Le Manoir du Diable, the first horror movie on record, was made only one year after Arrival of a Train, the first film ever. That’s about 125 years of film, which means there’s 125 years worth of horror for fans to choose from. The sheer quantity of horror movies produced in that amount of time is almost incalculable, which for a cinephile is hell because it’s impossible to see them all. There’s hundreds of thousands of movies and if you don’t know where to look, you’re bound to miss some good ones. Because of the numerous subgenres within subgenres, the VHS boom of the 80’s and the constant stream of new shit being released on a weekly basis, combing through the entire history of horror is a daunting task. This list was made to shine a light on a select few you might not have seen that I think are worth your time.
This is The 100 Greatest Overlooked Horror Movies.
70. There’s Nothing Out There (1991)
For nearly 50 years, Troma has delighted generations of degenerates who love exploitation trash and films that look like they caught an STD in a seedy back alley. They make films for their audience and their audience loves them but every once in awhile, they’ll distribute a film people without severe brain damage can actually enjoy. Mad Dog Morgan, Cannibal! The Musical and Father’s Day were all released under the Troma label and while they’re all great, There’s Nothing Out There is far and away their best film. A love letter to 50’s alien attack movies but with a meta twist, There’s Nothing Out There is a fun B movie that deserves a far bigger fanbase than Toxie or Nuke Em High.
Fun fact: My Neighbor Totoro was first distributed by Troma. That fact is crazier than any film they’ve ever produced and that’s saying a lot considering the vast majority of them involve dick mutilation and kids getting killed.
69. End of the Line (2007)
Due to their isolation and innate creepiness, subways make for one of the best horror locations, which makes the fact that they’re underutilized a bit mind boggling. There are miles and miles of underground passageways and tunnels that connect to subways, both in service and abandoned, plenty of space for a multitude of stories. They could be used as the backdrop of a cannibal story ala Death Line or a serial killer tale with a otherworldly twist like The Midnight Meat Train or in the case of End of the Line the hunting ground of an apocalyptic cult. A young nurse (Ilona Elkin) and a handful of strangers must band together to survive a radical death cult who intends on killing the world in order to save it. Filled with a ton of gore and violence and topped with a crazy finale, End of the Line is a wild ride. Subway puns FTW.
68. Superstition (1982)
Put to death in 1692, a witch swears vengeance on her persecutors and returns to the present day to punish their descendants. Why witches and other supernatural entities wait hundreds of years to in act their revenge is anyone’s guess but she’s back and ready to kill. A Canadian production shot in California and featuring one of the coolest movie posters of all time, Superstition has a lot of things going for it: gnarly deaths, a cool looking witch, a soundtrack that slaps and a great atmosphere. The plot may meander for a bit and the acting might be a tad shit but it delivers on its premise and then some.
67. Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)
After being arrested, a man begins confessing to the brutal murder of over two hundred women. He recounts in great detail the multitude of his victims, randomness of his evil and the origins of his murderous desires. Appalled at these revelations, the police can’t be sure whether to believe him or not until he shows them some polaroids and helps locate a body and then another and another… Told primarily through flashbacks, Confessions of a Serial Killer is an unflinching look at a deranged mind that’s loosely based on real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, the inspiration behind the similarly grim Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
66. Tourist Trap (1979)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre made such an impact on the industry that it’s one of the rare films that’s become a shorthand in describing another film. It’s like [blank] meets [blank] is the easiest way to pitch something to someone and when it comes to horror, few films perfected the tropes and became as indelible to pop culture as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so when I say Tourist Trap is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with a psychic who controls mannequins, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Tourist Trap gets no points for originality in the plot or character department but what separates it from Chainsaw is its main antagonist: a 6’5 murderous psycho that inexplicably has psychic powers. None of it makes any sense but it’s unique and fun and sometimes that’s all you need.
65. Der Samurai (2014)
Set on the edge of a dark forest and the very periphery of sanity, Der Samurai is a twisted dark fairytale about a young cop, a wolf terrorizing a village and a loon in a dress cutting the heads off of people with a katana. Is the killer a human manifestation of the wolf? Or a manifestation of the repressed cop? Or are all three the same? An orgy of slasher influences, werewolf tropes, ronin flicks and postpunk alienation, this is unhinged lunacy at 100mph. Or as the kids say “a whole ass mood”.
64. The Last Broadcast (1998)
Released the year before The Blair Witch Project changed everything, The Last Broadcast is a faux documentary about the mysterious deaths of a public access film crew that ventures into the forest in search of the mythical ‘Jersey Devil’. Although it’s the progenitor of the found footage genre, The Last Broadcast has been relegated to the dustbin of history which is a shame since it’s a damn fine entry point. It’s not as scary as The Blair Witch Project nor did it have as good a marketing campaign but it is dark and chilling in its own right. Just skip the last five minutes because they’re abysmal.
63. Razorback (1984)
A local hunter wants vengeance against a vicious man-beating boar that he believes is responsible for the death of his grandson. Joining him on his quest is Carl, a man investigating the mysterious disappearance of his wife, an animal activist who was investigating the hunting epidemic in the community. With skin in the game and the need for vengeance in their hearts, the two men set out on a razorback killing mission that may or may not turn out to be a suicide mission. An early directional effort by Russell Mulcahy (of Highlander fame), Razorback is an eye-poppingly gorgeous Jaws knock off filled with visceral horror and tense action. it’s one of the better examples of Ozploitation and is definitely in top five best Jaws homages. Which is saying a lot considering there’s about a million of them.
62. 1922 (2017)
A farmer convinces his teenage son to assist in the murder of his wife for the insurance money, but their actions have unintended consequences. Unceremoniously dumped onto Netflix with little to no fanfare, 1922 is easily as good as the streaming service’s other King adaptation Gerard’s Game but somehow it got lost in the shuffle while the former was a big success. A ghastly slow burner that stacks minor incident upon minor incident until they tally up to something major. Like the best of King’s adaptations, the film is a reminder that the author’s biggest strengths lie in his ability to build tension, create atmosphere, and tell a direct and brutal story, which 1922 is and then some. It’s as mean slice of Americana that’s rotten to its core and I mean that as a compliment.
61. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2017)
Italy may have corned the market on cannibal films and Giallos (seeing as they created it) and Japan the Kaiju flick but nobody does fantasy horror quite like Mexico. They didn’t invent it but they sure as hell perfected it. There’s something about their folklore that perfectly lends itself to the fantastical and horrific. Directors like Del Toro, Iglesias and Cuarón have brought dark fantasy to the mainstream and paved the way for directors like J.A. Bayona and Emiliano Rocha Minter to craft their unique takes on genre but as good as their films are, they aren’t nearly as fantastical as Paul Urkijo Alijo’s Errementari.
Set in Basque Country, Spain in 1843, a police constable arrives at a small village in Álava to investigate a mysterious blacksmith who lives alone deep in the woods based on the testimony of an orphaned girl who discovered that the reclusive blacksmith is keeping a demon imprisoned in order to avoid paying his debt to the Devil. A treat for the eyes, Errementari is as beautiful as it is delightfully satanic. The demon is wonderfully designed, the woods are filmed to be as menacing as possible and the blacksmiths shop looks like an orange tinted hellscape of sparks and liquid metal. The whole film feels aesthetically similar to Tony Scott’s Legend but darker and more creepy. When Del Toro talks about eye protein as opposed to eye candy, this is the kind of film he’s talking about.
What do you think of the selection so far? What are some of your favorite overlooked horror movies? Maybe they will show up further on the list!