Horror is a genre for everyone.
It's that time of year when we sit back, relax, and scare ourselves stupid watching the most terrifying, bloody, and traumatizing scary movies we can find. Horror flicks are the roller coasters of cinema. They turn you upside down and shake you back and forth, but it's all in good fun.
Even the bad ones still pack a punch. It's no surprise that everyone loves a good scare... even Hollywood's A-list directors.
Recently, Indiewire dug into their files and pulled out some quotes from directors explaining their favorite horror films.
Here are some highlights.
Rob Zombie: 28 Days Later
Let's start with a guy whose name should be synonymous with horror, Rob Zombie. His favorite flick is 28 Days Later. He told Vice, “I thought it was great. I like the fact that, I don’t know how much credit [Danny Boyle] gets for it, but the zombiemania that’s going on with everyone, no one could really figure out what to do with zombie movies. Everyone was just sort of retreading what George Romero was doing. And he was the first person to come along with a fresh take on it, which came along in kind of a stagnant genre, and I never really thought of it of being stagnant until I saw that film.”
Personally, I think you can see a lot of Romero in Zombie... pun intended.
Jennifer Kent: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
One of my favorite movies of the decade was The Babadook, and its director, Jennifer Kent, has some great horror that inspires her. She named The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as an influence.
“I look at an earlier film like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the original, and that’s a masterpiece,” Kent told Shutterstock. “It’s saying something deeper about humanity. For me, it’s like how an animal must feel at the slaughter. Some people identify with Leatherface, but I identify with the victims in that one… There’s something so rough and coarse in a really great way running through that film. It’s a genius film. It’s still shocking. There’s an energy to it, whereas last night, the Friday the 13th remake was on TV, and I felt like I was watching a shampoo commercial.”
Love that subtle critique.
Luca Gudagnino: The Fly
If you want to get down and dirty, think about how Luca Gudagnino reworked Suspiria into a gruesome fright-fest. It makes sense, while speaking to Vulture in December 2018, that Guadagnino hailed David Cronenberg’s The Fly an “all-time masterpiece.”
“The horror of it for me is at the end when you realize that the character of Jeff Goldblum and the character of Geena Davis desperately love each other, but they’re not going to be together,” Guadagnino said. “The ultimate horror of that movie was the impossibility of the love between the two of them.”
Wes Anderson: Rosemary's Baby
But horror is not just for people who have made horror movies.
One of the most interesting quotes was from Wes Anderson on Rosemary’s Baby.
Jordan Peele: Misery
Ana Lily Amirpour: Antichrist
While speaking to Criterion, Ana Lily Amirpour said Antichrist is one of her top five favorite movies ever made.
"When this came out, the hysteria over the clit-scissors scene was all I heard about, and when I watched the film, that was the least shocking thing for me,” Amirpour said. “That scene with the crow in the foxhole and Dafoe beating on it trying to get it to die—that reminded me of an anxiety dream I’ve had, like a déjà vu from my own emotions. It’s comforting when someone else’s darkness mirrors your own. Lars is brave with how intimate he is in his films.”
Yeah, that movie is not for everyone.
Mike Flanagan: The Blackcoat's Daughter
One recent director tackling horror concepts I love is Mike Flanagan. One of his favorite films is The Blackcoat’s Daughter.
He said of the film, “Oz Perkins’ chilling and meditative puzzler is one of my favorites. Great performances across the board, what appears at first to be a story about girls encountering a supernatural force when left behind at their boarding school is revealed to be something even deeper by the end. I love this movie for a lot of reasons, but particularly because of how it touches on an unexplored facet of possession stories.”
Bong Joon-Ho: Midsommar
Another director heralding a new classic is Bong Joon-Ho, who had nothing but praise for Midsommar, saying it “goes beyond the trappings of genre and delivers true, profound horror. A horror that is primal and inescapable. In order to survive this overwhelming horror, we cast a spell on ourselves. We hope that the gruesome moments we witnessed will eventually settle into a neutral view of the accident, like an innocuous tableau made up of adorable miniature figures.”
Robert Eggers: Nosferatu
But there's elegance in current film and in the classics, like when someone appreciates where horror began, as Robert Eggers does when he mentions Nosferatu.
"It was an indie horror in its day, a bit rough around the edges, yet it’s one of the greatest and most haunting films ever made,” he told Shudder. “The newly restored color-tinted versions are really impressive, but I still prefer the poor black and white versions made from scraps of 16mm prints. Those grimy versions have an uncanny mystery to them and helped build the myth of Max Shreck being a real vampire.”
No matter what you watch this holiday season, make sure it's something that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. If you haven't seen the movies listed above, I encourage you to check them out. There's a treasure trove waiting for you.
Head on over to Indiewire to read the full list.
What are your favorite horror movies?
Let us know in the comments.