Here’s the first in a series of catch-up posts listing the movies I watched each month in 2019. The highlights are the new discoveries that struck me, the ones that I couldn’t stop thinking about, my recommendations, or my favs.
Alien (1979, Ridley Scott, UK)
A crew brings an unknown lifeform aboard their ship and get killed one by one.
I need a term for the movie on year’s list that is the most important to me–my favorite, my darling, best in show. Anyway I hit play on Alien at 12:01 on January 1.
The Loved Ones (2009, Sean Byrne, Australia)
A teenage girl kidnaps a schoolmate and tortures him. I’ve heard this called torture porn, but this movie is so much more; it’s about the relationships we inherit and the ones we (try to) make ourselves. It isn’t easy to watch, but if you’re sold on the poster (teen in a pink dress and paper crown, pointing a drill at the camera), it’s very much worth your time.
Thirst (2009, Park Chan-wook, South Korea)
A priest tries to hold on to his ethics after becoming a vampire. A very different twist on the genre.
Antichrist (2009, Lars von Trier, Denmark)
A husband and wife in the throes of grief destroy each other in a secluded cabin. I was excited to see this, although I was aware of what I was getting into; that said, being aware of it can’t prepare you. Saying it’s a hard watch is an understatement.
I was reading Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch at this time, and her history of the witch trials as medieval enclosures sure put this movie into perspective.
Sweet Home (1989, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)
Haunted house with some real phenomenal practical effects.
For those unaware, it’s the movie companion to the game of the same name (same writer worked with the directors of each and helped adapt his story to the different media). The game is one of the primary inspirations for Resident Evil, often being credited with the birth of survival horror.
Dogtooth (2009, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)
Three siblings are raised in an enclave, in which they are abused and lied to about the real world.
I can’t say this about a lot of movies, even the really heavy ones, but: I felt sick at the end of Dogtooth. That’s a testament to its brilliance and effectiveness. It succeeded in putting me into the heads of these kids who see the world in a completely twisted way due to the abuse and gaslighting they suffer, and I needed time to come back to real life. Highly recommended if you like slow, disturbing character studies.
Audition (1999, Takashi Miike, Japan)
Infamous torture movie in which a man tries to find love under false pretenses and finds the exact wrong person. It was a movie that I’d heard so much about, I felt like I’d already seen it. I was surprised by the non-horror first half, which runs abruptly into the terrifying telephone scene, and then morphs into the movie I’d heard about.
The Blair Witch Project (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez, USA)
Found-footage search for a local mythical witch that revitalized the genre. I’d never seen this! It really really works. Watching it felt like telling scary stories to your friends.
- The Visitor (1979, Giulio Paradisi, Italy)
- Horrors Of Malformed Men (1969, Teruo Ishii, Japan)
- Santa Sangre (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Italy/Mexico)
- Killer Nun (1979, Giulio Berruti, Italy)
- Triangle (2009, Christopher Smith, UK/Australia)
- Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959, Riccardo Freda, Italy)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, Terence Fisher, UK)
- Stigmata (1999, Rupert Wainwright, USA)
- Memento Mori (1999, Tae-yong Kim & Kyu-dong Min, South Korea)
- Deepstar Six (1989, Sean S. Cunningham, USA)
- Leviathan (1989, George P. Cosmatos, USA)
- End of Days (1999, Peter Hyams, USA)
- The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg, Canada)
- Existenz (1999, David Cronenberg, Canada)
- The Man They Could Not Hang (1939, Nick Grindé, USA)
- The Butterfly Murders (1979, Hark Tsui, Hong Kong)
- Pandorum (2009, Christian Alvart, Germany)
- The Amityville Horror (1979, Stuart Rosenberg, USA)
- The Gorilla (1939, Allan Dwan, USA)
- Idle Hands (1999, Rodman Flender, USA)
- Tourist Trap (1979, David Schmoeller, USA)
- The Giant Behemoth (1959, Douglas Hickox & Eugène Lourié, UK)