Hello horror fans, I would like to give you a little introduction, my name is Robert DiLauro and I am the latest member of the Horror Freak family, also staffer for Rue Morgue and CEO of upcoming horror publishing company Fear Front. I was given the first task of my new home and it is a good one, a list of films you have probably heard of and should definitely view. There are no franchises here, this does not separate the super terror fan from the nightmarish newbie. This is just a simple compilation of great films you should give a glance or have in your collection. This is a mixed bag, and I hope that everyone sees something here that might entice them in their next visual journey into darkness.
1. We Are Still Here
We Are Still Here is a film written and directed by Ted Geoghegan and stars Andrew Sensenig, Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, and Lisa Marie. The story centers around a husband and wife who move to a small Rhode Island home after the death of their son after a car accident. Anne Sacchetti (Crampton) is clinically depressed and claims to her husband (Sensenig) that she feel the presence of their child in the home. After many warnings from the townspeople to leave, a dark secret slowly unfolds, and come to head when the Anne and Paul are visited by two friends (Fessenden and Marie) who decide to perform a seance in the home. The conclusion is bloody, filled with phenomenal fx, and truly turns what appears to be a simple ghost story into an almost epic conclusion that pulls the veil from the past and the home itself. Nothing is what is seems in WE ARE STILL HERE.
2. Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a comedic horror mockumentary from the perspective of a man destined to become a horror icon and stars Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, and Robert Englund. BEYOND THE MASK is the story of a female journalist and two cameramen who are doing a hard expose’ on a guy named Leslie Mancuso who utilizes an old tale to create a persona that will soon create a legendary killing spree straight from a slasher film. The film has many great cameos including Robert Englund as Leslie’s Loomis-esque Ahab, Scott Wilson as a retired horror icon who is a mentor to Leslie and married his Final Girl, and the late Zelda Rubinstein who plays the cliche librarian who tells the Final Girl about the history of Leslie Vernon, which is deftly left behind by Mancuso to begin his deadly game. BEHIND THE MASK is truly one of the greatest horror comedies that makes a total 180 in the climax, and becomes Leslie’s crafted horror film.
Deathgasm is a New Zealand horror comedy which stars Milo Cawthorne and James Blake as a pair of outcast metalheads who discover a vinyl record in a dilapidated home resided by a former Black Metal vocalist who tells them to run with the album and protect it. After forming a band, the duo attempts to play a song entitled The Black Hymn and begin to notice that they begin passing out and bleeding from the nose. One of the teens begins conversing with a beautiful girl named Medina (Kimberly Crossman) and teaches her the ways of metal. As the band continue to play the song, all hell breaks loose, which culminates in zombies, kills with dildoes, gore and blood galore, and demons. If you love dark comedy blended with an edge this movie should definitely be on your turntable.
4. The Prowler
The Prowler is a cult horror film from the 1980’s directed by Joseph Zito and originally had the international release title, ROSEMARY’S KILLER. The movie involves a group of college students who are holding a graduation dance, the same spot where a double murder occurred many years before. The kids are victims to a man dressed in World War II and the violence begins. This is not a well known slasher for new horror fans, but what makes it so special is that it is the first major film for fx legend, Tom Savini.
Bug is a low budget psychological horror directed by William Friedkin and stars Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd. The film involves a gay bar waitress named Agnes White (Judd) who is introduced to a drifter (Shannon) who says he is a recent military discharge. As their relationship grows deeper, he begins to talk about conspiracy theories that involve bugs injected into his body during his service as well as the room. His stories begin to affect Agnes who is in a downward spiral of her own, and as the story unfolds the paranoia becomes terrifying, vile, and more importantly sad. The performances are top notch and the script plays like the play it was based on. If you are looking for something to get under your skin, check out BUG.
6. The Eyes of Laura Mars
The Eyes of Laura Mars is based on a novel, but was also taken from a spec script from none other than John Carpenter, and was considered his first foray into feature film. The movie stars Faye Dunaway and a very young Tommy Lee Jones and is the story of a fashion photographer who specializes in controversial stylized violence, and becomes an art of suspicion when Laura (Dunaway) witnesses real time murders that emulate the style of her work. A police lieutenant (Jones) begins questioning Laura and showing her case photographs of the many murder scenes that are a mimic of her style. The film has beautiful, almost Giallo style cinematography, a shocking conclusion, and if you can believe it, a truly powerful rock ballad from Barbara Streisand that will get into your skin, but in the greatest of ways. Feast your eyes on this cult classic.
7. The Neighbor
The Neighbor is a horror film directed by Marcus Dunstan and stars Josh Stewart, Alex Essoe, and Bill Engvall (YES, that one). You would never think in a million years a country comedian would be solid for a genre movie, but he is phenomenal. The story centers on a small town in Cutter, Mississippi where a young man and his girlfriend live in a trailer next to a solitary, strange man who finally meets the man’s beau and acts very strange. When she disappears, When John (Stewart) comes home to find Rosie (Essoe) missing, he focuses on Troy (Engvall) and breaks into his home only to find a terror he could not imagine. If you are a fan of films like THE COLLECTOR, spy on this newer film.
8. What Have You Done to Solange?
What Have You Done to Solange? is an Italian-West German Giallo directed by Massimo Dallamano and stars a young and breathtaking Camille Keaton and focuses on a teacher who is having an affair with one of his students. Female students began dropping like flies, and the teacher begins looking like a suspect, or is he? SOLANGE has a great conclusion that reveals way more than the killer and is surely worth a view.
Martyrs is a French horror film and at its core is considered one of the most controversial horror films ever put on screen. It was written and directed by Pascal Laugier and stars Morjana Alaoui and Mylene Jampanoi and focuses on a young girl named Lucie (Jampanoi) who kills a man who had tortured her for years. She ends up in an orphanage and meets Anna (Alaoui) and fifteen years later seems to kill an innocent family that she claims is the catalyst for her torture. Lucie calls Anna who helps her with the clean up, only to do something extreme and unexpected in the process. Lucie discovers a secret entryway and is confronted by a woman who calls herself Mademoiselle who tells her that she is a part of a society that is looking for a Martyr, a young woman who can endure extreme pain only to find answers to the great beyond. The film is powerful, pitch dark, and is one of the greatest French entries of all-time.
10. Last Shift
Last Shift is an American horror film directed by Anthony DiBlasi and stars Juliana Harkavy. LAST SHIFT is the story of a young police officer named Jessica Loren (Harkavy) who is charged to watch an old station the night before it is permanently closed, that also happens to be the anniversary of the night a cult committed suicide within the walls. Jessica is frightened through many traumatic experience throughout the night while receiving strange phone calls from a girl in peril. The screenplay is sharp, the images of the cult are built to be iconic, and Harkavy’s performance is off the charts. It was one of my absolute best of 2015, and I implore you to hold your ground of this haunted tale.
11. The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon is a psychological horror directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and stars Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves. The film is the story of a young aspiring model named Jesse (Fanning) who enters Los Angeles, a plastic, dark world where she fulfills her dream, a seedy underbelly of excess, hatred, jealousy, and lies. The film does not have tons of dialogue but is represented by vibrant color, a metaphor to vampirism, moments of necrophilia in regard to a make-up artist who moonlights at a morgue, and has a blistering, incredible soundtrack. It was not a massive hit, but is worth a walk down the runway.
12. You’re Next
You’re Next is a dark horror-comedy slasher written by Simon Barrett, directed by Adam Wingard, and stars Barbara Crampton, Sharni Vinson, and AJ Bowen. The plot is simple but has as much bite as the killers who wear animal masks, and centers around a family who attacked during an anniversary getaway by armed assailants while also representing a family dynamic that is broken. During the carnage, the killers do not realize that there is a female guest named Erin (Vinson) who is truly their match. The third act unfolds into the reason the masked killers are there, as well as a conclusion with Erin that instantly makes her an independent horror icon.
13. Spider Baby
Spider Baby is a black horror comedy directed by Jack Hill and stars Sid Haig, Carol Ohmart, and Lon Chaney, Jr. The film centers around Bruno (Chaney), a chauffeur and caretaker of three orphaned siblings who suffer from Merrye Syndrome, a disease that reverts them back down the evolutionary ladder beginning in puberty.The children are demented and dangerous and all hell breaks loose when Bruno leaves them alone in the house. This is a true fan favorite and certainly one to check out.
14. The Horde
If you like films like THE RAID, this next zombie film is definitely for you. The Horde is a French action-horror film written and directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher and revolves around a group of tactical policemen who are on a revenge mission after one of their own is killed by a druglord. The task is to seek him out in a broken down highrise, but plans change when a zombie outbreak is unleashed and everyone who was once out for blood has to work together to survive. Take a bite out of THE HORDE, you will be infected.
15. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is a comedic horror and was directed by the later famed Bob Clark. The story centers on a mean spirited director who takes his crew to an island used to supposedly bury deranged criminals to perform a seance.Threatening to fire anyone who does not comply, he performs the ritual, solely in a comedic way, but ends up resurrecting the dead inhabitants. CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is a glimpse into the genius of Clark who later went on to direct films such as BLACK CHRISTMAS and PORKY’S.
16. Terror Train
Many knew Jamie Lee Curtis in the almighty Halloween, but she went on to other horror fare that was not so recognizable, like Terror Train. Terror Train is a Canadian-American slasher and focuses on a prank that comes back to haunt a fraternity while having a costume party aboard a train. The killer is definitely different, in that he switches into the costume of every victim he slays. Of course, Jamie is the ultimate Final Girl and gives fans a conclusion that truly shows why she is a Queen in the genre.
17. Trick or Treat (1986)
Trick or Treat is a supernatural horror, the directorial debut of actor Charles Martin Smith, and stars Marc Price and Tony Fields as the only rocker to fear, Sammi Curr. The story focuses on high school student Eddie (Price) who has a deep love for local hero and vulgar rocker, Sammi Curr. After discovering Sammi was killed in a strange hotel fire Eddie meets up with a DJ friend who give him an unreleased Curr album entitled Songs In The Key Of Death on an acetate disc. When Eddie plays the record backward, he hears the voice of Sammi who tells him to exact revenge on his bullies, until Eddie denies his request. After a freak soda on vinyl incident, Sammi is released to find another to act out his devious and sinister plans. There is also an intense third act confrontation as well as guest appearances by Gene Simmons and OzzyOsbourne. TRICK OR TREAT is the heavy metal horror that will entertain you to death.
18. High Tension
High Tension is a French horror film directed by Alexandre Aja and stars Cecile de France, Maiwenn, and Phillipe Nahon. The film centers on two friends, Marie and Alex, who take a trip to Alex’s family home to stay with her family. All is calm, until a madman in a van kills the entire family in a brutal fashion. After kidnapping Alex (Maiwenn), Marie sets off on a mission to kill the killer and save her best friend. The movie has one of the greatest twist in genre history and the movie as a whole is a gritty hell ride you will not soon forget.
19. The Other Side of the Door
The Other Side of the Door is a British-Indian supernatural horror film directed by Johannes Roberts and stars Sara Wayne Callie, Jeremy Sisto, Sofia Rosinsky, and Javier Botet, who you may remember as the Crooked Man in THE CONJURING 2. The film is the story of Maria (Callies), a mother who lost her son in an accident in India, and during a suicide attempt is visited by her housekeeper, Piki, who asks her if she would like to see her son again. She takes her to a temple which holds a line between the living and the dead, explaining that she may speak with her dead son, but never open the door no matter what he says. It is truly the perils of a mother’s love that culminates into a dark, haunting film with a shocking conclusion. You should open the door for this film.
20. Don’t Breathe
My last and final choice is the most recent but certainly the best horror I have seen this yeDon’t Breathe. Don’t Breathe is directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Stephen Lang. The film is the story of Rocky (Levy) and her two friends who like to break into people’s homes and take what they can get their hands on. Rocky has a plan, to break away from her terrible Michigan life with her daughter and move to Los Angeles. But there’s a catch, she needs to acquire the money to make the change. After hearing a tip about a blind man who received a massive settlement after the death of his daughter, the trio decide to break into his home, and instantly the terror ensues. Stephen Lang is a powerhouse as the the blind man with no name, and Levy is a formidable foe that you cannot help but root for. Plus, there is a conclusion that will many people’s minds. Take a breath, and be sure to check out this major independent hit.
There you have it, a solid and sinister list of films you can check out this weekend. All of them are solid, hold their own merit, and will be beloved by many for many different reasons.
Be sure to check me out here every week at Horror Freak, and remember, the only thing that can impale your dreams is your own negativity. I will scare you later.
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