7. Fido (2006)
In an alternative universe of 1950’s suburbia, space radiation has reanimated the dead, and thus begins the Zombie Wars. To prevent the end of civilization, human communities are fenced off and with the aid of the Zomcon corporation, the living dead are contained and controlled by making them servants with domestication collars.
Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) is a housewife who purchases a zombie helper (Billy Connolly), against the wishes of her husband, Bill (Dylan Baker), who suffers PTSD from fighting them in the war. Timmy, their son, develops a friendship with the new addition and names him “Fido”. After causing a small zombie outbreak, the neighborhood begins to panic but Zomcon attempts to smooth things over.
Directed by Andrew Currie from a story by Dennis Heaton, “Fido” is a Canadian “Zom-Com”, intentionally made as a cross-genre feature, with a less predictable premise. Satirical, touching, and with plenty of gore, it’s been declared one of the best zombie spoofs of all time. It rates a 73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb gives it 6.8 stars out of 10.
8. Hide and Creep (2004)
An Alabaman town is under attack by zombies and a flying saucer. An investigating government agent is killed upon arrival. Three male hunters defend their club from a swarm of zombies.
A nude man is found in a cemetery after being abducted by aliens, trying to piece together the events and find his girlfriend. The town’s preacher is bitten by a zombie in his church, but not before delivering one last sermon. Meanwhile, the owner of a video store engages with a customer about the differences between wide and full screen formats.
Based on his short film, “Birthday Call”, writer/director Chuck Hartsell expands on with “Hide and Creep”, co-directed with Chance Shirley. Reviews were mixed or positive, given the film’s lack of a theatrical release. Currently, it is available for free online streaming and is a must-see for lovers of 1980’s horror-comedies.
9. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
On Devil’s Night (October 30th) 1977, two men and two women are working a book of outlandish roadside attractions. Under the direction of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), the owner of a gas station and fried chicken shack, the foursome set out to find the tree where a local madman, Dr. Satan, was hanged. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker, Baby (Sheri Moon-Zombie), and they get a flat tire.
Baby’s brother Rufus comes to their aide and brings them to their house, only to suffer through meeting the rest of the family. Mother Firefly (Karen Black) invites them to dinner and a Halloween show, but tensions flare between Baby and the two female guests. Once their tire is fixed, the foursome attempt to leave, but they are attacked by Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) and Tiny (Matthew McGrory).
When his daughter doesn’t come home, a concerned father contacts a sheriff in that district. Law enforcement agencies in the area have been searching for a group of cheerleaders who have also disappeared.
“House Of 1000 Corpses” is the feature debut of writer/director Rob Zombie from the band White Zombie. It was inspired by “Grindhouse” and other exploitation films of the 1970s, with dark humor and references to true life serial killers. After being shelved for nearly three years, it received a negative response upon its release, but developed a cult following and spawned a sequel, “The Devil’s Rejects”, in addition to having a theme park ride at Universal Studios.
10. Cherry Falls (2000)
In Cherry Falls, Virginia, a teenage couple are murdered while making out in a car. Jody (Brittany Murphy) is the daughter of a sheriff, Brent (Michael Biehn), and her boyfriend, Kenny (Gabriel Mann), has decided to see other people. Upon investigating the murders, the authorities discover the killer carved “virgin” on the victims.
Mr. Marliston (Jay Mohr), a high school English teacher, insists that more details be released publicly. The sheriff holds a meeting with the parents, while Jody is attacked by the killer, but narrowly escapes. When describing the physical details to a composite artist, it is noted that the suspect looks like a young woman who, 25 years prior, was raped by four of the popular boys and then disappeared.
Directed by Geoffrey Wright with a script written by Ken Selden, “Cherry Falls” is a subversive, satirical slasher film. Due to censorship issues, the feature never received a theatrical release in the US. Instead, it aired heavily edited on the USA Network. An attempt to release an uncut version Blu-ray version in 2016 was thwarted when the original print had been rendered unavailable.
11. The Frighteners (1996)
A former architect turned ghost communicator, Frank (Michael J. Fox) is haunted by the death of his wife. He has three deceased spirit friends that help him with his new practice in exorcising haunted houses, while being revered as a charlatan.
Eventually, he begins to see this entity under the guise of the Grim Reaper, who begins killing people and carving numbers onto their foreheads. His ability to predict the murders raise suspicion with the police and FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs).
Directed by Peter Jackson with a script written with his wife, Fran Walsh, “The Frighteners” was released with the help of Robert Zemeckis. It features notable cult favorites like John Astin (of the original “Addams Family” series), Dee Wallace Stone (“The Howling”), R. Lee Ermey (“Full Metal Jacket”), and more. While being a disappointment at the box office (overshadowed by “Independence Day”), the film gained an underground following.
12. Tales from The Hood (1995)
In the crime ridden neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, three African-American gangsters meet up with the weird funeral parlor owner, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), to purchase drugs that he found. Before the transaction, he takes the trio on a tour through the mortuary and their most recent clients.
A former police officer is haunted by the murder of a black rights activist at the hands of racist and corrupt cops, then is summoned by the corpse to bring them to justice. A young boy is abused by a vicious monster, but also has the power through art to hurt those who bully him. A bigoted Southern senator and former KKK member, residing on the grounds of an old plantation, is terrorized by voodoo dolls containing the souls of deceased slaves.
As the three become annoyed with Mr. Simms, he tells them one last story about a violent gang member. In an attempt to kill an enemy, he is shot by other rivals, but survives and is given the chance to reform where he is forced to watch horrific images of violence and racism.
Directed by Rusty Cundieff (“Fear of a Black Hat”) with a script co-written with Darin Scott (the producer, along with Spike Lee), “Tales from the Hood” is an often overlooked anthology horror gem, combining the Blaxploitation genre with “Tales from the Crypt”. It stars Wings Hauser, David Alan Grier, Corbin Bernsen, Lamont Bentley and Rosalind Cash. Upon its release, it received negative reactions, but it should be revisited.
13. Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) (1994)
In a small Italian town, Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the resident caretaker of a cemetery called Resurrecturis. He is rather isolated, surrounded by death, and only has a mentally unstable assistant for companionship. The dead rise on the seventh night after their death, and Dellamorte’s job is to destroy the reanimated bodies before they wreak havoc on the townsfolk.
The campaigning mayor ignores his pleas for investigations as to what causes this phenomenon. Meanwhile, at a funeral, Francesco falls for the young widow (Anna Falchi) of a wealthy, elderly man. When they make love upon his grave, the deceased husband rises, bites, and presumably kills his wife. Dellamorte retaliates by killing both and quickly sinks into a depression.
Based on Tiziano Sclavi’s novel of the same name, “Dellamorte Dellamore” was directed by Michele Soavi. It was released in Italy in 1994, and by 1996 it was renamed “Cemetery Man” in the US. The feature gained positive reviews, even winning praise from Martin Scorsese, who called it one of the best Italian films of the 1990s. As of 2011, Soavi was planning a sequel, but nothing yet has materialized.