In the film industry, there have been statements made about how all horror movies have an underlying political basis to them, some more than others. ZAVVI states that horror movies are dedicated to scaring audiences with real life problems, so political and social commentary really hits people where it hurts. Horror is an extremely versatile genre, with multiple subdivisions, such as horror-comedy, slasher-horror, and of course, political horror. Slasher horror is mostly based around iconic killers such as Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger – all household names. Horror comedies consist of movies such as the babysitter (2017) and Gremlins (1984). Political horror movies might seem like a new concept, but this genre has been alive and well for decades now. Viewers might not even know that they’re consuming a political horror movie, because the plot can blend it so well, but more times than not, it’s pretty obvious. Here are some of the best political horror movies.
7 The Green Inferno (2015)
This controversial flick directed by Eli Roth is a perfect example of political horror, both on the screen and also in real life. The movie depicts a college group of social activists traveling to a remote jungle to try and help the indigenous people who inhabit that area, resulting in their worst nightmares. The Green Inferno got tons of backlash toward Roth, stating that he portrayed indigenous people in a bad light, as savages and cannibals who imprison the students and eat them one by one. What makes this a great political horror is the mistakes both the college group and Roth made throughout this movie; the white-savior complexes, and making it so realistic. The saving grace, if you could call it that, would be at the end of the movie, when the main character Justine (Lorenza Izzo), the only survivor of the group, tells the police that the indigenous people who trapped her and her friends , were perfectly kind to her the entire time, and shouldn’t be bothered, and should be protected.
6 Jaws (1975)
Quite possibly one of the best shark movies ever to be created, Jaws is a great example of consumerism. The movie is based around a sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old timely seafarer teaming up to take the beast, a giant great white shark, down after it surfaces near a populated beach. The sheriff (Roy Schieder) tries several times to approach town officials regarding the shark, stating that they need to shut the beach down in order to safely remove the creature. However, town officials are stuck on how much money tourists will bring in throughout that weekend, dismissing the worry about the shark, and in the end, many lives are lost due to such negligence.
5 Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Filled with bloody and gruesome moments, this film is jam-packed with political and social commentary. While this horror is based on actual serial killer Ed Gein, who was known as the “Butcher of Plainfield”, frequently visiting grave sites to exhume bodies from their graves and skin them; Texas Chain Saw Massacre has more depth than meets the eye. While it rides on the shoulders of being deeply disturbing, the topic of animal cruelty as well as mass-farming is displayed quite a bit. The slaughterhouse shots in the very beginning, displaying the drugged and foaming at the mouth animals is stomach turning, but also when the victims are brought to the house, and bones of animals are everywhere. Chicken feathers, bones, meat, and carcasses decorate almost every space, and it’s a slap right in the face to animal rights.
4 Candy Man (1992)
Starring Tony Todd, who actually got stung by twenty-three bees on set, says Looper, candy man is a revenge story set in Chicago. When college student Helen Lyle discovers the urban legend based on Candyman, a black man who was murdered by his white girlfriend’s dad, she summons his spirit and things take a turn for the worst. With a budget of 8 million, candy man leads a great story of revenge and race; the bees that surround him are a constant reminder of the way he died, his killer covering his face in honey, so he would be attacked, over and over again. candy man is a classic and a great political horror film, and that also goes for the sequel that came out in 2021.
3 The Purge Movies
This dystopian world centers around a crime-free America, except for one single day out of 365. The Purgecreated by the government to lesson crime rates throughout the year, is a day when any and all crime is legal for twenty-four hours, with no consequences and no police to help. The Purge is a great example of dystopian worlds gone wrong. Imagining a day like this in America would be catastrophic, and the government’s desperate attempts to fix crime in this way, would be detrimental. It’s also a great example of desperation throughout the government, and the horrible choices that can lead to.
2 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
This 1956 film is perfectly creepy, and perfectly set in a time when the Cold War is looming over people. The plot of the film follows a small town doctor, who begins to notice that the residents are turning into automatons; individuals becoming zombie-like and just milling about. Communism was really taking over in the ’50s, so this film was a big example of what life was like under that dictatorship. For the year, this was a monumental horror film, setting the course for more to come, and the not-so-subtle political plot line really works in favor for this movie, and still, to this day.
1 Get Out (2017)
When couple Chris and Rose head to her family’s home for the weekend to meet her parents, Chris is a bit apprehensive from the jump. He’s worried about what her parents will think of their daughter dating a Black man, but Rose reassures him that it’s all going to be fine, and that he should leave his worries at the door. The audience is quick to learn that Chris had several reasons to be worried about this trip, but none of them were what he was expecting. Jordan Peele directs this masterpiece of a horror movie, taking it in turns that are unexpected and surprising, from Chris falling under hypnosis for the first time, to the silent auction that’s held at Chris’ expense.