Over the years there have been slews of horror films that have slipped between the cracks. The greatest thing about horror films is that it they can be blended and mixed into almost any cinematic cocktail. They can range from the comedic to the grotesque, rabid to romantic, and pungent to poetic.
This list is the five most overlooked horror film gems, as I see it. These films may have fan bases and if they do I sadly don’t hear about them. So simply put, these are films that I love, and need love in return.
5. The Changeling (1980)
The late, great George C. Scott stars in this quite and spine tingling tale of a haunted house and the mystery that surrounds it.
After the loss of his wife and daughter, composer John Russell moves into a historic mansion to reflect on his life and continue his work. He soon discovers that the house is also home to a child’s ghost that has been awaken due to Russell’s despair. After a stirring séance and literal “bumps” in the night, Russell begins to uncover a tale of deceit that leads to a very powerful and guarded man who holds all the answers.
This movie is great. I might be biased because I saw this movie when it came out and it still has some scenes that creep me out. It is a ghost story in the most classic sense and the stillness of winter and seclusion really add to the spookiness.
4. House (1986)
Greatest American Hero star William Katt stars in this genre bending tale of ghouls, ghosts, and altered reality.
Horror writer Roger Cobb has recently separated from his wife due to the strain of the disappearance of their son has caused them. Roger moves into the house his Aunt has left him after her apparent suicide and begins writing his next novel that is inspired by his time in the Viet Nam war. Soon things come full circle when his past in Viet Nam and the disappearance of his son are intertwined within the walls of the house.
This movie really has it all. Humor, scares, zombies, winged demons, ghosts, Bull from Night Court, and Norm from Cheers. It’s really worth a watch if you have never seen it. Some scenes have a really eerie surreal feeling to them that adds to the horror. Bonus Points for Big Ben looking like Eddie from a Iron Maiden album cover
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Based on Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name, Something Wicked This Way Comes was Disney’s attempt to make darker, adult themed fantasy movies.
When the dazzling and charismatic Mr. Dark comes to town with his Pandemonium Carnival , everyone seems to be completely enthralled. Except for two boys who uncover the sinister plot of Mr. Dark and his ability to make your deepest wish come true. With the help of one of the boy’s fathers they set out to rid the evil that has come to their small town.
Maybe not what you have in mind as far as horror, this overlooked film scared the crap outta me as a kid. It’s effects may not be the best but the acting is very strong Jonathan Price instantly became an actor to watch in our household after his turn as Mr. Dark. And as always Jason Robards turns in a great performance as Charles Halloway.
2. Nightbreed (1990)
Based on the story Cabal by Clive Barker,Nightbreed turns the normal on its head as humanity is the true evil compared to the monsters that lurk underground.
Plagued by dreams of a place where monster dwell called Midian, Aaron Boone is a tormented soul who seeks help from Psychologist, Doctor Decker. After being framed by Decker for a string of murders, Boone searches for Midian. Once he finds that the city of Midian is really a graveyard, he realizes that the monsters from his dreams are very much real. Boone soon finds himself living among them and could be their last hope in escaping the humans that would kill them.
Played like an adult fairytale, Nightbreed came at just the right time in my dorkness. I was a little emo mixed with a little metal and monsters being the “good guys” was the most awesome thing ever (and it still is). This is a film the masses don’t talk about, but they should. It has a strong cult following and at the moment the “Cabal Cut” of the film can be seen on Netflix. Bonus Points for having David Cronenburg play Doctor Decker.
1. Cemetery Man (1994)
In a magically cursed Italian graveyard, the graveyard manager has more to do than plan funerals. He must also protect humanity from the walking dead.
Buffalora is a small Italian town with the big problem of having a cursed graveyard. Once a funeral is over and the family and friends leave, it is graveyard manager Francesco Dellamorte’s job to destroy the body once it rises from the grave. Francesco’s life is simple and he keeps to himself. His only friend is his intellectually disabled grave digger, Gnaghi. Francesco’s world is turned upside down when he instantly falls for a grieving widow and her kinky love of death.
Cemetery Man (or Dellamorte Dellamore ) falls into the same category of classics like Evil Dead and Dead Alive. It serves a heaping portion of humor with its gore, and it’s a better movie for it. It also has the swirling surreal tones that Italian movies thrive on, giving you another level of uneasiness. Bonus points, Cemetery Man stars a younger Rupert Everett and is based on the novel by Tiziano Sclavi, the writer/creator of Dylan Dog comics.
[Author’s Note: This post originally appeared in October, 2016 as part of my Halloween celebration.]