Another Top 10 horror films you've never heard about (1/2)

The rabbit hole is deep...

...and there's tons of movies for you to discover. You can spend years digging through movie reviews, cast interviews, archive and video websites, books, and what not else, and still discover hidden gems unseen by the mainstream.

To speed up the process a little, and to make sure you don't miss out on the good stuff, here's another Top-10 selection of little known horror movie masterpieces and near-masterpieces for those with a not-so-mainstream taste.

In no particular order, here are five (=part one) out of another ten horror movies you've probably never heard about:

Mo (1983)

a.k.a. The Boxer's Omen

Imagine William Friedkin had filmed "The Exorcist" somewhere deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, and before doing so, had taken large amounts of LSD, as had his entire crew. If you haven't seen "The Boxer's Omen", but do have a rough idea about the effects of LSD, this should give you an approximation to what the movie is about. Seriously, for a western culture trained mind this movie is genuinely difficult to process. (It's probably easier for people of eastern culture.) The onslaught of visual overkill is just staggering. "The Boxer's Omen" is to Buddhism what "The Exorcist" is to Christianity. Plus "The Evil Dead", and maybe "The Thing". Or just... things?

Good vs. evil, epic standoffs, powerful visions, spells, skulls, green slime, other slime, gore, snakes, crocodiles, red shining eyes, bats, bones, all delivered in eye popping colors and forms, at a breathtaking pace - and we're just halfway through the movie. The western audience probably isn't able to decode many of the cultural references in "The Boxer's Omen", but the impact is undeniably there. Compared to Hollywood standards, this is a low-budget movie, but it's still a big Shaw Brothers (Hongkong) production, and it delivers, in spades. You genuinely won't believe your eyes.


Frankenstein's Army (2013)

Director: Richard Raaphorst

Frankestein's Army poster

Out of the ashes of Dutch director Richard Raaphorst's failed, but super awesome film project "Worst Case Scenario", came "Frankenstein's Army". Nazi zombie horror had been around for some time, but this movie takes it to the next level. Insane, obscene creations roaming the factory hallways... medical experiments... now your wildest fantasies about Germany 1945 will even be exceeded. Some of what you see in "Frankenstein's Army" is so dark, sick, and sarcastic, it becomes genuinely grotesque. And, surprisingly, it has a story, a style, and rhythm, creating a coherent arc that leads from the beginning to the end - it has more in common with a sick "Wolfenstein" fan edit than with "Saving Private Ryan", but it's still a very well made movie!


Ecologia del delitto (1971)

a.k.a Reazione a Catena / A Bay of Blood / Twitch of the Death Nerve

Director: Mario Bava

No, it wasn't "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th" that created the slasher genre with its kill'em-one-by-one scheme focused on gruesome, striking killing scenes. It came from Italian gialli, and Mario Bava's "Ecologia del delitto", probably better known as "A Bay of Blood", is the template. Of course there were other influences, but if you had to pick one movie as the prime example of early slashers, it has to be this one. Being the first true slasher movie it's not as refined as e.g. "I corpi presentano..." or "4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio", but being also a Mario Bava movie means it still has atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife.


La Chiesa (1989)

a.k.a. The Church

Director: Michele Soavi

"La Chiesa", marketed in Japan as "Demons 3", has very little to do with Lamberto Bava's "Demoni" films, except... demons. A lot of big names were involved in this production, including Bava himself and Dario Argento among the writers, Keith Emerson, Philip Glass, and the band Goblin (of "Dawn of the Dead" fame) as music contributors, and actors Hugh Quarshie, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Sometimes such big investment doesn't fully pay off, which might be the case with "La Chiesa" - in some parts it feels like a slightly cheesy Italian TV style production that's difficult to categorize. But as you go along it will also send shivers crawling down your spine, with some overwhelmingly beautiful, surreal imagery, and an outstanding soundtrack. This is a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life, much closer to the universe of Argento's Three Mothers than to the zombie-ish "Demoni".



The Suckling (1990)

a.k.a. Sewage Baby

Director: Francis Teri

Beware. This is one nasty little movie. It touches on a couple of sensitive subjects - respect for unborn life, the process of giving birth, ultimately family values, etc. - and it's far from being sensitive about it. The story is quickly told: A young couple decides on abortion of their baby, it's an ugly affair, some toxic waste is involved, and from there on everything gets completely out of hand, or maybe shall we more appropriately say: grows completely out of proportion. And as if that wasn't enough it adds a stomach-turning little twist at the end. 

"The Suckling" is cheap, and very effective. If you like your b-movies rough, bold, and tasteless, then this one is for you. If you like, you could also write volumes about the social implications of just the first 20 minutes of the movie, or the mere fact that it exists. But, really, don't show "The Suckling" to your pregnant wife.


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