FOREIGN HORROR: The Significance of Foreign Horror Films

Where would we be without all the great examples of foreign horror? Without all the different contributions that have washed ashore throughout the years. There are so many countless examples of amazing horror cinema from all the different corners of the world that it would be downright impossible to even fathom a world without them.

What if Deep Red  never existed? Or Fulci fancied romantic comedies over gory horror? Or what if Japanese filmmakers never happened to express their penchant for sadistic horror through film? Could you imagine if Pascal Laugier never got a chance to make Martyrs...and, instead, opened up his own cafĂ© in Paris? Or, shit...what if Hammer never existed? Think about all that stuff for a second. Would horror today be the same if Guillermo del Toro was more interested in singing for a mariachi band? All of these things would have affected the genre immensely had these important filmmakers just simply made a different decision in their careers.
I bring all this up because this past month has made all of us here at Film Deviant realize just how significant foreign horror is. I mean...the very, very first horror film ever made was French, for Christ's sake. It's just...I never really stopped to think about how much of an impact our foreign filmmaking friends have made on this little genre that we all love. Usually, I'm much more interested in seeking out the latest releases from Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo....or finding that rare steelbox of an old Italian favorite. But, I never stop to think about how greatly they've all influenced our love for horror in even the smallest of ways.

Le Manoir du Diable (1896)
As I wrote in the beginning of the month, horror is one simplistic emotion that can be as universal and transcendent as laughter. Someone slips on a banana peel and falls on their ass on a YouTube video and it goes viral in every single country. Well...someone puts a hockey mask on and wields a machete on unsuspecting sex-hungry teenagers and it can go on to scare film goers in every corner of the world. You don't need a complex script or subtitles to be genuinely scared by demons jumping out at you. However, the ability to create a brand new perspective on the same old concept has produced some of the most boundary-crashing films that the genre has ever seen.
Ten people standing in a room staring at a severed head all have different thoughts in their minds regarding what they see in front of them. While most experience a rush of fear and bewilderment, some may be thinking about how that head got separated from its body...or maybe if the owner of the head deserved what they ultimately got. Or maybe the first thought that pops into someone's mind is what kind of instrument was used to sever the head...or perhaps someone is thinking if the head has the ability to re-animate itself...or if the eyes are going to blink one more time. There are so many different ways of looking at the same thing...and that's why foreign horror is so crucial.
Another aspect of the importance of horror from abroad is the passion each and every filmmaker shares for their chosen craft. Guillermo del Toro has often expressed his undying love for the genre. As has Pascal Laugier and Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. They have all created such iconic films that transcend the usual genre fare because of their respect of what has come before and the care that they each have taken to present a new point of view with each one of their films. And because horror is an artistic medium that can encapsulate a myriad of different elements and emotions in a singular stroke, these filmmakers are able to create different concepts that push the limits of horror fimmaking into brand new places. It's why I love films like Inside  and Let the Right One In. On the surface they appear to be simplistic in design but, once you dig deeper, you find a vampire love story full of emotional tragedy and innocence lost....or a slasher film that presents brilliant new concepts about the importance of feminism and creates new malevolent characters with its premise. And they're not doing it in a typical Hollywoodized kind of way. These filmmakers are taking chances and making brutal films filled with deeper human aspects that rattle something within us all. They provoke as much as they scare. Unlike the films that come out of Hollywood, these films are genuinely dangerous.

Horror is a genre that needs dangerous stuff like Martyrs  and Cannibal Holocaust  in order to thrive and continue to progress into different levels of substantial entertainment. The 1990's aside, there is always a film that comes out every 10 years or so that stirs its audience and pushes the limitations of the genre. Foreign horror is an essential part of the overall cinematic landscape.
Thank you all so much for being a part of our 31 DAYS OF FOREIGN HORROR! We sincerely hope that you've learned as much as we have and appreciate everything that has come from all over the world. And a sincere BIG THANK YOU to all the foreign horror filmmakers out there that may eventually come across this article. Without you...our genre wouldn't be what it is today.

Here now is my personal favorite foreign horror film of all time. As cliché as it sounds...if it were not for this film, my passion for foreign horror might not have been as powerful as it is today.

Please enjoy...Dario Argento's all of its colorful splendor.

Thanks for reading,