Scotland has a long history when it comes to the darker side of life; with fierce battles, murders and gruesome stories, a common theme throughout our past.
The stories of these cave cannibals, the evil Bean clan, and the body-stealing exploits of Burke and Hare have long fascinated generations of Scots.
Add to that our deep affinity for all things supernatural and fairy-tale and you’ve got a fertile playing field for creating some truly brilliant horror stories.
So, if you fancy enjoying a spooky movie in a more than a little familiar place this Halloween, then these movies should be on your watch list.
Dog Soldiers (2002 – set in the Highlands)
Arguably the best werewolf film of the past two decades (well, at least since American Werewolf in London), Dog Soldiers sees a leading cast of British actors, including Scottish actor Kevin McKidd, future English actress. Emma Cleasby and the legendary Sean Pertwee take on some of the best depiction of werewolves you’ll see anywhere.
A group of soldiers led by Sergeant Harry G. Wells (Pertwee) take part in a training exercise in the Highlands when the going gets tough.
Wicker Man (1973 – set on the fictional Scottish island of Summerisle)
Let’s be clear here, we’re talking about the original, not the Nicholas Cage-directed remake.
This 1970s folk horror classic paved the way for modern hits like Midsommar and saw Christopher Lee at his best. Starring Edward Woodward (of Equalizer fame), it focuses on a police sergeant (played by Woodward) who travels to a remote Scottish island in search of a missing girl.
From there, it is a rapid descent into madness and plays on the singular fears of outsiders who find themselves in the middle of a community of strangers.
Caliber (2016 – located in the Highlands)
Currently available on the Netflix streaming site, this tense thriller rubs shoulders with other indie British films such as Dead Man’s Shoes or The Kill List as one of those movies you just can’t look away from.
An uncomfortable but intensely captivating look at how quickly things can get out of hand when you’re forced to make tough decisions.
A tight plot around two friends going on a hunting expedition to the Highlands, Jack Lowden, who plays Vaughn, and the excellent Tony Curran as Logan, really shine as part of this brilliant cast.
Try to avoid spoilers and walk in with fresh eyes, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most intense movies you’ve watched in years.
The Body Thief (1945 – located in Edinburgh)
With a stellar horror cast including legendary monster actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, The Body Snatcher is a new twist on Burke and Hare fueled body theft from Edinburgh’s dark past.
Set in Edinburgh in the 1830s, it follows the story of Donald Fettes (played by Russell Wade) who discovers his mentor’s dark secret and his sinister connections to a local taxi driver (played by Karloff).
Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story, it’s a heart-pounding horror that reflects the disturbing truth of how body theft has become a very real problem in the capital.
Under the Skin (2013 – located in Glasgow)
This cult classic was as much a filming experience as it was a movie and follows Scarlett Johansson as she roams the dark streets of Glasgow in search of men.
The twist? Director Jonathan Glazer (of Sexy Beast fame) chose non-actors in most roles and used hidden cameras and filmed oblivious townspeople to make the film more realistic.
The uncompromising result is a part of horror and sci-fi and is as unsettling as one would expect, especially as its principal lady strayed far from her normally glitzy Hollywood roles.
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