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12 Amazing Scandinavian Horror Movies Guaranteed to Chill Your Bones

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We’ve been buzzing for months about exciting things brewing at Dread Central Presents; in addition to a bunch of great films coming down the pike, our first release recently became available on Amazon Prime. Villmark Asylum, the third film directed by Pål Øie, takes place in an abandoned sanitarium where a clean-up crew encounters dark forces connected to the building’s violent past.

It’s a Norwegian horror movie, and releasing a foreign/non-English-speaking film is a bold move considering many genre fans avoid subtitles like the plague. This is a testament to Dread Central Presents’ commitment to bringing fans the best content, no matter where it comes from; and it speaks to the inherent uniqueness of Scandinavian horror movies.

Those who’ve already explored the arena of Scandinavian horror know exactly what I’m talking about. Films from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland all carry a shared aesthetic and mood, no doubt influenced by the region’s specific geography and climate. More often than not, harsh and barren landscapes permanently encased in ice become essential components; in many cases, the geography becomes a character in and of itself.

Or perhaps it has something to do with the endless nights of winters and the insomnia-inducing summers (and I’m not implying that Scandinavian filmmakers are themselves off-kilter). But it’s as though these extreme dualities are reflected in regional horror movies where bleak beauty and glorious brutality are juxtaposed to create effective, visceral results.

If Villmark Asylum ignites a desire to explore more horror movies for this bleak, yet stunning part of the world, the ones listed below (in no particular order) all deliver top-notch chills and thrills. They could even end up inspiring you to further expand your horror-horizons.


Lake Bodom (Finland, 2016)

I’ll kick off my praise of Lake Bodom by freely admitting I’ve become tired of traditional slasher tropes. It feels as though the once thriving subgenre has become a wasteland for mediocre actors, vapid scripting, and non-existent motivations. It’s almost as though those on a budget gravitate towards making slashers because they think they’re cheap and easy.

That said, Lake Bodom is one of the best slashers of the 21st Century, and I’m talking Top 5! It only abides by pre-established formulas for the first act; then, suddenly, a typical tale of horny teens in the woods becomes something altogether different—and more terrifying!

I’ve previously described Lake Bodom as a mix of the best elements of Friday the 13th, Scream, and High Tension. It’s currently streaming on Shudder, more proof that the streaming service is well worth the price of membership.


Let the Right One In (Sweden, 2008)

One of the few Scandinavian horror movies to have a significant impact in the US is Let the Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. In an era when the vampire subgenre had been hijacked by the Twilight franchise, Let the Right One In was both romantic and terrifying.

In addition to offering unique and disturbing innovations on established vampire tropes, Let the Right One In communicates the pain of adolescence and the freedom of coming-of-age in a manner that transcends borders and language barriers. The story of Oskar and Eli could be the most universal and moving love story since Romeo and Juliette.

While the 2010 American remake, Let Me In, was fantastic, remaining fairly true to the source material, it doesn’t have the same resonance as Let the Right One In. This reflects the uniqueness of Scandinavian horror, suggesting key elements can’t be recreated anywhere else.


Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre aka Harpooned (Iceland, 2009)

The use of the word Massacre in this film’s title reflexively establishes echoes to the seminal gore-fest The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—and that’s no accident. In addition to the fact that Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (aka Harpooned) could accurately be described as TCM on the ocean, it features original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen as Captain Pétur.

But Reykjavik is more than just TCM on a boat; the brutal collision of tourists and locals gives this movie a distinctive Hostel vibe, and the gory practical FX are just as gut-churning. There’s also a strong eco-horror element, one that pits the idealism of conservation against the pragmatism of survival. And in addition to the white skies and cold winds that are often indicative of Scandinavian horror, the ice-cold ocean stokes a cornucopia of primal phobias.


Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 (Norway, 2006 and 2008)

Remember when I said Lake Bodom is one of the Top 5 slasher flicks of the 21st Century? In all seriousness, Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 both occupy that same exclusive list, meaning Scandinavia has produced the best subgenre offerings in decades. A bold statement, perhaps, but don’t attempt to start an argument until you give these movies a spin.

Cold Prey and Cold Prey 2 are as immediate in their continuity as Halloween and Halloween II, which may have been intentional (as both examples feature a final girl from the original continuing her show-down in a hospital). But these films are more than just exemplars of convention. Though the hulking Mountain Man shares many similarities with Michael Myers, Cold Prey combines established tropes with elements unique to Norway and Scandinavia. By delivering real characters the audience can relate to, stunning settings, and powerful scripting, Cold Prey feels fresh without reinventing any wheels.

It’s worth noting that there’s a prequel, Cold Prey 3, that’s never received North American distribution—which is a damn shame.


Dead Snow and Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (Norway, 2009 and 2012)

Like the Cold Prey franchise, the Dead Snow movies don’t reinvent any wheels, but it exceeds both the boundaries and the expectation of its specific subgenres (in this case, the cabin-in-the-woods scenario and zombies). While it’s a riotous and irreverent horror comedy, it sports a talented cast, a crackling screenplay, and a pervasively chilling aesthetic. Most importantly, it never pulls any punches with each film building to a gory climax of epic proportions.

If I led you to believe you won’t find anything you haven’t seen before, allow me to correct myself immediately. We’ve seen Nazi Zombies, yes, but never a full-on zombie war between the Germans and the Allies. Though the first Dead Snow was an international breakthrough on par with Let the Right One In, not enough people have seen the sequel which strikes all the same sweet-spots.


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010)

Years before Mike Dougherty made Krampus a household name, the fearsome anti-Santa featured prominently in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (though they don’t use the “K” word, we know exactly whom we’re looking at). Even though Krampus pushed the boundaries of PG-13, Rare Exports earns its R rating, delivering disturbing thrills that definitely aren’t for kids.

Though a child features prominently in the story, Rare Exports is for parents. In addition to spooky and unnerving elements, the film asks Moms and Dads to remember what Christmas was like when they were kids, reminding them that the holiday is a perfect moment to heal old wounds and break destructive or dysfunctional cycles.

One thing I can promise: You’ll never look at shopping mall Santas the same after giving this one a spin.


Thale (Norway, 2012)

Those enamored by Guillermo del Toro’s creature romance The Shape of Water will love Thale, as the two films could be considered spiritual cousins. Both feature a uniquely beautiful mythic creature abused by scientists who fear them, and both are saved by unlikely rescuers who find themselves making an emotional connection that transcends all notions of the “other”.

The film’s title refers to the “Thallen,” a tribe of creatures in Scandinavian folklore somewhat comparable to English faeries. These creatures can appear in a beautiful form in order to elicit empathy, but can also reveal dangerous defenses and darker powers when threatened.


Sauna aka Filth aka Evil Rising (Finland, 2008)

Sauna is a uniquely hallucinatory and utterly captivating piece of historical horror that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Unfolding in the aftermath of the Russo-Swedish War (1590–1595) the story revolves around two ex-soldiers (brothers) tasked with establishing a new border between the formerly feuding nations. They establish order in a Pagan village whose residents revere an ancient stone structure hidden in the dark swamps.

In addition to the creepy villagers and oppressively dismal swamp, the brothers must contend with their inner demons, specifically the atrocities they committed in the war. The movie presents themes and parallels that connect to modern anxieties related to military service and its aftermath, specifically, the struggle to reconcile battlefield experiences with civilian life, and whether a return to normalcy is even possible.


Trollhunter (Norway, 2010)

Despite how it appears on the American poster, the title of this film is Trollhunter (a single word) not Troll Hunter, but the distinction is irrelevant. I only mention this to make finding it online or in stores easier. But before you let the title conjure up memories of the slew of crappy Gremlins knock-off from the 1980s, these trolls are actually scary! Get those images of naked plastic troll dolls out of your heads immediately!

In addition to being an excellent example of Scandinavian horror, Trollhunter is a top-notch found footage flick. While there are a few of the perils that come with the territory (shaky cams, jump scares, etc.) the presentation adds to the legitimacy of the plot, which never feels excessively fantastic or artificial.

Though presented as a mockumentary produced by investigative journalists, Trollhunter is a meta-movie that will resonate with fans of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon when the ones behind the camera find themselves in starring roles. Steeped in regional folklore, it’s an irrepressible and captivating romp from start to finish.


Hidden (Norway, 2010)

If you enjoyed Villmark Asylum on Amazon Prime, you should definitely check out Pål Øie’s sophomore movie, Hidden. If there’s one thing the bleak Scandinavian landscape lends itself to, it’s evoking feelings of loneliness, isolation, sorrow—and even death. This film utilizes these elements in an emotionally devastating story about one man’s tragic homecoming.

When KK (Kristoffer Joner) returns home to settle affairs following the death of his abusive mother, he’s forced to come to terms with long-buried memories and forgotten truths that threaten to completely obliterate his sense of self. It culminates in a moment of catharsis that’s as thrilling as it is tragic, all the while leaving audiences questioning if what we’re seeing is real, or a reflection of the tortured protagonist’s psyche. It’s a heady trip, to be sure.


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Exclusive: Concept Art and Video From Tim Burton’s Cancelled SUPERMAN Plus Art From Clive Barker’s MUMMY Project

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Special FX artist Steve Johnson has a long and storied career in Hollywood. From working on films such as Predator, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Lord of Illusions, and more, to to makeup on Return of the Living Dead III, Nightwatch, and Night of the Demons 2, his work has been seen in a swath of films that genre fans know and love. Hell, the guy even created Slimer from Ghostbusters! If that doesn’t make him Hollywood royalty, I honestly don’t know what does.

Right now, Johnson has a Kickstarter going for Rubberhead Volume 2: Sex, Drugs, and Special Effects, the second book in a five volume series that chronicles the work he’s done over the years. Included in this particular book is a section called “The Ones That Got Away”. That’s what brings us to today and to this particular article.

We were absolutely fascinated with some of the films that Johnson got to work on that never ended up seeing the light of day and we managed to get our hands on some exclusive concept art from both Tim Burton’s cancelled Superman and Clive Barker’s Mummy project. We also have a suit test video from the former, which features Danny Elfman’s music from Batman, so it’s extra thrilling.

You can read about both projects and see the concept art below (the Superman suit video is above). Also, click on the Kickstarter link above if you want to help make Johnson’s second book a reality!


Tim Burton’s Superman:

For the ill-fated Tim Burton Superman movie, Johnson was contracted to craft all manner of elaborate costumes, props, puppets, and prosthetics for a project that was to be doomed by an overextended budget.

It was absolutely massive because not only were we working on these Superman suits, we were doing Doomsday, we were doing a Menagerie, a Brainiac and an entire spaceship that was literally filled with creatures. It looked like the Star Wars cantina on steroids,” Steve Johnson exclaims.

Of the standout pieces were multiple bioluminescent Superman regeneration suits, all of which glowed purely by way of practical effects. The effect was created using cyalume, the active liquid in glow sticks, strategically pumped through a series of elaborate tubing patterns which gave the appearance of glowing blood pumping through veins.

Other suits were powered by a fiber-optic light setup informed heavily by Johnson’s groundbreaking work on James Cameron’s The Abyss, a creation he claims pleased him more than any other in his entire career.


Clive Barker’s Mummy:

Clive Barker had teamed up with Mick Garris (Critters 2, Psycho IV) on a brand new Mummy concept that the two pitched to Universal. The hyper erotic plot involved a transsexual occultist protagonist who attempted to reanimate mummies within a prestigious museum setting.

Shortly after collaborating with Barker on Lord of Illusions, Steve Johnson signed up to help him create a visual proof-of-concept in order to help Barker pitch the project which had not yet been greenlit. Johnson signed on and even built proof-of-concept creatures, funding the endeavor entirely out of his own pocket to help Barker sell it in to Universal.

For inspiration, Barker and Johnson exhaustively researched museums, Egyptian sculptures, statues and artifacts to ensure historical accuracy while imbuing the mummies with a heavy dose of classic sadomasochistic Clive Barker style.

Johnson explained, “If you do your research on real mummies in Egypt they look nothing like Boris Karloff mummies or mummies in the new mummy movies. The goal was to include all of the realistic detail and adornment in a way that was accurate to real Egyptian mummies which had never been done before. We were going to make them fascinating, cenobite-like creatures but based entirely in reality and history.

Unfortunately, the project was never greenlit by Universal. Clive Barker told Fangoria, “Looking back, our version of The Mummy was precisely what the powers that were at Universal did not want.


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TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL Clip Features Graboids on Ice!

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The newest entry in the always lovable Tremors series will be hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital on May 1st.

And today we have a fun new clip from Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell to share! It features a sequence that reminds me A LOT of the ice planet creature vs Kirk scene in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.

You can check out the clip below and then make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

Tremors: The Complete Collection will be available on DVD on May 1; and Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell hits Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital also on May 1st.

Special features include:

  • The Making of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell: Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss why Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is the most bone-blasting Tremors movie yet.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Watch as we break down the various elements that need to come together to film the first underwater Graboid attack.
  • Inside Chang’s Market: Chang’s Market is an iconic location in Tremors history. See how it was recreated and updated for this installment of the franchise.

Synopsis:
Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his son, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), find themselves up to their ears in Graboids and Ass-Blasters when they head to Canada to investigate a series of deadly giant worm attacks. Arriving at a remote research facility in the Arctic tundra, Burt begins to suspect that Graboids are secretly being weaponized, but before he can prove his theory, he is sidelined by Graboid venom. With just 48 hours to live, the only hope is to create an antidote from fresh venom — but to do that, someone will have to figure out how to milk a Graboid!

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Confirmed: Carpenter Scores Blumhouse HALLOWEEN

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It has been rumored forever at this point that Mr. John Carpenter would be returning to score the upcoming Blumhouse sequel to his original classic Halloween.

But today we have confirmation via uber-producer Jason Blum who took to Twitter to let a fellow fan know that yes, Carpenter is 100% providing the creepy musical cues for Blumhouse’s Halloween.

This is, of course, epic news and I’m glad that now that filming has wrapped on the new film, Carpenter is holding to the previously announced plan to begin working on the score.

How excited are you for Blumhouse’s Halloween? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green based on a script he wrote with Danny McBride. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode as does Nick Castle as Michael “The Shape” Myers. They are joined by Will Patton, Andi Matichak, and Judy Greer. Halloween creator John Carpenter is on board as executive producer and composer.

The anticipated release date is October 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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