25 Chilling horror films you may have never seen … just in time for Halloween!
I am a huge horror buff, and Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays – mostly because it’s a good excuse to pop in a horror movie and scare myself silly! So if you’re feeling in the mood to snuggle under your covers with the lights off and the doors locked – here are 25 suggestions from me to you of films you may have never seen (or heard of).
*Note* These are not necessarily my favorite horror films, however they are some titles I would like to bring to your attention, and all come recommended by me. They will not be ranked – however the will be listed alphabetically.
A disturbing little film which shares many comparisons to Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter. How’s this for a twist on the horror genre – Postpartum depression. This short 89 minute horror show takes place on a secluded family farm. Our mother is suffering from depression after the birth of her last child, her third. The film is her giving in and having a nervous breakdown – one like you have never seen before. From start to finish there is a sense of high tension, and it’s worth seeing for the performance by Coleen Porch as mom. This one is not neccesarily for the faint of heart, or big budget horror lover. This is a quick, violent trip into the mind of a crazed lunatic.
A few days before Christmas a traveling entertainer Marc’s car breaks down on the way to a gig. Of course he is stuck on a back road in the middle of a swampy forest. He makes his way to a tiny inn to spend the night while his car is to be fixed the following day. The inn is run by the eccentric Mr. Bartel who connects with Marc, as he used to be a comedian. Of course the next day we know that “the man from town” is not coming to fix the car, and Marc is in for quite an ordeal. This horrific french film’s title actually translates to The Ordeal. And boy is this an ordeal to watch – and I mean that in a good way. Although the basic plot has been done numerous times, this flick takes many twists and turns you won’t see coming .. and probably won’t want to see coming. It’s one of a few french horror films on the list.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)
This 1962 horror flick was a hit in drive-in movie theatres. I can only imagine this is the best place to see this film, however it still holds up over time and packs quite a creepy punch. After a drag race gone wrong, Mary washes ashore escaping her flooded car. After this she tries to carry on with her life and is stalked by a mysterious phantom and turns up at the world’s creepiest circus. This is a cult film that actually is well made on a minuscule budget. Somehow this film has been overlooked in horror’s history, which is a true shame.
This is a horror film that holds up insanely well over time. This one doesn’t rely on effects, gore, or any last minute twists. It is just a scary film that scared me as a kid and when I re-watched it last Halloween, it scared me as an adult. George C. Scott stars as John Russell a composer who is dealing with the sudden death of his wife and son. To deal with the grief he rents an old mansion with plenty of room for him to write new music and get out his depression through his art. Little does he know, he is not alone. This mansion is shared by the ghost of a murdered young boy who has a plan for John Russell. This movie has a couple of scenes that actually make my blood go cold, it never disappoints in being truly scary.
We have all seen movies about devil children (The Omen, Orphan, Villiage of the Damned, etc), but I assure you’ve never seen one as brutally scary as The Children. This UK horror never got a proper released in the US, which is a shame because its a true thrill-ride. It’s Christmas eve and a relaxing family vacation is about to take a turn for the worse. Suddenly the children seem to snap one by one and its an all out battle as the children turn on their parents in some of the most graphically “close your eyes and peek through your fingers” ways! I also believe this film has the best tag line ever: You brought them into the world. Now … they will take you out.
Moving from a small town to a big city, the subway system at night really creeped me out. After watching Creep, I never wanted to take a subway again. Franka Potente stars as Kate. Kate is out on the London streets heading home from a party waiting to catch the last train. It’s very late and she is seemingly alone while she waits for the midnight train, but of course she’s not. She is being followed by a co-worker who has had one to many drinks and is stalking after Kate wanting to have his way with her. When he becomes violent, Kate descends into the labyrinthine tunnels to escape …. however something much worse lies in the tunnels. This one really creeped my out. If you live in a city with a subway – watch this one at your house so you don’t have to take the train home.
Dead Birds is the story of a group of Confederate soldiers who have joined together to rob a bank. They make it out with the money and hole up inside an abandoned plantation to escape the towns police. As the night falls, and a storm brews, we learn that there are supernatural forces at play. This little known-of haunted house flick has moments of true scares and some very nice effects on a limited budget. It’s a different approach to the haunted-house genre which I also applaud. All I will say is .. don’t go in the basement!
No, it’s nowhere near as good as the original. But after the horrible Exorcist 2: The Heretic I think most audiences and critics had given up. Part III is well worth your time. If you know anyone who has seen this film, I assure you they will tell you there is one scene where you literally jump out of your own skin! It does help to see the first film for some of this film to hit home, although its not necessary. The film surrounds Kinderman (played by George C. Scott) who is a detective on the case of the Gemini Killer. The victims in this case are connected to first film, and its not a shock because the film is directed by William Peter Blatty who wrote the book that the original was based on. This is a psychological horror film, no gory shock scenes like in the first. If you make it through this one, it packs quite a punch. I actually think its one of the scarier films on this list.
This french horror film is NOT for the weak stomached. If you don’t like your films wallowing in gore and gruesomeness, skip this one, because it really takes it to another level. Putting all of the blood and guts aside, it’s actually quite well-made. Taking place in France during the violent post-election riots, a gang of young thieves flee Paris to hole up in a secluded inn. What they don’t know, and we find out, is that the inn is run by a family of Neo-Natzi cannibals who have their own plans. This family run inn is lead by a deranged patriarch who is a former SS officer and Natzi war criminal. The family is trying to start a new master race and they have their sights set on the 3-month along pregnant Yasmine. This is an effective and gruesome film that certainly is not for everyone – but if you can hack it, it’s worth your while.
THE FUNHOUSE (1981)
The Funhouse is one of my favorites of the 80’s slasher flicks. It never hit home like Halloween or Friday the 13th but it’s got just as many chill inducing moments. It all starts with a double date to the carnival for two young teenage couples. They dare one another to spend the night in the carnival’s funhouse, and of course they do it. Then they witness a brutal murder and are stalked for the rest of the picture by a crazed carny. It has all the trademarks of an 80’s slasher flick including a brave young kid, a creepy mask, and lots of inventive killings. It’s directed by Tobe Hooper, who brought us Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s always been something creepy about the circus and this film takes all those things and wraps them up into one movie.
Madeline is faced with quite the dilemma, she has always wanted to be a mother more than anything, however during her pregnancy she is in a horrific traffic accident and the baby inside her has died. She makes the decision to carry the baby to turn nevertheless. In the accident she loses not only her baby but her husband as well. She continues with birth plans, which include hiring a midwife and preparing for the still birth. However, she is so determined to be a mother that something miraculous happens – the baby is born and it’s alive. The cute little girl is named Grace, and because this is a horror movie she is not your regular little girl. The film posts the question: How far would you go to have a baby? Well lets just say Madeline goes all the way! This is a creepy little Canadian horror flick featuring solid performances and a frightening story.
In the tradition of Paranormal Activity and The Blaire Witch Project, Grave Encounters brings new scares to the mockumentary horror genre. The first half plays out as a parody of those horrible “reality” shows such as Ghost Hunters where a group of “experts” travel to a haunted space and film nothing yet somehow get “REAL footage”. Well, this is what I wish would happen on one of those episodes. The “cast” of the television show Grave Encounters travel to the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital to film it’s “ghosts”. Of course they have a fake psychic and have set up potential scenes to stand-in for the things that go bump in the night. Well lets just say that this would be the last episode of this show, as the ghost-hunters come face to face with the hospitals old inhabitants. To say this movie made me scream aloud would be an understatement. Sure, it goes a bit overboard by the time its over, but there are moments of sheer terror. This one is just out on dvd, so you too can see it.
Although filmed in 2009, this film looks and acts like it was right out of the 70’s. Its brilliantly shot and wonderfully acted, you will think you’ve found a hidden gem from the grindhouse era that just saw the light of day on dvd. On the eve of the solar eclipse, poor college student Samantha takes a babysitting job. There is a huge mansion, there is a creepy family, but there is no baby. She will be watching the house and looking after the elderly grandma who lives on the top floor. As the night goes on she realizes she is part of something far more sinister than babysitting. Mixing a little bit of everything from the horror genre this is an exciting and creepy little film.
Ils (Them) is a french film in the tradition of The Strangers. A young attractive couple share a young country home, when they are terrorized by a group of hooded young thugs. Instead of a masked killer, or a spooky ghost, Ils plays much more realistic. This movie drips with suspense from its opening frames and never lets up during its short 77 minutes. It’s got solid performances and an ending that no one sees coming. I actually had to turn this one off and take a break, not because it was gross but because it was so scary.
Finding a photo to post for Inside was difficult. This is a BRUTAL film! Featuring a similar plot to some above, its Christmas eve – our lead is Sarah who is 9 months pregnant and will be giving birth the following morning as planned on Christmas day. She has survived a car crash which has killed her husband and doesn’t find much Christmas cheer to be had. She sets in for a night of relaxation when she is paid a visit from a mysterious woman who knows her name and knows she’s alone. What escalates from here on contains some of the scariest and most visually disturbing scenes in horror history. However, it features a perfect performance by Beatrice Dalle (who is a respected French actress not known for horror work). The final shot in this movie is one I won’t forget, and neither will you – if you can make it that far.
I will go on record and say that Lake Mungo is the finest mockumentary horror movie ever made. It’s better than Blaire Witch, it trumps Paranormal Activity. I will not go into details about this film, as the more you know the less the film will affect you. It’s filmed almost as a Unsolved Mysteries episode. The acting in this Australian film is superb. I knew this was not a documentary, but I told my boyfriend that it was one – and he believed it all the way up to the end. THIS is what scary movies should be like. I don’t think I have ever been so scared after a movie as I was after seeing Lake Mungo the first time. The story revolves around the death of Alice Palmer, who mysteriously drowned. Months after her death her family begins to see Alice again – and that’s all you get. Please, if you see any movie from this list – make it this one. It will screw you up! The US remake is already being filmed.
This is the most visual disturbing and violent films on the list. Also from France, this film is not for those of you with weak stomachs. It is shocking, it is grimey, it has been banned in certain countries – and it is a well made horror film with something to say. On paper it’s a revenge tale. Fifteen years after being terrorized and abused by a sadistic family, Lucie embarks on a bloody quest for revenge as she hunts down the family who harmed her. She is joined by Anna whom she met in recovery, as both were abused. What happens is all at once brave, brilliant, sick, and sadistic. It has a lot to say about religion, and what a person can put themselves through to get closer to God. It takes a lot to make me run away from a film – it took me a couple of times to make it through Martyrs.
Director Lucky McKee found a perfect leading lady and collaborator in Angela Bettis. The two continue to work with one another (their next collaboration The Woman is about to get a theatrical release), and their collaboration began with this 2002 horror. The story is that of May, a veterinarian assistant who is in a deep state of lonliness. She’s never had a boyfriend, in fact her only friend is a doll from her childhood that she keeps locked in a glass case. She meets Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a mechanic, and suddenly becomes obsessed with him – especially his hands. She also forms a relationship with her co-worker Polly (Anna Farris). However no one can live up to her expectations for them and she sets out to create the perfect friend. May is a horrific drama, as the central character is one you love – this is all due to the Oscar worthy performance from Angela Bettis. The final shots of the film remind you that this was a horror film – and a damn good one.
You may have seen Quarantine, the US remake of this film, which was pretty good. However it doesn’t hold a candle to its Spanish original. Rec is the story of a zombie breakout in an apartment building. A documentary camera crew following a fire station are dragged into the mess when they answer a distress call. This is a first-person documentary style horror – and it is first rate. There are moments of sheer unrelenting terror to be found here. Try not to scream when you see what’s in the attic. If you’ve seen the remake, go out and grab this one and see how it’s done!
Session 9 is possibly my favorite horror film. You know how each of us have things that terrify us – well all of those things that make me squirm are featured heavily in Session 9. Multiple personalities, ghosts, insanity, group hysteria, etc. We begin with an asbestos cleaning crew winning a bid to clean out an abandoned insane asylum. We end with what is one of the most sinister, terrifying, and slow-burning horror films of all time. While cleaning one of the employees begins to play tapes of patients therapy sessions, and it starts off a series of events that I’ll just let you watch and see. The acting in this film is also brilliant as we get stellar performances from Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Josh Lucas, and all involved. Watch this with the lights off .. I dare you.
Here we have another french horror film which takes place at Christmastime. After a night of hard dancing and drinking at a disco, Eve invites her friends to come back to her country home to relax and spend the holiday. When they arrive they meet Joseph (Vincent Cassel) the shepard and housekeeper of the estate. Then the group of friends are introduced to the various friends of Joseph and we realize something is very wrong here. Before you can open up your Christmas presents, the shit has hit the fan and the satanic worshiping has just started. And just you wait til you meet Joseph’s wife. This is an insanely creepy film with a bravura performance from Vincent Cassel.
THE SILENT HOUSE (2010)
La Casa Muda was promoted as being based on a true story – and being shot in 1 long take. Although it seems like maybe 2 or 3, as there seems to be moments when the camera pans to blackness. However, these are just gimmicks which sadly take away from it being a solid haunted house spookfest. Laura and her father travel to a small village in Uruguay to clean and renovate a cottage which is being rented. All is well until night falls and Laura begins to hear footsteps upstairs. Her father goes to investigate and then were left in the dark wondering what is going on as all hell breaks loose. Although not a perfect film, The Silent House has moments of true terror. And if you watch, please sit through the credits as the movies best scene is after they have rolled.
I assure you there is no other film on this list like Society. I assure you there is no other film MADE like Society. I don’t even know how to begin to explain this film – other than saying it scarred me for life when I first saw it. It is a statement film comparing upper and middle classes. Our lead character is Bill who is very down to earth – his family however are ritzy and mingle with all of the towns high society. Bill fears something is just not right about these snobs – and when he comes home one day and a “party” is in full swing, boy does he find out he was right. These effects were way ahead of their time, and I promise you probably won’t be able to un-see a few of them. This film also contains my favorite line of dialogue from any movie. Bill’s girlfriend asks how he likes his coffee: “Cream? Sugar? Or would you like me to pee in it?” This is said completely straight, no humor implied. Bill meagerly responds: “Cream.”
Written and directed by Roman Polanski, The Tenant is an eerie and nightmarish film. Roman stars as Trelkovsky a shy bureaucrat. He rents a new apartment in a highrise building where the previous tenant threw herself from the window. He visits the previous tenant in the hospital, where she basically sits a mummy wrapped in casts and medical tape. After she passes away Trelkovsky becomes obsessed with her and why she attempted suicide. He then is convinced that all of his odd neighbors are out to get him to attepmt suicide as well. From the imagery to the score, Polanski proved that Rosemary’s Baby and Repuslision weren’t his only foray into terror.
Many horror fans know of the original When A Stranger Calls (the 1979 version not the horrible remake) as it was the first film to employ “the call is coming from inside the house” format which has been copied various times in such films as Black Christmas and of course Scream. However it did yield a sequel which is just as scary and rarely seen. The opening of this film is perhaps my favorite 15 minutes of horror from the 90’s. The whole movie is a creepy affair as well. Both Carol Kane and Charles Durning reprise their roles from the first fillm. If you liked the first, you cannot go wrong with this. And it’s worth a watch for the first 15 minutes alone – terrifying.
So there you have it, 25 suggestions for some chills this Halloween week. As stated before, some of these aren’t my favorite horror films of all time – rather some selections I am hoping some of you have never heard of. You can’t go wrong with any of them though in my book if you’re looking for some scares this week.
I’d love to hear what you think of these films if you have seen them (or if you go out and grab a copy because of this article). Also I’d love to hear your choices!