Underrated (But Good) Horror Films That Fans of the Genre Need to See
Underrated Horror Flicks Can Give You Nightmares Too
The really good scary movies are actually quite easy to find as they appear on our TV screens, albeit edited, regularly and often. Everybody already knows most of the scariest movies ever made (they're on all the "Top 25" lists), but there are a lot of great horror films that go unnoticed that directors hope will one day be found. The odds that fans of the genre (even newbies) have seen the great flicks are very high. Legendary horror films such as The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Shining, and Night of the Living Dead will continue to be watchable over and over again for a very long time. They should be, and likely are, in most people's horror movie collection.
The movies that should be on your radar are the good films that are just waiting to be found that have been overlooked or taken for granted. These are the films that are rock solid even though they might not ever be on any type of list of "the best" or "greatest" movies. Below you'll find some of my favorites. They're not in any particular kind of order, so don't make a big deal if one comes before another. Check back every once in a while for new picks and enjoy the nightmares.
146+ Good Scary Movies... And Counting
Scary Movies That You Have To Watch
- Audition (1999): A very unsettling and disturbing Japanese horror film by filmmaker Takashi Miike. Sometimes a childhood crush can turn very dark.
High Tension (2003): A gritty French horror flick by Alexandre Aja with bad dubbing and lots of gore.
- Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006): Be sure to watch until the very end of the credits. I seriously hope they make a sequel to this very underrated horror movie.
- Frailty (2001): Intelligent and creepy; this underrated horror film will make you look at serial killers in a different way. Maybe they aren't all that bad?
- Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974): Did you know that different vampires require different ways of killing? There have been rumors of a remake for years as the studios clearly see potential in this one.
- Needful Things (1993): The Devil opens up an antique shop and is willing to give you deals of a lifetime on rare collectibles… for a small favor. This is definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations out there.
- Trick 'r Treat (2007): A short story horror anthology film that you will thoroughly enjoy. This one should be on everyone's "horror movies to watch on Halloween" list.
Let the Right One In (2008): A foreign vampire film that had a very good American remake called "Let Me In". The original is excellent and just a bit more scarier. Watch both.
- Eden Lake (2008): If cruelty and violence is your poison, then this is your movie. A warning - the ending will leave you with a very bad taste in your mouth. Still want to watch?
- Pieces (1983): Looking for a horror movie with plenty of nudity, violence and gore? This is the one that would be your poison. It never apologizes for what it is... horror eye candy. Grindhouse Releasing makes one of the best Blu-ray versions of this film out there; loads of special features.
- Howling 2: Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985): This movie qualifies as “a horror movie that is so bad it’s good”. Everyone I know hates it, but this is my list and it’s going on here! Be sure to watch the end credits.
- American Mary (2012): Extreme body modification is the theme of this flick. Let the Soska sisters show you things that have never been seen on film before.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
If you didn’t grow up in the 80’s, then you’ve probably missed out on this fantastic film. In my opinion it’s the 2nd best zombie movie out there behind George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. The special effects won't blow you away, but they are decent for the time. This is a fun scary movie that can absolutely be watched with a bunch of friends if they don't mind R-rated material. Braaaiiiins!
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Films That Should Be Included When Talking About Other Top Horror Movies - Different Is Good In the Horror Genre
Faces of Death (1978)
Fright Night 2 (1988)
Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Cabin Fever (2002)
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Buried Alive (1990)
Lost Boys (1987)
The Blob (1988)
Who Can Kill a Child (1976)
Final Girls (2015)
As far as fun modern-day horror-comedies go, this is one of the best that I've seen in a long time. The movie is a real throwback to Friday the 13th fans, that long for the day of great slasher flicks. The bonus with this one is that it is not only well done and smartly written, but PG-13 as well, so almost everyone can watch. You'll enjoy this one so much, you won't even notice it's not R rated.
Some of the Best Horror Films You've Never Heard Of
- April Fool’s Day (1986): This slasher flick doesn’t have the gore of the others, but it’s so well made you won’t care. A great scary movie that's not too scary.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977): A horror shocker that catapulted Wes Craven into the horror limelight. Horror movies don't get more disturbing than this one.
- I Saw the Devil (2010): A South Korean serial killer movie that is relentless in its violence and depravity. Hard to watch.
- Re-Animator (1985): Lots of gore and lots of dry humor. A very entertaining horror film that you will watch more than once.
- Torso (1973): A great Italian giallo horror film that wasn’t made by Dario Argento. Another plus of the film is the beautiful women that are in it.
- Nightmare City (1980): Watch as atomic zombies relentlessly rip the shirts off of female victims before eating them. A true guilty pleasure horror flick.
- Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988): Jason goes up against a girl with the ability to move things with her mind. It sounds corny, I know, but this is a great popcorn horror flick.
- Shadow of the Vampire (2000): What if I told you the director of the 1922 film Nosferatu struck a deal with a real vampire to make one of the creepiest movies in decades?
Tremors (1990): This and Tremors 2 are great popcorn horror flicks. Horror movies you can watch with friends are the best.
- Hell of the Living Dead (1980): Director Bruno Mattei borrowed a lot from Romero in this Italian gore-fest, but you’ll stick around to the end just to see how crazy it gets.
- Pontypool (2008): We learn about a zombie outbreak through the eyes of a radio shock jock. A zombie movie that sounds boring, but isn't. Your imagination will fill in the pieces, and those pieces won't be pretty.
- Roar (1981): I’ve put this film on here for one reason and that is that it used real animals when it was made. There will never be another film like this made using this many man eating predators in it.
Rose Red (2002)
Really great haunted house movies are good at building up suspense and then paying it off throughout the film in bits and pieces, and this one does just that. If you don’t want a lot of gore, but do want some goosebumps, then this is a solid choice. Definitely one of the better Stephen King book adaptations that are out there. Keep in mind that it is a mini-series, so it will take you a little time to watch the whole thing.
More Great Horror Movies To Watch At Night
- People Under the Stairs (1991): Here's a tip for thieves: Don't break into homes with locks on the outside. A really great and underrated film by Wes Craven that people don’t talk about much anymore.
- Evil Dead 2 (1987): Although many people consider this one a straight re-make of the first, it is still good enough to stand on its own, plus a flying eyeball into the mouth never gets old!
- Black Sheep (2006): Don't confuse this one with the comedy of the same name. Zombie sheep. Nuff said.
- Graveyard Shift (1990): Basically a scary movie about rats that is more entertaining than actually scary. You shouldn't let that statement scare you away, as this movie is entertaining. Stephen Macht's character, Warwick, steals the show in every way and is what makes this Stephen King adaptation so wonderful to watch.
- Suspiria (1977): This horror classic is in a lot of “best of” lists, but there are a lot of people who haven’t seen it yet. Dario Argento at his best showcasing beautiful death scenes that you can't look away from.
- Cabin in the Woods (2012): The ending is every horror fan's fantasy come to life. Have fun looking for your favorite horror movie monsters.
- C.H.U.D. (1984): (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) Seeing those four words on the poster gave me all the motivation I needed to watch this 80's horror classic.
- Dead Alive (1992): Who knew that a lawnmower could be the perfect weapon against zombies? One of Peter Jackson's earlier films.
- Cemetery Man (1994): A foreign zombie film that is full of horror, comedy and odd moments that will either make you smile, raise your eyebrow or cringe.
- The Vanishing (1988): This is a Dutch film that is about someone trying to find out what happened to a kidnap victim, who he is in love with. This is a slow burn kind of a horror film in which the ending pays off big time. There was an American remake of the same name starring Jeff Bridges, but it's not half as good as the original.
Would You Rather (2012): Be careful who you choose to play games with. Some take it more serious than others.
- Deadgirl (2008): This one gives you a glimpse of what some would do if they came across a fairly fresh female zombie that was good looking. They get what they deserve in the end and possibly unleash a plague that could start a zombie apocalypse.
Fright Night (1985)
I have a lot of love for this movie because I watched it at a very good time in my life. People always seem to have connections with films they see while growing up, and this one is no different. Despite that nugget of knowledge, it's a great representation of 80's horror that has scares and laughs scattered throughout and is worth the watch. Welcome to Fright Night… for real.
More Must See Horror Flicks
- Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010): Who knew that some people commit suicide by jumping into a wood chipper? A great one to watch with friends.
- Silence of the Lambs (1991): This film isn’t included in a lot of horror film lists, but make no mistake, this is a horror film.
- Arachnophobia (1990): This one may not be as scary to some as others (unless your afraid of spiders), but you’ll have a lot of fun watching it.
- Cube (1997): A movie that is similar to Saw, but came out before Saw. Some would say a better movie than Saw.
- Witchboard (1986): I'd like to have been a fly on the wall when toy makers decided to start marketing this device as a board game. I dare you to use a Ouija board after watching this one.
- Seven (1995): A top 3 serial killer movie if there ever was one. Most people don't want to watch it more than once. Don't expect a happy ending.
- The Craft (1996): You really can't go wrong with a bunch of pretty girls who are into witchcraft. Here's a little trick to try if you know people that are actually into this stuff, mention this film and watch them become quiet.
- City of the Living Dead (1980): A Lucio Fulci classic that is full of blood and gore. I saw this film when young and had severe nightmares for several night afterward. It will do the same to your children, so best think about that before letting them see it.
- Dead Snow (2009): A Norwegian zombie film that you don’t even need to understand to enjoy; I didn’t even have to read the subtitles.
- Wrong Turn (2003): If straight up horror is what you want, then that’s what you’ll get. No winking at the audience takes place in this one... and no humor.
- Puppet Master (1989): Cute, deadly and loyal; you’ll want a puppet of your very own after seeing this one. The perfect thing to add to your doll collection.
- Thinner (1996): Who knew that all you had to do to lose weight was to enrage a gypsy by killing his child and having him put a curse on you?
- Night of the Demons (1988): A ghoulish treat for those who want to have an 80’s horror movie marathon. One of my favorite scary movies.
Up For A Little Tokyo Shock Cinema Also Known As Tokyo Gore Flicks?
Meatball Machine (2005)
Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Hard Revenge, Milly: Bloody Battle (2009)
Yakuza Weapon (201)
Mutant Girls Squad (2010)
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)
Clive Barker has created some of the most beautiful horror icons in existence. I find it amazing that there are still people who haven't seen this horror classic. Most people make the decision to watch it or not based on the trailer itself because of the implication (in my opinion) that this is going to be a movie that disturbs instead of scares. A promise that it does indeed keep.
Horror Movies To Watch In The Dark
- Stir of Echoes (1999): One of the scariest ghost movies you’ll ever see. Often overlooked because it came out around the same time as The Sixth Sense.
- Event Horizon (1997): Looking for Sci-fi horror that will make your skin crawl and takes place on a space ship? Found it!
- Dog Soldiers (2002): A grade-A werewolf movie from the British. There are so few of these being made these days, so be sure to check it out.
- Wicker Man (1973): One of the weirdest horror movies I’ve ever seen, and probably not for everyone. I loved it!
- Silver Bullet (1985): A werewolf movie that doesn’t have quiet as much gore as most others do. Good for the kiddies!
- Nosferatu: The original silent film from 1922 and the 1979 remake are must see horror movies for anyone who is a fan of vampires or the genre in general.
- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011): Very atmospheric, but not shockingly horrific. Despite this, I still found the film to be enjoyable, especially when watched in the dark.
- Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Not every kind of meat tastes like chicken.
- Feast (2005): Feast and its two sequels are fun, fun, fun! Horror candy! The process of making this movie was laid out over 11 episodes on Season 3 of Project Greenlight (very entertaining also).
- Warlock (1989): Those witches that have the blessing of the Devil have a definite edge over those that don't. Oh, and by the way, some witches are men.
- Stuck (2008): Ever hit someone with your car and they get stuck in your windshield? Ever drive home instead of going to the cops?
- Pay the Ghost (2015): A solid creepy horror flick that I purposely didn’t watch at first because I thought it was “just another Nic Cage crime thriller”. Man, this movie was totally marketed wrong.
- Spellbinder (1988): A horror / love story that will appeal to both men and women as well as a wonderfully dark twist ending. Perfect!
A staple in 70's horror, killer flying balls and a lead monster that will give you nightmares. What more can you ask for from a good horror film? I once worked with a truck driver that was so frightened by this flick, that every time you quoted a certain line from it, he would get mad. It probably didn't help that we worked the graveyard shift. The line was by the character of the Tall Man and was only one word - "Boy!!".
Scary Movies That Are Actually Scary
- Orphanage (2007): A slow-burn Spanish horror film that pays off with scenes that will make you shiver. Scary ghost children is never a good thing.
- Acolytes (2008): Some teenagers get the bright idea to try and blackmail a local serial killer. Hope whatever they get out of it is worth all the trouble.
- Witch, The (2015): A film that many will cut off after the first few minutes; those that do watch it till the end will probably never want to watch it again.
- Bitter Feast (2010): The perfect horror movie for a food or restaurant critic.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016): A tense and original horror / science fiction thriller that makes you ask “what would you do if you found yourself in the same situation?”.
- Found (2012): A young horror fan suspects that his older brother is a serial killer.
- Men Behind the Sun (1988): A very disturbing movie based upon the very real torture and experimentation of Chinese and Russian POW’s by the Japanese in WW2.
- Stepford Wives (1975): Have you ever wanted the perfect wife? This original version is much more creepier than the remake they did with Nicole Kidman, which focused more on the humor of the situation instead of the horror.
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978): This is a just a fun horror movie to watch with friends. It's silly and stupid and has one of the best songs about killer tomatoes you'll likely ever hear.
- Demons (1985): Be cautious when you are offered free stuff through an invitation. The intentions of whoever sent it may not be that honorable.
- Apt Pupil (1998): A kid suspects his neighbor is a Nazi war criminal and then tries to blackmail him. I'm starting to think that blackmailing people could put you in danger.
- Corpse Grinders (1971): A cat food company needs a cheaper source of meat and decides to visit the local cemetery. The cats grow to love the food, and eventually come to realize a fresher source. This is a bad movie that I love to watch. Maybe a few of you will like it too.
- Shivers (1975): A parasite that turns people into mindless, sex-craved psychos that can infect others by sexual contact. A movie this weird can only be brought to you by David Cronenberg.
- Dead Set (2008): A British 5 episode horror drama about how reality TV contestants deal with a zombie outbreak. Hard to find, but very good.
- Krampus (2015): Ever wonder what bad little boys and girls get at Christmas? The perfect Christmas themed horror flick to watch during a blizzard. What was that noise on the roof?
- Cheap Thrills (2013): A good way to make some “moolah” is to find rich people who will try to get you to do crazy things for money.
- Critters (1986): Small basketball-sized aliens with big teeth come to Earth looking for food. A really fun 80’s horror-comedy.
- Don’t Look Now (1973): Some younger people think the older horror films aren’t worth watching when in reality that’s where you find many of the best ones.
An awesome horror movie that pays homage to a lot of scary movies from the 1980's. This one in particular reminds me of Night of the Creeps from 1986. Lots of critics call this a B-movie, but I couldn’t disagree more. After watching this film you'll want to cover all of your orifices.
More Films That Shock, Scare and Horrify
- Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014): The real appeal of this film is that it is a segue to the TV show The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) which is outstanding and has the same cast as the film.
Good Son (1993): The Home Alone kid starts doing some really bad things.
- Videodrome (1983): Like most David Cronenberg films Videodrome will both repulse and intrigue viewers. This is an open-ended sci-fi horror flick that will leave you puzzled as hell, but still satisfied... as long as you like weird. By the way, Criterion makes a fantastic Blu-ray of this one that is chock full of extras.
- Dagon (2001): The first real adaptation of a Lovecraft story (The Shadow Over Innsmouth). A must-watch for fans of H.P. Lovecraft.
Belko Experiment (2016): So you think you have a bad job? Try working at a company that tries to force you to murder your fellow co-workers, and not just the ones that you don't like.
The Eye (2002): The original horror movie from Hong Kong is superior to the American re-make. There is a weaker sequel (Eye 2), but Eye 3 (re-title for American market) is one you also need to check out, but be warned that it has a more comedic spin to it.
- Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf: Blind man vs. werewolf and great practical effects. Yes, please!
- Pumpkinhead (1988): The go to demon when you need a little revenge. Shout Factory (aka Scream Factory) has a Blu-ray collectors edition that has all kinds of extras on it.
- Ichi the Killer (2001): This Takashi Miike horror film is one of his most violent. Many won’t be able to watch it and some will be highly offended within the first five minutes.
- Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016): As long as you don't mind seeing an actual autopsy done, you've got one hell of a creepy, supernatural murder mystery.
Misery (1990): Sometimes your #1 fan can be a little psychotic.
Ninth Gate (1999)
Johnny Depp, occult books and a beautiful woman who may or may not be Satan; what more could you ask for in a horror flick? A very good "slow burn horror film" directed by Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby) that is no where near talked about enough as it should be.
Quick Pick Horror - Good Horror Movies Fast
Don't Breathe (2016)
Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Ginger Snaps (2001)
Black Christmas (1974)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Exorcist (1973)
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
The Shining (1980)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Machines come to life and attack humanity. Who made who, indeed. A hard to find horror film that includes an awesome soundtrack by AC/DC. Oh, and it's also the first film directed by the master of horror Stephen King.
Another Batch of Overlooked Horror Movies
- A Dark Song (2016): If you've ever wanted to go behind the scenes of what it takes to call forth angels and demons, this is the film you need to watch. Hint... you can't do it fast.
- The Babysitter (2017): An above average horror-comedy made specifically for Netflix. Ever wish you had a smoking hot (and very cool) babysitter? What if that babysitter was a Devil worshiper and wanted you dead? Still interested?
- Midnight Meat Train (2008): A very solid adaptation from one of Clive Barker’s short stories. It’s slowly gaining a cult following.
Black Sunday (1960): A great vintage Italian horror movie that is beautiful as it is as moody.
- Tales of Halloween (2015): Horror anthologies are often hit or miss, but this one has just the right mix of comedy and horror to make you fall in love with it. I'm predicting that within a few years this will be a cult favorite among horror fans.
- I Spit On Your Grave (1978): I’ve only watched this film once, and it was almost impossible for me to do so. It amazes me that so many women like to watch it.
- Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988): I never knew this one existed until a few years ago. As with the first, best to watch with a group of friends.
- Better Watch Out (2016): A really solid Christmas Babysitter horror flick with a twist that you won’t see coming. Although it would have worked better with a bit more humor in it; this is a good watch.
- Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006): The goal of appeasing gorehounds around the world was met when this fun train wreck of a flick was made. Do you expect anything less from a movie directed by Troma's Lloyd Kaufman?
- 1408 (2007): There’s always a skeptic in horror movies, and we love it when they're proven wrong and embrace the horrifying reality of the situation.
Near Dark (1987): These drifter vampires will definitely never be called gothic.
Bird Box (2018)
Bird Box is a movie made by Netflix. The horror-thriller stars Sandra Bullock, but has an overall strong cast. Even though you don't directly see the monster, you get a sense of dread whenever it's around. I was quite surprised by how much I liked this film, and even though it didn't get a theatrical release... it could have.
Underrated Horror Films That You Have To Watch
- Last House on the Left (1972): This first film by Wes Craven is crude, shocking and hard to watch at times. What more can you ask from a good scary movie?
- God Told Me To (1976): If God told you to kill someone, would you? That's the premise of this one and has sparked animated conversations with whom ever I watch it with.
- Cherry Falls (2000): There's only one way to survive a horror movie where virgins are targeted. Do I really have to spell it out?
- The Cottage (2008): Some kidnappers and their victim decide to seek refuge in a place they shouldn’t have. It's amazing how many times this keeps happening.
- Flatliners (1990): College students come to the conclusion that there’s only one way to know what’s happens when you die. College is about experimentation, right?
- What We Do in the Shadows (2014): A mockumentary that explores the struggles of vampires in modern day life.
- Zombeavers (2014): The title says it all, doesn’t it? Yes, you do get to see a person turning into a zombie beaver. This one is good for people who like fun low-budget horror.
- Man Bites Dog (1992): Be careful what kind of documentary you decide to make, especially when making one about a serial killer.
- Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993): A zombie-themed love story sounds corny, but it’s not if done right. Don’t mistake this for a Warm Bodies type of film. This one’s rated R.
- Cigarette Burns (2005): This one comes to us from John Carpenter via the “Masters of Horror” series of shows. A rare film print that cause viewers to become homicidal is desired by someone.
- Duel (1971): If you’ve ever had a run in with any crazy truck drivers, you’ll be able to relate with this flick by Steven Spielberg.
- It Follows (2014): The worst type of STD to get? The one that makes a supernatural being start stalking and trying to kill you. "I should've used protection."
- Cast a Deadly Spell (1991): Imagine a place where magic was used by everyone and casting spells to bring forth demons was commonplace.
Train to Busan (2016)
This Korean zombie film is one of the most intense horror flicks I've seen in a while now. It's very well done on every level of production and you can tell the people who made it have a love for the genre. Subtitles aren't that big of a deal with this one as the action drives most of the movie. Give it a chance if you love horror.
More Unknown Gems of Horror Cinema
- [Rec] (2007): First Responders will be in real danger if there's a zombie outbreak, as they will be the ones to respond to the calls for help. Scary movies that are actually scary are so rare, and this one is so much better than the American re-make - Quarantine.
- Bubba Ho-Tep (2002): Elvis is alive and fighting monsters in a nursing home. Yep, I said Elvis. I've always wished Bruce Campbell would do a sequel to this one, but so far it hasn't happened.
- Funny Games (2007): This is definitely a different kind of horror film. It's got all the usual components, but allows the psychopaths to do things that I've never seen before in any other scary movie. Spoiler alert! - there is no happy ending for this Americanized version or the 1997 original.
- Cronos (1994): A really different take on the vampire genre by Guillermo del Toro. You have to have an open mind when watching this one.
- Screwfly Solution (2006): This Masters of Horror TV episode may shock and anger some people as the focus of the story is about killing females. I’m surprised it actually got made.
- Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part 6 (1986): You know, a lot of sequels never hold up to the original, unless you're talking about horror movies. It's one of the few genres where sequels can be just as good as the original, no matter how many sequels there are. By the way, nothing good can ever come from digging up serial killers; just don't do it.
When Animals Dream (2015)
A Danish werewolf tale that could be put into the slow-burn type of horror. If you can somewhat stand the sub-titles, there are a lot of really good foreign horror movies out there that will scare the pants off of you. There are even some that you can follow just by watching the action. If you don't want to read, most have an option to view in English (though you don't usually hear the actor or actresses actual voices).
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