We’re right in the thick of Halloween season, which means you’re probably looking for a great horror movie to watch. But while the endless list of favorites and classics is always a place to start, sometimes you want something off the beaten path. The good news is there are plenty of underrated horror movies out there, from titles you’ve ignored on Netflix to a few hidden gems you may not have heard of before.
This October, mix things up a bit and check out our picks for spooky movies that you may have missed the first time around, or that deserve a little more appreciation and attention than they have right now:
The Wailing is a very different take on exorcism movies, marrying together several pieces and eras of Korean culture into a story about a series of murders that seem to have a supernatural connection. Among the movie’s many harrowing scenes is a shamanistic exorcism that’s one of the most tense sequences in any movie on this list. Combine that with a few late-story reveals, and The Wailing becomes a fascinating take on how the past catches up to modern society, and how traditional religions clash with more modern beliefs.
This Australian found-footage gem has started getting a little more recognition, but it’s still criminally underseen. The film follows a family shortly after one member tragically drowns while swimming. After her death, her ghostly apparition slowly starts appearing around the house, so her younger brother sets up cameras to capture the apparent haunting. What follows is both creepy, and a profound look at how different people process grief and tragedy, and the extraphysical footprints people leave behind after they die.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
One of the strangest horror sequels ever made, this third entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series stars pre-fame Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger. McConaughey plays a murderous member of Leatherface’s family who discovers Zellweger and her teenage friends shortly after their car breaks down. The movie keeps all the signature creepiness of the Chainsaw franchise, but what’s truly disturbing is the way the second half descends into something completely unhinged. At one point the movie becomes so chaotic, it seems like the director simply left the camera on while the actors run around screaming. It’s not exactly a good movie, but it’s absolutely one that’s worth watching with a rowdy room of people who can get on its level.
The Last Winter
The Last Winter is one of the best climate change horror movies ever made, but it’s also just super scary. The movie follows a scientist sent to gauge the impact of oil drilling in the Arctic when strange occurrences start to plague the base. As things get worse, and people start dying, the station’s chief (Ron Perlman) forces everyone to buckle down, making the situation even worse. The movie is full of creepy moments, general existential dread, and a surprising ending that pulls the whole thing together.
God Told Me To
Technically more like three movies in one, God Told Me To is a crime thriller, a mystery movie, and a supernatural epic. The movie opens with a person opening fire on a crowd from the top of a water tower, among other bizarre crimes committed by seemingly random people. When each person is asked why they committed their atrocities, each says the same thing: “God told me to.” The detective in charge of the case (Tony Lo Bianco) eventually tracks things down to an enigmatic cult leader who claims to be far more than just a man. And that’s where the movie gets really weird. There’s no point in spoiling it here, but suffice it to say that God Told Me To is one of the strangest horror movies you’re likely to ever see — apologies for being That Person who only talks about this movie for the next year.
Directed by Japanese horror master Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but much less known than his dual masterpieces Pulse and Cure, Creepy follows a retired detective who gets dragged into a cold case about a missing family. But as he starts to get further into the investigation, his own neighbor starts acting strange and a series of unexpected events that seem like impossible coincidences keep getting more and more horrific. Creepy lives up to its name, but it’s also a twisty mystery movie that’s, by design, nearly impossible to unwind.
Eyes of Fire
Where to watch: Shudder
One of the all-too-rare American frontier horror movies, Eyes of Fire is about a charismatic preacher who, after an affair with a local woman, escapes a hanging and builds a small settlement in the woods. Between attacks from local tribes, the group starts to experience strange and supernatural occurrences. Though the preacher is undisturbed, it’s clear the rest of the group is getting weary, and that one of their members might have connections to witchcraft. Eyes of Fire is a gorgeous and confidently staged movie that builds and builds and builds in eeriness throughout its first two-thirds, only to explode into something completely out of this world in the end. While certainly well-regarded, it’s still one of the most underseen horror classics of the ’80s.
Where to watch: Shudder
Overshadowed by the likes of Suspiria, Deep Red, and Tenebrae, Italian horror master Dario Argento’s Opera is among his most disturbing-but-entertaining movies. The story follows a young woman who becomes the center of a series of attacks at an opera house that’s staging Verdi’s Macbeth. The attacks themselves get stranger and more gruesome as the masked perpetrator continues to evade detection. Even compared to the classics, Argento ratchets up the tension thanks to a fantastic score composed by Brian Eno, Claudio Simonetti (from the band Goblin, which often collaborates with Argento), and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones.
Wrong Turn (2021)
It’s rare when the original creator of a series gets the chance to reboot it, but that’s exactly what happened with the unfortunately underseen Wrong Turn from a few years back. This extraordinarily brutal and creepy movie follows a group of backpacking kids who stumble upon a long-hidden society in the woods, and immediately make enemies of its citizens. While the original series of Wrong Turn movies were known for their hillbilly savages, the reboot does something far more original and infinitely more disturbing.
The Dark and the Wicked
Where to watch: Shudder
The Dark and the Wicked is a movie about a demon moving into a farmhouse. Two siblings come back to the family farm to help their mother take care of their ailing father, but things immediately go wrong. There’s no point in deflating the twists, but let’s just say there’s a demon here, and that all it seems to want is to cause infinite harm to anyone nearby. The Dark and the Wicked is absolutely full of slow burn dread that pays off in horrifying and surprising spurts of violence. The Dark and the Wicked also might be the bleakest movie of any on this list, and that’s no small feat.