I first started really getting into foreign horror movies because of Luke Franklin and Justin Haaksma two talented contributors to this site who are about as well versed in foreign horror films as you can get. Because of them I have discovered a whole new world of horror films over the last 10 years and I thank them.
Over the years I have managed to see quite a few subtitled horror films and there are seven that really stand out to me as fantastic films that every red-blooded horror fan should see. This is my list of them in no particular order and it is worth noting I have deliberately chosen NON english movies. There are lots of english foreign horror films like Evil Aliens and The Descent but I want to focus on the sub-titled horror genre to hopefully broaden some of your horizons.
This movie is not only one of the best subtitled horror movies of all time it is also a horror film that practically nobody has seen it seems.
When a deadly flu outbreak forces an apartment building to be quarantined, a couple must join forces with an unstable but well-stocked neighbor. Phase 7 is one of the truly greats and is the closest thing to a non-zombie Romero movie as modern horror fans can expect.
2009’s Mutants is a fantastic take on the zombie genre and is one of the few modern horror movies where the zombies are truly terrifying. When a man becomes infected with a zombie virus, his wife stands by his side and desperately searches for a way to prevent his mutation. But as he slowly transforms, she begins to fear for her life — and for the future of their unborn child. This terrifying film is currently streaming on NETFLIX USA for those who have not seen it.
I Saw The Devil
I Saw The Devil is one of the greatest crime thrillers of all time. It sits right up a long side movies like Silence of the Lambs. I Saw The Devil is the story of a girl who is stalked, murdered and mutilated by a truly deviant serial killer. Things take a twist when the womans Fiancee a highly trained government agent takes justice into his own hands and hunts down the killer to dish out his own form of justice.
The film twists and turns as villain becomes victim, hero becomes villain and then back to victim again. This movie is gruesome, well thought out and extremely polished. Easily one of the best foreign horror movies ever made.
The premise of Troll Hunter was so ridiculous I thought I would hate it. Added to that fact it is a found footage movie which is a genre I absolutely despise. So when I say that Troll Hunter is one of the best foreign horror movies of all time it should carry some weight.
While investigating a series of suspicious bear killings, a group of students trail a mysterious “hunter” who tries to elude them at every turn. The group soon learns that his prey is far more dangerous and mystical than mere bears. If you have not seen it you can stream it on Netflix.
Dead snow is the tale of a group of medical students that head out to a cabin in the mountains for some skiing and drinking as an escape from school. Unfortunately they find out that the cabin has much more then a nice fireplace and plenty of booze as they find themselves over run by Nazi Zombies out for their flesh.
The film is an over the top gore fest with a unique concept, some great chuckles and plenty of homage to the greatest horror movie of all time EVIL DEAD. Dead Snow is simply put fantastic!
Let The Right One In
This is a really unique take on the vampire genre focusing on a little girl, her guardian and a boy who lives next door that forms a unique bond with her. Driven by an interesting and unique story its a tale of first love, with a vampire mix and is both gruesome and intense.
Let The Right One In is the most unique vampire film I have seen in years and is a well polished visually impressive film that demonstrates what a good vampire film should look like. Let The Right One In pulls you in, entertains you and really makes you connect with the characters. Well worth buying or checking out on NETFLIX
La Horde is a real stand out in the zombie genre. When four corrupt policemen invade a gangster’s hideout near Paris to avenge the death of their colleague, they quickly find themselves outmanned, outgunned and trapped. That is, until a legion of vicious zombies swarms through the building.
Brutally violent and packed full of Twists La Horde is your typical French horror film in that it kicks serious ass.
Rec has inspired an entire franchise but I have only managed to see the first one. Once again a Found Footage film has proven that my hatred of first person found footage films is very biased. Much like Troll Hunter REC is one of the few great examples of a well polished horror movie that uses the found footage first person angle perfectly.
REC is the story of a Fire Crew called out to an apartment complex that soon find themselves quarantined and under attack. This film was remade by Hollywood and renamed Quarantine and even the remake which stars Jennifer Carpenter ( Dexter )
I really enjoyed Frontieres, it was part of the HorrorFest franchise and was easily hands down one of the best films that AfterDark has ever picked up and run with. Frontieres is the story of hoodlums who run into trouble and soon discover that there are different levels of evil and they are about to encounter a group far more terrifying then they are. Frontieres is violent beyond belief but still driven by a telling story that has characters with a lot of depth to them.
You will find yourself really drawn into this film and at the same time it will evoke a major response from you as the story goes deeper, darker and more violent as it progresses. Frontieres is graphic but once again it is part of the story and not the driving force behind the film and demonstrates why the French seem to have cornered the market on horror films that have powerful themes… and intensely graphic outcomes.
The Host is a film I picked up years ago after Goon told me about it. The film is the story of a monster that is on the loose courtesy of a biological failure in a lab. It’s a scifi monster tale similar to Godzilla only much scarier.
Admittedly the characters are not as deep as Frontieres or Let The Right One in but its unique take on the monster genre, its fast paced action and unique story will please fans of classics like JAWS or as noted earlier Godzilla.
Monster movies are rarely done as well as The Host making it a definite watch if your into creature features or just like the thought of science gone awry that ends up eating you.
Thirst is from the legendary director Chan Wook Park who brought us one of the greatest revenge thriller films of all time ‘Oldboy’. His foray into the vampire genre although not as polished or exciting as Oldboy is still one of the greats.
Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways. A story of love, crime, good and evil its a powerful tale with a deep moral message.
Martyrs is one of the best horror films of the last decade, bar none! It tells the story of a girl who was kidnapped and brutalized only to escape and 15 years later get her revenge.
As much as you might think its a revenge themed horror film it’s so much more than that. It starts off strong, and never lets up climaxing with one of the most visually disturbing and mentally draining scenes in a horror film ever. Martyrs will scar you but also make you think with its deep story telling.
Although the imagery is extremely powerful MARTYRS is driven by a story that is equally unique and just as powerful as the intense violence. Martyrs is definitely not for the squeamish but is without question one of the Top 10 foreign horror films ever made in my books.
FrostBitten is another vampire tale and again one I believe that I got put onto by Goon. The film is a vampire tale but not your typical one. Unlike Underworld or other modern vampire tales this is a very dark and disturbing take on a Vampire Virus.
Frostbitten is intense, dark and fantastically written. It is more action based and focused on ‘gore’ then Let The Right One in but still an equal from the stand point of overall quality.
FrostBitten jumps through time to tell the tale of a vampire virus and its bloody path through generations. A fun film that is worth checking out if you liked Let The Right one In.
High Tension is once again a demonstration of insane violence with fantastic story telling. Were it not for the stupidest twist ending I have seen in years High Tension would easily be a top 10 foreign film of all time. But even with the horrendous ending it is one of the best ‘deranged killer’ films I have seen.
High Tension tells the story of a girl who goes to visit in the country with a friend and all hell breaks loose as a deranged killer turns them and everyone they encounter into corpses. As noted I found the ending annoying but overall the film is still fantastic. Dark, gritty and intense. It’s a violent affair that is bloody from start to finish… as well as very creepy.
This one bottoms out my list and although I said it’s not in any order it is on the bottom of my list since out of the seven this one is definitely the weakest from the stand point of quality and scares. That said Cold Prey is still a great film it’s just up against some serious giants above.
Cold Prey is about a group of young adults who go skiing in the mountains and end up in an old ski lodge and falling victim to a deranged killer.. hence the title Cold Prey. It is a creepy tale with an interesting story that at times is quite intense and bloody. Overall a great film.
That is my list of foreign horror films that I have seen that I thought were fantastic. As I know we have some serious gurus on the site take a minute and share your own favorite foreign genre films below.
What films do you think could have made the list and why? Sound off in the comments.