Stu Helm's top 5 WTF horror flicks
If the slow creep of lazy hibernation is sending you into an autumn stupor, don’t give in just yet. We’ve got five films that’ll leave you too spooked to sleep. Shock yourself out of that dull daze with these psychotherapeutic selections from our very own Stu Helm, the master of self-inflicted dread and horror.
If you haven't seen the movie Mandy—good lord! Set aside all expectations of WTF a horror movie should be. Set aside all judgements of what the difference between pure brilliance and utter shit might be. Set your mind on pause, erase, and reboot before diving/giving in to the red, the blood, the fire, the mayhem, the metal of Mandy. Nick Cage is at his jaw-droppingly best and worst in this movie, in every minute of every scene, with every word and breath, he is both awful and awesome. Mandy was an instant fucking classic to me, and it is the only movie, besides Star Wars and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, that I have ever worn a T-shirt of. I'm wearing it right now. The power of Mandy compels me.
Pro Tip! Smoke an absolute FUCK TON of weed before watching Mandy. Seek therapy/comfort animals afterward.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
If you haven't caught Bone Tomahawk—it's HORRIFIC. My jaw hit the floor, like, 20 times during my solo viewing of this stomach-churning retro-throwback-exploitation-style cowboy Western that will have you wishing for the rest of your life that you had never said to yourself, "Oh, Kurt Russell? This looks fun." Yeah, no, not fun. Horrible! Horrible things happen to every single person in this movie. The gore will make you go fetal position. The sense of dread and nerve-wracking anticipation will have you cutting lines of Xanax just to get to the end. And when—if—you do make it to the end, I can almost guarantee that—even after reading this—you will say to yourself, "What the holy FUCK did I just watch?" And possibly, "Kurt Russell, why did you do it to me?" And on top of all that, there is also a bunch of racism. Jesus fuck! Throughout every moment of the whole film, more or less, I was just waiting for the most awful things to happen. And then they did. "Recommend" might be too strong of a word for this review. Watch if your goal is to be horrified. And to gain a whole new level of WTF for Kurt Russell.
P.S. The writing, acting, cinematography, sound, and production values are all excellent.
Watch the trailer HERE
Eden Lake (2008)
You'd better go ahead and schedule a Zoom meeting with your therapist now, because, holy shit, unless you are made out of actual ice and literal steel you will be trauma-fucking-tized for life by this movie. I oughta know—I've watched it three times. The fear-driven tension, the devastating violence, the all-too-imaginable-yet-incredibly-horrific cruelty, the unrelenting terror and abject sense of complete and total soul-crushing hopelessness that you will feel... in the first half of this movie... will be tripled in the second half... and quadruple-drippled by the end. Seriously, strap on a feedbag of comfort snacks and prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster ride, made up entirely of all extreme downward plunges. No ups. I was shell-shocked after watching this one, all by myself, one sunny Saturday afternoon. And then again a few years later. And then for a third time kind of recently. After each viewing, even when I knew the whole plot and every scene, I was left with the worst, most dismal, depressing, and defeated feelings about humanity. It's one of my favourite movies of all-time in any genre, which brings up the question: WTF is wrong with me??? Why do horror movie viewers subject themselves to this kind of emotional torture? Who knows? Who cares? Starring ol' what's-his-nuts who played Loki in those Thor movies, and some chick I had to look up named Kelly Reilly, this flick is kind of underappreciated in America, even though it won some kind of Best Movie Ever award in Brit-land.
Here's the TRAILER
Funny Games (1997)
I've watched, aka put myself through the ordeal that is this movie twice... kinda. The original Austrian film was famously remade by the same director, 10 years later, in English, shot-for-shot, and I have watched them both. Each is excellent, and will terrorize the fucking shit out of you, for sure. The only real diff between the two films is that the English language one stars actors you will well recognize for the most part, or at least I did. And while they are good actors (for the most part), and the terror is not necessarily diminished by their famousness, I'm the type of person who can't help but see famous actors rather than movie characters when the actors in a movie are very familiar to me. Now, some people are gonna wanna see the stars. No judgements from me there, they’re famous for a reason. So watch the English language version if you prefer to see celebrities inflicting and being inflicted with relentless psychological torment and brutal physical torture. I myself prefer to watch anonymous European strangers kill and be killed. Not sure why. Maybe it feels less like a movie, and more real to me. Maybe Austrians, in particular, are just naturally scarier, because, y'know... Hitler. As far as the plot goes, I seriously don't want to describe even one little bit of it, because so much of the anxiety and fear is driven by not knowing what these horrible horrible characters are going to do next, and just dreading the fuck out of each and every upcoming scene, until all of your hope, and joy, and belief in the goodness of people has been beaten out of you with a golf club. Oh no! I've already said too much. Just watch the movie. Don't even watch the trailer.
P.S. To be clear: Hitler is not in this film.
P.P.S. Best use of music to shatter nerves of audience ever.
P.P.P.S. Strangely jarring (and much imitated) use of large and sudden fonts adds tangibly to the high terror factor. As a former and occasional graphic designer myself, I like that.
P.P.P.P.S. Fill your Prozac prescription prior to watching.
Watch the TRAILER
Shin Godzilla (2016)
Giant monster movies can be thrilling, and even scary, and this one is both, but they rarely—if ever—leave me feeling traumatized afterward, like the movies Funny Games or Eden Lake did. After those I needed a shower, a cup of chamomile tea, and ALLLLL my stuffed animals. After watching Shin Godzilla, I just straight up watched it again, immediately. And then again. I’m a big fan of Godzilla. I’ve seen all the movies, most of them multiple times. I also love Mothra movies, Gamera movies, Kaiju movies of all kinds. I even like the Cloverfield series. ANYTHING with giant mother fucking monsters, I am down for, and that is because I am essentially a child.
Overall, though, I think Shin Godzilla is the best of the entire series, except for the first instalment, of course. The monster itself is the BEST and the most interesting take on Godzilla ever for one thing. It ain’t tryin’ to be all tough and scary, Mr. Muscles, like American Godzilla tends to be. At first, Shin Godzilla is just fuckin’ weird and crazy looking, but once it gets all grow’d up, yowza, look out. This is the biggest, most powerful, uncaring, and destructive Godzilla ever, and the destruction is AWESOME. Fearsome, even. I did find there to be some genuine scares in this movie. And more than a couple Whoas! and Holy shits!
Watch the trailer HERE
Disclaimer: Stu Helm’s opinions may not reflect those of other horror movie fans. Or people in general.
"Stu Helm was born in 1966 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and has lived in Boston, Chicago, and now resides in Asheville, North Carolina. He has a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston, and worked as a fine artist, illustrator, and graphic designer for over 20 years, before making the switch to being a food blogger. Since 2013, Stu has been writing and taking pictures of the remarkable farm-to-table, Southern Appalachian, international food scene in the small city of Asheville, where he has become a very popular and recognizable independent media figure. Stu's reviews reflect his upbringing and sense of humor, and come with an adult language warning. His photos of food have been described as "beautiful," "epic," and "monolithic." He is very active on Facebook and Instagram as Stu Helm Food Fan, as well as on his web site stuhelmfoodfan.com"
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