These days, the term "elevated horror" gets thrown around a lot, but there have been "elevated" movies coming out of the horror genre since its earliest inception, and they don't always get the attention of The Witch or Get Out. In fact, there are countless great obscure horror movies out there just waiting to be found. Some of them were huge hits when they were first released and then sank into obscurity; others were met with misunderstanding or outright hostility only to later be reappraised as classics.
Whether you're looking for some underrated horror movies to introduce to your friends at your next party or just want to watch something you've never seen before, these are some of the best obscure horror films you may not be familiar with.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures1369 VOTES
It earned cinematographer Charles Lang an Academy Award nomination for Best Black and White Cinematography, was a box office success and a hit with critics, has been hailed as one of the first films to treat seriously the subject of a haunted house, got a Criterion release, and has been called one of the scariest horror movies of all time by Martin Scorsese and Guillermo del Toro.
Yet today, when people rattle off great movies about the supernatural, this understated 1944 classic rarely makes the list. Which is a shame, because the same subtle spookiness and gorgeous cinematography that made The Uninvited resonate with audiences decades ago still works today, to say nothing of the starring turns by Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and, in her first screen role, Gail Russell.
It's also been considered to feature an early Hollywood depiction of a lesbian character in the form of Miss Holloway, played by author Cornelia Otis Skinner. In fact, it actually lent its title to a book on the subject by Patricia White.
- Actors: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell, Donald Crisp, Cornelia Otis Skinner
- Released: 1944
- Directed by: Lewis Allen
- Photo: Magnet Releasing2240 VOTES
When The Eyes of My Mother premiered at Sundance, it caused some viewers to "flee the theater." That's the kind of buzz you want for a horror film, especially when it's your directorial debut and was filmed in black-and-white and clocks in at only 77 minutes.
It isn't just hype either. The Eyes of My Mother is Certified Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, where the Critics Consensus says the film "uses a shocking trauma to fuel a hauntingly hypnotic odyssey whose nightmarish chill lingers long after the closing credits."
While the director has gone on to higher-profile projects, like 2018's Piercing and the latest remake of The Grudge, The Eyes of My Mother remains an underseen oddity.
- Directed by: Nicolas Pesce
- Photo: After Dark Films3215 VOTES
Horror author Paul G. Tremblay has called this 2008 Australian found footage horror flick one of his top 10 horror movies, "easily." In a brief review on his website, he says, "This little movie about grief and secrets is creepy at a downright cellular level." It also partly inspired his 2016 novel Disappearance at Devil's Rock.
Tremblay isn't Lake Mungo's only fan, either. On Rotten Tomatoes, it's got a 94%. When you find someone who has seen Lake Mungo, they can't stop singing its praises, but it's surprisingly rare to find someone who has seen it, especially given that it got released in the States as part of the After Dark Horrorfest.
- Actors: Steve Jodrell, Talia Zucker, Tamara Donnellan, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe
- Released: 2008
- Directed by: Joel Anderson
- Photo: Universal Pictures4198 VOTES
From Goosebumps' Slappy to James Wan's Dead Silence to the army of mute ventriloquist dummy Bensons in Toy Story 4, pretty much every creepy ventriloquist dummy in any movie ever owes a debt to Dead of Night. Yet until recently, this early anthology horror film was difficult to find on home video in the States and has remained underseen in spite of its innovative structure that actually inspired Fred Hoyle's "steady state" model of the universe. How many horror movies can claim that?
Fortunately, Kino Lorber Studio Classics recently performed a 4K restoration of Dead of Night for a release that should help this oft-neglected gem find some new fans.
- Actors: Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Frederick Valk
- Released: 1945
- Directed by: Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, Charles Crichton