Past foreign, independent horror movies could serve as creative examples for Hollywood


Human beings seem to have a penchant for trying to scar those around them psychologically. It’s the reason why horror films exist. In recent years, however, it seems as though mainstream Hollywood horror movies have gone from featuring unique and creative monsters who fuel our irrational fears to stereotypical and safe clichés we see again and again: serial killers, demonic possessions, ghosts, werewolves and vampires. Our movies are in need of a creative pick-me-up, and where better to look for inspiration than past foreign and independent films?

We don’t have to have plain old serial killers who behave like actual people. Why not think outside the box? There is a 2003 movie about a serial killer who has some kind of bizarre mishap and winds up going on a slaughtering spree covered in poop. Well, actually, he’s made out of it. It’s called “Monsturd,” and it’s on Netflix.

If dousing serial killers in strange substances doesn’t really seem unique to you, there are plenty of primal fears and myths to take advantage of to turn your serial killer from “bleh” to “Oh dear God.”

For those of you who haven’t heard of the 2007 cult favorite, “Teeth,” just know that it is a movie about a girl whose pencil sharpener malfunctions and begins eating all the pencils. (Now reread that sentence. It’s a euphemism.) If you try to sharpen your pencil with her and she doesn’t like it, her sharpener will sprout teeth and chop your pencil in half. And all who suffer this fate perish.

There are also other animal antagonists outside of the generic werewolf. The 1979 movie “Weasels Rip My Flesh” has a mutated paper-mache weasel that violently murders everyone around it. Why paper-mache? Toxic waste, of course. Apparently, when it touches your skin you not only grow three sizes, but your skin also flakes off and you become a portable piñata.

And why even use living beings? There are tons of ripe horror ideas resting in mundane, everyday objects that we are not taking advantage of. Why not make them the primary antagonists? They’ve served us well. They deserve it.

“Death Bed: The Bed that Eats” is a 1977 movie about a demon that fell in love with a woman, took human form and tried to “sharpen his pencil” with her. She died in the middle of it (must have been a particularly sharp pencil).

In response, his eyes (made of glass for some reason) bled onto the bed, and now it’s possessed and eats anyone who decides to lay in or sharpen pencils on it. It does so by leaking this disgusting foaming, yellow fluid and sucking the people into a hidden chamber of stomach acid. Also, the bed has telekinetic powers and can masturbate. How’s that for psychologically scarring?

But what about that eternal safe-zone in your house, the kitchen? The haven where you can normally eat to your heart’s content has also been turned into the potential scene of a bloodbath in “The Refrigerator,” a 1991 film about a refrigerator that contains a portal to hell and decides to eat everybody at a house party. All of the other kitchen appliances get in on it, too. Nothing is safe.

And if you’re not going for originality, you might as well go for quantity. “House” is a 1977 Japanese movie about a haunted house that serves as a shining beacon for what can happen with just a little ambition and a lot of ideas. Not only does it have attacking mattresses, refrigerators with portals to nowhere and cannibalistic pianos, but it also features flying decapitated heads that bite people’s butts. Yup. And the character’s names are Gorgeous, Melody, Sweet and Fantasy.

This inevitably leads to sentences such as, “A decapitated head flies through the air and bites Fantasy’s butt.” Just think, someone had to actually write out those words for a screenplay. As those words sat there, staring their creator in the face and writhing with the agony of their own pitiful existence, the screenwriter thought, “Yes.”

This kind of bizarre, intriguing and absurd creativity is what recent mainstream movies have been missing and what movie audiences haven’t been getting. It is our responsibility to show movie creators what we want in our movies. If we keep settling for the same old antagonists, they’ll keep giving us the same old antagonists.

Venture forth and seek the creative stimulation you need. Look around and take your pick of any number of inspiring potential movie monsters. Lay claim to new ideas: to the evil toilets that swallow you whole or to the calendars that drop fruitcakes from the top of the third-floor landing.

On second thought, perhaps we’re better off with werewolves and vampires, after all.

Cara Hillstock is a sophomore in English and theatre. Please send comments to