(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)
We’re coming in right under the wire for our spooky season recommendations on Pop Culture Imports, but this Halloweekend, check out a few subtitled (or straight up silent) horror movies in addition to your old favorites. This week we have a French suspense film that was a major inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, two disturbing Korean horror films, a German Expressionist classic, and a French revolutionary take on the zombie genre. Fire up those subtitles and let’s get streaming. These are the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.
Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now
Les Diaboliques – Amazon Prime
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cast: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel.
Les Diaboliques is the best suspense movie that Hitchcock never directed. And that similarity is not coincidental — the British filmmaker had apparently been interested in adapting She Who Was No More, the psychological suspense novel by Boileau-Narcejac that was the basis for Les Diaboliques, before Henri-Georges Clouzot beat him to optioning the screenplay rights. But it would come full circle: Les Diaboliques and its tense, terrifying twist would end up inspiring Hitchcock’s Psycho, with Psycho author Robert Bloch even citing Clouzot’s film as his all-time favorite horror film. And oh, what a bone-chilling, knock-the-breath-right-out-of-your-body twist it is. It comes at the end of a film that builds and builds on a feeling of dread, looming over the murder plot between a frail woman (Véra Clouzot) and her husband’s steely mistress (Simone Signoret) who conspire to murder her abusive husband (Paul Meurisse). It’s a perfectly creepy psychological horror film that sprinkles in just the right amount of double takes and things that go bump in the night.
Watch This If You Like: Psycho, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, Hitchcock but in French.
Nosferatu – Criterion, YouTube
Genre: German Expressionist horror
Director: F. W. Murnau
Cast: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroeder, Alexander Granach.
F.W. Murnau‘s German expressionist classic is a giant among horror films for good reason. An unofficial adaptation of Dracula — changing names from Bram Stoker’s novel after the rights couldn’t be acquired — Nosferatu is creepier and far more unsettling than any other official Dracula adaptation. It takes full advantage of its silent medium, filling the silence with an uneasiness, a mystery that may be better left untouched. And there’s no excuse not to watch Murnau’s silent masterpiece now. It’s long been on the public domain, but it’s gotten a ritzy new release on the Criterion Channel, giving you a chance to spot a few more things lurking in the darkness.
Watch This If You Like: Dracula, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Frankenstein, the best vampire not named Dracula.
A Tale of Two Sisters – Criterion
Country: South Korea
Genre: Psychological horror
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Cast: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, Geun-
Based on a Korean folktale, A Tale of Two Sisters was at the forefront of the Korean horror wave and comes to the Criterion Channel as part of its collection for New Korean Cinema. And it remains as effective and shocking 17 years, and a neutered English-language remake, later. When a teenage girl, Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) is released from a mental institution, she returns home with her younger sister (Moon Geun-young), of whom she is intensely protective. But the two of them face a chilly reception from their new stepmother (Yum Jung-ah), who terrorizes them almost as much as the ghosts haunting their house. A brutal psychological horror movie with shades of Shakespearean tragedy, A Tale of Two Sisters is a haunting tale of family trauma.
Watch This If You Like: Hereditary, The Lodge, seeing the far superior movie that The Uninvited is based on.
The Wailing – Amazon Prime
Country: South Korea
Genre: Supernatural horror
Director: Na Hong-jin
Cast: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee.
The Wailing is a fascinating mish-mash of genres — the crime drama, the buddy cop comedy, the possession horror flick. The result is a slow-burner that builds a sense of deep paranoia: is the Japanese stranger (Kunimura Jun) who moves to a small rural Korean town actually the devil incarnate, or the unfortunate target of the villagers’ xenophobia? That’s a mystery that the bumbling cop Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won) seeks to find out, as the villagers start to violently kill their families and the bodies pile up. Directed by Na Hong-jin (The Chaser), The Wailing zigs where you expect it to zag, charting an unpredictable path that leaps from genre to genre, and gets progressively weirder and more delusional with each passing minute.
Watch This If You Like: The Witch, The Devil’s Backbone, Memories of Murder if it was crossed with The Exorcist.
La Révolution: Season 1 – Netflix
Genre: Supernatural historical drama
Creator: Aurélien Molas
Cast: Doudou Masta, Julien Sarazin, Ian Turiak.
What if the French Revolution actually started with a zombie plague? This alt-history supernatural series reimagines the spark that started a revolution against the aristocracy as a virus that infects nobles who attack “the little people.” It all starts off with the murder of a 16-year-old girl named Rebecca who is seemingly devoured by a cannibalistic vagrant. But the strong-willed Countess Élise (Marilou Aussilloux), who has shunned the life of luxury afforded to her after her lover is killed, becomes suspicious that Rebecca’s death is part of a cover-up that reaches all the way to the top. It’s a fun twist on the typical bosom-heaving soapiness that is typical of this kind of historical drama (which La Révolution doesn’t shy away from either), even if its politics are a little shaky. A stylish, sexy — and most importantly, spooky — gothic series that dishes out plenty of scares and gore, La Révolution is the kind of bloody period drama that makes for the perfect escapist entertainment right now.
Watch This If You Like: Kingdom, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, history and zombies.
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