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20 Great Horror Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen – August 2014 Edition by Max Molinaro

Back with the second edition in a monthly ongoing series of posts listing some of the great horror films that you may not have seen.

For July’s edition click here!

  • Possession (1981) I can honestly say there is nothing else like Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession. Starring Sam Neill as Mark and Isabelle Adjani as Anna, Possession is first and foremost about a dissolving marriage. Anna is done with the relationship and Mark tries to salvage it, but revelation after revelation puts more and more strain on their hopes of living happily ever after. As the film progresses it becomes increasingly surreal and disturbing. Mark is livid and lashes out against just about everyone after Anna leaves him, clearly losing his grip. As bad as Mark is becoming, it is nowhere close to the horrors that Anna is facing. Blood drips her mouth and she frequently disappears into a mysterious apartment building. What she is doing in this apartment is something no one can predict and it is deeply troubling. Neill is amazing, but Adjani is the stand out performance in the film. It is an exceptionally physical performance and you can tell that Adjani is giving it her all. One scene where she has some kind of attack that causes her to flail around the ground is extraordinary and the ending of the sequence is truly disgusting. Possession is really an incredible film with many interpretations and some of the most unforgettable images ever put to on screen.   image
  • The House of the Devil – The film that put Ti West on the map, The House of the devil is a brilliant throwback to low-budget 80s horror. Shot to look like it was done with grainy film stock used in the early 80s, the film gets the tone and look of the time perfectly. A college student takes a baby-sitting job, but finds out the job is more than she bargained for when the house’s owners turn out to be members of a satanic cult. It’s a slow burn that racks up the tension to a big climax. The film features the great character actor Tom Noonan who excels at playing both a kindly and creepy older gentleman. The House of the Devil is the first great film from one of horror’s best young minds.   image

  • Cheap Thrills – What would you do for five bucks? Ten? A hundred? Ten thousands? Would you say something that’ll get you slapped in the face? Would you vandalize a neighbor’s house? Cut of a finger? Those are the questions that the characters played by Pat Healy (The Innkeepers) and Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait) have to answer when they meet David Koechner (Anchorman) and his wife Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers) at a bar one night. The film is darkly funny and equally twisted. Pat Healy gives a layered performance as man that’s always gotten the short end of the stick and never done anything about it, but may finally step up under some insane circumstances. Cheap Thrills by E.L. Katz is a mean little piece of fascinating thrills that leaving you asking “what would I do?”. image
  • The Werewolf – A stranger comes into town on a dark night, lost and confused. He runs afoul with an angry drunk and the wino winds up dead. It looks like an animal attack, but no one knows what kind of animal and where the stranger went of too. It sounds fairly generic, especially with such a simple title, but this 1956 B—movie is better than you’d think. Great makeup effects plus a 50s sci-fi twist on the classic werewolf myth and better character work than most genre films of the period, the film is a cheesy fun way to spend 79 minutes.image

  • Monkey Shines – From master of horror George A. Romero, Monkey Shines Alan Mann played by Jason Beghe (Chicago Fire), who is rendered quadriplegic after a tragic accident. A friend of his, a scientist, gives Alan an unusually intelligent capuchin monkey to help him out. The monkey isn’t just unusually intelligent, but hyper intelligent due to medical experimentation. The monkey, Ella, quickly becomes attached to Alan and overly protective of him. Due to the experiments, they unknowingly become linked telepathically linked and Ella acts on the angry feelings that Alan never would act on in a million years. Alan eventually becomes a prisoner in his own home and is helpless due to his condition. His inability to move is a simple, yet highly effective way to create a ton of suspense throughout the film. image
  • The Dentist – From director Brian Yuzna (Society) and producer Stuart Gordon (director of Re-Animator and From Beyond) The Dentist is about exactly what you think it is. Corbin Bernsen plays a dentist who is pushed too far by his cheating wife and stressed filled job. He takes matters into his own hands and begins torturing and murdering anyone that his the misfortune of finding themselves in his chair. You know how you get especially squeamish with little things like nails being pulled or stepping on tacks? This whole movie is little things like that involving teeth and the mouth. It’s gross and it’s under the skin like any of the best Yuzna/Gordon productions.  image

  • Lake Mungo – A 2008 Australian horror mockumentary tells the story of the drowning of the 16 year old Alice Palmer and how her parents and brother deal with the events after her death. The film is highly atmospheric and a great slow burn. There are elements of a mystery as to why Alice is appearing in home videos after her death and what she was actually like in life as opposed to the face she put on for her family. More creepy and intriguing than outright scary, Lake Mungo should be a film that sticks with you for a while. It is also pretty interesting if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks and you start seeing that the entire film plays out like an homage to the classic series.image
  • The Tunnel – An Australian found-footage film that follows a small investigative news team looking to learn the truth behind a possible government cover-up regarding a recent water shortage. They enter the sewer system under Sydney, but soon they see an emaciated looking figure lurking in the shadows. They lose their sense of direction in the labyrinth and realize that something is stalking them. The Tunnel is pretty damn terrifying. It’s claustrophobic, tightly scripted, and tense from beginning to end.     image
  • Eden Lake – One of several British horror films on this list today is 2008’s Eden Lake. The film stars Kelly Reilly as Jenny and Michael Fassbender (one of this generation’s greatest actors) and Steve, a young couple on a romantic getaway at a remote lake. Everything seems perfect until they have a run-in with some punk teenagers. Steve confronts them, but then decides that him and Jenny should just move further down the beach. The confrontation eventually escalates and turns dangerous as the teens chase down the couple with deadly intent. More brutal and disturbing than the initial setup might suggest, Eden Lake is a relentless thriller.     image
  • In the Mouth of Madness – The last good film John Carpenter made before he lost his mojo, 1994’s In the Mouth of Madness feels a little bit Stephen King-like in a few parts and a lot like H.P. Lovecraft just about everywhere else. As the title might imply, the film is about the nature of insanity and has a bit of commentary on the nature of horror storytelling. Starring Sam Neill (second time he’s been mentioned on this list) as John Trent, a fraud investigator looking for a horror novelist’s, Sutter Cane, final transcript. Cane’s recent novel has been a massive success, but there have been reports that it has been driving some readers mad. Trent travels to the town that inspired Cane, but soon begins seeing horrible visions and the line between real and nightmares quickly becomes blurred. image

  • Psycho II – Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a classic, a masterpiece, and one of the most influential horror films ever made, so a sequel may seem like a crime against the art form. Surprisingly though, Richard Franklin’s 1983 Psycho II is not the horrid mess that many sequels to classics like The Exorcist II and Jaws 3 are. After 22 years in an institution, Norman Bates is released and returns to the infamous Bates Motel. He tries to lead a normal life and shed his “Mother” persona, but bodies begin to pile up and Norman starts to feel a little mad. Of course it’s not nearly as good as the original (despite what Quentin Tarantino thinks. He actually prefers the second one), but this sequel is an entertaining twist filled psychological thriller. Anthony Perkins returns to the role of Norman and he’s just always great. image
  • Inside – From directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, this 2007 French film is one of the most relentless and grisly horror films ever made. Weeks after being involved in near fatal car accident and losing her husband, a young pregnant woman, Sarah, answers the door the door to a strange woman late at night. The woman begins harassing Sarah and is quickly escalates. It becomes clear that this woman only wants one thing: Sarah’s baby… Sarah is brutalized and fights to survive as anyone else who enters her home as a potential savior meets a gruesome fate at the hands of the deadly home invader. Dark, bloody, and non-stop, Inside is one of France’s best modern horror films.image

  • Dog Soldiers – More British horror from The Descent director Neil Marshall in the form of Dog Soldiers. Essentially it is a low-budget Predator with the alien hunter swapped out for a family of werewolves. While on a training exercise, a squad of British Army soldiers is left out in the middle of the woods and is forced to duke it out with the pack of monsters. Gory, fun, and really well directed, Dog Soldiers is a blast. Many of you reading this have also seen the director’s work in the Game of Thrones episodes “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall”.image
  • Excision – Starring 90210’s AnnaLynne McCord and directed by Richard Bates, Excision is a powerful and disturbing high school horror film. The film follows Pauline (McCord), a mentally disturbed high schooler, with hopes of becoming a surgeon. There are several expertly shot dream sequences, soaked in blood and featuring confrontations with Pauline and her ideal self. Outside the dream, Pauline is extremely creepy as she emotionally scars everyone around. She very flippantly decides that she wants to lose her virginity and propositions a guy that’s tormented her in school. They meet at motel and what happens is sure to gross a majority of viewers out. After that Pauline becomes more aggressive in her acts and eventually does something that no one will forget…     image

  • The Lovely Molly – I watched the film on Netflix on a whim a while back, not knowing anything about it at all. That was a good call on my part because Lovely Molly is a super creepy ultra low-budget horror film. It’s incredibly subtle in the ways it attempts to frighten you and you’ll be uneasy for more of the film than not. Just watch, knowing that if you’re paying attention, it will pay off. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez, the mastermind behind The Blair Witch Project. image
  • Deadgirl – Do not watch this on a date. I repeat. Do not watch this on a date. It won’t go over well. Or maybe give it shot, you may have an interesting night depending on whom you’re with. This 2008 high school horror film is gross and miserable. One day two boys, high school seniors who can only ever hope of finding a girlfriend, discover a naked woman chained up in a basement. They soon learn that this strange mute girl is not just a tortured woman, but that she is in fact a zombie. This is where the film gets really heavy and after deciding that neither of them can do it, they convince a jock to rape the so-called “Deadgirl” and it’s all down hill from there. The only way I could accurately describe the film is pure melancholy.  image

  • The Tenant – The third film in Roman Polanski’s thematic “Apartment Trilogy” following Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant is a paranoia fueled psychological horror film. Polanski himself plays a quiet, average man who moves in to an apartment after the previous tenant attempted to kill herself by jumping out the window. The landlord and the other renters begin to complain and chastise our protagonist for being too disruptive, when he is actually being anything but. The horror takes place in his mind as all these different outside forces start to come down on him and he begins to break. This one can only be described as mind-bending and features an unforgettable third act.    image
  • Berberian Sound Studio – British and psychological horror seem to be the unintentional theme of this edition with Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio starring Toby Jones. Jones plays a British foley artist, Gilderoy, who comes to Italy thinking he’s going to help with sound work on a film about horses. He arrives and soon learns that the film he is to work on is a giallo film. Gilderoy is new to horror films, so he is already out of his element being in this foreign country. Much like The Tenant’s protagonist, Gilderoy is an average and quiet man, who is needlessly thought of as greedy and rude by his Italian collaborators. All he asks is that he be reimbursed for his plane tickets, like he was told he would, but everyone gives him the runaround. From there Berberian Sound Studio becomes crazier and crazier as Gilderoy slowly becomes as insane and dark as the film he is working on.image

  • Maniac – This 2012 remake of the 1980 film of the same name directed by Franck Khalfoun and stars The Lord of the Ring’s Elijah Wood as the film’s titular psycho. Shot almost entirely from the killer’s point-of-view, Wood’s character, Frank, is a shy and awkward man with a dark secret and even darker desires. His dimly lit home is filled with female mannequins. Frank murders women, scalps them (while most are still alive), then takes the top of their heads to place on his mannequins in order to give them personalities. Maniac’s violence is brutal, uncomfortable to watch more often than not, and horrifying to say the least. Wood is perfect as the awkward, yet menacing murderer, and by the end you may just feel like a maniac yourself.   image
  • The Children – Similar in premise to Who Can Kill a Child (which I mentioned in last month’s edition), The Children is yet another 2008 British horror gem about two families staying at a secluded home to celebrate the New Year. Everything seems normal at first, with some typical familial drama, but the young children begin to act very strange. They soon become sadistic and violent, which leads their parents to struggle with the fact that they either have to kill their own children or be brutally murdered by them. image

From the beginning she was impossible. The impossible girl. I met her in the Dalek asylum, never saw her face, and she died. I met her again in Victorian London, and she died. Saved my life both times, giving her own. And now she’s back. And she’s perfect. Perfect in every way for me. Clara. My Clara. Always brave, always funny, always exactly what I need.