Advice Column #8 (5/6/13)

Dramas that will scare me. Not horror movies. Tense things about actual people and stuff that is just horrifying, but not in a BOO! way. Hard to explain. – Bill E.

Editor’s Note (12/4/14): We no longer answer movie questions through our advice column. We answer them in the mailbag segment of our podcast. Send them to and we will answer on the show!

John D’Amico: Peter Watkins’ you-are-there masterpieces The War Game and Punishment Park are among the most intense and affecting films ever made—the former was banned by the BBC for decades and the latter presented a Guantanamo-esque vision of cultural disruption so bleak it’s still an almost physically painful experience. Along those lines, Robert Kramer’s The Edge and Ice are two great forgotten political dramas nail-bitingly tense in their precision and banality.

There’s also the great Repulsion and Seance on a Wet Afternoon, two films that skirt awful close to horror movie territory but in the end resolve to beautiful and harrowing domestic dramas.

And, of course: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Just drop everything and watch Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a stone-cold masterpiece as intense and trouble as any film ever made, ever. Drop everything. Watch it, now. Watch it. What is wrong with you? Go!

3 thoughts on “Advice Column #8 (5/6/13)”

  1. Can we offer our own two cents?

    The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen. It tears your heart out and fills you with dread. It truly is sublime.

    Since John mentions Repulsion, Polanski first film Knife in the Water is incredibly underrated and one of the most suspenseful character dramas I can think of.

    And while we’re talking about suspense, everybody calls Charade the greatest Hitchcock film that Hitchcock didn’t make, but I think that title should go to Wait Until Dark. It’s intense, terrifying, and one film I can say lives up to an “edge-of-your-seat” description.

    Last Year at Marienbad also has this aura of dread throughout, and will certainly play with your mind. Might be more dreamlike and surreal than what you’re looking for but still a must-see.

    This list could go on and on. There’s Deliverance, Persona, 3 Women, Barton Fink, and The Return.

    1. Very good picks, Brad! I’m sure John would agree with a lot of those. I know he absolutely adores The Passion of Joan of Arc.

      My picks: Haneke is kind of the kind of modern dread in my book, and I’d say The Seventh Continent is his best in that regard. That one sent chills down my spine.

      Also, The Girl Next Door, which is classified as a horror movie, but to me is just an extremely brutal tragic love story. That movie hipped me to Jack Ketchum, who is now one of my favorite authors.

    2. Yessssss all great picks, especially Passion of Joan of Arc which is impossibly good and as emotionally exhausting as any film ever made.

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