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Written for the Black Magic issue of Snippets zine, originally published here.

Hallowe’en is approaching. My personal favourite among the winter festivals as it combines several of my favourite activities eating, dressing up in ridiculous costumes and watching scary movies. Doing all three at once is positively encouraged. However, whether your taste in films runs to classic monster movies or more recent stalk and slash efforts, television tends to provide us with the same tired old fodder we’ve all seen too many times. So here are five of the best alternative horror movies for Hallowe’en viewing and as a bonus none of them are in English or Japanese.

The Host (Gwoemul)

For those who like their horror of the Asian variety but have seen a few too many un-dead wraith girls with long lank hair lately, give this Korean monster movie a try. Part monster movie, part political satire (with a side of family drama) The Host manages to combine all the best elements of classic monster movies with some fabulous special effects courtesy of those talented folks at Weta Workshop.

Oh and the most courageous character in the entire film is a fourteen-year-old girl.

Eyes Without A Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage)

A French cult horror film, it is on the surface a mad scientist film, featuring as it does the obsessive Dr Génessier on a quest to repair his daughter’s mutilated face. His attempts to conduct a successful face transplant leave a trail of corpses behind him. The tension remains high throughout, with some scenes that could have escaped from a Hitchcock thriller. However, it’s the character of Christiane his daughter, a strange mixture of princess-in-the-tower and Frankenstein’s monster, that makes this film truly interesting, becoming arguably the earliest example of the ‘final girl’ horror trope.

Switchblade Romance (Haute Tension)

French cinema once again throws up a nice little subversion of popular horror tropes here, featuring as it does both a faceless, nameless psycho truck driver and a ‘final girl’ who is not entirely what she seems. The film was Alexandre Aja’s first, and best, foray into the horror genre, old fashioned gore, plenty of tension and an unexpected plot twist more than make up for any plot holes along the way.

Fair warning though, the INXS song ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ may never be quite the same.

Dead Snow (Død Snø)

It’s a Norwegian zombie film. Bear with me. Said zombies are also Nazi soldiers (members of the SS for that matter) from WW2. The tag line on its UK release was ‘Ein, Zwei, Die…” which pretty much tells you all you need to know. It’s a horror-comedy and it’s not ashamed.

M

Last but not least the oldest film of the lot, a classic in all senses. Nosferatu may be the classic of German Expressionist horror cinema but arriving at the tail end of the movement this film has arguably aged better. Fritz Lang’s first foray into sound cinema, M begins the long history of sound as a powerful psychological tool in the horror director’s arsenal. The killer’s signature – and sinister – whistling of ‘The Hall of the Mountain King’ is the first use of a leitmotif in cinema and looses none of its creepiness or impact even after nearly eighty years.

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