25 Halloween Horror Films You May Not Have Seen That You Should

It’s Halloween! One of my favorite times of the year! I was going to post a Top 100 Horror films or something like that and list the films that everyone has seen.. You know.. Halloween. The Shining. Alien.  Dawn Of The Dead. American Werewolf In London. The Howling. Psycho. The Omen. Phantasm. A Nightmare On Elm Street. Nosferatu. The Ring. Hellraiser, The Exorcist. Salem’s Lot. Christine. Henry:Portrait Of A Serial Killer. I could go on and on and on., but I decided to put films that I think a lot of people have not seen. I’m not claiming these are all ‘classics’, but they have something good enough about them that I put them on this list of sleepers and semi-sleepers.

If you’re in need of a Halloween horror film to watch tonight, you might try one of these. Repulsion is even playing on TCM in the wee hours tonight.

25 The Ward (2010)(John Carpenter has made some REALLY mediocre flms in recent years… No, he’s made some real crap, what am I sayying. I had heard nothing about this one before I saw it recently and it surprised. It’s better actually knowing nothing about it. I spent most of the film thinking how far the old master has fallen until he throws in a little twist right at the end that changed my opinion on everything that had occurred in the film. It’s shlocky and a little mean spirited at times, but Carpenter has a purpose here. Plus there’s a load of hot chicks in the film. Nothing wrong with that. It’s interesting though,  to compare this to Zack Snyder’s all CGI FX, absolutely no substance  ‘Sucker Punch’. There are a lot of similarities while being at polar extremes)

24 Black Christmas (1974) (Bob Clark’s other Christmas movie.)

23 The Beyond (1981, Released in the US in 1983) (Italian horror filmmaker Lucio Fulci was a fan of the surrealist movement, so all of his films don’t always make sense, but this one holds together enough for a passable story about a New Orleans hotel built on the gateway to Hell. One thing you can also expect is some hardcore gore and Fulci delivers in The Beyond. Some of the FX are not so well done. The Tarantula attack on the paralyzed guy comes to mind. However, there are some scenes that are of the “I might need to turn my head so that I won’t have that gruesome image in there for the rest of my life” variety. And that poor little red headed girl! For me, that particular killing (of the possessed girl) ranks among the most gruesome horror killings of all time. It even crosses the line, given that it’s a kid. This film isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a hardcore horror fan, forget I recommended this.)

22 Waxwork (1988) A fun film if you love monsters of all varieties. Tongue is firmly in cheek in this one, but there are some dark, dare I say ‘twisted’, scenes in this. Review pending for this one.)

21 Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974) (A European zombie flick from the 1970s! Do I need to say more? Yes? Okay… This film actually has several titles depending on where and when you are seeing it. ‘The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue’ is one title, for instance. I didn’t care for this the first time I saw this, but it grew on me. There is an ‘environmental’ message/warning  in the subtext (and a bit subversive, too), but the main draw of a zombie flick is the zombies. This one does a great job at creating a very powerful feeling of dread. You never have a sense that things are going to ‘work out’ for anyone in the film.

20 Pumpkinhead (1988) (FX GENIUS STan Winston makes his directorial debut with Pumpkinhead and it’s a pretty good film. There is some bad acting here. The main characters do an adequate job, but it does feature the worst actor I’ve ever seen in ANY film… The “Dooon’t— make — me — haff — ta’—keeeel— you.” guy. But even if the entirefilm was filled near bursting with sub-par, nay, crap actors, the FX, and a modest budget at that, STILL bring this movie up to respectable levels. Has one of the better movie witches, not to mention an AWESOME demon that is the title character. How often do you have a movie monster… of the ‘creature’ variety… that has such a sick sense of humor? Pumpkinhead toys with his victims, even checking the pulse of one to make sure he’s done the job. GREAT, GREAT movie monster. It’s a shame the sequels sucked so bad.)

19 Bunny Lake Is Missing (Horror of the  psychological variety. The crazy person at the end is a little bit of a letdown, going into cliched crazy person territory, but its still an excellent film. The paranoia that the film creates is very well done.)

18 Frailty (2001)(Bill Paxton’s film directorial debut and it’s a good one. The commentary is interesting on this one, though, especially about Jim Cameron’s suggestions. They’re so obvious and the film would have failed miserably without them. With them, this is a classic horror film with a brilliant twist. Probably worked better when Matthew McConauhey  was still relatively unknown.

17 The Lair Of The White Worm (1988) (Just a weird movie. That’s my whole recommendation for this one.)

16 In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)(My second Carpenter film on the list. This time he takes on H. P. Lovecraft style horror with the film having the story within the story become the story if that makes any sense. This one is creepy to the point of not being entirely enjoyable. It’s rather sadistic with a capital ‘sadist’.)

15 Lord Of Illusions (1994)(Clive Barker’s second best film? I really like this movie. Sure it’s flawed, but it while it doesn’t always deliver on scares, it’s still a fun film. Scott Bakula is surprising in the lead and he gets much help from his supporting cast even if he doesn’t need it. Kevin J O’Conner is great in this as he usually is and Famke… Ohhhh Famke. She is spectacular in this. See also ‘Deep Rising’ for the pair in supporting roles in a great horror flick.)

14 The Night of The Hunter (1955) (This is Charles Laughton’s only credited film, which is a shame. It’s a brilliant film. Mitchum plays one of his all time best heavy roles as the diabolical Harry Powell. There is something about some films where the ‘monster’ is menacing children and no one believes them when they try to illuminate the threat. There are some outstanding visuals that I know HAD to have influenced later horror flicks like “What Lies Beneath”. Great movie.)

13 The Vanishing (1988) (AKA Spoorloos… And this is the ORIGINAL, not the sucktacular remake. It’s hard to believe the director was involved with both.)

12 The Blob (1988)(Not quite eclipsing the original classic film as thoroughly as John Carpenter’s The Thing overshadowed that original, but still a good remake. It does end up with maybe the roots of the ‘GRRRRirl POWER!’ films that later began cropping up in the late 90s and 00s, but doesn’t detract from this as a solid horror flick.)

11 The Body Snatcher (1945)(I think this is my favorite Karloff film. The ending has a considerable amount of  ghoulishness to it that makes the entire film worthwhile. Karloff was the master of playing creepy characters and he is really creapy here as a grave robber who steps it up a few notches. He had a great horror movie voice and delivery. I think I liked Lugosi here as much as I liked him in any other film, also.)

10 The Hunger (1983)(Tony Scott’s stylish pseudo-vampire flick featuring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. She has two on this list. I think I got the film’s metaphorical element, but it sells enough ‘creepy’ that you don’t have to completely understand it to enjoy it. This definitely isn’t for kids, though. It’s polished, but is gruesome in some ways. )

9 The Funhouse (1981) (My favorite Tobe Hooper film, I think. Still extremely subversive, but I think Hooper understood that the teens were the protagonists in this one, unlike his earlier work.)

8 Silver Bullet (1985) (Not the best werewolf flick, but as much fun as most any horror movie you’ll find. Combines some 80s style tongue in cheek humor with a few genuinely scary moments. As much flack as Corey Haim got as being one half of the Two Coreys, he was a pretty good actor. He is at his best here as the paralyzed protagonist. The film is far more suspenseful than most in this sub-genre of werewolves.)

7 Repulsion (1965) (Roman Polanski’s first English speaking film and it’s a doozy. Like the Ward, this is probably best if you don’t know anything about it. Holds up surprisingly well for a 60s film. Could be used in college film study courses.)

6 Something Wicked This Way Comes (Another ‘kids in peril but no one will listen to them’ story, this one being written by legendary genre scribe Ray Bradbury. It’s a Disney film, but works as an all ages kind of horror film. The theme of fathers and sons plays a very large part in this. Jason Robards was always one of my favorite actors, playing one of the two boys’ father in this. Jonathan Pryce makes a pretty good Mr. Dark, too. Speaking of ‘Dark’…)

5 Don’t be Afraid Of The Dark (2011) This didn’t burn up box office ticket sales, but I thotoughly enjoyed it. Not surprisingly, it’s another film with kids running from monsters.)

4 The Night Flyer (1997) {Based on a Stephen King short, this is quite good for such a low budget endeavor. Miguel Ferrer plays the rare lead role (for him) as a burnt out reporter for a sleazy tabloid, with the very cute Julie Entwisle playing his understudy. It’s too bad they give away the biggest secrret on the poster/DVD cover, though. For worst SPOILER ad campaign this is just a notch below Planet of The Apes that features the big twist (the Statue of liberty) on its DVD cover.)

3 Apt Pupil (1998)(ANOTHER Stephen King film, this taken from another short story. I have to say this is that rare occasion where the movie blows the book out of the water. The film is far more subtle and insidious. Where the novella goes for an over the top  and somewhat illogical ending, the film fully illustrates what the pupil has learned in a far more chilling manner.)

2 Nosferatu (1979) You may have seen the original film, but how about the Werner herzog remake? Klaus Kinski steps in for Max Shreck, looking a lot like him given that the director recreates the look and atmosphere at times almost shot for shot. It’s a grand beautiful film shot on true widescreen 70 mm film. Isabelle Adjani is  both beautiful and heroic even in the face of what seems inevitable. Herzog expands the scope of the original as well as making subtle changes to shift the original film’s themes to a more pragmatic one.)

1 May (2002) Quirky, weird, tragic, creepy, oddly funny and above all fun, May is one of the better recent horror flicks out there. A rare tragedy that isn’t a downer to watch. You feel sorry for the central character and are horrified by where her story goes, especially where her friend Polly is concerned, but there’s enough off the wall antics that make it appealling. Angela Bettis is phenomenal in the title role. I completely bought into the idea of a lazy eye causing so much psychosis. Bettis is great here, too, proving she’s better than the material she’s most know for. Writer-director Lucky McKee knocks this one out of the park. He did so much out of practically nothing that I even liked Jeremy Sisto in this. I had never cared for him in anything before May came along. Great film. Worth seeing.)

And Happy Halloween!

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