It’s a magical season for horror fans: our favorite movies are playing in theaters and also on TV during AMC Fearfest, and Halloween revelers are on the way. For 364 days of the year, if you don a mask and demand candy from strangers you’re likely to get punched or arrested. That behavior is perfectly acceptable on Halloween because on that one day people really like to share. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’m sharing a list of terrific underrated horror movies worthy of your attention. I admit, though, if you ask me for recommendations throughout the year I won’t hit you — I’ll help you out. After all, I’m a horror-movie lover, not a fighter. But, please, take my advice and check out these ten fright flicks you might have missed. That is, if you’re any kind of horror fan at all.
- Fearfest Central
- AMC Fearfest Awards 2010Polls for the Palme d’Gore, Queen of the Scream Queens, the Bleeding Man, and more.
- On-Air Schedule Over 60 movies — from 28 Days Later… to The Wolf Man — running from Oct. 18 to 31.
- B-movies Online Five new zombie movies — one with Vincent Price — plus nineteen other horror B-movies.
- Killer Conversations Video
Video interviews with The Walking Dead‘s Frank Darabont, horror icon Wes Craven, and others.
- New Blood Video Interviews with horror’s up-and-comers such as James Wan (Saw) and Derek Mears (Friday the 13th).
- Two Swedes Sweding
Comedic shorts by two crazy horror fans reenacting Halloween, Friday the 13th, and eight other iconic fright flicks.
- The Walking Dead
AMC’s new original series premieres on Sun., Oct. 31, at 10PM | 9C.
10. The Creation of the Humanoids
When is an old drive-in flick something much more? When it gives you something to think about beyond intentionally hammy performances and cardboard sets. The Creation of the Humanoids is technically about cyborgs yearning to be free of their human creators in a post-nuclear world, but it’s also a parable about race relations in sixties America. Who says old horror-sci-fi flicks can’t be thought provoking? Definitely worth your time for a peek back into how seemingly harmless fun for 1962 teenagers could be subversive and instructive all at once.
9. Vampyres: Daughters of Darkness
No list of great movies can be complete without lesbian vampires, and this list is no different. Really, if you’ve seen one lesbian-vampire movie, you’ve seen them all: lovely ladies lure
strangers to their castle, kill said strangers, and get it on before or after said killing. But the stylish Vampyres is arguably the best the subgenre has to offer: the blood flows liberally, the sex is racy, the graveyards are misty, and the cloaks are velvety. Sure, in the end you may be asking “Where are the dang fangs?,” but you’re likely to be too engrossed to care.
8. Bad Ronald
Another made-for-TV flick, this time coming from the even cheesier decade of the seventies. But while Bad Ronald is unknown to many, it’s a cult classic for others and has finally been released on DVD, meaning you no longer have an excuse. Scott Jacoby stars as Ronald, who commits an accidental murder and then, with his mom’s help, hides away in the walls of his house to elude the police. But when his mom dies and a new family moves into the house, what’s a secret walled-in weirdo to do but remain in the wall? A truly unique premise and a supremely creepy one at that.
7. Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Eighties made-for-TV movies have a truly atrocious reputation, but Dark Night of the Scarecrow — despite sounding like the title of a Batman comic — was recently released on DVD and puts the normal standards of the TV movie to shame. The flick centers on a band of vigilantes who gun down a man falsely accused of harming a child and who get away with the murder, only to find themselves stalked by a scarecrow hell-bent on revenge, a scarecrow just as frightening as the monsters of flicks like Jeepers Creeper, though minus the special effects. Don’t let that “made for TV” label fool you: Dark Night of the Scarecrow is more terrifying than most theatrical fodder.
How does a movie go unnoticed despite being hemled by Danny Boyle, the director of zombie thriller 28 Days Later… and Oscar-winning drama Slumdog Millionaire? Somehow, you’ve probably not heard of Sunshine, though it’s directed by Boyle and up to his usual standards of excellence. A much more metaphysical affair than 28 Days Later…, Sunshine is not without its violence and action. In fact, sci-fi gives way to real bare-knuckle horror in the film’s latter half after the a ship heading to save the sun from extinction picks up a distress call from the long-missing Icarus I. Put it this way: if you ever wished Event Horizon had a bit more meat on its bones, look no further for wish fulfillment.
5. Black House
I know, I know: Asian horror cinema means girl ghosts with long wet
hair, right? Wrong. Black House trains its chilling focus on more down-to-earth horrors, like a mild-mannered man who investigates what he believes to be a murder, bringing him
face-to-face with cruelty so indescribable that you’ll just have to watch for yourself. The Korean flick is a slow burner, but once things gets rolling you get a gory glimpse of the face of pure evil that lives next door.
4. The Children
Kids are germ sponges. They pick up every little virus, from the flu to the chicken pox, leading to lots of coughing, whining, and bed rest. In The Children, however, the coughing and whining of the virus-riddled kids during Christmas celebrations leads to murder most deadly, which really puts a damper on things. If you think you’ve seen everything a “killer kid” flick has to offer, well, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen this one. It’s as violent, brutal, and surprising as the worst 24-hour bug.
Zombies are all the rage right now, and Pontypool put yet another fresh spin on the walking undead by presenting a world in which a zombie-creating virus is transmitted not through bites but through words. Wrap your head around that for a second. Pontypool gives you plenty to think about, with a plot as horrifying as it is intricate: language itself may be our undoing. But if you love horror for the thrills, not the thought, don’t worry: the movie doesn’t skimp in the fright department, as a small band of survivors trapped in a room try to figure out what’s going on right outside their door.
2. Lake Mungo
Though Lake Mungo employs the faux-documentary approach you’ve seen in Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, director Joel Anderson employs the trendy style with a far subtler hand. A month after a 15-year-old drowns, her family believes that the girl is haunting them thanks to evidence in the form of photographs and videotapes. But what’s really going on? Probably not what you’d expect. Lake Mungo is melancholic, thoughtful, and so full of palpable dread that any true horror fan must check it out.
When Triangle arrives, don’t be put off by its corny cover and throwaway direct-to-DVD appearance. Writer-director Christopher Smith has concocted a labyrinthine horror tale that demands your attention right up until the end. The plot may sound familiar — passengers onboard a yacht are forced onto an ocean liner owing to a storm but find the large ship deserted, except for someone who’s hunting them. But Smith’s spin is fresh and fun. A true underrated gem that proves what your mother always tried to teach you: corny lenticular covers can be deceiving.