We reached out to our friends at the local film blog "Gordon and the Whale" for their picks on unconventional Halloween-inspired flick picks. Here's what they sent back, plus our own picks at the bottom.
It goes without saying that we love and recommend genre classics like "Halloween" and "Night of the Living Dead," but here are a few horror films you might not be so familiar with.
Trick 'r Treat (2008)
Entertaining and inventive horror anthology film where every story is connected and interwoven. For some reason the film was never released in theaters, but you can currently find it on DVD...if you’re lucky. It has gained a bit of a cult status and is becoming quite the collector’s item.
Drag Me to Hell (2008)
The return to horror by director Sam Raimi, most famous in the genre for his EVIL DEAD trilogy and most recognized for directing the Spider-Man series. This one is gross-out scary and a lot of fun.
A sneaky and effective horror film starring Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton, who also directed the film. The film is about a father (Paxton) who believes he receives a vision from an angel telling him to turn his family into demon slayers.
Cemetery Man (1994)
A surreal, lesser known horror film starring Rupert Everett as an employee at a cemetery where the corpses' tend to be come back to life.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
The first feature film from director Neil Marshall, who also directed the recent horror films "The Descent" and "Doomsday." There aren't a lot of good werewolf movies out there, but this is definitely one of them.
James Wallace -- Managing Editor, Gordon and the Whale.com
Asking me to name five of my favorite horror films is like asking the Brady’s to pick their favorite child...there are just so many to love, each for their own special reasons. As Rusty said, we grew up on the classics and still love them to this day, much like many of you do. In my attempts, I too went a different route and chose five more obscure titles you may not have seen, let alone heard of. I also must note that I choose one each from a different time period. Enjoy! And next time you reach for that latest American remake of a Japanese horror film, think twice and choose one of these ten. You won’t be sorry...or will you?
From the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, comes this chilling tale of two friends who commit a murder for no reason other than the thrill of attempting to create the perfect crime. Things get weird when they hide the man’s body in a trunk and use it for a serving table at a party they throw. It’s Hitchcock at his best, pushing the boundaries of what was socially acceptable in film during the time period. As a side note, "Rope" was Hitchcock’s first film to star Jimmy Stewart.
George Romero is known for creating the zombie sub-genre as we know it today. There would be no "28 Days Later," no "Shaun of the Dead," no "Zombieland" without the man’s “Of The Dead” series. However, he also made a little unconventional vampire film back in the day that is his personal favorite as well as mine. The film explores the loneliness of being a blood sucking creature and the challenges presented when trying to get close to a human being. Add that lonely vampiric lifestyle to living in Braddock, Pennsylvania and you’ve got yourself one emotional, layered horror film.
It is hard to pull off a good anthology horror film but here is one example of when it works, it works well. Another film directed by Romero, written by famed horror author Stephen King, "Creepshow" perfectly balances horror and comedy to present five spine tingling, rib tickling tales. I was always partial to “Something to Tide You Over” featuring Ted Danson as a drowned man turned soggy zombie out for revenge from the man who put him in his current predicament (played by Leslie Nielsen).
Troll 2 (1990)
Sometimes a horror film is not watched and enjoyed for how good it is but rather how bad it is. Such is the case with this film, once listed on IMDb as the worst film of all time. It is chalked full of hilarious moments, so horrible they are horrific enough to scare and haunt you. So bad in fact that describing the plot is pointless and rather difficult. I will say it involves a family, along with their ghostly grandfather, stranded in an evil creature-filled town called Nilbog. Yes, that is “goblin” spelled backwards. For what reason the film is called "Troll 2," but centers around goblins, no one knows. As a side note, you should make it a double feature and check out the documentary Best Worst Movie, directed by "Troll 2‘s" now grown child star Michael Stephenson, which chronicles the now beloved film’s rise to cult status.
Let The Right One In (2008)
We live in a current day and age where vampires have punctured their way through into the pop culture ether, through the obvious examples of "Twilight," "True Blood," "The Vampire Diaries," etc. Whatever your opinions may be of those, they have opened the door to vampire-themed stories of all kinds. If we’re lucky, some of those being creative. Or shall I say, they let a few of the right ones in? One of those that got its foot in the door was a Swedish film about a young outcast who befriends a young girl that lives in his apartment complex. That young girl turns out to be a vampire and the film turns out to be an unconventional take on the popular vampire sub-genre. As these things often go in Hollywood, you can expect the American remake next year.
Greg Janda -- Lifestyle/Features Editor, NBCDFW.com
Full confession: I'm a total wuss when it comes to horror movies. Luckily, there are some movies that play well during the witching season and don't involve jumping out to scare me.
I ain't afraid of no ghosts in this comedy masterpiece that features three pseudo-scientists busting "free-floating full-torso vaporous apparitions" (i.e. ghosts) currently running amok throughout New York. Things get worse when their first client (and Bill Murray's love interest) is possessed by a demon named Zool and works to bring about the coming of Gozer the Gozarian. (Sidenote: If someone ever asks if you are a god, you say yes.) It's frightening funny yarn that always feels creepier around the Halloween season.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Though it's rightfully associated with both Halloween and Christmas, Nightmare is perfect for a more family-friendly movie shindig during the witching season. Produced by Tim Burton (not directed -- Harry Selick gets that honor), the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, and his quest to become the new "Santy Claws" for Christmas is expertly animated and imaginatively designed. A recent 3-D reissue of the film renewed our interest in this stop-motion masterpiece (which is way better than The Corpse Bride, thank you very much) and made us consider snagging the film on Blu-ray.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
James briefly mentioned this zombie comedy/horror flick about a rag-tag bunch of Brits that barely fight their way through a zombie infection to reach (what else?) the pub. Lead by Simon Pegg's titular loser Shaun, the bunch fight zombies and horror film cliches all while making us laugh. We like "Shaun's" ground level look at what regular folks would do during a zombie apocalypse...plus, any movie with a scene that involves beating zombies with pool cues to Queen songs gets on our list.
Our second Burton-involved pick focuses on the other side of the spiritual plane, where a recently deceased couple (Geena Davis and a pre-bloat Alec Baldwin) try to scare away the new, eccentric tenets of their house. Things get hairy when freelancer "bio-exorcist" Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton in his very best role) comes into the picture and tries to ramp up the scare factor -- and marry the young daughter (Winona Ryder) that can see all the ghosts. It's definitely a comedy, but, like Nightmare's bizarre creations, ramps up the visual level of creepiness to mythic levels. (We still can't get the Beetle-snake out of our heads).
The Blob (1958)
It's the closest to straight horror on my picks, but this Steve McQueen drive-in classic has to make the list -- if only because it's such a cheesefest. After a meteor containing the living "Blob" falls to Earth, an old man unleashes the greatest terror ever known to man by poking it with a stick. Oh yes, the plot is contrived, the effects poor compared to today, and the acting is bland -- but it's a movie about a giant blob that eats people. Pop this one in with your funniest friends for a MSTK 3000 style laugh-fest....and do some Jello shots while you're at it.
Have we left off one of your favorites? Tell us about it in the comments field below.