Fright Club: 1, 2, or 3 Person Casts

Fuzzy math takes over as we count cast members and celebrate minimalist films that can seep into your nightmares with the help of very few performers. There are some great options, but here are our six favorites films with 1, 2, or 3 people in the cast.

Thanks Fright Clubber Michael for the topic!

6. Hard Candy (2005)

It would be two years before Elliot Paige burst into public consciousness as the hilarious and pregnant teen in Juno–still a kid getting herself into trouble, I guess. But the trouble in Hard Candy is tougher to manage.

Paige is a force of nature, playing off Patrick Wilson in a cat-and-mouse game where roles are flexible. Director David Slade keeps tensions ratcheted up to an unbearable level while Brian Nelson (who collaborated with Spade on the underappreciated vampire flick 30 Days of Night) twists the knife in a script as sharp and shady as these actors are wily and hard edged. It’s a breathless exploration of all that’s bad in the world.

5. Buried (2010)

If you’re claustrophobic, you might want to sit this one out. A tour de force meant to unveil Ryan Reynolds’s skill as an actor, Buried spends a breathless 95 minutes inside a coffin with the lanky Canadian, who’s left his quips on the surface.

Writer Chris Spalding stretches credibility as he tries to keep the crises lively, which is unfortunate because the simple story and Reynolds’s raw delivery makes this a gut-wrenching experience.

4. Creep (2014)

This true two-man show boasts dark and twisted humor, a great jump scare, and a truly exceptional mask.

Writer/director Patrick Brice plays Aaron, hapless videographer seeking work, thrills, maybe even love. He answers an ad to record Josef (Mark Duplass) at home, and then on the road. The film toys with that inner warning you hear and then choose to ignore.

Duplass has an incredible aptitude for pushing boundaries just enough to prick that inner voice but not quite enough to guarantee that you’ll head for the exit. As red flag after red flag go unheeded, Brice unveils more and more chilling detail.

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

This one is a threesome. Well, not if Howard (a glorious John Goodman) has anything to say about it.

The feature debut from director Dan Trachtenberg toys with the idea of an alien invasion (or some kind of chemical warfare), but it keeps you snugly indoors with Howard and his guests Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Guess which one Howard doesn’t really want around?

The trio of performances compel your attention, even in the few down moments. This is a tight, taut thrill ride—even if it is confined to one guy’s basement.

2. Antichrist (2009)

Boy, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe are a one/two punch in this one. A married couple overcoming the guilt and desperate grief of their son’s death, the two make some increasingly dreadful decisions.

Alone in their apartment, the two bodies take up much of the screen. Once we move to the cabin in the woods, the colors become deeper and darker, the atmosphere denser, and the actors appear almost tiny and insignificant inside all this throbbing, living nature. Both performances are jarring and fantastic in a movie quite unlike any other.

1. The Lighthouse (2019)

The one thing you just don’t do as you descend into madness is spill your beans.

Dafoe again, this time with Robert Pattinson as his wickie mate in one of the most fascinating examinations of power shifts in horror history. Gorgeously photographed in black and white and boasting 2019’s best sound design, The Lighthouse offers these two actors plenty to work with.

But in the end, it’s the performances that kill you. Madness!

Fright Club: Grief in Horror Movies

Grief is among the most punishing emotions. That may be why mainstream films handle it so poorly. But horror? Horror filmmakers don’t shy away from what hurts, which may be why grief is such a ripe subject for the genre.

Filmmaker and author Samantha Kolesnik joins us to discuss some of the best grief-stricken films in horror.

6. The Nightingale (2018)

A mother’s grief is something many filmmakers see as the pinnacle in pain, the one emotion almost unimaginable in scope and depth and anguish. That’s why brilliant filmmaker Jennifer Kent begins here, using this one moment of ultimate agony to punctuate an almost unwatchable scene of brutality, to tell a tale not of this mother and her grief, but of a nation—a world—crippled by the brutality and grief of a ruling white male culture.

What happens to Clare (Aisling Franciosi) at the hands of Leftenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin), the British officer to whom she is in service, is as brutal and horrifying as anything you’re likely to see onscreen. It’s the catalyst for a revenge picture, but The Nightingale is far more than just that.

Kent’s fury fuels her film, but does not overtake it. She never stoops to sentimentality or sloppy caricature. She doesn’t need to. Her clear-eyed take on this especially ugly slice of history finds more power in authenticity than in drama.

5. A Dark Song (2016)

Writer/director Liam Gavin also begins his story by dropping us breathless and drowning in a mother’s grief. Sophia (Catherine Walker) will do anything at all just to hear her 6-year-old son’s voice again. She will readily commit to whatever pain, discomfort or horror required of her by the occultist (Steve Oram) who will perform the ritual to make it happen.

Anything except the forgiveness ritual.

What Gavin and his small but committed cast create is a shattering but wonderful character study. Walker never stoops to sentimentality, which is likely what makes the climax of the film so heartbreaking and wonderful.

4. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Perhaps what makes Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 horror the most perfect pick for this list is that the film, which deals exclusively in grief, is most interested in how it impacts a father.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie deliver unerring authenticity as the parents trying to recover from the death of their daughter. Roeg plays with imagery and timelines to induce an almost tear-stained blurriness on the events as they transpire.

The heartbreak in the film lies in the guilt, fear of culpability, and inability to change what has happened or what will happen. Though the film’s twist may have been what made a splash in 1973, it’s the honesty in depicting grief that’s helped it remain relevant for nearly 50 years.

3. Hereditary (2018)

Grief and guilt color every somber, shadowy frame of writer/director Ari Aster’s unbelievably assured feature film debut, Hereditary.

With just a handful of mannerisms, one melodic clucking noise, and a few seemingly throwaway lines, Aster and his magnificent cast quickly establish what will become nuanced, layered human characters, all of them scarred and battered by family.

Art and life imitate each other to macabre degrees while family members strain to behave in the manner that feels human, seems connected, or might be normal. What is said and what stays hidden, what’s festering in the attic and in the unspoken tensions within the family, it’s all part of a horrific atmosphere meticulously crafted to unnerve you.

2. Midsommar (2019)

In Midsommar, we are as desperate to claw our way out of this soul-crushing grief as Dani (Florence Pugh). Mainly to avoid being alone, Dani insinuates herself into her anthropology student boyfriend Christian’s (Jack Reynor) trip to rural Sweden with his buds.

Little does she know they are all headed straight for a modern riff on The Wicker Man.

Like a Bergman inspired homage to bad breakups, this terror is deeply-rooted in the psyche, always taking less care to scare you than to keep you unsettled and on edge.

1.Antichrist (2009)

Lars von Trier’s foray into horror follows a couple down a deep and dark rabbit hole of grief. Von Trier’s films have often fixated on punishing viewers and female protagonists alike, but in this film the nameless woman (played fearlessly by Charlotte Gainsbourg) wields most of the punishment – whether upon her mate (Willem Dafoe) or herself.

Consumed by grief, a mother allows her husband—also grieving—to become her psychotherapist as they retreat to their isolated cabin deep in the woods where they will try to overcome the horror of losing their only child.

They won’t succeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScUo88ylcMc

Fright Club: Best Cinematography

A poetry of dread – that’s what the best in this business can conjure with the right framing, movement, stillness. Whether it’s Dick Pope creating that just-off feel of bucolic 1950s Idaho for The Reflecting Skin or Owen Roizman forever narrowing the screen, our gaze and our options in The Exorcist, the cinematographer is horror’s true master. Mike Giolakis kept us looking around us and behind us to see where the monster might be in It Follows. John Alcott (The Shining), Chung-hoon Chung (The Handmaiden) and Mo-gae Lee (A Tale of Two Sisters) haunted and mesmerized us with color, movement and atmosphere. Has anybody done it better?

Here are our nominees for the best cinematography in horror.

5. Kwaidan (1964) – Yoshio Miyajima

Gorgeous. If you’re looking for something theatrical, a true marriage between cinematography and set design, Masaki Kobayashi’s Oscar nominee Kwaidan delivers the goods.

Yoshi Miyajima lenses four different ghost stories, each almost entirely shot on highly decorated sound stages, and what he captures is the feeling of make believe that gives each story the sense that it is being told, being embellished for your spooky enjoyment.

Each story is given its own look, its own personality. It’s bold and memorable filmmaking, and an absolute sight to behold.

4. Antichrist (2009) – Anthony Dod Mantle

Whether it’s the utter poetry of the opening tragedy, the claustrophobic dread of the middle section, or the lurking menace of the final reels, Antichrist is an absolute treasure trove of emotional manipulation.

At times, Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography feels at odds with the actual content on the screen—particularly in Act 1. But mining for beauty in pain is one of many ways director Lars von Trier succeeds in surprising and horrifying with this film.

Mantle finds a terrifying beauty in ugly thing von Trier throws at you, and the end result is a mesmerizing and brutal work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4U5rdi9w-U&t=20s

3. Nosferatu (1922) – Fritz Arno Wagner

We needed to pay our respects to some of the earliest and most memorable work in cinema. Why F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu? Because nearly 100 years later, there are still images that haunt your dreams.

Fritz Arno Wagner (who also lensed Fritz Lang’s glorious M) capitalizes on the unseemly, vermin-like look of Count Orlock (Max Schreck, genius) with creeping silhouettes, lurking shadows, and camera angles that emphasized his hideousness.

Whether it’s the shocking rise from the coffin, the shadow on the staircase, or the image of the sole survivor of the ship recently decimated by “the plague,” Murnau and Wagner’s images are as evocative today as they were in ’22.

2. The Lighthouse (2019) – Jarin Blaschke

The atmosphere is thick and brisk as sea fog, immersing you early with Oscar nominee Jarin Blasche’s chilly black and white cinematography and a Damian Volpe sound design echoing of loss and one persistent, ominous foghorn.

Director/co-writer Robert Eggers follows The Witch, his incandescent 2015 feature debut, with another painstakingly crafted, moody period piece. The Lighthouse strands you, along with two wickies, on the unforgiving island home of one lonely 1890s New England lighthouse.

Salty sea dog Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) keeps the light, mind ye. He also handles among the most impressive briny soliloquies delivered on screen in a lifetime. Joining him as second is one Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson)—aimless, prone to self-abuse, disinclined to appreciate a man’s cooking.

1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Guillermo Navarro

In 2006, Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece may have somehow been overlooked as Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film, but at least the Academy had the common sense to notice Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography.

He manages to create an atmosphere equally imaginative and bitterly realistic, something befitting a child’s logic. Like a fairy tale, the screen blends the magical beauty of good and evil. His vision is as hypnotic as it needs to be, as childlike as we need it to be. It’s beautiful, innocent and utterly heartbreaking.

Fright Club: Bad Date Horror

I can see where you might believe that these are films in which bad dates occur. While that might be a fine, future podcast and list, the fact is that today we explore the worst horror movies to watch while you are on a date.

While horror movies can sometimes make for excellent date night choices, these, we predict, will turn the date sour. They are also highly likely to douse any romantic sparks. (And if they don’t, your date is a sociopath. Be warned.)

5. Audition (1999)

The prolific director Takashi Miike made more than 70 movies in his first 20 or so years in film. Among the best is Audition, a phenomenally creepy May/December romance gone very, very wrong.

Audition tells the story of a widower convinced by his TV producer friend to hold mock television auditions as a way of finding a suitable new mate. He is repaid for his deception.

Nearly unwatchable and yet too compelling to turn away from, Audition is a remarkable piece of genre filmmaking. The slow moving picture builds anticipation, then dread, then full-on horror.

By the time Audition hits its ghastly conclusion, Miike and his exquisitely terrifying antagonist (Eihi


4. Irreversible (2002)

French filmmaker/provocateur Gaspar Noe does not play well with his audience. Every film, no matter how brilliantly put together or gloriously filmed, is a feat in masochism to watch. Later efforts, like Enter the Void and Climax, spread the misery out for its full running time, but for Irreversible, he gave it to us in two horrifying scenes.

Filmed in reverse chronological order and featuring those two famously brutal sequences, Noe succeeds in both punishing his viewers and reminding them of life’s simple beauty. While the head bashing is tough viewing, the film centers on a rape scene that is all but impossible to watch.

Noe’s general MO is to punish you through sheer duration. The scenes last so long you feel like you cannot endure another minute, and this scene certainly does that. Not shot even momentarily for titillation, and boasting a devastatingly excellent performance from Monica Bellucci, it justifies its own horrific presence. There are other films with necessary and difficult rape scenes – Straw Dogs, I Spit on Your Grave, The Last House on the Left, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – but none is harder to stomach than this.

There’s no denying the intelligence of the script, the aptitude of the director, or the absolute brilliance of Monica Bellucci in an incredibly demanding role.

3. Teeth (2007)

Of all the films built on the hysteria of impending womanhood, few are as specific as Teeth, a film in which a pubescent discovers a sharp set where teeth ought not be. This is a dark comedy and social satire that is uncomfortable to watch no matter your gender, although I imagine it may be a bit rougher on men.

Treading on the dread of coming-of-age and turning male-oriented horror clichés on ear, Teeth uses the metaphor implicit in vagina dentata—a myth originated to bespeak the fear of castration—to craft a parable about the dangers as well as the power of sexual awakening.

Written and directed by artist (and Ohioan!) Roy Lichtenstein’s son Mitchell, Teeth boasts an irreverent if symbol-heavy script with a strong and believable lead performance (Jess Weixler).

Weixler’s evolution from naïveté to shock to guilt to empowerment never ceases to captivate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-qd-k0Vg7s

2. Antichrist (2009)

Lars von Trier’s foray into horror follows a couple down a deep and dark rabbit hole of grief. Von Trier’s films have often fixated on punishing viewers and female protagonists alike, but in this film the nameless woman (played fearlessly by Charlotte Gainsbourg) wields most of the punishment – whether upon her mate (Willem Dafoe) or herself.

Consumed by grief, a mother allows her husband—also grieving—to become her psychotherapist as they retreat to their isolated cabin deep in the woods where they will try to overcome the horror of losing their only child.

They won’t succeed.

Like dental scenes, gynecological horror draws a particular reaction. Whether it’s the abuse scene at the beginning of Proxy, nearly any scene in the brilliant French film Inside, or the final feast in Trouble Every Day, scenes of this ilk can be tough to watch. But to watch as Gainsbourg – who’s already inflicted some serious pain on Dafoe’s character – takes the scissors to herself is next to impossible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4U5rdi9w-U


1. A Serbian Film (2010)

This is not a movie we would recommend to basically anyone. That’s not to say it’s a bad film – it’s well directed, acted, and written. It’s just that the co-writer/director Srdjan Spasojevic is trying to articulate the soul-deadening effects of surviving the depravity of war.

The title is no coincidence – the film is meant to reflect the reality of a nation so recently involved in among the most horrific, unimaginable acts of war. It’s as if Spasojevic is saying, after all that, what could still shock us?

Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) was a porn star before the war. He’s lured back for one lucrative “acting” effort, but there’s a reason it pays so well.

The entire film is an assault, but there is one scene in this one that catapults it to the top of this list, and you probably already know what that is. Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) finally realizes the depths of his new director’s evil when he sees his latest effort: newborn porn. There is no unseeing this.


Fright Club: Toolbox Horror

Who’s idea was this? Because this was super fun. Horror filmmaker can get positively inspired by what they find in a tool box or garden shed.

But where to even start? Every Friday the 13th movie, every Sleepaway Camp – basically, every camping movie.

Plus, some films really give it away with their title: Driller Killer, Toolbox Murders (both), Saw (all of them), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (all of them).

It’s a good beginning. To narrow down the list of best horror scenes using tools, we started by categorizing. Here’s what we came up with.

5. Saws: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Saws are big in horror. Lots to choose from:

  • Pieces (1982) – a lot of chainsaw action here, but the girl in the bathroom is the best/worst
  • Tucker & Dale Versus Evil (2010) – bees and chainsaws! Hooray!
  • Evil Dead reboot (2013) – after Mia tears her own hand off, she tears into Evil Mia’s head with a chainsaw
  • Evil Dead 2 (1987) – Ash puts Linda’s head in a vice, then accidentally knocks a chainsaw into her re-animated body

Winner: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
– You hated Franklin, admit it. You should probably feel bad about that, but the point is that he is the only one who actually takes the chainsaw in TCM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTlDmehDmsQ

4. Drill: The Loved Ones (2009)

Again, a power drill is an excellent go-to for onscreen carnage. It’s like being at the dentist, only far bloodier. Several films made great use of it.

    • Driller Killer (1979) – basically every death scene
    • Body Double (1984) – our favorite scene here: Jake runs across to save the woman he’s been peeping on, and gets there in time to see the drill come through the ceiling above him, then all the blood

Winner: The Loved Ones (2009)

Bonus – also nails!

Lola (Robin McLeavy) and her dad make some effective use of several household items, but it’s the moving father/daughter bonding over the power drill that really makes an impression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hakZ4o5FPA

3. Hammer and Nail Family: Misery (1990)

A lot to work with here! Crucifixions, genetical spiking, Home Alone style shenanigans.

  • Evil Dead (2013) – nail gun to the face!
  • Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) – a serious nightmare scenario
  • You’re Next (2011) – underestimated Erin knows how to make use of all kinds of household wares, including that jug of nails she finds in the basement

Winner: Misery (1990)
Yes, it’s a mallet, but that’s in the hammer family, and no scene made 1990 movie audiences more uncomfortable than this. Poor James Caan. You know he’ll badass his way out of this situation at some point – but homey ol’ Annie (the BRILLIANT Kathy Bates) will have her way for a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zzg3UP-x8k

2. Lawnmowers: Dead Alive (1992)

Fewer options here, and most of them goofy.

  • Dr. Shock’s Tales of Terror (2003) – Here’s an obscure one, and not a great film. But, in one of the shorts (Garden Tool Murders), someone’s buried to their neck has their head’s run over with a lawnmower.
  • Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood (1988) – Yes, it’s a weed whacker. Close enough.

Winner: Dead Alive (1992)
This is the scene that made us realize we needed this countdown. Not just because it is an utterly inspired piece of splatter gore, but because it’s really the turning point for poor, sweet, milquetoast-y Lional Cosgrove.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC1d7dw24Gg

1. Scissors/Shears: Antichrist (2009)

Toughest choices here. So many outstanding possibilities!

  • The Burning (1981) & Friday 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) use gardening shears, but it’s your ordinary house scissors that do the most inspired damage.
  • May (2002) – sweet May’s first kill is an impressive piece of action with her sewing scissors
  • Felt (2014) – that puppet making is all leading somewhere…
  • Oldboy (2003) – if you haven’t seen this, we don’t want to ruin it. Suffice it to say, Dae-su wants to make sure he never says.
  • Inside (2007) – Oh, what Beatrice Dalle can do with a pair of scissors. They’re used repeatedly and really well.

Winner: Antichrist (2009)
If you haven’t seen Lars von Trier’s one all out horror show or the scene in question, we’re not going to tell. We’re not going to show you, either. We want you to be as effected by the act as MaddWolf writer Christie Robb was. We lent her the screener and she watched it while she was on a treadmill. She fell off and did herself an injury.

Not as bad as the injury in the film though, thank God.





Fright Club: Norse/Scandinavian Horror

It’s been too long since we took a trip around the world to see how certain corners view horror. Today we head to the cluster of chilly Norse and Scandinavian countries to seek trolls, wolves, Nazi zombies – and to steer clear of household tools, if possible.

5. Trollhunter (2010) (Norway)

All ancient cultures generated fairy tales. They passed on stories that wrapped the virtues most respected at the time inside common dangers to tell tales of heroism and humor. Norway’s fairy tales all involve trolls. Indeed, their entire national culture seems weirdly identified with trolls. Why is that? Well, writer/director Andre Ovredal’s Trollhunter suggests that maybe it’s because trolls are a real problem up there.

Ovredal’s approach is wry and silly – adjectives that rarely hang out together, but maybe we haven’t seen enough of Norway’s cinematic output. The FX are sometimes wonderful, and especially effective given the otherwise verite, documentary style. Ovredal makes droll use of both approaches.

Trollhunter is definitely more comedy than horror, as at no time does the film actually seek to scare you. It’s a wild ride into a foreign culture, though, and it makes you think twice about the Norway section of Epcot, I’ll tell you what.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy2nAOdBUlw

4. Dead Snow (2009) (Norway)

Nazi zombies, everybody! Hell yes!

Like its portly nerd character Erlend, Dead Snow loves horror movies. A self-referential “cabin in the woods” flick, Dead Snow follows a handsome, mixed-gender group of college students as they head to a remote cabin for Spring Break. A creepy old dude warns them off with a tale of local evil. They mock and ignore him at their peril.

But co-writer/director/Scandinavian Tommy Wirkola doesn’t just obey these time-honored horror film rules, he draws your attention to them. His film embraces our prior knowledge of the path we’re taking to mine for comedy, but doesn’t give up on the scares. Wirkola’s artful imagination generates plenty of startles, and gore by the gallon.

Spectacular location shooting, exquisite cinematography, effective sound editing and a killer soundtrack combine to elevate the film above its clever script and solid acting. Take, for example, the gorgeous image of Norwegian peace – a tent, lit from within, sits like a jewel nestled in the quiet of a snowy mountainside. The image glistens with pristine outdoorsy beauty – until it … doesn’t.

3. Antichrist (2009) (Denmark)

Saturated in the cinematic equivalent of melancholy poetry, punctuated with truly, deeply shocking moments of violence and brutality, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist takes the cabin-in-the-woods horror to brand new places, sharing his auteur cred with the horror genre.

A nameless couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) is wracked with grief after the death of their young son. They retreat to their remote cabin, hoping to speed the healing process. Things do not go well.

Dafoe and Gainsbourg give terrific, courageous performances. They are the only two actors onscreen for 99 percent of the film, and they do not shrink from the challenge. These are deeply flawed characters, and the performances are haunting.

Von Trier’s film is so gorgeous to see and so punishing to watch, the result is an amazing if bruising experience. His tone ranges from somber to insane, and one or two of the more vivid weirdisms feel terribly out of place. But there is no forgetting Antichrist, hard as you may try.

2. Hour of the Wolf (1968) (Sweden)

An atmospheric masterpiece, Ingmar Bergman’s meditation on artistic conflict and regret is a haunting experience.

Bergman favorites Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman are a married couple spending time on an isolated, windswept island. Ullman’s Alma is pregnant, and her relationship with her husband becomes strained as his time and attention become more and more consumed by visions, or demons – or maybe they’re just party people.

Von Sydow’s character is tempted with the decadence missing from the wholesome life that may be dissatisfying to him. But it’s Ullman, whose performance spills over with longing, that amplifies the heartbreak and mourning that color the entire film.

Shot in incandescent black and white, with Bergman’s characteristic eye for light and shadow, Hour of the Wolf is a glorious, hypnotic nightmare.

1. Let The Right One In (2008) (Sweden)

In 2008, Sweden’s Let the Right One In emerged as an original, stylish thriller – and the best vampire flick in years. A spooky coming of age tale populated by outcasts in the bleakest environment, the film breaks hearts and bleeds victims in equal measure. Kare Hedebrant‘s Oskar, with his blond Prince Valiant haircut, falls innocently for the odd new girl (an outstanding Lina Leandersson) in his shabby apartment complex. Reluctantly, she returns his admiration, and a sweet and bloody romance buds.

As sudden acts of violence mar the snowy landscape, Oskar and Ali grow closer, providing each other a comfort no one else can. The film offers an ominous sense of dread, bleak isolation and brazen androgyny – as well as the best swimming pool scene perhaps ever. Intriguingly, though both children tend toward violence – murder, even – you never feel anything but empathy for them. The film is moving, bloody, lovely and terrifying in equal measure.





Fright Club: Most Horrifying Moments

This is an odd one for us. Generally, our countdowns are meant specifically to draw attention to films we think you should see. The films covered today are not recommended for the squeamish, and one of them is not recommended for anyone. When the hobbling scene from Misery is not tough enough to make your list – indeed, did not even make the top 10 – you know you’ve chosen some pretty miserable content. (We’ve decided to include trailers here rather than the actual scenes.) After much help from listeners and a lot of soul crushing time spent watching movies and scenes we’d rather forget, here is our list of the 5 most difficult scenes in horror movies to watch.

5. Oldboy (2003)

Like most every film on this list, Chan-wook Park’s 2003 original Oldboy boasts many scenes that are tough to watch. It’s a magnificent if punishing film, full of unseemly twists and bloody turns that ratchet up tension and keep you utterly bewildered for 120 minutes. But there are two scenes in particular that really hit a nerve as only a root canal can.

Dentistry horror is tough for a lot of people to take, and Park explores his oral fixation several times in this film. For us, the hardest one to watch happens toward the bitter end, when the smitten Dae-su Oh attempts to prove that he will never tell the secret. To give away either the secret or the proof may be to spoil too much, but he is guaranteed to do no tongue wagging after this scene.

4. Antichrist (2009)

Lars von Trier’s foray into horror follows a couple down a deep and dark rabbit hole of grief. Von Trier’s films have often fixated on punishing viewers and female protagonists alike, but in this film the nameless woman (played fearlessly by Charlotte Gainsbourg) wields most of the punishment – whether upon her mate (Willem Dafoe) or herself.

Like dental scenes, gynecological horror draws a particular reaction. Whether it’s the abuse scene at the beginning of Proxy, nearly any scene in the brilliant French film Inside, or the final feast in Trouble Every Day, scenes of this ilk can be tough to watch. But to watch as Gainsbourg – who’s already inflicted some serious pain on Dafoe’s character – takes the scissors to herself is next to impossible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBdDcQONmkM

3. Irreversible (2002)

French filmmaker/provocateur Gaspar Noe does not play well with his audience. Every film, no matter how brilliantly put together or gloriously filmed, is a feat in masochism to watch. Later efforts, like Enter the Void, spread the misery out for its full running time, but for Irreversible, he gave it to us in two horrifying scenes. While the head bashing is tough viewing, the film centers on a rape scene that is all but impossible to watch.

Noe’s general MO is to punish you through sheer duration. The scenes last so long you feel like you cannot endure another minute, and this scene certainly does that. Not shot even momentarily for titillation, and boasting a devastatingly excellent performance from Monica Bellucci, it justifies its own horrific presence. There are other films with necessary and difficult rape scenes – Straw Dogs, I Spit on Your Grave, The Last House on the Left, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – but none is harder to stomach than this.

2. Martyrs (2009)

Martyrs is an incredibly difficult film to watch, but it pays you for your perseverance. It’s a brilliantly conceived and thoughtfully executed film about innocence, zealotry, and misery that opens with a child surviving torture. Not an easy image to overcome, and yet Martyrs only gets tougher.

Writer/director Pascal Laugier plays on the same visceral reaction to torture that drove Hostel, Audition, and The Strangers. Indeed, mainstream directors understand the “look away” reflex that informs Martyrs – just watch the slow knife death in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, or American History X’s curb stomp scene. But Martyrs builds and builds, pulling you in, asking you to love poor Anna so that it is that much tougher to watch her when she’s skinned alive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7Qx2dT-lUw

1. A Serbian Film (2010)

This is not a movie we would recommend to basically anyone. That’s not to say it’s a bad film – it’s pretty well directed, acted, and written. It’s just that the co-writer/director Srdjan Spasojevic is trying to articulate the soul-deadening effects of surviving the depravity of war. The film title is no coincidence – the film is meant to reflect the reality of a nation so recently involved in among the most depraved, horrific, unimaginable acts of war. It’s as if he’s saying, after all that, what could still shock us?

Like Pier Paolo Pasolini’s notorious 1975 effort Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – also a depiction of the depravity left behind after war – A Serbian Film overwhelms you with horrifying imagery. Indeed, between Salo and A Serbian Film, you’ll find just about every single scene we’ve mentioned in this list. But there is one scene that has to top the list, and you probably already know what that is. Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) finally realizes the depths of his new director’s evil when he sees his latest effort: newborn porn. There is no unseeing this.

Whew. Now, on to some comedies!

Listen to the whole conversation on our FRIGHT CLUB podcast.





Weekend Countdown: Top 5 “cabin in the woods” flicks

In honor of Evil Dead, we’re counting down our favorite “cabin in the woods” horror films that are not associated with that particular franchise.

5. Tucker & Dale Versus Evil (2010): This hilarious Shaun of the Dead-style send up of hillbilly horror entertains with every frame.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFFh25DmPNU

4. Resolution (2012): Self-aware, atmospheric and creepy, Resolution doesn’t rely on traditional slasher implements to get under your skin.

3. The Blair Witch Project (1999): There is, too, a cabin. At the very end, remember? After we lose Josh and Josh loses his tongue. Oh, you remember – Mike’s standing in the corner like a naughty child, and Heather…. poor, poor Heather…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D51QgOHrCj0

2.  Antichrist (2009): “Nature is Satan’s church.” “Chaos reigns!” “Keep her away from the hand tools.” (No one said that last one, but man, somebody should have.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBdDcQONmkM

1. The Cabin in the Woods (2011): Kind of a cross between Tucker & Dale and Resolution, this funny, wickedly clever, joyous deconstruction of horror tropes leaves you just giddy.