Tag Archives: the 80s

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 10-1

Whoop! Here we go – who is numero uno?

Go back and see: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21; #20-11

10: Deep Red (Italy, 1975)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 7.7

deep red 1975Psychic Helga Ulmann senses the nearby presence of an unhinged psycho and begins to take notes in the hope of identifying them, only for them to come and cleaver her to death. This is witnessed by her musician neighbour, who then teams up with a plucky reporter to uncover the identity of the loon.

I saw this one quite late so much of its effect had blunted due to so many body count movies, but the amazing revelation that we actually have seen the killer’s face earlier on is nothing short of excellent.

*

9: Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

dream house 2010

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities, and affording a penthouse with a view of its admittedly stunning harbour is of such crucial important to bank employee Sheung, that she decides a spate of murders in her desired apartment block will force the prices to drop.

Sometimes staggeringly and disturbingly violent (the murder of the pregnant woman especially), but also darkly funny in part, this slasher satire is unflinchingly forthright with its grue and handsomely produced with an engaging non-linear narrative.

*

8: Opera (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.1

opera 1987

When the diva breaks her leg after being hit by a car, ingenue opera star Betty is given her big chance but finds instead that she is stalked by a psychotic black-gloved murderer who is obsessed with her and tapes needles beneath her eyes to force her to watch as he kills various people in her life in Argento’s usual grisly ways.

At least partly inspired by Stagefright (and also featuring the lead actress Barbara Cupisti), this is less of a straight-up body count affair – as is always the case with DA – but nonetheless features some icky demises and the usual overdose of awesome visuals.

*

7: Anatomie (Germany, 2000)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.1

anatomie 2000

A classy combo of 70s thriller Coma and Urban Legend, brilliant anatomy student Paula becomes suspicious when a classmate who had a rare heart condition ends up on the slab before her with gum-like blood. Some investigation uncovers a secret group of doctors who dissect living patients to get a closer look at diseases before they claim their victim’s life.

Amidst mucho medical chatter, there’s a solid slasher film at work, with some particularly awesome chase scenes towards the end.

*

6: Tenebrae (Italy, 1982)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.2

tenebrae 1982

Argento again, as a famous American writer promoting his latest novel in Rome seems to be at the centre of a series of grisly razor blade slayings. With the help of his young protege, he investigates a possible suspect while countless sexy young women are hacked and slashed to ribbons as usual.

Tenebrae could be the most ‘American’ of Argento’s films (not that I’ve seen them all), with B-movie fixture John Saxon playing the agent of the main character. Wait for the inventive way the killer is modern-arted to death at the end.

*

5Julia’s Eyes (Spain, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

julia's eyes

Julia (Belen Reuda) has a degenerative sight disorder that is slowly blinding her. After her twin sister Sarah – ahead of her in the sight-loss department – apparently hangs herself, Julia suspects somebody else assisted, but every avenue she investigates seems to result in the deaths of people around her.

Mucho giallo posturing takes place in this Spanish gem, with an entirely creepy moment where a blind woman says to Julia: “There’s someone else here with you – he’s right behind you.”

*

4: A Bay of Blood (Italy, 1971)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

bay of blood 1971

Arguably the most important Italian giallo movie, a body count bonanza more than a little responsible for Friday the 13th‘s general outlook: Various people drawn to the home of a recently deceased countess are targeted by a killer or killers hungry for money, land, inheritance, whatever.

Nobody can be trusted and almost everyone is capable of killing to get their way, which sucks when you’re just one of a quartet of sexy teens who have no interest in any of it and just wants to party!

This has a veritable phone book of alternate titles around the world.

*

3: Haute Tension (France, 2003)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

haute tension 2003

While the French take credit for inventing cinema and I sat there in my film screenings wondering what the hell all the fuss was over Amelie, it can’t be denied that they scored most of a home-run with Haute Tension (a.k.a. Switchblade Romance), a straightforward slasher tale so brutal and so edge-of-your-seat it’s just wiser to sit on the floor from the beginning.

College girls Marie and Alex go to the latter’s farmhouse home for their break and the family are assaulted in the night by a nasty psycho who drives the creepiest truck this side of Duel. He offs the family and takes Alex away for nastier pursuits, unaware that Marie was even at the house. She follows to rescue her friend and spends the next hour dodging detection.

But then there’s that twist, so divisive it could end marriages. Personally I didn’t mind it, but would’ve preferred them not to try and be so clever.

*

2: Cold Prey II (Norway, 2008)

VeVo: 4.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.2

cold prey ii 2008

Showing the world how to do a proper sequel, Cold Prey II not only manages to get the leading lady back for another round with the Fjellmannen, but even has the other cast members back to play their corpses in a genuinely heartbreaking morgue identification scene.

Going down the Halloween II route, sole survivor Jannicke recovers while foolish authority types try to resuscitate the killer, who rises from his slumber to break necks, slash throats, and pulverise faces with extinguishers anew. A heartbeat behind the original in terms of tension.

*

1: Cold Prey (Norway, 2006)

VeVo: 5 Stars
IMDb: 6.4

cold prey 2006Shocker. Squeezing kilometres out of tried and tested methods, Cold Prey is quite rightfully holder of the crown of best non-American, non-Canadian, non-British, non-Irish, non-other-English-speaking-nation, non-foreign-but-pretending-to-be-American slasher movie.

Five young snowboarders take shelter at a seemingly abandoned ski-lodge after one of them breaks his leg, but find that it isn’t abandoned at all, and a hulking Jason-like figure lives there, who doesn’t take kindly to intruders.

Everything that happens has pretty much happened before in another film, but it’s all brought together so perfectly in Cold Prey you have to wonder why that Jason-in-winter Friday the 13th episode has never been forged ahead with.

* * *

So there we have it – Norway apparently produces the best non-English language slasher films. I’m a tad disappointed it was so obvious, and that both #1 and #2 were occupied by sibling films. Hey-ho.

Since starting this, there’ve been a number of other foreign language films that entered my life, and so these adorables would’ve surely featured too:

Basag Ang Pula (Philippines, 1984) – thanks to Jenny Lo!
Bloody Reunion 
(South Korea, 2006)
Cemetery of Terror (Mexico, 1985)
Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp (South Korea, 2010)
Trampa Infernal (Mexico, 1989)

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 20-11

Almost there!!

Go check out: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21

20: Fear (Italy, 1981)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.4

fear 1981

Director Riccardo Freda, sometime mentor of Mario Bava, was already in his 70s when he helmed this comment on the slasher genre. An actor in a giallo film takes the weekend off to go visit Mom in her secluded country home, taking some friends from the film world with him. Once there, weird things happen: Girlfriend has massively long nightmares about spiders (with fingers!), the handyman dude acts all strange and stares a lot, and your off-the-shelf black-gloved maniac starts killing the newcomers one by one.

Cheesy as a slab of stilton floating in a fondue in the middle of Cheddar Gorge, Fear is a relatively obscure little gem of a flick, fun to watch and zany as fuck. Make a drinking game out of the number of times boobs ‘accidentally’ tumble out of the actresses’ blouses.

*

19: Scared (Thailand, 2005)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.5

scard 2005

A class trip doesn’t quite go as planned when their coach crosses a wooden bridge too flimsy to hold it, plunging everyone into the river below. The survivors clamber ashore and find a deserted hamlet that’s rigged with dozens of traps that chop, crush, and choke them to death.

Sadly, this fun little Battle Royale-inspired flick has yet to be given an international release, meaning the only available DVD comes sans subtitles, making it hard to follow and, with a crowded cast, difficult to distinguish the teen characters, although when they start fighting back, they really fucking go for the jugular.

*

18: Amsterdamned (Netherlands, 1988)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.5

amsterdamned 1988

At times more of a generic cop-vs-serial killer flick than a straight up slasherama: The canals of Amsterdamn (duh) are plagued by brutal slayings, including the awesome moment (above) where the hooker’s body hung beneath a canal bridge is dragged across the top of a glass-roofed tourist boat.

The film reaches new depths of desperation to try and circumvent the end we can all see coming, but is a solidly entertaining outing nonetheless.

*

17: Veritgé (France, 2009)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.6

vertige high lane 2009

Four old school friends and the new boyfriend of one of them embark on a climbing adventure in the Croatian mountains, trapping themselves on a trail after the bridge they cross collapses in their wake. To make matters worse, the mountain is home to a homicidal loon with a penchant for bear traps.

France’s combo of The Descent and Wrong Turn has some magnificently vertigo-inducing scenes early on, before switching into slasher gear, however it soon transpires that not everybody can be trusted. A stupid ending deflates an otherwise solid flick.

*

16: Death Bell (South Korea, 2011)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.7

db4

Exam results are everything at a haughty academy in Seoul, where at the end of term the Top 20 students stick around for a nerd-off, but instead find themselves being abducted and killed if their classmates can’t solve academic problems put before them in an allotted time: One boy is literally waxed to death, and a girl in shoved in a washing machine on a spin cycle.

There’s a sub-plot hoopla about the prerequisite Asian ghost-girl, which is never really resolved, but the identity of the killer was revealed in a good way, complete with flashbacks showing us just how they did it. Great stuff.

*

15: Stagefright (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

stagefright 1986

Michele Soavi’s back to basics stalk n’ slasher has a cult following and reportedly inspired Argento to create Opera soon after. Actors locked up in a theatre for an intense rehearsal become the objects of play for escaped homicidal maniac Irving Wallace, who, donning a creepy bird mask, drills, slices, and chainsaws them off the stage, until only one resourceful girl remains, and she won’t go down without a fight. Plenty of intense scenes and gory demises in this one.

*

14: Inside (France, 2007)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

inside 2007

Pregnant Sarah is about to pop and the night before she’s due to check into hospital, a mysterious woman comes a-knockin’ and then won’t go away, eventually gaining access to the house and set upon cutting the unborn child out of Sarah.

While not reaching the dizzy heights of Haute TensionInside opts for a more visceral, invasive approach, all of it relating back to the fatal car crash only Sarah and her unborn survived some months earlier. This is the kind of film even I find too intense in the heartless violence stakes, which, of course, means everyone else loves it.

*

13: Sleepless (Italy, 2001)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.3

sleepless dario argento 2001

Dario Argento ‘returned’ to giallo in 2001 with this usual tale of attractive young women being murdered all over the place and a man thrust into the centre of the mystery. In this case, the son of a victim killed 17 years before. The killer was caught, and is dead, so what the fuck is going on?

Argento’s flair for the visual sells it to me, but, as usual, the representation of women as dumbfucks who can’t operate simple locks, or fall over every five seconds is annoying, while their male counterparts are free to act like prize pricks and go unslashed.

*

12: Eyes of Crystal (Italy, 2004)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.3

eyes of crystal 2004

A millennial entry into the giallo canon, which sees a mystery taxidermist hacking people up in order to create a human doll – a bit like Pieces but with ten times the class. Two grizzled detectives investigate and try to forge a link between a college student and her stalker, and their hospitalised ex-cop friend, who keeps having flashbacks to a fire in the orphanage he grew up in.

All threads will come together by the end, and after almost two hours it’s impressive young director Eros Puglielli has kept us so entertained all that time, with imagery striking enough to give Argento et al pause.

*

11: Flashback (Germany, 1999)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 5.4

flashback 1999

A young woman who survived the attack of a sickle-wielding, dress-wearing killer as a child gets a job as a French tutor to a trio of rich siblings at their remote country home. No sooner does she arrive then do similar killings begin.

One of Germany’s earliest responses to Scream is pure fun, sullied in part by atrocious dubbing on the international DVD (subtitles > dubbing every time), with much bloodletting, an abundance of pet-i-cides, inventive murders, and a satisfying resolution.

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.

The goings-on at this camp would scare Jason away

sleepaway camp 1983

SLEEPAWAY CAMP

3 Stars  1983/18/84m

“You won’t be coming home.”

A.k.a. Nightmare Vacation (original UK release)

Director/Writer: Robert Hiltzik / Cast: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Christopher Collet, Paul DeAngelo, Mike Kellin, Karen Fields, Katherine Kamhi, John E. Dunn, Desiree Gould, Susan Glaze, Owen Hughes, Robert Earl Jones.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “She’s a carpenter’s dream – flat as a board and needs a good screw!”


Queer goings-on abound in this strange little cult classic with an ending so iconically deranged it completely overshadows the shortcomings of the preceding 82 minutes. Spoilers follow.

A man and his two kids are sailing on a lake when an out of control ski-boat plows into them, killing father and child. This scene sets up a few of Sleepaway Camp‘s weirdnesses: Overlong shots, Noo-Yawk accents, and over-acting. Check out the waterskier girl’s caterwauling moment.

sleepaway camp 1983

“OHMYGOD somebody PLEASE help the people PLEASE!”

Eight years later (yay! not five or ten!) the surviving sibling Angela and her cousin Ricky are sent off to Camp Arawak for the summer by Ricky’s kooky mother. She, like ski-girl, is something to behold, but a classic character nonetheless. Ricky has been before and happily reintegrates with old friends – bar sour-faced camp bitch Judy – but Angela barely says a word (in fact she doesn’t speak until 31 minutes in) and finds it hard to fit in.

Aunt Martha sleepaway camp 1983

“‘Return to Sleepaway Camp’? No, that wouldn’t do at all.”

It doesn’t help that the campers of Arawak are about 23% assholes who rejoice in mocking Angela one way or another. She’s almost raped by the pedophiley cook, waterbombed by the macho-swagger boys, thrown in the lake by her nasty dorm counsellor, and generally tormented verbally by most of the others.

So who is behind the series of bizarre accidents that begin to plague the camp? Said cook is scalded by a huge vat of boiling water; a boy is drowned beneath a canoe; another has his bathroom break interrupted by a wasp’s nest being thrown through the window… Later there’s death by curling-tongs amidst the more standard knife-in-the-back and arrow-in-the-neck.

sleepaway camp 1983

sleepaway camp 1983

The camp owner wants to keep it all under wraps and writes the first few fatalities off as accidents, much to the chagrin of his staff, but begins to suspect Ricky as the deaths continue. Why the whole place wasn’t closed after the first death is a real mystery.

Anyway, things culminate with a bit of a spree and the killer’s identity is revealed in the unforgettable final few frames, partnered nicely with a flashback to fill in the blanks. Most review books give it away and if you, like me, happened to see the sequels first, well then all is ruined.

Sleepaway Camp is a bit of a one-trick pony in this sense. It’s a bit of a chore of a film to reach the famed ending, peppered with some really strange elements and moments that don’t make a whole lot of sense, giving the impression that Hiltzik was so focused on his reveal that he back-pedalled a bit to fatten up his picture with a few extra bodies (when and why are the kids who go on the camping trip hacked up?), the strange flashback of two men embracing in bed together, which is a strange thing to be crowbarred in, especially in the less-than-tolerant early 80s.

sleepaway camp 1983 gay

Is Sleepaway Camp a gay movie? -shrug- I honestly don’t know where I stand with it. There’s nothing particularly pro or anti-gay going on. That the killer turns out to be a reluctant transgender teenager and possibly had a gay dad seems a bit of a lazy ‘queer things are deadly’ resolve, but the fact the film ends as soon as we’re informed what’s been going on, there’s thankfully nobody around to go “Well, yes, all non-cisgender people are homicidal killers, aren’t they?” Add to this the errant homoeroticism of many-a-boy in short-shorts that leave little to the imagination, crop-tops, and going skinny dipping together and, well, hmmm…

sleepaway camp 1983 fashion

The Sleepaway Camp Fashion Show

sleepaway camp 1983

Oh…

sleepaway camp 1983

OH.

The scattergun effect of Sleepaway Camp is its biggest foe. Who is the main character here? The crowded supporting cast are largely indistinguishable from one another, though that may accurately reflect life at camp with so many groups and cliques. Victims are sorted pretty much by who is nasty to Angela, so the nice counsellors and campers are (mostly) spared.

There’s still mucho 80s goodness (read: badness) to lap up, from the horrific fashion outings, Judy’s t-shirt with her own name on it, Meg spelling out her monosyllabic name in case anyone was in doubt, and Ricky’s unrelenting stream of profanities: Cocksucker, fucking pussies, chickenshit, asshole etc. The kid could work at any branch of Sports Direct.

And also the many stares of Angela*:

the many stares of Angela sleepaway camp 1983

I can’t ever seem to settle on an opinion on this film, whereas the 1988 sequels are a much easier pill to gulp down. It has enough decent content to entertain, with some ambitious photography here and there, and a good idea at its core. Were the world not so politically correct now, I’d nominate this as a prime candidate for a remake… but you know that final shot would never be permitted!

*Yes, I asked Stacie Ponder’s permission to re-use this term.

Blurbs-of-interest: Rose, Tiersten, and DeAngelo all came back twenty years later for Return to Sleepaway Camp; Rose was later in fellow summer camp slasher Camp Dread; Katherine Kamhi was a sub-final girl in Silent Madness; Mike Kellin was also in Just Before Dawn.

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