There’s nothing wrong with sticking to popular classics like Psycho or A Nightmare on Elm Street, but why not challenge yourself to watch something you may not have seen before this Halloween. Here are my suggestions for ten underrated fright flicks to watch as part of your spooky celebrations this year.
He’s sweet, sexy, and he likes to get in late. You might think he’s the perfect neighbour. But before inviting him Jerry in for a nightcap, there’s something you should know. Jerry prefers his drinks warm, red, and straight from the jugular! It’s Fright Night, a horrific howl starring Chris Sarandon as the seductive vampire and William Ragsdale as the frantic teenager struggling to keep Jerrys deadly fangs out of his neck. Only 17-year-old Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) knows Jerry’s bloodcurdling secret. When Charley can’t get anybody to believe him, he turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who used to be the Great Vampire Killer of the movies. Can these mortals save Charley and his sweetheart Amy (Amanda Bearse) from the wrathful bloodsuckers toothy embrace? If you love being scared, Fright Night will give you the nightmare of your life!
It’s Halloween night, and a small suburban town is about to learn a frightening lesson─through five interconnected stories─that it’s best not to tamper with the holiday’s rituals. What happens when a jack-o’-lantern is put out before midnight? Is it always best to satisfy trick or treaters? Can pranks on All Hallows’ Eve go too far? Find out this and more with Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb, Dylan Baker, and Brian Cox.
The fourth zombie epic from director George A. Romero finds the world overrun with the undead. As the living barricade themselves in a heavily fortified city, the rich reside in a luxurious high rise owned by entrepreneur Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper). When a vengeful lackey (John Leguizamo) steals a weapon-loaded armored vehicle, Kaufman enlists the help of a mercenary (Simon Baker) to retrieve it. But when the flesh-eating legions begin showing signs of intelligence, is there any hope for humanity? With Asia Argento, Eugene Clark.
Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his little telepathic twin brother, Belial, have come to New York City looking for the doctors who operated on them years earlier. When they find the creeps, Belial pops out of his wicker basket and wreaks havoc. Frank Henenlotter’s novel horror film co-stars Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner. For more on Basket Case, click here.
What’s the connection between a space capsule that returns minus its crew and some friends who go on a cave-exploring trip? Apparently it’s a mysterious rock the spelunkers find and the deadly extraterrestrial creatures that emerge from it. What’s the connection between the 1979 film “Alien” and this Italian-made sci-fi shocker? None, really, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be screaming. Mark Bodin, Belinda Mayne, Roberto Barrese star. AKA: “Alien Terror,” “Strangers.”
Compelling sci-fi suspenser stars Dennis Quaid as Alex Gardner, a man with ESP who joins a government research project that involves entering peoples’ nightmares to help them overcome their fears. Gardner and scientist Dr. Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw) uncover a plot by a powerful intelligence official (Christopher Plummer) to allow a psychopath to infiltrate the dreams of the U.S. president (Eddie Albert) and assassinate him. Max von Sydow, David Patrick Kelly also star. (This one is more sci-fi than horror, but wait until you see the Snakeman nightmare sequence). And speaking of snakes…
The newest sound in terror features Strother Martin as a demented, snake-obsessed scientist who develops a serum to slowly turn new lab assistant Dirk Benedict into a giant cobra. Slithery, sinister shocker also stars Heather Menzies, Richard B. Shull.
A mishap with a bio-weapon on a nearby military base begins mutating the residents of a small Texas town into flesh-starved zombies. Now it’s up to a ragtag bunch of locals─including a gun-legged exotic dancer (Rose McGowan), her mysterious ex-lover (Freddy Rodriguez), a syringe-wielding doc (Marley Shelton), and the town sheriff (Michael Biehn)─to save the day. Robert Rodriguez’s gore-soaked contribution to the “Grindhouse” double bill also stars Naveen Andrews, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey, and Bruce Willis.
As the citizens of the sleepy fishing village of Antonio Bay, Ca., prepare for their community’s centennial celebration, a thick and murky fog slowly makes its way to the coastal town. But this is no ordinary weather phenomenon as the fog brings with it the vengeful spirits of shipwrecked sailors who mean to claim six lives to settle a 100-year-old score. Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hal Holbrook, Tom Atkins, and Janet Leigh star in John Carpenter’s gruesome shocker.
Let’s wrap things up with an amazing double feature! The “Dracula” plot is given a different spin when William Marshall stars as “Blacula,” an African prince cursed by Drac himself centuries ago to be one of the undead. He starts a reign of terror in modern-day L.A., while falling in love with a woman who may be the reincarnation of his dead wife. Denise Nicholas and Vonetta McGee co-star. Then, in “Scream, Blacula, Scream,” an occult ritual summons vampire Marshall from spirit exile, and only the occult skills of voodoo priestess Pam Grier can send him back, ending the bloody clash of ghoulish hordes, bewildered police, and black magic
Check any of these out, or better yet, check all of them out, and give some love to underappreciated horror films this Halloween!
Previously on MovieFanFare: What Horror Movies Do You Think Are Overrated?
(An earlier version of this article originally ran in 2017 and it is being reprinted as part of this year’s Halloween celebrations!)