The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 50-41

What makes a thing foreign? ‘Tis a difficult question, aye.

I originally cobbled together a list of non-North American slasher films, but then thought Hey, no, I don’t want all these British movies clogging it up either – I want to feel cultural!

So out went products of English-speaking countries altogether, but that still left me with a handful of overseas-produced films that were in part presented in English.

Damn it, said I, let’s just go for the films produced abroad that didn’t pretend they were American, but may have British/American actors in them.

Then I said: Why is this so hard???

I’ve ranked them by adding my score to IMDb’s score, will have doubtlessly forgotten some, and have even seen a few more post-listing which would doubtlessly change a few things.

Anyway, the 50 Best non-American, non-Canadian, non-British, non-Australian, non-Irish, non-other-countries-I-forgot slasher films (beware yon spoilers):

*

50: Silent Bloodnight (Austria, 2006)

VeVo: 1.5 Stars
IMDb: 2.8

silent bloodnight

I love Austria – it’s beautiful year round and the people are friendly. Sadly this doesn’t afford the first of their two films in this countdown dropping out first: Sexy young people who are going to open a Boy Scout Camp are being slain by a shovel wielding loon who looks like they’ve become entangled in their own bed sheets. The film is one big headfuck with little coherence but tons of full frontal nudity from both genders! Go European inhibition!

Curiously recorded in English, which means there are some bad translations at play: “Something unexplained has happened!”

*

49Blood Tracks (Sweden, 1985)

VeVo: 1 Stars
IMDb: 4.0

blood tracks 1985

There’s debate over whether this film is Swedish or British. Either answer doesn’t stop it sucking – but it was filmed in Sweden with many a Swedish actor and appears to have been dubbed so let’s say Sweden.

A hair metal band called Solid Gold go into the mountains to film a music video at an abandoned factory where a family of Hills Have Eyes-esque miscreants reside who don’t take kindly to the arrival of masses of hair that threatens to block out the sunlight.

The band and their topless-despite-the-freezing-temperatures groupies/dancers are stalked and murdered in a sequence of under-lit scenes, rendering the film difficult to watch for another reason.

*

48Bloody Moon (Spain, 1981)

VeVo: 1 Stars
IMDb: 5.3

bloody moon 1981

I fucking hated this one when I watched it many [bloody] moons ago and only just revisited it a couple of weeks back.

Stupid girls at a stupid school are murdered by a stupid killer who may or may not be some disfigured guy recently released from an institution. So idiotic is everything that in one scene, a girl allows an anonymous masked stranger to drive her to a mill and tie her to a slab without questioning his motivations.

*

47Skeleton Crew (Finland, 2009)

VeVo: 1.5 Stars
IMDb: 3.6

skeleton crew 2009

Another film crew making a based-on-true-events horror movie at an asylum are stalked and slain and that’s roughly all I remember of this Finnish export, which adds nothing of its own culture to the mix, merely aping any number of American productions to no avail.

*

46Paranormal Xperience 3D (Spain, 2011)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 3.7

paranormal xperience 3d

Considering Spain has seen the homegrown awesomeness of The Orphanage and Julia’s Eyes (more of that later) in recent years, it makes sense that the equal and opposite reaction theory coughs up crud like this, in which five failing psych students are sent to a town to document the legend of a cursed mining town, stalked by an undead maniac.

The 3D gimmick means everything else takes a backseat as a girl’s ass in tiny shorts takes up the majority of the screen at one point, showing exactly how much thought went into everything else.

*

45The Nun (Spain, 2005)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 4.0

the nun 2005

Two in a row for Spain. The Nun would likely be rated a lot higher by everyone were it not for the worst twist ending you could imagine.

After witnessing the bizarre death of her mother, teenager Eve travels to Spain to play detective as mom’s Catholic school friends are also dying one by one in weird circumstances. A spectral nun – ghost of the abusive Sister Ursula, whom the girls accidentally killed eighteen years earlier – is hunting them down.

Only she isn’t. The entire film is revealed to be a lie at about minute 95 and Eve is somehow the killer, despite the first death occurring before the ‘traumatic event’ that sets her off on her merry spree. A candidate for worst twist ending ever.

*

44The Crying Tree (Thailand, 2003)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 4.2

the crying tree 2003 jun ka por

A girl who runs a family country resort finds that all potential suitors who enter her life end up murdered. Low-end production values are harmful, but at least there are some laughs to be had along the way before the so-fucking-obvious identity of the killer is revealed: One guy is beaten with a copy of the Yellow Pages while another hitches and accepts a ride from the cloaked and masked killer.

*

43Trackman (Russia, 2007)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 4.3

trackman

Russia’s turn to export a slasher movie should be dripping in Soviet allegory, vodka, and brutality, but instead they gave us Trackman, in which a group of bank robbers take some hostages into the subterranean tunnels beneath Moscow, where a Chernobyl victim of Jason-like stature teleports around, pick-axing them to death. The 77 minutes felt like 177.

*

42One Way Trip (Austria/Switzerland, 2011)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 4.5

one way trip 2011

Released in 3D to up ante, this good-looking flick is essentially a carbon copy of the UK/Irish Shrooms, but ultimately a little better in most instances: Eight young people head into the Swiss forest to experience the effects of a seasonal hallucinogenic mushroom and, after one of them is injured, seek shelter at a farmhouse where a disfigured woman begins stabbing, skewering, and burning them. Without the aforementioned film already existing, the twist might have been a lot more effective. In spite of the title and credits, it’s yet to be released with either English subtitles or dubbing.

*

41Drowning Ghost (Sweden, 2004)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDb: 4.6

drowning ghost 2004

Sweden’s importance to the music industry isn’t accurately reflected in horror films, as evidenced by this soggy mystery, where a killer stalks students at a private school where a girl committed suicide a year earlier and, 100 years before, a farmer murdered three students and drowned himself. Or something.

Notable for a pre-fame Rebecca Ferguson being in it but little else, I watched this one again fairly recently and still can’t remember a damn thing.

Something about Shrooms…?

one way trip 3d 2011

ONE WAY TRIP

2 Stars  2011/86m

“They wanted the ultimate kick – they got it.”

Director: Markus Welter / Writers: Matthias Bauer & Bastian Zach / Cast: Sabrina Reiter, Matthias Britschgi, Simon Kaser, Harry Lampl, Melanie Winiger, Herbert Lesier, Isabelle Barth, Tanja Raunig, Aaron Hitz, Martin Loos.

Body Count: 7


Bluntly, if you’ve seen Shrooms, you’ve seen this. But this one has 3D. And is all in German.

Yeah, that’s right… despite the title (no regional title) and all the credits being in English, since its production in 2011, nobody has bothered cobbling together a subtitle track for One Way Trip, so I had to fall back on my remedial German skills to try and follow the plot. Not too difficult as it turned out. Beware spoilers

Six young adults drive their gorgeous VW T2 – for the first time ever, the same colour scheme as mine!!! – into the Swiss forests to look for a seasonal mushroom with hallucinogenic properties. On route they encounter a particularly unpleasant farmer, shooting wildlife, and his starey daughter, get a flat, and pick up a stranded couple at the garage. Why they were stranded I don’t know, my translation skills failed me.

one way trip 2011

Tents up, shrooms located, the group enjoy their respective trips until Timo is attacked or injured (hard to tell) and needs medical attention. Oh look, a storm is coming in too! Evidently phones don’t work and the drive back to help is further than the farm they locate on their map, so they trek through the rain there.

Nobody is home, so the group sets up in the creepy old house until the nasty old farmer from before pops up. Meanwhile, the usual reasons to go outside crop up and it’s not long before people start dying at the hands of the scarred daughter: One guy is suspended upside down by chains, gagged, has hosiery pulled over his face and then knifed in the eye, there’s a decapitation, a fall on to an iron fence, burning, blades in the back…

Obvious final girl Valerie appears to be the last dame standing, although a couple of the others have just vanished, and she fights with Psycho Farmer in some outside pit.

one way trip 2011

Then we get the twist. Pretty much the same twist as Shrooms, albeit involving more folks. Perhaps some dialogue would’ve made things more obvious, but I was pretty sure that about half the party tripped out to the extent they decided to kill everyone and, well, that’s all folks.

Well made – though the obv. 3D shots are infrequent – with some nice scenery early on, above average production merits and a good chase scene, but it seemed to reach its climax so suddenly I half expected a twenty minute in-hospital epilogue. Perhaps I should re-learn German and watch it again. The most common criticism in other reviews is that the cast all speak the ‘generic’ form of German, rather than dialects more common to the area where the characters are supposed to hail from.

Blurb-of-interest: Sabrina Reiter was also the lead in Dead in 3 Days.

“Come to Brazil!!!1!11!!”

turistas 2006

TURISTAS

3 Stars  2006/18/90m

“Go home.”

A.k.a. Paradise Lost

Director: John Stockwell / Writer: Michael Arlen Ross / Cast: Josh Duhumel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Max Brown, Beau Garrett, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Hello mate, here’s your dead nephew and, by the way, you’re out of Scotch.”


I went off backpacking the year Turistas came out, five months starting in Bangkok, into Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, India, Nepal, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I picked up this film at one of those DVD outlets in Kathmandu and before I got chance to watch it, had a conversation with some Australian girls who’d just watched Hostel before coming away on their gap year trip. A few spoilers follow.

This tamer, xenophobic rip-off of Hostel is, at least, notable for its beautiful scenery, and was filmed entirely on location in Brazil, where teen backpacking gal-pals Bea and Amy are chaperoned by Bea’s tightly-wound older brother Alex on their trip.

On a particularly frantic bus ride to their next destination, Alex’s concern for the welfare of all aboard is proven right when the vehicle skids off the road and teeters of the side of a steep drop. Everyone flees just in time as the bus rolls down. It’s almost Final Destination worthy. Recovering their luggage etc., the trio befriend solo Australian backpacker Pru, who speaks enough Portuguese to glean that the replacement bus is 10 hours away, and British buddies Finn and Liam.

turistas 2006

The group find their way to a beautiful beach bar, lark around in the ocean, try new drinks, play soccer with the kids, and party the night away, waking in the morning to find all of their stuff has been stolen, including shoes, and the Swedish couple they’d been chatting to are also gone. We already know the barmaid called a mystery number and told the person at the other end she had eight gringos in. We also know the Swedes are dead, taken away by a group of hired guns.

Stranded with nothing but the clothes they’re in, the group walks into the local town where they meet up with Kiko, who was asking them personal questions the previous evening. He volunteers to guide them to a house in the jungle where they can get the assistance they need, in lieu of the police station they can’t find.

turistas 2006

On route, they stop for a dip in beautiful water and Kiko shows them some partially submerged caves, which will come in handy later, but he then cracks his head open showing off his diving skills, leaving the group to take him the rest of the way to the house, despite his feeble protests against going.

At the house, they stitch Kiko together and find lots of international medication, passports, and various belongings and eventually bed down before being woken by the arrival of a helicopter in the night. Scary men come in and they’re soon caged up outside, while lead bad guy Zamora takes Amy and Finn away to harvest their organs in ‘payment’ for rich Americans coming to Brazil for years when they can’t be fucked to wait for legitimate donors back home.

Outside, the others manage to free themselves and stage a prison break, killing one of the guards and saving a sedated Finn from the operating table and then making a run for it into the forest with a remorseful Kiko’s help.

turistas 2006

More of the group die (usually by gunfire) and the final few have to recall their sub-aquatic tour to find a way out. The underwater scenes are beautifully shot but the sequence drags on until the predictable showdown with the Big Bad.

Turistas doesn’t have Hostel‘s bloodlust or Wolf Creek‘s unrelenting sense of hopelessness, thanks in part to the singular operating scene being practical rather than stabby or gory, but this also impacts the threat to the other characters. We only see one girl on the table, the one who showed her boobs and had the least lines, and most other people are killed off camera, shot, or, in one case, get a skewer in the eye. Ouch.

Much fuss was made of the representation of Brazil and its citizens, for which lead actor Duhamel apologised on TV (and the film tanked in the US anyway). However, aside from these lazy stereotypes, the backpackers barely do any better: The Swedish couple utter about four lines before they’re killed, the British guys are textbook football hooligan types who only want sex and beer and sound like they work on a Camden market stall, leaving boring siblings Alex and Bea (you know they’ll survive) and Pru, who comes off the best thanks to Melissa George’s appeal, although in the original script she too was to die because, you know, only American lives matter.

turistas 2006

This was the most annoying facet of Turistas, its inherent laziness when it came to characters, almost none of whom elicit any sympathy, just look great in skimpy clothing, but it scrapes a pass for its scenic backdrops, which make for a pleasant diversion from the usual farm or abandoned building. Most importantly, don’t let it put you off travelling, I’ve encountered more dodgy situations in the western nations than I ever have abroad.

Blurbs-of-interest: Desmond Askew was in No Man’s Land: Rise of the Reeker and The Hills Have Eyes remake.

L’ascension et la mauvais tournant

high lane vertige 2009

VERTIGÉ

3.5 Stars  2009/15/81m

A.k.a. High Lane

Director: Abel Ferry / Writers: Johanne Bernard, Louis-Paul Desanges, Ludovic du Clary / Cast: Fanny Valette, Raphael Lenglet, Johan Libereau, Nicolas Giraud, Maud Wyler, Justin Blanckaert.

Body Count: 7


Europe. Vast continent of a gazillion cultures, ever expanding (unless you’ve made a total fucking embarrassment of yourself by voting to leave it), and, for outsiders, possible home to assembly line killer hostels, schizophrenic lesbian maniacs, and invincible mountain men. Spoilers follow.

Vertigé, titled High Lane everywhere but its homeland of France, arrives looking like a combo of Cliffhanger, Wrong TurnWolf Creek, and The Descent. Only these kids climb rather than pot-hole, so technically The Ascent.

Set in the Croatian mountains (but filmed in the French Alps), we meet a quintet of thrill seekers: Fred and his girlfriend Karine, their friend Chloe and her new climbing-virgin boyfriend Loic, and the fifth wheel who turned up at the last minute, Chloe’s hunky ex Guillaume. Tension much?

vertige high lane 2009

They drive out to the Risnjak mountains, singing along to Supergrass, and find the trail is closed for maintenance, but decide to give it a go anyway. Loic’s vertigo almost gets the better of him, much to Guillaume’s amusement, but it’s not long before their problems get serious when the cable bridge they have to cross begins to disintegrate while Karine is still making her way over in some mini-Final Destination way. Once it completely falls away, they’re only choice is to go forward to reach a zip-wire that takes them back down.

Further along their route, they find the safety line has snapped and so Fred and Karine free-climb to the top to secure a rope, while Loic takes a tumble and has to be rescued by his nemesis. This is further thwarted when Fred walks into a bear trap and is dragged away by a mysterious off-screen figure.

vertige high lane 2009

As the daylight fades and Fred cannot be found, it becomes clear that they’re not alone when Chloe falls down a hole filled with stakes, and then Karine is shot with an arrow and dragged off into the night. The love triangle are forced to work together to find their missing friends and stumble upon a cabin where naked Fred is laid out on a table and some rare frontal male nudity is fleetingly thrown in – hey, this is France, home of the nude beach!

As all manner of backwoods films have taught us, entering ‘the terrible place’ only succeeds in meeting the killer close up: Brutal fights and double-crossings ensue, cowardice rears its ugly head, and people are tied up ready to be butchered, clued in by the number of decapitated heads found in the cellar.

vertige high lane 2009

Vertigé distinguishes itself by toying with character motivations as it goes on – nobody can be completely trusted and the predictable showdown between Chloe and the woodsman is satisfyingly raw as they beat the crap out each other vying for survival. Unfortunately, the intermittent flashbacks to the-bad-thing-that-haunts-her result in a twist you can see coming as soon as she hobbles away from the scene. It’s kinda amusing in a dark way, but undermines the quality of the film until this point by clunking in that ol’ devil that forever plagues the genre – stupid decision making.

Euro-slashers tend to impress me due to the general extra effort that appears to go into the art of the filmmaking itself: Beautiful scenery, characters not so cut n’ dried that you’re able to assign numbers as to their probable order of demise, and clichés that appear more innocent beyond American shores, because the genre is not as culturally ingrained.

vertige high lane 2009

Vertigé is no exception to this: It’s a tour of everything we’ve seen before over and over, but comes with a cultural freshness often absent in cynical US box-ticking exports (where self-proclaimed genre fans cry like babies if there’s not enough T&A), possibly due to that mountain air.

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