It is nearly Halloween and people are talking costumes, “Uncle so-and-so’s Pumpkin Patch” is open for business, and stores are draped in orange and black. Television channels are airing everyone’s favorite scary movies: Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. All great horror films warranting their place in the Halloween film lexicon, but for anyone looking for solid horror films a little more “under the radar,” the following list of ten (in no particular order) may provide ideas:
– Dead Silence: Ventriloquism may not make most people’s list of “scary movie ideas,” but upon further review, those dummies do make for quality nightmare material. Created by the same people who made Saw, Dead Silence follows a recently widowed man who seeks answers regarding his wife’s death. A few grotesque scenes and a couple of solid twists provide a surprisingly good 90 minutes.
– Pontypool: Stephen McHattie stars as a small-town morning disk jockey, whose town is suddenly taken ill with something unknown. Any further details would ruin the discovery. Suffice to say, the film’s conceit could be its best part.
– Trick r’ Treat: An anthology of four loosely connected stories all occurring on the same Halloween provide the backdrop for what may be the best movie on this list. Each self-contained story is interesting on its own right, and provide enough originality that they never become predictable. The whole is even better than the sum of its parts.
– Creepshow: An anthology of horror stories put together by masters of horror, Stephen King and George A. Romero. Walking corpses, a fallen meteorite, more walking corpses, a creature in a crate, and a whole lot of cockroaches act as the backdrop for five self-contained stories. A bit campy at times, but solid scares through and through.
– The Mist: Adapted from a novella by Stephen King, The Mist tells the tale of a group of people trapped in a supermarket surrounded by a thick mist that cloaks terrifying creatures moving about. More unsettling than outright scary, The Mist’s claustrophobic atmosphere is its greatest asset, although its polarizing ending may irk some.
– [REC]: Remade in United States as Quarantine, this Spanish, found-footage horror film is easily one of the best in its genre. Nothing against the American remake, (it is a solid film) the original provides a rollercoaster of moments the remake fails to capture.
– V/H/S: An anthology and found-footage film. A group of hooligans break into a house to steal a specific VHS tape. They find a stack of them, and their watching the tapes acts as the narrative frame. The stories are not all great, but there are a few doozies that will stick with most viewers after an initial viewing.
– Return to Horror High: This one is a bit more complicated to explain, as it’s not a horror movie, so much as it is the filming of a horror movie. Maybe it is a horror movie that takes place during the filming of a horror movie? Or is it really all just a practical joke? Full disclosure: Even after seeing the movie, it is still hard to figure out.
– Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: An atypical horror movie in that its main characters (Tucker and Dale) do not actually realize they are in a horror movie, so much as they are the victims of unfortunate chance. It is also not your typical horror movie in that it gets as many laughs as it does scares.
– Slaughter High: A high-school nerd is the victim of an unfortunate prank that leaves him disfigured. Years later, that same nerd seeks revenge during a reunion. Full of the kind of camp one would expect from an 80’s horror flick, it is the unique death-scenes and original ending that make this one worth watching.
By Ernest Richmond