"The horror! The horror!"
As dying words go, those uttered by Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in the Vietnam war epic Apocalypse Now are pretty unique.
Then again, Francis Ford Coppola’s war movie was a unique one. While other Vietnam-based efforts like Platoon served more as semi-autobiographical accounts of the conflict, Apocalypse Now took inspiration from literary sources - Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, to be precise - which served as the basis for much of Coppola’s film, including Kurtz’s parting words.
“The horror! The horror!” is not just Kurtz commenting on the stark reality of warfare, but him reflecting on his own life, actions and the darkness of humankind. It’s a bleak, eye-opening final moment and one that only adds to the sense that Apocalypse Now is not just a war movie or social commentary on Vietnam – it's a horror film, showcasing the senseless brutality of conflict and the sickening depths of depravity people can sink to.
It's a prime example of the way in which the horrors of war have provided the perfect canvass for some of cinemas most fascinating explorations of terror in its many forms - but it's not the only example.
Veering between everything from the psychological to the more visceral, these war-inspired horror movies blur the lines between reality and fiction to create something utterly terrifying.