THE 50 GREATEST HORROR MOVIES YOU'VE NEVER SEEN
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In the Mouth of Madness -
There really isn't enough time to praise this movie enough. Adapted from the works of
H.P. Lovecraft, low-budget auteur John Carpenter produces some of the creepiest moments
ever put on film. I really don't want to spoil the impact of this movie for anyone who hasn't seen
it, so no spoilers on this one. If you want a genuinely creepy horror movie with some great
twists, this is the movie for you.
If someone's ever spoken of Jeffrey Combs and you drew a blank, go rent this low budget wonder from the mid-eighties. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, Combs stars as Dr. Herbert West, a resident at Miskatonic University, where he experiments on bringing the dead back to life, often with disastrous consequences. Stuart Gordon keeps the black comedy coming at a fast pace, and once you've seen this movie, you'll never think of "giving head" the same way again.
Blood Feast -
Herschell Gordon Lewis made this gem for what seems like $30. A new shopkeeper opens up his store, offering strange ingredients and authentic "Egyptian Blood Feasts". All the while, police are investigating egyptian style ritual murders involving women losing their organs. And yet, no connection is ever made.... well, unless you're THE AUDIENCE!!! The gore is a little tame by today's standards, and the plot, and the acting... and well, everything about this movie is cheap, but damn if you won't have fun watching it during the whole 63 minute running time. Yep. Shorter than Freaks.
Carnival of Souls -
This is the movie that, along with Night of the Living Dead, really set forth the independent horror movie as a viable art form. Carnival of Souls doesn't make a whole lot of sense initially (all we know is that Candace Hiligoss crashes her car off of a bridge and walks away from it) but the unnerving imagery and dreamlike quality of the film give way to one heck of an ending (which probably packed even more punch when it was released.) It's a shame more people haven't seen this wonderful film.
House of Wax -
Vincent Price portrays a vengeful sculptor who uses the living as his new wax figures. This is the movie that launched Vincent Price's long string of horror movies that continued until his death. This movie was shot in 3-D and features Charles Bronson.
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors -
This british anthology of Horror involves the passengers aboard a train and the strange Dr. Terror, who offers to tell them their future, but at a price. The title leads you to think this is lower end than it actually is, and includes such Hammer Horror legends as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, as well as Donald Sutherland and Michael Gough. If you can't find it on video, AMC has a habit of showing it frequently during October.
Tales from the Crypt -
Long before the TV show hit HBO, MGM released this little seen adaptation of the comics on the big screen featuring Sir Ralph Richardson as the crypt keeper. The stories are all excellent, the acting is surprisingly high end, and while it's not as explicit as the series, the gore moments still pack a punch. It's not easy to find, but well worth seeking out.
While originally intended to be in full color and 3-D, this movie was saved from a
horrible fate by last minute budget cuts. The lack of budget forces this giant bug movie to be
more intelligent and scarier. Since it wasn't possible to film it, much of the violence occurs
off-screen making it that much more effective. This movie is a lot of fun and a must see
for any fan of old school horror and sci-fi.
Bride of the Atom -
The Ed Wood film everyone knows about but next to no one's seen. Bride of the Atom (or Bride of the Monster) is about how Bela Lugosi kidnaps the dashing hero's girlfriend to... well... talk to. And Tor Johnson wanders around, muttering and doing his master's wishes. Most notable for the legendary "octopus scene" involving Lugosi and a clearly rubber octopus that flops about, Bride of the Atom is a hoot from start to finish.
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter -
Strange and sometimes pointless pairing of Western and Horror, involving Frankenstein's daughter performing brain experiments on unwitting settlers and cowboys, including Jesse James' best friend.
Truly strange George Romero movie about a young man who believes himself to be a vampire. Since he doesn't have fangs he uses razor blades on his victims. This incredibly gorey movie is sadly not as popular as Romero's "Living Dead" films, but is an excellent movie in its own right.
The Thing From Another World -
Classic 50's Horror/Sci-fi. A team of scientists in the Antarctic discover an alien frozen in ice. After they accidentally thaw it out, they are forced to fight for their lives. Very tense and well acted. If you like 50's science fiction, you absolutely must see this film.
Castle Freak -
A weak story and terrible acting are made up for by some excellent make-up effects for the title character. The movie is slow, but that will be a lot of the appeal for the audience that will enjoy it's particular brand of suspense. Also you get to see the title monster castrate itself.
The Dead Hate the Living -
A post-modern tribute to classic low-budget horror movies. Practically every line
of the movie is directly lifted from another movie. Half of the fun of this movie is trying to
pick out the references. On top of that it's plenty gorey for those with a thirst for the blood, and special effects courtesy of Photoshop 1.0. Plus the truly awesome soundtrack by Penis Flytrap.
The Hills Have Eyes -
This movie is kind of like Last House on the Left, except the girls are substituted with a family and the madmen are replaced by insane mutant hillbillies. Wes Craven shows a talent for suspense in low budget horror that can still impact today's audience.
Ganjasaurus Rex -
Filmed in the hills of California on a camcorder, Ganjasaurus Rex is perhaps the only pro-drug horror movie I've ever heard of. When authorities burn down a marijuana crop, Ganjasaurus Rex (an inflatable plastic dinosaur) comes to life to take revenge on those who... well, I think you can figure out where this is going. This film is SO cheap that the time and date are frequently visible in the lower right corner, but if you're in the mood for some MST3K style-action, you can't beat this doozie.
A gruesome and creepy little film from horror writer Clive Barker. While not as
effective as his first film Hellraiser, it's still got a lot going for it. The lead of the movie is
sucked into an underground world of monsters after being framed for murder and gunned down
by the police. Very cool monster designs and some disgusting moments are only topped by
the eerie performance of David Cronenberg as the movie's human villain.
Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions -
Yet another little gem from Clive Barker. The actual plot of the movie is really no
better than your standard horror fare, but Barker makes the movie stand out with his
unequalled flair for the grotesque. This movie boasts some excellent special-effects make up
work and some of the most memorable visual tableaus ever in a horror movie.
The Bad Seed -
An adaptation of the Broadway play of the same name, The Bad Seed is an
excellent character based thriller. The title character is simply a little girl who is evil to the
core. Marvelously acted, this movie kept most of it's original broadway cast for the filming.
Curse of the Fly -
While easily the most haphazardly made of the original The Fly series, Curse of the
Fly still holds its own. An escaped mental patient ends up getting mixed up with the family
of the scientist from the original movie and much mayhem ensues. While it lacks the emotional
resonance of the first two films, it is more than entertaining with its wider variety of man-animal
A burnt out novelist moves into a haunted house after his son dies in a tragic accident and his wife leaves him. This movie is alternately hilarious, creepy, and disgusting. George Wendt plays an excellent comedic relief role as the novelist's skeptical neighbor. The movie is pretty ridiculous but a whole lot of fun.
A Bucket of Blood -
Dick Miller plays a bus boy at a hipster coffee shop. He decides to impress the beatnick regulars with his amazingly lifelike wax sculptures. Which of course turn out to simply be murdered human beings. Directed by Roger Corman, this movie is a nice little thriller with some pretty excellent acting.
Orgy of the Dead -
This little gem has the distinction of being written, but not directed, by Edward D. Wood, Jr. The nearly plotless movie doesn't actually have an orgy, but it does feature a lot of topless dancers and Criswell, in addition to borrowing its choreography from Bye Bye Birdie (seriously). The production values are on par with any of Wood's other movies, and in color, to boot. Oh yeah.
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie -
Though it has little to do with the actual series, Tales from the Darkside, this movie does have its vurtues. The first installment features Christian Slater in a nice little mummy story that is an adaptation of an Arthur Conan Doyle story. The second, penned by Stephen King, follows an evil old bastard of a man who is trying to kill an evil bastard of a cat that has ruined his life. The last, and probably best story, is about love and gargoyles. Better than average anthology movie.
Shaolin Ninjas vs. The Mexican Vampire -
Truly an underappreciated work of low budget film making. The story of a Mexican Vampire who haunts the woods and attacks adventurers, only to invoke the spirit of "A Great Evil" (Bob Dole) and destroy a Shaolin Temple. When the monk vows revenge, he conjures Death to revive the fallen adventurer and turn him into a super powered ninja fighting machine. But they need more weapons to destroy the vampire, so a bounty hunter promises to train them in the art of war. Hilarity and Balls out Horror ensue. Why this movie wasn't a HUGE hit I'll never understand.
"It's Exactly What You Think It Is" I can't do much more justice than the tagline on the box, except to say that Pieces is sort of like Frankenhooker, but without as much of the sucking.Silent Night, Deadly
When this movie came out it created a lot of controversy due to the killer of the piece being dressed as Santa Claus. Most of this controversy is pretty unfounded, being that it's pretty much a standard slasher flick. But it does have some nice gore, and it is fun to see a bloody Santa wielding an axe. If you've got time to kill, check out Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 as well. It's terrible, but it's amusing to watch how much of the film is directly lifted from the first movie.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part Two -
What is the only logical way to follow up The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? By hiring Dennis Hopper as a crazy sherrif hell-bent on killing Leatherface and his family. More of a parody than a sequel, this movie manages to be disgusting and funny at the same time.
Bubba Ho-Tep -
The strangest possible product to come out of the pairing of cult horror legends (Bruce Campbell and "Phantasm" director Don Coscarelli), Bubba Ho-Tep has all the trappings of low budget horror laughs, but instead takes its subject seriously but never too much so. While the story of an elderly Elvis joining forces with John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) to fight an escaped mummy sounds ridiculous, you never doubt that it isn't actually happening while you're watching this movie. In fact, you come to empathize with the old people that the mummy is killing off one by one (in a manner so strange you have to see it to believe it) I only warn you not to expect Army of Darkness style humour, because while it can be quite funny, Bubba Ho-Tep is not what anyone's expecting.
Masque of the Red Death -
An excellent "adaptation" of the classic E.A. Poe story of the same name. The film follows the life of Prince Prospero (played wonderfully by Vincent Price) as his country is being ravaged by plague. The movie is absolutely gorgeous with wonderful costume and set designs and beautiful cinematography. If you want an old Price movie with a hell of a lot of visual flair, this is the one for you.Chillers -
This anthology of horror tales is considerably cheaper, but much funnier than the other anthologies on this list. It concerns people waiting at a bus stop and telling stories to one another only to find out that it is a bus...to HELL!!! Ooops I spoiled it for you. Oh well, see it anyway.