For no more than gits and shiggles and to be filed under the “not that your care” tab, here is a list of horror movies you have either forgotten, never seen, or have never heard of, that have entertained and influenced me to some degree! By no means do I put most of these on the “best of” or “greatest ever” list but the are well-worth the viewing for the gore hound and horror aficionado.
In no particular order, here we go.
Society (1989) – Jordan Peele and Get Out owe a lot to this movie. Whether or not it was intentional, as I watched Get Out, it felt like a remake or re-imagining of Society. This is a story of elitism and classism with a twisted, horrific and gore-field center. Emerging in 1989 at the peak of Re-Animator-style practical effects, Society mixes blood and guts with a scathing social commentary.
Slither (2006)- Before he was Marvel’s guardian of their galaxy, director James Gunn, masterfully made horror movies. All aspects of his artistry are on display in Slither, a movie that teeters on the brink of the mainstream while edging toward an alien creature feature, but always finding its way back to its horror heart. With a $15 million budget and a cast boasting the likes of Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Rooker, this had sleeper hit written all over it but fell well short of making back its budget. Worth a watch or re-discovery.
Exorcist III (1990) – Released in 1990, this movie would have benefited by taking itself out of the Exorcist universe and being a standalone movie. Exorcist II and the other follow-ups were mostly bad, muting the greatness of the original to some degree. And, this is movie, I avoided for many years, only recently having seen for the first time. To my joy and surprise it is an extremely good and underrated movie. The atmosphere is tense and creepy. George C. Scott is solid as the would-be investigator, and Brad Douriff is, of course, perfectly placed as the haunting Gemini Killer. The movie made close to $40 million back in 1990 so it wasn’t exactly under the radar, but it wasn’t given a chance to stand on its own by critics of the time.
Near Dark (1987) – I will always champion this movie, faults and all. Director Kathryn Bigelow went on to Academy acclaim with The Hurt Locker, but this mid-western, modern day vampire tale mixes two of my favorite genres – horror and western! Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen turn in solid performances in this complicated tale of family, love and vampires! Theatrically, this movie fell more than a million short of making its $5 million budget back, but it has built a solid following among horror fans.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) – The little movie that a lot of people talk about but hardly anyone has actually seen. Well, the premise is a bit off the wall, creating a scenario where an aged and not-so-dead Elvis (Bruce Campbell) crosses paths with a misplaced and ethnically diverse JFK (Ossie Davis) in a retirement home. Together they embark on one final crusade to battle an ancient evil after a centuries old mummy is revived. This 2002 movie is crude and lewd with gore and tension and a story of unexpected friendship driving it forward.
The Last Supper (1995) – This gem has a well-known cast, including Cameron Diaz, Bill Paxton, Courtney B. Vance, Ron Eldard, Nora Dunn, Ron Perlman and many others. A group of liberal graduate students decide to invite their right wing counterparts over for one last dinner, and guilty of extreme conservatism, the victims are killed off one at a time.
The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – Watch the trailer. If you like the trailer, you’ll like the movie. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s that simple. Actors love to be in Jim Jarmusch movies and this is no exception. Adam Driver, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton Bill Murray, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Tom Waits are among the names who battle the newly undead in this little flick. It plays on the Romero-esque zombie tropes while breaking the fourth wall in mocking-good fun, while splattering the screen with gore and tension. If you watch this and like it, move onto Jarmusch’s Dead Man, the Johnny Depp western with a voice of its own.
Some Guy Who Kills People (2011) – Among the worst titles ever for any movie, this flick earned a massive one hundred and thirteen dollars at the box office. That’s right, 1-1-3, no additional zeros. Apparently, six people went to one screening of this movie. I only recently discovered it on Amazon Prime, but it is surprisingly good, incredibly funny and has its share of gore. It has a twisty and turny story that takes a nice turn. The cast of Kevin Corrigan, Karen Black and Barry Bostwick is solid, with Bostwick turning in a borderline remarkable performance.
Dog Soldiers (2002) – A who’s who of UK character actors and Scottish sidekicks, Dog Soldiers features a bunch of faces you recognize but names you probably do not know. In short, this is a story of military exercise that goes awry when the squadron of soldiers find themselves in the woods besieged by werewolves. The movie is tense, a little bit scary, highly original and has some wonderful werewolf effects.
Murder Party (2007) – I remember first hearing about this movie on the independent festival circuit more than a decade ago. It doesn’t have any actors or names you’d know and it really is the epitome of festival success stories, with its director going on to direct Green Room. The main character finds himself invited to a “murder party” mistakenly thinking it is a Halloween party, when it is, in fact, just what it implies – a murder party where the guests get murdered. It’s funny, it’s gory and it’s unique. Well, worth seeking out.
The Stink of Flesh (2005) – This is a hard-to-find, micro-budget, self-distributed, zombie feature shot on DV with novice actors. It sounds like a lot going against, but the movie really works. In the pre-streaming and early days of digital filmmaking, this movie emerged, and filmmaker Scott Phillips tells a quirky story as lead character Matool wanders the wasteland of humanity after the zombie uprising. The tagline for this movie is, “How do you lead an alternative lifestyle when everbody’s dead.” For a while, I had this movie on DVD, but somewhere along the line someone loved it so much, they failed to give it back.
The Burrowers (2008) – Clancy Brown heads up the cast in the genre crossing tale that’s part western, part creature feature and part vampire (sort of). It mixes in elements of The Searchers while telling its own unique story as a small posse goes in search of a missing girl whom they believe was kidnapped by the local natives. It’s a splash of social commentary as monsters emerge – both of the human and otherworldly kind.
Begotten (1990) – I have seen Begotten. I may be one of the few. There is a unique mythology behind this movie and why it has never seen a re-release. It tales the story of a god (maybe the God) who commits suicide by disembowelment in the opening sequence. A woman impregnates herself with the godly corpse, and gives birth to a new god-like creature who wanders a violent and cannibalistic wasteland. It is an experimental film shot in black in white, and by black and white, I mean black and white. The grays are processed so they are entirely black, so yes, black and white. And, yes, this was intentional. There is no dialogue. There is no score. There is mostly ambient noise. It is a movie considered horrific by some, sacrilegious by others and outright boring by many. It is a movie to be consumed on many levels but not understood.
Cigarette Burns (2005) – An hour long episode of Masters of Horror directed by John Carpenter and starring a pre-Walking Dead Norman Reedus and a very sinister Udo Kier. Reedus is a relic hunter who tracks down the only known print of a mythical movie. Those who view it only do so once and then they become homicidal afterwards. The movie within the movie very much mirrors the style of Begotten, and Cigarette Burns tells a larger story about a fallen deity also paralleling the aforementioned film. Cigarette Burns truly is a master class in storytelling within the horror genre and allows Carpenter to be at his unrestrained very best.