Part two of "Top 10 Horror films you've never heard about". In no particular order here are five more outstanding, yet underrated and undeservedly unknown horror movie gems.
In case you missed the first five movie recommendations on this list, here's part 1 of this article.
Satanico Pandemonium: La Sexorcista (1975)
Another Mexican film about catholic repression and sexual awakening, and this one is even more blasphemously offensive than "Alucarda". The title and poster pretty much say it all - "La Sexorcista", yeah. Need we know more?
So the subject and message are quite obvious here. No, we don't need to know more, we know everything we came here for. "Satanico Pandemonium" is a cheap, wild little ride through the fantasies and fears of girls in puberty and their mothers, where curiosity and lust clash with protection and belief in the most blunt ways possible. There's an undeniable stylistic quality to the movie, with it's beautiful main actress, the convent setting and nun dresses, and plenty of iconic, allegorical scenes, all of which makes "Satanico Pandemonium" a very well watchable low-budget shocker.
Director: Tod Browning
If you're into horror cinema history you certainly know this one, but if you're the casual online-streaming horror fan you probably don't. While Karloff's "Frankenstein" and Lugosi's "Dracula" have survived in various cinematic reincarnations, "Freaks" has completely dropped out of the public eye. It never became a franchise, or a household name, it didn't win any awards, in fact it caused serious outrage and was downright rejected upon first release, it cost director Tod Browning his job, it got banned for decades, and it never got remade or re-imagined or re-whatever since.
It even doesn't fully qualify as a horror film, but don't worry, this
one is gonna crawl under your skin like very few others do. Have you
ever seen a limbless man light a match? "Freaks" is deeply humane, but
also highly challenging. Watch it, and you will find out how challenging
- and horrifying - a black-and-white film from 1932 can be. "Freaks" is the "Cannibal Holocaust" of it's time. It's exploitative, gut-wrenching, disturbing and beautiful all at the same time. The message is simple, and when it arrives, it does so in big, bold letters.
Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (1974)a.k.a. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue / Let sleeping corpses lie
Director: Jorge Grau
If you've been searching for the one George-Romero-style zombie film you haven't seen yet, here it is. This little gem made by an Italian/Spanish team won a couple of prizes at the Sitges Film Festival 1974, is a nice variation of the Romero-esque ideas, is politically correct, and has a couple of innovative ideas in cinematography and direction. And, yeah, the entire zombie thing just works here, for the same reasons it works in Romero's movies: it's actually a decent, well thought-out, and very creepy movie!
Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)
a.k.a. Nosferatu the Vampyre
Director: Werner Herzog
Of course you know German expressionism masterpiece "Nosferatu" from 1922, directed by F. W. Murnau, featuring the incredible Max Schreck as the vampire - still one of the creepiest movies ever made. But did you know there's a remake that's pretty much on par with the original? Yes, it's "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" by Werner Herzog, featuring legendary actor Klaus Kinski as the vampire. Herzog plus Kinski alone would make this movie a must-see classic, but there's more: Isabelle Adjani plays Lucy Harker, and Bruno Ganz plays Jonathan Harker. Now that's a lot of high-quality personnel here, and it shows in the movie. Of course it's very different to the 1922 version, but then it's also very similar in terms of atmosphere and creepiness.
4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (1971)
a.k.a. Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Director: Dario Argento
Argento's first horror film, the awesome "4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio" from 1971, was a big success when it was first released, but today is completely overshadowed by his later efforts like "Profondo Rosso" (1975), "Suspiria" (1977), and "Tenebrae" (1982). "4 Mosche..." is a classic giallo, certainly one of the best ever made, packed with mystery, horror, and nail-biting suspense. The story takes place in artist circles, which gives the movie quite a unique feel - if you're a jazz musician, you'll find some of the scenes especially appealing. Set design, lighting, cinematography and music create an incredible atmosphere, and then there's this genius script that almost physically pulls you into the story, and gives you sweaty palms... "4 Mosche..." is the kind of movie that gives you serious goosebumps long after it's over. And, by the way, Bud Spencer is in it.