By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
The horror film is hands down the most woefully underrated genre in cinema. Art at its very finest provokes and there is no subject more provocative than death. Death is the only existential constant in the human experience. Like it or not, we are all born to die. So it only follows that human beings should be both fascinated and terrified by death in equal measure. This fascination is precisely what powers the commercial drive behind the horror industry. There has never been a time since cinema’s infancy when audiences haven’t flocked to the theater to be frightened. People are drawn to fear but when that fear is followed through with analysis they become too uncomfortable to enjoy the cheap thrill of being terrified without consequences. But there are always consequences.
This is why mainstream horror movies have largely been reduced to the cheap thrills alone. The last thing Hollywood wants is for terrified people to think about what terrifies them most. This isn’t just a grave disservice to an entire genre of art. It is a grave disservice to society as a whole. Only when confronted by that which makes us most uncomfortable can we collectively overcome it. Since, as an anarchist as well as a lifelong horror movie buff, nothing makes me more uncomfortable than the state and the established order that thrives in its haunted architecture, I’ve decided to compile a list of movies that should both terrify and provoke anyone’s god-given anti-authoritarian impulses. Not every movie on this list is a horror film in the traditional sense, but they all foster skepticism of authority through the strategic use of terror. These are scary movies for anarchists to watch in the dark and maybe, if we’re lucky, a few of them will be scary enough to create a few new anarchists in the dark this Halloween.
They Live (1988)- The first film on this list isn’t exactly scary, what with its cheesy one-liners and comically over the top street brawl (“Put on the fucking glasses!”) But beneath the B-movie grime, few films have done a finer job of illustrating the cryptic authoritarianism that lies just beneath the shiny visage of liberal democracy. Once Roddy Piper puts on those shades, he sees right through the trappings of glossy magazines, fiat cash and Reaganomics and becomes literate enough to read the true message of the extraterrestrial oligarchy, loud and clear. When it comes to capitalism, they live and you sleep. This is a movie about getting woke. Now put on the fucking glasses cause we’re just getting started.