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10 Horror Flicks to Die For!

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 17 - 2008

Original Written For Rogue Cinema


There is nothing on this earth quite as spectacular as a good film list, am I right? Okay, yes, the artform (and trust me, IT IS) has been played out, beaten within an inch of its life and ultimately done to death more times over than I could possibly think of – but for me, I rarely grow tired of it. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than promoting something that doesn’t receive press elsewhere and turning people on to knowledge of something I happen to really dig. I am of course as guilty, if not more-so, than anyone else of perpetuating movie lists. Film lists work so well because it does something for everyone who reads them. Note that I am talking about well written “lists” and not exclusively mine, I’m not that pompous to think that the following list is going to change lives. Lists are great because they help out both the uninitiated, like those of you who haven’t dealt a whole lot with Italian or Japanese cinema, as my following list is going to reflect a lot of my foreign influences and for those of us who are familiar with the items being discussed, it is often interesting to find out the opinions of others on something we can all reflect on together. Film lists are also great because they give people the opportunity to send in hate mail, which I sadly have not had the opportunity to experience. Maybe a slightly controversial film list will do the trick and get a few insane horror fans sending me their poetics words of disgust. I think to truly succeed though I’d have to slaughter a cow, burn a tree and vote Republicans (all things I have done and enjoyed) to really get a spurt of hatred from my audience… but, oh well, I guess I’ll take the ignoring of the masses as a deep-seeded hatred just waiting to escape and some day destroy me. So, with that, I’ll start up a fairly random list. Any one of these films would be perfectly reasonable to list at the top of any horror geek’s favorite film of all time list, but this article isn’t for you guys – go google search strangulation porn or whatever it is people other than myself do (okay, I do that too…), this article is for those of you who have yet to see every horror film ever released… in other words; the noobs. Films listed in level of importance that the n00bz of the world should see.

10. City of the Living Dead – Okay, so the ending doesn’t make a lick of sense. It’s a film with no real conclusion, but up until those final moments City of the Living Dead was heading down the path of a true masterpiece. It is indeed a shame that whatever happened to the original ending did happen (some say a foreign substance was spilled on the film negative) – but even with the obscure finale, Fulci put in some of his best work here. Amazing atmosphere, beautifully shot, gore scenes far more inventive than just about anyone else and a plot that moves along at a brisk pace. What can you say though, every came to see the drill through the neck and the girl literally vomit up her intestines. Those scenes trump all, and yeah, that’d be the biggest reason to see the flick. I know, I’m cheap.

9. House on the Edge of the Park – I personally just want more and more people to see this one. The man who brought you Cannibal Holocaust shows a very different form of inhumanity, in an urban setting. House on the Edge of the Park is one of the greatest “home invasion” type flicks you will likely ever see. It isn’t constant gore from the get-go, but far more psychologically damaging than any slasher on the market. Featuring some brutal and realistic mental torture from David Hess, who essentially plays the same type of character as he did in Last House on the Left but with a slightly more down to earth take. It’s the gritty realism and brutality of the Hess character that sells the film. It is without a doubt one of the best pieces of Italian exploitation made during its era.

8. A Blade in the Dark – If House on the Edge of the Park is one of the greatest pieces of pure exploitation and sleaze to come from Europe, Blade in the Dark is one of the most underrated and amazing Giallo/slashers to come out of Italy in that same era. Competing against Dario Argento is by no means an easy thing to do, but with this film, I think Lamberto Bava did just that. A tightly crafted and beautifully executed tale of crime and mystery taking place in a rich villa setting. Like many filmmakers from that time attempted, Bava created something that was uniquely beautiful with his camera-work – and also a film that was graphic and disturbing in its excessively brutal death scenes.

7. In the Mouth of Madness – Not only one of John Carpenter’s most underrated films, it is just all around one of the most underrated horror flicks of our time. I rented it on a whim long ago when I was first discovering John Carpenter and his early works like Assault on Precinct 13, from the get-go there is no way I could have expected the lunacy and horro that ITMOM had in store for me. Like an H.P. Lovecraft story come to life in the modern age, Carpenter twists and turns logic completely around for the audience until they are questioning their own sanity much like the lead characters in this story. Highly recommended for those looking for something to put the horror back into their favorite genre.

6. Tenebre – Tenebre is the type of flick I usually point people to for them to test the waters of both Italian horror in general, or the filmmaking style of Dario Argento. Argento’s films aren’t for everybody, and granted Tenebre isn’t as completely surreal a film as something like Suspiria, but it features the same beautiful cinematography mixed with the graphic bloodshed he is well known. I also think it is one of his most compact and tightly knit stories to boot. Even if you check out Suspiria and find it isn’t your cup of tea, I recommend everyone go out and search for Tenebre immediately.

5. Audition – Everyone knows that I am a pretty hardcore Takashi Miike fan. Some might ask why exactly Audition is the only film of his I’ve added to the list, and the answer is simple really: it’s one of his only really serious attempts at the horror genre – and half the film isn’t even “horror”, but more of a set-up for a romantic comedy of sorts. It is only in the second half of the film that the tension and bone chilling horror really begins to catch up with the audience. Every other horror film I’ve seen from Miike has either been fairly by-the-numbers for his level of output, or something so far and away from the genre that it is almost parody or comedy. Audition stands heads and shoulders above the competition however when it comes to expertly executed tense psychological horrors.

4. Cannibal Holocaust – Without a doubt, one of the most horrifying films of all time and slowly beginning to get the recognition it has long deserved, Cannibal Holocaust is everything you have heard it was – and them some. Yes, real animals are slaughtered during the course of the film. Yes, the death scenes are often dramatic and shot in a realistic manner. Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most important films in horror history – and it’s not even something most horror fans will see and for a lot of them – something they don’t even want to see. That is completely understandable, because the violence to animals is absolutely deplorable, but if you can actually withstand all of this and watch the film for a gut-wrench cinematic experience – it delivers on all levels.

3. Suspiria – Do I really have to say much about Dario Argento’s undisputed masterwork? I guess I will since I’m writing about everything else – but Suspiria is one of those films I didn’t really “get” the first time I watched it, and to this day the whole premise of the film I’m not too sure on – but it is the visual beauty that catches me every time and has attracted me even before I considered it one of my favorites. It is probably the most visual horror film I can think of, outside of the work of maybe Alfred Hitchcock, but he never had the chance to really experiment quite as heavily in the colorful world of film that Argento so expertly delves into and crafts into something completely his own. I think Suspiria is one of those films that you can’t rightfully call yourself a horror fan until you have seen it.

2. The Beyond – Ooh, rating a Fulci film above Argento! Blasphemy! This is definitely the one that is going to get me the hate mail I so rightfully deserve. I will however re-enforce that this list means absolutely nothing more than whatever it is I am feeling at this particular moment, but for my money, few films meet the epic feel of Fulci’s The Beyond (it’s a film that takes its’ viewers beyond hell, deep into the wily lands of Louisiana) and still remains as fun and interesting as it so obviously is to me. I am a fan for life and consider it to be one of the greatest horror films of all time and will always have it on any “best of” list I probably ever write. It is the film that made me stand up and really give credit to the Italians and was really the one film that made me want to seek out and find out as much about the horror genre outside of America.

1. Kairo – Talk about coming from out of nowhere! Who saw this one coming? Not you I bet! Nor anyone! Muahaha! No, I am not purposefully trying to get hate mail. I really do believe Kairo is one of the most innovative, scariest and amazing horror films produced in the last decade. This list isn’t really a “greatest of all time” sort of thing, so don’t take it that way, but Kairo has impressed me as a viewer far more than any horror film I’ve seen since The Excorcist. Now that the remake has been released, and it apparently absolutely sucked, I am getting a lot of flak these days from people who simply do not understand where the film is coming from and instantly discredit it completely. Kairo isn’t simply a “scare” flick, it is one piece in a larger group of things, it is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s attempt at showing alienation via technology and if you don’t know this director – I sincerely beg you to read more on him, and seek his films out! He is one of the most important filmmakers working right at this moment and I think Kairo so far is crowning achievement. Right alongside Cure. It is a film that showcases that you don’t have to show a whole lot to make a terrifying film, as a matter of fact, the less you show – the scarier it makes the movie! I really hope more people can get a chance to see the film now that the remake has come and gone, and I hope more people can keep an open mind and not judge the film as something an American product was made out of – but an artistic film from a man who could be considered alongside David Lynch and David Cronenberg for making absolutely amazing visual and novel films.

Need I say more? It is a controversial choice, but one not without merit. I highly recommend every film on here listed and think if you are missing any of them from your collection, that you are missing out on a whole lot. These are the best of the best, some are heavily obscure, some are not so much – but these are all must-see films and I recommend each and every one of you go out and pick up anything you haven’t seen.

— Joshua Samford

Japanese Grue Vol. 1

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 16 - 2008

Japanese Grue Vol. 1
— Joshua Samford

For all of those not accustomed to my writing habits, or for those who haven’t visited my site to see what the general ratio of foreign-to-US-made films are – I am a pretty big fan of Asian cinema. From Hong Kong to South Korea and on back to Japan – I support all of my Asian posse. I cannot lie though, the one nation that really pushed me into becoming a Asian Cinema psycho – was definitely Japan. The land of the rising sun. Nippon, as the natives sometimes refer to it. China, as dumb people sometimes refer to it. So, after witnessing a few pretty crazed flicks as of late I’ve decided to do a three part piece on these films. I’d like to delve a bit into the dark side of Asian Cinema and I would like to get some exposure out there for those of us with a taste for a bit of the extreme. These are films that are not going to please everyone, and aren’t meant to – that is obvious from the get-go. I think it’s time for RC to go to the dark side for just a bit and get our hands dirty, unlike many genre publications. Hopefully I do not dissapoint. Going back to the topic of Japanese cinema however, one of the first films that truly caught my attention from the recent swerve of Japanese horror/exploitation, and a film that forever changed the way I looked at cinema, was Battle Royale. I first saw Battle Royale on a bootleg back when it was first released in 2000. Hard to believe it has almost been seven years, and it’s even harder to believe I have been in on the “scene” (though admittedly not as much this recent year past) for the better part of a decade. I’m starting to feel old here people. Anyway, Battle Royale changed my life and it changed many others. It showed a childlike innocence caught in a whirlwind of violence and trauma inflicted from the close-mindedness of the elders in a society based around strict obedience. It was a film that spoke very harshly but carried a very in-depth message for Japanese, and all cultural societies. It was a darker Lord of the Flies for a new generation, and due to the violence and taking place in a post-Columbine era, became a film for a niche audience. Truly a crying shame, but those who were looking for something new, found a very special film.

Now, Battle Royale is a much different sort of film than the likes I aim to discuss in this article. Battle Royale, despite what some might try and convince you – is not really all that exploitive. Sure, there is violence, but much like Audition it is only to further the plot or to give the film an edginess, tension or in some way or another to fulfill a cinematic mission. The flicks I intend to cover today, well, they’re a little more blatant – a little harsher. I won’t go out and say they aren’t without merit, or that they have no artistic merit – but who is to say when the films aren’t even subtitled, right? The Japanese may have some very well respected filmmakers in the foreground developing brilliant works on a daily basis; but much like many Japanese subcultures, there is an underbelly. When it comes to fetishes and disturbing visuals, I think the Japanese pretty much have a handle on the top position in terms of output in pretty much any field or genre. The extreme gore movement in Japan, at least in terms of the faux-snuff subgenre, developed hugely with the Guinea Pig series. Covering the Guinea Pig flicks in this day and age, especially for the gorehounds out there, is about as useful as beating a deceased horse. Horror fans the world over should know about this series at this point, but I will give some backstore. The Guinea Pig series is most widely known for its first two episodes in particular, The Devil’s Experiment and Flowers of Flesh and Blood. The first film (Devil’s Experiment) featured a young woman being tortured and brutalized by a gang of young men, before having her eye punctured and being murdered. Flowers would push the limits even further, generally being a snuff film based VERY LOOSELY on a Japanese manga about a killer obsessed with his flower garden and a beautiful young woman. The story is perversely turned into that of a man kidnapping a woman, dressing like a samurai and then in full graphic detail slowly dismembering her before disembowling her, removing her eyeball and sucking on it – and ending with a decapitation via an axe. The film remains one of the most controversial underground gore films of all time, due mostly to the overly talked about situation involving Charlie Sheen seeing a copy and reporting it to the FBI thinking he had witness a true snuff film. A lot of people give him a hard time over that, but on a bootleg VHS that has been duped a billion times with no subtitles and many scenes of plot development cut out – I could definitely see buying into it as well. As for the Guinea Pig series as it continued on it became a bit more tied to a comedy element that kept popping up. One other standout would be Mermaid In A Manhole which featured an artist finding a Mermaid in the local sewers, bringing her back to his home and using the puss from the disgusting boils on her body as a paint mixture… before of course ultimately killing her at the end of the film. Another nasty flick, and ultimately the series was done for. The Guinea Pig films, despite how disturbing and disgusting some may rightfull feel they are – for the horror genre, they were an astonishing contribution. Shot on video to save money for FX, these features were made for that one intent of showing the absolute most extreme things they could – and it is everything that filmmakers who delve into violent situations in their films tend to avoid becoming, but the Guinea Pig series enjoyed its success due to the lowest-common-denominator statistics but for the wonders it did for the gore subgenre and the creativity involved in the special effects; you can not deny the effect they have had on the world since their inception. To what degree, that’s all debateable. Regardless, to this day the Guinea Pig films (even after a decade and rolling) still stand as some of the most brutal film works ever made. When any new film comes along standing as the “sickest” on the market, there’s always that question as to whether it lives up to Flowers of Flesh and Blood.

That isn’t to say all films dealing with such extremes can’t have some artistic merit to them. There are some truly sick and disturbing films that are as equally respected in many fields and not just the extreme gore category. Films like Kichiku: Dai Enkai The Banquet of the Beasts and Organ are both very much on the avant garde side of the cinematic spectrum, but are extreme to the N’th degree. Kichiku taking place on a college campus around a group of left wing radicals who are lost in a haze after their leader who has set the course for them is locked away and soon commits suicide. With no sure leader to replace him, his psychotic girlfriend takes over the group, and soon paranoia, uncertainty and violent tendencies take over until the film culminates with a bloodbath. Kichiku is a flick that some people have a hard time with, due to the two hour film being split almost in two in terms of plot achievements. The first half is all about the set-up, and can drag on showing these characters in their boring little uneventful (but happy) lives – and then the second half takes everything away from them all. The second film, Organ, is even harder for some to swallow. Made by Kei Fujiwara, the woman who worked as cinematographer for Shinya Tsukamoto on his opus of cyberpunk (and also arguably one of those films that helped instigate the insurgence of completely avant garde and violent work amongst many filmmakers all throughout Japan) Tetsuo, as well as being the lead actress in that film and in some of his early shorts. To say Kei had quite a career is to put things lightly. When she made Organ, well, I don’t know who could have been ready for it. It is already difficult to find a female who would be interested in making somewhat experimental films – but one filled with as many grizzly and disgusting visuals as those found in Organ… she is definitely an island to herself, that is for certain. She is a highly respectable artis, and Organ, like it or not is a film that stays with you for a very long time. Dealing with themes involving organics, vegetation, the state of the planet and blood, blood, blood. Organ is one of the few films out there that after sitting through so many gross and disgusting frames in front of my eyes, my stomach had began to get nervous. People are treated as plants, and Kei shows the similarities between the two. Roots are transplanted with bloody, disgusting intestinal tissue. The visuals of the film are haunting, and make you wonder what could happen if she and Tsukamoto could team up once more and see what the two could produce. I would lay money on something fairly disturbing in some fashion.

I could continue on this subject and forego the three event status of these articles, I really could as right now I could continue typing two more hours and bang out everything that needs to be said – but my main point of milking the series is to keep all of my thoughts spread out and cover as much on the subject at hand. Not to mention, who would read all of that on one page anyway? So I’m going to draw this volume of my little travelogue to a close. Hopefully these will open the eyes of some extreme horror buffs in the making, and bring a few flicks to their attention. So until next month, this is Josh signing off and in the meantime, dare you peak at these monsters of celluloid? If so, keep repeating to yourself… it’s only a movie… it’s only a movie…

Check back next month when Josh discusses the All Night Long series, more on Shinya Tsukamoto and the cyberpunk movement as well as the contributions of Takashi Miike!


— Joshua Samford

Snuff Cinema: Perpetuating the Myth

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 22 - 2008

If there’s one cinematic myth I am obsessed with reading about, it is of the supposed Snuff trade. Now mind you, I am not as well versed as some cohorts that have written on the subject nor am I the most knowledgable geek on the block when dealing with the subject. However, I know enough about the issue to get around. For those of you unfamiliar with what a Snuff film is, essentially you may already know the story. Ever had that friend, who had a friend who went to a party at a rich friends house and after a lovely evening with the upperclass – the lights suddenly dim and everyone joins in the viewing room where a reel-to-reel/VHS/DVD projector is set up and a movie is played. A movie where a young girl is butchered on film for the viewing audience, and everyone just walks away quietly at the end of the night. Heard of the story? Well there are many variations and some people still speak about it as if its something still going around. The story is that there is a massive underground society where killers film their acts for money and are paid handsomely by millionaires desperately seeking a new pique in sexual violence. The truth is however, such things simply do not happen. Not in that order nor for these means. However, there has been death caught on tape obviously and there has even been many killings and/or executions caught on tape but not for the sole reason of selling the videos to rich American socialites. This is where things tend to get a bit sordid and hard to translate, as if you want to argue semantics – recorded death isn’t exactly the hardest thing to find in this day and age where the internet puts any and everything you could ever want to see just a few clicks away on the world wide web. The truly strange thing is how we as people can become so obsessed with this sort of thing.

With tapes of terrorists beheading American journalists, chechnian rebels being done the same and of course that ever infamous video of a certain politician ending his own life with a gun – you can find it all these days; people killing each other, killing themselves, killing animals or just doing all kinds of blasphemous things to one another. However, the hotly debated issue is whether or not there are underground rings that perpetuate death for profit, and ultimately the answer tends to be a definitive no. At least until proven otherwise. That doesn’t limit the possibility however, who is to say and anything can happen. Author Yaron Svoray, who at one time was an Israeli private eye has long claimed to have once witnessed a snuff film while working undercover within a modern German nazi orginization that showed a young woman first raped, then murdered. He even documented his search into the supposed world of “snuff” with his novel “Gods of Death”. However his claims are often trivialized and questioned due to the writing in the book playing out like a spy thriller rather than a non-fiction piece of work. One of the most disturbing and memorable uses of the snuff myth I found in the Brett Easton Ellis novel “Less Than Zero” which is drastically different from the major motion picture of the same name. in the novel the lead character of Clay is completely disenfranchised by life and monotony of being a teen given everything in his life. However, he comes to a slight realization when at a teen party that degenerates into immense drugtaking and sexual exploration (as all parties in the novel generally do), someone puts on a tape for everyone to see. In the video that plays, a large African American man has a young white boy and girl chained up in a room. He proceeds to rape them both, and once done produces a chainsaw which he then begins to drive into the boys nether region. I know my description here is likely disturbing enough as is, but in the cold and callous words of Brett Easton Ellis it is even more horrifying. With simple descriptions he impacted my life incredibly, and it took me months to get over Less Than Zero due to that scene amongst others – but it is this sort of scene that pushes our culture into believing such things are possible.

When hearing about pedophiles being busted so regularly, and their pornography trade being a certainty – is it that implausible to think that since rape is so often photographed – could murder be that far behind? If so, who would have the money to finance such a thing and have human beings willing to risk their own life to make it? The answer comes up as the demographic we all demonize and exaggerate – the richest possible rich people we can think up. However, a myth is a myth and although such things as the situations we view in the Nicholas Cage thriller 8MM seem entirely plausible – human beings by their nature are protective of their own necks. Although I’m sure there are those who think they could get away with it, but once something like that is filmed – there’s no going back and hiding evidence and such a video would work as a living witness that would in some form or another lead to the capture of those responsible. Although I won’t say such a thing is entirely possible, I simply hope such a thing would never be attempted and I should hope no other human beings would be so morbid as to wish to watch such a thing. Human life is the greatest gift, and ending it for profit or sexual gratification is the ultimate perversion of lust. Now that I can step off of my soapbox, I will say interesting explorations of this subject can be found in the previously mentioned films such as 8MM (which is harshly underrated), Snuff (which isn’t a great film at all but is one of the earliest films to feature faux snuff), Cannibal Holocaust and Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood – which doesn’t actually deal with the subject but is more of an attempt at faux snuff and was so impressive that Charlie Sheen after having viewed a tape of the film from Chas Balum actually believed it to be real and passed it along to the FBI who actually searched into the subject. However, once the Japanese producers came up with their Making Of documentary for the film all scrutiny was dropped. If you know nothing of these films, definitely get on google and start reading! – Joshua Samford

Cinema – Art, Commerce and Entertainment

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 22 - 2008

Opening my own business recently, it has helped me to view the world in a different way. I find myself thinking about the owners of big businesses when watching television programs and such; figureheads like Donald Trump, Dana White of the UFC, my own uncle who has made his name in the same field as I and Robert Evans. Having my own troubles with employees, you realize just how tough men like that have to be – because I have to say; if you don’t watch yourself your employees and people around you will walk all over you. Directors, producers and even writers all have to continually keep up with this mindset as well. From conception to direction; filmmaking is the art of bringing a story to life for the sake of entertainment but in the hands of many others. This is where the bullheaded mindset simply has to exist; for without a guiding hand helping all of the various ideas for what the conception of a film should be melt into the same pot – everything simply falls apart.

Things like this have been running through my mind and I begin to wonder where the art of filmmaking begins and where commerce and entertainment end. There are filmmakers out there who fight for the total opposite of anything commercial; and David Lynch’s Inland Empire comes to mind at this point and it blows my mind how something such as that film finds the financial backing that it does; but never the less I am glad that such films do find the backing that they deserve. Despite Inland Empire not making any sense to me I’m just glad that something with as large a financial basis (by indie standards; not Hollywood) can still be made when in Hollywood the dollar drives the market – and as a business owner myself; I can’t really argue with that system. Businessmen are there to make money; as it should be – but I’m just glad that there is enough audience out there to convince the powers that be to invest in such a highly… well, insane, sort of film.

Such situations go to show, that much like our rating system where if you want to make it there truly is no judging body to prevent you from making it (with very few restrictions… although I have heard of some cases against Brazillian scatalogical pornography being banned… which even I find hard to support the right to film and distribute such horrors) – it goes to show that if you can build the audience and are ambitious enough; there are those out there willing to shill out money for it if the money is guaranteed to be reimbursed with profit. Not exactly breaking knowledge there, but there are those who believe in one thing or another. Is cinema a form of art, commerce, entertainment? The answer is that it is all things in one. Has been since the very beginning. With so few limitations within the US film system, whether you are working with a budget or whether or not your funds are limited to whatever you can sell off at the pawn shop – the only true limit of making a piece of art that embodies your feelings is yourself and your ability. However, that does not guarantee audiences will be interested in your goods; but that’s part of the fun of indie filmmaking I suppose. Finding just what you are made of and how you stack up against your average audiences. Well… I suppose that’s less like fun and more like mass horror for the poor young filmmakers out there with their butts on the line and loans hanging over their heads. However, it is what it is and the only limitations are within yourself.

I would like to end this short article in saying that although there is a business to all forms of art; only if you allow that to affect your output is it ever an issue. If your idea of entertainment is sawing a woman’s head off for ninenty minutes or if that’s simply what you want to film – then just don’t invest heavily by all means. A low budget can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. This whole conversation reminds me of a quote, and I’ll go ahead and end on it since it’s always rang true with me.

“When I came down here to talk to the MPAA about ratings, it was still a relief compared to what happens in Ontario is that they take your picture, they take every print – and they cut it and they hand it back to you and say ‘this is your new movie’. They keep the pieces that they’ve taken out and you go to jail for two years if those are projected – if you put the pieces back. That’s real censorship. What you’ve got here, no matter how imperfect it may be, at least you still have the option of releasing it as an X. I know there are huge economic sanctions against doing that and you usually have a contractual obligation not to have an X – none the less, if you really want it to be an X you can still get it shown here. In Canada you go to jail.”

David Cronenberg 1982

Top 20 Gore Films

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 1 - 2007


This article was written exclusively for Rogue Cinema.com



When you make a list of this variety, a lot of things go at stake. Your credibility, your appearance as a knowledgable consultant to the reading public and most of all: your honor as a true blue film geek. I however, care little for these things, so I am going to go ahead with my massive list. I’m going to start things off and tell you the reader that NO, I am not the end all be all of information on gore films. Truly, I would label myself and this list here as an intermediate guide to the subgenre. There are still quite a few films out there that I have not seen so cannot judge. Films like Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, Black Past, Muzan-E and many other underground Japanese gore films that are just now beginning to surface. I would just like for that one kid who hasn’t read every single page on the net about every other horror film ever released to stumble across this page on the interweb or my own website and walk away with a little knowledge. It’ll help you in a geek related combat situation! Trust me!
So, since I have a lot of work to do here, I’m going to just go on and get this thing started. No use in stalling when I’m sure I’ll make my 1,000 word minimum in descriptions alone. So, without further adue, here is your horror related list of horrible terrors from beyond the horror grave… horror!


20. – My Sweet Satan
Jim Van Bebber has been a staple of the horror movie community for a long time now. The guy is often found making videos for metal bands and for some fairly big names in the community too. Not to mention he was the creator of the cult “hit” Deadbeat At Dawn (a favorite of mine). His short film My Sweet Satan however, may be his most brutal film – and it’s just shy of twenty minutes long. Covering the true story of a satan worshipping group of stoner kids who push their own sanity to the edge and one night actually murder one of their own – My Sweet Satan includes one of the most brutal scenes of cranium damage ever filmed. Although certainly not simply a gore film or even a massive work of exploitation; MSS deserves mention for being one of the few flicks out there to almost make me sick from a scene of raw gory violence.


19. – Beyond the Darkness
Beyond the Darkness is a VERY, VERY graphic film – and although it may not have the absolute most clinical of scenes showing every single moment of disection; but Beyond the Darkness is Joe D’Amato at his most perverse and disturbing. Telling the tale of a young man who loses his wife due to illness – and soon thereafter loses his mind in an attempt to fill the blankness within himself. He and his psychotic servant go about their own private little rampage by picking up random girls and torturing then killing them. Fingernails are plucked out, intestines are pulled out and bodies are hacked up and thrown in tubs of acid. Not a kid friendly feature to be sure; but a memorable and blood-soaked horror film for the ages!

18. – The Beyond
Sir Lucio Fulci makes his first entrance into my list in what is probably his greatest film; and yet it makes it at the 18 mark – who would have thought it. Regardless of the fact that The Beyond isn’t Fulci’s goriest film; it certainly packs the grue and is also a clever and beautifully staged bit of dream logic meets nightmarish blood soaked reality. Tarantulas chew apart faces, eyes are gouged from their skulls and plenty of nasty zombie horrors are at foot in this Italian classic. The plot is Southern Gothic, as it revolves around a young woman being gifted a home in New Orleans after a rich relative passes away – unknownst to her she has moved into one of the seven gateways to hell. Soon enough a nosey plumber sticks his nose somewhere the spirits don’t want it to be and the gate is open – and all hell litterally breaks loose! Without a doubt one of Fulci’s greatest works and my personal favorite of his. A brilliant and bloody piece of horror.

17. – Aftermath
This one is a no-brainer, as a film generally reviled by some and loved by others, Aftermath is probably the most graphic film detailing necrophilia ever created. The act of man having intercourse is bad enough as it is; but Nacho Cerda wanted to create a film that truly showed the most heinous aspects of our death. A body is tore apart before our eyes, blood and gore exposed and that same blood and gore is later used for sexual deviancy. As I said, Aftermath was a no-brainer to add to the list and is well deserving of it’s title of one of the nastiest, gore films of all time. Hey, and it is also beautifully directed and is genuinely intelligent on top of all that.

16. – Naked Blood
Naked Blood, before the Asian cinema explosion of the past few years, was a pretty notorious little flick. I remember reading the summary of the film in the Blackest Heart Media catalog back in the old days and thinking “what a repulsive sounding little flick”. This of course was before my foray into the cannibal subgenre of Italian cinema – which will make a man out of even the most weak of horror film fans – but that same feeling lasted with me for quite a while; so of course I had to seek the film out and find it. Naked Blood is a slow-burn that takes a while to get going in terms of nastiness, but once the old ball gets to rolling – it is certainly worth seeing. In the story of three women being injected with an experimental drug that tricks their mind into feeling pleasure in place of pain. Dealing with father and son issues along with the brutality displayed from these women eating, cutting and mutilating their bodies – Naked Blood has earned it’s reputation, and on top of all that it’s also pretty well made. Kudos!

15. – Cannibal Holocaust
I can hear you right now, “whoa, whoa, whoa! If Cannibal Holocaust is number 15 on your list – how much more brutal can these flicks get!?”. The truth is, not very much. However, the majority of what makes Cannibal Holocaust so outright disturbing isn’t neccesarily the gore shed by humans; but by the animals who are brutalized. There are actually few kills in the film and the ones that happen are mainly at the conclusion of the film; and unfortunately the brutality of said deaths are not the most gruesome or violent you are likely to see. Do not take this as an ommission that Cannibal Holocaust is not one of the most disturbing films of all time – because most assuredly it is; but I just feel that if I am to judge all gore films on terms of real as well as non-real violence – then films like Traces of Death and Banned From Television might dominate my list. Personally, I’m just not into those flicks. So, with that said, what is shown in CH is without a doubt highly brutal stuff and there is plenty of brutality on display and I won’t try and persuade you otherwise. Just check it out, and be horrified!

14. – Ichi the Killer
Although Ichi is more than a gore film and would probably be more apt to fit in with arthouse lists or exploitation; there is certainly a ton of gory violence to be held up on display. Faces being severed from heads, nipples sliced off, tongues sawed through, guts stacked three feet high and needles, needles, needles! Ichi the Killer is the ultimate S&M obsessed Yakuza tale of violence, the love of violence and ultimate human failure. If you’re one of the few to have not run across it at this point – I certainly reccomend you get off your tail and go out there and check it out! Takashi Miike has blown up, time to hop on the bandwagon even if you’re as late as all get out.

13. – Cannibal Ferox
For those of you still not over fuming after my listing Cannibal Holocaust in 15th place – you’re probably going to hate this even more. Cannibal Ferox is a lesser film than Cannibal Holocaust without a doubt in my mind – but in terms of human carnage displayed; Cannibal Ferox has a bit of a heads up in that department mainly due to a very graphic castration scene as well as some brutal eye disfiguring. Ferox is a nasty, sleazy little film that may not be a “gem”, but it’s certainly worthy of it’s reputation of being banned in a bazillion countries. Dealing with much the same as Cannibal Holocaust; with young foreigners parading around the jungle in areas they should be nowhere even remotely close to – it covers very little new ground in the genre but does feature the line “They ate his… genitals!” which you can’t help but love!

12. – Zombi Holocaust
Zombi Holocaust may be absolutely, mind blowingly, mind numbingly, horrendously heinous – but I have to admit; it does pack quite a few buckets of blood and gore. Heads are cliced apart by a propellor blade, disections are made, organs are removed, etc. all in a mix of genres so absurd that you can’t help but somewhat enjoy it all… in a deep down little place you might not want to tell your friends about. Working as a mix of Cannibal Holocaust and Fulci’s “Zombi 2”; Zombi Holocaust (apt title ain’t it?) tells the tale of a mad scientist who has made it his life goal to bring the dead back to life – and in a movie titled Zombi anything you can automatically assume things won’t work out that great. When mainlanders come to the island where the doctor is unleashing his army of the dead; in search of information on a culprit found to be stealing body parts out of the local hospital – things go from bizarre to downright deadly. A massive slaughter ensues, bodies are torn apart, zombies are fed, locals are stabbed with spike boobytraps – lots of fun is had. Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself… but don’t tell anybody how much I like it.

11. – The Evil Dead
Now this here is a pretty debatable entry – not that the original The Evil Dead is a tame little flick – it truly is not but in comparison to films like Cannibal Holocaust, Ferox, Zombi Holocaust, etc. it certainly isn’t one of the goriest films of all time. However, reputation and accomplishments go a long way. Evil Dead isn’t the goriest film on this list, nor gorier than many of the films previously mentioned – but the splatter work on display is grotesque, fun, plentiful and most of all: innovative. The Evil Dead is responsible for many young filmmakers going out there and trying to plenish the world with gory horror flicks that make their audience both squirm, laugh and have a darn good time. Even though there are other films worth of mentioning – Re-Animator is as equally entertaining in my opinion and hey, even Evil Dead Trap the Japanese horror that is essentially a titular ripoff/homage to the film is a little more on the gorier side of things (and perhaps should have made this list) – but both films owe a certain debt to Evil Dead in one way or another. So if you’re going to pick one film, might as go with the godfather and with, in my opinion mind you, the better film.

10. – Cat in the Brain
Cat in the Brain may not be Lucio Fulci’s strongest film, it may not even be in his top five and likely barely ranks in his top ten according to who you talk with – but Cat in the Brain is easily his goriest film. Focusing close to real life, Fulci plays a director named… well, Fulci who is also a… well, a horror filmmaker. Fulci’s films are possibly catching up to him however as he stumbles through his life he approaches scene after scene of horrible slaughter as people are brutally murdered in front of his very eyes. He assumes this is some kind of psychosis coming on from having seen so many attrocities brought about because of his FX workers – but something truly evil be at large? Well… DUH! Fulci comes out strong in this slightly unintentionally funny piece of masterwork where Fulci has fun and makes jabs at his own work and delivers some of his most brutal and sensational splatter. Definitely a reccomended work from his filmography, although it may not be on level with The Beyond in terms of a well structured plot and atmosphere – it makes up for it in the amount of gore that is on display and how much fun the viewer will have with the over the top celebration of all things disgusting.

9. Bad Taste
Peter Jackson makes his first entry into my list, and I’ll bet if you’re a true horror afficianado you’ll already know what that second entry will likely be – and no I’m not talking Meet the Feebles; even though that one can be a bit on the bloodier side as well. Regardless, we’re talking about Bad Taste right here and now – and if you haven’t seen this wacky gore laden alien flick, you’ve missed out on a lot. Peter Jackson took the ball that Sam Raimi packed up and took home when he left the set of Evil Dead II, and he ran with it. Mixing the horror and comedy genres so well together, Jackson developed a horror comedy that wasn’t just a “dark comedy”. This was slapstick with gore, and it worked EXTREMELY well. Bad Taste is gruesome and adorable at the same time, if that makes any sense. Heads are split in half, brains are scooped up, bowls of vomit are digested – Bad Taste is simply… well, to quote the great Bender, fun on the bun!

8. – Day of the Dead
Ahh, Goerge Romero, the godfather of the horror genre. The dead series broke the mold each and every release in terms of what we the audience were used to seeing in cinema, and Day of the Dead was probably his last great gorey song to sing. With the release of Dead Reckoning, it seems Goerge may not be looking to push the limits quite as much as he once did – but that doesn’t stop him from being a great storyteller and hopefully Diary of the Dead may see him back to his days of abusing his audience in the ways of gory horror. Day of the Dead created the claustrophobia of the previous series by placing the remaining survivors in an underground bunker on a military base and set the pace at a rather relaxed momentum. This only pronounces the unearthly violence dealt out later in the film. The last twenty minutes or so of Day of the Dead still stands out as some of the most horrific gory violence in any zombie horror I’ve probably ever seen. Necks split apart revealing the vocal chords, intestines ripped out, etc. It’s not just the gore, but the amazingly detailed and realistic special effects as well. An overall classic of gore cinema.

7. – Organ
Organ in my opinion is one of the most underrated schlockers out there. It’s gory, violent, disgusting and features some horrifyingly disturbing imagery via the human body in decay in an organic wasteland of human suffering. How do you like that for descriptive writing? I’ll take a few minutes to pat myself on the back. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that great. Regardless, Organ certainly deserves its place in my top ten. In a very Eco-friendly tale of criminals, teachers, detectives in a world of shrubbery coming to life – the plot takes a backseat to the disgusting visuals of the human body taking on a more “organic” shape. Humans morph into plants, ooze blood and pus in a film from the cinematographer of Tetsuo: The Iron Man so you can assume much cyperpunk fashion and desolate setpieces along the way. Highly reccomended, Organ is the one film on this list I think many people might be shocked to see.

6. – Guinea Pig: Mermaid in a Manhole
A film that might not shock some folks to see on here in this little diddy, part of the absolutely legendary Guinea Pig series from Japan – Mermaid in a Manhole is one of the few entries in the series that truly push the limits of all levels of good taste. Mermaid focuses its plot elements on a painter who searches and searches for inspiration in the sewers of Tokyo – and soon finds it, when he comes across a beautiful Mermaid amongst the filth and trash. He takes her home, but it soon becomes apparent that she was not meant for our world and boils begin to crop up on her skin. Before long, she is all but a festering ball of puss and sickening traces of flesh. So yeah, she loses a bit in the looks department. Mermaid shows the audience sickness of the eterior in graphic and memorable detail. Boils spurt puss, blood and goo of all sorts. Looking all too realistic for comfort the entire time, Mermaid in a Manhole will give you a case of the yuckies if you can’t stand sickening medical pics and that sort of thing.

5. – TWO WAY TIE: Bone Sickness & Violent Sh-t 3: Infantry of Doom
A TIE!? I know, I know, it’s a total cop-out but to fit the films I felt were neccesary to list – these two just seemed so equal in terms of content that I just had to pair the two together. Andreas Schnaas, director of the Violent Sh*t series, has put out a few not so fabulous flicks in his time as a feature filmmaker but VS3 is actually one of his better achievements and it’s also incredibly gory. Heads roll, spines are ripped from anal cavities and all sorts of other atrocities are commited in this low budget Kung Fu meets gory zombie horror movie free-for-all. Bone Sickness is the new kid on the block really and probably the most recent flick on this whole list – but in my opinion it has earned its place here in my top five. Blood, guts, decapitations and worms galore; Bone Sickness is a modern gore splashed zombie flick for the kids to clamor for. I always like to hype it up, as I think it’s one of the flicks out there that deserves as much reputation as any film on this list – and hopefully its time to shine will be along in short time.

4. – Ricky-Oh: The Story of Ricky
And now the only film on this list to make it on The Daily Show! Yay! Ricky-Oh has all but sinked into our culture here in the states now thanks to The Daily Show, youtube and clips from badmovies.org. It’s certainly grown into one of the more popular cult gore flicks I can think of – and it is all for good reason. Ricky is a darned entertaining flick and it’s also one of the strongest and goriest films I have had the pleasure to view. Ricky is a kid sentenced to a prison term, but this ain’t no ordinary kid, he can punch through brick walls, smash through faces, destroy bodily features, melt hands and chins that dare to get in the way of his blazing fists… yep, Ricky is what I like to think of as a pretty bad dude. Ricky does his best to protect the innocent within the system and along the way does more physical damage than skin cancer. Stomachs are punched through, nails are jammed in faces, blades are hacked through cheeks and that’s only a start for the insanity that Ricky delivers. On top of all this, it’s also incredibly tongue-in-cheek funny. Ricky has everything a growing boy could possibly need!

3. – Premutos Der Gefallene Engel
Premutos unfortunately tends to get a bad rap in thanks to the horrible English dubbing on it’s North American release – and although I’m sure the original German performances are far from the best ever; they were tolerable on my old VHS copy – despite not being able to understand a darn word of German and having no subtitles. Regardless, some things trancend the language barrier… like 45 minute gore sequences including weapons such as shotguns, swords, chainsaws and even tanks! Premutos is silly at times and may indeed have a few bad performances but my oh my is it gory! Bodies are ripped apart at every angle during those last minutes to the point where one barely even flinches at the most extreme moments any more. Premutos will some day get the respect it deserves; and I personally can’t wait for that day.

2. – Dead Alive
Easily the film that tops the majority of most film fans list – Dead Alive/Braindead is Peter Jacksons ultimate gift to us genre fans the world over. Mixing his horror/comedy in a perfect blend Jackson used this style to perfect and delivered a gore masterpiece that concludes in a scene of mass slaughter that has to be seen to believed. Lawnmowers will never be seen in the same light after Jackson’s epic transformation of the zombie subgenre. I can try and recount all the physical damage suffered in Dead Alive but it’s almost impossible to the point of hopelessness. Bodies are pulled apart and so many limbs are severed in the final climatic battle of Dead Alive that I frankly can only encourage you the reader to go out there and rent a copy of the Unrated DVD. Even if you’ve already seen it a dozen times like myself, break out the DVD anyway and give it a spin just to enjoy Mr. Jacksons last hurrah in our favoritest of genres.

1. – Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood
Flowers of Flesh and Blood most of you may be familiar with, but for those of you late to the game, I’ll run over the shady past of the film one more time. Flowers of Flesh and Blood was created as part of the Guinea Pig series which started as a series meant to push the boundaries of the genre market and deliver the most shocking experiences possible. Flowers of Flesh and Blood just so happened to deliver just that. A faux snuff-film that details the kidnapping of a young girl by a samurai dressed psychopath who slowly and in ultimate graphic detail begins to slowly dismember her piece by piece. Hacking through her arms, using hammers to hack through her bones and saws as well as other instruments to slowly remove her arms, legs and ultimately her head. The film was so realistic in its depiction of these acts that Charlie Sheen thought a bootleg copy he was given was real and passed it along to the FBI who performed an investigation only to find the girl still alive. After this a making of compilation was released in order to show that indeed these events were not real. Flowers of Flesh and Blood is the ultimate “gore film”, in fact, it is gore. From start to finish, Flowers of Flesh and Blood is an unnerving, raw and horrifying experience that only the most curious of genre film fans tend to seek out. It’s definitely not for the weak of heart. I however must reccomend it for those who can take it, if for no other reason than for bragging rights… if you’re a weirdo like myself who brags about this sort of thing!

So with all of that, I draw this massive list to a close. Hard to believe it would ever be over – but here we are. Twenty of the goriest films of all time and I realist that my picks will not represent even the majority of readers but hopefully they will have either introduced you to something new or will stand as something that you can pass along to other genre fans who may just need a list of this variety. Gore cinema will never quit as long as one guy just continues to up the ante in terms of what can be done with a few packets of fake blood and latex can do. So a list like this may stand for something at this moment in time, but a list like this will be forever changing and the next big massacre on celluloid is just around the corner.

— Joshua Samford

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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