Top Ten Southern Gothic Horror Films

Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the traditional Gothic Horror genre that takes place exclusively in the American South, using deeply-rooted ritualism and dark historical backdrops in place of foggy graveyards and Eastern European locales. Common themes in Southern Gothic Horror movies include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may or may not dabble in voodoo, ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, black magic, crime, or violence. I Like Horror Movies counts down our favorite Southern Gothic Horror Films in today's Top Ten!

1. Pumpkinhead (1988): A man conjures up a gigantic vengeance demon called Pumpkinhead to destroy the teenagers who accidentally killed his son. Set in a small Southern town, Stan Winston's Pumkinhead has all of the same brooding mood and atmospherics as any of the Gothic classics, with the demon of vengeance striking out from swirling mists in the pale moonlight. Pumpkinhead must be considered the leading example of the Southern Gothic aesthetic in the Horror film.

2. Jug Face (2013): Jug Face tells the story of a pregnant teen trying to escape a backwoods community when she discovers that she may be sacrificed to a creature in a pit. Chad Crawford Kinkle bursts onto the scene with an original terror tale that is quite unlike anything else we have seen. Kinkle has created a microscopic universe that gives the backwoods of Tennessee their own unique magicks and mythology. Sure to be a cult-classic!

3. Interview with the Vampire (1994): A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger. This Anne Rice adaptation transports the Eastern European traditions of the vampire into a purely American setting, while every set drips with a dark and sinister aesthetic. Tom Cruise' over-the-top antics can be overlooked for some of the finer performances by Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, and Kirsten Dunst.

4. Angel Heart (1987): Harry Angel is a private investigator hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite, but his investigation takes an unexpected turn. Mickey Rourke stars as Harry Angel in a somber blend of Film Noir and Gothic Horror that takes place in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. The ritualistic voodoo adds a Southern twist on this supernatural thriller.

5. Dead Birds (2004): A group of Confederate soldiers hole up in an abandoned plantation after robbing a bank and find themselves at the mercy of supernatural forces. Guilt and remorse take on a demonic shape of their own in Alex Turner's terrifying ghost tale. The timely pacing draws the tension tighter and tighter until the audience is ready to snap at the appearance of these ungodly beings.

6. Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971): A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again. This vampire tale isn't always what it seems, and has the audience questioning their minds as much as poor Jessica. The cool color palette and unsettling images often recall the works of Jean Rollin.

7. Lemora - A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973): A young girl who returns to her hometown to see her dying father finds herself being drawn into a web of vampirism and witchcraft. Richard Blackburn's vibrant use of color and rich atmosphere share much in common with the Italian classic Black Sabbath. The surreal, nightmarish qualities of the film make it a memorable fantasy horror film.

8. The Beyond (1981): A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where after a series of supernatural 'accidents', she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell. The Beyond is considered by many to be Lucio Fulci's crowning achievement in Horror, and a gore classic. What it lacks in linear storytelling, it more than makes up for in its dreary mood and bleak, downturn ending.

9. Candyman - Farewell to the Flesh (1995): The Candyman arrives in New Orleans and sets his sights on a young woman whose family was ruined by the immortal killer years before. Farewell to the Flesh is one of the few Slasher sequels that nearly rivals the original. The Candyman feels right at home in the misty bayous and crowded streets of Mardi Gras, making New Orleans the perfect place for him to wreak his bloody vengeance.

10. The Skeleton Key (2005): A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past. Subtle, understated, and effective, The Skeleton Key reminds us of all of the great ghost tales of the past, but updated in the Southern Gothic tradition. Voodoo once again casts a spell over the inhabitants of this remote plantation, making for many chilling moments out on the bayou.

1 comment:

  1. Some good movies on this list, but Dead Birds has been one of my favorite horror movies since it came out. No one I share it with is especially fond of it, but it has a warm fuzzy place in my heart. Maybe because of the era - I'm a Civil War buff and love The Burrowers, too.