dani filth cradle of filth
[Photo by James Sharrock]

Editor’s note: Few bands exemplify the spirit of the season better than Cradle Of Filth. With the Oct. 22 release of Existence Is Futile, the metal band are continuing to deliver the sound and imagery we all know and love. Just in time for Halloween’s fast approach, frontman and horror movie buff Dani Filth shared some of his must-watch horror movie recommendations with AltPress. While you’re reading—and stocking up those streaming queues—we’ve also added the perfect soundtrack. Featuring horror movie legend Doug Bradley (aka “Pinhead”), what could be better than Existence is Futile?

Dani Filth’s horror movie recs

The following is a list of my favorite horror films at the moment. If I were to actually list all the ones I consider to be the greatest horror films ever, this list would possibly run into the dozens, if not hundreds. I know many people would disagree with some of these, but they are a cross-section of all the varying “styles” of horror, and I thought I’d quickly jot them down before I changed my mind for the 13th time.

Before I launch off into one, I would just like to list some of the close “seconds,” if I might be so bold: Dagon, Audition, Saw, Seven, The Exorcist, Sleepy Hollow, Candyman (the original), Nightbreed, The Wicker Man, The Thing, Hostel, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, Cannibal Holocaust, Suspiria, Silence Of The Lambs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Event Horizon, The Ninth Gate, Blade, Underworld, Ichi The Killer, Dawn Of The Dead, Mandy, From Hell and Pan’s Labyrinth to name but a smattering (or splattering).

But anyhoo, here are my 13 suggestions. Unlucky for some.

Halloween (1978)



Halloween
: Gorging on horror movies at Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without John Carpenter’s original masterpiece stalking into the mix at some juncture. Just the maniacally creepy music alone is worth the admission splice here, in a film that explains just where the boogieman began.

Exactly 15 years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, the now grown-up Michael Myers escapes from a mental institute and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, to continue the carnage. 

Freaky as hell if you’re a teenage boy watching this alone in a strange house the first night of your French exchange visit and oui, that petite lad was moi, and Jesus was I scared trying to find my room in the dark when it finished! A total classic.

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser: An all-time classic from the pen of Clive Barker, featuring longtime Filth collaborator Doug Bradley as Lead Cenobite, the appropriately named “Pinhead.” The Cenobites themselves are a clan of psycho-sexual underworld demons that appear at the behest of a mysterious puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration to wreak terrible and often bloody punishment. This film was singularly a revival of British horror, bringing it kicking and screaming into the late 20th century, one part demented horror, one part twisted fairy tale.

The best moments: The arrival of the Cenobites to the jangle of meat hooks! The skinless bits! Uncle Frank pulled apart by chains! Pinhead getting lairy! Jesus wept!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Personally, I love this film, despite its veering from the original chilly nature of the book. Something about the cinematography, the costuming and the stunning musical score by Wojciech Kilar totally wooed me the first time I watched it, the atmosphere being wonderfully rich and darkly erotic.

Essentially, this is a love story, albeit a fearful one, and an impressive array of actors bring it to verdant life (that is, if you overlook Keanu Reeves and his hopelessly wooden Jonathan Harker). Nevertheless, this is a magnificent and magical reworking of a classic, steeped in Victorian sumptuousness and vampiric decadence.

Best moments…The awesome creature transformations and the creepy supernatural happenings at His Lordships castle involving unconnected shadows, sexually rapacious vampire brides and a distinct lack of gravity. This film headed a gothic triumvirate that included Interview With The Vampire and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Gorgeously gothic horror. 

The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead: A cult classic if ever there was one, The Evil Dead proved that anyone could make a movie, the only difference being that this one completely scares the shit out of you! Brilliantly deadpan, a legend was born in Bruce Campbell, whose masterly B-movie performance coupled with director Sam Raimi’s breathtaking camera work, was the glue that bound this undead, H.P. Lovecraft-inspired splatterfest together. Don’t take your girlfriend down to the woods today!

Curse Of The Demon (1957)

Curse Of The Demon: Despite being made in 1957, this is a very atmospheric horror, wherein the mystery is given away with the sighting of the iconic demon straight from the get-go. It’s so good. It’s worth the creepy buildup to its appearance again. Based on M.R. James’ cult classic short story “Casting The Runes,” an American professor arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself attempting to disprove the evil deeds of Satanic cult leader Dr. Karswell.

I remember seeing this one Christmas during a weekly black-and-white horror marathon and was instantly hooked by its amazing cast, eerie cinematography and some genuinely terrifying moments, like the demon stalking his prey through a creepy midnight wood — the only signs being flaming footsteps, mephitic death-breath and a bat-like squeaking noise. There is also the children’s outdoor party ruined by the calling of an “air elemental,” which was apparently shot utilizing two jet engine thrusters,

Fun fact: Oderus Urungus (RIP), formerly of GWAR, modeled his stage persona on the titular demon.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining: There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this iconic film or the performances (especially that of Jack Nicholson‘s). The theme of isolation here is prevalent throughout the subtext and the lethargic onset of Jack Torrance’s creeping, disturbing dementia. You’ve got to love the butchered twins, the weird sex couple in the bedroom, the river of blood, the old decayed nude woman he embraces and the final ax-wielding chase through the hotel and, finally, into the frozen maze. Stanley Kubrick‘s work is pure genius.

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

An American Werewolf In London: You can blame this particular entry on Michael Jackson, as it was his documentary for the making of “Thriller” that aired a clip from director John Landis‘s previous outing, An American Werewolf In London. I was hooked. I begged my dad to rent a Betamax (remember those?) copy of the film the next day, and then, after much to and fro-ing over its content, my family left me alone in the house that night to watch it while they went out. It was the first time I really crapped myself watching a movie.

What I love more than anything with this film is the fine balance between the comical and the downright nasty and how easily it can change. When his best friend is murdered while the pair of them are out hiking on the moors, an American college student named David Kessler is haunted by his friend’s ever-decaying corpse, who claims that unless he kills himself before the next full moon in three days time, he will become a werewolf and start killing people. Which he does, right up to the climactic end sequence where he causes chaos and death in Piccadilly Circus.

Read more: Ice Nine Kills on upping the body count with ‘The Silver Scream 2’

Best moments? The Slaughtered Lamb pub where the darts seemingly freeze in the air, the dream sequences where Nazi-werewolves run rampant and, of course, the rotting conversation between all of his victims in some seedy cinema in London’s West End. 

This film also won awards for its brilliant creature transformation work. Just watching it is painful, as David stretches, sprouts and elongates into a huge and monstrous wolf, all without the use of digital effects.

Alien (1979)

Alien: Ridley Scott‘s acclaimed masterpiece is still a classic nearly 30 years on. Coupled with H.R. Giger‘s amazing creature design — part reptile, part slathering biomechanoid, with concentrated acid for blood and a penchant for grisly self-preservation. This film lived up to the film poster’s boast that “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

And the best bit, obviously, out of many? Well, without doubt, it’s got to be the chest-bursting scene when the implanted alien bursts forth from its human host’s chest at dinner. Just what you need!

The Pit And The Pendulum (1961)

The Pit And The Pendulum: This Edgar Allan Poe adaption by Roger Corman may come across as being a tad of a strange choice, but in all honesty, my favorite horror film list would probably run into the hundreds, if I wasn’t so frugal with the truth. I really love this movie for its glamourous stars (both Vincent Price and Barbara Steele are excellently gothic here) and for the fact that much of it plays out like an exquisite dream or, more often than not, lurid nightmare. The score, cinematography and sets are excellent (following the success of Corman’s House Of Usher only the year before), and the story is both bloodthirsty and genuinely haunting.

Stripped down to its bare bones, this is another classic Poe-based tale involving the disintegration of sanity, as Price’s character becomes more and more convinced that his dead wife has been prematurely buried (a repeated theme with dear problematic Poe) and now stalks the castle as a restless and vengeful spirit. The truth is his wife has concocted an elaborate plan to unhinge his mind, helped in the grim matter by her lover (his traitorous doctor), knowing full well the horrors he’d seen under the Inquisition in his father’s rule, having already witnessed his mother being walled up alive by his hand.

Best moments? Price, gone totally mad, believing himself to be a reincarnation of his murderous father, addressing the traitorous lovers in his (fully operational) torture dungeon.

Frontier(s) (2007)

Frontier(s): Despite the French subtitles, this is the closest European film to complement and perhaps rival the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Having fled Paris, a group of would-be thieves holes up on their way to a new life in Amsterdam at a distant inn where they inadvertently stumble on one of the most deranged families ever committed to celluloid. Part sexual-psychopath, part Nazi-cannibals, they proceed to hack, slash and torture their way through the men and women alike.

This is a great movie. It’s disturbing, gritty and beautifully filmed and acted in equal measures. This film heads up a French horror revival that includes Shaitan, Switchblade Romance and Baise-Moi to blame but a few.

Cradle Of Fear (2001)

Cradle Of Fear: Obviously not the best film here by a long shot (it’s hardly Martin Scorsese), but it is a film I’ve starred in, so that’s why it’s here. An Amicus-style horror anthology linked together by a story about an incarcerated serial killer who uses his man on the outside to exact supernatural revenge against the people responsible for his capture, this low-budget gore-fest is in parts funny, sexy, scary and downright shocking. Add to that equation a plethora of freakish Filth compatriots, hideous deaths, some exquisitely risque actresses and cameos by the band themselves and you have yourself a heady B-movie brew that was (and still is) the most successful underground British film of recent years. 

Oh, and Eli Roth most definitely stole his blueprint for Hostel from the last story about “the sick room.”

The Omen trilogy (1976, 1978, 1981)

The Omen: The chilling stories of the Antichrist Damien Thorn, the son of Satan whose emergence was prophesied in the book of revelations.

I absolutely love these movies, obviously because of their subject matter, the intense melodrama and monumental soundtracks, but also because of the major scale of the films and the wealth of talented actors on board.

The second has definitely got to be my favorite though, with Damien slowly coming to grips with his power, unleashing some truly terrifying moments in the raven attack (where the woman has her eyes torn out and then is minced by a truck, just to be sure…). And the trapped-under-ice segment on the hockey lake.

Also, these legendary movies helped to explain the strange mark I have had under my hair since birth, the three sixes bound together for a single monstrous purpose…

The Descent (2005)/Dog Soldiers (2002)/28 Days Later (2002)

Onto the best of British. I know it’s three films here, but it’s a box set, so I think that makes it plausible.

The Descent was chosen because of its cloying sense of fear and claustrophobia as a group of thrill-seekers fight off subterranean mutants in an underground cave system. Dog Soldiers because of the grim black humor, excellent set pieces and the amazing werewolf makeup involved (rivaling The Howling and Underworld in the bipedal stakes). And finally, 28 Days Later for its stark and uncompromising portrayal of a virus-ravaged Britain, where infected people from all traits of life become the blood-crazed walking (but more often than not, running madly) dead.

All three films put British horror firmly back on the vein-distorted map.