To celebrate unique chillers and thrillers you may not have seen, Moviefone is spotlighting the best foreign horror films in a variety of categories. If you're up for a good scare -- and don't mind reading the occasional subtitle -- then consider this a world history lesson.
Today's lesson: vampires and werewolves, two mythic creatures whose beastly attacks have terrorized generations of audiences around the world. In America these legends of folklore are portrayed by emo teenagers arguing over who can pout their lips the hardest. And our second-best scenario (Kate Beckinsale starring in a 'Matrix' rip-off) isn't much better. But these five films from around the world highlight the monstrous potential of these two creatures -- with plenty of fangs, blood and torn limbs.
5. 'Dog Soldiers' (2002)
Country: Great Britain
What's It About? A British squadron is dropped into the Scottish Highlands for a routine training session but quickly finds the slaughtered remains of the previous squadron, who went missing in action. To their astonishment, the thing responsible for the gruesome crime is a werewolf -- actually a whole family of werewolves. The soldiers fight for survival in unfamiliar terrain, getting picked off one by one, not realizing that the wolves are backing them up right into the monsters' lair.
Why Is it Awesome? Neil Marshall -- who has quickly gained a rep for being one of the most kinetic action directors -- made his debut on this bloody, violent film. Taking cues from movies like 'Predator' and 'Aliens,' he loads the movie with tough heroes who refuse to become just another batch of horror movie victims, resulting in a battle where man and monster go to great lengths to destroy one another.
Buy or Rent 'Dog Soldiers'
4. 'Thirst' (2009)
Country: South Korea
What's It About? Sang-hyun, a devout priest finds himself with two very troubling dilemmas. First, after hoping to find a cure for a rare disease, he volunteers himself as a test patient, infecting himself with the fatal illness. A mysterious blood transfusion saves his life and removes all symptoms of the crippling disease, but in order to continue warding off the effects of the disease, he must now feed off of human blood. And if that wasn't enough to agonize over, Sang-hyun also finds himself attracted to his friend's wife, who is all too willing to let him give into his sinful temptations.
Why Is it Awesome? 'Thirst' is a perfect demonstration of Park Chan-wook's visual style: depicting extreme violence with intense intimacy, while framing each moment like a stylized portrait. But beyond the film's look, the movie indulges in all the forbidden taboos that exist with the ancient vampire myth. 'Thirst' is a modern but timeless look at flawed people who succumb to supernatural vices and lose all humanly control.
Buy or Rent 'Thirst'
3. 'Ginger Snaps' (2000)
What's It About? Ginger and Brigitte play two morbidly-obsessed sisters, who happen to be total outcasts at their high school. However, Brigitte feels the two of them growing distant after Ginger begins puberty -- and after she is attacked by the Beast of Bailey Downs, suffering the curse of lycanthropy in the process. As Ginger begins indulging in sex and drugs, and feeding on fellow students, Brigitte has to find a way to save her sister, stop the bloodshed and convince people that Ginger's new attitude isn't just a case of growing pains.
Why Is it Awesome? In addition to genuine scares, the film has a lot of dark humor about the awkward pains of puberty. Featuring great performances from a young cast, and awesome-looking creature effects, it's like 'An American Werewolf in London' by way of John Hughes.
Buy or Rent 'Ginger Snaps'
2.'Nosferatu the Vampyre' (1979)
Director: Werner Herzog
AKA: 'Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht'
What's It About? It's legendary director Werner Herzog's interpretation of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' -- as channeled through a remake of/homage to the 1922 silent German classic 'Nosferatu.' Dracula travels from Transylvania to Germany, bringing a plague of rats and ship full or corpses with him.
Why Is it Awesome? It's one of movie history's rare instances of a remake being as good as the original. The original -- which is available for free in the public domain -- is one of the art form's first horror films, and Herzog's remake pays tribute to the pioneer with the added benefits of moody color cinematography, a lavish production budget and eerie sound design. And it's capped off by notorious big-screen madman Klaus Kinski donning pale white make-up and fangs to portray the iconic vampire lord.
Buy or Rent 'Nosferatu the Vampyre'
1.'Let the Right One In' (2008)
AKA: 'Låt Den Rätte Komma In'
What's It About? Young Oskar is a timid, lonely boy in 1982 Stockholm. He suffers constant bullying from his classmates, and fantasizes about revenge. His luck begins to change when Eli, a cute, quiet girl moves into the apartment next to him. Oskar finally gets a close friend who looks out for him, and encourages him to stand up for himself. But Oskar is unaware that the innocent-looking Eli also lives with a strange man who is killing local residents so that Eli can feast on their blood.
Why Is it Awesome? Even if the film didn't have shocking images of a young 12-year-old-looking "girl" preying on unsuspecting victims -- which it totally does -- the film would still be noted for its striking, stylized depiction of a tender friendship amidst a beautiful, snow-filled setting. Alfredson deliberately toned down the horror elements and concentrated on the friendship between its two lead characters, resulting in a story about what appears to be two sweet-looking children taking care of each other, with an underlying and inevitable doom approaching closer and closer.
Buy or Rent 'Let the Right One In'
Check back every day this week, for more installments of Moviefone's best of international horror. Coming up tomorrow: the best supernatural movies.