The Blair Witch Project: For anybody who hates camping (like me) this is a must. The map is what scares me most. They keep following it and always end up in the same place! We never really understand what is out there in the woods and never see it, but we just know it is really really evil.
The Ring: This original Japanese version was a game-changer in the way horror films were seen, especially from world cinema. A really chilling look at teenage rumours and now out-dated technology! The concept that if you watch the ‘videotape’ then you will die in a week is still a startlingly suspenseful idea.
The Silence Of The Lambs: Anthony Hopkins as Dr Hannibal Lecter is one of the all-time great horror performances. The fact that Lecter is caged for most of the film and yet is able to get into agent Starling’s head is what makes his evil so utterly frightening.
The Omen: The original satanic horror, complete with eerie choral music. It scared me witless as a kid and still does. That first hour is terrifying. The kid’s performance is incredible, but most of all it’s the nanny that gets me.
Let The Right One In: This is really a film about bullying and childhood loneliness in the guise of a vampire movie. It takes the whole vampire myth and modernises it, and then reimagines it in the beautiful snowy landscapes of Sweden. Ultimately, it’s a about a friendship between a boy and a girl who happens to be 125 years old.
The Exorcist: Another one that has a cult following, and deservedly so. The first 10 minutes sets up the idea of an unthinkable evil being released. Then we spend the rest of the film watching it transform a 12-year-old girl (Linda Blair) into an uncontrollable demon, with only Max Von Sydow’s Priest to rescue her soul.
Angel Heart: One of my favourite films and a big influence on my film Darkness Visible. I love the way it’s shot, going from the cold blue New York of the 1950’s to a warm vibrant New Orleans that you can almost smell. Mickey Rourke is the perfect actor at the perfect time in his career to play Harry Angel, a hard-boiled detective looking for the mysterious Johnny Favourite, a man who may have traded his soul to the devil. A pursuit that takes Rourke on a bloody path through all the people who once knew Favourite!
Rosemary’s Baby: A brilliant examination of the banality of evil. Polanski places a satanic cult in a New York apartment building, amongst characters who seem more likely to make you chicken soup than worship chicken feet. Mia Farrow’s Rosemary is the perfect mix of innocence and cool, who starts to suspect that the baby growing inside her is evil and that her husband may have traded her in to the devil, to resurrect his failing acting career!
Don’t Look Now: Set mostly in a stunningly shot Venice, where the canals and endless dark passageways become more and more dangerous, Don’t Look Now is one of the spookiest films I’ve ever seen. It is also a devastatingly real film about coping or more accurately, not coping with grief. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie go to Venice to recover from the drowning of their six-year-old daughter Christine, but one starts to believe Christine is with them in Venice. Another huge influence on Darkness Visible, I wanted Kolkata to have the same effect as Venice in this film.
The Shining: Perhaps the scariest film ever made? I tried to watch it with my wife recently. We are huge Stanley Kubrick fans, but both agreed to go to bed after about an hour as we were too terrified to carry on! It’s hard to isolate what makes it so scary – there are so many now-classic scenes. I find the way the kid Danny speaks to a presence called Tommy in his finger just so scary. Then there are the twin girls and of course, one of the most incredible performances in cinema history from Jack Nicholson.
Neil Biswas has directed the film Darkness Visible, which is out now, including screenings at London cinemas, Whirled Cinema, Loughborough Junction on October 21, 22, 23 and 27, Vue Harrow on October 25, Stratford East Picture House on October 30 and Peckham Plex on October 31. Visit Twitter: @FilmVisible