The scariest, goriest, least socially redeeming films you've never seen!
Illustration by The Red Dress
Brain Dead, 2007
Nothing says Halloween quite like brain-eating zombies and topless girls with enormous breasts.
Big Tits Zombies, 2010
Buxom, undead-fighting Japanese strippers with chain saws. Not convinced yet? How about reanimated sushi and a geisha zombie who shoots flames from her cha-cha? Thought that’d do it.
Deep River Savages, 1972
Director Umberto Lenzi is credited with starting the Italian-cannibal movie genre with this film. His mom must have been so proud. And how can you not love a flick that stars a beautiful Asian actress named Me Me Lay?
Psychos in Love, 1987
Two lonely people discover a mutual fondness for killing and dismembering. Their romance is challenged when the garbage disposal gets clogged with body parts and the plumber, who happens to be a cannibal, blackmails them into supplying him with fresh meat. Now, there’s a heartwarming love story.
The Innocents, 1961
In this atmospheric film set in Victorian England, Governess Deborah Kerr becomes convinced that two young orphans she is hired to take care of in a spooky mansion are possessed. Proof that you don’t need blood, monsters, or even color photography to tell a chilling ghost story.
Dahmer Vs. Gacy, 2010
We haven’t loved a movie title this much since Snakes on a Plane, and this is 10 times better on one-millionth the budget. Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy are reanimated by—who else?—government scientists. They escape, of course, and much gore and mayhem ensue. The actors make David Hasselhoff look like Olivier, but with cameos by Charlie Manson and a bunch of ninjas, who cares?
Still haven’t had your fill of ’70s lesbian-vampire B-movies? Here’s another. The “vampyres” in this one are bisexual, but that’s OK, too.
The Long Island Cannibal Massacre, 1980
The budget was a reported $900, and every penny is up there on the screen. A group of murderous lepers with a taste for human flesh are hunted by a gang of motorcycle yahoos. The climax features over-the-top gore and one of the best chain-saw duels we’ve seen in a long time.
Raw Meat, 1973
This tale of cannibals loose in London stars the dependably hammy Donald Pleas- ence and (briefly) British horror stalwart and future Saruman the White Christo- pher Lee. The gore effects are quite good for its time.
Black Christmas, 1974
Rather shoot your own eye out than watch A Christmas Story again on December 24? Screen Black Christmas instead. It’s from the same director, Bob Clark, but rather than bunny suits and holiday cheer, you’ll see a dark thriller about a serial killer offing girls at a sorority house.
Theatre of Blood, 1973
Cineman / The Kobal Collection
Campy film in which Vincent Price plays an actor who kills his critics in Shakespearean ways. In our favorite scene, he bakes rotund Robert Morley’s beloved poodles into meat pies and serves them to him. Yum.
Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl, 2009
Despite the cheesy title, this New Wave Japanese vampire tale is stylish and inventive. It’s also hyperviolent right from the opening minutes, when a bloody flying skull sucks a young woman’s face off…and not in a good way.
The Japanese horror-film industry has come a long way since Godzilla vs. Megalon and now produces some of the world’s best ghost stories. Pulse, about a computer-haunting evil that lures victims into committing suicide, is a good place to start. Like many of the best Japanese and Korean horror films, this was remade into an inferior U.S. version.
The Seventh Curse, 1986
Our favorite Hong Kong monster/black magic/kung fu/nudie/Indiana Jones/Evil Dead rip-off movie ever.
The Shiver of the Vampires, 1971
Lesbians! Bloodsucking! 1970s natural breasts! What’s not to like? Well, it is in French with subtitles, if you’re determined to follow the dialogue.
The Quatermass Xperiment, 1955
This British gem, originally titled The Creeping Unknown in the U.S., took horror further than nearly any film of its time, earning a rare X rating. A returning spaceship crashes with only one of its three astronauts still aboard, and this guy is in serious trouble, slowly mutating into a blobby, cactus-y thing. A forgotten classic.
Another nice creepfest from the early career of A Christmas Story’s Bob Clark. When her son is reported killed in Vietnam, Mom prays it’s a mistake and he’ll return. It isn’t a mistake, but he comes home anyway…sort of.
Attack of the Beast Creatures, 1985
Wait, isn’t that title redundant? Never mind, that’s the least of this movie’s problems. The others would be the terrible acting, the inept cinematography, and the plot about a group of shipwreck survivors washed up on an island populated by what appear to be man-eating tiki dolls. On the other hand, it does have one of our favorite film credits ever: “Hairstyles by DJ’s Hair-Inn.” Watch it with friends.
No list would be complete without a film that’s so bad it’s good. Trust us: Contamination.7 is that bad. The plot—nuke waste dumped in a forest causes the foliage to turn killer—couldn’t be less original. The acting is on a par with a preschool Christmas pageant, and the “special effects” consist of a guy off-camera jiggling dead branches. It’s also known as Troll 3 and like Troll 2, another stinker, has nothing to do with trolls.
High Tension, 2003
The story is standard-issue— two women are stalked by a killer in an isolated farmhouse—yet the film is anything but, unless you watch a lot of movies where a man masturbates with a severed head. In which case, never call us. Get the unrated version, and prepare to be poop-your-pants scared.
The Bleeding House, 2011
A cheerful killer invades an isolated home but doesn’t expect to encounter an occupant even crazier than he is. Eerie.
The Midnight Meat Train, 2008
We wonder if anyone told Bradley Cooper what they planned to name this film when he agreed to star in it. He plays a photographer attempting to catch the Subway Butcher, a serial killer. It’s based on a Clive Barker story, so count on things getting bloody and very bizarre.
A scientist exploring a distant planet gets knocked up by a huge, insect-monster thing. She then proceeds to murder her coworkers. The gore is cheesy and the plot is ripped off directly from Alien, but you have to love the title (later changed to the pedestrian Horror Planet).
It’s hard to describe this French-Canadian shocker without spoiling it for you. Let’s just say it’s about a young woman who may have been kidnapped and tortured as a child and may be haunted by a disfigured ghoulish woman. Or maybe she imagined it all. Martyrs got an R rating for “disturbing/severe aberrant behavior, strong bloody violence, torture, child abuse, and nudity” (and that was the edited version!). A U.S. remake is reportedly in the works. They’ll probably screw it up.
Cannibal Holocaust, 1980
Director Ruggero Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges after the Italian premiere of Cannibal Holocaust, his faux documentary about a group of NYU anthropologists studying a man-munching Amazon tribe. The movie was subsequently banned in several countries for its depiction of gore and sexual violence. Although oceans of blood have been spilled on film since this was made, watching it is still very unsettling. Definitely not a dinner-date flick.
Sleepaway Camp, 1983
Despite the innocuous title, this is one of the best ’80s slasher films and features the only death by curling iron we can remember seeing. After Angela’s parents are killed in a boating accident, she is sent to a Christian summer camp, where teens soon begin dying in horrible accidents. The effects are above average, and the twist ending is a killer. Spawned several sequels but none as good as the original.
Bloody Pit of Horror, 1965
Also known as The Crimson Executioner, this flick stars Mickey Hargitay (husband of Jayne Mansfield and father of Mariska) as a red-spandex-clad hunk who ruins a sexy photo shoot in a castle by killing all the models in medieval torture contraptions. There is some blood and horror, but not a single pit in the whole damn movie.
The Pit, 1981
Luckily for the pit-deprived, there actually is one in The Pit…Well, it’s just a square hole in the woods, but it is filled with cannibal trolls, which a weird local kid keeps fed by luring friends and family into their lair.
Microwave Massacre, 1983
A man gets so tired of his wife’s cooking that he kills and eats her. For seconds he lures prostitutes to his home and makes them into delicious microwave meals. The killer is played by Jackie Vernon, best known as the voice of Frosty the Snowman.
Eyes Without a Face, 1960
Yes, Billy Idol stole his song title from this French film, but don’t hold that against it. In Eyes Without a Face, a doctor kidnaps young ladies and tries to graft their faces onto his disfigured daughter’s noggin. Creepy.
I Saw the Devil, 2010
In this Korean shocker, a government agent tracks down the sadistic serial killer who butchered his pregnant fiancée. Min-sik Choi is a delight as the hard-to-catch psycho. Very violent, and engrossing.
Dog Soldiers, 2002
The Kismet Entertainment Group / The Kobal Collection
The lame title may have kept more people from seeing this effective film about a group of Special Forces troops training in Scotland who come up against an unexpected enemy: the kind that turns hairy and hungry when the moon is full.
Want more Halloween? Check out Predicting Your Night By Your Costume.
More horror? Read Horror Movie Plot, Or Messed Up News Report?