This piece first appeared at The Displaced Nation, October 31, 2013.
Being the horror-obsessed film nut that I am — and loving how my expat/traveller life has collided with my scary movie self — I offer here are a few more honorable mentions within the three sub-genres I presented in last week’s post:
- The expat.
- The world traveler.
- The otherwise displaced.
1. Expat Horror: Caveat expat, or expat beware (or in some cases, beware of the expat!).
1) Blood and Chocolate, about an American orphan who goes to live with her aunt in Bucharest. Oh, and the orphan is a werewolf.
2) Drag Me To Hell, in which a Romany shaman in the US is evicted from her home and takes her rage out on the lowly loan officer who refused to give her a mortgage.
3) In The Hole we find an American student in a British boarding school who gets trapped in a World War II bomb shelter with a few classmates. So we’re led to think…
4) In The Grudge, Sarah Michelle Gellar gets far more than she ever bargained for living and working in Japan as a nurse, when a malevolent creature in her house begins an awful campaign of harassment, mayhem and torture.
5) Orphan finds us with a family interested in adopting a young Russian girl, only the longer she’s with them the more the mother suspects she’s not the child she claims to be.
6) + 7) The Joss Whedon marvels Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, both of
which feature a number of prominent expats — a few are slayer trainers sent over to California from the Old World (Britain), a few are expat vampires who’ve decided the anonymity of the United States better suits their feeding habits.
2. Traveler Horror: “Let your suitcases gather dust!”, cry these films.
8) In Shrooms, a group of young Americans go to meet their Irish friend on his home turf in order to experience the hallucinogenic mushrooms indigenous to the fairylands of Ireland’s bonnie green forests. He forgot to tell them that their chosen “tripping” site is also the home of a haunted and abandoned insane asylum. And that not all the mushrooms are the magic type.
9) In Open Water, two Carribbean cruise snorkelers are left behind, to be tormented by a shark. Based on a true story — and one of many reasons why I keep my feet on dry land despite now living in Florida.
10) In the same vein we have Piranha 3D, in which half-naked spring-breakers are set upon by prehistoric piranha that have been released through an underground fault.
11) The Hills Have Eyes features a family on a road trip through the post-nuclear testing New Mexico desert are set upon by a group of psychopaths who live in the hills.
12) Worlds collide in From Dusk Till Dawn when a reverend on a road trip to Mexico with his children is hijacked by two ruthless killers on the lam from the law after a series of brutal murders and robberies. They find themselves like fish out of water when their rest-stop bar turns out to be a haven for vampires.
13) When a group of friends go white water rafting in Appalachia, the idylic back country scene turns nightmare when a group of inbred locals terrorizes the group, and one of its members in particular. Deliverance is not for the faint of heart.
I could keep going with this sub-genre, but surely you get the point by now. Stay home!
3. Displaced Horror: “Think twice about moving or taking a sojourn outside the ‘hood” is the moral here.
14) Rosemary’s Baby, in which Mia Farrow discovers that her new Manhattan residence is also the home to a group of mad Satanists who’ve got their sights on her unborn baby.
15) The slasher musical Don’t Go In the Woods features a band on the verge of a breakthrough go camping to write some new tunes. Only, there’s something else in there with them that’s picking them off one by one.
16) Every incarnation of the Alien series brings us a group of Earth’s citizens in outer space, battling a wretched and basically unkillable xenomorph. Keep your feet on land. Save yourself the trouble.
17) In Friday the 13th, a group of summer-camp goers are stalked by a relentless killer. Man, this one makes me glad I never went to summer camp, even though growing up I always wanted to.
18) A writer on a summertime retreat to a supposedly peaceful cabin is brutalized by a gang of locals. One of my personal favorites, I Spit On Your Grave is a grotesque revenge fantasy come to life and suggests one might be better off simply working from home.
19) And we can’t forget one of the most iconic examples of Displaced Horror: The Shining, in which Jack Torrance, temporary caretaker of the historically creepy and ever haunted evil Overlook Hotel, goes mad and tries to murder his family. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, eh?
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So, are you ready to burn your passport and throw away all your travel gear yet?
And while we’re still at it, do you have any other films you’d add to my best-of abroad horror list?