Today is of course St. Patrick’s Day, which essentially means that us horror fans are allowed the freedom to do two things, without incurring the wrath of judgment that doing those two things typically incurs; not only do we get to drink all day, but it’s sort of an unwritten rule that we must plop our asses on our couches and watch as many of the films in the Leprechaun franchise as we can possibly endure. A great holiday this one is, to say the least.
That said, if you’ve already seen all the Leprechaun movies, and don’t have much interest in watching them again, then have no fear, because we’ve got you covered. We came up with a list of films to accompany you on today’s couch-riding, beer-drinking escapades, all of which are worthy alternatives to the Leprechaun films.
These ten Irish-made horror films are perfect viewing for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities, so dig in, enjoy, and don’t blame us if you wake up tomorrow with one hell of a hangover!
We begin our twisted journey through Ireland with Rawhead Rex, a 1986 film that was based on a Clive Barker short story, which appeared in the third volume of his mega-popular Books of Blood series. Barker also wrote the screenplay for the film, centering on a nine-foot ancient Pagan demi-god that is unleashed from the ground, and set free in the Irish countryside. Barker was famously unhappy about the way the film turned out, particularly in regards to the way the titular creature looked, but it is nevertheless the many faults of the film that make it such a joy to watch. One to pop in only after you’ve sucked down a few green pints, for sure!
Rebekah McKendry wrote about Rawhead Rex in her FEARNET feature ‘The Unseen,’ if you’re interested in learning more.
Irish filmmaker Conor McMahon made his feature debut in 2004 with Dead Meat, which brought zombies to the home of the leprechauns. Released under Fangoria’s Gorezone label, the low-budget film took advantage of the frenzy surrounding mad cow disease at the time, and centered on a mutated strain that turned people into flesh-hungry monsters. Dead Meat is notable for being the first film released as part of the Irish Film Board’s ‘Microbudget Films’ initiative, and it serves as an early glimpse at the madness McMahon would unleash upon the world, nearly 10 years later…
After making a film called The Disturbed in 2009, Conor McMahon burst onto the radars of more horror fans than ever before with the 2012 release of Stitches, which was also made thanks to a grant from the Irish Film Board. Shot in Ireland, Stitches captures the vibe of old school slasher flicks quite nicely, with a vengeful undead birthday clown serving as the film’s Jason Voorhees. Packed with laughs, extreme gore and an insanely clever use of an umbrella and even a balloon pump – as we recently featured in our list of 10 of the most creative horror movie weapons – Stitches is a truly fun horror flick, and one that I highly recommend you check out.
Speaking of fun, one of the most recent horror exports from Ireland is absolutely jam-packed with it. An Irish-British production, Grabbers recently found itself on our list of the 10 best giant monster movies of the last few years, and it's indeed one that you should definitely check out while you wait for Godzilla to stomp his way back into theaters. The incredibly clever concept for Grabbers centers on the arrival of a giant octopus-like monster that is deathly allergic to alcohol, which prompts our protagonists to hole up in a local bar, and get as drunk as humanly possible. I don’t think I need to say any more, for you to know that this is one film that pairs up quite nicely with your booze of choice!
BOY EATS GIRL
Oftentimes aptly described as the Irish answer to the 1993 film My Boyfriend’s Back, 2005’s Boy Eats Girl is a horror-comedy about a dude who inadvertently kills himself (that’s a new one, eh?!), after he believes that the girl he loves is in love with another man, and then is brought back to life as a zombie. A tale of young, undead love that predates Warm Bodies by nearly a decade, Boy Eats Girl was produced and shot in the Republic of Ireland, and it made waves when the Irish Film Classification Office – their version of the MPAA – banned it for its depiction of the aforementioned suicide. It’s one of the only non-pornographic films to receive such a ban, which is reason enough for you to check it out!
Also released in 2005 was Billy O’Brien’s Isolation, which scooped up a handful of awards at the 2006 Fantastic Fest. It won Best Picture and Best Director, and came in second place in the Audience Choice category, narrowly losing out to Adam Green’s debut gore-fest Hatchet. Set in Ireland, Isolation plays on the idea of genetic engineering gone wrong, which results in a calf that is pregnant with six monster fetuses. After the calf is killed, one of the creatures escapes, threatening the safety of the entire world. A reminder not to mess with Mother Nature, if I’ve ever seen one!
2012 saw the release of Citadel, the feature film debut of Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy. Shot in Glasgow, Scotland, the Brood-inspired film was loosely based on a traumatic attack that Foy experienced when he was 18-years-old, and the fictionalized tale is about a man who is forced to raise his child alone, after his wife is brutally murdered by a gang. Convinced that the gang is coming back for his daughter, the man locks himself in his apartment, but is unable to escape the horrors that await. Not the most fun film on this list, but one that’s worth checking out, and a reminder that Ireland is a country to keep an eye on, when it comes to horror cinema.
In Shrooms, released in 2007, a group of young friends head out into the woods of Ireland for one purpose and one purpose only; to ingest magic mushrooms, and get wasted out of their gourds. This being a horror film, about young people in the woods, the body count of course quickly rises. Are the stories of a sadistic monk roaming the woods true, or are the mushrooms to blame for turning one of the campers into a mass murderer? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out!
In his FEARNET review of Dark Touch, released just last year, Scott Weinberg referred to the movie as perhaps being the “best of the recent rash of Irish horror films,” and furthermore called it “one of the year’s best horror imports.” Is your interest piqued? Because it should be. Dark Touch centers on an abused young girl with telekinetic powers, who is the sole survivor of a mysterious massacre that leaves her parents and brother dead. In the mood for a creepy kid flick today? Look no further!
The recently re-launched Hammer Films has given us some real treats in the last several years, and my personal favorite of their recent efforts is Wake Wood, released in 2011. Directed by Irish filmmaker David Keating, set in Ireland and filmed in Ireland, Wake Wood is essentially an Irish remake of Pet Sematary, about a little girl who is killed by a dog, and brought back to life by her grieving parents. Violent, beautiful, tragic and haunting, Wake Wood is one of the better horror films to come along in recent years, and one that is definitely worth seeking out; on St. Patrick’s Day and on every other day of the year.
Have you entered FEARNET’s Evil Leprechaun Sweepstakes? You’ve still got through the end of the month to throw your hat in the running, and prizes include a 3D Blu-ray player and a Sony a58 camera. Today’s the perfect day to test your luck, so what are you waiting for?!