If you're like me, you enjoy finding "hidden gems," so I decided to create a list of good horror/suspense movies that have been unfairly overlooked over the years. Of course, "overlooked" is a relative term, so I decided to define it as films that have received fewer than 500 votes on IMDb
as of the time of publication. I hope to make this list an ongoing effort that will grow as I come across more movies that fit the mold, so check back often, and feel free to suggest
your own hidden gems.
36 Pasos (2009)
© Maya Entertainment
Before Cold Sweat
and Here Comes the Devil
, writer-director Adrián García Bogliano helmed this gritty low-budget Argentinian production, AKA 36 Steps
, that has a premise that sounds like typical "torture porn" -- six young women are kidnapped and held captive -- but is treated with unique flair. The women aren't chained in a dingy basement; they're free to roam around a luxurious house with a pool and tennis court. The catch is that a hulking Leatherface-type character with a sledgehammer will pop up if the rules are broken: they must be happy, they must dance on cue, they must stay on the grounds, they must follow directions on mysterious notes. It all plays like a warped version of The Real World
, with a wicked sense of humor and surreal, kinetic direction propelling the twisty plot.
Al Final del Espectro (2006)
Sort of a Columbian version of an Asian horror movie, Al Final del Espectro
features the familiar female ghost with long, dark, stringy hair, this time in a Columbian setting. The film presents the intriguing scenario of an agoraphobic woman whose new apartment is haunted, meaning she must decide whether it's worse to stay in her comfort zone with a ghost or venture out into the non-haunted public world. A remake
starring Nicole Kidman, called At the End of the Spectra
, was at one point slated to go into production, but that now appears to be dead.
Blood on the Highway (2010)
If you don't mind the low production value, you'll find plenty of laughs in the raunchy dialogue, over-the-top characters and sly social commentary of this vampire flick that plays like Clerks meets From Dusk Till Dawn.
The Boneyard (1991)
© Zia Home Entertainment
A grisly fun tale about ancient demons disguised as decayed child corpses that come to life in a morgue and trap a group of workers inside. Creative creature design (including a mutant poodle), well-rounded characters, a strong cast highlighted by comedy veterans Phyllis Diller and Norman Fell and a refreshingly unconventional heroine (a portly, middle-aged woman) make this a real stand-out.
The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
Enjoyable horror-comedy farce featuring a series of convoluted madcap antics centered around a woman who buys a hotel with a mad scientist living in the basement (and no discernible "boogie man," despite the title), featuring surprisingly lighthearted performances from horror legends Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, along with a strong supporting cast of comedic actors.
Cemetery of Terror (1985)
© BCI Eclipse
Mexican flick, AKA Zombie Apocalypse
, proves that cinematic teenagers are stupid in any language. On Halloween night, a group of teens thinks it's a good idea to sneak into an abandoned house and use a satanic book they find to raise the dead. It's such a good idea, in fact, that they go out of their way to break into a morgue and steal a body suitable for raising. Too bad for them they end up stealing a claw-handed satanic serial killer. Bad things ensue, including a rousing ending that turns the film from a slasher into an all-out zombie movie.
Corpse Mania (1981)
This grisly Hong Kong fare is part slasher and part exploitation sleaze about a serial killer with a penchant for necrophilia -- even when the corpse is covered with maggots. It's fascinatingly icky stuff, kind of like a Far East version of Maniac
Crooked House (2008)
© Tiger Aspect Productions
This centuries-spanning British anthology aired on BBC as a miniseries in three 30-minute episodes, each telling a ghost story
from a different era set in and around the same cursed house and each creepier than the one before it. This is classic, old-fashioned haunted house stuff.
The Echo (2004)
© Regal Entertainment
In this creepy, twisty Philippine film, AKA Sigaw
, a man recently released from prison moves into his deceased mother's apartment and discovers that ghosts frequent his floor. Its 2009 remake
was more widely seen, but the original is the superior movie.
What begins as a slow-moving drama about the behind-the-scenes workings of a horror movie shoot turns into something much darker midway through when we discover that the crew has something sinister in mind for the special effects guy (Day of the Dead's Joseph Pilato). In real life, horror icon Tom Savini provided the special effects for the film.