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Underrated Horror Films That Fans of the Genre Need to See

Updated on October 16, 2017
ControlledChaos1 profile image

I've been a huge fan of all things horror all my life. There is no safer way to get that feeling of dread or disgust than horror. I love it!

Scary Movie
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Good Scary Movies Vs. Best Scary Movies

Everybody already knows most of the scariest movies ever made, 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 really good scary movies. 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. While I have numbered them, that doesn't mean that one is better than another. I just like to have a little order with my chaos, that's all. Be sure to check back every once in a while, as I do plan on adding more movies that cause nightmares.

131 + Scary Movies... And Counting

Screen grab from Audition (1999).
Screen grab from Audition (1999).

Scary Movies That You Have To Watch

  • Audition (1999): A very unsettling and disturbing Japanese horror film by filmmaker Takashi Miike.
  • Cube (1997): A movie that is similar to Saw, but came out before Saw. Some would say a better movie than Saw.
  • 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): 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.
  • [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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Black Sheep (2006): Don't confuse this one with the comedy of the same name. Zombie sheep. Nuff said.
  • 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?


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)
Nekromantik (1987)
Fright Night 2 (1988)
Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Deathgasm (2015)
Cabin Fever (2002)
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Buried Alive (1990)
Lost Boys (1987)
Ravenous (1999)
The Blob (1988)
Who Can Kill a Child (1976)
Screen Grab From When Animals Dream (2015)
Screen Grab From When Animals Dream (2015)

Some of the Best Horror Films You've Never Heard Of

  • When Animals Dream (2015): A Danish werewolf tale that could be put into the slow-burn type of horror.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Saw the Devil (2010): A South Korean serial killer movie that is relentless in its violence and depravity. Hard to watch.
  • Bubba Ho-Tep (2002): Elvis is alive and fighting monsters in a nursing home. Yep, I said Elvis.
  • 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.
  • Man Bites Dog (1992): Be careful what kind of documentary you decide to make, especially when making one about a serial killer.
  • What We Do in the Shadows (2014): A mockumentary that explores the struggles of vampires in modern day life.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Final Girls (2015): A horror-comedy that will appeal to Friday the 13th fans.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Cast a Deadly Spell (1991): Imagine a place where magic was used by everyone and casting spells to bring forth demons was commonplace.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re-Animator (1985): Lots of gore and lots of dry humor. A very entertaining horror film that you will watch more than once.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?

Hellraiser (1987)

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Phantasm (1979)

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.


Slither (2006)

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.
  • 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)
Nightbreed (1990)
Black Christmas (1974)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Martyrs (2008)
Scream (1996)
Freaks (1932)
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)
Halloween (1978)
Psycho (1960)
Poltergeist (1982)

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?
  • 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?

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.

© 2015 Don

What's your favorite scary movie (and why)?

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    • profile image

      kelly 2 months ago

      only just watched two from this list and am genuinely impressed. most suggested horror movies are weak. eden lake has left me feeling ill. but i love it.

    • ControlledChaos1 profile image
      Author

      Don 4 months ago from Tennessee

      Reply to Jem Comments:

      What you say is true, but this film is far from the only one to do these kinds of things in that decade. Is it right? No. Is the film hard to watch? Yes. Would most people want to watch it more than once? Probably not.

      But there's no denying that it's a solid brick in the foundation of the horror genre. That is why I put it in my article.

    • profile image

      Jem 4 months ago

      Cool list but Cannibal Holocaust (1980) does not deserve to be mentioned, let alone recommended. During filming the director made local tribes work unpaid labour and the film itself contains intense animal abuse (multiple animals are killed/mutilated in various scenes and it's all for real).

    • Grant Moriarty profile image

      Grant Moriarty 12 months ago from Seattle, WA

      Good list. I'll definitely mark as one of my favorites. The ones that I've seen are some of my favorites but there are a lot of movies on this list I'd like to try.

    • profile image

      Rayne 15 months ago

      A friend of mine recently talked me into watching Halloween, I was surprised to learn that the director was also a fairly famous musician. It was pretty intense. I may eventually check out the sequel and some of the original movies these re-makes were based on.

    • profile image

      BayBay 16 months ago

      Phantasm 2, made back in 1988, is a horror movie that is just as good, if not better than the original. If you like the first one, then you'll love the 2nd. Watch them back to back if you can.

    • profile image

      JackR 17 months ago

      One of my guilty pleasure horror films is House 2: The Second Story. It's one of those cheesy 80's flicks that has nothing to do with the original, but most people that grew up with those kinds of movies will enjoy it, especially if you watch it with friend.

    • profile image

      PeachyKeen 17 months ago

      One zombie horror film that a lot of people overlook is Fido (2006). It's a movie about having zombies as pets. What could go wrong?

    • jmatthewdobson profile image

      Joseph Matthew Dobson 24 months ago

      Great list! I'm glad you included "Frailty"...This is such an overlooked film craftily made by Bill Paxton. By far one of my favorite horror films.