It's one of our favorite months of the year. The leaves are starting to change, the weather gets a little brisker and we get to indulge in the movies that scare the hell out of us for 31 days. As we head closer to Halloween, we thought it was a good time to set aside all the titles traditionally seen this time of year—they're great, but to be honest, how many times can you watch A Nightmare on Elm Street?—and test your palette with 10 horror movies you've likely never seen, and should.
So come on in and be entertained…if you dare!
**Titles that are available for streaming are highlighted, but for a few you'll have to do some searching to see them, but trust us it's worth it.
Tucked away in the Midnight section of the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 (and then rolled out on a very limited release) was this raunchy horror starring AnnaLynne McCord (remember the 90210 remake?) in one of the most twisted coming-of-age high school tales you'll ever come across. Forget about going through the nervous first kiss or awkward dating, this has blood-soaked fantasies, Tracy Lords playing her mother and an ending that's too disturbing for words.
Best Time To Watch: Right before going to that raging Halloween party. Will get your mind right.
From filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, Inside (À l'intérieur) is one of the main examples of the French horror new wave. It follows a young mother who four months after surviving a horrific car accident in which her husband dies is preparing to go to the hospital to induce labor. However, out of nowhere a woman comes to her door and long story short begins chasing her with scissors trying to take her unborn baby. Your viewing experience can take it from there, but we'll leave you with this quote from one film critic who watched: "Leave it to the French to make Suspiria look like a '30s drawing-room comedy." Oh, and the fact that this trailer isn't in English makes it even more crazy.
Best Time To Watch: After you've digested your most recent meal and have no interest in eating for the next 6-8 hours.
In only his second feature, Peter Strickland has created a style that has brought comparisons to David Lynch, and if you decide to watch Berberian Sound Studio you'll know why. This film promises to mess with your head from the opening shot as we follow a lolly sound engineer, played perfectly by Toby Jones, as he slowly goes into madness while working on an Italian "horror" film. Whether its doing foley work or just reading letters from his mum back home, Jones' actions and facial features relays to us the strain this project is having on him (as we never see any of the film he's doing sound for). Not to mention the use of sound and superb editing that by the end may make you as loopy as our narrator. And if you can survive this, you'll be happy to know Strickland's next film, The Duke of Burgundy, is already making the festival rounds.
Best Time To Watch: As late in the evening as you possibly can… and keep all the lights off.
Sometimes reality can bring great horrors, especially when the intention is to scare you straight. Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas puts on a haunted house ever October, or what they call "Hell House," in the hopes to save sinners. Showing graphic scenarios related to drug use, domestic abuse, gang life, abortion, the mission is to open people's eyes. This 2001 film from filmmaker George Ratliff takes a look inside the creation of that year's Hell House and the single father behind its message.
Best Time To Watch: Whenever you feel you need to be cleansed.
Think THX 1138 merged with Phantasm and you'll begin to touch the surface of this strange fever dream that has sic-fi and horror elements but for the most part is a marvel in production design and cinematography. Director Panos Cosmatos has created a look and feel that has such an analog aesthetic you'd think this film was made in the late '70s. The story certainly isn't breaking any new ground—a young, attractive girl running for her life—but all the elements surrounding it makes the viewing experience so much fun and you'll have no idea where it will take you.
Best Time To Watch: This one's great for a cold and dreary night. High winds would be an added bonus.
Regardless your preference of title this 1976 Spanish horror will keep you up at night, especially if you have a child. We're brought to this small island off mainland Spain as Tom and Evelyn are going there for vacation. Soon, the couple realize the island is inhabited by psychotic brats who've killed all the adults. The film hits its insane peak when the wife is cornered by the kids and is killed by the her unborn child who has become one of them in the womb.
Best Time To Watch: When the kids are in bed… don't want to give them any ideas.
Tobe Hooper had just finished tormenting us with the hit Poltergeist when the bottom feeders of Hollywood, Cannon Films, came calling with a suitcase full of cash and asked what he wanted to do next. What we got was Lifeforce. A race of space vampires come to earth, London to be exact, and begin to infect the city. There are some impressive makeup effects, but with not enough cash to feed Hooper's bloated vision we basically get a cheesy, wanna-be blockbuster, but damn if it's not a hoot to watch now. You need to see this movie once, trust us.
Best Time To Watch: Randomly turn on when you have a room full of people; those who stay through the whole thing are your true friends.
Though horror has always been a big go-to for filmmakers starting out with low budget fare, The Blair Witch Project took that craze to its zenith. With a whole lot of horrors suddenly flooding the market (and honestly, many of them should never been made) one we're happy found its way out of the weeds was Larry Fessenden's spooky spiritual thriller. Playing off a mythical Algonquain legend, the godfather of contemporary low budget horror makes a thrilling work that's definitely much scarier than anything done in Blair Witch.
Best Time To Watch: Before you head off for a camping trip or anything that involves a lot of wilderness.
Before Michael Crichtin became a zillionaire from penning his Jurassic Park books (and creating ER, and other glorious things) he was a director and one of his highlights is the plastic surgery thriller, Looker. Albert Finney plays the plastic surgeon who makes small tweaks on a group of models to make them perfect, but then they start getting murdered. As typical to the 1980s thriller, it's not the police who do the investigating but the unqualified flat-footed civilian, so Finney's character begins to snoop around leading to some entertainingly silly sci-fi discoveries.
Best Time To Watch: Just before picking up the phone to schedule that touch up.
If none of the above titles have pushed you to the limits of insanity then we have one final offering. It's the film that's inspired filmmakers like Eli Roth and James Wan to go the extra mile with gore which inevitably began the "torture porn" sub genre in the early 2000s. It's the film that people to this day believe some in the cast were actually killed during shooting (though there's no proof of that). It's Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust. Shot in the Amazon rainforest starring indigenous people from the region mixed with Italian and American actors, it's a mix of found-footage and snuff film that has only built in infamy through the decades.
Best Time To Watch: Well…there really isn't a best time, you either watch or don't.
And be sure to check out...
Jennifer Kent's The Babadook which comes out in the end of November. If you still need some horror in your life following Halloween this is one of the scariest movies of the year. Veteran actress Essie Davis gives an incredible performance as Amelia, a single mom trying to keep up with her rambuncious son. But as his birthday nears, which is also the day his father died trying to get Amelia to the hospital to give birth, a mysterious book appears at their door that will change their lives and slowly drives Amelia mad.
[Photo: Berberian Sound Studio; GIF: Lifeforce]