By: Bailey Hart
In May, a disturbed young woman tries desperately to make a human connection, despite years of isolation, her only confidants being a cat and a porcelain doll named Suzie. May is quirky and unique, featuring many memorable characters, some excellent performances, a very unnerving atmosphere, and a final act that may disturb even the most well-versed horror fans.
Deep Red (1975)
In Deep Red, the murder of a psychic medium jumpstarts a stream of crimes, deaths and shocking revelations. Dario Argento’s Deep Red perfectly represents the Italian Giallo movement, with flourishing camera movements, creative and surreal murder sequences, and a twisting and bizarrely engaging mystery plot.
Peeping Tom (1960)
Peeping Tom follows the everyday life of a serial killer who enjoys filming and reviewing the demises of his victims. Often described as the “British Psycho”, Peeping Tom was considered far too controversial during its initial release in 1960, receiving almost exclusively negative reviews as a result, and effectively destroying the directorial career of Michael Powell. Today, however, it is viewed as a staple in psychological horror, perhaps decades ahead of its time, portraying its protagonist in an impressively objective light, and honestly exploring the horrors of mental illness.
The premise of Martyrs is besides the point of the film– anything that could possibly be said about the film’s plot would either be saying too much, or would horribly misrepresent the movie. Martyrs is consistently considered by many to be one of the most disturbing films ever made, both viscerally and psychologically. Still, unlike most “disturbing” movies, Martyrs is also deep, emotional, existential, and profoundly beautiful. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but if you can stomach it, Martyrs is guaranteed to leave an impression.
Lake Mungo (2008)
In Lake Mungo, a family experiences strange paranormal occurrences following the mysterious death of Alice, their teenage daughter. Lake Mungo features ghosts, mysteries, and an absolutely chilling atmosphere, and is just as much a horror film as it is an affecting family drama. Structured as a sort of Discovery Channel-esque “mockumentary”, Lake Mungo takes full advantage of its unique format to tell a realistic and haunting story.
Funny Games (1997)
In Funny Games, a family is held hostage and utterly tormented by two young teenage boys during a trip to the lake. The film’s insightfulness into the horror genre and human psychology sets it apart from other genre films. Funny Games is a disturbing and effective horror film, but it it also serves as commentary on the obsession with violence in movies, and forces the viewer to question their own moral standards.
In Videodrome, the president of a raunchy television channel finds himself trapped in a seedy underworld of sin and nightmares. Videodrome deals with very controversial topics, and does not hold back. Filled with excellent and disgusting special effects, and brimming with still-relevant social commentary, Videodrome becomes increasingly nightmarish and surreal as its bizarre plot unravels. Simply put, it is a masterpiece of psychological horror, and an excellent example of political concerns affecting horror.
Halloween III (1982)
Halloween III is a strange little film involving Irish cults, robots, stonehenge, deadly mask, and plenty of intrigue. It was critically panned at the time of its release, and still maintains a 4.5/10 average on Imdb, almost entirely due to its unexpected lack of Michael Myers, the subject of the previous two Halloween movies. Still, despite being completely rejected by many horror fans, Halloween III is an aptly made film, with excellent directing, an unforgettable score, and many absolutely chilling moments. With its absolutely absurd and surreal premise, it’s a forgotten gem that must be seen to be believed.
In Suspiria, a college-aged girl arrives at a prestigious dance academy and begins to discover that not everything is as it seems. Suspiria is filled with bizarre lighting and nightmarish visuals, and seems to exist under the merits of dream logic. It exceeds beyond genre expectations and becomes something so original, so excellently nightmarish, and so impressively effective that it is commonly addressed as one of the best horror films ever made- and for good reason. Suspiria is a masterful piece of work.