October 31, 2013

NFS Staff Picks: Top 5 Lesser Known Horror Films That You Should Definitely Watch Tonight

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.

Justin

Laura

Micah

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfqN2wuH_Ck

Oakley

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mxhJzSKV08

Robert

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SOur3WwZvM

V

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN0HVJ5tkIM

  • 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpxXx5Qf4HA

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

[header image by OneMetal]

Your Comment

20 Comments

I'm glad someone included "House". That might be one of the craziest, funniest, and most absurd horror films ever made.

October 31, 2013 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4276

I always describe House to people like this: Imagine if Jim Henson had directed Evil Dead in Japan with an all female version of the cast of Scooby Doo.

October 31, 2013 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Coty

That statement just made me giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl. It's such a spot-on description.

October 31, 2013 at 5:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4276

I actually haven't seen the Japanese 'Hausu', but the american film "House" (1986), which is completely unrelated to the Japanese film, is just fantastic.

October 31, 2013 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Well, I just finished discovering what "Hausa" is all about.
Within a minute or so I was going to bail, but having seen the trailer, I figured I'd hang in to the end.

Here's where you're expecting me to say "And I wasn't disappointed", but you'd be wrong.
Watch the trailer, and be happy with that.
Don't think there's more. There isn't. Just a lot of confusing stuff that makes you wonder how stupid the creator of this film was, and those who chose to star in it. And then there's the American pop music (as per the trailer) which makes no sense whatsoever. Too many layers of badness to even be contained in a reasonably sized response.

Nothing else is worth wasting your life, unless you want to see a few scenes of young topless Japanese girls ... and now I'm pretty sure I just sold it for most people sitting on the fence.

It's just so astonishingly bad ... it should be right up there with "Toll 2" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space" for most nonsensical, ridiculous, badly-made, inappropriate music, etc. films ever made.

November 7, 2013 at 10:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shawn

Great list, but it's going to be an Evil Dead/AOD night tonight :)

October 31, 2013 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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CaptM

Can't go wrong with that! Evil Dead 2 is my favorite.

October 31, 2013 at 5:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Oakley Anderson-Moore
Writer
Director/Shooter/Editor

Onibaba.

October 31, 2013 at 4:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dark Water, the Japanese original.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM_5hGBKqbE

October 31, 2013 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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stuartculpepper

No love for "Viy, the Spirit of Evil"?

October 31, 2013 at 5:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I just have to add 'Pet Sematary', 'People Under the Stairs', and 'Session 9'. This scene was so scary that I didn't even mind that David Caruso was in it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGq3pCoAhLQ

October 31, 2013 at 8:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

after the GH2 activated the sonofusion at the piezoelectric crystals at my pineal gland, my life became like this classic trash horror from the 80s. :D :D This and Reanimator are fun gore I love! Does not honor Lovecraft, but I can´t help but love it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kENuvJ2MIA

October 31, 2013 at 9:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

I can´t help but love the underground horror from Coffin Joe (jose mojica marins) too!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYgdOyXR_CY

this is pure weird anarchy! :D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0MVAIho4BM

He´s one of my heroes,
he even shot surreal hardcore porn to finance his horror films! <3

October 31, 2013 at 9:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqohSrb_jCc
this is not a feature, but some of the movies from the "cinema of transgression" folks are a pure mix of horror and anarchy with lots of energy and a healthy disregard to traditional storytelling.

October 31, 2013 at 9:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

I'm not banging!
if you look the footage you are shooting with your GH2 via the visor, very close to your eye, it with heavy use, it will with time de-calcify the pineal gland, ionize it and activate the sonoluminescence in the cavitations allowing your sense of self - that resonates at 40hz between the thalamus and the heart, as Dr. Rudolf Llinas discovered (http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/the-science-studio/enter-the-i-of-...). yep, the sense of "I AM" is not in the brain, but in the dialogue between the brain and the assymetrical and non-computable beats of the heart (Brazilian super scientist Dr. Nicolelis says the brain is not computable, he is partially right, it's not the brain, it's the "I AM" concept that lies between the brain and the heart, because assymetrical beats can't be fully computable, just approximated, as super mathematician Dr. Steve Strogratz explain in his biosync concept)... any way, why I know all this? BECAUSE GH2 MADE ME MORE INTELLIGENT THAN I WAS!

So it's not banging, it's plain truth, and you, Mr. Norm Rasnr is my prophet! all the luv from the living universe to you and your GH2 too! <3 ;) :* And don't worry if your comments telling the ultimate truth about the GH2 are deleted, all great prophets suffer censoring in their life time! Keep spreading the truth! the World is taking itself too serious, so it needs your wise comments, dear Norm Rasnr!

Hail Eris! :D :D :D :D :D

oh, also it's true that GH2 can't shoot 4K, but it allows my brain to use wavelet equations to upscale it to 8K without making people wrinkles more evident, in a sense GH2 is also a virtual rejuvenating tool to old actress, without the need to use filters to bring the footage to 1K as Rodney Charters says in the video posted in the article about the new ARRI doc cam here is NFS!

November 1, 2013 at 8:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

Now, being a little more serious (it's hard, but I'll try), you guys from NFS could, if you like and want to, make an article discussing what I consider the main problem with 4K and probably 8K (I have only seeing 4K videos from my Scarlet in a 4K sony TV of a rich folk). The problem for me is micro-contrast and how much unneeded information about human face it brings to the image. 4K is glorious for shooting landscape for sure, but when comes to people it brings too much "reality" beyond the reality we see with our eyes on a daily basis. That's because we modulate what we see psychologically. When we like someone we erase the most of visual "imperfections" since only 20% of our neural activity is direct to receive information from outside, 80% of it we use internally to compose and give meaning to what we receive from outside.

So what Rodney Charters said in the interview you folks posted at the article about the new ARRI doc cam is very important, because sometimes it's needed to bring the 4K image down while capturing it so it can be gentle to human faces, and also hands - places that we got more wrinkles, making it sometimes a little pointless to shoot 4K...

for example, the test footage Ryan Koo shot with his RED using old lens from Canon are SO ORGANIC and pleasant to the eyes! I've found that using vintage lens with 4K makes it so more organic and better for shooting humans, since it fights back the micro-contrast and excess of information.

In the same interview the ARRI german folk says ARRI is more preoccupied in focusing in bigger and better pixels than in smaller and not so pleasant to the eyes pixels.

Not against going 4K, but the arguments Rodney Charters and the ARRi guy made in the video is quite worth to think about.

For me that's where shooting with film is still superior, it has lots of spacial and temporal resolution (the halogens are always changing location with time) but since the position of the silver halogens are not fixed, there is not a problem of harsh micro-constrast, making it more organic (since it is an organic and not digital process).

Would love to read your view on the subject! :)

November 1, 2013 at 9:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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guto novo

I grew up on 80's Horror and I can honestly tell you that House of the Devil is far from pitch-perfect if 80's slasher is what it was going for. Mindlessly throwing in a classic song by The Fixx certainly doesn't help, it just wastes a great song.

All I could think the whole time I was watching this movie was "oh, yet another pointless movie by a self-satisfied, trendy kid." It's not about storytelling or craft or even about capturing a mood. It's about the filmmaker patting himself on the back.

I'm guessing people who love Blair Witch Project also like this movie. Blair Witch is another one I hate (because I like horror, not gimmick) and I realize this invites hate.

November 3, 2013 at 9:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ron I

How about 10:
1. Undead
2. Darkness
3. The Deaths of Ian Stone
4. Tokyo Gore Police
5. Helldriver
6. Frontiers
7. Heartless
8. REC 3
9. Sector 7
10. Pulse

November 9, 2013 at 2:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Spiderbaby

Mumsy, Sonny, Nanny and Girly (AKA Girly)

Dave

November 10, 2013 at 3:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dave

Why in the world is The Shining on a list of lesser known horror films?

I discovered Murder Party on only one list of the best unknown horror movies, and I absolutely loved it. You should definitely try to check that one out (:

June 28, 2014 at 1:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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HREzra