This is a list of more or less recent films, many of which didn’t receive widespread or any play in the U.S. when they came out, and some of which are classics that warrant revisiting or looking at for the first time if you’ve simply not gotten around to it. You won’t find many blockbusters here, but you will find some of the best American indie and foreign masterpieces out there. Consider this your guide to exploring them.
Originally released in 2008, this French horror film is lauded as a masterpiece by many. Martyrs (the original French version) has been called a groundbreaking monster of a movie and an absolutely extreme experience. The film follows two women, both victims of childhood abuse, as they try to extract revenge on their tormentors even as things go completely sideways and they find themselves in a “living hell of depravity.”
Revenge was never so bitter and if you like this one then know that there’s a lot more French horror of this kind out there.
This is the original Thai version of the film that focuses on a couple involved in terrible accident and their slow realization that they are being haunted. The film focuses on spirit photography, a phenomenon dating back to the 19th century. Originally released in 2004, it was a huge hit in Thailand, so much so that Hollywood saw fit to buy the rights and do a remake in 2008 which was mostly just goofy jump scares and lots of screaming.
Buy it on Amazon.
Released in 2014, Creep is ostensibly about a man creating a video diary for his subject, a fellow diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, for the subject’s son to have and cherish. As you might expect, things first take a turn towards the strange and then for the truly frightening. Creep is shot in a close and intimate first person style but avoids the perpetual shaky cam style that can become so tiresome.
It’s a good balance, it’s creative, and it’s deeply unsettling.
4. The Thing
The Thing is from 1982 and is a John Carpenter classic. And while some might hesitate to agree that it’s been forgotten, what I’ve found is that even though many horror/thriller fans have heard of it, they haven’t actually seen it and are far more familiar with the Halloween series. So in that sense it’s a classic that time has sort of left behind and if you haven’t seen The Thing then it’s time to take the plunge.
The setting is the frozen wastes of Antarctica as a group of scientists and researchers struggle to come to grips with the fact that they are not alone even in the most isolated place on Earth and that there’s no one they can trust.
Not big on blood or gore, this film 2004 film from Japan is a mind f*ck. Remade just a few years later in a film with Sandra Bullock, Premonition starts of with a bang, literally, as Professor Hideki Satomi finds a scrap of newspaper listing his own daughter in the obituary section.
What happens next I’ll leave to you to imagine but suffice to say the film explores the horror of knowing the grizzly future and being totally powerless to prevent the terrors to come.
Buy it on Amazon.
6. August Underground
An indie slasher/gore film shot entirely on MiniDV in 2001, I can’t even get through August Underground because it is one of the most graphic, brutal, and cruel films ever made and I simply couldn’t handle it. However, having said that, it’s a cult classic in its own right and if extreme and shocking visuals are something you enjoy or can work your way through then I suggest you give this a try.
One last word, the director was taken into custody when transporting the film to Canada for a film festival because it was initially considered “obscene material”. He was later released but that should help give you an idea of what you’re in for.
Buy it on Amazon.
The most recent (2015), quirky, and least horrific film on this list arrives with Deathgasm a pseudo Shaun of the Dead type film about a group of kids who form a heavy metal band whose demonic lyrics start coming to life. Creepy? A little, but mostly it’s horror themed fun.
8. The Gravedancers
After a drunken night of dancing on the graves of some of the city’s most notorious murdering psychopaths, a group of friends finds that the dead don’t take desecration so lightly. Mayhem ensues in this low budget thriller from 2006 which is known for some of the best ghost imagery ever.
9. Event Horizon
Another that many have forgotten about, this is sci-fi horror at its finest. From the brutish design of the ship itself to the steam filled rooms aboard it, Event Horizon is an exercise in psychological decay and meddling with things you don’t understand.
The crew, hoping to use their ship to travel beyond the stars open a portal to do so … except there’s something on the other side of every portal. Give this movie a try. It’s a slow burn at first but absolutely worth it and ahead of its time.
This story was first published on Creepy Catalog.
Feature still from "Martyrs" via Weinstein Company