Wednesday, October 3, 2012

FIVE GREAT HORROR FILMS YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF (BUT MUST SEE!)


As the witching hour draws nigh, you may find yourself in the mood for some Halloween horror. And if you can’t get to all the new thrillers opening at your local Cineplex this October, I have some recommendations for you that can be enjoyed at home. They may not be classics like "The Exorcist" or "The Shining", but they're superb and worth scaring up this season.


THE DESCENT (2005)
THE DESCENT is a British horror film that frankly, is the scariest movie I’ve witnessed in the last 10 years. The story concerns a caving expedition that goes awry when one of its five explorers gets injured. As her friends try to get her out of the cave, they discover that they’re not alone. Mutant humans, who’ve lived there for centuries, are chasing them. What follows is an action-packed movie in the most claustrophobic of settings. It’s intense and clever and scary as hell.

THE NIGHT STALKER (1972)
This TV-movie about an intrepid tabloid reporter (Darren McGavin) covering the killing spree of a Las Vegas vampire spawned a TV show, a comic book series and a cult following that is still going strong. (I lauded this movie’s vampire in one of my earliest posts as the Chicago Examiner's horror movie critic: http://exm.nr/LIlegL) Clocking in at only 74 minutes, this tale is short but terrifying. Kolchak, the reporter, is brave and brazenly funny. He’s also as driven as the villainous vampire, and the title refers to them both.


THE EYE (2002)
This is one of the greatest Japanese horror movies ever. A beautiful blind woman gets an eye transplant and suddenly she starts experiencing otherworldly visions. At first she believes them to be shadows, but the images start revealing more and more to her. She discovers that they’re the ghosts of dead people. Why is she seeing such things? And does the previous owner’s eyes have something to do with it? Watch and find out, and see how many times you’ll be hiding your eyes from the haunts in this film.


THEATER OF BLOOD (1973)
Vincent Price’s name has been synonymous with horror for decades. (I wrote an appreciation of him here: http://bit.ly/T1sti0) And this bloody black comedy may contain his finest performance ever. He plays a Shakespearean actor who seeks revenge on his critics after being passed over for a coveted prize. He starts killing them off, one by one, according to murders contained in the Bard’s plays. Price straddles the line perfectly between being frightening and funny. And this film comes with a special fringe benefit to it too. Price met his wife Coral Browne while shooting, and the chemistry between them here is electric. How fitting too, since her critic character in this movie is electrocuted at a hair salon!


LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
This Swedish thriller is subtitled, but don’t let that discourage you from renting this brilliantly moody film about two lonely children who become friends. One is an odd and eccentric boy, bullied daily at school. The other is a girl who happens to be a vampire. But she’s not the only monster in this movie. The stark, cold winter setting is just as vicious, as are the young hero’s tormentors. It’s an eerie coming of age tale. Or in her case, ages and ages.

Now, if you must watch JAWS or ALIEN for the umpteenth time, by all means, go ahead. They're terrific. But I think you should expand your horror horizons with these five. Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls

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