“Who the hell is Marcos Codas?”, I hear you cry. To be honest, I’m Marcos Codas and yet most of the time, I don’t know who that is (or what it means to be him). Humanity is a fickle thing. But over the years, I could always rely on a few constants to guide me through life: good food, tereré (indigenous Paraguayan cold infusion) and horror films. For Hooked on Horror, we’re talking about 10 films that shaped us, so below is the list of films that brought you this delicious lump of opinionated Latino horror fandom.
10.) The Exorcist (1973)
My friend Jerry wanted to avoid talking about obvious ones, but I wanted to tackle my obvious picks because the reason why they shaped me are not always apparent. A lot of people think of The Exorcist as the ultimate, quintessential horror film. And rightly so, because it is.
But the reason why The Exorcist shaped me is that it inspired me to look into its source material, as well as its extended universe. Reading the novel upon which the film’s based, I remember thinking it was much scarier than the already terrifying movie.
The sequels are a mixed bag, but the whole thing instilled in me the concept of a horror franchise which transcends a single medium. This will become a key tenet for me, one which would result in my creating the first-ever transmedia franchise in my country’s history. Not bad for a country boy.
9.) Ju-On: The Grudge (2000)
Takashi Shimizu’s seminal debut feature is almost single-handedly responsible for the insane localization movement of the 2000s. Along with Ringu, which preceeded it, and Noroi, which came a few years later, The Grudge kicked off a series of American remakes of Japanese horror films which would change the landscape of the genre forever.
As an anime fan myself, seeing the other side of Japanese audio-visual arts was a revelation. I was already an avid watcher of horror films, but even the American remake of The Grudge was such a departure from traditional Western horror movies that it felt like nothing else I’d seen.
To this day, Asian horror continues to scratch an itch that nothing else comes close to aliviating.
8.) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
There’s little I can say about this film that hasn’t been said more eloquently before. But I’m going at it from a different perspective. You see, my brother played a huge part in my upbringing. He introduced me to horror films, metal bands and more good things. Hannibal Lecter is one of those good things.
As much as I value this film’s objective quality, it’s the connection to my brother which really brings it home.
7.) Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
Far from a cinematic masterpiece, AotKT is in this list because my mom hated it. This is the first film my mom ever forbade me to watch. Which, of course, meant that I watched it as often as I could.
It’s silly, has aged like milk, and there’s almost no reason to revisit it. But the adrenaline it gave me to watch this film as a kid knowing it was forbidden was a prelude of things to come.
6.) The Village (2004)
While most people hate on The Village, I have written no less than 2 articles about why I love it. Once again, I’m including this film not because of its outright quality, but because of what it symbolizes.
The Village really brought home to me just how much people can hate something that others will love. It’s a good thing to keep in mind as a creator. Whenever I fear people might dislike my work, I think about Shyamalan. How many people hated The Village, and how much I love it. Perhaps, someone out there will love my work, too.
5.) Alien (1979)
I adore Alien. Simple as. This film is amazing. But that’s not the only reason why it’s in the list. The main reason, actually, is Ripley. This is the first time I can recall seeing a woman in the main role of a horror film, and coming out on top.
Whether Alien is a horror film or not is sometimes out for debate, for some reason. I never understood that. To me, that is an argument easy to settle with a single word: Giger.
4.) The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Possibly my joint-number-1 favorite horror film of all time, the only reason why this one isn’t further up the list is because it didn’t influence me quite as much.
But as a piece of horror cinema, Laura Linney’s performance is, in my eyes, in Linda Blair territory. In an era full of the Saws and Hostels of the world, Emily Rose strayed from the gore and torture to focus on story, tension and good old scares. Top notch.
3.) A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
The film that showed me that good Asian horror needn’t be only Japanese. Again, a completely different take on the genre, and one that I love dearly.
Also, one of the films to receive the better of the American remakes so popular in this era. Not all remakes would be so lucky.
2.) Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
As much as I loved the original from the start, I hated the sequel when I first saw it. Over time, I grew to like Berlinger’s take on it despite the film’s flaws. The reason the film’s in this list is to highlight that it’s OK to swing for the fences.
Sometimes you’ll miss, but it sure as hell beats not trying. Or in Berlinger’s case, retreading old ground.
1.) The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Possibly the most influential film in my life, this incredibly effective (and divisive) film took the world by storm. It’s been 20 years, and talking about it will still cause controversy among friends.
But for me, it was not only the quality of the film itself, but also the way it was marketed, that changed the way I view filmmaking as an industry. It also showed me that I didn’t need millions to make a cool story shine on screen. It’s possibly the biggest reason why I’m a filmmaker today.