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The Ten Best “Splatter” Films

On the latest episode of Comic Book Men, Kevin and the gang discuss their favorite splatter films — well, everyone except for Ming, who avoids the genre at all costs. Are you one of the “tough” (according to Mr. Chen) horror fans who goes for guts and gore? Then here are 10 splatter flicks for your must-see list…

1. Dawn of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero
The term “splatter cinema” was first coined by George A. Romero himself to describe Dawn of the Dead, and the timeless zombie film is still a great place to start for anyone interested in the genre. Though some would no longer consider the classic a “splatter movie” — since its critical eye for social commentary elevates it above the frequently exploitative nature of the genre — it remains part of splatter history.

2. Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Another progenitor for the “splatter” genre, Psycho is more artistically complicated than it’s famous and gory shower scene. However, Psycho‘s relevance in the genre cannot be overstated: Not only is it ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American film. Without Psycho, there would be no splatter.

3. The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi
The Evil Dead and its sequels are among the most revered cult films of all time. The film follows the iconic Ash Williams and four of his university friends as they battle demonic possession, leading to increasingly campy, gory mayhem. There may be more critically-acclaimed horror movies in the archives, but not many are this much fun.

4. Dead Alive (also known as Braindead), directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson’s “splatstick” horror-comedy Dead Alive centers around a rabid rat-monkey that turns an entire town into a zombie hoard. What ensues has been referred to as possibly the goriest splatter film of all time. Though initially the film bombed at the box office, it has since found a significant cult following.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper
Gory, grubby and outrageous, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals, the most famous of whom is the iconic Leatherface. Falsely marketed as a true story, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre set a new standard for slasher movies, challenging the ways in which a film could utilize violence and gore as a vehicle for social and political commentary.

6. The Thing, directed by John Carpenter
John Carpenter’s The Thing revitalized the splatter genre with a heavy dose of paranoia and science fiction. The film’s title refers a murderous, parasitic alien that assimilates the inhabitants of an Antarctic research station and then imitates them. The unique premise of The Thing introduced whole new levels of anxiety to the genre — as a viewer, it is impossible to know who to trust. Like many splatter films, The Thing was poorly received by critics before finding its cult following and a critical reappraisal.

7. Re-Animator, directed by Stuart Gordon
Stuart Gordon’s horror-comedy Re-Animator revels in its odd mixture of surrealism, over-the-top horror and bizarre comedy. Loosely based on the more somber H. P. Lovecraft episodic novella Herbert West–Reanimator, Gordon’s Re-Animator succeeds in reaching new heights of freakish splatter horror.

8. Ichi the Killer, directed by Takashi Miike
Banned in several countries, Ichi the Killer tells a story of feuding yakuza gangs, primarily through the eyes of the borderline-psychotic Ichi, who is manipulated into acts of heinous violence against rival faction members. To some, Ichi the Killer is the nadir of the horror genre — violence and gore for violence and gore’s own sake. To others, the film is a sophisticated assessment of violence and its relation to modern media. Either way, it’s hard to ignore the stamp Ichi has left on the splatter genre.

9. Saw, directed by James Wan
Saw is the story of two men who awake to find themselves chained in a large, decrepit bathroom, being ordered by the now famous Jigsaw to play a game. In order to leave, one must kill the other. Extremely low-budget, Saw found its success through cheap, dirty, practical effects and psychological dilemmas with no right answers — proof that you don’t need buckets of fake blood for an effective splatter film. Like almost every great splatter film, Saw gained a massive cult following despite a lukewarm critical reception.

10. Planet Terror, directed by Robert Rodriguez
Planet Terror is a love letter to splatter cinema. Outrageously over-the-top, Planet Terror follows Cherry Darling and her rag-tag group as they attempt to survive a zombie onslaught/military occupation. On its way through a purposefully ridiculous plot, Planet Terror goes out of its way to tackle every violent taboo it can in its running time.

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