Hey folks! This is going to be short and sweet. There are endless pairings of horror films one could come up with, and many who could do a much better job than me. I mostly picked films that don’t qualify as creative choices; it was a quick and easy list. Here is a sampling of some potential horror film double features that I think would work great together. It is intended to be introductory more than anything else and a lot of my favorite horror films don’t show up here (because I have quite a bit of them). More importantly, I’d love to hear from all of you what horror films would work well together.
Again…broad uses of horror. They don’t need to be horror films, but rather films with elements of the genre and/or ripe for good seasonal Halloween viewings.
Eyes without a Face (1960)/Diabolique (1955)
Two French films from the same era that are as incredible now as they must have been back then. Suspenseful and grotesque in equal measure. And with actresses like Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Alida Valli and Edith Scob….need I go on?
Dead Alive (1992)/Re-Animator (1985)
Two films that combine horror and comedy seamlessly, both achieving a ‘where has this been all my life’ immediacy that kicks in and stays with you for a long time. Both will drown you in pure entertainment. They have memorable characters, absurd situations, gross-out gore and are impeccably crafted. I know most reading this will have likely seen these two films and I wonder if any have tried this double feature out before? I really need to someday.P.S. Jeffrey Combs crush may be a side effect of Re-Animator.
The Man Who Laughs (1928)/Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928)
Tragic silent films about clowns who are head over heels in love with beautiful but unattainable women. Okay so both films are not really horror films at their core, but they are frightfully creepy. Laugh, Clown, Laugh had a tremendous impact on me; I saw it when I first started seriously watching older films. It was my first Lon Chaney film and he’s been a favorite ever since. Conrad Veidt is another personal favorite and these are two of the best performances from the silent era. And even so, Olga Baclanova almost steals the film out from under Veidt in The Man Who Laughs. Both will leave you profoundly sad and chilled. Oh and I’ll use this opportunity to plug the recently seen The Last Circus in here as a potential triple feature; on some level it’s indescribable.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)/Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Robert Aldrich directed these films that feature former Hollywood stars in their later years camping it up in a big way. Gothic sensibility permeate through the air as we see truly fucked-up situations come to light as we reap in the joy of seeing them played out by veterans of the silver screen. If you haven’t seen Baby Jane but know of its reputation, you will be surprised that it manages to surpass its hype as a cruelly messed up piece of work. Yet, I almost find (from what I remember) Hush Hush to be more consistently gripping. Both are must-see’s regardless. What a way to spend an afternoon in the company of these thespians.
Night of the Hunter (1955)/Cape Fear (1962)
Reason? Why, Robert Mitchum of course! It has been a really long time since seeing these two films. While Cape Fear excels as a top-notch thriller of its kind, Night of the Hunter moves beyond, achieving a poetic vision that gets some really sinister stuff across in really complicated ways. Mitchum remains terrifying to this day, without losing an ounce of effectiveness as time has past.
Memories of Murder (2003)/Zodiac (2007)
These are two crime films that play with elements of horror in content, as well as the overwhelming true-story factor and that (spoiler alert) neither killer was ever caught. I could go on and on and on about Memories of Murder and how it uses symbolic pratfall (first time ever?) and tells a story of false conclusions, dead-ends and inept detective work to weave a film that has way too much going on in it to discern from a first viewing. It really is about detectives not catching a killer. Similarly, Zodiac depicts a series of false starts, but throw in some paranoia, looming dread and the Fincher-fashioned world of disturbia, and you’ve got an equally memorable work.
Perfect Blue (1997)/Black Swan (2010)
Everyone should watch the work of the late great Satoshi Kon. I cannot quite piece together how I feel about Perfect Blue, having seen it a long time ago and expecting something different (in need for a rewatch), but it would make a great companion piece to Black Swan. Both showcase characters as they descend into some form of delusional insanity or mental collapse. Where Black Swan allows the audience to understand the reality of what is happening to Nina even if we see it through her delusions, with Perfect Blue, Mima’s (wow those names are similar), descent is a lot more ambiguous to the viewer. So they make for two similar but really very different experiences.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)/Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Horror musicals from the 70’s!!!! If you haven’t seen Phantom of the Paradise; see it. Now. Thankfully it has a large following, but more need to see it. It may not be entirely consistent but it’s an underrated take on glam complete with Paul Williams……PAUL WILLIAMS as a Satanic record producer!!!!! I repeat; Paul Williams as a Satanic record producer. This is gold people. Gold! And not only are we graced with his presence but he wrote the music for the film. There are songs from this film I listen to on a daily basis. Then, if that weren’t enough, we get William Finley who basically could be Donald Sutherland’s freaky deaky cousin in one of the most memorable characters in a film from this list. Additionally Phantom has Jessica Harper, some really fun Brian De Palma direction and a wacky take on Phantom of the Opera. Just see it. Oh and there’s Rocky Horror Picture Show which I in no way need to explain.
Don’t Look Now (1973)/Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
I am going out on a limb to say Donald Sutherland, despite being considered a great actor, is underrated. Or maybe it’s just that it took me a long time to truly appreciate him. It was while watching Invasion that I realized how much be brings to any scene. It’s uncommon what he can do with dialogue of any quality. I don’t know how many actors working today have this capability. These are two of my favorite films, with the latter being a recent first viewing. Nicolas Roeg has this kitsch vibe going here (as with all his films both the ones I consider among my favorites of all time and the ones I could not connect with) that is elegantly passive. Nothing much happens in it and it manages to transfix despite that. It’s an amazing use of Venice and it taps into this all-too understandable feeling that something is wrong. You can’t put your finger on it but something is just plain wrong. Something is happening and whatever it is it isn’t good. Both films get this across, and this feeling of paranoia is displayed so well in both films using different means. Let’s get the Donald Sutherland’s ass being the element of horror joke out of the way. It’s old. Move on. In all honesty, a film being unafraid or unashamed to feature average male nudity without the intended context of humor is refreshing to this day. When is that done even now? Philip Seymour Hoffman in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is the only recent example I can think of…for an English-language film at least. OK; irrelevant rant over. On a final note, the ends of both of these films would rank in a Top 5 Scariest Film Endings list.
Killer Condom (1996)/Teeth (2008)
A Troma film about a gay detective hunts down a carnivorous condom and a film about a young girl with vagina dentata. Both contain humor, it goes without saying that the former does much more so than the latter. Teeth does a balancing act in that it is darkly funny at times but still manages to take itself seriously, and actually succeed in doing so, with a high-concept plot that sounds a comedy. In fact, Teeth is more than a little close to being a feminist horror film and for that, and its stunning lead performance by Jess Weixler, I love it.
The Company of Wolves (1984)/Ginger Snaps (2000)
Speaking of feminist horror films, cases for the claim could be made for both of these films. The former has Angela Carter collaborating with Neil Jordan on an adaptation of her own short story, a feminist reworking of Little Red Riding Hood. They construct an elaborate artificial dreamworld where symbolism is everywhere and unconventional structure reigns as stories fold in and out of each other. Ginger Snaps also captures that hardship of female adolescence. I hadn’t been expecting much from this, for whatever reason, but it knocked me off my feet.