Three Non-horror Movies for Horror Fans:: By bdwilcox

An eclectic mix they may be, but three movies have been nagging me to compile them into a list of non-horror movies for horror fans. A fourth is pouting as he feels left out, so I’ll include him as a bonus just to keep him happy.

The first non-horror movie for horror fans is a truly classic movie that many younger viewers may have passed over because it’s in that ancient black and white format with long-dead Hollywood stars of the past. Night of the Hunter (1955) is a drama with so many horror overtones that it is hard to even classify what genre it really falls under. From terrifying caricatures to visually surreal, almost Dadaistic visual interludes, the movie has it all. Some scenes are so out there, they remind me of the strangely lit, fever dream-esque scenes that have haunted me since childhood from various ViewMaster reels I owned.

The second non-horror movie for horror fans is a cable classic that burned its imagery into my young brain as I snuck in some forbidden late-night HBO while my parents were out with friends. The Name of the Rose (1986) is a truly unique medieval murder-mystery based on the novel by the late Umberto Eco. While its killer (literally) cast is composed of such Hollywood heavyweights as Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Ron Perlman, William Hickey, and F. Murray Abraham, its feel is much more intimate, almost documentary in a way. A truly fantastic historical whodunnit with some shocking visuals that will burn themselves into your mind’s visual vocabulary,

Riding that ever-present fine line between horror and science fiction, Dreamscape (1984) is the third non-horror movie for horror fans I can recommend. It’s an early cable staple, and a lot older than most of us care to admit, but its visuals still hold up today, including one scene that scarred me as a kid the same way Large Marge’s transformation did in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. A very young Dennis Quaid leads a star-heavy cast including Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Eddie Albert, George Wendt and Kate Kapshaw on a terrifying journey bringing to life the things that people secretly fear the most.

Bonus non-horror movie for horror fans: Spring (2014) is, simply put, Before Sunrise (1995) if its script was written by H.P. Lovecraft. Drag your horror hating, Hallmark Movie loving significant other to watch it and you’ll be the hero by the end of the movie…I promise. Trust me.

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JennyD13
JennyD13
4 months ago

Oh man, Night of the Hunter is awesome. I have always categorized it in my head as a horror movie. The underwater scene has stuck with me since I saw it as a kid. It’s as horrible as it is beautiful. I’ve never seen the other three you mentioned, but they are now on my list.

bdwilcox
bdwilcox
4 months ago

, I agree, the underwater scene disturbs me the way a demonic snow globe would disturb me. Basically presenting a scene of abject horror using delicately beautiful visuals. The other scene that really bothered me was Harry Powell singing hymns while he prowled outside the house like an unseen wolf circling and howling at its intended prey. Chilling.

@Unkle Lancifer, Dreamscape was one of the first Kindertraumas I ever experienced in the theater and therefore it will always be one of my favorite movies. Night of the Hunter is a more recent discovery for me and, upon seeing it, I was like “Where have you been all my life?”

Ghastly1
Ghastly1
4 months ago

bdwilcox,
Night of the Hunter was a cornerstone for me as a kid because it was one of my father’s favorites. It is also indelibly linked with The Day of the Jackal for the same reason. I saw Night of the Hunter again within the last few months and was reminded about why it is a stone cold classic.
It’s funny, the posters for both The Name of the Rose and Dreamscape were done by Drew Struzan; he makes everything look like an Indiana Jones-esque adventure/comedy film.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I need horror with my sci-fi, because on it’s own sci-fi does nothing for me; in the beginning, early innovators of sci-fi incorporated a lot of horror elements thanks to people like H.P. Lovecraft; that is the stuff I’m into. Aliens and space ships and robots and laserguns on their own don’t interest me. So it is always cool to run across something that honors that tradition.
Both are great films, although for some reason I always confuse Dreamscape with Vision Quest, which is an odd film in itself.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ghastly1
bdwilcox
bdwilcox
4 months ago

Ghastly1, I think you might have linked them in your mind because they came out about the same time and have names that reflect each other’s general ethereal nature.

In the same way, I can’t think of Dreamscape without thinking of Brainstorm and Strange Days. Brainstorm because it was on cable the same time as Dreamscape with a similar motif and Strange Days because it reminded me so much of both Dreamscape and Brainstorm in concept; almost an homage to both films.