It’s that time of year again, dearest motherfuckers. My favorite time of year. A time for mischief and chaos. A time for goblins, ghosts and ghouls. A time for swirling leaves, raucous bonfires and flickering jack-o-lanterns. A time for soaped windows, toilet paper strewn streets and getting even with the role crazy adults who govern the rest of the year. A time when juvenile delinquency is celebrated and everyone is just another freak in drag like me. A time my Celtic ancestors use to call Samhain, when the barrier between mortals and the spirit world was broken and we were all encouraged to partake in the tricks and treats of the sprites and faeries. A sacred time for good-natured blasphemy. The perfect time for macabre cinema and anarchy.
That’s right, dearest motherfuckers, it’s time for my annual list of scary movies for anarchists to watch in the dark. Horror movies are the perfect vehicles for radical social commentary because they are all about boldly confronting that which terrifies us most. So every year around this wonderful time, I compile a list of horrifying films that should provoke the anarchist in all of us. As usual, this list is full of politically incorrect, provocatively profane and critically disdained masterpieces of modern terror, and not all of them technically fall into the category of traditional horror cinema, but they’re all bold studies in the dangers of authoritarian living and they’re all worth surviving through. So without further ado, I give you even more scary movies for anarchists to watch in the dark.
Battle Royale (2000) by Kinji Fukasaku– In a future that feels disturbingly nearer with every viewing, a middle school class is subjected to a twisted experiment in curbing juvenile delinquency by a totalitarian Japanese government. After being drugged on their way to a field trip, these unsuspecting teens find themselves captive on an island in which they are forced to fight each other to the death to survive. If all this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Hollywood badly copied it with that dreadfully banal dreck known as The Hunger Games. But trust me when I tell you that the mercilessly gory original is far superior. In his final film, the great Kinji Fukasaku creates the perfect allegory for the evils of compulsory schooling, where power-drunk adults bring the worst out of children to prepare them for the cruelties of adulthood in a totalitarian society. But as long as the young are willing to fight back for love and liberty, there will always be hope to turn the guns on the headmaster.
Green Room (2015) by Jeremy Saulnier– The ultimate Antifa flick, after the anarcho-punks in the Ain’t Rights find themselves Shanghaied at a rural Pacific Northwest skinhead bar and witness the savage murder of a would-be defector, they are forced to put their radical beliefs where their mouth is and fight for their lives from a barricaded green room against a horde of bloodthirsty neo-Nazis. The best thing about this wickedly funny survival horror masterpiece, aside from Patrick Stewart’s instantly classic performance as the skinhead kingpin, Darcy Barker, is that it encourages the very best angels of Antifa’s nature. Before the murder these punks put on a performance raucous enough to win over their enemies even when they opened with the Dead Kennedys classic, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” But the moment the audience turns on an innocent, they fight like fucking hell. They may not realize it, but this is what the libertarian Non-Aggression Principal is really all about, defending peace by any means necessary.
American Psycho (2000) by Mary Harron– Bret Easton Ellis’ woefully misunderstood cult classic is given the perfect cinematic treatment by feminist auteur Mary Harron who clearly comprehends the savage satire at the heart of the novel. Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman is the perfect embodiment of American capitalism; handsome, charming, well-groomed and completely empty inside. We follow the Wall Street serial killer as he cascades into a downward spiral of commercial banality juxtaposed against the psychotic violence it represents. The American Empire in the 1980’s is pretty savagely summed up by a stockbroker murdering a colleague like a Contra with an ax while Huey Lewis covers his screams. We are all Patrick Bateman in this country, aren’t we?
Baise-Moi (2000) by Virginie Despentes & Coralie Trinh Thi– I’m not going to sugarcoat it, dearest motherfuckers, Baise-Moi is a severely unpleasant film and quite possibly the most uncomfortable viewing experience on this list. It’s little wonder almost every critic alive in 2000 despised the picture. Only Patrick Bateman would be sick enough to actually enjoy it. But sometimes your medicine is a bitter pill to swallow, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. A movie about two women in the sex industry who go on a cross-country killing spree after being brutally raped, Baise-Moi (French for ‘Fuck Me’) may not be pretty but it is the perfect display of the aching nihilism that defines what it means to be a woman in a society that only values us as vessels for male satisfaction. If you feel sick by the credits, the medicine is working.
The Fly (1986) by David Cronenberg– Jeff Goldblum might as well be starring as Tony Fauci in this sticky sci-fi cult classic about the dangers of brilliant men playing god. Mad scientist Seth Brundle seems to be really on to something groundbreaking when he creates pods that can allow genetic teleportation but after testing the devices on himself, something as seemingly insignificant as a fly in the machine causes him to slowly mutate into a gigantic hideous insect. If you can think of a better allegory for the horrors of gain of function research, I’d sure as fuck like to hear it. The only difference here is that the bat in the telepod turned us all into Jeff fucking Goldblum. Anything for science!
The Corporation (2003) by Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abott– Their is plenty of shocking history to terrify you in this documentary, from the Business Plot to overthrow FDR in favor of something even more fascist to IBM’s complicity in the Holocaust, but nothing is more horrifying than The Corporation’s tightly researched argument that if a corporation truly is a human being, as our masters in the Supreme Court insist, than it fits the clinical definition of a psychopath like a glove. You thought Michael Myers was scary? Try a multinational Michael Myers the size of a small country. Now that’s a monster too big to fail.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) by Ruggero Deodato– Ruggero Deodato’s grindhouse goregasm may not exactly be politically correct but it does a pretty devastating job of exposing the brutal nature of colonialism and the western mass media’s active participation in it. What begins as a seemingly racist attempt by an American news team to rescue a group of fellow documentarians from a tribe of uncontacted Amazonian cannibals gets completely flipped on its severed ear when halfway through the film, the rescue team finds the now graphically devoured documentarian’s footage only to discover that the victims began as victimizers; doctoring footage between bigoted jokes about their subjects before provoking the barbaric response from them that they desired by murdering innocent tribesmen and setting fire to their village. It’s one of the most shocking left hooks in cinematic history. The victims are revealed to be the true savages. It’s a bit like discovering that their were actually little Eichmann’s hiding among the innocent in those Twin Towers.
Pi (1998) by Darren Aronofsky– Darren Aronofsky’s starkly cerebral black and white debut is a bit of a psychological companion piece to The Fly. Max Cohen, a brilliant and reclusive mathematician, is on a one man jihad to prove that the chaos of the universe can be completely explained by a code. As his search for order in the universe brings him closer and closer to the brink of insanity, he finds himself the target of Wall Street brokers and religious zealots who seek to use his work to serve their own twisted schemes for power. The message becomes terrifyingly clear by the end of the picture. There are certain advances in technology that human beings simply aren’t evolved enough to be trusted with. Ted Kaczynski could have spared a few lives with an 8mm camera.
Us (2019) by Jordan Peele– A lot of people went nuts for Peele’s groundbreaking debut, Get Out, about the horrors of racial appropriation, but I actually believe Us, his surreal treatise on class, was far more superior in both style and message. A nationwide uprising of subterranean clones known as the Tethered sends a family to war with themselves, against what are revealed to be the vengeful products of a failed government experiment. The message is perfect. For everything, we the privileged take, something from our tethered doppelgangers is taken away until the tether snaps and the deprived say enough. This is precisely how the American Empire operates. One nation can only have everything if the rest have nothing. The Third World, both at home and abroad, are the Tethered, but they won’t be tethered forever. Us is a warning.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) by Guillermo del Toro– Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy about a little girl in Francoist Spain who escapes the tutelage of her cold Falangist stepfather to a beautiful and terrifying labyrinth of fantastic creatures in order to save her sickly mother and her newborn brother is the perfect anarchist fairytale. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if Ofelia’s visions are reality or a childlike fantasy to escape it. What matters is that we are all born with hearts big enough to make the impossible a reality. It’s in times like these, more than ever, that we need to be big enough to dream the way we did when we were small to defeat the very real monsters that threaten to devour us all. The world we seek to build on the ashes of the old is already all around us, it’s just that it’s visible only to those who know where to look.
Happy Halloween dearest motherfuckers. Keep dreaming.