As voted for by Horror Film Twitter.
Last year I got an itch to expand my horror knowledge, and take in more films from around the world. So in October 2020 I asked people on Twitter to recommend me horror films not in English, Spanish, Japanese or Korean.
Why exclude those four languages? Well, English is obvious – I’ve seen quite a few anglophone horrors in my time. Spanish? Well, I had a vision of all the obvious Guillermo Del Toro flicks rising straight to the top. A similar deal with J-Horror: I could guess all the most obvious ones, and wanted more than Ringu, Audition and Pulse. And K-horror? Well, it’s a thing, and I was on a roll with my exclusions. Of those four languages, I know the least about K-Horror, and maybe I should have left it in. Or excluded Italy instead (all those gialli!). But in any case it was an off-the-cuff request and I expected a couple of dozen responses. So why over-think it?
Instead, about 1000 people responded, with over 200 movies.
This was such a big sample I figured I’d better count it all up properly.
Counting up the votes
I have finally got around to totting up the results. A reference to a film counted as a vote, as did someone commenting in agreement. I’ve excluded all the people who voted for something in Spanish (surprisingly common!) This was a laborious manual process, but hopefully I picked up everyone’s votes – including those that came in the form of quote tweets to replies to other quote tweets and so on and so on.
At time I had to make an educated guess about what people were voting for. Demoni and Demons are both the 1985 Lamberto Bava movie, but Demon I took to be the 2015 film by Marcin Wrona (and sometimes that was confirmed). Votes for Beauty and the Beast might have been for the 1946 Cocteau film La Belle et la Bête, but in fact when people clarified their vote they usually clarified to the 1978 film by Juraj Herz. So any ambiguous votes I counted in that direction. Likewise, 2009 Tamil horror Yavarum Nalam was simultaneously filmed in Hindi with some slight variations in cast. The Hindi version is called 13B: Fear Has a New Address, but I merged their votes together.
Nosferatu was an interesting case, too. Some might have thought only the Herzog version was actually eligible, given that the earlier film is silent – but plenty of people decided a silent film was allowed and both films picked up their fair share of votes, coming out even. Where people simply said “Nosferatu” I made my best guess on a case by case basis. Likewise votes for Indonesian horror Jelangkung (2001) and its 2017 remake were merged – I counted them as being for the original, as it seemed to be better regarded.
The two Nosferatus weren’t the only co-incidental tie; wintery zombie flicks Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2 both got equal votes. Where there was a tie for position, I usually went with the higher Letterboxd score as a tie-breaker, but I sometimes factored in extreme enthusiasm from voters…
A clear win for Swedish favourite Let The Right One In, and just beneath that a very strong showing for the New French Extremity. In fact, Let the Right One in got 76 votes, almost twice what the second-placed Raw got (46). Gialli were surprisingly underrepresented in comparison – perhaps because the more famous ones feature a partially American or British cast, and anglophones tend to watch them in an English dub.
Everything in the top 100 got at least two votes. French movies make up just under a quarter of that list – 24 entries. Other languages represented include German (19 films), Italian (15 – who would have guessed there would be more German films than Italian?), Cantonese (7), Czech (6), Swedish (5), Indonesian (4), Portuguese (4), Thai (4), Polish (3), Tagalog (3), and Farsi (2 films – and both of them in the top 10!).
There is also one film each that is at least partially in Arabic (Atlantics), Estonian (November), or Turkish (Baskin). There are two films in Tamil and four in Hindi, if we count Yavarum Nalam as being in both, due to its alternate Hindi version, 13B.
Four silent films appear (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Nosferatu eine Symphonie des Grauens, Häxan and Faust). 42 entries are 20th Century films, and 58 are from the 21st Century. The most recent film is 2020’s Sputnik.
The highest-placed film that I’d not seen? The 2004 Thai horror Shutter (placing 10th), followed by 1983’s Angst (16th). But the most eye-catching new-to-me horror here is a horrific-sounding true-life tale from the Philippines – Kisapmata, in 98th place. It’s been newly restored, so maybe this year…
The top 100
This list can also be found here on Letterboxd.