As I admitted in my last post, I do not have a strong foreign horror game. Of course, I’ve seen a ton of foreign horror films from countries like Great Britain, France, Japan, Canada, and Mexico, and more than a handful of foreign horror films from countries scattered all over the world, but I remain woefully ignorant of the global body of foreign horror.
This is something that I need to fix. And I figured that the Olympics would be the perfect time to educate myself.
That’s why I’ve decided to compile a survey of foreign horror from all the countries that have their own horror films, modeled after the Olympics themselves.
Now, I haven’t watched all of these movies (I have a job), and this list is not exhaustive. It’s meant to be a starting off point, and introduction to foreign horror movies that may not get the attention they deserve.
I also followed specific rules:
- Must be a feature-length film – Sorry to say, if I included short foreign horror films, I’d never finish.
- Must be produced in whole or in part by the country (not merely shot there or set there) – I wanted to look at actual productions from countries that don’t usually get attention for their horror films. It’s not enough that a movie might be set in Egypt, for example. I wanted to see what the people of Egypt do with the genre.
- Break out the countries by the IOC categorization – The International Olympic Committee splits the world up into 5 National Olympic Committee (NOC)–America (both North and South), Africa, Europe, Oceania, and Asia (encompassing the Middle East).
Here are the countries categorized by the African National Olympic Committee.
Central African Republic
Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
São Tomé and Príncipe
Keep in mind: not every country on this list produces horror films. Some countries don’t have a film industry at all, or if they do, they focus on different genres.
Egypt has a petty flourishing film industry, especially for an Arab country with a predominantly Muslim population. This is mostly due to the fact that Egypt’s film industry experienced acclaim, commercial success, and creative development throughout the 20th century.
As far as Egyptian horror goes, it seems that the Egyptians like to see a wide variety of horror subgenres, but prefer a distinctly Egyptian twist. Notable films include demonic romance Human and Jinn (1985) mockumentary style psychological horror film Warda (2014), insane asylum horror The Blue Elephant (2014), and The Abandoned II (2016) about a ghostly, evil underworld that traps unsuspecting victims.
Ghana has also had a long-running film industry, though the country often struggles to find funds for its films. I couldn’t find very many horror films from Ghana, though I did find supernatural horror film Abro Ne Bayie (2008).
Kenya has a unique film industry, mainly preferring to produce documentaries over fictional feature films. As a result, most of the fictional films in Kenya are foreign, which means that Kenyans consumes a lot of foreign horror films. The only horror film I can find from before 2009 is a British-Kenyan production called In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro, based on a true story where 90,000 starving baboons went on a rampage and killed scores of humans and animals. Yikes.
However, the tide has begun to turn in recent years, with one production company, Jitu Films, producing and releasing home-grown Kenyan horror. There’s Otto the Blood Bath (2009), about the ghost of an old man who comes back to haunt and torment his children for dishonoring his wishes after his death, as well as Haunted (2011), about a writer who returns to her childhood home only to come face to face with the secrets buried there.
Unfortunately, post-colonial Madagascar suffers from political instability, even after gaining back its independence. The film industry has rebounded a little bit, but there are no public cinemas in the country, and the industry produces only 1-2 feature-length films a year. I could only find one horror film, which seems to be a joint French-Madagascan production called Lolon’i dada (2000). I don’t know what it’s about.
Morocco has a long-standing film industry dating back to the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s-1990s that Morocco experienced a rebirth of their film industry. That being said, horror films don’t seem to be a massive part of the Moroccan film industry, but there are exceptions. There’s Kandisha (2008), about an evil djinn who taunts a grieving mother; The Objective (2008), an American-Moroccan joint military survival horror film; and the upcoming horror/fairy tale film Achoura (2018).
Nigeria’s film industry, known lovingly as Nollywood, is a huge enterprise. It was rated as the third most valuable film industry in the world as recently as 2013 and has enjoyed steady popularity over its long history. In the last decade or so, Nigerian cinema has experienced a rebirth of sorts, moving away from low-budget, informally-produced movies to films with large budgets, quality production, better performances, and well-written stories.
As for horror movies, Nollywood produces them but tends to focus more on stories of human drama and romantic comedies. Notable Nigerian horror films include the witchy, devilishly tempting film Karishika (1996), acclaimed low-budget zombie thriller Ojuju (2014), and supernatural survival horror movie Kpians: The Feast of Souls (2016). Side note: I want to see Ojuju, both because I love zombie movies and I would love to see a Nigerian version that got a pretty good review from The Hollywood Reporter.
Like a lot of African nations, South Africa has a long-standing, flourishing film industry. Specifically, South Africa has enjoyed a good deal of critical acclaim and international attention for its films.
I think that, while it’s fair to say that horror isn’t a huge priority for South Africa’s film industry, the country has produced some intriguing horror films. Some examples are allegorical insane asylum tale Jannie totsiens (1970), a re-telling of a near-mythical serial killed called Dust Devils (1992), kidnapping-turned-demonic horror film The House on Willow Street (2016), and post-partum psychological horror The Lullaby (2018).
Tanzania’s film industry is relatively young, having been established only in 2001. But Tanzanian filmmakers are a busy bunch, taking advantage of low budgets and the flexibility of lightweight equipment to churn out movies and sell them via mass-produced DVDs.
I couldn’t find out much about Tanzanian horror films, though IMDB did include listings for a wilderness survival horror film Wrong Place (2016), the haunting Asante Sana (2017), and Nyumbani (2017), where a man fights to protect his unborn baby girl.
Tunisia has a very long, decorated film history, regularly producing internationally acclaimed dramatic films. As such, horror isn’t a focus of Tunisia’s film industry. I could barely find anything at all. IMDB lists two horror films—a horror film called Dementia or Junun (2006), and a comedy-horror film called Shlakoblok (2017).
Like its neighbor, Tanzania, Uganda film industry is young and only just finding its footing. Despite the lack of big budgets, many filmmakers produce low budget movies quickly and distribute them through cheap DVDs. It appears that Ugandan film is mostly culturally relevant dramas or explosive, low-budget action films, and horror is not a focus.
However, Ugandan audiences recently enjoyed the release of the country’s first horror movie ever, titled Bunjako (2016), about a group of university students who get lost in a haunted forest and find themselves hunted by evil spirits.
Zimbabwe cinema enjoyed a heyday in the 1990s, earning domestic and international acclaim for a whole list of socially and culturally relevant films produced during that era. However, the film industry in recent years has declined in quality. Movies in Zimbabwe must be produced on tiny budgets and more often than not address genres like romantic comedies and action films. Horror movies don’t appear to be part of the new film industry, as I could only find mention of one Zimbabwean horror film—a supernatural thriller about two long-lost brothers called I Want My Life Back (2014)
What do you think of the survey? Are there any movies I missed? Let me know in the comments!