7 Irish Horror Movies Worth A Look

When I emigrated from Ireland in 2001, I couldn’t have named one horror film my country had produced, except for maybe Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves, and whether or not that’s even horror, or even entirely Irish, is open to debate. But, perhaps due in no small part to the economic decline in my homeland, which historically and globally tends to incite creative types to express themselves with renewed fervor, a number of Irish horror films have cropped up on our screens over the past few years. And while of course there are duds, more than a couple of them are very good indeed, and leave me excited to see what these filmmakers come up with next. Here’s a list of those I think are worth your time:

In Fear1. IN FEAR – 2013

The setup for this is a typical and familiar one: Loving couple gets lost in unfamiliar territory and find themselves stalked by someone/something. It’s how this is handled, particularly toward the end, that helps differentiate IN FEAR from standard fare like WRONG TURN, WOLF CREEK, THE HITCHER etc. Using the dreary fog and rain-shrouded countryside to maximum effect, director Jeremy Lovering pulls us into the mood and keeps us there with some interesting, nihilistic twists on a tired premise.

2. DARK TOUCH – 2013Dark Touch

After the violent deaths of her parents and younger brother, a young girl is taken in by her neighbors, who soon find themselves tormented by inexplicable occurrences. Aided in no small part by an incredibly convincing and therefore all the more disturbing performance from child actor Missy Keating, DARK TOUCH makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience (as it always is when the subject is child abuse), but director Chad Crawford Kinkle plays things with a measured and often clever hand. And while the bulk of the film is quietly sinister, it’s book-ended by a pair of truly unsettling sequences.

grabbers3. GRABBERS – 2012

The only comedy-horror that appears on this list, GRABBERS will appeal to those of you who count TREMORS and ATTACK THE BLOCK among your favorite sci-fi horror films. In a preposterous (or is it?) conceit, a ragtag group of islanders discover that the only way to avoid getting chomped by the squid-like aliens who have laid siege to their island, is to hole up in a bar and get drunk, as apparently the aliens can’t drink blood that has been tainted by booze. Works for me. The proceedings are helped enormously by the humor throughout, as well as game performances by all concerned, and some excellent special effects.

4. THE ECLIPSE – 2009the eclipse

At the opposite end of the scale from squishy aliens and exploding heads, we have this quiet little gem, about a lonely widower who makes a connection with a novelist and romance blossoms. But as soon as he decides to love again, he begins to suffer strange paranormal visitations (one of which had me jumping a foot off the couch.) The entire movie rests more or less on the shoulders of the always excellent Ciaran Hinds (GAME OF THRONES), who brings the appropriate amount of gravitas to the proceedings. A sad and creepy story, as likely to have you weeping as jolting in your seat.

MV5BMzIwMTQ2NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDIzMjQ0OA@@._V1_SX214_AL_5. CITADEL – 2012

CITADEL uses its low budget and central premise–that of a young father stricken by agoraphobia after failing to save his wife from a gang of violent youths–to great effect. Like the main character’s affliction, the mood in CITADEL is suffocating, and director Ciaran Foy ratchets up the tension by slow degrees until it’s almost unbearable. Reminiscent at times of David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD without the gooshy biology, CITADEL has plenty to say about societal decay and the fears of being a parent too, which only adds to the terror.

6. ISOLATION – 2005Isolation

Despite the hokey premise (which is actually presented better than it sounds) of a remote Irish farm being the epicenter of gruesome experiments on livestock, there’s a lot that actually works here, from the mood and solid performances, to the creature effects. And while it loses something toward the end, the journey to get there is lots of splattery fun. Just be sure you’re not eating while watching it. Seriously.

wake wood7. WAKE WOOD – 2010

With an obvious debt to THE WICKER MAN and PET SEMATARY, WAKE WOOD is almost a very good movie but falls just a little short where so many low budget horror films do: in the ending. Still, there’s a lot of creepiness here, starting with the central idea that if you lost a child, you could, with certain sacrifices, get them back. That’s always a harrowing setup for a film, and this one is no different. With good performances by Aidan Gillen (another GAME OF THRONES alumnus) and Eva Birthistle, and the by now requisite foggy rural landscape to deepen the mood, you could do a lot worse than WAKE WOOD.

So there you have it, my list of seven Irish horror movies I consider worth a look. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and if there’s any justice, I’ll be able to do another list of good Irish horror movies not too long from now.

5 (Really Good) Horror Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen

Every time I come across an article online which lists a certain number of horror movies “You Haven’t Seen”, invariably I’ve seen all of them, and I suspect so have most self-respecting fans of the genre. That might well prove to be the case here, but I thought it high time I cast some well-deserved light on a few of the more obscure ones that may have slipped beneath your radar. If even one of these is unknown to you and you end up loving it as much as I did, then I’ll consider this blog post a success.

Rabies1. RABIES (KALEVET) – 2010

When I first saw the trailer for this Israeli horror film about a brother and sister who have fled their home, only for one of them to find himself caught in a psychopath’s trap, it looked well-shot and acted but little else. I assumed it standard slasher fare until I read the reviews and realized that this was another in a long line of examples of studios trying to market a hard-to-classify film to a wider audience. The trailer is grossly misleading, so much so that I suggest you don’t watch it at all, and go into RABIES with no idea what you’re going to see. It’s superbly well done, and not at all the kind of film you think it is. To say any more would be to ruin it, so check it out if you can find it.

2. SLEEP TIGHT (MIENTRAS DUERMES) – 2011Sleep_Tight

Directed by Jaume Balaguero, the guy who brought you [REC], [REC] 2 and the upcoming [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE, one might be forgiven for assuming this Spanish thriller would be balls-to-the-wall gore, but it’s anything but. Instead, SLEEP TIGHT, about a night porter who decides–for no other reason than he can–to make the life of one of his residents hell, finds Balaguero in a quieter if no less vicious mood. This one’s a bit of a slow burn, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. One of the most disturbing films I’ve seen in years, and hardly a drop of blood in sight.

MV5BMzIwMTQ2NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDIzMjQ0OA@@._V1_SX214_AL_3. CITADEL – 2012

The first of the two Irish horror films on this list, CITADEL uses its low budget and central premise–that of a young father stricken by agoraphobia after failing to save his wife from a gang of violent youths–to great effect. Like the main character’s affliction, the mood in CITADEL is suffocating, and director Ciaran Foy ratchets up the tension by slow degrees until it’s almost unbearable. Reminiscent at times of David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD without the gooshy biology, CITADEL has plenty to say about societal decay and the fears of being a parent too, which only adds to the terror.

4. JULIA’S EYES (LOS OJOS DE JULIA) – 2010julia's eyes

Don’t let the “Guillermo Del Toro” presents tag fool you, in terms of visual style and story, this movie has more in common with Dario Argento. When Julia begins to lose her sight–a congenital defect she shared with her recently murdered twin sister–it gives the filmmakers all kinds of opportunity to play with the things Julia, and we, sees. And while it takes a jarring left turn in the third act, enough mystery and horror have built up in the previous two to make this one of the better genre films to come from Spain in the past few years.

Isolation5. ISOLATION – 2005

The second of two Irish horror films, this one can be classified as a gorefest. Despite the hokey premise (which is actually presented better than it sounds) of a remote Irish farm being the epicenter of gruesome experiments on livestock, there’s a lot that actually works here, from the mood and solid performances, to the creature effects. And while it loses something toward the end, the journey to get there is lots of splattery fun. Just be sure you’re not eating while watching it. Seriously.

So what do you think? Have you seen any of these movies, and if so, what did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations for little-known horror movies others might have missed? If so, share them in the comments below.

Next time, I’d list my top ten favorite Irish horror movies (you probably haven’t seen those either…)

 

OFFLINE: IN THE FLESH Available Now

Now available on Amazon and Smashwords…

The Internet has brought us all closer to together. Strangers are just a click away. But despite all the risks, sometimes love can blossom amid the chaos. Every day, millions of people find the one they were meant to be with, their soul mate, their one true love.

But on the Internet, where anyone can pretend to be someone or something other than what they really are, the only thing more dangerous than trust, is love.

In this sequel to the popular short story OFFLINE, and presented as a transcript of Facebook messages in the wake of tragedy, this time the communication leaves the confines of the Internet world, and we are shown what happens when two strangers connected by burgeoning love, meet each other IN THE FLESH.

http://www.amazon.com/Offline-Flesh-Kealan-Patrick-Burke-ebook/dp/B00MXD2K2I

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Offline-Flesh-Kealan-Patrick-Burke-ebook/dp/B00MXD2K2I

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/469225

THE NOVELLAS, Free From 8/18 – 8/22

From tomorrow, Mthenovellasresizedonday 18th August, my collection THE NOVELLAS will be available as a free digital download at Amazon.com. The book collects together four of my best novellas, “The Tent”, “Seldom Seen in August”, “You In?”, and “Midlisters”. It is also currently free for subscribers to Kindle Unlimited.

Here’s the description:

An omnibus collection of four novellas by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke (Kin, The Turtle Boy).

Featured in this book are:

THE TENT

The perfect getaway…

The perfect place to hide…

Hocking Hills, Ohio is an oasis for campers, hikers, nature enthusiasts, and for those who just want to get away and lose themselves in the wild.

And as long as you follow your guide’s advice and stay within the permitted areas, you can expect to survive the night.

Because deep within the dark woods, something insidious awaits, something few have ever seen, something ancient, unknowable, and insatiable.

If you go down to these woods today, you won’t live to see the sunrise…

YOU IN?

For years the Wickerwood Inn has stood abandoned, home to nothing but dust and the trapped echo of past celebrations…and tragedy.

For a down on his luck ex-gambler, the inn’s reputation is a thing of myth, and certainly not reason enough to turn down the first paying job to come his way in months. The inn will soon be renovated in preparation for a new lease on life. So tonight, from midnight till six, Peter Haskins will watch over the machinery.

And he will soon discover that there is something else in the hotel with him, something that needs no new lease on life, for it has never died.

And never will.

SELDOM SEEN IN AUGUST

Wade Crawford is not a good guy. He’s a bank robber and a ruthless killer, and now three people are dead and Wade is on the run. With the cops hot on his heels, he breaks into a seemingly ordinary house in a seemingly ordinary neighborhood to hide and wait on word from his partner.

But this neighborhood is far from ordinary. Indeed it has a very specific purpose, and soon Wade will discover that life in prison would be preferable to the hellish torment Seldom Seen has in store for him.

MIDLISTERS

Meet Jason Tennant, a writer of violent horror novels whose career is mired firmly in a maddening swamp of frustration somewhere north of nowhere and south of success. He is a midlister, those thankless souls who labor in the shadows of sometimes better, sometimes luckier writers, and it’s starting to take its toll.

Meet Kent Gray, wildly popular author of a string of so-called “sex-fi” novels. He’s wealthy, handsome, and the object of Jason Tennant’s professional jealousy.

Welcome to Baltimore, Maryland, and the Aurora Science Fiction & Horror Convention, where these two men, midlister and bestseller, will meet for the first time, and the midlister motto “Better Read Than Dead” will be put to the ultimate test.

Purchase your copy of THE NOVELLAS at Amazon.com.

 

 

Milestone: The Collected Stories, Volume One

Released today:

MilestoneFrom the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of THE TURTLE BOY, KIN, and JACK & JILL.

Somewhere out west there is a town called Milestone. You will not find it on any map. If you’re lucky, you won’t find it at all.

Once a thriving mining community, the few souls who still dwell there know nothing of hope and everything of damnation. Because Milestone may appear near-death, a ghost town in the making, but it is very much alive.

There are the stories of invisible barriers that open and close the borders on a whim, sometimes fatally, the whispers of a man in a top hat who comes cycling up out of the darkness of the abandoned mine to change the fate of the town, the buried music box that summons him, the people with unnatural powers, the old man who counts stacks of pennies and prays they never fall…and the fires that burn brightly with the sounds of screams.

Milestone is very much alive, and those unlucky souls trapped within its borders have little choice but to learn the true nature of their prison, or become its latest victim.

And even as they fight against the inevitable, the borders continue to expand.

Milestone is growing.

Included in the following book are the novellas “The Witch”, “Saturday Night at Eddie’s”, “Thirty Miles South of Dry County” and “The Palaver”.

Get your copy now at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or Smashwords, for only $2.99!

PEEKERS Heads to Hollywood

graphic courtesy of Slashfilm

graphic courtesy of Slashfilm

I’m happy to announce that my short story “Peekers” (originally published in Eulogies, edited by Nanci Kalanta, and reprinted in my collection The Number 121 to Pennsylvania & Others), has been picked up by Lionsgate for feature film treatment. The film will be written by Jeff Howard and Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus, Soma), and produced by Lawrence Grey (Last Vegas).

Read the full story here.