Some Underrated Horror Gems to Check Out this Halloween

Eraserhead

David Lynch is one of my personal favorite directors, and this is his directorial debut. It is one of the most frightening and disturbing films I have ever seen. Surrealism is his forte, and that is the most prominent feature of this film. It is a steady increase in ever more creepy imagery. It takes elements such as black humor, erotic imagery, filming in black and white that actually looks and sounds like a black and white movie from the fifties, and oddly convincing acting and presents them in such an unprecedented way. The film as a whole is a genuinely unique experience. It’s only fitting that both Eraserhead and Lynch’s next film, The Elephant Man, would be near the top of my top ten favorite movies. (5/5)

HellraiserHellbound: Hellraiser 2, and Hellraiser: Inferno

Yes, yes, you’ve already seen me gush about how amazing the original Hellraiser is, and how much of a visionary Clive Barker is. And the second one is pretty good too. It’s great to see Kirsty’s story continue, we get to see the Cenobites again and learn more about who they are, we get introduced to new and interesting characters, we even get a look at the Hell the Cenobites come from, and Christopher Young ups the ante on the soundtrack. But Hellraiser: Inferno is not only either as good or almost as good as the original, but it explores an entirely new set of themes that the original didn’t. Its director, Scott Derrickson, went on to direct the decent The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the fantastic and terrifying Sinister, and the underrated Deliver Us from Evil, and he’s even going to be directing Doctor Strange. Check out only these three Hellraiser movies though, as the rest suck. (5/5, 4.5/5, 4.5 or 5/5)

Bug

From William Friedkin, who directed The Exorcist, comes one of the most unbearably intense films I have ever seen. Seriously, I was almost shaking as I sat on my bed and watched this. This film is one of the best showcases of schizophrenia and paranoia I have ever seen. I love how Ashley Judd’s instability and need for something to believe is so swiftly dominated by Michael Shannon’s talk of governmental conspiracies and experimentation. The way Shannon talks makes it sound almost legitimate. He is just so convincing when he talks about being experimented on by the government and having had bugs implanted under his skin. I scared myself when I realized I was almost believing him. I scared myself even more when I realized that the movie wasn’t going to tell me whether or not he was actually correct. And what makes Shannon such a creepy character is that he believes wholeheartedly that he is the picture of sanity. To see him dominate Judd’s fragile mindset and bring her down to his level is terrifying. The last twenty minutes of this movie is palpably intense, and by the time the movie is over, you are not only exhausted, but feeling a little less sane. This movie not only gets under your skin, but you only realize it when it’s finally brought to your attention. This is one of the darkest and bleakest movies I have ever seen, but it’s absolutely fascinating. Judd and Shannon act so beautifully that they achieve this maniacal intensity as they work off each other, and you believe that these two are absolutely insane. Oh, and there’s that one scene; you can shoot people, decapitate them, dismember them, or disembowel them, but when you start messing with their teeth, audiences scream and squirm. This movie is absolutely fantastic. If I had to point out a flaw, it’s that I wish that the movie had gone a little farther into the truly depraved depths of insanity in its purest form, and that the camerawork was a little better in the first act. Other than that, I cannot recommend this movie enough. You will be shaking in your seat by the time this movie is over. Not “you might” but “you will“. (5/5)

Sinister

Back to Scott Derrickson. I may as well mention Sinister. This movie breathed new life into the boogeyman in one of his most terrifying incarnations ever. The character of Bagul/Bughuul (I’ve seen it spelled both ways) is absolutely terrifying. I love that even when he’s not onscreen, you feel his presence. I love just how evil he is in manipulating children to kill their families. This is who I look to as a fantastic example of a truly evil supernatural being as a horror villain. I love how the film relied almost entirely on atmosphere and was absolutely dripping with it. I love how it let the suspense build itself. I loved how the few jumpscares were not only not fake, but they were deliberately placed, added to the tension, and, above all, they were earned. The lawnmower scene is one of the best executed and most shocking jumpscares in horror history, being up there with the nurse station head chopper from Exorcist 3. I love how the characters felt like a real family that I could actually care about and feel genuine fear for. I love that Deputy So-and-So was not comic relief like I was expecting him to be; rather, he was smart but starstruck, and even outsmarted the main character. I love how the majority of decisions in he movie were not the typical stupid ones you see in everyday horror flicks. I love how much of the film focuses on darkness and black space, and the actual lighting is impeccable. I love its refusal to use CGI. I love the claustrophobic feel. I love how it starts out as a crime drama and transitions beautifully into a supernatural horror film. I love all the hints the movie drops that you’ll only pick up on if you watch the movie more than once. I love how they constructed the scene in which the ghost kids chase the main character through the house. Christopher Young strikes again with his fantastic and terrifying soundtrack. No cheap jumpscares. No comic relief. No stupid decisions. No happy ending. It’s easily one of the best and most terrifying films in recent years. I’m just sad that it ends on a jumpscare. Go see it. (5/5)

Perfect Blue

This is one of my personal favorite animated films. Rarely have I ever seen loss of innocence and a descent into madness portrayed as well as in Perfect Blue. Our main character is likable and interesting, the story is engaging and intense, and the animation is fantastic. Suspense of disbelief is nowhere to be found here. It’s confusing, but the confusion actually makes the film better. It shares similarities with Italian giallo films, in particular having a very Dario Argento feel. The similarities to Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal PlumageSuspiriaDeep Red, and Opera are prevalent. This movie inspired such films as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. Check it out. (5/5)

The Woman in Black (2012)

When it comes to Daniel Radcliffe, comparing Harry Potter to Arthur Kipps is like comparing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to The Exorcist. The guy has some serious acting chops. He does splendidly playing a single father going through hard times. And the movie relies so heavily on Radcliffe’s performance. It’s great to see him, as well as the great Ciaran Hinds, in a horror movie, and a damn good horror movie at that. This movie is scary. Actually scary. Yes, there are jumpscares, but the movie earns every one of them. The movie is dripping with atmosphere. This is one of few movies that can combine a mostly gray color scheme with a dark, gloomy, dreary atmosphere and make it work. The slow reveal of what has caused the haunting is wonderfully done. I would say that it looks inspired by the Japanese horror mythology from movies like Ju-on and Ringu, but this was based on a book. The Woman in Black herself is a legitimately scary villain, and even when she’s not onscreen, you can definitely feel her presence. This is definitely a refreshing break from bloody chaos, choosing to rely more on slowly-building dread and its use of deafening silence and blinding darkness. It’s a scary freaking movie, and it is severely underappreciated. (3.5/5)

Repulsion

Okay, I’m not going to mention Roman Polanski’s child rape controversy. This is Roman Polanski before he did Rosemary’s Baby. This is another fantastically done descent into madness, though this one has much more prevalent sexual themes of frustration and repulsion. The fear here is subtle, and it perfectly executes the Slow Build. The rape scenes that the main character hallucinates show no nudity, but are absolutely terrifying. The convincing acting adds to the oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere. For it only being Polanski’s second movie, this one truly showed that he had a firm grasp on filmmaking as an art. This is a great film, and it deserves to be remembered. Seriously, it’s in danger of being forgotten. Go see it. (5/5)

The Burning

Yeah, this is what Madman ripped its idea from. This is definitely my favorite of the post-Halloween and pre-Scream barrage of slashers. Seriously. Its characters are actually likable. They feel real. The killer actually has a legitimately good motive, even though his method of disfigurement is a little convenient. The gore is fantastic; it was done by Tom Savini, how could it not be? Even though the killings don’t really start until the last half hour of the movie, the characters are still interesting and engaging enough to keep you interested in what’s happening. Give this one a shot. (3.5/5)

Sleepaway Camp

I have to give this one a shoutout because of just how much love, effort, blood, sweat, and tears went into the making of this movie. This is definitely my second favorite of the post-Halloween and pre- Scream slashers. Much of what I said for The Burning also applies to Sleepaway Camp. Though the characters feel genuine and are engaging enough to keep you interested, this movie also features two of the most intentionally hateable characters ever. The child acting is really good. And everyone knows about that ending. But seriously, wow. Those who haven’t seen the movie will not only not see it coming, but will find it legitimately shocking. Check it out. But don’t check out the sequels. (3.5/5)

El Orfanato (The Orphanage)

I don’t so much consider this a horror film, rather than a supernatural drama. This film got to me on a personal level with just how personal and character-driven the story was. The camerawork is simple and elegant, and the world the characters live in is unforgiving. Its scary sequences are expertly subtle. It creates atmosphere rather than relying on cheap thrills. When it keeps its sound effects and music to a minimum, you don’t realize just how suspenseful the movie has become until the suspense has risen to such undeniably high levels. And when the scares themselves are executed, without any typical cues, mind you, they are damn effective. Combine it all with amazing, sympathetic characters, fantastic acting, a disturbing backstory slowly revealed to you over the course of the film, and a final act that tugs at your heartstrings, this film is one of the most beautifully bittersweet ghost stories in recent years. It has become one of my personal favorites. El Orfanato was produced by Guillermo del Toro, and much like his legendary El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), it’s an astoundingly brilliant story about children but for adults. If you want a del-Toro-style movie in the same vein as El Laberinto del Fauno and have a decently large attention span, you will absolutely adore it. I’m still cursing myself for putting off watching this one for so long. Oh, and the R rating? No. Not even close. (5/5)

Crimson Peak

Again, not one I would consider a horror movie. Rather, a love story with supernatural elements. Guillermo del Toro is freaking amazing. He’s very much a visual director, as the movie as a whole looks damn near perfect; camerawork, sets, lighting, costumes, props, CGI, and everything visual. It’s a slow-burner, and it’s a fantastic throwback to Victorian-era gothic novels. Jessica Chastain was born to play the role of Lucille Sharpe, and Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston also do remarkably well. It’s nice to see Tom Hiddleston play something different from Loki. Though Crimson Peak is a ghost story, the ghosts are not only not the main focus, but the scariest scenes on the movie involve interactions between our three main characters. Though the CGI is absolutely excellent, the film still feels very much like a period piece. Though it’s arguably one of del Toro’s weaker films, it is still a damn good movie. Go see it. (4/5)

The Neon Demon

Again, not exactly a horror film, but definitely a disturbing one. This is very much a “love it or hate it” film. Definitely one of the most visually striking films I’ve seen all year. Visuals are clearly Nicolas Winding Refn’s forte. I’m serious, the movie looks gorgeous. I admire Refn’s control over color. This is yet another “loss of innocence” story; I love seeing the lovely Elle Fanning’s character evolve from soft-spoken new contestant in the fashion industry to success-induced full-blown narcissist. The film as a whole has a very creepy mood, and the third act becomes ungodly disturbing. To say anything more would spoil the movie. Go see it. (4.5/5)

1408

More of a supernatural and psychological thriller than a horror film. This is one of the strongest adaptations of a Stephen King story to date, featuring great performances from John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s fun and simple, but dripping with dread, paranoia, and even claustrophobia. It’s another film in which the creepy crap can’t be explicitly attributed to Cusack either going bonkers or actually being trapped in an “evil f-cking room”, though the question is answered in the final few seconds of the movie. The room as a whole holds a decently evil vibe. It is PG-13, so rather than rely on gore for shock value, it relies on helpless situations, personal drama, and actually spooky stuff to elicit fear. Check it out. (4/5)

The VVitch

For some reason, despite the critical acclaim, audience reception was generally negative…for all the wrong reasons. And that’s not okay, America! For shame! Complaints that the characters speak Old English in a film set in the 1600s are not legitimate in the slightest! I have never seen a film so perfectly replicate the style, tone, and constantly nagging sense of dread of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. It’s a perfect balance of terror as you realize you can’t explicitly say whether the events in the film can be attributed to an evil supernatural force from the woods or the hysteria of isolation and the fear of God’s wrath. This film made me think. It even made me think about my religious beliefs: do I believe in a loving, kind, and forgiving God and worship and obey Him because I want to, or do I believe in an angry, strict, and vengeful God and worship and obey Him because I have to? And what are the psychological ramifications of the former and the latter? This is practically a love letter to fans of Kubrick. Check it out! (5/5)

 

Spring

Again, not one I would explicitly call a horror film. But this is one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen. The soft focus and slightly-washed-out look only adds to the overall gorgeousness of these shots. But beyond the amazing camerawork, this is also one of the most passionate love stories of the decade. Imagine Linklater’s Before Sunrise but with a surreal feel, deeper and more contemplative dialogue, better camerawork, and a monstrous twist. The acting is fantastic, the characters are endearing, and the story is wonderfully told. (5/5)

Last Shift

Easily one of the best horror movies of the past few years. I have referred to this as the example of how to do jumpscares correctly, but it’s much more than that. This movie depended almost entirely on the performance of Juliana Harkavy, and she did damn good. To say the least of how scary this movie is, about two-thirds of the way into the movie, the suspense and terror had become so palpable that I had to pause the movie. And as I took a breather, I actually thought, Oh my gosh, do I really want to watch this? Yes, that’s right; this movie was so scary that I almost stopped watching. That’s good press enough to go see it. (5/5)

 

Ginger Snaps

This movie puts a nice little twist on the werewolf genre. When Ginger is bitten by a werewolf, she slowly starts to transform into one over the course of the movie. But her oncoming lycanthropy is also a metaphor for puberty. As she’s slowly transforming into a werewolf, she’s also undergoing the bodily changes that happen in the teenage years. She’s becoming a woman; a sexy, sultry woman that all the guys drool over. Puberty is a scary time. All the changes in her body confuse her, and she doesn’t know if her hunger, desire, and ravenous instincts are for sex or blood. The movie is bloody and violent enough as it is, but it threw puberty into the mix. Do the math. Men who watch this will balk at the blood, but the women will understand that the movie is, for example, about having your first period. But on top of all the metaphors, when the lycanthropy finally takes hold, we have a terrifying and ungodly brutal final act. I love the scene in which Bridget is in the food storage closet with the door shut; Ginger is in werewolf form and is brutalizing Sam on the other side; we only see it from Bridget’s perspective as she sees that something is slamming into the door from the other side, almost breaking it, and Sam is screaming in agony as Ginger tears him apart; then all goes quiet and Bridget sees the blood slowly flow under the door and into the room. And as the rest of the climax progresses, we realize in horror what Ginger has become. It’s as crazy as it sounds. It’s one of the best werewolf movies period. It’s as good as if not better than An American Werewolf in London. Check it out! (4.5/5)

Frailty

Again, more of a thriller than a straightforward horror movie, though this is pretty scary. This is an interesting little gem that came out of nowhere, bombed at the box office, and is seriously underappreciated. Bill Paxton shows that he can direct as well as act. Though this is a movie about a serial killer, the majority of the story is told through flashback. The hidden genius of this story is that you never truly know what’s going on until the very end. The plot never stops twisting, and the final few twists at the end are masterfully crafted and devastating. I think the reason nobody was interested in seeing it was that the flashbacks involve these two young boys dealing with their serial killer father, who has been given a vision from God, who has given him the power to see people who are actually demons and told him to kill these people. I love the dynamics between the father and his sons; the father, who is killing people who he thinks are demons in the name of God, the older son who thinks his dad has gone crazy, and the younger son who thinks his dad is a hero joyfully buys into his dad’s delusions. But are they actually delusions? Bill Paxton plays this father, and he does a damn good job playing both a kind, loving, gentle father and a ruthless, merciless killer. The child actors playing the two boys are also damn good. But the best part of the movie is that the real villains of the movie are not who you think they are. Though you may be thinking that Bill Paxton and eventually one of his sons are the villains and that they are suffering from manic delusions that originate from blind faith, that thought will be turned on its head as you learn more and more about this story. This film handles the themes of faith, family, and the death of innocence in such a unique way. The film’s R rating is questionable; though it is undoubtedly a very mature film, the majority of the film’s violence is offscreen or obscured. This film, rather than rely on blood, gore, and shock value, chooses a more subtle and slow-burn approach as it gradually explores the relationships between our three main characters, and in the present day, you begin to ask yourself just how Matthew McConaughey’s character knows as much as he does. It’s one of the most expertly crafted thrillers in recent years. (5/5)

Late Phases

Another werewolf movie, though I would not consider it a horror movie. It’s very much about a blind, old, gruff Vietnam vet spending the next month after witnessing a werewolf attack preparing for it to strike again. How often do you see a blind, old, gruff Vietnam vet as the main character, and have the majority of the movie be set in a retirement community? It’s nice not to have to deal with yet another social everyman living in the suburbs of Vancouver or whatever major city. The movie depended so much on Nick Damici’s performance, especially his ability to act out blindness, and he did pretty good. Though the actual werewolf effects look more like bipedal monsters than werewolves, they are pretty well done and are definitely threatening. The movie has a lot of heart, and I’m glad it’s more character-driven than most movies I normally see. Give it a shot! (4/5)

Oculus

Mike Flanagan is a rising star in the horror movie business. After striking gold with Absentia, he adapted his short film Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With the Plan into a feature-length movie. And it is great. It’s yet another application of the idea that none of the scary stuff in the film can be explicitly attributed to real life, hallucinations in the minds of our mentally unstable protagonists, or hallucinations induced by the allegedly evil mirror. The movie is brilliant at screwing with your head. And the ending is absolutely devastating. That this is not recognized as a great film is insane. Check it out! Also, I need to personally thank him for saving the Ouija franchise. (4.5/5)

Evil Dead (it’s not a remake, it’s another sequel)

This was the ninth film I reviewed on this blog. This isn’t exactly a remake, so much as a pseudo-sequel. This movie knows exactly how to use a crap ton of blood to accentuate a film that is already scary and great without it. There is almost zero CGI. And those effing scary faces. This is the film that introduced me to the gorgeous Jane Levy, director Fede Alvarez (who now is affirmedly fantastic with the recent Don’t Breathe), and the masterful composer Roque Banos. Even those who don’t like this film can’t deny that the soundtrack is effing fantastic. The movie is actually more character-driven than the original The Evil Dead. And I’m so effing sad that there will be no sequel. (4.5/5)

The Hills Have Eyes (remake)

I have praised this movie time and time again as one of the scariest and most disturbing movies I have seen thus far. Though I like the original, I still think that the remake actually improves upon it. It’s significantly grittier and more brutal. I have praised the villains time and time again as terrifying and threatening. I literally breathed a sigh of relief when they blessedly died. The attack scene is one of the most shocking and hard-to-watch scenes I have ever had the opportunity to watch. The characters are well-acted and interesting, and it is devastating when some die. This is one of few horror movies that isn’t filled with characters making stupid decisions. This is also a movie in which the abundant gore accentuates a movie that is still scary without it. It is one of the best damn remakes I have seen. And the sequel isn’t half bad, either. (4.5/5)

Maggie

Again, not one I would consider a horror movie. Featuring what is easily Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best performance (he actually does pretty okay in his role) comes a twist on the zombie genre that forces you to think, “What would I do in this situation?” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter, Abigail Breslin, has become infected by the zombie virus, which slowly zombifies you while you’re still alive. It is heartbreaking to see Breslin go through so much pain as she begins to decay. It is even more heartbreaking that she knows what’s coming. And it is even more heartbreaking when this movie shows the situation for the most part through Schwarzenegger’s eyes. Move over, The Walking Dead. This is how you tell this type of story. (4/5)

Lake Mungo

Again, not one I would consider a horror film; rather, a supernatural drama. This film is unique – with its documentary style (actual documentary, not pseudo-documentary that every main character in a found footage movie ever believes s/he is making), it takes elements that would normally find their place in any generic found-footage movie and humanizes them. It also mixes its documentary style with the mystery solving of a crime thriller, the character development of a typical drama, and even horror-movie-style suspense. Writer/director Joel Anderson is very matter-of-fact with his storytelling, having the characters talk directly to the camera. Rather than use typical scare sequences, he relies on the emotions put forth by the actors. Rather than create a story in the same vein as Paranormal Inactivity, he creates a ghost story that mostly focuses on a family’s grief after their daughter drowns, and how they react as they slowly learn who this daughter really was. The supernatural elements are not particularly heavy-handed, but have just enough of a presence to warrant my curiosity. The overall filmmaking is very authentic. The acting is great. You feel like you’re watching this very real family cope with their loss. It’s a surprisingly effective little gem that warrants more than one viewing. (4.5/5)

Grave Encounters

This was my favorite found-footage movie until I saw REC. It is easily one of the scariest of its genre. The first half of the movie is pretty creepy, but once the characters realize that the asylum is inescapable, start going insane, and start dropping like flies, the movie becomes terrifying and even disturbing. Though they are jerks and you may not care for them at first, when they start to break down, they do so in such a convincing way that you feel for them, and therefore fear for them. There are jumpscares, but none are fake. The movie is best when it relies entirely on atmosphere, ambience, and subtlety, and lets the suspense build itself. For those of you tired of your Blair Witch Projects and Paranormal Inactivities, this is one you should really check out. Don’t bother with the sequel, though. (4/5)

The Haunting in Connecticut

This is an example of a movie being good despite having a ton of jumpscares, plenty of which are fake and loud. But the movie overcomes these, as the story and characters are still interesting, and the movie is still kind of scary, backing it up with some really freaky imagery. This movie is also how I got introduced to Kyle Gallner, who I find to be really underrated. And hey, the sequel’s pretty good too. (3.5/5)

The Possession

If you think your kids aren’t quite ready for The Exorcist, this is a pretty good choice to get them ready. Though being a watered-down version of The Exorcist is definitely a problem, the film as a whole is pretty good in its own right. It’s nice to see pre-Negan Jeffrey Dean Morgan play a divorced father, and you feel for him as he deals with his youngest daughter becoming possessed by a dybbuk from Jewish demonology. The movie as a whole isn’t particularly scary, but there are some creepy moments and the story and characters keep you interested. Give it a shot. (3.5/5)

Contracted

My female readers will find this one really freaky. While this one is only good rather than great, it’s still an interesting story with a main character that you sympathize with. While it’s pretty lean at only seventy-eight minutes and the ending is rather abrupt, it’s a decent slow-burning thriller with good practical effects and some pretty shocking and disgusting moments. Seriously, worst STD ever, save for the Follower from It Follows, which would be on here if it had lower audience appraisal. Check out Contracted on Netflix. (3/5)

Splinter

Definitely one of the oddest and most small-scale zombie movies I have ever seen. Rather than a virus that spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, it’s a parasite with insect-like behavior that spreads by growing spindly splinters all over its host; should any splinter pierce your skin, it infects you and begins to spread rather quickly over the course of less than an hour; eventually, it hijacks your body and you will attack any major source of heat to spread the infection. Rather than show a worldwide catastrophe, Splinter features a few people holding up in a gas station under siege by a few pseudo-zombies. I was initially expecting a CGI-heavy creature feature, I got a legitimately tense siege movie with legitimately good effects. That disembodied, splintery hand crawling about on its own is legitimately creepy. Take that, The Crawling Hand. Though the movie is unfortunately much too short at only eighty-two minutes, the story and characters are still interesting enough that you leave satisfied. This movie is very much an indie flick. For example, the film has no known actors, and the actors they do have aren’t particularly good. And, unfortunately, the action scenes are very prone to shaky-cam. But you can tell that the script was well-written with a good amount of nuance. And overall, it’s actually kind of a fun ride. The movie as a whole doesn’t take itself too seriously, and manages to pull itself back almost every time it teeters on the edge of the cliche abyss. It’s a decent and decently original little zombie flick. I just wish it was longer, and had a much more prevalent feeling of isolation, claustrophobia, and hopelessness. Give it a shot. (3.5/5)

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

This movie is so stupid. But that’s part of the charm. Speaking of charm, get a load of these two goofs. Most of this movie is a slasher film focused not on the twentysomething college students, but on who the college students think are the killers. It’s hilarious just how different the situation seems from a different perspective. The college students think they’re being hunted by a duo of merciless killer hillbillies, and Tucker and Dale think that the college kids have some sort of suicide pact. To truly explain just how stupid but almost brilliant this movie is, just imagine any of the Friday the 13th sequels, but Jason is like Tucker and Dale. Imagine Wrong Turn, but Three Finger, Saw Tooth, and One Eye are like Tucker and Dale. Imagine The Burning, but Cropsey is like Tucker and Dale. Imagine Just Before Dawn, but the mountain twins are like Tucker and Dale. It’s as silly as it sounds. (4/5)

V/H/S

No, no, no, not the entire thing; just one segment: “Amateur Night”. This one is freaking creepy and has perhaps one of the freakiest-looking creatures I have ever seen. The camera being on the dude’s glasses makes this segment that much more immersive. The question of “Why the hell are they still carrying the camera?” actually has an answer now. This segment is from David Bruckner, who, unfortunately, has only directed segments in The Signal and Southbound. I haven’t seen The Signal, but Southbound was okay. “Amateur Night” is only twenty minutes. Just skip the first ten minutes of V/H/S, watch “Amateur Night”, and then turn the movie off and watch something else. (It’s only a segment; I can’t give it a rating)

Green Room

The latest film from Jeremy Saulnier, who directed the darkly funny Murder Party and the fantastic Blue Ruin. This movie is intense, the violence is done very well and the story is very believable. I know I’d be terrified if I was trapped in a dressing room with a group of Neo-Nazi skinheads who want to get in and kill me. It’s one of the last roles of the late Anton Yelchin, and features the amazing Patrick Stewart giving one of his best performances. Go see it. (4/5)

Hush

Mike Flanagan does it again in one of the better takes on the home invasion genre. The twist here is that the heroine is deaf. This is also matched by the lone invader being rather skinny and not particularly good at home invading. The plot is simple and efficient, and doesn’t waste time on unnecessary BS, hence the eighty-minute running time. The film as a whole is amazingly tense. While I wouldn’t say it’s as good as everyone else says it is, and I personally think that the invader would have been scarier had he kept his mask on and remained silent, but the film is still damn good. (4.5/5)

Zodiac

Again, not a horror film, but definitely a decently scary one. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book about his experiences and his attempts to solve the Zodiac killer case, and how he just might have found the guy. This movie was directed by David Fincher, who directed such movies as Fight ClubSe7en, and Panic Room. Though much of Zodiac is extremely dialogue-heavy, Fincher does well at creating this gloomy, dark, tense mood, and keeps you interested. Zodiac was a personal project, having been told abut the Zodiac killer by his father and grown up obsessed with him. Zodiac is a very matter-of fact film, and it treats these actual events with as much respect as possible. It has such an unvarnished presentation. It definitely has this nagging sense of tension and fear. And when you get to the point in which the police are investigating this one possible suspect who seems like he might actually be the Zodiac killer, we’ve been through so much that we hope to God that he is. Because the alternative is that we still don’t know. The dude was clever. He was never caught. And that’s scary. (5/5)

Found

An excellent look at a young middle school student who learns that his older brother is a serial killer. Unfortunately, the film’s shoestring budget couldn’t afford better actors, but it’s a small price to pay. No killing actually happens until the end (and even then, it’s only heard (but that makes it better)), so it’s very much character driven. I love seeing this boy interact with his brother and even have his brother influence his actions. I love how this family’s facade of normalcy unravels. Though I would have liked to have seen the brother have a better motivation for killing besides having watched That One Horror Movie and being really really racist, but it’s an effective character study overall, and the ending is shocking. This is a great example of how a movie can overcome a tiny budget with a good story and interesting characters. It’s a great movie. Go see it. (4.5/5)

Men Behind the Sun

This one is also not exactly a horror film. Rather, it’s a dramatization of events that took place during World War II with Japanese human experimentation in Unit 731. This film will eff you up. There’s a reason why it’s called one of the most disturbing films ever made. I won’t describe why here. Running alongside the human experimentation is a story of a few young Japanese soldier recruits staying at Unit 731, and they gradually lose their innocence as they are indoctrinated with the beliefs of the Japanese Empire, and bear witness to the atrocities committed at Unit 731. It’s a harrowing, but powerful experience, to say the least. Check it out. (4.5/5)

Hausu (House)

This is the trippiest movie I have ever seen. It’s almost funny in how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Audiovisual style and stimulation is all this movie needs to keep you entertained. It’s a bizarre, surreal fairy tale with a grotesque, ingenious, often macabre, but always unique sense of humor. It’s a warped, supernatural take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It’s a total wild card. No explanation can do it justice. Go see it. (4/5)

Escape from Tomorrow

This is an incredibly weird, trippy, surreal film noir filmed almost entirely in Disneyland and Disney World without their permission on the best cameras they could smuggle into the park, which were two types of Canon EOS cameras. Though some of the shots are really damn unprofessional, the fact that they filmed the entire thing without being caught is incredible, eliminating any potential camerawork-related annoyance. I have no idea how they pulled off some of these shots. It easily avoided any sort of copyright issues by making sure to use only original music, making the film arguably fall under fair use. Unfortunately, when it was released in theaters (the fact that it actually got a theatrical release is incredible), Disney, aware of the Streisand effect, essentially ignored it (much to the film’s detriment). The acting in this movie would be bad in something else, but it absolutely worked phenomenally here. Though the characters don’t exactly feel particularly real, they are reminiscent of the stereotypical families seen in Disney movies. Regardless of intentions, this adds to just how self-aware the film is. When silly and stupid sequences happen, the film acknowledges this. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously. The film as a whole has a sick, effed up sense of humor that I definitely enjoyed and/or thought added to the mounting dread. I love the contrast with a terrifying film noir happening in The Happiest Place on Earth. I love that they filmed in black and white. How clever is it to suck all the color out of the Happiest Place on Earth. It makes it look that much more shifty and even sinister. The soundtrack was brilliantly composed by Abel Korzeniowski, effectively using the Disney formula of the soundtrack being light and airy, and ending the film with one of the most horrifying themes I have ever heard. The soundtrack’s on YouTube; give it a listen. This is Randy Moore’s only film, so it’s rather hard to judge; I expected the movie to be interesting, effed up, and even darkly funny, and I got all of that. Those who hate it think of it as sleazy, poorly acted and filmed smut, but those of us who love it think of it as a genuinely unique and even terrifying experience. There was one particular aspect for me that made the film both the most unique and uniquely terrifying film I have ever seen, but I’ll explain that in detail when I come around to reviewing it either this month, at New Years, or next October. (4.5/5)

Get some friends, go out to the store, buy some candy, go back home, turn off the lights, watch these movies, eat your candy, and have yourselves a very merry Chri – I mean, happy Halloween.

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