With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get your spook on. But who wants to watch Halloween for the 75th time? Maybe it’s time to try something a little different. So, with that in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite off-beat horror movies. They are flicks that you might not be aware of and a lot of them are foreign* (so you can pretend you’re uber-continental when you talk about them with your friends). I’ve done my best to include descriptions and trailers below, so check ’em out and see if you might be able to find a new holiday favourite!
1. Silver Bullet
Notable Stars: Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Gary Busey.
What It’s About: Corey Haim and Megan Follows are a precocious brother and sister growing up in an idyllic little town . . . until mutilated corpses start showing up. Will they be able to uncover the truth about these deaths and discover who is responsible?
Why You Might Like It: Corey Haim has an epic chase scene on a motorized wheelchair! Gary Busey harnesses his inner survivalist loon and helps the children devise werewolf traps! Anne of Green Gables does something other than pine for Gilbert Blythe! Awesome!
2. Night of the Comet
Notable Stars: Bunch of random people, but the most notable is Mary Woronov.
What It’s About: A comet crashes into the Earth and destroys almost everything except two valley girls who are left to fight LA’s remaining zombified population.
Why You Might Like It: Who doesn’t want to see a cheerleader fight zombies? Also, the one liners are pretty great. “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis!”
3. The Convent
Notable Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Coolio.
What It’s About: College students break into an abandoned nunnery and become possessed by demonic spirits.
Why You Might Like It: It has a Leslie Gore soundtrack! Adrienne Barbeau is awesome! There are day-glo monster nuns!
4. Dance of the Dead
Notable Stars: None.
What It’s About: Zombies invade a small town on the night of the high school prom.
Why You Might Like It: People slash up zombies in prom dresses! A rock band keeps a horde of the undead at bay by playing music! Hormonally charged zombie makeouts!
5. Eyes Without A Face
Genre: Mad Scientist
Notable Stars: A bunch of French people!
What It’s About: A crazy doctor kidnaps girls so that he might use them to fix his daughter’s disfigured face.
Why You Might Like It: It’s a slow burner, but it’s actually really beautifully shot. The music and the cinematography make it very haunting to watch.
Genre: Creepy Crawlies/Psychotic Killer
Notable Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasance.
What It’s About: A young girl can communicate with bugs and uses her ability to help solve a murder.
Why You Might Like It: I have written about this one before and the thing about it is that it is truly insane. Bug talking! Monkey nurses! Psychotic pig face boys! It really has to be seen to be believed.
7. Brotherhood of the Wolf
Notable Stars: Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci
What It’s About: A noble man and his Indian sidekick team up to investigate the killings of mysterious beast in 18th century France.
Why You Might Like It: It’s like a period piece monster whodunit! Plus, the Indian dude knows kung fu and Monica Bellucci has heaving bosoms**!
Trailer?: Yes .
8. The Happiness of the Katakuris
Genre: Haunted House/ Zombie/Musical (This one is really hard to define)
Notable Stars: A bunch of Japanese people!
What It’s About: A scrappy little Japanese family buys a run down hotel near Mount Fuji with the idea they will turn it into a thriving bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, all their guests start dying.
Why You Might Like It: This movie has everything. There is singing. There is dancing. There are puppets. There are zombies. Basically, the whole thing is insanely surreal and deserves to be watched.
Genre: Axe murderer (literally)
Notable Stars: Joan Crawford, George Kennedy.
What It’s About: Years and years ago, Joan Crawford killed her husband and his lover with an axe. Now she’s out of the insane asylum and cured . . . or is she?
Why You Might Like It: Joan Crawford wears jangly bracelets and shouts! Greasy looking George Kennedy gets killed! Hammy looking axe murders!
10. Dog Soldiers
Notable Stars: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee.
What It’s About: A bunch of army dudes get dropped in the Scottish Highlands for a training exercise, but they are not alone.
Why You Might Like It: Do you need a reason beyond army dudes fight werewolves? Because if you do, I don’t think we can be friends.
11. Night of the Living Dorks
Genre: High School/Zombie/Teenage Sex Romp
Notable Stars: A bunch of German people!
What It’s About: A group of nerdy high school friends perform a voodoo ritual and then die in a car crash . . . but they don’t exactly die.
Why You Might Like It: It’s kind of a cross between American Pie and Night of the Living Dead. Also, watching the nerdy dudes in high school take back their power with superhuman strength is kind of awesome. Take that, stupid bullies!
12. The Devil’s Backbone
Notable Stars: A bunch of Spanish people! (It was, however, directed by Guillermo Del Toro who did Pan’s Labyrinth some years later. I think this is better!)
What It’s About: A young boy comes of age at a haunted orphanage after the Spanish Civil War.
Why You Might Like It: It is subtle but spooky as hell! Just the right kind of ghost story.
13. Let The Right One In
Notable Stars: A bunch of Swedish people!
What It’s About: A troubled young boy befriends the new girl next door, but little does he know his new friend has a very big secret.
Why You Might Like It: I know they’ve done an American version of this, but do yourself a favour and see the source material. It watches kind of like a bizarre version of My Girl . . . if, say, Thomas Jay hadn’t been killed by bees and instead was Vada’s undead friend.
If you don’t like any of those, here are some other movies I enjoy:
– Return of the Living Dead. My ex introduced me to this and even though we are long done, I still love it.
– The Thing. Can you believe I just saw this a few months ago? The special effects are still really good and they’re as old as me.
– Near Dark. *singing* Adrian Pasdar fighting some vampires, one is Bill Paxton, so it won’t end well.
– Frailty. I cannot believe Matthew McConaughy is in something I like. Go figure.
– Black Christmas. By which I mean the 1974 version. Do not even talk to me about that crap-ass, cookie baking remaking.
– Suspiria. To be honest, it was a toss up between this and Phenomena for my list, but I figured more people would have seen Suspiria. Also, I don’t know why, but whenever I see the preview for Black Swan, it reminds me of this movie.
– Witchboard. This was the very first horror movie I ever saw. I was both intrigued and mildly traumatized to see Patch from Days of Our Lives get his ass kicked by a supernatural entity.
– Ginger Snaps. I really liked this movie but I hated that they had to milk the concept with sequels. Just let sleeping hormonal werewolf girls lie!
– Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? I know this is supposed to be scary but the first time I ever saw it, I laughed my ass off. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis trying to outdiva eachother is priceless.
– The Bad Seed. My mother shares the same name as the villain in this one so she always loved it growing up and she introduced it to me when it was on TV.
– Army of Darkness/the assorted Evil Dead movies. I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I loved these movies wasn’t because of the musical version. However it does also have Bruce Campbell which is pretty awesome. BRUCIE!
– 28 Days Later. This was one of the first movies that brought zombies back into the spotlight. Also, I think Cillian Murphy should always have a shaved head because he looks much hotter that way.
– Dead Alive. Zombie baby!
– The Lost Boys. The Coreys at their finest. Now if only Feldman would stop making direct to video sequels. You’re legitimizing garbage, Corey!
– Fright Night. Chris Sarandon . . . Mmm . . .
– Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. A big part of the reason I love this is because of the Dokken theme song. DREEEAAAAMM WARRIORS!
– Dead Heat. Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo are a zombie/cop team (and it also has a crazy theme song).
– The Exorcist. It’s still scary but the two failed prequels were awful.
– Jamie Lee Curtis in pretty much everything. Except the later Halloween movies, because, yuck. Even my mammoth Joseph Gordon Levitt crush can’t keep me from watching H20 without cringing my ass off.
If you enjoy horror movies and horror movie coverage, I encourage you to check out Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl and Brian Collins over at Horror Movie A Day. They both have good genre taste and will introduce you to even more good stuff.
Also, if you want to add a regular dose of horror to your viewing schedule, AMC (the same station that brought you Mad Men) is premiering The Walking Dead on Sunday. I’ve loved the graphic novel series for years so I am pretty stoked that the show looks so fantastic. Hooray zombies!
What say you, bloggerinos? What are your favourite horror flicks?
*Whenever possible, please do yourself a favour by avoiding horrible dubs and watching in the original language with subtitles. Trust me, it’s much better that way.
**Actually, I am trying to think of a movie where Monica Bellucci doesn’t have heaving bosoms, but I can’t come up with one. Maybe that’s not such a novelty after all!
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