You’ve read again and again how ‘Wicklow is the Hollywood of Europe’, and while it still rings true to today, what people might not realise is that Wicklow (or all of Ireland, really) is just a bit more Hammer Studios than Hollywood.
Allow me to explain.
Horror is one of the most popular genres of film in Ireland. It always has been and, until weirdos become extinct for some reason, always will be the case. However, the Irish press are always highly particular about who gets the write-up, so movies that come out of left-field tend to be ignored in favour of traditionally “oirish” comedies.
But dig up the ground and peer just under the surface and you’ll see that filmmaking in Ireland has some very dark secrets, some of which we’ll share with you now.
October is on the way, but don’t go into it empty-handed. Here are a few homegrown horrors you can sink your teeth into over the glorious Spooky month.
(1986, starring: Kelly Piper, David Dukes, Niall Toibin)
Rawhead Rex tells the tale of a demonic entity running around and creating havoc for the locals of Redcross.
That’s about it. We could give you a full snyopsis but it would only waste your time and ours. If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, then maybe just go back to watching The Commitments.
(2017, starring: Maeve Higgins, Will Forte, Barry Ward)
Good horror/comedies are hard to come by in the wake of the Scary Movie franchise, which essentially burned, pillaged, and salted the earth under the genre completely. However, this Netflix special from 2017 was a much-appreciated surprise hit that was enough to keep people subscribed to the platform for at least another two-three months at most.
A ‘laugh-out-loud’ comedy wrapped up in occultism and the paranormal, Meave Higgins (Naked Camera, The Babymooners) shines the brightest here and her deadpan delivery coupled with the hilarious naivety of her character propel her to the top of an already very funny cast. Highly recommended for anyone who can enjoy a bit of fun, but not at all for the horror “purists.”
(2015, Directed Colin Hardy)
An Irish folk-horror that, despite its low-budget, delivers in every horrific way, The Hallow didn’t see much success after the praise it received at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, but this is one that will no doubt be remembered as a cult classic.
Joseph Mawle (Adam Hitchens) and his wife Bojana Novakovic (Claire Hitchens) travel to a remote Irish village with her newly born son. Their new home is surrounded by woods, and despite warnings from concerned locals, the newly-married couple refuse to leave their beautiful new home. But when danger comes to the window of their newborn son, and when all other avenues are closed to them, the couple must face down an evil older than the trees in order to get their child back.
The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire
(1971, directed by Riccardo Freda)
Anyone who knows a thing or two about horror will know that the Italians practically spearheaded the genre in the 1970s and early 80s with their own twisted takes on the zombie and slasher films that had done so well at the USA box office. And while director Riccardo Freda would rather believe this movie didn’t exist – it does, and it’s a cult classic with plenty of roots here in Ireland.
In fact, despite being a typical Italian ‘giallo’ film (highly-stylized clasher film, associated with Italian filmmakers), this one was filmed entirely in Ireland. And despite being called one of Freda’s “most blatant misfires”, we can still enjoy the most-treasured Irish tradition of pointing to the screen and saying “there’s Wicklow.”
(2012, starring Ross Noble, Gemma Leah-Devereaux, Shane Murray-Corcoran)
Stitches isn’t just a film laregely ignored in Ireland, it is ignored by the entire movie industry, despite being easily one of the most fun and refreshing slasher/comedies of the decade upon its realse in 2012. Ross Noble shows that he’s more than a nightclub comedian in his horrific take on a homicidal clown, and his particularly Irish hit-list (a host of great young actors from Dublin/Wicklow) make for the perfect ‘scream queens’.
We highly recommend Stitches, even if you aren’t too fond of horror movies in general. Just make sure you’ve eaten BEFORE sitting down to watch it.