Horror Films the Obscure

It's that time of year again when the air is crisp, the leaves are falling and the best movies to watch are the ones that put you in the Halloween spirit. Unfortunately though, the horror genre can sometimes be pretty tedious to wade through. There's the reliable classics that everyone remembers, and then there's the formulaic knockoffs and gory slasher flicks. But every now and then, I stumble upon a lesser known horror film that is truly amazing and absolutely worth watching. Below are ten of my favorites. Debate amongst yourselves whether or not some deserve the label obscure. "Lesser known" might be more appropriate.

Diabolique (1955) Remember how Alfred Hitchcock made audiences afraid to get into the shower? Watching the French horror film Diabolique will make you swear off bathtubs as well! The story centers around a woman who, with the help of her husband's mistress plot to murder the two-timer. Little do they know the supernatural consequences that will soon haunt them. This movie is a slow burner, but the ending is definitely worth the wait.

Carnival of Souls (1962) This movie is creepy with a capitol C. But do you want to know the best thing about it? The movie happens to be set in our very own state! After surviving a serious car accident, Mary takes a job out near the old Saltair. Soon she finds herself drawn to the old abandoned carnival site, and she discovers she might not be the only one... Watch this movie by yourself late at night for best results.

Look familiar?

The Haunting (1963) Remember that horrible movie in the 90's with Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson? True movie buffs will know that film was based on a far superior film directed by Robert Wise in the 1960's. The original film perfected the now classic horror formula: a group of people spend the night in a haunted house, and we as an audience get to sit back and see the results. This film had a huge impact on modern day horror and features one of the most eerie uses of voiceover in film.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) This movie is great, and not just because of its fabulous title. Jessica and her husband are living in a country lake house when they meet a drifter named Emily who wants to stay with them. It soon becomes apparent to Jessica that Emily isn't all that she seems, yet no one else seems to see it. LikeDiabolique, Let's Scare Jessica to Death is somewhat of a slower paced film, but the unsettling atmosphere that is ever present in the film will keep you on your toes. Not everything makes a whole lot of sense compared to today's horror standards and myths, but that doesn't detract from its entertainment value.

Burnt Offerings (1976) This film was one of my favorite discoveries last Halloween. The film gives off a veryShining vibe, even though it actually came out a few years before! Karen Black is terrific as the enthusiastic matriarch, who along with her family, inherits the caretaking duties of a beautiful mansion. A mansion, that of course has a spooky secret: it rejuvenates itself based on the amount of deaths that occur on its premises...meaning the house is pretty much has got it out for anyone who lives there. Terror ensues.

The Changeling (1980) Every staple you can imagine in a horror film happens to appear in The Changeling in the best possible way. It's got everything you could want in a scary movie, yet many people seem to forget about it. The plot is one of the oldest in the horror movie book: man moves into a haunted mansion and discovers a terrifying secret about the house's past. While the story may be simple, the scares are not.

Lady In White (1988) Locked in a school on Halloween night, a young boy sees the ghost of a little girl...and becomes determined to solve her murder. This is a fun horror flick that suffers from pretty dated visual effects, but luckily the story is captivating enough that you don't notice quite as much. The final twenty minutes will most definitely keep you in suspense!

The Frighteners (1996) If you're in the mood for some 90's nostalgia and you like movies with a Tim Burton vibe, look no further than The Frighteners. This movie definitely would fool you into thinking it was directed by Mr. Burton, but it was none other than Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings trilogy who was behind this horror comedy. Michael J. Fox plays a man, who happens to be gifted with the ability to talk to ghosts...but uses it to con innocent people. After a series of murders from beyond the grave occur, he has no choice but to solve the mystery. Like Lady In White, the film features some silly visual effects that don't quite hold up. The conclusion in particular, you might find difficulty in keeping a straight face.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) When most people think of Guillermo Del Toro's horror movies, they usually think ofPan's Labyrinth or The Orphanage. But The Devil's Backbone might be even more frightening. Here the threat of supernatural is contrasted with the evil that mankind as a race is capable of. Some of the imagery here will definitely haunt you.

Fright Night (2011) This film is a remake of an also awesome 80's flick of the same name... but I slightly prefer the newer take on the tale. A high schooler has a hunch that a vampire moved in to the house next door and will do just about anything to prove it... even if that means contacting a celebrity vampire hunter. The cast here is superb. Featuring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant and Toni Collette, Fright Night is loads of fun and pretty darn entertaining.

And don't worry, there's plenty more where that came from. I'll continue watching my obscure movies all month, so check back for more reports.


Johanna said...

You know this is not my genre! But I am blown away to think of Michael J. Fox in a horror film. You learn something new every day.

Sarah said...

That's pretty interesting that Carnival of Souls is set right here in Utah. I never knew!

The Haunting is one of the best movies ever made. It is awesome. I don't think it is considered lesser known among people who are huge horror buffs. I worked with a guy a few years back who was really into horror movies and when I mentioned this one, he gave me a look like, "Well, of course I know that movie. Who wouldn't?"

Lady in White was one of my favorites as a kid. I need to watch it again!

Emily said...

Horror buffs yes, I was speaking more to the general public who forgets things easily!