The horror genre of film is a sea of endless depth, with and endless list of movies from which to choose slasher, possession, ghost, psychological and folk. It’s no wonder that even horror guys like me miss out on some hidden gems and so many good movies get missed. For the past two months, I’ve made a point of watching some horror films that I missed and rewatching some from the 70s and 80s that were overshined by the big brand slasher movies of that time. Here is my current list of the most under valued and underappreciated horror movies of all time.
- Nosferatu (1922) – You should have known I would have this at the top spot. While it made its mark on history and, certainly, the vampire fans know of it, because it is a silent film it is often forgotten and not given its just deserve. This film may be one of the most important films ever made, not just in the horror genre, as it a masterpiece of expressionistic style. This film was based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and, like that writing, has a lot of undertones with some political themes of the time. If you have never seen Count Orlok in this gem, you must watch it.
- The Changeling (1980) – John Russell (George C.Scott), a music composer from New York suffers the tragedy of losing his wife and only child. He moves to Seattle to take a job at his Alma mater as a faculty member and moves into a Victorian mansion owned by the Historical Society. The house has a troubled spirit of a boy that leads Russell, along with his new found friend Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere), into solving a fatal mystery. This is one of the best ghost stories ever on film. Brilliantly directed with great cinematography, it is able to create fear without the big jump scenes.
- The Creature from The Black Lagoon (1954) – One of the many “creature feature” films of the 50’s, this one, directed by Jack Arnold, was one of the earliest to use 3D technology and to feature a woman in an independent role. Like so many of the Universal Monsters (Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man), the Gil-man is a social pariah and misfit and doomed, much like the others, is doomed in romance. This was a very important film in horror.
- Night of the Creeps (1986) – This film follows a group of university students and a detective haunted by his past as they battle an invasion of alien slugs that turn whoever they inhabit into mindless zombies. This film is an homage to the genre, which makes it important. While the main plot of the film is related to zombies, the film also mixes in takes on slashers and alien invasion films.
- The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (1960) – While this isn’t a movie, rather the 22nd episode of the first season of The Twilight Zone, this episode is highly under appreciated by the horror/science fiction world. It was written by Rod Sterling and, in my opinion, one of the best things he ever wrote. Maple Street is a typical suburban street in USA, with kids playing and normal community things going on. But a supposed alien invasion turns the town into a panic and no one can tell who the monster is. I believe the reason this film is undervalued is because of the theme, fear can turn us all into monsters. Remember the crowd who went after Frankenstein’s monster? The men who burned women at the stake in Salem in real life? How about in the latest Halloween movie where the crowd turned into a group of rabid men and women gong after Michael Meyers? Brilliantly done by Rod Sterling and by far my favorite writing by him.
Some others to consider in no particular order
The Prowler (1981) Slasher film
Possession (1981) Theological thriller/horror about demonic possession
Eaten Alive (1974) From the creator of Texas Chainsaw
Session 9 (2001) Just plain creepy
The Awakening (2011) – A haunting movie
Shape of Water (2017) – Reminiscent of Creature from the Black Lagoon theme