The Academy Award nominations have been announced and cinephiles are scrambling to catch up on the Best Picture honorees before the big ceremony. Not everyone is a fan of Oscar, though. Perhaps you are already sick of hearing about the Wolf of Wall Street controversy or Matthew McConaughey's weight loss. If you prefer something a little more scary, silly, and/or gory than what the Academy Awards has to offer, here are nine comparable alternatives for horror fans.
Instead of: Gravity
Watch: Europa Report (2013)
While Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is arguably a horror movie itself (and a gorgeous one at that), it was not the only critically-acclaimed space-terror film of last year. Sebastián Cordero directed an international cast of actors in this tense sci-fi/horror about a space crew seeking alien life on Jupiter's moon. Just when we were all sick of found footage, Europa Report proved there is still life in the subgenre.
Instead of: Her
Watch: Love Object (2003)
In Spike Jonze's Her, Joaquin Phoenix plays a writer who forms a relationship with his newly purchased operating system, which has artificial intelligence and a female voice. In Love Object, Desmond Harrington (Dexter) plays a technical writer who forms a relationship with his newly purchased sex doll, which has anatomically-correct silicone parts. Since this is a horror film, naturally the doll becomes sentient and jealous of her owner's budding crush on a flesh-and-blood female co-worker.
Instead of: Nebraska
Watch: Dead End (2003)
In Nebraska, an old boozehound father takes his estranged son on a road trip to retrieve a sweepstakes ticket he won. For a family road trip horror film, I recommend 2003's Dead End, starring Ray Wise as a whiskey-guzzling father taking his family to the in-laws' house for Christmas. When he decides to take an unfamiliar shortcut, the family becomes lost and experiences ghostly visions. The film is creepy, funny, and in color (unlike Nebraska)!
Instead of: The Wolf of Wall Street
Watch: American Psycho (2000)
For a horror film about yuppie Wall Street scum like Martin Scorcese's latest, look no further than American Psycho. Christian Bale, also nominated for an Oscar this year, played Patrick Bateman, the wealthy investment banker with a secret psychotic side. Both films are full of coked-up, 80s Wall Street types doing disgusting things. Funny enough, the producers of American Psycho originally wanted Wolf star Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead role but director Mary Harron insisted upon Bale. Leo's portrayal of Jordan Belfort is how I imagine it might have looked if the Psycho producers got their way.
Instead of: Philomena
Watch: Dark Waters (1994)
In Philomena, Judi Dench goes looking for her long-lost son, who was taken away from her when she was put into a convent as a young girl. The film has stirred some controversy among nuns who say they are portrayed as villains in the film for forcing the young mother to give up her child. Well, for a horror flick with some very villainous sisters, check out the Italian nunsploitation, Dark Waters. It's also about an English woman seeking information about her estranged family at a convent, but this lady uncovers something much more terrifying than Steve Coogan.
Instead of: Dallas Buyers Club
Watch: Contracted (2013)
If the topic of AIDS is a little too heavy for you, why not watch a woman grotesquely deteriorate from a nasty STD in last year's indie horror, Contracted? Najarra Townsend plays Samantha, a young lesbian who gets drugged, raped, and given a disease from a stranger (Simon Barrett, no less) at a party. This is no ordinary clap or herp, as Samantha's body starts doing very bad things. Unfortunately for Sam, there is no Los Angeles Buyers Club so (lucky for body horror fans) this nasty thing just has to play out.
Instead of: American Hustle
Watch: The Honeymoon Killers (1969)
In David O. Russell's latest, Christian Bale plays an overweight con artist with a hideous comb-over who falls in love with Amy Adams, and together they trick losers out of their money in the late 1970s. In The Honeymoon Killers, Tony Lo Bianco is toupee-wearing con artist who seduces a lonely nurse (Shirley Stoler). Much like Adams' character, this one does not mind her new boyfriend's line of work, and together they go on a killing spree in the late 1940s.
Instead of: 12 Years a Slave
Watch: The St. Francisville Experiment (2000)
In 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup is kidnapped and enslaved on Louisiana plantations, where he endures much emotional suffering and physical torture. It's a non-traditional horror movie in its own right. For a more typical type of horror film, perhaps check out The St. Francisville Experiment, which is loosely based on the true history of Delphine LaLaurie who tortured and killed countless Louisiana slaves. In this movie, paranormal investigators spend the night in the LaLaurie home which is haunted by the ghosts of black slaves. It's a crappy cash-in on the Blair Witch popularity, but the history behind it (which is truly scary) certainly echoes the horrors of Northup's true story.
Instead of: Captain Phillips
Watch: Deep Rising (1998)
In this high-seas tale of terror, the armed hijackers are actually the good guys! Treat Williams and a team of mercenaries board a damaged luxury cruise ship intent on robbing its vault. Instead, they have to save the day when they encounter large, tentacled sea creatures. I bet Tom Hanks never had to deal with that! Look at Treat Williams, he's the captain now!