Reviewing Horror Movies And The Subgenres

Horror is a vast genre. But, sadly, it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Too often, critiques disregard horror, and yet, the fandom can’t have enough.

The Beginning of Horror

Reviewing horror movies and the subgenres is quite a task. But here we go!

Horror goes back centuries when folklore and legends were born. Creatures such as ghosts, vampires, demons, witches, and underwater monsters existed well before writing about them. So, I guess we can say in a way, horror is in our DNA.

HBO - True Blood
HBO – True Blood

The monsters we know and defied time often have roots in each civilization around the world. Folklore is where it starts but also grows and becomes an entity. After all, Catholicism alongside Christianity gave us the devil and demons. Horror is everywhere.

Whether we want to admit it or not, eliminating horror is not something that can happen when reality can be just as worst. Legends and folklore have a fragment of truth, and most monsters were humans when the tale started.

The Paranormal Horror

History is often an excellent place to start when it comes to creating a horror story. So many movies or novels have a base in factual events. Now, to what extent are those stories real? It’s up for debate but entertaining nonetheless.

Movies such as The ExorcistThe Amityville Horror, and The Conjuring are said paranormal. However, their roots come from true events. Whether it is a possessed boy, a man saying he was possessed to kill his family, or filed kept by the late Warrens, they are real.


I guess what I’m saying is that the story is true to those who lived through it. Paranormal or not, something happened to have the article, the video, or the facts available. It doesn’t matter if one believes in the paranormal or not because, in the end, something did happen. Was it supernatural, a mental illness, or a hoax gone too far? Who knows? It still happened.

The Reality of Nightmares

It is often proof that we don’t need to reach out far to create horror. Reality can be more than enough. It can even inspire some of the most twisted horror ever made. Sometimes, it’s almost inconceivable to think those are stories inspired by reality.

One cannibalistic killer from Wisconsin was able to inspire a few horror movies by himself. Ed Gein inspired Psycho, Hannibal Lecter, and Leatherface. He was the primary inspiration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the “based on true events” comes from. The family itself got its inspiration from a southern inbred family of the time.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Ed Gein was a cannibal born in 1906 and lived to be seventy-eight years old. His name was anywhere between Edward Theodore Gein to the Butcher of Plainfield. He committed gruesome acts that inspired books and movies. What made him the perfect inspiration for Leatherface was that Gein did make masks out of the face of people he did kill. He made belts, gloves, handles, bowls, among other utilities, out of body parts he didn’t eat.

Ed Gein, when arrested, did not go to prison but to a mental institution. He was the embodiment of psychopathy and an excellent subject to study. Understanding the mind of someone like Ed Gein is of primary importance, and horror movies aren’t too far from what he was.

When Slasher Flicks Are Real

One horror movie that few people know has roots, in reality, is A Nightmare On Elm Street. Wes Craven revealed in an interview reading about the story of a boy who fled Cambodia with his family to go to the United States of America.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street – Dream Warriors

However, the boy had terrible nightmares and told his parents he didn’t want to fall asleep, scared of dying if he would. Then, one night, the boy screamed, but by the time the parents got to him, he died. The boy died in the middle of a dream. That story was, according to Craven, in the L.A. Times.

There you have it! A typical slasher flick, an entire franchise created in the 80s, has a handle on reality. Freddy Krueger‘s character might be fictional, but the essence of where the story comes from isn’t.

So, is horror so far-fetched?

When Torture Porn Met Eli Roth

Ed Gein inspired a lot by himself, but sometimes it’s a whole event that can trigger someone’s mind to make a movie. Let’s take Eli Roth‘s Hostel, the movie that cemented Roth’s name as the Torture Porn king. Another term for it would be splatter films.

The Hostel franchise is one overwhelming series of movies. But back when the first installment came out, a new subgenre saw the light of day in horror. Torture porn, for the most part, owes its name to Hostel.

Hostel by Eli Roth

However, aside from the twisted torture, Eli Roth admitted that the idea came from a real place. In some European countries, rich people pay to see strangers—most of the time, students from abroad, tortured to death.

So, to those who say horror is stupid or increase violence or encourage unspeakable acts: do your research first. Eli Roth didn’t reinvent the wheel. He simply came across a piece of reality most of us want to deny exists.

Does The Dog Die In The Movie?

Let’s get one thing straight. The horror genre is vast and contains many subgenres. Up to this point, I showed how horror doesn’t take its fiction as far from reality as we think it does. However, some people believe that you cannot call yourself a horror fan unless you are ready to watch the entire horror spectrum of movies. That is horse shite!

The Horror Movie Iceberg
The Horror Movie Iceberg

Movies are for entertainment purposes, not a barometer of someone’s tolerance to whatever genre they are watching. I consider myself a broad horror fan, but I know where the line I refuse to cross is. Exploitation movies are often the genre I avoid. Why is that? Because, as its subgenre indicates, it’s the exploitation of whatever is the subject.

My personal avoidance is animal abuse, child violence, rape, women exploitation without a valid reason, pedophilia, and mutilation without a good reason. For those who are often questioning, “Can I watch this horror movie, or will it trigger x,y,z?” Here is a website for you where they take care of all the traumas.

Does The Dog Die

Again we are all horror fans. You do not need to watch, for example, A Serbian Film, to be a horror fan. Okay? We’re all fans of the genre, and we’re here to have a spooky fun time.

Where Are You On The Horror Ladder?

While I said the horror genre is vast, the fandom is just as significant and broad. The subgenres are there to indicate what trope you’re in for. Some of them are as simple as ‘slasher flick‘ or ‘torture porn,’ but others are less direct.

This Iceberg Horror Movie ladder can help you remarkably locate yourself where you are comfortable in the horror genre. Many YouTube channels create various Top 5 or List of horror categories that can be helpful. The one I personally recommend is below: Top 5 Scary Videos.

Top 5 Scary Videos

I believe horror is an essential part of creativity. I know so many people who enjoy the genre, and sometimes, their subgenres are way different from mine, but we connect nonetheless. Where you are on the horror ladder is not about your tolerance but your preference and what you enjoy. The horror fandom is for everyone.

Those ‘Too Much’ Movies

Now, we’re entering the subgenre of horror that is quite dark and for various reasons. It doesn’t mean it’s horrifying; some are just gruesome for no particular reason. Note here that this segment of the article is about the obscure and twisted matter. If you couldn’t take the decapitation of Charlie in Hereditary, maybe stop here. I gave you a warning.

Often the darker we go in horror, the more gore-fest we find, not much from reality but fetishes. That subgenre, I guess, falls under the smut-horror movies. A lot of plots rely on exploitation and overly depend on different kinds of crazes.

The Iceberg Horror Movie List In Depth
The Iceberg Horror Movie List In Depth

Good examples of smut-horror movies would be the Slow Torture Puke Chamber franchise and No Vaseline The Great Porn Swindle. There’s no need for me to say what it is, as the titles are pretty self-explanatory. Those are part of the Iceberg Horror Movie list that I don’t particularly agree with due to its movie placement.

This Iceberg Horror Movie list seems to mix horror with a story with exploitation. My personal opinion is that this list could help those looking for movies nobody heard of or underground ones. But, for the masses, stick to the simpler one with more reachable suggestions.

But The ‘Too Much’ Movies?

However, some dark horror movies stuck with people. Some of these cross many lines for me, but I know people who watched those, like my husband. A movie called Antichrist by Lars von Tiers came out in 2009. It was an experimental psychological horror movie starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

If you expect a paranormal story about what we think the ‘antichrist’ word means, you’re wrong. Antichrist revolves around the aftermath of parents grieving the loss of their child. In a cabin in the woods, both go through different psychological trauma.


The father has visions while the wife has violent sexual sadomasochism bursts. The mutilation scenes are the kind that not everyone can sit through and made the movie a darker one.

Another one that I admire the clips I saw but am not ready to watch is, Martyrs. This movie received many positive reviews. As a point of reference, Martyrs—the original French movie, received a high 7.1 on IMDb and a solid 4.1 on Google, which is relatively high for horror.


The psychological horror movie Martyrs came out in 2008, and its director was Pascal Laugier. The story revolves around a girl named Lucie who wishes nothing more than to kill those who tortured her after the abduction. She meets two other girls along the way, but not without brutal violence and mutilation.

Why the movie has the title Martyrs is quite a revelation. In the end, one can understand why the movie is controversial but also praised by many viewers. It is part of the New French Extremity movement.

Extremity Movement What?

The New French Extremity is a subgenre of horror—not all a horror, but most are—from French directors that dare speak and show taboo topics. This subgenre is unique to mutilation long-lasting effect of abduction, torture, incest, home invasion, pornography, and so much more. It relies on shocking sceneries but also their psychological impact.

Incident In A Ghost Land

I watched another movie by Pascal Laugier called, Incident In A Ghost Land and it was magnificent. The movie spoke of home invasion, abduction, and its psychological effects on two sisters. The two sisters couldn’t be more different henceforth had an entirely different reaction to the kidnapping.

Incident In A Ghost Land is a good starting point to test whether or not this subgenre is for you or not. It is a powerful, heavy, but passionate movie. I highly recommend it to try the genre.

Where I Draw The My Line No Shame

So, this is one of the lasts dark movies I present in this article. I can watch many subgenres when it comes to horror, but everyone has a line not to cross. A Serbian Film contains most of what I refuse to watch.

A Serbian Film, in my opinion, is to shock and test what people agree to show to the public. I don’t think it has another purpose. It touches topics that not many would be comfortable watching. Do we fall under the horror-smut subgenre? Maybe.

A Serbian Film
A Serbian Film

The story revolves around a porn star getting older wanting to break away from his career. In other words, he wants to be an actor and not a porn star anymore. He agrees to participate in an art movie but realizes he was in over his head with scenes of pedophilia and necrophilia. Those are just the tip of the iceberg for this movie.

My Darkest Movie I Enjoyed

Like many horror fans, I have favorite subjects. While my favorite is found footage, and I’m proud of it, sometimes I like psychological horror. I enjoy watching serial killer documentaries, and so, I stumbled upon The Poughkeepsie Tapes.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a mockumentary—falls under the ‘found footage’ umbrella—about a fictional serial killer. Do not underestimate this movie because of its ‘found footage’ label. The Poughkeepsie Tapes gave nightmares to many who watched it. It also disturbed many viewers believing that what they watched was real.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

The movie is entirely fictional. However, the inspiration comes from various serial killers that lived. It shows the serial killer filming what he does to his victims, keeping his first alive throughout the years. The movie shows how a psychopath sees humans, thinks, acts, and can get away with murder.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is not for everyone as it shows mental abuse, torture, and tests to what point not only the body can take pain but the brain too. This movie is one of the best horrors I watched, and I only recommend it to those with a strong stomach. It’s not a gore-fest. It’s psychologically heavy.

We Are All Horror Fans

There you have it, the proof that horror has many subgenres to satisfy almost everyone. Horror isn’t cheesy, stupid. It does not increase violence or encourage it. Horror takes from reality and turns it into an entertainment medium to show our society.

Horror is intelligent, smarter than we think, touches us, dares us, and teaches us many things. Horror gave us classics, cutting edge styles, showcased unknown people’s talent, and made them somebodies.

SAW - 2004
SAW – 2004

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not a horror fan because you don’t watch a subgenre. Also, don’t let anyone tell you you’re a freak or stupid for watching horror. Horror is life. The darkest psychological horror movies take their inspiration from society. The news isn’t that different.

So, go on and rent yourself a good horror movie!
The OCD Vampire,
Arielle Lyon

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