1. Opera (1987)
To get you started off on the right foot, I’ve pick my top five horror films you may not have heard of, but should get to know! Enjoy.
Whether you’re familiar with the Master of Horror, Dario Argento’s, work or not – you’ve more than likely heard of his graphic supernatural horror classic, Suspiria. And while that film does stand the test of time as a true masterpiece of the genre, for my money his later effort, Opera (or, Terror at the Opera, as it was originally released in the US) is the highlight of Argento’s filmography.
Loosely following the story of the Phantom of the Opera, a theater company attempts to perform Verdi’s Macbeth, but is plagued by “accidents” that eventually evolve into the reality of a killer in the opera house. A simple story of a young girl’s first taste of stardom sets the stage for what becomes a disturbing cat and mouse thrill ride (yes, a thrill ride .. I said it).
A modern classic in its own right, this film stands as a true love note to the slasher genre as a whole. What begins as a light-hearted mocu-mentary evolves into a true horror film so subtly that you barely notice when you stop laughing and start screaming.
- The story is told through the lens of a documentary crew (for the most part) as they follow Leslie Vernon, a Jason/Michael/Freddie-esque killer, as he prepares to return home for another teenage blood bath. Almost like a behind the scenes look at a charismatic serial killer, you actually find yourself really liking Vernon … that is, until he starts killing people.
- One of my personal favorites, this is your standard: car breaks down, teens wander off into the woods, teens have sex, teens die one-by-one. But, there’s a silver lining here – the killer is the deranged brother of the owner of a “tourist trap” who kidnaps people, makes wax moldings from their face (in doing so, he kills them by asphyxiation) then makes masks from the molds and wears them to be, quote “more attractive.” Also, he makes statues for the Tourist Trap, but this fun fact is only to tie the two brothers together for a “twist ending.”
This one falls into the “so bad, it’s good” category, so prepare to laugh rather than scream. But, there are some super creepy dolls that will, between the laughter, scare the mess out of you and haunt your dreams.
The title says it all. This movie is nuts. There’s a man trapped in the wall of a castle who narrators the film, while overseeing the death bed as it eats any and all who dare lay in its demonic sheets. I’m pretty sure there’s a storyline in there somewhere – but when the bed eats a bucket of chicken I lost the ability to follow any string of consciousness that the film may have tried to stitch together.
- This is one of those, turn it on and just let it wash over you. Don’t try too hard to make any sense of it, but rather enjoy the pure and utter insanity that is “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats”. Might not be the best movie, but I guarantee you will not soon forget this one.
A bizarre classic from the Vincent Price horror collection, Dr. Phibes is one of the most innovative and carefully executed films of the genre. Price plays the title character who is out for revenge after nine doctors were unable to save his wife following a terrible car crash. Holding them responsible for the death, calling them “murderers” Phibes goes after them one by one – But, instead of just knocking them off slasher movie style, Phibes orchestrates a number of extravagant deaths based around the biblical nine plagues of Egypt.
The best of these is “death of the first born,” which Phibes interprets by kidnapping the son of one of the doctor’s and implanting a key in the boy’s chest – the key, which the doctor must surgically remove in six minutes (the time Phibe’s wife survived on the operating table) is the only thing which will stop a vat of acid from pouring down on them. Sound familiar? It’s safe to say that the Saw franchise took a great deal of inspiration from this film, if not ripped it off all together.
- A spectacular visually thrilling film, this is one of those movies that plays perfectly from start to finish, whether you’re fully devoted or just have it on in the background.