Every year around this time, friends huddle together, pop in DVDs and try to scare the bejesus out of each other.
As Halloween approaches, people watch more and more horror movies. For every “Night of the Living Dead” or “The Shining” that everyone has seen, there are many scary movies which go under-the-radar.
These are a few forgotten masterpieces of the genre, each with a different take on the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. So check these out and have your popcorn, beverages of choice and vomit bags nearby. You might also want a friend’s arm close, to clutch when things get too scary.
Black Christmas (1973)
Before there was a Nightmare on Elm Street, before Friday the 13th, before even the immortal Halloween, there was this underseen gem from director Bob Clark. The same Bob Clark who filmed 1983’s “A Christmas Story.”
The plot of this film is the complete opposite of little Ralphie’s quest to obtain a Red Ryder BB-gun.
It’s Christmas time at a sorority house and someone is making disturbing prank calls. At first the girls think it’s a joke, until they begin disappearing one-by-one.
The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time. This film plays with that expectation, instead presenting the bright lights and snowfall in the most oppressive, frightening manner possible.
While not overly violent, it’s still suspenseful, frightening and for my money, the scariest movie of all time.
This French film is not for the faint of heart. You may think I’m kidding. I’m not.
Expecting mother Sarah is involved in a car crash which claims the life of her husband. One night, while still recovering from the accident and very close to giving birth, a strange woman appears at the door and is hellbent on getting Sarah’s child. By any means necessary.
Despite its minimalist plot, this movie wrings all the blood, gore and suspense out of its premise as possible. It’s mean, unrelenting and nasty. For horror geeks, it’s heaven. For everyone else, it’s h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
This one features the most intense opening sequence in horror history, a pulse-pounding soundtrack and unforgettable imagery.
An Italian film, it definitely sports that country’s operatic sense of staging, colors and melodrama but one must be sure of their tolerance for on-screen violence before watching this.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Vampires are definitely ‘in’ right now, but they don’t sparkle in this film.
Set in the snow-covered country of Sweden, Oskar is a bullied middle school student who meets Eli, a girl his age who nevertheless seems much, much older. She also has the bad habit of luring strangers into the forest and drinking their blood.
While this film is violent, it’s also a very sweet, romantic film about outcasts who form a very unlikely bond.
For people who like their bloody movies with a little sugar, this film is the ideal choice.
Cabin Fever (2002)
Five friends go to an isolated
cabin the woods to engage in drinking, drugging and fornication. Things go wrong. Sounds familiar, right?
Except this film is anything but your run-of-the-mill teens in danger movie.
The group contracts a highly contagious strain of the flesh-eating virus and one-by-one they all begin to see their flesh wither away from their bodies. Paranoia spreads and things begin to go from bad to really bad to worse to oh-my-god-that-is-disgusting.
While this sounds typical, it also has a deliriously off-kilter sense of humor that honestly works best as a comedy that just happens to feature extensive bodily damage. You’ll cringe, you may puke but you’ll be laughing hysterically the entire time.