The world of horror is far too rich a field to narrow down to five very easily, and while I respect the lists from my fellow Addicted writers greatly, I have decided to narrow the field a bit in order to pick films not already chosen. To qualify for this list the film does not need to be foreign language, just produced outside of North America. There is still way too many films to do a truly ranked top 5, and many more deserving not on this list, but this should be a great primer for the initiated, and a reminder for those who know these all too well.
Wild Zero (1990) This punk rock meets zombies epic features real life Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf fighting hordes of the undead, that just happen to be the first wave of a alien invasion, when a fan approaches them after dealing with a shady concert promoter. The film also includes alien hi jinks, some killer music and some great performances from the band members themselves! Think Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park but with zombies and way cooler.
The Loved Ones (2009) If you have yet to see this Aussie effort of a deranged girl and her father’s unhealthy obsession with making her happy then track it down immediately. The lead performance from Robin McLeavy as Lola is stunning and also solid is Samuel Xavier‘s turn as Lola’s latest victim/subject. Creepy, funny and terrifying The Loved Ones delivers on every front.
A L’intérieur (Inside) (2007) This French offering is the high water mark of the new French horror wave of the mid 2000’s that also includes films like Martyrs, High Tension and Sheitan. Full of twists and turns that leave the film gleefully unpredictable, the story of a pregnant woman and the nurse determined to have that baby by any means is wholly unique and inventive, while still playing to familiar beats that will appeal to all horror fans. All that and it’s insanely gory.
The Descent (2005) This British effort about a ill-fated cave exploration trip that sees 6 women go through hell was a peasant surprise when it was first released. Full of rich dialogue and excellent performances, The Descent quickly distanced itself from the pack of other creature features of the time, and director Neil Marshal proved to have a excellent eye behind the camera. The pacing is set at a breakneck speed that will keep viewers on edge until the final gasps for air.
Let the Right One In (2008) Not just one of my favorite horror films but one of my favorite films period, the original Swedish masterpiece Let the Right One In does everything right. Amazing performances, excellent practical effects work, a brilliant script and beautiful cinematography all highlight this stunning piece of celluloid that has won fans over worldwide. Don’t just settle for the passable yet unnecessary remake Let Me In, go out and get the original. You won’t be disappointed.
Honorable mentions quickly for 2 films to watch out for in the next yer as they currently make the film festival rounds. New Zealand’s What We Do in the Shadows is one of the best horror comedies in years, if not ever. And Norway’s When Animals Dream is a hauntingly gorgeous tale of adolescence featuring a girl starting to accept she’s becoming a werewolf. Both films are excellent and should be sought out!