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Quinton Barnes Shares His Horror Movie Hitlist

Inspired by surrealist body and psychological horror filmmakers, we asked the emerging artist to rank his freakiest flicks.

by Leslie Ken Chu

Toronto’s Quinton Barnes is nothing short of eclectic. His latest album, For the Love of Drugs (Grimalkin Records), continues the Kitchener-born artist’s intensifying streak of gripping, gruesome industrial hip-hop with soft flourishes of R&B poking through like patches of hair on a broken skull.

Along with visionary musicians like SOPHIE and academics of African-American studies like Saidiya Hartman, Drugs takes inspiration from surrealist body and psychological horror filmmakers Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and Darren Aronofsky.

“Disgust is so visceral, you don’t have to think too hard about it,” Barnes explains. “I like that I could watch a movie and then be provoked so easily. And I think it’d be interesting if music would hit you the same. When you experience something intense—that could cover a wide range of emotions—it really provokes you. I was obsessed with the idea that music could do the same. I feel like I had never done anything that just got under your skin before.”

With spooky season officially here, RANGE asked Barnes to share his top 10 horror films and a bit about why he just can’t look away.

1. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989)

Grotesque and foundational body horror. I first saw this movie just before I started writing my latest album, and it made me realize that I wanted my music to evoke the same visceral, stomach-churning sensation I felt while watching the more graphic scenes in this film. It’s absolutely disgusting, which consequently makes it one of my favourite movies of all time.

2. The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier, 2018)

Absurdist, sadistic horror. Extremely graphic, revelling in its own depravity and drama. I’m a huge fan of black comedy, and I have to admit, this one had me doubled over laughing at times. Watching this, you can almost feel von Trier’s sly smirk through the screen as he hits you over the head with shock value and provocation. Excellent film.

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

This is another film that inspired me while writing the album. I found this movie so cold and clinical, and I enjoyed the family’s descent into madness as they were faced with an impossible task. The sins of the father are visited upon the children and all that. Top tier.

4. The Wailing (Na Hong-jin, 2016)

Brilliant supernatural horror and a thrilling mystery. I was captivated by the ritual scene where the film just seems to peak in intensity and drama. Beautifully shot as well—one of my favourites of the last decade.

5. Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

Modern classic, in my opinion. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve shown this movie to people just to see their reaction to the infamous decapitation scene. A riveting, anxiety-inducing film that interweaves family trauma with a classic possession story and keeps you guessing the entire time.

6. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

Another film that inspired my album . It’s relentless, claustrophobic, depraved, and excessively violent. What more could I say about this one that hasn’t already been said?

7. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)

Okay, not quite a “horror” film, but how could I not include this one? Another movie that has me constantly doubled over and ticks all my boxes—absurd and violent black comedy. Excellent satire.

8. Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)

Great psychological horror.  [Ryo Ishibashi’s character] Aoyama was unsavoury, setting up phony “auditions” with the true intention of finding a wife. You can’t help but feel a sense of twisted catharsis at the end of this one after witnessing the constant objectification and manipulation of women that he shamelessly engages in.

9. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)

Again, more of a thriller than a horror but brilliant regardless. An ambiguous and unsettling movie that builds slowly and completely captivates you by the end. I left this movie with a pit in my stomach.

10. Nope (Jordan Peele, 2022)

Visually striking and occasionally disturbing. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer work well together, and I remember leaving the theatre intrigued and wanting more. Rarely outright terrifying but definitely creepy throughout—this is one of the few movies this year I’m recommending to everyone I see.

— Read our interview with Quinton Barnes —

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