Overlooked and underrated movies are speckled amongst the sea of bad horror. Allow me to steer you in the direction of some good films.
Sometimes the movie dictates that the unsuspecting victims already live inside the town, other times the hapless solitary figure or tourist group wander into a place where everything looks normal but isn't.
When you know something is awry but can't put your finger on why it sets the pulse racing— these are my favorite types of movies to watch. They leave me feeling sated when I know there are dangers lurking around every corner.
This is a rated list to get you going if this type of setting is your favorite too.
One of my personal favorites is also The Killing Ground (2016) which has a full review on ReelRundown.
#5 30 Days of Night (2007)
This one made the list due to location. It is an excellent example It takes place in Alaska where the sun does not rise for 30 days in the Winter. An excellent place for a group of vampires to hang out and live.
There isn't much to the story, based on a bunch of comic books. It's a simple narrative where some vampires decide to take advantage of Barrow's long Winter and set upon the small township to hunt when and how they choose. With no pesky sunlight to think about, it's a bloodbath. I don't care that there were a couple of plot holes or that its pace is a little sloppy at times. It's got snow, vampires and a small town where the residents are just trying to survive the onslaught.
The director of this film has so many fantastic films and series under his belt, it would be ridiculous if it were a flop. David Slade's done bits of Breaking Bad, Black Mirror, Hannibal, Hard Candy (2005) and a tonne of music videos
I quite enjoyed the sequel too, Dark Days (2010) and the ending is particularly good.
#4 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
You can't have a list of movies set in a small town without including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Marketed as a true story to get the numbers it wanted, it eventually grossed enough become one of the highest grossing films of its time despite being made for $300 000. It took over $300 million. It's not a true story but inspired by the real-life serial killer Ed Gein who dug up corpses and made all sorts of things out bones and skin and additionally killed two people.
It takes place as a group travel to Sally's family homestead to visit her grandfather's grave and investigate rumors about grave robbing in the area.
I think I have seen this movie a dozen times if not more and many will recognize certain scenes, themes or ideas used in tonnes of popular horror since then in other movies. It perfectly encompasses the crazy murderous family living in a remote location taking advantage of people who wander too near to them.
The formidable duo of Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel who both went on to make some of the best-known horror films ever did this one together with Hooper at the directorial wheel. At its theatre release, classifications changed several times with an original rating of X in 1976. Threats of being fined with morality charges were issues from some states where local people informed of the disgusting content of the film.
Whatever your impression of the film, I never tire of watching this.
#3 Get Out (2017)
So what if it won and the award for Best Musical or Comedy instead of horror. Horror often gets overlooked. It was also caught up in massive debates about racial themes such as;
- newsworthy attention to missing black people vs white people and,
The film only cost $4.5 million to make compared to its ginormous bucket load of $255 million worldwide at the box office. It's also the directorial début for Jordan Peele who then went on to some lighter stuff like Captain Underpants and Big Mouth (television series) with some character voices. He is producing an upcoming American crime thriller, Black Klansman directed by Spike Lee and starring Adam Driver. It looks like it's getting a release date soon.
The story involves a black man who uncovers a terrifying secret when he joins his girlfriend at her family's estate. Get Out definitely encompasses horror in a small town.
#2 Eden Lake (2008)
Is there a fear of hoodies in Britain? I don't know but if there isn't this film may very well induce one. I did google 'Fear of Hoodies' and a large variety of articles came up so indeed there might be. The fear is real.
Eden Lake is a movie mentioned frequently in my horror circles when people ask for something scary and tension-filled to watch. That's how I found it and it certainly hits the mark.
The tale concerns Jenny and Steve who decide to take a romantic trip to a lake in the English countryside. Sounds lovely right? Well almost. Soon after arriving and setting up to camp, their relaxing weekend is interrupted by some rambunctious teens and their very scary dog. Not one to let such things scare him, Steven defends his manhood and his woman with some words and the teens disappeared. In the morning things go from bad to worse to terrifying as the group feral youngsters decide that tourists are not welcome here.
Trailer, The Lost Boys
#1 The Lost Boys (1987)
Set in a small beach town Santa Carla, this movie will always be close to my heart. It never loses its appeal and has stood the test of time since it's released over 30 years ago.
It has plenty of criticism with some almost comical scenes in places of the film but it is still responsible for making vampires cool and young and virile.
If you haven't managed to see this one, I recommend putting it on your watch list for the soundtrack alone. The story evolves as Michael and Sam discover the town they now live is run by a gang of vampires. When Michael falls for Star, a member of the group, he's initiated into it causing all sorts of trouble to start. I became a little obsessed with both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman (who is one of the Frog brother vampire killers) after seeing this film.
My very favorite scene is the one with Corey Haim singing in the bathroom while washing his hair as his brother Michael (Jason Patric) fights off his new-found vampire thirst.
Want More? Here Are 10 More
The Wicker Man
The Island of Summerisle
The Hills Have Eyes
The New Mexico desert
Aokighara Forest, Mount Fuji
6 Rivers National Forest, Humboldt County
A Cure for Wellness
Rockwell Falls, North Dakota
Children of the Corn
Gatlin, Nebraska (fictional town)
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