3 Underrated Horror Films

October 8, 2018

Ah, October! You take a walk in the morning, and there’s a little chill in the air; leaves are turning auburn, brown, and purple; friendly skeletons swing from porches and courtyards; and mock graveyards spring up on community lawns. Halloween is here!

In that spirit, we’re going to need some underrated and unexpected horror films in the On-Demand, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu queue. Here you go!

Basket Case

There was a time when horror movies took a highly original premise and a limited budget and made something unique, strange, and horrifyingly wonderful. That time was the 1980s. Troll, Re-Animator, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Motel Hell were frequent rentals at the local video store, and they were a great source of midnight madness and unhinged laughter.

Basket Case is the quintessential, cringingly B-level horror movie of the eighties. With subpar yet effective acting, delightfully insane and hilarious characters, film stock filled with grain and flotsam and jetsam, and a pair of feuding brothers, Basket Case sets the standard for late-night shlock.

Duane carries his deformed and monstrous-looking twin brother Belial around in a basket looking for the doctors who separated the two at birth. Revenge is the game here, and it’s best served brutally. Everything goes according to plan until Duane becomes romantically involved with a comely nurse and decides to move on with his life. Needless to say, the mercurial Belial doesn’t take too kindly to his twin brother abandoning him and their plans of gory retribution. What follows is a psychological, emotional, and physical struggle of id vs. ego, turning brother against brother in a massive battle royale. Basket Case is undeniably campy, hilariously gory, and unexpectedly funny, so there’s a good chance there are no Academy Awards. But it’s kind of cool and undeniably entertaining.

Odd Thomas

In the 2013 supernatural mystery thriller Odd Thomas, Odd has a unique paranormal talent: he can see and anticipate large-scale violence and next-level evil. His loyal and supportive girlfriend, Penny, thinks it’s a gift; Odd is not so sure. In fact, he calls it a curse.

The late Anton Yelchin plays Odd Thomas, a hash-slinging short-order cook living in an idyllic small town and fighting evil wherever it lurks. Through an extraordinary clairvoyant aptitude, Odd can see “bodachs,” banshees who feed on evil and violence, and it seems these bodachs are portending an event of horrific mass extinction. Working with Penny and local sheriff Wyatt Porter, an unusually restrained Willem Dafoe, Odd seeks to upend the town’s impending annihilation–or at least mitigate the disaster.

Simply put, Odd Thomas is an engaging, fun, and ultimately wild ride! The chemistry of the main actors, particularly Odd and Penny, is phenomenal; the action sequences are super cool; the special effects rock; the dialogue is sharp and sardonically humorous; and the film’s emotional impact is undeniable. Who knows, you might find yourself shedding a tear come end credits. Not bad for a horror movie!

The Return of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead instantly became a cult classic upon its release in 1968. From there, the legend just amplified as moviegoers witnessed its acute dread and unbearable suspense at midnight movies and drive-ins around the world. The film received such critical and cultural acclaim, producers and financiers were hard-pressed to come up with a worthy sequel. So they decided to make a ridiculous, funny, over-the-top, trashy, tacky, sweaty, punk-rock spin-off! Indeed, the 1985 flick Return of the Living Dead has little in common with the classic, brooding, black-and-white tale of the undead with its roots in Carnival of Souls-era imagery and foredoomed tone.

Replacing the vapid, clueless, oversexed teenagers from Friday the 13th-type movies with equally clueless, ignorant, and oversexed punk rockers, Return of the Living Dead takes the tried-and-true strategy of killing annoying teenagers to whole new levels of sloppy gore.

Freddy gets a job at a medical supply warehouse and is quickly taken to the basement by his affable boss. The two accidentally unleash chemical gas from a government-owned zombie-filled container, and the dead start to animate! Being the zombies are hard to kill, and they’re a lot faster than in the previous film, the main characters decide to burn the bodies in an incinerator. However, this creates a nasty acid rain that resurrects even more bodies–as well as body parts!  Soon, the entire town, including the cemetery, is overrun by speedy demons!

With an engaging mix of horror, humor, shtick, ludicrous violence, and a kick-ass soundtrack, Return of the Living Dead set a new standard for the modern zombie movie–for better or worse!

How about you? Any underrated horror films you want to suggest for this shadowy and wicked season? Please share!