3 Horror Movies For Horror Game Fans This Halloween
I love horror. Not just games, but books and comics and music- and most assuredly films as well. Every medium has something to offer the genre, each unique in a way that can only be done in each specific style. Silent Hill 2 would be very difficult, if impossible to adapt into a film, because so much of that experience is dependent on not only just how much time we have in that world, and all of the things we are forced to actually experience. The panic of James’ flashlight batteries dying wouldn’t have nearly the same effect in a feature film, nor would any of the other very deliberately video-gamey aspects. But on the other hand, I don’t see a Silence of the Lambs video game working as well as the film did either, even if it was the kind of game with decision making (ala Tell Tale). Something about the specific pacing and quiet ambiance of the film is something that wouldn’t translate well to a game, where the player’s attention is constantly being battled for.
There have been plenty of attempts at turning some of our favorite horror games into big screen feature films, and while some are at the very least tolerable, by and large they miss the mark on what made those games great in the first place. The Silent Hill film probably came the closest, but it was still pretty far from perfect, and most of everything else is…. (Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, Bloodrayne…)
But instead of focusing on the films they should or should not make out of our favorite horror titles, why don’t we look at it from a different angle instead? I’ve picked out a few films that I love, and that are very similar in tone or are outright inspirations for some of those titles. Some you’ve probably seen before, but some are things that may have slipped under you’re radar, who knows? Please, keep in mind these are just my own personal opinions, so don’t take this too seriously. I’m just hoping I can introduce some of these classics to new audiences, or at the very least give you all some fun ideas for what to watch this Halloween.
Like Resident Evil 2? Try John Carpenter’s THE THING
This film should go without saying as being one of the classics of sci-fi horror and gore special effects shows. John Carpenter made a scar on movie audiences that would never quite heal.
Set in 1982 in an American arctic research station, we follow R.J. MacReady- a helicopter pilot stationed with a few scientists and researchers. Remote doesn’t even begin to describe their locale, as a hundred miles in any direction gives way to only the white dunes of snow and peppering of black rock. Quiet, solitary, and peaceful. That is, until a Norwegian helicopter appears shooting wildly at an escaping husky. The pilot and gunmen are killed, and the husky is adopted into the research station while the crew tries to figure out why in the hell they were shooting at the poor dog in the first place and where they came from.
But by nightfall, fear grips MacReady and the researchers as a being unlike anything they, or anyone else for that matter, begins to not only kill- but become their fellow research station crew. A thing that has evolved the perfect kind of camouflage- digesting and copying the cells of it’s victims and hiding in plain sight as just another member of the research outpost. It could be anyone. You, him, even me. Paranoia and fear becomes a steady drum beat as desperation overwhelms the outpost and the thing finds that deep in this blistering cold- man is the warmest place to hide.
Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, as well as it’s other film adaption The Thing From Another World, John Carpenter (Halloween, They Live) brought a new vision to a story that was already tense and claustrophobic. Special effects like nothing that had ever been done before brought the alien life-form known only as the thing to life in a horrifying and grotesque way. The film perfectly captured a style of tense and ambient horror with a creature that could burst out at any moment that became a staple of the Resident Evil franchise.
Resident Evil 2 in particular owes a lot to John Carpenter’s THE THING I feel. Both it’s concentration on atmosphere and lonely despair- but absolutely it’s creature design. The thing was unique in many ways for it’s design- the disgusting inside-out look most notably. When the creature feels threatened, it seems to stop trying to copy one individual animal and starts morphing and mutating at seemingly random, trying to escape by any means necessary. Just one look at the thing and any Resident Evil fan will be able to recognize a huge influence on William Birkin’s mutated form, known simply as G.
Throughout RE2, G goes through a number of mutations and malformations, and the end result is very similar in appearance to the thing. Arms and heads growing from every which where, the tearing muscle and gory sinew, even G’s most distinguishing characteristic- the giant eyeball, is present in one of the thing‘s mutations. Even outside of RE2 creatures mutating from one thing to the next is a staple of the series, but G is perhaps the most directly identifiable.
If you’re looking for a great horror flick that would appear to have inspired one of Resident Evil‘s most famous and disgusting creatures, or just want something that’s going to gross you out while you scream this Halloween, look no further than John Carpenter’s THE THING. Also, don’t mistake the 1982 film for the 2011 prequel. It ain’t all that.
Like Silent Hill? Try Angel Heart
It saddens me to no end that almost nobody I know has ever even heard of this film.
When talking about the inspirations for the Silent Hill franchise, Jacob’s Ladder is universally the first thing that gets brought up. Hell, half the time it seems as though it’s the only thing that gets brought up. Yes, Jacob’s Ladder is pretty obviously a huge inspiration on the series, from its nightmarish hospital imagery to Jacob’s military flashlight, there’s so much in this film that ended up in Silent Hill it starts to venture on copyright infringement. But one thing I’ve never heard brought up are the similarities with this film as well.
Meet downtrodden detective Harry Angel, who has been hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre to track down the whereabouts of a man named Johnny Favorite, who after suffering injuries in World War 2 has disappeared, leaving an unfinished contract with Cyphre. What follows is a mystery that will lead Harry Angel down into the depths of hell itself as the bodies of what appear to be Johnny Favorite’s victims begin to mount while he gets closer and closer to the true evil behind this nightmare.
Ambient, dark, and grisly, Angel Heart tells a grim and psychological nightmare of a tale that fits right in at home with the sorts of twisted stories Silent Hill is famous for. Chilling visuals and art direction unfold the nightmare in a dreamlike fashion, as we wander with poor Harry down a winding a twisting path of death and misery that no one who has the pleasure of watching it will soon forget. I not only recommend it for Silent Hill fans, I recommended it to anyone with a dark itch that needs scratching. It’s a truly, truly messed up film.
Like Until Dawn? Try The Collector
While I haven’t played Until Dawn myself yet, it’s pretty clear what it takes it’s inspiration from. Masked killers like Jason, Freddy (I know he doesn’t actually have a mask), Mike Myers, and a dozen more less famous psychos ground up into a glaze of gore over top of the game’s less fantastical elements, and the slasher genre as a whole has a warm fuzzy place in all our horror hearts, even if the genre as a whole isn’t all that great. For every classic like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre there’s a discount bin full of low budget schlock. Lately, it seems as though traditional slashers are out of style, replaced by the torture porn genre, films like SAW, Sinister, and of course The Human Centipede. But there’s one film that sort of cleverly combines the two, and that would be 2009’s The Collector.
Arkin O’Brien is an ex-con, working as a handy man trying live on the straight-edge, but when learning that his wife is in deep with loan-sharks he commits to pulling off one more heist on his well-to-do clientele in order to pay off her debt. But after showing up for what he thinks is going to be a little cat-burgling in-and-out job, Arkin finds himself in the center of a sick game that he wasn’t meant to be a part of. A twisted killer, wearing a leather mask and all black, has kidnapped the family within and has set up a torturous maze that will likely kill Arkin before he can escape.
Feeling more Hitchcock than most other gory horror films, The Collector becomes a wicked cat and mouse battle of wits between Arkin and the killer, and ascends well beyond that of the typical “torture porn” genre- at least in my opinion. With genuine twists and turns and a surprisingly relate-able and competent hero, I give The Collector to big thumbs way up. Although avoid it’s sequel, The Collection, like the plague. It’s cartoonishly stupid and looses all of the tension and cleverness of the original film.
So, what do you think? Agree with our list? What are some of your favorite “like this” horror films? Any you’d add or take off? Please, let us know in the comments below, and if you get the chance, check these movies out for yourself if you haven’t already seen them!