At Taste of Cinema we’ve done a lot of lists that looked at the vast film knowledge of director and film buff Quentin Tarantino; maybe the director with the most film trivia ingrained in his brain. In Edgar Wright he has a worthy challenger though, since more and more we come in contact with the Brit and his recommendations. It was already in 2007, on the Hot Fuzz director’s commentary that we learned he could keep up with Tarantino, as they talked movies for the entirety of the Hot Fuzz runtime. Since then we’ve got a bonkers list of his 1000 favourite films (all of these entries being on it), genre specific lists, and most recently he teamed up with Empire to make one of their best issues yet. Besides the Empire issue he also went onto the Empire podcast together with Tarantino and yet again they talked about movies, this time for a staggering 3 hours until batteries ran out.
This podcast ended up being the inspiration for this list and for more lists about Wright’s recommendations to come. With the trailer for Last Night in Soho lurking around the corner, we thought the most fitting genre to start with is of course horror. It could have been 100 recommendations, it could have been just British horror films, but that’s maybe something for the future. For now, here are 10 horror films recommended by Edgar Wright.
1. Daughters of Darkness (1971)
We start with a vampire tale which Wright claims not enough people have seen and we wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
Daughters of Darkness is a Belgian horror film, which alone was a rare sight before Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani entered the game. Director Harry Kümel jumped on the lesbian vampire trend that spawned many films in the early 70’s, but his Daughters of Darkness is one that stands out. The story follows a couple that has just married, but sometimes feel like they’re strangers from each other. When staying in a hotel they cross paths with a mysterious countess and her secretary. Meanwhile the town they’re staying in is experiencing a strange string of murders.
The original title ‘Les lèvres rouges’, meaning the red lips, might fit better with this film, since it sets such a mysterious, but sensual vibe. Not half as sensual as Jess Franco’s ‘Vampyros Lesbos’, but maybe more in the same mood as Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’. It isn’t a coincidence that Wright recommends a double bill of Daughters of Darkness and Only Lovers Left Alive. Again, we’ll have to agree.
2. Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
This list shouldn’t exist without at least a couple of British horror films. Peter Strickland’s masterclass in sound design might not be the first film that would come to mind, since it’s more an homage to Giallos, but it’s a worthy entry. Besides there are two more British entries on this list to look forward to.
The story follows British sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) who goes to Italy to the Berberian Studio to work on a film he only then discovers to be a Giallo. Even though it’s not what he had in mind he starts working on the film’s sound engineering. As time passes his co-workers seem to be increasingly rude to him and each other. With it the horror sequences of the film become increasingly brutal and Gilderoy slowly gets detached from reality.
Strickland’s second feature film is a technical masterpiece, but mostly a tribute to the Giallo genre that captures all that’s so great about them. If we’re talking double features; this one could follow up any Dario Argento film and offer a sneak peek inside the minds of their makers.
3. The Fourth Man (1983)
The Fourth Man follows a bisexual Catholic writer Gerard Reve (Jeroen Krabbé) who is suffering due to his alcoholism and his visions of death. On his way to giving a lecture Gerard feels attracted to a handsome man who enters another train. After his lecture he begins an affair with a woman Christine from the audience and soon he finds out she’s in a relationship with the man he spotted at the train station. He asks to meet the man, with the intention to seduce him. Meanwhile his visions of death become more frequent and he starts to suspect Christine is the cause of them.
Like neighboring country Belgium, The Netherlands aren’t known for their horror productions either. You’ve got director Dick Maas who often tackles the genre, for example with Amsterdamned and The Lift. Then there is George Sluizer’s ‘The Vanishing’, also a film that made Wright’s top 1000. But probably most notable is Paul Verhoeven’s only stab at the genre with The Fourth Man. Verhoeven is of course best known for his Hollywood sci-fi productions Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers, but before he ventured into Hollywood, he made plenty of Dutch films that are among the best productions the country has to offer; The Fourth Man arguably being the best of them.
4. Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Naturally there had to be a Giallo film on this list other than just a tribute to the genre. It’s no Argento, but it’s just as good or maybe even better: It’s a Bava. Late 2020 Wright took a moment to talk about this film and inevitably about Mario Bava in general with film critic Walter Chaw.
When Isabella, a model living in a fashion house, gets brutally murdered, Inspector Sylvester is assigned to investigate. During the investigation all the dark secrets of the models slowly come to light, meanwhile more of the models are being killed one by one.
A simple horror story that became famous thanks to its style, even being regarded as the first, or one of the first ever Giallo movies. Bava’s connection with the camera makes this film’s visuals so beautiful that they almost overshadow the plot. For any horror or any film buff this is a must watch, since it’s a joy to spot the visible influences for so many films that followed.
5. The Asphyx (1972)
Hugo, a scientist in Victorian England, is showing off his newest invention, a motion picture camera, at a party where in tragic circumstances he captures the drowning of his wife and son. On the moving picture he discovers not a soul but an Asphyx moving to his son’s body. An Asphyx is a force that comes for an individual in the moment of their dead. With this newfound discovery he decides to try and capture these Asphyx to find the key to immortality.
In the Empire podcast Wright mentioned that The Asphyx is one of the movies he wishes people talk about more, so we’d like to comply. The methods of summoning the Asphyx are quite funny, so it’s not necessarily the scariest horror film, but it still has its fair share of thrills. On top of that, with charming performances from Robert Powell and Robert Stephens you’re already one step ahead!