The Best Horror Movies to Learn Writing From

By Bhalachandra Sahaj

Hi everyone.

Do you like thriller novels? Or horror? Apart from appealing to irrational fears that we all possess, such stories are usually well-written, and manifest their authors’ deep knowledge of psychology.

Nowadays, the genre of horror has been compromised, in my opinion–especially in cinematography. Thrash movies like “Hostel” or “The Hills Have Eyes” substitute fear with disgust, showing decaliters of fake blood and throwing violence in your face in an attempt to freak you out. I believe this has nothing in common with the true representatives of thriller and horror genres. Today I’d like to present a list of movies which can be called true spiritual ancestors of such masters as Edgar Allan Poe or Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

(Warning: some of the scenes presented in the video trailers below can be shocking, disturbing, or unpleasant).

  1. Shutter Island.
  2. Yeah, I know that Leonardo Dicaprio might be not the actor you’d associate with a thriller movie–although undoubtedly being a good actor; however, “Shutter Island” is one of Dicaprio’s best movies, in my opinion. A convincing story of a detective trapped on an island where a gloomy mental asylum is located will make you shiver.

  3. 1408.
  4. It is a well-known fact that Stephen King rarely likes the screen versions of his stories. Yet, “1408,” while being a great short story, has also been made into a great movie (whatever Mr. King himself thinks about it). Ghost stories have rarely been so scary as in “1408.”

  5. Cure.
  6. This psychological thriller by the Japanese director Kurosawa Kiyoshi tells a story of a police detective chasing a psychopathic mesmerist. This movie impresses with a convincing depiction of realistic evil–no ghosts, no demons, no occult nonsense, only human beings.

  7. The Blair Witch Project.
  8. I was a teen when this movie was released, and I remember how impressed and scared I was. Our family lived near a forest back then, so for a couple of weeks returning home from school was a kind of courage test to me. Now this movie is not so horrifying, but it definitely has its own magic.

  9. The Fourth Kind.
  10. If you think extraterrestrial life is creepy only in Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” you are wrong. “The Fourth Kind is a relatively new speculation about alien life; and trust me–this movie will show you the true meaning of the word “alien.”

  11. The Thing (1982).
  12. And one more alien in this list. This movie contains some rather disgusting scenes, but I still consider it one of the best horror movies about aliens. A strange but bright symbiosis of a psychological thriller and a B-class action movie.

  13. Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
  14. Old does not mean bad, and in the case of “Rosemary’s Baby” “old” means “brilliant.” A must-watch for sure.

  15. Poltergeist (1982).
  16. What I dislike about American horror movies is that directors always try to shock a viewer by showing them something disgusting: blood, ultra-violence, monsters, slime, and so on. However, I believe (as H.P. Lovecraft bequeathed) that the scariest of all is something you cannot see, but can only feel. A poltergeist–an invisible evil spirit–is a perfect embodiment of this thesis.


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