As lists of the best horror movies pile up around the internet, there is one thing that is truly scary: a depressing lack of variety for your Halloween night, especially if you're on the hunt for a classic.
Sure, if you haven't watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre so many times that Leatherface popping out of the trees near the end gives you a feeling of boredom verging on nausea, there's still a long list of classic horror movies (Alien, Halloween, Rosemary's Baby) that are excellent even on repeat viewings. Although they aren't truly scary anymore, per se, the craft behind them is strong enough that it's still worth putting on every year.
After all, it's not that these classics aren't great -- there's a reason people are still picking these scare-guaranteed films year after year -- it's just that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of horror movies out there that get much less attention than this standard list of the best -- especially if you're willing to read subtitles, or, in some cases, expose yourself to a Kiwi (New Zealander) accent.
Here's a list of the best horror movies the rest of the world finds scary. Anything that hasn't been around for at least a decade has been omitted.
1. Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
This is the grandmother of under-appreciated horror movies. Repeatedly banned, and even distributed as a "Video Nasty" on the black market to avoid censorship in Great Britain, Possession is still one of the absolute best. Sure, the blood is corn-syrup red, but demon-possessed Isabelle Adjani makes Reagan from The Exorcist look downright cuddly. If slow pacing and atmosphere aren't your thing, this one could put you to sleep early on Halloween though, so don't try it out unless you'd consider yourself a fan of cinema as art.
2. Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
Despite being nearly 40-years old now, Dario Argento's Suspiria still probably has the best cinematography of any horror movie ever made. It's simply beautiful to look at, on Halloween, or any other night of the year. Whether or not you find it scary will undoubtedly hinge on how well you can suspend your belief for how dated the acting is, but if you do enjoy it, make sure to check out the director, Italian Giallo master Dario Argento, and his other work -- especially Phenomena, starring a pre-Labyrinth Jennifer Connelly.
3. The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971)
Out of anything else on the list, it's with the greatest hesitancy that The Devils can be called one of the best horror movies. It's pretty clear by the end that the natural has managed to out-scary the supernatural, but that's what makes it such classic: down to the most over-the-top details (boiling water enema exorcism, anyone?), everything you see here actually happened when a convent of nuns claimed to be under the control of demons to bring down Urbain Grandier, a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest. Don't settle for anything but the uncut version: 15 minutes of the most shocking scenes are missing from the censored edition.
4. The Devil's Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, 2001)
Lots of Satan up in this list so far (Hey! He only gets one day a year!), and the last one to feature El Diablo himself is from the majority-Catholic nation of Spain. Del Toro later hit a home run with the highest box office gross of all-time in his home country with Pan's Labyrinth, which is certainly his best, if you haven't seen it yet, but this particular entry established his unique blend of history, fantasy, and horror. Already seen it? Check out the many scary movies he's produced since becoming the most bankable filmmaker on the Iberian Peninsula: The Orphanage, Julia's Eyes, and Mama.
Top 10 Horror Films For Adults That Star Children In Lead Roles inc. The Devil's Backbone https://t.co/9fjUL5JYOC pic.twitter.com/dkb4DMvDFG5. Audition (Takashi Miike, 2001)
— Top 10 Films (@Top10Films) October 14, 2016
Sure, some of the more tech-obsessed of the best Asian horror films haven't aged gracefully enough to be as scary as they were when they were released, but it's undeniable that the region was producing, by far, the most interesting Halloween-friendly movies for the greater part of the 2000s. Hollywood seemed to take notice as well, churning out remakes like The Ring and The Grudge that some even say top the originals.
But one offering has thwarted multiple attempts at a remake: Takishi Miike's Audition. There are no doubt several reasons for the delay behind an American version, but the most glaring one is that it's impossible to recreate. The atmosphere is both surreal and jarringly realistic, a true master class on terrifying the absolute hell out of people. Watch out for that ending.
6. Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992)
The best horror movies aren't always necessarily scary. Such is the case with Dead Alive, one of the most ridiculously over-the-top Halloween-night comedies ever made. That's not to say it isn't heavy on the gore; the film notoriously used 80 gallons of fake blood on set. Need further proof that it's a classic? Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was at the helm of this movie early in his career.
7. Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)
Rosemary's Baby's is undisputedly one of the best of the upper echelons of horror classics, but if Roman Polanski had never made it, this would be the scary movie that defined him. Halloween trigger warning: some of the most gruesome moments reference sexual abuse.
She is Divine.Happy Birthday to Catherine Deneuve.Gif: Repulsion (Roman Polanski). pic.twitter.com/r3udXl2lUD8. Eyes Without a Face (Georges Franju, 1960)
— Rubén Redondo (@RubenRedondoJar) October 22, 2016
How can a movie almost 60-years old still be this creepy? That's the question many will ask as they watch the Georges Franju classic Eyes Without a Face -- a practically goreless, body horror movie that rivals the best of Hitchcock. Check out the trailer below to see the very direct influence it had on the future of scary cinema: John Carpenter was inspired to create Michael Myers' mask in Halloween based on the lead actresses' own featureless visage.
Which films do you think are the best horror movies for the ultimate scary Halloween night at home?
[Image via Sergey Shubin/Shuttershock]