International Horror: The German Influence

This might make you reconsider any plans you had for vacation…

German horror has a very specific brand that has been influential on the entire genre. The German expressionism movement was one that influenced the look and feel of horror movies across all nationalities. Along with their influence on the aesthetic of horror, people have been using German history to add a painfully realistic twist to horror. Here are some examples of the films that have powerful German influences.

Josef Heiter describing his experiment in The Human Centipede (Credit: Six Entertainment)

Josef Heiter in The Human Centipede

While The Human Centipede is not a German film, it does still have some German influence with its villain. With Germany’s dark past with the Holocaust, Nazis were bound to become a prominent villain type in horror movies. However, Josef Heiter from The Human Centipede is a very specific villain type. He’s a crazed Nazi scientist that wants to experiment on human beings. I wish that people like this didn’t actually exist in real life, but history proves that the truth is often more horrifying than fiction. 

Lukas and Elias from Goodnight Mommy (Credit: Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion)

Goodnight Mommy 

Goodnight Mommy is one of those movies that you might need to watch a couple of times. Well, only if you have the strength for multiple watches. Similar to several of the films on this list, the body horror of this film is brutal. We see two angelic looking German twins burn their mother’s face with a magnifying glass, superglue her lips together, and then cut her lips back open with scissors. If that doesn’t make your stomach turn then you might want to begin questioning your sanity. 

Our two sadistic villains from Funny Games (Credit: Filmfonds Wien)

Funny Games

Funny Games is a horrifying film. While other films on this list have gore that makes you ill, Funny Games will have you screaming at the screen with the unfairness and tragedy of it all. Two sadistic men torture and kill a whole family over the course of the movie. Their reason? They have none. This theme of killers with no motive is one that is unnerving and confusing due to its lack of closure. All we know is that they don’t need a reason to kill, so they’ll just go on until they’re caught or they get bored. If you’d like to watch this film, make sure you have a playlist of feel-good videos lined up to watch afterwards. 

The monster of Nosferatu (Credit: Jofa-Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal)


Any fan of horror or vampire movies (or Spongebob for that matter) knows about Nosferatu. While the monster in Nosferatu is unofficially based off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it’s easy to see the influence of German expressionism in the monster’s look. While Dracula was considered to be a dignified creature with deadly beauty, Nosferatu’s vampire looks more like a shocked praying mantis. He’s more of an outright creepy creature.

By Joey Warren

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