Halloween night is a time to watch some of the top scary movies, horror films, psychological thrillers, and gory slasher flicks Netflix can buy. But as Oct. 31 gets closer, many Halloween movie lists end up churning out the same old films, movies that may be classics but have worn out both your fear factor and your DVD player. Halloween terror should be the best of the best, and oftentimes, these horror flicks come up short.
For some truly scary movies, look to our top 13 horror films, underrated and forgotten among siblings like The Shining, The Exorcist, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. From original versions of The Wicker Man and Let the Right One In, to well-reviewed but now-forgotten thrillers like Jacob's Ladder and The Descent, take a trip through some of the most underrated horror films in 2011. Stick to our list of scary movies, and we guarantee your Halloween will be as exciting as it is terrifying!
13. Ginger Snaps (2000)
This Canadian werewolf flick focuses on two teenage sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, whose fascination with death becomes all two real when Ginger is mauled by a strange animal and becomes consumed with desire for human flesh. The film had the bad fortune to premiere in the midst of the Columbine massacre and the W.R. Myers High School shooting, causing it to be buried in controversy over its frank depiction of teenage sexuality and violence. In reality, however, the film is a darkly humorous thriller on everything from the horror genre to the dangers of puberty. Think of it as Jennifer's Body if Jennifer's Body had been any good.
12. They Live (1988)
John Carpenter's film is a brilliant mix of science fiction and horror. Nada, a drifter, stumbles upon a pair of special sunglasses that allow him to see the world underneath our imposed reality. Messages everywhere tell people to Stay Asleep and Submit to Authority, and everyone follows these commands with terrifying obedience. Even more terrifying, however, are some of the normal-looking people Nada encounters who, through the lens of his sunglasses, are revealed to be hideous, skeleton-like alien life forms.
11. Cronos (1992)
The horror debut of Guillermo del Toro, this vampire film centers on a gold, scarab-like device that grants eternal life at a terrible cost. When an antiques dealer stumbles across the Cronos Invention, he doesn't realize how many people are looking for it, and to what depths an obsession with eternal life can drive a human being. Del Toro's film manages to be both deliciously gory and very intelligent, as well as beautifully filmed.
10. The Wicker Man (1973)
Forget the atrocious Nicholas Cage remake of 2006. In the original film, a police officer is still trying to solve a girl's disappearance, but the '73 horror movie is remarkably adept at amping up the tension, causing viewers to question both the libertarian, pagan-influenced society the officer is investigating and the health of the officer himself. Horror legend Christopher Lee and a fantastic script help build to the climax at the island community's summer festival, a twist so shocking and effective that even knowing the end doesn't stop it from being terrifying. Little recognized at the box office, it now has the beginnings of a devoted cult following.
9. The Fly (1986)
Although the David Cronenberg film has been credited as a great monster movie, many were turned off by the gruesome special effects, failing to see the quite brilliant psychological implications lurking under the horror remake. Jeff Goldblum stars as an ill-fated researcher whose work on a telepod, a device that can transfer matter through space, goes horribly wrong when his DNA is spliced with that of a common house fly.
8. Let the Right One In (2008)
Most Americans are familiar with the 2010 remake of this vampire movie, a top horror film in its own right. The Swedish original, however, proves that such a remake was unnecessary. Ostensibly about the friendship between a human boy and an immortal girl, the exquisitely-shot film takes the horror of vampires and replaces it with something even more terrifying: the cruelty that young people can inflict on their peers. When you're rooting for the creature you don't want to be alone with, you've found an excellent scary movie.
7. The Descent (2005)
Like others on this list, The Descent did well at the box office, and received stellar reviews for its riveting look at claustrophia and human weakness. Since then, however, many forget to include Neil Marshall's meditation on fear and survival, underrating perks like an all-female cast composed not of sluts and bimbos but of developed and deeply human characters. The film is frightening before the monsters even show, a difficult feat for a horror movie.
6. Audition (1999)
This deeply unsettling Japanese film is both a taut psychological drama and a more intelligent predecessor of viscerally disturbing films like Hostel and Saw. A widowed TV producer decides to audition prospective women to be his second wife, and is struck by one candidate in particular, a beautiful ex-ballerina. As the man comes to learn more and more about his future bride, however, his good fortune shifts to a horrific reality.
5. P2 (2007)
The Christmas-themed horror film was generally panned by critics, and many have never even heard its name. What merits a relatively done-before plot without fantastic cinematography making it on a list of best underrated scary movies? The fact that this cat-and-mouse game between a woman and her stalker doesn't insult the intelligence of either the viewer or the female protagonist. As office worker Angela struggles to escape, she makes every intelligent, gutsy decision viewers are rooting for-- and still stays trapped with a psychopath. Its also on the list as one of the few horror movies that gets a happy ending-- depending, that is, on who you ask.
4. Martin (1977)
George A. Romero is best known as the king of zombies. After Night of the Living Dead, however, Romero tried his hand at vampires, and the result was a masterful horror film as psychologically intriguing as it was scary. Set in a run-down suburb, the story avoids sueprnatural mythos and focuses instead on teenaged Martin, a boy who may or may not be a vampire. Sans fangs, powers, and aversions to sun and garlic, Martin nonetheless drugs women, slashes them with razor blades, and drains them of blood. Is Martin a sociopath, or the product of a family vamprie curse, as his uncle, who plans to kill the boy by staking him through the heart, seems so whole-heartedly to believe?
3. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Another immediate classic that has since become forgotten or underrated, Jacob's Ladder stars Tim Robbins at his best. A Vietnam war veteran, Jacob Singer's tenuous hold on reality begins to slip after his return to New York. Haunted by visions of faceless demons and people with horns, Jacob is racked by panic attacks as torture sessions that may be hallucinations and may be memories filter through his mind. Prepare to question everything as you watch this phenomenal horror movie, and prepare to be more scared than you ever could be by an exorcism or a haunted mansion.
2. May (2002)
This little-known horror film stars Angela Bettis and Anna Faris. An outcast because of her awkward demeanor and lazy eye, May's only friend and confidante is a china doll encased in glass. As she grows, May begins to fall in love and make friends, but deep-rooted psychological problems leave her isolated once again. Faced with the realization that all her friends are nothing but perfect parts, May decides to create a perfect whole, with the help of her old doll and some handy books on amputation. This darkly funny, deeply disturbing, and surprisingly engaging horror film is very underrated as a scary movie, and as one of Anna Faris' first big roles.
1. M (1931)
Fritz Lang's masterpiece would rank as an underrated horror film for no other reason than the fact that knowledge of its existence would stop scary movies from getting a bad name. As police try to capture Peter Lorre's child serial killer, criminals in the underworld decide to find the man himself, marking him with a ghostly letter M before being put on trial by the underworld itself. The film's stark depiction of the mind of a child murderer is very different from most cat-and-mouse plots, which usually focus on the cops and victims of the elusive killer. Lorre's defense at the end, known as the I can't help it speech, is at once beautiful, tragic, and terrifying.