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.
The subject of today's class: monsters! Hulking monstrosities mutated by radiation. Prehistoric beasts that have secretly evolved past all scientific understanding. In a heavily populated world, with little room left to explore, a monstrous mutation that rises from the depths to terrorize humanity defies all logic. And with this collection of exotic super-heavies, you don't need to be bilingual to understand them; screaming will do just fine.
5. 'Black Sheep' (2007)
Country: New Zealand
What's It About? A brotherly feud between Henry and Angus reaches deadly proportions when Angus' genetic experiments on sheep go out of control. Soon the countryside is infested with cannibalistic sheep possessing an insatiable thirst for blood and a bite so toxic it can mutate an average human into a deadly were-sheep. The timid, sheep-phobic Henry must team up with animal activists to save what's left of his hometown before it's shepherded into a savage animal kingdom.
Why Is it Awesome? Because it's totally ridiculous. The movie twists the classic "movie monster" format so much that it practically corkscrews. There's enough dark comedy and gratuitous gore to have fun with the ludicrous premise, but the real treat of the film rests in the detailed creature creations supplied by the WETA Workshop, the visual effects company of fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson.
Buy or Rent 'Black Sheep'
4. 'Rodan' (1956)
AKA: 'Sora no Daikaiju Rodan'
What's It About? After digging deep into the earth, miners accidentally release vicious, predatory giant insects known as Meganulon. That would be scary enough -- except the bugs are basically just food for even bigger monsters: gigantic Pteradons known as Rodans. The military is called into action against the flying prehistoric monsters that soar through the skies, wreaking havoc around the entire world.
Why Is it Awesome? This is the first color follow-up to Toho Studios' landmark 'Godzilla' and it's an impressive display of the company's special effects. After spending over 50 years laughing along at "man in rubber suit" movies that became increasingly geared for children, it's easy to forget that these initial "giant monster" movies were all about total and utter destruction. Watching giant dinosaurs fly through the air toppling cities and amassing hundreds of casualties is a timeless spectacle.
3. 'The Host' (2006)
Country: South Korea
What's It About? Gang-du, a slow-witted food vendor is called into action after a giant mutated fish creature rises from the Han River and begins terrorizing civilians. If it's not busy eating helpless victims, it's busy storing them in the sewers -- like Gang-du's young daughter -- with an intent to dine on them later. Gang-du's efforts to mount a rescue mission are blocked by military officials trying to cover up the whole incident, quarantine a possible deadly virus that has also leaked and downplay the possibilities that the creature is the result of an American toxic waste mishap.
Why Is it Awesome? Like 'Jaws' before it, 'The Host' is packed with exciting jolts that pump you full of adrenaline. Unlike 'Jaws' however, Bong Joon-ho relishes in displaying the monster in all its glory, as much as possible. Fantastic modern effects have allowed for a completely unique monster, and the director's clever visual flair maximizes every fright that comes with the monster's bite. This movie isn't just a roller coaster ride; it's like a million dollar Universal Studios attraction that makes you wait in line for hours. And it's totally worth it.
Buy or Rent 'The Host'
2. 'Gojira' (1954)
What's It About? It's Godzilla. Everyone knows Godzilla. But in case you've forgotten the details: Godzilla is a prehistoric beast that has been radiated to super-monster levels of power thanks to a nuclear explosion. He rises from the depths of the ocean and annihilates Tokyo.
Why Is it Awesome? 'Gojira' is the original Japanese language version and minus the addition of American actor Raymond Burr. After you take away the massive pop-culture impact and the influence it's had on so many blockbuster movies, you have a dark, moody tale from a country recently ravaged by nuclear devastation; they created a fantastic monster to help explain and cope with the level of real death they have felt. A giant dinosaur with radiation breath is fun in a comic book kind of way, but in his original form, Gojira was a harbinger of unchecked nuclear hostility and terrifying possibility.
Buy or Rent 'Gojira'
1. 'The Descent' (2005)
Country: Great Britain
What's It About? Hoping to help their friend Sarah cope with the death of her husband and daughter, a group of adventure-seeking pals take her on a trip to the Appalachian Mountains. Led by the more cocky-than-correct Juno, they explore an unmapped, underground cave system; the trip quickly goes awry when a collapse forces them to go deeper into the unknown cave system in search of a way out. Miles away from daylight, with no one knowing where they are, the women's trip turns from disaster to nightmare when they discover that they are not alone.
Why Is it Awesome? 'The Descent' is one of the most intense, claustrophobic movies ever made -- detailing with uncomfortably close film-making -- how people would cope with such a freak natural disaster. And we haven't even begun to talk about the monsters yet. Neil Marshall's amazing directing choices, and masterful use of pull-and-release tension building, combined with horrifyingly-designed creature effects, adds up to one of the most unique movie experiences in years. As a disaster movie, 'The Descent' is really scary. As a monster movie, it's life-changingly, therapy-inducingly brutal.
Buy or Rent 'The Descent'
Check back every day, for more installment's of Moviefone's best of international horror. Coming up tomorrow: the best scary science-fiction films.