Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time 03.01.12: Another Ten Underrated Horror Films

March 1, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee


Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.

Last week I concluded my look at the most annoying horror movie characters. I got so much hate out of my system that I want to look at something positive this week. But first, some feedback. But even before that, be sure to check out J.D. Dunn’s Friday the 13th Hot Chick list. It’s a perfect combination of Dunn’s writing style and AJ Grey’s class. Also, Amy Steel should have been higher, in my opinion.

Okay, feedback.

Josh replied: As we learned in the His Name Was Jason documentary, the kid played Reggie the Reckless is now all grown up… and still really annoying.

I had to rewatch it to be sure, but man you are right. It’s nice to know that the kid wasn’t acting, that’s who he was. Kincaid is just the same in the Never Sleep Again documentary as he was in Dream Warriors, but I actually liked Kincaid. Maybe it was because he called Freddy Krueger a pussy then got his ass kicked.

Drew asked: Even though you alread revealed your top 2 picks in your responce, next week why not do your top 10 worst Godzilla films? Or on the other end of the spectrum, the top 10 best Godzilla films.

Well I did a three part retrospective on the Godzilla series way back when that pretty much exhausted my opinions on it. I’ve talked about those films almost as much as I have Friday the 13th (which is being retired, by the way…I’ve got nothing more to say on the subject). But maybe I will do a Godzilla top ten/bottom ten in the future.

411’s own Jeremy Thomas replied: Katherine Isabelle is amazing. Between here and Monica Keena, Freddy vs. Jason has some amazing eye candy. Hell, Rowland’s good in that capacity too, even if she clearly earned her spot on this list. And I’ll never understand why Csonka doesn’t set off the spell checker. Unless I added it to my dictionary and forgot, it’s definitely a headscratcher.

Robert Winfree and Wyatt Beougher cleared that up for us. It’s a football player. I’m a casual fan at best so it’s no wonder I missed it. Also, am I the only one that think Kelly Rowland looks better now than she did then?

Comment Board Poster replied: Evil Ed? Annoying? Thought he was pretty fun.

Well, I did say he was divisive.

Adam said: I was at Freddy vs Jason on opening night. The audience cheered when Rowland got smashed. First time I have ever heard a cheer at a horror movie.

My audience booed. But I believe my audience was made up of a lot of Destiny’s Child fans. I got some really dirty looks when I was the only one cheering as she crashed into that tree.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’m going to spread some love. Way back in 2008, I looked at the most underrated horror films. Topping that list were films like The Exorcist III (Brad Dourif’s best performance), May and Frailty. Two years later I ran another list, this one having films like From Beyond, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Pin.

Well there are still a lot of underrated and overlooked horror films out there. Some have cult followings, others are unfairly maligned and some are just completely forgotten about. The purpose of these editions of ABGT is to either introduce to you or try to help you see these films in a new light. So I’m going to give you ten more underrated horror films. They’re in order of quality, but there’s no real tying theme together other than the #1 film just happens to be the best of this particular group of movies.

So enough introductions, let’s get to it.

#10: Man’s Best Friend (1993)

If you look at Man’s Best Friend as a horror film, then it’s going to suck. It’s not scary in the same way that Cujo is not scary (the movie, not the book). It’s hard to be scared of what looks to be a lovable dog, no matter how much goo they put on it. But I like both movies. Cujo more than this, obviously, but this has its moments too. A lot of people don’t like it, probably because they were expecting Cujo and didn’t get it.

This movie was clearly intended to be campy. You don’t feature a scene of a dog seducing another dog (okay, raping) to the tune of “Puppy Love” without intending to get a laugh. This movie isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, but so many did and that’s why it isn’t even remembered, let alone liked by anyone. As a horror-comedy, it’s funny. The dog has acid pee. It’s in love with a human and gets into a battle of wits with her boyfriend. It eats a cat in one bite! If you need another reason to watch it, it does have Lance Henriksen. That doesn’t say much given that Lance Henriksen will sign on to just about anything, but trust me on this.

#9: Disturbing Behavior (1998)

Disturbing Behavior came out in the latter half of the self-aware horror boom that followed Scream, and as a result it tends to get thrown in with the lesser-quality films of that era. This is no Valentine or I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, okay? This one is actually pretty good. It’s a pseudo-remake of The Stepford Wives, replacing the housewives of the 70s with the disenfranchised youth of the 90s. Got a kid that’s giving you too much trouble? Get their brains rewired so that they’re perfect.

I thought this was a good little thriller with some decent acting. Nick Stahl in particular made me a fan of his with this role long before he was in stuff like Terminator 3 or Sin City. This movie also got a lot of hate but I never understood why. Maybe it’s just one of those movies that I like and no one else does. But if you’ve never heard of this, or avoided it for whatever reason, give it a chance. It’s a lot better than its made out to be. Also, hey look! Cyclops!

#8: Popcorn (1991)

This is an 80s film that got released just a little too late. You know how I can tell? It has the conventions, styles, montages, jokes silly slasher plot twists and everything else that a proper 80s slasher should have. The film follows a group of students who plan to have a Horrorthon at their local theater, using movies that William Castle would have loved. Each film has a gimmick, either Shock-O-Vision, Aroma-Rama, what have you, to make the experience as awesome as possible. They decide to play a film called Possessor which was used in a in a ritualistic killing fifteen years ago. This triggers a series of murders (using the movie gimmicks against the film students).

The kills are nice and everything, but I think the best part of the movie is the parodies of the old 1950s movies. There’s a monster movie called Mosquito, about a giant mosquito grown from radiation. This is before Syfy would make a giant everything movie every week. While the killer reveal makes zero sense, it works within the context of the movie because of how campy it is. You can’t go wrong with this one.

#7: Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

I’ve talked about this before, because it’s one of the only films in the Amityville series that’s worth watching. Well, this and the remake. Anyway, this film is a combination of The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist, taking the best parts of each. It’s a prequel, set before the DeFeo murders (only here the family has a different name). The movie starts out with the family living a fairly normal life while one of them goes insane, and then becomes more about the exorcisms at the end.

What happens to the guy that becomes possessed? He gets really ugly and he has sex with his sister. He tries to seduce her and succeeds (that’s the amazing part…she’s not under the influence of ANYTHING). The seduction scene in general is very creepy. You know what else is creepy? Watching this guy kill his entire family with a shotgun, including the kids, and seeing their little bodies twitch after they’ve been shot. This movie easily gets under your skin and makes you feel dirty.

#6: Spiral (2007)

I don’t really like Hatchet as much as everyone else did. I thought Adam Green showed promise, and I did enjoy the gore (along with Kane Hodder, of course), but I’m not as in love with it as others I’ve seen in the horror fan community. This is where Adam Green’s promise is fulfilled and he would go on to make the great Frozen and the better than the original Hatchet II. It stars Joel David Moore (the ultimate geeky dude) and Amber Tamblyn, who will make you fall in love with her.

Is it scary? Not really. But I’m a big fan of horror films that offer a psychological portrait of the crazy person they are portraying. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Willard etc. While I can’t say I enjoy spending time with these people, I find it fascinating when a film tries to make the psycho the main character. I may have my reservations about Hatchet, but I really don’t know why this film tends to get ignored.

#5: Strangeland (1998)

Remember when everyone thought Dee Snider was weird just because of how he looked in Twisted Sister? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the guy. I listen to The House of Hair every week, but man that hair was out of control. Anyway, for those who have seen this movie, you’ll think Dee Snider is weird for a myriad of reasons beyond how he dresses up for a music video/concert. Strangeland is just that, it’s strange. It’s also sick and demented, and a really good horror film.

Dee Snider plays Captain Howdy, a psychopath who meets his victims on the Internet and then tortures them. He also loves S&M and is sure to let you know it. The best part about this movie isn’t the fact that it’s about a weird psychotic guy. It’s the fact he’s caught in the middle of the film and comes out of prison reformed. This movie shows you the sick things he does, then tries to get you to sympathize with the guy who did them. The rest of the movie has a different feel to it as a result. Sometimes I think this movie tries to be smarter than it is, but it’s still a good one. Too bad we’ll never get a sequel.

#4: Intruder (1989)

You can watch the edited version of this, but I don’t recommend it. The gore is one of the best parts of this movie and if you cut that out you’re missing a lot. I don’t mean that because I’m a fan of gore (even if I am), just that the special effects used to create it are pretty good. This is a slasher from Scott Spiegel, who worked with Sam Raimi on the Evil Dead movies. Don’t let the fact that Hostel Part 3 sucked throw you off. It even has a cameo from Bruce Campbell and supporting roles for both Sam and Ted Raimi.

It’s about a supermarket that is being closed for the night, only to be terrorized by an unknown assailant. This person begins killing the night crew one by one. This movie starts out a little slow, but when the deaths start happening (about 25 minutes in on a 80 min runtime, mind you), they happen fast and furious until the finale. I loved a lot of the clever camera angles and shots they used for this, as well as scene transitions. There were also some nifty bits here and there that you appreciate as a horror fan who thinks they’ve seen it all (I’ve never seen someone’s location be given away via nosebleed, for example). Outside of a abrupt end, this is pretty fun.

#3: The Burning (1981)

Speaking of gore, this one features work from Tom Savini himself, so you know the effects will be top-notch. This is one of the earlier slasher films and while there are some people who love it, it tends to be forgotten since a)it came so soon after Friday the 13th and b) is also at a camp. It’s easy to dismiss The Burning as a ripoff but it’s actually a decent slasher in its own right with a cool killer, neat FX work and a pre-Seinfeld Jason Alexander!

The movie’s killer is Cropsy, a camp caretaker that is burned alive and survives after an accident. He decides to get revenge by killing the residents of a completely unrelated camp (also a prostitute) five years later. Hey, the guy’s crazy, don’t question his motives. The movie is one of the better slasher movies that came out in the wake of Friday the 13th, and could have easily been a sequel in that series with some retooling. Also, I think the trailer is hilarious after Grindhouse has been released.

#2: Basket Case (1982)

Words cannot express how much I love Basket Case, but I’m going to try. This is from the same guy who directed Frankenhooker. This movie is just pure cheese from start to finish. It’s about a man who carries around a basket, containing his brother Belial. They used to be Siamese twins, but Belial was completely deformed and they were separated. Now they are killing off the doctors responsible for the operation one by one.

Belial doesn’t look scary at all, and he can get a tad annoying since all he does is scream. But man, the use of puppetry and even stop motion animation(!) makes this one a really fun watch. It helps that Dwayne is a likable guy too. From what I’ve heard, the sequels are even more insane so I look forward to watching them. Just a really fun ride from start to finish.

#1: Maniac! (1980)

Here comes some Tom Savini work again. This has the infamous scene where he gets his own head blown up with a shotgun. The biggest sell of this movie is Joe Spinell’s performance, as a, well, maniac. He gives a really strong performance that might have earned him awards in a Hollywood production. But since it happens to be in a movie with extreme gore, critics shat all over it. What do they know?

Anyway, Spinell is really good. His character is three-dimensional and is the star of this movie. The problem is that he’s completely nuts and regularly kills and scalps women. This is in the same vein as Henry, even if that film came later. It gets dismissed as just another slasher, when it’s in fact something more. Check it ouf if you’ve never seen it, it’s even on blu-ray now!

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week I’m looking at the best fights in horror. Depending on how many I come up with, it may be a two parter. See you then.


Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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Joseph Lee

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