MICHAEL SEYMOUR BLAKE
You’ve been silently staring at the TV with your pal/significant other/cat for ages now—a temporary ceasefire from alternating rounds of I-don’t-know-what-do-you-want-to-watches and I’ve-already-seen-thats. Two hours ago, you were filled with Halloween cheer, ready to sink your teeth into an exciting new horror movie. Now, the popcorn has gotten soggy and cold; ditto your will to live. I want to help save your night and relight the candle inside your little pumpkin heart. Here are ten horror films you may have missed. I tried to avoid the too obscure and the too obvious. You’ll probably enjoy at least one of these, so pop some new popcorn and get to it.
Lamberto Bava’s Demons, 1985
A group of people get trapped inside a movie theater filled with demons.
Directed by that other Bava, this gore-filled siege narrative sports some great practical effects. A certain elusive charm gives it a step up on similar hell-bound shockers. Check this out if you enjoy bloody demon action, razor-sharp prop katana, and radical dirt bikes. Pass if you want a nutrient-dense plot with complex characters.
Gerard Johnstone’s Housebound, 2014
A woman is forced to return to her childhood home where things get real weird.
If you like your horror mixed with wacky charm, this one’s for you. Contains one of the longest and best pee scenes ever filmed. Check it out if you want horror that doesn’t leave you feeling dirty afterwards. Pass if you like your horror how I like my coffee—black, humorless, and inhabited by melancholy ghosts.
Dario Argento’s Deep Red, 1975
A musician and a reporter try to find a killer.
When Argento was on, the son of a bitch was on. Goblin provides the incredible tunes for this ultra-stylish giallo. Argento is the Poet Laureate of death. Watch if you want a jazzy, beautifully crafted weirdo thriller with some cool murder scenes. Skip if you like your horror fat free, to the point, and grounded in hard reality.
Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s [REC], 2007
A group of people get trapped inside an apartment building with some evil shit.
Even if you hate the found footage style, this one is worth your time. It’s tight, savage, and features some effective scares. Feel free to explore the remake/sequels if you enjoy disappointment. Watch if you like zombieish frights done right. Skip if you’re looking for slow-burn psychological horror.
John D. Hancock’s Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, 1971
A recently institutionalized woman moves to a farmhouse and lives happily ever after. Jk.
An offbeat hippy vampire flick with menacing atmosphere and a slithering creepiness that sticks to you afterwards. Late 60s/early 70s oddness. Watch if you’re bored of the same old shit and want something a little different. Skip if you’re in the mood for aggressive bloody thrills and explicit terror.
Sang-ho Yeon’s Train to Busan, 2016
South Korea goes to hell as a group of people head to Busan via train.
This one’s got emotional depth, fantastic acting, and gripping action. Our heroes lack firepower, which is sure to make the anxiety-prone viewer’s palms nice and sweaty throughout. Well executed from top to bottom. Watch if you like your zombie action flicks to have a sentimental side. Skip it if you like your characters to be battle-hardened soldiers packing tons of heat.
Robert Aldrich’s Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, 1962
Imdb says it best: A former child star torments her paraplegic sister in their decaying Hollywood mansion.
I’m always surprised at how many people haven’t seen this, even after Feud’s recent success. It’s kind of like a haunted house narrative minus anything supernatural. Captivating domestic horror starring two powerhouses of cinema. Watch if you want to see a darker, more warped Grey Gardens. Skip if a black and white classic horror-thriller about two warring sisters sounds boring to you.
John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, 1994
A popular horror writer may or may not be possessed by something sinister.
I struggled with this one. People swear my love for it mostly consists of nostalgia. Maybe so. Kid me was simultaneously terrified and enthralled by this movie. Look, it’s not perfect, but Carpenter’s evocation of Lovecraftian cosmic horror is unparalleled. Nightmarish, mutant lunacy at its finest. Watch if you want to lose your mind and become a doorway for ancient, slithering evil. Skip if over-the-top bizzaro frights aren’t your thing.
Vincenzo Natali’s Cube, 1997
People wake up in a cube and it’s not a good time.
The concept behind this movie comes right out of a drunken party conversation you had in high school—“What if you woke up and, like, you were just stuck in a booby-trapped cube with a bunch of strangers?” (Am I weird to think that was a common experience)? I watched it in my early twenties and something about its pureness of style and direction made an impression on me. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a simple, creative indie sci-fi horror film. Pass if you’re looking for quality acting and big budget.
Oz Scott’s Mr. Boogedy, 1986:
There’s something funny going on in the Davis household, and it ain’t the practical jokes.
Grab some people and watch this made-for-TV romp together. It’s stupid fun with a ton of heart. Sure to please those who love the cheese. The sequel is awesome, too. Have a double feature for Christ sakes! Treat yourself. Watch if you’re cool. Skip if you suck.
At this point, Michael Seymour Blake is just some guy who occasionally doodles and gets something published once every fifty years.