I first met writer/director/producer Paul Davis at a HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis a few years back and was impressed with the up-and-coming director’s passion about the genre and his love for one of my favorite horror comedies of all time, An American Werewolf in London. Davis took his love for John Landis’ classic werewolf tale and spun that into his brilliant documentary Beware the Moon: Remembering An American Werewolf in London.
Since Beware the Moon, Davis recently directed a segment in the upcoming UK horror anthology Habeas Corpus and even snagged a role in Burke & Hare. Davis is working in the publishing world right now, penning the upcoming Essential Guide to Screen Terror for FAB Press (who also released other genre-related titles such as Nightmare USA and Book of the Dead).
Check out some of Davis’ favorite independent horror films in no particular order:
1) EL ORFANATO (2008)
I love a good ghost story, and this effort by J A Bayona not only had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end throughout, but by the end I was struggling to hold back the tears. It’s genuinely creepy, it has a lot of heart and is masterfully shot. This guy has a wonderful career ahead of him.
2) LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
This was one of the rare occasions where I said to myself, ‘I wish I’d made that!‘ as the credits rolled. Probably the most beautiful and elegantly shot horror movie in the past decade. It’s very subtle but very effective in execution, and the performances from the two leads are naturally engaging. The US remake is the most redundant thing I have ever seen.
3) THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)
Student filmmaking would never be the same again after Tobe Hooper led his crew into rural Texas to shoot this exercise in the macabre. Despite itstitle, the psychology of this film is itsmerit. The gore is limited; yet, the terror is full throttle. Remains one of the greatest horror films of the 20th century.
4) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
It’s often said that horror wouldn’t be where it is now were it not for George A. Romero and Night of the Living Dead; this is a prime example of low budget independent film making at its best. So much so that everyone and their grandmother are making low budget zombie movies these days. NOLTD got all the ingredients right. It’s rooted in character, and above all it’s absolutely terrifying.
5) ERASERHEAD (1976)
The only film to ever make me feel so uncomfortable that I’d be physically ill. Everyone talks about people throwing up during The Exorcist, but for me Eraserhead is the one that puts me in that place. I’ve seen the movie three times, and each time I feel the same. Something about the tone, the sound and the imagery evokes a very strong emotional response with me. Is that a bad thing? Quite the opposite. For a film to move me like that is probably the best thing a movie can do. David Lynch is a master of what he does, and this is a prime example of just that.
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