I would consider myself a bit of “a genre nut.” There are many films I haven’t seen in the horror genre, but there are also many I consider fine flicks that might take some convincing as far as others are concerned. To that end here are a few of horror films that I enjoy that I think are at least a bit underrated.
The Cell is a pretty divisive film, in fact, it’s divisive if it’s horror or not for some people. Overall this movie suffers from some issues. It wants to be the next Silence of the Lambs, but it’s not going to be. It approaches the idea from a fairly unique perspective and I think does a solid enough job. It has visuals that are both terrifying and beautiful, the costume design is out of this world, and frankly, I think if it had been released about a decade later it would have been better received. There are a lot of fascinating things being explored in this movie, and some are successful, and others aren’t. At the end of the day, I think it has much more potential than it presented, but it’s still a cool movie. I think it could to be a cult hit now, and people should give it another look. It hasn’t aged perfectly, but there is a lot happening in this film that I don’t think was appreciated at the time.
Yes, the CGI has aged horribly. Yes, the plot has some weak points. Honestly, this still remains one of the most entertaining creature features I have ever seen. Not the scariest (which is also points against it), but solid. In fairness, I am a huge fan of 90s creature features that walk the line between action/adventure and horror, so maybe this fills a niche for me, but I also just think it’s a fun movie. You might need a beer or two, but pop the popcorn and let it ride with some friends and I think you will find a much more enjoyable time than people have given it credit for.
Hands down one of the most criminally underrated horror films. Now this movie has started to get more love in recent years, and it’s well deserved. However, for a number of years, if you asked people for their favorite horror films from that time, Candyman would rarely be brought up. I will admit I am not super into the whole “look into the mirror and say Candyman” bit; it seems like a bad Bloody Mary. The problem is the movie itself was kind of written off just based on that, but it’s so much more. It challenges the notion of urban legends, race, a person’s control over their own subconscious, and so many other things. Not only that but it’s downright terrifying and well done. If any movie deserves love (even if delayed), Candyman is it.
We are getting back into my 90s creature feature love. Despite the fact that my family didn’t care for horror movies, or anything even sci-fi adjacent, I knew of and watched a lot of similar films to The Relic. I think that is why it shocked me so much to grow up and have this film come out of nowhere. My entire early “horror” education should indicate that I watched this film, and yet I never heard of it. It’s not breaking any rules: a crazy excuse for a crazy monster, which leaves people trapped with it in “normal” situation. The characters aren’t entirely creative, in fact very little stands out as unique. Yet I have to say this is a standout flick for me. It’s 90s creature feature at it’s finest. That might not mean a lot to many, but it’s damn fun.
I am perplexed about how to react to this film. People either seem to love it or hate it, and I am not sure that it requires such extremes. Still, I am firmly in the “love it” category. This movie hits so many notes and hits them well. It’s a creature feature; it has slasher elements, it is body horror, it is Lovecraftian, it’s a love note to horror from the 80s/90s, it’s just great. The story gets a touch convoluted at times (as do most films in the same vein), but overall I have no issue. It’s dark, gory, horrific, terrifying, well acted, great special effects, it hits so many of the right notes and never feels paint by numbers. Some feel it’s way too influenced by Clive Barker, I would counter with that it’s actually Lovecraft influencing this film and the works of Barker. You might say that “if you don’t know Lovecraft you might not get it” I would argue that The Thing, Event Horizon, and many other films are loved by people that don’t even know the name, Lovecraft. I would also point out that my clear bias may have influenced my overall feelings about the film. Either way, I think it’s underrated and worth a look, if not a second.
Eight Legged Freaks
I hate the “people didn’t get it” excuse, I do… but people didn’t get this movie. Released well before the Grindhouse movies and before people started to kind of love that “quirky old-school bad movie” Eight Legged Freaks was simply out of time. It wanted to be a modern drive-in flick, and it nails its goal in every way. It manages to be old school while throwing in more modern things to keep the audience entertained. The problem is people that went to see it didn’t understand that. They didn’t know that they were in for a modern B monster film, and this was before B films were popular. So people hated it, and it has been forgotten as a failure. But it shouldn’t be. We are so bogged down in Sharknados we forgot intentional B flicks could actually be good movies. Eight Legged Freaks pays homage to 50s giant monster films of the past, is goofy, is over the top, and is still good. It is what this type of film should be. Watch it again; I believe its quality above the SyFy originals we’ve come to expect will stand out. Not that I mind SyFy originals if I am honest.
I am not going to say that this film is underrated due to reaction to it, merely that enough people have not watched it. It was, like many films, a limited release before being VOD. You can see it on Netflix (US) and you should. It is a cult horror, but presented in a much different way than most fans of that specific subgenre might be used to. It builds tension insanely well and has an extreme climax that delivers in every way. This film is fantastic and it bothers me that more horror fans don’t either know about it or talk about it.
Hell Raiser: Deader
Maybe it’s my massive crush on Kari Wuhrer (this is her 3rd movie on the list), maybe it’s that the Hellraiser franchise is one of the most inconsistent of any horror franchise out there. Either way, we are presented with Deader and I kind of like it. When I say, it’s an inconsistent franchise I mean that one and two sets up a normal series run, but after that, each movie seems to be about whatever the hell it wants to be about. The pro is that each movie is stand alone. It helps to have seen the first Hellraiser, but other than that you can just pick them up as you go. The con is that there is no real “series love” so it’s easy to focus on the flaws. Deader is flawed. It feels very aged, in fact, I was shocked that it released in ‘05 and not the mid-90s. In spite of that, the plot is kind of cool, and it does a good job of being half mystery half horror. In fact, throughout it balances the two genres very well. The ending is a little eh, but until that point, you have an interesting and stylized flick. It suffers, but to me is solid and most importantly entertaining.
I think the problem that this film suffers from is that it’s compared to You’re Next far too often. The two films play with the genre in similar ways, but I don’t think that Kristy deserves to be discounted as much as it is. Both are solid films, both are similar films, but both deserve to stand on their own. Now the one aspect you can count against Kristy is the plot, the cult’s motivation for going after the girl is forced. However, Kristy still delivers on horror and suspense, and in the end, isn’t that the point? Instead of comparing it to You’re Next and deciding a winner maybe we should compare the two and demand more movies of the same ilk?
Train to Busan
I will actually credit this to the same issue as The Invitation. Not enough people have seen this film, and they need to. Train to Busan is one of the best zombie movies I have ever seen. The fact that it’s a Korean movie is actually to its credit. Americans are so used to zombie movies playing out a certain way that a zombie movie in tight quarters with no guns is a refreshing change. Beyond that, it’s one of the single most emotional movies I have ever seen. It officially holds the title of the movie that has made me cry the most. It is just so good. Every time I want to talk about this film I struggle to put into words how much it managed to just get to me. It’s scary, it’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s suspenseful, it’s dramatic, it’s gory, it’s just everything. If you haven’t seen this film, you are doing yourself a disservice as a fan of the genre.
What do you think? Are there any horror movies that you think are underrated? Do you also enjoy any of the listed movies? Or do you think they have earned their lack of credit? Let me know!