There is probably not a more popular and prolific genre in cinema right now than horror. We can turn on the TV (if anyone still pays for that), and catch any sort of horror film, from “Final Destination” all the way through “Saw,” “Suspiria,” maybe some classics like ”Dracula,” or even “Rosemary’s Baby.” What’s for sure is that in this very vast genre, there are some magnificent films, and some have become very talked about classics and some haven’t.
This comes in some way as good news, doesn’t it? The power of discovering new movies is infinite. And thankfully, everything there is to watch is more vast that the time we have.
Here’s the list of 10 great horror movie classics you’ve probably never seen:
10. Canoa (1976, Felipe Cazals)
Felipe Cazals is one of Mexico’s most important and prolific directors, with more than 40 years of experience. “Canoa” stands as one of his best, most acclaimed movies, and there’s definitely reason behind it. Aside from being beautifully shot and told with great craft, this film, based on true events, tells the story of a group of friends who arrive to a little town in Mexico and are interpreted as a threat. As they spend more time in the town, people start talking, feeling uneasy of the outsiders visiting such a closed religious community.
Taking an acute insight on Mexico’s corrupt and conservative politics, and their link to religion and its sacred figures, “Canoa” manages to tell a horrifying story focusing on the worst of all monsters: people. It was first catalogued as a political biopic, but in the words of the director, “It’s a horrible thing that actually took place, doesn’t that make it a horror film?”
9. In a Glass Cage (1986, Agusti Villaronga)
This movie is definitely not for everyone. Spanish director Agustí Villaronga tells the story of a former Nazi child molester who attempts to kill himself and fails, while being stuck in an iron cast with an artificial lung. He can’t move, but he can see and feel his past coming for him, hunting him. A person from his other life manifests himself and is out for vengeance. It’s a very hard to swallow interpretation of the loss of innocence and the roots of evil.
This movie was banned from several countries for years and it’s a hard watch without a doubt. It’s very explicit, leaving no room for imagination. Villaronga’s movie is as raw as it gets. Not all classics are easy!
8. Deep Red (1975, Dario Argento)
Dario Argento is known for being one of the greatest and more stylish horror directors of the 20th century. Along with a handful of people, he created the cinematic genre ‘giallo,’ which refers to horror thrillers full of violence, and most of them being gore. It stands as the predecessor, or the inspiration behind the slasher subgenre, and there might not be a better example than this movie.
”Deep Red” delivers a poetic vision of violence and gore. Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) and Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi) get, to say the least, involved in a weird murder of an even weirder person. Between them, they try to find out what happened, only to find out that there are worse ways of being killed than with a gun, and our natural fears are there for a reason.
7. Eyes Without a Face (1960, Georges Franju)
This classic 1960 French film tells the horrifying story of a surgeon and his desperate means to build his ill daughter a new face. The love and obsession a father can feel ends up eating at his soul and turning him crazy, with the sole mission of achieving his scientific goal, both for his daughter and for himself. We have the duality of beauty and carnage, an atmospheric ride taking us along without asking if we can take it. The operation scene made people faint in its release and stands as one of the most shocking visual sequences.
The critical way of looking at standard beauty and how far a man is willing to go in order to get to it makes this movie as relevant today as it was the day they shot it.
6. Johnny Got His Gun (1971, Dalton Trumbo)
This 1971 movie (based on the novel by blacklisted screenwriter Donald Trumbo) serves as political criticism of the politics of war and its consequences on human life. A man suffers the brutality of war and is trapped in a deaf, blind, mute, and paralyzed body. He has nothing but his thoughts, and there is no way he can tell a soul. The movie takes us through the experience of war, and shows how little average people matter in this affair.
Filmed in a minimal and subtle way, “Johnny Got His Gun” is a subversive anti-war satire that puts the finger on the horror of violence. Trapped in his own thoughts and nightmares, Johnny feels as if death is not the worst it can get.