Eric's Top 10 Overlooked Scary Movies

by Eric Melin on October 22, 2007

in Top 10s

Every Halloween, video stores are bombarded with the same question:

“Do you know any good horror movies I haven’t seen yet?”

Believe me, I know– I used to work at one. Unfortunately, most of the people that are looking for a new scary movie to rent stick with the tried-and-tired franchises like “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween,” “Children of the Corn,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” etc. and have very little or no adventurous bones in their bodies. For them, a scary movie has a lot of gore and a high body count. For me, anything that creeps me out and keeps me there for two hours is a scary movie. The 10 movies on this list do just that. You may have heard of some or all or none of them, but these are 10 scary films that I think are too often overlooked. When you go to the rental store this weekend, try one of these. Links to related lists: Top 10 Scariest Movie ThemesTop 10 Movie-Inspired Halloween Costumes, Top 10 Slapstick Horror Movies, Top 10 Giant Monster Attacks! Movies, Top 10 Movie Monsters

de palma sisters1. Sisters (1973)

A reporter believes she’s seen a hot young actress (Margot Kidder) commit a murder (“Rear Window” anyone?), but there are more surprises in store when it is discovered there are separated Siamese twins involved. Brian De Palma is at his crazy best in this disturbing bloodbath with one of the most terrifying murder sequences (in split screen, no less!) ever. A showy camera zoom into an eye brings on some insane hallucinogenic asylum thrills, and Bernard Herrmann’s horn and synthesizer score keeps the trashy story in check.

martin romero2. Martin (1978)

A young man descended from East European immigrants in a crumbling steel town named Martin is so certain that he’s a vampire that he subdues women, slashes them with razor blades, and drinks their blood. George Romero shot this one, like always, on a shoestring budget—which makes Tom Savini’s bloody SFX all the more convincing. What’s really creepy, though, is the sense of inevitability Martin feels about his calling. Romero slips in his usual amount of social criticism as well. When things get tough, Martin reaches out to a local radio talk show and becomes a minor celebrity. “Martin” is a chilling and surprising vampire flick with more depth than a million “30 Days of Night”s combined.

3. Peeping Tom (1960)

One wouldn’t think that a movie about a man who murders women in front of the camera and then views his act again to study their every reaction to death would be directed by one of the most respected filmmakers of its time, but it was. British director Michael Powell’s reputation was ruined when he released this tale of voyeuristic perversion. It was labeled by one critic as “the sickest and filthiest film I remember seeing.” Perhaps the most shocking was that Powell overtly pointed out the moviegoer’s own voyeurism by turning it around on us. He made the viewer guilty by having us identify with a psychopath. After all, isn’t that what we are doing—watching people get murdered while we sit in the dark?

frailty paxton4. Frailty (2001)

Speaking of unlikely circumstances, actor Bill Paxton directed this spooky little movie that fills me with dread just thinking about it. Paxton plays a father who burdens his two young sons with a horrible dilemma, telling them that God has charged him to slay demons on Earth in human form. When he starts murdering people in the tool shed with an axe, things get really tense. Having current heartthrob and romantic comedy stalwart Matthew McConaughey tell the entire story in flashbacks makes this strange film even more idiosyncratic. Yes, there is a plot twist (that annoying convention that marks it as a post-“Sixth Sense” thriller), but there’s also tons of psychological terror and an abnormal amount of audacity to make up for it.

nosferatu herzog5. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Werner Herzog’s re-imagining of the silent F.W. Murnau classic casts Klaus Kinski (who else?) in the title role and makes the beast more vulnerable and pathetic than horrifying. Creepiness abounds, however, in the hypnotic movements of the characters, the eerie score by Popol Vuh, and the close psychological link between the Harker character (Bruno Ganz) and the vampire. Is the Count a projection of Harker himself? Is he an outcropping of his inner self? There is an unhinged, sexual side of his and Lucy’s being that is gnawing at the edges, dying to be released. Herzog’s version is a descent myth – the journey from innocence to a terrible underlying reality which either destroys the character or makes them wiser.

randian freaks browning6. Freaks (1932)

Special effects can never beat the real thing, so when Tod Browning filmed this circus nightmare, he cast Randian the “living torso,” the legless Johnny Eck, two real conjoined Siamese twins, two “little people” and the simple-minded “pinheads” (who later became mascots for The Ramones).Betrayal and revenge are the order of business, as a cruel trapeze artist taunts and ridicules the sideshow freaks after pretending to fall in love with one of them. The reality of the freaks’ situation is constantly staring you in the face, as they aren’t really acting, so it is hard to feel pity for the “normal” humans who get so much pleasure out of torturing them. What’s truly great about this movie is that it still shocks after 75 years.

dead ringers tools cronenberg7. Dead Ringers (1988)

Just one look at Jeremy Irons’ insect-like gynecological tools in David Cronenberg’s warped twin brother tale is enough to make you squirm. Though it may not be straight horror, this may be the most intense movie on this list. Elliot and Beverly Mantle are twin doctors who share everything, including their women. Their real conflict comes when a woman comes between them. A slow, deliberate pace gives one plenty of time to ruminate over the film’s themes of sexual panic, deformity, addiction and paranoia, all while staring in amazement at the towering performance of irons as both twins.

fright night evil ed8. Fright Night (1985)

Like De Palma’s “Sisters,” this underrated teen horror entry borrows from the “Rear Window” template. Charley is convinced his next-door neighbor (a perfect Chris Sarandon) is a vampire, but nobody believes him. In desperation, he turns to late-night horror-TV host Peter Vincent (a nod to Cushing and Price played by with great sympathy by Roddy McDowall) for help. The genial old man is happy to have some attention, so he offers his “expertise.” What follows is a near-perfect blend of suspense and comedy that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s a bit dated now, but “Fright Night” does that rare thing that so few horror movies do—it makes you care about the characters.

seconds frankenheimer rock hudson9. Seconds (1966)

This new spin on the “fountain of youth” myth involves rich people who are able to get a complete reboot of their life. With the help of major plastic surgery and a rejuvenated body, these “seconds” have their old identities killed and get to start their lives over while they look and feel younger. Rock Hudson is one of those young-looking bodies, but he discovers some terrifying truths and begins to feel more trapped than ever in John Frankenheimer’s overlooked paranoid nightmare. The free love ways of the late 1960s have never seemed as selfish as they do here. “Seconds” was calling these motives into question pretty early on in the game.

sammi curr trick or treat pentagram10. Trick or Treat (1986)

When I was growing up, a friend of mine used to give me cassette tapes from his church of a minister playing records backwards and talking about how the devil had taken over rock music. It was a special kind of hysteria, but one that I kind of wanted to believe in, having become so enthralled by rock at such an early age. When Skippy from “Family Ties” played his Sammi Curr record backwards in this low-budget horror flick and the dead rock star talked to him, it was like my biggest fantasy/nightmare come to life. Although most of the plot is pretty terrible and special effects laughable, there are some very potent scenes that take me back to a time when I wanted my rock n’ roll evil and my rock stars bigger than life. Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne are on the cover of the really crappy-looking DVD, but are only in the film for a total of about five minutes.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ChrisKnudsen October 23, 2007 at 6:07 am

FACT: Freaks is one of the most overrated scary movies of all time. Ok, so it is sort of creepy. But it is for sure not overlooked. Other than that, this is a damn good list. OTHER FACT: “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is the best western since “Dead Man.” FACTOID #3: “Darjeeling Limited” is maybe my least favorite of the Wes Anderson films but I would still give it an “A.” I like it more on this single viewing than the first time I watched “Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” 4 OF THE FACTS OF LIFE: Do you know cheap practice places? Message me on Myspace or my email. QUITE ANOTHER FACT: Why the hell did Southwind not get “30 Days of Night?” Sure, they got a bunch of art films that should be playing at Liberty Hall if they weren’t wasting their time getting Woody Allen knock-offs (being a Woody Allen knock-off I guess is in right now) and unimportant documentaries about the planet. Guess where I can watch real Woody Allen movies and watch important documentaries about the planet? You guessed it, my television set (well not mine personally, I don’t have cable but I guess I could go out and rent those if I want to). FINAL OF THE FACTS: You have 3 Criterions on the there posuer!


2 ChrisKnudsen October 23, 2007 at 7:28 am

I forgot the word “list” inbetween “the” and “there.” I suck.


3 awas1980 October 23, 2007 at 8:09 am

The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979) – Mutant “rage babies”!

Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962) – Influenced everything from Lost Highway (the look of Blake’s character) to Night of the Living Dead and The Sixth Sense.

The Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, 2001) – Part Spanish Civil War film, part atmospheric ghost story

May (Lucky McKee, 2002) – Carrie meets Frankenstein; May decides since she doesn’t have friends, she’ll make one.

Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987) – Vampire-western fusion with a recycled cast from, then husband, James Cameron’s ALIENS.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (Wes Craven, 1988) – Shot on location in Haiti and based on a book by the anthropologist Wade Davis, Davis’s work was to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies.

Onibaba (Kaneto Shindô, 1964) – A mother and daughter make their living ambushing war-weary soldiers and dumping their bodies in a well, until…

Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960) – A doctor begins removing the faces of young women in order to transplant them on to his disfigured daughter

Skippy fans check out this link… “It’s a Trick or Treat”


4 Eric Melin October 23, 2007 at 8:51 am


You’re a freak. awas1980 has some Criterions on his list as well. I think I established pretty well what I meant by “overlooked” in the opening paragraph. My editor woke up this morning and said he’d never heard of any of these, so, nyah. Just cuz yer mister film snob and you’re so cool doesn’t mean everyone else knows all these movies. Consider yourself lucky that the theater didn’t get “30 Days of Nought,” chumley.


Great list! Thanks for the backwards masking link. I grew up on playing Satan’s records backwards. That’s the way they were meant to be heard!


5 ChrisKnudsen October 24, 2007 at 1:00 am

Yeah yeah, your “editor.” Good one.


6 iamsomisty October 24, 2007 at 4:29 am

i agree with a couple of your choices, fright night was classic. roddy mcdowell MADE that movie.

and you didn’t have to watch dead ringers to be creeped out by it, the pics of the instruments and the movie trailer were more than enough.

agree that serpent and the rainbow was very good, ‘don’t let them bury me, i’m not dead!’ will forever be engraved on my brain.

i’m not sure what you’re saying about the movie freaks.

satan cut records? who knew? ;)


7 IK the Troll October 24, 2007 at 4:58 am

Why isn’t the movie SPICE WORLD on this list? It doesn’t get much scarier than that!


8 Neil Fulwood October 24, 2007 at 5:11 am

Dead of Night (1945) – easily the best portmanteau film ever made, and bizarrely enough an Ealing Studios production. Four directors involved: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. Cavalcanti’s section, ‘The Ventriloquist’s Dummy’, is incredibly creepy and a direct influence on Richard Attenborough’s (also underrated) film Magic starring Anthony Hopkins.


9 Rob M. October 24, 2007 at 6:07 am

You overlooked a little-seen classic in the original “Wickerman” released in 1975. This atmospheric thriller is not a horror movie in hte traditional sense, but it is gripping and quite scary. Avoid the lame Nicholas Cage remake.


10 Bob October 24, 2007 at 6:28 am


your such a nerd, just leave the list alone ; you obviousely didn’t undertand the heading, ‘Erics’ Top Ten Overlooked Scary Movies. There’s so many scary movies out there to choose from, this list, in Erics Opinion is the top 10 overlooked ones.. If you dont agree with the list, go write your own and show your mum, the very special ‘Chris Knudsens Top 10 Overlooked Scary Movies’.. She’ll be proud. So just share all your ‘FACTS’ with someone who cares


11 Eric Melin October 24, 2007 at 6:38 am

Neil and Rob-

Magic, Dead of Night and Wicker Man are all great choices, just the kind of thing I was looking for when I put this together. Thanks for the suggestions! What’s weird about the WM re-make w/ Cage is that it was directed by Neil “In the Company of Men” LaBute. That almost made me want to see it..and Attenborough did “Magic” right before “Gandhi”- very strange.


12 Eric Melin October 24, 2007 at 6:38 am

Knudsen- Do you think these video pieces edit themselves?
xo, Eric


13 chris October 24, 2007 at 6:39 am

you should check out “alone with her” a very creepy movie based on the view of cameras set in the home of a girl who is being stalked. very creepy show


14 bobo October 24, 2007 at 7:28 am

Okay, I get that the list is Eric’s, and we shouldn’t quibble. However, Martin, Peeping Tom, Nosferatu, Freaks, Dead Ringers, Fright Night, and Seconds are hardly “overlooked”; most on the list have been critically acclaimed or at least highly controversial since their release (except Trick of Treat, which no one ever really thought was a good film, sorry). Anyone who hasn’t heard of them is showing their (lack of) age. I suspect that Joe Movierenter sticks to the “big franchises” because he wants thoughtless gore, predictable plots, and misplaced “humor”, not because he really wants to see anything truly scary. So your intent was good, but these aren’t averlooked; why can’t it just be a list of your favorite “real” horror films?


15 Joe October 24, 2007 at 7:32 am

Great list and nice additions in the response section. I just watched “May” again last weekend. Great movie with a great performance by the lead actress (Angela Beattis? Not sure I have the spelling right). I would also recommend “The Stepfather” with Terry Quinn. Great little movie and it turned me into a Terry Quinn fan. Glad he’s getting his due on “Lost.”

- Joe


16 Ruby October 24, 2007 at 8:01 am

Nice to see someone else finally give Frailty some props. That movie was such a rare, creepy treat. It’s gone so unnoticed, which is such a shame. Everyone I’ve shown that to has loved it.

Great list! Just added a few of these to my Netflix queue. Should make for a great Hallowe’en!


17 Lore October 24, 2007 at 8:08 am

The Night of the Hunter


18 Eric Melin October 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

Love that movie, but I’ve been using it too much lately. “The Night of the Hunter” appears on my Top Villains list and my Top Directorial Debuts list.
You got me. It really is my fave “real” horror films. Whether they are overlooked or not depends on who’s reading it.


19 Hank October 24, 2007 at 8:42 am

Question, where is Session 9 on this list? Session 9 should definitely be on this list.


20 Tuomas October 24, 2007 at 8:46 am

You’ve missed the only scary movie I never tire of watching. Dog Soldiers. Best scary movie ever


21 Clive October 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

Session 9, definately.


22 FranksFilms October 24, 2007 at 9:21 am

One of the scariest films of all time is “The Changeling” with George C. Scott.


23 RaimisAsh October 24, 2007 at 9:43 am

Night of the Demons is fantastic — very underrated. Only horror junkies know this film.


24 axensmash October 24, 2007 at 9:50 am

My Bloody Valentine – Canadian Slasher from the early eighties – very atmospheric.
The Changeling – with George C. Scott – truly great Ghost Story


25 mamamiasweetpeaches October 24, 2007 at 9:51 am

Great list!

FREAKS and FRAILTY definately creeped me out…and Im pretty un-creepable!

The hard thing about making lists like this is you could just go on and on forever (THE CHANGELING, WICKERMAN, THE OTHER, LEMORA……..)


26 Erskine October 24, 2007 at 9:59 am

“Mr. Frost” starring Jeff Goldblum
“Cemetary Man” (“Dellamorte Dellamore”) starring Rupert Everett


27 petownshend October 24, 2007 at 10:00 am

While not being ‘overlooked’, The Changeling was pretty good – freaked me out with the damn antique wheelchair…And as cheesy as it was, (and really is now), Salem’s Lot was pretty good, especially for a miniseries.


28 yssim999 October 24, 2007 at 10:19 am

I agree with Clive, Session 9 is not a well known creepfest.
Jacob’s Ladder is a semi known creepy movie.
Popcorn, was a cheesy film, but that cult film in the film was quite creepy.
The Funhouse scared me when I was little.
Aftermath is a short film that is just disturbing.
So if you haven’t heard of these, they are fun Halloween rentals too. But I don’t have a movie blog or anything so you don’t have to listen to me :)


29 efs October 24, 2007 at 10:29 am

The Other. only saw it once as a little kid; too scared to even try to watch it again


30 yssim999 October 24, 2007 at 10:34 am

oh and The Gate, was another movie that had to do with rock music summoning demons, wasn’t it?


31 Miles Vorkosigan October 24, 2007 at 10:58 am

Joe Straczynski is the one who turned me onto Seconds. This was nearly ten years ago, and he said it was the only movie he’d ever seen that still creeped him out twenty years after he first saw it. The premise is terrifyingly believable.

One you missed is the Spanish-language 1931 Dracula, with Carlos Villarios-Sanchez, Lupita Tovar and Carlos Alvarez Rubio. Same script and sets as the Browning/Lugosi, but a whole different feel. One shot in particular is guaranteed to make you pee in your pants; the vampire brides, coming straight at the camera, lit in such a way that one has no face, another, all you can see is teeth, and the third you see eyes. And they’re not buttoned up to the chin; flowing white gowns, mostly see-through. Very sexy, very deadly.

Universal released it on tape some ten years ago. I’m not sure of availability on DVD. The quality is a little spotty; the only known complete print is in the National Archives in Havana.


32 jalex October 24, 2007 at 11:05 am

not adhering to the ‘overlooked’ aspect. just agreeing & continuing the list…
Session 9, Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Creep & Anatomy (w/Franka Potente), Hellraiser,
Darkness, Dracula 2: Ascension & 3:Legacy, Mimic..


33 jan October 24, 2007 at 11:07 am

The Changeling is one that I recommend again and again to friends who like horror films, as many of them have never seen it. George C Scott is terrific in it. Another overlooked film is The Reflecting Skin, which is somewhere between drama and horror, and stars a pre-LotR Viggo Mortensen as a veteran returning from WW 2, possibly with radiation poisoning One of the most unsettling movies I have ever seen.


34 PJPJPJPJPJ October 24, 2007 at 11:11 am

SECONDS is a very overlooked film; I’ve only seen it once (about 20 years ago) and the scene of the commuter going to work right at the start of the film has stayed in my memory ever since, because it is shot in such an unusual and disturbing way. Just hope that it gets released on R2 DVD at some time.


35 Sarah October 24, 2007 at 11:11 am

Session 9, defiantely. It was a great scary movie, plus you get a side of Caruso. Can’t beat that!

It was a very helpful video store clerk who turned me on to that one, thank goodness for them!


36 utway October 24, 2007 at 11:18 am

I vote for “The Changeling” with George C. Scott. Another one: “See No Evil” with Mia Farrow really scared the heck out of me as a kid. I also like “Ghost Story” based on the Peter Straub book, but it’s more creepy than “scary.”


37 Troy October 24, 2007 at 11:22 am

The Wickerman (the original) is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It may be the whole hippie setting that made me hate it. Or maybe it was the slowness of the story and the stupidity of the main character.

The ending was the only good part.


38 Big Mama October 24, 2007 at 11:23 am

What about the movie “Don´t look Now” with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie?
Great spooky movie.


39 Tim October 24, 2007 at 11:31 am

FACT (for ChrisKnudsen): Your opinion is not FACT. it is OPINION. Freaks is fantastic.


40 Eric Melin October 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm

“Don’t Look Back” would have been a great addition– and obviously I need to see “The Changeleing” and “Session 9.”


41 Jessica Dwyer October 24, 2007 at 12:11 pm

The Ugly is one of the most creepy flicks I’ve seen in a long while. The killer is a pretty young man who may or may not be scarred. He’s killed many people and they haunt him with their black blood covered bodies and dead eyes and it’s up to a young female shrink to try and get him to open up about his life. Things don’t go well for either of them. The killers mother is also one of his victims and she’s one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. Awesome movie and not enough people have seen it.


42 Daisy October 24, 2007 at 12:46 pm

The Changeling is very scary, but the scariest of all is Asylum~ freekydeeky!! Came on tv long ago and I’ve never been much able to think about it, much less seek it out to watch again. Plus I’ve made two friends in my life since watching it who brought it up spontaneously as the most terrifying film of their childhoods too. Just thinking about the disembodied head rolling into Peter Cushing’s living room gives me the chills…


43 George P October 24, 2007 at 12:48 pm

“The Mothman Prophecies” scared me when I saw it in theaters.

That whole bridge scene was terrifying at the time.


44 Sean Gallacher October 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Fact(for Tim): your opinion is not FACT. It is opinion. ChrisKnudsen did not belittle Freaks, he just pointed out the inaccuracy of Freaks being labelled overlooked.


45 mamamiasweetpeaches October 24, 2007 at 1:04 pm

I saw clips of that in the “BOOGEYMEN’ dvd . Maybe I should see if NETFLIX has it .

Keep the rare gem titles coming, olks. im going to rent all the ones I somehow missed!

* And seriously- anyone who missed THE CHANGELING should rent that sucker as soon as possible! really spoooooky!


46 Jim Leonard October 24, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Mute Witness (1994)

In a manner reminiscent of ‘Carnival of Souls’, this film’s potential drawbacks become it’s assets.

It’s a low-budget American made thriller, shot cheaply in Russia, about a film crew shooting a low-budget thriller in Russia.

The mute make-up artist witnesses a murder, and then must avoid capture by the killers for what she’s seen.

Language barriers and never knowing who can be trusted add to many plot twists in a fun & frightening fish-out-of-water scenario.

Alec Guinness makes a surprise cameo (oops – - spoiler!!) in one of his very last film roles.


47 Jimbo October 24, 2007 at 1:36 pm

What about John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness … bizzare but scary.


48 wills July 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Prince of Darkness was terrifying: not for the stuff going on in the crypt and the reanimated murderous corpses (which was OK but fairly standard), but because of the cordon of living street people first just assembling, apparently at random, then becoming a horrifying part of the action. Creeped me out then, still does now years and years later.
Carpenter has made many of the best horror movies , so what was he thinking with Ghosts of Mars? Truly an off day.


49 Ann October 24, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I think psychological thrillers are the scariest of all, the ones that keep you guessing and makes you use your mind to figure them out. Love a challenge! Alfred Hitchcock was the master at this! THE BIRDS was really scary! Can you imagine what would happen to the human race if nature really did turn against us? The animal and insect kingdoms far out number us! Remember all those movies back in the 60′s etc. like THEM! My pick for the scariest movie which was recommended by a video store owner is—-
CUBE 1997 by Vincenzo Natali,

also I liked
THE BIRDS 1963 Alfred Hitchcock
PSYCHO 1960 the most famous of all!

SAW 2004 James Wan

It wasn’t blood and gore so much as psychological drama. I get enough blood and gore working as a nurse, I want something to rev up my metabolism with the suspense, never knowing what is going to happen next and sitting there watching it with a strangle hold on a pillow, so you can use it to cover your eyes if the excitement gets to be too much!


50 Sean Gallacher October 24, 2007 at 1:47 pm

i’m trying to remember the name of a horror film that was unexpectedly creepy. All I remember is that it concerned an escapee of a mental asylum called Irvine Wallace or Wallace Irvine. After escaping he went on to terrorise a theatre group. I watched this film in a friend’s house and remember being very edgy when I left his house to walk home in the dark.


51 Tim Mc October 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm

ChrisKnudsen, someone should make a film where there’s a scene with you getting your teeth punched out and force fed to you. Snobby film pricks, like yourself, ruin it for people who actually like films. I think “Freaks” is overlooked. Sure, a lot of people have heard of the film, but how many have ever actually watched it? Most people just know it from references in TV shows and other movies, and have never sat down and to watch it. So cram it, you uppity jackass.


52 Sean Gallacher October 24, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Tim Mc. You need to chill out. You are sooooooo missing the point. FACT – you are a bit of a pillock. FACT – keep taking the medication. FACT – close your eyes and count to ten, deep breaths now. ” Sure a lot of people have heard of the film…….”. Case closed.


53 Jeri October 24, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Hmmm. “Asylum” and disembodied head rolling into a room or “The Changling” and that damned ball bouncing down the stairs…that’s hard to decide which is scarier.

George C. Scott’s deceased daughter’s ball comes bouncing down the stairs one night in his otherwise empty house. After it does it twice, he grabs it, runs to a bridge over a river, throws it in, and when he’s back home, here it comes bouncing down the stairs again.

Nah, that’s one very scary scene. My absolute favorite spook movie.


54 Svally October 24, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Just a heads up for those that are interested in some underrated horror/scary/slasher movies:

1) Tesis (Alejandro Amenabar, 1996) – Disturbing film based around the concept of ‘snuff’ movies.

2) Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974) – Forget the crappy 2006 remake. Try renting out this psychological horror/slasher.

3) Long Weekend (Colin Eggleston, 1978) – Creepy movie very much in the vein of ‘Deliverance’.

4) Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) – Excellent Italian ‘giallo’ that will keep you glued to the screen. I would also highly recommend checking out any other Argento films apart from his awful ‘Phantom of the Opera’ remake or ‘Trauma’ which was also pretty bad.

5) The House on Sorority Row (Mark Ronson, 1982) – Looks like your typical ’80s T’n'A slasher but aside from one obligatory ‘sex scene’ the rest of the movie is surprisingly good.

6) The Possession of Joel Delaney (Waris Hussein, 1972) – Obviously (imho) does not compare with The Exorcist, but still has plenty of chilling moments and you can be pretty sure that scenes in which two children are tormented aren’t very likely to be shown again.

7) Dressed To Kill (Brian DePalma, 1980) – ‘Bobbi’ scares the crap out of me.
8) Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990) – Strange and disturbing images.

9) Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava, 1964) – It’s Mario Bava. It’s an Italian horror/slasher. Enough said, really.

10) Suspiria (Dario Argento – yes, him again, 1977) – Sorry, couldn’t resist adding another Argento movie to the list. But, if you are going to watch one Argento film – then make sure it’s this one.


55 Run4st October 24, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Has everyone forgotten about ‘Dick Tracey’?


56 DMack October 24, 2007 at 3:58 pm

1932 DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE. I’ve screened it for students any number of times, and it always freaks ‘em out.


57 johnnygothisgun October 24, 2007 at 4:00 pm

The original Pumpkinhead is fairly overlooked. Sure, the sequels give it a bad name, but the original is actually pretty damn atmospheric. Stan Winston directing, Lance Henriksen as the main character. All good. I agree with Frailty and Freaks, followed by Carnival of Souls. I’m not sure if The Beyond counts, but nobody I ask has heard of it. It’s more of a cult thing, so I guess it doesn’t.


58 standbyme October 24, 2007 at 4:24 pm
59 Free October 24, 2007 at 4:25 pm

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a brilliant horror film that is ridiculously overlooked, even on this board:(


60 Carl October 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm

I know this was a “made for tv” movie, but “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” still creeps me out. Just thinking back on the plot gives me chills.


61 Def October 24, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Pretty good list. But would’ve included Candyman and The Descent as well.


62 Senta Mental October 24, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Original Dutch version of “The Vanishing” (not the horrible U.S. remake) is one of the scariest movies ever. If the ending doesn’t creep you out, nothing will! Also mad props for listing “Peeping Tom” which is not only frightening, but quite simply a great film deserving of a MUCH wider audience. Everyone I recommend it to is shocked by it–even today. Also any woman who sees “Dead Ringers” will never want to see her gyno again. I must agree with posters who added “Session Nine”. That movie is just chilling.


63 jeremy October 24, 2007 at 5:01 pm

GREAT list! Dead Ringers is one of my favorite Cronenberg films. One film that ALWAYS gets under my skin that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is “Picnic at Hanging Rock” by Peter Weir. This movie broods with creepy atmosphere… and the scene with the fat girl running the down the mountain always freaks me out. I never watch that movie alone in the dark or i’ll wake up insane.


64 blackpage October 24, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Will everyone please shut up about the atrocity that is Session 9? If you thought that movie was classic you really need to get out more. My Top 10 Overlooked Horror Films would be Night Train to Terror 10 times (or perhaps all 10 of the movies that were edited together to make Night Train to Terror). Instead I’m doing the “Top 10 Overlooked ‘DON’t’ Movies” (which is all of them). “Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone!” wins cause its got elipses…AND AN EXCLAMATION MARK! Ah, the Netflix DON’T marathon.

1) Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone!
2) Don’t Go in the House
3) Don’t Go Out at Night
4) Don’t Go Near the Park
5) Don’t Answer the Phone
6) Don’t Go Down the…
7) Don’t Go in the Basement 8) Don’t Go to Sleep
9) Don’t Go Into the Bedroom
10)Don’t Go Into the Attic


65 blackpage October 24, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Omg #8 turned into a smiley face! LAME!


66 Kristina October 24, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Ravenous – Kept me awake all night!
Mrs Doubtfire – Seriously! This movie gives me the creeps.


67 Bob the Blob October 24, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Don’t forget to check out “In the Mouth of Madness”, “An American Werewolf in London”,and “Exorcist 3.” All great horror movies.


68 Matt October 24, 2007 at 5:30 pm

A favorite of mine is “The Innocents” starring the recently deceased Deborah Kerr. An excellent psychological ghost story co-written by Truman Capote and based on Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.”

Also, good call on “Fright Night.” I’ve always loved that one and you’re exactly right in that its main strength is the characterization, which is so often overlooked in horror films, but may be the most important element of a scary movie.


69 WEMO October 24, 2007 at 5:35 pm

A film that freaked me out was A Bridge Over Terabithia. It was nothing like I expected.

TBH – its prolly because I am a parent with kids……


70 Bob October 24, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Terrific list. well worth the read, unlike many other “10 Best” lists. I’m interested in seeing JD’s list to compare.

I think some here are missing the point. Sure, WE”VE all heard of these movies, and seen most of them. We’re Horror Fans (in capitals!) But the average movie renter will look at you with glazed eyes if you mention SISTERS or PEEPING TOM. This is for them…kind of like a CARE package.

The only movie I take exception to on the list is FRIGHT NIGHT. Good movie; just not terrible scary to me. Suspenseful, sure, but nothing compared to MARTIN or DEAD RINGERS. I would have included NEAR DARK, if only for the barroom scene…

Some of the alternate suggestions warm my cold, cold heart; a lot of great movies here. Glad that someone remembered SEE NO EVIL. My Junior High School decided to show that one on an assembly day, thinking it was just a thriller. Man! I can STILL hear the screams all these years later. A lot of traumatized 12 – 15 year olds!


71 blackpage October 24, 2007 at 5:40 pm

“standbyme Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Dracula 1931 in spanish is included in “Dracula-The Legacy Collection”


AVOID the legacy collection (very inferior quality). Get the 75th anniversary release or the original standard Dracula release:

Both contain the optional Philip Glass score, and the Spanish version. The standard is OOP, but worth finding used.



72 Josh October 24, 2007 at 7:29 pm

In nor particular order
When a Stranger calls, the original “have you checked the children?”
Trillogy of Terror, Karen Black version
28 days later
Saw 1
Propecy 1979
It’s Alive, can’t get any more creepy than killer babies


73 Steve October 24, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Has anyone seen Dead And Buried ? That one made me leave the theater for a few minutes while the family was getting it. I was 14-15 yrs old at the time . It stared James Farentino and even had a young Robert Englund. Release Date:29 May 1981 (USA) I’ll get the nerve to watch it again …someday


74 jim October 24, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Ghost Story from 1980 (I think). Very good movie!!


75 Pretty Polly October 24, 2007 at 8:04 pm

I agree with “Freaks” not being really overlooked – plus I don’t think “Peeping Tom” is exactly overlooked either (certainly not by true cinema lovers).

If you want a truly scary AND overlooked title, try “Taste of Fear” (1961)…


76 James October 24, 2007 at 8:26 pm

The Other (not The Others)
Do Audition, Oldboy and Battle Royal count as “overlooked”?
Village of the Damned 1960
Ginger Snaps
Wait Until Dark


77 Dave October 24, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Those choices are sorry and pathetic. Clearly the guy who wrote this article doesn’t know film. I can easily come up with 10 movies that are far more scarier off the top of my head: Exorcist, Ghost Story, The Dark Night of the Scarecrow, The Sender, The Reflecting Skin, Phantasm, The Changeling, The Entity, The Omen, The Shining… shall I go on?


78 dave sucks October 24, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Of course you know much more than everyone else. We should have waited for your permission to have this piece written. Parents didn’t hug you enough


79 jay trace October 24, 2007 at 11:12 pm

I’d have to throw in “Burnt Offerings” (1976). It’s not “Citizen Kane,” but the scene at the end when they turn the chair around and you see the look on Karen Black’s face scared the dogsnot out of me as a child.


80 blackpage October 24, 2007 at 11:34 pm

^Dave, wouldn’t most of those be on a non-”overlooked” list?^

I mean Exorcist, Omen, & Shining are 3 of the most popular horror films of all time…

Plus it says in the first paragraph this is a list for people to rent. Admittedly I haven’t seen some of the movies on your list, but they seem to be TV movies unavailable on DVD (or from Netflix at least).

Anyway, most all (ahem Trick or Treat) of Eric’s list are top-notch films, even if they aren’t the SCARIEST EVER. The list seems more geared towards film buffs than horror fans anyway IMO.


81 axensmash October 25, 2007 at 10:15 am

The original Haunting was excellent & very creepy – unlike the shitfest remake.
The Innocents is a great chiller.


82 axensmash October 25, 2007 at 10:17 am

The original Haunting was great , very creepy – minumal effects to great effect.
What isn’t shown is always scarier than what is shown – the imagination is the greatest effects company out there !!


83 axensmash October 25, 2007 at 10:19 am

also has anyone seen a devil possesion movie called “The Temptor” ??
It scared the hell out of me as a kid .
About some chick who’s possessed – very weird but scary as hell as I remember it !!


84 iamsomisty October 25, 2007 at 11:07 am

not one of you has mentioned copycat, it surely wasn’t critically acclaimed, was it? and it still creeps me out.

ghost story as a book was good, but i thought the movie left a LOT to be desired. the poor woman drowned and they stood there and watched, i’d haunt them too.

the old haunting of hill house scared me for years, it must have been at least 20 before i could go up a spiral staircase. and the others with deborah kerr, classic. although she later said she thought that the woman was psycho, that it wasn’t really the kids messing with her.


85 Movie Reviews Collection November 3, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Wow. Great list of Classic Horror Movie. I haven’t seen all of the movies on the list but it looks interesting.


86 austin November 14, 2007 at 5:03 pm

The Exorcist was the scariest movie ever on my list


87 Miss Lisa December 11, 2007 at 2:45 pm

I saw two very good horror movies over the weekend: Dead Birds, a very creepy movie about a group of Confederate soldiers who stop at an abandoned farmhouse on their way to Mexico after robbing a gold shipment; and Undead, an Australian zombie movie with hilariously over-the-top gore.

Session 9 and A Tale of Two Sisters are both extremely creepy.


88 Eric Melin December 11, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Lisa!

This blog kind of exploded into a great resource– if anyone was ever looking for a different horror movie to rent, the comments are full of them.


89 V August 21, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I would just like to toss it out there that I didn’t see Freaks until I was 19. And I had nightmares. For about a week. And there is an awesome reference to it in Clerks: the animated series.

Plus, even though it’s a remake…I’d just like to toss 2001 Maniacs out there. It’s sort of awesome, especially if you’ve ever lived in the south.


90 Blairbaby February 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

I was just wondering if anyone couldhelp me with this consideringmost of you seem to be so good with your horror movies.
A few years back I rented a movie that i thought was a little amature but it did stick in my brian, but I’ve now forgoten the titleand the main plot. I ended up renting Trick or Treat thinking it was the same movie I saw before but i was wrong all though there were some similarities. The movie I’m thinking of is almost a cross between Little monsters and Trick or Treat
There is one scene in particulair that stuck in my brian though, and that’s when this teenage boy figures he can’t get rid of the new “friend’ he has (that happened to come out of his stereo, or music player) and he tells this new creature in his life that he ‘isn’t allowed to let anyone know about his presence. This creature, (and I say that becuase he islike a human but he has a mohawk and piercings and is somewhat like a troll) says to the boy, “They can do anything they want to me, bend every one of my fingers until it breaks.” And proceeds to bend his own fingers back until they break. “But just no country music, or I’ll spill everything.” He says.
So I’m justhopingthis is enough of a description to get some help and it’s very much appreciated!


91 hellohawk March 2, 2009 at 9:49 am


Is it “Brainscan” with Edward Furlong?


92 Ada July 19, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Ah, Frailty. I love this movie and can’t seem to get it out of my head. I loved the plot twist; I wasn’t expecting it, and that’s saying something (usually I can predict where a movie is headed). I don’t think it’ll ever get old.


93 Eric Melin July 20, 2009 at 9:12 am

Ada- Agreed. That said, however, it all made sense after the revelation and wasn’t completely out of left field–the mark of a good screenplay.


94 Woodie October 22, 2009 at 10:08 am

The scene in the Sentinel (1977) where the supermodel’s flashlight turns off and the creepy old man appears from behind the door and rapidly walks across the room and stands facing the corner. My left testicle has failed to re-descend since I first saw that scene.


95 OzzyGene November 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

trick or treat 1986 is just madness, if you like backwards messages in heavy metal it’s pure entertainment, like very much about that dvd-cover, backside of it says film includes music from famous metal bands, but only thing we get is some posters on the wall of main characters room, it’s all about marketing, lol.

Yeah, Michael Winner’s amazing Sentinel should be in list.


96 UnsanctionedNoteriety December 21, 2009 at 3:04 am

I love scary movies (enough so to go to every site that has lists of their top picks!) I however did not enjoy this list, it was… Well there just wasn’t any truly scary movies on it, I watched all of them, and well i was bored… oh and people, really? If you would actually READ what the man wrote it’s his OPINION not facts, there is no proof that these are actually even that scary, but some people are scared by the wizard of Oz! but you don’t see me being shallow and typical about it. oh and Dave, he was talking about OVERLOOKED movies, you lame-ass, none of what you labeled was Over-looked.


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