So of course I had to do it. It’s Halloween, and I couldn’t let the day of fright go by without a small homage to some of my favorite scary movies. But I wanted to bring attention to a few films that are not as celebrated as the big horror hits, franchises and cult classics. I already blogged about one of them, Ti West’s 2009 throwback to the 1980s, “House of the Devil” (https://monica-elliott.squarespace.com/must-see/).
Here are a few others that are just as good, if not better, than some of the go-to choices for horror fans.
“Let the Right One In” (2008)
I can’t speak to the remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz (“Let Me In”), but the original Swedish film about a bullied 12-year-old boy’s newfound friendship with his neighbor – a strange, nocturnal girl his age – is a fantastic study in understated horror. But there’s still enough gore to satisfy those with a taste for blood.
“From Hell” (2001)
Johnny Depp stars as a Sherlock Holmesian detective seeking the serial killer for the ages, Jack the Ripper, in a dark, damp London set up by directors Albert and Allen Hughes. One of Depp’s seemingly rare performances as a “relatively” normal person, he is joined by Robbie Coltrane, Heather Graham, and the great Ian Holm.
“Angel Heart” (1987)
It makes sense that the devil would turn up in a lot of horror movies, including the requisite classics like “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby.” One of the best is Alan Parker’s atmospheric tale of lost loves and lost souls set in New York and New Orleans. The movie is steeped in voodoo and villainy, but it all sneaks up on you amid the striking imagery and characterizations – like Mickey Rourke’s bumbling but determined detective and our man Robert DeNiro as Louis Cypher.
“Joy Ride” (2001)
Yes, I’m talking about the Paul Walker vehicle in which he and his buddy, the ubiquitous Steve Zahn, take a road trip to pick up Walker’s girl, the not-so-ubiquitous Leelee Sobieski. They take a wrong turn when they foolishly wind up a truck driving psychopath called Rusty Nails, who rivaled the traditional slasher movie bad boys like Jason and Michael Myers. But I have to give credit to director John Dahl for making it terrifyingly suspenseful before the predictable ending. Dahl is the brains behind the 1990s sleeper hit suspense yarns “The Last Seduction” and “Red Rock West.”
“Death Proof/Planet Terror” (2007)
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez tag team the horror genre with two B-movie, drive-in tributes that are wonderfully gory and grim but have great humor, too. In Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” Kurt Russell can’t seem to “hang up his chick habit” until he runs across the wrong chicks. And Rodriguez takes the zombie route with Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez fighting the gross creatures with everything they’ve got – in some cases with weaponized amputated limbs. Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin are along for the fun.