For lengthy stretches of Russian history, horror films were either not allowed to be produced or were scrutinized by various agencies before their public releases. Under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), there was a general concern certain media, especially cinema, wielded the potential of being agents of propaganda.
While traditional dramas and comedies were often produced, government bodies furrowed a brow at some of the gritter genres. As a result, a select few horror films came out for years until the mid-to-late- Soviet era.
As the opportunity to produce horror films opened up, producers and directors rushed to dive into the darker depths of the genre. Given the previous creative suppression, some of the films focused more on societal and military oddities than grotesque imagery.
Either way, many Russian horror films left viewers scratching their heads for days or unable to sleep in peace for nights. What made most of them worthy of a good late-night binge was that most of these films had a limited western influence. Instead of necessarily borrowing from Hollywood, their creators took inventive steps to ensure each production truly provided a unique fright.
10. Prikosnoveniye (1992)
Prikosnoveniye (aka "The Touch," "Contact," and "The Encounter" in English) is considered to be one of the scariest Russian horror films ever produced, and it certainly doesn't fall short of its title.
Also known as one of the first murder-mysteries set in modern Russia, the film heavily focused on militia investigator Andrey Krutitsky who stumbled upon a slew of suicides that, while suspicious in timing, seemed to have no common motive.
It only seemed natural for Krutitsky to suspect the involvement of some kind of clandestine group at first, but what actually led to all of the suicides was much worse than anything he could have fathomed. The victims were all "touched" by relentless evil spirits.
If you're looking for numerous jump-scares, you won't find too many in Prikosnoveniye, but there are still many well-set scenes to prick up the hairs on your forearms. One of the film's most striking qualities was its ability to make the most of a low budget by capitalizing on the grit to create an unworldly ambiance, all the while adding a bit of realism through homemade special effects.
Most of all, the puzzling plotline served as a step-by-step guide on how to build suspense in a horror-mystery story. Altogether, Prikosnoveniye is certainly a movie you won't want (or be able) to watch more than once.