When it comes to the best horror movies around, we all usually rely on John Carpenter, Stephen King, or whatever’s on in the theater that has the weirdest movie poster. Yet for your next movie night in, why not check out an overlooked gem? These might be a little hard to find, but I can guarantee they’re worth the effort.
Willow Creek is The Blair Witch Project meets Big Foot. The movie starts out slowly as a young couple heads to Big Foot country in Northern California. The boyfriend seeks to make his mark documenting his experiences…in hopes of capturing a real sighting. His girlfriend is a pretty actress just along for the ride to provide moral support. Once the pair heads into the wilderness, things start getting creepy. Is Big Foot real? I think you’ll believe after seeing this movie, which definitely gave me nightmares. Find it On Demand.
Talk about the stuff of nightmares. I still can’t get this one out of my head. A creepy popup book called Mr. Babadook finds its way onto the bookshelf of a seven-year-old boy with behavioral problems. His exhausted single mom finds it and cannot get rid of it…no matter what. And that’s only the beginning, for the book is the gateway for the Babadook, a boogie man/demon/who knows what? Don’t watch this one alone. Find it on Netflix.
If ever there were an argument for teen abstinence, this movie is it. When an “annoyingly pretty” high school student has casual sex with her boyfriend, an evil spiritual entity begins to haunt her. It follows…in the form of random zombie-like strangers, visible only to her, that creep inexorably toward her. She learns that if the entity succeeds in killing her, it will then pursue the lover who passed it on to her. On the surface, this is an extremely dark cautionary tale against STDs—not filmmaker David Robert Mitchell’s intention, I’m sure. It Follows will stay with you. The power of this movie is that it’s extremely unsettling when intimacy unleashes something horrific. Find it On Demand.
The film that put director Brad Anderson on the map has become something of an obsession for me, namely because of the location where it was filmed: the Danvers State Asylum, originally known as “State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers.” Roadtrippers.com claim that the site was “one of the most violently haunted buildings in the world.” The site has the highly dubious distinction of being home of the lobotomy, which is why there seems to have been little protest when the hospital was torn down last year, in spite of at least one of the buildings being on the national registry of historic places.
In the context of the film, the hospital has been condemned, and an asbestos cleaning crew needs to get to work on it. Session 9 is more drama than horror for at least the first half, unfolding slowly as it explores characters’ psyches and their complex relationships, which are on the verge of coming unhinged. Couple that with the asylum’s oppressive presence as it bleeds into their mental states, plus one of the character’s discovery of horrific recordings of a former patient’s sessions…disturbing things are bound to happen. Find it On Demand.
Best ghost movie ever made, and you haven’t seen it! You can get it for just $6 on DVD with Amazon Prime. Now that is a very good deal for your next family movie night. This film can be enjoyed by kids 10+, as I did growing up for countless slumber parties. In it George C. Scott gives his best performance as a grieving widower whose wife and daughter were killed tragically in a car accident. He relocates to Seattle to start anew and rents a house, where he begins experiencing otherworldly events…faucets inexplicably turned on, loud banging early in the morning. He is finally driven to discover the source of these occurrences and discovers a secret stairway at the back of a storage room leading to an attic…where a young boy was tragically held prisoner many years before. You’ll never look at red rubber bouncy balls (the star of the film’s creepiest scene) the same way again…trust me.
The Omen (original)
The child Damion has supernatural gifts. Unfortunately, he uses those gifts to do very bad things. His adopted father, an American ambassador, begins to suspect that his son could in fact be the devil incarnate. Yes, they did a remake of this movie, but the original created during movies’ glory days of the 1970s is better. One of the scariest movies of all time.
More science fiction than horror, and technically not a movie, Stranger Things nevertheless is a TV series making my list because of its cinematic quality and the homage it pays to 1980s film classics like Stand by Me and E.T. The mysterious disappearance of a little boy, Will, in a small town is seemingly connected to the nearby military lab. The escape from the lab of a girl with kinetic (super)powers further compounds this mystery. Things take a turn into the Twilight Zone, as Will is seemingly able to communicate with his family from the great beyond. I dare you to stop binge watching this one! A Netflix original.
Alfred Hitchcock was the Master of Suspense, but unless you’re a die-hard movie buff, you probably haven’t seen many of his classics other than Psycho. A haunting masterpiece, Rebecca is the story of a young woman who marries a wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter, who lost his beautiful young first wife Rebecca under tragic circumstances. Constantly compared to Rebecca, the new Mrs. De Winter begins to believe that Rebecca’s spirit pervades their mansion – her “ghost” seems to be everywhere. This movie is a timeless marvel!