Top 5 Horror Films

Happy Halloween, everyone! We've been talking about horror all month long, from ramping up the scare factor in your screenplays to how to apply realistic bloody wounds in makeup. So, we thought what better way to close out the scariest month of the year than to share with you some spooky flicks that you may have not seen. Check out the NFS staff picks for their top 5 lesser known horror films.




  • Peeping Tom (1960): This is one of the most criminally under-seen films out there (probably because it’s so hard to find). The irony is the film that essentially ended Michael Powell’s career might be his best.
  • The Shining (1980): What can be said about this film that hasn’t already? It’s just scary, especially for writers…
  • Audition (1999): Kitty.
  • Fear (1983): Another difficult film to find, the frantic and listless camerawork puts you inside the mind of a man with nothing to lose. Perfect.
  • The Wicker Man (1973): It’s just like that bad dream you have where you realize all your friends are actually out to get you.


  • Andy Warhol Presents Blood for Dracula (1974): From a frail Dracula searching for "wirgins" in Italy to would-be marxist revolutionaries, this black comedy horror film from Warhol factory filmmaker Paul Morrisey is an enjoyably perverted satire skewering social mores of the day.
  • Surf II: The End of the Trilogy (1984): The 1980s is my favorite decade for churning out the best farces in film history, including Surf II, a subversive cult classic featuring many boobs, a worthy 80s soundtrack, off-the-wall one liners and hilariously horrifying gags as a mad scientist tries to turn all the surfers into mutant zombies.(Not on DVD)
  • The Cat and the Canary (1927): Want to see more of early 20th century German Expressionism and can't be bothered to sit through The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari again? This dark comedy from German filmmaker Paul Leni took the style of expressionism and added humor to make for a screwy form of psychological horror in what some call the definitive 'haunted house' movie. You can watch it here for free.
  • Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925): One spot on this list had to be reserved for a parody, and it goes to comedy heavyweight Stan Laurel and his goofy twenty-minute spoof of the classic Paramount horror Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide. Watch it here.
  • American Werewolf in London (1981)While it's not exactly unknown (it won an Oscar in 1981 for makeup), in my humble opinion, when is comes to the horror-comedy sub genre, this is the best. Director John Landis walks the line between scary and hilarious in this lycanthrope lore with thrills, gore, pithy dialogue, and situational irony that make me love it long after Halloween horror season ends.


  • Pontypool (2008) - Zombie films usually leave me wholly uninspired, to say the least. Pontypool, however, is low-budget Canadian zombie flick that is suspenseful as all hell, has excellent characters, and has a fresh new take on a genre that has become a bit hackneyed in the past few years. If you want a zombie film that actually makes you think a little bit, this is the one to do it.
  • Let The Right One In (2008) - This one isn't necessarily a lesser-known horror film, but as vampire films go, this eerily charming coming of age story is a real winner. If you're not into the whole subtitles thing, the American version, Let Me In is pretty great as well.
  • The House of the Devil (2009) - Ti West is quickly proving to be one of this generation's horror auteurs. The House of the Devil is his best film to date, and its vintage style and pacing are immaculate. Plus the ending is awesome.
  • YellowBrickRoad (2010) - I don't even know how to classify this one. It's extremely low-budget, and it shows at times, but this film seriously scared the shit out of me. In fact, I'm scared just thinking about it right now.
  • Lilith (2011) - Writer/Director Sridhar Reddy's independent horror film, Lilith, is a modern incarnation of Dante's Inferno that also serves as a study in the nature of grief and the healing process. Also, if you dig into the archives of his absolutely fantastic blog, you're in for a crash course in low-budget filmmaking. Seriously though, read this guy's blog.


  • Tesis (1996): The debut Spanish horror-thriller by the amazing director Alejandro Amenábar that was before its time. It's a challenging investigation into people's fascination with death and violence.
  • Sleepaway Camp (1983): Big horror film fans are probably not very surprised to see this movie on the list -- but I bet you were surprised to see the final scene, right?
  • Phantom of the Paradise (1974): As far as horror rock-operas go, many think that Rocky Horror is the only game in town, but Brian De Palma's (yeah -- De Palma made this) Phantom is funny, scary, and incredibly entertaining.
  • ThanksKilling (2009): This filmmaking disaster beat out Monsturd for a spot on my list only because it's easily quotable, the killer turkey is charming, and you'll feel better about every single movie you've ever made.
  • Hausu (1976): This Japanese delight is the greatest horror gem I've ever found. I can't explain how awesome this movie is -- so, you're just going to have to watch it.

  • BONUS -- The Short Films of David Lynch: I just couldn't leave this out. Lynch's short avant-garde films are all terrifying, but The Alphabet is by far the most soul crushing.

What do you think? What are your top 5 lesser known horror films? Share your list in the comments below!

[header image by OneMetal]