2. THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE — Guillermo del Toro has made a lot of movies and doubtlessly will make many more, but The Devil’s Backbone is his Spanish language masterpiece that seems to wrap his extensive imagination into a very moving and frightening cinematic poem. If I ever make a film like this, I will die happy.
3. IRREVERSIBLE — On the other end of the spectrum is Gaspar Noe’s mind shattering, mind fuck of a film, which — though not strictly horror — nevertheless is able to punish audiences in a way that few horror films ever have. Pushing the limits of what is watchable without abandoning considerations of an artistic sort is one of the many complexities of this unique film.
4. SANTA SANGRE — I spent a few days with Alejandro Jodorowsky back in 2004. We talked about movies and girls mostly, and he introduced me to his psychomagical discipline via Tarot cards. He was an earthy, funny and heartfelt guy, and his horror movie, the Claudio Argento-produced Santa Sangre, is one of the most strikingly original and strangely unsettling movies I have ever laid eyes on. Like the man himself, it left me wondering what I had experienced.
5. THE SEVENTH SEAL — Ingmar Bergman never made a horror film and yet his films reveal an obsession with horror in the existential sense. The Seventh Seal, which he made back in the Fifties when he was 27 (and should not be confused with The Seventh Sign starring Demi Moore), is a film fresco with the grand themes of life and death as its central subject. Probably too talky and heady for some, it remains a masterpiece of dark cinema, and one of the only films that has the strength of a literary experience. If spiritual crisis is a fear you can appreciate, The Seventh Seal will terrify you.