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Fresh Flesh for Hell Hounds — 13 Horror Flicks You Haven’t Seen

As the night winds cool, shuffling fallen autumn leaves that follow our every step, we find ourselves looking over our shoulders, staring at shadows and listening in the dark. It’s also a time when we turn off the lights and turn on a horror movie. Whether alone or with a group of friends, horror hounds young and old turn to the classics for their Halloween-time chills. While Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Evil Dead are seasonal favorites, dedicated horror fans can find themselves at a loss when looking for a new cinematic sacrifice. Rattling through old film canisters in our dark, dank basement, the Filmcritic.com crew surfaced 13 horror films you probably haven’t seen. So bolt your doors, lock your windows, and feast upon the new horror flesh!

The Brood (1979)
Running down the hall as we scream ‘I hate you!’ before slamming the door to our rooms — most kids have felt frustration toward their parents during childhood. Usually our naïveté gives way to aged wisdom and we let those childhood transgressions go. But life in David Cronenberg’s world isn’t so easy. In The Brood, anger gives birth to very real demonic children who snuff out the source of their frustration. Frank’s (Art Hindle) wife, Nola (Samantha Eggar), is being treated for her unresolved issues by Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed), who holds public therapy sessions like artsy off-Broadway performances — which are perhaps even more terrifying than the pint-sized killing machines. But leave it to Cronenberg’s passion for mutilated flesh and messed-up biology to create the demonic kids in snow suits that will have you second-guessing whether to leave your son or daughter at day care. (Jason Morgan)

Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Before there was Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace brought the black-gloved killer and outrageous gore to the screen. Where high fashion meets giallo (Italian for ‘yellow,’ characterizing the covers of cheap thrill novels the films emulated) horror, Blood and Black Lace‘s atmosphere — popping blues, greens, and reds and Bava’s steady camera work — sharpens the killer’s bludgeoning claw and throat-cutting knife. The Italian cheese — corny soundtrack and sub-par acting — in a house of fashion models is as essential to Blood and Black Lace as Bava’s tracking shots and masked killer, making horror fans giggle with glee and solidifying one of the first giallo horror flicks as one of the best. (Jason Morgan)

Red Lights (2004)
In Cédric Kahn’s unsettling, moody effort, a Parisian couple’s lengthy car trip to pick up their kids becomes a nightmare when the slighted, emasculated husband (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) tries to assert his dominance, causing his more successful wife (Carole Bouquet) to leave and a creepy hitchhiker (Vincent Deniard) to take over the passenger seat. The film’s mixture of domestic unrest and mounting psychological terror is especially potent given the show-me tendencies of most American horror directors today. Torture porn, it’s not. Fun fact: Stephen King gave Red Lights a ringing endorsement in his column for Entertainment Weekly. (Pete Croatto)

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)
Banned for decades, Teruo Ishii’s (Japan’s ‘King of Cult’) masterpiece is a haunting and horrific experiment. While it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate, let alone describe, the film dramatizes several of Edogawa Rampo’s (Japan’s Edgar Allan Poe) short stories — ‘The Human Chair,’ ‘The Twins,’ and ‘The Stroller in the Attic’ — within a wraparound story involving a doctor searching for his missing father. The search leads to an island-based mad scientist a la Dr. Moreau. Chock a block with bizarre and outrageous imagery (including cannibalism, Butoh dance, and more ‘freaks’ than a Jodorowsky film), Horrors of Malformed Men is truly a one-of-a-kind spectacle and guaranteed gold for the more adventurous Halloween viewers. (Keith Breese)

Inside (2007)
Haven’t seen Inside? Depending on your stomach, you might be lucky. This recent entry into the horror genre is as harrowing as they come, featuring a psychotic banshee (Béatrice Dalle) ritualistically hunting down a very pregnant woman (Alysson Paradis), who’s alone and at home. Why is Dalle on the rampage? You’ll figure it out before the end… but only if you still have the mental capacity to process logical thought after some of the most brutal cinema in the past 10 years. Julien Mary and Alexandre Bustillo’s shocker is so full of horrific imagery — including a climactic C-section delivery performed with a pair of scissors — that it’ll be Thanksgiving before you can get it out of your head and keep down your dinner. (Christopher Null)

The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
When Diablo Cody pushed her obscurist horror propaganda in Juno, claiming that Herschell Gordon Lewis trumped Dario Argento, Wizard of Gore was the wrong movie to argue with –The Gore Gore Girls is the Lewis masterpiece that makes most dedicated horror hounds beg for mercy. The first X-rated horror movie delivers with stomach-churning mutilation — eye stabbing, face ripping, nipple cutting — a hilarious leading man in the self-serving private eye Gentry (Frank Kress) and more boobs than you can swing a pasty at. Prepared for hardcore horror fans, The Gore Gore Girls serves up a mystery of a stripper serial killer out for revenge. The boppin’ soundtrack and Gentry’s smug charm saves the often boring story that fills the time between killings. Just try not to let the half-assed commentary on liberal women get further under your skin than the killer’s use of a meat cleaver. (Jason Morgan)

Session 9 (2001)
Here’s chilling low-budget moviemaking at its very best. A hazmat team, desperate for work, attempts to clean up asbestos at an abandoned mental hospital. Enter paranoia, pressure, and whatever lurks in the catacombs and hallways… and not everybody leaves alive. Shot on digital video in an actual insane asylum and led by a superb cast (Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Josh Lucas), Session 9 will have you popping anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and anti-terror pills. Director Brad Anderson (Transsiberian) hides the film’s secrets with great skill and reveals them with such fear and fright that you’ll be checking yourself into the psycho ward by movie’s end. (Norm Schrager)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Often called the first modern horror movie, this silent classic retains its chill factor thanks to the painted Expressionist backgrounds that populate every frame. Think Tim Burton is an unprecedented original? Check out this story of two friends who visit a local carnival, only to meet Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) and Cesare (Conrad Veidt), his sleepwalking fortune teller. Predicting death by dawn, the narcoleptic psychic sends the small town into a tizzy when his predictions come true — setting off a series of mysterious murders that haunt the narrator and threatens his object of desire. While some silent horror films have trouble holding the attention of today’s horror fiend, The Cabin
et of Dr. Caligari
‘s eye-popping style and tight storytelling will have you running to the dictionary to look up ‘somnambulist.’ (Jason Morgan)

Uzumaki (2000)
From the curly back of a snail’s tail to a body wrapped around a tire, the spirals in Uzumaki literally transfix the population of a small Japanese town. This spiral obsession soon explodes into full-blown horror as spirals emerge everywhere and the townspeople (as well as the viewer) are sucked into a vortex. Like some Japanese version of Twin Peaks, Uzumaki is both bewildering and unsettling — I found myself leaning in towards the screen in an attempt to make sense of what I was seeing only to be sent spinning back by some unexpected shock sequence. Equal parts Cronenberg nightmare and anime spectacle, Higuchinsky’s (famed as a music video director in Japan) first feature film is an unrelenting creepfest. (Keith Breese)

Tenebre (1982)
While Italian director Dario Argento has been churning out lackluster (though thoughtfully gruesome) potboilers over the past decade, his early-’80s giallo Tenebre is a slasher film that is not only scary but diabolically clever. From Goblin’s pulsating opening beats to the outlandish axe murder that literally paints a wall red, Tenebre combines the best of Argento’s sumptuous visuals with a gritty storyline. Here, an American writer arrives in Rome to find himself linked to a serial killer using his novels as blueprints for murder. Tenebre (radically edited and re-titled Unsane in the U.S.) contains some of Argento’s best and most grisly set pieces: the aforementioned axe murder, a razorblade slashing a light blub, a brilliant crane pan across an apartment building and a cut in a t-shirt framing a victim’s face. You usually can’t go wrong with an early Argento film, and Tenebre is one of his very best. (Keith Breese)

Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)
Although it has Andy Warhol’s name plastered all over it, it’s writer/director Paul Morrissey and star Udo Kier that bring this monster film, stitched together by sexed-up gore, satire, and confused accents, to life. It’s the classic story of Dr. Frankenstein’s (Kier) quest for power, but this time he hopes to create a new race of undead that he can control. Buckets of blood spill onto the screen in this originally 3D shocker, and while the gore is plentiful, it’s the near-slapstick exchange between Dr. Frankenstein and Otto (Arno, Juerging, this version’s Igor) that will have you and your friends yelling about your zombies and calling each other Baron. And don’t forget the equally excellent (and cheesy) Blood for Dracula, which offers the best blood vomiting ever committed to celluloid. (Jason Morgan)

Horror Express (1973)
Is this trash film fanatic heaven or what? Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing team up as a professor and a doctor, respectively, on a trans-Siberian express train with what they believe may be frozen remains of an ape-man, a veritable ‘missing link.’ Ah, but in reality the ape-man harbors something horrible — a dangerous alien being! Amazingly, Horror Express is not only played straight (surely a remake would go for laughs) but it’s actually quite intense. Once a staple of late-late-night television, this Victorian-styled monster mash is a real charmer. Not only do we have the requisite train mishaps and pseudo-scientific beastie talk but director Eugenio Martin (Nightmare Inn) throws in some gnarly gore (Eyeball autopsy? Sweet!) and reliably effective special effect shots. (Keith Breese)

Dead Daughters (2007)
Out of Russia comes this creepfest (and rare chiller on our list) with amazing (albeit jittery) camerawork and sonic textures that will have you convinced there are little dead girls tiptoeing right behind you (providing you have a good sound system). In Pavel Ruminov’s ghost story, four friends come under a curse involving three vengeful ghosts who like to kill people that have done wrong. The only way to survive their wrath is to ‘be good’ for three days. How each friend interprets that mandate is half the fun. You might have trouble actually watching this film since, to the best of my knowledge, it’s never been released on anything resembling video in the States. Even if it has, it’s the type of film best experienced in a theater with a massive screen and pumped up surround-sound. So keep an eye out for any international horror fests that come your way or, if you must watch it on a small screen, there’s always a way for the crafty horror computer-freak to find it, but you didn’t hear it from us. (David Thomas)

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