View Full Version : Smartest Horror Films

02-05-2001, 06:12 PM
This may have been covered before, but I can't recall it. What do you think are some of the most intelligent genre offerings?

I was inspired to post this after reading articles in Cineaction magazine on George Romero's NOTLD and MONKEY SHINES.

I think the entire DEAD trilogy gets my vote. For it's social significance, NOTLD addresses motherhood, race relations, media impact, and more. The sequels tackle commercialism, science and politics with equal gusto and insight by Romero.

I also think the cinema of David Cronenberg from early films like SHIVERS and RABID, to other horror masterpieces like THE FLY and VIDEODROME are as smart as they are scary and gore-filled.

02-05-2001, 06:29 PM
Interesting topic.

Good call on Cronenberg, especially Shivers and Videodrome. It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I might add The Brood to that as well.

One of the more intelligent horror movies made is my all-time favorite, Carrie. Oh sure, at first it just seems like a high-school revenge movie, but it's so much more. It's an entire comment about women and feminiity. Is it any coincedence that Carrie acquires her "power" the exact time she makes the "official" transition from girl to woman? Plus, aren't the girls in that movie just plain old NASTY? Any man who's ever gotten a woman pissed off at him knows that the term "the fairer sex" is total bunk! There's so much under the surface of this movie you can enjoy it over and over again on totally different levels every time.

I'll also throw in a vote for Argento's The Stendhal Syndrome. I've seen a lot of people (including some serious Argento-philes) put down this movie, but it's very intelligent and one of his best. Not everyone here has seen this, so I won't give a lot away, but the use of Art Interpretation as an influence on a person is something that deserves to be studied over and over again. Highly underrated movie.

02-05-2001, 07:25 PM
Great topic!
Hands down the NOTLD series!
George Romero is very under rated, I feel that his new film, Bruiser, will be affective in many ways. I will have to say that Dark City is a good one too.

02-05-2001, 07:59 PM
BRUISER certainly looks like it's going to fit in well with Romero's "smart" collection. I also forgot to mention MARTIN, which is very smart!

Yes, THE BROOD is a great Cronenberg film.

Also, two nineties vampire flicks I think qualify are THE ADDICTION by Abel Ferrara (his version of BODY SNATCHERS is also quite thought-provoking), and also the little-seen NADJA.

I'm also adding Scott Reynold's films HEAVEN and THE UGLY to the list of intelligent horror films. Not only in content, but in terms of the unconventional structure.

02-05-2001, 09:54 PM
Dawn of the Dead and nearly everything of Cronenbergs... :)

Gallo Films of Argento like Deep Red are pretty good too, although strictly speaking not horror - good complex stories that you have to watch carefully to get everything. I'd be interested to hear if anyone caught fully the initial glimpse of the killer in Deep Red (so when the character actually was introduced, you went, oh, that's the killer). I thought I saw something, but didn't actually see a recognisable face. It impressed me how he set that up.

02-06-2001, 01:04 AM
If we're doing genre and DVD, I'd like to include THE OMEN, SE7EN, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE THING, THE SIXTH SENSE, THE EXORCIST and for the most part, any early Argento flick.

02-06-2001, 01:44 AM
I would have to add Alien and The Dead Zone to those previously mentioned.


Mark Relford
02-06-2001, 04:06 AM

(1) Peeping Tom
(2) Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
(3) Rosemary's Baby
(4) Invasion of the Body Snatchers '78
(5) Knightriders (Not horror, but another worthy title in Romero's "smart" collection.

Here's hoping that Bruiser opens more doors for Romero! :)

02-06-2001, 04:54 AM
This is gonna be old hat coming from me, but as far as cerebral substance goes, three creators come first and foremost to my mind, if only for shear volume of consistant, thought-provoking material.

Alfred Hitchcock - Go ahead, say it; his stuff is over-rated, it's old and boring, it has no shock value anymore. Whatever. Even though shock cinema has gone into hyperdrive since Hitch, his films are still revalatory for first time viewers, and I think they are thought-provoking even with repeat viewing. But that's just me. He's probably really just a hack. :p

James Whale - Man, this guy just looked into the heart and soul of man and projected what he saw with a keen knack that is rarely seen, if ever attempted. He gave a shit about how people were, how they treated each other, and how they were affected by other's actions. He fought hard to get that on screen, and succeeded very well. The very same can be said of...

Rod Serling - Only a fraction of his output could be considered horror, and he was only involved in a small handful of critically acclaimed feature films in the 60's. This sparse stream of projects culminated in Planet of the Apes in 68, which I personally regard as highly thought-provoking and full of questions of morality. The Twilight Zone, throughout it's run, was equally questioning.

There are certainly other examples of singular credit, as has already been stated and will be - but again, I chose these three for their consistant volume of top-notch output. :D

02-06-2001, 05:58 AM
Peeping tom was also a great film. And how could I forget Nadja?! James Whale was another director that deserves more credit. This topic is great again, by the way.

02-06-2001, 06:09 AM
American Psycho; although the novel is infinitely better (Read it, damn you!)

I'll also mention Cronenberg's Dead Ringers & Crash, even though I still don't get the former. Also Man Bites Dog, which I guess is horrific without really being horror; kind of like Kids, which I could also mention... Lots of the movies that came to my mind when I saw this topic weren't horror in the Jason/Freddy sense, which, while entertaining, are so fantasy-based they lack the edge of the "this could really happen" types. I'm rambling, aren't I? I'd better go watch some Sifl & Olly before I start thinking too hard...

02-06-2001, 06:20 AM
Naked Lunch
In The Mouth of Madness
Lord of Illusions
The Shining
The Ugly
The Exorcist
Silence of the Lambs

02-06-2001, 06:40 AM
Definitely anything Cronenberg, a true genius. I'd have to say The Brood and Dead Ringers best fit this category.
As said before also, The Dead series, Romero was on to something back then, it's a shame what happened to him.

I think The Stendhal Syndrome was absolutely amazing. It is an excellent film that gets even better with repeated viewings. Deserves much better dvd treatment than what we ended up with from Troma.

02-06-2001, 03:23 PM
Thanks Deepdown. I've created a lot of duds for threads which nowhere. It's nice to see one more or less take off.

Great calls on some of these other films. HENRY is a definite masterpiece, and AMERICAN PSYCHO is the best of recent. And I have read the book by the way, and I agree, it is even more satisfying (and a lot more graphic!).

I would also like to mention Mario Bava as having contributed some very smart films.

Yes, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME was an abomination of a DVD.