This week: London-based punk trio Doe pick their 10 favourite horror films, including Alien, The Wicker Man, and a little Toxic Avenger for good measure.
Doe release their galvanising debut album Some Things Last Longer Than You this week, and we’re in total love with the face-meltingly furious but catchy-as-heck punk gem. Doe will also be touring the album throughout the UK in September so you should definitely catch them live soon.
As well as being influenced by The Breeders and Sleater-Kinney, band-members Nicola, Dean and Jake are as big a group of horror nerds as we are – so this basically means we’d kinda like to be their friends and stuff *stares at the ground, puts hands in pockets, awkwardly doesn’t make eye contact*
So in order to bond with the trio, we did what we normally do when entering into a conversation with friendly strangers… we asked them what horror films they love. You may not be surprised at how few friends we make by doing this.
Here’s Nicola. Dean and Jake on their favourite scary movies…
Full disclosure: Aliens is actually probably really my favourite film ever but the original Alien was so groundbreaking it feels more necessary to talk about.
A horror film masquerading as a sci-fi film with possibly the most shocking body-horror scene of all time, Alien was not only lightyears ahead of its time in terms of visual and thematic content but also in terms of gender politics. Filled with absolute disdain for the incompetency of her shipmates and facing cinema’s most terrifying monster with nothing but an unyielding determination, Ripley is the protagonist we all deserve and still so badly need almost 40 years later.
Never has a film been so female without any of the contrived notions of what that means. All of this along with H.R. Giger’s incredible surrealist visual concepts cement Alien as one of the most frightening and unique films ever made. [Nicola]
An American Werewolf in London 
When I was little, way before I became terrified of rats, vomiting and being buried alive, my number one fear was Werewolves. I’ve never understood quite what it is about the concept of a wolfperson that shat me up me so much, but even Teen Wolf gave me the heebie jeebies. An American Werewolf in London was a film I vowed never to see as a youngster but I finally sat down to watch it as an adult and it quickly became one of my all time favourites.
There are very few films that walk the line between horror, comedy and drama so well. John Landis nailed the tonal shifts which are genuinely unsettling and impactful as opposed to jarring, misjudged or goofy. Plus the infamous transformation sequence by Rick Baker is still, for my money, one of the most impressive things ever committed to film and an excellent example of how practical effects will always hold more weight than CGI.
As a side note, my fear of Werewolves ended abruptly when I had a dream that I was queuing behind one in Londis. It was buying ciggys as I recall. True story. [Jake]
Zombies have always been my no.1 horror monster of choice and Braindead (or Dead Alive as it’s known in North America) is brought to us by Peter Jackson before he went all CGI and hobbits.
That thing we said about humour earlier – this has it, and blood, by the bucketload. I think it actually holds the record for the most fake blood used in one movie. Highlights include dopey protagonist Lionel slipping around in aforementioned blood with a lawnmower hacking at anything that moves and the bit where a zombie baby literally bursts through someone’s face. More comedy than horror but gory as hell. [Nicola]
The Descent 
A bit of a random choice in a list of mostly classics but The Descent is a more recent horror film that’s stuck with me since the first time I watched it. First of all the cast are great and, apart from a brief appearance by Sarah’s husband at the beginning, entirely female (well, the human cast anyway). In a refreshing twist from traditional tropes there are no damsels in distress to be found here, nor is there any use of the male gaze.
Despite the vampiric creature-people-things the main horror of The Descent lies in the claustrophobic surroundings, which are used to excellent effect. Somehow in a film that’s set in a cave every scene is lit perfectly, in a way that’s realistic and makes complete sense to the plot. This may seem pretty small fry, but in my opinion verisimilitude is vital for a viewer to become fully immersed in, and thus scared shitless by, a horror film. [Nicola]
A Nightmare on Elm Street 
My mum let me watch horror films from the age of about 4 (cheers mum) and I still remember gleefully watching A Nightmare on Elm Street while my older brother hid behind a cushion (sorry brother). It’s remained one of my favourites ever since – a nightmarish nursery rhyme chanted by two hell children, a tongue bursting out of a telephone, a crop top-clad Johnny Depp being swallowed, chewed up and spat back out by his own bed – what’s not to love?
Freddy Krueger is an iconic horror villain and there’s so much humour to be found, an important part of any horror film for me and something that can’t be said for the boring 2010 remake. Above all else, the story is original and genius, causing a generation of teenagers to be terrified of ever sleeping again. [Nicola]
The Night of the Hunter 
Not technically horror, but terrifying enough to make it into my top picks, The Night of the Hunter is lead by religious fanatic and misogynist Reverend Harry Powell: a serial killer who targets women (surprise surprise). The film’s gritty noir aesthetic is stunning and mirrors the inner turmoil of its characters, which are fronted by two kids (Pearl & John) and resident badass Rachel Cooper. Stark, almost two-dimensional landscapes are haunted by eerie silhouettes, which remind me of Playdead’s Limbo; a game made more than 50 years after the film’s release.
My fav moments include discovering Shelley Winters’ ghostly corpse at the bottom of a lake and hearing Powell scream like a deranged cat. [Dean]
The Shining 
Easily my favourite film of all time, not just within horror’s scary sphere. Kubrick was a god-like being that knew something the rest of us didn’t, and The Shining is proof of that. Distant, unearthly screams echo throughout the opening minutes as we – the invisible spectre – hover silently over a yellow VW containing Jack, Wendy and Danny. They’re doomed and always were.
Incomparable cinematography and direction collide with a blood-curdling soundtrack and incredible performances (S/O Shelley Duvall) in this flawless and almost separate retelling of Stephen King’s novel. Kubrick’s Overlook is an impossible labyrinth I’d happily get lost in forever, and so often do. [Dean]
The Thing 
The Thing was one of many movies my dad would bang on about when I was a kid and I would only come to appreciate years later when I’d stopped being a petulant little twat. Although it provides plenty of traditional jump scares (which, to be fair, get me every time) and mind-bending bloody latex FX, the real terror comes from the palpable tension within the group as their paranoia and mistrust of one another escalates with each kill.
John Carpenter does an excellent job of creating a perpetual sense of dread with nail-bitingly drawn out sequences that see the characters communicate solely with petrified facial expressions and beads of sweat. Of course, you might need to overlook the fact that the only female character is a chess computer that is labelled a ‘cheating bitch’ within the first five minutes. [Jake]
The Toxic Avenger 
Anyone who has a penchant for weird gross stuff will no doubt be familiar with Troma and their catalogue of purposely shoddy B-movies which are sometimes so-bad-they’re-amazing and often just baaaad. I’m a fan regardless and think whilst there’s a lot of shit and questionable moral standards to wade through, there’s still plenty to be fond of.
The Toxic Avenger, Troma’s flagship movie, is still one of their better moments. The budget makeshift gore is plentiful with melons-in-wigs used for head crushing scenes and dog intestines that look suspiciously like spaghetti. The Toxic Avenger’s ultra-violence coupled with ridiculous slapstick no doubt paved the way for many later horror-comedy classics and even though Troma is often seen as a joke by many self-styled horror aficionados, to deny this film’s obvious impact would be a travesty. [Jake]
The Wicker Man 
I love Nic Cage – like, really fucking love him – but Neil LaBute’s $40 million reimagining of The Wicker Man is a pile of trash. The original British mystery horror though? A stone-cold masterpiece. It’s surreal, unsettling, and has you guessing until the very end. Are the inhabitants of Summerisle really as creepy as they look? Is Police Sergeant Neil Howie just an overly suspicious square? Is that Christopher Lee in a wig? Yes, yes (and no) and yes. RIP Howie. [Dean]
Doe’s debut album Some Things Last Longer Than You is out Friday 9th September and is available at Specialist Subject Records.