Certain movies are treated too harshly. Few movies are perfect, but some of the most fun and entertaining horror films are hidden behind poor ratings and dismissive comments. After all, most people have a movie (or many movies) they love but everyone else seems to despise. Finding fellow fans of the underrated movies you adore is one of the true joys of being an obsessive horror fan.
This list contains horror movies that deserve a second look (or a first look if it’s new to you). These movies are all misunderstood, underseen, and undervalued. Don’t be scared away by their low ratings, they’re all hidden gems just waiting to be found.
The Most Underrated Horror Movies
Release Date: February 6, 1976 (premiere)
Why watch it? Despite its low budget and cheesy fight sequences, Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde contains a solid story and many surprisingly strong themes about race relations. Also, Bernie Casey is phenomenal at creating a monster whose screams of pain, frustration, and terror will break your heart by the end of the movie.
Description: This “blaxploitation” reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) stars Bernie Casey as Dr. Henry Pride, a wealthy doctor researching the regenerative properties of human liver tissue. Desperate to continue his work amid setbacks, Pride injects himself with an experimental serum that turns him from a Black man into white-skinned monster with super-strength and a violent disposition. Pride’s misguided attempts to help a patient involved in prostitution leads to his alter-ego going wildly out of control.
Release Date: September 11, 1987 (limited theaters)
Why watch it? Director Rick Roessler clearly cared about this low-budget slasher movie. Slaughterhouse is well-directed with great attention paid to interesting shots, superb lighting, and a strong attention to detail. Buddy is also an amazing slasher villain who, in a perfect world, would be talked about alongside Leatherface and Jason Voorhees.
Description: Hog farmer Lester Bacon is about to lose his land to foreclosure, but he and his simple-minded son Buddy have other plans. After Lester learns that his son is skilled at murdering people, Lester has Buddy kill the people threatening to take their land. Meanwhile, a group of kids decide that Lester’s hog farm would be a great location to shoot a horror video…
Release Date: September 13, 1990 (USA VHS release)
Why watch it? Demon Wind is a mashup of just about every horror genre and trope you could want. Demonic possession, zombies, living dolls, creepy kids, action, magic, body horror, psychological terror, and even cosmic horror all plays parts in this glorious monstrosity of a movie. The tone is played mostly straight, with the occasional wink to the audience in the form of a corny line or other absurdity.
Description: After his father commits suicide, Cory (Eric Larson) is compelled to travel to his family’s isolated farmhouse to try to learn what happened decades ago when his grandparents disappeared. Along with a group of friends, Cory finds the farmhouse abandoned, but he and his friends become trapped by a mystical force that won’t let them leave the property. They must then endure a night of torment as a demonic force takes them one by one.
Release Date: March 1994 (film festival premiere)
Why watch it? Though many of its special effects are dated, The Club contains an interesting supernatural mystery with characters engaging enough to care about them before they die under horrible circumstances. A standout among the cast is J.H. Wyman (credited as Joel Wyner) who plays a devilish figure that feels like a madcap precursor to Billy Zane’s portrayal of The Collector in Demon Knight (1995).
Description: On the night of their high-school prom housed inside a gothic mansion, five students, a creepy guidance counselor, and a mysterious young man are isolated out of time when the clock strikes midnight. With the rest of their class gone and no means of escape possible, the friends search the rooms of the mansion in an attempt at unraveling the mystery of what’s happened to them, all while trying to avoid a force that wants to compel them into committing horrific acts.
Release Date: September 28, 1999
Why watch it? There are some truly great ideas on display in Kolobos. It plays out somewhat like a slasher movie, but the twists and turns (and the lead character) make it more of a psychological horror movie with great bursts of violence and gore. Kolobos is definitely worth watching multiple times after the well-structured mystery behind the plot is revealed. Plus, a cameo from scream queen Linnea Quigley makes it even more must-watch.
Description: Five young adults are selected to take part in a Real World / Big Brother style “experimental film” where they will live together in a house while being recorded. Their time together quickly becomes a nightmare when they discover that they are locked inside the house along with deadly traps and, quite possibly, a malevolent presence.
Release Date: October 7, 2001 (television)
Why watch it? Earth vs. The Spider balances just the right amount of campiness with its horror. And really, both comic books and monster movies are great when they’re campy. Legendary effects artist Stan Winston produced the movie and his studio created the monster, so if nothing else you know the special effects are top-notch, which is a large part of what makes a monster movie fun.
Description: Quentin (Devon Gummersall) is a mild-mannered security guard who is obsessed with the comic-book superhero The Arachnid Avenger. One day at work, Quentin injects himself with an experimental serum crafted from spiders, and rather than killing him, it gives him superpowers. Unfortunately, Quentin’s body continues transforming, changing him into something much more monstrous.
Release Date: January 24, 2003
Why watch it? In addition to the novelty of turning the Tooth Fairy into an evil entity, Darkness Falls is a supernatural horror movie with exciting chase sequences characterized by the ghost’s vulnerability to light. The cast is also great, led by Emma Caulfield (Anya from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series).
Description: In the town of Darkness Falls, a local legend tells of the Tooth Fairy, a woman murdered 150 years ago for being a witch, and who returned from the grave to take revenge through the town’s children. Kyle (Chaney Kley) was cursed when he saw the Tooth Fairy as a child, but he returns to Darkness Falls when his childhood friend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) asks him to help her younger brother who may also be cursed by the vengeful spirit.
Release Date: March 11, 2008 (DVD)
Why watch it? Though often dismissed as a generic slasher, the masked killer and his brutal method of killing makes Wrestlemaniac more than worthy of a second look from slasher fans. The gore is good, the comedy is eye-rolling in a good way, and the strict adherence to the classic slasher formula makes this a perfect movie for when you just want to turn your mind off and watch something fun.
Description: A small film crew travels to a Mexican ghost town to shoot a porno, but unknown to all but one of the crew, the town is host to a legendary, and perhaps inhuman, luchador (pro-wrestler) who was known for killing his opponents in the ring. When the crew’s van breaks down, the luchador, El Mascarado, emerges to beat them to death one by one, ripping their faces off in a way similar to how a luchador would take his opponent’s mask as a trophy in victory.
Release Date: August 1, 2015 (Japan)
Why watch it? Corpse Party may get a bad rap for its low budget or for not adapting its source material how fans of the game wanted, but for a Japanese movie about ghosts killing people with loads of gore, Corpse Party is an incredibly good time. The movie is more about tone than story, and the campy creepiness is just right for fans of modern Japanese horror movies.
Description: A group of high-school friends perform a ritual affirming that they will remain friends forever. With the ritual of Sachiko Ever After complete, the friends are magically transported to, and trapped inside, an elementary school filled with ghosts who want to brutally murder them.
Release Date: February 27, 2020 (Taiwan)
Why watch it? The Bridge Curse could have easily been just a stereotypical ghost/curse movie like we’ve seen countless times before and it still would have been entertaining, but the story has layers that viewers don’t even realize they’re missing until they are revealed. The well-structured twists add a ton of value to the creepy experience of The Bridge Curse.
Description: At a certain college campus in Taiwan, an urban legend describes a bridge that is said to be cursed by a vengeful female spirit. The bridge is a popular spot for college students to test each other’s courage, but it has also led to multiple mysterious deaths. A journalist begins an investigation into the cursed bridge, but she may just be adding herself as another chapter in the legend of the bridge curse.
Release Date: October 7, 2021 (UK premiere)
Why watch it? Though viewers may be able to guess what is happening well before all of the movie’s secrets are revealed, that in no way diminishes the wild finale presented in The Free Fall. The main cast members each play their roles wonderfully, so even if the setup feels familiar, the story still works. Also, the familiar feeling of the setup helps make the reveals later in the movie that much more outlandish and fun.
Description: Sara (Andrea Londo) wakes after an attempted suicide to find that she can’t remember her life. Her husband Nick (Shawn Ashmore) attempts to nurse Sara back to health, but his actions and the presence of an unfamiliar maid (Jane Badler) leave Sara feeling that something isn’t right. Is Sara’s growing fear and mental instability the result of the trauma that led to her attempt to kill herself, or is something sinister really going on within her home?
More Underrated Horror Movies
- Maximum Overdrive (1986) – Many people claim this Stephen King movie about machines coming to life is so bad it’s good. In reality, it’s simply a good movie that does exactly what it sets out to do: be ridiculously entertaining.
- Doom Asylum (1987) – This goofy slasher is another in a long list of movies that gets bashed for being goofy, even though that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be.
- Dolly Dearest (1991) – Denise Crosby stars in this movie that features one of the creepier killer dolls in horror history.
- Leprechaun (1993) – It’s strange that even though this movie is supposed to be dumb and silly, people still give it low ratings for being dumb and silly.
- Devil’s Den (2006) – Kelly Hu, Ken Foree, and Devon Sawa star in this absurd and delightful rip-off of From Dusk till Dawn (1996) featuring demonic strippers, a demon hunter, an assassin, and two hapless drug dealers.
- See No Evil (2006) – WWE star Kane is a great horror villain, and this movie is about as perfect of a snapshot of mid-2000s horror as you can get without being a remake of something else.
- Halloween II (2009) – If you can ignore the white horse, Rob Zombie’s second Halloween movie is far better than his first. Highlights include unassailable performances from Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris, and a strong focus on trauma and recovery after surviving a slasher villain.
- Frozen (2010) – Shawn Ashmore stars in this well-made low-budget survival movie about three friends who are stranded on a ski lift high above a mountain.
- Shark Night (2011) – In a world overrun with terrible shark movies, Shark Night stands above most of them as campy, mindless fun.
- The Reckoning (2020) – Director Neil Marshall can do no wrong, and this movie about a woman falsely accused of being a witch and subsequently tortured until she admits to it doesn’t deserve the hate it gets.
- Alone With You (2021) – Star Emily Bennett deserves much more praise for what is essentially a one-woman show about loneliness, rejection, and isolation.