I have become a fan of South Korean film over the past few years. One of my favorite directors, in fact, is Bong Joon-ho. The Host (2006), Mother (2009), Snowpiercer (2013), and Okja (2017) vary in style or genre but all are great.
I mention him here because I love his work but he didn’t make this countdown. The Host is science fiction/horror, but I decided it wasn’t clearly enough a horror film for my purposes here; I tried to stick with movies that fall more clearly within genre lines. If I’d included The Host, I would also have wanted to include Gojira (1954, dir. Ishiro Honda) and Silence of the Lambs (1991, dir. Jonathan Demme), so I just simplified my list by cutting them out. If I have any regrets about my list, this is where to find them.
The South Korean films I did include here are Train to Busan (2016, dir. Sang-ho Yeon) and Thirst (2009, dir. Chan-wook Park). Beyond their origin, these two films don’t have too much in common, however.
Train to Busan is a well-executed zombie film that takes place largely on a train and in train stations. It reflects some interesting cultural values and ideas about community and about fatherhood and has some impressive action sequences. It also uses sentiment in a way that worked for me, and it made me cry.
Thirst is much slower and very bloody. I want to watch it again – I need to in order to be able to say much about it – but I remember it as being very intense and very good.
Earlier countdown entries:
- Night of the Living Dead, dir. George Romero (1968)
- Dawn of the Dead, dir. George Romero (1978)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers, dir. Philip Kaufman (1978)
- Get Out, dir. Jordan Peele (2017)
- Hellraiser, dir. Clive Barker (1987)
- Psycho, dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1960)
- The Birds, dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1963)
- Jaws, dir. Steven Spielberg (1975)
- Teeth, dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein (2007)
- Candyman, dir. Bernard Rose (1992)
- Creep, dir. Patrick Brice (2014)
- The Wicker Man, dir. Robin Hardy (1973)
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre, dir. Tobe Hooper (1974)
- Cabin in the Woods, dir. Drew Goddard (2012)
- Suspiria, dir. Dario Argento (1977)
- The Witch, dir. Robert Eggers (2015)
- Rosemary’s Baby, dir. Roman Polanski (1968)
- The Babadook, dir. Jennifer Kent (2014)
- It Follows, dir. David Robert Mitchell (2014)
- Carrie, dir. Brian de Palma (1976)
- Ginger Snaps, dir. John Fawcett (2000)
- American Werewolf in London, dir. John Landis (1981)
- The Thing, dir. John Carpenter (1982)
- The Fly, dir. David Cronenberg (1986)
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, dir. Ana Lily Amirpour (2014)
- It Comes at Night, dir. Trey Edward Shults (2017)
- Shaun of the Dead, dir. Edgar Wright (2004)
- 28 Days Later, dir. Danny Boyle (2002)