As any true horror fan knows, a memorable scare is worth the extra dig. And be careful not to scare yourself too much by watching these 16 rare horror gems, because that extra dig might just be your own grave! Whether it's satanic affairs, mumblecore monsters, or homicidal doctors, here's a list of lesser known, yet quintessential horror titles to add to your movie queues now.
The wacky movie "The Brood" from shock-director David Cronenberg pokes fun at the crazy therapy movements of the 1970s, like Primal Scream Therapy. When Nola and Frank separate, Nola goes to an unconventional therapist to deal with her rage and gain custody of the couple's daughter, Candice. But after a series of bizarre murders committed by dwarf-like monsters seem to link Nola and her psychotherapist to the crimes, it becomes clear that Frank is dealing with much more than a crazy ex-wife.
By CBSNews.com associate producer Lauren Treihaft and Jessica Ferri of The Lineup
Credit: New World Pictures/Reuters
"House of the Devil" (2009)
With a budget of under a million dollars and a limited release, horror fans had to work to get their paws on "House of the Devil," director Ti West's homage to the horror films of the 1970s and '80s. But once they did, they weren't disappointed: demon possession, punishment for promiscuity, neon '80s fashion, and pizza deliveries are among the familiar motifs referenced in this romp down horror movie lane. As a bonus, mumblecore actress Greta Gerwig turns up for a cameo, and nearly steals the show.
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It's hard being Carol (Catherine Deneuve) in 1965. All you want to do is daydream, and hang out with your sister. Unfortunately, you've lost your grasp on reality and weird arms keep emerging from the walls of your claustrophobic apartment trying to grab you.
Though you may have heard of Roman Polanski's other horror films, "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Tenant," their precursor, "Repulsion," has been hailed as one of the most unusual psychological horror movies of its time. As Carol retreats into herself, the apartment begins to morph into a threatening force. Centered on the seldom touched subject of women's sexual repression, this surreal vision paved the way for many excellent modern horror movies to come.
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"Don't Look Now" (1973)
Continuing in the vein of emotionally-scarring horror movies, "Don't Look Now" stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a couple attempting to recover from the tragic death of their young daughter.
Christine (Christie) and John (Sutherland) travel to Venice to escape their problems, but it seems that the specter of their lost child has followed them. With a serial killer on the loose, and an unfortunate run-in with a psychic, Christine loses it, and John begins to see a childlike figure in a red-coat, much like one that had belonged to his daughter, around Venice. Don't look now, but all that is not well ... does not end well.
As a fun side note, this film also contains one of the most notorious sex scenes of all time: it's rumored that the sex between Sutherland and Christie is not simulated. You'll have to watch to decide for yourself.
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This completely insane, thoroughly disgusting and emotionally scarring film from writer/director Andrzej Zulawski is perhaps one of the most difficult horror films to track down. You will not find it streaming on Netflix. It seems only the most knowledgeable and bravest horror fans know of its existence, which is strange considering it stars two well-known actors, Isabelle Adjani ("The Story of Adele H.") and Sam Neil ("Jurassic Park").
The plot centers on the total breakdown of the marriage between Anna (Adjani) and Mark (Neil), who share a young child. The passionate hatred between the couple seems to manifest itself physically - Anna is hysterical, indulging in episodes of disturbing self-harm, including what may be one of the most disturbing scenes ever filmed, in the subway. Mark, meanwhile, begins to suspect that Anna is unfaithful. But it's who - or what - she's been cheating on him with that makes this one of the most bizarre horror movies ever made.
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"Funny Games" (1997)
What's more terrifying than a killer motivated by revenge? Two killers motivated by nothing at all.
It's not that you've never heard of "Funny Games" - it's just that you haven't been able to sit through it. This parodic reinvention of the torture porn genre places the audience in an uncomfortably voyeuristic position to observe two young men senselessly torture a family of three through sadistic games, making a bet on whether or not they'll survive to see the next day.
In 2007, director Michael Haneke completed a shot-by-shot remake of his own film, this time with an American cast, including Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt.
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The terrifying events of this under-the-radar indie horror take place in a radio station in a small Ontario town. Strange calls begin to worry the station's staff, and as the night wears on, it becomes clear that a deadly virus has spread outside the studio's doors. What is going on, and how will they keep it outside?
Reminiscent of Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds," "Pontypool" is an incredibly smart, subtle film that doesn't let its intelligence infringe upon its ability to deliver nearly unbearable suspense.
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"Two Thousand Maniacs" (1964)
This lost gem plays on tensions between the North and South when some unwitting Yankee tourists find themselves at a small Southern town's 100th anniversary celebration. As it turns out, these Confederates are out for revenge, and theirs is blood sport. Many critics suggest that this film gave birth to the murderous redneck archetype. One memorable scene includes a woman's dismembered limbs being roasted over the barbeque - not exactly a friendly welcome, y'all.
Credit: Friedman-Lewis Productions/Reuters
"The Last House on the Left" (1972)
Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" inspired Wes Craven's first film. In both movies, two teenage girls are brutally raped and murdered by a gang of thugs, and one girl's parents, later realizing they have the murderers in their charge, decide to take revenge.
When "The Last House on the Left" appeared, it faced censorship in theaters around the world. For years, it wasn't available in any form that resembled Craven's original intention. Though Craven is mostly remembered for his later work (including "Scream" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street"), "The Last House on the Left" is in many ways the pioneering film of modern horror, in particular revenge porn. As Craven said, "horror films don't create fear. They release it."
Credit: Filmways Pictures/Reuters
"Eyes Without a Face" (1960)
Despite its release more than 50 years ago, the visceral and psychological nightmare encountered in this French masterpiece, by acclaimed director Georges Franju, remains just as unsettling today as it was in 1960. The film centers on a doctor (Pierre Brasseur) who is responsible for an automobile accident that leaves his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), hideously disfigured. Unbearable and inevitable guilt drives the father to attempt an unseemly, unconventional medical procedure to restore his daughter's once-beautiful face, by replacing it with the face of another.
And where might the mad doctor find such a face?
As with Roman Polanski's "Repulsion," "Eyes Without A Face" depicts a frightening collapse of character that is, at once, both haunting and lyrical. But where in Polanski's film identity is lost and fragmented, in Franju's terrifying vision, identity is dismembered, disembodied and deadly.
Credit: Criterion Collection
"The Vanishing" (1988)
Whatever you do, make sure you see the original Dutch version of this film. (The 1993 remake, starring Kiefer Sutherland, is an absolute travesty.) The original "Vanishing" is not just an overlooked horror movie; it's a perfect example of a film that transcends genre.
Rex and Saskia are on their way to a much-needed vacation when Saskia disappears, seemingly into thin air. Rex goes mad trying to find out what happened to her, even putting his own safety in jeopardy. The conclusion to this brilliant thriller is one of the most terrifying, bone-chilling endings in all of cinema history. It will haunt you for years to come.
You've been warned.
"In the Mouth of Madness" (1994)
The final film in director John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by "The Thing" and "Prince of Darkness") has been lauded as one of the most audacious and remarkable works of the horror veteran's career. Upon the opening scene, we are immediately, and without choice, pulled in the mouth of madness that is the mind of former insurance investigator-turned-demented psychiatric patient John Trent (Sam Neil). Trent recounts his final assignment investigating the disappearance of illustrious horror novelist Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), during which a series of disturbing events occurred and led inevitably to his psych ward damnation.
Unfolding onscreen in disorienting retrospect, the film follows Trent's search for clues about the missing Cane, except the clues turn out to be an endless series of demonic figures and grotesque encounters that bear uncanny resemblance to the macabre imaginings featured in the writer's books.
Basically, "In the Mouth of Madness" is the screen equivalent of a twisted vision of hell invented by H.P. Lovecraft that asks: What happens when the line separating reality from the nightmarish imaginary becomes blurred, seamlessly?
Credit: New Line Cinema
"The Serpent and The Rainbow" (1988)
As far as Wes Craven's oeuvre goes, this is one of the master of horror's best and least-known films. The story is loosely based on a non-fiction book of the same name by an ethnobotanist who detailed his research on zombie legends associated with Voodoo, and a specific case involving a man who was allegedly poisoned, buried, and brought back to life with a potion as a zombie. The film expands on this case, augmenting it with ghastly flair and political thrills.
Bill Pullman takes on the role of Dennis Alan, the doomed scientist in Craven's warped world, who travels to Haiti during a violent revolution to investigate a man who claims to be a member of the walking dead, and the so-called zombie-inducing drug that made him such. But even before Alan arrives he is plagued by supernatural visions and the deathly gaze of a looming Haitian authoritarian figure who is determined to see his painful demise. When he arrives, Alan realizes he is a very unwanted guest in both natural and supernatural realms. The nightmare becomes all too real as he is thrust into Haiti's gruesome underworld, framed for murder, and buried alive in dark ritualistic magic.
Credit: Universal Pictures
Unlike the crossover American acclaim received by other Spanish language horror films from the prolific horror/fantasy director-producer Guillermo del Toro - like "Julia's Eyes" (2010) and "The Orphanage" (2011) - "Shiver" did not gain the scary movie fandom that it deserves.
For fans of creatures damned to the night and sunlight's sometimes strange visceral effects, this film should pique your curiosity, and maybe even surprise you, because it holds some pretty inventive genre-bending. Santi, a young boy with fangs and and aberrance to sunlight, is forced to move with his mother to a remote Spanish town that rarely sees the light of day. Just after Santi's arrival, the town is beset by a brutal string of murders. Ostracized for his appearance, Santi is now suspected of serial murder. From the onset the film's buildup and characterization of its protagonist suggests a standard monster movie archetype, but what follows is quite the deviation.
Credit: Cine Video y TV
"A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003)
Why is this the highest-grossing Korean horror film ever released in America? Because it's also one of the scariest films ever released in America. Inspired by the ancient Korean folktale ("Jangha and Hongryun"), the film centers on a pair of close sisters who return to their bucolic, isolated lake house after a brief "get well" hospital stint following the traumatizing death of their mother. To their surprise, the sisters are greeted at home by a new evil stepmother whom they are hell-bent on tormenting. But there may be something else in the house even more hell-bent on tormenting them.
The cinematography, especially the sweeping opening shots of the lake house, add much to the film's allure and also to its terror. While at first you think you are watching a beautiful and slow-moving art house film, you're then confronted with "The Ring"-level scares at the MOST unexpected moments.
Credit: Big Blue Film
"Trouble Everyday" (2001)
Have you ever seen an erotically-charged virus outbreak film by an acclaimed French filmmaker? No? That's probably because this is the only one of its kind. Director Claire Denis reinvents the infection genre with a mordant tale of disease, decay, nymphomania and cannibalism. However, there is something so much more enthralling behind the the story of a young couple who fall prey to bloodlust while honeymooning in Paris. The film's absorbing textures, experiments with lightness and darkness, and scenes of savage sensuality make the images disturbingly visceral and almost tactile.