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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Tuesday Top 10: Most UNDERRATED Horror Movies

Here's a little something I originally whipped up while I was writing for Barnes & Noble's now-defunct Quamut line of how-to guides (the original title was "How to Scare Yourself Silly"). Those articles are no longer available online, so I'm sharing this here now. Basically, it's a list of ten horror films I find to be underrated. I figured since the last Tuesday Top 10 was the 10 most OVER-rated horror films, it would be a perfect time to dust off this oldie-but-goody.

Whereas the last list consisted of movies that I feel get far more credit than they deserve, this is a bunch of excellent horror flicks that, while often highly regarded by a certain hardcore fan base, do not get nearly as much attention as they warrant. Let me know what you think!

10. Black House (2007)
This overlooked South Korean import slipped under the radar and straight on to DVD in 2008. A white-knuckle cross between a psychological thriller and a slasher flick, it also boasts the most unlikely serial killer in horror movie history (well, aside from Chucky, perhaps).

9. Kiss of the Vampire (1963)
A product of the UK’s legendary Hammer Films, this Victorian tale of unsuspecting honeymooners targeted by a sinister coven of bloodsuckers is fairly dripping with foreboding atmosphere. One of Hammer’s most underrated gems for sure.

8. House by the Cemetery (1981)
Have your barf bag handy, as the Italian master of viscera Lucio Fulci is at his best in this ultra-violent take on the archetypal haunted house tale. For anyone who’s ever been scared to death of their own basement.

7. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Think Anne Rice started the whole “self-hating vampire” shtick? Think again. In this overshadowed sequel to the Bela Lugosi classic, Gloria Holden is both intriguing and chilling as Countess Marya Zaleska, the reluctant nosferatu with a penchant for lesbianism.

6. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
Romantic leading man Rupert Everett, of all people, plays a cemetery custodian who turns zombie-killer when the dearly departed start popping out of their graves. The last great horror film to come from Italy, a country whose fright flicks have long been known for their unflinching brutality.

5. Deranged (1974)
Necrophile murderer Ed Gein is said to have been the inspiration for both Norman Bates and Leatherface, but this bizarre adaptation of the real-life story is by far the most faithful. The killer is portrayed by Roberts Blossom, who played kindly old man Marley in Home Alone, so prepare to have your childhood memories irrevocably altered.

4. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
If you got a kick out of I Am Legend (or even moreso if you didn’t), you’ll definitely go in for this Vincent Price vehicle, the first cinematic adaptation of the original 1954 Richard Matheson novel. While the Will Smith version is more of an action flick, Last Man keeps the focus on the nail-biting terror of Matheson’s book.

3. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)
Featuring some of the creepiest music ever put to celluloid, this unrelentingly grim Spanish chiller from director Amando de Ossorio recounts what happens when undead crusaders return from their centuries-long slumber in search of human blood. The skeletal “blind dead” are the most haunting movie monsters you’ll ever witness.

2. The Grapes of Death (1978)
An enthralling cross between arthouse and grindhouse, this gory French offering about rural villagers transformed into homicidal maniacs by chemically treated wine feels like a nightmare come to life. It gets points for the most original horror premise, plus keep an eye out for the crucifixion/beheading scene.

1. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
An often overlooked chestnut that came out a full four years before George Romero’s groundbreaking Dawn of the Dead, this macabre masterpiece tells the story of flesh-hungry ghouls roaming the English countryside as a result of crop-dusting radiation. Also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue.


the jaded viewer said...

Glad to see Dellamorte Dellamore on the list...as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Awesome films that everybody should see.

Robert Ring said...

Whenever someone makes a list like this, I HAVE to mention The Sadist. Best. C-level movie. ever.

deadlydolls said...

I agree 100% with Tombs of the Blind Dead. Made during such a rush of zombie films, but this one had me actually holding my breath. As for the rest, lots I have to check out again!

Neil Sarver said...

Great list. Two of those were on my top horror movies list a couple of years back, the rest are all terrific.

Christopher Zenga said...

If I could add a personal fave of mine.
Children Shouldent play With Dead Things
Aside from that, stellar list B

Later days


B-Sol said...

These are all basically films I usually recommend to fellow horror fans who've seen all the "usual suspects". Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things is another good one--I've never seen The Sadist.

Christine Hadden said...

I just picked up The Last Man on Earth a few days ago in a set of 20 vampire flicks - well worth the $7.50 purchase price...

Great list. Love Dracula's Daughter... and Fulci - Yes!

Unknown said...

I simply must see House by the Cemetery now. Your description has me foaming at the mouth.

BC said...

Nice choice for BLACK HOUSE. Really dug that one. Keep meaning to seek out BRAIN WAVE, the director's previous film (more sci-fi than horror, but that's OK).

B-Sol said...

$7.50 for 20 vampire flicks, nice! Ryne, House by the Cemetery is actually my favorite Fulci movie, it's amazing. And Brian, I was amazed that Black House seemed to come and go without many saying much about it. Quite a unique little picture.

forestofthedead said...

I own House By The Cemetery in widescreen VHS format and have the Fright Rags shirt. Yeah, I like.

Thanks for this list!

B-Movie Becky said...

Great post! About half of these were already on my Netflix, but I actually haven't seen a single film on this list!!! Crazy! Thanks for the recommendations!

Theron said...

I still think Last Man on Earth is the best version of this story. No one can beat Vincent Price—not even Will Smith. (Chuck Heston, maybe. But he'd need a gun.)

B-Sol said...

Excellent, happy to spread the word about these terrific movies! Becky, you're in for a few treats on your Netflix queue. And Ron, I agree--Last Man is the best adaptation of Matheson's story.

Will Errickson said...

BLACK HOUSE (which I hadn't even *hard* of!) is the only one I haven't seen; otherwise, I pretty much agree with this list! That's rare.

The Costuminatrix said...

You pulled out BLACK HOUSE! So glad to see others who liked that movie. In a sea of less-than-satisfactory J-horror films (I'm a bit of a gourmand on that particular genre and will watch it whether it's bad, good, indifferent) BLACK HOUSE was a well-paced, creepy find. Nice choice.

B-Sol said...

Thank you, I too felt it really stoof out amidst the seemingly neverending waves of Asian horror films. But got kind of lost in the shuffle, unfortunately.

Robert Ring said...

"I've never seen The Sadist."

Few people have. I recommend an immediate rental.

I Like Horror Movies said...

The only one I would have left off is HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, which has never sat well with me, but each of the other zombie entries and especially LSCL are well deserving of their rank! I have always been a fan of BLOOD MOON, DAGON, and CASTLE FREAK, each of which would top my list. Great work as always B!

John W. Morehead said...

Good list. If I added my own it would include Legend of Hell House, Martin, and Dead and Buried.

B-Sol said...

All worthy titles, John--especially Martin.

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