Conquer Real Irish Horror Movies Now!
This article about real Irish horror movies is a guest post by Carol Kavanagh and edited by yours truly. I take full responsibility for such annoying language changes as the one from “film” to “movie,” despite the fact that it’s more natural for an Irish writer to use the word “film,” because more Googlers seem to search for the term, “Irish horror movies.”
Her bio is below.
A Long, Dark Tradition
If you know anything about Ireland, you will be able to understand why it is so natural for Irish horror movies to feel at home in our cinema. After all, my homeland of myth and folklore also contains a superstitious and religious attitude steeped well into its rolling green hills. And beyond the natural world, Ireland’s cities are also possessed of a creepy, old-world vibe. Whether walking its cobblestone streets or growing up listening to old horror tales, I have always sensed its gothic atmosphere.
As a predominantly Catholic country, Ireland never fails to offer threats of burning in hell for one’s sins once a week on Sunday mornings. But instead of terrifying me, as I grew up, that religious dynamic gelled with the rest of Ireland’s mythical and gothic backdrop to create a fascination for all things dark in nature.
Irish Horror Writers: Bram Stoker
If you’re a fan of horror movies, especially any of the countless vampire movies out there, then we need to talk about Bram Stoker, the Irish author who wrote the famous novel – that had such a big influence on this genre – Dracula.
Bram Stoker was born in Clontarf, Co. Dublin, where I lived for a long time, and still consider to be my home.
Have you heard about the Bram Stoker hotel and park? You can find them in the same village Stoker grew up in! You may be wondering whether I stayed in the hotel. Yes, of course I did – and yes, it was just as I expected, gothic in its decor and the perfect homage to Dracula himself. I have fond memories of looking out onto the harsh sea of Bull Island through a perfect bay window.
And every year, you can check out the Bram Stoker Festival held in Dublin to celebrate the genius of this sacred man. At the Bram Stoker Festival, you can watch horror movies, participate in horror discussions, and send your kids to enjoy activities as well.
You can learn more about the Bram Stoker Festival here: https://www.bramstokerfestival.com/
Irish Horror Directors: Neil Jordan
If Bram Stoker is Ireland’s most famous horror novelist, then Neil Jordan is perhaps Ireland’s most famous director. Let’s have a look at Neil Jordan.
Neil Jordan, director of non-horror films Michael Collins and The Crying Game, couldn’t resist delving into the horror genre with two productions in particular: Interview With the Vampire and Byzantium.
Neil Jordan has stated himself that Bram Stoker’s Dracula influenced him greatly growing up, as he used to live close-by to Stoker’s house as a child. This more than likely influenced his decision to direct the previously mentioned horror movies. Interview with the Vampire, starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and a very young Kirsten Dunst, is based on the southern gothic horror novel of the same name by the late American novelist Anne Rice.
Every vampire enthusiast has seen this movie – if you haven’t, shame on you!
I won’t shame you, however, if you haven’t seen Jordan’s lesser-known vampire film, Byzantium. It stars Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and English actress Gemma Arterton, playing two vampires on the run. It is a decent movie which uses its gorgeous seaside location to its fullest potential. You could say it is thematically similar to Interview with the Vampire, but it is focused on two women instead of men.
Irish Horror Comedy: The Boys from County Hell
Neil Jordan has inspired a whole new batch of Irish horror movie makers who have allowed the genre to thrive fully in the backdrop of the Irish countryside. One Irish vampire movie I have recently watched is the 2020 horror comedy, The Boys from County Hell. It’s full of Irish slang and bad language, exactly how I want my Irish movies to be. It stars a full Irish cast and a soundtrack of Irish musicians to go with it, including “Bad Penny” by the amazing Rory Gallagher (I’m a sucker for a good movie soundtrack).
The Boys from County Hell gives a clever nod to Bram Stoker by calling the local country pub “The Stoker.” Another horror reference occurs when two Canadians enter the bar and the locals are determined to make them feel very unwelcome, much like the opening scene of An American Werewolf in London, switching two Americans with a Canadian couple. This is a movie created for true horror fans and one that’s after my own Irish heart.
Along with horror references, “The Boys from County Hell” uses so many casual, everyday Irish references too, from the greasy, fat chips served in newspaper, to the phrase “the good room” being used. You may not know this, but every Irish household has a “good room” that can only be used for very special occasions, along with the “good cutlery”.
Some scenes brought me back to my adolescence, where I used to drink alcohol in fields with my friends, no matter how miserable the Irish weather was.
Dirty, Dirty Words
Humorous bad language is used throughout for golden, comedic timing. One hilarious scene involves the actress Louisa Harland, who you will recognise from the comedy series Derry Girls, using a digger to bury one of the vampires while declaring under her breath, “Fuckin’ bastard!”, which can only truly be said properly in an Irish accent. But there are many of these fun scenes throughout this movie along with plenty of gore and excellent special effects.
So, for all you vampire and horror fans out there, make sure to treat yourselves to these Irish horror gems mentioned above. Bram Stoker still manages to influence our rich culture of Irish horror movies to this day and there is no better man who makes me feel truly proud for being Irish.
Ireland’s horror movie scene is vast and there are many more impressive Irish horror movies I haven’t mentioned but the above movies are a good place to start. Vampires, humour and gore, what more could you need, apart from some tasty popcorn.
Carol Kavanagh is a traveler, freelance writer, podcaster, and horror enthusiast. You can check out her podcast, Horror Therapy, on Spotify.
She also wrote this article about David Cronenberg’s The Fly.