Is horror your forte? Before checking out ‘The Strangers’ this weekend, recommends the following fright fests to get you in the mood.


Ah what could be nicer than a romantic weekend in the woods? Peace, quiet…creepy noises, shadows flitting in the dark, was that door always open…oh god the phone lines have gone down!! If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from Hollywood is that if you’re young and beautiful and fancy a holiday, please try make it somewhere as populated as possible. Clearly though, Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman haven’t really been paying attention and we get to enjoy the results in new release The Strangers as the pair play a couple tortured by a group of sinister masked assailants.

Them/Ils (2006)

You could actually be forgiven for thinking that The Strangers is a remake of this French/Romanian production. Isolated house? Check. A couple being terrorised by mysterious childlike figures? Check. Also both of them are “inspired by true events.” Now to suggest that what the audience is seeing on screen actually happened is a widely used device in horror but in the case of Ils, this is actually the case which makes it all the more disturbing – especially the shocking final act.




The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

There’s strange goin’s on in them there hills! In this case, a bad case of inbreeding and general nastiness. This Wes Craven classic pits the classic all American family against a clan of hill dwelling cannibals in an unforgiving desert landscape. For gore fans there is plenty to amuse here, including a particularly tasteless scene involving the family’s pet bird. What was truly ground breaking though was how the upstanding family quickly revert to savagery themselves as their battle to survive becomes an all out war between. (The remake by Alexander Aja from 2006 by the way is perhaps the only 70’s horror remake which stands up to the original in quality and is also well worth a look)







The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

When, in the trailer for The Strangers, the masked figure says that they are torturing the unfortunate couple simply because they were home, one cannot help but be drawn back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A group of teens on a road trip are picked off one by one in increasingly disturbing ways simply because they have had the misfortune to come knocking on the wrong door. Leatherface and his clan just happen to have a taste for human flesh and a rather unusual penchant for skin furniture and the arrival of a vanload of all American teens is like takeaway for them, and the teens? Well they were just unlucky! And aren’t we glad that they were! (As a word of warning, stay away from the appalling and unnecessary 2003 remake)





All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

You may have missed this little gem a couple of years ago; and it would be understandable as from the trailer it looked like the run of the mill teen horror. Well it’s teen horror all right but with a clear influence from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the hazy summer atmospherics which are soon shattered by extreme violence. A shadowy hooded figure stalks a group of beautiful teens in a (that’s right you’ve guessed it) isolated house. So far, so pedestrian; but this is a superior quality slasher which wears its love of 70’s horror on its sleeve while adding in a dash of postmodern twistiness.





Funny Games (1997 + 2007)

Michael Haneke may have intended this to be a political statement on the audience being complicit in the violence they see on their cinema screens but ignore the sermonising and this is a brilliant and brutal piece of “family in peril” psychological horror. Originally made in Austria in 1997, and remade shot by shot for an American audience in 2007, the film sees a family being terrorised by two at first polite and mild mannered teenagers dressed in golfing whites (it’s more threatening than it sounds). Over the course of a night, the boys draw the family into an increasingly cruel and sadistic series of “games.” Not for the faint hearted!





Got anything to add? Suggestions, omissions,corrections – all welcome in the comment box below:

The Strangers is in cinemas from Friday, Augusts 29th.