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!

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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!

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Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 3: Slashers

In honor of my latest slasher-themed novelette, THE HORROR (click HERE to buy your copy), my Halloween Horror Lists feature continues with slashers!

I tried to go a little obscure(ish) with this list so we won’t see any repeats from other lists.

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.

Be sure to comment below and let everyone know which films are your favorites.

10) Midnight Movie

A surprisingly clever spin on the slasher genre. A similar premise to Demons (which may appear on another list). This low-budget indie manages to succeed where so many other recent indies have failed. Honorable mention: the Hatchet series.

9) The Prowler

A freaky slasher from Joseph Zito, who would go on to direct the best Friday the 13th film in that franchise. The final jump scare is a memorable one!

8) Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

This hilarious slasher send-up doesn’t offer much more than some base thrills, but it’s a comfort food of mine. Pamela Springsteen is just awesome. I wish she would have done more horror films.

7) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Friday 8 doesn’t get much love. It actually gets no love at all, which is a shame because it’s really quite good. It sports the best direction of the bunch, with clever set-ups and great pay-offs. The finale is a bit of a letdown, but that scene between Jason and the punk kids in Times Square makes it worth it.

6) Slumber Party Massacre

Not what you’d think from the title, Slumber Party Massacre is actually a pretty subversive, somewhat funny pro-feminist slasher, that also happens to be an exploitation flick. The first sequel is also worth a look, but don’t expect a film that’s anything like the first.

5) The Burning

Had Jason not taken off, The Burning would probably be the slasher everyone remembers from the 1980s. There’s a ton of great actors in this, and it features some fantastic gore effects, courtesy of Tom Savini.

4) The Hitcher

The original film, not the shitty remake. I’m not exactly sure this film meets the title of slasher, but I’ve always loved The Hitcher for its intense, moody narrative, and nail-biting suspense. Rutger Hauer is easily one of my all-time favorite screen villains. Great stuff, with a dream-like atmosphere that will surely get under your skin.

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

I must confess, I absolutely adore A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, if only for the awesome pool party scene. But also for all the not-so-subtle sexual references and equally not-so-hidden homoerotic subtext. It’s a genre classic in its own way, and a great second outing for Freddy, critics be damned.

2) Black Christmas

This 1974 hit was the first real slasher, outside Psycho and Peeping Tom (both worth watching, BTW). Black Christmas is the perfect film to watch during the cold winter months. It was also the inspiration for John Carpenter’s Halloween.

1) Scream

Looking back, this series has probably influenced more than any other slasher out there. I just love it. Wes Craven crafts a perfect blend of horror and clever comedy in this send-up of the slasher genre. Ignore Scream 3 and 4 and stick with the first installment and the underrated sequel.

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Next week: My top ten favorite zombie films! So grab some brains and head back here next week.