From Halloween to Alien, the horror genre is all-encompassing and forever expanding. With devout followings and dedicated audiences any horror fan worth their weight will have seen the genre greats. Year after year we get a steady flow of new horror to digest and obsess over… but what about the films that fall between the cracks?
The films that for some reason we never get around to viewing, but which deserve every second of our attention. Without further ado, here’s ten horror films that you’ve probably never seen but totally should chuck on your watchlist!
10. Train to Busan (Sang Ho-Yeon, 2016)
Injecting fresh blood into the tiresome and overdone zombie genre, Train to Busan is a fast paced, emotionally charged thrill ride that came chugging out of South Korean cinema a couple years ago.
It can essentially be boiled down to a simple premise: zombies on a train. However, the film goes on to become so much more than that. The film features impressive and tense action sequences with special effects work that mixes both CGI and practical for the inner gore lover in everybody. However, what elevates the film beyond your typical horror is that it balances all this action with a genuinely enthralling narrative containing a heartfelt father/daughter relationship at its core.
Criminally underrated and sparingly seen by Western audiences, Train to Busan is without a doubt one of the freshest zombie film in years and that’s even before we get onto the narrative’s clever Korean social commentary and deconstruction of class.
9. Maniac (William Lustig, 1980)
Often overshadowed by the bigger horror films that came out that year, such as the infamous Friday the 13th as well as Carpenter’s The Fog. William Lustig’s Maniac although more obscure undeniably had a large influence on the Slasher genre, helping to shape it as we know and love it.
Made cheaply on an absolutely miniscule budget as well as being shot on location (guerilla style) with handheld cameras, the film is uncomfortably voyeuristic and disturbing in its depravity. Featuring a truly impressive performance by Joe Spinell as the mannequin-obsessed, psycho creep Frank Zito. The film follows him as he oozes around the sleazy streets of 1980s smog filled New York looking for his next kill.
What sets it apart from other slasher films of the time is that right from the very off we are positioned with the killer. We learn about him and his deranged mind in an intimate way and rarely leave his company in the film’s near ninety minute runtime. Maniac in this sense, acts as the perfect combination of psychological horror and gore-filled slasher.
Did I mention that the legendary Tom Savini did the practical effects work for the film? So, you know that you’re definitely in for some fun in the gore department. Keep an eye out for his cameo as one of Zito’s many victims.
8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (Scott Glosserman, 2006)
An absolute love letter to both the horror genre on a whole and the slasher films of the seventies and eighties, Behind the Mask is a smart, self-reflexive mockumentary with large elements of black humour spliced between genuine thrilling scenes of horror.
Taking place in a universe in which fictional killers like Michael Myers actually existed, Behind the Mask, follows Leslie Vernon a serial killer in the making played to perfection by Nathan Baesel. The film’s breakdown of clichés and genre tropes is witty and clever and is very reminiscent of meta horror predecessors – New Nightmare and Scream by Wes Craven.
The film is made to be seen by genre-deconstructionists as well as cult audiences who know their horror inside and out. It’s an impressive homage to the genre greats and actually features cameo’s from veterans such as Robert Englund and Kane Hodder, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhes respectively! If you consider yourself a horror fan, you’ll have a riot with this.
7. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971)
This British spun folk-horror follows the story of a 17th century English village being slowly taken over by demonic possession after they accidentally uncover the devils earthly remains. Eerie in atmosphere and rich in tension, Blood on Satan’s Claw received numerous cuts and was poorly received on initial release despite being a gothic tale of Lovecraftian fashion.
Shot on location in pastoral surroundings filled with bleak moody colours, not only is this film beautiful visually but is also equal parts unsettling. The film’s setting as well as it’s score really help bolster it’s already palpable and hypnotic atmosphere. On top of that the film features stellar performances from Patrick Wymark (in his last ever role) and Linda Hayden as the alluring Angel Blake.
Lavish, brooding and somewhat perverse, this film was seen by very few on release and didn’t have much of an impact at the time, however it has been come to be known as a shining example of the paranoid schizophrenic hysteria films influenced by The Salem Witch Trials. At its core, Blood on Satan’s Claw is a film about devilish superstition leading to tragedy and death and is a niche story absolutely drenched in cult appeal. Not one to be missed!
6. Q: The Winged Serpent (Larry Cohen, 1982)
An ambitious romp of a monster movie rarely talked about amongst many of the other bigger names in the sub-genre. The film, made by the late Larry Cohen centers around the Aztec god of Quetzalcoatl or ‘Q’, a winged giant lizard as he is spotted lurking around the New York skyline. Sooner or later, bodies start turning up, including a rather fun decapitation of a window washer and the police start to investigate kicking off the narrative.
The real heart of this movie lies in Michael Moriarty’s character of Jimmy Quinn, an ex-con who after a heist accidentally discovers Q’s high-rise nest and tries to blackmail the NYPD with information on it.
The Winged Serpent, which is equal parts a crime thriller as it is a monster movie is an odd beast of a film but is spearheaded by a likeable anti-hero of whom Moriarty gives his all too… and if that’s not enough, just wait until you see the giant puppet they use for the monster. It’s certifiably ridiculous. Make sure to see this if you’re in need for a fun easy watch.