14. Gutterballs (2008)
As a special effects makeup artist, Gutterballs director Ryan Nicholson has worked on some high profile projects, including Warcraft, The Chronicles of Riddick and hit television series’ Smallville and Supernatural. However, as a filmmaker, he’s responsible for some of the nastiest and most critically lauded micro-budget horror features out there.
Gutterballs is a throwback to the slasher movies of yesteryear. Set in a bowling alley, it tells the story of two warring teams who end up being picked off one-by-one by a deranged killer fittingly known as the Bowling Bag Killer.
As an experience, Gutterballs toes the line between mindless fun and uncomfortably mean spirited, while authentically retaining the spirit of the exploitation fare that inspired it with unapologetic glee. You aren’t going to get sugar and sprinkles from a Ryan Nicholson film, but there is cheesy, campy humor to be found as well.
13. Someone’s Knocking At The Door (2009)
Chad Ferrin’s films have a tendency to create offbeat, twisted humor out of the most macabre subject matters, but Someone’s Knocking At The Door is by far his funniest movie to date. It’s also his most unhinged, and this is coming from the same filmmaker who has given us movies about killer Easter bunny’s, rampaging hobos, and flesh eating ghouls.
Someone’s Knocking At The Door tells the story of a group of promiscuous teenagers who go to a mental hospital to have sex and get high. However, in doing so, they incur the wrath of a serial killer couple from the 1970s who rape their victims to death.
At its heart, Someone’s Knocking At The Door can be interpreted as a film that warns of the dangers of drug use and unsafe sex. But mostly it’s just a deranged comedy that offers some engaging outlandish thrills.
12. Joshua (2008)
After a man receives a phone call from a prison warden informing him that his father has passed away, he returns to his home town with his girlfriend to take care of funeral arrangements. However, once he arrives home, he’s forced to come to terms with his dark past following a nervous breakdown that goes by the name of Joshua.
Joshua is a film with an engaging story and strong multi-faceted characters harbouring their own personal demons. It touches on the sensitive topic of disturbed youth – especially those with murderous tendencies that have made news headlines in the past. It’s a story about guilt, repressed memories, and having to deal with your conscience eventually.
Travis Betz is a director unlike any other, typifying the strange and inventive spirit of underground horror at its most wholly original. Joshua remains his most horrific film, as the others have leaned towards romance, comedy, and even music more so than terror since.
11. Adam Chaplin (2011)
Italian imprint Necrostorm have amassed themselves a strong fan base in the horror community following a string of well-received gore movies inspired by comic books, video games, B movies and splatter. Despite not having the same finesse as the renowned masters of Italian horror, they certainly match godfathers such as Lucio Fulci when it comes to visceral content.
Set in the fictional country of Heaven Valley, Adam Chaplin tells the story of a demonically possessed vigilante with superhuman strength hell bent on avenging the death of his wife, who was burnt alive at the hands of a sadistic mob boss. With a corrupt police force and a hired killer on his case, our antihero and his demon sidekick must slaughter their way through their foes before bloody vengeance can be claimed.
The plot bears a striking resemblance to The Crow, but the crime-laden streets of Heaven Valley are reminiscent of a Japanese manga come to life. Overall, it’s a fun, grotesque movie with plenty of action and carnage that should enthral all action and gore aficionados.
10. Found (2012)
Based on the novel of the same name by Todd Rigney, Found tells the story of Marty, an outsider who takes refuge in horror films until his life becomes the real life embodiment of one. After finding a human head in his brother’s closet, he fears that his brother might be a serial killer, even though he still desperately wants to reconnect with him.
Found is a disturbing film as it chronicles events through the eyes of a child. However, in doing so, we also relate to the problems that child is going through – which include bullying, loneliness and disillusionment in addition to his brother decapitating people. At its core, it’s a story about alienation that many can relate to, which gives the story a weighty emotional heft.
Headless – the film within this movie – was given the full feature treatment last year and is also well worth tracking down as well.
9. Applecart (2015)
Applecart is a black and white silent anthology film from workaholic director Dustin Mills, whose been known to average up to four films per year – none of which is anything like the last – and none of which lapse in quality as a result of his constant output either. For us fans, he’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
Mills has reported that the film is based on his fear of seemingly ‘normal people’, as well as his hatred of tragedy being treated as a laughing matter. The latter is magnified in the film brilliantly through a satirical laugh track and audience applause to accompany the scenes of not-so-far-fetched atrocities that happen behind closed doors on a daily basis.
All of the characters wear the same masks and convey their emotions effectively through body language, and it makes for a powerful piece of cinema where words aren’t needed to get its point across.
Applecart portrays common horrors faced in the real world through a unique lens. It’s the type of bold, experimental filmmaking only a true auteur could envision, let alone make – and that’s why Mills is at the forefront of underground cinema in terms of creativity.
8. Flowers (2015)
Flowers tells the story of six helpless women who find themselves trapped in a crawl space underneath the house of a vicious killer. As they try to find their way back to the house, they’re faced with a series of trials and tribulations, along with memories of their pasts and how they got there. Furthermore, there’s no dialogue whatsoever, which heightens its abstract nature and ambiguity.
Flowers is a film that’s both extreme and elegantly beautiful. Director Phil Stevens has an artistic flare which sees Flowers enter a realm that sits somewhere between the darkest recesses of exploitation and the mournful dirges of high art. It’s an abstract and confusing film that’s quite difficult to understand, but a fascinating experience nonetheless.