To celebrate unique chillers and thrillers you may not have seen, Moviefone is spotlighting the best foreign horror films in a variety of categories. If you're up for a good scare -- and don't mind reading the occasional subtitle -- then consider this a world history lesson.
Up first: slasher films. Most people think a slasher film is nothing more than low-budget, cheesy schlock filled with scantily-clad babysitters and laughably-bad acting. But these international slasher films present dangerous new terrors from an exotic collection of horror masters.
5. 'High Tension' (2003)
Director: Alexandre Aja
AKA: 'Haute Tension'
What's It About? Marie and Alex retreat to the latter girl's family house in the countryside for a weekend of studying. But in the middle of the night, a hulking, mysterious killer invades the home and kidnaps Alex, planning to do unspeakable things to her. Marie is forced to chase after her friend, and somehow survive amidst a body-count that keeps rising.
Why Is it Awesome? Even with a controversial twist ending that splits audiences' opinions, 'High Tension' is still an exhausting, tense thriller. The film is a grisly chase that never shies away from the excesses of murder, reveling in all the gory details.
Buy or Rent 'High Tension'
4. 'Wolf Creek' (2005)
Director: Greg McLean
What's It About? After visiting the Wolf Creek crater in the Australian countryside, Ben, Kristy and Liz find themselves stranded when their car breaks down. Luckily for them, a local character named Mick arrives on the scene to help fix the broken-down vehicle. However as the night drags on, their suspicions of Mick begin to mount. Before they can safely leave, they find themselves drugged and trapped in his gruesome torture lair.
Why Is it Awesome? The grim film, "inspired by true events," moves at an unrelenting pace. Like all slasher films, very few people make it out alive, but not many slashers punish their characters as heavily as 'Wolf Creek.'
Buy or Rent 'Wolf Creek'
3. 'Blood and Black Lace' (1964)
Director: Mario Bava
What's It About? A masked killer stalks and murders models at a high-end fashion house in the hopes of discovering a diary that reveals incriminating information about many people. While the police's search for the killer provides no leads, the models double-cross each other, hoping to prevent the revelation of their many vices -- unaware that they are putting themselves in mortal danger.
Why Is it Awesome? It's the godfather of slashers. Mario Bava's emphasis on sexuality and gore, instead of the usual murder mystery tropes, set the template for decades to come. The film's lavish setting and rich, visual production has never made a death toll look so pretty.
Buy or Rent 'Blood and Black Lace'
2. 'Phenomena' (1985)
Director: Dario Argento
What's It About? Jennifer Connelly stars as a young girl sent to a Swiss boarding school, at the exact same time a series of ghastly murders begin to occur. Donald Pleasence co-stars as a forensic entomologist, who begins to realize that Connelly may possess a telepathic connection to insects -- including the same bugs found feeding on the recently deceased. Together, they work to solve the murders before Connelly becomes the next victim.
Why Is it Awesome? Dario Argento is considered a "master of horror" -- so trying to find his best work is a tough challenge. But 'Phenomena' might be his most creative movie, filled with everything from deformed monsters locked in the basement to a knife-wielding chimpanzee. You would notice how unique the movie is if you weren't so busy being freaked out.
Buy or Rent 'Phenomena'
1. 'Inside' (2007)
Director: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
AKA: 'À l'intérieur'
What's It About? Sarah is a pregnant widow who wants to spend her Christmas Eve alone and in mourning. As she prepares to enter the hospital the next day for her delivery, her home is assaulted by a strange and delusional woman who claims that the baby in Sarah's stomach belongs to her, and that she is going to claim it by any means necessary -- even if she has to cut it out of Sarah herself.
Why Is it Awesome? No other slasher film has created a protagonist as sympathetic as the pregnant Sarah. 'Inside' is painful, nasty, and not afraid to push the limits of what the human heart can handle. By the time the movie is over, you'll feel like you just got off a roller-coaster -- turned upside down, out-of-breath and too nervous to ride it again.
Buy or Rent 'Inside'
Check back every day, for more installments of Moviefone's best of international horror. Coming up tomorrow: the best vampire and werewolf movies.