I’m making solid progress on my global tour of foreign horror movies! Next stop: Oceania!
I’ve devoted my last few posts to educate myself (and my readers) about foreign horror, of which I now realize I knew *almost* nothing about. Not all the foreign horror is confined to countries like Great Britain, France, Japan, Canada, or Mexico, right?
Luckily for me, the ongoing Winter Olympics inspired me to research foreign horror the world over.
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. I’ve already completed my reviews for the continents of Asia and Africa, which I thoroughly enjoyed researching.
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 jumping-off point, as well as an 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 New Zealand, for example. I wanted to see what the people of New Zealand 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 Oceania National Olympic Committee:
|American Samoa |
Federated States of Micronesia
Northern Mariana Islands
Papua New Guinea
Wallis and Futuna
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. Unfortunately, Oceania is comprised of many tiny island nations that often do not have their own film industries.
Here we go!
Australia has a robust horror film roster, especially when it comes to survival horror. Even considering such recent Australian horror hits like The Babadook (2014) and Lake Mungo (2008), Australian horror tends to reflect the vast, brutal wilderness of the continent, and it looms large in such films as Long Weekend (1974), Razorback (1984), Wolf Creek (2005), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Rogue (2007), Black Water (2007), and The Reef (2010).
It seems appropriate then, given the harsh, unforgiving landscape and struggle of thriving from such an environment, that Australian horror would also explore man’s depravity and evil. Australian horror has long had a penchant for crazed killer movies, like The Snowton Murders (2010), Road Games (1981), The Hounds of Love (2017), and Killing Ground (2017), and The Loved Ones (2009).
Unlike its rather intense neighbor Australia, New Zealand has carved out a niche for itself as a world-class purveyor of horror comedy. How did this happen? Well, according to a New Zealander and horror fan, the country’s “laid back” attitude and acceptance of its relative global “insignificance” contributes to an overall self-deprecating mentality. This mentality pops up in horror cinema as horror comedy, which is “essentially an absurd premise based on horror that essentially tortures the characters in the film…the comedy comes from the audience taking a step back and laughing at the protagonists rather than feel sympathy for them.” Bluntly put, New Zealand horror “refuses to be serious.”
Everyone is still (rightfully) gushing over recent horror-comedy hit What We Do in the Shadows (2014), which is just one in a long line of New Zealand horror comedy films like Black Sheep (1996), Deathgasm (2015), Housebound (2014), and Peter Jackson’s early splatter comedies, like Bad Taste (1987) and Braindead (aka Dead Alive) (1992).
Northern Mariana Islands
Alright, so I’ve maybe broken one of my rules by including the Northern Mariana Islands, but Oceania is so underrepresented on the foreign horror scale. That’s why I don’t mind including the film Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016). It’s technically an American/Japanese joint project, which should disqualify it. But thanks to the efforts of director Hiroshi Katagiri to represent the islands and their horrifying past, I included it.
Gehenna: Where Death Lives explores the lingering effects of the wartime horrors inflicted on the island of Saipan, as well as the continual commercial exploitation of the islands. So, yeah, this isn’t a Northern Mariana production, but it gets awfully close, sharing a critical story many audiences have never heard.
Let me know if I missed Oceania foreign horror films!