Top 10 Best Scary Movies… You’ve Probably Never Seen2.11.09 # Top Ten # 20 Comments
What are the best scary movies to have been ignored, overlooked or forgotten? Some of the choices here you may have heard of but never seen, while others may mean nothing to you at all, but if you’ve walked the well worn path of horror movies, prepare to take some diversions you’ll find ghoulishly entertaining.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979)
This is a movie of two halves – the first 20 minutes, and the rest. The rest you can discard. The opening sequence is a complete short film in itself, telling the classic urban legend of the babysitter alone in a house who starts receiving strange phone calls asking her to “check the children”. Unlike the hamfisted remake, this is a masterclass of suspense that pulls no punches, and it’s accompanied by an excellent score.
SESSION 9 (2001)
Before he made The Machinist and (another) hidden gem Transsiberian, director Brad Anderson tackled this ‘ghost’ story set in an old mental hospital. The great cast – David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Peter Mullan – play members of an asbestos removal company contracted to go in and clean up. Before long the imposing energy and the influence of old patient case files is sending the group into madness. Session 9 makes full use of its creepy location, creating a foreboding sense of dread while keeping the scares grounded.
What if your seemingly normal parents were really cannibals? What if the meat you were being served at dinner was really the houseguest who visited yesterday? This 50s-set story taps into something eerie from the ‘perfect homemaker’ era, with Randy Quaid on career best form as the creepy dad. Directed by Bob Balaban, who went on to do Seinfeld, this sits on the nightmarish, skin-crawling side of black comedy.
BURNT OFFERINGS (1976)
Before Oliver Reed became the comedy drunk of the tabloids he was one hell of an actor. And he took leading man duties here in what was, in many ways, a precusor to The Shining. Ben (Reed) accepts a post as a caretaker, with his wife and young son, in an old gothic house. Unfortunately it’s a house from hell which rejuvenates a part of itself with each death on its premises. With great character actors like Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith and Karen Black, the top quality casting lifts the whole film. It’s a little slow perhaps but makes up for it with a truly chilling ending. Also features the scariest ever chauffeur in a movie.
THE EXORCIST III (1990)
After the absolutely disastrous Exorcist II, who would want to see Exorcist III? Well, it’s a whole different sort of film entirely. Unlike its predecessor it’s written and directed by Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, and based on his best selling novel, Exorcist: Legion – the true sequel to The Exorcist. Gone is Linda Blair, and it actually has very little to do with exorcism, instead focusing on a philosophical police detective (screen legend George C. Scott) investigating a strange series of satanic murders in Georgetown. The movie is full of visual invention, scares and creepy confrontations.
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