It’s that time of year once again, a magical month filled with ghosts, goblins, and human centipedes. It’s also the time for people who rarely watch horror movies to start, you know, watching horror movies. This year, I implore you to set aside the classics and take a trip down the road less traveled. Instead of watching, say, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” for the thousandth time, why not cozy up with an undiscovered gem from the past few years? It’s just a thought. However, if my admittedly outrageous plan doesn’t sound too far fetched, then perhaps you’ll take great pleasure in perusing my list of horror movies that seriously deserve some attention. Some of them are scary, some of them are funny, and some of them are downright ugly. It’s a good mix, if I do say so myself, and I’m proud to present it to you, the impossibly opinionated reader.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Murder Party (2007)
All Chris Hawley wanted to do was party on Halloween, not get kidnapped by a group of homicidal freaks hellbent on creating an edgy, avant garde art piece. As the evening begins to spiral completely out of control, so does the body count, culminating in a deliriously enjoyable rooftop chase sequence that ends with my favorite line in the entire movie. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier has a wicked sense of humor, one that a lot of people may not appreciate. If you like your horror/comedies quirky and gory, this one’s definitely for you.
The Loved Ones (2009)
What happens when Lola is rejected by the boy she has a crush on? She takes them home to daddy and beats them until they love her. Writer/director Sean Byrne has crafted a darkly hilariously, frequently shocking masterpiece that, as of this writing, has yet to find distribution here in the States. Robin McLeavy is dangerously impressive as Lola, especially when her homemade prom starts falling apart. The last half of the movie is balls-out insane, and the less you know going in, there better. A near-perfect horror experience.
When David embarks on a bicycling tour of Europe, he doesn’t expect to get hassled by rednecks and run afoul of a creepy bastard in the woods who has some very sadistic habits. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens in Federico Zampaglione demented little shocker. Generally I don’t enjoy torture horror flicks, but this one has enough original ideas to shake up the formula a bit. The eyelid scene has severely scarred me for life; eye trauma is bad enough, but this is just plain wrong. Severely underrated? Definitely.
Blood Creek (2009)
I know it’s directed by Joel Schumacher, but don’t let his name fool you into thinking that his nasty little slice of Nazi horror should be dismissed. Lionsgate all but dumped this thing on DVD back in January of 2010, which is surprising given that it’s easily one of the better genre flicks in their decidedly wonky stable. Dominic Purcell and Henry Cavill shine has brothers forced to contend with an unholy monstrosity tucked away inside a nearby farm. The ensuing carnage is quite impressive, even by today’s lofty standards. Simply fantastic.
Skinned Deep (2004)
Directed by special effects guru Gabriel Bartalos, this low-budget backwoods horror flicks about a vacationing family that stumbles across a murderous band of freaks and degenerates is seriously one of my all-time favorites. The whole goofy affair plays out in an almost Lynchian fashion, complete with eccentric characters and unsettling set design. For an added bonus, you get to watch a guy with a giant brain run naked through New York City. It’s as strange as it sounds. If you enjoy seriously weird cinema, you might like what you see.
The Roost (2005)
Blood-sucking vampire bats and flesh-gobbling zombies? In the same movie? I know it sounds absolutely absurd, but writer/director Ti West somehow makes it all come together. If those two elements weren’t enough, the film is intercut with scenes from a late-night horror program featuring Tom Noonan as the host. It may sound like a hell of a lot to digest, and, at times, it is, but the damned this is so much fun that you’ll forgive the flick its shortcomings. For a feature-length debut, “The Roost” is seriously impressive stuff.
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