Thursday, October 4, 2012

some good rape-free horror movies.




Halloween is coming, so here are a few of my favourite horror movies from the past dozen years that don't have sexual violence in them.

Edit: I removed Let the Right One In from the list, and replaced it with The Others.


Legend: 
(G) - Gore.
(FS) - Foreign language/Subtitled.
(SA) - Stupid but awesome anyway.
(?) A caution.


1. The Others
It is perfect in almost every way, and builds atmosphere and tension as much through character as through setting and circumstance. It is creepy as fuck, and has a twist at the end that not only makes perfect sense, but which only makes the movie more interesting and satisfying to watch. I watch this movie at least once a year. It is a haunted house movie that understands why haunted house movies are scary. And it understands that sadness can be so much more chilling than gore.

2. The Ring
I love The Ring. I like it better than the original Japanese version, Ringu. Don't get me wrong - Ringu is an amazing movie, and it is not often that I like a remake better than the original film, but The Ring is so much fun. It keeps the creepy elements of the original while abandoning that film's slow tension in favor of a more streamlined thriller. It then wraps this all up in a nice mix of rural America and modern day city life, gives us characters we grow to like, and balances the jump scares with some really unnervingly strange images. This movie led to a whole slew of terrible immitators and other less competent attempts to bring J-Horror to American audiences, but don't hold that against it.



3. INSIDE (G) (FS)
This movie is MESSED UP and horrifying. Two women are locked together in a house. The first is a pregnant woman who survived a recent car crash, and the second woman is trying to take the first's unborn baby from her with a pair of scissors. If you want an insane French bloodfest, look no further.



4. Pontypool
This is a zombie movie where most of the violence and action takes place in the viewer's imagination. It is shot almost entirely in a radio station, where the people trapped inside are trying to make sense of the reports they're getting from the outside world. Zombies do show up, and they're pretty gross, but they don't pass the virus on by biting people. This is a zombie virus passed on mimetically through language! This movie is a lot of fun, as long as you can look past the strange b-movie final scenes.

5. [REC] (G)(FS)
The best of the "found footage" horror movies. [REC] follows a news reporter and her cameraman on a job-shadowing assignment with some firemen. Before long they are all quarantined in an apartment complex with a quickly dwindling group of tennants. Some GREAT scares in this one. If you don't enjoy subtitles, you should check out QUARANTINE, the American remake. It is a very faithful remake, and just as good as the original I think. [REC] 2 is also well worth your time.


6. Wake Wood
This is almost more of a drama than a horror, though it is a very creepy and supernatural drama. It surprised me, because I thought I knew what kind of movie it was going to be from the synopsis. But, while it is a movie about how far two parents are willing to go to be reunited with their dead daughter, it is a much subtler take on it than Pet Semetary's theme of "Sometimes, dead is better."

7. Altered (G)
A straight-to-DVD horror movie that deserved a theatrical release, I think. It's about a group of men who were abducted when they were younger, and who have now captured one of the aliens and are trying to figure out what to do with it. It's funny and often charming and it has some good tense scenes where they struggle with their need for revenge and the knowledge of what that revenge will cost them.


8. Shaun of the Dead  (G)
Good natured horror comedy about a well-meaning but selfish jerk trying to save his loved ones from an unexpected zombie apocalypse. Super fun, and often very gross. Lots of clever references both to other movies, and to other scenes within the movie itself. Fun forshadowing and visual echoing.


9. Splinter (G)
Another straight-to-DVD horror movie. Splinter takes place entirely in a gas station convenience store, where the characters find themselves trapped by some pretty insane looking monsters. The practical special effects in this movie are awesome, and it is plenty gross. I really enjoyed it.


10. Ruins (G) (SA)
Ruins was much more interesting and intelligent and CREEPY than I expected. And even when it starts getting stupider in the final 3rd of the movie, it's still a heck of a ride!


11. Thir13en Ghosts (G) (SA) (?)
Thirteen Ghosts is a movie in the true spirit of the William Castle original. It's totally more of a ride than a story. The big crazy mechanical house is a mechanism for moving the characters from one encounter to the next, and it moves us along with it. The alive people on screen are almost exclusively boring and obnoxious (with the exception of Matthew Lillard who is perfectly in his element here as a scenery chewing depraved psychic ghost hunting pillhead), but the ghosts are wonderful. The filmmakers put every bit of their love and care into the set design and the monster design, and as a showcase for those the movie is perfect. It's like a really interesting silent movie with the music replaced by idiotic dialogue. (?) The nude female ghost is implied to have killed herself, and cutting is almost implied - but in the most ridiculous cartoony way imaginable.


12. Amityville Horror (remake) (SA)
I should say first that I found the original Amityville Horror kind of stupid and boring. I really enjoyed this remake, even though it isn't really anything to write home about. It was well made, and Ryan Reynolds is charming and unexpectedly effective when he turns that charm off. There are also some great popcorn-horror weird scary scenes.


13. Behind the Mask: the rise of Leslie Vernon (G)
This was a fun faux-documentary style movie that turns into a more genuine horror movie at the end (which is the weakest part, I think.) The idea of ambitious journalists who are unsure how far to go in search of their story about a real life slasher is an interesting one. The killer himself is charming and candid in the behind the scenes parts, complaining about how much cardio he has to do and things. It's fun.






48 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this, I appreciate it!

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  2. awww wakewood made the intro to dark knight rises weird

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  3. i'd query the no trigger status of let the right one in; brilliant movie but there is an odd dynamic between the girl and her dad which may trigger people...

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    1. That's not her dad! I have not read the book (I keep meaning to) but a bit of online reading after I first watched the movie revealed that he's not her father at all. Suggest you read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Right_One_In for starters.

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    2. Right. My understanding is that he wasn't her dad--he was the last child she'd befriended and had now outgrown, thus her need for a new friend/caretaker.

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    3. In the book he's a pedophile who is basically the Renfield of the relationship. The movie is wonderfully done that it allows for multiple interpretations of all events. Both are worth your time.

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    4. Man, the fact that that guy wasn't her father was literally the entire point of the movie. It's the big reveal. I don't know how anyone could possibly watch it and miss the most important part.

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    5. The American Remake "Let Me In" portrays him as her last friend, who had grown up. The Swedish version leaves their relationship more ambiguous. However, the book does go into more detail, and reveals Hakan's past, and that he is, indeed, an unrelated pedophile whom Eli met when he was already an adult.

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    6. One of the things I preferred about the Swedish version is the way it was left ambiguous. Once all the action is over and they're on the train you're still left to wonder if the boy hasn't gone through all this danger simply to sustain a cycle.

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    7. A few more suggestions:

      * Kill List - very, very weird.
      * The Woman in Black (remake) - very atmospheric, a return to the classic Hammer spookiness.
      * Dance of the Dead - More humor than horror, really.
      * Tucker and Dale vs. Evil - So. Awesome. Horror/comedy.
      * The Cabin in the Woods. I'm not a big Whedon fan, but this was wonderful. Really turns the genre upside down, but it does so with love. It takes someone who loves horror movies to make this film.

      And if you aren't triggered by rapey sexual violence, just sick to death of it, I recommend Storm Warning. There is attempted rape in it, so some folks will definitely want to stay away. But... well... I all but stood up and cheered at one point. It was amazingly refreshing to see a very strong, resourceful female lead.

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  4. Thanks, you're awesome <3
    Have a great Halloween.

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  5. It's a great relief to see someone say they preferred the US version. I did too. I always wondered if it was because I saw it before the Japanese one. Normally I'm the one berating people who watch/prefer the remake over the original foreign language version of any given movie, and usually it's justified. I kept quiet about "The Ring" for fear of ridicule, but you have liberated me!

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  6. Joey, does "trigger-free" mean "without sexual violence?" Whence the idiom?

    Also this is probably my favourite blog ever. Thanks.

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    1. Trauma survivors (usually rape) can be triggered to remember their trauma if a movie or book or TV show has sexual violence in it.

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  7. Good list, Altered and Splinter need way more love. And maybe I should give Thirteen Ghosts another chance, I hated it when I first saw it.

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  8. Oh man, I forgot about Pontypool! Need to watch that one again.

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  9. I watched thir13en ghosts a while ago. I could believe the part about the ghosts. I could get behind the crazy mechanical house with anti-ghost glass. But when the movie tried to get me to believe that Shannon Elizabeth was Tony Shaloub's daughter, my suspension of disbelief completely broke down.

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  10. Great choices. Pontypool is probably my favorite zombie movie ever.

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    1. Same here. I was glad to see it included because I couldn't remember the name other than it was some weird Welsh-sounding town!

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  11. Thank you for this list! I've been reading ASofterWorld for a while now, and just recently found this blog of yours. I watched House of the Devil on Netflix because I was so intrigued by your review - and loved it! Thank you and goodbye. :)

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  12. I'll definitely have to get my hands on the films on this list that I haven't seen yet, because all the ones that I _have_ seen are on my list of favorite movies of any genre, not just horror.

    I have to mention, I especially agree with what you said about Amityville. The original is good for any horror fans with insomnia. If you don't need a nap, skip it.

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  13. Just wanted to acknowledge how much I'm enjoying this show as a podcast and how great this episode was in particular. Thanks!

    buy movies

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  14. THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON! One of my absolute favorites.

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  15. I'm glad that [REC] made it onto a list like this, because it's such a fantastic series. I mean, I don't get scared easily, but there was some moments in those films where I jumped. Also, I would recommend that anyone who watches the first, also watch the second, as it wraps up some loose ends that first leaves.

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  16. Other nice horror films without sexual violence or threatening scenes of sexist nature:

    *A Tale of Two Sisters (korean)
    *Dark Water (japanese)
    *Martyrs (french) (this one has a lot of horrid torture but nothing with sexual tones)
    *Kairo (japanese)
    *Ils (french)
    *Possession (has sexual stuff but nothing abusive)
    *Dumplings (cantonese mandarin)
    *Paranormal activity
    *The Haunting
    *The Orphanage (spanish)
    *Noroi (japanese)
    *Riget (danish)
    *Troll Hunter (norweigan)

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    1. A Tale of Two Sisters is good, but I believe it has (inadvertent) hints of father-daughter incest. According to the commentary, the director was stunned that audiences had drawn that conclusion.

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    2. Martyrs "trigger free"? Yeah, not so much. Definitely very low on the list of movies I'd recommend to people who are sensitive to cinematic portrayals of sexual violence.

      (Spoilers, sort of)
      Sure there's not Spit on Your Grave rape, but a young woman brutally beaten, repeatedly and graphically, by her male captor, however dispassionately, is treading a very fine line. Hell, the movie opens with a bloodied, bruised pre-teen girl running terrified down a road. A major theme of the movie is two young women coping with the trauma that was inflicted upon them when they were younger.

      Not a good movie for the faint of heart, let alone someone who has issues with rape.

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    3. The Orphanage aint no trigger free. Esther was revealed to be an old woman who was raped by her father and prostitutes herself using her lolita image. How is that no triggering?

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    4. That is The Orphan not The Orphanage. The Orphanage is a ghost movie all in Spanish. It is fantastic. Has a feel like The Others.

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  17. Awesome list/s! Thanks so much, Everyone!! :)

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  18. First, I really like your blog!

    Second, who is that lady in your blog header?! It's from a movie, right? I've seen it before but I can't remember which movie and now it's bugging me!

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    1. It's the crazy woman from the movie INSIDE. Great film. Joey wasn't kidding when he called it an insane bloodfest! It's just abysmally horrific...in a good way, if you like gore and slashers, that is. I cringed pretty much the entire movie which is next to impossible to get me to do. Highly recommend it. ;)

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  19. The idea behind this is nice, but is a person meant to erase an entire catalog of films which DO feature sexually related violence just to avoid bad memories? I understand that it is incredibly emotionally traumatizing and horrible, but it is damn near impossible to completely avoid the subject. It is a popular topic in not only horror, but on television as well. There is at least one show centered around the idea. I have always believed that it is better to face things and deal with it than to try to hide. In the early stages, I can understand wanting to avoid it, but it can too easily turn into a lifestyle of fear and this is worse than just dealing with it. Still a good idea for those in need, though.

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    1. Sometimes, you just don't want to watch it. I think it's safe to say that this is not about "Suck it up, pussy, rape is everywhere." It's nice to see the issue addressed by someone who is sensitive to it. I applaud Joey's effort. Fuck, I give it a standing ovation. I strongly encourage you to sell your conjecture about how others should or shouldn't cope somewhere else.

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    2. I've never been a victim of sexual violence, but I still don't want to watch it played out on film, especially when it's poorly handled or just plain offensive. (There's a lot of victim-blaming that shows up in horror movies.)
      But I love horror. What's a girl to do? Read Joey Comeau, apparently.

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    3. I feel like you miss the point, "bluegone". folks who are struggling with feeling triggered are ALREADY cutting out genres of films, areas of town, types of clothes, particular drinks and on and on to avoid being triggered. This is like Mr. Comeau lit a small but safe path to enjoy life like a normal person. He should be king.

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  20. Yes, the entertainment industry has a strange fascination with rape, and it sucks. All the more reason to produce a list of films I can watch without the usual anxiety of anticipating having to watch some sort of sexual violence. The point is not to avoid it completely, it's to provide a respite for those of us who struggle to find horror movies that don't make us feel physically ill. I really don't think you do "understand", and I hope you never have to. And thanks Joey.

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  21. I shared this on G+ and a person who commented said that INSIDE may actually not count as rape free (reasoning below). May want to reconsider or make a note.

    "I would argue that rape is not always sexual in nature, but the description certainly fits the definition of rape, despite being perpetrated by a woman. I think it would hit all the same triggers."

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  22. Altered totally needs more love. Good choice.

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  23. Let me suggest Trick 'r' Treat. A great, fun Halloween-themed movie. It's Eerie comic/Creepshow style, with multiple episodes, which intersect in a clever ways. A great cast - including Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox - equal parts creepy and fun. This movie should have been way bigger than it was, and I'd recommend even to people don't regularly watch horror movies. It's not "intense" or "edgy" in the way a lot of movies feel the need to be these days, but it's genuinely fun and really well made.

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  26. This list has 13 movies on it. And all of the movies seem to be recent. This is not helpful.

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  27. Thanks so much for this list! I love horror from scary to cheesy but hate when it gets all rape-y. You have made my day!

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  28. How about Attack the Block? Or is that more of an action movie than horror?

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  29. Thought I'd see John Carpenter's The Thing on here. That one doesn't sex or sexual references of any kind at any point at all.

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  30. Eh, in all fairness "The Others" is mostly a homage to Jack Clayton's 1962 masterpiece "The Innocents", which is back in UK cinemas in December. Nicole Kidman doesn't hold a candle to Judith Kerr (pun intended), in my humble opinion.

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