Horror movies aren’t just cheap entertainment anymore. There’s a scary pirate’s treasure trove of indie and obscure horror flicks that weren’t made to pander to an audience, and are surprising, artful, and witty. Here are five movies you likely won’t see on other lists and should be watched as soon as the popcorn is ready. Oh, and just to be clear: they are generally more fun when paired with a few puffs of smoke. That much, at least, is still true.
The world’s got enough little-girls-in-the-throes-of-Satanic-influence films–but none are as unpredictable, nutso or sexy as Alucarda. Probably due to the lack of formality in the Mexican film business in the early 70’s this movie is joyfully all over the place. It bounces deliriously from the vibe of an acid-drenched stage production to disturbingly honest performances as events seem to play out in real life. It has some of the most inspired costumes and production design. Ever.
What ever happened to Bud Cort, Harold from Harold and Maude, you might ask… apparently he became creepier, funnier and was cast in this marvel. The mind-bending script by the architect of TheTwilight Zone series, Charles Beaumont, sat unproduced in Roger Corman’s files for years after his death. Then this happened. The film makes giddy fever-dream sense, features cameos galore (young Kyle Gass!) and has more Lovecraft references than just about any other.
Imagine Nation Geographic hired a brilliant and psychedelic-minded filmmaker to make a bug doc. Now imagine the filmmaker took their money and made an apocalyptic and quasi-faked movie showing bugs will take over our world.
Finally, imagine his outrageously talented buddy created some of the most terrifying soundscapes for the audio track. The cinematography is mind-blowing, but watch this one loud.
Larry Cohen makes each of his movies like a delirious and hyper first attempt with nary an understanding of how movies are made or structured. And that is what makes each thrilling. No where is that clearer than with this piece of insanity–wherein a 70’s New York cop struggles with divorce, his co-workers, and a rash of mass-killings.
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This cop is always first on the scene just as the killer utters the title as their mea culpa. Spaceships, the anti-christ and a cop killed by a sniper in a chase and shootout at the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade played by a then-unknown Andy Kaufman. This movie is bananas.
In 1968 B-Movie king Roger Corman told then Esquire writer Peter Bogdanovich he could make a movie—provided he casts an aging Boris Karloff and stayed under budget. The result is Targets, a politically charged film in which a washed-up horror actor makes an appearance at a drive-in (screening one of his and Jack Nicholson’s early Corman films) while a deranged Viet Nam vet unleashes gunfire upon the trapped audience. The film is a smart, energetic and looks at what a monster really is. Karloff actually acts, the script was punched up by Sam Fuller, and Bogdanovitch plays the young writer/director. It’s tense and sharp—no one has ever made another movie like it.