Today is of course St. Patrick’s Day, which essentially means that we horror fans are allowed the freedom to do two things without incurring the wrath of judgment that doing those two things typically incurs: Not only do we get to drink all day, but it’s sort of an unwritten rule that we must plop our asses on our couches and watch as many of the films in the Leprechaun franchise as we can possibly endure. A great holiday this one is, to say the least.
But if you’ve already seen all the Leprechaun movies and/or don’t have much interest in watching them, then have no fear because we’ve got you covered. We came up with a list of films to accompany you on today’s couch-riding, beer-drinking escapades, all of which are worthy alternatives to the Leprechaun films. In fact, most are way better.
These ten Irish-made horror films are perfect viewing for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities so dig in, enjoy, and don’t blame us if you wake up tomorrow with one hell of a hangover!
We begin our twisted journey through Ireland with Rawhead Rex, a 1986 film that was based on a Clive Barker short story that appeared in the third volume of his mega-popular Books of Blood series. Barker also wrote the screenplay for the film, centering on a nine-foot ancient Pagan demi-god that is unleashed from the ground and set free in the Irish countryside. Barker was famously unhappy about the way the film turned out, particularly in regards to the way the titular creature looked, but it is nevertheless the many faults of the film that make it such a joy to watch. One to pop in only after you’ve sucked down a few green pints, that’s for sure!
Irish filmmaker Conor McMahon made his feature debut in 2004 with Dead Meat, which brought zombies to the home of the leprechauns. Released under Fangoria’s Gorezone label, the low-budget film took advantage of the frenzy surrounding mad cow disease at the time and centered on a mutated strain that turned people into flesh-hungry monsters. Dead Meat is notable for being the first film released as part of the Irish Film Board’s ‘Microbudget Films’ initiative, and it serves as an early glimpse at the madness McMahon would unleash upon the world nearly 10 years later…
After making a film called The Disturbed in 2009, Conor McMahon burst onto the radars of more horror fans than ever before with the 2012 release of Stitches, which was also made thanks to a grant from the Irish Film Board. Shot in Ireland, Stitches captures the vibe of old school slasher flicks quite nicely, with a vengeful undead birthday clown serving as the film’s Jason Voorhees. Packed with laughs, extreme gore, and an insanely clever use of an umbrella and even a balloon pump, Stitches is a truly fun horror flick, and one that we highly recommend you check out.
Speaking of fun, one of the most recent horror exports from Ireland is absolutely jam-packed with it. An Irish-British production with an incredibly clever concept, Grabbers centers on the arrival of a giant octopus-like monster that is deathly allergic to alcohol, which prompts our protagonists to hole up in a local bar and get as drunk as humanly possible. I don’t think I need to say any more for you to know that this is one film that pairs up quite nicely with your booze of choice!
Oftentimes aptly described as the Irish answer to the 1993 film My Boyfriend’s Back, 2005’s Boy Eats Girl is a horror-comedy about a dude who inadvertently kills himself after he believes that the girl he loves is in love with another man – and he’s subsequently brought back to life as a zombie. A tale of young, undead love that predates Warm Bodies by nearly a decade, Boy Eats Girl was produced and shot in the Republic of Ireland, and it made waves when the Irish Film Classification Office – their version of the MPAA – banned it for its depiction of the aforementioned suicide. It’s one of the only non-pornographic films to receive such a ban, which is reason enough for you to check it out!
2012 saw the release of Citadel, the feature film debut of Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy (Sinister 2). Shot in Glasgow, Scotland, the Brood-inspired film was loosely based on a traumatic attack that Foy experienced when he was 18 years old, and the fictionalized tale is about a man who is forced to raise his child alone after his wife is brutally murdered by a gang. Convinced that the gang is coming back for his daughter, the man locks himself in his apartment but is unable to escape the horrors that await. This one is a reminder that Ireland is a country to keep an eye on when it comes to horror cinema.
In Shrooms, released in 2007, a group of young friends head out into the woods of Ireland for one purpose and one purpose only: to ingest magic mushrooms and get wasted out of their gourds. This being a horror film, one about young people in the woods, the body count of course quickly rises. Are the stories of a sadistic monk roaming the woods true, or are the mushrooms to blame for turning one of the campers into a mass murderer? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out!
The recently re-launched Hammer Films has given us some real treats in the last several years, and my personal favorite of their recent efforts is Wake Wood, released in 2011. Directed by Irish filmmaker David Keating, and both set and filmed in Ireland, Wake Wood is essentially an Irish remake of Pet Sematary, telling the tale of a little girl who is killed by a dog and brought back to life by her grieving parents. Violent, beautiful, tragic, and haunting, Wake Wood is one of the better horror films to come along in recent years, and one that is definitely worth watching on St. Patrick’s Day and any damn day of the year. Sometimes dead is better, am I right?
If you’re looking for something truly scary to watch tonight, look no further than The Canal. Written and directed by Irish filmmaker Ivan Kavanagh and released in 2014, The Canal is one of the most genuinely terrifying horror films in the last several years, home to a handful of scenes that are guaranteed to chill you right down to your bones. In the film Rupert Evans (The Boy) plays a film archivist who becomes convinced that his house is haunted right around the same time his wife mysteriously drowns in the titular canal. Did he do it, as the police think, or is something otherworldly responsible? We encourage you to turn all the lights off and find out. You’ve been warned.
The directorial debut of Corin Hardy, last year’s The Hallow was pitched as a cross between Straw Dogs and Pan’s Labyrinth, and that’s a pretty perfect description of this one. The story centers on a family tormented by creatures shortly after they move to a remote mill house in Ireland and draws inspiration from Irish folklore. One of the standout highlights of this slow-burn horror film are the creatures themselves, which are some of the creepiest and most original in the recent history of the genre. Backed by gorgeous cinematography, The Hallow is an Irish creature feature that establishes Hardy (who was recently attached to – and then detached from – the remake of The Crow) as a filmmaker to watch.
Get to drinking. And watching! And share your favorites with us below!