Apr 10, 2014

13 Horror Movies About Frenemies

Article By: Ben Raphael Sher

Friends can cause a lot of problems. Sometimes, they steal your partner, need more than you can give, and become face-sucking vampires. Horror movies understand. This week, we look at movies that explore the fine and freaky line between friendship and war.

1. Jennifer's Body (2009)

Charming bookworm Needy’s best friend Jennifer is a beautiful, arrogant, dominating nightmare.  When Jennifer ignores Needy’s advice and hooks up with the members of an ominous rock group, she develops a thirst for male blood, including that of Needy’s boyfriend.  Needy, of course, is expected to clean up Jennifer’s messes, and ends up in a mental institution.  Director Diablo Cody (Juno) offers up an underrated portrait of the kind of toxic co-dependence that only high school can foster.

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2. April Fool's Day (1986)

Wealthy and fabulous Muffy St. Jacques invites her college friends to her family estate for an April Fool’s Day weekend party.  It’s all champagne and teen magazine sex quizzes until people die. Even more ominously, Muffy starts acting as bizarre as her suddenly limp, unhealthy hair. It would be a crime to spoil this movie’s many devilish surprises, but suffice it to say that Muffy is a seriously fucked up friend.  How would you like to go to a party and be tormented by evidence of your painful, allegedly secret abortion, or your struggles with drug addiction?  But we can’t fully blame Muffy, who apparently developed her personality issues because of a childhood trauma involving a birthday party and a jack in the box.

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3. The Lost Boys (1987)

Kiefer Sutherland seduces new-in-town Jason Patric into his sexy gang of vampire-manchild-hairband emulators. They hypnotize him into believing that he’s eating worms and maggots out of Chinese food containers, and then peer pressure him into drinking blood. As is often the case, by the time Patric realizes that he wants to make new friends, it seems as though it might be too late.

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4. Society (1989)

In this extremely realistic horror version of Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), a handsome BeHi jock slowly discovers that his family and friends like to participate in decadent, incest-laden orgies where they fuse body parts and eat the poor.  Even worse, he discovers he was adopted, which means that he is next on the menu!  In the film’s oddly sexual finale, his best friend beats the crap out of him, sucks the life out of his face, and tell him that he’s going to become “very acquainted” with his arm.  It’s so bizarre that you can’t even tell whether it qualifies as homophobic.

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5. Windows (1980)

Windows, on the other hand, definitely qualifies as homophobic. Talia Shire plays Emily, a single woman in New York who, traumatized after being assaulted in her apartment, seeks comfort with her neighbor and close friend, Andrea. When Emily hooks up with a detective on her case, Andrea gets pissed. It turns out that Andrea is obsessively in love with Emily, and spies on her with a telescope.  Emily discovers that Andrea hired the attacker to scare her, turn her against men, and ultimately win her love (also, she wanted a tape of her moaning)!  When all of this fails, Andrea resorts to weaponry. Both offensive and boring, Windows is pretty much a disgrace no matter how you look at it (although it does have good cinematography).

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6. Rosemary's Baby (1967)

Ugh. Nosy, needy, pushy neighbors. There is nothing worse. Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into their dream apartment in New York City, only to encounter the Castavets. Minnie stops by unannounced and constantly asks how much Rosemary’s furniture costs (so rude!). Roman talks Guy’s ear off for hours about his world travels. Oh, also, they persuade Guy to let Satan impregnate Rosemary in exchange for an acting career. After this movie, New Yorkers wisely learned never to be nice to anybody.

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7. Single White Female (1990)

Ally has everything: A great boyfriend, a great job, great shoulder pads, and, most importantly, a great, rent controlled New York apartment. Such paradise breaks the rule of necessary suffering that dominates modern urban living, so her boyfriend cheats on her and she has to get a roommate. Enter Heddy, who immediately becomes Ally’s bestest friend and the sister she never had (it’s always a bad sign when roommates become too close too soon). As usual, a man gets in the way: Ally’s boyfriend begs her to take him back, and she’s not about to give up her apartment to Heddy, so all hell breaks loose.  Heddy throws Allison’s sweet yellow lab puppy out the window, screws her boyfriend before stabbing him in the forehead with a high heel pump, and, by far most horrifically of all, steals her hair-do. Seeing this movie in the theater, you could hear audiences gasp when Jennifer Jason Leigh walked down the stairs donning Ally’s red bob. 

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8. The House on Sorority Row (1983)

Never trust a sorority sister. The girls of Pi Theta are planning a big graduation bash, until their nasty old housemother Mrs. Slater tells them to forget about it.  Queen Bee Vicky, who possesses beauty, confidence, and a slight air of histrionic desperation, convinces her sisters to participate in a prank on Mrs. Slater involving a gunky swimming pool and a gun. Problematically, Mrs. Slater actually dies, and Vicky persuades the gals to have the party anyway (such a typical, narcissistic toxic friend)! First the body disappears, then the sorority sisters. All this for a stupid college party. But one’s priorities are askew in college, and they do get a really good band.

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9. Terror Train (1980)

As this list aptly demonstrates, male frenemy horror movies tend to have a touch of the old homoerotic subtext.  Nowhere is this truer than in Terror Train. Hart Bochner plays Doc Manley, a pre-med college student who constantly pulls dick moves like tricking the class nerd into getting into bed with a rotting corpse.  He also likes to play tricks on his best friend Mo, intending to screw up his relationship with his girlfriend (Jamie Lee Curtis). Arguably, Doc’s bad behavior, which ultimately unleashes a serial killer, stems from his repressed love for Mo (demonstrated when Mo gets axed and Doc has a tearful breakdown while holding him in his arms).  Were it not for repressed homosexuality, so many characters in movies from 1980 would have lived (see also: Cruising, The Fan, Windows…).

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10. The ABC After School Special: What Are Friends For? (1980)

Amy moves into a new apartment building with her divorced mother and quickly bonds with Michelle Mudd, another product of a tragically broken home (from an early ‘80s perspective, anyway). They get really close, and it soon becomes clear that Michelle is trouble: nobody likes her, she’s emotionally demanding, and she likes to put on goth makeup and cast spells on a voodoo doll while drowning it in a bathtub filled with red water. In its inimitable way, The ABC After School Special takes this scenario and uses it to convey a positive social message. Thanks to Unkle Lancifer at the incredible blog Kinder Trauma for alerting us to this important masterpiece!  Read his review here!

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11. Deadly Friend (1986)

Short Circuit meets Carrie in this moving tail of love that outlasts death. Teenager Paul has two obsessions: his robot, BB, and Samantha, the girl next door. Unfortunately, Samantha is plagued with a rotten father. After she dies under mysterious circumstances involving dad, Paul implants BB’s robot brain in Samantha’s brain and brings her back to life.  As often happens when a character in a horror movie plays God, Paul’s creation comes back as a ruthless monster who really knows how to aim a basketball of death.

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12. The Descent (2005)

After Sarah suffers the devastating loss of her husband and daughter, she and her friends meet up to go hiking in a cave. Their fearless ringleader Juno directs them into an off-limits cavern (bad friends always try to get you to do stupid things like that). They get trapped and realize that they have no escape route other than to descend into the depths of nature, and their own psyches. Tensions rise as it becomes clear that Juno harbors a secret betrayal against Sarah. As the cave gets deeper and darker, the group’s resources decrease, and a gang of gooey, murderous monsters attack. Sure enough, the friends begin to turn on each other. The women are left wondering: Who is more dangerous, the deformed mutants, or their former besties? 

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13. Among Friends (2012)

Horror icon Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 and 5, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II) directed this witty, claustrophobic send-up of ‘80s frenemy slasher movies like April Fool’s Day (there’s even a traumatic jack in the box!). A group of hot Hollywood friends head out to a 1980s themed murder mystery party thrown by Bernadette (Alyssa Lobit, who wrote the film’s screenplay). Like Muffy St. Jacques, she confronts them all with their deep, nasty secrets, and then ties them to a table, drugs them, and tortures them.  Well, at least they don’t spend the evening talking about the film industry.

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