Matt’s Top 5 Horror Films You Probably Haven’t Seen

Written by Matt Butler October 17, 2016

The Gate is a classic horror you may not have seen!

We all have our Halloween favourites. The Exorcist, Hocus Pocus, The Fly. Me? I like me some good ole Mickey’s House of Villains! But once in a while, I feel compelled to introduce you to something new, and if you’ve already heard of it, to press you further into finally seeing it. This Halloween, my treat to you is my Top 5 Horror Films You Probably Haven’t Seen (But Should).

5. The Gate (Dir. Tibor Takács) 1987

the gate

Even back in the days before PG-13 was a thing, I’m sure there were parents who shook their heads at movies like Poltergeist. Director Tobe Hopper and producer Steven Spielberg insisted the rating be changed from R to PG, which it was. And it was Spielberg who would hold responsibility for creating PG-13, not just because of the responses to Temple of Doom and Gremlins, but because he himself suggested it. The Gate, to me, feels like a compromise for this new censorship. It’s a PG-13 film that’s got all the Poltergeist elements (with a dash of Evil Dead), but obviously made for a teenage audience. After a rotten tree is dug out of his backyard, 9-year-old Glen (played by tiny Stephen Dorff) unearths a gigantic geode that opens up a gateway to Hell right in his backyard. High-jinks ensue. This is one of the few kid-centric movies that actually knows what a kid is and how a kid talks. It also contains one of the most creative and confusing insults I’ve ever heard: “Suck my nose till my head caves in”. Brilliance.

4. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (Dir. Eli Craig) 2010

tucker and dale vs evil

If Stranger Things has proven anything, it’s that we crave nostalgia, specifically 80s movie nostalgia. It’s hard for me to put my finger on, but I’m guessing it has something to do with its fixation on spectacle and simplicity. When the emotion is real, when the danger is real, logic almost becomes trifling. This is where Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil gets its stride, in its affectionate parody of some of the most classic horror tropes. The setup is a stereotypical group of college students go camping in an old abandoned house in the woods (as anyone would), and run into two backwoods men (Alan Tudyk & Tyler Labine) who give off an unsettlingly murdery vibe. As the kids get killed one by one, they naturally point fingers at the backwoods men. Little do they know, these supposedly homicidal freaks are actually two unassuming yokels just trying to rebuild their vacation home. It’s the same postmodern comedy from Cabin in the Woods, but more on the nose, and an alternative perspective that realigns your original perspective on horror.

3. Tremors (Dir. Ron Underwood) 1991

tremorsWhat could very well be the metaphorical and literal lovechild of Jaws and Jurassic Park, Tremors is an even blend of danger, spectacle, and unexpected comedy (though I guess we can only take giant man-eating earthworms so seriously). What carries Tremors through is an attention to logic and the way characters learn and adapt to the situation. As the graboids (those giant worm things) make themselves known, the people of Perfection (that’s the town) find ways to stay alive, causing the graboids to seek escalating means to secure their meal. It’s one of the smarter B-movies.

2. Alice (Dir. Jan Svankmajer) 1988

aliceI’ve ranted before how wrong Tim Burton got Wonderland (or rather Underland) before. Now, I want to ramble about how right Jan Svankmajer got it. It’s the madcap story you know with a twist of claustrophobia. Colourful whimsy and escapism exchanged for bleak, cramped silence. It’s really amazing what the omission of a score and a 4:3 aspect ratio can do. The strangest thing though about Alice, next to the daunting visuals, is the reaction it elicits. With the opening narration: “This is a story for children… perhaps.” I was expecting an eventual turn down the wrong rabbit hole. But throughout the film, I found myself with a big goofy smile, snickering too. This may not be the Alice you know, but it’s the story you love through a very different set of eyes.

1. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (Dir. James Nguyen) 2010

birdemic

I don’t place this film in the top spot lightly. It’s nothing to do with quality film-making, no no. Birdemic is a far more interesting beast, not too far from the Tommyis Wiseaucus species of “So Bad It’s Good”. You might be thinking it has something to do with birds inflicting shock and terror upon us all, not unlike a certain collection of shark windstorms. Though this film is clearly inspired by Hitchcock’s The Birds, that’s only a quarter of the equation. It’s a bizarre amalgamation of ham-fisted eco-awareness, off-putting romance, and disastrously bad sound design. But it’s one of those films that despite nothing working in any facet the way it is supposed to, everything works in ways you could never imagine. It’s a horrendous and infectious film that deserves its own Western Film Midnight Screening, and a spot on your Halloween Movie Watchlist.

Here’s hoping you haven’t seen at least one of these movies! But now I’m curious, what lesser known horror movies do you think are worth checking out this Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you’re curious about my other Halloween film selections, check out my list from last year: My Top Five Horror Comedies.

Happy Halloween!

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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