8 Notorious Italian Horror Films (And Why You Need To Watch Them) *NSFW*

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

 

Italian horror movies have a much more stylized atmosphere than their American counterparts. Italian filmmakers tend to put a stronger emphasis on characteristics such as eroticism, convoluted or non-linear plots, vibrant visual aesthetics, and frequent use of excessive bloodshed. Here is a list of some of the most memorable films within the genre, along with the reasons that you should sit down and immerse yourself.

 

    8. The New York Ripper

      This “Giallo” film—which is a kind of Italian murder-mystery/crime drama—features a deranged psychopath who speaks in a pseudo Donald Duck voice and butchers unsuspecting women. Directed by Lucio Fulci and released in Italian theaters in 1982, it was panned by critics and banned or highly censored in many countries due to its gratuitous sadistic violence and controversial misogyny.

      Why you need to watch it:

      If you are interested in exploring the Giallo sub-genre—as well as being introduced to one of the greatest Italian horror directors of all time—then this is a good place to start!
      Imagine a contemporary Jack the Ripper with schizophrenic tendencies.

       

        7. Black Sabbath

          This mini horror anthology of Italian origin was released in 1963 and directed by Mario Bava. It is divided into three segments: a story about an elderly woman who steals a valuable ring from the body of a deceased psychic and is haunted by her corpse; a segment about a Russian family trying to destroy a vicious and vampiric breed of creature known as the “Wurdulak;” and the tale of a call-girl who begins receiving hostile and threatening phone calls from a man named Frank—a man who is no longer alive.

          Why you need to watch it:

          It is diverse, captivating, preternatural, and exhibits a tasteful sense of dark theatricality. The lead performance by legendary Boris Karloff, as well as interludes between segments narrated by him, are very memorable. Bonus trivia: the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath cited this movie as the influence for their name!

           

            6. Make Them Die Slowly (Cannibal Ferox)

              This controversial “cannibal exploitation” film was released in 1981 and was written and directed by Umberto Lenzi. The plot centers around a group of explorers who set out on a research expedition with the purpose of discrediting the purported existence of cannibal tribes; however, their expedition quickly leads them to be sabotaged at the hands of a group of savage cannibals who seek vengeance upon them.

              Why you need to watch it:

              It was so graphically disturbing that over 30 countries outright banned this film, and only a few have just recently begun to lift those bans. The scene where the top half of a man’s head is chopped off to allow a nauseating feast of brain is sure to make the more queasy viewers regurgitate their lunch.

               

               

                5. Demons

                  Dario Argento had a notable influence on the script and production of this movie, although it was directed by Lamberto Bava. The plot focuses on a group of moviegoers who are invited to the premiere of an accursed film at the Metropol theater; a film that begins to supernaturally transform the viewers into demonic creatures with an insatiable thirst for violence and blood.

                  Why you need to watch it:

                  The over-the-top gore, the stomach-churning vomit and pus, the eerie man in the mask, the punks reminiscent of Return of the Living Dead, and the repulsive demon transfigurations all come together to make this flick one of the gems of Italian horror.

                   

                   

                    4. Zombi 2

                      This Fulci masterpiece was released in theatres in 1978 and was an “unofficial” sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (which was released in Italy under the name Zombi). A group of scientists travel to a Caribbean island where, through the power of esoteric voodoo magick, the dead have reanimated and begun to feast upon flesh of the unsuspecting inhabitants.

                      Why you need to watch it:

                      This movie quite possibly has the only instance of a zombie and a shark in a head-to-head faceoff. Other notable scenes include the zombie whose head is crushed by a giant wooden cross, and the nauseatingly slow eye-gouging sequence.


                       

                        3. City of the Living Dead

                          A small town pastor named Father Thomas hangs to death in a cemetery and forces the entrance to Hell to be inexplicably opened, spewing forth a legion of living cadavers upon the town folk. This movie was released in 1980 and entranced viewers with a hypnotic soundtrack by the legendary composer Fabio Frizzi.

                          Why you should watch it:

                          Due to a stare from the accursed specter of the priest, a woman’s eyeballs begin to bleed and she forcefully dispels all her entrails from the mouth. Also featuring drill to the cranium and disembowelment by a wooden cross.

                           

                           

                            2. Suspiria

                              Dario Argento’s magnum opus was released in 1977 and tells the tale of a young woman who is sent to a dance academy where the students are being slaughtered by an unknown assailant. As she delves deeper into the horrific halls of the school, she discovers that this school harbors a dreadful secret. The culmination of a violent ritual will attempt to claim her life.

                              Why you should watch it:

                              Suspiria has an unmatched atmosphere; the vividness, ambiance and mysterious elements allow for a more artistic take on the gory Italian horror flick that has become a trademark of the Argento film catalog.

                               


                              1. Cannibal Holocaust

                                Cannibal Holocaust is arguably the single most controversial Italian horror film ever released; the director Ruggero Deodato was actually arrested and brought to trial under accusations that it was a true snuff film! Released in 1980, this exploitation film—which was also one of the archetypes for the “found footage” style—follows a depraved group of American documentary makers who go missing in the Amazon while searching for a cannibal tribe. The found footage reveals what really transpired when they met their demise.

                                Why you need to watch it:

                                It was an integral part of the controversy surrounding the cannibal exploitation movement. Easily one of the most greusome films ever created, with countless scenes of depravity and human suffering. Not for the faint of heart!

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 

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