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50 Arthouse Horror Films to Put on to Make Your Friends Hate You

20. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

“Bro. Bro, come on. Come on, bro. It’s “Valerie” time, bro. Please, bro! It’s “Valerie” time!” This is what you say as you drag your friends through the ever more obscure nightmare tunnel you’ve concocted for them this Hallowtide. Aside from saying it’s about a young woman in a medieval Czech village coming of age in supernatural circumstances, it’s impossible to really summarize “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” in any tight and compact way, except to say that it’s a visual treat. Your friends will learn this. Once you strap them into their seats and give them the old “Clockwork Orange” treatment.

19. Beau is Afraid (2023)

This one will require a bit of trickery. So be a sneaky little possum-child. Tell your friends this is the story of a middle-aged man’s journey to death. Yes, it goes for three hours, but they’re jam-packed, set across multiple different timelines. In one scene, the protagonist is reunited with his long-deceased father. The villain dies in the opening act of the story, but comes back to cause havoc. If they’re onto you after “Valerie,” you can strongly imply that Thanos is in this film. He’s not, but a giant ballsack is, so it’s almost not really a lie. Then, once you’ve convinced those sweet, unsuspecting honey-pigs that they’re about to see “Avengers: Endgame,” pop in this bad boy and prepare for a wonderful time.

18. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

If there’s one thing I know about Halloween parties, it’s that everyone attending one wants to soberly sit and watch perhaps the greatest silent film ever made. “Phantom of the Opera” is an incredible undertaking, mostly for Lon Chaney’s iconic performance, which a century later, is still probably one of the greatest to ever grace the silver screen. It’s the kind of thing that’ll make you say: “Wow, I bet Nicolas Cage is really into this.” This one is especially good for frat parties. All those bros are just gonna be over the mooooooon for a film about opera… and a really gross dude who gaslights a young woman being portrayed in a negative light. Plus, you know, there’s nothing quite like a silent film about musicians.

17. The Tenant (1974)

Speaking of really gross dudes, let’s return to Mr. Polanski. “The Tenant” is genuinely a fascinating film, based on a novel by writer and actor Roland Topor, and directed by and starring Polanski, this Kafka-esque nightmare tells the tale of a Polish-Jewish immigrant to Paris staying in the nastiest bohemian apartment imaginable, and slowly being turned into its previous tenant by his group of rude-ass, messy-ass, bougie-ass neighbors. The film deals with fascinating themes of identity, sexuality, religion, the immigrant experience and gender. All of those things would be incredible if only it were directed by anyone else.

16. Enys Men (2023)

You bet your ass I saw “Enys Men” theatrically. I even went to a Q & A with writer/director Mark Jenkin. To give you an idea of what you’ll be dealing with with this bad boy, there was one point in the Q & A where someone asked Jenkin to explain the film. His response was: “No.” So it is. “Enys Men” tells the story of a land surveyor living alone on a remote Cornish island, inhabited by ghosts, weird rocks and lichen. And… that’s about it. In order to gaslight your friends into watching this with you, you should probably occasionally say: “OH, DUDE, THIS PART’S GREAT!” And then let them wait and watch and say: “Didn’t you see it?” They’ll probably never come back to your apartment again.

15. Lamb (2021)

This film asks a deeply interesting question: What if happiness was its own kind of horror? It’s fascinating to think about. Probably no other film has ever really asked it the same way. But still, it does give: No bro! Please! Please, I promise you, bro! It’s really scary, bro! No, it is, like seriously. Like, think about it. Try watching it from the sheeps’ perspective! It’s terrifying, bro! You gotta believe me! You gotta!

14. Saint Maud (2019)

Aside from ending with one of the most jarring and upsetting jump-scares since “Carrie,” Rose Glass’s debut film “Saint Maud” is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s not that religious horror isn’t fascinating, it is. It’s a borderline torturously unpleasant film to watch, especially around others. And I really can’t make a ton of jokes because the subject matter is so unpleasant. And somewhere in there, you really have to just sit and wish this movie had the courage to use the word: “lesbian.”

13. Lost Highway (1996)

“We’ve met before, haven’t we?” “Lost Highway” is probably Lynch’s masterpiece. A tightrope walk of genres, the first act is a slow-burning “Black Christmas” style horror film, while the second act is sensational noir, before the third act finally blends the two. It’s got a helluva cast too, from accused wife-killer Robert Blake playing the psyche of a wife-killer, Marilyn Manson playing a snuff-film star and human melting candle Gary Busey as a real human-melting candle.

12. Repulsion (1965)

Ah yes. Let us now draw from the rancid waters of Roman Polanski’s well once more. “Repulsion,” is unquestionably a beautifully shot film, the cinematography is to die for and Catherine Deneuve is breathtaking. But that doesn’t change the fact that this film is Roman Polanski depicting a young woman’s struggle with sexual repression. This is the kind of film to watch once or twice in college, high on painkillers from getting your wisdom teeth out.

11. Natural Born Killers (1994)

Though it is brightly colored, kinetic and… in the sickest way possible, almost, not quite… fun…“Natural Born Killers” takes every opportunity to be as grotesque as possible, from the off-putting colors and random images to the Rodney Dangerfield-led fake-sitcom depicting Mallory Knox’s abusive upbringing to the graphic prison riot to the… (ahem) cosmetic alteration of Robert Downey Jr.’s gentleman’s organ, it’s just a testament to what happens when Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone yes-and each other into nightmarish film-bro oblivion. Still, great use of a Leonard Cohen soundtrack.

10. Eraserhead (1977)

Man meets girl. Man gets girl. Girl has baby. Man meets baby. Baby is gross. Man is gross. Girl leaves man with baby. CHIPMUNK LADY! Man chops up baby with scissors. Oh, the joy and the rapture. Will the fun never cease at uncle David’s house of gross, sexual repression? I don’t think so. This film is incredible, but it not fun with friends in the slightest unless you’ve all taken enough acid to hallucinate undergoing carcinization. And even then, you won’t be watching. You’ll be too busy being a crab.

9. The Last House on the Left (1972)

This film has, at times, the same style and energy as that “Three Murderers” bit from that one episode of “South Park.” Schlocky, campy and slap-sticky (and often too cringey to bare), Wes Craven’s loose American remake of Bergman’s “Virgin Spring” is a grotesque and perverted send-up to suburban America. This is another film that takes every chance to be nasty and abrasive, from the gruesome degradation of two teenage girls, to the chicken truck scene to the infamous “death by fellatio” moment in the last act. This is the kind of film that would be really fun to watch with friends if only it had been directed by John Waters. God, imagine that film. It would’ve been “Desperate Living” taken to the extreme. But it definitely would be more fun.

8. Dogtooth (2009)

This movie has the general vibe of “oh… ah-ha-ha-ha… oh, no.” “Dogtooth” is the kind of fuckery that’s hard to sit through even by yourself, let alone with others. From the animal cruelty to the self-mutilation to that… super fun VCR scene… it’s an absolute carnival of human misery. Now granted, we’re all masochists here. We want to be at the misery carnival. I certainly do. But it has to have a certain degree of pleasantness. Why watch this when you could sit and watch “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” at your Halloween party instead. They’re basically the same film when you get right down to it.

7. Perfect Blue (1997)

“Perfect Blue” is, perhaps, the greatest psychological horror movie ever made. A neo-giallo, anime, stalker film about fractured identity, fame, and the way that the entertainment industry destroys women’s bodies and minds, it’s really for the best that this film is animated. It’s distressing enough. This is another one I feel like I can’t really make jokes about because of the utterly grotesque subject matter, so let me just say… you can find a million weird, creepy dudes who look just like Mi-Mania working the counter at Hot Topic.

6. Audition (1999)

Ha! And I thought MY last Hinge date was bad. “Audition” is one of those films that has a weirdly Lucille Bluth “good for her” quality to it. Or, at the very least a… bad for him, but that fucker had it coming vibe. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is an extremely unpleasant sit. Case in point, our acupuncturist put it on last session and let it play. We will not be going back.

5. Possession (1981)

Without question, this is one of the sexiest movies ever made and I mean that in the way people say “London is one of the rainiest cities.” This is a film that wants you to hate it, that – not unlike Marjorie Taylor Green – actively invites you to despise it. God, it’s amazing, though. And hey, remember that time when “spy” was just a job people could have?

4. The Outwaters (2022)

Much like Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” this is a film in which nothing happens… twice. At least. And yet in that nothingness, truly, so much happens. What starts out as a Mazzy Star-esque dream pop act’s excursion to the desert to shoot a music video turns into a Lovecraftian nightmare. We won’t spoil too much, but you won’t ever want to eat sausage again after this one. Trust us.

3. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Here at The Hard Times, we rarely likely to pass judgment on people going hardcore on something. That being said, this is the type of film where the very conception of the idea might be grounds to have someone placed on a 5150. The fact that it’s based on a play that Shinya Tsukamoto staged in college is even more troubling. “Euphoria” head-ass right there. This film is a nauseating, hour-long carnival ride, filled with metal fetishists, maggot-covered wounds, drill-bit penises (referred to as “sewage pipes”), and a mutant tank monster. This is not one to put on for a chill vibe.

2. Funny Games (1997)

See now, if there’s one way you can cut through the tension of this movie, it’s by reminding your friends that what you’ve just witnessed could never possibly happen to you personally. Not to me, at least. I don’t eat eggs, and therefore the trick that these two young droogs use on this sweet little family would never work on me. Not today, Satan!

1. Antichrist (2009)

I just… I can’t… I mean… listen. I get it. I do. Dafoe. Gainsbourg. I get it. But this isn’t something you put on with other people. I’d say you’re scaring the hoes, but… let’s be honest, you don’t have any.


There’s a funny little giggle-giggle ha-ha trick you can play on most middle-aged, middle-class Midwesterners. Tell them you want to watch the movie “Crash,” but heavily imply that you mean that dogshit movie from 2004 that pretended it cared about racism. Midwesterners are drawn to that film like moths to light. Then, put this bad boy on. They’ll love it. Trust us.

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