Around the World in 31 Days: Indonesia

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If my Netflix research is any indication, Indonesia has a thriving modern horror cinematic tradition. Satan’s Slaves, currently streaming on the horror lover’s dream app Shudder, has been receiving acclaim. And the movies look like a delightful stew of all the things that get me: demonology, witchcraft, satanic panic. You know- everything that makes a movie worth watching.

And when I dove right in to 2018’s May the Devil Take You, I knew I was right!

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Around the World in 31 Days: South Africa

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The House on Willow Street is a Netflix original whose production credits originate in South Africa. If that fact wasn’t in the film’s IMDb credits, I’d probably be clueless. None of its mostly white cast speak with any sort of accent (perhaps one member of the central team of thugs?) and there were no specific references to the location where most of the action took place – except for one.

As I understood it, the house where the demonic evil was spawned is “at the exact opposite geographic location as the Vatican.” I guess, if you were to dig that hole to China at the Vatican, you would end up at the titular Willow Street residence. If that’s as spooky to you as an inverted cross or a religious blasphemy from a demon, this movie might be your jam. It wasn’t mine.

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Around the World in 31 Days: India

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pizza

Official movie poster. Source: IMDb

It was a circuitous streaming road that finally led me to Pizza for my India pick. At first I clicked on a movie called Hiss because I thought I needed a killer cobra goddess in my life. I probably still do, but in the first five minutes the movie’s bad-looking production values and dubious acting turned me off. Since India is a country with a storied and exceptional film industry, I knew I could do better.

I then started Pizza, but decision freeze caused me to jump elsewhere – 706, Lupt, Mythily Veendum Varunnu, Savita Damodar Paranjpe, 706 – until I finally decided to return and commit to Pizza due to its charming conceit. And I am glad that I did.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Belize

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xtabay

It’s a look, isn’t it? This is the Xtabay (portrayed by actress Shelley Glionna).

A Belizean movie was available on YouTube, and I was overjoyed. Belize is a Central American and Caribbean nation I know little about, and in this blog project I really wanted horror movies from countries with little representation in international cinema.

I was even more excited to find that it was titled 2012: Curse of the Xtabay. Mesoamerican anthropology is a passion of mine. Imagine the things this could have brought together? 2012, an auspicious and apocalyptic year in the ancient, classic Maya calendar (and source of anxiety for many people during the exact year). Belize, with its amazing ethnic diversity and large populations of Mayan-speaking people. The Xtabay, a name only familiar to me because of Yma Sumac, the vocal powerhouse diva whose album, Voice of the Xtabay, is my favorite thing to play when I want some peace and quiet.

Some Googling of the Xtabay reveals the following (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xtabay):
La Xtabay is a Yucatec Mayan myth about the Xtabay. The Xtabay is a female demon originating from a Mayan legend who has ill intentions towards men.[1] She dwells in the forest to lure men to their deaths and, according to those that have escaped her, she possesses incomparable beauty and evil.[2] She has beautiful black shiny hair that falls down to her ankles.[3] The Xtabay resides in the Yucatán Peninsula.[3]

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Around the World in 31 Days: Iceland

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irememberyou

Movie poster. Source: IMDb

The excellent Icelandic horror mystery I Remember You was a tough watch. Not because there was gore or extreme violence. In fact it’s quite a beautiful looking film. But because in the story, there was a whole bunch of heartbreak showing through the pragmatic, Nordic stoicism of the characters.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Malaysia

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munafik 2

I’m delighted to be able to watch these horror movies from lands and cultures I know very little about. For Malaysia, Netflix was able to offer me Munafik 2. I have not seen Munafik 1, alas, but I still caught the gist of this entertainingly over-the-top religious rant. In fact, a quick Google reveals that “munafik” defines  hypocrite, or someone that professes to believe in Allah but truly doesn’t.

Munafik 2 felt to me like the equivalent of the U.S.’s Left Behind franchise. Continue reading

Around the World in 31 Days: Egypt

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warda

Trying to get my hands on as much horror from African nations as I could, I saw the Egyptian film Warda on Netflix and proceeded to watch it. This movie shares in a trend I’ve been noting in other supernatural horror films from predominantly Muslim nations: using the language of major American horror movies (particularly the Conjuring and Paranormal Activity franchises) to present both conflicts and reinforcement of faith. The ones I have watched ranged from good to awful. I’m glad to report that Warda falls on the better spectrum of that range.

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Around the World in 31 Days: Tunisia

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Enjoy these two bits of delightful creepery from Tunisia, the country that has brought you Tattooine among other famed cinematic settings!

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Around the World in 31 Days: Netherlands

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From The Netherlands, here is what I guess you call a “creepy pasta”: Stalked, by Cas Van Doornik (check out his YouTube channel.)

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Around the World in 31 Days: Austria

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The lovely folks at The United Nations of Horror produce great things, including a very entertaining podcast on horror cinema. You should follow them and listen to their every word. When I informed them on their Facebook page (a fun and very welcoming horror fan community) that Around the World in 31 Days would be my theme for this year’s Halloween blog project, they were quick to suggest Austrian film Angst. And here I am to take us through this stark, ugly, realist beast.

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