Underrated Scares: 10 Horror Movies You've Never Heard Of
These aren't your mainstream horror flicks; these are the overlooked gems, the ones you might've missed.
1. Tourist Trap (1979)
So you've done haunted houses, abandoned mental asylums, and creepy forests. But have you ever explored a macabre roadside attraction? Tourist Trap, an underappreciated slasher film, offers exactly that.
A group of friends find themselves stranded at a wax museum where the mannequins are eerily lifelike. The movie boasts a creepy, unsettling ambiance. Its villain, Mr. Slausen, is not your usual horror movie maniac; he's something more chilling.
The film manages to turn mundane wax figures into an army of terror, an impressive feat considering its relatively low budget. The film currently holds a solid 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Pieces (1982)
Pieces is the movie equivalent of that weird, gory dream you had after eating too much pepperoni pizza. It's a Spanish-American slasher film that became a cult classic, thanks to its bizarre plot and over-the-top gore.
The story involves a chainsaw-wielding maniac on a college campus who's collecting body parts to create the perfect woman. It's gruesome, baffling, and has an ending that's one of the most hilariously unexpected in horror history.
Fun fact: a tagline for the movie was It's exactly what you think it is! Well, spoiler alert – it isn't.
3. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp might sound like a cheery summer retreat, but in reality, it's a nightmarish descent into adolescent horror. This 1983 cult classic focuses on a summer camp where kids and counselors start dying in gruesome accidents – or are they murders?
The film delivers solid scares and boasts one of the most jaw-dropping endings in horror cinema. The role of the film's central character, Angela, was Felissa Rose's first acting job. She was only 13 when filming began.
4. The Mutilator (1984)
Originally titled Fall Break (how's that for misleading?), The Mutilator brings us to a beachside condo for some off-season relaxation, and, you guessed it, a whole lot of mutilation.
The film offers an eclectic mix of college friends, a revenge-seeking father, and some ingenious death scenes. And the dark sense of humor only adds to the movie's charm. The Mutilator currently holds an Audience Score of 25% on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. The Prowler (1981)
Also known as Rosemary's Killer, the movie spins a tale around a World War II veteran returning home to discover his lover has been unfaithful. The subsequent murders (and the ones 35 years later) are violent, creative, and quite frightening.
Notably, Tom Savini, the legendary special effects and makeup artist, considered the work he did on this film to be some of his best. The film has a well-deserved 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. StageFright: Aquarius (1987)
Moving on to the world of Italian horror, StageFright: Aquarius deserves some spotlight. It's a directorial debut for Michele Soavi, a protégé of the 'Italian Hitchcock,' Dario Argento. The film portrays a theater troupe locked inside a theater with a crazed killer donning a giant owl mask. Unsettling, isn't it?
Known for its high body count and creative kills, StageFright also stands out for its surrealistic tone. Fun fact: Soavi played small parts in several of Dario Argento's films before stepping behind the camera.
7. Just Before Dawn (1981)
The 1980s loved their summer camp slashers, and Just Before Dawn is a standout among them. The film centers on a group of young adults venturing into the remote Oregon wilderness, only to find themselves targeted by a savage killer.
Despite its formulaic plot, the movie benefits from its atmospheric setting and a unique killer that sets it apart from its peers. It's a slice of backwoods terror that proves you don't need a big budget to create genuine chills. Oh, and did we mention it has a creepy harmonica-laden soundtrack?
8. Intruder (1989)
Supermarket shopping can be a chore, but Intruder turns it into a nightmare. The film is set in a grocery store where employees are stalked and killed by a mysterious assailant.
Directed by Scott Spiegel, a high school friend of Sam Raimi ( yes, the Evil Dead Raimi), Intruder stands out for its creative camera work, over-the-top gore, and a thrilling final act.
Despite its meager budget, the movie makes good use of the supermarket setting, resulting in some truly inventive kill sequences. Raimi and his brother Ted have small roles in the film, which adds to the fun for horror aficionados.
9. The Burning (1981)
We're back at summer camp with The Burning, a film loosely based on the urban legend of Cropsey, a boogeyman figure in New York State. This film features a nasty, garden shears-wielding caretaker seeking revenge on campers.
The Burning is known for its well-staged kill scenes (thanks again to Tom Savini), a young Jason Alexander (yes, George Costanza from Seinfeld), and a canoe trip you won't forget. If that doesn't give you enough chills, consider this: it holds a respectable 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
10. Blood Rage (1987)
Our final destination on this horror tour is Blood Rage, a film set during Thanksgiving that gives a whole new meaning to the term 'sibling rivalry.' The film's plot revolves around a set of twins – one good, one evil. The evil twin escapes from a mental institution and heads back home to frame his brother for the murders he's about to commit.
This film packs a blend of psychological horror, impressive special effects, and unexpected plot twists that make it a memorable watch.