During the annual rush of horror fans flocking to theaters in the hopes of getting the crap scared out of them, there tends to be a relatively large assortment of hidden gems that go unnoticed by the general public.
Here, light will be shed on a few films that deserve far more attention and a decidedly larger audience.
If you are feeling particularly courageous and don’t mind the possibility of stepping outside of your comfort zone, give any of the following films a chance – you just might be glad you did.
1. Dracula (1931 Spanish Version) – Filmed at the same time and using the same screenplay as the popular Bela Lugosi version, this adaptation of the classic horror
tale contains many similar elements but also differs a lot from its American counterpart. While there’s still debate over which is the superior adaptation, this is still an interesting find nonetheless.
2. Son of Frankenstein (1938) – Although its two predecessors (the Universal Studios horror classics ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Bride of Frankenstein’) tend to get far more attention, this is still a well made and reasonably enjoyable entry into the Frankenstein film franchise.
3. Eyes Without a Face (1960) – Effectively balancing horrifying imagery with its more sorrowful and tender stretches, this French horror drama was influenced heavily by the German Expressionist era of horrors films from 1920s and 30s, thus resulting in a deeply haunting and memorable final product.
4. The Innocents (1961) – An all around terrific production, this entry into the now moribund ‘haunted mansion’ subgenre is pretty much the perfect example of the more tension driven and suspense building school of horror, with a crafty balancing of the spooky bits and character driven stretches. Some pretty slick editing and lovely cinematography aid in adding to the film’s overall impact.
5. Cape Fear (1962) – If the old proverb “Revenge is a dish best served cold” holds any value in real life, then there is hardly a more icy example of this theory in action than this film, in which a freed convict proceeds to menace and terrorize the family of the prosecutor responsible for his imprisonment. The lead performances by talented classic-era actors Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck add a bit of class to this bone-chilling tale of fury and vengeance.
6. Onibaba (1964) – Responsible for making the image of a mask iconic and future staple of the horror genre (an idea later reproduced in the ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Scream’ franchises), this historical Japanese thriller tells the story of two women who murder Samurai soldiers to steal their possessions for their own survival.
7. Jacob’s Ladder (1990) – This surreal mind bender centers around and is told from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran suffering from a series of terrible hallucinations brought on by post – traumatic stress, therefore giving the filmmaker free range to show whatever demented and shocking things they can think of. It all makes for a satisfyingly chilling descent into madness.
8. Frailty (2001) – Bill Paxton directs and stars in yet another horror film which hinders at the line between what’s real and what isn’t. Here, the premise concerns an everyday working man who may or may not be having prophetic visions of angels warning him of demons in disguise as regular people, thus leading him to execute them.
Admittedly outlandish premise aside, this is quite a memorable piece of work that not only frightens but also challenges the viewer as well.
9. War of the Worlds (2005)– Despite being a big hit and relatively well liked upon its initial release, Steven Spielberg’s recent adaptation of the alien invasion classic has since then regrettably been forgotten, outside of the occasional rerun on TBS. Which is a shame, really, because it still holds up as a thrilling and exciting piece of work, regardless of some third act missteps.
10. Let Me In (2010) – While the prospect of having an American remake of a foreign film isn’t an altogether widely accepted subject (not without good reason, mind you), this remake of the popular 2008 Swedish vampire thriller ‘Let the Right One In’ managed to effectively mirror the original film while still managing to stay fresh
and interesting. While inferior to the film it’s inspired by, this one is still well worth checking out.