene and the ending will knock your lights out.
– Though not intentionally a horror film, this documentary about failed actors turned street performers on Hollywood Boulevard is marvelously unsettling on every level. It’s a cringe-worthy, real-life version of The King Of Comedy that pulls you in and forces you to watch in horror, waiting to see what these actual Rupert Pupkins will do next.