10 “Horror” Movies That Will Leave You Truly Shaken (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of the post I started yesterday.  Here are five more movies that will leave you not just scared, but scarred.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre StillThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Admittedly this is a gimme, but it still stands alone in its class. We see the absolute nadir of what could be called ‘human,’ and it all starts with a simple little sledgehammer to the face.

Funny Games: I have seen neither the American nor the German versions of Michael Heneke’s ultra-controversial film, because its synopsis makes it sound like a complete nightmare, and the execution is said to be merciless in both cases.  I have, however, accidentally seen one scene, involving blood splattered on a TV screen, and I am working hard to forget what exactly was going on.

Audition: What makes this movie so audacious is its use of tone and genre in a completely unexpected way.  In most horror movies, you can tell exactly what’s going to happen from the opening scene, and the ominous music and fake-scares along the way (think the cat in Alien) keep reminding you that SOMETHING SCARY IS GOING TO HAPPEN.  Some say this builds tension, but for me it always made things predictable. So what if a movie started off, in every possible way, telling you that it was a slightly melancholy romantic comedy? What would it feel like for it to suddenly turn into something unspeakably horrific?  I can tell you – it would feel way, way more deranged than an average horror film.

Mulholland Drive StillMulholland Drive: Another horror movie that’s not really a horror movie.  But the emotional desperation of the the main characters, David Lynch’s mind-bending story structure, and the frequent eruptions of strange violence, mean that this will leave you equal parts distraught, confused, and paranoid.

Happiness: Also not really a horror movie, but worse than anything that ever featured Jason Voorhees. There are a few horrible people in this film, but the one who will always be remembered is the pedophile who rapes his young son’s friend during a sleepover.  He’s depicted as entirely human – and even empathetic. Ultimately, the most horrifying part of this movie is how you’re likely to react. I first saw it when it was released in theatres, and I was roaring with laughter at it deeply uncomfortable comedy.  I was on a date at the time.  No, things did not go so well.


It turns out I have too many movies to make this just a top ten.  I’ll be posting on similar topics soon, about movies like El Topo and Ichi the Killer.  Stay Tuned!

10 “Horror” Movies That Will Leave You Truly Shaken (Part 1).

Halloween is here.  And if you’re like most people, you’re probably going to spend a little time watching cheesy-fun horror movies like Friday the 13th, or an old classic like White Zombie, or maybe even an aestheticized gorefest like Hostel or Saw.  You’ll get some friends together, make some popcorn, and everyone will gleefully laugh, groan, and squeal, and in the end you’ll all be smiling.

Let me just say – FUCK THAT.

Halloween, for a lot of people, is about mere fear – a titillating, momentary frisson of uncertainty that almost always resolves into understanding and acceptance.  But what if you want a Halloween that will really teach you about the darkest parts of the human experience, an Eve that will make you question your most fundamental beliefs about what a human being is capable of, and leave you unable to look at anything the same way ever again?  In that case, you need films that are truly dark, truly disturbing, and truly challenging.  Here are the first five, with five more coming tomorrow.


Begotten Screenshot

Elias Merhige, still from Begotten

Begotten: E. Elias Merhej’s one-of-a-kind allegorical silent bloodbath stars a rheumatic, blood-vomiting God sitting in the corner of a hut as degraded mud-monsters claw their way up the side of a hill.  The soundtrack is haunting, and the point may be hard to track, but this film is a total experience in every possible way.

Anti Christ: One of the most horrifying films of the last decade wasn’t billed as a “horror movie” as all. The acting is incredible, the story is mind-bending, but the most incredible part of Anti Christ is the cinematography, showing with crystal clarity why “Nature is Satan’s Church.”

Trash Humpers Still

Trash Humpers

 Trash Humpers: Trash Humpers follows three elderly people around as they commit acts of petty larceny and make lewd gestures and sing songs.  Except the elderly people are clearly younger people in masks, the cinematography makes suburban America look like Hell, and the performances are insanely disturbing. There’s very little actual interpersonal violence in the movie, but it still manages to be nearly as unsettling as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.   If the only Harmony Korine movie you’ve seen is Spring Breakers, you’re . . . well, you’re sort of ready.

Possession – Directed by Andrzej Żuławski and starring Sam Neill, this film is nearly impossible to find . . . legally.  Like Anti Christ, its real topic is the horror of human relationships, and some of its scenes dramatize the simple horror of being human in ways that anyone with a soul will probably relate to a little too much:

But if that’s not enough, there’s also a hell of a zinger waiting at the end – one heavily hinted at one the movie’s cover art, and taking H.P. Lovecraft places he probably never could have imagined.

Tetsuo the Iron Man Still Screen Shot

Tetsuo the Iron Man

Tetsuo the Iron Man: This low-budget original was followed by two sequels, each a significant step down in power.  Watch as an obsessed man shoves metal into his own flesh – and don’t miss the mechanical dick scenes. This movie was an obvious cinematographic and conceptual influence on Daren Aronofsky’s Pi.

Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music

Lou Reed died today. Like some of the real greats of the 1970s (America’s most artistically legitimate decade), he did a lot of things.  But for my purposes, nothing touches Metal Machine Music.

Reed toured with this material in 2010 – after his own earlier work had cleared the way for it to actually be appreciated.  It’s amazing for me to think about what that must feel like – for your work to be validated 25 years later.  Even, perhaps especially, if the album was the joke on his record company that lots of people considered it to be.

Like a dozen other genres, noise and experimental music, as something connected to punk spirit instead of just to academic music programs, wouldn’t exist today without Lou Reed.  I’m not going to listen to Metal Machine Music in his honor – I’m going to listen to Tim Hecker, to Melt-Banana, to Emeralds, to Yellow Swans, to Grouper.  To all the things I would be listening to on an average day anyway.  None of it would exist without Lou Reed.

Anya Davidson: School Spirits – Amazing Surreal Truth

About a week ago on a whim, I ordered Anya Davidson’s School Spirits, by Picturebox.  This thing is amazing!  In a nutshell, it’s a story about run-of-the-mill high school freaks, but with a more than liberal sprinkling of surrealist detours into otherwordly monster fantasmagoria.  Sometimes these play as daydream excursions, as when a school dance momentarily turns into a gaggle of zombies before reverting back to the equally horrific reality – but just as often, it seems as if the teenage protagonists are fully aware that the world is REALLY transforming around them – they’re dealing with monsters, and it’s totally normal.  It’s like Charles Burns’ Black Hole, but much more lighthearted and fun (while still dealing with some serious issues and weighty emotions).  The art is both light and mind-bending as well, seeming to owe a lot to Jim Steranko and Jack Kirby’s heavy-inked monsters and cosmic beings of the 1960s.

Well worth reading twice or three times.  You can get it here, and it’s worth every cent.


Anya Davidson’s School Spirits


School Spirits inside pages courtesy Anya Davidson.

Images courtesy of Anya’s blog.  Visit her and say hello here: http://anyadavidson.blogspot.com/

Illustrating All of Lovecraft’s Creatures: Yog-Blogsoth

Found yesterday via Weird Tales – the amazing Yog-Blogsoth, where one Michael Bukowski is working to illustrate ALL of H.P. Lovecraft’s alien monstrosities.  Browsing the site will, among other things, give you a huge appreciation for just how many beasts Lovecraft imagined.  There are hundreds of these – all lovingly rendered.


Great Illo by Michael Bukowski at Yog-Blogsoth.com.




Yakubian, by Michael Bukowski at Yog-Blogsoth.com

I am creative.

And I’m looking for a creative team to bring my latest inspiring vision to fruition. In the future, animal control has learned to predict animal misbehavior, and intercede before it happens. But one kitty knows that he would never commit the crime he’s being pursued for. He’s seen that the whole system is corrupt, and he’s out to shut it down.

Title: Meownority Report.

The Best Writing About Dissertation Writing You’ll Likely Ever Read

It’s only three or so paragraphs, and it’s nearly a decade old, but this post from Dave Noon is worth revisiting.  Again and Again.  Forever.

Greetings From The Bell Jar

Bleak, horrific wastelands where sense is sacrificed.  That’s what it feels like from the inside.  And often enough, after the fact.

You can also read some of David Noon’s slightly more recent, equally hilarious rants on history and politics at The Edge of the American West blog at the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Kicketsnare: French-Canadian-Japanese Hip Hop

4d + Kicketsnare Cover

Had to give a shoutout to the new release from the French-Canadian duo 4d + Kicketsnare.  One track features my friend Shibito, from the amazing Tokyo group Origami.  I’ve talked and blogged and written a good deal about Origami, and they’re the main focus of my upcoming book on Japanese hip hop.  Shibito has been working in Canada quite a lot lately.

This stuff has a great weird-organic vibe: A little bit goofier than Origami, but you can see how he’d fit in.  Click the pic to check it out.