A great Halloween is never complete without an old-fashioned horror movie marathon.
Everyone knows the traditional picks, but if Poltergeist and Friday the 13th no longer pack quite the same punch, grab some spooky snacks, take up your position behind the sofa, and get ready for a night of terror with these five classic or lesser-known fright-fests you might not have seen.
This Japanese comedy-horror from 1977 is equal parts frightening, bizarre, and hilarious. It follows schoolgirl Angel (Kimiko Ikegami), who sets out with six friends for a summer vacation at her aunt’s mysterious mansion.
As the film moves seamlessly from teen melodrama to haunted-house horror, you will find yourself marveling at the wonderfully wacky scenarios and inventive images. You might find yourself unexpected touched at the end, too. A film that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Suspiria is probably the best work of Italian horror master Dario Argento. When an American ballet student (Jessica Harper) arrives at an esteemed German dance academy, a series of grisly murders soon reveals a menacing supernatural secret behind the innocent façade.
The music by progressive rock group Goblin and Argento’s trademark use of color make for a deeply unsettling experience from start to finish. A remake is due out soon, but you can’t go far wrong with the brilliant original.
3. The Innocents
This British classic, released in 1961, is about a governess (Deborah Kerr) who is hired to look after the two young children of a rich bachelor at his large country estate. She slowly begins to suspect that the children may be possessed and the house itself haunted.
What it lacks in gore and jump scares it makes up for with a claustrophobic, gothic atmosphere and a mystery plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The kids are probably the creepiest part, setting a trend for horror movies that would be copied for years to come.
If you’re into gore, forget Saw and Hostel – this 1999 Japanese flick from cult director Takashi Miike will have you squirming.
After a long, tense build-up involving a widower (Shigharu Aoyama) seeking a new wife through a mock “audition” for the role, the plot descends into truly disturbing, can’t-look-away torture-horror territory.
To give any more away would spoil a unique and original, if far from savory, movie experience.
5. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
Are you in the mood for something truly classic? This first film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is still genuinely chilling today, almost 100 years after its 1922 release. It was an unauthorized adaptation, so the names are changed (Count Dracula becomes Count Orlok, for example), but the characters are easily recognizable.
The sepia-tone images, lack of dialogue and minimalist piano score only add to the bloodcurdling experience, and while you’ve probably already seen the iconic image of Orlok’s shadow creeping up the staircase, it’s well worth seeing it in its entirety.
There you have it – five of the very best lesser-known horrors for your Halloween movie marathon.
If you’re new to the genre or just fancy something different, you can’t go wrong with any of the films on this list.