5 Favorite Underrated Horror Films
In my high school years, my dad bought a horror collection he had dug out of the $5 movie bin at Walmart. This was the beginning of a traditional obsession he has gracefully passed on to me, a tradition in which a person watches hours of horror films in order to prepare for an unexpected turn of events. Some horror films can be extremely masterful despite the extremely low production budget, others could be included in a recipe with macaroni. Regardless, I wanted to write about five of my very favorite under-the-radar horror films which stick out among hours of fake blood, people in the woods, and characters saying “let’s split up.”
1) Drive Thru (Lions Gate Films, 2007)
The Plot: There’s a clown (demon? Ghost?) who wants revenge.
Why You Should Watch: This movie is my ultimate favorite horror film. While some criticize the plot for being overdone, I find myself rooting for the villain (for the most part). He has clever lines, one of the most badass bedrooms I’ve ever seen, and the circumstances of his human death are not at all acceptable! There are funny moments scattered throughout the movie which I continue to quote after watching it, and the visuals seem masterful yet so whimsical at the same time. The film also provides a great cast of under the radar actors including Gossip Girl naturals Penn Badgley and Leighton Meester, who join Fired Up!’s Nicholas D’Acosto. If you aren’t crazy about clowns this might not be a good fit, but I wholeheartedly recommend it—especially because Horny the Clown is a cuddly teddy bear in comparison to the Clowns from Outer Space.
Note: Please let me know if anyone else likes this movie, because I have forced it on some friends in hopes of similar opinions, but always have little success.
Nausea Meter (out of 5): 4. Most of the gory stuff looks fake, but there are some very unpleasant ways of death! (Also, check out the nasty burger being advertised through the movie)
Nightmare Meter: (out of 5): 2. Honestly the movie didn’t scare me that much.
2) Class of 1999 (Lightning Pictures, 1990)
The Plot: It is the year 1999. Everything is chaotic due to lack of proper law enforcement, and everything is run by gangs. To balance this out, creepy robotic teachers are implemented in school.
Why You Should Watch: Everything about this movie screams eighties. Don’t let the year the movie was made fool you, it was filmed in the eighties. From the graphics to the prediction of the future in a mere nine years to insult lines such as: “Man you are so full of sh**. Your eyes are the color of…what color are his eyes?” “Well they sure aren’t black.” Despite the over cheesiness, the film has great visuals, and expresses a dystopian society cleverly—the whole movie exudes what cool should be. Most of the costumes in this movie combine neon colors seen in movies like Thrashin’ with dirty “hoodlum” leather getups Rufio from Hook would be proud of. Add legend Malcolm McDowell to the mix, playing a principal, and the result is genius.
Naseau Meter (out of five): 0. Unless discombobulated machinery offends you, you’ll most likely keep your stomach of steel (ha).
Nightmare Meter (out of five): 0. I Honestly have no idea why this movie is even in one of my family’s “Horror” collections, but I’m so glad I found it. I’m convinced that artificial intelligence will take over, but these robo-teachers have nothing on the prototypes of I, Robot.
3) Cry_Wolf (Rogue Pictures, 2005)
The Plot: A group of students decide to spread an urban serial killer legend on campus, which soon backfires as event point to a real killer on campus.
Why You Should Watch: As a fan of games in general, I love that this film feels like a chessboard. While many reviews I come across bash the movie for posing as a slasher flick, I feel that mixing slasher elements with thriller and mystery components works skillfully in this case. Each time I watch it I know how it ends, but following how the plot gets from point A to B is always interesting. The film can also be seen as a commentary on sociology in addition to psychology, the power of gossip, and as Bon Jovi says “the arrogance of youth.” Bonus: Jared Padalecki is in this! You know, Sam from Supernatural!
Naseau Meter (out of five): 1. There is a little bit of gore, but most of my stomach flops come from the suspense.
Nightmare Meter: 0. The killer is fairly realistic, but no bad dreams.
4) Demonic Toys (Full Moon Entertainment, 1992)
The Plot: “When a sixty-six-year-old demon with the power to bring toys to life is awakened, he goes in search of a body to inhibit” (from box summary)
Why You Should Watch: I have wasted hours of my life watching horror movies to the point where many start running together. This isn’t the case with Demonic Toys, which I filed in my mind under “interesting” after a first viewing. The appealing thing about this movie is how straightforward the plot is. I don’t get lost in complexity, and it’s not so overly cheesy that you want to chuck a shoe at the TV. It’s simply an amusing movie.
Nausea Meter (out of five): 2. I was a little surprised at how much damage evil toys could do and squirmed a little, but not too bad.
Nightmare Meter (out of five): Going into the movie I thought I was going to have nightmares of evil toys growing up. I was surprised when this movie turned out to be more musing than disturbing, probably because it feels like an eighties gem.
5) Mortuary (Echo Bridge Entertainment, 2005)
The Plot: A family moves into a funeral home with really bad plumbing.
Why You Should Watch: I still don’t get what this movie is about after watching it several times, but I think that’s the whole point. It’s hard to believe that the same director who made Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw threw this baby together, but as someone who accepts nonsense I don’t judge. My dad and I love making fun of this movie, and I feel like director Tobe Hooper does too. Also, I love Dan Byrd (Easy A, Cougartown). In anything.
Naseau Meter (out of five): 3. There is like…a lot of mold in that house.
Nightmare Meter (out of five): 0. I got nothing.