You don’t need to visit RottenTomatoes.com to find scary horror movies to watch this time of year.
The list is obvious: The Shining. Halloween. Night of the Living Dead. The Exorcist. And, if you like to be scared without a drop of fake blood being shed, perhaps The Blair Witch Project.
What if you’ve seen those movies so many times you could act out them out in your living room?
Why not give the following horror films a try? They didn’t make a splash at the box office, assuming they even made it to a theater near you. Critics didn’t rush to sing their praises.
They’re terrifying all the same. So following are some suggestions for unusually scary, lesser known horror flicks to enjoy this Halloween. Just don’t turn out the lights!
Splinter (2008) – Four squabbling souls. One empty convenience store. A strange creature unlike anything we’ve seen before. That’s all you get from this unsung thriller, and it’s more than enough. This lo-fi treat is anchored by sublime character actor Sheaf Whigham of Boardwalk Empire fame. He’s the bad guy you can’t help but like, even if he’s creepier than the titular beast.
Housebound (2014) – It’s the New Zealand horror-comedy we’ve been waiting for! Hollywood is already talking about a U.S. remake of the story. Why bother? The original is an unabashed treat. A young woman (Morgana O’Reilly) is forced to move back in with her parents after getting busted by the cops. Turns out the family’s home teems with spirits, complicating her efforts to cope with her annoying parents. Equal parts creepy and funny, Housebound is so good you’ll wonder why more people aren’t talking about it.
The Sacrament (2014) – Director Ti West is known for his slow burn horror yarns (The House of the Devil). Here, he tells a tale that feels ripped out of the headlines. A group of journalists visit a “utopian” compound led by the enigmatic “Father” (a flat-out great Gene Jones). Could this community be as peaceful as it claims? It’s hardly a spoiler to say things aren’t quite as they appear. Jones’ performance alone is worth watching.
Eden Lake (2008) – Michael Fassbender is a superstar today, but a few years back he took a licking in this grisly shocker. He and co-star Kelly Reilly play a young couple eager for some time alone in the woods. Their tranquility is shattered by some nasty teens who turn their vacation into a nightmare. Eden Lake isn’t for the squeamish, but it’s a taut, terrifying tale you won’t soon forget.
The Blob (1988) – The 1958 original is pure camp, with hoary special effects and a young Steve McQueen trying not to embarrass himself. The remake got precious little attention, and that’s a shame. It throws audiences a knee-buckling curve right out of the gate, and it only gets better from there. Kevin Dillon, looking like the sixth member of Bon Jovi, is forced into hero mode when a globular beastie descends on his town.
Hush (2016) – This Netflix original movie might be a horror classic someday. For now, it’s an inventive shocker that makes the streaming service all the better. Kate Siegel, who co-wrote the film with director Mike Flanagan, stars as an author who won’t let being deaf slow her down. It does make fending off a home intruder that much harder, though. That original premise gives Hush an edge over other home invasion thrillers. The film’s brainy heroine and gut-punch shocks make it a must-see choice for horror fans.
They’re Watching (2016) – Most horror movie characters are lucky to have even one dimension. The poor souls trapped in this spoof of home improvement shows are different. They’re quirky, funny, and often relatable. That counts when they’re threatened by a demonic presence. They’re Watching can be very funny, but the final 20 minutes delivers the kind of bloodletting gore that horror fanatics crave.
Tourist Trap (1979) – In almost every way, this low-budget thriller is a product of its time. The acting isn’t first rate. The cinematography can be crude. The cast includes Tanya Roberts of Charlie’s Angels fame. Yet when the villain starts making mannequins come alive you’ll scramble for your movie room’s light switch.