Saturday, May 26, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Tourist-Based Horror Films

With this weekend's release of "Chernobyl Diaries", we decided to use it as a chance to dive into what I believe is our first horror-based Top 5 Movie Guide to date. The just-released film focuses on a group of Americans traveling through Europe. They decide to make a stop-off at Chernobyl and visit the ruined city. Things of course go terribly wrong as we can see even just from the trailers that some sort of radiation-exposed creatures are after them and hunting them down. Not what you have on the checklist for any vacation.


It was the broad idea of this that we focused on for this list. We played around with a couple different focuses, but ultimately, we just decided to leave it at films that centered around a person or group of people purposefully leaving their homes or cities of dwelling. These had to be trips with intent to return, so no movies that take place with people who just moved into a new house or something. The size of the trip, however, wasn't restricted - it could be on the other side of the world or two hours down the road. As long as it was a noticeable trip, it was included; at least for the broad sense of the list - if a writer wanted to restrict themselves more, they could below.

So check behind that closet door, make sure your doors are locked, and if you dare, hit the break for a complete rundown of some of our favorite tourist and travel based Horror Films!

Alex Schopp -
For my list, I tried to keep it focused on the "tourist" aspect, but ultimately, my films were more about just being travel-based. If they revolved around a person or group of people hitting the road and leaving their homes, I considered them. That being said, classics like "The Shining" and "Psycho" still didn't feel like they fully embodied what I was looking for.

     1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
One of my favorite horror movies period. I love this era in horror cinema. The graininess and rawness of this film is amazing; you feel like you're there - and it's the last place you want to be. This movie makes me terrified of ever traveling out into the middle of nowhere. Plus, even scarier, it's based around true events.
     2. Wolf Creek (2004)
This film had a lot of really great visuals, and for me, was a great current representation of what I want this type of genre to be. As with many films of this genre, the entire film gives you a feeling of being completely alone and far from any type of safety.
     3. The Descent (2006)
This film came out of nowhere for me. The pacing is really good in this film, and it displays great examples of what people are willing to do for their own livelihood. Plus that final scene really just sits in your gut.
     4. The Strangers (2006)
This film really impressed me when I went and saw it. It had a graininess to it that I really love in horror films, and the sounds and music of the entire film were fantastic. And again, though loosely based, this one spawned from true events as well.
    5. High Tension (2005)
Many people probably won't be happy with this selection, but I thought this film was full of suspense and had great gore. Maybe there are a few plot holes, but it was still an original-feeling film that provided an entertaining watch. If you haven't seen this one yet, definitely check it out - just make sure you get that uncut NC-17 version though; you're gonna want all the extra graphic violence that was cut from the U.S. release!

Ben Foutch -
In general, the films in this list had to play the "tourist" card. This is with the exception of "The Descent", because it felt like the characters stumbled upon a different world.

     1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
This is a true classic, regardless of genre. Priority level watch.
     2. Hostel (2005)
While I'm not a fan of "torture porn", this had a certain level of tension and atmosphere that added a lot to the experience.
     3. The Descent (2005)
This film just came out of nowhere. Completely blew me away on opening night.
     4. The Ruins (2008)
I don't really think I've seen many films like this. Good source material and an interesting cast. Definitely worth the watch.
     5. The Shrine (2010)
I loved the supernatural story. If it seems like it drags a little in the middle, wait for an explosive climax.

Derek Clem -
I really wanted to put Psycho (1960) as my #1, but to due the circumstances in which Marion is travelling, it didn't quite fit the tourist vibe I wanted this list to embody.

     1. Deliverance (1972)
Did I ever tell you three of us Slackers met Ned Beatty?
     2. Club Dread (2004)
Broken Lizard Comedy + Bill Paxton = A winning combination!
     3. Hostel (2005)
To this day, the scene involving the main character, an Asian tourist, and scissors, makes drinking milk difficult for me.
     4. A Perfect Getaway (2009)
Hawaii, not the paradise we all expected it to be.
     5. An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
This makes the list due to me loving Julie Bowen and enjoying the acting styles of Tom Hanks-lookalike Tom Everett Scott. But this mostly makes the list...because of this song.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Cabin In the Woods (2012)

     2. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2011)

     3. The Descent (2005)

     4. The Evil Dead (1981)

     5. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)



Andy Schopp -
There's enough here to almost make you never want to travel again...

     1. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Other than the fact that his best friend dies, being a werewolf would definitely have its perks!
     2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

     3. The Descent (2005)

     4. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

     5. Hostel (2005)



Not a lot of repetition on these lists, as there were so many great films to choose from, and even then, different restrictions and qualifications we each put on ourselves. But even so, a few films still shined above the rest. Before we jump in to the actual films, it seems worth noting that 17 of the 25 submissions were releases between 2004 and the present day. With as many bad horror films are released these days, it seems clear that, at least for this specific genre, filmmakers have really stepped up their game in the past decade. Lots of great modern interpretations to work with.

As for the films themselves, "The Descent" was probably the biggest winner here, as it appeared on four of the five lists. This film provided a great mixture of tension, gore, isolation, and claustrophobia; even a leading lady that steps up to the plate and becomes a bad-ass to try and save her life. These are all great aspects that contribute this this being one of the better installments for the genre. Definitely give it a watch if you missed out on this one in the past. Otherwise, "An American Werewolf in London" showed strongly as well. While only appearing on two lists, it was at the number one spot on both. A classic from the genre, and maybe one of the first real tourist-focused horror films. "Hostel" appeared on three different lists, while "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006) and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) joined "An American Werewolf in London" as the only other films with multiple selections, each with two.

As always, hopefully these film selections can help you to expand your knowledge on some of the best films this genre has to offer, and guide you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences. You might want to make sure that noise you've been hearing outside of your window really is just the wind though first...

Happy watching!