2Spooky4Me: Our Own Personal Horror Canon

Posted October 28th, 2016 by Matt Turner

Next up in our 2Spooky series, some favourite horror films from some of the SP staff members. A cross-section of genre films, recent treats and veritable classics. Watch one this weekend.

Matt – Pulse (2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)


Arriving at the tail end of the dot com boom, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ghost story Pulse contained a truth that fifteen years later is so commonly expressed it’s become a cliche. The internet, despite supposedly providing us with easier connection to each other, only serves to distance us. Upon stumbling upon a page titled ‘The Forbidden Room,’ the victims in Kurosawa’s film find themselves isolated, disconnected from society and ultimately compelled to suicide, Kurosawa’s web serving to first fracture society, and then slowly strip it of inhabitants. Eschewing cheap scares, Kurosawa’s idea of horror is more permanent, a slowly building existential dread that lingers long after his film has come to an end. His vision – of a web of interconnected ghosts, who, as they become slowly sucked into the machine, become spectres of their past selves – is haunting because of its chilling mix of the familiar and the unknown.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974. Tobe Hooper)


More than any other sort of film perhaps, older horror can age poorly, mainly because it’s impossible to replicate the experience of seeing the film as it was received at the time, and difficult to not feel distanced by this. Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for whatever reason, seems to dodge this predicament, existing in a weird way, entirely out of time and place. It’s a peculiar film, kind of terrifying despite being set largely in the daytime, containing almost no violence and being led by a villain who is fairly ridiculous. Hooper made it on a minimal budget, finding incredible success that he’d never really be able to match, and the film remains a template/bible for many genre filmmakers to this day.

Mark – REC (2007, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza)


A Spanish found footage zombie horror that spawned three sequels, a US remake and countless imitators, REC stood apart in a crowded marketplace by being genuinely terrifying. One to watch alone with headphones in the dark, REC builds tension as the characters travel upwards through its Barcelona apartment block setting, leading into a truly explosive, jump-scare packed finale. Unlike many of the found-footage films that followed and preceded it, REC‘s conceit actually made sense, presenting the footage as the discovered reportage of a reporter and her cameraman investigating an outbreak of disease in Barcelona. As things get stranger, and then nastier, REC ramps up and up before providing some creepy context that deepens the visceral scares that come along the way.

Cath – The Hunger (1983, Tony Scott)


The debut venture from the superior Scott brother, The Hunger was a sad, sensual vampire flick that performed poorly at the box office despite featuring performances from Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. An adaptation of the novel by the same name by Whitley Strieber’s, it’s atmospheric, artful and somewhat underrated. Scott would go onto greater things, but this cult piece remains a favourite for many, a vampiric intermingling of lust for blood, money and flesh, directed with flair and style.

Xenia – Battle Royale (2000, Kinji Fukasaku)


Mixing adolescent turbulence with life-or-death stakes, Fukasaku’s bloody parable pictures a society where crime and unemployment are so rampant that the totalitarian government initiates a game wherein the nation’s youth are sent to an island and pitted against other, with only a single victor leaving alive. Sound familiar? Battle Royale preceded The Hunger Games by some eight years, and deserves every bit the attention that franchise has received. Gory, controversial, and extremely fun, this teen riot massacre is scary precisely because its horror scenario is recognisable more as a not-too-distant present than some impossible dystopian fantasy. And it has ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano on top form as a maniacal school teacher.

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