Top 11 Favorite Horror Films Part 5: Obscure Horror

My Halloween Horror Lists continue with my 11 (not 10) favorite obscure(ish) horror films. I began this series with the most obvious horror films, now let’s explore the strange, the obscure … the hidden gems.

Be sure to comment and let everyone know what your favorites are. Please be aware that I tried to not have any repeats on these lists, so if you see something missing, it might be elsewhere.

Previous Halloween Horror Lists:

Part 1: The Classics

Part 2: Books

Part 3: Slashers

Part 4: Zombies!


11) House

Do you want something completely wacky? House is the film for you! No, this isn’t the Sean S. Cunningham film, this is the obscure Japanese horror film that must be seen to be believed.

10) Splinter

An engrossing, character-driven slice of horror that freaked me the hell out when I first saw it, and still scares me to this day.

9) Demons

A rapid-fire horror film with tons of gore and a great premise: demons are released in a movie theater. The sequel is also worth a look. It basically remakes the first film in an apartment complex.

8) The Funhouse

Tobe Hooper’s eerie mood piece about a group of kids trapped in a carnival. Haunting and scary as hell … this film almost plays like a sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

7) Prison

Hands-down, the best Stephen King story that Stephen King had absolutely nothing to do with. Plus, you get to see a young Viggo Mortensen. Plenty of creepy chills and thrills. And the new Blu-ray from Scream Factory is pretty great, too.

6) Possession (1981)

A slow-brewing sliver of horror that continues to escalate until it’s almost impossible to look away. Toss in some fantastic performances and riveting direction and you’ve got all the ingredients for a horror classic.

5) Vamp

A trippy vampire film that almost feels like a sequel to the 1985 cult classic, Fright Night (which is a masterpiece, and should be required viewing for any horror fan). This one boasts a chilling atmosphere, weird characters and a hypnotic tone similar to Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

4) Murder Party

A hilarious little indie that my wife and I try to watch every other year. It’s not very scary, but it’s a clever, fun ode to horror and the macabre.

3) Brain Damage

Writer/director Frank Henenlotter is a strange filmmaker. His films are never what you expect, and are feel like an exposed nerve to the weary and unknown. His Basket Case series is simply a trip. And exploitation gems like Bad Biology and Frankenhooker are just divine. But Brain Damage is Henenlotter firing on all cylinders, delivering a haunting tale of murder, violence, sex and seduction. Crazy stuff.

2) Crawlspace (1986)

Nobody does it better than Klaus Kinski. I could rattle off a slew of horror gems he’s appeared in, but this one is my absolute favorite. That finale in the vents is the stuff of nightmares. Honorable mention: pretty much everything Kinski has ever been in.

1) Alone in the Dark

And here’s the real reason I did this entire series of lists. Alone in the Dark. No, not the Uwe Boll film. This random slasher features Jack Palance, Donald Pleasance and Martin Landau. It’s a proto-punk splatter picture with a very clever premise. I won’t spoil it here. Just watch and enjoy!

But wait … there’s more! No, I’m not done just yet. I’ll be back with another Horror Favorites list next week! This time it’s Horror-Sci-fi!


If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are just .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.

That Awkward Moment When You See a Ghost

SCARY SHIT #1: In this series, I will spotlight stuff that, well … scares the shit out of me.

Zombies may be all the rage on television and in books, but at the end of the day, a zombie apocalypse is (probably) not very likely. So you can rest easy. However, the very real reality that you may run into a ghost, a spirit, a demon, or some kind of paranormal entity — those odds are a little more likely. Even some of the most hardened skeptics have been swayed, so it’s not outside the realm of reason that you may, at some point in your life, encounter a haunted spirit or some kind of mysterious, strange, impossible-to-explain occurrence that might just be paranormal in nature.

So here’s something that’s pretty freaking terrifying:

Here’s the story behind this video: This video was submitted to us by the hotel security manager who was standing watch on September 14, 2003 at a WINGATE HOTEL in Illinois. His voice can be heard in the background of the recording.

According to him, people staying at the hotel began calling in noise complaints to the front desk with reports of loud screaming coming from the 2nd floor–particularly room #209. There is no known history to the room according to our investigation. However, upon further review, we found that over the years, multiple complaints of “strange noises” were reported to be coming from the room. This is the only known recording of it.

Note to (Youtube) comments:
It’s funny how people think this video is edited/fake. The audio is a mix down between the security camera audio and a separate recording from inside the office (which is specifically there to record in case of robbery to the hotel). People will always come to there own conclusions why a video is fake (like cameras pointed at the door). What they don’t realized is that there are about 80 cameras in the hallways around the hotel, all pointing at doors and hallways.

I’m not a skeptic, but yeah … this video is fake. The setup is vague. The camera angles seem too perfect, and they’re presented in HD 16×9, not bad for 2003. The execution is also a bit too flawless. All the right foley, the dialogue is tight, and that little electrical flare at the end is too obvious. That said, the idea scared the shit out of me so I thought I’d share it with you, dear readers. And fear not (or fear yes), even if this video is fake, I have other videos I’ll be sharing in future installments of Scary Shit.

If you had to ask me, I would suggest that demons, and ghosts for that matter, are actually not spirits, at least not in a Biblical sense. Rather, their existence is perhaps more scientifically rooted than we would like to admit. There’s a lot we don’t understand about other dimensions (there are said to be 10 dimensions) that surround us, and if I had to venture a true explanation of what paranormal activity is in our realm, I’d suggest it’s fourth dimensional beings that have punched through, into our own world.


Some of these entities can only manifest as cold gusts of air or as electrical interference, possibly even orbs in photos. While others are capable of moving, shaking and disturbing our dimensional realm. Some might even have the ability to manifest themselves, manifest other things, or to possess a three-dimensional entity (such as yourself) for its own nefarious (or possibly scientific) purposes.

You are welcome to discredit all of that if you would like. I love skeptics, so go right ahead and explain away. But there’s a logic to ghosts, demons and other apparitions being fourth dimensional entities. And it’s also entirely possible that the very concepts of God and religion were both the manifestation of these creatures, hence their devotion to one side or the other. The fact remains that we have no damn clue what ghosts are, or why they exist, if they exist at all.

But just ask nearly any person, in any region of our great planet, and they have at least one story to tell.

Here’s one of my own true ghost stories: I was eight years old and playing an innocent game of hide and seek with my sister. I chose to hide behind my parents’ living room table, just in front of the backyard bay window. As I sat there, I had a strong urge to look out the window. It was late (relatively speaking for an 8-year-old), probably 10 or 11PM. Either way, it was dark outside. I peered through the window and saw a woman running. She was wearing a wedding dress and appeared absolutely terrified. What was even stranger was that in the absolute black of the backyard, she almost seemed to glow, as though a heavenly light were shining down on her.

I ducked my head back down and waited for a few seconds, scared and shaken. Finally, I gathered the courage to pop my head back up, and there she was again. This time, however, there was a man roughly twenty feet behind her, wearing a tuxedo and a menacing grimace. Like her, he seemed to glow a greenish hue, similar to the ghosts from Ghostbusters. This frightening man charged after her, chasing her with what looked like a knife. I stared on in utter horror, my mouth wide open. I vividly recall locking eyes with the woman, who turned and started to run toward the house.

Panicked, I ducked down again. At this point, my sister found me. She joined me on the floor … probably to endlessly annoy and tickle me, as was the case when you found someone in our game of hide and seek. I tried to explain what I saw, but my young mind couldn’t comprehend it. She peered out through the window and quickly shot back down. She refused to look out the window again.

I managed to muster the confidence to look one more time. As I did, I saw the woman run toward our house again, almost as though no time had taken place in between the images. In other words, the scene seemed to pause when I wasn’t looking.

The woman was running toward our house, but there was an obstacle in her way … our neighbor’s metal fence. She ran, holding her dress in her arms. The angry man in the tuxedo followed behind, his knife in the air. He looked at me for a brief moment, and smiled. The very thought of his expression now sends chills down my spine, as though he is still with me. He was enjoying having a voyeur. It seemed to empower him.


I assumed the woman would stop and turn as she approached the fence, but she didn’t. She kept running and running, barreling toward the fence at ramming speed. I gasped and nearly screamed when the woman traveled straight through the fence, followed by the vile man chasing her. They both came about ten feet from the house, but banked away and trailed past a large tree in the backyard. As they did, they disapparated right before my eyes.

I have no idea what happened that night. I could argue that it was just kids in our neighborhood giving me and my sister a fright, but that doesn’t explain their disappearance, or how they got through the fence. That scene has stuck with me over the years. Not one day goes by where I don’t spend at least a good minute thinking about it. Who was the man in the tuxedo? Who was the woman in the wedding dress? Were they scorned lovers? Or was the man a demon chasing an innocent spirit. What happened to me when they looked into my eyes? Was the man not as evil as I perceived? Maybe he was justified in his attempts to kill the woman. Perhaps she is the evil spirit, who has forever trapped the man. It’s impossible to know, and I’ve never seen her (or him) again (yet). This isn’t the only strange event I’ve had over the years, though, and somehow I feel as though all those bizarre occurrences connect to this one day.

Perhaps I’ll never know what happened. Maybe that’s for the best. But, from that day on, I have been terrified of ghosts, ghouls, demons and the like. They may not be out to get me or you or anyone, but I feel they are there … whatever “they” may be.

Have you seen any ghosts, demons or freaky shit? Share your story in the comments below!


If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are just .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 2: Favorite Books

A new week, a new list! This time I’ll be discussing some of my favorite horror books.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments!

Also, for more books, check out this list of 11 Creepy Novels.


Legion - William Peter Blatty

10) Legion 

Legion is a sequel to William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It’s a great follow-up, though not as haunting as The Exorcist. I included it here over The Exorcist because it’s a worthwhile sequel that fans of the series should seek out. While I’m on the subject, also check out the late Gary Brandner’s The Howling series. They’re also quite fun.

Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks

9) The Zombie Survival Guide

A lot of zombie fans loved World War Z, but I’m more fond of Max Brooks’ first zombie endeavor – a step-by-step guidebook for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It’s rather funny, but also extraordinarily helpful … if one were ever to come face-to-face with the walking dead, that is.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

8) Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter Morgan’s first tale is still his best. In fact, Jeff Lindsay’s book was so good that it got turned into an award-winning TV series (that later petered out and sputtered to a tragic death, but I digress). The book is a clever mixture of American Psycho and police procedure, with a reluctant anti-hero at the helm, steering the audience in the darkest, most macabre places. Gripping, tense and awesome!

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

7) Lord of the Flies

This one might not strike you as horror, but a book about a bunch of children who slowly succumb to the horrors of their own darker instincts is ripe material for horror, and no other book does it better than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. You might have hated it when you read in school, but give it another shot. It’s outstanding.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

6) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I kept going back and forth about which book to include here: Dracula or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both books are tremendous achievements in horror, and stupendous pieces of writing to boot. Ultimately, I went with Dr. Jekyll because never before, and never again, has a book so perfectly encapsulated the duality of man. For me, that holds more water than the first vampire tale. But read both books, please.


5) Sphere

Michael Crichton’s Sphere is one of very few books I find myself reading every couple of years. The science behind the story is fascinating, but even more chilling than the sphere itself, is the manifestations of evil we hid within ourselves. A deeply terrifying book for anyone seeking something to get under the skin, with just a dash of science to back things up.

The Stand

4) The Stand

A great many horror fans might pepper a “favorite horror novels” list with Stephen King, but I’ve opted to include only one, The Stand. The Stand was the first “big” book I ever completed (I read it when I was about 10 years old). And, honestly, of all King’s books, The Stand really, umm, stands out as a mythical tale of Americana’s survival in the face of an apocalypse. Epic stuff … and very scary. I’d also recommend It (a close second) as well.


3) Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Series)

I primarily grew up on two writers: Shel Silverstein, who crafted the beauty of my youth through poems; and Alvin Schwartz, who helped shape my nightmares. But the real winner of the Scary Stories series is the artwork from illustrator Stephen Gammell. His work on these books still scares the ever-loving shit out of me. There are (crappy) versions of the Scary Story books without his artwork, replaced with toned down “kid friendly” artwork. Boo! Skip them and seek out the copies with Gammell’s imagery. It’s perfect!


2) Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s staggering nightmare of death, romance and reanimation is existentially rich and still quite beautiful, not to mention frightening. It also stands as one of the finest pieces of gothic writing ever committed to paper. The only writers who come close are Lovecraft and Poe, who are also (obviously) well worth reading.

The Demonologist

1) The Demonologist

Never has a book freaked me out more. You may think Ed and Lorraine Warren are a bunch of nutters, but after reading this book, I’m not entirely convinced. The horrors they walk their audience through is immeasurably terrifying and shockingly real. It might all be phooey, but it certainly made me want to hang some crosses up in the house, and that’s power no other horror book has ever conjured from me.


Next week: My top ten favorite horror slashers!